Homily at Beatification Mass in Loreto

“The Gospel Is Timely”

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LORETO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily John Paul II delivered today in Loreto, at the beatification Mass for Father Pere Tarrés i Claret (1905-1950), Alberto Marvelli (1918-1946) and Pina Suriano (1915-1950).

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[In Italian]

1. “What man can know the will of God?” (Wisdom 9:13). The question, posed in the Book of Wisdom, has an answer: Only the Son of God, made man for our salvation in Mary’s virginal womb, can reveal God’s plan to us. Only Jesus Christ knows the way to “attain wisdom of heart” (Responsorial Psalm) and obtain peace and salvation.

And what is this way? He has told us in today’s Gospel: It is the way of the cross. His words are clear: “Whoever does not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:27).

“To carry the cross after Jesus” means to be ready for any sacrifice for love of him. It means to put anything or anyone before him, not even the persons most dear to us, not even our own life.

2. Dear brothers and sisters, gathered in this “splendid valley of Montorso,” as described by Archbishop Comastri, whom I thank sincerely for the warm words he addressed to me. With him, I greet the cardinals, archbishops and bishops present; I greet the priests, religious, consecrated persons; and above all I greet you, members of Catholic Action who, led by the assistant general, Monsignor Francesco Lambiasi, and by the national president, Dr. Paola Bignardi, whom I thank for her warm greeting, wished to gather here, under the gaze of Our Lady of Loreto, to renew your commitment of faithful adherence to Jesus Christ.

You know it: To adhere to Christ is an exacting choice. It is no accident that Jesus speaks of the “cross.” However, he specifies immediately after: “after me.” This is the important message: We do not bear the cross alone. He walks before us, opening the way with the light of his example and the strength of his love.

3. The cross, accepted out of love, generates freedom. The Apostle Paul experienced this, “an old man and now a prisoner for Christ Jesus,” as he describes himself in the letter to Philemon, but interiorly totally free. This is precisely the impression given in the page that was just proclaimed: Paul is in chains, but his heart is free, because it is full of the love of Christ. This is why, from the darkness of the prison in which he suffers for his Lord, he can speak of freedom to a friend who is outside the prison. Philemon is a Christian from the city of Colossae: Paul addresses him to ask him to liberate Onesimus, who is still a slave according to the law of the period, but a brother through baptism. Renouncing the other as his possession, Philemon will receive as a gift a brother.

The lesson from this episode is clear: There is no greater love than that of the cross; there is no greater freedom than that of love; there is no fuller fraternity than that born from the cross of Christ.

[In Spanish]

4. The three blessed, just proclaimed, made themselves humble disciples and heroic witnesses of the cross of Jesus.

Pedro Tarrés i Claret, first a doctor and then a priest, dedicated himself to the lay apostolate among the young of Barcelona’s Catholic Action, of whom, subsequently, he was an assistant. In the exercise of the medical profession he dedicated himself with special solicitude to the sick who were poorest, convinced that “the sick person is a symbol of the suffering Christ.”

Once a priest, he consecrated himself with generous audacity to the tasks of his ministry, remaining faithful to the commitment assumed on the eve of his ordination: “Only one purpose, Lord: to be a holy priest, no matter what it costs.” He accepted with faith and heroic patience a terrible sickness, which led to his death when he was only 45. Despite his suffering, he often repeated: “How good the Lord is to me!” And, “I am really happy.”

[In Italian]

5. Alberto Marvelli, strong and free youth, generous son of the Church of Rimini and of Catholic Action, conceived the whole of his brief life of just 28 years as a gift of love to Jesus for the good of his brothers. “Jesus has enveloped me with his grace,” he wrote in his diary. “I see only Him, I think only of Him.” Alberto made of the daily Eucharist the center of his life. In prayer he also sought inspiration also for his political commitment, convinced of the need to live fully as children of God in history, to make the latter a story of salvation.

In the difficult period of World War II, which sowed death and multiplied atrocious violence and suffering, Blessed Alberto lived an intense spiritual life, from which arose that love of Jesus which led him to forget himself constantly to carry the cross of the poor.

6. Blessed Pina Suriano, a native of Partinico, in the Diocese of Monreale, also loved Jesus with an ardent and faithful love to the point of being able to write in all sincerity: “I do nothing other than to live for Jesus.” She spoke to Jesus with the heart of a spouse: “Jesus, make me ever more yours. Jesus, I want to live and die with you and for you.”

As a girl she was a member of the Feminine Youth of Catholic Action, of which she was later a parish leader, finding in the association important stimulus for human and cultural growth in an intense climate of fraternal friendship. She matured gradually a simple and firm will to give her young life to God as an offering of love, in particular for the sanctification and perseverance of priests.

7. Dear brothers and sisters, friends of Catholic Action, gathered in Loreto from Italy, Spain and so many parts of the world! Through the beatification of these three Servants of God, the Lord says to you today: Holiness is the greatest gift you can give to the Church and the world.

Carry in your hearts what the Church carries in her heart: that many men and women of our time be conquered by the attraction of Christ; that his Gospel may shine again as a light of hope for the poor, the sick, those hungry for justice; may Christian communities be ever more lively, open, attractive; may cities be welcoming and livable for all; may humanity be able to follow the ways of peace and fraternity.

8. It corresponds to you, the laity, to witness to the faith through the virtues that are specific to you: fidelity and tenderness in the family, competence in work, tenacity in serving the common good, solidarity in social relations, creativity in undertaking works that are useful to evangelization and human promotion. It corresponds to you also to show, in close communion with pastors, that the Gospel is timely, and that faith does not remove the believer from history, but submerges him more profoundly in it.

Courage, Catholic Action! May the Lord guide your journey of renewal!

The Immaculate Virgin of Loreto accompanies you with tender solicitude; the Church looks to you with confidence; the Pope greets you, supports you, and gives you his heartfelt blessing.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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