Archive for the ‘French’ Category

Upcoming St. John Vianney anniversary

March 21, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI recently pointed out the upcoming 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, which will happen on August 4, 2009.  Vianney is the patron saint of parish priests. 

Connected with the anniversary, the Pope announced a special year dedicated to the priesthood to be observed within the Church, June 2009 (as the Pauline Year comes to a close) through June 2010.  The CNA article provides interesting details:

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as the patron saint of all the priests of the world. A “Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors” will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Holy Father on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The year will close June 19, 2010, with Pope Benedict presiding at a “World Meeting of Priests” in St. Peter’s Square.


Blessed Jeanne Jugan, some deception, and a miracle

January 6, 2009

This morning on Sacred Heart Radio‘s Son Rise Morning Show, host Brian Patrick and I talked about Blessed Jeanne Jugan.  Last month, Pope Benedict approved recognition of a miracle attributed to her intercession.  This clears the way for her canonization. 

Many Americans are familiar with Blessed Jeanne through the extraordinary work of the order the founded, the Little Sisters of the Poor, who dedicate themselves to care for the elderly (a mission that’s certainly just as important and needed in the  twenty-first century as it was in Jeanne’s day).  Today they have homes for the elderly in 32 North American cities, including Philadelphia, Scranton, New Orleans, Mobile, Denver, Louisville, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and many others.

What an interesting life story she has!  Besides her example of heroic humility and love for the poor, there’s also an intriguing aspect to her biography. 

It seems that several years after she founded the Little Sisters of the Poor, a priest whom she had turned to for support in her work tried to “revise history” by making it appear that he was the founder of the group, and that Jeanne was only the third woman to join him in his efforts.  At the time of her own death, most of the sisters (there were already 2,400 of them) didn’t know that she was their founder!  It was only a Vatican investigation that brought the truth to light, eleven years after she had died.

Pope John Paul II beatified Jeanne Jugan in 1982.  Her feast day is August 30.

Regarding the miracle approved last month by the Pope, specific information seems a little hard to come by.  But it seems to involve an American man who was dramatically healed of cancer of the esophagus back in the 1980’s. 

Brian and I also talked about two items recently highlighted here: the investigation into a miracle (the healing of an Ohio boy) that may be attributed to the intercession of Mother Maria Teresa Casini, and the recent publication of the complete diaries (10 volumes!) of Pope John XXIII.

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!

Blessed Zelie and Louis Martin! [updated]

October 19, 2008

Zelie and Louis Martin became the Church’s newest beati earlier today! 

The parents of one of the most extraordinary saints in the history of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux, were beatified together today at 10:00 am local time by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, France

(Fireworks are scheduled for 8:30 pm!  Party time in Lisieux!) 

The very helpful website,, offers a boatload of information, including a press kit with a nice list of “talking points” by the director of the site, Maureen O’Riordan.  Ms. O’Riordan’s talking points on the Martins include:

–Fully engaged in business, social, family, and ecclesial life, Louis and Zelie were constantly oriented to eternity.

–Overwhelmed with responsibilities, each was faithful to the contemplative life, the family life of prayer, and the liturgical life of the Church, and they created a family similarly faithful.

–Surrounding their daughters with love, tenderness, and good times, the parents formed each carefully from childhood in the spiritual life.

–Devoted to each other and to their children, Zelie and Louis reached out lovingly to support their extended families at a personal sacrifice.

–Suffering acute grief in many trials, they continued to trust in God’s love for them.

–While supporting a large family, they gave generously of their energy and money to the poor, to the Church, and to causing charity and justice in their society.
–After leading heroic lives, Louis and Zelie surrendered themselves to long and painful illnesses and, in Zelie’s case, to a premature death.

I also like very much a comment that Ms. O’Riordan included in a biographical article about the couple: “Zélie and Louis were not declared “blessed” because of Thérèse. She became a saint because of them. They created an environment that invited her to holiness, and she responded freely to the invitation they offered her.” 

