39. The Church, whose mystery is being set forth by this Sacred Synod, is believed to be indefectibly holy. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as "uniquely holy," (1*) loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her.(214) He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God's glory. Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: "For this is the will of God, your sanctification".(215) However, this holiness of the Church is unceasingly manifested, and must be manifested, in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful; it is expressed in many ways in individuals, who in their walk of life, tend toward the perfection of charity, thus causing the edification of others; in a very special way this (holiness) appears in the practice of the counsels, customarily called "evangelical." This practice of the counsels, under the impulsion of the Holy Spirit, undertaken by many Christians, either privately or in a Church-approved condition or state of life, gives and must give in the world an outstanding witness and example of this same holiness.

40. The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and everyone of His disciples of every condition. He Himself stands as the author and consumator of this holiness of life: "Be you therefore perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect".(216)(2*) Indeed He sent the Holy Spirit upon all men that He might move them inwardly to love God with their whole heart and their whole soul, with all their mind and all their strength(217) and that they might love each other as Christ loves them.(218) The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to His own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine nature. In this way they are really made holy. Then too, by God's gift, they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness they have received. They are warned by the Apostle to live "as becomes saints",(219) and to put on "as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience",(220) and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.(221) Since truly we all offend in many things (222) we all need God's mercies continually and we all must daily pray: "Forgive us our debts"(223)(3*)

Thus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity;(4*) by this holiness as such a more human manner 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.

41. The classes and duties of life are many, but holiness is one-that sanctity which is cultivated by all who are moved by the Spirit of God, and who obey the voice of the Father and worship God the Father in spirit and in truth. These people follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross-bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in His glory. Every person must walk unhesitatingly according to his own personal gifts and duties in the path of living faith, which arouses hope and works through charity.

In the first place, the shepherds of Christ's flock must holily and eagerly, humbly and courageously carry out their ministry, in imitation of the eternal high Priest, the Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. They ought to fulfill this duty in such a way that it will be the principal means also of their own sanctification. Those chosen for the fullness of the priesthood are granted the ability of exercising the perfect duty of pastoral charity by the grace of the sacrament of Orders. This perfect duty of pastoral charity (5*) is exercised in every form of episcopal care and service, prayer, sacrifice and preaching. By this same sacramental grace, they are given the courage necessary to lay down their lives for their sheep, and the ability of promoting greater holiness in the Church by their daily example, having become a pattern for their flock.(224)

Priests, who resemble bishops to a certain degree in their participation of the sacrament of Orders, form the spiritual crown of the bishops.(6*) They participate in the grace of their office and they should grow daily in their love of God and their neighbor by the exercise of their office through Christ, the eternal and unique Mediator. They should preserve the bond of priestly communion, and they should abound in every spiritual good and thus present to all men a living witness to God.(7*) All this they should do in emulation of those priests who often, down through the course of the centuries, left an outstanding example of the holiness of humble and hidden service. Their praise lives on in the Church of God. By their very office of praying and offering sacrifice for their own people and the entire people of God, they should rise to greater holiness. Keeping in mind what they are doing and imitating what they are handling,(8*) these priests, in their apostolic labors, rather than being ensnared by perils and hardships, should rather rise to greater holiness through these perils and hardships. They should ever nourish and strengthen their action from an abundance of contemplation, doing all this for the comfort of the entire Church of God. All priests, and especially those who are called "diocesan priests," due to the special title of their ordination, should keep continually before their minds the fact that their faithful loyalty toward and their generous cooperation with their bishop is of the greatest value in their growth in holiness.

Ministers of lesser rank are also sharers in the mission and grace of the Supreme Priest. In the first place among these ministers are deacons, who, in as much as they are dispensers of Christ's mysteries and servants of the Church,(9*) should keep themselves free from every vice and stand before men as personifications of goodness and friends of God.(225) Clerics, who are called by the Lord and are set aside as His portion in order to prepare themselves for the various ministerial offices under the watchful eye of spiritual shepherds, are bound to bring their hearts and minds into accord with this special election (which is theirs). They will accomplish this by their constancy in prayer, by their burning love, and by their unremitting recollection of whatever is true, just and of good repute. They will accomplish all this for the glory and honor of God. Besides these already named, there are also laymen, chosen of God and called by the bishop. These laymen spend themselves completely in apostolic labors, working the Lord's field with much success.(10*).

