Blessed John Paul I, ‘The Smiling Pope,’ Showed God’s Goodness, Pope Says

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Beatifying Blessed John Paul I, Pope Francis has commended the late pope for showing God’s goodness to the world and for living the gospel without compromise.

“Our new blessed lived like this: in the joy of the Gospel, without compromise, loving until the end,” the pope said.

“He embodied the poverty of the disciple, which is not only the detachment from material goods, but also the victory over the temptation to put oneself in the center, to seek one’s own glory” because he followed the example of Jesus and was ” a gentle and humble pastor,” he said.

Pope Francis leads the beatification of Pope John Paul I in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sept. 4, 2022. (CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

The pope spoke during a homily in St. Peter’s Square during a September 4 Mass attended by around 25,000 people under dark skies and rain, with occasional rolling thunder and thunder. love at first sight.

“With a smile, Pope John Paul succeeded in communicating the goodness of the Lord. How beautiful is a church with a happy, serene and smiling face, a church that never closes its doors, never hardens its hearts, never complains or harbors resentment, does not get angry or does not become impatient, look austere or suffer from nostalgia for the past. said the pope.

“Let us pray to him, our father and our brother, and ask him to obtain for us ‘the smile of the soul'”, which is “transparent, which does not deceive”, Pope Francis said. “Let us pray, in his own words, ‘Lord, take me as I am, with my flaws, with my flaws, but make me become what You want me to be.'”

During the beatification ceremony, which took place at the beginning of the mass, an image of the new blessed was unveiled on a huge tapestry affixed to the facade of the basilica. The image was a reproduction of an oil painting, “The Smiling Pope,” created by Zhang Yan, a Chinese artist whose work combines Eastern and Western painting techniques.

The relic, carried by Lina Petri, the late pope’s niece, was a piece of paper yellowed with age, on which the pope had written a canvas for spiritual reflection on the three theological virtues – faith, hope and charity – the theme of three of his only four audience speeches.

The materials for the reliquary, a wooden cross carved on smooth stone, were taken from where Blessed John Paul was born and raised in northern Italy.

A nun holds a magazine with an image of Pope John Paul I before the start of the beatification of Pope John Paul I by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sept. 4, 2022. (CNS Photo/Paul Haring)

In his homily, Pope Francis linked today’s Gospel reading to the humble, Christ-centered way Blessed John Paul lived and how Christians today are called to live. their life.

The pope said Jesus drew large crowds with his teachings, but he did not exploit that popularity the way some teachers or leaders do when they see people looking to them as a source of hope for the future.

“The same thing happens today, especially in times of personal or societal crisis, when we are particularly plagued by feelings of anger or fear about things that threaten our future. We become more susceptible and so, on this wave of emotion, we turn to those who, with skill and cunning, take advantage of the situation, taking advantage of society’s fears and promising to be the “savior” who can solve all their problems, when in reality they seek wider approval and greater power,” Pope Francis said.

God, he said, “does not exploit our needs or use our vulnerability for his own aggrandizement. He does not want to seduce us with deceptive promises or hand out cheap favors; he is not interested in huge crowds. He’s not obsessed with numbers; he does not ask for approval; he does not idolize personal success.

Christians should examine their reasons for following the Lord, he said, and make sure they are not seeking: the satisfaction of their own needs; personal prestige; social status or control; power and privilege; recognition and so on.

Christians are called to love, “to be cleansed of our distorted ideas about God and of our self-centeredness, and to love God and others, in church and society, including those who do not think like us, to love even our enemies,” he said.

Christians must “love even at the cost of sacrifice, silence, misunderstanding, loneliness, resistance and persecution,” he said. Because, as Blessed John Paul said, “if you want to kiss Jesus crucified, ‘you can’t help leaning on the cross and letting yourself be pricked by some thorns from the crown on the head of the Lord’ “.

Among the family members and worshipers who carried candles to be placed in front of the relic was Sister Margherita Marin, a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Infant Mary, who helped in the papal apartments and was one of the sisters who found the pope dead on September 29. 28, 1978.

Candela Giarda, the young Argentine whose miracle paved the way for the beatification of Blessed John Paul, was unable to come to Rome because of a broken foot caused by the practice of a sport. She was 11 when she developed a severe case of acute encephalitis, suffered uncontrollable and life-threatening brain seizures, and eventually suffered septic shock.

After doctors told family members his death was “imminent”, Father Juan José Dabusti, who attended the beatification ceremony, encouraged the family, nurses and others to pray to the late pope for his intercession. In 2011, a group of experts studying the cause determined that there was no scientific explanation for his full recovery and that it could be attributed to the intercession of the late pope.

Blessed John Paul, an Italian born Albino Luciani, served only 33 days as pontiff; he died just three weeks before his 66th birthday, shocking the world and a church that had just mourned the death of Saint Paul VI.

Although it was one of the shortest pontificates in history, Blessed John Paul left a lasting impression on the church which fondly remembers him as “the smiling pope”.

In his Angelus address after Mass, Pope Francis asked everyone to pray to Our Lady, “so that she may obtain the gift of peace throughout the world, especially in martyred Ukraine.”

“May she, the first and perfect disciple of the Lord, help us to follow the example and holiness of life of John Paul I,” he said.

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Copyright © 2022 Catholic News Service/United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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