Thought for the Day – 21 October – The Memorial of Blessed Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi (1937-1993) Priest, Martyr of the Mafia
Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi was killed in Palermo on 15 September 1993, his 56th birthday. A courageous defender of the poor in the Sicilian capital’s inner city neighbourhood of Brancaccio, Blessed Father Puglisi worked tirelessly to convince young people that there was a better life than organised crime. He was extremely outspoken about the Mafia and preached against collusion, intimidation and omerta–the code of silence. As the BBC reported, “He was famous for a rhetorical question, which he used as a catch phrase in order to encourage Sicilians to stand up and fight organised crime – ‘And what if somebody did something?’” Despite numerous threats against him, he continued to teach the word of Christ and support men, women, and children in need with the hopes that they would peacefully join his anti-Mafia mission.
Once on trial, his killers revealed that they were haunted by Father Pino’s smile. They recalled that when they gunned him down in front of his home and the church where he preached, he said, while looking them in the eyes, “I’ve been expecting you.” Six men are currently serving life sentences for his murder.
Blessed Father Puglisi was declared a Martyr by Pope Benedict XVI and was Beatified on 25 May 2013, when more than 50,000 people attended the ceremony.
When Pope Francis visited Palermo on the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Blessed Pino Puglisi, he honoured this priest shot at point-blank range by the Mafia. Pope Francis insisted that true happiness and a real change in Sicilian society will come only when people love and care for one another rather than trying to grab as much money and power as they can.
“Having always leads to wanting. I have something and immediately want another and another without end. The more you have the more you want . It’s a horrible addiction,” Pope Francis said, celebrating Mass in Palermo.
“On the other hand, one who loves finds himself and discovers how beautiful it is to help others has joy on the inside and a smile on the outside, just like Father Pino” The pope’s visit to Sicily ended with an outdoor meeting with tens of thousands of teenagers and young adults in a Palermo square.
He urged them to dream and to love one another and to fight every form of corruption that flows from or builds up the Mafia.
“No to the Mafia mentality, to illegality, to the logic of crime, which are corrosive poisons for human dignity,” the pope said. “No to every form of violence. Those who use violence are not human. And the youngest of you, remember and promise me none of you will be bullies.”
“Promise me – No violence. No bullying,” he said. “No to resignation. Everything can change if people open their hearts and stand firm in hope.”
Blessed Pino Puglisi, Pray for Sicily, pray for us all!
Quote/s of the Day – 21 October – Monday of the Twenty Ninth week in Ordinary Time, Year C and the Memorial of Blessed Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi (1937-1993) Priest, Martyr
“Let us consider that mosaic of Jesus in Monreale Cathedral. Each of us is like a little glass tile in that great mosaic. Therefore, each of us must understand our role and help others understand theirs, so that together, we can make up the unique face of Christ.”
“If everyone does something, then we can do a lot.”
“Each of us feels an inclination, a charism within ourselves. A project, which makes each of us unique, irreplaceable. This call, this vocation, is the sign of the Holy Spirit in us. Only by listening to this voice can we make sense of our lives.”
“No man is far from the Lord. The Lord loves freedom, does not impose His love. He does not force the heart of any of us. Every heart has its own time, which, even we, cannot understand. He knocks and stands at the door. When the heart is ready it will open.”
