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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 2007

Pope Benedict XVI's homily at Holy Mass in St Peter's Square
with the Canonization of George Preca, Simon of Lipnica,
Charles of St Andrew Houben & Marie-Eugenie of Jesus Milleret
Sunday 3 June 2007 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we are celebrating the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. After the Easter season, after having relived the event of Pentecost which renews the baptism of the Church in the Holy Spirit, we turn our gaze, so to speak, towards "the open heavens" so as to enter with the eyes of faith into the depths of the mystery of God, One in substance and Triune/Three in persons: Father and Son and Holy Spirit. While we let ourselves be enveloped by this supreme mystery, let us admire the glory of God, which is reflected in the lives of the saints; let us contemplate it above all in those whom I have just proposed to/presented for the veneration of the universal Church: George Preca, Szymon of Lipnica, Karel van Sint Andries/Charles of St Andrew Houben and Marie Eugénie de Jésus Milleret. I address my cordial greeting to all the pilgrims gathered here to pay homage to these exemplary witnesses of the Gospel. I greet, in particular, the Cardinals, the Presidents of the Philippines, Ireland, Malta and Poland, my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the governmental Delegations and other civil Authorities, who are taking part in this celebration.

In the first Reading, taken from the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom enters the scene, standing beside God as assistant, as "architect" (cf Prov 8, 30). Stupendous is the "panoramic" of the cosmos observed/seen with his eyes. Wisdom herself confesses: "I recreated myself/[I was] playing on the earthly globe/surface of his earth; placing my delights among/and I found delight in the sons of man" (Prov 8, 31). Wisdom loves to dwell in the midst of human beings, because in them she recognizes the image and likeness of the Creator. This preferential relationship of Wisdom with men calls to mind a famous passage from another sapiential book, the Book of Wisdom: "Wisdom - we read there - "is an emanation/a breath of the power of God /.... While remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she enters/passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God and prophets" (Wis 7, 25-27). This last evocative expression invites us/is an invitation to consider the multiform and inexhaustible manifestation of holiness in the people of God over the centuries. The Wisdom of God is manifested in the cosmos, in the variety and beauty of its elements, but his masterpieces, where his beauty and his greatness really appear much more, are the saints.

In the passage of the apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans we find a similar image: that of God's love "poured (out) into the hearts" of the saints, that is, of the baptized, "by means of/through the Holy Spirit" who has been given to them (cf Rom 5,5). The gift of the Spirit, "Person-love","Person-gift", as John Paul II described him (cf encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem, 10)
, passes through Christ. By means of/Through Christ, the Spirit of God reaches us as (the) principle of new, "holy" life. The Spirit places God's love in the hearts of believers in the concrete form that it had in the man Jesus of Nazareth. Thus what St Paul says in the Letter to the Colossians is realised: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1, 27). The "tribulations" are not in contrast with this hope, rather, they contribute to realising it, through "patience" and "proven virtue" (cf Rom 5, 3-4): it is the way of Jesus, the way of the Cross.

In the same perspective, from the Wisdom of God incarnate in Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel has suggested to us that God the Father continues to manifest his plan/design of love through the saints. Here too, what we have already noted apropos/about Wisdom happens/occurs: the Spirit of truth reveals God's plan/design in the multiplicity of (the) elements of the cosmos - we are grateful for this visibility of the beauty and goodness of God in the elements of the cosmos - and he does it/so above all through human persons, in a special way through the saints, where his light, his truth, his love shine through with great force/strength. Indeed, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1, 15) is, properly (speaking), only Jesus Christ, "the Holy and Just/Righteous One" (Acts 3, 14). He is Wisdom incarnate, the Creator Logos, who finds his joy in dwelling among the children of man, in whose midst he has pitched his tent;; (cf Jn 1, 14). In Him God was pleased to place "every/all fullness" (cf Col 1, 19); or, as He himself says in today's Gospel passage, "All that the Father possesses/has is mine" (Jn 16, 15). Every single saint participates in the riches of Christ taken by the Father and communicated in due time. It is always the same holiness of Jesus, it is always He, the "Holy One", whom the Spirit molds/shapes in "holy souls", (by) forming friends of Jesus and witnesses of his holiness. And Jesus also wants to make us his friends. Let us open our hearts precisely on this day so that also
in our lives friendship with Jesus may grow, so that we can bear witness to his holiness, his goodness and his truth.

George Preca, born in La Valletta on the island of Malta, was a friend of Jesus and a witness to the holiness that derives from him. He was a priest totally dedicated to evangelization: by his preaching, his writings, his spiritual direction and the administration of the Sacraments and, first and foremost, by the example of his life. The Johannine expression, "Verbum caro factum est" always directed his soul and his work and thus the Lord could make use of him to give life to a praiseworthy institution, the 'Society of Christian Doctrine', whose purpose is to guarantee parishes the qualified service of properly trained and generous catechists. As a profoundly priestly and mystical soul, he poured himself out in effusions of love for God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the saints. He liked to repeat: "Lord God, how obliged to you I am! Thank you, Lord God, and forgive me, Lord God!". This is a prayer that we can also repeat and make our own. May St George Preca help the Church, in Malta and throughout the world, to be always a faithful echo of the voice of Christ, the Incarnate Word.

