Archive for October, 2008

Fr. Martin: Halloween and All Saints’ Day

October 31, 2008


Festival of Hope: Opening Here Tomorrow!

October 31, 2008

I’ll begin rolling out the long-anticipated (by me anyway) blog event I’m calling The Festival of Hope here tomorrow.  All the exciting details are here. 

The guest bloggers have weighed in, and I’m looking forward to presenting their posts.  The box of books and other give-aways on my desk is overflowing and ready for a bunch of lucky folks to win. 

So stop by often during the month of November.  There will be something to read, or win, or both, every single day. (That’s what I’m planning for anyway.  As you know, though, one never knows what kinds of distractions life might throw one’s way!  I’ve been up several hours through the night for the past three night with a sick 3-year-old!  So be patient if their are hiccups along the way.) 

And please, PASS THE WORD.  I’d hate to give away all of these books to my own family members!

Edith Stein: Seeker of Truth

October 30, 2008

Here’s an excerpt from a book called Edith Stein: Seeker of Truth by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, posted today.  The book is a study guide published by a group called ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women).  It accompanies a class that is also offered by ENDOW in certain areas of the country.  I wasn’t familiar with the group, but their website is certainly worth a look.  And Dr. Mitchell’s book looks like an excellent resource.

Next Up: 188 Japanese Martyrs (and 28 more married couples) beatified

October 28, 2008

Following the beatification of the married couple Louis and Zelie Martin (parents of a great saint and Doctor of the Church) this past weekend, and the canonization of four new saints the previous weekend, we have another major saints-to-be event coming up very soon. 

On November 24, 2008, Cardinal Martins will beatify 188 martyrs of Japan.  The group is officially known as Peter Kibe Kasui and his 187 companions.  The beatification Mass will take place in Nagasaki. 

These martyrs all died during persecution of Christians in Japan between 1603 and 1639.  The seventeenth century was a period of violent persecution of the Church in that country, especially under the feudal regime known as the Tokugawa shogunate, which banned Catholicism.

There’s a very helpful list of all 188 of them here.  I’ve been looking it over and crunching some numbers, and here are some interesting facts about them.

Among those to be beatified are 120 males, 64 females, and 4 of undetermined sex.

Almost all of them (all but 5) were laypeople, and at least 84 of them were married.

There are 28 married couples included among them (both the husband and the wife were martyred), and several married couples martyred along with their children.  (Note this, because we all rejoiced at the beatification of a single married couple — the second in history — last weekend, inspired that they had raised a saint in the family.  Here we will have the beatification of 28 more married couples, all martyrs, many of whom are being beatified along with their martyr-children!)

There are at least 26 children included among them, as young as one year old

There are several teens among them (like 18-year-old Anthony Uchibori and 14-year-old Romanus Anazawa Matsujiro).

There is 1 professed religious (a Jesuit) and 4 priests (all Jesuit).

Though some of the news articles have noted that there are also “nuns” among them, I don’t see this reflected in the list.  (The mistake may be mine.)

It’s so easy to reduce this long list to statistics like this, but every name represents a person, a real story, real experiences, real suffering and a real death.

Included among them are several families.  For example, we find Leo Hayashida Sukeemon, his wife Martha Hayashida, their 20-year-old daughter Magdalen Hayashida, and their 12-year-old son Didacus Hayashida, all martyred on October 7, 1613. 

We see John Kyusaku, his wife Magdalena, and their 2-year-old daughter Regina, martyred together on June 5, 1614.

On the very same day, we also see that John Hashimoto Tahyoe, his wife Thecla, and their 5 children, Catherine (age 13), Thomas (12), Francis (8), Peter (6), and Ludovica (3) were martyred together.

Imagine the remarkable stories of faith and courage that are probably completely lost to history, even if we still have their names and dates!

Balthasar Kagayama Hanzaemon was martyred on October 15, 1619, along with his 4-year-old son Jacob. 

The young married couple Ludwig Jin’Emon and Anna, both 20 years old, were killed on January 12, 1629. 

And there’s the family of four: Anthony Anazawa Han’Emon, his wife Crescentia, their 14-year-old son Romanus and 11-year-old son Michael, all of whom died on January 12, 1629. 

And  there’s the Ogasawara family: the married mother and father, and their 6 sons and 3 daughters, all of whom were martyred on January 30, 1636, along with 4 people who worked as servants in their home.

Note, too: The beatification of these 188 martyrs follows upon the canonization of 26 martyrs of Japan by Pope Pius IX in 1862 (officially known as St. Paul Miki and companions); the beatification of 205 Japanese martyrs by the same pope in 1867; and the canonization of 16 Japanese martyrs by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

Blessed John XXIII anniversary

October 28, 2008

Today is the 50th anniversary of the election of Pope John XXIII as Pope.  (“Today they made me pope,” he wrote in his journal that evening.)  My article marking the anniversary appears in this week’s issue of Our Sunday Visitor

Pope John Paul II beatified John XXIII during the Jubilee Year 2000.

Fr. Ciszek’s Cause

October 27, 2008

Here’s an article on the American Fr. Walter  Ciszek, SJ, and his ongoing canonization cause.  It seems the Diocese of Scranton, his home, celebrates an annual Fr. Walter Ciszek Day to promote awareness of him and his cause.  The article reports on the recent Mass, celebrated by Scranton’s Bishop Martino, held on the day.

Ciszek, who spent more than 2 decades in Soviet labor camps, wrote two books, He Leadeth Me and With God in Russia, about his experiences.

Say it with me: Ratzingerian!

October 23, 2008

Rocco Palmo pointed the way to this bit of blogging by the Italian journalist Paolo Rodari, which considers the possibility that we may well be seeing Pope Benedict XVI’s long-awaited social encyclical later rather than sooner.  Rodari recalls that it was around this time last year that expectant talk of the social encyclical (Caritas in Veritate is said to be its title) began to gain momentum.  And then out of the blue, the Pope published Spe Salvi, on Christian hope (November 30, 2007). 

In the spring we were hearing that the social encyclical would be out over the summer.  (I made arrangements with my publisher, Pauline Books and Media, to do a study guide companion for it, expecting to do the bulk of the work during my summer vacation from my high school teaching ‘day job.’)  But here we are, as October wains, and it’s still not out.  And the world being in the midst of a global financial crisis, Rodari suggests, may only delay even farther the work on an encyclical that may well intend to touch on economic ethics.

So, Rodari says, don’t be surprised if what we see instead of the social encyclical is the third installment of the Pope’s trilogy of encylicals on the theological virtues.  After all, the one on love, Deus Caritas Est, was dated Dec 25, 2005. And Spe Salvi, on hope, was November 30, 2007.  The end of 2008 would be a fine time for the appearance of the encylical on faith that’s surely somewhere in the future. 

By the way, ya gotta love Rodari’s adjective.  Referring to this (presumed) set of three encyclicals on the theological virtues, Rodari speaks of “il trittico ratzingeriano” — the Ratzingerian triptych! 

Can we please start using this in the English-speaking world?  I resolve in the days ahead to find an appropriate context and put it to use.  Ratzingerian!

About some other author’s book that is a marvelous mix of the theological and the pastoral: “it’s quite Ratzingerian in nature.”

As we decorate our Christmas tree by mixing in several bulbs that are precious family heirlooms, alongside the many that are bright and shiny new: “it’s a Ratzingerian approach to tree-trimming!”

What may be the only way I’ll ever cave in to the ongoing requests of my kids and my wife that we get a pet cat in the house (despite the fact that cats are repulsive to me): “well … I suppose it’s at least a  Ratzingerian sort of pet, after all.”

Sorry.  Where was I?  Ah, encyclicals. 

Rodari also notes that one of the cardinals at this month’s Synod of Bishops on “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church” requested that the Pope write an encyclical on the interpretation of scripture — something that might certainly sound appealing to the ears of the author of Jesus of Nazareth.  And speaking of Jesus of Nazareth, there’s still that second volume that we have to look forward to!

So, let’s review.  A social encyclical.  An encyclical on faith.  An encyclical on interpretation of scripture.  Volume 2 on Jesus. 

I say, do them all!  Rest is what heaven is for.  Msgr. Georg needs to shoo away all the Pope’s visitors, cancel all his appointments, and make sure he keeps his papal bottom in his chair, writing writing writing. 

Of course, the guy’s been writing writing writing for a long time, so in the meantime there’s always this and this and this and this and….

Newman: Father of Vatican II? Doctor of the Church?

October 23, 2008

Here’s a very interesting interview, published Wednesday, with Fr. Ian Ker about Cardinal John Henry Newman.  Fr. Ker, a renowned Newman scholar, addresses the ways Newman anticipated the work of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth century’s theological ressourcement that undergirded it by a hundred years; the idea of Newman as a Doctor of the Church; and the development of his canonization cause.  Among much else, Fr. Ker comments:

So, although known locally to be a holy man, there was never the kind of popular cult that a less intellectual figure — working, for example, among the poor or the sick or on the foreign missions — would have inspired.

The momentum for his canonization in fact began some years before the present pontificate. Previously, the people interested in Newman were mainly scholars and theologians, the kind of people who are not necessarily particularly committed to intercessory prayer.

But once the cause was fully launched — and there had been long delays — it was possible to undertake a formal examination of his life and writings and conclude that he was indeed a man of heroic sanctity and worthy of being raised to the altars of the Church.

With this verdict the Holy See concurred and in 1991 Pope John Paul II declared Newman to be “Venerable,”’ the first step toward canonization. That development has led more and more people to ask Newman for his intercession and — assuming Newman is a saint — was bound sooner or later to lead to a miracle.

Prudent to wait?

October 22, 2008

Today: Scholars ask pope to put Pius XII’s sainthood cause on hold


WASHINGTON (CNS) — A group of Christian and Jewish scholars is calling for the sainthood cause of Pope Pius XII to be put on hold.The American, Canadian and European scholars said they believe more extensive study is still needed to look into claims that Pope Pius, who headed the church from 1939 to 1958, did not do enough during World War II to protect Jews from the Holocaust.

“The Vatican will not achieve credibility on the question of Pius XII’s wartime record by relying solely on the work of defenders of Pius XII,” the statement said. “We therefore respectfully urge Catholic authorities to continue a hold on a consideration of Pius XII’s beatification/canonization until all relevant archival material is made available and scrutinized.”

The scholars made their plea to the Vatican in a statement issued Oct. 21 by Servite Father John T. Pawlikowski of the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and Edward Kessler, director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations at the Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths in Cambridge, England; it was signed by seven other academics.




Bishop Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican archives, recently told the Jerusalem Post that the Vatican’s five archivists would need another five or six years to catalog documents from Pope Pius’ pontificate.”Regarding Pius XII’s beatification, as a historian, I would think it prudent to wait a few years after the opening of the archives,” Bishop Pagano said.

“Allowing further research and waiting can only strengthen his case. Certainly nothing negative will be found,” he said.



I tend to agree.  We have nothing to fear of the truth.  If he was truly worthy, not just of respect because held the office of pope, and not just of admiration because he meant well, but of veneration as a saint, further research can only confirm this.  If this research, on the other hand, refutes it, we’ll be glad we waited.

Saints in the family

October 22, 2008

This weekend’s beatification of Zelie and Louis Martin provided a beautiful opportunity to reflect on the important ways that a Christian family can and should be a school of faith and holiness.  Fr. Thomas Rosica offers still another insight into this with this reflection on his relationship and familiarity with the family of St. Gianna Molla.

A few years ago, Fr. Rosica was responsible for the production of a beautiful video about St. Gianna, which we have in our home.  (We love St. Gianna around here, and one of our daughters is named after her, though she was “only” a blessed at the time our Gianna was born in 2000.  Her canonization in 2004 provided a wonderful opportunity for a St. Gianna party in our home.)

Rosica writes of his close relationship with the Molla family.  St. Gianna’s husband is still alive and 96 years old now.  (He and his children, Gianna’s siblings, were all present at her beatification and canonization masses, in 1994 and 2004 respectively.)  Can you imagine being aware that your spouse was, literally, a saint?  (“Well, I guess that settles one question … we know those arguments we used to have about such-and-such were all my fault!”)

(Yes yes, I know saints aren’t without fault.  It was a joke.)

But I especially appreciated Fr. Rosica’s comments about Pietro Molla himself, as well as Gianna’s extended family. 

“Pietro Molla is a pillar and rock — a man of extraordinary faith, simplicity and holiness. I am certain that the story of holiness did not end with Gianna, who died in 1962 at the age of 39. In fact, the cause for the beatification and canonization for St. Gianna’s brother, Frei Alberto Beretta, a Capuchin missionary in Brazil, was opened last year in Bergamo, Italy…. 

“We may speak of the communion of saints in theological terms, but today I experienced it very much in flesh and blood terms — this group of people was and is for me the reality of communion of saints in real time: a husband of a saint, children of a saint, nieces and nephews of a saint. They are like us. Their love of God and neighbor, their fire and dynamism will indeed burn away the sadness and evil in the world today, not with harshness but with fiery love and ordinary kindness.”

Isn’t it true that many of us can think of members of our own families who are made of the stuff of saints, people who might well be considered for canonization, if only they were more widely known, if only the stories of their love and faith and courage were told in books or documentaries?  St. Gianna, and Blessed Zelie and Louis, stand for them.  Particularly until the Church’s roll of the saints is as evenly populated by laypeople as it is by religious and priests, that will be the case. 

St. Gianna, Blessed Louis, Blessed Zelie, pray for us!