Recently in Saints, Blesseds, and other Holy People Category

Fr_Hardon.jpgFor those not familiar with Fr. John Anthony Hardon, SJ, he was a wonderful teacher of the faith who lived in Detroit. He trained catechists and wrote an adult catechism which helped me on the way into the Church; he gave retreats, and spoke to many audiences. He's also noted for making converts: quite a few Catholics found or returned to the faith through an encounter with him.

Supporters of his cause for beatification are building a website presenting many of his talks in text form and as mp3s.

(A prayer for his intercession is posted on the home page of that web site.)

St. Maximos on the Resurrection

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"The Logos destroys the tyranny of the evil one, who dominates us through deceit, by triumphantly using as a weapon against him the flesh defeated in Adam. In this way he shows that what was once captured and made subject to death now captures the captor: by a natural death it destroys the captor's life and becomes a poison to him, making him vomit up all those he was able to swallow because he had the power of death. But to humankind it becomes life, like leaven in the dough impelling the whole of nature to rise like dough in the resurrection of life (cf. 1 Cor 5:6-7). It was to confer this life that the Logos who was God became man - a truly unheard of thing - and willingly accepted the death of the flesh." - St. Maximos the Confessor.

A word from the Curé of Ars

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I thank God for having had such a good heart for sinners and for having given one so good to his Mother.

Let us turn to her with a great confidence, and we are sure that, however miserable we may be, she will obtain for us the grace of our conversion.

The most holy Virgin places herself between her Son and us.

The more we are sinners, the more she has tenderness and compassion for us.

The child who costs his mother the most in tears is the one dearest to her heart. Does a mother not always run to the weakest and most endangered one?

Mary is so good that she never ceases to cast a gaze of compassion on the sinner, and is always attentive for when he calls on her.

If a sinner calls upon this good Mother, she brings him in through the window, so to speak.

In the heart of the most holy Virgin, there is nothing but mercy!

(Translated from the July issue of the Montreal lay Catholic newspaper Jésus Marie et notre temps)

Ed Peters has put together another response to the Legionaries of Christ / Regnum Christi (LC/RC) crisis, which is well worth reading. You can check it out here. Since I'm likely to be asked for a response, here's a line-by-line:

I think that Fr. Alvaro Corcuera's apparent claim that he knows nothing about Maciel's behavior, except that Maciel sired a daughter, is utterly unbelievable. I have nothing else to say about this kind of stone-walling. I will simply re-endorse Dr. Germain Grisez's and Mr. George Weigel's proposals for direct intervention by the Holy See.

Out of Christian charity I will assume Fr. Alvaro is telling the truth. The Holy See should intervene anyway. Directly.

The situation is so muddled that I cannot see how the LC/RC can fix it without outside help and expertise. Of course I'm just one canonist out of thousands in the Church. But given how the LC/RC have maintained Fr. Maciel's innocence for years, the severity of the allegations against him - both proven and unproven, and other structural problems within the movement, how the initial response has been bungled, it will be difficult for the LC/RC to regain the trust of orthodox Catholics without assurances that Rome has performed a thorough housecleaning of the movement.

Apologists for the LC/RC are already stating that Fr. Alvaro and the LC/RC are following Rome's instructions. And Rome has stated it has no immediate plans to step in, but would do so if requested by the Legion. So it might be best is the Legion simply go through the official step of asking Rome to step in directly.

Moving on Peters's rebuttal of the "reform-from-within" assertion and the "carry-on-the-charism" assertion:

Assertion 1. Because the Legion and Regnum Christi have within their ranks many obviously good and faithful Catholics, they should be allowed to try a reform from within. Response: the presence of good and faithful Catholics within an organization, particularly when the organization (in terms of Church history, if nothing else) is so young, says almost nothing about whether the organization itself is sound and/or salvageable.

Here is where I think Peters needs to make a distinction. Those making the "reform from within" suggestion (like myself) are not a unified camp. Some maintain the LC/RC should be permitted to reform from within, without any direct outside intervention. Very unlikely to work, as proven by the fact Fr. Maciel got away with his misdeeds for so long. And even if it were possible, there's still the problem of restoring the RC/LC's credibility.

