Joy and holiness
To conclude this analysis of Gaudete et Exsultate we can reflect specifically on the title. The call of Francis to holiness is open to the invitation to the simple joy of the Gospel quoted at the beginning of the exhortation: “Rejoice and be glad” (Matt 5:12). The invitation to evangelical joy sounded out already in the first exhortation of Francis that had as its title Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”). And the magisterial documents Laudato Si’ and Amoris Laetitia also make appeals to praise and joy.
Which joy is Pope Francis speaking about? Joy for Bergoglio is the “spiritual consolation” that St. Ignatius speaks of, the “interior joy that stimulates and attracts celestial reality and the salvation of the soul, giving it tranquility and peace in its Creator and Lord” (Spiritual Exercises, 316). Fr. Bergoglio, as he was then, wrote that this is “the habitual state of whoever receives the manifestation of Jesus Christ with openness and simplicity of heart.” A Christian should not have a “funeral face” (EG 10). The term joy (gioia, alegría, gozo) is generally one of the most frequent in Bergoglio’s vocabulary. To the joy of the Gospel he specifically dedicated some of his meditations in the course of his Spiritual Exercises.
The very title Gaudete et Exsultate also recalls Gaudete in Domino (GD) signed by Blessed Paul VI, on May 9, 1975. Pope Paul wrote, “We can experience joy which is properly spiritual, the joy which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It consists in the human spirit’s finding repose and a deep satisfaction in the possession of the Triune God, known by faith and loved with the charity that comes from Him. Such a joy henceforth characterizes all the Christian virtues. The humble human joys in our lives, which are like seeds of a higher reality are transfigured” (GD, III).
And then there is the speech by St. John XXIII during the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Council, titled Gaudet Mater Ecclesia. To these pages we can add the document of Aparecida (2007) that “breathes” through the pages of Bergoglio. There the appeal to joy echoes around 60 times. In the concluding document of the Fifth General Conference of the Episcopate of Latin America and the Caribbean, the joy of being a disciple marks a person’s spiritual life and tension toward holiness: “It is not a feeling of egoistic well-being, but a certainty that comes from faith; it placates the heart and renders us able to announce the good news of the love of God” (No. 29). And again: “We can meet the Lord among the joys of our limited existence, and this causes sincere gratitude in our hearts” (No. 356).
The connections between Gaudete et Exsultate and the other magisterial texts of Francis, as well as those of Bergoglio the pastor in Argentina, help us to understand that the exhortation is the mature fruit of a reflection the pope has been carrying out for a prolonged period, and expresses organically his vision on holiness woven together with that of the mission of the Church in the contemporary world. As a whole the document spreads a conviction similar to that expressed long ago by Cardinal Bergoglio: “We must accompany the fragility of our people toward the evangelical joy that is the source of our strength.”
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Francis closes Gaudete et Exsultate turning his thoughts to Mary. Already at the beginning of the 1980s Bergoglio saw the holiness of the Church reflected “in the face of Mary, she without sin, the spotless and pure,” without ever forgetting that “in her breast are gathered the children of Eve, mother of sinners.” Mary is “the saint among the saints, blessed above all others. She teaches us the way of holiness and she walks ever at our side,” as a mother: “at times she takes us into her arms without judging us. Our converse with her consoles, frees and sanctifies us” (GE 176).
 That is: “Do so as to always have God before your eyes before all else.” Formula of the Institutes of the Society of Jesus (No. 1).
 A. Spadaro, “Intervista a Papa Francesco,” in Civ Catt 2013 III 460.
 J. Malègue, Agostino Méridier, Milan, Corriere della Sera – Rome, La Civiltà Cattolica, 831f.
 Francis, L’umiltà e lo stupore. Omelie da Santa Marta. Settembre 2015 – Giugno 2017, Milan, Rizzoli, 2018, 230.
 Ibid., La verità è un incontro. Omelie da Santa Marta, Milan, Rizzoli, 2014, 335, and Ibid., La felicità si impara ogni giorno. Omelie da Santa Marta. Marzo 2014 – Giugno 2015, ibid., 371.
