At the canonisation Mass for Blesseds Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701) and Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957), Pope Francis stressed "God’s victory over suffering and death”. When God responds "to our own death, however it may come about”, he “does not say: ‘Hold on to it; sort it out yourself!’ Instead, he says: ‘Give it to me’.” Indeed, “Jesus asks to take our death upon himself, to free us from it and to restore our life.” When it comes to us sinners, “He says to Mother Church: “Give me your children”, which means all of us. He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church.” The pontiff greeted the delegations from Poland and Sweden and recited the Angelus prayer.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis in today’s Mass presided over the canonisation of two new saints in St Peter’s Square. In his homily, he noted that, “In the Passion of Christ, we find God’s response to the desperate and at times indignant cry that the experience of pain and death evokes in us.” The Paschal theme is that of “God’s victory over suffering and death”, of Jesus who “reveals God our Father as one who comforts all of us in our afflictions.
The new saints are the Blessed Stanislaus Papczyński (1631-1701) and the Blessed Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957). Born in Poland and founder of the Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Stanislaus Papczyński is remembered for his prayer and help to the sick and to plague victims, as well as for preaching to peasants and ordinary people. Saint Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad is Swedish. Born into a Lutheran family, she became Catholic. After emigrating to the United States, she worked as a nurse. She came to Rome in 1903, and wore the religious habit of the Bridgettines, becoming actively involved in the order’ revival around the world. During World War II, she was active in sheltering persecuted Jews. She offered her life for the unity of the Church.
In his homily, the pontiff cited the new saints twice, noting that “They remained deeply united to the passion of Jesus, and in them the power of his resurrection was revealed.” However, he especially highlighted the power of the merciful God, commenting the miracles mentioned in today’s liturgy (10th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C).
The first miracle is accomplished by the Prophet Elijah for the son of the widow of Zarephath. Although “not a Jew,” she “had received the Prophet Elijah in her home” and “was upset with the prophet and with God, because when Elijah was a guest in her home her child had taken ill and had died in her arms.
“Elijah says to her: “Give me your son” (1 Kings 17:19). What he says is significant. His words tell us something about God’s response to our own death, however it may come about. He does not say: ‘Hold on to it; sort it out yourself!’ Instead, he says: ‘Give it to me’. And indeed the prophet takes the child and carries him to the upper room, and there, by himself, in prayer ‘fights with God’, pointing out to him the absurdity of that death. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah, for it was in fact he, God, who spoke and acted in the person of the prophet. It was God who, speaking through Elijah, told the woman: ‘Give me your son’. And now it was God who gave the child back alive to his mother.”
The second Gospel miracle is that of the resurrection of the son of the widow of Nain. “God’s tenderness is fully revealed in Jesus. We heard in the Gospel (Lk 7:11-17) of the ‘great compassion’ (v. 13) which Jesus felt for the widow of Nain in Galilee, who was accompanying her only son, a mere adolescent, to his burial. Jesus draws close, touches the bier, stops the funeral procession, and must have caressed that poor mother’s face bathed in tears. ‘Do not weep’, he says to her (Lk 7:13), as to say: ‘Give me your son’. Jesus asks to takes our death upon himself, to free us from it and to restore our life. The young man then awoke as if from a deep sleep and began to speak. Jesus ‘gave him to his mother’ (v. 15). Jesus is no wizard! It is God’s tenderness incarnate; the Father’s immense compassion is at work in Jesus.”
Francis shows that there are also inner resurrections, like that of the apostle Paul. “The experience of the Apostle Paul was also a kind of resurrection. From a fierce enemy and persecutor of Christians, he became a witness and herald of the Gospel (cf. Gal 1:13-17). This radical change was not his own work, but a gift of God’s mercy. God “chose” him and ‘called him by his grace’. ‘In him’, God desired to reveal his Son, so that Paul might proclaim Christ among the Gentiles (vv. 15-16). Paul says that God the Father was pleased to reveal his Son not only to him, but in him, impressing as it were in his own person, flesh and spirit, the death and resurrection of Christ. As a result, the Apostle was not only to be a messenger, but above all a witness.
“So it is with each and every sinner. Jesus constantly makes the victory of life-giving grace shine forth. He says to Mother Church: “Give me your children”, which means all of us. He takes our sins upon himself, takes them away and gives us back alive to the Mother Church. All that happens in a special way during this Holy Year of Mercy.
“The Church today offers us two of her children who are exemplary witnesses to this mystery of resurrection. Both can sing forever in the words of the Psalmist: ‘You have changed my mourning into dancing / O Lord, my God, I will thank you forever’ (Ps 30:12). Let us all join in saying: ‘I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up’ (Antiphon of the Responsorial Psalm).”
Before the end of the Mass, along with about 50,000 faithful present in the square, the pope recited the Angelus prayer. He also thanked all the participants, especially the official delegations from Sweden and Poland, the homelands of the two new saints. The Polish delegation was led by President Andrzej Duda.