Catholic Culture Resources
Catholic Culture Resources

Homily of January 29, 1995

by Pope Saint John Paul II


Pope John Paul II's homily on Sunday, January 29 at the solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at which he beatified Rafael Guizar Valencia, Modestino of Jesus and Mary, Genoveva Torres Morales and Grimoaldo of the Purification.

Publisher & Date

January 29, 1995

"Lord, make us understand that 'faith, hope and love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love'" the Holy Father said in his homily on Sunday, 29 January, at the solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at which he beatified Rafael Guizar Valencia, Modestino of Jesus and Mary, Genoveva Torres Morales and Grimoaldo of the Purification. Here is a translation of the Pope's homily which was given in Italian.

1. "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you..." (Jer 1:5). This is what the Lord said to Jeremiah, calling him to become "a prophet to the nations" (ibid.). This is what the Lord says in a more general way to every individual who comes into the world. Every person has been intended and desired by him in an eternal act of love, a love that "never fails" (1 Cor 13:8). Man, the Council recalls, "is the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake" (Gaudium et spes, n. 24).

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you...". God's knowledge of every human being is a call in his regard. He calls man to know and love him, to become holy and blameless in love (cf. Eph 1:4), as he is himself. In this universal and highly personal sense, from the time they were in the womb the Lord knew Rafael Guizar Valencia, Modestino of Jesus and Mary, Genoveva Torres Morales and Grimoaldo of the Purification the four new blesseds whom today I have the joy of raising to the honors of the altar. Each of them responded to God's call with his or her own life. They all aspired to the greatest charism, following the best way of all (cf. 1 Cor 12:31): the way of love.

Rafael Guizar is model for new evangelization

2. Bishop Rafael Guizar Valencia set out resolutely on this way of love.

He carried out his apostolate as a priest and Bishop amid almost constant persecution and situations of danger. For many years he had no fixed residence yet no difficulty prevented him from fulfilling his missionary tasks. He said repeatedly: "I will give my life for the salvation of souls", like the Good Shepherd. Those who knew him said there was no power or obstacle which could weaken his evangelizing zeal. Teaching catechism and giving popular missions were the focus of his activity. His native Mexico, the United States, Guatemala and Cuba were to benefit from his pastoral zeal.

His spirituality was based on Eucharistic devotion and love of the Virgin Mary. Fostering priestly vocations, administering the sacraments, particularly Penance and Matrimony, regularizing many common-law unions, preaching the word of God, as well as constant devotion to prayer also made him a man of faith and action who was concerned for the salvation of souls.

The new evangelization, to which I have called the Church on many occasions and to which the Church in America is also committed, finds a model to follow in figures like Rafael Guizar Valencia. We would like to entrust to his intercession the apostolic task of spreading the kingdom which so many men and women are -undertaking everywhere, even amid difficult situations like those experienced by the new blessed.

Modestino of Jesus and Mary was a true brother to all

3. "For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust O God, from my youth" (Responsorial Psalm, 70 [71]:5). Thus sings the Church which is constantly enlivened by the breath of the Holy Spirit. Today this is echoed by Blessed Modestino of Jesus and Mary, a priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, an outstanding witness to God's mercy, who instilled hope in Southern Italy during the first half of the last century.

From boyhood, God was pleased to reveal to him the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 11:25; Gospel acclamation), leading him to discover the authentic value of the person who is fulfilled through generous devotion to the poor and crucified Christ in the gift of self to others.

Fr. Modestino lived in a society of marginalization and moral suffering, and was able to share fully the expectations and anxieties of the weakest, responding to the deep need for God found in his brothers and sisters who thirsted for justice and love. He thus became a leaven of renewal and a living sign of hope. The hand of the Lord was truly upon him, making him a minister of mercy and comfort to every social class, especially through his diligent, patient celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fr. Modestino was a true "universal brother": everyone could rely on him, finding someone who would listen, welcome and share. This love led him to give of his very self, and he did not hesitate to expose himself to the threat of death in order to help his brothers and sisters struck by a cholera epidemic. Indeed, he shared their fate to the very last, dying as a victim of love.

Genoveva Torres was angel to the elderly

4. "Have no fear...", we heard in the first reading of the Liturgy of the Word, "For it is I who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass.... I am with you to deliver you" (Jer 1:17-19). He promised the prophet special divine help to enable him to face obstacles so that he would be able to carry out God's plan. We see these words fulfilled in the new Blessed Genoveva Torres Morales, who showed heroic strength in both her human activities and in her apostolic labors. Having suffered the amputation of a leg when she was young, she always had to walk with crutches but this did not prevent her from discerning and firmly accomplishing the Lord's will.

