Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Universal Call

Occasionally, I'll hear an assertion that goes something like this: before Vatican II, we had unreasonable expectations of holiness for our priests and religious; after Vatican II, we realized that they are people too.

It makes me want to tear my hair out.

I never lived in the pre-Conciliar Church, so I can't speak at all from personal experience. I am willing to concede that the Council included an egalitarian movement, but I don't think that it was intended in any way to relax the expectations of holiness on anyone. Rather, we hear of the universal call to holiness. It's not just for priests and religious! It's for accountants, engineers, carpenters, and housewives, too!

Yes, we are all human. Yes, we are all going to experience some degree of failure. But if you shoot for Heaven and miss, you've still got Purgatory. If you shoot for Purgatory and miss, . . .

So let us strive for holiness in our own lives ("be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect"), and let us pray especially for those who, by their very public life, are examples to the rest of us. When they fall short, they need our sympathy and forgiveness, not our excuses.

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