"Do not be afraid to be the Saints of the new millennium." Pope John Paul II, section 3, Message at World Youth Day 2000 in Rome.
For most of us the word " saint" conjures up an image of a person, usually a religious, who reached such a high degree of holiness that they appear almost untouchable. We're all familiar with the traditional holy pictures - luminous halos are the order of day, along with longing eyes raised to the heavens in deep contemplation.
For the likes of most people, although these images are good and do inspire, there is also the danger that they can leave us feeling a little dejected, ever conscious of the enormous gap between "The Saints" and the reality of ourselves.
During this Papacy, like no other Pontiff, Pope John Paul II, has done much to challenge this image of sainthood. During the last twenty five years he has created more saints than at any other time in Church history. Priests, sisters, monks, lay people, children, couples, no state of life has been left unforgotten. Why? Because he and the Church is busy sending out the message that sainthood isn't just for contemplative nuns in remote convents (or though there are many to be found there), but sainthood is something we are all called to . That refers to us as a team here at CASE and that's you too!
Let's pray to become those Saints of the New Millennium. Our families, our parishes, our schools, communities, England and Wales needs no less of us!
What follows are some brief profiles on some saints and martyrs to help inspire each one of us, in our given state of life, to respond as heroically to God's love, as these individuals did.
St.Therese of Lisieux, Patroness of the Missions. Born in 1873 into a middle class family in Northern France, Therese entered the Carmelite order at the age of 15. Her road to holiness is called "The Little Way," which consisted of love and trust in God. At the direction of her spiritual director, and against her wishes, she dictated her famed autobiography " Story of a Soul " . Many miracles have since been attributed to her and she was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1997 by Pope John Paul II. Her father, Louis, was a watchmaker, her mother, who died of cancer when Teresa was 4, was a lace maker, have both have been declared Venerable by the Church. Why is she Patroness to the Missions? She highlights the truth that by fully practicing the commandment of love , everyone is immersed in the very heart of the Church's mission. In this way, as missionaries of love and charity, we are all sent out to the nations.
The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales. Following the dispute between the Pope and King Henry VIII in the 16th century , faith questions in the British Isles became entangled with political questions, with both often being settled by torture and murder of loyal Catholics. In 1970 , the Vatican selected 40 martyrs , men and women, lay and religious, to represent the full group of perhaps 300 known to have died for their faith and allegiance to the Church between 1535 and 1679 . They each have their own day of memorial, but are remembered as a group on 25 October . Let's pray for the same courage to stand up for our faith no matter what the personal cost. (For more information please see www.tyburnconvent.org.uk).
Image Copyright Notice: © Congregation of the Adorers of the Sacred Heart, OSB
Saint Thomas More was married and held the office of Chancellor of England in the 16th Century. He resigned from this post on May 16th, 1532, after King Henry VIII assumed control of the Church in England. Thomas was sent to prison for not recognising the King's supremacy in spiritual affairs. This cost Thomas his life, his last words being, "I die the King's good servant and God's first". He is regarded as a hero of conscience, staying true to his religious beliefs whatever it cost him. Saint Thomas More is regarded as the Patron Saint of Statesmen.
Archbishop Fulton John Sheen (1895-1979) was one of the most popular evangelists of the 20th century, his attractive communication style leading to many conversions. As well as broadcasting on radio for 22 years, he hosted an American TV series, “Life is Worth Living,” from 1951-7, for which he won an Emmy in 1953. He has several links with England , including St Patrick’s Church, Soho, and Tyburn Convent. In 2002 the process was opened for his beatification, something that would surely highlight the need for a renewed evangelisation today. We invite you to ask for favours through his intercession and to let us know of any you receive. More details here.