National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

New Saints and the Place Where They Live

BY Tom & April Hoopes

October 5-11, 2008 Issue | Posted 9/30/08 at 4:03 PM

 

Sunday, Oct. 12, is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A, Cycle II).


New Saints

Vatican.va provides photos and biographies of new saints. From the home page, click “Saints Blessed” (upper right portion of the circle) and scroll all the way down for the newest ones.

At 10 a.m. on Oct. 12 in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI will preside over the canonization of four new saints:

Father Gaetano Errico (1791-1860), the second of nine children from a family north of Naples, Italy, became a priest and teacher. In 1818, at his annual retreat, St. Alphonsus Liguori appeared to him in a vision and asked him to form a new religious congregation.

Mother Maria Bernarda Bütler (1848-1924) was born into a peasant family in Auw, Aargau, Switzerland. She became a Franciscan missionary in Ecuador, where she suffered from the departure of several of her nuns and mistreatment from Church authorities. She was forced out, and then founded a convent in Colombia.

Sister Alphonsa Muttathupandathu (1910-1946) will become India’s first native saint. She lost her mother in infancy and was raised by a rich aunt. She was admired for her beauty, and so she jumped into a fire pit to make herself less desirable. She became a Franciscan and persevered, despite poor health.

Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran (1832-1869) was a consecrated lay woman from Ecuador. As a child, she worked as a seamstress to help support her orphaned brothers and sisters. As an adult, she dedicated herself to an austere life, offering hours of prayers and severe penances.


Family

FaithandFamilyLIVE.com links to pages about Sts. Teresa of Avila and Margaret Mary in its “Resources” section.

Be among the first to pray to the four new saints today.

Explain to your children what canonization is. The word means “added to the canon (authoritative list)” of recognized saints. Canonization doesn’t “make” someone a saint: It declares someone is a saint who led a life that is instructive for us. There are countless people in heaven who aren’t canonized.

Other important saints the Church celebrates this week: St. Teresa of Avila (1500s), Oct. 15, and St. Margaret Mary (1600s), Oct. 16. At Faith & Family Live!, find brief stories of their childhood and accomplishments.


Readings

Isaiah 25:6-10; Psalms 23:1-6; Philippians 4:12-14, 19-20; Matthew 22:1-14 or 22:1-10.

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Today’s Gospel (and each reading) is good news indeed. It’s the good news. Christ tells us that heaven awaits, and it is like an eternal wedding banquet.

We can fall into the trap of thinking that heaven is undesirable. Pope Benedict summed up this attitude well in his 2007 encyclical on hope, Spe Salvi (Christian Hope): “The question arises: Do we really want this — to live eternally? Perhaps many people reject the faith today simply because they do not find the prospect of eternal life attractive. What they desire is not eternal life at all, but this present life, for which faith in eternal life seems something of an impediment. To continue living for ever — endlessly — appears more like a curse than a gift. Death, admittedly, one would wish to postpone for as long as possible. But to live always, without end — this, all things considered, can only be monotonous and ultimately unbearable.”

He goes on to point out that we need to think of an eternal moment rather than an endless series of days. But today’s readings give an additional answer: Eternal joys are fitted to us in much the same way as earthly ones are.

Christ compares heaven to a wedding banquet, and the banquet he describes seems like the ones we know: celebrating a new beginning in the company of friends, with good cheer fueled by wine and good food.

Isaiah explains: “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. … On that day it will be said: ‘Behold our God … [L]et us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!’”

The Psalmist tells us about a kind of garden reception where in “verdant pastures … He spreads the table before me ... my cup overflows.”

Even Paul admits that there’s appeal to a rich party: “I know indeed how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. … I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry.”

But notice that the Gospel has a caveat about all of this talk of heaven: Many people will be invited but not come. In the long version of today’s Gospel reading, a man comes, but doesn’t prepare himself properly, and so he is cast out.

Historically, Christ had in mind the Jews of his day who were invited but didn’t come. We can see that his words can apply to “religious” people in our day. He invites; we must answer — not just with our desire, but with our lives.