South African man up for beatification
There is a new beatification cause on the scene, that of a South African businessman named Benedict Daswa. He is up for beatification because in 1990, after a series of lightning strikes hit his village, his neighbors wanted to pool resources to hire a witch doctor would then tell them which of them was the cause of these calamities.
Because Daswa was a devout Catholic, one who devoted a considerable amount of free time to his parish, he refused to take part in such superstitious nonsense. He told fellow villagers that his faith forbade him to do any such thing. As a result, his superstitious neighbors lynched him by pouring boiling water on him, beating him with sticks, and stoning him.
When he died 22 years ago, he was 46 and the father of eight.
Bishop João Rodrigues of Tzaneen has submitted an 850 page report to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and has asked Pope Benedict to declare Mr. Daswa a martyr, which would automatically make the Church consider him a blessed.
Decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
On May 10, the Holy Father approved miracles for the Servant of God Tommaso da Olera and the Servant of God Maria Troncatti, which will ultimately result in their beatification. He also confirmed that several Servants of God were martyred for the Faith, including:
- Servants of Gods Frederic Bachstein and thirteen companions of the Order of Friars Minor, killed in hatred of the faith at Prague, Czech Republic in 1611.
- Servants of God Raimundo Castano Gonzalez and Jose Maria Gonzalez Solis, professed priests of the Order of Friars Preachers, killed in hatred of the faith at Bilbao, Spain in 1936. Servants of God Jaime Puig Mirosa and eighteen companions of the Congregation of the Sons of the Sacred Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and Sebastian Llorens Telarroja, layman, killed in hatred of the faith in Spain between 1936 and 1937.
- Servant of God Odoardo Focherini, Italian layman, killed in hatred of the faith at Hersbruck, Germany in 1944.
Because they were martyrs, these people will soon be declared blessed without needing a miracle.
Finally, the following people were declared Venerable:
- Servant of God Raffaello Delle Nocche, Italian bishop of Tricarico and founder of the Sisters Disciples of the Eucharistic Jesus (1877-1960).
- Servant of God Frederic Irenej Baraga, Slovene American, first bishop of Marquette (1797-1868).
- Servant of God Pasquale Uva, Italian diocesan priest and founder of the Congregation of Sisters Handmaidens of Divine Providence (1883-1955).
- Servant of God Baltazar Manuel Pardal Vidal, Spanish diocesan priest and founder of the Secular Institute of the Daughters of Mary’s Nativity (1886-1963).
- Servant of God Francesco Di Paola Victor, Brazilian diocesan priest (1827-1905).
- Servant of God Jacques Sevin, French professed priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and founder of the Catholic Scouts of France and of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem (1882-1951).
- Servant of God Maria Josefa of the Blessed Sacrament (nee Maria Josefa Recio Martin), founder of the Congregation of Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1846-1883).
- Servant of God Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, an American native of Bayonne, NJ, and professed sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth (1901-1927).
- Servant of God Emilia Engel, German member of the Secular Institute of Sisters of Maria of Schöenstatt, (1893-1955).
- Servant of God Rachele Ambrosini, Italian lay woman (1925-1941).
- Servant of God Maria Bolognesi, Italian lay woman (1924-1980).
- Servant of God Felix Francisco Jose de la Concepcion Varela Morales, Cuban diocesan priest (1788-1853).
Hildegard of Bingen declared a saint ... again.
This post by blogger Thomas J. McDonald appeared sometime last month on Patheos.com and puts it really well:
In some quarters, there’s this idea that Hildegard of Bingen is not really a saint, and that this is somehow PROOF! of the horrible awful sexism of the Church. Except that Hildegard IS a saint, and even has a feast day (September 17). The problem is that her cause was one of the earlier ones to fall under the official process of canonization, which was still being developed. It dragged on for centuries before the Church just went ahead and added her name to the Roman Martyrology (the official book of saints) in the late 15oos, which means that she was a de facto saint even without an official declaration.
In 1173, Pope Alexander III ruled that the process of “making saints” had to become more formal, and was a function reserved to the Holy See. He was pushed to do this not as some kind of naked power grab, but because the process was more open to corruption when left to the bishops. People who were anything but saintly were being proclaimed saints, either because of local pressure on the bishop or plain old corruption. Hildegard died only 6 years after Alexander’s ruling, leaving her case in limbo between the old process and the new.
