JOYF UL MIS S IONA RY DIS CIPL E S GROWING IN CHRIST A N O N G O I N G VO CAT I O N The universal call to holiness is for all Catholics. But how do we accomplish the call? Dr. Robert Fastiggi S t. Paul teaches that all of us are called to holiness: “For this is the will of God, your holiness” (1 Thes 4:3). The Second Vatican Council cites this passage in chapter five of its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium [LG], a chapter entitled “The Universal Call to Holiness.” The council emphasizes the primordial vocation to holiness for every state of life— the clergy, the religious, the married, and the unmarried: Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or sta- tus, are called to the fullness of the Chris- tian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human man- ner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will 8 grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history (LG, no. 40). This passage highlights the need for us to follow in Christ’s footsteps and conform ourselves to his image, “seeking the will of the Father in all things.” Following Christ is the key to growing in Christ, which is an ongoing vocation. But how do we grow in Christ? Detachment from Sin Jesus teaches, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). We cannot grow in Christ if we continue to sin. Because of the effects of Original Sin, our human nature is weak and inclined toward sin. Baptism erases Original Sin and turns us back toward God. Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Spring 2017 Nevertheless, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church [CCC] explains, “the con- sequences for nature, weakened and in- clined to evil, persist in man and summon him to spiritual battle” (CCC, no. 405). Mystical writers since Patristic times have presented the spiritual life according to the threefold path of purgation, illumi- nation, and union with God. The path of purgation requires detachment from sin, which is part of our ongoing “spiritual bat- tle” against “sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life” (1 Jn 2:16). Recognizing our sins requires humility, but we can never grow in Christ without repen- tance. We cannot overcome sin without God’s grace, which is given to us by Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. We also must have recourse to the great gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As the Council of Trent teaches, “But since God, who is rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), knows our frame (Ps 103:14), he has given a remedy of life also to those who after baptism have delivered themselves up to the bondage of sin and the devil’s power, namely, the sac- rament of penance, whereby the benefit of Christ’s death is applied to those who have fallen after baptism” (Denz.-H, 1668). The Sacrament of Penance or Reconcili- ation must be part of the lives of all of us who wish to grow in Christ. This Sacra- ment is a gift from Christ, and if we wish to grow in Christ we must make use of this Sacrament of mercy to help us be detached from sin and grow in the knowledge and love of our Savior.