Sunday, 15 April 2018

Rejoice and be glad... 3

Last week Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, Rejoice and be glad, on the call to holiness in today's world. You can read my previous posts about this here and here.

The fourth chapter. Signs of holiness in today's world, continues from the reflections on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) and the Last Judgement (Matthew 25).
Within the framework of holiness offered by the Beatitudes and Matthew 25:31-46, I would like to mention a few signs or spiritual attitudes that, in my opinion, are necessary if we are to understand the way of life to which the Lord calls us. I will not pause to explain the means of sanctification already known to us: the various methods of prayer, the inestimable sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, the offering of personal sacrifices, different forms of devotion, spiritual direction, and many others as well. Here I will speak only of certain aspects of the call to holiness that I hope will prove especially meaningful.
The titles of the sections in this chapter give a clue to what the Pope is exploring here:
  • Perseverance, patience and meekness.
  • Joy and a sense of humour.
  • Boldness and passion.
  • In community
  • In constant prayer
I wish I had time to explore each of these in some detail. However, let me conclude my reflections on this chapter with beautiful words from the final section of this chapter: they seem to encapsulate the link between prayer and holiness in our daily lives to which Pope Francis is calling us:
Trust-filled prayer is a response of a heart open to encountering God face to face, where all is peaceful and the quiet voice of the Lord can be heard in the midst of silence.
In that silence, we can discern, in the light of the Spirit, the paths of holiness to which the Lord is calling us. Otherwise, any decisions we make may only be window-dressing that, rather than exalting the Gospel in our lives, will mask or submerge it. For each disciple, it is essential to spend time with the Master, to listen to his words, and to learn from him always. Unless we listen, all our words will be nothing but useless chatter.
We need to remember that “contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ”. So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.
To be continued...