Sunday, October 17, was a great day of joy for the whole Church, as the Pope “canonized” six people, enrolling them in the list of the saints of the Church. The process of being declared a saint involves a thorough investigation into the life and writings of each person, to determine that he or she truly lived a life of Christian virtues in union with Christ. Part of the process is the presentation of two miracles, usually healings that are medically unexplainable, that were obtained through the person’s intercession.
The formula for canonization was given at the very beginning of Mass. The Pope pronounced it in Latin, and it goes something like this:
For the honor of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the growth of Christian life, on the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own authority, after mature deliberation, having implored Divine assistance and the counsel of Our Brother Bishops, We declared and define the Blesseds Stanislaw Kazimierczyk, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria de Jesus Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano e Battista da Varano to be Saints, and to be recorded in the Catalog of Saints and that in the Universal Church they may be devoutly honored among the Saints.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
The more I try to live a truly Christian life, the more I see how difficult it is, and the more I rely on the help, intercession, and the example of the saints, who prove that with God all things are possible. Saints are the greatest treasures of the Church, they are our pride and joy, and their lives are the greatest testimony to the truth of the Gospel and the power of God to transform human life. They should inspire us to give our lives more completely to God and to accept more willingly all that He gives us.
In the picture above, St. Andre Bessette is on the left and St. Mary of the Cross (MacKillop) is on the right.
St. Andre Bessette was a brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. The brothers were first reluctant to accept him because of his poor health, but they eventually did because of the conviction that, if he were unable to work, at least he was able and willing to pray. He lived a simple and very humble life, seving his brothers in the congregation, welcoming people who came to visit Montreal, praying with the sick, and encouraging devotion to St. Joseph. His special project was to build a shrine in honor of the husband of Mary, which is now the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world. When he died in 1937, one million people came to pay homage to him, a great sign of the power of God who “lifts up the lowly.” He is the first male, Canadian-born saint to be canonized.
St Mary MacKillop was born to a very poor Scottish family in Australia in 1842. She wanted especially to teach children, and at the encouragement of a parish priest she and some other women formed a religious community in 1867. Their community grew very quickly, and by 1869 there were nearly sixty sisters teaching in schools and working in orphanages. Mary MacKillop’s real character comes out, not in her success, but in her sufferings, as she was excommunicated by the bishop once and later forcefully deposed as superior of the order. She welcomed all these hardships (even coming from the church) as the will of God. She wrote “The will of God is to me a very dear book and I never tire of reading it.”
As a priest, I was very moved to see that the vocations of both saints came through a connection to their parish priest. It was a parish priest who encouraged Br. Andre to go to the Holy Cross Fathers, and it was a parish priest who shared Mary MacKillop’s vision and helped her found the order. What a great reminder that part of parish priesthood is being holy and doing God’s will, and part of it is helping others to be holy and to do God’s will. What a great mission God has given the whole Church!
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