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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Saints News for August

Have $$, will work for beatification cause

Yet another example demonstrating how expensive it is to process someone’s beatification cause.
This one concerns the cause of Ven. Mother Giovanna Bracaval, a woman religious who in the late 19th, early 20th centuries singlehandedly revived her order, the Angelic Sisters of St. Paul. Sadly it has had to be put on hold for lack of funds.
This is a shame because we have someone who is a great example of Christian holiness and perseverance in Christ. Yet her cause may never see its successful conclusion. So I’d like to encourage all your listeners out there to donate even just $3-5, but $25 or $100 if they can to this worthy effort. If they feel the Holy Spirit calling them to help, they can send their very important donations to either of these addresses:
Angelic Sisters of St. Paul - USA
Mother of Divine Providence Convent
4196 William Penn Highway
Easton, PA 18045-5067 | USA
Angeliche di S. Paolo
Attn: Causa di Madre Giovanna Bracaval
Via Casilina, 1606,
00133 Roma

The pitfalls of proving piety

While lack of money can be a huge impediment to moving a cause forward, so can people.

Case in point: The beatification cause of a Pilipino bishop, the Servant of God Alfredo Verzosa, ordinary of the Lipa diocese. He was auxiliary bishop during the approved apparitions at Lipa, the Philippines, in 1948, a man with a profound Marian spirituality, and not coincidentally a very holy man. His beatification cause needs to interview 30 people who can testify to this holiness, but so far it has been able to find only 14. 
Why the number? Well, its not the number so much. According to Sr. Julie Micosa, MCHS, “Our Postulator in Rome told us to gather at least some 30 witnesses for the cause which would be coming from testimonies of people witnessing for his sanctity, graces and miracles received from his intercession.  
This is the reason why we are asking people who still knew him to come forward and for people to pray to God for graces through the intercession of Bp. Verzosa.  To date, we have finished a documentary about his life and the explanation of the process for the cause of beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Bishop Alfredo Verzosa.  This would be of help to make him known.”

She also says there were many more who knew him, obviously, but “they have already died.” She has a point: Its sorta hard to interview a dead person. 

The cause is asking for your assistance. If anyone has information that may help the cause, please e-mail
Knights of Columbus founder’s cause moves forward

The cause of Ven. Fr. Michael McGivney, the Connecticut priest who founded the Knights of Columbus, has presented a possible miracle to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for its review. The Congregatio will now have its team of medical experts investigate to determine whether any natural explanation exists for the alleged miracle in question.  

If the investigation commission approves, “then it goes to a theological commission, which will decide whether to send a recommendation to the Holy Father for approval.” If Pope Francis gives the findings his blessings, Ven. Fr. McGivney will receive beatification and become Bl. Fr. McGivney.  

Saint G.K.?  

The famous twentieth century author G.K. Chesterton, may be a saint one day, in no small part thanks to Pope Francis.  

When His Holiness served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he approved a prayer for Chesterton’s beatification written by a local Chesterton society. Indeed, the Holy Father is a big Chesterton fan.  

Well, now he has given the go ahead to the effort of the bishop of Northampton, England, the diocese in which the writer lived. The bishop has ordered an investigation of G.K.’s life and is looking to hire a priest to lead the beatification cause. 

For those unfamiliar with Chesterton and thus don’t get why this is such a big deal, a little background. The famous pundit lived between 1874 and 1936. He was a Catholic convert, and his writings had a singularly profound impact on his time.   

Indeed, Ghandi developed his mode of non-violent resistance because of a Chesterton editorial from the early 1900s. In turn, Ghandi influenced people such as Martin Luther King, Jr., and we know what that man accomplished in our nation. So in a way, this editorial was the grandfather of the “I have a dream” speech.   

Also, many people know of the Fr. Brown mysteries, which Chesterton wrote. These books were turned into a series of movies in the mid-twentieth century, starring Alec Guinness in the title role. Guinness later went on to play Obi Wan Kenobi in the original “Star Wars” film, and he converted to Catholicism in part because of playing the Fr. Brown role.   

Saints News for June and July

Stop the insanity!

