Saturday, January 15, 2011
Beatifications by the Hundreds
In fact practically every parish or religious community in Rome seems to have a Venerable, a Servant of God, whose cause has been passed on from the diocesan process of the examination of their lives to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, most are men and women of the 20th century.
In most parishes there are men and women of outstanding Christian virtue whose memory shines for a decade or two and then they are forgotten. In my diocese, my parish I there were outstandingly good and virtuous priests in the past, often a bit cranky but they were inspirationally holy, the same with lay people.
Pope John Paul II genuinely tried to vulgarise sainthood, to make it a normal part of ecclesial life. In the diocese of Rome there is a permanent diocesan office that looks at the possibility of Beatification for members of the diocese and it regularly feeds names to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. I wonder whether such an office should exist in every diocese. Every diocese should have an Exorcist, I think we should have opposite too, someone archiving and investigating outstanding holiness, looking for the supernatural in lives of the dead. Even if the diocesan process leads nowhere, at least there will be a preservation of the memory of the life and works of extraordinary men and women.
I think John Paul wanted us to see that the normal consequence of Baptism and Communion with Christ in His Church was heroic sanctity, that it wasn't rare as we might have supposed in the past. I am sure that he felt that in a Church that has become obsessed with the horizontal, highlighting individual sanctity was a way of emphasising the ultimate purpose of the Church: to bring us into communion with God and to save our souls and to act as a reminder that God's Grace flows into His Church through his Saints. He was trying to present us with a new "model" of Church.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake