The roots of the universal call to holiness

Ronald D. Witherup PSS

This is the third and final article in a series on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in the contemporary world, Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Exult), published in April 2018. Here the focus is on the universal call to holiness rooted in the teachings of Vatican Council II (1962-65), upon which the Pope bases his own teaching. Ronald D. Witherup PSS is Superior General of the Society of the Priests of Saint Sulpice.

A personal retrospective
Let me begin with an anecdote. Some years after my ordination as a priest I was at a cordial public gathering with a group of parishioners who started to discuss issues about the Catholic faith. One of the participants made a somewhat joking comment about his desire to stay close to the priest (meaning me) because he assumed I had better ‘connections upstairs’ – signalling with his forefinger the sky. Everyone laughed, and I challenged him as to why he would think that. His response was immediate: ‘You’re ordained. You have to be holier than the rest of us!’ Would that it were true!

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