November 23, 2014
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Indian Catholics find spiritual inspiration in two new saints

Vatican City, November 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Two new Indian Catholic saints to be canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday were known for their deep spiritual life and their intercession in helping families, say two Catholics who find deep inspiration in their sanctity.


Indian Catholics find spiritual inspiration in two new saints
Autism not a cause to lose hope, Vatican conference encourages
Pope: break down the stigma burdening those with autism


Indian Catholics find spiritual inspiration in two new saints

VATICAN CITY, November 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Two new Indian Catholic saints to be canonized by Pope Francis on Sunday were known for their deep spiritual life and their intercession in helping families, say two Catholics who find deep inspiration in their sanctity.

Fr. Isaac Arickappalil C.M.I. told CNA Nov. 14 that the canonization of the soon-to-be saint Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara is “an inspiration for all of us.” He said the Nov. 23 canonization is an inspiration for the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, the order which Bl. Kuriakose founded, as well as for the Church in India as a whole.

“It gives us inspiration to be more spiritual,” the priest said, calling the canonization a time “to re-dedicate ourselves for the cause of the church, for the service of human beings and also (the) glory of God.”

The priest is a member of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, which Bl. Kuriakose founded in 1836. It is the first Catholic religious order founded in India. Fr. Arickappalil also serves as director of the Chavara Institute for Interreligious Studies in Rome, which is named after the religious order’s founder.

Bl. Kuriakose also founded an order of religious sisters called the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel.

This congregation will also receive a new saint, Bl. Euphrasia Eluvathingal, during the Nov. 23 canonization. Bl. Euphrasia, who died in 1952, served as the superior general for the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel for three years.

Among Bl. Euphrasia’s devotees is Sister Mary Julit C.M.C., who came to Rome from India in order to help the postulator of Bl. Euphrasia’s cause prepare for the canonization. The sister echoed Fr. Arickappalil’s excitement for the canonization of both her founder, as well as her order’s previous superior general.

The canonization of the two saints is a great moment for the Indian church, she said, because while the presence of saints and blessed is common in Italy, they are not as frequently found in Asian countries.

“I think there are many saints without calling them by name,” she said, adding that to have the official recognition of two saints from India is significant.

The religious sister praised Bl. Euphrasia’s spiritual life, saying “she lived the Carmelite spirituality and also humanity in its fuller sense.”

“It is said that another word for love is mercy and forgiveness, and she showed that a lot in her community life, to the sisters and the people she connected with,” she told CNA Nov. 17.

Bl. Euphrasia was “a real model” for the sisters of the congregation, Sr. Julit said. Although she mostly stayed inside of the convent for 50 years, she was able to attain the deep union with God implied in the phrase “be perfect as I am perfect.”

Known during her life as the “Praying Mother,” Bl. Euphrasia is frequently petitioned for problems with the family or fertility, Sr. Julit explained. She said that many childless couples who come to pray at the site of the blessed’s death end up having children afterward.

Sr. Julit recounted that when she traveled to the blessed’s place of death four months ago, she encountered an energetic little girl whose name was Euphrasia.

“I thought, in this age, why did her mother give her this name? And the mother told me they did not have children for 17 years, and then they prayed to (the saint) and the next year they had this baby-girl, so they vowed to give her the name of Euphrasia.”

Fr. Arickappalil explained that Bl. Kuriakose was a man similarly known for his efforts in building-up family life.

“He had a special devotion to the Holy Family. In another words, he was a person of families, he tried to renew them. He knew the Catholic life, the Christian life, is possible only if families are good,” the priest said.

Bl. Kuriakose gave parents concrete instructions on how to raise their children. He also instructed children about how to be obedient, devoted and respectful to their parents. He offered a series of retreats for families, particularly in schools and poorhouses.

“So he was very much devoted to families, and he tried to spread this devotion to the Holy Family and the Blessed Sacrament, and to Our Lady.”

Born in 1805, Bl. Kuriakose founded the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate with the help of a few friends. He was known for his efforts in bridging a schism that happened after the First Vatican Council, during which an unauthorized bishop came to India’s Kerala province and ordained priests without the Pope’s approval.

When Bl. Kuriakose saw what was happening, he fought against the bishop “for the unity of the church and he Catholic life,” Fr. Arickappalil observed. If the schism had not been eventually resolved in India, “the whole church in Kerala would have gone away from the Catholic church by now.”

“Only because of (Bl. Kuriakose’s) dedication, courage and selfless service to the Catholic Church, are Catholics still there in Kerala.”

It is important for the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate to have their founder canonized, the priest explained, because it means that the Church recognizes his spiritual accomplishments.

The two new saints are from the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, an India-based Eastern Catholic Church in union with Rome.

The Indian community has organized several celebrations for the event, including a prayer vigil the night before the Nov. 23 canonizations. Sr. Julit is preparing the vigil’s texts.

Fr. Arickappalil explained that close to 20 bishops are coming from India for the celebration, including Cardinal George Alencherry, the major archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church, and Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the major archbishop of India’s Syro-Malankara Church.

In addition to the bishops, nearly 800 Indian priests will concelebrate in the Mass, while an estimated 10,000 pilgrims will come from all across India, primarily from its Kerala province.

Festivities for the Indian saints will conclude with a Mass of Thanksgiving on Nov. 24, which will be celebrated at the Pope’s altar in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Francis will visit to greet the Indian community before the Mass.

Four Italians will be also be canonized on Sunday.

Autism not a cause to lose hope, Vatican conference encourages

VATICAN CITY, November 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- An international conference held this week at the Vatican is looking to bring “a message of hope and joy” to persons with autism and their families.

