With great clarity and even greater charity, Pope Benedict XVI has once again shown how blessed we are to have him as the leader of our universal church! In his most recent weekly Wednesday address, the pope urges all of us to answer our call to holiness and gives us practical advice on how to do that:
Pope Benedict said there are three simple rules for living a holy life:
 “Never let a Sunday go by without an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an added burden, it is light for the entire week.”
 “Never begin or end a day without at least a brief contact with God” in prayer.
 “And along the pathway of our lives, follow the road signs that God has given us in the Ten Commandments, read in the light of Christ; they are nothing other than explanations of what is love in specific situations.”…
He then goes on to talk about the communion of saints, both canonized and not canonized:
The unnamed saints “are people who are, so to say, ‘normal,’ without visible heroism, but in their goodness each day, I see the truth of the faith, this goodness that has matured in the faith of the Church. For me, their goodness is the surest form of apologetics for the Church and a sign of where truth lies,” the Pope said.
These simple rules are as basic as they are compelling as they are difficult! The first rule, to experience Christ in the Eucharist every Sunday could have easily been worded, “Go to Mass on all Sundays,” and yet that doesn’t cut it for the Pope. As Catholics, we truly have the opportunity to receive Christ in our bodies every single time we attend Mass, but it is our openness to truly experiencing him and his passion, death and resurrection and all that His life entails that will open the doors to the grace hidden in the form of bread and wine on the altar. We need to EXPERIENCE Christ in the Eucharist, not just receive or see Him. An experience is something that sticks with us and, as the pope suggests, helps to mold us!
The other rules are much the same. It is the choice of words that the Pope uses here that make these statements so profound. Quickly we see in his second “rule” that he is talking about some form of prayer and yet how many of my prayers are a bunch of words strung together that mention God and my relationship to Him while my mind is running on what I need to do next (or what I am doing, in most cases). Real contact requires much more. When we come into contact with something, we are changed (in even the smallest way). When we pick up a knife to butter bread, we leave some part of us on that knife (even if if is just germs). When we bump into a person on the street, we get jarred out of our step even for a moment. When we hug our loved ones, something stirs in our gut. True contact with God requires us to do much more than talk. It requires a movement of the heart toward God who is constantly reaching toward us.
The Ten Commandments are the staple food for examinations of conscience and yet I’ve never looked at them as “what love is in specific situations” (perhaps I’m just not too bright), but what a concept to meditate on! If we love God, we are grateful for his many blessings and we honor him in using rightly the gifts he has given us (including the people, places and things we come into contact with everyday). This is love in action.
The last little bit, quoted above, really strikes me hard as I reflect on my daily dealings with my family as a father and husband. How am I giving my sons and daughter and wife an earthly example of a saintly life? Will my children think of my life when they think of someone to emulate in total, self-sacrificing love? Do they see in me the goodness of the Faith or do I give them room to see something else as a “greater good” because of my actions? It’s times like these when I don’t envy St. Joseph in the least!
(© 2011 Wayne Topp)