Today, I will continue my discussion on Lumen Gentium. Sections 5 and 6 are about the universal call to holiness and the religious state.
The Catholic Church and all her members are called to be holy. There are absolutely no exceptions to this principle. Holiness is a participation in the divine nature; it is a fulness of the Christian life and the perfection of love. People express their holiness in many different ways, depending on their strengths, rank and status, but in all cases, holiness is a gift, and the holy person confirms himself to the image of Christ in seeking the will of God in all things.
This is, I think, one of the elements of Vatican II that people have misinterpreted. Some people think the Catholic Church is just a group of social workers. True, the church feeds, educates and houses more people than any other institution on the planet, but if you think that is the primary mission of the church, you are putting the cart before the horse. The church's goal is the salvation of souls. A person does not become holy, by doing social work; a person does social work, because they are holy. Trying to separate holiness from good works is utter foolishness; holy men and women "must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor".
The document mentions certain types of holiness, such as martyrdom, suffering from oppression, and celibacy. This leads into a discussion of the three evangelical counsels: poverty, chastity and obedience, which were recommended by Jesus in word and in deed. People who live in the religious state, such as nuns or monks, follow these counsels, either by vows or sacred bonds. By taking these vows, they are "totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things".
The evangelical counsels are recommended to all people, not just religious. In all times (and especially today), people have been shocked that Catholics honor poverty, chastity and obedience so highly. The truth of the matter is that exercising these virtues is an excellent way to become less attached to the world and more attached to God. They are not contrary to nature or otherwise harmful; it "does not detract from a genuine development of the human persons, but rather by
its very nature is most beneficial to that development."