I remember “working” at my grad student job at Boston College in the Roche Center for Catholic Education with both eyes locked in on the live feed focused on the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. I, along with much of the world, awaited the simple, yet dramatic, sign of white smoke that would signify a new era of Catholicism.
Though we get to experience something similar every four years in the United States, this type of event is different. Electing a Pope is not usually something that happens as often or as regularly as the election of the President of the United States. This particular papal election was even more significant in that it was preceded by the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, an event about as unusual as a total solar eclipse occurring at the passing of halley’s comet (6 times in last 2,000 years to 5 papal resignations). It was, to say the least, a monumental moment in history. Continue reading A Look at the Francis Effect→
Miracles were not a topic I expected to surface during our parish mission last month. But Father Tim referenced them with easy comfort.
“I’ve seen so many miracles in my fifteen years here,” he said. “Changes of heart, real conversions.” What, he implied, could be more miraculous?
Which brings us to the subject of canonization.
Supernatural miracles, long required for canonized Catholic saints, have had a storied role in the history of sainthood. Post-death miracles were mandated as a way of verifying that the potential saint was a friend of God and not a fraud or magician, and that her current address was indeed heaven.
In the centuries prior to John Paul II’s papacy, at least four miracles were required for sainthood, but in 1983 the pope lowered the requirement to two: one to be beatified, and a second to become a canonized saint. (Martyrs need only one miracle total.)
Pope Francis has gone still further, lifting the requirement for a second miracle for Pope John XXIII and dispensing the miracle requirement entirely for three other new saints.
Might the Church be moving toward eliminating the requirement for miracles? I hope so, for both theological and practical reasons.
Thank you, every woman, for the simple fact of being a woman! Through the insight which is so much a part of your womanhood you enrich the world’s understanding and help to make human relations more honest and authentic.
-Blessed Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women
These words of the soon-to-be St. John Paul II, and all of his teachings on the dignity of women, are the foundation of an organization called Endow, Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women. It’s a a Catholic group that brings women and girls together to study encyclicals, other Church documents, and the lives and writings of saints to help us understand our God-given dignity and respond to our culture’s desperate need for an authentic feminine presence. This primarily takes the form of study groups, which look a bit like book clubs. Groups meet everywhere from church basements, facilitators’ homes, schools, prisons, homeless shelters, and safe houses for abused women and children.
It’s been my joy to participate in this group for about 3 years now, first as a participant and over the last year as a group facilitator. No doubt future blog posts will speak more of this experience, but to quickly take a look back… Together, our group has studied John Paul II’s Letter to Women, Benedict XVI’s encyclical God is Love, the life and legacy of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and John Paul II’s encyclical Redemptoris Mater. These teachings and saints have become companions of ours along our journeys, educating us, but more importantly, teaching us more about how to love.
Tomorrow we begin our next study, On the Christian Meaning in Suffering, which uses John Paul II’s apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris as its source document. I expect it will be one of the most challenging to undertake.