A woman of humble origin and background, she possessed the knowledge of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. She used to say: "Love conquers all". This love led her to devote her life to caring for retired women, to remedy the loneliness, and deprivation in which many of them lived, looking after them materially and spiritually in a true home, beside them like an "Angel of solitude". To this end she founded in Valencia the Institute of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels.

Today her work continues to be of great significance, since loneliness and neglect, with the consequent dangers they bring, are among the most distressing evils of every age. Blesses Genoveva Torres sought to deal with them and we ask her to continue to inspire generous souls who, faithful to the charism she received from the Spirit, may strive to follow her example and continue her work.

5. ". . .And till the present I proclaim you wondrous deeds. . . " (Resp. Psalm). Thus did Blessed Grimoaldo of the Purification, born Ferdinando Santamaria, testify to the world. A young Passionist, in the course of his brief life he was constantly inspired by a few basic ideas which are still meaningful to us: to give God priority, to show Jesus Crucified constant gratitude by concrete works of penance and humility; to persevere in goodness even at the cost of great sacrifice- to live with austerity and be content at all times: to be always available to others. In accord with the Passionist family's charism, he felt that he should complete in himself Christ's suffering for the sake of his entire Mystical Body (cf. Col 1:24). He liked to say: "I always think of Jesus when he went up to Calvary and of his Blessed Mother who walked close to the Lord, and I want to follow their suffering".

Grimoaldo of the Purification, a model of generous spirituality

His biographers describe him as joyful even amid humiliations, contradictions and difficulties in his studies. He companions noted that although Grimoaldo did nothing different from them, he did it with an extraordinary and growing intensity of love. Young people today and in the future can see in him a model of simple and generous spirituality, firmly rooted in Christ's paschal mystery.

6. "Blessed are you, Father; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom" (Gospel acclamation).

Beloved brothers and sisters, today's liturgical celebration urges us to turn our grateful thoughts to the Lord. Down the centuries he continues to reveal the mysteries of his love to "little ones". He is the source of true wisdom of life, the firm support of every lasting human project.

In the Eucharist, the Church praises the Father, all of whose actions show his "wisdom and love" to all who come to him, so that those who seek him may find him. The Church praises and thanks him above-all for sending into the world his "only Son to be our Savior" and the "Holy Spirit... as his first gift to those who believe... to bring us the fullness of grace" (Eucharistic Prayer IV).

The saints, the blesseds and in particular those we are presenting today for the veneration of all believers witness to this eternal truth. They proclaim God's fidelity, they witness to his love, the source of life and holiness.

7. "Blessed are you, Father!". Let us say it too, beloved brothers and sisters, together with Rafael Guizar Valencia, Bishop, with Modestino of Jesus and Mary, a priest of the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor, with Genoveva Torres Morales, virgin foundress of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy Angels, and with Grimoaldo of the Purification Santamaria, a religious of the Congregation of the Passion.

Let us pray that we too may adore God with all our soul and love our brothers and sisters in the love of Christ (cf. Opening Prayer).

This is the path of holiness: the way of love, of divine charity, which "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things".

This love "never fails" (1 Cor 13:7-8).

Lord, make us understand that "faith hope and love remain, these three, but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13: 13).

Father, reveal the mysteries of your kingdom to us!

Give us your love, O Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit!


At the end of his homily, the Holy Father continued extemporaneously:

Dearly beloved, we cannot close without going back two weeks; it was a Sunday like today. Two weeks ago World Youth Day was celebrated in Manila. It was a unique experience. We hope that this experience can be continued with young people in the different parts of the world. I cannot fail to thank God for this experience, which I was privileged to have with my brothers and sisters in the Philippines, in Manila and also with my young friends.

And I cannot fail to thank the Lord for the beatifications which came after Manila: in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, a blessed catechist, Peter To Rot, the first blessed of this missionary country; then in Sydney, Australia, Blessed Mary MacKillop, the first blessed of the great continent of Australia; and finally, in Sri Lanka, Blessed Fr. Joseph Vaz, the first blessed of this island and of this rich and deeply religious culture.

Today, here in St. Peter's, in this Basilica, I would like to remember them all and to add these three new blesseds, who are the first witnesses of their own lands, of their own Churches, to our song, to sing the glory of God to the very ends of the earth. Not only here in Rome, over the tomb of St. Peter, but to the ends of the earth, where there was such excitement for the beatification of the first witnesses of Papua New Guinea, Australia and Sri Lanka. Together with them let us sing our praise to God, the source of all holiness down the centuries, among peoples and generations. With these saints and blesseds he leads us to live the great Communion of Saints which is our future in the Church.

Amen. Praised be Jesus Christ.

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