June 26, 2023

Bl. Giacinto Longhin on the Universal Call to Holiness

Today we have something of an embarrassment of riches in the Capuchin calendar, with two optional memorials of Capuchin blesseds. There's Blessed James of Ghazir (1875-1954), who was called 'the Lebanese St. Vincent de Paul', as well as Blessed Giacinto Longhin (1863-1936) who was bishop of Treviso, Italy.

Just for fun, I decided to translate Blessed Giacinto's reading for the Office of Readings today. (You see, here in the anglosphere, our superiors don't love us enough to provide officially updated Capuchin liturgical propers. It's one area, anyway, in which the Italians are ahead of us.)

Holiness in the Christian and religious life is an obligation. Our ignorance and acedia makes us believe that holiness isn’t possible for us, because we imagine ourselves in ecstasy, as if to be saints we need to have the gift of raptures or of visions or of prophecy or of miracles; we imagine ourselves on the cross, as if it were necessary to make great fasts or perform austerities and penances with the discipline unto blood, with hair shirts, and so on. It’s a trick.

Holiness consists in simpler things that are within everyone’s reach. It is not said to anyone: whip yourself, fast, go into ecstasy … no, this is asked of no one. It is said only that you love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and that you love your neighbor as yourself. It is in this that all the perfection and true holiness of the Christian life is found. 

Who in the world can say that they can’t love the Lord? To please him by doing his will shown to us in the commandments of the Decalogue, by the holy Church, and by our legitimate superiors? Who can say, I am not able to avoid deliberate venial sin and failures in charity, humility and obedience?

St. Thomas, to a sister who asked how she could become a saint, said: If you wish! Do you understand, my dear Maria? If you will to become a saint, it’s done. Grace will not be lacking for you and with grace we are all-powerful.