"Be good administrators of the multiform grace of God "
Homily at the Mass of Thanksgiving for the Beatifications
( 1 Pt 4,7b-11; Lk 22,24-30)
As the Salesian Family we have had a really unforgettable weekend. "The Lord has been good, indeed marvellous with us, and we are glad". Our hearts are filled with joy and emotion as we gather in this Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
Here Don Bosco and the then Prince Augustus Czartoryski met each other after they had come to Rome for the consecration of this church. We are here to thank God for the gift of Salesian holiness, which has once again made itself present and felt in the beatification of Fr Augustus Czartoryski, Sr Eusebia Palomino and Alexandrina Da Costa.
Their beatification is a further confirmation that the Salesian Family is a Family given to holiness and that each of us, in our own state in life, can find models suited to our particular state in life. Today the Cooperators have received the official stamp of approval of their genuinely Gospel nature in the recognition given to the holiness of one of the members of their Association.
This comes very appropriately at a time when you, dear Cooperators, are rewriting your Regulations of Life, because it reminds you that the aim of your life is your sanctification. A gift like this carries various responsibilities. In the light of God's word, the interior, spiritual journey of these beatified brother and sisters offers us elements for our response to the Lord.
In fact, it can be summed up in St Peter's exhortation to "Be good administrators of the multiform grace of God".The saints are very significant for the Church as well as for the Congregations, Institutes, Societies of Apostolic Life and Lay Associations to which they belong. They are also a precious reserve of humanity. They are significant for the world not only and not solely for the good they did - in some cases very notable, in others more lowly - but for the values they embodied and left society as a heritage.
In an ever more secularised context, when even hostility and conflicts have to be faced by believers, the Blessed Augustus Czartoryski, Blessed Eusebia Palomino and Blessed Alexandrina Da Costa, teach us how to face up to this situation.
First of all, with the serenity inherent to the Gospel beatitudes. With this background, the spiritual commitment of all of us has to become more alive. The primacy of God has to be clear. "This is the victory over the world - our faith" (1 Jn 5,4). This is our winning ticket, to show we are true believers, enthusiastic and courageous, aware that - as St Francis de Sales says, "we are not truly human and Christian if we do not love God more than ourselves". There you have the source of Salesian humanism and of our Salesian holiness.
For that purpose we have been given some essential recommendations, which depict a programme of life for each of us and our communities, families or groups:
- A sobriety and austerity in our life-style that is able to stand up to the consumer culture which tends to make us ideal consumers of products, sensations, experiences. It means being happy with essentials, overcoming the temptation to vanity, pride, self-sufficiency, waste, what is superfluous, especially in a world where there is a scandalous divide between the few people and nations that amass most of the wealth and the vast majority of the world's population that struggles to survive. Instead of 'Homo consumiens' [consumerist Man] our Blesseds present 'Homo serviens' [serving Man].
- A sincere and active charity that makes each of us a sign of God's foreseeing and provident love. It makes us Good Samaritans, always ready to serve those in need, and even leads us to reach out to the poorest, those on the margins and those who are excluded. It means not living in a self-centred way, but being always attentive and available to serve, to live proactively like Jesus. Instead of 'Homo egolatra' [Self-adoring Man] our Blesseds present 'Homo solidalis' [Man of Solidarity].
- The royal road of humility and service which probes us to see whether we are men and women with a Gospel attitude, genuine disciples of Jesus who presented himself and lived amongst us as one who served, and in this way showed what his kingship is like. It means living without seeking to be first or looking for success according to the world's standards. It means living according to the logic of the Gospel: "It is not to be that way with you; the greatest amongst you must become the least". Instead of 'Homo superbus' [the proud Man] our Blesseds present 'Homo humilis' [the humble Man].
There you have the contribution made by Blessed Czartoryski, Blessed Palomino and Blessed Da Costa, collaborating in the building of a possible better world.
Dear brothers, sisters, friends, let us accept the gift these members of our Salesian Family give us.
Today they tell us: "Be good administrators of the multiform grace of God".
Fr Pascual Chávez V.
Roma, Basilica of the Sacred Heart
26 April 2004