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From Rome following the beatifications



Some notes from my diary

06/11/2007: General House

A celebration and a challenge
Just as human as any one of us. They came from the same dough and the same clay. And their life was as ordinary and simple as the one we live every day. These ideas have been underlined time and time again during the celebration of the beatification of the Brothers Martyrs, bringing them closer to us and making their sanctity more acceptable. To convince us that this goal is within reach for any one of us.
But at the same time we were able to appreciate the force of the solemn declaration by the Church when proclaiming them definite participants in the communion of saints. Such human, but devout people. How emphatically Brother Seán named the newly beatified, one by one, by name, preceded of the word blessed. It was one of the warmest moments of the Marist celebration in the sanctuary of the Madonna del Divino Amore. The Superior General recognizes them solemnly, in front of their religious family; their professed sanctity and dedication to the congregation.
Bringing them so much closer to our day-to-day life has raised the challenge of faith in me. Do I dare believe them and accept them as intercessors? I review the biographies and I find normality and simplicity. Fortunato Andrés, a mechanic in Les Avellanes. Carlos Rafael, just recently turned19. Lino Fernando, chronically ill... The list is long. Truly human just like us. But devout persons, blessed, who washed their clothes in the blood of the Lamb. The challenge is to practice in my life what I proclaim in the creed: I believe in the communion of saints. The audacity now is to ask them for a miracle. Brother Gabriele Andreucci made us this proposal when he said goodbye to the community of the General Administration before returning to his community of Carmagnola: let us pray to obtain a miracle from the newly beatified and we will soon be here for their canonization.

Applause in the square
A commentator from TV Madrid pointed out to me that the pilgrims from Spain had been very calm and serene in San Peters Square. In fact the manifestations of enthusiasm have been very discreet, very reserved, but strong. It was noticed that the majority of the participants was mature people. The testimonies of the martyrs, read out before commencing the ceremony, were received with great applause. There were more significant applauses; the first one following the proclamation of the Popes Apostolic Letter declaring the 498 martyrs to be newly beatified. At that moment the logo of the beatification was revealed showing the face of the newly beatified. The Square erupted in sustained applause. And finally, another loud applause, of greeting and respect, filled Saint Peters Square when the Pope leaned out of the window of his apartments to address the pilgrims.

The photo: a palm and a face
I have lived through the celebrations of the beatification of our Brothers Martyrs in Spain with my eye stuck to the camera. If I have to choose a picture from among the hundreds captured b through my camera, without a doubt I would select one that stays in my memory from the Sanctuary of the Madonna of the Divine Amore. There were moments when the music reminded me of Easter, when I lived for so many years in Les Avellanes with the young people. Brother Sean’s voice invoking each Brother as beatified sounded like a prophet announcing new life. That was a joy to my ear. For the view, without a doubt, it was the procession of the palms and the presence of the relatives of the martyrs on the altar. They reached the heart through sight and sound. In the procession of the palms somebody wondered: Whom do I represent carrying this palm in my hands? The palm represented the victory of the other. The camera was capturing faces and palms. But what captivated me was the sight of two children holding an enormous palm in their hands. The life that is born of death, the blood of the martyrs feeding the faith of the generations to come. A boy and a girl seeds of life.
Some news to keep in mind
The Marist calendar has grown by 47 names, faces and lives whose yearly feast will take place on 6th November. The litany of holy Marists is longer now. We must ourselves to putting the word blessed before the name of each one of our Marist Martyrs, when writing about them as well as when talking about them. The postulators of the causes have the task of preparing the texts for the liturgy to be used on the feast day in Marist communities and in the universal Church. And the new cult of the beatified will begin to spread. The parish priest of Torregrosa (Lleida) announced, during his visit to the General House, that the bishop of the diocese will preside over the placing of blessed Victorino José’s statue in the Church in the town. And in the Marist communities throughout the whole world these Brothers will be examples of Marist life and seeds of new life.

The fruits that this sowing will bring
I entrust them to hope. The beatification has been a sowing of seeds of life. We must wait until they spring up. I saw a tall young man contemplating the original picture of Champagnat painted by Goyo for the feast of the canonization. He had come with one of the groups that visited the house. He carried out a silent dialogue with the image of the picture. The group had already moved to the chapel of the superiors where the Good Mothers original statue is worshipped. I approached him to show him the way to the next part of the tour. On taking his eyes off the picture I could see that his eyes were full of tears. I felt disconcerted and did not know what to say to him. I limited myself to showing him the way with a gesture. He went into the chapel. I followed him discreetly for a while. I was involved in carrying out my photographic report and I lost sight of him. At the end of the visit to the chapel I managed to meet up with him. His eyes were still filled with tears because of the emotion of the moment. We looked at each other with an expression of mutual acceptance and of trust. This complaint came from his lips:
- Why is this statue here!
- Well, where do you think it should be?
- In the Hermitage!!!
- Because of this She will help you to love her greatly.
He looked at me with bright, sparkling eyes. We regarded each other with an expression of agreement, we cut short our conversation. We began the descent of the great stairway to go to the corridor of the superiors. There I lost sight of him, as he blended with his companions in the large group. The Brothers Martyrs brought this youth from a great distance so that his eyes could light up while contemplating the original statue of our Good Mother and of the picture of Marcellin. And his heart was totally in tune with Marist life. A seed of life is locked in a young heart which runs through a street in our cities. Let us wait for the spring preparing through silent prayer and the nourishing water of the grace of God.


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