Furthermore, married couples and Christian parents should follow their own proper path (to holiness) by faithful love. They should sustain one another in grace throughout the entire length of their lives. They should embue their offspring, lovingly welcomed as God's gift, with Christian doctrine and the evangelical virtues. In this manner, they offer all men the example of unwearying and generous love; in this way they build up the brotherhood of charity; in so doing, they stand as the witnesses and cooperators in the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church; by such lives, they are a sign and a participation in that very love, with which Christ loved His Bride and for which He delivered Himself up for her.(11*) A like example, but one given in a different way, is that offered by widows and single people, who are able to make great contributions toward holiness and apostolic endeavor in the Church. Finally, those who engage in labor-and frequently it is of a heavy nature- should better themselves by their human labors. They should be of aid to their fellow citizens. They should raise all of society, and even creation itself, to a better mode of existence. Indeed, they should imitate by their lively charity, in their joyous hope and by their voluntary sharing of each others' burdens, the very Christ who plied His hands with carpenter's tools and Who in union with His Father, is continually working for the salvation of all men. In this, then, their daily work they should climb to the heights of holiness and apostolic activity.

May all those who are weighed down with poverty, infirmity and sickness, as well as those who must bear various hardships or who suffer persecution for justice sake-may they all know they are united with the suffering Christ in a special way for the salvation of the world. The Lord called them blessed in His Gospel and they are those whom "the God of all graces, who has called us unto His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself, after we have suffered a little while, perfect, strengthen and establish".(226)

Finally all Christ's faithful, whatever be the conditions, duties and circumstances of their lives-and indeed through all these, will daily increase in holiness, if they receive all things with faith from the hand of their heavenly Father and if they cooperate with the divine will. In this temporal service, they will manifest to all men the love with which God loved the world.

42. "God is love, and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in Him".(227) But, God pours out his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, Who has been given to us;(228) thus the first and most necessary gift is love, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of God. Indeed, in order that love, as good seed may grow and bring forth fruit in the soul, each one of the faithful must willingly hear the Word of God and accept His Will, and must complete what God has begun by their own actions with the help of God's grace. These actions consist in the use of the sacraments and in a special way the Eucharist, frequent participation in the sacred action of the Liturgy, application of oneself to prayer, self-abnegation, lively fraternal service and the constant exercise of all the virtues. For charity, as the bond of perfection and the fullness of the law,(229) rules over all the means of attaining holiness and gives life to these same means.(12*) It is charity which guides us to our final end. It is the love of God and the love of one's neighbor which points out the true disciple of Christ.

Since Jesus, the Son of God, manifested His charity by laying down His life for us, so too no one has greater love than he who lays down his life for Christ and His brothers.(230) From the earliest times, then, some Christians have been called upon-and some will always be called upon-to give the supreme testimony of this love to all men, but especially to persecutors. The Church, then, considers martyrdom as an exceptional gift and as the fullest proof of love. By martyrdom a disciple is transformed into an image of his Master by freely accepting death for the salvation of the world -as well as his conformity to Christ in the shedding of his blood. Though few are presented such an opportunity, nevertheless all must be prepared to confess Christ before men. They must be prepared to make this profession of faith even in the midst of persecutions, which will never be lacking to the Church, in following the way of the cross.

Likewise, the holiness of the Church is fostered in a special way by the observance of the counsels proposed in the Gospel by Our Lord to His disciples.(13*) An eminent position among these is held by virginity or the celibate state.(231) This is a precious gift of divine grace given by the Father to certain souls,(232) whereby they may devote themselves to God alone the more easily, due to an undivided heart. (14*) This perfect continency, out of desire for the kingdom of heaven, has always been held in particular honor in the Church. The reason for this was and is that perfect continency for the love of God is an incentive to charity, and is certainly a particular source of spiritual fecundity in the world.

The Church continually keeps before it the warning of the Apostle which moved the faithful to charity, exhorting them to experience personally what Christ Jesus had known within Himself. This was the same Christ Jesus, who "emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave . . . becoming obedient to death",(233) and because of us "being rich, he became poor".(234) Because the disciples must always offer an imitation of and a testimony to the charity and humility of Christ, Mother Church rejoices at finding within her bosom men and women who very closely follow their Saviour who debased Himself to our comprehension. There are some who, in their freedom as sons of God, renounce their own wills and take upon themselves the state of poverty. Still further, some become subject of their own accord to another man, in the matter of perfection for love of God. This is beyond the measure of the commandments, but is done in order to become more fully like the obedient Christ.(15*)

