Holy Mass and canonization of Blessed Frei
Galvão at Campo de Marte in São Paulo
Homily of the Holy Father at the Mass and Canonization of Blesses
Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão, in the Campo do Marte, São Paulo,
Brazil, 11 May 2007.
My dear young friends!
"If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the
poor…and come, follow me" (Mt 19:21).
1. I was particularly eager to include a meeting with you during
this my first journey to Latin America. I have come to inaugurate
the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America which,
according to my wish, will take place at Aparecida, here in Brazil,
at the Shrine of Our Lady. It is she who leads us to the feet of
Jesus so that we can learn his teachings about the Kingdom, and it
is she who stirs us up to be his missionaries so that the people of
this "Continent of Hope" may have full life in him.
In their General Assembly last year, your Bishops here in Brazil
reflected on the theme of the evangelization of youth and they
placed a document into your hands. They asked you to receive that
document and add your own reflections to it in the course of the
year. At their most recent Assembly, the Bishops returned to the
theme, enriched now by your collaboration, in the hope that the
reflections and guidelines proposed therein would serve as a
stimulus and a beacon for your journey. The words offered by the
Archbishop of São Paulo and the Director of Pastoral Care for Young
People, both of whom I thank, confirm the spirit that moves your
While flying over the land of Brazil yesterday evening, I was
already anticipating our encounter here in the Stadium of Pacaembu,
anxious to extend to all of you a warm Brazilian embrace and to
share with you the sentiments which I carry in the depths of my
heart, and which are very appropriately indicated to us in today’s
I have always felt a very special joy at these encounters. I
remember especially the Twentieth World Youth Day at which I was
able to preside two years ago in Germany. Some of you gathered here
today were also present! It is an emotional memory for me on account
of the abundant fruits of the Lord’s grace poured out upon those who
were there. Among the many fruits which I could point to, there is
little doubt that the first was the exemplary sense of fraternity
that stood as a clear witness to the Church’s perennial vitality
throughout the world.
2. For this reason, my dear friends, I am certain that today the
same impressions I received in Germany will be renewed here. In
1991, during his visit to Mato Grosso, the Servant of God Pope John
Paul II, of venerable memory, said that "youth are the first
protagonists of the third millennium … they are the ones who will be
charged with the destiny of this new phase in human history" (16
October 1991). Today, I feel moved to make the same observation
regarding all of you.
The Christian life you lead in numerous parishes and small ecclesial
communities, in universities, colleges and schools, and most of all,
in places of work both in the city and in the countryside, is
undoubtedly pleasing to the Lord. But it is necessary to go even
further. We can never say "enough", because the love of God is
infinite, and the Lord asks us—or better—requires us to open our
hearts wider so that there will be room for even more love,
goodness, and understanding for our brothers and sisters, and for
the problems which concern not only the human community, but also
the effective preservation and protection of the natural environment
of which we are all a part. "Our forests have more life": do not
allow this flame of hope which your National Hymn places on your
lips to die out. The devastation of the environment in the Amazon
Basin and the threats against the human dignity of peoples living
within that region call for greater commitment in the different
areas of activity than society tends to recognize.
3. Today I would like to reflect on the text we have just heard from
Saint Matthew (cf. 19:16-22). It speaks of a young man who ran to
see Jesus. His impatience merits special attention. In this young
man I see all of you young people of Brazil and Latin America. You
have "run" here from various regions of this Continent for this
meeting of ours. You want to listen to the words of Jesus
himself—spoken through the voice of the Pope.
You have a crucial question—a question that appears in this
Gospel—to put to him. It is the same question posed by the young man
who ran to see Jesus: What good deed must I do, to have eternal
life? I would like to take a deeper look at this question with you.
It has to do with life. A life which—in all of you—is exuberant and
beautiful. What are you to do with it? How can you live it to the
We see at once that in the very formulation of the question, the
"here" and "now" are not enough; to put it another way, we cannot
limit our life within the confines of space and time, however much
we might try to broaden their horizons. Life transcends them. In
other words: we want to live, not die. We have a sense of something
telling us that life is eternal and that we must apply ourselves to
reach it. In short, it rests in our hands and is dependent, in a
certain way, on our own decision.
