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    » 10/12/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Pope: the "singular beauty" of the saints supports us in our daily struggles



    Benedict XVI has presided over the canonization Mass for an Italian priest, a Swiss and an Indian sister - the first canonization of a woman for that country - and a laywoman from Ecuador.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of pilgrims from the four corners of the world crowded St. Peter's Square for the canonization of an Italian, a Swiss sister, an Indian sister, and an Ecuadorian laywoman. They are Gaetano Errico (1791-1860), a priest and the founder of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary; Sr. Maria Bernarda (Verena) Bütler (1848-1924), founder of the congregation of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians; Sr. Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception (Anna Muttathupadathu) (1910-1946), of the Congregation of Claretian Franciscans; Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran (1832- 1869).

    For the Indian Church, it is a first: Sr. Alfonsa is the first Indian woman saint, which is why there were thousands of Indians at the ceremony, especially priests and sisters, and all of the Indian flags waving each time the name of the newly canonized saint was pronounced during the liturgy.

    In his homily, Benedict XVI recalled Alfonsa's short life, marked by "extreme physical and spiritual sufferings." "This exceptional woman, who today is offered to the people of India as their first canonized saint, was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father. By accepting the invitation to the wedding feast, and by adorning herself with the garment of God’s grace through prayer and penance, she conformed her life to Christ’s and now delights in the 'rich fare and choice wines' of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Is 25:6). She wrote, 'I consider a day without suffering as a day lost.' May we imitate her in shouldering our own crosses so as to join her one day in paradise." In speaking of the "heavenly banquet," the pope is referring to the liturgy of the day, the 28th Sunday in ordinary time, in which the Gospel reading tells about a king preparing for his son's wedding, and inviting everyone to the banquet. But some "guests of the first hour" refuse, "because they are drawn by various interests." The king then seeks new banqueters "to fill the room."

    "But the generosity of God," the pontiff continues, "must meet with the free consent of man. It is precisely this generous path that those whom we today venerate as saints have traveled. In baptism, they received the wedding garment of divine grace, they kept it pure or purified it and made it splendid in the course of their life through the sacraments. Now they are taking part in the wedding banquet of heaven." He recalls that the final banquet is anticipated by the Eucharist, at which "we must participate with the wedding garment of his grace. If it happens that we soil or even tear this garment through sin, the goodness of God does not reject us or abandon us to our fate, but offers us with the sacrament of reconciliation the possibility of restoring the wedding garment to the integrity necessary for the feast."

    And precisely the sacrament of reconciliation was the mission of Gaetano Errico. "How many wounds of the soul," Benedict XVI said, "did he heal in this way! How many people did he bring to reconcile themselves with God through the sacrament of forgiveness! In this way, St. Gaetano Errico became an expert in the 'science' of forgiveness, and he took care to teach it to his missionaries, urging them: 'God, who does not want the death of the sinner, is always more merciful than his ministers; for this reason, be as merciful as you can be, because you will find mercy with God."

    Speaking after this in German and in Spanish, the pontiff recalled the mission of Maria Bernarda Bütler, who became a missionary first in Ecuador, and then - after her exile - in Colombia.

    Of the young Ecuadorian laywoman Narcisa de Jesús Martillo Morán, the pope highlighted her simplicity, but also her "passionate love for Jesus, who brought her to undertake a journey of intense prayer and mortification, and to identify herself increasingly with the mystery of the Cross . . . . [offering] a captivating testimony and a splendid example of a life entirely dedicated to God and to men."

    Thanking the Lord for the "singular beauty" of these saints, the pope invited all to imitate them: "may their example encourage us; may their teachings guide and comfort us; may their intercession support us in our daily struggles, so that we too may come one day to share with them and with all the saints in the joy of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem."

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    See also

    11/10/2008 INDIA - VATICAN
    Sr. Alfonsa, Indian saint, model of Christian charity
    Tomorrow in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI will raise to the honors of the altar the Indian religious, who dedicated her life to the poor and the underprivileged, despite her sickness and physical suffering. She is an example for the country, marked by interconfessional violence and by widespread materialism.

    24/02/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: God thirsts for our faith and our love
    Benedict XVI comments on the dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, the gift of water to the woman who with her "five husbands" demonstrates "the existential dissatisfaction of those who have not found what they are looking for" and live in a "repetitive and resigned" manner. An appeal for the populations of Ecuador, struck by floods and volcanic eruptions. An appointment with the university students of Europe and America, for the Marian vigil of March 1.

    25/12/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: on Christmas Eve, let us think of suffering children, and of Bethlehem without peace
    An appeal to pay attention to children denied love by their parents, to street children, to those forced to be soldiers or exploited for pornography. "May hatred and violence cease" in the land where Jesus was born.

    22/03/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: believers are never estranged from each other, and never alone
    During the Easter vigil, Benedict XVI illustrates the meaning of baptism, which unites those who have "the same Lord, the same faith, the same hope, the same love".

    13/04/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: prayer for missionary vocations, and for his visit to the United States
    On the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, Benedict XVI asks for prayers so that vocations dedicated to life and mission may increase. In all the languages of his greetings, he entrusts himself to the prayers of the Church for his "apostolic pilgrimage" to the United States from April 15-20.



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