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Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, 2001

Pope St John Paul II's homily at Holy Mass
with the Canonization of Joseph Marello, Paula Montal Fornés de San José de Calasanz, Leonie Frances de Sales Aviat & Maria Crescenzia Höss
Sunday 25th November 2001 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. "There was an inscription over his head,"This is the King of the Jews" (Lk 23, 38).

That inscription, which Pilate had placed on the cross (cf Jn 19,19), contains at the same time the motive of the condemnation and the truth about the person of Christ. Jesus is king - He himself affirmed it -, but his kingdom is not of this world (cf Jn 18,36-37). Before Him humanity is divided:: those who reject him on account of his apparent failure, and those who recognize him as the Christ, "image of the invisible God, begotten before all creation" (Col 1,15), according to the expression of the Apostle Paul in the Letter to the Colossians, that we have heard.

Before the Cross of Christ is opened wide, in a certain sense, the great scene of the world and the drama of personal and collective history is accomplished. Under the gaze of God, who in his Only begotten Son immolated for us has become the measure of every person, of every institution, of every civilization, each one is called to decide.

2. Before the divine crucified King are presented also those who have just been proclaimed saints: Joseph Marello, Paula Montal Fornés de San José de Calasanz, Leonie Frances de Sales Aviat and Maria Crescenzia Höss. Each of them entrusted themself to his mysterious kingship, proclaiming with their entire life: "Jesus, remember me when you enter into your kingdom" (Lk 23,42). And in an absolutely personal way, each received the reply from the immortal King: "In truth I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise" (Lk 23,43).

Today! That "today" belongs to the time of God, to the design of salvation, of which St Paul speaks in the Letter to the Romans: "Those whom [God] from always has known, he also predestined ... called ... justified ... glorified" (Rom 8,29-20). That "today" contains the historical moment of today's canonization, in which these four exemplary witnesses of evangelical life are raised to the glory of the altars.

3. "It pleased God to make every fullness dwell in him Christ" (Col 1,19). St Joseph Marello participated in that fullness, as priest of the clergy of Asti and as Bishop of the Diocese of Acqui. Fullness of grace, fostered in him by an intense devotion to Mary most holy; fullness of the priesthood, which God conferred on him as gift and mission; fullness of holiness which he attained by being conformed to Christ, the Good Shepherd. Mons. Marello was formed in the golden period of Piedmontese holiness, when, in the midst of numerous forms of hostility against the Church and the Catholic faith, the champions of the spirit and of charity flourished, Sts Cottolengo, Cafasso, Don Bosco, Murialdo and Allamano. Joseph was a good and intelligent young man, enthusiastic about cultural and social movements, but our saint only found in Christ the synthesis of every ideal and was consecrated to him in the priesthood. "To take care of the interests of Jesus" was his motto in life, and for this reason he mirrored himself totally on St Joseph, the spouse of Mary, the "custodian of the Redeemer". St Joseph's hidden service, nourished by deep interiority, strongly attracted him. He knew how to transmit this style to the Oblates of St Joseph, the Congregation he founded. He liked to repeat to them, "Be extraordinary in ordinary things" and he added, "Be Carthusians at home and apostles outside home". The Lord wanted to use his robust personality for his Church, calling him to govern the Diocese of Acqui, where, in the span of a few years, he spent himself for his flock, leaving a memory that has only grown with time.

4. "I say to you: today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23,43). St Paula Montal Fornés de San José de Calasanz, foundress of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary, Sisters of the Pious Schools, was welcomed into paradise, into the fullness of the Kingdom of God, after a life of holiness. First in her native city, Arenys del Mar, she was involved in many apostolic activities and in prayer and interior devotion she was led into the mystery of God; then, as foundress of a religious family, inspired by the motto "piety and letters", she dedicated herself to the promotion women and of the family with her ideal of: "To save the family, by educating young girls in the holy fear of God"; in the end, she was to give proof of the authenticity, the courage and the tenderness of her spirit, a spirit shaped by God, during the 30 years of hidden life in Olesa de Montserrat.

The new Saint belongs to the group of founders of religious orders who in XIX (19th) century came forward to meet the many needs that were present and to which the Church, in the perspective of the Gospel and according to the promptings of the Spirit, had to respond for the good of society. The message of St Paula continues to be actual and her educational charism is source of inspiration in the formation of generations of the third Christian millennium.

5. The benevolent design of the Father who "has made us enter the kingdom of his beloved Son" found a splendid realization in St Frances de Sales Aviat: who lived to the end the gift of herself. At the centre of her commitment and of her apostolate, Sister Frances de Sales put prayer and union with God, where she found the light and the energy to overcome trials and difficulties, and to persevere to the end of her existence in that life of faith, desiring to let herself be guided by the Lord: "O my God, let my happiness be in sacrificing for you all my will, all my desires!" The resolution which distinguished Mother Aviat so well, "Forget myself completely", is also for us an invitation to go against the current of egotism and easy pleasures, and to open ourselves to the social and spiritual needs of our time. Dear Oblate Sisters of St Francis-de-Sales, under the example of your foundress, in profound communion with the Church, wherever God has placed you, be determined to receive the present graces and to benefit from them, for it is in God that are found the light and the help necessary in every circumstance! Trusting in the powerful intercession of the new Saint, welcome with joy the invitation to live, with renewed fidelity, the intuitions which she so perfectly lived.

6. Render honour to Christ, the King: this desire animated St Maria Crescenzia Höss from her childhood. At his service she put her capacities. God had given her a beautiful voice. Already as a girl she could sing in the choir as a soloist, not so as to show herself off as beautiful but so as to sing and to play for Christ the King.

She also put her knowledge at the service of the Lord. This Franciscan was a much sought-after advisor. People crowded to her convent doors: both simple men and women, princes and empresses, priests and religious, abbots and bishops. In this way she became a kind of "midwife" who tried to give birth to the truth in the heart of the one asking for advice.

However, she was not spared the pain either. "Mobbing" already existed at that time. She endured the intrigues of her own community, without ever doubting her own vocation.

The broad breath of passion made the virtue of patience mature in her. She succeeded in becoming Superior: for her to spiritually direct meant to serve. She had a generous attitude towards the poor, she was maternal towards her sisters, and sensitive to all who needed a good word. St Crescenzia loved the meaning of the Kingdom of Christ: "Whatever you do to the least of your brothers, that you do to me" (Mt 25,40).

7."Let us give thanks with joy to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col 1,12). Never as at the present time do these words of St Paul find an echo in our hearts! Truly the communion of saints gives us the foretaste of the celestial Kingdom, and, at the same time, inspires us, with their example, to build it in the world and in history.

"Oportet illum regnare", "He must reign" (I Cor 15,25), wrote the Apostle, referring to Christ.

"Oportet illum regnare" you repeat to us, with the example of your lives, you, St Joseph Marello, St Paula Montal Fornés de San José de Calasanz, St Leonie de Sales Aviat and St Maria Crescenzia Höss. May your example stimulate us to a more living contemplation of Christ the King, crucified and risen. May your support help us to walk faithfully in the footsteps of the Redeemer, so as to share one day, together with you, together with Mary and all the saints, his eternal glory in paradise. Amen!"