That, I believe, is the key message of the day, especially for parents of children.  And it’s a vitally impotant one.  Fr. Martin is right when he says, in his excellent Wall Street Journal piece yesterday, that the lack of lay and married people honored by the Church as saints is “somewhat embarrassing.”  I think we can say with certainty that being a good parent demands at least as much of all the virtues that are crucial in making the case for anyone’s cause for canonization (prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope, and love) as being a good priest, bishop, or sister.  And when it’s done well, as Blessed Louis and Zelie’s witness shows us, it can yield wonderful fruit. 

Parents of the world, we have some new patrons.

We should note, finally, that the Martins were the second, not the first married couple to be beatified together by the Church.  The honor of being first went to Blessed Luigi and Maria Quattrocci, beatified by Pope John Paul II in October 2001.  Interestingly, the Quattrocci’s lived out their marriage celibately. (With this as an element of their marriage, were they a wise choice as the first married couple to present together as models by beatification?)  The Martins, on the other hand, considered this for their marriage at the beginning, and tried it for a few months.  They soon decided it wasn’t for them.  And thank heavens they did, because their conjugal lives bore wonderful fruit, including of course St. Therese!

There’s not much on the web yet (as of 6:30 this morning, EST, though the Mass in France is over already) about today’s event.  When I find Cardinal Martins’ homily, or anything else especially interesting, I’ll add it to this post.  (Not sure how much time for that there’ll be today, though.  CROP Walk in Syracuse is this afternoon.  Anyone else CROP walking today?)

UPDATE: Aliens in This World was doing some helpful live-blogging during the beatification Mass, which was aired live on EWTN.

UPDATE 2: Comments from Pope Benedict yesterday, who was visiting the Italian Shrine of Our Lady of Pompei:

“These new blesseds accompanied and shared, in their prayer and evangelical witness, the way of their daughter, called by the Lord and consecrated to Him without reserve behind the walls of the Carmelite monastery,” said Pope Benedict XVI following his Mass at a shrine in Pompeii yesterday. “It was there, hidden in the cloister, that St. Thérèse realized her vocation: ‘In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.

 “Thinking of the beatification of the Martin couple, I am urged to recall another intention so close to my heart,” the pope said. “The family, the role of which is fundamental in raising up children in a universal spirit of openness and responsibility toward the world and its problems, as also in the formation of vocations to the missionary life.”

UPDATE 3: Here’s the Zenit article on the beatification.  I especially liked this comment from Cardinal Martins:

“I thought of my father and my mother, and in this moment, I would like you to also think in your fathers and mothers, and that together, we give thanks to God for having created us and made us Christians, thanks to the conjugal love of our parents.”

A Blessed Couple

October 17, 2008

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.

Soon-to-Be Saints

September 2, 2008

Welcome to any visitors who have found their way here today through Sacred Heart Radio or its blog. This morning, I talked with Brian Patrick on his Son Rise morning show about developments in the canonization causes of three important figures in Church history. (As I noted last week here, I’ll be chatting with Brian once a month on the topic of up-and-coming-saints’ causes.) 

Here’s a summary, with some additional resources for you:

1. The remains of Cardinal John Henry Newman (that’s him in the photo) will soon be moved from its cemetery plot to a special tomb inside Birmingham Oratory, a strong indicator of Vatican interest in a beatification that happens sooner rather than later.  My most personal connection to him is that his The Idea of a University was required reading in one of my college courses.  It was tough-going, but taught me a lot about thinking, learning, education, and being a person in society.

WordPress is being cranky, not letting me embed the video here, but there’s a news clip on Newman from a British station here.

2. In just over a month (on October 12, 2008), Pope Benedict will canonize Sr. Alphonsa Muttathupadathu (also known, thankfully!, as Sr. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception) along with three other blesseds.  She is especially noteworthy because most reports are identifying her as the first saint of India.  (On the other hand, St. Gonsalo Garcia was the son of an Indian mother and Portugese father, born in India in 1556 and canonized with 25 other martyrs by Pope Pius IX in 1862.)  Sr. Alphonsa, a Poor Clare nun who lived most of her life in a sickbed, died at age 36 in 1946.  Her tomb is already a well-established pilgrimage site in India. 

There’s a news clip on her from an Indian tv station here.

3. The beatification of Louis and Zelie Martin is set for one week later (October 19).  Their biggest claim to fame is only that they’re the parents of the one of the most famous and well-loved saints in the entire history of the Church.  As a parent of 7, I’ll take this one as, at least implicitly, recognition of the important role of parents in their children’s moral and spiritual formation. 

