Gaudete et Exsultate at a Vatican press conference April 9, A journalist reads Pope Francis' new apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate at a Vatican press conference April 9, We encourage a lively and honest discussion of our content. We ask that charity guide your words. The Universal Call to Holiness is a teaching of the Roman Catholic Church that all people are called to be holy , and is based on Matthew 5: In the opening pages of the Bible, the call to holiness is expressed in the Lord's words to Abraham: The universal call to holiness has always been a teaching of the Church and is rooted in its mission to take sinners and raise them from their sinful nature into saints by the glory and perfection of Jesus Christ.
For God does not choose us by our virtue or goodness, but by His infinite mercy and desire for all men's salvation. Written in the 17th century, it describes a method to approach holiness in everyday life. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things.
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They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. The saints expressed in various ways the powerful and transforming presence of the Risen One. At the end of this series of Catecheses, therefore, I would like to offer some thoughts on what holiness is. What does it mean to be holy? Who is called to be holy? Just as you cannot understand Christ apart from the kingdom he came to bring, so too your personal mission is inseparable from the building of that kingdom: Your identification with Christ and his will involves a commitment to build with him that kingdom of love, justice and universal peace.
Christ himself wants to experience this with you, in all the efforts and sacrifices that it entails, but also in all the joy and enrichment it brings. You cannot grow in holiness without committing yourself, body and soul, to giving your best to this endeavour. It is not healthy to love silence while fleeing interaction with others, to want peace and quiet while avoiding activity, to seek prayer while disdaining service. Everything can be accepted and integrated into our life in this world, and become a part of our path to holiness.
We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission. Could the Holy Spirit urge us to carry out a mission and then ask us to abandon it, or not fully engage in it, so as to preserve our inner peace? Needless to say, anything done out of anxiety, pride or the need to impress others will not lead to holiness. We are challenged to show our commitment in such a way that everything we do has evangelical meaning and identifies us all the more with Jesus Christ.
We often speak, for example, of the spirituality of the catechist, the spirituality of the diocesan priesthood, the spirituality of work. This does not mean ignoring the need for moments of quiet, solitude and silence before God. We are overwhelmed by words, by superficial pleasures and by an increasing din, filled not by joy but rather by the discontent of those whose lives have lost meaning. How can we fail to realize the need to stop this rat race and to recover the personal space needed to carry on a heartfelt dialogue with God?
Finding that space may prove painful but it is always fruitful. Sooner or later, we have to face our true selves and let the Lord enter. This denatures our spiritual experience.
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Can any spiritual fervour be sound when it dwells alongside sloth in evangelization or in service to others? In this way, every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness. Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. To depend on God sets us free from every form of enslavement and leads us to recognize our great dignity.
We see this in Saint Josephine Bakhita: But she came to understand the profound truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life. To the extent that each Christian grows in holiness, he or she will bear greater fruit for our world. Do not be afraid to set your sights higher, to allow yourself to be loved and liberated by God.
Do not be afraid to let yourself be guided by the Holy Spirit. Here I would like to mention two false forms of holiness that can lead us astray: They are two heresies from early Christian times, yet they continue to plague us. In our times too, many Christians, perhaps without realizing it, can be seduced by these deceptive ideas, which reflect an anthropocentric immanentism disguised as Catholic truth.
An intellect without God and without flesh. Certainly this is a superficial conceit: Still, gnosticism exercises a deceptive attraction for some people, since the gnostic approach is strict and allegedly pure, and can appear to possess a certain harmony or order that encompasses everything. Here we have to be careful.
I am not referring to a rationalism inimical to Christian faith. It can be present within the Church, both among the laity in parishes and teachers of philosophy and theology in centres of formation. Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible.
They absolutize their own theories and force others to submit to their way of thinking. A healthy and humble use of reason in order to reflect on the theological and moral teaching of the Gospel is one thing. Gnosticism is one of the most sinister ideologies because, while unduly exalting knowledge or a specific experience, it considers its own vision of reality to be perfect. Thus, perhaps without even realizing it, this ideology feeds on itself and becomes even more myopic.
