Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou
On 28 April we celebrated the Feast of St Peter Chanel, martyred on the Island of Futuna 180 years ago. St Peter Chanel is quoted as saying “In such a difficult mission it is necessary for us to be saints.”
Peter Chanel did have a difficult mission, as when he arrived in Futuna cannibalism had only just been banned by the local ruler, Niuliki. At first all went well, and Peter and his assistants made a few converts; but as he learned the language and gained the confidence of the people, Niuliki became jealous and fearful; the baptism of his son and his son’s friends was the last straw and Niuliki sent men who clubbed Peter to death.
It will be most unlikely that we will ever have the kind of mission Peter Chanel had, but one thing is certain, we do all have a mission. Sometimes our mission can be difficult. There might be opposition to the Gospel values we stand for; we may not be confident in speaking out; we may not have the resources we think we need; those we thought we could rely on for support may turn against us. It may even feel at times that God has abandoned us and just left us to it. Whatever our mission is and whatever the difficulties are our mission is necessary for us to be saints.
On the Feast of St Joseph 2018 Pope Francis wrote an Apostolic Exhortation called Gaudete et Exsultate, on the call to holiness in today’s world. He wrote “At times, life presents great challenges. Through them, the Lord calls us anew to a conversion that can make his grace more evident in our lives, ‘in order that we may share his holiness’ (Heb 12:10). At other times, we need only find a more perfect way of doing what we are already doing: “There are inspirations that tend solely to perfect in an extraordinary way the ordinary things we do in life”: When Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên van Thuân was imprisoned, he refused to waste time waiting for the day he would be set free. Instead, he chose ‘to live the present moment, filling it to the brim with love’. He decided: ‘I will seize the occasions that present themselves every day; I will accomplish ordinary actions in an extraordinary way’. Gaudete et Exsultate 17
This week there has been the Feast of another great saint, St Catherine of Siena, who is quoted as saying “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Whatever our mission is we ask for the prayers of Peter Chanel and Catherine of Siena so that we may grow in holiness and set the world on fire.
Nāku noa. Nā
“I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence.” Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate 7.