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Saints

John Paul II – Henceforth Shall Be Called Blessed

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My Pope’s a Blessed!

I remember seeing pictures of Bl. John XXIII in old relative’s houses, have vague recollections of Pope Paul VI, but I will never forget Sr. Mary announcing over the PA system that Pope John Paul died suddenly after only a 33 day reign.  I was in second grade when the whole class-the whole school-at St. Mary’s was glued to the TV waiting for the white smoke.  It was a beehive as the Filippini sisters kept making announcements and scurrying in and out of classrooms.  That’s when I first met my Pope.  We 20…30…errr…40-somethings can say that since JPII was pope for most of our lives.

For all the critics out there who think the pope is santo too subito, was too conservative, too liberal, mishandled the sex abuse response, etc., one thing is indisputable:  Karol Wojtyla lived a life animated by the Gospel…and that is a definition of a saint.  From his childhood struggles, his witness of the horrors and cruelty man can perpetrate against man, his underground pursuit of a priestly vocation, Karol Wojtyla centered his life on Christ and used his extraordinary gifts to preach what he lived.  This man left a mark on history that will be analyzed for decades, theological and philosophical writings that will be read for centuries with the likes of Augustine and Leo, but most importantly, he inspired generations of young people not to be afraid to follow Jesus.

Although I missed a small audience I was invited to attend due to the fact I was arrested by the Caribineiri (a story for another post) I did get to walk in a procession at Mass and sit a short distance from JPII (I have a coffee table book of the Pope’s Italian Marian Shrine tour and I’m clearly in a picture).  I’m overjoyed to see my Pope beatified, and will pray to him to intercede on my behalf that I may keep Christ as the center of my life,  use my talents to make the Gospel known, and live a life of courage to follow Jesus.

O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the Blessed John Paul II
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.

John Paul II, Pray for us

Some links…

Vatican Video – Watch Everything Here
Pope John Paul II’s Tomb Opened
JPII Official Facebook Page
Fr. Barron on What Makes a Saint
Abp. Dolan on Pope John Paul’s Heroic Sanctity
Fr. Martin, SJ on Why a Liberal Catholic Likes JPII
Pope’s Biographer, George Weigel, on Remembering JPII
Bishop Tobin Reflects on the Beatification
Abp. Dolan on JPII Priests


St. Catherine of Siena – Doctor of Unity

St. Catherine of Siena as Spiritual Mother of the Second and Third Orders of St. Dominic, Cosimo Roselli  c.1499

