Tag Archives: Charles HOuben

Passionist Saints

Sign
 The Passionists, are a small and relatively new community in the Roman Catholic Church, but we have a good number of canonized saints and members proposed for canonization. Beginning with our founder, St. Paul of the Cross, who died in 1774, each generation of Passionists has produced men and women recognized for their holiness.

We’re hoping Father Theodore Foley who died in 1974 may join the ranks of Passionist saints such as Paul of the Cross, Vincent Strambi, Gabriel Possenti, Dominic Barberi, Gemma Galgani,  Charles Houben, Isidore DeLoor and Eugene Bossilkov.

Saints are God’s answer to the poison of their times, and it’s important to see them as they oppose it. Saints are firm believers and examples of heroic virtue. They’re signs of God’s power in a sinful world and God marks them out as saints through miracles performed through their intercession.

For example, St. Paul of the Cross was an antidote to the forgetfulness of the passion of Jesus which followed the Enlightenment, a 17th century movement that denied or minimized the role of faith and religion in human life. We’re still feeling the effects of the Enlightenment today.

St. Vincent Strambi opposed the Enlightenment as it was expressed in the political schemes of Napolean Bonaparte, who tried to subordinate religion to his own dreams of European domination. Vincent was a brave Italian bishop who resisted the emperor and suffered for it.  Like him, the Bulgarian Bishop Eugene Bossilkov suffered and died under an oppressive Communist government in Bulgaria in the 20th century.

Gabriel Possenti resisted the lure of the Enlightenment in the 19th century. As a young man, he chose religious life rather than the inflated promises of success that tempted so many of his contemporaries.

Saints like Gemma, Isidore de Loor, Charles Houben seem to be people who fit St. Paul’s description of those called by God. They were not wise by human standards, they don’t have a lot of human power, they’re not of noble birth. They’re “the weak of the world God chooses to shame the strong.” (1 Corinthians 1, 23-28)

Our Passionist saints tend to be ordinary people, of no special note, easily unnoticed and misunderstood, subject to the sufferings, disappointments and failures that come in life. God chooses them to be signs that he does not abandon his people and, in fact, can do great things through them. Charles Houben was a healer. Gemma bore the signs of Jesus’ passion in her body.

It takes awhile to know saints like these. That may be because we often don’t understand our own times and the poison afflicting it.

Pray for Andrew

by Fr.James Barry, CP

Last summer I visited the Shrine of the American Jesuit Martyrs at Auriesville, New York. I went into the large circular Indian Chapel to pray and light a candle, only few people around.

In came a couple with their son Andrew and his grandparents who came up to the altar to pray. Andrew, a four year old child, was suffering from a serious brain disease which the doctors could not identify. He would go into seizures and flail around and cry out for help and then it would go on for a while and stop. They wanted me to pray over this child and anoint him with sacred oil of the sick, which I did, and he seemed to calm for a while but it did little to help him.

I could see on the faces of the parents and grandparents the pain they were suffering for this child; they have been to the Mayo clinic, Mass General, Johns Hopkins , Baltimore and they keep trying for a cure and spending everything they have to help this child.

In the Gospel from Mark for today the man possessed was a member of a family; very possible family members put him in chains and restraints so that he would not harm himself, but he broke the chains. A spirit spoke to Jesus. “What have you to do with me Jesus, Son of the most high God, do not torment me.”

Jesus calls out “Unclean spirit come out of the man; what is your name?” “LEGION” he says, “and there are many of us…..send us into the swine” which Jesus does and 2000 swine rush over the cliff and drown.

The healed man wants to follow Jesus, but Jesus tells him to go home and be with his family and proclaim the good news about what has happened to them. Jesus notices the man’s family and wants them to be healed as well, for they have suffered much with this man.

We’re called to pray and bless all those who come to us and are suffering, We don’t always know how. God willing, may we help someone who is suffering now.

Recently I sent the blessed oil of St. Charles Houben, a Passionist healing saint, to that family I met. I ask you to pray that the fullness of God’s healing may be upon Andrew, his mom and dad and grandparents. They are wonderful people and deserve our love.