By Amanda Murthy
Holiness isn’t just for the priests and religious.
Auxiliary Bishop Donald Sproxton offered these words during the final Bishops Catechesis session, in conjunction with the Year of Youth, where he interacted and shared his knowledge with youth during a one hour session titled Can I be a Saint. He based much of his catechesis on Pope Francis’ latest exhortation The Call to Holiness.
The event held at the Vietnamese Catholic Community Centre on Saturday 4 August began with the blessing of statue, commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the canonisation of Vietnamese martyrs, followed by a youth Mass and fellowship.
After an upbeat praise and worship session, the catechesis commenced.
Bishop Sproxton explained that as Christians, we are part of God’s mission, and during our time on earth, we are all called to reflect and embody some aspects of the Gospel in our lives.
“The measure of holiness is how much we allow Christ to enter our hearts, our thoughts, and how much we model our whole life on His – That is how we become a message from the Holy Spirit to all the people around us,” stated Bishop Sproxton.
Bishop Sproxton then shared a story about an impressionable person he had encounter over 45 years ago with four year-old Louise, who was born with a brain tumour.
She was a radiant child, he explained, with a positive attitude, despite her illness. Bishop Sproxton recalled the day Louise told her non-Catholic parents she wanted to be baptised, because she “wanted to be with Jesus”.
“She was so young yet so grown up in faith, in her love and trust for Jesus, that she became holy in top speed.”
The story of Louise, much like Pope Francis’ message, reminds us that in life, we will encounter many saints who are living and journeying with us towards heaven.
These saints, Bishop Sproxton said, demonstrate great humility, courage, patience, generosity in helping others.
“All we need to do is to be aware of their goodness, to be able to notice the presence of God in their lives and to be inspired by their examples – because they are able to give us signs of holiness,” said Bishop Sproxton.
Married couples are also an example of holiness to us, affirmed Bishop Sproxton.
“The sacrament of marriage provides couples with the grace to grow as persons to be the best that they can be.
“The blessing of marriage is that they can help one another to grow in faith in each other and in God – They often show us patience with their children and a love that never gives in no matter how it is misunderstood by their children,” he added.
When addressing what we can do to be on the path of holiness, Bishop Sproxton said the Holy Father’s beautifully explains the eight Beatitudes in his exhortation, and these are teachings from Jesus that we can follow.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven – We need to have spiritual poverty by not allow the things we poses to enslave us, but to have a real freedom from them so we can focus more and more on the word of God.”
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted – When we show respect for others, we are able to show we are free. When we have the freedom in our hearts to trust God, we will see promises that God has made to us, being fulfilled in our lives.
“Reacting with meekness and humility, is a sign of holiness in our lives,” said Bishop Sproxton.
From the next Beatitude, blessed are the meek for they will inherit the land, Bishop Sproxton said we can learn to face the inevitable sufferings in our lives, instead of escaping or disregarding them. Sharing in the sufferings of others, by aiding those who suffer, understanding their anguish, perhaps even bringing relief to them, is a sign of holiness, he added.
From the fourth beatitude we learn to have a hunger and thirst for justice in our lives – to stand up for what is right, cited Bishop Sproxton, and Jesus speaks about practising mercy by giving and serving others, and at the same time reminding us to be forgiving and understanding in his next beatitude, blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Bishop Sproxton added that the following beatitudes teach us to be sincere in heart by keeping our heart free from all that tarnishes love, to sow peace to those around us, and to endure the persecution we may face, by standing up for our faith, especially through the rough times.
With these words, Bishop Sproxton said he hopes that the youth will accept their call to holiness.