JOYF UL MIS S IONA RY DIS CIPL E S
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
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
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
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
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.