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Holiness Is Simplicity

Interview With a Blessed's Contemporary

SAO PAULO, Brazil, NOV. 9, 2006 (Zenit) - Father Mariano de la Mata is an example to the Church not because of his great works, but because of his simple and virtuous life, says the vice postulator of his cause for canonization.

Father Miguel Lucas, who lived with the Spanish priest in the Augustinian community in Brazil, says in this interview with us that his companion is an example for all to see that sanctity is reached by living the little things in life well.

Father Mariano de la Mata (1905-1983) was beatified Sunday in the Cathedral of Sao Paulo, during a ceremony presided over by Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

Q: Who was Father Mariano de la Mata?

Father Lucas: A Spanish Augustinian priest. He was born in 1905 and came to Brazil in 1931; he died in Sao Paulo in 1983. He was a man of charity for the poor and spiritual director of the St. Rita of Cassia charity workshops, which are dedicated to making clothes for the poor. During Father Mariano's life, there were about 9,000 women members.

Father Mariano always visited the four hospitals that existed within Sao Paulo's Parish of St. Augustine. He liked children very much, and was always surrounded by them and had sweets in his pockets to give them.

He was a friend to his students. He made a friend of each student. He loved nature. He looked after plants as if they were patients. He cultivated many flower pots in the terrace of St. Augustine School.

Q: What led to the start of his process of beatification?

Father Lucas: Since Father Mariano's death, his reputation for holiness spread rapidly. God has granted many graces through his intercession. When, in 1977, my superior in Brazil and I went to ask Cardinal Paulo Evaristo Arns to open Father Mariano's process of beatification, he replied: "This man deserves to be a saint; this one does."

Q: You lived together with Father Mariano. Did you think he would reach the glory of the altar?

Father Lucas: No. First because there was no blessed or saint in Brazil. And second, because he isn't outstanding for great works. It's true that everything he did, he did well. He practiced all the virtues to a higher degree than normal. He was always dedicated to the poor, the sick, to prayer. This makes us think that sanctity is within our reach.

Q: Can you illustrate how he lived the virtues?

Father Lucas: When he was in the sacristy of St. Augustine Church he was visited by the poor. He would put his hands on their shoulders, which were sometimes dirty or wounded, and talk with them. He always gave them some money.

His assiduous visitors left the church happier because of Father Mariano's embrace, than for the pennies he gave them. On cold winter nights, Father Mariano would go down with blankets to the school's square to cover the poor who slept there.

Another story about Father Mariano is that, despite his impaired vision, he would go by car all day through the streets of Sao Paulo to visit the premises of the St. Rita of Cassia charity workshops.

When he arrived late for a meal, some friend would say: "Father Mariano, the meal is almost over." He would reply: "The meal can wait, but not the sick; many times they do not wait."

Father Mariano also enjoyed sports. He himself had a soccer team in the school, of which he was director, and played with the youths. There is even a photograph of him with the school's soccer team and several trophies his team won.

Q: What message has Father Mariano left the Church in Brazil and in the world?

Father Lucas: With his life and testimony, Father Mariano is telling us that holiness continues to apply today in the Christian life and is always possible.

Above all, he is a saint who gives credit to the fact that the building of the kingdom of God is also done on the city streets and in the little acts of every day.

Father Mariano's life challenges all of us. He is a saint of today for the life of today.

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Keywords

Holy, de la Mata, Virtue, Life, Canonization, Lucas, Priest, Beatified

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