Like Peters, I believe the LC/RC's current structure is deeply flawed, and have for some time, according to criteria developed with Fr. Frank Morrisey - one of the Church's foremost canonical experts on religious law and structures of institutes of consecrated life - and cult expert Michael Langone. You can read a summary of the criteria here. (Please note: I am not claiming that all of these criteria apply to the LC/RC, but those that do need to be rooted out if the LC/RC is to reform.)

Having said that, given that the majority of LC/RC members are orthodox Catholics faithful to Rome, I believe a "reform from within" is possible if the Holy See intervenes directly and appoints someone credible from outside the LC/RC to do a thorough investigation of LC/RC practices, and oversee their reform. It needs to be someone known for prayer and orthodoxy, experienced in religious life, and highly respected within the Church. For example, Cardinal Francis George from Chicago or Archbishop Seán O'Malley from Boston. Of course this assumes LC/RC members cooperate - not only in letter, but in spirit - with the reform.

Such a reform must begin with a sincere apology to Fr. Maciel's victims, followed by restitution. Also, no more excuses suggesting Fr. Maciel's innocence, or trying to dampen the severity of his sins. Of course the structural weaknesses that allowed Fr. Maciel to get away with his double-life for so long must also be fixed. Good faith only gets one so far. Peters identifies the question many canonists are asking, namely whether there are structural problems to the Legion, expressing them as only he can, when he states in response to the second assertion:

There is, I think, at least as much reason to wonder whether Maciel set up an institute in order to assure himself of ample access to sexual targets and unaccountable funds, or whether he suffered from some warped psycho-emotional condition that enabled him to compartmentalize pious devotional practices and sexual predation for decades on end...

Here is where I take a somewhat harder line than Peters. I don't wonder. In fact, I'm pretty sure Fr. Maciel set up the LC/RC to, as I put it in the following interview, acquire, maintain and protect his access to victims.

I won't comment on funds, except to say well-placed sources within and outside the LC/RC told me that Fr. Maciel was frequently given thousands of dollars in cash without any questions being asked. I haven't looked into the issue deeply enough to give it much thought; it's entirely possible the financial irregularities came after, as a by-product of the sexual irregularities. Of course, none of the above excludes the possibility Fr. Maciel also had a serious psychological condition.

But I've skipped ahead a bit. Here's how Peters begins his response to the second assertion:

Assertion 2. Maciel's canonical crime spree was a grave personal failing, but it does not negate the L/RC 'charism', and they should be allowed to continue their work. Response: This argument misses the key question, namely, whether in fact Maciel ever bequeathed an authentic charism to the L/RC...

This, then, is what separates our positions at the moment. If one believes the LC/RC lack a true charism, then Peters is right in suggesting Rome may have to shut down the movement completely and reconstitute it. (Without a true charism, there is nothing to reform.)

On the other hand, if one believes the LC/RC possess a true charism from Christ, but that it has become seriously clouded by Fr. Maciel's sexual vice, then it may still be possible to rescue the charism. Of course it will still require delicate surgery on Rome's part. It's possible the movement is so far gone that the necessary reform is no longer possible. The LC/RC will have to show they are capable of true reform.

Peters then says (skipping over the part I had quoted earlier, out-of-sequence):

I do not know whether the L/RC can (following a complete leadership replacement!) reform itself from within, although I am almost certain that they cannot;

A complete leadership change may be the only thing that can save the LC/RC at this point. Certainly this is how I feel, humanly speaking, although the Holy Spirit could intervene in a way that canonists haven't imagined. But, assuming most of the current leadership was honestly in dark about Fr. Maciel's double-life, this speaks to a weakness in LC/RC formation that so many clergy suspected so little for so long. This is not to say they were bad people or terrible priests - only that they appear to lack a certain skill-set needed to exercise prudent governance over a large religious institute.

This is not uncommon among young institutes of consecrated life where one is dealing with leadership known for its holiness (let alone living a double-life). I've experienced this at least twice in my career as a canon lawyer. A young institute and its young superior come up with some grandiose ideas, or overlook the obvious. An older priest, with several years of priestly experience before joining the institute, jumps in points out what's being overlooked, or otherwise brings some common sense to the discussion. Older priests can help guide a young superior of a young institute through sensitive pastoral issues, temper and focus the zeal of younger newly-ordained priests, and put bishops as ease knowing there is someone with experience keeping an eye on the new institute.