One Minute Reflection – 21 October – Monday of the Twenty Ninth week in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 12:13-21 and the Memorial of Blessed Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi (1937-1993) Priest, Martyr
But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ … Luke 12:20
REFLECTION – “Take heed, watch – for you do not know when the time will come» (Mk 13:33)… Let us then consider this most serious question, which concerns everyone of us so nearly—What it is to watch for Christ. He says, “Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning, lest coming suddenly, He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch!” (v.35 f.)…
Many men indeed are open revilers of religion, or at least openly disobey its laws but let us consider those who are of a more sober and conscientious cast of mind. They have a number of good qualities and are in a certain sense and up to a certain point religious but they do not watch… They do not understand that they are called to be strangers and pilgrims upon the earth (Heb 11:13) and, that their worldly lot and worldly goods, are a sort of accident of their existence and that they really have no property… Now, it cannot surely be doubted, that multitudes in the Church, are such as I have been describing and that they would not, could not, at once welcome our Lord on His coming…
It is a most affecting and solemn thought, that He has actually called our attention to this very danger… He warns His disciples of the danger of having their minds drawn off from the thought of Him, by whatever cause, He warns them against all excitements, all allurements of this world, He solemnly warns them, that the world will not be prepared for His coming and tenderly entreats of them, not to take their portion with the world. He warns them by the instance of the rich man whose soul was required, of the servant who ate and drank (Lk 12:45) and of the foolish virgins (Mt 25:2)… The bridal train is sweeping by—Angels are there—the just made perfect are there—little children and holy teachers and white-robed saints and martyrs washed in blood… His Bride hath made herself ready (Rv 19:7). She has already attired herself, while we have been sleeping.” … St John Henry Newman (1801-1890) – Cardinal, Founder of the Oratory in England, Theologian – Sermon: “Watching” (PPS, vol. 4, no. 22, passim)
“I’ve been expecting you.” – Blessed Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi (1937-1993) Priest, Martyr – HIS LAST WORDS TO HIS MURDERERS
PRAYER – Almighty ever-living God, grant that we may always conform our will to Yours and serve Your majesty in sincerity of heart. Teach us to lay up riches in heaven and may the prayers of Blessed Pino Puglisi, who bravely fought against the worldly evils of the Mafia, assist us in our daily struggles against the idols of the world. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever, amen.
Saint of the Day – 21 October – Blessed Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi (1937-1993) Priest, Martyr, teacher, vocations, youth and social reformer and activist – was a Roman Catholic priest in the rough Palermo neighbourhood of Brancaccio, Sicily. He openly challenged the Mafia who controlled the neighbourhood and was killed by them on his 56th birthday in the same town. His life story has been retold in a book, Pino Puglisi, il prete che fece tremare la mafia con un sorriso (2013) and portrayed in a film, Come Into the Light (“Alla luce del sole” original Italian title) (2005).
Dom Pino Puglisi was born in Brancaccio, a working-class neighbourhood in Palermo (Sicily), into a family of modest means. His father was a shoemaker and his mother a dressmaker. He entered the seminary at age sixteen. Following ordination, he worked in various parishes, including a country parish afflicted by a bloody vendetta.
Puglisi was ordained as a priest on 2 July 1960 by Cardinal Ernesto Ruffini from Palermo. Ruffini regarded Communism as a greater threat than the Mafia. He once questioned the Mafia’s very existence. To a journalist’s question of “What is the Mafia?” he responded: “So far as I know, it could be a brand of detergent.” This denial persuaded Puglisi of the need to challenge church authorities. “We can, we must criticise the church when we feel it doesn’t respond to our expectations, because it’s absolutely right to seek to improve it,” he said. With his trademark humour, Puglisi added: “But we should always criticise it like a mother, never a mother-in-law!”
With little support from the Palermo archdiocese, Puglisi tried to change his parishioners’ mentality, which was conditioned by fear, passivity and omerta – imposed silence. In his sermons, he pleaded to give leads to authorities about the Mafia’s illicit activities in Brancaccio, even if they could not actually name names. He refused their monies when offered for the traditional feast day celebrations and would not allow the Mafia “men of honour” to march at the head of religious processions.
He tried to discourage the children from dropping out of school, robbing, drug dealing and selling contraband cigarettes. He ignored a series of warnings and declined to award a contract to a construction firm which had been “indicated” to him by the Mafia for the restoration of the church, where the roof was collapsing. Those parishioners that made attempts to reform matters were sent strong messages. A small group who organised for social improvement found the doors of their houses torched, their phones receiving threats and their families put on notice that worse things lay in store.
On 15 September 1993—Puglisi’s 56th birthday—he was killed outside his home by a single bullet shot at point-blank range. He was taken unconscious to a local hospital, where surgeons could not revive him. The murder was ordered by the local Mafia bosses, the brothers Filippo and Giuseppe Graviano. One of the hitmen who killed Puglisi, Salvatore Grigoli, later confessed and revealed the priest’s last words as his killers approached: “I’ve been expecting you.”
Puglisi’s murder shocked Italy. There was an immediate call by eight priests in Palermo for the Pope to travel to Palermo to be present at his funeral. St Pope John Paul II, however, was scheduled to be in Tuscany on that date and did not attend the memorial service. At the funeral Mass the Archbishop of Palermo, Cardinal Salvatore Pappalardo, spoke out very strongly against the Mafia, echoing the Pope’s words on a visit to Agrigento, Sicily, just months earlier.
