Jesus wants our happiness and wants us to be saints. He does not want us to settle for a bland and mediocre existence.
Gaudate et Exsultate: On the Call for Holiness in our Modern World was published today, marking Pope Francis’ 3rd Apostolic Exhortation after Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia.
The five-chapter, 98-page document can be considered somewhat of a practical handbook on how to help us achieve holiness in the circumstances of our ordinary lives. The chapters include: 1) The Call to Holiness 2) Two Subtle Enemies of Holiness 3) In the Light of the Master 4) Signs of Holiness in Today’s World 5) Spiritual Combat, Vigilance and Discernment.
Reflecting on saints, the Pope speaks specifically of the saints ‘next door:’ “Nor need we think of those already beatified and canonized,” but, he stressed, “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: In their daily perseverance, I see the holiness of the Church militant. A holiness found in our next-door neighbors, the middle class of holiness.”
The document which stresses the need for discernment acknowledges that the Christian life is a battle. It notes that the devil tries to “poison with the venom of hatred, desolation and vice.”
Our call to holiness, it also asserts, is a constant battle. If we do not realize this, it warns, we “will be prey to failure or mediocrity.” Yet, it suggests, we can count on “the powerful weapons” God has given us, including prayer, meditation, Mass, Confession, Eucharistic adoration, charitable acts and community outreach.
While recalling some of the saints’ great examples, including St Francis of Assisi, St John Paul II, and Edith Stein, the Pope provides advice on how we can be good Christians.
The answer is clear, he says: “We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.”
The life of a Christian, the text also stresses, is a constant battle, noting we need strength and courage to reject the devil’s temptations–those “dangers and limitations that distract and debilitate”– and to proclaim the Gospel. Pope Francis also warns against that which impedes our call to holiness, such as hedonism and consumerism, noting they “can prove our downfall.”
Pope Francis concludes the work, stating: “It is my hope that these pages will prove helpful by enabling the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness.”