Holiness is many small acts of daily love

Holiness is open to everyone and does not consist of a few heroic gestures but of many small acts of daily love, Pope Francis told 45,000 people gathered at the Vatican last week.

The reason for the massive outdoor gathering was the pope’s official proclamation of 10 new saints. It was the Catholic Church’s first canonisation ceremony in over two years. Two thousand priests concelebrated the event with the Holy Father.

Rather than speaking solely of the newly canonised saints’ lives and legacies during his homily at the celebratory Mass, Francis also offered advice on how to follow the path of holiness.

“Our fellow travellers who are canonised today lived their holiness by embracing with enthusiasm their vocation,” he said.

He encouraged those present to follow the example of those who, in their time, were “brilliant reflections of the Lord of history”.

It is not a matter of implementing a form of “personal heroics”, Francis explained.

Rather, it’s about following one’s own vocation.

This vocation is to love, Francis said.

“For amid the darkness and tempests of life, that is the most important thing of all: God loves us.”

Holiness is accessible to all of us, not just the superhuman, he said.

“Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love.”

The pope painted a picture of what he likes to call the everyday holiness of the “saints next door”.

He also corrected what he described as a false image of holiness, with some advice about what’s needed to achieve that state.

“At times, by over-emphasising our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics… our readiness for self-sacrifice to achieve a reward,” he said.

“We have turned holiness into an unattainable goal.

“We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life and, in the words of Teresa of Avila to her Sisters, ‘among the pots and pans’.”

We are called “to serve, that is, not to put our own interests first: to clear our systems of the poison of greed and competitiveness; to fight the cancer of indifference and the worm of self-referentiality.

“Specifically, we should ask ourselves ‘What do I do for others?’ in order to go about our daily lives in a spirit of service, with unassuming love and without seeking any recompense”.

Francis also addressed the political leaders present at the Mass, alluding to the geopolitical situation that Europe is currently experiencing.

Once again, he drew on the image of those he had just proclaimed new saints.

“While… tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness and ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called upon to be agents of peace, not war,” he said.


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