Venerable Fulton Sheen (1895-1979) to Be Beatified on 21 December in Peoria, United States of America.
The Diocese of Peoria said, ‘It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.’
The Diocese of Peoria announced on Monday that Venerable Fulton Sheen will be Beatified on 21 December at the city’s Cathedral of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception.
Archbishop Sheen had been Ordained a Priest of the Diocese in that Cathedral on 20 September 1919.
“It seems entirely fitting that the Beatification will take place at the end of this 100-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood,” a statement from the Peoria Diocese announced yesterday, 18 November.
Fulton Sheen was born in Illinois in 1895 and was 24 when he was Ordained a Priest.
He was appointed auxiliary Bishop of New York in 1951 and he remained there until his appointment as the Bishop of Rochester in 1966. He retired in 1969 and moved back to New York City until his death in 1979.
Venerable Sheen was a beloved television catechist during the 1950s and ’60s in the United States. His television show Life Is Worth Living reached an audience of millions.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints promulgated a decree July 6 recognising a miracle attributed to Sheen’s intercession, which allowed for his Beatification.
The miracle involves the unexplained recovery of James Fulton Engstrom, a boy born apparently stillborn in September 2010 to Bonnie and Travis Engstrom of the Peoria-area town of Goodfield. He showed no signs of life as medical professionals tried to revive him. The child’s mother and father prayed to Archbishop Sheen to heal their son.
The Peoria Diocese opened the cause for Sheen’s Canonisation in 2002, after Archdiocese of New York said it would not explore the case. In 2012, Benedict XVI recognised the heroic virtues of the archbishop.
The Beatification follows legal battles in civil courts over the location of Sheen’s body. His body was transferred to the Peoria cathedral June 27 after a protracted series of suits.
Sheen’s will had declared his wish to be buried in the Archdiocese of New York Calvary Cemetery. Soon after Sheen died, Cardinal Terence Cooke of New York asked Joan Sheen Cunningham, Sheen’s niece and closest living relative, if his remains could be placed in the crypt of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City and she consented.
In September 2014, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria suspended Sheen’s cause on the grounds that the Holy See expected Sheen’s remains to be in the Peoria diocese.
Cunningham has since said that Sheen would have wanted to have been interred in Peoria if he knew that he would be considered for sainthood. In 2016, she filed a legal complaint seeking to have her uncle’s remains moved to the Peoria cathedral.
Thought for the Day – 19 November – The Memorial of St Matilda/Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)
Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Matilda and Gertrude of Helfta/the Great, became ardent devotees and promoters of Jesus’ heart after it was the subject of many of their visions. The idea of hearing the heartbeat of God was very important to medieval saints, who nurtured devotion to the Sacred Heart. Women such as Saint Matilda and Saint Gertrude perceived Jesus’ heart as the breast of a mother. Just as a mother gives milk to nourish her child, so Jesus in the Eucharist gives us His life blood.
In one vision, Mechtilde reported that Jesus said, “In the morning let your first act be to greet My Heart and to offer Me your own. Whoever, breathes a sigh toward Me, draws Me to himself.”
One of the visions recounted by Mechtilde states that Jesus having appeared to her, commanded her to love Him ardently and to honour His Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament as much as possible. He gave her His Sacred Heart as a pledge of His love, as a place of refuge during her life and as her consolation at the hour of her death. From this time Mechtilde had an extraordinary devotion to the Sacred Heart and she received such great graces from It, that she was accustomed to say, that if she had to write down all the favours and all the blessings which she had received by means of this devotion, a large book would not contain them.
In another, Jesus Himself recommended the Gospel. Opening to her, the wound of His most gentle heart, He said to her: “Consider how great is my love – if you want to know it well, you will not find it expressed more clearly anywhere, than in the Gospel. No-one has ever expressed stronger or more tender feelings than these – As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you (John 15:9)”.
Her accounts of these visions were later compiled in the Liber Specialis Gratiae – The Book of Special Grace.