The new Saint, Simon of Lipnica, a great son of Poland, a witness of Christ and a follower of the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi, lived in a distant age but precisely today is held up to the Church as a timely model of a Christian who - enlivened by the spirit of the Gospel - was ready to dedicate his life to his brethren. Thus, filled with the mercy he drew from the Eucharist, he did not hesitate to help the sick who were struck by the plague, and he himself contracted this disease which led to his death. Today in particular, let us entrust to his protection those who are suffering from poverty, illness, loneliness and social injustice. Let us ask through his intercession for the grace of persevering and active love, for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.

"The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us." Truly, in the case of the Passionist priest, Charles of Saint Andrew Houben, we see how that love overflowed in a life totally dedicated to the care of souls. During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch. In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the Crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love. At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Fr Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: "The people have already declared him a saint."

Marie Eugenie Milleret reminds us first of all of the importance of the Eucharist in the Christian life and in spiritual growth. In fact, as she herself emphasizes, her first Holy Communion was an important moment, even if she was unaware of it at the time. Christ, present in the depths of her heart, was working within her, giving her time to follow her own pace and to pursue her inner quest, which was to lead her to the point of giving herself totally to the Lord in religious life in response to the needs of her time. In particular, she realized how important it was to pass on to the young generations, especially young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual training that would make them adults capable of taking charge of their family life and of making their contribution to the Church and society. Throughout her life she drew the strength for her mission from her life of prayer, ceaselessly combining contemplation and action. May the example of St Marie Eugenie invite men and women today to pass on to young people values that will help them to become strong adults and joyful witnesses of the Risen One. May young people never be afraid to welcome these moral and spiritual values, living them patiently and faithfully. In this way, they will build their personality and prepare for their future.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the wonders he has worked in the saints, in whom his glory shines. Let us be attracted by their example and allow ourselves to be guided by their teaching, so that the whole of our life may become, like theirs, a hymn of praise to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. May Mary, Queen of the Saints, and the intercession of these four new "older Brothers and Sister" whom we joyfully venerate today, obtain this for us. Amen."

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus:
- in English, French, German, Italian & Spanish

"Cari fratelli e sorelle, al termine di questa celebrazione, desidero rivolgere alcuni saluti particolari ai numerosi pellegrini presenti. Vi ringrazio per la vostra pazienza! L’acqua è un gran bene, perciò siamo grati anche per l’acqua!

Je vous salue, chers pèlerins des différents Pays où sont présentes les Religieuses de l’Assomption, venus pour la canonisation de Marie-Eugénie Milleret. À la suite de la nouvelle Sainte, en Marie, vous trouverez un guide sûr, elle qui s’est laissée entraîner par l’amour, humblement. Avec sainte Marie-Eugénie, puissiez-vous revêtir le Christ et laisser sans cesse se ranimer en vous le courage et l’espérance.

I extend cordial greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims here today on this feast of the Most Holy Trinity, especially those who have come to Rome in such great numbers from Malta, Ireland and Great Britain to be present at today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. And may God bless you all.

Sehr herzlich grüße ich die Pilger und Besucher aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Mit der ganzen Kirche wollen wir die Größe des Dreifaltigen Gottes preisen und in den neuen Heiligen Giorgio Preca, Szymon z Lipnicy, Karel von Sint Andries Houben und Marie Eugénie de Jésus Milleret das wunderbare Werk der Gnade erkennen, das Menschen teilhaben läßt an Gottes Herrlichkeit. Euch allen, liebe Brüder und Schwestern, wünsche ich eine gesegnete Zeit hier in Rom!

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de España y Latinoamérica, especialmente a los numerosos fieles de México y miembros del grupo “Asunción Juntos”, que han participado en la canonización de la Madre María Eugenia de Jesús. Que el ejemplo de la nueva Santa, Fundadora de las Religiosas de la Asunción, os ayude a centrar vuestra vida espiritual en Cristo y en el misterio de la Encarnación, y os impulsen a un decidido y valiente compromiso apostólico, trasmitiendo los valores evangélicos a la cultura actual, particularmente a través de la educación de los más jóvenes.

Van ganser harte begroet ik de officiële Delegatie en alle pelgrims die uit Nederland hier zijn gekomen voor de heilegverklaring van de Priesterpassionist Pater Karel van Sint Andries Houben, geboren in Munstergeleen. Moge het Nederlandse volk, op zijn voorspraak, altijd in geloof, hoop en liefde blijven leven.

Maħbubin ħuti fi Kristu Maltin u Għawdxin, il-Paċi magħkom. San Ġorġ Preca huwa l-ewwel iben kanonizzat ta’ l-art ħelwa tagħkom. Huwa t-tieni missier tagħkom fil-fidi wara l-Appostlu San Pawl. Huwa jitlob dejjem għalikom biex tkunu tassew ħbieb ta’ l-evanġelju. San Ġorġ Preca, itlob għalina!

Pozdrawiam pielgrzymów z Polski. Święty Szymon z Lipnicy na wzór Maryi starał się służyć najbardziej potrzebującym. Za jego wstawiennictwem módlmy się za tych, którzy oddają swoje życie w posłudze chorym, cierpiącym i osamotnionym. Niech wam Bóg błogosławi.

Saluto i pellegrini di lingua italiana, in particolare l’Associazione Nazionale della Sanità Militare, il cui motto recita: “Arma pietati cedant - Le armi cedano alla pietà”: possa questo realizzarsi nel mondo intero! Il mio pensiero va, infine, alla Chiesa di Bologna che ricorda il 750° anniversario dell’atto con cui il Senato di quella Città sanciva l’abolizione della schiavitù nel territorio. Possa questa iniziativa suscitare un rinnovato impegno per il superamento delle nuove schiavitù che ancora affliggono l’umanità."