The Lord has exalted these lowly ones
........Thousands of pilgrims from Italy, Brazil, Spain, France and the United States filled St Peter's Square on Sunday morning, 25 October, as the Holy Father beatified four servants of God: Zefirino Agostini, Antônio de Sant'Anna Galvão, Faustino Míguez and Theodore Guérin Basing his homily on the liturgical readings for the 30th Sunday of the Year, the Pope presented the new blesseds as concrete examples of what God accomplishes in the lives of those who humble themselves and generously follow the way of the Gospel. Here is a translation of his homily, which was given in Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and English. 1. "The lowly will hear me and be glad" (Ps 33 : 3). With these words today's liturgy invites us to rejoice as we give thanks to the Lord for the gift of these new blesseds. The Church's joy is expressed in the song of praise that the assembly lifts to heaven. Yes, let the lowly hear and be glad as they consider what God accomplishes in the lives of his faithful servants. The Church, which is the "People of the lowly", hears and rejoices because in these members, enrolled among the blessed, she sees a reflection of the heavenly Father's merciful love. At this liturgy let us make our own the inspired words of Jesus: "Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom" (Gospel acclamation).
........The "little ones": how different is human logic from the divine! The "little ones", according to the Gospel, are those who know they are God's creatures and shun all presumption: they expect everything from the Lord and so are never disappointed. This is the basic attitude of the believer: faith and humility are inseparable. Proof of this is the witness given by the new blesseds: Zefirino Agostini, Antônio de Sant'Anna Galvão, Faustino Míguez and Theodore Guérin. The greater a person's faith, the "littler" he feels, in the image of Jesus Christ, who, "though he was in the form of God, ... emptied himself" (Phil 2: 6-7) and came among men as their servant. A crown is reserved for those who wait for Christ's appearing
........The love of the Lord spurred him in his apostolate to the poor, especially in the Christian education of girls, particularly the most needy. He understood well the important role women play in the rehabilitation of society by teaching the values of freedom, honesty and charity. He advised the Ursulines, his spiritual daughters: "Poor girls: let them be the favourite object of your care and attention. Awaken their minds, teach their hearts virtue and save their souls from malignant contact with the wicked world" (Scritti alle Orsoline, 289). May his example strongly encourage those who honour him today as blessed and invoke him as their protector.
........Let us thank God for the continual blessings granted through the powerful evangelizing influence which the Holy Spirit has exercised in so many souls down to our day through Friar Galvão. His authentically Franciscan faith, evangelically lived and apostolically spent in serving his neighbour, will be an encouragement to imitate this "man of peace and charity". His mission of founding "Recolhimentos" dedicated to Our Lady and to Providence still bears astounding fruit: he was a fervent adorer of the Eucharist, a teacher and defender of Gospel charity, a wise spiritual director for many souls and a defender of the poor. May Mary Immaculate, whose "son and everlasting slave" Friar Galvão considered himself, enlighten the hearts of the faithful and awaken in them a hunger for God and a commitment to serving his kingdom through their own witness of authentic Christian life.
........As a scientist, he was able to alleviate sickness by freeing humanity from physical suffering. In school and the street, in the confessional and the laboratory, Fr Faustino Míguez was the very image of Christ, who welcomes, pardons and gives life. A "man of the people and for the people", everything and everyone were his concern. Thus, he observed the conditions of ignorance and marginalization in which women lived, whom he regarded as the "soul of the family and the most important part of society". To guide them from their childhood years on the path of human and Christian advancement, he founded the Calasanctian Institute of the Divine Shepherdess for the education of girls in religion and the arts. His shining example, an interweaving of prayer, study and apostolate, continues today in the witness of his daughters and of the many teachers who courageously and joyfully work to imprint the image of Jesus on the minds and hearts of young people.
........May the witness offered by the new blesseds encourage us to advance generously on the way of the Gospel. By looking at those who found favour with God because of their humble submission to his will, may our spirit feel moved to follow the Gospel with patient and constant generosity. "He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the heavens" (Sir 35: 16). Here is the great lesson which our brothers and sister offer us: to honour, love and serve God with our whole life, always knowing that "everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 18: 14). May God generously open the treasures of his mercy to all: he who "hears the cry of the oppressed" (Sir 35: 13); who "is close to the broken-hearted" (Ps 33 : 19); who rescues the poor "from all their distress" (Ps 33 : 18); who gives satisfaction to the just and affirms the right (cf. Sir 35: 18).