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Pope asks Sicilians to be saints

October 04, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI spoke to priests, religious, and seminarians in the afternoon, then to young people early in the evening, on a busy one-day visit to Sicily on October 3.

Flying into Palermo on Sunday morning, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the city (see today’s separate CWN headline story). After his Angelus audience, and the two public talks, he returned to Rome Sunday night.

In his address to priests, religious, and seminarians, the Pontiff warned that “the rhythm of life has become so frenetic and our occupations absorb ever more time.” In such circumstances a regular prayer life is difficult yet essential, he said. “There are many pressing matters, but if we are not in inner communion with God we can give nothing, not even to others.”

Priests must center their lives around the Eucharist, the Pope said; only in that way can they properly minister to others. (As an example of service to others, he cited Father Pino Puglisi, who was gunned down the Mafia—one of several references the Pope made to the criminal empire during his visit to Sicily.) For religious, he said, the key is “always to follow Christ without compromise.” By bearing witness “in such a radical way,” he said, “your existence is like a sermon: extremely eloquent though often silent.”

In the evening the Pontiff met with young people, and suggested to them that Chiara Badano—who was beatified on September 25—was a model for their imitation. With her joyful acceptable of the suffering that came with incurable disease, she showed a light to others: “a light irradiated around her and that came from within, from her heart full of God.”

Sicily too has its young heroes of the faith, the Pope told the young people. Repeating a message that he had delivered earlier that day during a Mass in Palermo, he exhorted them: “Do not give in to the lure of the Mafia, which is the path of death, incompatible with the Gospel, as many of your bishops have said.”

“The greatest gift we have received is to be a Church, to be in Christ a sign and instrument of unity, peace, and freedom,” the Pope said as he concluded his remarks. “Courage, dear young people and families of Sicily. Be saints!”


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