The Pope canonizes five saints, 'kindly lights' amid the encircling gloom
At Mass in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis canonized Card. John Henry Newman; the Indian nun Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan; the Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini; the Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes; the Swiss Margherita Bays, a Franciscan tertiary. They are examples of the "sanctity of everyday life". The journey of faith must be lived in three stages: crying out, invoking, walking together, thanking. "A heart that gives thanks remains young".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Let us ask to be like that, “kindly lights” amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, “stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others”". With these words of Card. John Henry Newman, Pope Francis concluded his homily at the canonization Mass celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square, along with tens of thousands of faithful from around the world.
Card Newman (1801-1890), who converted from Anglicanism to Catholicism, an Oratorian, is one of the five canonized. Then there is an Indian nun, Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan (1876-1926), founder of the congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family; an Italian, Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911, foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus; the Brazilian Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992), founder of the missionaries of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God; the Swiss Margherita Bays (1815-1879), Franciscan tertiary.
The pontiff defined them as examples of the "everyday holiness": "Today - he said - we give thanks to the Lord for our new Saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession. Three of them were religious women; they show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world. Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving. That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life. Such is the holiness of daily life, which Saint John Henry Newman described in these words: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, V, 5).
Previously, referring to the Gospel proclaimed at the Mass in Latin and Greek (Luke 17: 11-19), the Pope highlighted "the journey of faith", in three stages, "reported by the healed lepers, who cry, out walk and thank ".
"First of all, invoke ... Like those lepers, we too need healing, each one of us. We need to be healed of our lack of confidence in ourselves, in life, in the future; we need to be healed of our fears and the vices that enslave us, of our introversion, our addictions and our attachment to games, money, television, mobile phones, to what other people think. The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: “Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear”...That is how faith grows, through confident, trusting prayer. Prayer in which we bring to Jesus who we really are, with open hearts, without attempting to mask our sufferings. Each day, let us invoke with confidence the name of Jesus: “God saves”. Let us repeat it: that is prayer. And prayer is essential! Indeed, prayer is the door of faith; prayer is medicine for the heart”.
The second stage is "walking": "Faith advances with humble and practical steps, like the steps of the lepers or those of Naaman who, as we heard in the first reading (cf. 2 Kings 5:14-17), went down to bathe in the river Jordan. The same is true for us. We advance in faith by showing humble and practical love, exercising patience each day, and praying constantly to Jesus as we keep pressing forward on our way. ".
Still referring to the healed lepers of which the Gospel narrates, Francis emphasizes that they "move together". Hence the conclusion: "It is the task of us, who celebrate the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving, to take care of those who have stopped walking, those who have lost their way. We are called to be guardians of our distant brothers and sisters. We are to intercede for them; we are responsible for them, to account for them, to keep them close to heart. Do you want to grow in faith? Then take care of a distant brother, a faraway sister”.
"Give thanks: This is the final step. Only to the one who thanked him did Jesus say: “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19). It made you both safe, and sound. We see from this that the ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus. Salvation is not drinking a glass of water to keep fit; it is going to the source, which is Jesus. He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts".
"The culmination of the journey of faith - he reiterated - is living by giving thanks ... When we express our gratitude, the Father’s heart is moved and he pours out the Holy Spirit upon us. To give thanks is not a question of good manners or etiquette; it is a question of faith. A grateful heart is one that remains young. To say “Thank you, Lord” when we wake up, throughout the day and before going to bed: that is the best way to keep our hearts young. This also holds true for families, and between spouses. Remember to say thank you. Those words are the simplest and most effective of all".