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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Answer the Call to Holiness

Universal Call to Holiness at National Shrine
The Laity
The laity makes up the largest group of the Church and its members are defined as those not ordained (CCC, 897; LG, 31). Many lay Catholics today have heard of “the universal call to holiness,” yet few know what this phrase means, let alone how to rightly pursue it in their daily lives. This is evident in the current mindset that says, “I love Jesus, but I just can’t buy into the teachings of the Church.” Mindful of this crisis of faith, Pope Benedict XVI instituted a Year of Faith, in which we have been instructed, among other things, to spend time reading the documents of Vatican II (Porta fidei, 5). In so doing we can discover what this call to holiness demands and what role the Church serves in helping us become sanctified, for indeed we are all “called to be saints” (Rom 1:7).

Pray, Pay and Obey
Ask a regular Joe fifty years ago what the role the laity served in the Catholic Church and you were likely to get an answer similar to this: "To pray, to pay and to obey." The fact is that many still fill that way, but Vatican II emphasized that we are ALL called to holiness – ordained and laity alike (LG, 40).

Holiness Defined
Holiness means to belong to God, to be in union with Him for holiness is an attribute of God. To be perfect, as God the Father is (Matt 5:48), requires that one be in unity with God. This is precisely what John the Baptist was articulating when he said “He must increase; I must decrease” (John 3:30). This means enjoining one’s will with the will of God. Thus the ultimate expression of one’s gift of free will is freely returning it to the Father. Then and only then can we say that it is not us who lives, but Christ Jesus who lives (Gal. 2:20). Put another way, holiness is the process of ongoing conversion towards this union with the Father, this relationship with the Holy Spirit, this friendship with Christ.

God Calls Us
God initiates this call to holiness, which is essentially a call to a relationship with him. Since God calls us, it must be possible to answer. In his love for us, God provides man with the tools for sanctification. Primary among these are the sacraments which all draw us closer to him by availing us to his grace. He also gives us the liturgy so that me might learn how to pray, the essential tool to develop our relationship with the Lord. He provides the faithful with role models to follow in the lives of the saints. Their lives provide evidence that answering the call to holiness is possible for all.

JP2 on Holiness...In His Own Words