The problem with the current LC/RC superiors is that none of them kept an eye on Fr. Maciel. This is not surprising. Abusers cannot bear close scrutiny, which would threaten their access to victims. Fr. Maciel reportedly handpicked his superiors. Not surprisingly, he often named young priests who lacked practical pastoral experience. Which is why most Catholics would feel more confident about a reform of the LC/RC if Rome stepped in directly.

and I do not know whether Maciel developed an authentic charism for clerical, religious, and lay life, but I have serious doubts that he did.

And now the question of charism. The reason orthodox Catholics have struggled so deeply with the crisis, in fact the reason there are such strong feelings of anger and betrayal, is that the LC/RC's good works have been visible to us for so long. But looking back in retrospect, so too have the institutional signs of Fr. Maciel's double-life. How does one reconcile such a stark contrast?

Normally, an institute's charism is tied to its founder and its good works. However, the two don't match in this case. Some argue that the LC/RC's founding charism was fraudulent from the start. Others argue that God used Fr. Maciel as His imperfect human instrument. In reflecting upon this dilemma, attempting to reconcile these questions in my own mind, I stumbled across the biography of Saint Rafael Guízar Valencia.

Saint Rafael was Fr. Maciel's uncle and the bishop who oversaw most of Fr. Maciel's seminary formation prior to dismissing his nephew from the seminary. Saint Rafael exemplified many of the Christian virtues LC/RC attempt to emulate as members of their movement. In fact, his life story reads like a blueprint for the LC/RC's good works, and LC/RC members in past have recognized his influence in the founding of their movement.

Perhaps - and this is highly speculative on my part - Saint Rafael is the true spiritual founder of the LC/RC movement, and the instrument used by God to transmit its charism. It's something for LC/RC members to pray about.

Catherine Doherty lives!

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The Madonna House Apostolate, the secular institute founded in Canada by Russian-born Catholic Catherine de Hueck Doherty (1896-1985), showed today that the spirit of their community's founder is alive and well among them.

In 1976, Doherty received her adopted country's highest honor: she was made a member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of a lifetime of dedication to social justice and to the poor. This year, though, the Order is being debased, as the Governor General has decided to confer it upon a person antithetical to the most fundamental element of justice, the right to life. Namely, it is being conferred upon a notorious illegal abortionist.

This morning representatives of Madonna House made an act of witness: they visited Ottawa and returned Doherty's award citation and medal to the Governor General's office at Rideau Hall.

God bless them: I'm convinced that this is exactly the way Catherine Doherty would have proceeded in the face of such a negation of values.

Dom Bettinelli's got a good idea here, but I'd extend it: St. Columba should be the patron of the open source software movement. "Information wants to be free" and all that.

galot.pngFrom time to time, you may have noticed on this blog some beautiful prayers written by the esteemed theologian and professor Jean Galot, S.J. of the Gregorian University. Fr. Galot passed away on April 18 at the age of eighty-nine, and one can only congratulate him now at drawing nearer, ever nearer, to the Sacred Heart of our Lord.

Take me, O Heart of Christ!

Take me, O Heart of Christ, in all that I am,
take me in all that I have and that I do,
in all that I think and all that I love!

Take me in my spirit, that it may cling to Thee;
take me in my willing, that it will but Thee;
take the depth of my heart, that it love only Thee!

Take me, O Heart of Christ, in my secret desires
so that you be my dream and only goal,
my one affection and my complete happiness!

Take me for the work of Thy great mission,
for a complete gift toward my neighbor's salvation,
and for every sacrifice in service of your people!

Take me, O Heart of Christ, without limits, without end;
take even what I've failed to offer Thee;
and never give back to me what you have taken in hand!

Take for eternity all that is in me,
that one day I may, O Heart, possess Thee,
in the embrace of Heaven take Thee and keep Thee!
--by Jean Galot, S.J.

I've set up a little web site dedicated to translations of his prayers.

Rita Amada de Jesus

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20050424_amada.jpgThe Venerable Sister Rita Amada de Jesus (1848-1913) was beatified today in her native diocese of Viseu, Portugal. Living in the 1800s, when Masonic governments persecuted the Church and forbade religious institutes to accept new novices, this "Apostle of the Rosary" founded the Institute of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, a community dedicated to teaching poor children, and began to operate schools in spite of government harassment.

