Fun with Paulists…

In the context of an article on the desire of some devotees to canonize Audrey Santo, the Boston Globe argues that the Catholic Church is moving away from miracle-working saints.

In past centuries, the church regularly canonized saints such as Joseph of Cupertino, a 17th-century Franciscan known as “the flying friar” for his ability to levitate, and Catherine of Siena, the 14th-century mystic who received the wounds of Christ. But over the last century, the church has shifted, scholars say. Pope Benedict XVI “is more interested in models than in miracle workers,” said Lawrence S. Cunningham, a theologian at Notre Dame, and author of “A Brief History of Saints.”

Emblematic of contemporary candidates for sainthood, Cunningham said, is the Rev. Solanus Casey. A Capuchin Franciscan, Casey worked for 20 years at the door of St. Bonaventure Monastery in Detroit, quietly counseling thousands, and earning the moniker “The Doorkeeper.”

“When it comes to making saints, the Vatican is much more concerned that people are like us – that they live the virtues of faith over charity and wisdom,” said the Rev. Paul G. Robichaud, who is leading a movement to canonize Isaac Hecker, who founded the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle in New York in 1858. “And when you hear about these apparitions or levitations or weeping statues, this catches the public imagination, but it does not impress the Vatican.”

This is typical nonsense. Here’s a famous Solanus Casey story:

By far the most cool story was the multiplication of the ice cream cones. A woman came into Fr. Casey’s office (a priest simplex because of his difficulty with languages, Solanus served as porter) with two ice cream cones for them to share. He thanked her, but, putting the cones in a desk drawer, said they would save the ice cream for later. Because it was a warm summer day and the desk was not refrigerated, she was understandably baffled by this behavior. A few hours later, however, four other people entered the room bearing some good news. “Let’s celebrate with an ice cream party!” rejoiced Fr. Casey. He went to his desk draw and pulled out, not two, but six ice cream cones–which had remained perfectly cool and unmelted.

“It pleases Jesus and Mary greatly when we celebrate in this way,” he explained.

But, you know, no miracles. Miracles during one’s life, as with the case of the 20th century Saint Padre Pio who was both a stigmatist like St. Catherine and levitated like St. Joseph of Cupertino are key, because the first step towards canonization is a local popular cultus, this hurdle must be crossed long before the Vatican ever gets involved.

Meanwhile, being suspected of heresy during your life like Hecker was, even if later cleared, is probably not the best way to impress the Vatican. Particularly, when your postulator goes about making statements that deprecate the importance of the supernatural in the life of faith. These supernatural acts are seen as an important signal of sanctity because they can provide evidence for the perfection of the supernatural virtues. This is literally the faith that moves mountains (Matthew 7:14-21). The deprecation of supernatural virtue over natural virtue was one of the positions condemned in Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae.

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