'True Friend and Tireless Apostle of Christ'

In his homily on Sept. 16, 2007, at the beatification of Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone praised the Marian Founder as a "true friend and tireless apostle of Christ."

Representing Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Bertone noted the study in contrasts personified by Blessed Stanislaus: on the one hand a seemingly unlikely candidate for spiritual greatness, yet on the other a physically frail boy transformed by God "into a preacher who drew crowds through his wisdom filled with erudition and profound mysticism; into a confessor whose spiritual counsel was sought after even by the great men of Church and State; into a well-prepared teacher and an author; ... [and] into the Founder of the first Polish religious institute for men, the Congregation of the Marian Clerics of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary."

Cardinal Bertone emphasized the role Our Lady played in the life of the Marian Founder.

"Guiding him throughout his life was Mary herself," the Cardinal told pilgrims gathered at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Lichen in Poland. "In the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, the new [blessed] marveled at the power of the Redemption worked by Christ. In the Immaculate Virgin, he discerned the beauty of the new creation given totally to Christ and to the Church."

The Vatican prelate said Blessed Stanislaus's willingness to give his life to defend Mary's privilege of the Immaculate Conception marked one of the signs of a great spiritual leader. "He became so fascinated by this truth of the faith that he was prepared to give his life in its defense," Cardinal Bertone said.

"He knew that Mary, the crowning glory of God's creation, is the confirmation of the dignity of every man and woman - loved by God and destined for eternal life in heaven," the Cardinal said. "[Blessed Stanislaus] wanted the mystery of the Immaculate Conception to be the distinguishing mark of the religious community that he founded, to be its constant support and its true joy."

Having mentioned the first part of the Marian Founder's charism, devotion to Mary in her Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Bertone focused on the other aspects: showing God's mercy by caring for those most in need as "an evangelist of the poor" and fervent prayer for the souls suffering in purgatory.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters," the Cardinal said as he addressed the crowd of nearly 100,000, "Blessed Stanislaus's love for his fellow men extended also to the dead. After his mystical experience of the suffering of those in purgatory, he prayed fervently for them and exhorted everyone to do the same."

Cardinal Bertone added that meditating upon death helps us to " 'spend' wisely our time on earth; it encourages us to think of death as a necessary stage on our journey toward God; it leads us always to accept and respect life as a gift from God, from its conception to its natural end."

He then made reference to the miracle approved for the beatification, which is attributed to Fr. Stanislaus's intercession and has been verified by Church authorities: the return to life of a baby doctors had declared dead in the womb.

"What an important sign for the modern world is the miracle of the 'unexpected recovery of pregnancy between the seventh and eighth week of gestation,' which occurred through the intercession of Fr. Papczynski," the Cardinal said. He then punctuated the thought with a ringing declaration that brought cheers: "God is the Master of human life!"

Cardinal Bertone closed his homily by sharing his thoughts on how the call to show love and mercy to all shaped the spirituality and life of the new blessed.

"The secret of life is love," the Cardinal said, "the ineffable love of God, which surpasses human frailty and moves our hearts to love life, our neighbor, and even our enemies." As the Marian Founder lived this call, so the prelate encouraged the Marians, "Today this spiritual heritage of your Founder is entrusted to you: welcome it and, like him, be tireless heralds everywhere of God's merciful love, keeping your gaze fixed upon Mary Immaculate."

He also urged the "pilgrims and faithful people" gathered at Lichen to follow the example of Blessed Stanislaus and his holy life in opening their hearts "at every moment, trusting in God's all-powerful love."

"Filled with joy and hope," the Cardinal affirmed, "let us give thanks to God for the gift of the new [blessed]."