God calls all Christians to be saints – real people who make time for prayer and who show loving care for others in the simplest gestures, Pope Francis said in his new document on holiness.
“Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy,” the Pope write in “Gaudete et Exsultate”, his apostolic exhortation on “the call to holiness in today’s world.”
Pope Francis signed the exhortation on March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph, and the Vatican released it on April 9th.
Much of the document wads written in the second person, speaking directly to the individual reading it. “With this exhortation I would like to insist primarily on the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to each of us, the call that he also addresses, personally, to you,” he wrote.
Pope Francis focused mainly on how the call to holiness is a personal call, something God asks of each Christian and which requires a personal response given one’s state in life, talents and circumstances.
“We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can with draw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer,” he wrote. Buy “that is not the case.”
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 said.
He wrote about “the saints next door” and said he like “to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love. In those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.”
The path to holiness, he wrote, is almost always gradual, made up of small steps in prayer, in sacrifice and in service to others. Being part of a parish community and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and reconciliation are essential supports for living a holy life, Pope Francis wrote and so is time for silent prayer. “I do not believe in holiness without prayer.”