Quote of the Day – 19 November – Tuesday of the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 19:1–10 and the Memorial of St Matilda/Mechtilde of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)
Devotion of the Three Hail Marys
St Matilda of Hackeborn
was distressed over her eternal salvation
and prayed that the Most Holy Virgin
would assist her at the hour of death.
The Blessed Virgin appeared to her
and reassured her, saying:
“Yes, I will! But I wish, for your part, that you recite three Hail Marys everyday, remembering, in the first, the power received from the Eternal Father, in the second, the wisdom received from the Son, with the third one, the love that has filled the Holy Spirit”.
The Blessed Virgin taught her to pray
and to understand especially,
how the Three Hail Mary’s,
honour, the three persons
of the Blessed Trinity.
One Minute Reflection – – 19 November – Tuesday of the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 19:1–10 and the Memorial of St Matilda of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298)
“Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” … Luke 19:6
REFLECTION – “Celine, what a mystery is our grandeur in Jesus. This is all that Jesus has shown us in making us climb the symbolic tree about which I was just talking to you. And now, what science is He about to teach us? Has He not taught us all? Let us listen to what He is saying to us: “Make haste to descend, I must lodge today at your house.” Well, Jesus tells us to descend. Where, then, must we descend? Celine you know better than I, however, let me tell you where we must now follow Jesus. In days gone by, the Jews asked our divine Saviour: “Master, where do you live?” And He answered: “The foxes have their lairs, the birds of heaven their nests, but I have no place to rest my head.” This is where we must descend in order that we may serve as an abode for Jesus. To be so poor that we do not have a place to rest our head. This is, dear Celine, what Jesus has done in my soul during my retreat. You understand, there is question here of the interior. (…)
What Jesus desires is that we receive Him into our hearts. No doubt, they are already empty of creatures but, alas, I feel mine is not entirely empty of myself and it is for this reason that Jesus tells me to descend. He, the King of kings, humbled Himself in such a way that His face was hidden and no one recognised Him and I, too, want to hide my face, I want my Beloved alone to see it, that He be the only one to count my tears, that in my heart at least He may rest His dear head and feel that there, He is known and understood!” … St Thérèse of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) Doctor of the Church
PRAYER – Look with favour on our prayer Lord and in Your saving love, may your light so penetrate the hidden places of our hearts, that we may become like You, pure and humble of heart. May no sordid desires darken our minds and may we be renewed and enlightened as we receive Your heavenly grace. Grant that the intercession of St Matilda of Hackeborn lead us to a new way of remorse and repentance as we learn from You, our Saviour. Through Christ, our Lord, with the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever, amen.
Our Morning Offering – 19 November – Tuesday of the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year C
A Prayer for Fulfilling the Will of God Thomas à Kempis (1380-1471)
O most merciful Jesus,
grant me Your grace,
that it may remain with me always
and persevere with me to the end.
Grant me always to will and desire,
what is more pleasing and acceptable to You.
Let Your will be mind
and let my will always follow Yours
in perfect conformity with it.
Let my will and desires always be one with Yours
and let me be unable to will or not to will,
except as You will or do not will.
Grant that I may die to all worldly things
and that I may be despised and unknown
for love of You.
Grant, above all things to be desired,
that I may find rest in You
and that in Your Heart alone may be my peace.
You, O Lord, give true peace to the heart
and perfect rest to body and soul.
Apart from You, all is difficult and never still.
In that peace, in You Who are the one,
supreme and eternal Good,
I will sleep and take my rest.
Saint of the Day – 19 November – Saint Matilda of Hackeborn (c 1241-1298) Benedictine Nun, Mystic, Teacher, Spiritual adviser, called “God’s nightingale” – also known as Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn and of Helfta, sister of St Gertrude the Great – born in c 1241 at her family’s castle of Helfta near Eisleben, Saxony, Germany and died on 19 November 1298 at Helfta monastery of natural causes. Patronages – against blindness (one well-known miracle was healing the blindness of a nun).
