At a Mass honoring St. Martin de Porres, Archbishop José Octavio Ruiz Arenas told the faithful in the pews that St.Martin “spread the evangelization of the heart; he did so with trustful prayer, placing it in the hands of God.”
The Peruvian saint, who was a lay brother, is the patron saint of social justice and mixed-race people. The annual Mass in Spanish was offered July 24 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Archbishop Ruiz Arenas is secretary emeritus of the Dicastery for Evangelization, and also archbishop emeritus of Villavicencio, Colombia. The Mass also commemorated the 201st anniversary of Peru’s Independence Day from Spain July 28.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the readings we have just listened to are readings that should profoundly reach our hearts,” said Archbishop Ruiz Arenas in his homily, citing the importance of strong faith and a deep prayer life, as Christ demonstrated to the Apostles in the Gospel from Luke 11.
“The disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us how to pray,’…God fundamentally is the One who loves us, who offers us His love, who is by our side, who wants to help us, who has given us life—and who sustains us in moments of difficulty and pain. God tells us, ‘Be not afraid. I am by your side. I am here to give you strength, to help you.’”
The archbishop added that when we pray we should recognize ourselves as children of God the Father who loves us, and we should pray to Him “with an attitude of faithful love, responding with the same great love He has shown for us.” He noted we can also let God know our love for Him by maintaining that deep faith and love in our hearts.
Citing the first reading, about Abraham in Genesis 18, the archbishop spoke about forgiveness, and loving and trusting in God, exemplified by the Lord’s words, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find.”
“That is the kind of attitude that St. Martin de Porres maintained throughout his life; with great sincerity from a young age, he discovered that vocation to which the Lord was calling him,” Archbishop Ruiz Arenas said. “St. Martin de Porres spread the evangelization of the heart; he did so with trustful prayer, placing it in the hands of God, with sincerity, with humility…
“We must pray for his intercession, so that there is peace, so that there is justice, and for there to be comportment of fraternity; as we pray also to our Holy Mother Mary.”
Concelebrants included Father Lorenzo Ato, Peruvian-born communications director of archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Manhattan, and Father Enrique Salvo, the cathedral’s rector.
St. Martin de Porres Velázquez, O.P., was a Peruvian friar born in 1579 in Lima, in what is now Peru, as the out-of-wedlock son of a Spanish conquistador and a freed slave from Panama, of African and possibly Native American descent. His feast day is Nov. 3, the day he died in 1639.
He was a lay brother of the Dominican Order, beatified in 1837 by Pope Gregory XVI and canonized in 1962 by Pope John XXIII. St. Martin de Porres was noted for his kindness, his nursing of the sick, his obedience and his charity. He is the patron saint of mixed-race people, social justice, barbers, innkeepers, public health workers and all those seeking racial harmony.
He was known for his devotion to the Eucharist; he distributed food and alms to the poor and needy in Lima and was friends with St. Rose of Lima, another lay Dominican. He established a school for the youth of Lima.
At the end of the Mass, Marita Landaveri, consul general of Peru in New York, gave closing remarks of gratitude, saying, “This is a very special day, having this Mass for St. Martin de Porres, and for our country Peru, for its Independence Day.” She noted the importance of remaining hopeful for the future of Peru.
Guadalupe Bartolo, a lead organizer of the annual Mass, told CNY afterward, “I feel very happy about this Mass, and very happy that we have a statue of St. Martin de Porres here; we honor him, and we celebrate the independence of our country Peru.” She is a parishioner of Sacred Heart on West 51st Street in Manhattan.