A few days ago, it was announced that the Pontiff approved decrees permitting the canonization of the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieu, and that a celebration marking their canonization would be held at the Vatican Square on October 18 which is the date close to the anniversary of St. John Paul II’s election on October 16 and his Apostolic Letter proclaiming their young daughter “a Doctor of the Church” in 2000.
But October of this year will be different, as it is the year marking the Synod of the Family which discusses the values and the challenges that the family faces in the world of today. These are topics of interest to the children of the Church, as well as to the world, more than ever. We are not tackling the huge challenge that emerged days ago, with the US Supreme Court accepting same-sex marriage without any reference to the family. The pivotal question is: Can a family attain sainthood on the world of today?
So far, several “individuals” who were born into religious families or into relatively religious ones were canonized; even there are other consecrated men and women whose parents played an active role in the refinement and consecration of their religious personalities. Days ago, Pope Francis marked the 200th anniversary of St. John Bosco in his birthplace, Turin. One of the bishops said, in front of the Pope, that we cannot think of Don Bosco without considering his mother Margherita proceeding on the path of canonization.
Nowadays, Pope Francis will canonize for the first time a married couple, thus becoming the first couple to be canonized together as husband and wife. This is designed to confirm the unity of the family and the unique assertion of John Paul II on the family: a company of love and life.
To all married people who are proceeding on the right path of Christianity and on the path of a happy life, to all those suffering on the path of this company for any reason: We have an appointment on the 18th of October to promote the role of the family, to confirm its valid identity, and to highlight the highly regarded married life between man and woman by asserting that both have the capacity to become saints.
In the melee of wedding ceremonies taking place this summer or rather of the search for a partner in this life, it is recommended for young men and women not to look only for a rich and educated partner, but rather to look for whomever life with would be a reason for having both of their photos hung on the front side of St. Peter’s Basilica with the Church canonizing them together as husband and wife.
Lebanese poet and writer Jubran Khalil Jubran said: “You were born together, and together you shall be forever more. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.” He added: “You might be born together as saints…’’
How sweet these words are…
After both of them uttering “yes” and “together” during their marriage ceremony and making this commitment to be together on good and bad days to come, let them stay together, not standing at the gates of the ecclesiastical courts seeking temporary or permanent separation, but through life of perfection amid a family in spite on the hardships of modern life.
O parents of St. Theresa, Louis and Zélie Martin, pray for our families.
Fr. Rif’at Bader
Director of the Catholic Center for Studies and Media