Saint Matilda of Hackeborn’s life by Pope Benedict XVI
Catechesis given at his General Audience on 29 September 2010
Today I want to talk to you about St Matilda of Hackeborn, one of the great figures of the convent of Helfta, who lived in the 13th century. Her sister, St Gertrude the Great, tells of the special graces that God granted to St Matilda in the sixth book of Liber Specialis Gratiae (Book of Special Grace), which states : “What we have written is very little in comparison with what we have omitted. We are publishing these things solely for the glory of God and the usefulness of our neighbour, for it would seem wrong to us to keep quiet about the many graces that Matilda received from God, not so much for herself, in our opinion but for us and for those who will come after us” (Mechthild von Hackeborn, Liber specialis gratiae, vi, 1).
This work was written by St Gertrude and by another sister of Helfta and has a unique story. At the age of 50, Matilda went through a grave spiritual crisis, as well as physical suffering. In this condition, she confided to two of her sisters, who were friends, the special graces with which God had guided her since childhood. However, she did not know that they were writing it all down. When she found out she was deeply upset and distressed. However, the Lord reassured her, making her realise that all that had been written was for the glory of God and for the benefit of her neighbour (cf. ibid., II, 25; V, 20). This work, therefore, is the principal source to refer to, for information on the life and spirituality of our Saint.
With her, we are introduced into the family of Baron von Hackeborn, one of the noblest, richest and most powerful barons of Thuringia, related to the Emperor Frederick II, and we enter the convent of Helfta in the most glorious period of its history. The Baron had already given one daughter to the convent, Gertrude of Hackeborn (1231/1232 – 1291/1292). She was gifted with an outstanding personality. She was Abbess for 40 years, capable of giving the spirituality of the convent a particular hallmark and of bringing it to an extraordinary flourishing as the centre of mysticism and culture, a school for scientific and theological training. Gertrude offered the nuns an intellectual training of a high standard that enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on Sacred Scripture, on the Liturgy, on the Patristic tradition, on the Cistercian Rule and spirituality, with a particular love for St Bernard of Clairvaux and William of Saint-Thierry. She was a real teacher, exemplary in all things, in evangelical radicalism and in apostolic zeal. Matilda, from childhood, accepted and enjoyed the spiritual and cultural atmosphere created by her sister, later giving it her own personal hallmark.
Matilda was born in 1241 or 1242 in the Castle of Helfta. She was the Baron’s third daughter. When she was seven she went with her mother to visit her sister Gertrude in the convent of Rodersdorf. She was so enchanted by this environment that she ardently desired to belong to it. She entered as a schoolgirl and in 1258 became a nun at the convent, which in the meantime had moved to Helfta, to the property of the Hackeborns. She was distinguished by her humility, her fervour, her friendliness, the clarity and the innocence of her life and by the familiarity and intensity with which she lived her relationship with God, the Virgin and the Saints. She was endowed with lofty natural and spiritual qualities such as knowledge, intelligence, familiarity with the humanities and a marvellously sweet voice – everything suited her, to being a true treasure for the convent from every point of view (ibid, Proem.). Thus when “God’s nightingale”, as she was called, was still very young she became the principal of the convent’s school, choir mistress and novice mistress, offices that she fulfilled with talent and unflagging zeal, not only for the benefit of the nuns but for anyone who wanted to draw on her wisdom and goodness.
Illumined by the divine gift of mystic contemplation, Matilda wrote many prayers. She was a teacher of faithful doctrine and deep humility, a counsellor, comforter and guide in discernment. We read: “she distributed doctrine in an abundance never previously seen at the convent and alas, we are rather afraid that nothing like it will ever be seen again. The sisters would cluster round her to hear the word of God, as if she were a preacher. She was the refuge and consoler of all and, by a unique gift of God, was endowed with the grace of being able to reveal freely the secrets of the heart of each one. “Many people, not only in the convent but also outsiders, religious and lay people, who came from afar, testified that this holy virgin had freed them from their afflictions and that they had never known such comfort as they found near her. “Furthermore, she composed and taught so many prayers that if they were gathered together they would make a book larger than a Psalter” (ibid., VI, 1).
