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A ‘Protocol’ for the Good Spiritual Battle: Chapter Five of ‘Gaudete et Exsultate’

Issue 1901

11 January 2019

At the heart of the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate (GE) are the Beatitudes, a veritable “program of holiness.”[1] It is interesting to note how Francis, in speaking of holiness, uses the word “protocol,” which indicates a procedure, a series of steps and actions to complete.

Francis re-reads the lives of the saints in the light of this practical key at the close of the chapter on the Beatitudes: “The powerful witness of the saints is revealed in their lives, shaped by the Beatitudes and the criterion of the final judgement.[2] Jesus’ words are few and straightforward, yet practical and valid for everyone, for Christianity is meant above all to be put into practice. It can also be an object of study and reflection, but only to help us to better live the Gospel in our daily lives” (GE 109). With this in mind we can draw up a protocol consisting of four aids for the spiritual battle.

The first aid is the certainty of victory in spiritual conflict. This certainty must animate the life of the Christian which is to be lived out in joy. We can see the importance the pope gives to the need “to rejoice each time the Lord triumphs in our lives” (GE 158). We do this, he says, because “Jesus himself celebrates our victories” (GE 159).

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