Unique in the eyes of God



Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I sanctified you; and I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5).

I tell my grandchildren, “There will never be another you, and you should pray every day for God to guide you in His plan for your life!” The scriptures are full of stories with deep meaning; they help us understand God’s plans and teach us how to apply them to our lives. This knowledge is achieved by taking time to be in relationship with Him.

In our homeschooled religion class, we are studying a unit on the process for canonization of saints in the Catholic Church. There is a lot to unpack in this process, and it takes many years of documentation to be canonized a saint. The Cause, or opening, and the rigorous investigation into the life of the person, are very involved. Determining whether a heroic level of virtue or any miracle was attributed through their intercession is recorded in different phases: Servant of God, Venerable, Blessed, and Canonized Saint.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Vatican City has a long history. In the first five centuries of the Church, the process was based on public acclaim with no formal canonical process. Beginning in the sixth century and continuing into the 12th century, the intervention of the local bishop was required. In the 10th century, the bishop would collect eyewitness testimony from any miracles observed, and would provide a summary of the case for the Pope to approve. The first documented case with papal intervention was by Pope John XV on Jan. 31, 993, for the canonization of St. Ulric. In 1588, Pope Sixtus V reorganized the Roman Curia and established the Congregation for Sacred Rites; the function was to assist the pope in reviewing causes.

This process remained the same until 1588, when a universal Code of Canon Law was promulgated, containing 145 canons. This law mandated that an episcopal process with documentation from local bishops be sent to the Congregation of Sacred Rite, following an apostolic process for reviewing all evidence submitted, before forwarding the cause for papal approval. This process remained in effect until 1983, and the new 1983 Code of Canon Law, with new norms for the canonization process, is still in force today.

In our study of this process, we are focusing on the lives of Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté and Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. We are blessed with a rich Catholic history in Indiana. The witness of these two French missionary pioneers, who exhibited heroic virtue at a time when the Church in the United States was growing in the Midwest, is a true gift. The study of Indiana history for Catholic students should include a pilgrimage to the Minor Basilica of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes - where Servant of God Bishop Bruté is buried, and with a library open to view many artifacts from his life in France and Vincennes - and a trip to the Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Terre Haute. Their contribution to history is invaluable!

There is so much to learn about the Catholic Church. By educating ourselves, we enhance the fullness of our faith and improve our participation in all that is offered in the Church. Through the sacrifices of Jesus Christ, and the holy men and women who shared in the cross of our salvation, we are blessed. Each person is unique in the eyes of God; we are all ordained to be prophets for the nation! Listen to the voice of grace and strive for holiness. Amen!