Therefore, all the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed they have an obligation to so strive. Let all then have care that they guide aright their own deepest sentiments of soul. Let neither the use of the things of this world nor attachment to riches, which is against the spirit of evangelical poverty, hinder them in their quest for perfect love Let them heed the admonition of the Apostle to those who use this world; let them not come to terms with this world; for this world, as we see it, is passing away.(235)(16*)






39. Ecclesia, cuius mysterium a Sacra Synodo proponitur, indefectibiliter sancta creditur. Christus enim, Dei Filius, qui cum Patre et Spiritu «solus Sanctus» celebratur,[121] Ecclesiam tamquam sponsam suam dilexit, Seipsum tradens pro ea, ut illam sanctificaret (cf. Eph. 5, 25-26), eamque Sibi ut corpus suum coniunxit atque Spiritus Sancti dono cumulavit, ad gloriam Dei. Ideo in Ecclesia omnes, sive ad Hierarchiam pertinent sive ab ea pascuntur, ad sanctitatem vocantur, iuxta illud Apostoli: «Haec est enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra» (1 Thess. 4, 3; cf. Eph. 1, 4). Haec autem Ecclesiae sanctitas in gratiae fructibus quos Spiritus in fidelibus producit, incessanter manifestatur et manifestari debet; multiformiter exprimitur apud singulos, qui in suo vitae ordine ad perfectionem caritatis, aedificantes alios, tendunt; proprio quodam modo apparet in praxi consiliorum, quae evangelica appellari consueverunt. Quae consiliorum praxis, Spiritu Sancto impellente, a multis christianis assumpta, sive privatim sive in conditione vel statu in Ecclesia sancitis, praeclarum in mundo fert, et ferre oportet, eiusdem sanctitatis testimonium et exemplum.

40. Omnis perfectionis divinus Magister et Exemplar, Dominus Iesus, sanctitatem vitae, cuius Ipse et auctor et consummator exstat, omnibus et singulis discipulis suis cuiuscumque conditionis praedicavit: «Estote ergo vos perfecti, sicut et Pater vester coelestis perfectus est» (Mt. 5, 48).[122] In omnes enim Spiritum Sanctum misit, qui eos intus moveat, ut Deum diligant ex toto corde, ex tota anima, ex tota mente et ex tota virtute sua (cf. Mc. 12, 30), et ut invicem se diligant sicut Christus eos dilexit (cf. Io. 13, 34; 15, 12). Christi asseclae a Deo non secundum opera sua, sed secundum propositum et gratiam Eius vocati atque in Iesu Domino iustificati, in fidei baptismate vere filii Dei et consortes divinae naturae, ideoque reapse sancti effecti sunt. Eos proinde oportet sanctificationem quam acceperunt, Deo dante, vivendo tenere atque perficere. Ab Apostolo monentur, ut vivant «sicut [45] decet sanctos» (Eph. 5, 3), et induant «sicut electi Dei, sancti et dilecti, viscera misericordiae, benignitatem, humilitatem, modestiam, patientiam» (Col. 3, 12), fructusque Spiritus habeant in sanctificationem (cf. Gal. 5, 22; Rom. 6, 22). Cum vero in multis offendimus omnes (cf. Iac. 3, 2), misericordiae Dei iugiter egemus atque orare quotidie debemus: «Et dimitte nobis debita nostra» (Mt. 6, 12).[123]

Cunctis proinde perspicuum est, omnes christifideles cuiuscumque status vel ordinis ad vitae christianae plenitudinem et caritatis perfectionem vocari,[124] qua sanctitate, in societate quoque terrena, humanior vivendi modus promovetur. Ad quam perfectionem adipiscendam fideles vires secundum mensuram donationis Christi acceptas adhibeant, ut Eius vestigia sequentes Eiusque imagini conformes effecti, voluntatem Patris in omnibus obsequentes, gloriae Dei et servitio proximi toto animo sese devoveant. Ita sanctitas Populi Dei in abundantes fructus excrescet, sicut in Ecclesiae historia per tot Sanctorum vitam luculenter commonstratur.

41. In variis vitae generibus et officiis una sanctitas excolitur ab omnibus, qui a Spiritu Dei aguntur, atque voci Patris oboedientes Deumque Patrem in spiritu et veritate adorantes, Christum pauperem, humilem, et crucem baiulantem sequuntur, ut gloriae Eius mereantur esse consortes. Unusquisque vero secundum propria dona et munera per viam fidei vivae, quae spem excitat et per caritatem operatur, incunctanter incedere debet.

