.- On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized seven new saints in the Catholic Church, saying that prayer isn’t always a smooth path, but that like the saints, Christ supports us even when it is difficult.
“The saints are men and women who enter fully into the mystery of prayer. Men and women who struggle with prayer, letting the Holy Spirit pray and struggle in them,” Pope Francis said Oct. 16.
“They struggle to the very end, with all their strength, and they triumph, but not by their own efforts: the Lord triumphs in them and with them. The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers.”
In a Mass with 80,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis declared seven new saints, including the new Saints Elizabeth of the Blessed Trinity, a Carmelite nun; and José Sánchez del Río, who was martyred at the age of 14.
“…we declare and define Blessed Solomon Leclercq, José Sánchez del Río, Manuel González García, Lodovico Pavoni, Alfonso Maria Fusco, José Gabriel del Rosario Brochero and Elizabeth of the Trinity Catez to be Saints,” Francis stated.
“And we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”
In his homily, Pope Francis likened our prayers to the battle Moses waged against Amalek as recounted in the Book of Exodus. Even though he grew weary and discouraged, Moses was supported by Aaron and Hur, and was able to persevere in prayer for Israel.
“This is the kind of spiritual life the Church asks of us: not to win by war, but to win with peace! There is an important message in this story of Moses: commitment to prayer demands that we support one another,” he said.
“To pray is not to take refuge in an ideal world, nor to escape into a false, selfish sense of calm,” Francis said. “On the contrary, to pray is to struggle, but also to let the Holy Spirit pray within us.”
Not alone, but through Christ, the saints “attained the goal,” the Pope continued. “Thanks to prayer, they had a generous and steadfast heart. They prayed mightily; they fought and they were victorious. So pray!”
St. Elizabeth of the Trinity was a Carmelite nun from the 20th century. She grew up in Dijon, France near a Carmelite monastery. After visiting the monastery at age 17, she felt called to join.
Obedient to her mother, who said she could not enter until age 21, she continued to work with troubled youth, teaching them the faith, until she entered the Carmel in Dijon in 1901. She died from Addison’s disease only 5 years later, at the age of 26.
St. José Sánchez del Río was born in Sahuayo de Morelos, Mexico in 1913. He was a Mexican Cristero. At the age of 14 he was tortured and put to death by government officials when he refused to renounce his Catholic faith.
Often pictured on horseback, Argentinian priest St. José Gabriele del Rosario Brochero was known for his service to the poor and sick; St. Solomon Leclercq was a French priest killed during the French Revolution for refusing to swear an oath of allegiance to the new government.
St. Manuel González García was a Spanish Roman Catholic bishop; St. Lodovico Pavoni, an Italian priest, founded the Sons of Mary Immaculate; and St. Alfonso Maria Fusco, also an Italian priest, founded the Sisters of St. John the Baptist.
Pope Francis acknowledged that weariness in our prayer lives is “inevitable.” But that, with the support of our brothers and sisters, the Lord can succeed in us.
“The ‘battle’ of perseverance cannot be won without prayer. Not sporadic or hesitant prayer, but prayer offered as Jesus tells us in the Gospel: ‘Pray always, without ever losing heart,’” he said.
“This is the Christian way of life: remaining steadfast in prayer, in order to remain steadfast in faith and testimony.”
The mystery of prayer, Pope Francis said, is to keep “crying out, not to lose heart, and if we should grow tired, asking help to keep our hands raised.”
We are members of the Body of Christ, the Church, so even if we grow weary, we are not alone, the Pope said.
“Only in the Church, and thanks to the Church’s prayer, are we able to remain steadfast in faith and witness.”
At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis led pilgrims in the Angelus, noting in his message the World Day against Poverty taking place Oct. 17.
“Let us join forces, moral and economic, to fight together against poverty that degrades, insults and kills so many brothers and sisters, by implementing standard policies for families and for work,” he said.