07 Editorial - Call to Holiness in today’s world

posted Apr 12, 2018, 10:03 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Apr 14, 2018, 6:24 AM ]
Gaudete et Exsultate" ("Rejoice and Be Glad"), is the third apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis, published on April 9, 2018 on 'the call to holiness in today's world.' Pope Francis insists primarily on the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to each of us personally, something God asks of each Christian, and which requires a personal response, given one's state in life, talents and circumstances.

"We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love, and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves." He contemplates the holiness present in the patience of God's people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile."

The path to holiness, he wrote, is almost always gradual, and made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice and in service to others. Being part of a parish community and receiving the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, are essential supports for living a holy life.

"The holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures," he said, before citing the example of a woman who refuses to gossip with a neighbour, returns home and listens patiently to her child, even though she is tired, prays the Rosary, and later meets a poor person and offers him a kind word.

Pope Francis said, "In the Beatitudes, Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy": living simply, putting God first, trusting Him and not earthly wealth or power, being humble, mourning with and consoling others, being merciful and forgiving, working for justice and seeking peace with all, as seen in the exemplary life of many saints.

Pope Francis also included a list of cautions. For example, he said, holiness involves finding balance in prayer time, time spent enjoying others' company and time dedicated to serving others in ways large or small. And, "needless to say, anything done out of anxiety, pride or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness."

The exhortation included many of Pope Francis' familiar refrains about attitudes that destroy the Christian community, like gossip, or that proclaim themselves to be Christian, but are really forms of pride, like knowing all the rules and being quick to judge others for not following them.

Holiness "is not about swooning in mystic rapture," he wrote, but it is about recognising and serving the Lord in the hungry, the stranger, the naked, the poor and the sick. "Our defence of the innocent unborn, for example, needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred," the Pope wrote.

"Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia...." And, he said, one cannot claim that defending the life of a migrant is a "secondary issue" when compared to abortion or other bio-ethical questions.

Pope Francis' exhortation also included warnings about a clear lack of holiness demonstrated by some Catholics on Twitter or other social media, especially when commenting anonymously. "It is striking at times," he said, that "in claiming to uphold the other Commandments, they completely ignore the eighth, which forbids bearing false witness or lying."

The exhortation ends with a section on "discernment," which is a gift to be requested of the Holy Spirit and developed through prayer, reflection, reading Scripture and seeking counsel from a trusted spiritual guide. "A sincere daily 'examination of conscience'" will help, he said, because holiness involves striving each day for "all that is great, better and more beautiful, while at the same time being concerned for the little things, for each day's responsibilities and commitments."

Compiled from Catholic News Service