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 Catholic News 

Vatican City, May 27, 2015 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Massive crowds attended Saturday's beatification of early twentieth-century Italian missionary, Sister Irene Stefani, who was known as “mother of mercy” to the Kenyan people she cared for.

Pope Francis remembered the new blessed during his Regina Caeli address on Sunday in Rome, recalling how the member of the Consolata Missionaries had served the Kenyan people “with joy, mercy, and tender compassion.”

Speaking also about Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was also beatified Saturday in San Salvador, the Pope said: “The heroic example of these Blesseds sustain in each one of us the lively desire to give witness to the Gospel with courage and self-sacrifice.”

Sr. Irene Stefani (1891-1930) was beatified May 23 at the Dedan Kimathi University in Nyeri, Kenya in a ceremony attended by as many as 100,000 people, according to the country’s Daily Nation newspaper.

It was the first time a beatification has been held in Kenya. The process is the final step in the cause for sainthood before a person can be canonized. One of the requirements is the presence of at least one miracle officially attributed to the person the person.

The Daily Nation reports that the miracle attributed to Sr. Stefani occurred in 1989 during Mozambique's civil war. According to the report, 270 people had become trapped in the parish church of Nipepe amid the conflict. After praying for her intercession, the contents of a small Holy Water font was miraculously increased, providing enough drinking water for four days until help could arrive.

Born 1891, Sr. Stefani joined the Consolata Missionaries in 1911. She arrived in Kenya January 1915, where she served as a nurse. From the people she cared for, she received the nickname “Nyaatha” – which translates as “mother of mercy.” She died at the age of 39 after contracting a disease from one of her patients.

Vatican City, May 27, 2015 / 12:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis said the process of engagement is essential for any couple on their way to marriage since it not only allows love to mature, but helps future spouses deepen in knowledge of one another.

“Marriage, as a vocation from God, is not just a relationship based on attraction and feelings, of a moment, of something short. It requires a journey,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his May 27 general audience.

The journey of marriage “establishes a very strong and lasting partnership, which makes two lives one, a true miracle of human freedom and the grace of God,” he said, adding that such a partnership “is not improvised overnight.”

An “express marriage” doesn’t exist, he said, explaining that “we have to work for love. We have to journey in the relationship of love between a man and a woman until it learns (and) until it grows.”

Stages along this journey “should not be burned,” the Pope said, warning against the consumerist “throwaway” culture prevalent in society that wants “everything and immediately.”

When seen through this lens, love is turned into an object of consumption, and is unable to form a solid foundation for such a “vital” commitment as marriage.

Francis’ focus on engagement is part of his ongoing catechesis on the family, which he began last fall as part of the lead-up to the World Day of Families in September, as well as October’s Synod of Bishops on the Family.

In his address, the Pope said that the process of engagement is a call for couples to lay the foundations for a “project of common love” that should be assumed by both parties with “full awareness” of what they are committing to.

The word “engagement” itself points to a process of entrustment and commitment, he said, explaining that it is a unique time for couples to get to know each other more deeply while preparing for the “beautiful yet demanding enterprise of marriage.”

Pope Francis said that it is necessary for couples to have this time to get to know one another “so that the responsible decision for something so big – something which can't be bought or sold – matures.”

“Love itself demands this preparation, which makes possible a free, generous and sober decision to enter into a life-long covenant of love,” he said.

The Church in her wisdom has always placed a heavy emphasis on preserving the distinction between engagement and marriage, Francis noted. This distinction protects “the depth of the sacrament.”

He said that marriage preparation courses are a concrete example of the Church’s concern for the preparation of spouses.

Marriage preparation is a gift, the Pope said, lamenting that frequently couples go through the courses “a little reluctantly,” saying “these priests make us do these courses. Why? We already know...’”

However, Francis observed how many times couples who finish the courses are grateful for everything they have learned.

“Today more than ever it's necessary to revalue engagement as an initiation to the surprise of the spiritual gifts with which God blesses and enriches the family,” he said.

Couples are challenged during this time to reflect together on their love and their future, as well as the important role that faith and prayer will play in their coming life together, the Pope continued. He called on Christian married couples to help accompany young engaged couples on this path.

Francis concluded by encouraging attendees to pray for all young people on their way to marriage, that they may “prepare for the wedding day not in a worldly or banal way, but with the wisdom, hope and joy born of their faith in Christ.”
 

Vatican City, May 26, 2015 / 08:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily Tuesday Pope Francis cautioned against the “counter-witness” of those who seek to follow both Jesus and worldly temptations, saying that to follow Christ means denying oneself and serving others.

“There are three things, three steps that take us away from Jesus: wealth, vanity and pride,” the Pope told attendees of his May 26 Mass in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse.

Riches, he said, are dangerous “because they immediately make you vain and you think you are important. And when you think you are important, you build your head up and then you lose it.”

Francis took his cue from the day’s Mark Chapter 10 Gospel reading in which Peter asks Jesus what the disciples will get in return for following him. The scene takes place right after Jesus had told the rich young man to sell all of his possessions and give them to the poor.

Instead of talking about wealth, the Lord gives an unexpected answer when he says that the disciples will gain the Kingdom of Heaven, but only “with persecution, with the cross.”

“When a Christian is attached to (worldly) things, he gives the bad impression of a Christian who wants to have two things: (both) heaven and earth,” the Pope said, explaining that that the daily cross of denying ourselves is the remedy.

From a human perspective following Jesus “is not a good deal” because it means serving others, he said. If the Lord gives you the opportunity to be first you have to act like the one in last place, and the same goes for wealth, he continued.

Pope Francis also indicated the Gospel passage in Matthew when the mother of James and John asks Jesus to secure a place for her sons at his side.

By essentially telling Jesus to “make this one prime minister for me, (and) this one, the minister of the economy,” the disciples’ mother took the worldly path in following Jesus, the Pope noted.

When a person wants to be “with both Jesus and with the world, with both poverty and with riches…this is a half-way Christianity that desires material gain. It is the spirit of worldliness,” he warned.

To follow the Lord freely, he said, “is the answer to the gratuitousness of love and salvation that Jesus gives us.”

Francis observed how the frequently the attitude of worldliness prevails in the Church itself, saying that “it’s sad” to see Christians – laypersons, priests and bishops included – who strive after both heavenly and worldly things.

“(It) is a counter-witness and furthers people from Jesus,” he said, and encouraged attendees to ask the Lord to teach them the “science of service,” which provides a lesson in humility and in placing ourselves last so as to serve our brothers and sisters in the Church.

The Pope closed his homily by telling those present to continue the Mass with both Peter’s question and Jesus’ answer in mind.

“The recompense that (Jesus) will give us is resemblance to Him. This will be our ‘recompense;’ to be like Jesus!”

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