Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Homily All Saints 2009

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Homily All Saints Sunday, 1 November 2009

In the first half of the last century,
a wife, mother, and accomplished doctor named Gianna Molla
lived a joyful and holy life near Genoa, Italy.

In her fourth pregnancy, after three previous difficult ones,
Gianna developed a tumor in her uterus.
Treatment or surgery might harm the child but the tumor threatened her own life.
She pleaded with the surgeon:
“If you must decide between me and the child,
do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him.”

On April 21, 1962, baby Gianna Emanuela was born,
and seven days later, despite efforts to save them both, amid terrible pain
yet with conscious self-offering to Jesus
and in sacrifice for the sake of her child
Gianna passed from this life.

In the early 1800s, a young man named John Vianney
was ordained to the priesthood for the diocese of Lyon, France,
and later assigned as pastor of the little country parish in Ars.

He encountered great challenges head-on in his priestly ministry –
decadent behavior in the local community, poorly catechized parishioners,
almost the complete absence of love for God.
Drawing his strength from intimate friendship with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist,
and practicing severe penance and mortification,
he devoted his entire life to the care of souls.
Father Vianney spent many hours each day in the confessional,
preached fervently on the scriptures and the truths of the faith,
and celebrated the sacraments with tremendous love.

The holiness of his priestly life drew many souls to Christ
and converted countless men and women from all over France.

Also in the 19th century, a young named Therese
travelled to Rome to obtain special permission from the Holy Father
to enter religious life earlier than the usual age
and then entered the convent in Lisieux, France at the age of 15.

She spent the rest of her life in a spirit of prayer and sacrifice,
handing her life over completely to the will of God
and the discipline of religious life.

In her spiritual writings and also by her way of life,
she taught and exemplified her now-famous “little way.”
She would say:
“God does not expect that we all do great things,
but only that we do little things with great love.”
Cleaning up a mess we did not make or offering a kind word,
if done with love for God, is infinitely pleasing to Him.
After a short life of profound spiritual growth and incomparable love,
Therese died of tuberculosis.
Even in her last days of suffering, she did not complain nor despair
but continued to offer life as a sacrifice of praise to God.

What do these three portraits have in common?
What value do these stories together hold for us?
What is the link between a 20th century Italian mother,
a 19th century French parish priest, and his contemporary, a cloistered nun.

These three extraordinary figures –
while they will never be understood or honored as extraordinary
by the standards of secular society
have each attained a honor and glory that is unstained and unmatched
by anything this world could ever hope to offer.

Saint Gianna Molla, Saint John Vianney, and Saint Therese of Lisieux,
together with countless hosts of holy men and women of every age
have handed over their lives to the will of God
lived lives of exemplary holiness, according to their own vocation
and at last have attained the glory of Heaven.
They are saints!
Heaven rejoices in their holiness and love, and, on this Feast of All Saints,
the Church celebrates the lives of all men and women
whose sanctity serves as the image and
of the perfection to which we ourselves are summoned by God.
This great multitude of holy men and women, which no one can count,
from every nation, race, people and tongue,
eternally surrounds the throne of God in Heaven
and offers the prayerful intercession on which we constantly rely
as we journey through this earthly exile
toward our own heavenly reward.

Sanctity…holiness…means, quite simply yet profoundly,
being emptied of self-concern
and devoted singularly to the love of God and neighbor.

This is the love of the saints, which forms the ideal of our own lives.

As Jesus teaches the crowds upon the mountain,
blessed are those whose poverty of spirit humbles them to serve God first
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for God’s truth alone
those who are pure of heart, having stripped their lives of sin
those who bring about real and lasting peace
grounded in faith in God, in hope and love
and those who endure persecution for the sake of all this
in order to live the love and truth of God in the midst of the world.

For living out this passionate and enduring love, as the Beatitudes portray,
the saints have received their great reward in Heaven,
where they behold God face to face, as He truly is!

Our reward will be great in Heaven, too,
if we learn from the stories of all the saints
to put the Beatitudes into practice in our own lives.

Jesus, who lived among us, knows the struggle of our human condition.
He smiles as He is pleased by our humble efforts
to serve Him and to love one another.

In His infinite love and tender mercy,
He draws His faithful ones into the glorious company of the saints…
the blessedness of Heaven…the perfection of love.

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