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Come, Holy Spirit, send forth the heavenly radiance of your light! Come, Father of the poor; Come, Giver of gifts; Come, Light of the heart; Greatest Comforter, Sweet Guest of the soul… fill the inmost heart of Your faithful, cleanse that which is unclean; water that which is dry; heal that which is wounded; bend that which is inflexible; fire that which is chilled; correct what goes astray. (from Veni Sancti Spiritus)
this prayer to the Spirit, I pray with you with greater intimacy and focus. The corona virus is compelling us all to stop and take a long, evaluative look at what have happened locally and globally that has led us to where we are now in order that the Spirit may lead us to new creative paths. The pandemic is teaching us that our world needs renewal or else we are all going to perish. Our regard for every human person, systems operative in the family, neighborhood communities, schools, churches, religions, politics, economics, technology, social media, our care for Mother Earth, they all need to be re-grounded on more universal, inclusive, equitable, less judgmental, adversarial, principles in order for us to thrive anew as a civilization of love and life.
We welcome anew the Spirit at Pentecost but we somehow forget that the Spirit was here from the very beginning at Genesis. (cf. Genesis 1:2) The movement of the Spirit has always been to bring order from chaos, to give life, to lead us to all truth, to teach us everything that we need to know. (John 16:13) But the same Spirit blows wherever it wills and we cannot tell where it comes and where it goes. (John 3:8). Our theologizing, our calculated thinking and planning cannot predict nor inhibit the way of the Spirit. It always surprises us, expanding our vision and freeing our hearts more and more from all encumbrances so that we are free for God in our world. Just as we cannot see air, silence, the Holy Spirit renews our world in ways beyond our seeing. We simply have to be present to Presence in every moment.
Our world including Mother Earth is in birth pangs about what is the future like after the pandemic. The great mystic Julian of Norwich, in his 13th Showing, says it, “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.” He explained this to mean, to be joyful in all circumstances, however adverse, for the reason that all things will ultimately be put right in Christ. We need to be careful about how to receive this message. Does this mean we simply fold our hands and leave everything to God? Is this some kind of soft theology that promises manna from heaven amidst our suffering?
The pandemic is teaching us to hope. Hope is our capacity to entrust the future in the hands of a loving God. Hope is not something soft; it is a struggle to hope. We struggle because it seems that evil, tyranny, violence, fear, death is more dominant than goodness, peace, unity, love, life. God’s response to evil is hidden in the risen Christ. He never rescued his Son at the crucible of suffering but he eventually validated him with new life after he passed through helplessness, fear, violence, death. God will ultimately vindicate us and will show the world and all its systems how wrong it was in many ways. (cf. John 16:8) But we need to decide. In the face of evil and suffering, shall we allow our hearts to be dominated by fear, hopelessness, indifference, bitterness, anger, disappointment or shall we be more open, responsive, loving, forgiving, life-giving? The Spirit renews our world and all of creation in more patient, gentle and humble ways. We are invited not to stand in its way but to flow with the agenda of God for our world.
So, what is ours to do to? What are the possibilities and challenges that are being offered to us that we need to attend to with renewed courage and hope? Someone once said, “today we don’t need big men with little hearts but small men with big hearts for only the little and the small can pass through the eye of the needle.” Little acts of goodness done with extravagant and committed hearts. Our new normal today is an imperative to return to the basics of Gospel living, corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Our own Brother Charles has left us a spirituality – imitate Jesus in Nazareth, seek the last place, live simply, do apostolate of goodness one person at a time, be a brother and friend to every person regardless of color, creed, status, be close to the poor. Pope Francis is urging us to go to the peripheries, be harbingers of the joy of the gospel, safeguard minors and vulnerable adults, engage in on-going formation, protect Mother Earth our common home. We also need to go back with new enthusiasm to the basics of our spiritual practice – daily adoration, daily meditation of the Gospel, review of life, monthly day in the desert, fraternity meetings. We renew our fidelity to the practice not to perfect ourselves but to take greater responsibility for the gift and let its fruits flow to others infinitely until God is glorified in their own lives.
Brothers, in this time of the pandemic, we receive a special gift from Mother Church – declaring Brother Charles a saint. Together with the other members of the spiritual family including those who have been inspired by Brother Charles but are not “canonized” members of the spiritual family, we thank the Spirit for this gift. We hope and pray that Brother Charles’s life, message, intuition, legacy may be made more available and be an inspiration to many people, as the Spirit wills. For ourselves too, we pray for greater resolve to witness in our lives and ministry what Brother Charles had lived for.
I end my letter with the Collect at Mass today – “Father, sanctify your whole church in every people and nation and pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth.”
Thank you very much. We continue to hold each other and our world in prayer. Please pray for me also.
Philippines, 31 May 2020
Blessed Charles de Foucauld, hermit, whose cause for canonization was advanced with the recognition of a miracle attributed to his intercession
With the approval of Pope Francis, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints publishes decrees advancing the causes of various holy men and women, including Venerable Michael McGivney, the founder of the Knights of Columbus; Blessed Charles de Foucauld, a French hermit who was martyred in North Africa; and Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, a French laywoman who founded the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and the Living Rosary Association.
