Witnesses of the Risen One
Homily at the Vigil prior to the Beatifications
of Fr Augustus Czartoryski, Sr Eusebia Palomino
and Alexandrina Da Costa
We have gathered as the Salesian Family in a prayer vigil composed of praise, thanksgiving, asking for pardon, intercession to prepare ourselves for the beatification of the three members of our Family: Fr Augustus Czartoryski, Sr Eusebia Palomino and Alexandrina Da Costa.
The context in which this great celebration takes place, along with the Gospel passage just proclaimed, shines on the lives of this brother and sisters of ours, and shows them as models of Christian and Salesian life, and officially proposed as such by the Church.
The Christian life is defined as the "following and imitation of Christ". This implies meeting and experiencing the God-Love who has fascinated and drawn us like a magnet, in such a way that no one else has a higher claim on us, our love, our total dedication. It is precisely this being bewitched by God that drives us to model our life on that of the Beloved par excellence. We set ourselves to learn from him, and as genuine disciples to learn his way of contemplating reality, relating with people, and acting and doing.
Fr Czartoryski, Sr Eusebia and Alexandrina are only fully understood when seen in this light: they were a man, he a prince with a royal education, and two women, they poor and simple, who were so enamoured with God, the God revealed in Jesus, and so enraptured that they were driven to do their very best to reproduce his image in their lives, even in their very suffering and tortured bodies. We can rightly say they shared Christ's paschal mystery, a mystery of death-life, a mystery of love, the only one capable of overcoming death. We cannot but recall here the experience of the passion that Alexandrina Da Costa had, every Friday, for three years.
All this is possible when a person manages to see the loving, tender presence of God the Father in their own personal life. Then the attitude of a man or woman is like that of the child that finds its peace and security in its mother's arms, as Psalm 130 puts it so well:
Lord, my heart is not proud
nor haughty my eyes.
I have not gone after things too great
Nor marvels beyond me.
Truly I have set my soul
In silence and peace.
As a child has rest in its mother's arms,
Even so my soul .
It is surprising that each of our three Blesseds had developed and matured this awareness of being a child through their personal and family life experience, and through� their honest and courageous search to come to know God's design on their life.
Like Jesus, Augustus, Eusebia and Alexandria called God with the tender name of Abba, Father, and sought to make his will their food, mission and project. Nothing else mattered to them except what God wanted and how he wished it to be done.
This brother and sisters of ours will be beatified tomorrow because they are a masterpiece of the Spirit, who transforms us in such a way as to make us have "the mind of Christ", to make the "logic of the cross" and the "wisdom of the Gospel" our own, and to arrange our whole life around the Beatitudes.
The Holy Spirit transformed them through the supreme law of love, that love which leads us to understand that life is a gift and that it must therefore be given so that others may have life in abundance.
Renouncing the crown, his estate, a different kind of life, on the part of Prince Czartoryski; joy in humble service and being available for anything at all, but also cleansightedness in Eusebia; and the serene and happy acceptance of being nailed to a bed, which became an altar, church and school in Alexandrina's case, these are the signs of the visible and efficacious presence of the Holy Spirit.
Someone may ask, but what then is the specificially Salesian holiness of these members of our family.
Well, the term "Salesian" is not a label added to another reality, because "Salesian" is not first of all an adjective, but a name, a noun, a person.
To be Salesian - be they man or woman, consecrated or lay, adult or youth - is to live fully the Christian life of communion with the Triune God, as sketched out in the Gospel, with the same style Don Bosco and Mother Mazzarello lived it. This makes us sensitive to certain elements (to perceive God's presence in the world, an optimistic view of life while still being aware of the presence of evil, faith in the resources for good that are in people, especially the young, the need for education as a mediating of human development and maturation). This leads us to give a privileged place to certain operational choices (the central place accorded to boys and girls in the work of education and in all our works, the pedagogy of prevention, accompanying as fellow faith travellers on the road to mature life projects). We are distinguished by certain characteristic elements (the passion in "Da mihi animas", love of the Eucharist, filial devotion to Mary Help of Christians, fidelity to the Church, the cheerful carrying our of our own duties, living the ordinariness and regularity of humdrum living in an extraordinary way).
Fr Augustus Czartoryski, Sr Eusebia Palomino and Alexandrina Da Costa are three authentic, very precious fruits of the tree of Salesian holiness, and very relevant to our times.
We have every reason to be happy and proud!
We have every reason to be grateful!
We have in them models to imitate, models we can put before young people, and also intercessors to whom we can pray!
Augustus, Eusebia and Alexandrina tell us, holiness is possible and is a must!
Dear confreres, dear Sisters, dear members of all the Salesian Family, be saints!
Fr Pascual Chávez V.
Rome, Basilica of the Sacred Heart
24 April 2004