Archive for October, 2009

Brother Andre moves closer canonization

October 28, 2009

The theological commission for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted unanimously last week in favor of a miracle attributed to the intercession of Brother Andre Bessette.  The miracle still must be considered and officially approved by the bishops who make up the Congregation; when that happens, the next step would be to expect a date announced for Brother Andre’s canonization.

Helpful local coverage here.

(Thanks to Matt at Sacred Heart Radio for the tip.)


Amy masterfully answers the question,

October 15, 2009

“Why have children?”

It’s an All-Hallows Autumn!

October 12, 2009

Okay, so the big canonization weekend is over.  Five people have been added to the universal Church’s roster of saints.  Depressed about all the excitement being over and the prospect of a return to more mundane matters of life?  Don’t be!  This fall is packed with formal recognition of the holiness among us. 

Did you know that a series of beatification ceremonies began with one held in Germany just over a week ago, and will continue throughout the rest of the month and into November?  It’s true.  

October 4 marked the beatification of Eustachius Kugler (1867-1946) in Regensberg, Germany.  This consecrated religious of St John of God’s order cared for the sick and disabled at a time in when doing that in Germany meant going against the Nazi tide.  He was interrogated several times by the Nazis but always stood up to them.  

As if the people of Spain didn’t receive enough recognition of the holiness among them, what with Sunday’s canonization of Rafael Arnaiz Baron and Francisco Coll Guitart, on October 18, Ciriaco María Sancha Hervas (1833 – 1909) will be beatified in Toledo, Spain.  He was the Cardinal-Archbishop of Toledo, renowned for his holiness and pastoral love.  

On October 25, in Milan, Italy, Carlo Gnocchi (1902-1956), a priest of Milan, will be beatified.  He was a military chaplain who, in early 1940s, he did espionage work for the US government, was arrested by Fascist government, and was later released. He cared for sick and disabled young people and founded the Pro Juventute Foundation, which now has groups all over the world.  

On All Hallow’s Eve (the original name for the day before All Saints’ Day, from which “Halloween” is derived), October 31, Zoltán Meszlényi  (1892-1951), an auxiliary Bishop of Esztergom, Hungary, will be beatified in Budapest.   He was imprisoned and tortured by Stalin regime, just after the better-known Cardinal Mindszenty suffered a similar fate.  

Finally, a November 22 beatification will take place in Jesus’s hometown, Nazareth, Israel.  Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghaţţas (1843-1927) will be beatified.  This religious sister who was born in Jerusalem and lived and worked in Bethlehem experienced apparitions of Mary and founded a new religious order,  the Rosary Sisters, which are still around in many nations today. 

Wow, what a line-up.  If you’re like me, this only piques your curiosity, and you want to know more about this crew.  Well, I hope to be doing some investigating in the days and weeks ahead, so feel free to stop by from time to time, and I’ll report to you the results of my homework.

Our new St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron: “this young man of the twentieth century”

October 11, 2009

There is often an uptick in visits to this blog when canonizations or beatifications take place.  That’s been the case today, but interestingly, the majority of searchers found their way here not by searching for Damien of Molokai or Jeanne Jugan, but another of today’s new saints, Rafael Arnaiz Baron.  Welcome one and all.

Here’s an interesting note: The bishops of Spain have proposed making St. Rafael as a patron of the 2011 World Youth Day, which will take place in Madrid. They wrote, “We trust that Brother Raphael Arnaiz will accompany us as one of the ‘co-patrons’ of the meeting, so that all the young people of the world might become aware of God’s work in this young man of the 20th century.”

Below you’ll find a minute-long CNS video on St. Rafael (it’s also available in Spanish here) and then several helpful English resources on St. Rafael.

Bio on a Trappist website

Bio from the website of a Benedictine priest

A CNS article on last year’s approval of a miracle attributed to his intercession.

If you’re looking for something more substantial, God Alone: A Spiritual Biography of Blessed Rafael Arnaiz Baron looks like a worthwhile book.

O God, we praise thee!

October 11, 2009

DamienIconSing a Te Deum (the traditional Catholic hymn of joy and thanksgiving) today, at least in spirit.  The Church has given us 5 new saints.  And even President Obama (who was born in Hawaii) has weighed in on the occasion. 

Here’s the President’s statement, as it appears at

I wish to express my deep admiration for the life of Blessed Damien de Veuster, who will be canonized on Sunday by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. I also want to convey my best wishes to the Kingdom of Belgium and its people, who are proud to count Fr. Damien among their great citizens.

Fr. Damien has also earned a special place in the hearts of Hawaiians. I recall many stories from my youth about his tireless work there to care for those suffering from leprosy who had been cast out. Following in the steps of Jesus’ ministry to the lepers, Fr. Damien challenged the stigmatizing effects of disease, giving voice to the voiceless and ultimately sacrificing his own life to bring dignity to so many.