By Vatican News
Pope Francis on Wednesday advanced the causes for canonization of twelve holy men and women, authorizing the publication of decrees recognizing various miracles, as well as the martyrdom of an Italian missionary in El Salvador and a group of Cistercian monks in Italy.
The Congregation for the Causes of the Saints recognized miracles attributed to the intercession of Venerable Father Michael McGivney, founder of the Knights of Columbus; and to Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, foundress of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and the Living Rosary Association. The way is now cleared for the two to be beatified.
Miracles were also attributed to three Blesseds: Charles de Foucauld, Cesare de Bus, and Maria Domenica Mantovani. The official acceptance of the miracles means that all three can now be canonized.
The Congregation also determined that Franciscan priest Cosma Spessotto was killed in odium fidei, that is, out of hatred of the faith. Father Cosma was a missionary in El Salvador who was martyred in 1980.
Finally, the Congregation recognized the martyrdom of six Cistercian monks who were killed as they tried to safeguard the Eucharist when their abbey was attacked by French soldiers during the Napoleonic wars.
The decrees on martyrdom will allow the causes of Father Cosma and the Cistercian monks to proceed.
Below, please find the text of the notification of publication of decrees from Congregation for the Causes of Saints, followed by brief biographical notices prepared by Vatican News.
Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints
On May 26, 2020, the Holy Father Francis received in audience His Eminence Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the same Congregation to promulgate the Decrees regarding:
- the miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Cesare de Bus, priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine (Doctrinari); born on February 3, 1544 in Cavaillon (France) and died in Avignon (France) on April 15, 1607;
- the miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Charles de Foucauld (known as Charles of Jesus), diocesan priest; born in Strasbourg (France) on 15 September 1858 and died in Tamanrasset (Algeria) on 1 December 1916;
- the miracle, attributed to the intercession of Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, Co-founder and first Superior General of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family; born on November 12, 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone (Italy) and died there on February 2, 1934;
- the miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Michael McGivney, Diocesan Priest, Founder of the Order of the Knights of Columbus; born on August 12, 1852 in Waterbury (United States of America) and died in Thomaston (United States of America) on August 14, 1890;
- the miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Pauline Maria Jaricot, Founder of the Works of the “Society for the Propagation of the Faith” and the “Living Rosary”; born on July 22, 1799 in Lyon (France) and died there on January 9, 1862;
- the martyrdom of the Servants of God Simeon Cardon and 5 companions, professed religious of the Cistercian Congregation of Casamari; killed in Casamari, in hatred of the Faith, between 13 and 16 May 1799;
- the martyrdom of the Servant of God Cosma Spessotto (in the world: Sante), a professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor; born in Mansué (Italy) and killed in San Juan Nonualco (El Salvador), in hatred of the Faith, on June 14, 1980.
Blessed Cesare de Bus was distinguished by works of charity and zeal in preaching and catechizing. He founded the “Secular Priests of Christian Doctrine” devoted to preaching Christian doctrine. He also founded an order of women, the Daughters of Christian Doctrine, which died out in 17th century.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld was an officer in the French army. He became a Trappist monk, but left the order to live as a hermit. He was ordained to the priesthood in France, then settled in the Algerian Sahara. He evangelized the Bergers, learning their language and culture. De Foucauld was assassinated at his hermitage in 1916.
Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani was the co-founder, with her spiritual director Fr Giuseppe Nascimbeni, of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, dedicated to educating children and young women, and assisting the sick and elderly of the community. She became the first superior of the order, taking the name “Maria Giuseppina of the Immaculata”.
Venerable Michael McGivney was the founder of the Knights of Columbus, now the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization. After studies in Canada and the United States, he was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop James Gibbons in Baltimore. He founded the Knights of Columbus as a mutual aid society, geared especially to working men and their families. He was known for his tireless work among his parishioners. He died at the early age of 38 from pneumonia. Following Wednesday’s announcement, the Knights of Columbus released a statement, where you can read more about the life of Ven Michael McGivney and the work of the Knights.
Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot was devoted to assisting the work of missionaries, encouraging all Catholics to involve themselves in the work of spreading the Gospel. She founded the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, dedicated to helping missionary efforts worldwide; and the Living Rosary Association, whose associates are committed to saying a decade of the Rosary each day. In 1835 she was healed of a serious illness after visiting the shrine of Saint Philomena in Italy.
The Servant of God Simeon Cardon was the prior of the Cistercian abbey in Casamari, Italy. During the Napoleonic wars, French soldiers sacked the abbey, breaking into the Church and scattering consecrated Hosts on the floor. When the Servant of God, with five fellow monks, attempted to retrieve the Hosts, they were shot by the soldiers and killed.
The Servant of God Cosma Spessotto joined the Franciscans in 1940, and was ordained eight years later. Filled with zeal for missionary work, he went to El Salvador in 1950, at the time one of the poorest nations in the Americas. He preached peace amidst the violence in the country. He was killed in 1980 as he knelt in prayer in his church. He is remembered for his love of the poor and his witness to fraternity.