I just wrote a piece for The Catholic Times calling attention to the marks of the Church that we profess in the Creed each Sunday. Namely: the Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic. These marks of the Church are characteristic and unmistakable; the quintessential elements that define the Bride of Christ. “The Church is held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy. This is because Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is hailed as ‘alone holy,’ loved the Church as His Bride, giving Himself up for her so as to sanctify her; He joined her to Himself as His body and endowed her with the gift of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.” (Lumen Gentium 39) The Church is the “holy People of God” and her members are called “saints.” (CCC 823)
The Church calls her members to holiness according to the teaching of Jesus to “be holy as your Father in heaven is holy.” (Mt. 5:48) The Catechism teaches that charity is the soul of holiness to which all are called: “it governs, shapes, and perfects all the means of sanctification.” (Lumen Gentium 42)
The Diocese of La Crosse is embarking on one of the greatest spiritual experiences of our history in inaugurating the Cause for the Beatification and Canonization of Fr. Joe Walijewski. Fr. Joe is well known to many people in and out of our Diocese for his priestly zeal for souls and personal care and concern for poor and unwanted children.
In citing the points from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and from the documents of Vatican II, it becomes clearer to see the sense of what drove Fr. Joe to his kind of holiness: it is the imitation of Jesus Christ.
By canonizing some of the faithful, that is, 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. Saints have always been the source and origin of renewal in the most difficult moments in the Church’s history. Indeed, holiness is the hidden source and infallible measure of her apostolic activity and missionary zeal. (CCC 828)
In these ways, we look to see Fr. Joe become a hero for this generation and a source for good in the ongoing ministry of clergy, the financial support of the missions he established, and a blessing from God upon the work of this Diocese as we all seek to follow Christ and His glory.
Let us pray together at Sunday Mass.