You are here

Authenticity + Holiness: Reflections on Gaudete et Exsultate

Author: 
Adriana Calzada, CCVI

I recently did an interview on Religious Life, the last question took me by surprise because it was not related to the topic of which we were talking about: Which advice would you give to a young Adriana? I must confess that my answer also surprised me when I said:  "as time will goes by you will realize that the people around you impose too many expectations and want to see you act in certain ways. It will be very difficult to stay true to yourself but always fight for it because it's worth it.” When I look backward, I can pinpoint the exact moment when this turned into a non - negotiable value for me.

A few months before making my first vows, I was very concerned on whether or not I had achieved the goal of the novitiate to grow in intimacy with Christ, as indicated in the Constitutions of my Congregation. The problem was that, after hearing many times from many different people that the aim was to fall in love with Jesus, I formed an idea of how this should look and I did not dare to express my understanding of intimacy with Christ. There were two people at the time that helped me confirm my intuition that the relationship of each person with God is as different and as authentic as the person is. To understand this was so liberating that it became essential in my personal search in different dimensions.

Today, I want to thank Pope Francis because he reminded me and made me understand the connection between this and one other value that was essential for me at the beginning of my religious life, one that I had forgotten: the call to holiness. I meditated so many times, when praying the Liturgy of the Hours, with excitement that I was chosen “to be holy and blameless before him in love,” (Eph 1,4) but as time went by the impact of this in my life diminished. Recalling that Vatican II calls us to holiness "each in his or her own way,” Francis invites us not to try to copy examples of holiness because this could even lead to separation from the “one specific path” that God has thought for each one. The call is to discern the way in which each person can bring to light "the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts.” (GE, 11) Francis again insists, in the importance of each person to grow "towards that unique plan that God willed” for which we were chosen. (GE, 13) God has an important message to tell the world through each person, to the extent that we discover it, we will be able to pass it on with our daily lives in a faithful manner. (GE, 24)

Once our personal call is found out, it needs to be committed to the search of justice and the building of the Reign. It is essential to continue deepening it, purifying it, updating it. Thus, in the midst of the risk involved in putting into practice the beatitudes and the difficulties of living the works of mercy, committing ourselves fully to the following of Jesus, we can “rejoice and be glad”. (Mt 5, 12)

Today I recommit with God and with the people to privilege the search for my most authentic self, in continuous growth, from where to relate and act, because only then will I be able to remain faithful to my personal call to holiness. Only thus my life, and my consecration, will be a true gift for the world. In the same way, I commit myself again to work with those around me to help them find that personal project of God in their lives, so that from their life option, they are also true gift for the world. This is the simplest and, at the same time, most complex way of walking towards holiness, which besides being a call from God, is truly urgent in our world.