File this under, “When will you people understand what canonization is all about?!?!?!” A group is trying to stop the canonization of Bl. John Paul II until it has been conclusively, irrefutably, infallibly declared that he had absolutely nothing to do with the cover-ups in the priestly abuse scandal.

Well, guess what: It cannot be done, at least not to the extent it would satisfy conspiracy theorists. What can be done and what has been done is to satisfy beyond a reasonable doubt that His Holiness was not complicit in any cover-up.

The larger point here, however, is that these people are not judging the process of declaring someone a saint in the proper context. Being a saint does not equal one being able to see with the omniscient, omnipotent mind of God. It does not make you immaculately sinless, wise beyond all human understanding, or anything like it. It means you are holy. Period. Bottom line. Today, we would consider St. Noel Charbanel, one of the North American martyrs a racist because of his feelings toward the Indians he not only served but for whom he died. St. Fiacre, who I write about in “Saint *Who*? was a male chauvinist. Bl. Mother Teresa of Kolkata said some things that give great pause to orthodox-minded Catholics. Ven. Fulton Sheen committed some academic indiscretions when a young college student. St. Thomas Aquinas was wrong about abortion. Are we any less convinced of these people’s holiness or their worthiness to be declared “saint” as a result of knowing this? 

Prediction: Pope Francis and the Vatican will wisely ignore this “demand.”

Will Work Canonization Fund for Money

We’ve often discussed how expensive it is to mount a beatification cause. It takes a huge amount of money because you often have to have a staff, you have travel and other related expenses, you have to have the volumes of evidence published in book form, and so much else.

Well, as a great example of this, Our Lady of Victory Basilica is trying to raise $250,000 to fund Ven. Monsignor Nelson Baker’s beatification cause. “The Padre of the Poor”‘s cause upwards of $45,000 per year, and in the next year, some of that money will go toward paying doctor honorariums for studying a potential miracle they have for Msgr. Baker.If people want to donate they can call Our Lady of Victory in Buffalo, NY, or they can go to

St. Josemaria Escriva to soon have company

On July 5, Pope Francis met with the Angelo Cardinal Amato, secretary of the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, and approved several beatification and canonization causes. The most famous news item to come out of this meeting was His Holiness’ approval of a miracle attributed to Bl. John Paul II and his declaring motu proprio Bl. John XXIII’s having met the criteria for sainthood.

However, the Holy Father also declared valid a miracle for Ven. Alvaro delPortillo, who succeeded St. Josemaria Escriva as prelate of Opus Dei. Ven. Alvaro used to drive St. Josemaria crazy, the saint said, because he never indicated a personal preference for anything. “Do you want it hot or cold?” “It doesn’t matter.” “Would you like it hard or soft?” “Whatever is best for you.” He really took to heart St. Teresa of Avila’s admonition that we shouldn’t get wrapped up in pampering ourselves with our own petty little personal preferences. We all like things to be the way that we like them. Inherently, there is nothing wrong with that. But St. Teresa said that becoming insistent on our preferences, on “pampering” ourselves, leads to a loss of mortification and thus increases the likelihood that we will sin. Again, Venerable soon to be Blessed Alvaro really seemed to take that lesson to heart, and now he’s getting beatified. Food for thought, eh?

More Congregation news

In addition to the aforementioned miracles, he also approved one for Ven. Esperanza de Jesus, foundreds of the Spanish religious order, the Congregation of the Handmaids of Merciful Love and its brother order, the Sons of Merciful Love. She died in 1983, so her cause is moving relatively swiftly. Francis then declared a bunch of Spaniards killed in their nation’s 1936-39 Civil War as martyrs, meaning they automatically make the grade for beatification. Finally, he declared five Servants of God as Venerables, which is the second step in the canonization process.

At his meeting with Cardinal Amato in June, Pope Francis approved the designation of “martyr” for 92 Spaniards killed during the civil war.

He also approved decrees of “heroic virtue”for four Servants of God, meaning they will now be called “Venerable.”

Vietnamese Cardinal sees beatificaton cause move forward

The conclusion of the diocesan investigatory phase of a Vietnamese Cardinal’s beatification cause took place in a celebratory Mass on July 4 at the Cathedral of St. John Lateran in Rome.

