Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Note on Irish beatifications and canonisations

[The following is an excerpt from a 2011 article posted at http://fatherdoyle.com/2011/01/05/thoughts-for-january-5-from-fr-willie-doyle/]

"...Let us look at the Irish situation. St Charles of Mount Argus of course stands out, but while we have adopted him as our own, he was Dutch, and interestingly both of the miracles for his beatification and canonisation were worked in the Netherlands. St Oliver Plunkett is of course Irish through and through, but his situation was slightly different as he was a martyr which symbolically makes his canonisation a little easier. Blessed Edmund Rice also lived and died in Ireland, and his beatification miracle was worked for a man in Newry in Northern Ireland. However, for a variety of reasons his cause for canonisation probably will not progress for some time. Then of course there is Blessed Columba Marmion who was a Dubliner but who became renowned as the abbot of a Belgian monastery. He is not widely known in Ireland. Then there are the 17 Irish martyrs who were beatified in 1992. Again, most unfortunately they are even less well known than Columba Marmion – one would probably search far and wide to find an ordinary Catholic who could even name one of them. (There is also the case of Blessed Thaddeus McCarthy from Cloyne but he falls just outside the time frame we are looking at, having died in 1492).

And that’s it. That’s the sum total of Ireland’s effectiveness in promoting sanctity since the Council of Trent. Of course, it’s not for the lack of good candidates. There were dozens of other martyrs from the penal times that deserve recognition, in addition to candidates like Venerable Matt Talbot, Mary Aitkenhead, Catherine McCauley, Nano Nagle, the three Legion of Mary candidates Edel Quinn, Alfie Lambe and Frank Duff; Fr John Sullivan and of course Fr Doyle himself. There are of course, many other worthy causes besides these. As an Irish poem says:

Why are saints so difficult to recognise,

In these days, not like in olden times,

When we had a resident saint in each oak-grove,

A holy well in each townland, miracles galore?

By the law of averages, if, as philosophers maintain,

And common sense agrees, human nature doesn’t change,

And we are the mixture as before, there must be

Saints somewhere, if only we had eyes to see

We should celebrate those who have already been raised to the altars, and today is a great day of celebration for our own adopted St Charles of Mount Argus. But we should also celebrate those who have yet to be recognised formally, and the best way to do this is by actually promoting their cause and making them well known, and in particular by asking their help in prayer. If we do not ask for miracles, they will not be granted!

Of course, neither Fr Doyle nor Matt Talbot nor any of the others are in the least bit insulted or upset that they have not yet been beatified or canonised! But it is we, and our country, that lose out, for beatifications and canonisations strengthen the local Church..."

[Information about the cause for three of the people mentioned in this excerpt can be found at http://www.legionofmary.ie/causes/]