It can become all the more illusory when it masks itself as a disembodied spirituality. When somebody has an answer for every question, it is a sign that they are not on the right road. They may well be false prophets, who use religion for their own purposes, to promote their own psychological or intellectual theories. God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises.
We are not the ones to determine when and how we will encounter him; the exact times and places of that encounter are not up to us.
Nor can we claim to say where God is not, because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties. If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.
This is part of the mystery that a gnostic mentality cannot accept, since it is beyond its control. It is not easy to grasp the truth that we have received from the Lord. And it is even more difficult to express it. A dangerous confusion can arise.
When Saint Francis of Assisi saw that some of his disciples were engaged in teaching, he wanted to avoid the temptation to gnosticism. He wrote to Saint Anthony of Padua: Saint Bonaventure, on the other hand, pointed out that true Christian wisdom can never be separated from mercy towards our neighbour: Gnosticism gave way to another heresy, likewise present in our day. As time passed, many came to realize that it is not knowledge that betters us or makes us saints, but the kind of life we lead.
But this subtly led back to the old error of the gnostics, which was simply transformed rather than eliminated.
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The same power that the gnostics attributed to the intellect, others now began to attribute to the human will, to personal effort. This was the case with the pelagians and semi-pelagians. Now it was not intelligence that took the place of mystery and grace, but our human will. Ultimately, the lack of a heartfelt and prayerful acknowledgment of our limitations prevents grace from working more effectively within us, for no room is left for bringing about the potential good that is part of a sincere and genuine journey of growth.
That kind of thinking would show too much confidence in our own abilities. Underneath our orthodoxy, our attitudes might not correspond to our talk about the need for grace, and in specific situations we can end up putting little trust in it. Unless we can acknowledge our concrete and limited situation, we will not be able to see the real and possible steps that the Lord demands of us at every moment, once we are attracted and empowered by his gift.
Pope Francis offers practical steps to holiness in new exhortation | xecykisypife.tk
Grace acts in history; ordinarily it takes hold of us and transforms us progressively. When God speaks to Abraham, he tells him: In order to be blameless, as he would have us, we need to live humbly in his presence, cloaked in his glory; we need to walk in union with him, recognizing his constant love in our lives. We need to lose our fear before that presence which can only be for our good. God is the Father who gave us life and loves us greatly. Once we accept him, and stop trying to live our lives without him, the anguish of loneliness will disappear cf. In this way we will know the pleasing and perfect will of the Lord cf.
So often we say that God dwells in us, but it is better to say that we dwell in him, that he enables us to dwell in his light and love. He is our temple; we ask to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our life cf. In him is our holiness. The Church has repeatedly taught that we are justified not by our own works or efforts, but by the grace of the Lord, who always takes the initiative. The Fathers of the Church, even before Saint Augustine, clearly expressed this fundamental belief.
Saint John Chrysostom said that God pours into us the very source of all his gifts even before we enter into battle. The Second Synod of Orange taught with firm authority that nothing human can demand, merit or buy the gift of divine grace, and that all cooperation with it is a prior gift of that same grace: This is one of the great convictions that the Church has come firmly to hold. It is so clearly expressed in the word of God that there can be no question of it. Like the supreme commandment of love, this truth should affect the way we live, for it flows from the heart of the Gospel and demands that we not only accept it intellectually but also make it a source of contagious joy.
Still, some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: Some Christians spend their time and energy on these things, rather than letting themselves be led by the Spirit in the way of love, rather than being passionate about communicating the beauty and the joy of the Gospel and seeking out the lost among the immense crowds that thirst for Christ.
Not infrequently, contrary to the promptings of the Spirit, the life of the Church can become a museum piece or the possession of a select few. This can occur when some groups of Christians give excessive importance to certain rules, customs or ways of acting. The Gospel then tends to be reduced and constricted, deprived of its simplicity, allure and savour.
This may well be a subtle form of pelagianism, for it appears to subject the life of grace to certain human structures. It can affect groups, movements and communities, and it explains why so often they begin with an intense life in the Spirit, only to end up fossilized… or corrupt. Once we believe that everything depends on human effort as channelled by ecclesial rules and structures, we unconsciously complicate the Gospel and become enslaved to a blueprint that leaves few openings for the working of grace.
To avoid this, we do well to keep reminding ourselves that there is a hierarchy of virtues that bids us seek what is essential. The primacy belongs to the theological virtues, which have God as their object and motive. At the centre is charity. We are called to make every effort to preserve charity: In other words, amid the thicket of precepts and prescriptions, Jesus clears a way to seeing two faces, that of the Father and that of our brother.
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He does not give us two more formulas or two more commands. He gives us two faces, or better yet, one alone: Indeed, with the scraps of this frail humanity, the Lord will shape his final work of art. These two riches do not disappear! May the Lord set the Church free from these new forms of gnosticism and pelagianism that weigh her down and block her progress along the path to holiness!
These aberrations take various shapes, according to the temperament and character of each person. So I encourage everyone to reflect and discern before God whether they may be present in their lives. There can be any number of theories about what constitutes holiness, with various explanations and distinctions. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes cf. So if anyone asks: We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. It expresses the fact that those faithful to God and his word, by their self-giving, gain true happiness.
The Beatitudes are in no way trite or undemanding, quite the opposite.
We can only practise them if the Holy Spirit fills us with his power and frees us from our weakness, our selfishness, our complacency and our pride. Let us listen once more to Jesus, with all the love and respect that the Master deserves. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand a real change in the way we live. Otherwise, holiness will remain no more than an empty word. We turn now to the individual Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew cf. The Gospel invites us to peer into the depths of our heart, to see where we find our security in life.
Usually the rich feel secure in their wealth, and think that, if that wealth is threatened, the whole meaning of their earthly life can collapse. Jesus himself tells us this in the parable of the rich fool: In this way, we miss out on the greatest treasure of all.
That is why Jesus calls blessed those who are poor in spirit, those who have a poor heart, for there the Lord can enter with his perennial newness. In this way, he too invites us to live a plain and austere life. These are strong words in a world that from the beginning has been a place of conflict, disputes and enmity on all sides, where we constantly pigeonhole others on the basis of their ideas, their customs and even their way of speaking or dressing.
Ultimately, it is the reign of pride and vanity, where each person thinks he or she has the right to dominate others. Nonetheless, impossible as it may seem, Jesus proposes a different way of doing things: This is what we see him doing with his disciples. It is what we contemplate on his entrance to Jerusalem: If we are constantly upset and impatient with others, we will end up drained and weary. But if we regard the faults and limitations of others with tenderness and meekness, without an air of superiority, we can actually help them and stop wasting our energy on useless complaining.
Paul speaks of meekness as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit cf.
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Meekness is yet another expression of the interior poverty of those who put their trust in God alone. Indeed, in the Bible the same word — anawim — usually refers both to the poor and to the meek. At times they may, but so be it. It is always better to be meek, for then our deepest desires will be fulfilled.
In every situation, the meek put their hope in the Lord, and those who hope for him shall possess the land… and enjoy the fullness of peace cf. For his part, the Lord trusts in them: The world tells us exactly the opposite: The worldly person ignores problems of sickness or sorrow in the family or all around him; he averts his gaze. The world has no desire to mourn; it would rather disregard painful situations, cover them up or hide them. Much energy is expended on fleeing from situations of suffering in the belief that reality can be concealed.
But the cross can never be absent.
Pope Francis offers practical steps to holiness in new exhortation
Such persons are unafraid to share in the suffering of others; they do not flee from painful situations. They discover the meaning of life by coming to the aid of those who suffer, understanding their anguish and bringing relief. They sense that the other is flesh of our flesh, and are not afraid to draw near, even to touch their wounds. They feel compassion for others in such a way that all distance vanishes. Hunger and thirst are intense experiences, since they involve basic needs and our instinct for survival. There are those who desire justice and yearn for righteousness with similar intensity.
Jesus says that they will be satisfied, for sooner or later justice will come. We can cooperate to make that possible, even if we may not always see the fruit of our efforts. Jesus offers a justice other than that of the world, so often marred by petty interests and manipulated in various ways.
Experience shows how easy it is to become mired in corruption, ensnared in the daily politics of quid pro quo , where everything becomes business. How many people suffer injustice, standing by powerlessly while others divvy up the good things of this life.
Some give up fighting for real justice and opt to follow in the train of the winners. This has nothing to do with the hunger and thirst for justice that Jesus praises. Mercy has two aspects. It involves giving, helping and serving others, but it also includes forgiveness and understanding. Matthew sums it up in one golden rule: Luke then adds something not to be overlooked: The yardstick we use for understanding and forgiving others will measure the forgiveness we receive.
The yardstick we use for giving will measure what we receive. We should never forget this. We need to think of ourselves as an army of the forgiven. All of us have been looked upon with divine compassion. If we approach the Lord with sincerity and listen carefully, there may well be times when we hear his reproach: This Beatitude speaks of those whose hearts are simple, pure and undefiled, for a heart capable of love admits nothing that might harm, weaken or endanger that love. The Bible uses the heart to describe our real intentions, the things we truly seek and desire, apart from all appearances.
God wants to speak to our hearts cf. In a word, he wants to give us a new heart cf. Certainly there can be no love without works of love, but this Beatitude reminds us that the Lord expects a commitment to our brothers and sisters that comes from the heart. A heart that loves God and neighbour cf. This Beatitude makes us think of the many endless situations of war in our world.
Yet we ourselves are often a cause of conflict or at least of misunderstanding. For example, I may hear something about someone and I go off and repeat it. I may even embellish it the second time around and keep spreading it… And the more harm it does, the more satisfaction I seem to derive from it. The world of gossip, inhabited by negative and destructive people, does not bring peace.
To those who sow peace Jesus makes this magnificent promise: He told his disciples that, wherever they went, they were to say: Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance. He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted simply because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others.
In living the Gospel, we cannot expect that everything will be easy, for the thirst for power and worldly interests often stands in our way. As a result, the Beatitudes are not easy to live out; any attempt to do so will be viewed negatively, regarded with suspicion, and met with ridicule.
Whatever weariness and pain we may experience in living the commandment of love and following the way of justice, the cross remains the source of our growth and sanctification. Here we are speaking about inevitable persecution, not the kind of persecution we might bring upon ourselves by our mistreatment of others.
The saints are not odd and aloof, unbearable because of their vanity, negativity and bitterness. The Apostles of Christ were not like that. Persecutions are not a reality of the past, for today too we experience them, whether by the shedding of blood, as is the case with so many contemporary martyrs, or by more subtle means, by slander and lies. At other times, persecution can take the form of gibes that try to caricature our faith and make us seem ridiculous.
Holiness, then, is not about swooning in mystic rapture. Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus, it is my duty to ask Christians to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness, sine glossa. If I encounter a person sleeping outdoors on a cold night, I can view him or her as an annoyance, an idler, an obstacle in my path, a troubling sight, a problem for politicians to sort out, or even a piece of refuse cluttering a public space.
Or I can respond with faith and charity, and see in this person a human being with a dignity identical to my own, a creature infinitely loved by the Father, an image of God, a brother or sister redeemed by Jesus Christ. That is what it is to be a Christian! Can holiness somehow be understood apart from this lively recognition of the dignity of each human being?
For Christians, this involves a constant and healthy unease. Even if helping one person alone could justify all our efforts, it would not be enough. The bishops of Canada made this clear when they noted, for example, that the biblical understanding of the jubilee year was about more than simply performing certain good works. It also meant seeking social change: Ideologies striking at the heart of the Gospel. I regret that ideologies lead us at times to two harmful errors.
On the one hand, there is the error of those Christians who separate these Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, from their interior union with him, from openness to his grace. For these great saints, mental prayer, the love of God and the reading of the Gospel in no way detracted from their passionate and effective commitment to their neighbours; quite the opposite. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.
Or they relativize it, as if there are other more important matters, or the only thing that counts is one particular ethical issue or cause that they themselves defend.