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Fr Alejandro Moral in Cascia with Cardinal Prevost: "St Rita is a model of charity and mediator for peace"

On 21st May, Father Alejandro Moral presided over a Mass for the entire Order on the vigil of the liturgical celebration of St Rita of Cascia

From the Umbrian city, in the company of the Prior Provincial of Italy Fr Gabriele Pedicino, the Prior and Rector of the Sanctuary of Cascia Fr Mario de Sanctis, and the General Councillor for Southern Europe Fr Javier PÉrez Barba, the Prior General of the Order used his homily to highlight "the many virtues of Saint Rita", who invites us to "become instruments of dialogue and peace."

For his part, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, cardinal Robert Prevost OSA, in the solemn pontifical celebration of the Saint’s Day, exhorted people to pray for the Middle East, Ukraine and the "many places where the cry of the innocent is not heard." In this Year of Prayer, the saint of impossible cases can help us "rediscover the value of talking with God," said the cardinal.

"This is why the Holy Spirit sent us, so that her mission may be prolonged"

Hundreds of pilgrims flocked to the Umbrian town to celebrate the liturgical memorial of the saint and to take part in the blessing of roses, the flowers that have come to symbolise her. In his homily, Fr Alejandro stressed that "Rita accepted the words of the Lord and kept his laws. That is why she understood the fear of the Lord and found the knowledge of God, because it is the Lord who gives wisdom."

St Rita was a wise woman, united to God and guided by the Spirit, and she actively lived the words of Jesus quoted in St Paul's letter to the Romans: "Hate evil, cling to what is good; love one another as brothers. Do not be lazy in doing good, but be fervent in spirit."  The Prior General recalled the mission that Jesus entrusted to his disciples and, therefore, to us: to announce the Gospel, and the mercy and love of God - "This is why he sent us the Holy Spirit, so that his mission may be continued."

At the centre are not our merits, but the unconditional and freely given love of God"

Although many centuries have passed since St Rita lived in Roccaporena and then in the Monastery of Cascia, her message is still relevant for us and we can still imitate her "superlative and heroic" in our own "daily life of faith," as Prevost stressed. For Fr Alejandro, St Rita was always nourished by the Gospel: "She drank from this source, in a personal, silent and prolonged encounter with God, and for this reason her life was one of suffering, forgiveness and love."

The Prior General also quoted Pope Francis in his homily, encouraging the naming of Jesus at the very heart of the profession and expression of our faith: "'It was not we who loved God, but it was He who loved us,' says St. John. We will never forget this. At the centre are not our merits, but the unconditional and freely given love of God, which we have not earned. The Gospel reminds us of the truth of life: we are loved. And this, too, is our value: that we are loved".

"The Holy Spirit is our way, our guide and our encouragement."

"For St Rita, and for us too, holiness is above all letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God's love," concluded the Prior General, recalling that we all want to "share the life of St Rita, a woman filled with the grace and love of God … Let us pray that this attitude will help us to confront ourselves and enter more fully into the radicalism of the Gospel, to love and to want to imitate Rita even more, to know our own heart better and to embrace the need to change it for a more human more fraternal heart, and to recognise our absolute weakness and dependency on God."

Finally, the Prior General made reference to St Augustine, who teaches us that "the Holy Spirit is our way, our guide and our encouragement so that we do not get lost on the way but reach our goal: to live eternally from his love." In this way, St Rita, "as a worthy daughter of St Augustine", invites us to live the faith out of humility: "Be humble, because humility is a reflection of the love of God."

Cardinal Prevost, who presided over the solemn service, cited St Rita as an example for us to imitate still today, especially "in these times affected by the violence of war, where it seems that rivalry and hatred have the last word. St Rita is a model of charity and mediator for peace. Let us learn from her."



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