The Holy See
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Cathedral of São Paulo, Brazil
Sunday, 5 November 2006


This Sunday we are celebrating the Solemnity of All Saints. Today, precisely on this Solemnity here in São Paulo, we are also thanking God for the Augustinian Father, Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, because he has been enrolled in the "Roll of Blesseds".

Before the end of the liturgical year, the universal Church commemorates all the Saints on one day, giving glory and praise to God, "Holy One, Saint among all his saints". His grace can transform the frail and fragile lives of all who are determined to follow Jesus Christ more closely in the reflection and light of his holiness.

"The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.... Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them", we read in St Bernard's words in the Liturgy of the Hours of this Solemnity (Opera Omnia, Discourse 2).

On this Feast, therefore, on which we commemorate All the Saints - many of whom are known and inscribed in the Roll of Saints and Blesseds, and those unknown to us but known to God - we are also celebrating the mystery of our communion with them.

We believe "in the communion of saints"; we profess this in the Apostolic Creed. In other words, we believe in the communion of those who have already been sanctified by God's grace, with all of us who are called to resemble them.

The Second Vatican Council proclaimed the universal vocation to holiness:  "All the faithful, whatever their condition or state - though each in his own way - are called by the Lord to the perfection of sanctity..." (Lumen Gentium, n. 11).

In the communion of saints, we immediately benefit from those who follow Jesus Christ faithfully and present to us the greatness of our common vocation to holiness; it has borne fruit in them and can also bear fruit in us, if we stay faithful to the Lord and persevere to the last day.

The Book of Revelation contemplates the vast multitude which had come out of the great tribulation and was "standing before the throne and before the Lamb" (Rv 7: 9), rejoicing because "salvation belongs to our God" (Rv 7: 10) through the merits of Christ, who gave himself, even unto death, for us all.

The number of the sealed, 144,000, indicates the universality of salvation to which we are all called, the totality of the new People of Israel open to all the nations.

It is a community of saints without boundaries, despite the external and internal difficulties lived in all the ages, for it is of tribulations that the robe of the "Bride", the Church, is woven.

Those who dwelled in the Heavenly Jerusalem had "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rv 7: 14), and held "palm branches in their hands" (Rv 7: 9), the palms of their praise, their witness and their glory. They shared in Christ's victory over sin and death, in his earthly worship in the presence of God, who chose to pitch his tent among his people.

We who are still pilgrims on this earth associate ourselves with their triumph while we wait to follow in their footsteps on the way to holiness. We know that the Lord precedes us, that he goes before his Church and guides us on the journey as pilgrims, "aliens in a foreign land" (Acts 7: 6), leading us straight to him, the source of life and our final destiny of happiness.

Therefore, today too, through this "multitude of intercessors" who are now "like God" and see "him as he is" (cf. I Jn 3: 2), let us ask for an abundance of his mercy and forgiveness and even dare to implore him:  "Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death" (Sg 8: 6), since love is stronger than death itself.

We were born of God and of his love. He called us and we are his children. In Christ, holiness is wrought in us through the Spirit.

In calling us to be his children, he has summoned us to "be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5: 48). We are already children of God, but what we are to become has yet to be manifested.

This is our hope and in this hope we will be able to purify ourselves in him.

We see that the saints of all the ages, and also of our time, had their shortcomings. They were weak and sinful, even if they purified themselves by following the Lord, and through his redeeming Blood they became strong and holy in him.

The frailty of the saints also comes to our aid, for it shows us how we can emerge from sin and begin to live a life of intimacy with the Father, from this very moment and afterwards for ever, as the only authentic alternative to an unjust and wicked life.

The difficulties the saints experienced were the same as ours, greater of course, but the saints could overcome the temptations of the devil, and by the grace of God lived the Beatitudes.

In the "Sermon on the Mount" the Lord proclaims the Beatitudes, announcing life in the Spirit as an eschatological joy, which at the same time is a requirement for all who are seated at the Table of his Word. Blessed are those who spur themselves to live out the Beatitudes to the point of attaining eternal bliss.

The Beatitudes, lived first of all by Jesus Christ, are the fulfilment of the Messianic promise, and when we seek to live them, they become by God's grace an expression of our loving response to the Covenant sealed by God.

We are blessed when we are poor in spirit (cf. Mt 5: 3), and in the face of the suffering caused by such widespread poverty, let us keep a pure heart, a heart in need of God.

We can be blessed despite suffering if we offer it meekly (cf. Mt 5: 4) as a sacrifice of praise, while on this earth we walk towards the Promised Land.

