3 Key Insights from Gaudete et Exsultate by Pope Francis

1: Jesus wants YOU to be a saint

Pope Francis made it very clear that Jesus is calling us to be saints, that He is addressing each of us personally to be holy. Rather than getting discouraged by “examples of holiness that appear unattainable” (11) or by focusing on our own weaknesses, we should redirect our gaze to Jesus, who has called us “to reflect and embody, at a specific moment in history, a certain aspect of the Gospel” (19).

“The Lord asks everything of us, and in return he offers us true life, the happiness for which we were created. He wants us to be saints and not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence” (1).

“When you feel the temptation to dwell on your own weakness, raise your eyes to Christ crucified and say: “Lord, I am a poor sinner, but you can work the miracle of making me a little bit better”” (15).

2: Holiness through ordinary life

 Pope Francis has a remarkable ability to show the practical ways that we can be holy today.

First, we must commit ourselves to live in the present moment and see everything we do and everyone we meet as an opportunity take the next step in holiness.

“This holiness to which the Lord calls you will grow through small gestures. Here is an example: a woman goes shopping, she meets a neighbour and they begin to speak, and the gossip starts. But she says in her heart: “No, I will not speak badly of anyone”. 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” (16).

“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”” (17).

“Everything can be accepted and integrated into our life in this world, and become a part of our path to holiness” (26).

 Second, we must continually ask Jesus for the grace to want to be holy and to guide us on our own unique path of holiness. This is true “discernment of spirits” (173).
“Often discernment is exercised in apparently irrelevant things, since greatness of spirit is manifested in simple everyday realities” (169).
3: Mercy is our standard for holiness
Pope Francis exhorts us to use the Beatitudes and especially the virtue of mercy as the standard by which we determine our level and our growth in holiness.

“The best way to discern if our prayer is authentic is to judge to what extent our life is being transformed in the light of mercy” (105).

“Those who really wish to give glory to God by their lives, who truly long to grow in holiness, are called to be single-minded and tenacious in their practice of the works of mercy” (107).

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