Cardinal Oscar Cantoni: Fr Ambrosoli – A Bright Flame

Those who knew him well remember how, during the long African nights, at the hospital of Kalongo, a small light always shone in Father Giuseppe Ambrosoli’s room. That light now shines with a new brightness: it no longer emanates from a lamp but from his whole life, modelled on that of Jesus, the Light of the world.

Having raised this son of hers to the honours of the altars, the Church seems to be placing a lantern on a lampstand so that it may shed its light on us who continually risk going astray on the journey of life, which is often obscure and uncertain. Yes, because the saints, with their light, help us to see God more clearly and light up the path that leads to him. Father Joseph is the bright light that the Holy Spirit has given us to illuminate the steps of our Christian communities, of our own diocese and those of the whole Church.

The flames that the Holy Spirit unleashed from his ardent life, can still light up today and keep alive that fire that Jesus came to bring to the earth. The luminous figure of Father Ambrosoli is a “sign of the times” that the Spirit offers today to the Church and to the world.

The exemplary life of Father Giuseppe took shape in the world of family affection and ecclesial commitment; it matured in the context of a study and work carried out with responsibility and competence, in the acceptance of daily crosses, in simple and trusting prayer, in the continuous fulfilment of acts of charity and acceptance.

This “holiness in ordinary life” is expressed in virtuous attitudes that Pope Francis, in the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, indicates as particularly relevant for the present time: patience, meekness and humility, joy and a sense of humour, courage and audacity .

The testimony of Father Ambrosoli clearly shows how holiness consists in this: following Jesus by living the spirit of the Beatitudes and the Gospel of charity, doing one’s work faithfully and passionately, giving one’s life by taking care of the little ones and the weakest and defending and promoting life at all levels.

The passionate light of Father Giuseppe stimulates and supports missionaries, priests, men and women religious, catechists and pastoral workers engaged in proclaiming the Gospel and building Christian communities. It confirms them in the awareness that one evangelizes for what one is and what one does, more than for what one says.

The warm light of Father Ambrosoli encourages young people to live the years of their youth with the same intensity and seriousness: they do not resign themselves to mediocrity, they cultivate the desire and the courage to make important choices, and they generously put their physical and spiritual energy at the service of others.

May the warm light of Father Giuseppe teach doctors and nurses, and even all Christians, what it means to give people medical treatment in the manner of the Gospel: to acquire ever better professional qualifications and training, to act with tireless dedication, to know the laws of science and so serve life better. As well as giving medical treatment, it is necessary to be ministers of fraternal charity, transmitting to those who approach us the richness of humanity and evangelical compassion.

The gentle light of Father Ambrosoli exalts the figure of women and urges the recognition and promotion of women in the Church and in society. If Christian communities still exist it is because there have been and continue to be “strong and generous women: women who baptized, catechized, taught to pray, were missionaries, certainly called and urged on by the Holy Spirit. For centuries women have kept the Church on its feet with admirable dedication and ardent faith “, as Pope Francis wrote in the Apostolic Exhortation Querida Amazonia (99).

May the joyful light of Father Giuseppe console many brothers and sisters who are in pain, restore hope to those who are tried by life and give us all the pleasure and joy of being disciples of Jesus.

Among the beautiful testimonies given during Fr Ambrosoli’s beatification process, one in particular deserves to be remembered. It sounds like a seal on the life of the Comboni missionary and viaticum for us: “His face always bore an open smile; it conveyed infectious joy. I never saw him sad; worried yes, for many reasons; but never sad. He encouraged everyone to see the beauty and the positive side of events”. Saints are happy people. By calling us to holiness, the Lord desires the greatest happiness for us.

(Cardinal Oscar Cantoni, Bishop of Como – Italy)