Bl. Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan was incarcerated by the Vietnamese communists precisely a week after the fall of Saigon in 1975. His crime? The Vatican had just named him co-adjutor bishop of Saigon -- now Ho Chi Minh City, which had been the capital of South Vietnam. For this supposed offense, he spent 13 years in a communist prison camp, much of it in solitary confinement. He managed to persuade a guard to get him an old calendar, one of those where you peel off each day’s date, and on the back of those small sheets of paper, he wrote the book, The Road to Hope. If anyone doubts this man was a saint, let them read that book. Speaking for myself, I felt I was in the man’s presence, that I wasn’t reading words on a page, but actually had the sensation of hearing the Servant of God speaking to me in intimate way, as if he was with me. From other people’s responses to this work, I know I am not alone in having had this reaction.

Following his release from prison, the Vietnamese government exiled him to Rome, where he spent the rest of his life serving as President for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. He was a lion of a man, and until the day he died, the pectoral cross he wore as his right as a bishop was made from electrical wire and wood he had scrounged during his days in prison. His cause now moves to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which will determine if he lived a life of heroic virtue.

For many of us, the outcome of this inquiry is not in doubt.

Pamplona archbishop puts a wife’s beatification cause alongside her husband’s

In 1998, the archdiocese of Pamplona, Spain, opened the beatification cause of layman Eduardo Ortíz de Landázuri. Now as of June 14, Ortiz’s wife Laura Busca also has a beatification cause going forward.

Ortiz was a prominent doctor and university professor at Pamplona’s University of Navarra Hospital. His own move toward holiness began on the night before his father’s execution by the communists during Spain’s civil war.

Just prior to the war, he had met his future wife in medical school when both were students at Madrid’s King’s Hospital, where she was a pharmacological student. Because of the war, they had to postpone marrying until 1941. After this, however, they had seven children, and often played host to St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei.

Laura’s life was known for her exemplary self-sacrifice, not only in the love she gave family and friends but with the incredible acceptance she gave to the suffering she endured from a debilitating back illness. She died in 2000. She is the twelth member of Opus Dei whose cause for beatification is going forward.

“Righteous Gentile” beatified

On Saturday, June 16, Odoardo Focherini was beatified in Carpi, Italy, making him the first person designated as a “righteous gentile” by Israel for his work to save Jews during World War II to receive this distinction.

A happily married father of seven, Focherini, reported the Jerusalem Post, built “... a clandestine network, producing false documents and escorting more than a hundred Jewish refugees across the Italian border into Switzerland, when the archbishop of Genoa, Cardinal Pietro Boetta, asked the editor-in-chief of L’Avvenire d’Italia, Raimondo Manzini, to help some Polish Jews to escape from Genoa.

“On March 11, 1944, after delivering his last false documents to Enrico Donati, a Jewish refugee in the Hospital of Carpi, Focherini was arrested by Italian Fascists and submitted to interrogation regarding a letter in which he wrote that he was helping Jews “not for profit, but out of pure Christian charity.”“ His efforts saved more than 100 lives.

The fascists deported him to Italy, where the Nazis incarcerated him at the Flossenburg concentration camp. While working outside the camp, he sustained a leg injury, which led to his contracting the blood poisoning that killed him on December 27, 1944, at age 37. When asked why he had worked so hard to save the Jews, he answered, “If you had seen, as I have seen in this prison, how Jews are treated here, your only regrets would be not to have saved more of them.”

Vlad is having a good week

Gotta give it to Vladimir Putin. He's having a good week. Kudos to him for proposing a removal of Syria's cache of chemical weapons. Of course, this will take years, and he knows it. But it's a good place to start on the road to peace.

That said, I don't support President Barack Obama desire to attack Syria -- at all. However, Mr. Putin, give props to the POTUS. His motivation for joining this conflict is not to weaken Russia. It is to punish the commission of a moral attrocity. What is your motivation for defending Assad? To weaken America. So don't lecture us about being the world's policeman. At least the US is willing to take a moral stand and to do something other than just lob words. And I'm sorry, but we -- the United States of America -- are exceptional. History proves this time and again.

ADDENDUM: I read the Times piece. It's worth reading. Putin says his concern is international law. He makes some good points. As I can't know his heart, I can't judge how sincere he is, so I have to take him at his word.