The following are extracts from Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Happy) issued last Monday:
Middle class holiness
“I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in parents who raise their children with immense love, in men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them ‘the middle class of holiness’.”
Ordinary life holiness
“We are tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer. That is not the case. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do.
“Are you called to consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain.”
Don’t fear 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 enslavement and leads us to recognise our great dignity. We see this in St Josephine Bakhita: Abducted and sold into slavery at the age of seven, she suffered at the hands of cruel masters. But she came to understand the truth that God, and not man, is the true Master of every human being, of every human life.”
Defend the unborn
“Our defence of the innocent unborn needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred are the lives of the poor, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery and every form of rejection. We cannot uphold an ideal of holiness that would ignore injustice in a world where some revel, spend with abandon and live only for the latest consumer goods, even as others look on from afar, living their entire lives in abject poverty.
(Compiled by Fr Joe Borg)
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