Scholars Turn Their Gaze on Holiness

A Day of Study on the «Roman Martyrology»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2004 ( Holiness is not the privilege of a few, say conferees at a day of study on the latest edition of the «Roman Martyrology,» the liturgical book of the saints.

The day, organized by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, coincided with the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council constitution on sacred liturgy, «Sacrosanctum Concilium.»

The meeting to study the Martyrology, which took place Saturday in the Palazzo della Cancelleria, gathered experts in liturgy, among others.

The «Roman Martyrology» («Martyrologium Romanum») includes the names of the 6,538 saints and blessed recognized officially by the Catholic Church. The volume offers a list of saints and blessed remembered on each day of the year. The new edition was presented Oct. 2, 2001.

Attendees at the events included Cardinals Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, who spoke on the «Church and Holiness in the Light of the Recent Magisterium.»

The congress was given updated information on the saints and blessed proclaimed by John Paul II, totaling 483 saints and 1,345 blessed — the most of any pontificate.

To those who say that there are too many, Cardinal Saraiva Martins responds with the same words used by the Pope: «It is the Holy Spirit’s fault.»

Cardinal Arinze explained that the purpose of the congress was to «encourage ever-more mature reflection on holiness both from a spiritual as well as an ecclesial point of view.»

Monsignor Piero Coda, a professor at the Lateran University, told ZENIT: «As John Paul II has said, holiness is not the privilege of a few, but a necessity of all Christians.»

«The saints are the fullness of humanity,» the monsignor added. «They constitute the reserve of the intuitions that make attractive today the beauty of the Gospel and its transforming force in society.»

In his address on holiness as a theological state, Monsignor Coda said that the lives of saints are «a privileged path for the contemplation of the mystery of Christ and to illustrate it to the Church and the world.»

Father Robert Godding, a member of the Bollandists, an association of ecclesiastical scholars, gave an address on «The Critical Edition of the ‘Roman Martyrology’ by the Bollandists and Its History,» in which he recalled that the latter have always been involved in a critical revision of the lives of the saints.

Moreover, Maurizio Barba, an official of the organizing dicastery, spoke of the Martyrology as a «memory of the past and proposal for the future,» in addition to saying that «the reading of the Martyrology is an incentive to imitate Christ» and to prepare oneself to «receive grace in the sacraments.»

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, also described the «Martyrology,» in connection with holiness, as «a liturgical book that looks to the past but projects toward the future.»

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