Saints are people who recognised their need for God’s help, who took risks to discover God’s will and to help others and who nurtured a habit of thanksgiving, Pope Francis said.
“The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: Do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise?” the pope said in his homily on Sunday 13th October after formally declaring five new saints for the Catholic Church.
Those canonised at the Mass were: St John Henry Newman, the British theologian, poet and cardinal who died in 1890; Brazilian St Maria Rita Lopes Pontes, popularly known as Sr Dulce, who died in 1992; Indian St Mariam Thresia Chiramel Mankidiyan, founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family, who died in 1926; St Marguerite Bays, a Swiss laywoman and mystic, who died in 1879; and St Josephine Vannini, the Italian co-founder of the Daughters of St Camillus, who died in 1911.
“Three of them were religious women,” the pope noted in his homily. “They show us that the consecrated life is a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world.
“St Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving,” he said.
Rather than describing St Newman, Pope Francis quoted from him to illustrate the meaning of “the holiness of daily life”: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not…The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence…with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man.”
And, referencing St Newman’s famous hymn, Lead, Kindly Light, the pope prayed that all Christians would be “‘kindly lights’ amid the encircling gloom”.
Picture: Pope Francis celebrates the canonisation Mass for five new saints in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday 13th October 2019. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).