Called to be a holy people
We are called to be a holy people” was a theme proclaimed by Pope John Paul II throughout the year 2003. On October 16th the Pope celebrated the 25th anniversary of his pontificate with Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. He prayed for wisdom, holiness and strength to keep leading the Church. Introducing the prayer of the faithful, during the Liturgy, the Pope asked that God: “continue to pour upon me the Holy Spirit, the spirit of wisdom, of holiness and strength, in order to serve His holy people and proclaim to all people the Gospel of salvation and peace.”
A new Apostolic Exhortation on the mission and identity of the bishop, titled “Shepherds of the Flock”, was released by the Pope. It states the bishop has a “duty to lead the holy people of God as a devoted father”. Pope John Paul II also asked bishops “to share his enthusiasm for identifying and promoting Catholics who have lived holy lives.”
The annual Congress on Consecrated Life, which took place the final weeks of 2003, gathered conferees from around the globe and concluded, “there is a new interest in holiness”.
Following are some quotes from participants:
“Our time is expressing a new interest in holiness.” There is “thirst for truth”, adding that “the example of the laity proves how holiness is multiple: professional, familial and social.” Paola Bignardi, president of Italian Catholic Action.
Holiness was referred to as “reality incarnated in the life of the believer” and that “the holiness of the Church, even though sinners are included within her, is already marked by holiness here on earth, although in an imperfect way.” Expressed by Claretian Mattias Auge.
“Holiness is born from communion, it is celebrated in the liturgy, verified in the mystery of each day,…” Antonio Maria Sicari of the Carmelite Ecclesial Movement
The call to holiness is not unique to our time, it has echoed through the ages whenever the Church has faced turmoil or difficulties. It seems God has always raised up noble saints who have sounded the call.
One such man was St. Bernard of Clairvaux. He fought the good fight for the holy people of God at the end of the 1th century. Bernard stressed a balance between holy fear and holy love.
St. Francis de Sales, who lived from 1567 to 1622 is another good example. His strong belief in the importance of spiritual strength for all believers led him to create significant writings for lay people. In these works he clearly explained the Catholic faith and urged everyone to holiness of life.
St. Francis de Sales’ feast day is January 24th.