Today, April 29, is the feast day of the great Dominican saint and Doctor of the Church, Catherine of Siena.  Her amazing life and spirituality has been well documented–which even began during her lifetime .  Catherine Benincasa was born in Siena on Palm Sunday, March 5, 1347, the 23rd of 25 children.  She is the patroness of large families!  At a very young age she began to show signs of her mystical spirituality.  At the age of 5 she would recite a “Hail Mary” for each step she climbed up the staircase of her home, and at age 6 she had the first of many visions:
“So it happened that Catherine, being arrived at the age of six, went one day with her brother Stephen, who was a little older than herself, to the house of their sister Bonaventura, who was married to one Niccol, as has been mentioned above, in order to carry something or give some message from their mother Lapa. Their mother’s errand accomplished, while they were on the way back from their sister’s house to their own and were passing along a certain valley, called by the people Valle Piatta, the holy child, lifting her eyes, saw on the opposite side above the Church of the Preaching Friars a most beautiful room, adorned with regal magnificence, in which was seated, on an imperial throne, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, clothed in pontifical vestments, and wearing on His head a papal tiara; with Him were the princes of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, and the holy evangelist John. Astounded at such a sight, Catherine stood still, and with fixed and immovable look, gazed, full of love, on her Savior, who, appearing in so marvelous a manner, in order sweetly to gain her love to Himself, fixed on her the eyes of His Majesty, and, with a tender smile, lifted over her His right hand, and, making the sign of the Holy Cross in the manner of a bishop, left with her the gift of His eternal benediction. The grace of this gift was so efficacious, that Catherine, beside herself, and transformed into Him upon whom she gazed with such love, forgetting not only the road she was on, but also herself, although naturally a timid child, stood still for a space with lifted and immovable eyes in the public road, where men and beasts were continually passing, and would certainly have continued to stand there as long as the vision lasted, had she not been violently diverted by others. But while the Lord was working these marvels, the child Stephen, leaving her standing still, continued his way down hill, thinking that she was following, but, seeing her immovable in the distance and paying no heed to his calls, he returned and pulled her with his hands, saying: ‘What are you doing here? why do you not come?’ Then Catherine, as if waking from a heavy sleep, lowered her eyes and said: ‘Oh, if you had seen what I see, you would not distract me from so sweet a vision!’ and lifted her eyes again on high; but the vision had entirely disappeared, according to the will of Him who had granted it, and she, not being able to endure this without pain, began with tears to reproach herself for having turned her eyes to earth.” Such was the “call” of St. Catherine of Siena, and, to a mind intent on mystical significance, the appearance of Christ, in the semblance of His Vicar, may fitly appear to symbolize the great mission of her after-life to the Holy See.
As one writer put it, “Such was the ‘call’ of Saint Catherine of Siena … and the appearance of Christ, in the semblance of His Vicar [the pope], may fitly appear to symbolize the great mission of her later life to the Holy See”.  For the pope was not in Rome but in Avignon, France, the so-called “Babylonian Captivity” of the papacy, where for political reasons the papal court had moved — and Catherine, years later, would attempt to persuade the pope to return to Rome, the See of Peter.  Pope Paul VI remarked at a general audience (April 30, 1969):
We must always remember that it was she, Catherine, who convinced the young French Pope (he was forty) Gregory XI, weak in health and faint-hearted, to leave Avignon, whither the Apostolic See had moved with Pope Clement V, after the sudden death of Benedict XI, and to return in 1376 to Italy, still rent by bitter divisions, to Rome, though it was turbulent and in very bad conditions. And it was Catherine who, immediately after the death of Gregory XI, supported his successor Urban VI in the first critical events of the famous “Western schism”, which began with the election of the anti-pope Clement VII.
At age 16 she took the Dominican habit and after three years of visions she experienced the famous vision known as her “mystical marriage to Christ”.  Catherine then dedicated herself to the poor, the sick and the conversation of sinners. In the summer of 1370 she received visions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven and a Divine command to enter the public life of the world.
She began to dictate and write over 400 letters to popes, princes, religious and lay people alike, was consulted by the papal legates about the affairs of the Church, and inserted herself into the most contentious of political affairs of the day.  She implored Pope Gregory XI to reform the notoriously corrupt clergy and the administration of the Papal States. Catherine was not afraid to write in the strongest of terms as this statement to three cardinals supporting the anti-pope:  “what made you do this? You are flowers who shed no perfume, but stench that makes the whole world reek.”  Through her influence, the pope left Avignon and returned to Rome.
On the fourth Sunday of Lent in 1375 she received the stigmata, that is, the wounds of Christ.  In about 1378 Catherine composed her “Dialogue”, said to have been dictated while she was in ecstasy, a book of meditations and reflections on the Creed and teachings of the Church, and on the sinfulness of man and the mercy of God.  Catherine died April 29, 1380 of a sudden and painful illness.
In 1970 Pope Paul VI proclaimed Saint Catherine of Siena a Doctor of the Church, a title given to certain ecclesiastical writers because of the benefit the whole Church has derived from their teaching and witness.  She was the first woman to get such a distinction, followed by St. Theresa of Avila and St. Therese of Lisieux.
Father,
in meditating on the sufferings of Your Son
and in serving your Church,
Saint Catherine was filled with the fervor of Your love.
By her prayers, may we share in the mystery of Christ’s death
and rejoice in the revelation of His glory, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
+Amen.

St. Patrick’s Breastplate

I bind unto myself today
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this day to me for ever.
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;
His coming at the day of doom;*
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of the cherubim;
The sweet ‘well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the Prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord,
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the starlit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life-giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea,
Around the old eternal rocks.



I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward,
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility,
I bind to me these holy powers.

Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave and the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Pope John Paul II to be Beatified May 1

Vatican Information Service announced this morning that Pope Benedict will indeed beatify his predecessor, Karol Wojtyla, on May 1, 2011.  George Weigel writes in the NRO:

Re: John Paul II
By George Weigel
January 14, 2011 10:00 A.M.The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints has certified a miraculous cure through the intercession of Pope John Paul II, thus clearing the way for the late pontiff’s beatification on May 1. Using the word “miracle” in a broad sense, however, the greatest miracle of John Paul II was to restore a sense of Christian possibility in a world that had consigned Christian conviction to the margins of history.

In 1978, no one expected that the leading figure of the last quarter of the 20th century would be a priest from Poland. Christianity was finished as a world-shaping force, according to the opinion-leaders of the time; it might endure as a vehicle for personal piety, but would play no role in shaping the world of the 21st century. Yet within six months of his election, John Paul II had demonstrated the dramatic capacity of Christianity to create a revolution of conscience that, in turn, created a new and powerful form of politics — the politics that eventually led to the Revolution of 1989 and the liberation of central and eastern Europe.

Beyond that, John Paul II made Christianity compelling and interesting in a world that imagined that humanity had outgrown its “need” for God, Christ, and faith. In virtually every part of the world, John Paul II’s courageous preaching of Jesus Christ as the answer to the question that is every human life drew a positive response, and millions of lives were changed as a result. This was simply not supposed to happen — but it did, through the miracle of conviction wedded to courage.

Then there was John Paul’s social doctrine which, against all expectations, put the Catholic Church at the center of the world’s conversation about the post-Communist future. In 1978, did anyone really expect that papal encyclicals would be debated on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, or that a pope would rivet the world’s attention in two dramatic defenses of the universality of human rights before the United Nations? No one expected that. But it happened.

To make Christianity plausible, compelling, and attractive by preaching the fullness of Christian truth and demonstrating its importance to the human future — that was perhaps the greatest miracle of John Paul II, and his greatest gift to the Church and the world.

— George Weigel is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and biographer of John Paul II. His second volume on the life of the pontiff, The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II — The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy, was released this fall.


"Good morning, my intercessor and my very faithful friend"

A significant part of the “vetting” process the Church prosecutes before declaring a person a Venerable, Blessed or Saint is the proving of a miracle through the person’s intercession. Impartial physicians’ testimony and scientific evidence is gathered to assure the miraculous event was in fact miraculous.  Read this past post for more information on the process.

Deacon Jack Sullivan
Blessed Newman
Such was the case for the cause of Cardinal John Henry Newman when Deacon Jack Sullivan of Massachusetts prayed for his intercession and was cured of chronic, debilitating back pain. This miraculous healing, defying any medical logic, paved the way for Newman’s beatification this past September. Deacon Sullivan proclaimed the Gospel at the beatification Mass.
A second miracle is required before a Blessed is declared a Saint. Though not yet verified, there are several reports of miraculous healings after praying to Blessed Newman.  Deacon Sullivan was asked by the mother of a young girl suffering from incurable reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome, a disease characterised by continuous and intense pain that worsens over time.  While watching the beatification ceremony from her hospital bed, the girl’s pain stopped.  Sullivan also reports miraculous happenings at healing ceremonies in which a relic of Blessed Newman is venerated:  a teenage boy was healed from a brain injury sustained in an auto accident and a Detroit man’s liver cancer vanished.  Full story here.  Deacon Sullivan begins his day with, “Good morning, Cardinal Newman, my intercessor and my very faithful friend”.


Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre
Pope John Paul II
Cries for Karol Wojtyla’s canonization were heard as early as during his funeral Mass, “Santo Subito”.  Pope Benedict waived the customary five year waiting period after death and proceeded to fast track his predecessor’s cause.  Declared Venerable in December of 2009, it appears as though JPII will be beatified as early as this year.  Reports have surfaced that the miracle required for beatification has been approved. 
The case involves the healing of a French religious sister from Parkinson’s disease. Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in 2001. Her order prayed to John Paul II after his death for help. After writing the Pope’s name on a piece of paper one night in June 2005, she reportedly awoke the next morning cured and was able to resume her work as a maternity nurse.
Blessed John Henry Newman and Venerable John Paul II, pray for us!

For the Feast of St. Thomas a’ Becket

For his feast day…one of the all time great movies: