In the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate ("Rejoice and be glad"), on the call to holiness in today's world (19-III-2018), Pope Francis explains the Christian path to holiness. A path that is proposed for everyone and of which we Christians must be especially aware.
TEXT - Ramiro Pellitero
After explaining the meaning of holiness, he warns of some misinterpretations. Then he shows the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Next, he presents some manifestations or characteristics of holiness. He concludes by highlighting some of the means available to Christians to collaborate in their own holiness. In a first and quick reading, it is important to point out a few points.
Holiness: Christian way
The first chapter ("The Call to Holiness".) presents the protection and closeness of the saints. The saints are people of the people, of the holy faithful people of God, with an expression pleasing to Francis. Many of them have lived and live close to us (it is holiness "from next door"). The call to holiness is addressed to every believer. "All -writes the Pope, echoing the Second Vatican Council. we are called to be saints, living with love and offering our own witness in our daily occupations, wherever we find ourselves". "Every saint is a mission." which is lived by reproducing in one's own life the mysteries of Christ's life. And this mission makes life fuller, more joyful, more holy.
Francisco highlights "two subtle enemies of holiness." (chapter two), relying on the statements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Letter Placuit Deo, 22-II-2018): current Gnosticism and Pelagianism. They are - he affirms - two forms of anthropocentrism, disguised as Catholic truth. Salvation cannot be sought by reason or will alone, because God alone saves man. Instead, these paths lead to a superiority complex that forgets the primacy of God's grace and the importance of mercy towards one's neighbor, the recognition of one's own sins and attention to the material and spiritual needs of others.
Holiness for all, today
"In the Light of the Master". (chapter three) we see that Christians are called to be happy by seeking God's love and service to those around us. This is clear in the Beatitudes and in the parable of the Last Judgment (cf. Mt 25:31-46). St. Teresa of Calcutta said: "If we take too much care of ourselves, we will have no time left for others.".
Like "notes on holiness in today's world." (chapter four) Francis points out: endurance, patience and meekness; joy and a sense of humor; boldness and fervor; the communitarian dimension of holiness; the need for constant prayer (together with the reading of Sacred Scripture and the encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist).
Exit from ourselves
Finally (chapter five), to advance towards holiness he proposes three means: spiritual combat (among other things because the devil exists); examination of conscience (to avoid corruption and lukewarmness); and discernment (to know how to walk where God leads us with freedom of spirit, generosity and love, and keeping in mind the "logic of the cross").
"Discernment -writes Francisco. is not a self-absorbed self-analysis, a selfish introspection, but a true going out of ourselves towards the mystery of God, which helps us to live the mission to which he has called us for the good of our brothers and sisters"..
Its clear and direct language makes this exhortation an incisive proposal, which can bring about many fruits of Christian life and evangelization. The path to holiness is to seek union with Jesus Christ. Holiness, in fact, does not require special abilities, nor is it reserved to the most intelligent or educated. It only requires letting oneself be made by the Holy Spirit: "Let him -The Pope advises may it forge in you that personal mystery that reflects Jesus Christ in today's world"..
Degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela. Professor of Ecclesiology and Pastoral Theology in the Department of Systematic Theology at the University of Navarra.