10 April 2018
Pope Francis

Holiness: A Universal Call

The Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exsultate”: One becomes a saint by living the beatitudes

Pope Francis has chosen to put the spirit of joy in the opening of his most recent Apostolic Exhortation. “Gaudete et exsultate”—“Rejoice and be glad” is the title of the document, which recalls the words that Jesus addresses “to those who are persecuted or humiliated because of him.”

In the five chapters—44 pages and 177 paragraphs—, Pope Francis does not present “a treatise on holiness, containing definitions and distinctions,” rather he outlines a way to “repropose the call to holiness,” indicating “all its risks, challenges and opportunities.”

The Pope speaks of the “call to holiness” in the first chapter and, then, moves on to the enemies of holiness—gnosticism and pelagianism—and, in the third chapter, concentrates on the theories of holiness. In chapter four, Francis reviews the characteristics “essential” for understanding the lifestyle of holiness. Finally, in the fifth chapter, he concludes with the invitation to “fight” against the “evil” that—he writes—is not “a myth” but “a personal being who assails us.”

If, as the Pope writes, “a Christian cannot think of his or her mission on earth without seeing it as a path of holiness,” it is made up of “small gestures” in everyday life. Finally, Francis asks especially us to care for the young who are often “immersed—he underlines— in a culture of zapping,” in virtual worlds far from reality.