Just to clear matters up, today Benedict formally proclaimed what the Church has held for over 400 years (longer than it has held that Joan of Arc is a saint): Hildegard of Bingen is indeed a saint. This was just a formal precursor to what is likely to come next: a declaration that St. Hildegard is a Doctor of the Church, meaning she has made a significant contribution to the faith through her through “eminent learning” and sanctity.
Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, better known as Fr. Z at the blog “What Does the Prayer Really Say?” puts it like this:
This is a typical case of “equivalent canonization.” But what does that mean?
In his work De Servorum Dei beatificazione et de Beatorum canonizatione, Benedict XIV [he reigned 1740-58, and is probably the most brilliant pope before John Paul II or Benedict XVI] formulated the doctrine on equivalent canonization; when the Pope enjoins the Church as a whole to observe the veneration of a Servant of God not yet canonized by the insertion of his feast into the Liturgical Calendar of the Universal Church, with Mass and the Divine Office. With this Pontifical act, Benedict XVI perceives the extremes of a true canonization, that is, of a definitive judgment from the Pope on the sanctity of a Servant of God.
This judgment, however, is not expressed with the usual formula of canonization, but through a decree obliging the entire Church to venerate that Servant of God with the cultus reserved to canonized saints. Many examples of this form of canonization date back to the Pontificate of Benedict XIV; for example, Saints Romualdo (canonized 439 years after his death), Norbert, Bruno … John of Matha, Felix of Valois, Queen Margaret of Scotland, King Stephen of Hungary, “Good King” Wenceslaus (who was really just the Duke of Bohemia), and Pope Gregory VII.
Cause for American priest who served Koreans, Filipinos kept alive
The cause of the beatification of an amazing American priest, Fr. Al Schwartz, is being aggressively promoted by the sisters of the Congregation he founded.
Fr. Schwartz knew early on he wanted to be a priest, and so he entered seminary at age 14 in 1944, and was ordained 13 years later in 1957 at age 27 in St. Martin Church, Washington, DC.
After receiving Holy Orders, he went to study at Catholic University in Louvain, Belgium. During school breaks, he would join and help the poor in rag pickers’ camps. This and a pilgrimage to the Vatican approved Shrine of Our Lady of Banneux, where the Holy Mother of God had appeared as “the Virgin of the Poor” (January 15-March 2, 1933) with a message of “I come to relieve suffering.... [b]elieve in me and I will believe in you” helped him decide he would spend his ministry in service of the poor “in fulfillment of her message.”
His first assignment Korea, where half of the working age population consisted of the unemployed, widows, orphans, veterans, and many others who were starving and/or diseased. Many were selling things that had practically no value or were stealing to survive.
When he saw all of this, Father praised God. This was exactly what he had hoped for since he could serve Christ in the poor. Established a Boystown and a Girlstown for war orphans in Korea (he later established similar institutions in Mexico).
Not long after, he got hepatitis and had to return home. However, he had so identified with the less fortunate that he was so poor, he had to beg a ship’s captain to bum a ride. After his arrival in the US and still sick, he would go to any parish that would have him on Sundays to ask parishioners for financial help.
When he returned, he became pastor of a parish in a very poor Korean neighborhood. Out of this experience, he realized he needed help, called on the women in the Legion of Mary, and from their assistance came the founding of the Congregation of the Sisters of Mary to serve the poor, built hospitals for patients too poor to afford regular medical care, residences for the elderly med, unwed mothers, mentally retarded children, the handicapped, and the homeless. Seventeen years after founding the Congregation founded a priestly order called Brothers of Christ. Three years later, received an award from the Philippines for his work, and the award’s written rationale noted he personally raised 75 percent of his various organization’s $8 million annual budgets. The then-archibishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, invited him at this time to establish his work amongst the Pilipino people. So he brought the Sisters of St. Mary to a parish in Manila. Got children out of slums built schools and homes.
“Cardinal Jaime Sin, then archbishop of Manila, reportedly invited Schwartz to help the Philippines church’s apostolate to children and youth. About 30 percent of the 98 million Filipinos live below the poverty line, and 26.5 percent of children under 5 are malnourished, Save the Children reports. “Education is the only hope for children to break free of poverty,” the Sisters of Mary maintain.”
In 1989, Fr. Al was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (also known as, ALS). As the disease progressively crippled his body and he became immobile and confined to a wheelchair, he learned to find joy in his humiliating circumstances. Offered up his suffering. Spent much of his day in adoration before the tabernacle, prayed many rosaries, heard confessions, and preached at Masses, mostly about “the virtues of truth, justice, chastity, charity and humility, penance and fortitude. His love for God and the poor consumed him. He did not only help the poor but also he lived poorly.”
