How much love does it take to willingly face persecution and possible death for the sake of someone else? I’m guessing it’s love that is outrageous, extravagant, and unconventional. Love beyond Love. I can’t stop thinking about a news story I read recently.
July 28, 1981. Guatemala was a mess at the time, struggling through a civil war. The constant threat of kidnappings and murder plagued the parishioners of the American priest working there as a missionary. Fr. Stanley Rother stayed in Guatemala despite the danger, even after learning that his name was on a hit list. As he said, ” A shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger.” The parishioners were his flock and he wouldn’t leave them. Sadly, on July 28th he was murdered by three non-indigenous Ladinos who were fighting with the working poor of the country.
Read about Fr. Rother here.
In the Catholic church a person is declared “Blessed” before they are declared a “Saint.” These are titles given to someone who exhibited heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace. Often, miracles are credited to the person after their death and that starts a process of consideration for sainthood. Healing miracles are verifiable and cannot be explained scientifically. They are A. BIG. MIRACULOUS. DEAL.
The Catholic Church has decided to honor Fr. Rother with the title of “Blessed” because he has been declared a “Martyr for the Faith,” which is heroic, for sure. His beatification (when he will receive the title of “Blessed)” will take place in Oklahoma on Sept. 23, 2017. While we are all called to strive to be “Blesseds” and “Saints,” the church reserves the official title for a just few of us. The title calls attention to the specific qualities and virtues of the person and we look to them with gratitude, example, hope for the future, and prayerful intercession. (CCC, 828)
That last one – intercession – is important and often misunderstood because we are sloppy with our language when we say we “pray to the saints.” We don’t pray to them. We ask them to pray with us. Do you know someone who could use the prayers of a saint? If so, ask them to pray with you for their need.
There’s a young man in our church community who suffered a traumatic brain injury seven years ago. His name is Thomas “Joseph” Stanton. He has worked so hard to be rehabilitated but he struggles daily with major setbacks and pain. He was a champion swimmer and from what I can tell he never gives up. Sadly, he struggles to communicate, and among other physical problems, medications have caused his bones to be fragile and to break easily. How do you rehabilitate when your bones won’t support you?
I’ve asked Fr. Rother to pray with me (or to intercede for me on Joseph’s behalf) to our Lord for the healing of Thomas Joseph Stanton from Kingwood, Texas. Here’s my prayer. Will you say it with me often – perhaps daily? I sincerely thank you, and his family thanks you more.