In his recently released apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit (Christ Lives), Pope Francis reaches out to young people and to all of us to remind and encourage us in our faith. Here are two selections from the exhortation and a question for reflection.
I would also remind you that you won’t become holy and find fulfilment by copying others. Imitating the Saints does not mean copying their lifestyle and their way of living holiness: “There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us” (Apostolic Exhortation, Rejoice and Be Glad, 11). You have to discover who you are and develop your own way of being holy, whatever others may say or think. Becoming a saint means becoming more fully yourself, becoming what the Lord wished to dream and create, and not a photocopy. Your life ought to be a prophetic stimulus to others and leave a mark on this world, the unique mark that only you can leave. Whereas if you simply copy someone else, you will deprive this earth, and heaven too, of something that no one else can offer. I think of Saint John of the Cross, who wrote in his Spiritual Canticle that everyone should benefit from his spiritual advice “in his or her own way,” for the one God wishes to manifest his grace “to some in one way and to others in another.” (162)
Realize that there is beauty in the laborer who returns home grimy and unkempt, but with the joy of having earned food for his family. There is extraordinary beauty in the fellowship of a family at table, generously sharing what food it has. There is beauty in the wife, slightly disheveled and no longer young, who continues to care for her sick husband despite her own failing health. Long after the springtime of their courtship has passed, there is beauty in the fidelity of those couples who still love one another in the autumn of life, those elderly people who still hold hands as they walk. There is also a beauty, unrelated to appearances or fashionable dress, in all those men and women who pursue their personal vocation with love, in selfless service of community or nation, in the hard work of building a happy family, in the selfless and demanding effort to advance social harmony. To find, to disclose, and to highlight this beauty, which is like that of Christ on the cross, is to lay the foundations of genuine social solidarity and the culture of encounter. (183)
For Reflection from the study guide included with The Word Among Us edition of Christus Vivit:
There are some who confuse beauty with appearances, Pope Francis writes, but true beauty lies in selfless service and pursuing our vocation with love. Can you point to someone in your life that lives this truth well?
Excerpted from Christus Vivit, Pope Francis (The Word Among Us Press, April 2019). Available at wau.org/books