BY Peter Diamond | April 13 2018 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Pope: Be hold, be saints; do not settle for mediocre existence

Holy Father says holiness can be found through going against the flow

Pope Francis has released an extensive apostolic letter urging Catholics not to ‘long for an easy life’ but to seek holiness through challenging society.

Gaudete et Exsultate (‘Rejoice and be glad’), subtitled ‘On the call to holiness in today’s world,’ is Pope Francis’ third apostolic exhortation, after Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) in 2013, and Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) in 2016.

The third of the Pope’s apostolic exhortations bears the date March 19, 2018, and marks the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father’s inaugural Mass on the Feast of St Joseph, March 19, 2013.

The exhortation speaks to the faithful about their duty at the heart of that call, which is to be in relationship with Christ.

Jesus ‘wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence,’ Pope Francis wrote.

“Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes.

“My modest goal is to re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities.”

 

Prayer

The Holy Father called for Catholics to make time for prayer, to undertake a daily examination of conscience, to read the Gospels regularly and to frequent the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession.

The 44-page apostolic exhortation has an entire chapter about two ancient enemies of Holiness—Gnosticism and Pelagianism—and warns of seeking salvation not through the power of Christ but through the power of ideas or human effort.

Pope Francis gave warning for Christians to beware of ‘a dangerous confusion which can arise.’

“We can think that because we know something, or are able to explain it in certain terms, we are already saints, perfect and better than the ‘ignorant masses,’” he said.

The Holy Father emphasised that the key point was that when we are saved, we become holy, not by our own sophisticated ideas or strong efforts but by being constantly open to the assistance God offered us, in our weakness.

A mention was given to gossip as a form of violence that destroyed communities, and Pope Francis also criticised social media as a modern way to spread lies and wrong information.

Somebody who was on the road to holiness, he wrote, refrained from engaging in and repeating gossip.

 

Courage

He also called for boldness and an impulse to evangelise, and for the faithful to leave a mark in this world, even if this meant being persecuted.

“Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission,” he wrote. “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.

Pope Francis said: “Unless we wish to sink into an obscure mediocrity, let us not long for an easy life, for ‘whoever would save his life will lose it’ (Matthew 16:25).

Pope Francis warned that ideologies struck 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,” the Holy Father wrote. “Christianity thus becomes a sort of NGO stripped of the luminous mysticism so evident in the lives of St Francis of Assisi, St Vincent de Paul, St Teresa of Calcutta, and many others.

“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.”

Pope Francis warned that any journey towards holiness involved a struggle with the Devil.

“We are not dealing merely with a battle against the world and a worldly mentality that would deceive us and leave us dull and mediocre, lacking in enthusiasm and joy,” he wrote. “Nor can this battle be reduced to the struggle against our human weaknesses and proclivities (be they laziness, lust, envy, jealousy or any others).

“It is also a constant struggle against the Devil, the prince of evil. Jesus himself celebrates our victories.”

 

 

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