 J. Malègue, Agostino Méridier, cit., 989.
 J. M. Bergoglio, Nel cuore di ogni padre, Milan, Rizzoli, 2014, 210.
 Ibid., 211.
 Ibid., Il desiderio allarga il cuore. Esercizi spirituali con il Papa, Bologna, EMI, 2f.
 Francis, L’umiltà e lo stupore, cit., 244 (Homily of June 9, 2016).
 Cf. D. Fares, “I am a Mission: Toward the Synod on Young People,” in Civ Catt English Edition May 2018.
 “Like St. Therese of the Child Jesus, in the variety of our vocations, each of us is called, in some way, to be love in the heart of the Church.”
 J. M. Bergoglio, Non fatevi rubare la speranza, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 212f.
 The pope quotes particularly from volume I. Quiles, Filosofia de la educación personalista, Buenos Aires, 1981, 46-53.
 I. Quiles, Il mio ideale di santità, Milan, Paoline, 1956.
 Ibid., 196.
 John Paul II, apostolic letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 56, 307.
 Cf. Spiritual Exercises, 230-237; Autobiography, 99, and Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, 288.
 J. Bergoglio – a. Skorka, Il cielo e la terra. Il pensiero di Papa Francesco sulla famiglia, la fede e la missione della Chiesa nel XXI secolo, Milan, Mondadori, 2013, 24.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter “Placuit Deo” to the Bishops of the Catholic Church concerning some aspects of Christian Salvation, February 22, 2018.
 Video message to the international congress on Theology at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (September 1-3, 2015).
 J. M. Bergoglio, La verità è un incontro, cit., 423, 78.
 Cf. Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 107, art. 4.
 Francis, La felicità si impara ogni giorno, cit., Milan, Rizzoli, 2015, 126.
 For further study we suggest D. FARES – M. IRIGOY, Il programma della felicità. Ripensare le beatitudini con Papa Francesco, Milan, Ancora, 2016.
 Francis, Speech to the community of “La Civiltà Cattolica,” February 9, 2017.
 Francis recognizes that such aggressive and polemical behavior is not lacking even in media that considers itself “Catholic,” yet that tolerates – if not foments – defamation and calumny, provoking anger and vendetta (Cfr GE 115).
 M. A. Fiorito, Discernimiento y lucha espiritual. Comentario de las Reglas de discernir de la Primera Semana de los Ejercicios Espirituales de San Ignacio de Loyola, Bilbao, Mensajero, 2010 (originally published in 1985). Cf. J. L. NARVAJA, “Miguel Ángel Fiorito. Una riflessione sulla religiosità popolare nell’ambiente di Jorge Mario Bergoglio,” in La Civiltà Cattolica 2018 II 18-29.
 When he was head of the Argentine Province of Jesuits he dedicated an important reflection to this motto: J. M. Bergoglio, “Guidare nelle cose grandi e in quelle piccole,” in Ibid., Nel cuore di ogni padre, cit., 91-102. Among other things we read: “St. Ignatius does not consider what is ‘small’ or ‘big’ […] within the context of a functionalist vision of the world, but rather in a spiritual conception of life. Reducing these supernatural realities of vision to other dimensions is a daily seduction. Only the wisdom of discernment can save us from it” (p. 94).
 Ibid., Aprite la mente al vostro cuore, Milan, Rizzoli, 2013, 124.
 Cf. Ibid., In Lui solo la speranza. Esercizi spirituali ai vescovi spagnoli (15-22 gennaio 2006), Milan – Vatican City, Jaca Book – Libr. Ed. Vaticana, 2013, 74f, n. 2.
 Ibid., Aprite la mente al vostro cuore, cit., 21-29.
 Cf., ibid., 24.
 Concerning that ecclesial event, cf. D. Fares, “40 anni da Aparedica. Alle fonti del pontificato di Francesco,” in Civ. Catt. 2017 II 338-352.
 Ibid., È l’amore che apre gli occhi, Milan, Rizzoli, 2013, 261.
 Ibid., Nel cuore di ogni padre, cit. 210.