The question in the Gospel does not regard only the future. It does
not regard only a question about what will happen after death. On
the contrary, it exists as a task in the present, in the "here" and
"now", which must guarantee authenticity and consequently the
future. In short, the young man’s question raises the issue of
life’s meaning. It can therefore be formulated in this way: what
must I do so that my life has meaning? How must I live so as to reap
the full fruits of life? Or again: what must I do so that my life is
Jesus alone can give us the answer, because he alone can guarantee
us eternal life. He alone, therefore, can show us the meaning of
this present life and give it fullness.
4. But before giving his response, Jesus asks about a very important
aspect of the young man’s enquiry: why do you ask me about what is
good? In this question, we find the key to the answer. This young
man perceives that Jesus is good and that he is a teacher—a teacher
who does not deceive. We are here because we have the very same
conviction: Jesus is good. It may be that we do not know how to
explain fully the reason for this perception, but it undoubtedly
draws us to him and opens us up to his teaching: he is a good
teacher. To recognize the good means to love. And whoever loves—to
use a felicitous expression of Saint John—knows God (cf. 1 Jn 4:7).
The young man in the Gospel has perceived God in Jesus Christ.
Jesus assures us that God alone is good. To be open to goodness
means to receive God. In this way, he invites us to see God in all
things and in everything that happens, even where most people see
only God’s absence. When we see the beauty of creation and recognize
the goodness present there, it is impossible not to believe in God
and to experience his saving and reassuring presence. If we came to
see all the good that exists in the world—and moreover, experience
the good that comes from God himself—we would never cease to
approach him, praise him, and thank him. He continually fills us
with joy and good things. His joy is our strength.
But we can only know in an imperfect, partial way. To understand
what is good, we need help, which the Church offers us on many
occasions, especially through catechesis. Jesus himself shows what
is good for us by giving us the first element in his catechesis: "If
you would enter life, keep the commandments" (Mt 19:17). He begins
with the knowledge that the young man has surely already acquired
from his family and from the synagogue: he knows the commandments.
These lead to life, which means that they guarantee our
authenticity. They are the great signs which lead us along the right
path. Whoever keeps the commandments is on the way that leads to
It is not enough, however, simply to know them. Witness is even more
important than knowledge; or rather, it is applied knowledge. The
commandments are not imposed upon us from without; they do not
diminish our freedom. On the contrary: they are strong internal
incentives leading us to act in a certain way. At the heart of them
we find both grace and nature, which do not allow us to stay still.
We must walk. We are motivated to do something in order fulfil our
potential. To find fulfilment through action is, in reality, to
become real. To a large extent, from the time of our youth, we are
whatever we want to be. We are, so to speak, the work of our own
5. At this point, I turn once more to you, young people, because I
want to hear you give the same response that the young man in the
Gospel gave: all these I have observed from my youth. The young man
in the Gospel was good. He kept the commandments. He was walking
along the way of God. Jesus, therefore, gazing at him, loved him. By
recognizing that Jesus was good, he showed that he too was good. He
had an experience of goodness, and therefore of God. And you, young
people of Brazil and Latin America, have you already discovered what
is good? Do you follow the Lord’s commandments? Have you discovered
that this is the one true road to happiness?
These years of your life are the years which will prepare you for
your future. Your "tomorrow" depends much on how you are living the
"today" of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear young
friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only
one life, it is unique: do not let it pass it vain; do not squander
it. Live it with enthusiasm and with joy, but most of all, with a
sense of responsibility.
Many times, we who are pastors feel a sense of trepidation as we
take stock of the situation in today’s world. We hear talk of the
fears of today’s youth. These fears reveal an enormous lack of hope:
a fear of death, at the very moment when life is blossoming and the
young are searching to find how to fulfil their potential; fear of
failure, through not having discovered the meaning of life; fear of
remaining detached in the face of a disconcerting acceleration of
events and communications. We see the high death rate among young
people, the threat of violence, the deplorable proliferation of
drugs which strike at the deepest roots of youth today. For these
reasons, we hear talk of a "lost youth".
But as I gaze at you young people here present—you who radiate so
much joy and enthusiasm—I see you as Christ sees you: with a gaze of
love and trust, in the certainty that you have found the true way.
You are the youth of the Church. I send you out, therefore, on the
great mission of evangelizing young men and women who have gone
astray in this world like sheep without a shepherd. Be apostles of
youth. Invite them to walk with you, to have the same experience of
faith, hope, and love; to encounter Jesus so that they may feel
truly loved, accepted, able to realize their full potential. May
they too may discover the sure ways of the commandments, and, by
following them, come to God.
