.- On Saturday, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the much anticipated Mass for the beatification of Servants of God Ascension Nicol Goni and Marianne Cope, saying that the two "brought into the world the fruits and signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit.”
Pope Benedict raised some eyebrows in breaking with recent tradition and having Cardinal Martins celebrate the beatification instead of himself.
The cardinal opened the ceremony reading out the Apostolic Letter, commissioned by the Pope, regarding the inscription of the two Servants of God in the Book of Blesseds.
Cardinal Saraiva spoke in his homily about the Apostles, who at Pentecost, "experienced the Holy Spirit and became witnesses of Christ, Who died and rose again, [and became] missionaries along the paths of the world.”
“The same experience”, he said, “is repeated in all those who, by accepting Christ, open themselves to God and to humanity; it is repeated above all in the saints, both in the anonymous saints and in those who have been raised to the glory of the altars.”
He called Saints “the masterpieces of the Spirit, Who molds the face of Christ, and infuses God's charity in their hearts."
A Spanish missionary
Speaking first of the Spanish Blessed, Ascension del Corazon de Jesus, the cardinal described her as "one of the great missionaries of the last century" who "wished to belong exclusively to God, consecrating herself as a Dominican nun in the Santa Rosa monastery in Huesca, Spain."
Cardinal Saraiva noted that at 45, the Lord called her to be a missionary in Peru.
"With youthful enthusiasm and complete trust in Providence,” he said, “she left her homeland and dedicated herself to the task of evangelization, extending her zeal to the entire world, beginning with the American continent. Her generous, far-reaching and effective work left a profound impression in the missionary history of the Church.”
The cardinal recalled the new Blessed’s collaboration “with the Dominican Bishop Ramon Zubieta in founding the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary, a congregation of which she was the first superior general.”
“Her missionary life”, he said, “abounded in sacrifice, renunciation and apostolic fruits. ... Supported by a living faith and a fervent devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to Our Lady of the Rosary, she committed herself to the salvation of souls, completely forgetting herself. She frequently exhorted her daughters to do likewise, affirming that souls cannot be saved without personal sacrifice."
Caring for Hawaiian lepers
Turning to Blessed Marianne Cope, a native German who emigrated to the U.S. at a very young age, Cardinal Saraiva noted that her initial encounter "with those suffering from leprosy took place when she was far along on her journey to Christ.”
“For 20 years”, he said, “she had been a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Syracuse in New York."
But God, he said, called her "to a more difficult missionary service" of caring for lepers on the Island of Molokai, Hawaii.
"She left everything and abandoned herself completely to the will of God. ... She willingly worked with Blessed Damian De Veuster," known as the apostle of lepers, and "she loved those suffering from leprosy more than she loved her very self. She served them, educated them, and guided them with wisdom, love and strength. She saw in them the suffering face of Jesus. Like the Good Samaritan, she became their mother."
Concluding his homily the cardinal praised the new Blesseds, who "brought into the world the fruits and signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit, they spoke the language of truth and love, the only language capable of breaking down the barriers of culture and race, and of rebuilding the unity of the human family, which has been lost through pride, the thirst for power, and the refusal of God's sovereignty."