What Holiness Entails, According to John Paul II

Highlights Need for Consistency in Living the Gospel

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Holiness, the vocation to which mankind is called, means to be consistent in living the Gospel, John Paul II says in a message to bishop-friends of the Focolare Movement.

At the end of today’s general audience, held in Paul VI Hall and attended by 9,000 faithful, the Pope took advantage of the occasion to greet a number of cardinals and bishops currently participating in the 28th annual congress of Bishops, Friends of the Focolares, being held in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

Also present was Chiara Lubich, founder and president of the movement, which organized the congress with the theme «For a People’s Holiness.»

It is a theme that underlines «the universal character of the vocation to holiness in the Church,» the Holy Father explained in his message. «The Church is profoundly holy and is called to live and to manifest this holiness in each one of her members.»

The expression «people’s holiness» refers to what is ordinary, «that is, to the need that those who are baptized to live the Gospel with consistency in daily life: in the family, in work activity, and in all relations and occupations,» the Pope said.

«It is precisely in the ordinary that the extraordinary should be lived, so that the measure of life will tend to the lofty, namely, to the full maturity of Christ, as the Apostle Paul teaches,» he said.

Holiness is a «primary requirement that must be proposed to all members of the people of God,» as only «a community radiant with holiness can effectively accomplish the mission that Christ has entrusted to it, that of proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth,» John Paul II said.

In this connection, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the «sublime model» to which one must always aspire. «In her is condensed the holiness of the people of God, because in her the perfection of the Christian vocation shines in the greatest humility,» the Pope said to the bishops.

The spiritual congress organized by Focolare members will end Friday. It has gathered over 100 bishops from more than 40 countries.

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