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About “Instant Saints”

Unnecessary and controversial haste: Blessed Pope John Paul II

We all know and hopefully dislike the “instant” that has become so common in our time. Instant coffee, instant soup, instant gratification. After a while, it turns out that the instant coffee isn’t really at par with the non-instant one, the instant soup is even worse, and the instant gratification is not really gratifying and only takes one away from more important gratifications requiring, alas, much more time; guitar instead of video games, say, or learning Italian to read your Dante properly, or just something simple like a slowly and lovingly cooked meal rather than pre-processed garbage.

Andrea Tornielli at “Vatican Insider” has now a rather worrying story about a new manifestation of this instant gratification mentality, “instant canonisation”.

The re-inventor (in modern times) of this new fashion is – and how could it have been otherwise – the late Pope, Blessed John Paul II. Pope John Paul II was not one for waiting, particularly if easily gained instant popularity for the Church was part of the equation. Therefore, he sounded around whether in the case of Mother Theresa those oppressive red tape procedures – already largely massacred from … himself – could not have been skipped altogether, elegantly jumping the boring formality of beatification and immediately starting to work on the next Great Media Show And Popularity Festival, Mother Teresa’s canonisation.

Those asked must have politely defined the initiative, in “Yes, Prime Minister” parlance, “courageous”, because even if John Paul II skipped, with the usual athleticism, the minimum waiting time, the beatification itself was not skipped.

We are now informed that after the death of the late Pope, the same ideas were circulated; this time, concerning Pope John Paul himself, and promoted by none other than his secretary, Stanislaw Dziwisz. Here the Polish athleticism reached Usain Bolt proportions, the idea that a Pope should make a historical exception in the matter of the canonisation of his own predecessor being very similar to Merriam-Webster’s definition of “questionable”.

Happily, Pope Benedict had the sense of braking the impetus of the former secretary, though he didn’t see it fit to stick to the rules, either. Therefore, we got another “exception”, the second in just a few years. Predictably, this second exception didn’t fail to damage the institution of Beatification, – which is, as you will remember, not a matter of infallibility like the canonisation – attract vocal criticism and, in general, succeed in making of a rather uncontroversial institution the object of loud disputes.

This, the late Pope had not deserved, as his undoubtedly saintly character and exemplary life (as a religious, I mean) would have certainly allowed for a slowly cooked, but far more savoury and enjoyable beatification at a later point in time. It surprises one that the Church, accustomed and expected to think in very long terms, should completely forget her own wise habits regarding an institution so directly linked with her prestige and reputation.

Like instant coffee and instant soup, instant beatification proved a rather tasteless, inferior product.

Mundabor

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Pius XII: Beatification Prayer Is Already Approved!

Many signs of upcoming beatification: Pope Pius XII

Browsing the net, I have found that this rather impressive news had already been published by the Corriere della Sera last November. The link is not accessible without logging in, therefore I will link to this for those of you blessed with a knowledge of the most useless, but most beautiful language on the planet.

The information is very clear and rather complete, and it is improbable that the Corriere della Sera would risk a blunder on such a matter. It would therefore appear that the prayer has been written by don Nicola Bux, an advisor of the CDF, and that it has already obtained the imprimatur from Cardinal Bagnasco, the head of the italian Bishop’s Conference.

It also transpires from the article ( I didn’t know it) that Rai Uno has broadcast a TV series about the life of Pius XII, obviously criticised by the professional holocaust-whinos among those of the Jewish persuasions. Being Rai Uno rather conservative, still clearly Catholic and with the best links with the Vatican, it seems clear to me that the work was meant to “prepare” the Italians to a beatification that it is now difficult not to consider probable in the next few years. In addition, it seems even more difficult to believe that all preparatory work would be made without at least a “safe” miracle, whose existence has been wildly rumoured but never confirmed.

I do hope that Pope Benedict will find the courage to proceed with the beatification of this great, great Pope, choosing – as he must in this case – to weather the storm caused by the liberal, the ignorant and some of the above-mentioned “older brothers and sisters”. A political decision, of course, by which the Holy Father will have to weight the positive and – if any 😉 – negative effects.

May I remind you on this occasion that, on the day of Pope Pacelli’s death, the great saint Padre Pio had a beatific vision of the Pope in paradise, surrounded by angels, which went on for hours. Padre Pio himself never made a mystery of such an occurrence and for the rest of his life showed the utmost certainty about the holy Pope being in Paradise. It goes without saying that the devout followers of Padre Pio – yours truly among them – will, due to the extraordinary power and duration of this vision, find it difficult not to be as persuaded about Pope Pius XII’s immediate access to Paradise as the great Saint himself was.

