If you are in Coffee and Theology on Sunday morning – then you know all about the encyclical (which just means it is a long letter) that Pope Francis wrote in March of this year called: Gaudete et Exsultate: Rejoice and Be Glad described as a “Call to Holiness” in today’s world.
Pope Francis says, as did the Second Vatican Council in its document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, ( The Light of the Nations) – that all of us are called to holiness – all of us are called to be saints! Pope Francis says that Jesus wants us to be saints, to be holy and blameless before him in love – and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence.
On this feast of All Saints, when we celebrate the men and women who have gone before us for the last 2,000 years who are now counted among the saints of heaven (which as of October 14 now includes Pope Paul VI, Bishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador and 4 others) – I want to read to you a few paragraphs of the Pope’s message to give us all something to strive for on our road to holiness – on our journey toward sainthood.
Pope Francis writes (Paragraph 14-18):
To be holy does not require being a bishop, a priest, or a religious. We are frequently 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 to the Gospel in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.
Are you called to the 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, as Christ does for the Church.
Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring 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.
Let the grace of your Baptism bear fruit in a path of holiness. Let everything be open to God; turn to God in every situation. Do not be dismayed, for the power of the Holy Spirit enables you to do this, and holiness, in the end, is the fruit of the Holy Spirit in your life.
This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbor, and they begin to speak – and the gossip starts.
But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone.” This is a step forward in holiness.
Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. Yet another sacrifice that brings holiness.
Later, she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness.
Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step in holiness.
In this way, led by God’s grace, we shape by many small gestures the holiness God has willed for us, not as men and women sufficient unto ourselves but rather as “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Our lives can demonstrate God’s power at work in us –even in the midst of human weakness.
SO: Gaudte et Exsultate: Rejoice and be glad – for as Pope Francis said many years ago: “You have never heard of a sad or gloomy faced saint. That would be a contradiction.” (Dec. 14, 2014)
Rejoice and be glad. Become holy. Become a saint. So all of us, together, can be a great cloud of witnesses – and be Lumen Gentium: a light to the nations. . .