Pope's Homily at Canonization of 6 Saints

They “Encourage Us to Persevere on our Way”

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily John Paul II delivered when canonizing six saints today in St. Peter’s Square.

The six are: Luigi Orione, priest, founder of the Little Work of Divine Providence and of the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity; Annibale Maria Di Francia, priest, founder of the Rogationist Fathers of the Heart of Jesus and of the Daughters of Divine Zeal; Josep Manyanet y Vives, priest, founder of the Sons of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and of the Missionary Daughters of the Holy Family of Nazareth; Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, priest, of the Lebanese Maronite Order; Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, religious, founder of the Institute of the Sisters of the Holy Family, and of the Family of Bergamo; and Gianna Beretta Molla, mother of a family.

* * *

[In Italian]

1. “My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). During Eastertide we often hear this promise of Jesus to his disciples. True peace is the fruit of Christ’s victory over the power of evil, sin and death. All those who follow him faithfully become witnesses and peacemakers.

In this light I am pleased to contemplate the six new saints, which the Church presents today for universal veneration: Luigi Orione, Annibale Maria Di Francia, Josep Manyanet y Vives, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Paola Elisabetta Cerioli and Gianna Beretta Molla.

2. “Men who have risked their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). These words of the Acts of the Apostles can well be applied to St. Luigi Orione, a man totally given to the cause of Christ and of his Kingdom. Physical and moral sufferings, fatigue, difficulties, incomprehension, and obstacles of all kinds characterized his apostolic ministry. “Christ, the Church, souls,” he said, “are either loved and served on the cross and crucified or they are not loved and served totally” (“Scritti” [Writings] 68,81).

The heart of this strategist of charity was “unbounded because it was open to the love of Christ” (ibid., 102,32). Passion for Christ was the soul of his courageous life, the inner force of an altruism without reservations, the ever fresh source of an indestructible hope.

This humble son of a paver proclaims that “only charity will save the world” (ibid., 62,13) and to all he repeats that “perfect happiness lies in perfect dedication of oneself to God and to men, to all men” (ibid.).

3. “If a man loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). In these evangelical words we see delineated the spiritual profile of Annibale Maria Di Francia, whose love of the Lord impelled him to dedicate the whole of his life to the spiritual good of his neighbor. In this perspective, he noted above all the urgency to realize the evangelical command: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

To the Rogationist Fathers and to the Daughters of Divine Zeal I leave the task to work with all their strength so that the prayer for vocations is “incessant and universal.” Father Annibale Maria Di Francia addresses this same invitation to young people of our time, summarizing it in his usual exhortation: “Be enamored of Jesus Christ.”

From this providential intuition a great movement arose in the Church of prayer for vocations. It is my heartfelt hope that the example of Father Annibale Maria Di Francia will guide and support also in this our time such pastoral action.

[In Spanish]

4. “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name — he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (John 14:26). From the beginning the Paraclete has inspired men and women who have recalled and spread the truth revealed by Jesus. One of these was St. Josep Manyanet, true apostle of the family. Inspired by the school of Nazareth, he fulfilled his plan of personal holiness and dedicated himself, with heroic selflessness, to the mission that the Spirit entrusted to him. To this end he founded two religious congregations. A visible symbol of his apostolic yearning is also the temple of the Holy Family in Barcelona.

[In Catalan]

May St. Josep Manyanet bless all families and help you to take the examples of the Holy Family to your homes!

[In French]

5. Man of prayer, enamored of the Eucharist which he adored for long periods, St. Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini is an example for the monks of the Lebanese Maronite Order as well as for his Lebanese brothers and for all Christians worldwide. He gave himself totally to the Lord in a life of great self-denial, showing that the love of God is the only true source of joy and happiness for man. He was determined to seek and to follow Christ, his teacher and Lord.

Welcoming his brothers, he soothed and healed many wounds in the hearts of his contemporaries, witnessing to them the mercy of God. May his example shed light on our path, inspire in young people in particular a true desire for God and for holiness, to proclaim to our world the light of the Gospel!

[In Italian]

6. “The Spirit … carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven (Revelation 21:10). The wonderful image proposed by John in the Book of Revelation exalts the beauty and spiritual fruitfulness of the Church, the new Jerusalem. A singular witness of this spiritual fruitfulness is Paola Elisabetta Cerioli, whose life was copious in good fruits.

Contemplating the Holy Family, Paola Elisabetta intuited that family communities remain solid when the bonds of kinship are supported and cemented by the sharing of the values of the faith and of Christian culture. To spread these values, the new saint founded the Institute of the Holy Family. She was in fact convinced that children, to grow secure and strong, have need of a healthy and united family, generous and stable. May God help Christian families to accept and witness in every circumstance the love of the merciful God.

7. Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, yet especially significant messenger of divine love. A few days before her marriage, in a letter to her future husband, she wrote: “Love is the most beautiful sentiment that the Lord has put in the spirit of men.”

Following the example of Christ, who “having loved his own … he loved them to the end” (John 13:1) this holy mother of a family was heroically faithful to the commitment she took on the day of her marriage. The supreme sacrifice that sealed her life testifies that only the one who has the courage to give himself totally to God and to brothers fulfills himself.

May our age be able to rediscover, through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call!

8. “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:[27]). The earthly vicissitudes of these six new saints encourage us to persevere on our way, confident of the help of God and of the maternal protection of Mary. May they now watch over us from heaven and support us with their powerful intercession.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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