Inviting all faithful to practice Christian love every day, Pope Francis on Sunday canonized 35 new saints, nearly all of them martyrs, holding them up as models who “point the way”.
To the over 35,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Canonization Mass, the Pope said “They did not say a fleeting ‘yes’ to God’s love, they said ‘yes’ with their lives and to the very end”.
Those canonized included thirty martyrs, both priests and lay persons, who suffered anti-Catholic persecution in 1,645 at the hands of Dutch Calvinists in Brazil; three indigenous children in 16th century Mexico who were martyred for refusing to renounce their Catholic faith and return to their ancient traditions, a 20th-century priest from Spain and an Italian priest who died in 1739.
The Lord's desire for a true communion of life with us
The Pope’s homily for the Mass, inspired by the Parable of the Wedding Banquet speaks of the Lord’s desire for a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.
“Such, he said, is the Christian life: a love story with God, and pointing out that we are all invited, Francis said, and no one has a better seat than anyone else.
Every day is a wonderful opportunity to say 'yes'
“At least once a day, he continued, we should tell the Lord that we love him” because once love is lost, the Christian life becomes empty. It becomes a body without a soul, an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason.
“We are the beloved, the guests at the wedding, and our life is a gift, because every day is a wonderful opportunity to respond to God’s invitation” he said.
He added that the Gospel warns us that the invitation can be refused. That many of the invited guests said no, because they were caught up in their own affairs. And Francis warned Christians against the temptation of “settling into the easy chair of profits and pleasures and the risk of growing old inside.
God never closes the door
He reminded the faithful that God is the opposite of selfishness and self-absorption, and said the Lord never gives up before rejection and indifference, but responds with an even greater love.
And inviting us all to live in true love and “practice” love every day, Francis said “the Saints who were canonized today point the way: They said they ‘yes’ to God with their lives and to the very end”.
Announcement of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon
At the end of the Mass and following the Angelus prayer Pope Francis announced a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in Rome in October 2019, which will focus on the Pan-Amazon region.
The main purpose of the Amazon synod, the Pope explained, will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization of God’s people in that region”.
Special attention, he added, will be paid to the indigenous people who are “often forgotten and without the prospect of a serene future, also because of the crisis of the Amazonian rain forest, a ‘lung’ of primary importance for our planet.”