[JMJ 97 - Le Cyberjournal]

Pope John Paul II Beatifies A French Layman

9 September is now the feast day of Blessed Frédéric Ozanam, French layman whose faith and energy led him to take action to create a web of charity for his countrymen.

Notre-Dame de Paris FOR the first time in history, the city of Paris became the scene of a Mass of beatification. Pope John Paul II paid hommage to the French layman Frédéric Ozanam as he celebrated Mass in Notre-Dame Cathedral this morning at 9:00 a.m. The church was packed with bishops, clergy and delegations from all countries, and especially members of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul under whose patronage Frédéric Ozanam placed the Conferences that he created in Paris 160 years ago.

Love is of God

In his homily after the Gospel of the Good Samaritan in Luke, the Pope made the point that sanctity grows from love, the love that comes from God and which is the source of all good things. "Frédéric Ozanam believed in love, the love of God for every individual. He felt himself called to love, giving the example of a great love for God and for others. He went to all those who needed to be loved more than others. There Ozanam discovered his vocation. He found his road to sanctity, and he followed it with determination."

Actions speak louder than words

The Pope also made the point that love and justice are a pair, that love moves one to make efforts to remedy wrongs and injustice. Ozanam realized this and his life work is therefore not merely an example of aristocratic philanthropy but of a life tuned into Christian values that are not just words and dead letters. In a letter to a friend, Ozanam writes of those in extreme need in 19th century France: "We must fall at their feet and say to them, like the Apostle: 'Tu es Dominus meus.' You are our masters and we are your servants; you are for us the sacred images of God whom we do not see and, not knowing how to love him in another way, we love him through you." In conclusion, the Pope prayed that the youth throughout the world would learn from Ozanam their own road to sanctity through the love that speaks louder than words.

Paul-Dominique Masiclat