PASTORAL LETTER BY
THE ARCHBISHOP OF MALTA
AND THE BISHOP OF GOZO
on the occasion of
THE CANONISATION OF BLESSED GORG PRECA
A PRIEST SENT BY GOD
Dear brethren and beloved sons and daughters,
On Sunday, 3 June 2007, the Holy Father will declare Dun Gorg Preca as the first Maltese canonised saint. This is a historical event that fills us all with great spiritual joy; but it is also an occasion through which God wishes to speak to us as his people in these islands.
A Call to Holiness
While expressing our thanks to God for this outstanding grace towards us, in that one of our brothers is being bestowed the highest honour by the Church, we want to recall that we too received the call to holiness and that we too were created to arrive where Dun Gorg did. Within the Church, on a personal, familial and community level, we wish to see a greater commitment to grow in holiness. The closer we get to God, the nearer we get to each other! The more we strive to attain a holy society, the more we secure a humane society.
“Faith is all”
In this occasion, we see an invitation to us all to rediscover our faith in God, the Father of Jesus Christ. Dun Gorg’s call, still echoing in the hearts of many who heard him in life, “Faith is everything, my children”, reminds us that life takes a full meaning if we rebuild it on the basis of faith. When we look at the world around us with the eyes of faith and live in the light of eternity, we discover that we are created by God and our heart will only find peace if we follow his will. True faith will save us from being entranced by the idols or false gods of every age, and helps us to perform everything with one final aim: that is pleasing the Lord God always and in all things.
Friends of the Gospel
The renewal of faith comes from the reflection and meditation on the Word of God. In this moment of grace for our people, Dun Gorg repeats again his invitation so that we all “be friends of the Gospel”. This is an invitation to spend more time hearing and reading the word of God; to recall frequently the figure of our Lord Jesus Christ in all that he did and taught; to affectionately hold the words of the Son of God made man and let the Voice of the Beloved, Jesus, lead us in all of our life’s circumstances. In this sense, Dun Gorg stimulates and accompanies us during the coming months in preparation for the Bishops’ Synod that will focus on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.
But this event is also an invitation to strengthen and season our faith by striving to be knowledgeable and mature Christians. It was not in vain that Dun Gorg spent his life teaching, and opened a number of “catechism schools”! He strongly believed that faith comes from hearing the Word of God as given to us by the Church through her teachings. It is impossible that in today’s world, when the fields of knowledge have grown so much and when we have so much access to every kind of information, as Christians we refrain from acquiring a profound knowledge of our faith by means of a sound and healthy teaching. We, your Bishops, want to show our appreciation to all those who are committed to the catechetical mission: priests, religious, parents, catechists and religion teachers. The Society founded by Dun Gorg was, and still is, a great blessing for our country, and we feel grateful to its male and female members for their generous share in the teaching of catechism.
A culture of truth and justice
Knowledge of the Word of God through teaching will lead us to what Dun Gorg used to call “the way of truth and justice”. It was this way that led Dun Gorg to holiness. Therefore, in this event, we perceive an invitation to a sincere and disinterested search for truth and a just and upright living. Every Christian is to pledge himself as a member of the Church and an honest citizen of our country to search, embrace and promote a culture of truth and justice. Faith which stems from hearing the Word of God and the teachings of the Church is to be translated to a life built on truth; to a life which reflects a coherence between what we believe, what we say and what we do; a life which brings a change in all fields of society. This way of truth and justice guarantees a harmonious life and hope for our country’s future.
Opening the Heart to God
Let us pray to God so that, through the intercession of this “Our second Father in Faith”, our islands will not only continue to treasure the faith they received, but enhance it by means of learning and translate it into a life pledged to truth and justice. To reach this goal, we need to open our hearts to God in an intimate relationship of prayer, as Dun Gorg did. Prayer will put us continually in the presence of God, and we acknowledge and honour him as our greatest and only benefactor: “Thank you Lord God, forgive me Lord God”.
Therefore, it behoves the Maltese and Gozitans to render thanks publicly to God for this special grace he was pleased to give us. So, on 5 June when we Bishops return from Rome, Saint Gorg’s relic will be taken to the Cathedral in Gozo for public worship. On 6 June, the relic will be brought over to Malta for veneration of the faithful in St John’s Co-Cathedral up to the next day’s evening before being taken in procession to the Floriana Granaries where a thanksgiving Mass will be celebrated, with the participation of the Civil Authorities and the Maltese people. We encourage everyone to take part in this manifestation of faith while praying that, through the intercession of Saint Gorg Preca, the Lord showers his graces on our country, our families and on each and everyone of us.
We wholeheartedly impart upon you our pastoral blessing.
Today, 9 May 2007
Liturgical Feast of Blessed Gorg Preca
+Paul Cremona O.P.
Archbishop of Malta
Bishop of Gozo
Rev. Joseph Magro, Secretary