Before we begin to look at Gaudete at Exsultate, it might be good to recall this document is defined as am Apostolic Exhortation, and refer to this summary of the types of papal writings.
An Apostolic Exhortation is published to encourage the faithful to live in a particular manner (greater conversion to Christ) or to do something of virtue.
Given the subtitle of the document here, On the call to holiness in today’s world, it seems Pope Francis is clear about what he’s trying to accomplish and what we can expect in his writing here.
The title of this Ap-Ex comes from the conclusion of the Beatitudes. Check the tone of Matthew 5, the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus sets the bar high, but he encourages his listeners as he goes. It is clear God has high expectations of us–not only to avoid bad behaviors listed in the Ten commandments, but to live a positive life. This life is embodied in the preaching of the Lord, and we will see many Scripture references as we proceed.
1. “REJOICE AND BE GLAD” (Mt 5:12), Jesus tells those persecuted or humiliated for his sake. The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence. The call to holiness is present in various ways from the very first pages of the Bible. We see it expressed in the Lord’s words to Abraham: “Walk before me, and be blameless” (Gen 17:1).
2. What follows is not meant to be a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions helpful for understanding this important subject, or a discussion of the various means of sanctification. My modest goal is to re-propose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. For the Lord has chosen each one of us “to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph 1:4).
This seems a reasonable goal. There are many paths to holiness. What works for an Argentine Jesuit may not apply as well for a lay person in a distant part of the world. The practical way is likely the one that presents itself to each of us. Often, it is there, and not even hidden. All we need do is follow the way, attend to the message we hear. The message we should hear is that all persons are called to holiness and capable of it.