Gregis Christi Pastores imprimis oportet, ut ad imaginem summi et aeterni Sacerdotis, Pastoris et Episcopi animarum nostrarum, sancte et alacriter, humiliter et fortiter exsequantur ministerium suum, quod ita adimpletum, etiam pro eis erit praecelsum sanctificationis medium. Ad plenitudinem sacerdotii electi, sacramentali gratia donantur, ut orando, sacrificando et praedicando, per omnem formam episcopalis curae et servitii, perfectum pastoralis caritatis munus exerceant,[125] [46] animam suam pro ovibus ponere ne timeant et forma facti gregis (cf. I Pt. 5, 3), Ecclesiam etiam exemplo suo ad maiorem in dies sanctitatem promoveant.

Presbyteri in similitudinem ordinis Episcoporum, quorum spiritualem coronam efformant,[126] de eorum muneris gratia participantes per Christum, aeternum et unicum Mediatorem, quotidiano officii sui exercitio in Dei proximique amore crescant, communionis sacerdotalis vinculum servent, in omni bono spirituali abundent atque vivum Dei testimonium omnibus praestent,[127] aemuli eorum sacerdotum, qui saeculorum decursu, in humili saepe et abscondito servitio praeclarum sanctitatis specimen reliquerunt. Quorum laus est in Ecclesia Dei. Pro plebe sua et toto Populo Dei ex officio precantes et sacrificium offerentes, agnoscendo quod agunt et imitando quod tractant,[128] nedum apostolicis curis, periculis et aerumnis impediantur, per ea potius ad altiorem sanctitatem ascendant, ex abundantia contemplationis actionem suam nutriendo et fovendo, in oblectamentum totius Ecclesiae Dei. Omnes presbyteri et speciatim illi qui peculiari suae ordinationis titulo sacerdotes dioecesani vocantur, meminerint quantum ad suam sanctificationem conferant cum suo Episcopo fidelis coniunctio atque generosa cooperatio.

Missionis autem et gratiae supremi Sacerdotis peculiari modo participes sunt inferioris quoque ordinis ministri, imprimis Diaconi, qui mysteriis Christi et Ecclesiae servientes,[129] ab omni vitio puros se custodire atque Deo placere et omne bonum coram hominibus providere debent (cf. 1 Tim. 3, 8-10 et 12-13). Clerici, qui a Domino vocati et in partem Eius sepositi, sub vigilantia Pastorum ad officia ministrorum se praeparant, mentes et corda sua tam praeclarae electioni conformare tenentur, in oratione assidui, amore ferventes, quaecumque sunt vera, iusta et bonae famae cogitantes, omnia in gloriam et honorem Dei perficientes. Quibus accedunt illi a Deo electi laici, qui, ut plene se dedant apostolicis operibus, ab Episcopo vocantur et in agro Domini cum multo fructu laborant.[130] [47]

Coniuges autem parentesque christiani oportet ut propriam viam sequentes, amore fideli, totius vitae decursu se invicem in gratia sustineant, et prolem amanter a Deo acceptam christianis doctrinis et evangelicis virtutibus imbuant. Ita enim exemplum indefessi et generosi amoris omnibus praebent, fraternitatem caritatis aedificant, et foecunditatis Matris Ecclesiae testes et cooperatores exsistunt, in signum et participationem illius dilectionis, qua Christus Sponsam suam dilexit Seque pro ea tradidit.[131] Simile exemplum alio modo praebetur a viduis et innuptis, qui ad sanctitatem et operositatem in Ecclesia, et ipsi haud parum conferre possunt. Ii vero, qui laboribus saepe duris incumbunt, oportet ut humanis operibus seipsos perficiant, concives adiuvent, totamque societatem et creationem ad meliorem statum promoveant, verum etiam ut Christum, cuius manus fabrilibus se exercuerunt et qui semper cum Patre ad salutem omnium operatur, in actuosa caritate imitentur, spe gaudentes, alter alterius onera portantes, atque ipso suo quotidiano labore ad altiorem ascendant sanctitatem etiam apostolicam.

Specialiter etiam Christo pro salute mundi patienti se uniri sciant ii, qui paupertate, infirmitate, morbo, variisque aerumnis opprimuntur, vel persecutionem propter iustitiam patiuntur, quos Dominus in Evangelio beatos praedicavit et quos «Deus ... omnis gratiae, qui vocavit nos in aeternam suam gloriam in Christo Iesu, modicum passos, ipse perficiet, confirmabit solidabitque» (I Pt. 5, 10).

