Ten new Catholic saints were canonised on Sunday, with Pope Francis presiding over a Eucharistic Celebration and a Rite of Canonisation of the Blesseds. In attendance were the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, Dutch Minister of the Exterior Wopke Hoekstra, Indian Minister of Minorities Gingee K. S. Mathan, and Algerian President of the High Islamic Committee Bouabdellah Ghoulamallah.
The new cohort of saints consisted of four enterprising nuns and three priests who each founded a Catholic order, congregation or society, along with a priest-come-academic-come-journalist and a layperson who were martyred for their faith, and a French soldier and explorer who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria.
In his homily delivered after the canonisation, the Pope focused on Jesus’ instruction to his disciples recorded in John 13:34: “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The Pope went on to remind the 50,000 people in attendance at Saint Peter’s Basilica that we are only able to fulfil Jesus’ instruction because we are first loved by God (1 John 4:10).
“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,” he said. “This is our identity: we are God’s loved ones. This is our strength: we are loved by God.”
Francis said that “acknowledging this truth requires a conversion in the way we think of holiness,” before going on to preach a message that might surprise some of Eternity’s protestant readers, given the occasion.
“At times, by over-emphasising 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 to achieve a reward,” he said. “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, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life and, in the words of Teresa of Avila to her Sisters, ‘among the pots and pans.’”
Francis encouraged his congregation that “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. For we at times give more importance to self, flesh and works. No, the primacy is that of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.”
He explained that the love we are able to give flows out of the love we receive from Jesus – and we should not imagine the Christian life to be more complicated than that.
“In practice, what does it mean to live this love? Before giving us this commandment, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet; then, after giving it, he gave…
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