Growing in Our Call to Holiness

Lenten resource helps Catholics learn about their faith through examples of the saints

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By Ann Schneible

LONDON, FEB. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- "My desire is that this faith-sharing resource will help you to see that 'saintly' living is as much for you as it has been for anyone, and that you will explore how in the seeming ordinariness of daily living you can be an effective agent, a spark of light, in the Church’s mission today."

These words were spoken by Archbishop of Westminster Diocese, Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, about the resource entitled Sparks of Light: Group Reflections on the Universal Call to Holiness, and how it can help enrich the faith of Catholics during this Lenten season.

Sparks of Light is a guide designed to be used by individuals or prayer groups, to help them reflect upon the theme of holiness in today's society.

 "The main focus of the booklet is to help us all realize that we are called to holiness" says Dr. Mark Nash, editor of the booklet and team member at the Diocese of Westminster's Agency for Evangelisation. "That's our baptismal vocation. One of the things that a lot of the group members had taken when the Holy Father came to the UK was his homily to the children and the young people… where he said 'I hope that among you there will be some of the saints of the 21stcentury.' And that's not just a call for the young people, but a call for all of us. The main focus of the booklet is the universal call to holiness, our baptismal vocation to holiness."

Sparks of Life has proven to be a welcome resource for Christians seeking to enrich their faith in their daily lives.  "Principally I think they appreciate the fact they're being exposed to a wide variety of themes" Nash continued, "and there's a real thirst for the teaching of the Catholic faith... I think a lot of people, principally, have been willing to open themselves up to the Scriptures, and have ultimately found their experience of the Scriptures more fulfilling at Mass as a result of exploring them in groups.  So it's helped in learning the richness of the Catholic faith; it helps facilitate a greater understanding, willingness to engage with something richer.  And it's also – participating in the groups also develops community and builds trust in the parishes."

The booklet is divided into six sections, each focusing on a different theme. "The first section is talking about the possibility, the real possibility, that holiness is possible, is attainable through God's grace… And sections two, three, four and five look at three human virtues in the context of a particular saint's life": St. Gianna Molla, who exemplified prudence; St. David Roldan-Lara, justice; St. Josephine Bakhita, fortitude; and Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Temperance. "The sixth section, the last section looks at our lives in terms of virtue, our training to be holy."

Sparks of Light will be used in parishes in the Diocese of Westminster as well as by the Diocese of Motherwell as its Lent resource. It is also being used by parishes in other parts of England and Scotland. 

The resource also features supplementary materials including Your Roadmap for Sainthood!, an exercise in self-examination which invites the reader to reflect upon their past within the context of faith, hope and charity.

The booklet has been produced by the Diocese of Westminster, in collaboration with the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

The team is also working on a resource about Evangelization which will be published to coincide with the start of the Year of Faith in October 2012.

The Sparks of Light project began eight years ago, and has produced 17 resource booklets to date.