From the Bishop

The Wideness of God’s Call to Sanctity

The Letter of St. Paul to the Colossians offers some great insights for us moderns to peer into what God may have in store for us as His saints—holy and beloved. Two of my friends recently married and chose Colossians 3:12-17 as one of the Scripture readings for their nuptial Mass. I congratulated them on their wise and prudent use of Scripture, especially these verses that lend them so totally to the call of sainthood in Christ’s Church, but, in addition, open the mind and heart to the possibilities of where this vocation to sanctity begins.

Colossians opens the mind and heart to the saintly vocation of the Church but also makes us aware that such saintly behavior begins with the “domestic Church,” that is the family. Ponder these words:

Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love,
that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one Body. (Col. 3:12ff.)

The Church is the Body of Christ, and we are baptized into the family of God, adopted children of God’s Grace and love. These verses direct our hearts to such thoughts and inspire us to live such virtuous behavior. More than that, however, we find that the call to personal holiness leads more deeply into a sense of love that must first be found in the homes of all believers. Husbands and wives are first lovers of each other in a much wider sense than simple bodily attraction. We are more than skin and bone that can be altered by cosmetic adornment or sensual beautification. Husbands and wives are bound together in love: the bond of perfection. The love between a husband and wife becomes the truly fertile dwelling place that manifests itself in the gift of children. As children grow in such richness, they become the progeny of the parents’ love. This is who we are in the Church—the gift of God’s love, filled with the richness of Divine Grace and the gifts of radical love that can only be satisfied and fulfilled in heaven for all eternity.

Somehow, over the span of the brevity of human life, we have lost the meaning and, indeed, the practice of Saint Paul’s inspired wisdom to the Church. We have lost a sense of what Jesus wants us to have in our relationships with others in His Name. We have become such solitary individuals—even controlled as we are by “social” media and frivolous and lack-luster attempts at “human interaction.” We settle for less-than-love and have totally forgotten that it is “the bond of perfection.”

And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,

Brothers and sisters, take these words of St. Paul to heart. Pray that our bodies, minds and hearts will be open to receive the love and peace of Christ here on earth, and that our lives will be like those of the saints.

Most Reverend William Patrick Callahan
is the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse.

Published Januar/February 2020 Catholic Life Issue

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