His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI initiated the Year of Faith October 11, 2012 which terminates on Nov.24, 2013 on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King. In doing so, His Holiness encouraged us to get to know Jesus as Friend, but also to make Him known throughout the whole world.
From the moment of our Baptism, we are anointed as prophets to proclaim the Word of God by word and action. In Confirmation the Bishop said to those confirmed: “You are called to defend the faith and to spread the faith.” Jesus’ last words in the Gospel of Mt 28:16-20 were to go out to the whole world and teach all nations. We know that all baptized are called to be prophets, missionaries and evangelists.
However as a prerequisite, Pope Benedict insisted upon our getting to know our faith better. For that reason, the Pope Emeritus insisted on studying key documents to bolster the knowledge of our faith.
In particular, Pope Benedict mentioned two key sources which could be regarded as the Magna Carta and foundation for Catholic-Christians who live in the 21st century. These are the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Vatican II Documents.
With respect to the Vatican II Documents there are four key documents and these are called “Dogmatic Constitutions”. They are Dei Verbum (D.V.), Sacrosanctum Concilium (S.C.) and the last two refer to the Church (Gaudiem Spes. (G.S) and Lumen Gentium (L.G.))
Chapter V of Lumen Gentium indeed is a masterpiece. This chapter is a vital challenge for all of us— “The Universal Call to holiness”.
It means this: we are all called to become saints! Not some of us, but all of us are called to become saints; it is not a particular calling but a universal one! We were created by a loving and holy God for one purpose— to be holy in this life, to die in the state of holiness (sanctifying grace) so as to be united with a three-times holy God in heaven for all eternity.
Biblical verses are not lacking in this challenge to pursue holiness of life and to really become the saint that God calls you and I to be!
Jesus issued an imperious command: “Be holy as your heavenly Father is holy.” (Mt. 5:48) This is not the conditional tense; on the contrary, this is an imperative which means that this is a Divine order. There is no “buts” about it. The Lord commands it with stark realism.
In one of His Beatitudes, Jesus also states: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice (holiness), they will be satisfied”(Mt 5:6). Our hunger and thirst for holiness should go beyond our hunger and thirst for physical food and drink. Why? The welfare and sanctification of our soul supersedes the welfare of the body.
Jesus also challenges us in our pursuit for holiness with these bold words:
“What would it profit a man if he were to gain the whole world and lose his soul in the process? What can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:31/Mt. 16:18)
Saint Paul in the letter to the Thessalonians reiterates Jesus’ call to holiness with these words: “This is the will of your heavenly Father– your sanctification”(I Thes. 4:3).
Blessed Mother Teresa always insisted on pursuing holiness. One of the primary conditions she had for receiving potential Missionary of Charity discerners was their clear desire to become a saint. Mother Teresa asserted: “Holiness is not the privilege of the few, but it is the duty of all.”
The case is clear, there is no alternative: we must all seriously pursue the pathway that leads to holiness and long to become the saint that from all eternity God has called us to be. The next obvious question is if I have to become a saint, then how and what steps must a take to arrive at that goal?
There are many practices that we could undertake to place us on the highway to holiness. However, I would like to mention only one which I sincerely believe is the quickest way to holiness; let us call itthe shortcuts.
Holy Mass, Holy Communion
Jesus Christ is the example for us to follow. He stated clearly: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Jesus is the source and means by which we receive all holiness. Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus promised that he would be with us always even until the end of the world. Jesus is present in His Church and most specifically in His Sacraments. The greatest of all the Sacraments is the Most Holy Eucharist— the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus.
If you are not going to daily Mass and Holy Communion, find the time to do so right now—all the days that your schedule permits.
Next, prepare yourself for the Mass. The Parish priest usually has a specific intention for the person that has asked for the Mass—a living person or it could be the deceased. However, this does not mean that you cannot offer your own private intentions when you assist at Holy Mass.
Three Possible Intentions
Offer your Mass and Holy Communion for somebody that has died. Pray that if he or she is in Purgatory that they will be taken to heaven. Next, pray for someone you know and love who has either left the Church, is angry at God or has even lost the faith. Pray for their conversion! Finally, pray for yourself that through a fervent reception of Holy Communion you would receive from Jesus a “Spiritual Heart-transplant”.
It is true that we receive the Body of Jesus in Holy Communion. That means that we receive the most noble piece— His Most Sacred Heart. The logical conclusion is that we actually receive a Spiritual Heart-transplant.
Indeed, if we receive Jesus with greater frequency, greater faith, and greater fervor (fire of love), then without a doubt we will grow in holiness and definitely be on the Highway to holiness.
Today more than ever the world needs saints. That is what you are called to be right now!
May Our Lady, Queen of the angels and saints, inspire us and motivate us by her prayers and example to become exactly that which God had planned for us from all eternity.