You can be the builders of a new society if you seek to put into
practice a conduct inspired by universal moral values, but also a
personal commitment to a vitally important human and spiritual
formation. Men and women who are ill-prepared for the real
challenges presented by a correct interpretation of the Christian
life in their own surroundings will easily fall prey to all the
assaults of materialism and secularism, which are more and more
active at all levels.
Be men and women who are free and responsible; make the family a
centre that radiates peace and joy; be promoters of life, from its
beginning to its natural end; protect the elderly, since they
deserve respect and admiration for the good they have done. The Pope
also expects young people to seek to sanctify their work, carrying
it out with technical skill and diligence, so as to contribute to
the progress of all their brothers and sisters, and to shed the
light of the Word upon all human activities (cf. Lumen Gentium, 36).
But above all, the Pope wants them to set about building a more just
and fraternal society, fulfilling their duties towards the State:
respecting its laws; not allowing themselves to be swept along by
hatred and violence; seeking to be an example of Christian conduct
in their professional and social milieu, distinguishing themselves
by the integrity of their social and professional relationships.
They should remember that excessive ambition for wealth and power
leads to corruption of oneself and others; there are no valid
motives that would justify attempting to impose one’s own worldly
aspirations—economic or political—through fraud and deceit.
There exists, in the final analysis, an immense panorama of action
in which questions of a social, economic and political nature take
on particular importance, as long as they draw their inspiration
from the Gospel and the social teaching of the Church. This includes
building a more just and fraternal society, reconciled and at peace,
it includes the commitment to reduce violence, initiatives to
promote the fullness of life, the democratic order and the common
good and especially initiatives aimed at eliminating certain forms
of discrimination existing in Latin American societies: avoiding
exclusion, for the sake of mutual enrichment.
Above all, have great respect for the institution of the sacrament
of Matrimony. There cannot be true domestic happiness unless, at the
same time, there is fidelity between spouses. Marriage is an
institution of natural law, which has been raised by Christ to the
dignity of a sacrament; it is a great gift that God has given to
mankind: respect it and honour it. At the same time, God calls you
to respect one another when you fall in love and become engaged,
since conjugal life, reserved by divine ordinance to married
couples, will bring happiness and peace only to the extent that you
are able to build your future hopes upon chastity, both within and
outside marriage. I repeat here to all of you that "eros tends to
rise . . . towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for
this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation,
purification and healing" (Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, 5).
To put it briefly, it requires a spirit of sacrifice and
renunciation for the sake of a greater good, namely the love of God
above all things. Seek to resist forcefully the snares of evil that
are found in many contexts, driving you towards a dissolute and
paradoxically empty life, causing you to lose the precious gift of
your freedom and your true happiness. True love "increasingly seeks
the happiness of the other, is concerned more and more with the
beloved, bestows itself and wants to ‘be there for’ the other"
(ibid., 7) and therefore will always grow in faithfulness,
indissolubility and fruitfulness.
In all these things, count upon the help of Jesus Christ who will
make them possible through his grace (cf. Mt 19:26). The life of
faith and prayer will lead you along the paths of intimacy with God,
helping you to understand the greatness of his plans for every
person. "For the sake of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 19:12), some are
called to a total and definitive self-giving, by consecrating
themselves to God in the religious life—an "exceptional gift of
grace", as the Second Vatican Council expressed it (cf. Decree
Perfectae Caritatis, 12). Consecrated persons, by giving themselves
totally to God, prompted by the Holy Spirit, participate in the
Church’s mission, bearing witness before all people to their hope in
the heavenly Kingdom. I therefore bless and invoke divine protection
upon all those religious who have dedicated themselves to Christ and
to their brothers and sisters within the vineyard of the Lord.
Consecrated persons truly deserve the gratitude of the ecclesial
community: monks and nuns, contemplative men and women, religious
men and women dedicated to apostolic works, members of Secular
Institutes and Societies of Apostolic Life, hermits and consecrated
virgins. "Their existence witnesses to their love for Christ as they
walk the path proposed in the Gospel and with deep joy commit
themselves to the same style of life which he chose for himself"
(Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and for Societies
of Apostolic Life, Instruction Starting Afresh from Christ, 5). I
pray that in this moment of grace and profound communion in Christ,
the Holy Spirit will awaken in the hearts of many young people an
impassioned love, prompting them to follow and imitate Jesus Christ,
chaste, poor and obedient, totally devoted to the glory of the
Father and to love for their brothers and sisters.
