Lent and the Call to Become Saints
We are called to be perfected in charity, to grow in holiness.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us "All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (CCC #2013) Christians are saved from sin, death and separation from God, through Jesus Christ. However, we are saved for holy living.
Jesus was made perfect through what He suffered. Yet, Jesus was without sin. How then was He perfected? He came into the world to redeem, to transform us by His entire life, and death, and Resurrection, of perfect love. He fulfilled His purpose when He presided over the beginning of the new creation from the Altar of that Cross. He was the New Adam at the second tree. He then robbed death of its victory by bursting forth from that tomb which could not contain Perfect Love. In Him we are redeemed, set free, made new! He was the first born from the dead and we will follow. We live in Him when we live in the heart of the Church for the sake of the world. We are made perfect, holy, as we cooperate with His invitation to conversion and receive the grace mediated to us through His Word and His Sacraments. We are invited into a life of intimate communion with Him in and through prayer. We are made capable of loving as He loved. By doing so we prove ourselves to be Sons and daughters of His Father, who by the power of the Holy Spirit, has become Our Father. When we follow Jesus a dynamic process unfolds, an ever deepening conversion and transformation, a process called perfection. We "participate in the Divine Nature" the Apostle Peter tells us. (2 Peter 1:4). We are perfected in charity, by grace and through faith. Every Christian, no matter what our state in life or particular vocation, is called to this holiness. God's Divine Life, and its dynamic work within us, is meant change us into the new men and women that Jesus Christ has made it possible for us us to become. We walk this way of holiness by living in His Body, the Church, of which we are members. The Church is the seed of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world waiting to be born. Only when the King returns will the Kingdom be fully established. Then, the entire creation be reconstituted by love, made perfect, and handed back to the Father as a gift of love. However, the Church is a sign, a sacrament of that Kingdom. We are seeds of that kingdom, scattered into the world as into a furrow. We are called to become saints. We are called to be holy. My readers know that one of my favorite Bishops is Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles. He addressed this call to holiness in an article entitled A Time for Holiness which can be read in its entirety in the Tidings, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Here is an excerpt for our Lenten reflection. *****
A Time for Holiness
All of us need the grace of a new conversion. This is what Lent is for. We need to be transformed once more by the person of Jesus Christ and the power of his Gospel. We need to live our faith with new sincerity, new zeal, new purpose and new purity. We need a new desire to be his disciples. I cannot say it enough: We all need to rediscover the essential message of the Gospel - that we are children of a God who loves us and who calls us to be one family in his Church and to make this world his Kingdom, a city of love and truth. The challenge we face - now and always, as individuals and as a Church - is to resist the temptation to only follow Jesus "half way." We should never settle for mediocrity or minimum standards in our life of faith. There are no "good enough" Christians, only Christians who are not doing enough good. Our world today needs saints. We can't wait for others. We need to become those saints ourselves. We need to inspire others around us to want to be saints. God wants us to be great! We are called to the holiness of God, to a share in his own holiness. Jesus said this in his Sermon on the Mount: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Holiness does not mean separating ourselves from the world. Just the opposite. Holiness means loving God and loving our neighbor in the middle of the world. In our families, in our work, in our play, in everything we do. The pathways of holiness are different for every one of us. How we love, how we seek the face of God, depends on the circumstances of our lives. And we will never be finished in this work of holiness. But that's the fun, the beauty and the joy of our faith. The way forward for our Church is for each one of us to rediscover this universal call to holiness. This is the meaning of our Christian lives. We are children of God called to be holy as our Father is holy. And we seek that holiness by working with his gifts of grace to love as Jesus loved. During these challenging times for our Church, we have to resist the desire to turn inward or to withdraw from our involvement with our culture and society. We still have a mission as a Church - to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus came to redeem us from our sins and to show us the way to a new life of holiness. We need to carry his message of salvation, conversion and forgiveness to every person. We need to find new ways to evangelize our society - new approaches rooted in humility and the search for holiness, beauty and truth. We can only change this world if we allow God to change us first. The lives we lead will always be the most credible witness we can give to the Gospel we believe in. People should be able to see "the Catholic difference" - the difference that our Catholic faith makes in our lives. Our world today needs saints. Not "other-worldly" saints - but saints in our cities, our families, our parishes and schools, our media, our businesses, legislatures and courts. We can't wait for others. We need to become those saints ourselves. We need to inspire others around us to want to be saints.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal: That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.
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