blessed charles de foucauld

Bl. Charles de Foucauld canonised

Bl. Charles de Foucauld canonised

At Mass this last Sunday, the Holy Father canonised Bl. Charles de Foucauld and nine other saints, including Bl. Titus Brandsma. Here is a report about the canonisation adapted from that of Debroah Lubov from the Vatican News Service.

As God had a dream for the new saints, He has a dream for our lives, which we are called to welcome with joy and live throughout our daily lives. Pope Francis gave this encouragement during the Canonization Mass for ten new saints in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, reminding the some fifty-thousand faithful gathered in the Vatican how God has a dream for each and every one of our lives. At the beginning of the liturgical celebration, the Pope proclaimed ten new saints: Titus Brandsma; Lazzarus Devasahayam; César de Bus; Luigi Maria Palazzolo; Giustino Maria Russolillo; Charles de Foucauld; Maria Rivier; Maria Francesca of Jesus Rubatto; Maria of Jesus Santocanale; Maria Domenica Mantovani. The Holy Father began recalling how in today’s Gospel according to St. John, Jesus told His disciples, “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This, the Pope said, is the legacy that Christ bequeathed to us, “the ultimate criterion for discerning whether or not we are truly His disciples, the commandment of love.”

The Pope considered two elements of this Commandment: Jesus’ love for us, and the love He asks us to show to others. Jesus loved us so much, the Pope reminded, that He gave the total gift of Himself. “Let us never forget this. Our abilities and our merits are not the central thing, but rather the unconditional, free and unmerited love of God.” Our Christian lives, the Pope said, “do not begin 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 warned that the world frequently tries to convince us that we are valued only for what we can produce, but yet the Gospel reminds us that we are loved.  Being loved, he highlighted, is an integral part of our Christian identity and our strength.

Acknowledging this truth requires a conversion in the way we often think of holiness. “At times, by over-emphasizing our efforts to do good works,” the Pope observed, “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.  We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines.” “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.” The love that we receive from the Lord, the Pope said, is the force that transforms our lives, and opens our hearts and enables us to love.  “In practice, what does it mean to live this love? ” the Pope asked.  “To love means this: to serve and to give one’s life.  To serve, that is, not to put our own interests first: to clear our systems of the poison of greed and competitiveness; to fight the cancer of indifference and the worm of self-referentiality; to share the charisms and gifts that God has given us.” Specifically, we should ask ourselves, “What do I do for others?”

Giving one’s life, the Pope said, is about more than simply offering something of ours to others, “it is about giving them our very selves.” It requires, he underscored, “surmounting our selfishness in order to make our lives a gift, by looking after the needs of those at our side, by making an effort to help others, or just by listening patiently, spending time with them, making a phone call.”

Holiness, does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love. “Are you called to the consecrated life? Be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by labouring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Are you in a position of authority? Be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain (Gaudete et Exsultate, 14). Our calling, the Pope said, is to serve others and offer our lives without expecting anything in return. “That was how our fellow travellers canonized today lived their holiness. By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation – as a priest, as a consecrated women, as a lay person – they devoted their lives to the Gospel. They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history.”

The Holy Father called on faithful to follow their example, in pursing our own call to holiness,  a form of holiness all our own, “not a photocopy of someone else’s holiness.” Pope Francis concluded by reminding the faithful that “God has a dream for your life.  Welcome that dream, and pursue it with joy.”