In this present time we need our hearts healed to realize our call to hope. Such hope can be found in those who live the Gospel — loving, forgiving, speaking the truth in love and seeking justice and peace.
Is it possible to love and pray for those who offend us — even our enemies? Is it possible to suffer and find blessings even in persecution? Is it is possible to speak the truth in love? Is it possible to pray for those who malign us and bless those who curse us?
I know of four people on the way to sainthood in the United States who exude such hope and reveal a way through the trails of our time. The U.S. has only 13 recognized saints, but we are still a young country, more will be discovered. May these men and women enlighten our hearts as we face difficult challenges.
Some of the troubles we face today include racism, abortion, the health of family life and religious persecution. I believe up-and-coming saints will bring a vision for us, and enlighten our hearts and give us hope.
The late Cardinal Francis George, of Chicago, opened up a cause for the sainthood of the Servant of God Augustus Tolton. An African-American, he was baptized in 1854. Freed with his family from slavery, he moved to Illinois. A priest welcomed him into a parish school, which was very controversial at the time. Augustus was rejected by many seminaries and finally accepted at the Pontifical Urbaniana in Rome and ordained a priest in 1886.
He spent his priesthood ministering to the African-American community in Chicago until his death in 1897.
I ask that he pray for us to heal the divide of racism and that the church can be a healing force in the divisions of our time.
What about abortion? The church says love the mother and the child. Servant of God Dorothy Day was born in 1897 in New York and grew to fight social injustices.
In her early life, before coming to Christ, she became pregnant. The father of the child demanded she abort the child and she did. The experience weighed heavily on her and eventually led her to the Catholic Church where, with Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker Movement to help the poor and marginalized.
Day was radical in her social stances and conservative in her faith. She died a friend of the poor in 1980.
I pray that Servant of God Dorothy will pray for us to help the nation heal and become pro-life in the pre-born and through all of life. I pray that Day will be an example for women who have experienced the tragedy of abortion — there is healing and hope in the church.
Men’s spirituality and leadership is the most important factor in a healthy home and society. The absence of the father, Pope Benedict said, in homes and society is the cause of violence and unrest all over the world. Venerable Michael McGivney, born in 1852, knew first hand what it meant to be without a father. His father died, leaving Michael to raise his 12 brothers and sisters. Later as a priest, he started the fraternal organization called the Knights of Columbus to help families with financial difficulties — providing life insurance and financial help for the poor.
Family life, church and faith marked his organization. He died in 1890 and his cause for sainthood was launched in 1996. Today the Knights are well known for their love of family, their pro-life values and their honoring of the freedoms we have in the U.S.
I pray that Venerable Michael McGivney will pray for us to be thankful for the freedoms we have, to do good and to help our brother and strengthen our men in their role in family and society.
So much injustice in the world. What can we do? More than 90,000 Christians died for their faith in 2016. Blessed Stanley Rother, born in 1935, grew up in an Oklahoma farming community. He became a priest in 1963 and asked to serve in Guatemala. There he fell in love with the people and used his farming skill to help them. A civil war broke out, and he was put on a death list. He left at the advice of his bishop but later returned saying a “shepherd cannot run.” He was martyred and his beatification ceremony is now scheduled for later this year.
I pray that he will help us stand with those persecuted and love our enemies, especially to see in the face of the poor the face of Jesus. I pray he will help us to be generous to the stranger and the downtrodden — help us to live the beatitudes in our homes and parishes.