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KENINGAU – Papal nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino summarised Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness on 4 May 2018 at the celebration of Keningau silver jubilee here.
The talk was given at the newly completed Immanuel Catechetical Building to invited guests and organisers of the celebration.
In his talk, the nuncio pointed out three important aspects of the document, Gaudate et Exsultate (GE).
First, the pope is proposing once again the universal call to holiness as stated in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium: “all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of Christian life and the perfection of charity” (LG 40).
Second, he proposes a practical understanding of Christian holiness – how holiness is manifested and concretely lived, not by a select few, but all in that ‘great cloud of winesses’ (Heb 12:1), who include “our own mothers, grandmothers and loved ones,” who each day “keep moving forward and proved pleasing to God” (GE 3).
Third, the pope wants the faithful to embrace a holiness “for our time” – a Christian life that reflects a true and visible response to the needs of our time, a response to the longings of every human being, which only the Gospel is capable of fulfilling.
The nuncio said the document points out the sources of holiness are baptism, the Holy Spirit and life in and with the Church.
However, the nuncio warned his audience of the two errors which have plagued the Church almost from its beginning: gnosticism (holiness comes from knowledge, not from acts of charity), and pelagianism (holiness by personal efforts).
Holiness in life, according to Pope Francis, is “charity lived in faith” (GE 12) through the eight Beatitudes as found in the Gospels of Matthew (5:3-12) and Luke (6:20-23).
In the final chapter of the exhortation, Pope Francis lists signs of holiness in today’s world. They are 1) perseverance, patience and meekness; 2) joy and a sense of humour; 3) boldness and passion; 4) constant prayer.
According to Abp Marino, the Vatican paper, Osservatore Romano editorialised the exhortation this way: Holy, yes, but not superhuman or perfect. Simply ordinary people who are unafraid to set their sights higher and each day allow themselves to be loved and liberated by God, transforming their lives into an ongoing mission to service to others. Very often it is holiness found in our next-door neighbours, in those living in our midst reflect God’s presence; this everyday holiness is at the heart of the Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate.