Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pope: Murialdo and Cottolengo, saintly priests, examples for priests today

As the Year for Priests nears its conclusion, the Pope today proposed for the ordained the example of two saints, Leonardo Murialdo and Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo, who lived "their ministry in the total gift of life to poorest, most needy, to the very end, finding the profound root, the inexhaustible source of their action in their relationship with God. "

Examples, he told the 20 thousand faithful gathered in St Peter's Square for the general audience, which serve to "illuminate the ministry of many priests who spend themselves generously to God and the flock entrusted to them, and help everyone to give themselves with joy and generosity to God and neighbour. "

Saint Leonardo Murialdo and St. Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo are, in the words of the Pope "exemplary priests in their devotion to God and the witness of charity, living in the Church and for the Church and their brethren in need. Of the first, we mark the 110 years after his death and 40 years after his canonization, of the second celebrations have begun for the 2nd centenary of his priestly ordination. "

Murialdo was born in Turin October 26, 1828, the eighth son of a simple family. As a child, along with his brother, he entered the College of the Piarists Fathers of Savona, but "experienced during adolescence, a profound existential and spiritual crisis that led him to anticipate a return to his family home and to finish his studies in Turin, enrolling in the faculty of philosophy. His "return to light" was - as he tells - a few months later, through the grace of a general confession in which he rediscovered the immense mercy of God; thus at the age of 17 the decision to become a priest matured, as a loving response to God who had seized him with his love. " He was ordained Sept. 20, 1851.

At that time, as a catechist he was well known to and appreciated by Don Bosco, who convinced him to accept the leadership of the new Oratory of St. Louis in Porta Nuova, a post he held until 1865. "There he came into contact with the serious problems of the poorest, he visited their homes, developing a deep social, educational and apostolic awareness, which then led him to devote himself to a variety of initiatives for young people. Catechesis, school, recreational activities were the basis for his education method in the oratory”.

In 1873 he founded the Congregation of St. Joseph, with the aim of youth education, especially the poorest and most abandoned. He died on 30 March 1900., Benedict XVI emphasized that the centre of Saint Leonardo Murialdo’s spirituality was his "belief in the merciful love of God: always a good, patient and generous Father, which reveals the immensity and greatness of his mercy through forgiveness. This reality experienced by the Saint Leonard is not intellectual, but existential. "

He also underlined "the grandeur of the mission of the priest who must continue the work of redemption" and then "he always reminded himself and his brethren of the responsibility of a life consistent with the sacrament received. Love of God and love for God: this was the strength of his journey of holiness, the rule of his priesthood, the deeper meaning of his apostolate among the young and poor and the source of his prayer. "

Giuseppe Benedetto Cottolengo was born in Bra, near Cuneo, May 3, 1786. The eldest of 12 children, from childhood he showed great sensitivity towards the poor. He became a priest with two of his brothers. "The years of his youth were those of the Napoleonic adventure and the consequent disruption in the religious and social life."

Cottolengo "was a good priest, sought out by many penitents, and in Turin at the time, a preacher of retreats and conferences for university students, where he was always well received." But the dramatic event that "led him to understand what his future ministry would be " occurred on September 2, 1827, when, by chance "and burdened with a heavy heart," he had accompanied the death of a young mother , among the agony of the whole family. "After having performed this painful task, with pain in his heart, he went before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed, 'My God, why? Why did you want me to witness this? What do you want from me? We must do something! '. Rising, he rang all the bells, lit candles and welcoming curious onlookers to the church said: 'Grace is done! Grace is done! '. From that moment on Cottolengo was transformed: all his capabilities, especially his economic and organizational skills were used to create initiatives to support the needy. "

Cottolengo, along with dozens of collaborators and volunteers created in the outskirts of Turin, "a sort of village, where every building that they succeeded in building was given a meaningful name: 'house of faith', 'house of hope', ' house of charity '. He created a real community of people along the lines of the family, volunteers, men and women religious and lay people together to face and overcome the difficulties that presented themselves. "

Everyone "had a specific task: those who worked, those who prayed, those who served, who taught, who administered. Healthy and sick all shared the same daily burden. Even the religious life in time, became specified according to the needs as they arose. He also envisaged a seminary, for specific training of priests. He was always ready to follow and serve Divine Providence, never to question it.

He would say: 'I am a good for nothing and I know not what I'm doing. Divine Providence, however, certainly knows what it wants. I need only follow it”. For his poor and needy, he was always known as the worker of the Divine Providence. "

He died on April 30, 1842.

SIC: AN

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