In 1910, intensified pressure from the government forced religious institutes to operate underground and led Rita Amada to send sisters to South America, giving her community the missionary dimension she had long desired.


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A physics web site has an item about a Greek Orthodox monk whose body was found to be incorrupt fifteen years after his death.

We may have a case of incorruption here in Boston too: a 25-year-old priest named Patrick Power died of consumption in 1869, but when some healings were reported through his intercession in 1929, a million visitors thronged to his grave until the site was closed by order of Cardinal O'Connell.

88-year-old Fr. Bernard Shea was 12 years old at the time, and related the events in a lecture at my parish Sunday: the body was relocated to a nearby site in the same cemetery, and placed under a new monument surrounded by an iron fence. During the transfer, the body was found to be intact, though the simple casket containing it had long decayed.

Pilgrims still come to Fr. Power's grave to pray and ask for prayers.

We have a great cloud of witnesses

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A seminarian writes:

Please pray for the repose of this priest, recently ordained, having been graduated from the Mount this past May. He is remembered by all for his holiness; he suffered from cancer while he was in seminary but made a recovery. Apparently the cancer returned rapidly in the past couple of weeks and he succumbed today during the 3:00 hour. Fr. Darin Didier, requiescat in pace. (death notice below)

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 8:32 PM
Subject: Fr. Darin Didier

Fr. Darin Didier (Seminary Class of 2005 and a priest of the Diocese of Fargo) died this afternoon during the 3 o'clock hour. He received the Sacraments of the Anointing of the Sick, Viaticum, and the Apostolic Pardon.

Fr. Terry Dodge, a classmate of Fr. Darin here at Mount and a priest of the Diocese of Fargo, shared the news with members of the administration this evening.

Fr. Darin was very much devoted to the Divine Mercy Devotion and active in promoting Divine Mercy Sunday on campus. So it is significant that he entered eternal life during the Hour of Mercy.

As the spiritual director for the Legion of Mary and University Chaplain, I am grateful for the privilege of serving with him. He was the longtime president of the Legion of Mary on campus and the chaplain to the track and cross country teams.

Please pray for the repose of his soul and the consolation of his family, parish and friends.

Lt. Vincent Capodanno, USN


When you think of good American priests, think of men like Father Capodanno, recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor. You can read a book about his life by Father Daniel Mode (himself a Navy chaplain) if you want to learn more about him. It's quite inspiring. There is also a foundation dedicated to him, with a short biography. Below is his Medal of Honor Citation:

Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Chaplain Corps, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (Rein), FMF.

Place and date: Quang Tin Province, Republic of Vietnam, 4 September 1967.

Entered service at: Staten Island, N.Y.

Born: 13 February 1929, Staten Island, N.Y.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Chaplain of the 3d Battalion, in connection with operations against enemy forces.

In response to reports that the 2d Platoon of M Company was in danger of being overrun by a massed enemy assaulting force, Lt. Capodanno left the relative safety of the company command post and ran through an open area raked with fire, directly to the beleaguered platoon. Disregarding the intense enemy small-arms, automatic-weapons, and mortar fire, he moved about the battlefield administering last rites to the dying and giving medical aid to the wounded.

When an exploding mortar round inflicted painful multiple wounds to his arms and legs, and severed a portion of his right hand, he steadfastly refused all medical aid. Instead, he directed the corpsmen to help their wounded comrades and, with calm vigor, continued to move about the battlefield as he provided encouragement by voice and example to the valiant marines.

Upon encountering a wounded corpsman in the direct line of fire of an enemy machine gunner positioned approximately 15 yards away, Lt. Capodanno rushed a daring attempt to aid and assist the mortally wounded corpsman. At that instant, only inches from his goal, he was struck down by a burst of machine gun fire. By his heroic conduct on the battlefield, and his inspiring example, Lt. Capodanno upheld the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.

He gallantly gave his life in the cause of freedom.

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

A martyr in the family?


I never heard of him before today, but there's a Blessed from Poland with my family name (in its proper form): Bl. Fidelis Chojnacki, a Capuchin who died at Dachau July 9, 1942. Time for some research!

What? Who?

On life and living in communion with the Catholic Church.

Richard Chonak

John Schultz

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