Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Becoming "witnesses to his resurrection above all in those human settings where forgetfulness of God and human disorientation are most evident ": this applies to all Christians and particularly to the four women religious whom the Church today proclaimed saints.
Pope Francis summarized the value of the canonization of Giovanna Emilia de Villeneuve (1811-1854), a French nun, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of Castres, an order committed to the poor; Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception (1856-1906), a Neapolitan religious, foundress of the Sisters Expiatory Victims of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; Marie- Alfonsine Danil Ghattas (1843-1927), religious, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Rosary of Jerusalem; Maria of Crucified Jesus (nee Mariam Bawardy), (1846-1878), professed nun of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.
These are the first two Palestinian saints. Therefore, g the more than 40 thousand faithful gathered in the square included many faithful of the Holy Land, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq along with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who yesterday met personally with Pope Francis. Some Muslim mufti were also present.
Inspired by the reading of the day (the seventh Sunday of Easter), the Pope outlined some key elements that make believers witnesses of the Risen One.
First "abiding in the risen Christ and in his love." "Jesus - said the pope - had repeated insistently to his disciples: “Abide in me… Abide in my love” (Jn 15:4, 9). This is the secret of the saints: abiding in Christ, joined to him like branches to the vine, in order to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:1-8). And this fruit is none other than love. This love shines forth in the testimony of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love".
"A relationship with the risen Jesus - he added - is the “atmosphere” in which Christians live, and in which they find the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel, even amid obstacles and misunderstandings. “Abiding in love”: this is what Sister Maria Cristina Brando also did. She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord. From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love "
Another essential aspect of witness is " unity among us": "the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual task be is to live in a community, with the apostolic college and the community."
" Today too, in the Gospel - he said - we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit. Her docility to the Spirit also made her a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world. So too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another ".
" To abide in God and in his love - he concluded -, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all. This is what the four women Saints canonized today did. Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians. How do I bear witness to the risen Christ? How do I abide in him? How do I remain in his love? Am I capable of “sowing” in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?
When we return home, let us take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord. Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love. Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate".
After Mass and before praying the Regina Caeli, Francis thanked the "official delegations from Palestine, France, Italy, Israel and Jordan" for attending. And he asked for the intercession of the new saints, "the Lord will grant a new missionary impulse to their countries of origin. Inspired by their example of mercy, charity and reconciliation, may the Christians of these lands look with hope to the future, continuing the path of solidarity and fraternal coexistence. "