Lumen Gentium 42

A wrap-up for the “universal call to holiness” begins with an appeal for the greatest gift:

“God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him”.(1 Jn. 4, 16.) But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;(Cf. Rom 5. 5.) thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God’s grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues. For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law,(Cf. Col. 3, 14; Rom. 13, 10.) rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means.(Cfr. S. Augustinus, Enchir. 121, 32: PL 40 288. S. Thomas Summa Theol. II-II, q. 184, a. 1. Pius XII, Adhort. Apost. Menti nostrae, 23 sept. 1950: AAS 42 (1950) p. 660.) It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one’s neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.

Vatican II on martyrdom:

Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers.(Cf. 1. Jn. 3, 16; Jn. 15, 13.) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon-and some will always be called upon-to give the supreme testimony of this love to all (persons), but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world -as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before (others). They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross.

Vatican II on celibacy:

Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples.(De consiliis in genere, cfr. Origenes, Comm. Rom. X, 14: PG 14 127S B. S. Augustinus, De S. Viginitate, 15, 15: PL 40, 403. S. Thomas, Summa Theol. I-II, q. 100, a. 2 C (in fine); II-II, q. 44, a. 4 ad 3) An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state.(Cf 1 Cor. 7, 32-34.) This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls,(CfMt. l9, 11; 1 Cor.7,7.) whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart. (De praestantia sacrae virginitatis, cfr. Tertullianus, Exhort. Cast. 10: PL 2, 925 C. S. Cyprianus, Hab. Virg. 3 et 22: PL 4, 443 B et 461 A. A. S. Athanasius (?), De Virg.: PG 28, 252 ss. S. Io. Chrysostomus, De Virg.: PG 48, 533 u.) This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world.

Voluntary poverty and obedience:

The Church continually keeps before it the warning of the Apostle which moved the faithful to charity, exhorting them to experience personally what Christ Jesus had known within Himself. This was the same Christ Jesus, who “emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave . . . becoming obedient to death”,(Phil. 2, 7-8.) and because of us “being rich, he became poor”.(2 Cor. 8, 9.) Because the disciples must always offer an imitation of and a testimony to the charity and humility of Christ, Mother Church rejoices at finding within her bosom men and women who very closely follow their Saviour who debased Himself to our comprehension. There are some who, in their freedom as (children) of God, renounce their own wills and take upon themselves the state of poverty. Still further, some become subject of their own accord to another (person), in the matter of perfection for love of God. This is beyond the measure of the commandments, but is done in order to become more fully like the obedient Christ.(De spirituali paupertate et oboedientia testimonia praccipua S.Scripturae et Patrum afferuntur in Relatione pp. 152-153.)

Doesn’t this seem like the classic definition of religious life? Interesting that it would be placed last in this chapter. At any rate, the council reassures us that the aspiration for holiness is obligatory, not an option for those who are not vowed religious.

Therefore, all the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed they have an obligation to so strive. Let all then have care that they guide aright their own deepest sentiments of soul. Let neither the use of the things of this world nor attachment to riches, which is against the spirit of evangelical poverty, hinder them in their quest for perfect love Let them heed the admonition of the Apostle to those who use this world; let them not come to terms with this world; for this world, as we see it, is passing away.(Cf 1. Cor. 7, 31ff.)(De praxi effectiva consiliorum quae non omnibus imponitur, cfr. S. Io. Chrysostomus, In Matth. Hom. 7, 7: PG S7, 8 I s. 5. Ambrosius, De Vidu s, 4, 23: PL 16, 241 s.)

Any final thoughts on holiness as the call for all the baptized?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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