Gaudete et Exsultate!
DATELINE: Los Angeles, California
On March 19, 2018, the Feast of St. Joseph, on the 6th of his Pontificate, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, signed his latest Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad) with a sub-title “On the Call to Holiness in the Contemporary World”. The object of the exhortation is sanctity and vocation, the call to holiness for all baptized lay faithful. It is a call to become saints by witnessing evangelical joy in the everyday life of a person.
This is the 3rd Apostolic Exhortation of the Pope since his papacy. The first, “Evangelii Gaudium” (Joy of the Gospel), was released on November 24, 2013, and was addressed to “the bishops, the clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful” on the proclamation of the Gospel in the world today. It touches, among others, the obligations of the Christians to the poor. The second, “Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), was released on March 19, 2016, again addressed to “bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated persons, Christian married couples and all the lay faithful,” and is focused on love in the family.
As in the first two apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis again focus on the clergy, the consecrated persons and the lay faithful; he calls them to holiness, which is not a prerogative of the few but a gift offered to all. Everyone is called to sainthood, regardless of status in life.
Gaudete et Exsultate consists of five chapters:
- The Call to Holiness – Pope Francis declares that being holy “does not require being a bishop, a priest or a religious or a life dedicated to prayer. We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” He also enjoined everyone to be holy by loving and caring for the husband or wife. Be holy by working in his workplace with integrity and skill. If a parent or grandparent, be holy patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. If a person in authority, be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain. Holiness is an encounter between one’s weakness and the power of God’s grace.
- Two Subtle Enemies Of Holiness – Gnosticism and Pelagianism are two false forms of holiness. Gnosticism fails to realize that without God and without flesh, it is incapable of touching Christ’s suffering flesh in others. Even when someone’s life appears completely wrecked, God is present there; we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life. Pelagianism trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style. “They fail to realize that in this life human weaknesses are not healed completely and once for all by grace. God commands you to do what you can and to ask for what you cannot, and indeed to pray to him humbly.”
- In The Light of the Master – “Nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ Words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes. Pope Francis said: “What must one do to be a good Christian?’, the answer is clear. We have to do what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. The word “happy” or “blessed” thus becomes a synonym for “holy”. Accept daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems: that is holiness.”
- Signs Of Holiness In Today’s World – Pope Francis enumerated 5 great expressions of love for God and neighbor which are “of particular importance in the light of certain dangers and limitations present in today’s culture.” These are (1) Perseverance, patience and meekness; (2)Joy and a sense of humor; (3) Boldness and passion; (4) In community; (5) In constant prayer.
- Spiritual Combat, Vigilance And Discernment – Pope Francis cautioned that Christian life is a constant battle. “We need strength and courage to withstand the temptations of the devil and to proclaim the Gospel. This battle is sweet, for it allows us to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives.” He further said that “the path of holiness is a source of peace and joy, given to us by the Spirit. How can we know if something comes from the Holy Spirit, not from the spirit of the world or the devil? The only way is through discernment, which calls for something more than intelligence or common sense. The gift of discernment is all the more necessary today because contemporary life proclaims so many distractions as equally valid and good.”
Let us, therefore, pray to the Holy Spirit to give us the strength, courage, the right discernment to inspire and encourage one another to become holy.
Happy 5th Wedding Anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law Dr. Andres and Jinky Santiago, and special greetings to their sons Rome and Ella. Happy Birthday to my brother-in-law Roberto Imperial.