In 1261 a five year old girl came to the convent. Her name was Gertrude – She was entrusted to the care of Matilda, just 20 years of age, who taught her and guided her in the spiritual life until she not only made her into an excellent disciple but also her confidant. In 1271 or 1272, Matilda of Magdeburg also entered the convent. So it was that this place took in four great women two Gertrudes and two Matildas, the glory of German monasticism.
During her long life which she spent in the convent, Matilda was afflicted with continuous and intense bouts of suffering, to which she added the very harsh penances chosen for the conversion of sinners. In this manner she participated in the Lord’s Passion until the end of her life (cf. ibid., VI, 2). Prayer and contemplation were the life-giving humus of her existence – her revelations, her teachings, her service to her neighbour, her journey in faith and in love have their root and their context here. In the first book of the work, Liber Specialis Gratiae, the nuns wrote down Matilda’s confidences pronounced on the Feasts of the Lord, the Saints and, especially, of the Blessed Virgin. This Saint had a striking capacity for living the various elements of the Liturgy, even the simplest and bringing it into the daily life of the convent. Some of her images, expressions and applications are at times distant from our sensibility toda, but, if we were to consider monastic life and her task as mistress and choir mistress, we should grasp her rare ability as a teacher and educator who, starting from the Liturgy, helped her sisters to live intensely every moment of monastic life.
Matilda gave an emphasis in liturgical prayer to the canonical hours, to the celebrations of Holy Mass and, especially, to Holy Communion. Here she was often rapt in ecstasy in profound intimacy with the Lord in His most ardent and sweetest Heart, carrying on a marvellous conversation in which she asked for inner illumination, while interceding in a special way for her community and her sisters. At the centre, are the mysteries of Christ which the Virgin Mary constantly recommends to people, so that they may walk on the path of holiness: “If you want true holiness, be close to my Son, He is holiness itself that sanctifies all things” (ibid., I, 40). The whole world, the Church, benefactors and sinners were present in her intimacy with God. For her, Heaven and earth were united.
Her visions, her teachings, the events of her life are described in words reminiscent of liturgical and biblical language. In this way it is possible to comprehend her deep knowledge of Sacred Scripture, which was her daily bread. She had constant recourse to the Scriptures, making the most of the biblical texts read in the Liturgy and drawing from them symbols, terms, countryside, images and famous figures. She had a special love for the Gospel – “The words of the Gospel were a marvellous nourishment for her and in her heart stirred feelings of such sweetness that, because of her enthusiasm, she was often unable to finish reading it….” The way in which she read those words was so fervent that it inspired devotion in everyone. “Thus when she was singing in the choir, she was completely absorbed in God, uplifted by such ardour that she sometimes expressed her feelings in gestures….”“On other occasions, since she was rapt in ecstasy, she did not hear those who were calling or touching her and came back with difficulty to the reality of the things around her” (ibid., VI, 1). In one of her visions, Jesus Himself recommended the Gospel to her; opening the wound in His most gentle Heart, He said to her: “consider the immensity of My love: if you want to know it well, nowhere will you find it more clearly expressed than in the Gospel. No one has ever heard expressed stronger or more tender sentiments than these: “As my father has loved me, so I have loved you (Jn 15: 9)'” (ibid., I, 22).
Dear friends, personal and liturgical prayer, especially the Liturgy of the Hours and Holy Mass are at the root of St Matilda of Hackeborn’s spiritual experience. In letting herself be guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Bread of the Eucharist, she followed a path of close union with the Lord, ever in full fidelity to the Church. This is also a strong invitation to us to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in Holy Mass. The Liturgy is a great school of spirituality.
