POPE FRANCIS – GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE •
Are you among those who are just not satisfied with a mediocre existence? This is the start of a catchy video, that was professionally produced to introduce a new Apostolic Exhortation. This is something completely new. “The Vatican went all out with this truly attractive video,” commented José Argüello from Paraguay, who will this coming weekend speak at a retreat about Pope Francis’ most recent invitation to the whole Church. “The ‘constructive criticism’ of the youth in the pre-synod document must have served them well.” —
Are you among those who are not satisfied? Over a year ago, when the schoenstatt.org core team met, we defined the editorial line for the coming years. We focused on Hoerde, that is, the step that Schoenstatt took from being a laboratory and a proof of concept to becoming an autonomous Apostolic Federation, that identified apostolic activity as its goal, and that it should form its members to be apostles in every profession and group. The “essence” of Hoerde can be summarised in one sentence: Do not be satisfied with what we already have, know, understand, and do. An attitude that responds to the attitude of Fr. Kentenich who facilitated the blossoming of life.
Are you among those who are not satisfied?….This question summarizes Pope Francis’ new Apostolic Exhortation, published on 9 April, the feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, about the call to holiness in the world today. An invitation to those who are not satisfied. Only to them. What about us?
Holiness is the simplest thing…
“There can be any number of theories about what constitutes holiness, with various explanations and distinctions. Such reflection may be useful, but nothing is more enlightening than turning to Jesus’ words and seeing his way of teaching the truth. Jesus explained with great simplicity what it means to be holy when he gave us the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23). The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card. So if anyone asks: “What must one do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear. We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.” (GE 63)
It’s not a scientific paper but a desire to echo the call to holiness
“Each in his or her own way” the Council says. We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us. The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them.” (GE 11)
What a message for a Movement that emphasises vocation, charism and the personal option of each one of its members.
This is nothing more and nothing less than everyday sanctity, an important theme for Fr. Kentenich. It is a holiness of those who do not try to attain holiness at the cost of their service to their jobs, in family life and in concrete actions; it is a holiness that is less about finding refuge and more about reaching out:
“It is not healthy to love silence while fleeing interaction with others, to want peace and quiet while avoiding activity, to seek prayer while disdaining service. Everything can be accepted and integrated into our life in this world, and become a part of our path to holiness. We are called to be contemplatives even in the midst of action, and to grow in holiness by responsibly and generously carrying out our proper mission. Could the Holy Spirit urge us to carry out a mission and then ask us to abandon it, or not fully engage in it, so as to preserve our inner peace? Yet there are times when we are tempted to relegate pastoral engagement or commitment in the world to second place, as if these were “distractions” along the path to growth in holiness and interior peace. We can forget that “life does not have a mission, but is a mission.” (GE 26-27)
Pope Francis’ wish
“I would like these reflections to be crowned by Mary, because she lived the Beatitudes of Jesus as none other. She is that woman who rejoiced in the presence of God, who treasured everything in her heart, and who let herself be pierced by the sword. Mary is the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side. She does not let us remain fallen and at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us. Mary our Mother does not need a flood of words. She does not need us to tell her what is happening in our lives. All we need do is whisper, time and time again: “Hail Mary…” (GE 176)
“It is my hope that these pages will prove helpful by enabling the whole Church to devote herself anew to promoting the desire for holiness. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us a fervent longing to be saints for God’s greater glory, and let us encourage one another in this effort. In this way, we will share a happiness that the world will not be able to take from us.” (GE 177)
Pope Francis is calling us to holiness in the world today.
And now what? Schoenstatt, Schoenstatter, are you among those who are not satisfied?
GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION
Original: Spanish, 15 April. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa; translated extracts from Gaudete et Exsultate taken from www.vatican.va