By Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI initiated the “Year of Faith” October 11, 2012 which terminates on Nov.24, 2013 on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe.
His Holiness encouraged us to get to know Jesus as Friend, but also to make Him known throughout the whole world.
From Baptism we are anointed as prophets to proclaim the Word of God by word and action. In Confirmation the Bishop said to those confirmed: “You are called to defend the faith and to spread the faith.”
Jesus’ last words in the Gospel of Mt 28:16-20 were to go out to the whole world and teach all nations… All baptized are called to be prophets, missionaries and evangelizers!
However as a prerequisite, Pope Benedict insisted upon our getting to know our faith better. For that reason, the Pope Emeritus insisted on studying key documents to bolster the knowledge of our faith.
In concrete Pope Benedict mentioned two key sources which must be the Magna Carta and foundation for Catholic-Christians who live in the 21st century. These are the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Vatican II Documents.
With respect to the Vatican II Documents there are four key documents and these are called “Dogmatic Constitutions”. They are Dei Verbum (D.V.), Sacrosanctum Concilium (S.C.) and the last two refer to the Church (Gaudiem Spes. (G.S) and Lumen Gentium (L.G.)
So as to really penetrate the mind of the church in the modern world, it is incumbent upon us to get to know these two spiritual masterpieces which are indeed a goldmine of knowledge for us.
Chapter V of Lumen Gentium indeed is a masterpiece. This chapter is a vital challenge for all of us--- “The Universal Call to holiness”.
It means this: we are all called to become saints! Not some of us, but all of us are called to become saints; it is not partial but universal! We were created by a loving and holy God for one purpose--- to be holy in this life, to die in the state of holiness(sanctifying grace) so as to be united with a three-times holy God in heaven for all eternity!
Biblical verses are not lacking in this challenge to pursue holiness of life and to really become the saint that God calls me to be!
Jesus issued an imperious command: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt. 5:48)This is not the conditional tense; on the contrary, this is an imperative which means that this is a Divine order! There is no “buts” about it. The Lord commands it with stark realism!
One of the Beatitudes Jesus also states: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice (holiness), they will be satisfied.”(Mt 5:6) Our hunger and thirst for holiness should go beyond our hunger and thirst for physical food and drink. Why? The welfare and sanctification of our soul supersedes the welfare of the body.
Jesus also challenges us in our pursuit for holiness with these bold words: “What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?”(Mk. 8:31/Mt. 16:18)
Saint Paul in the letter to the Thessalonians reiterates Jesus’ call to holiness with these words: “This is the will of your heavenly Father-- your sanctification.”(I Thes. 4:3)
Blessed Mother Teresa always insisted on pursuing holiness. One of the primary conditions she had for receiving a possible “Missionary of Charity” nun was their clear desire to become a saint. Mother Teresa asserted: “Holiness is not the privilege of the few, but it is the duty of all.”
The case is clear, there is no alternative: we must all seriously pursue the pathway that leads to holiness and long to become the saint that from all eternity God has called us to be! The next obvious question is if I have to become a saint, then how and what steps must a take to arrive at that goal?
There are many practices that we could undertake to place us on the highway to holiness. However, I would like to mention only one which I sincerely believe is the quickest way to holiness; let us call it the shortcut!