Archive for the ‘Americans’ Category

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 whitehouse.gov:

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.

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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, www.fatherdamien.com 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.

New Novena for a New Saint

September 16, 2009

The U.S. gets not one but two new saints in less than a month, when the Pope canonizes damien bookletDamien de Veuster and Jeanne Jugan on October 11.  Both are remarkable examples of heroic love and faith.

The booklet that I wrote for Pauline Books, Saint Damien de Veuster: Missionary of Molokai, is now available. It contains a biography of the priest, as well as a newly composed novena to him.

Here’s the publisher’s website blurb:

What compelled a young priest to volunteer for an assignment that held the risk of a then-incurable disease? Explore the life of Saint Damien and discover his great love for God and every person he met. Saint Damien became the priest to the island of Moloka’i, the Hawaiian island where those suffering from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) were quarantined. Suffering through many difficulties along with the people on the island, Damien made Moloka’i his permanent home and cared for the people with an open heart and fearless compassion. With his long-awaited canonization, the whole world is shown an example of generous, self-giving love. Includes biography and novena. Saint Damien de Veuster includes an introduction by Father Lane Akiona, SS.CC. and is endorsed by the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (Damien’s religious community).

May I humbly suggest you consider getting a copy now, in order to use the novena as spiritual preparation/celebration during the 9 days leading up to canonization day?

Sheen cause video

September 13, 2009

This brief video on the Sheen beatification cause is from RomeReports.com.  Nothing  new, though.  (I’m not too familiar with Rome Reports, though I’ve seen the show that airs on EWTN; I’d think an outfit like Rome Reports should probably know better than to make the mistake of saying Sheen “was  archbishop of New York and Rochester.”)

St. Kateri soon?

August 13, 2009

Today Fr. Jim Martin, SJ, at the America blog, pointed out an article on a Canadian news site indicating that the canonization cause of Kateri Tekakwitha may be heading into the home stretch.  The article, “Mohawk woman could be declared saint by Vatican,” opens:

More than 320 years after her death, a Mohawk woman is on the cusp of canonization as the Vatican reviews newly collected evidence of a miracle that could place her among the saints.

Just what the recent miracle is that’s been attributed to the intercession or divine intervention of Kateri Tekakwitha, known as the Lily of the Mohawks, remains a closely guarded secret.

Evidence of the miracle — which took two years to compile — was sent to Rome last month in a diplomatic pouch through the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C., said Monsignor Paul Lenz, the church official who was charged with finding a miracle that could qualify Kateri for sainthood.

The matter now rests with the Vatican’s Secretariat for Beatification and Canonization, which will issue a recommendation to the Pope, who will make a final decision on Kateri’s beatification, said Lenz.

Fr. Martin’s comment is excellent:

Kateri is astonishing.  (A good summary of her life is at the Catholic Encyclopedia.)  What must it have meant for her to become a Christian in the midst of a culture that often considered the Christian missionaries not simply a threat, not simply “sorcerers,” but the bringers of death and disease?  And unlike her French Jesuit friends, Kateri did not grow up in a thoroughly Christian culture, and so she had no warm childhood memories of happy times in a local parish church upon which to draw in difficult times, nor did she have a deep knowledge of Scripture, tradition and the lives of the saints to support her in the midst of persecution, as did Isaac Jogues, Rene Goupil, Jean de Brebeuf and the others.  Her heroism was just as great as that of the Jesuit martyrs.

“Teacher of His Epoch”

July 26, 2009

An interesting profile of Cardinal James Gibbons, one of the titans in the history of the Church in the United States, was posted yesterday at Whispers in the Loggia.   A few days ago, Archbishop O’Brien, the current Archbishop of Baltimore, offered a special Mass to mark Gibbons’ 175th birthday.  He’s an interesting figure, with whom more American Catholics should be familiar.

Seelos miracle coverage

June 30, 2009

There was a sudden spike in readership here today, and I wasn’t sure why.  Then I noticed on my WordPress stats that a ton of people had found their way here by searching “Francis Seelos.”  But why the sudden interest in him, I wondered. 

