Homily of Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C., Vice President of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, for the Closing Mass of the General Coordination Council Meeting 2016, Rome, SS. Salvatore in Onda
“Nothingness and Sin” – How often do we see in his writings St. Vincent Pallotti referring to himself in this way?! It is something that in today’s age of good self-esteem, we seem to move away from. We want to be affirmed for our abilities, our talents, our goodwill, our generosity. If we are not affirmed in these ways, then we may become resentful.
Pallotti believed that he had a struggle with pride as well as with anger. It was something that he said he combatted against over the course of his life. In this and other ways, he saw himself as sin. Seeing himself as nothing, he was able to be grow in compassion, love, and mercy particularly toward his fellow human beings, especially the poor. God is all for Pallotti. The Holy One drew Pallotti toward less focus on self and more focus on neighbor, toward holiness “in every aspect” of his conduct as the Letter of St. Peter tells us today (1 Peter 1:10-16). Pallotti, who called himself “nothingness and sin,” did not see his own holiness. Others saw it in his words and especially in his deeds. His witness was giving up everything and passionately working for the “salvation of souls,” or in other words, assisting all toward greater holiness.
During this Jubilee of Mercy, we are challenged by Pope Francis to “become last” and make others “first” (Mk 10:28-31). Is this not what Pallotti was about as well? When did he try to make himself first? Are we not continually called to the same as members of the Union? Our lives are not about us, they are about Jesus Christ, Apostle of the Eternal Father. Our lives as members of the Union are a call to witness in the way of Pallotti and as envisioned by the General Statutes:
“The Union is inserted into the dynamic process of the merciful love of the Holy Trinity: God gives himself to humankind and to all creatures in order to reconcile all things to himself and all things among themselves, thus bringing all of humanity and the entire creation to salvation and perfection in Christ (cf. Eph 1, 10; Col 1, 20). Like St. Vincent Pallotti the members of the Union wholeheartedly allow themselves to be permeated by God’s infinite love (cf. Mk 12, 30), they give themselves to a life of service and to fulfilling His will which is revealed to them above all through the Sacred Scriptures, the teaching of the Church and the signs of the times (18).”
As disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, may we look beyond ourselves, our concerns, our problems, and give ourselves even more for the sake of Christ and the Gospel. May we recognize that we are “nothingness and sin,” urged on by the charity of Christ to experience the Infinite Love and Mercy of God so that we can live more fully a life of holiness, a life of service to God and neighbor for the Infinite Glory of God.