The third apostolic exhortation of Pope Francis’ pontificate, published recently is a call to holiness – simple and accessible, without being watered down or superficial. It is a papal document written in a personal tone, to remove any “fear of holiness.” This is a wonderful inspirational read. Here are 15 key words from Gaudete et Exultate.
Beatitudes (n.63): 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. The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card.
Mary (n.176): I would like these reflections to be crowned by Mary, because she lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. […] Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us.
Persecution (n. 92-93): Whatever weariness and pain we may experience in living the commandment of love and following the way of justice, the cross remains the source of our growth and sanctification.
Joy (n.122 and 126): Far from being timid, morose, acerbic or melancholy, or putting on a dreary face, the saints are joyful and full of good humour. Though completely realistic, they radiate a positive and hopeful spirit. […] Christian joy is usually accompanied by a sense of humour. […] Ill humour is no sign of holiness.
Silence (n.149, 150 and 151): 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. […] 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?
Eucharist (n.157): Meeting Jesus in the Scriptures leads us to the Eucharist, where the written word attains its greatest efficacy, for there the living Word is truly present. In the Eucharist, the one true God receives the greatest worship the world can give him, for it is Christ himself who is offered.
Testimony (n.138): We are inspired to act by the example of all those priests, religious, and laity who devote themselves to proclamation and to serving others with great fidelity, often at the risk of their lives and certainly at the cost of their comfort. Their testimony reminds us that, more than bureaucrats and functionaries, the Church needs passionate missionaries, enthusiastic about sharing true life.
Humility (n.118, 119 and 120): Humility can only take root in the heart through humiliations. Without them, there is no humility or holiness. If you are unable to suffer and offer up a few humiliations, you are not humble and you are not on the path to holiness. […] Humiliation makes you resemble Jesus; it is an unavoidable aspect of the imitation of Christ. […] Here I am not speaking only about stark situations of martyrdom, but about […] daily humiliations. […] It is a grace to be sought in prayer.
The devil (n.158-161): The Christian life is a constant battle. […] Indeed, in leaving us the Our Father, Jesus wanted us to conclude by asking the Father to “deliver us from evil”. That final word does not refer to evil in the abstract; a more exact translation would be “the evil one”. It indicates a personal being who assails us. […] We should not think of the devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea.
Internet (n.155): Christians too can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet […]. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become common place, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned. The result is a dangerous dichotomy, since things can be said there that would be unacceptable in public discourse, and people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others.
Ideology (n.100 and 101): I regret that ideologies lead us at times to two harmful errors. On the one hand, there is the error of those Christians who separate these Gospel demands from their personal relationship with the Lord, […] from openness to his grace. Christianity thus becomes a sort of NGO stripped of the luminous mysticism […]. The other harmful ideological error is found in those who find suspect the social engagement of others, seeing it as superficial, worldly, secular, materialist, communist or populist.
The poor (n.96 and 97): In this call to recognise him in the poor and the suffering, we see revealed the very heart of Christ, his deepest feelings and choices, which every saint seeks to imitate. […] Given these uncompromising demands of Jesus [to help those most in need], it is my duty to ask Christians to acknowledge and accept them in a spirit of genuine openness, sine glossa. In other words, without any “ifs or buts” that could lessen their force.
Migrants (n.102 and 103): We often hear it said that, with respect to relativism and the flaws of our present world, the situation of migrants, for example, is a lesser issue. […] The only proper attitude [for a Christian] is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children. Can we not realise that this is exactly what Jesus demands of us, when he tells us that in welcoming the stranger we welcome him? […] This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.
Simplicity (n.108): Hedonism and consumerism can prove our downfall, for when we are obsessed with our own pleasure, we end up being all too concerned about ourselves and our rights […]. We will find it hard to feel and show any real concern for those in need, unless we are able to cultivate a certain simplicity of life, resisting the feverish demands of a consumer society […].
Missionary boldness (n.129, 130 and 131): Holiness […] is boldness, an impulse to evangelise and to leave a mark in this world. […] [The Lord] bids us to spend our lives in his service. […] We are weak, yet we hold a treasure that can enlarge us and make those who receive it better and happier. Boldness and apostolic courage are an essential part of mission.