Friday, April 29, 2011

Pope John Paul II Beatification, and a Goldilocks Process

Pope John Paul II (the English-language variation of Ionnes Paulus II) is scheduled for beatification soon. It's possible that he will be canonized - recognized as a saint. I think it's likely: but I accept the Holy See's decision, either way.

This brings up a question:

What's the big deal with saints?

Saints (capital "S") are the folks who "practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace:"
"By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God's grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.303 'The saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church's history.'304 Indeed, 'holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal.'305"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church ,828))

Veneration isn't Worship

Catholics may venerate Saints. We're not allowed to worship them. And I've gone over that before. (April 16, 2011)

Catholics are commanded to worship God - only God. It's that "The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve" thing. (Matthew 4:10) (Exodus 20:2-5, Deuteronomy 5:6-9, Catechism of the Catholic Church (2083-2084)

Since the veneration and worship seem to get mixed up fairly often, a little background:
"VENERATION (OF SAINTS): Showing devotion and respect to Mary, the Apostles, and the martyrs, who were viewed as faithful witnesses to faith in Jesus Christ. Later, veneration was given to those who led a life of prayer and self-denial in giving witness to Christ, whose virtues were recognized and publicly proclaimed in their canonization as saints (828). Such veneration is often extended to the relics or remains of those recognized as saints; indeed, to many sacred objects and images. Veneration must be clearly distinguished from adoration and worship, which are due to God alone (1154, 1674, 2132)."
(from Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

"WORSHIP: Adoration and honor given to God, which is the first act of the virtue of religion (2096). Public worship is given to God in the Church by the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ in the liturgy (1067)."
(from Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)
There's more about veneration in the Catechism, including this selection: 127, 1090, 1154, 1378, 1674, 2129-2132. That's not an exhaustive list, but it's a start.

The Telegraph 'Gets It'

I've run into quite a few notions about Saints and Catholicism over the decades, some more - imaginative? - than others. I didn't know what to expect when I saw this headline in The Telegraph's online edition: "How to become a saint ."
"As Catholics preapre [!] for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, here is a guide on how to become a saint:

"Most saints don't set out to become a saint, instead they live a devoted Catholic life and spend their time serving God and helping people in need. Eventually, their good deeds are recognised after their death, and the Pope canonises them...."
(The Telegraph)
I'm pretty sure that The Telegraph missed quite a few of the fine points - but those paragraphs and the short list of qualifications that followed agrees pretty well with what I've read in the Church's own documents.

Miraculous? No: an Anticoagulant

Miracles happen. ("Miracles Manifest the Supernatural Order," Pope John Paul II, General Audience (January 13, 1988)) But samples of Pope John Paul II's blood still being liquid isn't a miracle: it's contemporary medical technology:
"A vial of blood drawn from John Paul II will serve as a relic during the late pontiff's upcoming beatification Mass in Rome on May 1.

"The Vatican announced on April 26 that the relic will to be presented to Pope Benedict XVI and exposed for veneration during the Mass in St. Peter’s Square this coming Sunday. The vial will then be stored in a shrine by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, along with other relics.

"Four vials of blood were drawn shortly before John Paul II's death on April 2, 2005 by a personal physician, in case of the need for a transfusion. The Vatican explained in a April 26 statement that the blood in the vials is in a liquid state due to an anticoagulant substance which was present in the tubes at the time of collection...."
(CNA (April 26, 2011))

Parkinson's Disease Healed: That was a Miracle

On the other hand, a French nun who had Parkinson's Disease stopped having the disease - under circumstances that can't be explained medically. That's a miracle - and John Paul II was responsible, according to investigators. (ZENIT)

Moving a Body, Shipping a Tombstone: No Wonder People Talk

I grew up in America, so the idea of digging up a grave, moving the body, and marking the tombstone for shipment to another country seems - odd at best, maybe even ghoulish. (CNA (April 29, 2011))

But it's the way we work - Catholics, that is.

Objects touched or used by a Saint - and the bodies of Saints - are "relics" and quite important in the Catholic Church. By the way, if someone tries to sell you a relic? I strongly recommend declining the offer. "It is absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics." (Code of Cannon Law, 1190) I've mentioned relics before. (July 25, 2010)

There's a little background on relics in Chapter Six: Veneration of the Saints and Beati," ... Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (December 2001)

A Goldilocks Beatification?

I gather that some folks say the Vatican is rushing to push Pope John Paul II into sainthood - probably for some nefarious purpose. 'You know what those people are like.'

Then there are the "Santo Subito" folks who want the former Pope canonized - now.

Me? I think that I'm a practicing Catholic, who has decided to worship the Savior, and who also decided to join the outfit that Jesus set up.

That means that I've decided to follow the lead of an organization that's been around for about two thousand years. As centuries rolled by, the Catholic Church has set up procedures to get things done, like beatification and canonization.

Doing things 'by the numbers' can be frustratingly slow - I'm an American, and we seem to be a fidgety lot at best. I also think that doing a careful, methodical, investigation is a good way to produce valid results.

Looks like the beatification and continuing process of seeing of Pope John Paul II gets canonized is taking a sort of 'Goldilocks' approach - going about as fast as a careful examination can go; but not rushing the process, either:
"In his first days in office back in 2005, Pope Benedict considered but rejected the instant canonization of Pope John Paul II. That's the claim being made by Andrea Tornielli, Vatican correspondent with the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

"He writes April 27, 'Pope Ratzinger did not decide on the spot. He knew his predecessor and had no doubts about his personal holiness. He wanted to consult first, though, and finally decided to waive the usual waiting period of five years (before opening the cause of canonization) but not to skip the step of beatification.'

"Tornielli claims that the suggestion of instant canonization came from Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, the private secretary to John Paul II. He also states that the idea of not waiting the standard five-year period before opening a cause of canonization was made by the Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko, a close friend and confidant of John Paul II...."
(CNA (April 27, 2011))
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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.