A quick post to update the blog. I have not fallen off the face of the earth! It has been a hectic week. I was in Rome for a few days last week, there for the canonisations, and then back in the parish kept busy between parish duties and attending an exorcist/deliverance conference. There was also the Fraternity celebrations for Blessed John Paul II's feast day. So all that left me with little time to blog.
The canonisations grabbed the headlines what with the canonisation of St Kateri, the first Native American Saint. I developed a love for her when serving as a seminarian in New York over a few summers. I was determined to get to her canonisation whenever it happened. When I was a child I was fascinated by the stories of the North American Martyrs and Kateri and the sacrifices they made to live their faith. Strange, I have not yet visited their shrines despite my many visits to the US - I must make it a priority next time I'm over.
Of all the North American martyrs, St Noel Chabanel is my favourite - his life in America was a continuous martyrdom, finding it so difficult to cope with the climate, the food, the languages and some of the people: yet he made a vow to remain for Christ's sake loving those the Lord had given into his care; and he did! He eventually laid down his life for them. He teaches us all the lesson of endurance and points us to Christ in whom we find refuge and strength.
The canonisation was a great celebration. Some of the Catholic media homed in on the fanon, but to be honest there was lots more to interest me. The 200,000 Filipinos (or at least that is the figure I was given) were a great addition to the celebrations. I was standing in the middle of them and though I was there for Kateri, I soon found myself being there for St Pedro too, and I was joining in their elation as their second Saint was proclaimed. I was adopted by a group from Cebu, a priest, his brother (also a priest), their sister and their friends. We queued for hours together and then stood with each other for the Mass: we had a great time and they were wonderful. They asked me if I was going to Cebu for the next Eucharistic Congress, I said I hoped to. I think they are planning a really great congress - they expect millions to come. I had better start saving! If there is one thing that boosts your faith - it is the faith of the Filipino people, God bless them!
Indeed since coming back from Rome I have been reading up on St Pedro Calungsod - I am doing a novena to him for a special intention. He was a most remarkable young man, laying down his life for his faith at the age of seventeen. It is not known where he is from exactly, somewhere in the present diocese of Cebu. He was brought up in the faith, and was so dedicated to the Lord that he wanted to serve as a catechist. He trained as a Jesuit and then accompanied Blessed Fr Diego de San Vitores to the Mariana Islands where they had a very successful ministry.
In 1672 on the island of Guam as they were ministering, opposition emerged as pagan leaders alleged that the baptismal waters were poisoned. On the 2nd April of that year, after baptising a baby at the request of its Christian mother, the child's father took the priest and Pedro down to a beach and attacked them with spears. Pedro, who could have escaped and saved himself, stood by Fr Diego and defended him. He dodged a number of spears, but was then gored by one and finished off with a blow to the head. Fr Diego was then killed. Their bodies were stripped, weighed down with stones and thrown into the ocean.
St Pedro is revered by the Filipino people as a great example for Christian youth, and what a marvellous example he is for our young people in these years of the New Evangelisation. He now belongs to the whole Church, and it might be a good idea to promote devotion to him in this Year of Faith. He also teaches us love for the priesthood. Even by Catholics today, many priests suffer calumny and opposition for preaching the truth of the Catholic faith: St Pedro stood by his priest and defended him against attack even at the cost of his life. May he watch over our priests, inspire them to preach the truth and help them as even members of their own flock seek to silence and harass them.
That's it for now. I have a Holy Hour to do - the Lord is waiting and I am in need of it, and I have the Vigil Mass after that. Oh yes, the clocks go back tonight - an extra hour in bed in the morning - I need it!