Pope: New saints teach us paths of dialogue

Francis presides over the canonisation of Charles de Foucauld, Indian layman Devasahayam and eight other priests and nuns in St Peter's Square. "Holiness is not an unattainable goal, separated from everyday life: it must be embraced in the everyday, in the dust of the street, in the trials of concrete life".


Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The saints are "a luminous reflection of the Lord in history" who encourage everyone because "each one of us is called to a unique and unrepeatable holiness," said by Pope Francis today at Mass for the canonisation of 10 new saints donated to the universal Church.

The newly canonised include Charles de Foucauld - the "universal brother" who lived among the Tuaregs in the desert of Algeria, a great model of spirituality for many missionaries - the Indian layman Devasahayam and eight other priests and nuns (Titus Brandsma, César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Giustino Maria Russolillo, Maria Rivier, Maria Francesca di Gesù Rubatto, Maria di Gesù Santocanale and Maria Domenica Mantovani), many of them founders of religious congregations that are active all over the world today.

Examples of great relevance, as the Pontiff noted in the few concluding words pronounced before the Regina Caeli prayer, recited in the square before the tens of thousands of faithful and authorities who had come from many countries to participate in the canonisations.

Pope Francis noted how beautiful it was "to see that, with their evangelical witness, these saints have favoured the spiritual and social growth of their respective nations and also of the entire human family. While sadly in the world distances grow and tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness, ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called to be protagonists of peace and not of war".

Taking his cue from the commandment of love proposed by the Gospel of today's liturgy ("As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" John 13:34) - the Holy Father transformed his homily into a guideline of the holiness to which every Christian is called. "At the centre," he explained, "are not our prowess, our merits, but God's unconditional and gratuitous love, which we have not deserved. While the world often wants to convince us that we have value only if we produce results, the Gospel reminds us of the truth of life: we are loved. And this is our value: we are loved'.

Pope francis continued this 'also invites us to purify the idea of holiness from a 'Pelagian' vision, too focused on our efforts to do good works. "We have made holiness an impassable goal, we have separated it from everyday life instead of seeking it and embracing it in the everyday, in the dust of the street, in the travails of concrete life and, as Teresa of Avila told her sisters, 'among the pots of the kitchen'." 

But what does it mean in concrete terms to live this love? "Before leaving us this commandment," the pope explained, "Jesus washed the disciples' feet; after saying this, he gave himself up on the wood of the cross. To love means this: to serve and to give one's life". To serve, that is, "not to put one's own interests first; to detoxify oneself from the poisons of greed and competition; to fight the cancer of indifference and the canker of self-referentiality; to share the charisms and gifts that God has given us".

He said giving one's life: "It is not just offering something, such as some of one's own goods to others but giving oneself. Holiness is not made up of a few heroic gestures, but of so much daily love. Are you a consecrated woman or a consecrated man? Be holy by living your committment with joy. Are you married o? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ did with the Church. Are you a worker, a working woman? Be holy by doing your work honestly and competently in the service of your brothers and sisters, and by fighting for the justice of your fellow workers, so that they do not remain jobless, so that they always get a fair wage. Are you a parent or grandmother or grandfather? Be a saint by patiently teaching children to follow Jesus. Do you have authority? Be a saint by fighting for the common good and renouncing your personal interests".

The 10 saints canonised today are a model of "a life offered without profit". But the road to holiness," the pope concluded, "is not closed. Let us strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own.  Holiness is always “original”, as Blessed Carlo Cutis used to say: it is not a photocopy, but an “original”, mine, yours, all of ours.  It is uniquely our own.  Truly, the Lord has a plan of love for everyone.  He has a dream for your life, for my life, for the life of each of us.  What else can I say?  Pursue that dream with joy."