Pope Francis has released his third apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and be glad”), insisting that “every minute of our lives can be a step along the path to growth in holiness”.
Gaudete et Exsultate (“Rejoice and be glad”), released on Monday, follows Evagelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia. It explains that holiness is the mission of every Christian. Holiness grows, it says, “through small gestures” in everyday life.
Being part of a parish and receiving the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, are essential, the Pope wrote, along with giving up time for silent prayer. “I do not believe in holiness without prayer,” he said, “even though that prayer need not be lengthy or involve intense emotion.”
Describing holiness as being built up through small steps, the Pope cites the example of a woman refusing to gossip. “This is a step forward in holiness.
“Later, at home, one of her children wants to talk to her about his hopes and dreams, and even though she is tired, she sits down and listens with patience and love. That is another sacrifice that brings holiness.
“Later she experiences some anxiety, but recalling the love of the Virgin Mary, she takes her rosary and prays with faith. Yet another path of holiness. Later still, she goes out onto the street, encounters a poor person and stops to say a kind word to him. One more step.”
Pope Francis also noted the challenges to holiness, writing at length about the Devil. “We should not think of the Devil as a myth, a representation, a symbol, a figure of speech or an idea,” hes writes. “This mistake would lead us to let down our guard, to grow careless and end up more vulnerable.
“The Devil does not need to possess us. He poisons us with the venom of hatred, desolation, envy and vice,” he writes. “When we let down our guard, he takes advantage of it to destroy our lives, our families and our communities.”
The Pope writes: “For this spiritual combat, we can count on the powerful weapons that the Lord has given us: faith-filled prayer, meditation on the word of God, the celebration of Mass, Eucharistic adoration, sacramental Reconciliation, works of charity, community life, missionary outreach.”
Key quotes from the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate
On the pro-life movement
Our defence of the innocent unborn … needs to be clear, firm and passionate, for at stake is the dignity of a human life, which is always sacred and demands love for each person, regardless of his or her stage of development. Equally sacred, however, are the lives of the poor, those already born, the destitute, the abandoned and the underprivileged, the vulnerable infirm and elderly exposed to covert euthanasia, the victims of human trafficking, new forms of slavery, and every form of rejection.
The only proper attitude is to stand in the shoes of those brothers and sisters of ours who risk their lives to offer a future to their children … This is not a notion invented by some Pope, or a momentary fad.
On today’s ‘Pelagians’
Some Christians insist on taking another path, that of justification by their own efforts, the worship of the human will and their own abilities. The result is a self-centred and elitist complacency, bereft of true love. This finds expression in a variety of apparently unconnected ways of thinking and acting: an obsession with the law, an absorption with social and political advantages, a punctilious concern for the Church’s liturgy, doctrine and prestige, a vanity about the ability to manage practical matters, and an excessive concern with programmes of self-help and personal fulfilment.
On modern ‘gnostics’
Gnostics think that their explanations can make the entirety of the faith and the Gospel perfectly comprehensible. They absolutise their own theories.