Let us hope and pray. It seemed clear to me, though, that it is now only a matter of “when”, not “if”.

Mundabor

Blessed John Paul II: An Attempt At User’s Instructions

Nadia Sepiello, "Padre Pio". Source:http://www.galassiaarte.it/Pittori/nadia_sepiello.html

Reading around the Internet some of the reflection about today’s beatification of John Paul II, I would like to point out to a couple of aspects which are, in my eyes, rather important in order to put today’s events in the right perspective. Though I have already written a similar post here, I’d like to tackle the issue again from the point of view of the effect it causes on others, particularly non-Catholics.

1) A beatification has the same rank of a private revelation. No Catholic is obliged to believe that the person made blessed really is in Paradise. This obligation only comes into effect with the canonisation. This should, I think, always be said very clearly when you discuss the matter.

2) A beatification (or a canonisation) exclusively deals with the saintly life and heroic virtue of the blessed or saint and with the presence of the required number (if any; for the beatification of martyrs no miracles are required) of miracles, but is no endorsement of the operate of a person as a Pope, or in whatever other public role he might have been involved. Please stress this to everyone you talk about the matter. This should also be stressed with much energy whenever someone mentions the beatification.

3) The great “expansion” of the number of beatifications starting from JP II is, in my eyes, questionable; still, given the fact that as a Catholic do not have to believe a single one of the beatifications anyway I allow myself to feel relaxed on the point. My – or your – questioning the opportunity of such a number of beatification is therefore perfectly orthodox.

4) More delicate is the question about canonisations. As Catholics, we are bound to believe that the canonised person is in Paradise. As Catholics, we must believe that the Holy ghost would never, ever allow a Pope to make a mockery of the process. Every criticism of the new canonisation process must therefore keep this truth in sight: that every canonisation is to be accepted by the faithful as truth, be they very few or very many. This is very important if we want to avoid confusing our interlocutors.

5) Personally, I didn’t like JP II’s pontificate; not one bit; neither as a whole, nor in any one of his single most defining traits. I’d say that after Paul VI, JP II can be considered the worst Pope of modern times, by a comfortable margin. But this is my assessment of his pontificate, not of his saintliness.  I strictly detach the first (the in my eyes catastrophic effect of almost 27 years of “Wojtylism”, by which an entire generation of Catholics grew up without even knowing the Ten Commandments, but ready to fill airports) from the second (the fact that the man was really trying to do his best, and was personally very holy).

6) “Holy” doesn’t mean, again, perfect in the same way as heroic virtue doesn’t mean perfection.  People have their own foibles and character’s traits, the blessed and saints as everyone else. Even Padre Pio had his shortcomings, and was harshly criticised because of them. But we honour the saint anyway; even more so, because in reflecting about the shortcomings of very saintly men we can better understand how difficult it was for them, as for everyone else.

I assume that every conservative Catholic can easily agree with all the above points, though there will be obvious differences in the assessment of the concrete situation. Again, by every criticism we run the danger of confusing the Catholics and must, therefore, be particularly prudent.

If I were challenged by non-Catholics, or by non conservative Catholics, to say a word about the beatification I would accurately separate:

a) the man from the pope,

b) the canonisation from the beatification and

c) my dislike with this or that part of the new procedure with the Catholic Truth concerning canonisations.

As Catholics, please let us be mindful that whilst we can criticise the beatification procedure as much as we want, we must be mindful not to give the impression that we have ceased to believe in the binding value of the canonisations.

In addition, by the appalling ignorance about Catholicism now rampant ever among Catholics themselves, I wouldn’t give any critical, liberal Catholic a reason to believe that Catholic truth are considered not so untouchable, if even conservative Catholics appear to attack them.

Within the boundaries of acceptance of Catholic truth in the matter, I’d say that everyone should feel free to exercise his criticism as much as he likes.

A non-Catholic seeing that a Catholic can be very critical, but is always loyal will register the fact and, at a more or less conscious level, remain impressed.

Mundabor

Canonisation, Beatification And Papal Infallibility.

Beatified or not, my hero. Pius XII, "Pastor Angelicus".

Following a very interesting intervention of Schmenz in reply to a former post, I spent some time looking for some credible description of how a Catholic is to react to a decree of canonisation or beatification. This particularly in view of the upcoming beatification (and one day, perhaps, canonisation) of the late Pope JP II, an event which will clearly excite both an oceanic wave of enthusiasm and a smaller, but noticeable one of dismay.