Omnes igitur christifideles in vitae suae conditionibus, officiis vel circumstantiis, et per illa omnia, in dies magis sanctificabuntur, si cuncta e manu Patris coelestis cum fide suscipiunt et voluntati divinae cooperantur, caritatem qua Deus dilexit mundum in ipso temporali servitio omnibus manifestando.

42. «Deus caritas est, et qui manet in caritate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo» (I Io. 1, 16). Deus autem caritatem suam in cordibus nostris diffudit per Spiritum Sanctum qui datus est nobis (cf. Rom. 5, 5); ideoque donum primum et maxime necessarium est caritas, qua Deum super omnia et proximum propter Illum diligimus. Ut vero caritas tamquam bonum semen in anima increscat et fructificet, unusquisque fidelis debet verbum Dei libenter audire Eiusque voluntatem, opitulante Eius gratia, opere complere, sacramentis, praesertim Eucharistiae, et sacris actionibus frequenter participare, seseque orationi, sui ipsius [48] abnegationi, fraterno actuoso servitio et omnium virtutum exercitationi constanter applicare. Caritas enim, ut vinculum perfectionis et plenitudo legis (cf. Col. 3, 14; Rom. 13, 10), omnia sanctificationis media regit, informat ad finemque perducit.[132] Unde caritate tum in Deum tum in proximum signatur verus Christi discipulus.

Cum Iesus, Dei Filius, caritatem suam manifestaverit, animam suam pro nobis ponendo, nemo maiorem habet dilectionem, quam qui animam suam pro Eo et fratribus suis ponit (cf. I Io. 3, 16; Io. 15, 13). Ad hoc ergo maximum amoris testimonium reddendum coram omnibus, praesertim persecutoribus, aliqui christiani iam a primo tempore vocati sunt et semper vocabuntur. Martyrium igitur, quo discipulus Magistro pro mundi salute mortem libere accipienti assimilatur, Eique in effusione sanguinis conformatur, ab Ecclesia eximium donum supremaque probatio caritatis aestimatur. Quod si paucis datur, omnes tamen parati sint oportet, Christum coram hominibus confiteri, Eumque inter persecutiones, quae Ecclesiae numquam desunt, in via crucis subsequi.

Sanctitas Ecclesiae item speciali modo fovetur multiplicibus consiliis, quae Dominus in Evangelio discipulis suis observanda proponit.[133] Inter quae eminet pretiosum gratiae divinae donum, quod a Patre quibusdam datur (cf. Mt. 19, 11; 1 Cor. 7, 7), ut in virginitate vel coelibatu facilius indiviso corde (cf. 1 Cor. 7, 32-34) Deo soli se devoveant.[134] Haec perfecta propter Regnum coelorum continentia semper in honore praecipuo ab Ecclesia habita est, tamquam signum et stimulus caritatis, ac quidam peculiaris fons spiritualis foecunditatis in mundo. Ecclesia etiam Apostoli monitionem recogitat, qui fideles ad caritatem provocans, eos exhortatur, ut hoc in se sentiant quod et in Christo Iesu, qui «semet ipsum exinanivit formam servi accipiens, ... factus oboediens usque ad mortem» (Phil. 2, 7-8) et propter nos «egenus factus est, cum esset dives» (2 Cor. 8, 9). Huius caritatis et humilitatis Christi imitationem et testimonium cum a discipulis semper praeberi necesse sit, gaudet Mater Ecclesia plures in sinu suo inveniri viros ac mulieres, [49] qui exinanitionem Salvatoris pressius sequuntur et clarius demonstrant, paupertatem in filiorum Dei libertate suscipientes et propriis voluntatibus abrenuntiantes: illi scilicet sese homini propter Deum in re perfectionis ultra mensuram praecepti subiiciunt, ut Christo oboedienti sese plenius conforment.[135]

Omnes igitur christifideles ad sanctitatem et proprii status perfectionem prosequendam invitantur et tenentur. Attendant igitur omnes, ut affectus suos recte dirigant, ne usu rerum mundanarum et adhaesione ad divitias contra spiritum paupertatis evangelicae a caritate perfecta prosequenda impediantur, monente Apostolo: Qui utuntur hoc mundo, in eo ne sistant: praeterit enim figura huius mundi (cf. 1 Cor. 7, 31 gr.).[136]