BEATIFICATION MASS OF MOTHER
HOMILY OF CARDINAL JOSÉ SARAIVA MARTINS
Antequera, Diocese of Málaga (Spain)
Reverend Bishops and Brothers in the Priesthood, Franciscan Religious of the Sacred Hearts,
Charged by Pope Benedict XVI to act as his delegate, I have the joy of making public the document by which the Holy Father declares Mother Carmen of the Child Jesus González Ramos blessed. Now we have come together in this Eucharistic celebration to give thanks to God and to share in the joy of the Beatification.
We have just heard in the Gospel passage of this Fifth Sunday of Easter: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (Jn 13: 34-35).
These are the words Jesus spoke to his disciples after washing their feet during the Last Supper immediately before the Passion, and which we relived a month ago on Holy Thursday.
The Lord speaks of a new commandment. But what does "new" mean?
It certainly does not mean that until now it was unknown; Jesus himself reminded one of the leaders of the people that to love God and neighbour was the greatest commandment of the Old Law (cf. Mk 12: 28-31). Therefore, in what sense is it new?
The novelty is found in two aspects.
In the first place, because Jesus Christ indicates a new standard. Until then it was said: you will love your neighbour as yourself. Now the Lord announces that we must love each other as he has loved us.
And he has loved everyone without exception, just and sinners alike, he has given his life for all people by dying on the Cross. He has forgiven even those who unjustly condemned him, praying for them: "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Lk 23: 34).
We must love our neighbour as God loves us, with the love that we receive from God, the love by which he made us his sons and daughters (cf. I Jn 3: 1).
It is a new commandment also because - and this is the second aspect to which I refer - love of God and neighbour is not an extra commandment, but rather the fundamental commandment that summarizes and encloses all the others in itself.
In the Second Reading of Holy Mass we heard the words of St John in the Apocalypse: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Rv 21: 1). God has worked creation by himself, but he wants to entrust the new creation to us, the civilization of love of which the most recent Pontiffs have spoken: a civilization of love where life is respected from conception to death; a civilization of love where the family, founded upon matrimony, one and indissoluble, is the sweet and luminous hearth willed by the Lord; a civilization of love that demands truth and justice and fills society, its institutions and relationships among all people.
The First Reading of Holy Mass from the Acts of the Apostles narrates how St Paul and St Barnabas, after having travelled in various regions and cities, return to Antioch and gather the Christians to inform them how "they had been commended... and declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles" (Acts 14: 26-27).
The mission received spurred St Paul and St Barnabas to journey without rest to spread the message of Jesus Christ; but it would be too little to limit ourselves to contemplate their example in admiration without acknowledging that we too - all, without exception - through baptism have received the mission, not only to personally put into practise the commandment of love, but also to spread it around us.
God does not ask us to leave our cities, nor to abandon our work, but he wants all of us, everyone in his or her own environment, to spread with the example of our daily lives and with our words the treasure of love that we have received.
The Sacred Texts have shown us how love of God and neighbour must be the cardinal point of our life. We must adopt this teaching in the situations in which we live: this and nothing else - no doubt about it - is the concrete environment where we must put it into practise.
To do so we have the grace to take as an example the life of the new Blessed, Mother Carmen of the Child Jesus, who throughout her earthly life loved God and every person with the love of Jesus Christ.
From the years of her infancy and as a girl, Bl. Carmen practised an intense life of devotion. The inexhaustible font from which she drew the new commandment is the Eucharist.
Each day she received Holy Communion, even though it was not a common practice in her day. It was there that her strength was rooted.
"The Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, prisoner of love in the Tabernacle", as the Bl. Bishop Manuel González declared, "taught her true devotion". This is why she could affirm: "Suffering in this life seems nothing compared with the joy of being able to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every day".
Love of God and neighbour are the environment of her true life. "No one considers true life as seriously as the saints" (cf. Romano Guardini, Il Signore, VI, IX).
Little by little she grew in her love for Jesus and she followed his example in the different situations of her life, including the mission to which God called her: to draw the souls that Jesus put along her path to him, to tell the wonders of the Lord "who loves us so", to teach how to discover and love him.
And at the same time, to dry the tears of the poor and sick, offering them help and comfort, educating children and youth, taking care of the sick and the aged, of young workers, of the lowly in need of help.
Together with the Eucharist, the mysteries of Bethlehem and Calvary shed light on the spiritual journey of the new Blessed and taught her devotion to God and her brothers and sisters.
Contemplation of the poverty and humility of Bethlehem taught her to make herself small, not to seek material greatness and to welcome children with love, particularly poor children, and to do the best she could for them. She told her Sisters: "Admire the presence of the Child Jesus in children".
The Lord's Passion and redemptive death were another vital source of strength for Mother Carmen of the Child Jesus. The supreme sacrifice of love gave her the strength to overcome the long and difficult years of her marriage and the suffering she had to endure as Foundress.
When she affirmed that "the life of Calvary is the most secure and advantageous way for the soul", she experienced how love for Jesus Christ, who suffered and died to save us, gives meaning to silence, to patience when faced with accusations and calumny, to forgiving generously, to the gift of self, to constant docility to the Lord's will.
The Lord chose Mother Carmen as an instrument to reflect God's dwelling with men, to comfort, sustain, console in sorrow. She did this through the Franciscan spirit that predisposed her to be a bearer of peace and goodness through devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, meek and humble, which impelled her to "manifest to all men the love that God has for us" (cf. Constitutions, n. 5); in the Immaculate Heart of Mary she taught "the attitude before God and life" (ibid., n. 6). It inspired her to found her Religious Institute so that the mission would continue in the Church and the world after her earthly life.
This work, the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, on 8 May, the day after tomorrow, will celebrate 123 years of existence. It was born in May, the "month of Mary", the perfect disciple of Jesus, she who can best teach us "to know and love him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world" (Deus Caritas Est, n. 42). Also in May, this earth venerates Christ Crucified with ardour through the invocation of the "Lord of Health and of the Waters".
For 123 years this city of Antequera has received the blessing God sent through Mother Carmen and has heard the stories of the works that the Lord fulfilled through the Congregation in the various regions of Spain, and in the various countries of America, in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela.
It is certainly true that "[t]he lives of the saints are not limited to their earthly biographies but also include their being and working in God after death. In the saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather, become truly close to them" (ibid.).
In joy and in sorrow Mother Carmen repeated: "Blessed be God, who has loved us so much". And she did not want to keep this treasure only for herself. This is why she would exclaim: "When I look to heaven my desire to go to all places of the world to teach souls to know and love God increases".
Today, those who live under the influence of the desire of Mother Carmen rejoice to celebrate the great works that God accomplishes through her. They rejoice, experiencing that "there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 84).
Since Mother Carmen took the love of God and the mission to which he called her seriously, since she obeyed the commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you", the Lord has wished to show that she is "among his own" and has granted many graces through her intercession, among which is the miraculous healing of a Sister.
This is why Holy Mother Church presents her to us as a model and offers us today the joy of this solemn Eucharistic Ceremony of Beatification. May her holiness be an example for our lives.