Engaging Faith: Practical lesson ideas and activities for Catholic Educators

April 9, 2018

Pope Francis and the Call to Holiness in Today’s World

Pope Francis released a new apostolic exhortation, Gaudete et Esultate (Rejoice and Be Glad) with details on how to follow the Beatitudes by being of service to the marginalized, poor, and migrants. The pope equates defense of people on the fringes of society with defense of the unborn who are threatened with abortion.

The exhortation has many insights for everyone to live a holy life though Pope Francis begins by writing that this is a “modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges and opportunities. “

In Chapter 1, he writes of following the practical examples of holiness left by the saints. He sites, in particular, Bl. Maria Gabriella Sagjeddp who spent fifteen months of her life devoted to praying for Christian unity. He also cited the “genius of women” and the “feminine style of holiness” by mentioning the examples of St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Bridget, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila and St. Thérèse of Lisieux.

Holiness must be lived “in the present moment,” stated Pope Francis and in community with others, not in isolation. Pope Francis points out that “when Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên van Thuân was imprisoned, he refused to waste time waiting for the day he would be set free. Instead, he chose ‘to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love’. He decided: ‘I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way.’”

Chapter 3 of Gaudete et Esultate is perhaps of most relevance to your students, all Catholics, and all people.  Holiness comes only in being rooted in the Lord. 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.”  The pope offers practical reflections and applications for how to practice the Beatitudes. The subheading of this part of the chapter is “Going Against the Flow.”

Consider having your students read paragraphs 65-94 and write a summary of Pope Francis’ teachings on each of the Beatitudes.

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