Monday, February 8, 2021

The Universal Call to Holiness and Mission

"Every Christian, and therefore also every lay person, has been made a sharer in 'the priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Christ', and their apostolate 'is a participation in the saving mission of the Church itself... All are commissioned to that apostolate by the Lord Himself'. This call to personal holiness and to apostolic mission is common to all believers" (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #6-7). 

All of us are made for holiness, built for greatness, and destined for sainthood. 

Regardless of any personal characteristics that make us individual and unique, we are - everyone - wonderfully made in God's image and likeness. We are not loved because we have value. Rather, we have value because God loves us as His own beloved children.

And, as children of God, we take part in the work of Our Father: to build up the Kingdom in heaven and establish it here on earth. 

For those of us baptized as Christians, we share in Christ's priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions. In short, this means that at our baptisms we were anointed with the Spirit of Christ. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, explained it this way (homily given at a Chrism Mass at Saint Peter’s on April 1, 2010): 

The word “Christians,” in fact, by which Christ’s disciples were known in the earliest days of Gentile Christianity, is derived from the word “Christ” (Acts 11:20-21) – the Greek translation of the word “Messiah,” which means “anointed one”. To be a Christian is to come from Christ, to belong to Christ, to the anointed one of God, to whom God granted kingship and priesthood. It means belonging to him whom God himself anointed – not with material oil, but with the One whom the oil represents: with his Holy Spirit.

With the Holy Spirit coursing through our veins, we are, like the apostles, sent on mission in the name of Jesus Christ. No matter our profession or level of work, every Christian is called to make the world align more closely to the principles of the Gospel. 

Those of us in direct ministry like Catholic education are called to this work in explicit and overt ways. We must move beyond merely suspecting or assuming that Catholic school educators understand the true nature of their work: it is a vocation and it makes up an apostolate within our Church: 

Lay Catholic educators in schools...must never have any doubts about the fact that they constitute an element of great hope for the Church. The Church puts its trust in them entrusting them with the task of gradually bringing about an integration of temporal reality with the Gospel, so that the Gospel can thus reach into the lives of all men and women. (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #81) 

But, all of the baptized are called to make the world's "structures more conformed to the principles of the Gospel" (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #19). All Christians are called to commit to improving business, government, medicine, and all areas of life so that they more faithfully uphold and enact the Gospel values. 

All Christians are called to make "human society more peaceful, fraternal, and communitarian" and "the 'civilization of love' a reality" (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #19).

As such, we must show that we "are His co-workers in the various forms and methods of the Church's one apostolate, which must be constantly adapted to the new needs of the times. May (we) always abound in the works of God, knowing that (we) will not labor in vain when (our labor) is for Him (1 Corinthians 15:58)" (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1982, #82).

We have been called, anointed, and sent by our Father.

"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  

This is our baptismal rite. This is the mission. 

His mission. 

Our mission. 


Sacred Congregation of Catholic Education. (1982, October). Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to faith. Retrieved from: