Most college students would probably admit they stay up late…I do not recommend it regularly, for the record. Sometimes there are good or legitimate reasons for staying up until tomorrow rolls in. For example, maybe you’re studying for a test. (Though if you haven’t done enough studying by midnight the night before test day you might be doing something wrong…but I don’t know for sure. Ask me after finals.) Last night I was up until 4 am.
Now, was it because I was studying? No. (Though I did do a bit of that.) Was I up late because I was hanging out with friends? Well…a friend did stay up with me. But really this college student’s reason for being up until 4 am is because she watched the canonization Mass.
For those who may not be aware, today in Rome Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the canonization Mass for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and six others. Because of time differences and that handy-dandy spin of the planet the Mass started at 2:30 am my time.
Now, why is this so important? Why did I bother to stay up so late?
Truth is, if this has happened a year ago when I was still in high school I probably wouldn’t have stayed up. But Kateri is my confirmation saint (and now I can actually say “saint” without qualification or explanation!). She’s an amazing woman. Kateri’s mother was a christian who was captured and married to another native american of a different tribe. They had Kateri and a few years later her brother. Not long after, the family fell sick with small pox. Kateri’s parents and brother died and she herself was left with a scarred face impaired vision. An uncle and twp aunts took her in and raised the young girl. When she was 18 a priest came to Kateri’s village. At this time her name was Tekakwitha. Her birth name (which no one knows) had been replaced by her adult name according to tribal custom. At 19 or 20 (depending on who you ask), she received a new name, her baptismal name: Catherine or, in her language, Kateri. For a few years she was persecuted for her faith. But she eventually left for New France where she lived with other christians until her death at age 24. You can read her story here. I would encourage you to look at this biography or another, especially if you want some inspiration for overcoming peer pressure. If you would like to see a picture of Kateri’s official image, as was hung on St. Peter’s during the Mass an LA Times article has a good one (I can not and do not recommend the article itself as I haven’t read it).
The other saints are listed below. If you would like to learn more about them I would say an internet search, just be sure your source is reputable and unbiased.
St. Jacques Berthieu
St. Peter Calungsod
St. Carmen Sallés
St. Giovanni Piamarta Battista
St. Mother Marianne Cope
St. Anna Schäffer
These 7 new saints are now officially recognized by the church. The Catechism says in #828
“By canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the saints to them as models and intercessors.”
“Models and intercessors”. That pretty much sums it up. They are people we can look to as having lived good christian lives. And are also people we can ask to pray for us (intercede for us) knowing that they are close to God.
There’s plenty of reasons why canonizations are so important. My favorite, which I just learned today courtesy Fr. Justin, is that a canonization is one of the infallible statements the pope makes. This means that these 7 people are in Heaven. Period.
How cool is that?
What do you think of the canonization Mass? Do you have a favorite among these 7 new saints?
Do you have a question about why the church has saints?
Please comment below. 🙂