Fr. Schwartz died in 1992, and his cause was taken up in 2005. Now, 20 years after his death, the sisters of his congregation are making a big push with limited resources to get the word out.
Spanish lay catechist’s cause for beatification moves to Rome
The Diocese of Orihuela-Alicante, Spain, has completed its investigation phase of the beatification cause of Spanish catechist Rebeca Rocamora and therefore has sent it to the Vatican for its review. Rebeca was born in 1975, and she was this pretty little blue eyed, blond haired girl. At age 10, she became profoundly ill and instead of constantly griping about it, she just impressed everyone by how much she tried to always be just an example of joy and humility despite the discomfort and pain brought by her sickness.
Then she got another illness, and this, too, never went away. And this was how she spent the last 10 years of her life, dying on Pentecost Sunday, May 26, 1996. Her bishop opened her cause in 2009 because she lived a life of joyful youth and service to God, even if it was from her sickbed.
Opus Dei introduces cause for married father of five and pediatric medicine pioneer
The personal prelature of Opus Dei has introduced the beatification cause of Dr. Ernesto Cofiño, a Guatemalan pediatrician. Born in 113 years ago this past Tuesday, June 5, he studied Medicine at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Parish, graduating with honors in 1929. Four years later, he married Clemencia Samayoa, and their union gave them five children.
One thing that set Dr. Cofiño apart was that his concern for patients did not end with their physical health. Rather it extended to all parts of their lives.
This was born out of his strong Catholic faith in Our Savior and his love for the Church’s social teaching, which he not only promoted but actively lived in his care for the poor, including street children, both unwed and married mothers, and orphans. He didn’t just write a bunch of checks. Instead, he nursed sick children back to health, he helped build clinics and social assistance centers with his own labor, and did the same with low income housing.
According to the news release announcing the opening of his cause, Dr. Cofiño was “heroic in helping organize training and educational programs for women from very poor backgrounds and other works of charitable assistance, continuing this work right up to his ninety-second year.” He did this, it is said, because he was “determined to make the Church’s social teaching a reality.”
Professionally, he pioneered many innovative practices and research projects in the medical care of Guatemalan children, and his expertise earned him the chair of Pediatrics in the Medical Faculty at the University of San Carlos, where he taught for nearly a quarter century.
Possibly his greatest example for us is that, as someone who was so greatly respected in secular society, he never lost an opportunity to say that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Dr. Cofiño was a daily communicant and a weekly penitent who had a profound devotion to Our Lady, which drew him to pray the Rosary every day.
Much of this impressive life of faith stemmed from his becoming a supernumerary for Opus Dei from 1956 until his death in Guatemala City in 1991.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issues norms on discerning validity of apparitions/locutions
Although written in 1978 and promulgated by the Servant of God Paul VI at that time, a document by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on how to discern the validity of apparitions and locutions was distributed only to priests.
However, at the Synod of Bishops in 2008, the Synodal Fathers expressed concern that so many people around the world were claiming to have had supernatural apparitions and the like. Therefore, they decided the Church should issue some norms so the average person would have at least some way of determining not whether warnings about this, that, or the other forthcoming calamity were of a supernatural origin, because apparitions of Mary and even Our Lord can come from Satan (as Fr. John Hardon said of Bayside, a rejected apparition site, “There’s something appearing at Bayside, but it’s not the Virgin Mary.”). Rather, it would help all Catholics discern whether they were valid apparitions as the Church judges validity.
In his introductory note to the newly reintroduced instruction, CDF Prefect William Cardinal Levada wrote a really good explanatory note. It said, “The criterion for judging the truth of a private revelation is its orientation to Christ Himself. If it leads us away from Him, then it certainly does not come from the Holy Spirit, Who guides us more deeply into the Gospel, and not away from it. Private revelation is an aid to this faith, and it demonstrates its credibility precisely because it refers back to the one public revelation. Ecclesiastical approval of a private revelation essentially means that its message contains nothing contrary to faith and morals; it is licit to make it public and the faithful are authorised [sic] to give it their prudent adhesion.”
And, of course, it’s important to remind ourselves that we should give no credence to any apparition until it receives episcopal approval or, in some cases where there are disputes, Vatican approbation.