Category Archives: Saints

Miriam Teresa Demjanovich –an American blessed

Miriam TeresaToday, the Catholic Church in America witnessed the beatification of a woman Sr. Miriam Teresa –the fourth American-born woman to be beatified. This is the first time a beatification ceremony happened in the USA. The Mass and rite was offered by Cardinal Angelo Amato in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ.

Interesting, our new blessed was a member of the Eastern Catholic Church in the United States. She was a member, however, of a religious order of the Latin Church, the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth. Her feast day is May 8. The Blessed’s book, Greater Perfection, published after her death remains germane to those interested in the spiritual life.

The Vatican Radio interview with Bishop Kurt Burnette (eparchial bishop of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic) notes very well the importance of Blessed Miriam Teresa for us: her understanding of the sacrament of Baptism, her teaching on prayer, her desire to be of complete service to the Triune God. As the bishop says, Americans are known for their activism; and the other American blesseds and saints are known for their activity in building up the Mystical Body of Christ –the Church, but her God has chosen to raise up for us a model of holiness who is a contemplative.

“Bishop Burnette reflected on the impact of her legacy on Eastern and Western spirituality.

“One of the remarkable things about her writings, I believe, is that she brings an Eastern Christian spirit of unity into the Western analysis. The Western theology tends to be analytical. For example, when she talks about prayer, in the West they had divided prayer up into three stages. What they called the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive. But Sr. Miriam Teresa claims that prayer always includes all three parts.”

Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Sr. Miriam Therese when a young boy who lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration was cured after prayers through her intercession. For Bishop Burnette, this miracle along with her profound humility, spirituality and insight are clear signs of God’s confirmation of her sanctity. “I don’t believe we really choose who is going to be canonized, God does,” he concluded.

Miriam Teresa Demjanovic –first citizen to be beatified in the USA

MTDThis Saturday, October 4, Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, a Byzantine Greek Catholic woman, born in New Jersey of Slovak immigrant parents, will be the first person beatified in the USA. The beatification will be transmitted live on EWTN and online.

This Saturday, the fourth native-born American woman will be beatified. From the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J, EWTN is pleased to bring you “The Beatification of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovic”.

The Most Reverend Kurt Burnette of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic, Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark, and Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson will concelebrate. “The Beatification of Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovic” airs 9:40 a.m. ET, Saturday, Oct. 4 — exclusively on EWTN.

Saint Ananias

ananiasThe Holy Apostle Ananias of the Seventy, baptizer of Saint Paul and the first bishop of Damascus. Saint Ananias is not a name Christians have on their lips. But they should. He is key in teaching what true faith in Jesus Christ meant. Today is the Byzantine Church’s observance for the saint yet the Latins celebrate him on January 25 –the same day as Saint Paul’s conversion, according to the 2004 edition of the Roman Martyrology.
The Lord ordered him to restore the sight of Saul, the former persecutor of Christians, then baptize him (Acts 9:10-19, 22:12). Saul became the great preacher and Apostle Paul –our first theologian. It is said that Saint Ananias boldly and openly confessed Christianity before the Jews and the pagans, despite the danger to his life and to the nascent community of Christian faith.
From Damascus Ananias went to preach at Eleutheropolis where he healed many people of their infirmities. Lucian, the prefect of the city, tried to persuade Ananias to offer sacrifice to idols. Because of Ananias’ staunch and solid confession of Jesus Christ, Lucian ordered that he be tortured. Harsh torments did not sway the witness of Truth. Then the torturers led him out beyond the city, where they stoned him. The saint prayed for those who put him to death. The relics first rested in Damascus before being transferred to Constantinople.

Saint Michael the Archangel

Archangel Michael Ivan BilibinThe feast of the Archangel Michael brings to table a certain wrinkle in the spiritual life that we don’t frequently acknowledge, or truly address as real. Recognizing the place evil has in the lives of many people due to the lure of sin and division, and noting that the true desire of man’s heart is really for God, Saint John Paul II in his ministry as a priest asked the faithful pray to Saint Michael the Archangel for divine assistance in the long and difficult work of spiritual warfare. He wanted us to make room in our devotional life for the intention when he said,

May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians, “Draw strength from the Lord and from his mighty power” (Eph 6 10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Rev. 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St Michael throughout the Church.”

“St Michael the Archangel defend us in battle, be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” Although today this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it, and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against the forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world. (Pope John Paul II, Regina Caeli, 24 April 1994)”

Michael, whose name means “who is like unto God” (Quis ut Deus?), does indeed protect us.

Will you take up the challenge and call to holiness of John Paul?

Alvaro Del Portillo declared “Blessed” in Madrid

Bl Alvaro del PortilloShortly after the elected of Francis to the Throne of Peter, he approved of the miracle that would lead to his beatification. His first miracle, if you are interested, concerned a case in 2003 where a Chilean baby boy’s heart started beating despite doctors’ failed 30-minute efforts to resuscitate him. The boy’s parents prayed to Del Portillo for his intercession from God to save their child. From all reports the child lives a normal life, going to school and playing soccer.

In the car last evening I was listening to various news services and NPR had a story –none of the other international services did– of the beatification of Del Portillo. But the real story seemed not the beatification of a man known for holiness but his connection to Opus Dei famously derided in Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. I fail to see what one thing really has to do with another.

Saint Josemaría Escrivá’s original vision for Opus Dei has nothing to do with the political monikers of being liberal or conservative. Many will frame the group in these terms out ignorance. Opus Dei –a Latin concept meaning “The Work of God”– is about encouraging Catholics to know their ordinary, everyday work and life as a path to holiness. In other words, we are all called in whatever our work is, to the universal call to holiness; a strong emphasis of the Second Vatican Council and many saints. Religion is NOT just for 47 minutes on a Sunday morning where you put your money in the parking meter.

So, what ought to be admired about Opus Dei is the group’s emphasis and witness on the dignity of the laity. This same emphasis is also seen in two other ecclesial movements in the Church: Communion and Liberation and Focolare. But, The Work of God since its founding in 1928 has a significant challenge to the ultra-clerical attitudes of our Church while raising up the beauty of being a lay Christian and building up the Mystical Body of the Church.

Blessed Alvaro Del Portillo’s style was humble and faithful to the charism he was given by God to fulfill in history. His reputable for holiness is well-regarded and and substantiated. Del Portillo worked with Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the founder of Opus Dei for more than 40 years, and later his successor as the group’s leader until 1994.

Opus Dei is a lay organization in the Church with more than 90K members; only 2,073 are priests.

Blessed Alvaro, pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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