Pope Francis recently presented to all Church members a very engaging letter with the name Gaudete et Exsultate. This is Latin for “rejoice and be glad” It is available at the website vatican.va
This letter speaks in practical terms about holiness and its fruits, which include joy and gratitude. Below are a few excerpts to ponder:
Regarding the mystery of experiencing God… He is both transcendent and immanent with no conflict between these two extremes:
- God infinitely transcends us; he is full of surprises. We are not the ones to determine when and how we will encounter him; the exact times and places of that encounter are not up to us. Someone who wants everything to be clear and sure presumes to control God’s transcendence.
- Nor can we claim to say where God is not, because God is mysteriously present in the life of every person, in a way that he himself chooses, and we cannot exclude this by our presumed certainties. Even when someone’s life appears completely wrecked, even when we see it devastated by vices or addictions, God is present there. If we let ourselves be guided by the Spirit rather than our own preconceptions, we can and must try to find the Lord in every human life.
Our access to the fullness of God is only through Jesus Christ, who alone is truly God and truly human. Each of us is called to holiness through our relationship with Jesus. Pope Francis defines holiness this way:
- At its core, holiness is experiencing, in union with Christ, the mysteries of his life. It consists in uniting ourselves to the Lord’s death and resurrection in a unique and personal way, constantly dying and rising anew with him. But it can also entail reproducing in our own lives various aspects of Jesus’ earthly life: his hidden life, his life in community, his closeness to the outcast, his poverty and other ways in which he showed his self-sacrificing love.
How does a person grow in holiness? Pope Francis points to the Church as a wonderful help:
- In the Church, holy yet made up of sinners, you will find everything you need to grow towards holiness. The Lord has bestowed on the Church the gifts of scripture, the sacraments, holy places, living communities, the witness of the saints and a multifaceted beauty that proceeds from God’s love, “like a bride bedecked with jewels” (Is 61:10).
Pope Francis also mentions the Blessed Virgin Mary and her special role in helping each of us to grow in holiness.
- 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 of sorrow. 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. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us. Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: “Hail Mary…”
To download the full text please click here.