On 14 April 1998, the Mafiosi Gaspare Spatuzza, Nino Mangano, Cosimo Lo Nigro and Luigi Giacalone received life sentences for the killing of Puglisi. The Graviano brothers also received life sentences for ordering the killing.
During his visit to Sicily in November 1994, sT Pope John Paul II praised Puglisi as a “courageous exponent of the Gospel.” He urged Sicilians not to allow the priest’s death to have been in vain and warned that silence and passivity about the Mafia was tantamount to complicity.
Puglisi’s favourite rhetorical quote—“Se ognuno fa qualcosa, allora si può fare molto” – “If everyone does something, then we can do a lot” —is scrawled on walls in Brancaccio. In 1999, the Cardinal of Palermo started his Beatification process, proclaiming Puglisi a Servant of God.
To underscore this anti-Mafia conviction, he composed a parody of the Our Father in the Sicilian language: “O godfather to me and my family, You are a man of honour and worth. Your name must be respected. Everyone must obey you. Everyone must do what you say for this is the law of those who do not wish to die. You give us bread, work; who wrongs you, pays. Do not pardon; it is an infamy. Those who speak are spies. I put my trust in you, godfather. Free me from the police and the law.”
On 28 June 2012, Pope Benedict XVI approved the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints to designate Puglisi a Martyr in a first step to Beatify the slain priest. The Pope signed a decree acknowledging that Father Puglisi had been killed “in hatred of the faith” meaning that he can be beatified – the last step before sainthood – without a miracle being attributed to his intercession with God.
The Beatification of Pino Puglisi took place on 25 May 2013. The Open-Air Mass took place at the Foro Italico ‘Umberto I’, a large green area that forms one of the promenades of Palermo. The Mass was presided over by Paolo Cardinal Romeo, Metropolitan Archbishop of Palermo, with Salvatore Cardinal de Giorgi, Metropolitan Archbishop Emeritus of Palermo, as the Papal Legate who performed the Rite of Beatification. Estimates state that 50,000 people attended the Mass. During his Angelus address, the following Sunday, 26 May, Pope Francis stated that the newly Beatified Puglisi was first and foremost ‘an exemplary priest and a martyr’, as well as condemning mafia groups.
“The disciple of Christ is a witness. Christian’s witness can get into difficulties,it can become martyrdom. The step is short, indeed it is martyrdom that gives value to the testimony. Remember Saint Paul: “I desire to die even to be with Christ.” Here, this desire becomes a desire for communion that transcends even life.”
Bl Hilarion of Moglena
St Hugh of Ambronay
Bl Imana of Loss
Bl Iulianus Nakaura
St John of Bridlington
St Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena
St Maurontus of Marseilles
St Malchus of Syria
Bl Peter of Città di Castello
St Petrus Yu Tae-Ch’ol
St Pontius de Clariana
St Raymond of Granada
Bl Sancho of Aragon
Bl Severinus of Bordeaux
Bl Tuda of Lindisfarne
Bl Viator of Lyons
St William of Granada
St William of Montreal
St Zoticus of Nicomedia
Martyrs of Nicaea – 279 saints:
Martyrs of Nicomedia – 3 saints:
Caius of Nicomedia
Dasius of Nicomedia
Zoticus of Nicomedia
Martyred in the Spanish Civil War:
• Blessed Genaro Fueyo Castañon
• Blessed Isidro Fernández Cordero
• Blessed Segundo Alonso González
Saint Ursula and Companions: (238) Legendary princess, the daughter of a Christian British king and Saint Daria. She travelled Europe in company of either 11 or 11,000 fellow maidens; the 11,000 number probably resulted from a misreading of the term “11M” which indicated 11 Martyrs, but which a copyist took for a Roman numeral. Ursula and her company were tortured to death to get them to renounce their faith, and old paintings of them show many of the women being killed in various painful ways. Namesake for the Ursuline Order, founded for the education of young Catholic girls and women.
There are other saints closely associated with Ursula and her story –
travelling companions who were martyred with her
Antonia of Cologne
Cesarius of Cologne
Cyriacus of Cologne
Fiolanus of Lucca
Ignatius of Cologne
James of Antioch
Mauritius of Cologne
Pontius of Cologne
Sulpitius of Ravenna
Vincent of Cologne
Travelling companion, but escaped the massacre:
led by a dove to the lost tomb of Ursula:
• Cunibert of Cologne