Pages

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Universal Call to Holiness

In his last catechesis on the Saints and holiness, Pope Benedict XVI said:

"I would like to offer an idea of what holiness is.

What does it mean to be saints? Who is called to be a saint?

Often it is thought that holiness is a goal reserved for a few chosen ones.

St. Paul, however, speaks of God's great plan and affirms: "[God] chose us in him [Christ], before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us" (Ephesians 1:4). And he speaks of all of us.

At the centre of the divine design is Christ, in whom God shows his Face: the Mystery hidden in the centuries has been revealed in the fullness of the Word made flesh. And Paul says afterward: "For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell" (Colossians 1:19). In Christ the living God has made himself close, visible, audible, tangible so that all can obtain his fullness of grace and truth (cf. John 1:14-16).

Because of this, the whole of Christian existence knows only one supreme law, the one St. Paul expresses in a formula that appears in all his writings: in Christ Jesus.

Holiness, the fullness of Christian life does not consist of realizing extraordinary enterprises, but in union with Christ, in living his mysteries, in making our own his attitudes, his thoughts, his conduct.

The measure of holiness is given by the height of holiness that Christ attains in us, of how much, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, we mould all our life to his. It is our conforming ourselves to Jesus, as St. Paul affirms: "For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son" (Romans 8:29). And St. Augustine exclaimed: "My life will be alive full of You" (Confessions, 10, 28).

In the Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council spoke with clarity of the universal call to holiness, affirming that no one is excluded:

"The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one -- that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who ... follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory" (No. 41)."

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)
Resurrection: Waking up 1945

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)
Resurrection: Reunion 1945

Sir Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)
Resurrection: Reunion 1947