Thought for the Day – 9 August – The Memorial of St Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola (1845-1912)
Excerpt from the Homily of Pope Benedict XVI
St Peter’s Square
Sunday, 17 October 2010
The celebration of holiness is renewed today in St Peter’s Square. I joyfully address my cordial welcome to you who have come from even very far away to take part in it. I offer a special greeting to the Cardinals, to the Bishops and to the Superiors General of the Institutes founded by the new Saints, as well as to the Official Delegations and to all the Civil Authorities. Let us seek together to understand what the Lord tells us in the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed just now. This Sunday’s Liturgy offers us a fundamental teaching – the need to pray always, without tiring. At times we grow weary of praying, we have the impression that prayer is not so useful for life, that it is not very effective. We are, therefore, tempted to throw ourselves into activity, to use all the human means for attaining our goals and we do not turn to God. Jesus himself says that it is necessary to pray always and does so in a specific parable (cf. Lk 18: 1-8).
This parable speaks to us of a judge who does not fear God and is no respecter of persons – a judge without a positive outlook, who only seeks his own interests. He neither fears God’s judgement nor respects his neighbour. The other figure is a widow, a person in a situation of weakness. In the Bible, the widow and the orphan are the neediest categories, because they are defenceless and without means. The widow goes to the judge and asks him for justice. Her possibilities of being heard are almost none, because the judge despises her and she can bring no pressure to bear on him. She cannot even appeal to religious principles because the judge does not fear God. Therefore, this widow seems without any recourse. But she insists, she asks tirelessly, importuning him and in the end, she succeeds in obtaining a result from the judge. At this point Jesus makes a reflection, using the argument a fortiori – if a dishonest judge ends by letting himself be convinced by a widow’s plea, how much more will God, who is good, answer those who pray to Him. God in fact, is generosity in person, He is merciful and is, therefore, always disposed to listen to prayers. Therefore, we must never despair but always persist in prayer.
The conclusion of the Gospel passage speaks of faith – “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Lk 18: 8). It is a question that intends to elicit an increase of faith on our part. Indeed, it is clear, that prayer must be an expression of faith, otherwise it is not true prayer. If one does not believe in God’s goodness, one cannot pray in a truly appropriate manner.
Faith is essential as the basis of a prayerful attitude. It was so for the six new Saints who are held up today for the veneration of the universal Church – Stanisław Sołtys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano.
When the Son of man comes to do justice to the chosen ones, will he find this faith on earth? (cf. Lk 18: 8). Today, contemplating figures such as Mother Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, we can say “yes” with relief and firmness. That girl of simple origins, on whose heart God had set His seal and whom He brought very soon, with the guidance of her Jesuit spiritual directors, to make the firm decision to live “for God alone”. She faithfully kept to her decision, as she herself recalled, when she was about to die. She lived for God and for what He most desires – to reach everyone, to bring everyone the hope that does not disappoint, especially to those who need it most. “Where there is no room for the poor, there is no room for me either” the new Saint said and with limited means, she imbued the other Sisters with the desire to follow Jesus and to dedicate themselves to the education and advancement of women. So it was that the Hijas de Jesús [Daughters of Jesus] came into being – today they have in their Foundress a very lofty model of life to imitate and an exciting mission to carry on, Mother Cándida’s apostolate, with her spirit and aspirations, in many countries.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank the Lord for the gift of holiness that is resplendent in the Church and today shines out on the faces of these brothers and sisters of ours. Jesus also invites each one of us, to follow Him, in order to inherit eternal life. Let us allow ourselves to be attracted by these luminous examples and to be guided by their teaching, so that our life may be a canticle of praise to God. May the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new Saints whom we joyfully venerate today obtain this for us. Amen.
See the photogallery here of the Canonisation: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/photogallery/2010/20101017/index.html