ARGENTINA, Maria Teresa and Daniel Martino •
A few days ago, an unprecedented event took place on Argentine soil and in the heart of the Church: after 43 years, the mártires riojanos (four people killed during Argentina’s Dirty War, including one bishop) were recognized as martyrs and beatified for having given their lives to announce and incarnate the essence of the Gospels. —
When we dream of the beatification of our father and founder, we are always attracted by the certainty that when the Holy Father and his pontifical commissions decide to raise Christians to the honors of the altar, it is after a profound period of discernment enlightened by the Spirit; not simply to inaugurate a new statue in our churches, but to recognize and take the example from the life of these Christians, based on the measure of their response to the wounds of humanity today. In this way, exemplary lives, marked by extraordinary grace, emerge from silence and anonymity, are given to history and their contemporaries in an extraordinary way.
Therefore, we must link the vigorous call to apostolic sanctity that springs from the spirit of Hoerde with the lay vocation we received from Fr. Kentenich, so that we can be surprisingly enlightened and blessed by this event.
To share in a few words the core of this historic and sacred step, we transcribe part of the letter to Pope Francis from the laity of La Rioja, and the heart of the message by the Vatican prefect responsible for the causes of the saints in the Church, the main celebrant in the beatification Mass.
Thank you, Pope Francis for the beatification of the mártires riojanos!
“Together with other lay leaders in our country, we sent a letter to Pope Francis thanking him for the future beatification of the mártires riojanos, particularly Wenceslao Perdernera, who was the leader of the Rural Catholic Action in the Cuyo region. He will become our first lay martyr and the first member of our Institution to receive the honors of the altar.
“The four blesseds: Bishop Enrique Angelelli, Fr. Gabriel Longueville, the religious Carlos Murias and the lay Pedernera, witnessed to the Kingdom of God in one of the darkest periods of Argentine history and together they died, leaving us an image of the Synodal Church, in which all the baptized are called to walk ‘with one ear to the People and the other to the Gospel’, as Bishop Angelelli said, to serve the poor and the excluded”.
Undoubtedly, the testimony of Wenceslao “calls us, as the Argentine laity, to open – like him – the doors of our house, the Church, our institutions, our families, to go out to meet those who call us and need us”.
The letter was signed by leaders of the National Commissions of Justice and Peace, the Youth Pastoral Team of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference, DEPLAI (Department for the Laity of the Bishops Comission for Laity and Family), the Charismatic Renewal and Argentine Catholic Action.
Words of Cardinal Becciú, who presides over the Congregation of the Causes of the Saintsin Rome
“The example and prayer of these four blesseds help us to increasingly be people of faith, witnesses to the Gospel, builders of community, promoters of a Church that is committed to witnessing the Gospel in every sector of society, building bridges and demolishing the walls of indifference”.
“We entrust this city and the whole nation to their intercession: their hopes and joys, their needs and difficulties. May you all rejoice in the honor offered to these witnesses of the faith”, added the cardinal.
“May the Lord sustain, with the strength of the Holy Spirit, those who today work for authentic progress and the construction of the civilization of love”, he concluded.
This sanctity in action has a missionary face.
We also recall what our Movement Director, Fr. Pablo Gerardo Pérez, wrote on 18 April:
We ask the Lord to transform us through his passion and covenant, and to sanctify us. We know that holiness is not some far off or extravagant thing, nor is it weak or soft. We know this from our own charism and here we recall Pope Francis in his “Gaudete et exultate” apostolic exhortation which he wants to show us through the beatification of Bishop Angelelli and the mártires riojanos on 27 April.
We see this event in the Church through the eyes of faith, as Fr. Kentenich, our father and founder and a great observer of life, taught us. Behind each event of history is the loving hand of God who guides and leads his children. The bishops of Aparecida also reminded us of this (concluding document, chapter 2) when they told us that looking at events through the eyes of faith is to see with the eyes of missionary disciples. Behind these beatifications, we see the trace of a holiness that is achievable, and has an Argentine tune.
We also want to be saints because of the sacrifce of Christ who sanctifies us. This sanctity in action has a missionary face. Thus, we unite spiritually to all the Schoenstatt missionary groups who are on mission during this Holy Week to different parts of the country: university missions in Mendoza, Via Iesum; in Paraná, Ita Pater; in Buenos Aires, Quo Vadis; in San Juan, Crux Fidelis; in Chaco, the MUIPIM; in La Plata, Adsum Pater; as well as the the Family Missions in Tucumán, Salta, Mar del Plata, San Isidro and Pilar.
Original: Spanish, 18 May. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimentel, Cape Town, South Africa