When we weep for what is worth weeping for, God offers us his comfort until we inherit his Kingdom (cf. Mt 5: 5).

Constantly hungering and thirsting after justice (cf. Mt 5: 6), a grace ever open to God's forgiveness, brings us close to the Table for the Banquet of the Lord's Body and Blood, where he satisfies the hunger for happiness and life that our being longs for and yearns.

These first four Beatitudes express our dependence on God's grace, for God is the One who reigns.
The last four Beatitudes express our dependence on our brothers and sisters, as a response of love given to God himself through them.

The acceptance of God's mercy in our hearts (cf. Mt 5: 7) actually brings us out of ourselves - in spite of our wretchedness - towards our brothers and sisters - in spite of their wretchedness -, for God has placed his Heart in both. We attain God's mercy when we are merciful to others.

By keeping our arms wide open to those who need us and our hearts ever clear and free of ambiguity, pure with the transparency of God (cf. Mt 5: 8), we are enabled to see him in every event and in every person, with the eyes of our hearts illumined by the light of Christ, who is the light of the Church and of all the Peoples.

We are blessed children of God when we live with his grace in peace and are free from oppression or injustice in a world where violence and suffering are rife (cf. Mt 5: 9). And when we are persecuted because we desire to live God's righteousness, we become worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 5: 10). Perfect joy, as the saints lived it, consists in imitating and identifying with Jesus Christ, also with love for those who may be our enemies.

In today's celebration, we, the Church on earth, are rejoicing in all the saints who constitute the Church in Heaven. And in this same joy, as a Beatitude, we receive the strength to continue on our pilgrimage from the city in this world, in this 21st century, towards the city in Heaven, for all the centuries in eternity.

Fr Mariano de la Mata Aparicio of the Order of St Augustine was born 100 years ago. He responded promptly and faithfully to his call to the consecrated life and to the ministerial priesthood.
He left his family and his hometown - Puebla de Valdavia, Palencia - and subsequently, in 1931, obeying his superiors, left his Country, Spain, for Brazil. Here he found a new homeland in which for 52 years he lived a life of holiness in the routine of everyday life.

The ministerial offices he assumed for his Order and the pastoral ministries entrusted to him by his respective diocesan Bishops that he carried out with diligent fidelity and great generosity, led to his being held up as an example and a way of holiness for both the Augustinians and the Augustinian Family and the Dioceses in which he was born, lived, worked and died for the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Christian faithful and citizens of Taquaritinga, Engenheiro Schmidt, Rio Preto and São Paulo will remember this new Blessed, raised to the honour of the altars today by the decision of the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, and to be imitated as a model disciple of Jesus Christ.

Many who are taking part in this celebration knew him and saw him regularly, and could note the Christian, priestly and religious virtues of this Augustinian who gave such great glory to God in his love and service to the Church and to all peoples.

Fr Mariano was poor with the poor, humble with children and sensitive with the sick and the elderly, hardworking with students, the faithful and the "Officine di Santa Rita" Association; he was merciful with penitents, pure of heart, peaceable in the Augustinian religious community and in his family, overcoming difficulties with prayer and sacrifice, turning to the Virgin Mary through his constant invocation of Our Lady of Consolation until his departure from this life.

In both Brazil and Spain, the remembrance of him will help us to praise and glorify God and to follow his example.

As the Letter to the Hebrews advises:  "Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God; consider the outcome of their life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (13: 7-8).

Let us fix our gaze on Bl. Mariano de la Mata and on all those who have preceded us in the faith, the saints known and unknown, all inscribed by the Lord's hand in the "book of life", so that they may consign to us the gift that they themselves received and keep for us a place beside God.
Our witness will thus be united with theirs in our time, together with the witness of Christ, "the faithful witness" (Rv 1: 5), for praise of his glory.

The Eucharist is the source of our sanctification and the summit of an authentic Christian life. Let us hasten to the Lord in this celebration with "the joy and hope, the grief and anguish of the men of our time" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 1), to receive the food, the Lord himself, who is our strength and our hope.

In the death and Resurrection of Christ we already live for him and hope to live with him for ever.
In his work City of God, St Augustine encourages us to hope in the Eternal City: "How great will be our peace, where there will be no evil, no good thing will be lacking and praise is sung of God who will be all things in all!" (De Civitate Dei, XXII, 30, 1).

May Mary Most Holy, all the Saints and Bl. Mariano de la Mata, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ which we now present to God the Father in unity with the Holy Spirit, intercede for us so that we may follow in their footsteps on the way towards holiness "until he comes again". Amen.