New “Cloud of Witnesses”

Hello Everyone!! The semester is off to a great start. It’s just a matter of time before I start procrastinating but for the time being all of my work is caught up.

On Thursday, October 6th I will be home at I.C. to talk at Generations of Faith about the new translation of the Roman Missal. I’ve been doing a bit of reading on the subject and came across an article called “New Kids on the Block.” No, this is not the reemergence of the 80’s boy band, but an article on the 17 additions to the “Proper of Saints, the part of the Missal that includes prayers for the observances of saints’ days. The Proper of Saints follows a calendar established by the Vatican and modified by the bishops of each country to include saints of local importance.”

I thought it would be fun to talk about a few of the additions. After all, the entrance antiphon for All Saints Day tells us to “rejoice in the Lord and keep a festival in honor of all the saints.”

February 8 – St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Darfur and survived kidnapping and slavery to become a nun in Italy. She spent over 40 years teaching others about being a missionary in Africa. A student once asked her “What would you do, if you were to meet your captors?” Without hesitation she responded: “If I were to meet those who kidnapped me, and even those who tortured me, I would kneel and kiss their hands. For, if these things had not happened, I would not have been a Christian and a religious today.” She is venerated as a modern African saint, and as a statement against the brutal history of slavery. She has been adopted as the only patron saint of Sudan. We can invoke the intercession of St. Josephine when praying for the violence and famine going on in Africa.

April 28 – St. Louis Mary de Montfort, priest – This French priest is best known for his devotion to Mary, encouraging the faithful to approach Jesus through his mother. He is considered as one of the early proponents of the field of Mariology as it is known today, and a candidate to become a Doctor of the Church.

July 24 – St. Sharbel Makhluf, priest – A Maronite priest in Lebanon, Saint Sharbel spent much of his life as a hermit in the desert, living of life of extreme penance. When he was in the monastery he chose to live in silence except for Mass. We can pray for his intercession to stop violence in the Middle East.

August 9 – St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, virgin and martyr – Born of Jewish parents as Edith Stein, she received academic renown as a philosopher. After her conversion to Catholicism, she became a Carmelite nun. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. Here at the seminary we use some of her philosophy in class.

September 23 – St. Pio of Pietrelcina, priest – Padre Pio was known throughout Italy and the world for his patient hearing of confessions and for his spiritual guidance. In poor health for much of his life, he conformed his sufferings to those of Christ. He was known to have bilocated to be with those in need in other places. Pray to St. Pio before going to confession. He was said to have known the sins of some penitents before they spoke them.

There were three dates added that don’t correspond to a saint and they are the “Most Holy Name of Jesus” on January 3rd to recognize that God “bestowed on Jesus the name that is above every name” (Phil 2:9). Along with that, on September 12th, we now celebrate the “Most Holy Name of Mary. And finally on May 13th we celebrate “Our Lady of Fatima.”

The five saints I mentioned above are just 5 of 14 so I encourage you to look up more about these five and find out who the other 9 are. What’s interesting about the saints is that they show us that ordinary people are not only called to holiness and ultimate sainthood but can achieve it. Just on this page we have an African, Italian, French, Lebanese, and a German Jew turned Catholic. All of whom the Church says lead lives of emulation. This is a Great Cloud of Witnesses that can help lead us to Christ. Pope Benedict XVI said that “One might say that the saints are, so to speak, new Christian constellations, in which the richness of God’s goodness is reflected.” Let us be guided by the light of Christ reflecting off the faces of these great women and men. Amen!

Some of the bio information was taken from the USCCB website and other online sources.