I have already made clear that in my eyes the worth as a Blessed of John Paul II is to be seen in his saintly character, not in his working as a Pope. This is nothing new or wrong as a beatification or canonisation isn’t, nor could it ever be, a seal of approval of political action.

Now let us see what the Catholic Encyclopedia says on the matter of canonisation.

1) There are two types of canonisation, formal and equivalent.

Formal canonization occurs when the cultus is prescribed as an explicit and definitive decision, after due judicial process and the ceremonies usual in such cases. Equivalent canonization occurs when the pope, omitting the judicial process and the ceremonies, orders some servant of God to be venerated in the Universal Church; this happens when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted

2) It is evident that modern canonisations are all formal ones; that they are the object of a prescription; that the decision is explicit and definitive. That they, as such, bind every Catholic. In matters of canonisation,ours is not to reason why“. This is only logical, as the nature itself of the canonisation is to give the faithful certainty, not hope, that the canonised person is in Heaven.

3) Whether the decree of canonisation is an expression of Papal Infallibility (as, says the Catholic encyclopedia, most theologians think) or not, the result of the canonisation is evidently not less binding, and this is what interests us here. When the Church formally decrees that Titius or Caius are Saint Titius and Saint Caius, every Catholic is bound to accept this as part and parcel of his Catholic belief. Still, this mandatory belief does not stretch to the man in question having done everything right and not even to his having had heroic virtue; what every catholic is bound to believe is merely that the canonised person is in heaven.

Very different is the case of Beatification.  The Catholic Encyclopedia again:

This general agreement of theologians as to papal infallibility in canonization must not be extended to beatification, not withstanding the contrary teaching of the canonical commentary known as “Glossa” […] Canonists and theologians generally deny the infallible character of decrees of beatification, whether formal or equivalent, since it is always a permission, not a command;

Clearly, here the Church is not saying “you have to believe”, but “you are allowed to believe”. You can therefore – as long as no canonisation intervenes – refuse to believe that the one or other person declared Blessed is in heaven in the same way as you can, say, not believe in the Fatima apparitions.There can be no question of infallibility, because there is no question of prescription in the first place.

In practical terms, this means that a Catholic is allowed to question the prevalent opinion that, say, John Paul II is in heaven but is not allowed to question the prescriptive decree that, say, Padre Pio is.

Mundabor

Sainthood And The Church

As you can see here, there are a lot of saints.

The impending beatification of John Paul II will no doubt cause many questions among non-Catholics as to what this beatification is, and might reinforce many of them in their errors and misconceptions about this beautiful Catholic institution of beatification and canonisation.

I’d like here to give some very short explanations in bullet points, in the hope that in the coming months some non-Catholics may end up here and get some benefit from them and that Catholics may get some points to give explanations if and when required.

1) Everyone who is in paradise is a saint. Everyone. Angels are saints, the Holy Innocents are saints, etc.

2) Normally we cannot know whether someone is in Paradise. When the neighbour dies we know that he is either in hell, or in purgatory, or in paradise. Purgatory is widely believed to be the most frequent occurrence at death, but no one really knows. In Catholicism, individual certainty of someone’s destination is a sin of presumption, unless one believes one’s own private revelation (say: an apparition); indirectly, he can draw a big amount of confidence from the truth of a credible revelation to someone else (say: Saint Padre Pio’s well-known hours-long mystical vision of Pope Pius XII in Heaven on the day of his death). ” I believe that John Lennon is in Paradise because he wrote such beautiful music” does not qualify.

3) Catholic theology says that those in purgatory cannot effect intercessory prayer for those on earth, but those on earth can do the same for the souls in purgatory; on the other hand the saints can pray and intercede for those on earth, but not for those in purgatory. Notice the “circle” of prayer here, with saints being able only to help those on earth, who themselves are the only ones who can help those in purgatory. In this way there is a beautiful solidarity, a chain of love or if you prefer a “prayer cooperative”. This common destiny and common purpose uniting every good Catholic (souls in hell aren’t catholic, and can’t be helped) is called by the Church “communion of saints”.