Her disciple, Gertrude, gives a vivid pictures of St Matilda of Hackeborn’s last moments. They were very difficult but illumined by the presence of the Blessed Trinity, of the Lord, of the Virgin Mary and of all the Saints, even Gertrude’s sister by blood. When the time came in which the Lord chose to gather her to Him, she asked Him let her live longer in suffering for the salvation of souls and Jesus was pleased with this further sign of her love.
Matilda was 58 years old. The last leg of her journey was marked by eight years of serious illness. Her work and the fame of her holiness spread far and wide. When her time came, “the God of majesty… the one delight of the soul that loves Him… sang to her: Venite vos, benedicti Patris mei…. Venite, o voi che siete i benedetti dal Padre mio, venite a ricevere il regno – Come, you who are blessed by my Father, come and receive the kingdom… and He united her with His glory” (ibid., VI, 8).
May St Matilda of Hackeborn commend us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Virgin Mary. She invites us to praise the Son with the Heart of the Mother and to praise Mary with the Heart of the Son: “I greet you, O most deeply venerated Virgin, in that sweetest of dews which from the Heart of the Blessed Trinity spread within you. I greet you in the glory and joy in which you now rejoice forever, you who were chosen in preference to all the creatures of the earth and of Heaven even before the world’s creation! Amen” (ibid., I, 45).
Our Lady of Divine Providence: The title of “Mary, Mother of Divine Providence” is often traced to her intervention at the wedding in Cana. Christ’s first public miracle was occasioned in part by the intercession of his mother. She helped through her foresight and concern to avoid an embarrassing situation for the newlywed couple. Our Lady of Providence is sometimes also identified as Queen of the Home.
Devotion to Our Lady of Divine Providence originated in Italy and spread to France and Spain. The devotion was brought to Puerto Rico in the early 1850s by the Servite Fathers. According to tradition, Philip Benizi (1233 – 1285) prayed to Mary for help in providing food for his friars and subsequently found several baskets of provisions left at the door of the convent. Our Lady of Providence was declared the patroness of Puerto Rico by Pope Paul VI on 19 November 1969. Her feast day is celebrated in many immigrant Puerto Rican communities.
Around 1580, the Italian painter Scipione Pulzone created a work titled “Mater Divinae Providentiae,” which depicted the Blessed Mother cradling the Infant Jesus. Devotion to Mary, Mother of Divine Providence in the first house of the Congregation of the Clerics Regular of St Paul (Barnabites) in Rome at San Carlo ai Catinari church began around year 1611, when one of the clerics travelled to Loreto to pray for assistance in finding the financial resources to complete the Church of San Carlo. Upon his return, they received the necessary assistance and the Barnabites began to promote devotion to Our Lady of Providence.
Pulzone’s painting was given to the Barnabites in 1663. It was placed on the altar of a chapel on the first floor of the Saint Charles rectory behind the main altar. In 1732, a copy of the painting was placed in a location adjacent to the main altar of the church of San Carlo ai Catinari in Rome, where it drew many faithful visitors.
In 1774, Pope Benedict XIV authorised the Confraternity of Our Lady of Providence, a lay organisation created for the purpose of promoting special works of Christian charity or piety. Pope Gregory XVI elevated it to an Archconfraternity in 1839. In 1888, Pope Leo XIII ordered the solemn crowning of the “Miraculous Lady” and approved the Mass and Office of Mary, Mother of Divine Providence. On 5 August 1896, Superior General of the Barnabites, Father Benedict Nisser decreed that every Barnabite have a copy of the painting in their home.
Our Lady of Providence is the patroness of the Barnabite Order.
Our Lady of Providence is the patroness of Indiana and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. The chapel of Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts is dedicated to Our Lady of Providence.
Our Lady of Divine Providence is the patroness of St Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison, Kansas.
Our Lady of Divine Providence is also the patroness of the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico.