A Blessed Couple

Up this weekend: the beatification of Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux!

Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of the excellent book My Life with the Saints, has a fine piece about them and the significance of their beatification in today’s Wall Street Journal.   A clip:

The two traditional roles of the saints are the patron (who intercedes on behalf of those on earth) and the companion (who provides believers with an example of Christian life). And the paucity of lay saints — more specifically, married ones — in the roster is somewhat embarrassing.

Two reasons underlie this anomaly: the outmoded belief, almost as old as the church, that the celibate life was “better” than married life, and the fact that the church’s canonization process is an arduous one, requiring someone to gather paperwork, interview contemporaries if that is still possible and present the case to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Certainly there have been as many saintly wives and husbands as there have been holy priests and nuns. But religious orders and dioceses know how to navigate the canonization procedures on behalf of bishops, priests, brothers and sisters. By contrast, how many families have the resources to embark on the decades-long process on behalf of even the holiest mother or father? As a result, married Catholics have few exemplars other than Mary and Joseph, whose situation was hardly replicable.

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