Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apostle of Prayer Canonized

Blessed Luigi Guanella is being canonized in Rome today. When he was a seminarian he enrolled in the Apostleship of Prayer which he saw as the perfect way to live out his devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Mass readings for today, the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A, are perfect for this great event. In the Gospel (Matthew 22: 34-40), Jesus gives the Great Commandment: "You shall love the Lord, your God, will all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Jesus tells us to love as God has loved us--completely. God has not only given us everything--our life and health, our talents and gifts--he has also given us his very self in giving us his Son Jesus who shared our life with its joys and sorrows. Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, offering everything for our salvation. This offering becomes present in every celebration of Mass where Jesus gives us everything of himself--his body and blood, soul and divinity, and his heart. Knowing this, our response is to love as God has loved us--totally, loving with our heart, soul, and mind, with our entire self.

Loving God so totally means that we will love what God loves. And what God loves is humanity, all his children, our brothers and sisters. Having received the heart of Jesus in Holy Communion, our hearts are moved as the heart of Jesus was moved when he saw those in need.

Matthew's Gospel speaks of the heart of Jesus being moved several times:

Matthew 9: 36 "At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd."

Matthew 14: 14 "When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick."

Matthew 15: 32 "Jesus summoned his disciples and said, 'My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.'"

As the heart of Jesus was moved with pity for the crowds of people--poor, hungry, abandoned, troubled, disabled--so was the heart of Fr. Luigi Guanella. That makes sense. Totally in love with God, he shared God's love for those who were most abandoned by their families and society. The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity now carry on Fr. Guanella's work.

Congratulations to them on the occasion of their founder's canonization! The Apostleship of Prayer shares the joy that one of its own has attained this glory. The recognition of Fr. Luigi's holiness and his powerful intercession inspires us to follow his example.

For more about St. Luigi Guanella, see this earlier post.

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