He also tied in two modern examples of holiness: Venerable Concepcion Cabrera de Armida, a Mexican wife and mother, and Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, an Italian teenager who exhibited extraordinary faith in a life shortened by cancer.
All these figures of holiness “extend a hand” to John Paul II in this “ring of saints” guided principally by the Virgin Mary and by St. Joseph her husband, said Fr. Lethel. Each of the figures represent the universal call to sainthood.
“I think of these spiritual exercises on figures of sanctity: a holy Pope, a girl who died at 18 years old, a mother of a family, St. Joan of Arc and Catherine of Siena who were lay women consecrated in virginity, and I think also of the Gospel of the good thief.
“The good thief, one could say, is the only saint canonized by Jesus. (He was) the saint of the final hour."
Above all, Fr. Lethel sought to transmit a “message of love” in the exercises. He pointed especially to the example of St. Therese of Lisieux, “the saint of mercy and hope” that he advocated for elevation to the status of Doctor of the Church.
The message of the talks, said Fr. Lethel, is that “up to the last moment, it is still possible to give a complete ‘yes’ to the mercy of Jesus and become saints.”
He thought the principal fruit of the exercise is to return participants to “this marvelous call to holiness for all people on the occasion of the beatification of John Paul II. This is the most beautiful meaning of life and the desire of every human being to love in the Trinity and to love with all of our hearts.”
As for the beatification, it will be an “immense joy” for Pope Benedict, the Church and the world, he said.
“Cardinal Ratzinger was the closest person to Pope John Paul II as a collaborator but also as a friend. So, I think that we are preparing for this event with much joy.”