4) As a consequence, a Catholic will need some clues to know those to whom he can pray for intercession knowing that they will actually hear their prayer and be able to intercede for them. He can obviously ask Christ or the Blessed Virgin directly, but the beauty of the communion of saints is in the mutual giving and receiving help like members of a loving family. Therefore, one may prefer to ask a person particularly dear to him to help him and to intercede for him by Christ. In order to do so, he’d be helped if he knew, instead of hoped, that the relevant person is really a saint, that is, is really in heaven. Mind, though, that no Catholic is forbidden to ask for the intercession of someone of whom he thinks that he is very probably in heaven.

5) God helps this system of “prayer cooperative” by making known that the one or the other actually is in heaven. He does so by linking a miracle to this person. With one miracle one can be declared Blessed, with two he can be declared a Saint. Notice that here the “s” is capitalised. Whether the miracle has occurred is decided – after an always careful and generally lengthy process – by a Vatican “ministry”, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

6) Whilst the miracle is God’s choice, the decision whether to declare the beatification or sainthood is the Pope’s choice and it is an eminently political one. A Pope might think a canonisation dangerous or politically not convenient (eg. because it could spark a wave of persecutions, as in Thomas More’s case; or a wave of slandering, as it is probably the case by Pope Pius XII), or he might not be persuaded himself that the work of the congregation was really good, that is: that the person is really in paradise. He cannot “kill” the process though, merely let things rest.

7) One day, a Pope decides that the moment has come and a man or woman is ready to be declared Saint. His decision is inspired in the sense that God takes care that a Pope does not make mistakes in this matter*.  In the last centuries, this process was very slow and people canonised were people who had lived a couple of centuries before, but there always were exceptions. The late Pope John Paul II was himself of the opinion that canonisations (and beatifications, comes to that) of recently deceased people were the best choice, because their memory is still well alive among the faithful. This was the thinking followed in the first thirteen centuries or so, with some canonisations being really, really fast (think of St. Francis: death on the 3 October 1226; canonisation on the 16th July 1228).

8) Coming back to 6), the beatifications or canonisations of particularly popular people have always been relatively uncomplicated, whilst those pertaining to politically sensitive people have been, or are being, slower. But be assured that Thomas More and Pope Pius XII do not care in the least for that. There is no race to be canonised first and the speed of canonisation is no indication whatsoever of the “ranking” among saints. This is important in order to understand that calls of “santo subito”, particularly when angry or expressing a demand rather than a wish, are not really Catholic and are more suitable to football stadiums.

9) Once a Pope has taken his decision about a canonisation, every Catholic is bound by it*. A Catholic rejoices for every canonisation not only because of the happy news, but because he knows that many people will be drawn to Christ through the canonisation of the person they love.

The reasons for a fast-track for John Paul II are now evident. The sainthood of the man is uncontroversial among everyone except the most severe sedevacantists; his popularity makes of such a beatification a great weapon in the Church’s hands; his beatification helps to shift the accent from the political aspects of his pontificate (which many don’t like, yours truly included) to the towering spiritual dimension of the person.

It is not – and it can never be – about “giving precedence to celebrities”; it is about recognising that:
a) The Pope seems to believe that God wants hom to know that the man is in Paradise, and
b) the Pope doesn’t see any political obstacle to his declaring so in front of all Christianity.

This is as simple as that. It doesn’t mean that one only becomes blessed if he is a celebrity. It doesn’t mean that only famous people are said to go to heaven. It doesn’t mean that “Church celebrities” get special favours compared to those whose beatification has not been declared and emphatically it does not mean that, between two saints, the one is “more of a saint” that has been canonised or beatified.

Mundabor

* the matter is slightly different with the beatification. With it, the Church merely declares that it is “worthy of belief” that the person in question is in heaven. There is, though, no obligation for every Catholic to feel bound by this.

Blessed John Paul II, 1. May 2011

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

And so it is out: the beatification of JP II will take place on the 1st May.

I am, as no reader of this blog can avoid noticing, no great fan of the man as a Pope. I think that his contribution to the fall of Communism is vastly, vastly exaggerated (the one who did it for communism was clearly the Gipper; George Walker Bush and Pope John Paul II only reaped the benefits afterwards and the liberal press would commit suicide rather than give Reagan his due) and I find it frankly extraordinary that a Pope should be praised for…. being opposed to Communism.

As far as his work as Pope is concerned, I personally think that the only redeeming feature of his too long Pontificate is the fact that he came (excluding the short weeks of what could have been a wonderful Pope, Albino Luciani) after Paul VI, the undisputed Jimmy Carter of the Church. JP II’s actions against the problems of his time (say: the Dutch Schism, Liberation Theology, the rampant “spirit of Vatican II”-mentality) can be considered in a halfway positive manner only in the light of Paul VI’s tragic impotence, but were slow and contributing to the confusion of Catholics by every other modern standard. In his appointment of Bishops, JP II will probably prove one of the most disastrous Popes of all times as he is the main responsible for the appointment of an entire generation of bad shepherds, who have almost completely given away Catholicism and will now continue to afflict the Church for a couple of decades to come.

