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SAINTLY EXAMPLES

Feast days commemorating the sacrifices of the saints began in the third century and recognized only martyrs such as St....

Humility not about being polite, but accepting humiliation, pope says

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like a sprout, humility needs to be nourished so that the Holy Spirit may grow within all Christians, Pope Francis said.

While some believe that "being humble means being polite, courteous and closing your eyes in prayer," accepting humiliation is the only real sign of humility, the pope said in his homily Dec. 5 at morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"Humility without humiliation is not humility. The humble one is that man, that woman who is capable of enduring humiliations like Jesus, the humiliated one, the great humiliated one," he said.

The pope centered his homily on the day's reading from Isaiah (11:1-10), in which the prophet foretells the coming of the Messiah as a shoot that "shall sprout from the stump of Jesse," and says that "the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him."

Christians, Pope Francis said, must be aware "that each one of us is a sprout of that root," which must be cared for so that it can grow with the strength of the Holy Spirit.

Faith and humility are needed, he said, so that "this very small gift" will grow fully and bring forth the "gifts of the Holy Spirit," which are "the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, the spirit of wise counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord."

"We need humility to believe that the Father, the lord of heaven and earth -- as today's Gospel says -- has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and revealed them to the little ones," the pope said.

Humility, he added, means being small, "like the sprout, a little thing that grows every day, a small thing that needs the Holy Spirit to go forward, toward the fullness of its own life."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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Don't wait to be perfect to answer vocational call, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Men and women contemplating a vocation to the priesthood, consecrated life or marriage should not be afraid because God wants only for them to experience the joy that comes from serving others, Pope Francis said.

"Our slowness and our sloth" should not delay a response and Christians need not be "fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead open our hearts to the voice of the Lord," the pope said in his message for the 2018 World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

"It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision," the pope wrote. "Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now!"

The papal message for the day of prayer, which will be observed April 22, was released Dec. 4 at the Vatican. The 2018 theme is "Listening, discerning and living the Lord's call."

In his message, Pope Francis said God's call "is not as clear-cut as any of those things we can hear, see or touch in our daily experiences" because God "comes silently and discreetly, without imposing on our freedom."

Christians, he said, must learn to listen carefully and "view things with the eyes of faith" in order to listen to his voice which is "drowned out by the many worries and concerns that fill our minds and hearts."

"We will never discover the special, personal calling that God has in mind for us if we remain enclosed in ourselves, in our usual way of doing things, in the apathy of those who fritter away their lives in their own little world," the pope said.

Listening is increasingly difficult in today's society, which is "overstimulated and bombarded by information" and "prevents us from pausing and enjoying the taste of contemplation" and discerning God's plan, he said.

Often stifled by "the temptations of ideology and negativity," he said, Christians need spiritual discernment which allows them to "discover the places, the means and situations through which" God's calls them.

"Every Christian ought to grow in the ability to 'read within' his or her life and to understand where and to what he or she is being called by the Lord, in order to carry on his mission," Pope Francis said.

He also urged men and women to live out their calling once it is discovered and "become a witness of the Lord here and now," whether in marriage or priesthood or consecrated life.

"If (God) lets us realize that he is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to his kingdom, then we should have no fear!" Pope Francis said.

"It is beautiful -- and a great grace," he said, "to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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