New Evangelization: passing on holiness (Nov. 4, 2012)
We are all called to be holy. It is what gives meaning to our life on earth. But how can we reach holiness? By being true children of the Church. Because, in God's plan, the Church of Christ is the only path of sanctification and salvation for all men. The infinite holiness of our divine Redeemer is passed on to us only by his Church. This is why the Church of Christ is essentially holy, in the sense that the holiness of Christ is passed on to us by her. She is the near source of holiness for all men, as she also is of their unity, which cannot take place if not in Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the members of this new mankind that He came to assemble in his Church.
What is the holiness of the Church of Christ? The Catechism of Saint Pius X thus answers this question of capital relevance: "The true church is called Holy because holy is her Invisible Head, Jesus Christ; holy are many of her members; holy are her faith, her laws, her Sacraments; and outside of her there is not and cannot be true holiness." The holiness of the Church comes therefore entirely from her divine Founder. The Church is thus holy by her supernatural source, by the role that Our Lord granted her at her foundation, by the divine treasure of the means of sanctification that he left her, and by the fruits of holiness that only she generates and can generate on earth.
It is by the holiness of her members, Dom Guéranger says, that the Church proves that she possesses the ever-living truth within herself. And he most rightly says that this stirring truth that is holiness is "tradition in its highest expression". To faithfully pass on to the Christian generations the holy doctrine of Our Lord Jesus Christ, his holy laws, his sacraments, and above all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, is to pass on to them the infallible means of sanctification, the absolute principles of holiness - but this tradition is not fully fruitful unless it is a living one, that is, unless it propagates holiness. In order for them to be able to pass on holiness to other men, with the means of sanctification, the ministers of Jesus Christ have first the sacred duty of being themselves holy. All apostolate must consist in a communication of holiness. The first evangelization was first accomplished by the example of apostles who followed Jesus; it was, in fact, the example of their life that assured the truth of their preaching. It was because Saint Paul said in all truth, "to me, to live is Christ," that he could exhort the Philippians to follow him [Phil. i, 21] - "Be ye followers of me, as I also am of Christ." [I Cor iv, 16] We realize that all over the world the Catholic faith is in crisis, to the point that a new evangelization is absolutely necessary. In order for it to be efficacious, this new evangelization, as the first one - that of apostolic times - must be able to prove its authenticity by the holiness, first, of priests, then of the parents who have the mission of passing on the faith to their children, and also of all Christians who will be Christians in name only if they do not take seriously the passing on of all the riches of holiness that the Church gave to them, with the faith they received in their Baptism.