A further problems of JP II’s pontificate is, in my eyes, the stubborn refusal to deal in an exemplary manner with people clearly responsible for grave misconduct. Cardinal Law’s treatment, or Cardinal Groer’s, are in my eyes great stains on his pontificate as they show an attitude towards grave problems by which the desire to avoid scandal and public admission of fault comes before the desire to send clear signals as to how the Church is led and what behaviour is expected from the men at the top.

And then there’s the media orgy. JP II’s pontificate can be remembered as the age of the dumbing down of everything Catholic, the search for popularity at all costs, the media circus, the desire to sink towards common people aspirations and conveniences instead of drawing them to aspire higher to Christ. From the unspeakable rock concerts (in which Catholicism had to witness the head of Catholicism being publicly scolded by rock singers; Pope Pius XII must have cried from Heaven), to the interconfessional/ecumenical/heretical events in Assisi, Fatima and elsewhere, to the in itself obviously heretical kissing of the Koran, to the relentless seeking for TV time in his pursuit to travel in the furthest corners of the globe whilst Vatican work was clearly neglected (cue the inefficiency and indecisiveness in tackling the problems of the Church, like the evident issue of rampant homosexuality in the seminaries), John Paul II’s years have diluted and banalised the Catholic message. The most dramatic example of this sad development was seen in his last days, with a huge media happening and a vast attention from a mass of individuals obviously not caring in the least for Catholicism and merely attracted by the next media-pumped collective hysteria in purest Lady Diana style. When he died, JP II had successfully transformed himself in the Che Guevara of our times, a man whose face is on millions of t-shirts carried by people who don’t even know who he was and what he wanted, but find the projected image someway cool. In the meantime, a generation of Catholics was raised without even the basis of proper Catholic instruction but hey, there were 500,000 people when he went out of the aeroplane so we are doing fine.

One of the least palatable aspects of this attitude was the late Pope’s desire to please the masses by sending ambiguous messages which, whilst not openly contradicting the Church’s teaching, were meant to give them a varnish of political correctness and make their distorted perception popular when the real ones clearly aren’t. He formally abolished the capital punishment in the Vatican, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the legitimacy of capital punishment is integral part of Catholic doctrine and as such not modifiable and not negotiable. He asked for forgiveness for the atrocities committed during the Crusades, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful of the saintliness of their cause and of the glorious page represented by the Crusades themselves. He was personally contrary to every conflict happening in his time, but conveniently forgot to remind the faithful that the Doctrine of War is also integral part of Catholic teaching. As a result of this, Pope John Paul was vastly perceived – particularly by poorly instructed Catholics, let alone by non-catholics – as a white-clothed pacifist opposed to capital punishment and ashamed for the Crusades. I am not aware of any effort he made to counter this widespread popular impression and no, this is not good.

