Monday, February 12, 2024

Listening to God and to the People by Bishop Angelelli


Martyred Argentine Bishop Enrique Ángel AngelelliMartyred Argentine Bishop Enrique Ángel Angelelli 

Pope Francis: Every human person is a precious gift of God

We present Pope Francis’ preface to “Enrique Ángel Angelelli: In Ascolto di Dio e del Popolo’ (Enrique Ángel Angelelli: Listening to God and to the People), a collection of the homilies delivered by the Argentine bishop between 1968 and his martyrdom in 1976.

Enrique Ángel Angelelli: Listening to God and to the People

Preface by Pope Francis

Every man, every woman, every believer: we are all a gift from the Lord, a very precious gift. Each of us is a gift for everyone and for the whole Church, taking flesh in a context, in a time, in a specific place. We are concrete gifts, for concrete people, and in this way we are also a gift for all, in the simplicity of the life we live. Indeed, the more we grow in friendship with the Lord and with others, the more the harshness, the hardness, the incompatibilities are smoothed out or, more aptly, cease to be an obstacle to communion and paradoxically become our unique and unrepeatable way of being, the specific colour of the gift that we are for others. We are all gift, then, and yet the Church recognizes in the saints people who are a gift in a somewhat broader, that is, universal, way: that is why they are canonized, so that their existence and friendship can also reach people, places, contexts and times that are not those closest to them. For the saints are brothers and sisters so resembling Jesus that they can be sure references (by their example, teaching and friendship and devotion) for every Child of God. So that we may all be more united to the Father and to our brothers and sisters, more like Jesus, more united as brothers and sisters among ourselves.

The blessed martyr Enrique Angelelli, Bishop of La Rioja, was and still is a gift from the Lord for the Church that is in Argentina. A man of great freedom and love for every person: friend or foe, brother or enemy. A truly Catholic bishop, because he was united with the universal Church in listening and in filial obedience to the Pope and in tenacious commitment to implement the directions and impulses of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in his diocese. For example, the manner in which he communicates to his people the meeting he would have with Paul VI on the occasion of his visit ad limina Apostolorum was very beautiful – I would even say moving; with the same enthusiasm, he also conveys to the faithful the result of the meeting and the messages and letters he received from Rome. At the same time, despite growing dangers and hostility from his adversaries, despite fear and threats, he carries out the mandate to be a shepherd of a flock of the Church. A flock, however, that is not meant to shut itself up in the sacristy but to spread God’s love, welcomed and celebrated in the sacraments, in the ordinary life of work, family, associations, and solidarity. I do not believe Angelelli was a hero, but truly a martyr (and so the Church has recognized him).

The martyr bears witness that if the heart and mind are in God then certain attitudes always arise in him: sincere love for all and the rejection of all instrumentalization and shortcuts that aim at self-interest or quiet living, if the rights and lives of the weakest, the marginalized – those who, we would say today let us say, are on the peripheries – are at stake. That is why Bishop Angelelli and his homilies, collected in this volume entitled Listening to God and to the People, can also be a source of inspiration and growth in evangelical discernment of the challenges and situations that each of us is called to experience in the Church and in our professional and family lives.

Bishop Enrique was also a shepherd of the simple: he valued popular piety (linked to places, times, and festivals of that land and people) to foster the people's adherence – in unity and solidarity – to Christ and Mother Church. As this volume testifies, his preaching was truly popular, addressed to all and accessible to all: anchored, too, in the concrete circumstances of social life to show that the Gospel is not an idea and faith is not a belief. Faith in Christ, in fact, is the acceptance of a relationship that changes us in heart and mind, and the way we look at ourselves and others. The Gospel has us looking (pardon the pun and the linguistic stretch) looked upon and looking with love.

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