Turns out, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Seelos miracle investigation is getting some increasingly significant coverage.  I noted below that AOL News had reported on it yesterday.  Now today, Fox News has picked up (via the AP).  Also, it was covered on a Baltimore station’s television news, and that coverage has been posted on YouTube:

For visitors who are interested, I summarize Seelos’ life and ministry here.  But don’t take my word for it; there’s a great Seelos website here.

On 2 American Causes

June 29, 2009

Two articles out this weekend, relating to the causes of two American figures who lived around the same time:

A lengthy Baltimore Sun article on the official investigation of a miracle attributed to Blessed Francis Seelos (1819-1867).  It regards an Annapolis woman who recovered (miraculously?) from cancer.  (UPDATE: AOL has picked up on the Sun‘s story and put a headline, with link to a report, on their front page today, 6/29/09.)

An article from the Buffalo News on the cause of Fr. Nelson Baker (1841-1936), who lived in Lackawanna, NY, related to a new book called The Father Baker Code.   Clip:

In the new book, Koerner recounts stories about Father Baker’s alleged wonder-working, including that of Mary Timm, a former employee in the basilica gift shop who told many people about her experience in which an apparition of Father Baker scared off a robber who was holding up the store; he also tells of healing stories involving Baker, including that of a woman healed of a serious ear condition in 1999 in the basilica.

Koerner said it was stories like that one – in which a person prayed to Baker, and believed himself or herself healed of a serious illness through Baker’s intervention – that led him to the title of his book.

“It’s a theory of mine,” he said. “The code I’ve come across with Baker is, if you combine piety with suffering, it leads to miracles. It’s almost like a rule. It’s the key to his whole life – he can empathize with suffering, because he has been through it himself.”

There’s a blog on Baker and his cause here.

Buzz on Kapaun’s Cause

June 27, 2009

There have been a few articles in the local press out in Kansas and Illinois about a Vatican investigator showing up to look into the possibility of a miracle attributed to Fr. Emil Kapaun.  The American Korean War Army chaplain was a Wichita diocese native. 

Actually, one of the articles notes the investigator will be looking at several such cases, but the focus seems to be on one in particular — the recovery of a young Kansas man who had suffered a traumatic brain injury in a pole vaulting accident.   One of those apparently supporting the idea of the recovery being unexplainable by medical science is the neurosurgeon that treated the young man.

Full article here.   A clip on Kapaun:

Kapaun was a chaplain assigned to the U.S. Army’s 8th Cavalry regiment, which was surrounded and overrun by the Chinese army in North Korea in October and November 1951.

Kapaun became a hero, rescuing wounded soldiers from the battlefield and risking death by preventing Chinese executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk.

He became a hero again in prison camp, stealing food for prisoners, ministering to the sick, saying the rosary for soldiers, defying guards’ attempts to indoctrinate soldiers, making pots and pans out of roofing tin so that soldiers could boil snow into drinking water and boil lice out of their filthy clothing.

Hundreds of American prisoners died in the camp of exposure or starvation or illness that first winter. The Chinese guards did nothing to tend Kapaun when he became sick; he died in May 1951, two years before the war ended.

Soldiers who survived have praised Kapaun for decades; some of them have said he deserved not only sainthood but the Medal of Honor, in addition to the lesser Distinguished Service Cross the Army awarded him after his death.

A site dedicated to promoting his cause is here.

A St. Damien Museum in Hawaii

June 25, 2009

It’s in the works:

And artifacts are everywhere: A lock of his hair is under glass in a circular box. Damien’s vestments hang in a specially made plastic display case near the door. And in a corner case sit his personal items, including his glasses.

Some of these artifacts have never been seen by the public. Many haven’t been on display in years.

But the congregation is working to change that.

With Father Damien’s canonization just four months away and interest in his life growing around the world, congregation members are finalizing plans for a permanent Damien museum in Waikiki, which they hope to have open in about a year; working to digitize Damien photos before they are lost to age; and fielding more requests for Damien information. It’s work the tiny congregation, of which Damien was a member, is happy to do despite limited resources.

Full story here.

Also online: An interview with a 91 year-old nun who participated  in a 1936 procession as part of the move of Fr. Damien’s remains from Hawaii to Belgium.  (He had died in 1889.)  She’s planning on being in Rome for his Oct 11 canonization.