Allow me here to also remind my readers of the Lefebvre affair. From the information I have found and read, it seems to me that a clash of egos (it happens among the saintliest men; it’s human nature) played a more than secondary role in the events but that at the root of the mess was JP II’s refusal to understand when things have gone too far and it is time to stop being stubborn and to start being reasonable. Hand on heart, I thank God for Lefebvre’s courage and determination on that occasion. To use an admittedly strong image, when the father is drunk the son who refuses to obey him is not going against the family and his father’s authority, but respecting and upholding them and the values they represent. The SSPX’s affair is, if you ask me, just another of the many avoidable blunders of John Paul II’s pontificate.

~~~

Still, behind the Pope there was the man. A deeply religious, pious, spiritual, sincere, kind man of God. A man whose mistakes were certainly never made in bad faith and whose first desire was to protect the Church and to win new souls to Christ. A man in front of whose deep spirituality and pious nature most of us (and certainly yours truly) must hang their head in shame. A man of whom you can criticise everything, but not the pure heart and the honesty of his intentions.

Whenever Catholics criticise the many mistakes of his pontificate (as they, if you ask me, should do far more often and much more vocally in order to avoid another pontificate like his to be ever repeated), they should remember – and should remind the enemies of the Church – of the purest of hearts behind those mistakes and of the example which John Paul II continues to give as a saintly man.

A saintly man is not necessarily a good Pope and a good Pope is not necessarily a saintly man. Much as we would like to see both qualities together, this is by far not always the case.

When we are blessed with a saintly Pope, I can’t see why we shouldn’t – whatever the shortcomings of his Pontificate – draw strength and inspiration from his saintliness.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Mundabor

The Papal visit to the UK

St. Chad's Cathedral. Not good enough? Source: Wikipedia

In the past weeks confused but altogether not reassuring news about the planned Papal visit to the UK have started to circulate. Explosions of costs were mentioned, uncertainties about the venues and contrasts between the local bishops and the Vatican about where to celebrate the Beatification Mass of Cardinal Newman.

It is sad that such an important occasion (important because of the powerful symbolic value of a visit in a highly secularised country as the United Kingdom) should be clouded by issues like organisational failures and lack (or better: waste) of faithful’s money. Still, some broader issues arise from this situation.

The first is the character of the Beatification Mass. I can’t see how a mass celebrated in an airport can be as solemn and edifying as a Mass celebrated in a Cathedral or other church building. In an airport, the main aspect of the Mass (the sacrificial one) is clouded by the “gathering” aspect of the event. This is in my eyes better left to the Protestants. There is a reason why buildings have been erected for the purpose of celebrating Mass rather than looking for the next available open space, and it is because they are a more fitting place.

The second issue is the necessity of such megalomaniacal planning. I do not agree that when a Pope comes to visit a huge effort should be made to allow as many people as possible to see him. The Pope is the Head of the Universal Church and his visit has a high symbolic meaning irrespective of how many people are there to see him. It is not a contest to see who can mobilise the greatest masses.

The third issue is one of pure ability and competence. If there was the capacity of organising such huge events at a reasonable cost, without squandering money and remaining within budget, then such gigantic efforts might, hypothetically, start to make some sense. But this ability is obviously not there.

The fourth issue is how the faithful’s money is spent. From the relevant internet page we are informed that £350,000 are going to be spent for “evangelisation material” and £650,000 for “communication work” of various sort. For one event. This looks like “jobs for the boys” to me. Also notice the £200,000 on “fundraising costs” in a country where the Catholic Church is represented everywhere and most wealthy donors are just a phone call away. All this, whilst churches are closed for alleged lack of funds.

It is illusory to think that one can forward the Catholic cause in the United Kingdom by organising mass gatherings. Catholicism is promoted by being Catholic, saying it out loud and demanding to be heard in every matter touching the Catholic faith. The bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are evidently deficient in this and the “missionary zeal” that the Holy Father has demanded from them is clearly not there.

A couple of televised events will not make up for the lack of this missionary zeal. Particularly if they are mismanaged.

Mundabor

Blessed Manuel Lozano Garrido, "Lolo". In case we think that our life is difficult.

Blessed Manuel Lozano Garrido, "Lolo". Source: wordpress.com

This saturday, June 12, Manuel Lozano Garrido – Spanish journalist and writer also known as “Lolo” – will be beatified. His life was extraordinary in many ways. Paralysed and forced on a wheelchair at 22, he relentlessly devoted his life to transmit to others that joy and devotion he himself was feeling. The growing intensity of his physical pain did nothing to weaken his faith. In time, he lost the use of the right hand and learnt to write with the left one; received a typewriter  and chose “My Lord” as the first words written with  it; became blind and never lost his joy or interrupted his professional activity, starting to dictate his articles instead; could not easily move and wrote inspiring articles about the processions and religious ceremonies he saw from his balcony; could not enjoy health and worried about how people affected by illness could improve their spiritual lives.

His support for “Acción Católica” and his desire to help those who, like him, were gravely hindered by their illness led to the creation of “Sinai”, a prayer community whereby groups of 12 gravely ill people prayed each for a particular media. This group grew up to 300 incurably ill people and “Sinai” also became a magazine.

A remarkable trait of this very remarkable person is that in the midst of all his trials he was, well, pretty much of a happy man. Therein lies in my opinion  the lesson he still teaches us. We make tragedies of our minor problems and at times lose our serenity because of them. We give our health for granted and spend our time worrying over comparatively trivial troubles instead. We cannot even imagine how a life of growing pain and progressive physical decay can transform itself into a life of prayer, sincere joy and spiritual help to countless people.  Lolo could do it. What a wonderful person and what a wonderful example.

You can find  here a link with extensive biographical details about this truly remarkable man. While you do, I will think of how much a simple headache troubles me and hang my head in shame.

Mundabor

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