“The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope” gathered an array of experts to look at autism from a variety of perspectives, from the psychological and familial, to the pastoral and religious.

This “animation of hope,” said Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers in his opening remarks on Nov. 20 to the three day gathering, “is truly the message that the Church, in her concern for the sick and the suffering, wishes to bring to persons who fall within the autism spectrum and their families.”

It is “a message of hope and joy amid the difficulties, the limits, the frustrations, to the sufferings brought about by these obstacles,” he said.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, manifesting within the first three years of life, which is characterized by impaired social interaction, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication.

Emphasizing the Holy Father's particular concern for the suffering and the sick, the archbishop said he offers the faithful a “very profound teaching about suffering, illness, welcoming the sick, the right Christian attitude toward those who suffer.”

The conference, which has gathered participants from 57 countries, concluded Nov. 22 with an audience with Pope Francis.

Co-founders of Autism Speaks, and grandparents of a child with autism, Bob and Suzanne Wright, are among the 650 participants taking part in the conference. In an interview with CNA, Bob stressed the importance of early detection of autism, ideally before two years of age. With early diagnosis, the child can receive the necessary occupational, behavioral, and speech therapy to improve the chances of their matriculation through school.

Wright also spoke about the need to mobilize awareness in the community. “You have to go out and energize people in the community, inform politicians, elected officials, fire and police people,” to help them understand the signs and effects of autism, he said. In this way, it can be “treated as a difficult problem,” but not one which results in people with autism being shunned or ignored.

CNA also spoke with Therese Prudlo, a wife and mother of three children, the second of whom has autism.

“Having a child with autism is like having any other child,” she told CNA in a Nov. 21 phone interview: just “more intense.”

Although 13 years old and taller than his mother, Eamon “still has all those childlike loves of wanting to be hugged, and cuddled, just like he’s little.”

Despite the challenges, Therese said she felt blessed by his easy-going, happy personality. “He loves a good joke. He’s always ready to laugh at himself and at us.”

“He definitely teaches me, probably in a more intense way than my other children do, those virtues that you need to cultivate as a mom: being hopeful, having faith that things will turn out okay, having the charity of love, learning patience.”

In addressing the faith formation of a child with autism, Therese said the regularity inherent in the Catholic tradition is crucial.

“For a person with autism, they love things that don’t change very often,” she said. “That regularity of being able to take Eamon to Mass, and teach him his prayers, just that little bit of constant repetition, he has learned that love for those things.”

Therese said they have been fortunate to receive welcome and sensitivity when they bring Eamon to Mass, with some parishes even offering education options for children with autism.

Although Eamon is not yet ready to receive Confirmation and First Communion, there are programs available to help him work toward receiving these Sacraments. “He loves the little booklets ... teaching him the Mass in that simple form that is very healing for autistic children.”

There are those who might say children like Eamon should stay home from Mass, and never be taught their faith because they “will never understand.”

“But he does understand,” Therese said. “He understands that we love to go (to Mass), and he understands that he feels comfortable going. And there’s a regularity to going … for a person with autism, (repetition) is exactly what they need. They find comfort in that repetition of our faith.”

Pope: break down the stigma burdening those with autism

VATICAN CITY, November 22 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis has said autistic disorders are nothing to be ashamed of, as he encouraged everyone to build solidarity to ensure that autistic persons are not isolated.

“Everyone should be committed to promoting acceptance, encounter and solidarity through concrete support and by encouraging renewed hope,” he told participants in his Nov. 22 audience with autistic persons and their families.

Through this support, he said, “we can contribute to breaking down the isolation and, in many cases, the stigma burdening people with autism spectrum disorders, and just as often their families.”

Pope Francis addressed participants in a conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care to discuss the topic of autism spectrum disorders.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder, manifesting within the first three years of life. It is characterized by impaired social interaction, as well as impaired verbal and non-verbal communication.

The congress, titled “The Person with Autism Spectrum Disorders: Animating Hope,” drew 650 experts from 57 countries around the world to talk about the broad array of topics related to the disease and its treatment.

In his address, Pope Francis said that persons affected by autism spectrum disorders represent “an area that appeals to the direct responsibility of governments and institutions, without of course forgetting the responsibility of Christian communities.”

He encouraged everyone to play their part in constructing a culture of encounter and solidarity in which no one affected by the disease, including their families, are left isolated.

The Pope stressed the importance of accompanying autistic persons and their families in a personal way by listening to their needs, which “arise from the depths of a pathology which, all too often, struggles to be properly diagnosed and accepted without shame or withdrawing into solitude.”

Pope Francis advocated for the creation of an “on the ground” network of support and services that are both comprehensive and accessible for persons affected by autism spectrum disorders.

These services, he said, should not only involve the parents of persons with autism spectrum disorders, but also grandparents, friends, therapists, educators and pastoral workers.

By their involvement, these people can “help families overcome the feelings, which can sometimes arise, of inadequacy, uselessness and frustration.”

The Roman Pontiff thanked the families and associations who are already doing much, as well as those who offered their testimonies during the conference.

“Moreover, I want to encourage the hard work of academics and researchers, so that they may discover therapies and support tools, to help and heal and, above all, prevent the onset of these conditions as soon as possible.”

In addition to his previous appeals, the Bishop of Rome encouraged everyone to respect and give attention to the rights of the patients, as well as their needs and potential, so that the dignity of each person might be safeguarded.

He closed his audience with prayers for all who are sick, for their caretakers and for all health care workers, before invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary.

Daily Catholic
First Reading: Ezek 34: 11-12, 15-17
Second Reading: 1 Cor 15: 20-26, 28
Gospel: Mt 25: 31-46
Saint of the day: St. Columbanus
Homily of the day: Mt 25: 31-46


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