Homily of H.E. Mons. Claudio Gatti of November 29, 2007
Reading: Dan 6:12-28; Psalm: Dan 3:68-74; Gospel: Lk 21:20-28
The feast of the Immaculate Conception is near and we are getting ready to live it and celebrate it in the best way with a novena. It's a big feast, but the most important celebration is the one dedicated to the Mother of God, all others feasts come from this one. The recurrence of the Immaculate Conception reminds us of the great gift God has given to Mary and, in the popular belief, the Immaculate Conception still occupies a prominent place to the point that it seems by far the most important feast. We gladly adapt to this mentality because everything that contributes to the knowledge and love for Our Lady is just fine. Let's leave the hierarchies of the importance of the celebrations to liturgists because what counts for us is to get directly to the goal: Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
By now you have learned, through the letters of God, that on the occasion of feasts dedicated to Our Lady, St. Mary Help of Christians, Mary Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes, the Mother of the Eucharist said again and again: "Today you are celebrating me, Mary Help of Christians, but I'm always Mother of the Eucharist. Today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception, but I'm always the Mother of the Eucharist", and so for all other feasts. I say these things not because I want to make a speech "Cicero pro domo sua", hence for pride, for a personal or community interest, but because this is the will of God. From a liturgical point of view I have talked about the importance of the feast of the Mother of God because the feast of the Mother of the Eucharist is a celebration not yet accepted within the Church, especially from its summit. You know very well that the title more acceptable to God, the one that sums up all the titles given to Our Lady, is really Mother of the Eucharist. The title of Immaculate Conception is a function of the title Mother of the Eucharist. God gives special importance to this title because the Immaculate Conception opens history and the Mother of the Eucharist closes it. We are not just talking about the Church history, but about the history of the whole world, hence of all men because all humanity has been redeemed by Christ and entrusted to Mary, who is the mother and co-redeemer of the whole world. This is an important feast, which should give us the opportunity to be more united and help us to forge closer relationships. I must say that the situations we have recently experienced gave us a boost to union and fusion, and this is very important.
This evening I would like to try to make an even stronger bond and union and I would like to help you to communicate your intentions to others. From the human point of view, when there is someone's birthday, we are used to bring gifts. Instead, when there is a feast of Our Lady, we think in a completely different way because we do not bring gifts to Our Lady, but we want her to give gifts and us. All that is not done for selfish reasons but because we are certain that the gifts she can give us are certainly better than what we can give her. So we are here with outstretched hands to collect what we ask, what we want. Each of us has some intentions and I would like that in this novena, but especially in the Christmas novena, these intentions could be for everyone. I have already explained that if I pray alone for an intention I would not get the same effect as praying together for the same purpose. So we should get together all of us, praying for the same intentions. I think this is, using a human language, a cunning trick, because we have to keep in mind what Jesus said: "Where two or more are gathered in my name, I am there". It is Jesus joining our prayer, and He is immeasurably and infinitely the highest mediator that could be between divinity and humanity, between God and man. So if there are at least two of us praying, those prayers are more pleasant to God because Christ is present.
I have many intentions, for which I ask you to pray, but I shall mention only two, otherwise I would keep you busy until the feast of the Immaculate Conception, due the large number of intentions I would like to propose to the Divine Mercy. The first intention is to ask our Lord to speed up His interventions, not for vain glory, not for a silly sense of wanting to excel, but for a just desire to finally receive from God what He Himself promised us. Our Lord did not tell us when or how this will happen, but told us what will happen, and there are a number of wonderful promises encompassing this reality, which at the moment is quite hard and painful. Thus to pray for this intention is to pray for something God promised us. Using a human expression, we are playing along with Him, for He said so, and we adhere through our prayers. There is a second intention that we talked on for a while and then it was a bit overshadowed and fell into oblivion because burdened by other needs and urgencies. I would like you to really pray for and entrust God all of my bishops and priests. I say this not as a form of possession, for they belong to God, but I say it because they are bishops and priests who God wanted to consecrate through the ministry and the laying on of my hands and through the recitation of the sacramental expression that came out of my mouth and heart. These are the first fruits of the new hierarchy that tomorrow will be in the Church, they are the first fruits of that promise made by God, still in the Old Testament when he said: "I will give you shepherds after my own heart". Then it is clear that if they are my brothers, confreres, they are also your brothers and because of the distributive law, what is mine becomes yours and what is yours becomes mine too.
And you, what are your intentions? You too will have so many of them and then may I ask you to add some more? It is important that you begin to pray for your families, so that they may all come in Christ's fold, from which they have strayed; they can be your children, relatives or parents, all people who need our prayers in order to be solicited to come back to God. Another intention would be to pray for your parish. Each of you belongs to a different parish, but you know its ups and downs, the history and situation, even if you do not know all the details, and I do not think they are in bright situations, where the priest or the deputy priest can somehow state they are satisfied. Another intention would be to pray for whatever is concerned with the union of parishes and our diocese. I would like to ask God to fell like ninepins those who for too many years have ravaged and ruined our diocese. Too many years have gone by and great harm was made to the Church and to the Diocese of Rome. We have just to think on the fact that they have prevented priests and faithful of Rome to enjoy the gifts that God has given in this place, and this is serious. Of course God can make up for everything, can get to men through other paths, other shortcuts, but those who have been an obstacle to the grace of God will be overwhelmed by evil assaults because for them there is no excuse or mitigating factor, nor any expression of pity or sympathy. This is because against this place was made a lucid and diabolic opposition, and to say no to God means taking on serious and awful responsibilities.
These are the intentions I had in my heart and for which I ask you to pray. Of course you can add prayers for those who suffer, for those in need and for those who are so severely attacked by the forces of nature, bursting out so vehemently, as has happened recently in Bangladesh. You see how many are the intentions to pray for and on which Our Lady often speaks. The intentions you have to pray for are many and I've mentioned some of them, then, of course, add the ones that because of modesty, privacy or discretion, each one leaves in his own heart. When I will raise the paten and the chalice to offer God the bread and wine which are to be transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of His Son, add your intentions, ideally place them on the paten and go forward with quiet confidence, with poise and hope, reminding that on December 8 will begin "The Year of hope".