In our own time as millions around the world suffer from disease, especially the pandemic of HIV/AIDS, we should draw on the example of Fr. Damien’s resolve in answering the urgent call to heal and care for the sick.

I offer my prayers as people of all faiths join the Holy Father and millions of Catholics around the world in celebrating Fr. Damien’s extraordinary life and witness.

I’ve written a few posts on both St. Damien of Molokia and St. Jeanne Jugan on this blog before, so I’d invite you to check them out — on Damien here and Jeanne here.

Note: I’ll be talking about the new saints with Gud Lloyd on his SIRIUS satellite radio show, “Seize the Day,” tomorrow at 8 am.

Here’s coverage worth a look:

The Associated Press article includes this great quotation from the homily: “Their perfection, in the logic of a faith that is humanly incomprehensible at times, consists in no longer placing themselves at the center, but choosing to go against the flow and live according to the Gospel.”

This is cool: A newly-formed parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit (a merger of three previous parishes) is being named St. Damien of Molokai parish.

Obama’s comment on the canonization has brought more attention to it.  For example, ABC News and U.S New and World Report noticed.

The governor of Hawaii issued a formal proclamation of Damien Day.

Hawaii Magazine has much more extensive coverage, including a slideshow of some of Damien personal effects. jeanne_jugan_300

Ann Rodgers, an excellent religion reporter in Pittsburgh (I’m a western PA native), focuses on Jeanne Jugan because her Little Sisters of the Poor have a home for the elderly there.  A snipet:

The sisters who beg are better known than the James P. Wall Memorial Home itself, which many people assume is for aging nuns. It’s not, and its residents don’t even have to be Catholic.

The sole requirements are to be older than age 60 — most residents arrive in their 80s — and in financial need. Residents pay what they can afford. There are long waiting lists for the apartments, assisted living and nursing units.

In the chapel is a stained glass window of St. Jeanne cradling an elderly woman in her arms. Beneath are her words, “The poor are our Lord.” The sisters teach all staff members and volunteers to treat residents as they would Jesus himself. When in doubt, they ask “What would Jeanne Jugan do?”

 Zenit’s bio of Jeanne is good, too.  It includes some of the dramatic details of her story:

The community elected her as its first superior, a post she held for only two weeks as Father Le Pailleur decided to revoke the election. Years later the priest ordered her to live a more retired life, involved only in domestic tasks, and removed from her benefactors, a decision she accepted without protest. She lived in this way for 27 years.
“She put into practice the dictum that ‘your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing,’ to the point of disappearing into the group of which she was really the founder,” said the postulator.
Blessed Marie de la Croix, as she was called after entering religious life, died in August 1879 when the congregation had some 2,488 women religious and 177 homes for the elderly. Months earlier, Pope Leo XIII had approved the congregation’s statutes.
The future saint was recognized as the official founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor only at the beginning of the 20th century, when members of the order decided to write the history of the community, said Father Vito.
“She never rebelled against her marginalization; on the contrary, she dedicated herself more intensely to her congregation,” the priest affirmed.

 UPDATE: St. Damien and his life’s work was the topic of the lead editorial in yesterday’s New York Times.

Holiness abounds!

October 9, 2009

Canonization day is upon us.  In two days, Mother Church will offer her children a dramatic a lesson in holiness, by presenting the world with five new saints, including two with American ties. 

Damien de Veuster was a Belgian-born priest who came to Hawaii to care for the lepers at the Kalaupapa colony and died  there among them.  Be sure to visit the Diocese of Honolulu’s website, this weekend.  It’s an excellent resource.  And consider getting a copy of my recent booklet, Saint Damien de Veuster: Missionary of Molokai.  It includes a brief biography of Fr. Damien and a newly composed novena to him. 

Jeanne Jugan was the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, dedicated to caring for the elderly poor, an order which has several homes for the elderly in the United States today. 

We also should not overlook the three other figures who are also set for Sunday’s canonization:

Rafael Arnáiz Barón (1911– 1938), a Trappist Cistercian Oblate of the Abbey of San Isidoro de Dueñas in Spain;

Francisco Coll Guitart (1812-1875), a Dominican priest; friend of St Anthony Mary Claret; parish priest; and founder of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and

Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński (1822-1895), Archbishop of Warsaw and founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary. He spent 20 years in exile in Siberia.

We should also note that this Sunday’s canonization is just the most prominent of the rites being conducted in various parts of the Church this fall, all with the approval of the Pope, to formally acknolwedge the sanctity of some of her members.  Five other beatification ceremonies are also on the docket!  More on that here in the days ahead.