Rome (Agenzia Fides) - Albino Luciani becomes Blessed. On Sunday, September 4, Pope Francis will celebrate the beatification liturgy of his predecessor, who ascended the throne of Peter for only 34 days between August and September 1978.
The "September Pope" (as a recent English-language publication called him) is not proclaimed blessed for the brief time he served as Christ's vicar on earth. Stefania Falasca, Vice-Postulator of the Cause of Canonization and now Vice-President of the Vatican Foundation John Paul I, forcefully underlined that one does not "beatify" a pontificate. Rather, it is proclaimed before the people of God and before the world that the Christian, the priest, Bishop Albino Luciani - who at the end of his life became bishop of Rome and successor of Peter - lived an intimate union with God , brought about by the grace of Christ, and which was manifested in him by the virtues of
Fides Romana, exercised "in a heroic degree": the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, together with the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice , fortitude and temperance. Virtues that Pope John XXIII, in the Diary of the Soul called «the Seven lamps of sanctification».
Around those seven virtues, the seven lamps of the Christian life, the entire brief and incomparable pontifical magisterium of John Paul I is woven. They were the opening words on which he wanted to print all his preaching. These were the seven virtues, the "program" to be carried out in his first catechesis, preceded by that devoted to humility. He only succeeded in realizing those devoted to the three theological virtues.
In the Aula Nervi, Pope Luciani made faith shine with the help of the quotations from Trilussa and Saint Augustine, to testify that faith does not consist in "believing that God exists", but in entrusting oneself to Him and to recognize that that of Christ "is not our doctrine", and that "we only have to guard it, we only have to present it". He spoke of hope, "child virtue", with quotes ranging from the Second Vatican Council to Saint Francis de Sales, from Augustine to Saint John Bosco, from Saint Alphonsus Liguori to Saint Thomas, from Andrés Canergie to Friedrich Nietzsche. He defined it as the virtue that keeps the door open for sinners. And he pronounced his last public words in the catechesis dedicated to charity.
«Now - writes Saint Paul in the First Letter to the Corinthians - these three things remain: faith, hope and charity. But the greatest of all is charity». In the brief time of his pontificate, Pope Luciani had already said everything that needed to be said. And it is precisely this elemental trait of his testimony that makes the prophetic significance of his ecclesial relevance and the opportune convenience of his canonization stand out today in a luminous way. The saints and blessed are not proclaimed to exalt their personal prestige, but following the criteria that even in the canonical procedure refer to the 'Opportunitas canonizationis'.
Today, the force of the beatification of Pope Luciani coincides precisely with the fact that everything goes back to the elementary data of Christian dynamism. Faith, hope, charity, gifts in which grace acts, introduced by humility, which is the only thing in which Christ himself asked his Apostles to imitate him, knowing very well that they could not imitate him in the realization of miracles. The Pope who received the Fides Romana in the mountains of Belluno, as a gift wrapped in prayers learned on his mother's lap, repeats that even today, to be saved and be happy, it is enough to walk in the faith of the Apostles, proposed and proclaimed by the Church. A faith that is proclaimed in life in action, without desire for originality, with the catechism, and is communicated in the grace of the sacraments, beginning with Baptism. «The most beautiful of ministries - said Luciani - is the pastoral ministry. But the catechism is even more beautiful. There is nothing that can be compared to it. It is the purest ministry, the most detached from all pretense. What is not catechism is nothing in my eyes».
In today's age, in which misunderstanding makes Christian life a matter of "professional competence" to be acquired with dedication and at a high price, or an impervious path for athletic champions from the heights of spirituality, Albino Luciani reiterates that the scandalous mystery of Christianity is to make salvation easy. It is enough to follow the footsteps of the simple gestures that the Church and the people of God repeat and continue on their journey through history, taking advantage of and treasuring all the riches scattered by the genius of men along the way. A "protocol" that becomes involuntarily subversive for clericalism of all kinds. And it can feed all authentic missionary impulse and all apostolic work with new and old lymph, preserving them from the risk of becoming sterile self-entertainment.
If salvation is a free gift mysteriously connected to the gestures proposed by the Tradition of the Church, there is no need for tricks and contrivances devised by some self-chosen class of enlightened “initiates”.
The Pope, who turned general audiences into joyous catechism lessons, wanted to speak to the people of his time in his own language. And in this, too, he «remained faithful to the doctrine of Saint Francis de Sales, a saint whom he loved since his adolescence, when he read Philothea. Introduction à la vie devote e il Traicté de l'amour de Dieu, and how he made the path to Christ easier for everyone, as is written in the pontifical brief that recognizes him as a Doctor of the Church». (Stefania Falasca). Without poses, without high-sounding and intimidating formulas. When already as Pope he chose a colloquial tone and summoned poets and writers as allies of his preaching magisterium, John Paul I returned to the paths of the Fathers of the Church who already in the first Christian centuries sought the "wisdom of giving" . His "sermo humilis", practiced in the footsteps of Saint Augustine, watered with the words of Sacred Scripture and literary genius, was the most appropriate form of expression for a Church that wanted to be a friend of the men of his time. Like Augustine, Luciani recognized that all revealed truth must be proposed "suaviter", delicately, because "it nourishes the soul only what makes it happy". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/9/2022)