Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Saints, Miracles And The Question Of Gilbert's Weight

The only known photograph of the Ven. Matt Talbot

It is not uncommon when waiting for a bus in Dublin that, after what seemed like an eternity standing at the bus stop (usually in the rain), more than one bus arrives at the same time. It is a phenomenon which may well be common in other cities too, but in Dublin it leads one to conclude that the city is so dangerous even the buses go around in packs. Anyway it seems this phenomenon may well be happening with regard to our candidates for Sainthood. Last week Fr John Sullivan was declared Venerable and work begins on getting a miracle approved for him, and now it seems there may well be a miracle for the Venerable Matt Talbot in the US (details here). Let's hope we see both Irishmen raised to the altars soon; we could do with some good news.  

Among the other Irish causes is that of the Forty-Two Martyrs, the Servant of God Richard Creagh and Companions, Ultimately martyr causes should be easy enough, do the work and submit it to the Congregation, no miracle is required for beatification just the decision that the candidates are genuine martyrs. I am told that as soon as these martyrs are beatified, they will be joined to the other Blessed Irish Martyrs and submitted as a single cause for canonisation. However, I sense the will is lacking in all of this and these Servants of God may well remain in limbo. 

I don't mean to be negative, but as you know I think Saints are important for the faithful and local Saints and Beati can help a local Church in a myriad of ways. I usually hear talk  of "priorities" in the "Irish Church" and these causes can be dealt with when other more important issues are dealt with (in that case they will never be dealt with because, it seems, there are always other, more pressing matters). We have plenty of ability and talent in the Church here in Ireland, most of it untapped, processing these causes need not interrupt Irish Church officials from dealing with other matters deemed to be more important. Anyway, I'll get off the soapbox, rant over.  

Regarding causes I note an article on G. K. Chesterton's cause and the difficulties it may face: in a nutshell - his weight. Steven Drummel at Catholic Household reflects on this and sees trouble ahead, the question of the virtue of temperance may well block the Cause, or at least that is what is being considered.  Jennifer Pierce over at Crisis Magazine is also considering the question and she situates the issue on whether or not Gilbert was a glutton. There will be a hot debate over this. Drummel cites the examples of two fat saints, Thomas Aquinas and John XXIII. He says that Aquinas was not as corpulent as images show him to be, one would wonder then why he was depicted as such and why the table had to be adapted for him in one of the priories (Note to self: consult Dominican friend on this). John XXIII is also excused, it seems, he ate very little Drummel tells us. I have heard that John XXIII liked his ice cream a lot, and even considered it a martyrdom to eat it - he found it difficult to give it up.

Anyway we shall see where it all goes. Saints are human, they have foibles and that makes them endearing and somehow more human to us. Such foibles can also offer a contrast in which we see the person's sanctity even clearer. I will continue to pray for Chesterton's cause and I would encourage you to do the same if you can. And read him!


  1. I notice the Pope is piling on the weight.

  2. Well lets invite him to dublin to walk the streets where he would be very safe . not like some of those rural country parishes where people are isolated an fear who might call to their homes. Regards dublin citizen

  3. Good to hear that about Ven Matt Talbot. We also have the Causes of Servant of God Frank Duff, Ven. Edel Quinn, Servant of God Alfie Lambe and maybe others. We also now have Ven. John Sullivan S.J. In this Year of Consecrated Life starting on 30th November we can try to do all we can to pray for all their Causes as well as Praying for Vocations most especially to the Priesthood as we are in dire need of new Priestly vocations. Please light a candle each day in your Church for a good and holy Vocation to the Priesthood in your Diocese. Just a simple idea. Also you can check out this blog God bless you Fr. John and we need to Pray even more for you and all our Priests during this special Year that the Lord has given us in the Church.