In a Mass of Thanksgiving for the canonization of two Canadian saints, Pope Francis prayed that Quebec might return to a “path of fruitfulness, to giving the world many missionaries.”
François de Laval, the first Bishop of Quebec, and Marie de l’Incarnation, the founder of the Ursulines in Canada, were declared saints by equivalent canonization in April.
In his homily today, Pope Francis encouraged Canadian pilgrims to remember the founders of the Church in Canada.
“The Church of Quebec is prolific," he said. "Prolific in many missionaries, who went everywhere. The world was filled with Canadian missionaries, like these two.” The devil, he said, "is envious, and does not tolerate a land that is so prolific in missionaries.”
Pope Francis' discourse focused on the vocation of missionaries, taking as his starting point the words of Isaiah, “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.”
Missionaries, he said, “are those who, in docility to the Holy Spirit, have the courage to live the Gospel.” They have gone out into the world to call people to Christ and to the Church. “Missionaries have turned their gaze to Christ crucified; they have received His grace and they have not kept it for themselves.”
The Church’s mission of evangelization, Pope Francis said, “is essentially a proclamation of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness, revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Saint François de Laval and Saint Marie de l’Incarnation were models of the missionary vocation.
To the pilgrims from Canada, Pope Francis offered “two words of advice” taken from the reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews. First, “Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you.” The memory of the martyrs, he said, sustains us in a time when vocations are few; their example “attracts us, they inspire us to imitate their faith.”
Second, we should “recall those earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings… Do not therefore abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance.” The Pope said that in order to honor those who endured suffering to bring us the Gospel, we must ourselves be ready “to fight the good fight of faith with humility, meekness, mercy, in our daily lives.”
“This, then, is the joy and the challenge of this pilgrimage of yours: to commemorate the witnesses, the missionaries of the faith in your country. Their memory sustains us always in our journey towards the future, towards the goal, 'when the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.'”