Messing with the Blessed

I didn’t want to post this on Sunday, because it would sour the day.

Some people have a compulsion to make the lives of holy people miserable. Holy people make them look bad and feel small. It’s not anything the holy people do; it’s the lack in themselves that these people feel. People who already know they are not perfect are usually able to bathe in the goodness emanating from holy people. That’s why criminals and nogoodniks often are attracted to saints, and sometimes can be influenced into turning their lives around. But people who already think they are better than anyone else, and then are slammed in the face with evidence that they’re not? Oh, they don’t react well. They are often the persecutors of the saints.

So yeah, sometimes it’s the Christopher Hitchens of this world who hate the Mother Teresa’s, because of irreligiousness, and sometimes it’s the Sauls and ardent pagans of the world, because of excessive disagreement and zeal for religion. But a lot of times, it’s the bishops of Rouen, the ones who say they are Christian but aren’t much.

Problem is — the compulsion doesn’t end when saints die. There’s always somebody trying to rip up the memory of the saints, or use and abuse them, or distress those who love them.

So here’s a lovely story from the Detroit Free Press, documenting a learned Capuchin of the order Blessed Solanus Casey spent his life serving. This man has all the advantages that the beatus did not. He’s got degrees out the wahooey. He lives in comfort. He’s got three jobs at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago: Duns Scotus Professor of Spirituality, professor of liturgy and music, and Director of the Ecumenical Doctor of Ministry Program. Trusting his expertise, the Capuchins asked him to help design the Solanus Center housing the beatus’ tomb, and to design and coordinate the Beatification Mass. See what he did with his opportunity to help out. I can hear Mother Angelica rolling over in her grave, all the way down in Alabama.

Opened 15 years ago next to the monastery where Casey stayed, the Solanus Casey Center draws thousands every month who look to Casey for support and healing. Every Wednesday, it has a service for those who seek help for themselves or loved ones suffering from illnesses.

After the beatification, attendance at the center may double as it draws more visitors from outside Michigan…

Edward Foley, a Capuchin friar who is coordinating Saturday’s liturgy and chaired the committee that designed the Solanus Casey Center, said Casey’s simple and prayerful personality will be reflected in the beatification ceremonies.

The center is “elegant, but not flashy,” like the Saturday mass and ceremonies will be.

“We want it to be rich and full, but not presumptuous,” said Foley, who teaches at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. “He was a very simple guy. He answered the door. … We tried to choose music that’s very accessible.”

The services will be in English, Vietnamese, Chaldean, Tagalog, and Spanish, reflecting the multicultural makeup of the Archdiocese of Detroit, which oversees 1.3 million Catholics in southeastern Michigan. The center contains statues and symbols from not only Catholic backgrounds, but African-American, Protestant, Japanese, and Muslim activists or traditions, among others.

There will be no use of the Latin language in the Saturday ceremonies, said Foley, noting that Father Solanus, of Irish descent, “failed his Latin exams.”

As I have pointed out elsewhere, Fr. Solanus didn’t know any Spanish, Vietnamese, Tagalog, or Chaldean. He did know a fair amount of Latin, compared to the average parishioner or priest today, and had many favorite songs and hymns in Latin. He lived and died before Vatican II, so the Ordinary Form was not the Mass he knew. On the other hand, no Irish was used at Mass, either, and the only Irish music at Mass was an instrumental piece written forty years after he kicked the bucket. He played fiddle with great enthusiasm, and there were no violin pieces. He wrote little songs and hymns and religious poems, but none of those were used at Mass.

Father Solanus did have a fairly easygoing attitude toward Protestantism. When he healed a Protestant man’s eyes from total blindness, he just said that the man ought to get more serious about serving God, at least to the extent of attending his Protestant church every Sunday, instead of just when he felt like it. But he certainly wasn’t in favor of promoting Muslim or pagan stuff!

So why would you mess with a dead man, especially when the dead man is doing verifiable, huge miracles, that happen right in your face? What kind of pathetic tantrum do you have to pull, to do evil to a man who never hurt you at all? Wouldn’t it be easier to clean out your own soul, rather than do your best to make a house of prayer to God into a home for untrue abominations?

And couldn’t you just take five minutes to put together a Mass program that is nice and dignified and leads thoughts to Heaven?

Blessed Solanus Casey took the name of St. Francis Solano, who was a great Hispanic musician and composer as well as a great evangelist to the Indians. St. Francis Solano made such beautiful music that it protected him in the howling wilderness, because the wildest and angriest tribes of the Amazon wanted to hear the hearttugging music he made.

Blessed Solanus longed to sing and play like the angels, but the Lord gave him other gifts instead. Why couldn’t you have given a musician’s understanding love to him, and given him a gift in heaven of the kind of music he longed to play on Earth? Heck, if you wanted to be multicultural, why not give a nod to the Mass music of St. Francis Solanus?

Accessible? BS. St. Francis Solano was accessible to people who’d never heard Western music before. Sacred beauty has instant access to the heart and mind of humanity, and is pleasing to God. Deliberately picking “simple” music (that isn’t) is yet another sneer at Blessed Solanus Casey, from yet another superior who can’t stand his own feelings of inferiority.

The good news is that 65,000 friends of Blessed Solanus Casey attended his beatification Mass, and that all of them had the opportunity to go to Confession with the priests of the archdiocese, right there, upstairs in Ford Field. Souls were saved, and thanks were given to God for His goodness. The spitefulness of the world can’t touch the beatus now.

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