The Holy Father Pope Francis has released the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Gaudete et Exsultate‘ on the call to holiness in today’s world.
There is an emphasis on the document being practical and useful in modern times and it is not intended to be an academic or doctrinal text per se. As its accompanying summary document states, its goal is “to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time.”
The call to holiness in one that cries out to all of us in our daily lives. Gaudete et Exsultate‘ encourages us to take inspiration from the ‘Saints next door’ – people who may not be officially canonised but can be decisive in bringing about change. Pope Francis quotes Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: “The greatest figures of prophecy and sanctity step forth out of the darkest night. But for the most part, the formative stream of the mystical life remains invisible. Certainly the most decisive turning points in world history are substantially co-determined by souls whom no history book ever mentions. And we will only find out about those souls to whom we owe the decisive turning points in our personal lives on the day when all that is hidden is revealed.”
Holiness is described as the “most attractive face of the Church” and is attainable despite the challenges of everyday life. Pope Francis wants people to know that they don’t need special education or qualifications, nor to have taken religious vows to be holy – just an open heart and a desire to spend some time with the Lord in prayer and by reading the Gospel. He also wants people to know that the Church makes available everything they need to become holy.
A far reaching and accessible document, ‘Gaudete et Exsultate” examines many subjects tied in to our relationship with Christ – prayer, reading scripture, helping others, maintaining and upholding human dignity not to mention challenges to holiness such as the danger of gossip.It also looks at two ancient heresies – Gnosticism and Pelagianism.