This Easter season has been a time ofrnblessing.

We continue to thank God for the giftrnof our new auxiliary bishop, who was appointed by the Holy Father on Tuesday ofrnEaster Week.

I have had the privilege to servernwith Bishop-elect Marc Trudeau for these past eight years. He is a very finernpriest, a man of prayer and a man of service.

As a priest, he has always had arnheart for his people. He is close to them in their joys and sorrows and in thernchallenges they face in their everyday lives. I know he is going to be, as PopernFrancis likes to say, “a shepherd who knows the smell of his sheep.”

This week also, we are blessed with arnnew apostolic exhortation from our Holy Father, “Gaudete et Exsultate”(“Rejoice and Be Glad”), which is a beautiful and practical reflection on thernmeaning of our Christian lives.

The themes of the pope’s exhortationrnare close to my heart.

All of us, every baptized Catholic,rnneed to understand how important we are, what our lives mean in the eyes ofrnGod, in the light of his beautiful plan for creation.

The meaning of our lives is to bernsaints, to be holy, “each in his or her own way,” the Holy Father says, quotingrnthe Second Vatican Council.

The pope speaks personally to eachrnone of us. “You … need to see the entirety of your life as a mission,” he says.rnThat mission is to follow Jesus on the path to holiness — to live as childrenrnof God and to try to become like Jesus; to be holy as he is holy.

“Do not be afraid of holiness,” the popernsays. “You will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and yournwill be faithful to your deepest self.”

“We are all called to be witnesses,”rnPope Francis writes, “but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.”

This is one of my favorite passagesrnfrom this new exhortation: “We are all called to be holy by living our livesrnwith love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we findrnourselves. Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out yourrncommitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for yourrnhusband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Bernholy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers andrnsisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching thernlittle ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy byrnworking for the common good and renouncing personal gain. 

One of the saints said that wisdomrnconsists in doing the next thing. This is true also about holiness. And thernpope takes this same approach: “This holiness to which the Lord calls you willrngrow through small gestures.”

Throughout this exhortation, he holdsrnup the witness of ordinary people doing ordinary things. He even speaks of “thernmiddle class of holiness.” 

He finds holiness in parents raisingrntheir children with love, men and women working hard to support their families,rnin the smile of a person who is sick and burdened.

He celebrates “unknown or forgottenrnwomen who, each in her own way, sustained and transformed families andrncommunities by the power of her witness.” 

And he reminds us that since thernearly Church, the family has been the cradle of holiness and that mothers andrngrandmothers have always been the first teachers of holiness. He adds: “Theirrnlives may not always have been perfect, yet even amid their faults and failingsrnthey kept moving forward and proved pleasing to the Lord.”

Pope Francis also wants us to knowrnthat holiness is personal, but it does not isolate us from others.

To follow Jesus means we need to seekrnwith him the kingdom that he came to bring. “Your personal mission isrninseparable from the building of that kingdom … of love, justice and universalrnpeace,” the Holy Father writes.

In strong language, the pope remindsrnus that true holiness is expressed in “living generously” and with greatrnconcern for our brothers and sisters.

There is much more to say about “Rejoicernand Be Glad.” I pray that you will take time in these 50 days of Easter tornreflect on it.

Pray for me this week and I will prayrnfor you, and let us continue to thank God for our new bishop-elect, who we willrnordain at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on June 7. 

Let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother tornwalk with us and teach us the ways of holiness.

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