“Holiness is the whole point of our existence, and life is not worth living if we do not tend toward this goal.” (Madame Cécile Bruyère, Abbess)
When I was in grade school, we began every morning opening our large heavy song books to first sing our national anthem, then America the Beautiful, then another patriotic song. Sadly, in this century, we only celebrate freedom in the Catholic mass. These songs, centuries old, rightly celebrate patriotism within the context of God’s providence. It should be no surprise for the Catholic church to carry forward our heritage of freedom. After all, Catholic history is world history. One cannot study it without finding Catholic saints throughout.
This month provides opportunity for a deepening understanding of our living heritage in the communion of saints. If time is spent in mental prayer building relationship with God, He will draw us to the saint He already has planned to mentor us. Reading of their lives, however, may seem as if little relates to your own life. Ask God for new eyes to see! Although their circumstances may differ, the virtues and truths of the faith never change. It simply takes time and prayer to train the ‘spiritual eyes’ to see what God is illuminating for you in their story.
November 11 was Veterans day, a celebration that grew out of the end of WWI. Suffering forms saints, giving us an opportunity to become acquainted with Blessed Karl, the king of Hungary during WWI, and his wife Blessed Zita.
To begin with, notice that both husband and wife are on the docket for full sainthood. How did they do that? We’ll never know the details but it seems by all accounts they (1) entered into the marriage seeking holiness and recognizing it in one another, (2) considered marriage permanent, given that Blessed Zita lived another 67 years as a widow after Blessed Karl’s death, raising 8 kids in exile (3) knew that marriage was a selfless, other-centered sacrifice rather than a collaboration attempting to have their own needs met (4) being God-focused results in relationships centered in honesty rather than lies of omission, manipulation, or deception to self-protect or control others. This reflects the relationship between the three persons of the Trinity, of which their sacramental marriage was an extension. We see the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work as evidence.
The story speaks for itself and is worth reading to the end. From Blessed Karl’s cause for canonization we find:
- “In a world where many do not believe in God, we need Blessed Karl’s faith.
- Where the world is indifferent to the poor and needy, we need Karl’s example of charity and almsgiving.
- Where abortion is perceived as birth control, and illegitimate births outnumber births to married couples, we need Emperor Karl’s compassion and care for all human life.
- Where the number of couples cohabiting without benefit of marriage is at an alltime high. we need Karl of Austria’s example of Christian matrimony.
- Where divorce is rampant, and absentee fathers all too common, we need Karl’s steadfast love for his wife and children.
- In lands where politicians rely on polls to create their policies rather than on moral and ethical principles, we need the moral conviction of Emperor Karl.
- Where politicians seek office for personal gain, we need the selflessness of King Karl of Hungary.
- Where Catholic politicians vote against Catholic teaching, and their conscience, in order to stay in office, we need the fidelity to the teachings of the Church exhibited by Blessed Karl.
- Where laws are made to benefit wealthy lobbyists rather than common people, we need the example of Karl’s love and concern for people of every race and social class.
- Where war, strife, discord and conflict abound, we need the passion for peace of the last Habsburg Monarch.
- Where millions suffer from illness and infirmity, we need the example of Karl, who bore all trials and tribulations with the words: “Thy Will be done!”
Blessed Karl of Austria must be canonized! Not because he needs it, but because we need his inspiring and selfless example.”
Bottom line: compromise wasn’t an option for him, and it should not be for us either.
Our world today is flooded with mind-numbing reality TV shows, heightened emotions from polarized and sensationalized media, and anti-God agendas. It is difficult to imagine pursuing holiness let alone attaining it. Yet our saints remind us that, through our baptism, we share the same permanent mark or ‘character’ on our soul that they have. The word “Christ” itself means anointed; to be a Christian, we too are spiritually anointed.
The 3rd century prayer, Sub Tuum Praesidium, is one of the oldest prayers of the Catholic church. It was discovered sketched into the walls of the catacombs where persecuted Christians hid and secretly held the sacrifice of the altar. It demonstrates the early Catholics held not only a high reverence for Mary but also belief in her intercession, a mark of her being ‘full of grace’; her perfect integrity. November 21 we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the day her parents Sts. Joachim and Ann dedicated her as a baby to the Lord. Then at age three, she was given to his temple for service. Let us join those same martyrs, who now pray for and with us in Heaven, and pray on behalf of our worldwide church. In particular, we hold up Pope Francis, all clergy and religious.
We fly to thy protection, O holy Mother of God, despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam 😊
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