I posted a little video on them about two weeks ago, here.

New Blesseds Coming

August 19, 2008

including the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux!  They’ll be beatified on October 19 in Lisieux.

This is exciting news.  (Probably especially gratifying for parents who work so hard on a daily basis to try to steer their kids along the right path!)

The others who are soon to be beatified are 3 priests (two founders of religious orders and a martyr) and a nun (who also founded an order), who will be beatified in their own home dioceses on chosen days in September or October.

Third place essay: Amy Cultra on St. Vincent de Paul

January 4, 2008

The third place winner in the Saints for Our Times student essay contest is Amy Cultra, who write a fine essay on St. Vincent de Paul and important ways that his life serves as a model to us today.  Amy is an eighth grader at St. Edward the Confessor School in Dana Point, California.  She’s won $10 and a signed copy of the book.  Congrats, Amy!

Here is her essay:

“A Life of Servitude”

     Speaking to the Jews who had taken up stones with which to stone Him, Jesus said, “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
           John 10:37

     These are powerful words of persuasion calling people then and always to take notice of the good works performed by Jesus, not for his own glorification, but in the name of God the Father.  They also call all of us to do the works of our Father in heaven by offering ourselves in service to others.  Loving kindness and generous compassion given freely and unconditionally will give opportunity for even the unbelieving to “believe the works” and experience the goodness of God. 
      Saint Vincent de Paul, born a little over 400 years ago, was a man who took deep into his heart Jesus’s call to action and he is a saint who calls me, and all of us, to bring the works of our Father to believers and unbelievers alike.  Through his good works and the grace of God, Saint Vincent de Paul brought the compassion and understanding that Jesus spoke of into the lives of many.  We are called to do the same.
      Saint Vincent de Paul is a saint we can and should relate to today because he dedicated his whole life to God through service to the sick, the poor and the suffering.  When he did, he changed many lives completely and yet he was very humble about the impact he had on the people around him.  He kept his focus on the people who were in need.  When he became a priest in the early 1600’s for example, Father Vincent de Paul refused to receive the traditional gifts and celebration given to a new priest.  Completely alone, except for the required altar servers, he offered himself for life and death to be a faithful servant of our Lord first and above all other things, when he celebrated his first Mass as an ordained priest.  People today should follow Saint Vincent’s example of humility.  We can do so by being careful not to get too caught up in the ceremonies, gifts and celebrations that can sometimes overshadow acts of goodness.
      Shortly after becoming a priest, Saint Vincent de Paul was captured by Turkish pirates and sold as a slave.  His faith was tested many times by two of his masters.  He was even offered a lot of money by one of them to convert from Catholicism to another religion.  Father Vincent never wavered in his devotion to the Church.  He remained faithful to God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  Allowing his masters and many others to witness the works of our Father through him, Saint Vincent de Paul didn’t turn against the unbelieving and eventually converted their hearts. 
      We today are not likely to be sold into slavery but we are challenged to endure hardships that can test our faith.  Others will also ask us to defend and justify the teachings of the Catholic Church.  We can do so by first educating ourselves and having a full understanding of Catholic doctrine.  It is important to be able to speak to others about our faith, and Jesus and Saint Vincent de Paul remind us that we can also touch the lives and hearts of others by doing His works.
      Saint Vincent put the needs of the poor, the sick and the suffering before his own.  His acts of goodness and charity were recognized by wealthy and influential people who begged him to live with them in grandeur.  Instead, he chose to live in a house next to a hospital in Paris so he could tend to the sick frequently.  Later he asked to become the pastor of a poor country- church where he took care of the people there and asked his wealthy followers to do the same.  Today, we also can choose between lavishing ourselves with more possessions and spending our free time frivolously or offering our time and treasures to better the lives of others. 
      We can see that Saint Vincent de Paul did many things in his lifetime that we can practice in our lives.  He is a perfect example of faith, humility and compassion to follow.  He has taught us that being mindful of other’s needs, always staying faithful to God and remaining humble while doing so,  can lead the way for others to know and understand that the Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father.