Jesuit saints & blesseds: April 2010 Archives

Saint Peter Canisius

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The Roman calendar of saints lists Saint Peter Canisius' feast day as December 21; on the Jesuit ordo his feast is observed today. 

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Saint Peter Canisius is well known for his theological expertise, his teaching and preaching and the work of evangelization he did in Germany and other places where the Protestants destroyed the unity of the Church. His approach to theological engagement is noteworthy for his judgment based on prudence and charity. Saint Peter neither wanted to heighten division nor to embitter relations with the Magisterial Reformers with intellectual engagement on the "hot button issues" because in his mind, theological disputation only succeeded in fueling deeper resentment and hysteria toward the Catholics and did not advance the argument and knowledge of the Truth. In a letter to his Jesuit superior, Saint Peter Canisius said:

It is plainly wrong to meet non-Catholics with bitterness or to treat them with discourtesy. For this is nothing else than the reverse of Christ's example because it breaks the bruised reed and quenches the smoking flax. We ought to instruct with meekness those whom heresy has made bitter and suspicious, and has estranged from orthodox Catholics, especially from our fellow Jesuits.

Thus, by whole-hearted charity and good will we may win them over to us in the Lord. Again, it is a mistaken policy to behave in a contentious fashion and to start disputes about matters of belief with argumentative people who are disposed by their very natures to wrangling. Indeed, the fact of their being so constituted is a reason the more why such people should be attracted and won to the simplicity of the faith as much by example as by argument.

With Saint Peter Canisius, let us pray:

Let my eyes take their sleep, but may my heart always keep watch for you.

May your right hand bless your servants who love you. May I be united with the praise that flows from you, Lord Jesus, to all your saints; united with the gratitude drawn from your heart, good Jesus, that causes your saints to thank you; united with your passion, good Jesus, by which you took away our guilt; united with the divine longing that you had on earth for our salvation; united with every prayer that welled from your divine heart, good Jesus, and flowed into the hearts of your saints. Amen.

Today, in Valladolid, Spain, Father Bernardo de Hoyos (1711-1735) was beatified. I previously mentioned Father de Hoyos on this blog. Here is a précis of Father Adolfo Nicolás' letter to the Jesuits. The full text of the letter can be read here Bernard de Hoyos letter.pdf

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"He is considered the first apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain.  To recapture who he was and what he contributed, I offer some biographical information that should be understood in the religious and cultural context of the 18th century." Thus begins Nicolás' for this occasion. More than a century ago, in 1895, the cause for Father De Hoyos was introduced; due to many ecclesiastical vicissitudes and the political history of Spain, it was repeatedly postponed. Father Nicolás, in his letter, traces the major events in the very short life of the newly beatified who died on the 29th of November 1735 at the age of 24. Near to the time of his death, de Hoyos was ordained a priest and in Tertianship.

"His reputation for holiness," the letter continues. "spread immediately after his death.  However, because of the difficult situation in which the Society found itself opposed by the Jansenists, the cause for beatification was not introduced at that time.  Later the suppression of the Society would leave many projects unfinished. When the Society was restored in 1814 by Pope Pius VII, a strong devotion to the Sacred Heart emerged in the whole Church. In accord with the religious sensibilities of the time, the reborn Society dedicated itself to the spread and propagation of this devotion with significant results." The letter outlines the steps of this recovery of the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, beginning with Jesuits' General Congregation 31st  in 1965, through the generalate of Father Pedro Arrupe and then with generalate of Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach.

Then Father Nicolás goes on: "Bernardo de Hoyos's passion for the Heart of Jesus faithfully corresponds to the devotion that Saint Ignatius felt for Jesus poor and humble, before whom he asks that our affections be moved in order to accompany Him in each step of His life: As companions with him on mission, his way is our way (GC35, D. 2, nº 14), so that in what we do in the world there must always be a transparency to God (GC35, D. 2, nº 10). On the occasion of this beatification, I invite the whole Society, together with our collaborators, to renew our personal love of Jesus Christ and to open ourselves to the grace of identifying ourselves with Him, so that in Nadal's words, we might understand with His understanding; will with His will; remember with His memory; and that our entire being, living, and doing be not centered in us, but in Christ (MHSI vol 90. p.122; GC35, D. 2, nº14), as the  cornerstone of the particular vocation to which each of us has been called."

Father Nicolás concludes his letter: "May the Father who has hidden these things from the wise and the learned and has revealed them to the childlike (Mt 11, 25) through the intercession of Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos, grant the Society the grace of accomplishing its mission of being in the Church a loving response to Him who was pierced by the pain and the aggressive injustice of a world in need of forgiveness and reconciliation."

May Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos show us the way to the Heart of Jesus!

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]



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This page is a archive of entries in the Jesuit saints & blesseds category from April 2010.

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