Homily of the Thanksgiving Mass

Thanksgiving Holy Mass after the Beatification of Mother Alphonse Marie
Monday, September 10, 2018, Niederbronn

Homily by Christian Kratz, Auxiliary Bishop of Strasbourg

Dear Sisters, Brothers, and Friends,

Celebrate the Beatification of Mother Alphonse Marie means to celebrate the fidelity of God, who share His love with people enabling them to answer in a radical way. Religious consecration of the new Blessed is a great sign for the Church of today, especially for the Church in Alsace. We are touched and encouraged by her modesty and generosity, as well as the work of the Holy Spirit, who worked through her giving life to God and people. In this occasion of the Beatification I would like to shortly remind the significance of the consecrated life.

1. Witness

Religious consecration witnesses to all that God is worthy to consecrate our lives to Him. It is good that among God’s people, there are men and women who live the Gospel radically and fully. They witness that God is not “somewhere”, “something extra”, nor “some special area in the life”. God is at the beginning, in the center, and at the end of every human life and every creation. Everyone who is baptized, is called to meet God, to talk with Him, to be with Him, and to live in His presence. Some people find their happiness and joy in a total self-giving in prayer and the service to others. Young Elizabeth was attracted to spiritual things very early. Since her first holy communion, the Eucharist was the center of her life. Later, when she was sick, she experienced intensive mystical phenomena which helped her to mature in her vocation, to consecrate her life to God, and so became a foundress of a new congregation.

Religious life is a gift which God constantly gives to his Church; a gift, which He offers men and women of all generations to bring to the Church and to the world, His wonderful message of His endless love. This great love of God for his creatures calls for a great answer of a person, who is called and loved by God. Yes, all consecrated people witness by their example and testimony of giving their lives that God is GOD, and His love preceded us, but it requests an answer according to the gift we received.

2. Questioned

Live the foolishness of God’s love in the life of man or woman constantly raises questions. Religious life calls into question the usual ways of dealing with society. The consecrated people by their poverty and freedom questioned all who prefer wealth and material good; by their chastity and observance they questioned all who look for delight and profit; by their obedience and fraternal life they questioned all who usurp power. The vows, professed by religious man or woman, are in contradiction to the general offering of today’s society. They call all Christians to distinction and conversion, because everyone who is baptized has from time to time, reassess priorities of his life and live according to the Gospel. These are valid for all: no one can serve both God and mammon and no one can be Jesus’ disciple, if he does not want to share and to act in the spirit of solidarity, respect, and forgiveness. It is valid for all, that the only thing that is of value is love, but not a selfish love which seals off a person in himself. It is love which gives his own life following Christ, who did not come to rule and to be served but to serve and save. Such love is difficult, yet the Gospel shows us that only Jesus can win over death and open the path of hope and future for all. In this sense is the example of Mother Alphonse Marie, attractive and eminent. She became the “instrument of God’s mercy by showing attention to the poor, listening and showing respect to the people in their miserable situations.” Consecrated life has the prophetic dimension if it only shows one of the Works of Mercy in the lives of people, especially where the public power suppresses the poor – especially in the area of education and health.

3. Anticipate

We know from our experiences, that our earthly lives are short. We are here only for a certain time. Our faith ensures us that our lives are a constant exodus and that through small daily “dying” and resurrections, we must learn to give ourselves, so that after our death, we will obtain a gift of the new birth from God, which He promised to us. Here on earth is not our final home, we are pilgrims and we walk toward the future city where God prepared a place for us. The center of our faith is a paschal mystery, Jesus’ death and resurrection. I do not talk only about Mary’s Son, Jesus. I talk about all of us, because all of us are called to follow Christ in His death and resurrection. We are created for life, for eternal life. Jesus ensures us of that. He is pleased that in the midst of daily difficulties and struggles, men and women witness that by the power of the Holy Spirit that mankind is called to become God’s people. Religious men and women, by their life’s choices show us that our goal is not fulfilled here on earth but in the Kingdom of God which is promised and prepared for us.

Dear friends, now we have a better understanding that the consecrated life is a challenge for all Christians. All people cannot be bound to the consecrated life, but all can understand the message addressed to them, which are: God’s transcendence, the relativity of human values and everything that is not God, and the gift of a new birth in the kingdom of everlasting love. Let us become the children of the love of God the Father, who calls us to share our lives and radiate with happiness and joy that we believe and love. Farewell, dear sisters and brothers in Christ. Let the witness of your lives continue to encourage us to seek God and help us to grow. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, but rooted in the trust of God, which Mother Alphonse Marie left us as her heritage, we look to the future with peace and continue to work on the kingdom of God to be grown in the heart of people and in the world. AMEN.