Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Mt 5:6). Our Lord also commanded us to be holy: “Be holy as your Heavenly Father is holy” (Mt 5:48).
Father Jacques Philippe, in his beautiful book The Eight Doors of the Kingdom, wrote, “The primary aspect of the hunger and thirst for justice is then simply a true desire for holiness expressed as an inseparable love of God and of neighbour: ‘I don’t want to be a saint by halves!’ St. Therese of Lisieux said.”
St. Therese (1873-1897) desired to become a saint. She strove to grow in holiness by doing ordinary little things extraordinarily well. Her “Little Way” helped to put holiness of life within the reach of ordinary people.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997) was an admirer of St. Therese. She strove to satisfy the thirst of Christ by serving the poorest of the poor. In 1993, she explained the thirst of Christ in a letter. She wrote, “He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy. When not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes – he is the one who always accepts you.” Our hunger and thirst for holiness help to satisfy the thirst of Christ.
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) taught that holiness is not only for priests and religious. His spiritual classic An Introduction to the Devout Life was written to help ordinary people grow in holiness. In the introduction of the book, he wrote, “It is an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans’ shops, from the courts of princes, from family households … Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.”
St. John XXIII (1881-1963) had St. Francis de Sales as his life-long model. He was the Pope who convoked the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). After the death of John XXIII, the council was continued and concluded by his successor, St. Paul VI (1897-1978). One of the important messages of the Second Vatican Council is the “Universal Call to Holiness.”
The central document of the Second Vatican Council is the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium. The heart of this document is Chapter 5 on the universal call to holiness. This holiness consists in the perfection of charity.
The document states: “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’”
A theological writer pointed out that from Chapter 5 of Lumen Gentium we learn about two basic attitudes which foster holiness: 1) the spirit to accept all things as coming from the loving hand of God, and 2) the aim to do all things in accordance with God’s will out of love for him.
The teachings of the Second Vatican Council brought great joy to St. Josemaria Escriva (1902-1975) who founded Opus Dei to foster holiness among the faithful. The Collect of the Mass for the Memorial of St. Josemaria began with these words: “O God, who raised up your priest Saint Josemaria in the Church to proclaim the universal call to holiness and the apostolate …”
St. John Paul II (1920-2005), who canonized St. Josemaria in 2002, wrote, “The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission.” John Paul II fostered holiness in the Church by canonizing and beatifying many holy men and women. He canonized 482 saints and declared 1m327 people “blessed.”
The French Sulpician Father Adolph Tanquerey (1854-1932) wrote, “Based upon supernatural convictions, the desire for perfection takes root and grows chiefly through meditation and prayer.”
印度加耳各答的聖德蘭修女（1910-1997）極其欣賞小德蘭。她為滿足基督的渴求，努力服務最窮苦的窮人。1993年在一封信件中，聖德蘭修女解釋了基督的渴：「祂渴望著你；祂常愛著你 ── 即使你感到自己不配。當別人不容納你，或甚至你都不接受自己，但祂仍然常常接納你。」
梵蒂崗第二次大公會議的「教會憲章」第五章，是整個文獻的中心 ──「普世成聖的召叫」── 成聖在乎成全的愛德。
有關這章節的文獻，曾有一位神學作家指出，兩種心態幫助促進成聖：1) 接受一切偕來自天主慈愛的手；2) 為愛天主而願意遵循天主聖意去作一切事。
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