‘Holiness is a gift that is offered to everyone, no one is excluded; it constitutes the distinctive character of every Christian’.
Pope Francis wants the whole Church to promote anew the desire for holiness – in a practical way, for our own time.
After analysing and forcefully dismissing two subtle enemies to holiness – contemporary gnosticism and pelagianism – as ‘aberrations and obstacles’ to holiness, Francis appeals in detail to the Beatitudes of Matthew and Luke. Here lies the path to our happiness, or, indeed our holiness, by living out the demands and joys of the Gospel.
More deeply yet, the Holy Father identifies those harmful ideologies which today strike at the heart of the Gospel, where faith is divorced from deeds, where mercy is lost. Our striving for holiness must be grounded in prayer and discernment so that our lives are transformed in the light of mercy and grace. This entails action and building the Kingdom through social action and care for the marginalised. Pope Francis offers five great expressions of love of God and of neighbour as signs of true holiness for today’s culture.
Finally, he sets out the landscape in which today’s spiritual combat is fought against the great enemy, the devil. This calls for vigilance and discernment. Thus, the joyful holiness of the Gospel is revealed to the world in the everyday lives of ordinary people.