VATICAN CITY — The lives of the saints prove that holiness is not an unreachable goal accomplished by a select few but comes from acknowledging and sharing God’s love, Pope Francis said.
“Our Christian lives begin not with doctrine and good works, but with the amazement born of realizing that we are loved, prior to any response on our part,” the pope said in his homily during the canonization Mass in which he declared 10 men and women as saints of the Catholic Church.
“At times, by overemphasizing our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics, our capacity for renunciation, our readiness for self-sacrifice in achieving a reward. In this way, we have turned holiness into an unattainable goal,” he said.
An estimated 45,000 pilgrims from around the world gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the beginning of the canonization Mass, and tens of thousands more arrived in time for the recitation of the “Regina Coeli” prayer afterward, the Vatican said.
Carmelite Father Michael Driscoll, who lives in Boca Raton, Florida, was among the pilgrims who arrived early for the canonization Mass, which he said he has “been waiting for for 18 years” since his miraculous healing from advanced, metastatic melanoma. He had prayed for St. Titus Brandsma’s intercession, and his healing was accepted as the miracle needed for the Dutch Carmelite’s canonization.
Father Driscoll said May 13 he was “very anxious and thrilled” for the canonization of St. Brandsma, who died in 1942 at the Dachau concentration camp after he “used his talents as a teacher, as a publicist and as a writer” to fight Nazi ideology.
“He fought with his mouth in the pulpit, he fought with his pen and typewriter way before the internet came along. He used all that was available at that time and rallied Holland,” Father Driscoll said.
In his homily, the pope reflected on the Sunday Gospel reading from St. John in which Jesus calls on His disciples to love one another “as I have loved you.”
“Being disciples of Jesus and advancing on the path of holiness means first and foremost letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God’s love. Let us never forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works,” the pope said.
Pope Francis said that the 10 new saints exemplified the Christian call “to serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, or any worldly glory.”
“They discovered an incomparable joy, and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history,” the pope said. “May we strive to do the same, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own.”
The new saints are:
• Devasahayam Pillai, an Indian layman born in 1712 and martyred in 1752.
• César de Bus, the French founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, who was born in 1544 and died in 1607.
• Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Italian founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor, who lived 1827-1886.
• Giustino Maria Russolillo, Italian founder of the Society of Divine Vocations for men and the Vocationist Sisters, who lived 1891-1955.
• Charles de Foucauld, French priest and hermit, born in 1858 and killed in 1916.
• Anna Maria Rubatto, Italian founder of the order now known as the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto, who lived 1844-1904.
• Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, born in 1862 and died in 1934.
• Titus Brandsma, Dutch priest and journalist, who was born in 1881 and martyred in 1942.
• Carolina Santocanale, Italian founder of the Congregation of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes, who lived 1852-1923.
• Marie Rivier, French founder of the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary. She was born in 1768 and died in 1838.
Learn from new saints, pope tells French young people
VATICAN CITY — The lives of France’s newest saints can inspire young people to persevere and hope amid difficulties and trying times, Pope Francis said.
Meeting with young people from the Diocese of Viviers, France, May 14, the pope said the holiness of Sts. Charles de Foucauld and Marie Rivier can “be an encouragement and inspiration” to young Catholics.
That several saints come from the same area of France “clearly shows the fruitfulness of your diocese, and I hope that you will be able to preserve this heritage of holiness and also make it grow and move forward,” he said.
The pope’s meeting with young people from the southern French diocese took place on the eve of the May 15 canonization Mass.
In his address, the pope said the lives of St. de Foucauld and St. Rivier are evidence that “the air you breathe in your diocese must be particularly healthy.”
Reflecting on the life of St. de Foucauld, the pope encouraged young people to learn from his way of evangelizing, which is “a very demanding one because it requires the witness of a coherent life, that is, one that truly conforms to the aspirations of every person who is loved by God and called to something other than fleeting pleasure or immediate and visible results.”
He also called on young people to base their Christian life on St. de Foucauld’s spirituality, which centered on “the Gospel, the Eucharist and evangelization.”
Pope Francis said St. Marie Rivier, who founded the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary and devoted her life to educating children, can inspire young people, especially women, “to open the minds of the youngest to matters of God, concern for neighbor and admiration for creation.”
“How important this is! I hope that there will still be many women of this stature, humble and courageous in making known God’s love for the little ones who ask only to learn,” the pope said.
— Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service