Sunday, April 27, 2014

"It is the Saints who give direction and growth to the Church"

After all the anticipation and the gathering of pilgrims from all over the world (including a group from our own Knoxville Diocese), after the singing of the Litany of the Saints and the Veni Creator, the Final Petition was made to the Pope: Most Holy Father, Holy Church, trusting in the Lord's promise to send upon her the Spirit of Truth, who in every age keeps the Supreme Magisterium immune from error, most earnestly beseeches Your Holiness to enroll these, her elect, among the saints. To this final petition, the Holy Father responded, exercising his infallible magisterium: For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother Bishops, we declare and define Blessed John XXIII and John Paul II to be Saints and we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Now the Church rejoices in two more saints, two saints who were unusually influential in the life of the Church and in the affairs of the world, two saints who together helped define the Church and its relation to the world in the second half of the 20th century - Saint John XXIII who convoked the Second Vatican Council and Saint John Paul II who guided the Church in interpreting and implementing the Council as it entered - as a truly world Church - into Christianity's 2rd millennium.

In his homily, Pope Francis reminded us "that it is the saints who give direction and growth to the Church." The Pope connected the charisms of these two great 20th-century popes with today's feast of Divine Mercy and its gospel account of Jesus revealing his wounds to Thomas. "They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful - faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother."

Calling Saint John XXIII the pope of openness to the Holy Spirit and Saint John Paul II the pope of the family, Pope Francis concluded his homily by looking ahead to the forthcoming Synod on the Family. "May these two new saints and shepherds of God's people intercede for the Church, so that during this two-year journey toward the Synod she may be open to the Holy Spirit in pastoral service to the family. May both of  them teach us not to be scandalized by the wounds of Christ and to enter ever more deeply into the mystery of divine mercy, which always hopes and always forgives, because it always loves."

Saint John XXIII, pray for us!

Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

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