The fundamental human and Christian values concerning life itself, human sexuality as well as marriage and family, have come under severe attack in the modern world. At the same time God has been good to our world. He has provided great saints in the modern era who have shown how beautiful, attractive and reasonable are the great traditional values, on which our western civilization has been built. These saints are not the only ones upholding this vision. There are very many others around the world, mostly just ordinary, simple, humble, decent people who are also committed to making the world a more human, just, peaceful, loving, and happy home for all her inhabitants.
People should view canonized saints as a special gift from God to our world. People admire the heroic way they have lived out the call to holiness of life. In times of need they can turn to them with confidence, because they know that the Lord grants great favours through their intercession. These saints are now public figures and their lives are an open and edifying book for all to read. They all witness to the triumph of good over evil, of truth over lies, and of love over using or taking advantage of other people.
People often think of saints as belonging to a bygone age and no longer relevant to the modern world. In fact, over the past 150 years the church has been blessed with many really outstanding saints and martyrs, including our own Blessed Benedict Daswa. They can all teach believers useful lessons to strengthen them on their journey of faith. They also challenge the wider society which can learn a lot from the example of their lives, the values that inspired them, and their words of wisdom. They are powerful intercessors with the Lord for all who approach them, seeking special favours from God.
These modern saints and martyrs have in various ways brought the light of God’s truth and the experience of his love, into confused and dark areas of today’s culture, particularly around the great dignity of every human life, especially the weakest of all who are still in their mother’s womb. Blessed Benedict Daswa’s also shared this great concern for every human life. In order to protect it, he courageously faced the dark area of witchcraft and ritual killings in his own culture.
These modern saints have also witnessed to the great importance of the family as the basic unit of society and of the church. Strong families build a healthy society. In the words of St. John Paul 11, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live” (Perth, 30 Nov. 1986). People should listen to the warning of Pope Francis that, “Today there is a world war to destroy marriage … not with weapons but with ideas” (On Visit to Georgia, October ‘16). There are some saints who became martyrs for the faith, because they refused to go along with the homosexual lifestyle.
In order to appreciate the importance of Blessed Benedict Daswa as a true apostle of life for our time, it will be helpful to see him as one of a small group of the modern saints and martyrs. These heroes from very different backgrounds and cultures, show the power of God’s grace at work in their lives. All of them put into practice the advice of St. Benedict to his monks, “Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ”. They were not afraid to embrace the truth, to live it, and to proclaim it with love, conviction and humility in the face of great modern challenges to the faith. They drew strength from the promise of Jesus, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”. (John 12:31-32).
They were selfless in serving the Lord and in doing good to people. They let the Lord shine through them and became a light to others. These canonised saints help to revive and strengthen people’s faith in the great potential for goodness in every human being. At a time when bad news and so-called fake news dominate the media, people are hungering for good news. And these modern saints and martyrs are good news, both as outstanding role models and as powerful friends and intercessors with the Lord. And for the people of Africa, Blessed Benedict Daswa is very good news indeed.