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The soul of holiness

The Second Vatican Council tells us that Christian holiness is nothing other than charity lived to the full (1 Jn 4:16).

Now God has poured out His love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom 5:5); therefore the first and most necessary gift is charity, by which we love God above all things and our neighbour through love of Him.

But if charity, like a good seed, is to grow and fructify in the soul, each of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and carry out His will with deeds, with the help of His grace.

To put it simply, it means never leaving a Sunday without an encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an additional burden but is light for the whole week.

It means never beginning and never ending a day without at least a brief contact with God.  And on this path of our life it means following the “signposts” that God has communicated to us in the Ten Commandments.

It seems to me that this is the true simplicity and greatness of a life of holiness: the encounter with the Risen One on Sunday; contact with God at the beginning and at the end of the day; following, in decisions, the “signposts” that God has communicated to us, which are but forms of charity.

During the Liturgical Year, the Church invites us to commemorate a host of saints who lived charity to the full, who know how to love and follow Christ in their daily lives.  For me, I would like to add that not only a few great saints whom I love and whom I know well are “signposts,” but precisely also the simple saints, that is the good people I see in my life who will never be canonised.  They are ordinary people, without visible heroism but in their everyday goodness I see the truth of faith.  This goodness, which they have developed in the faith of the Church, is for me the most reliable apology of Christianity and the sign of where the truth lies.

How can we take the path to holiness, in order to respond to this call?  Can I do this on my own initiative?

The answer is clear.  A holy life is not primarily the result of our efforts, of our actions, because it is God, who sanctifies us, it is the Holy Spirit’s action that enlivens us from within, it is the very life of the Risen Christ that is communicated to us and that transforms us.

I would like to ask all to open themselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, who transforms our life to be small pieces in the great mosaic of holiness that God continues to create in history, so that the face of Christ may shine out in the fullness of its splendour.  Let us not be afraid to aim high, for God’s heights; let us not be afraid that God will ask too much of us, but let ourselves be guided by His Word in every daily action. – Excerpt from Benedict VI’s General Audience on 13 April 2011

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