BEATIFICATION OF EIGHT SERVANTS OF GOD
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Sunday 4 November 2001
With lives that were lived totally for the glory of God and the good of their neighbours, they continue in the Church and for the world to be an outstanding sign of the love of God, who is the beginning and end of human beings.
Strengthened by the spiritual experience of the Order of St Basil the Great, Pavel Peter Gojdic, first as Bishop in the Eparchy of Presov and then as Apostolic Administrator of Mukacev, constantly sought to realize the pastoral programme he set for himself: "With the help of God I want to be the father of orphans, the help of the poor, and the consoler of the afflicted". Known to the people as "the man with a heart of gold", he became known to the representatives of the government of the time as a real "thorn in the side". After the Communist regime made the Greek Catholic Church illegal, he was arrested and imprisoned. Thus for him began a long calvary of suffering, mistreatment and humiliation which brought about his death on account of his fidelity to Christ and his love for the Church and the Pope.
Methodius Dominic Trcka also passed his life in the service of the Gospel and of the salvation of his brothers and sisters, even to the supreme sacrifice of his life. As superior of the Redemptorist community in Stropkov, in Eastern Slovakia, he carried out a fervent missionary activity in the three Eparchies of Presov, Uzhorod and Krizevci. With the arrival of the Communist regime, he was deported to a concentration camp with his Redemptorist colleagues. With the support of prayer he faced with courage and determination the suffering and humiliation he had to bear on account of the Gospel. His calvary ended in the prison of Leopoldov where he died worn out by suffering and sickness, forgiving his persecutors.
In Father Paolo Manna we perceive a special reflection of the glory of God. He spent his entire life promoting the missions. In every page of his writings there stands out the person of Jesus, centre of his life and reason for the missions. In one of his letters to the missionaries, he stated: "In fact the missionary is nothing if he does not put on the person of Jesus Christ.... Only the missionary who copies Jesus Christ faithfully in himself can reproduce his image in the souls of others" (Letter 6). Indeed, there are no missions without holiness, as the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio pointed out: "The missionary spirituality of the Church consists in the movement towards holiness. One must stir up a new zeal for holiness among missionaries and in the whole Christian community" (n. 90).
The reflection of the Apostle Paul on the faith which needs to be translated into resolutions and works of good, helps us to understand better the spiritual portrait of the Blessed Luigi Tezza, glorious example of a life totally dedicated to the exercise of charity and mercy towards those who suffer in body and spirit. For them he founded the Institute of the Daughters of St Camillus, whom he taught to practice an absolute confidence in the Lord. "The will of God! Behold my only guide", he exclaimed, "the only goal of my desires, for which I wish to sacrifice everything". In his confident abandonment to the will of God, he took as his model the Blessed Virgin Mary, tenderly loved and contemplated particularly in the moment of the "fiat" and in her silent presence at the foot of the Cross.
Blessed Gaetana Sterni, who learned that the will of God is always love, dedicated herself with untiring charity to the excluded and the suffering. She always treated her brothers and sisters with the kindness and love of the one who serves Christ in the poor. She urged her spiritual daughters, the Sisters of the Divine Will, "to be disposed and content to put up with privations, fatigue, and any sacrifice to help your neighbour in need in all that the Lord might want of them". The witness of evangelical charity that Blessed Sterni left us reminds each believer of the need to seek the will of God in confident abandonment to Him and in generous service to one's brothers and sisters.
7. At the beginning of this Eucharist, we heard again from the Book of Wisdom the great message of the eternal and unconditional love of God for every human being: "You love everything you created and you despise nothing of what you have made" (Wis 11,24). The new Blesseds are the sign of the primary love of God. By their example and their powerful intercession they announce the salvation that God offers to humanity in Christ. Let us learn from their witness so that we may serve God in a "praiseworthy way", walking without obstacles toward the promised goods (cf. collect, 31st Sunday). Amen!