Pope Benedict celebrated Sunday’s canonization Mass of the six newest saints in the Church as a “feast of holiness.” Alluding to the day’s Gospel readings, he declared that their prayerful lives are “shining examples” and proof that faith still can be found on earth.
The Vatican estimated attendance in St. Peter's Square at 50,000 as Pope Benedict XVI recognized the holiness and heroic virtue of six Catholics. In the Rite of Canonization, the Holy Father declared as saints Fr. Stanislaw Soltys, Br. Andre Bessette, Sr. Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria Y Barriola, Sr. Mary Of The Cross (Mary MacKillop), Sr. Giulia Salzano and Sr. Battista Camilla da Varano.
During his homily at the Mass, the Pope spoke of the celebration as a renewal of "the feast of holiness." Referring to Sunday's Gospel message in that context, he said that its "fundamental teaching" is "the need to always pray ceaselessly."
Pope Benedict noted that although the faithful might at times consider prayer tiresome and ineffective, being tempted to use human means to reach their goals, the Lord underscores the importance of prayer as in the parable in the Gospel reading.
In the passage from St. Luke, Jesus tells the story of the widow who must appeal to a dishonest judge to obtain justice. With persistence, she succeeds despite his contempt for her. The Lord asks how much more God will answer those who pray if this judge was convinced by the prayer of the widow.
"God in fact is generosity personified," said the Pope, "he is merciful, and therefore he is always willing to listen to prayers. Therefore we must never despair, but always persist in prayer."
He added that the Gospel reading’s concluding question of whether Jesus will find faith when he returns is an inspiration to an increase in faith, which is "essential as the basis for prayerful behavior.”
The pontiff said the six new saints offered for veneration sought to be such an inspiration.
Remembering each of the new saints, he paused particularly on Spain's St. Candida Maria de Jesus to answer that final question of the Gospel passage. Today, he explained, one can see "with relief and conviction" that there is faith on earth in the contemplation of figures such as her.
Known for her commitment to prayer, in 1871 St. Candida founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus in Salamanca, Spain to teach children and assist women. The order continues to function in Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.
Pope Benedict gave thanks to God for the gift of holiness "which shines in the Church and is visible today on the faces of these our brothers and sisters." Noting Jesus' invitation for all to follow Him to obtain eternal life, he exhorted the faithful to be "drawn by these shining examples ... guided by their teachings, so that our existence might be a canticle of praise to God.
"Let the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new saints whom we venerate with joy today obtain for us this grace," he asked.
Before praying the Angelus at the end of Mass, he referred again to Mary "whom God put at the center of the great assembly of the saints.
"To her," he said, "we entrust all of the Church, so that, illuminated by their example and sustained by their intercession, she may walk with an ever new impulse towards the homeland of Heaven."