6. The Gospel assures us that the young man who went to meet Jesus
was very rich. We may understand this wealth not only on the
material level. Youth itself is a singular treasure. We have to
discover it and to value it. Jesus appreciated it so much that he
went on to invite the young man to participate in his saving
mission. He had great potential and could have accomplished great
But the Gospel goes on to say that this young man, having heard the
invitation, was saddened. He went away downcast and sad. This
episode causes us to reflect further on the treasure of youth. It is
not, in the first place, a question of material wealth, but of life
itself, and the values inherent in youth. This wealth is inherited
from two sources: life, transmitted from generation to generation,
at the ultimate origin of which we find God, full of wisdom and
love; and upbringing, which locates us within a culture, to such an
extent that we might almost say we are more children of culture and
therefore of faith, than of nature. From life springs freedom, which
manifests itself, especially in this phase, as responsibility. There
comes the great moment of decision, in a twofold choice: firstly,
concerning one’s state of life, and secondly concerning one’s
profession. It is about providing an answer to the question: what do
I do with my life?
In other words, youth appears as a form of wealth because it leads
to the discovery of life as a gift and a task. The young man in the
Gospel understood that his youth was itself a treasure. He went to
Jesus, the good Teacher, in order to seek some direction. At the
moment of the great decision, however, he lacked the courage to
wager everything on Jesus Christ. In consequence, he went away sad
and downcast. This is what happens whenever our decisions waver and
become cowardly and self-seeking. He understood that what he lacked
was generosity, and this did not allow him to realize his full
potential. He withdrew to his riches, turning them to selfishness.
Jesus regretted the sadness and the cowardice of the young man who
had come to seek him out. The Apostles, like all of you here today,
filled the vacuum left by that young man who went away sad and
downcast. They, and we, are happy, because we know the one in whom
we believe (cf. 2 Tim 1:12). We know and we bear witness with our
lives that he alone has the words of eternal life (cf. Jn 6:68).
Therefore, we can exclaim with Saint Paul: Rejoice always in the
Lord! (cf. Phil 4:4).
7. My appeal to you today, young people present at this gathering,
is this: do not waste your youth. Do not seek to escape from it.
Live it intensely. Consecrate it to the high ideals of faith and
You, young people, are not just the future of the Church and of
humanity, as if we could somehow run away from the present. On the
contrary: you are that young man now; you are that young man in the
Church and in humanity today. You are his young face. The Church
needs you, as young people, to manifest to the world the face of
Jesus Christ, visible in the Christian community. Without this young
face, the Church would appear disfigured.
My dear young people, soon I shall inaugurate the Fifth Conference
of the Bishops of Latin America. I ask you to follow its
deliberations attentively; to participate in its discussions; to
receive its fruits. As was the case with earlier Conferences, the
present one will also leave a significant mark on the next ten years
of evangelization in Latin America and the Caribbean. No one must
stay on the sidelines or remain indifferent in the face of this
ecclesial initiative, least of all you young people. You are full
members of the Church, which represents the face of Jesus Christ for
Latin America and the Caribbean.
I greet the French speakers who live on the Latin American
continent, and I invite them to be witnesses of the Gospel, and to
be actively engaged in the life of the Church. My prayer is
addressed to you young people in a particular way: you are called to
build your lives on Christ and on fundamental human values. Everyone
should feel invited to work together in order to build a world of
justice and peace.
My dear young friends, like the young man in the Gospel who asked
Jesus: "What good deed must I do, to have eternal life?", you are
all seeking ways to respond generously to God’s call. I pray that
you may listen to his saving words and that you may become his
witnesses for the peoples of today. May God pour out upon all of you
his blessings of peace and joy.
My dear young people, Christ is calling you to be saints. He himself
is inviting you and wants to walk with you, in order to enliven with
his Spirit the steps that Brazil is taking at the beginning of this
third millennium of the Christian era. I ask the Senhora Aparecida
to guide you with her maternal help and to accompany you throughout
Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ!
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