May 18, 2019 – 16th anniversary of the canonization of St. Maria De Mattias
Words of thanks from the General Superior after the Eucharistic Celebration
On this day when we celebrate the 16th anniversary of the canonization of St. Maria De Mattias, we are especially grateful to the Lord that the small seed sown in the heart of Maria of Vallecorsa became a great tree, extending its branches in as many as 29 countries of the world. This year we recall the 185th anniversary of the foundation of this Institute. Our charism lives and passes from one generation to the next through the dedication and commitment of passionate women impassioned by the Fire of the Blood, like St. Maria De Mattias was.
Two prophecies were made to Maria De Mattias by Father John Merlini, her spiritual director, and both came true:
In the funeral discourse Father Merlini wrote for Maria De Mattias’s death, he stated, “She lives and will live in the happy events of the Church” … “ She lives and will live forever because God wanted her all to Himself and because she wanted to be completely God’s.”
Many of us were jubilant in St. Peter’s Square, crowded with the faithful, when St. John Paul II proclaimed Maria De Mattias a saint on May 18, 2003. There were many of us wearing red caps with the statement, ”You are worth the Blood of Christ” and rejoicing in this long-awaited gift.
St. Maria De Mattias was recognized as a saint in the Church and her example of heroic virtue put her as a model of perfection for all Christians and all who are searching for God.
We find Father Merlini’s second prophecy in some of his letters of exhortation and encouragement to Maria De Mattias who was writing the Rule of her beginning Institute. He wrote, “Expand your vision as much as you can,” … “Don’t stop at thinking about the Institute as it is at this time…” Father Merlini encouraged Maria to think of the beginning institute not just in the confines limited to the Ciociaria of Italy, but of thinking about a worldwide dimension that it would gradually reach. He predicted the extension of the beginning Institute to every corner of the earth.
On this 185th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, celebrating this beloved memory is a truly great joy, especially at the conclusion of this seminar that included the participation of all parts of the Congregation.
We are a Congregation desiring to grow as a global reality, as a single body, embracing transformation as a choice for giving quality to our mission again, making our presence meaningful for this broken and divided world.
In reading the Gospel of this 5th Sunday of Easter, I feel encouraged to connect the verb LOVE by using 7 attitudes that St. Maria De Mattias is handing over to us this evening in order to go back to being more human.
1 - Respect: etymologically, the word respect means “to look at well.” Having respect means saying to someone, “I saw you, my gaze was laid upon you.”
In a world where invisibility and indifference persist, Maria De Mattias’ mission was that of being the voice for those who had no dignity or respect, to be the voice of the invisible in the society of their time. We are also encouraged to recognize the Lord in the people we meet, looking at them well with a benevolent and gentle gaze.
2 - Responsibility: the world we desire and the relationships we dream about are not built through magic or solely on our desire. We each need to roll up our sleeves and begin to build our dream with hard work and sweat. Responsibility invites us to get our hands dirty in order to make our love concrete and to live our lives ever more authentically. Maria De Mattias got involved responsibly, ready to face the consequences.
3 - Passion: With her successful life, Maria De Mattias reminds us that we must nourish our passions, feel the fullness of life in our hearts and our hands, which translates into making evangelical choices. God wants from us that our lives be prepared, our hearts swollen with possibilities, enthusiasm, expectation and love toward the world and above all toward the Reign of God.
4 - Patience: Patience acts on time, creates a different space, detached from the usual, makes us capable of waiting, of postponement. It knows how to await. The deeper and more concrete our love, the more capable we are of waiting, like leaven that makes the dough grow or the seed that will become a tree. In this way, patience makes our involvement and waiting qualitatively meaningful.
To be patient there is a need for great love. Life grows slowly; it is often hidden, wants to trust in the dark and asks for warmth. Thus, Maria exhorts us to know how to bear the burden of waiting, accepting the challenge of postponement, patience, remaining in situations without necessarily understanding them.
5 - Compassion: ours is an indifferent, hurried world, as if none of us wants to get our hands dirty, but above all our eyes. There is a gaze filled with tenderness, a gaze moved when it encounters brokenness, pain, an affliction.
Compassion enlarges our inner tents, makes us worthy to be called human,… urges us to bleed with the wounds of others. Maria De Mattias lived, suffering with the poor of her time, making their wounds her own. She encourages us to do the same.
6 - Listening: we must relearn to listen, to regain this sense and go beyond, into the depths to truly encounter ourselves, others and God. May listening become our habit of being.
7 - Kindness: finally, kindness is the last word Maria De Mattias gives us. It is mixed with lightness and gentleness. Its presence lightens a life wounded by neglect and indifference. As Pope Francis would say, it is a question of shaking off the weight of selfishness and thinking about our meaning in being in the world.
It is the Infinite One that Maria De Mattias carried within and that each of us holds in our hearts. It is that spark of God present in each person that cries out from under the rubble to be brought to light like a treasure, like a pearl found after a shipwreck.
I thank Father Francesco Paglia, the St. Michael, the Archangel Choir of Vallecorsa and all of you Sisters who participated in this Eucharist. We feel united with all ASCs throughout the world and we ask to go back to being human … capable of real and concrete closeness.
Maria De Mattias, missionary disciple and mystic, lived these seven words…. She made them a life choice… making her witness credible and taking the heart of Jesus to the world….
Maria De Mattias, may your holiness infect us and be an inspiration for that inner renewal we all need to be a prophetic presence of reconciliation and peace in the world, to go back to being more human, capable of closeness and a real encounter with humanity.
Your holiness, which we are celebrating today, gives us the experience of Jesus Christ, the only person capable of upsetting and renewing life. Intercede for us and implore this grace.