Huge crowds attended the Canonization of Mary MacKillop in Rome yesterday. She was one of six newly recognised saints. The others included André Bessette, Canada's first native-born male saint, along with Stanislaw Soltys, from Poland, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano from Spain and Italy.
The Holy Father began his homily reflecting on a lesson he said is fundamental in today's liturgy: "the necessity to pray always, without tiring."
"Sometimes we grow tired of prayer, we have the impression that prayer is not very useful for life, that it is not very effective," he said. "Thus, we are tempted to dedicate ourselves to activity, to employ every human method to accomplish our goals, and we do not approach God. But Jesus says that we must pray always, and he does this through a specific parable."
The Pontiff went on to reflect about the parable of the persistent widow and dishonest judge.
After recounting the story, he noted: "Jesus reflects, using an 'a fortiori' argument: If a dishonest judge in the end allows himself to be convinced by the entreaties of a widow, how much more will God, who is good, listen to those who pray. God in fact is generosity in person, he is merciful, and so he is always disposed to listen to prayers.
"For this reason, we must not give up hope, but always insist in prayer."
The Gospel concludes, Benedict XVI said, with an invitation to grow in faith.
"Prayer must be the expression of faith, otherwise it is not true prayer," he said. "If one does not believe in the goodness of God, he cannot pray in a truly adequate way. Faith is essential as the basis of the attitude of prayer."
And in this context, the Holy Father went on to offer a brief reflection on each of the newly recognized saints, speaking in several of the saints' native languages.
At the end, he called the faithful to "give thanks to the Lord for the gift of holiness, which shines in the Church and today illumines the faces of these brothers and sisters of ours."
"Jesus also invites each of us to follow him to inherit eternal life," the Pope said. "Let us be drawn by the luminous examples, let us be guided by their teachings, so that our existence be a canticle of praise to God."
There were exhuberant celebrations in Rome for many hours after the Mass. The Catholic community across Australia, New Zealand and Canada have also been holding many events to mark the historic occasion.
For more information and to watch a film of the celebration see: www.marymackillop.org.au/canonisation/landing.cfm?loadref=61