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October 23, 2002

 

Theology on Tap: Holiness is the call of all Christians

Bishop Gomez advises young adults how to sanctify everyday life

By Roxanne King

Anyone can be a saint. In fact, as Christians, it's our call.

That was the message Bishop José Gomez, S.T.D., shared with a full house of young adults at the last Theology on Tap forum Oct. 15 upstairs at Lodo's Bar and Grill, 1946 Market St., Denver.

As the audience drank and ate, the bishop shared a two-step process on how lay people can sanctify their daily life and fulfill the Second Vatican Council's exhortation to all Catholics, laity and clergy alike, to achieve holiness.

"All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity," Bishop Gomez said quoting the council document "Lumen Gentium."

"Anyone can be a saint," the bishop said. "That's what the Second Vatican Council is saying."

How we do that is by sanctifying our work, whether that's being an accountant or a homemaker, and by integrating the many aspects of our life — work, family and recreation — with our spirituality, the bishop said.

There is a misconception that work is the result of sin, Bishop Gomez said. But, according to Genesis, "Man was created to work," he said.

"Work is a good thing," Bishop Gomez said. "It's a participation in the creative work of God."

"It is a primary obligation of men and women to do something substantial with their talents, to perfect ourselves, to support ourselves and/or our families, to give glory to God," he said. Additionally, work develops one's personality, bonds us with others, and helps to improve society and the progress of all humanity.

Rather than being an obstacle to a holy life, the bishop said, work can help us "to be a child of God."

The second step to achieving holiness in everyday life is to integrate one's spirituality with the many responsibilities of one's life, the bishop said.

"That's what theologians call 'unity of life,'" he said.

Too often, we compartmentalize our lives into work, family, recreation and religion, the bishop said.

"The challenge is to put together all of that," Bishop Gomez said. "St. Paul says, 'Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.'"

The ability to do so necessitates having a prayer life — making time for God, he said. And that calls for personal organization: Setting aside time for silent prayer and meditation, for Bible reading and/or attending daily Mass or adoration.

"Whatever helps you to put this together, it doesn't have to be rigid," Bishop Gomez said. Weaving prayer into one's daily life can be as simple as making a morning offering and asking God's grace throughout the day when faced with a challenge.

"We think we have to talk to God in a special way," Bishop Gomez said. "You can talk to God like you talk to anyone."

Be flexible and be consistent, the bishop urged.

"In this way we can make progress in our spiritual life," he said. "There is no distinction between the way we live and the way we believe."

And that is how one achieves the "universal call to holiness" Vatican II called for, he said.

"There is an urgent need for lay faithful people in the middle of the world," he said. "Our mission is to change society, just as the first Christians did."

During a question/answer period following the talk, one young man wanted to know what a person should do when job demands lead to neglect of one's family.

"What good does it do to have a million dollars but lose your wife and kids?" Bishop Gomez asked. "Make decisions based on what's best for the family."

Noting that the bishop was born and reared in Mexico, another audience member wanted to know what Americans can learn from the Mexican culture.

"Integration of faith and culture," the bishop said. But, he added, "People in Latin America can learn a lot from the culture in the United States" and not just about football and baseball, he said to laughter.

"The work ethic in the U.S. is a good example for the whole world," he said.

Attendees described the bishop's talk as informative and inspiring. "It turned out to be relevant to my own life and questions I've had," said David Heon, 28, of Our Lady of Fatima Parish. First-time and veteran participants said they were drawn to Theology on Tap by the opportunity to engage in dialogue with Church leaders on everyday issues.

"I think it's really fantastic to share your faith in public and hear really great speakers," said Beth Thomason, 31, of Risen Christ Parish.

"In Church there's no questions and answers," said Steve Kiper, 41, of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Parish. "This was a chance to talk informally."

Archbishop Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., is the speaker for Theology on Tap on Oct. 29. A 6 p.m. social hour precedes the 7 p.m. talk.

Theology on Tap is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Denver Office of Young Adult Ministry. Call 303-715-3279 for more information or visit www.archden.org/youth/theologyontap.

 


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