Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Every reform must be made within the church, "holy, but fragile" and never against it and must "aim" first "at the heart," because only the saints "contribute in a decisive manner, to build a better world” This is a principle relevant "even today", and that sustained St. John Leonardi, who died in Rome on October 9, 1609, to whom Benedict XVI dedicated his reflection for today's general audience.
To 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope traced the figure of this saint, founder of the Congregation of Clerks Regular of the Mother of God, patron saint of pharmacists, beatified in 1861 and canonized in 1938. A priest remembered for his "great missionary yearning, which together with the Spanish priest Juan Bautista y Vives Mary gave birth to a" project that led to the creation of the Urbanianum College of Propaganda Fide, which over the centuries has created thousands of priests, many of them martyrs, to evangelize the nations. " John Leonardi was born in 1541 in Decimo, near Lucca. At 17, his father enrolled him in a course of "speziaria", ie pharmacy in Lucca. "For nearly a decade he was a careful student, but when he gained the official recognition that would allow him to open his own pharmacy, he thought it time to undertake a project that had been in his heart forever." So he was ordained and celebrated his first Mass on the Epiphany of 1572.
But he "did not abandon his passion for the pharmacopoeia, because he felt that it would allow him to realize his vocation to provide humanity with the medicine men of God." "Inspired by the belief that all humans need such medical treatment, he tried to make this the essential reason for his existence." It was the founding principal and motivation of his priestly activity during "the widespread movement of spiritual renewal in the Church of his day, which had saints such as Charles Borromeo, Philip Neri, Ignatius of Loyola and Joseph Calasanz, Camillo de Lellis, John Gonzaga. He advised the group of young people who in 1574 founded the Congregation of the Priests of the Blessed Virgin Reformed, later known as the Clerics Regular of the Mother of God, "to have above all the glory of Christ crucified in mind."
In his "zeal" in 1605 he sent to the newly elected Pope Paul V, a memorial noting that it is "necessary that those who want to reform the morals of men seek first the glory of God." "Those who want to make a serious reform of religion and morality should act like a good physician, by carefully analysing the ills that afflict the Church, so as to indicate the necessary remedies." He also argued that "we must begin with those in power" and involve everyone. "Every reform - continued Benedict XVI - certainly deals with structures, but first it must affect the hearts of believers. Only the saints, men and women who are led by the Spirit of God, ready to make radical and courageous choices in light of the Gospel, renew the Church and contribute in a decisive way to building a better world. " He was a "shining figure [that] called in the first place the priests and all Christians to constantly tend for the first measure of the Christian life, which is holiness."
In those years there were also "assumptions of future contemporary culture, characterized by an unjust division between faith and reason" that " produced among its negative effects the marginalization of God, with the illusion of a possible total autonomy of man who chooses to live as if God did not exist. It is the crisis of modern thought, of which I have often had occasion to highlight and which is closely tied to forms of relativism. " St. John Leonardi, however, summed up his thoughts in the expression "Christ first. "Christ at the centre of everything, history and the cosmos.'' In this''- pointed out the Pope - he strongly affirms that humanity is in desperate need because He is our measure and there is nothing that is not touched by His power. There is no evil that can not find in him a remedy, there is no problem that cannot be resolved in Him. Or Christ or nothing, this is his recipe for all kinds of spiritual or social reform".
On more than one occasion he reiterated that "the encounter with Christ takes place in the Church, holy, but fragile, where wheat and weeds grow together, but always sacrament of salvation." "He chose to be good wheat. He saw the Church and its human frailty, but it is God's field and instrument of salvation for all humanity. " He understood that "any reform must be made within the Church, and never against the Church. His example - the Pope said - still stands today. " "Only saints renew the Church and contribute in a decisive way to build a better world." "Conquered by Christ like St Paul, he pointed to and continues to hold up the Christocentric ideal for which must give up all our personal interests". "Next to the face of Christ his eyes are fixed on the maternal face of Mary, who became the patron of his order." "The example of this fascinating man of God - he concluded - is a model, a call to all priests and all Christians to live their vocation with enthusiasm."