Memorial of Saint John Neumann, Bishop
I am writing this on my last evening in Rome, where I have come to give retreats. Rome is chock full of churches and all sorts of references to saints, so many of whom actually lived here. And then there are all the cities and towns and villages in Italy, and indeed other parts of Europe, who have their own patron saints.
Ah, but so much of that is so much in the past. Of course, there are recent saints – John Paul II comes to mind. But what about us, what about us Americans and our country? Yes, we have the North American Martyrs. And today the Church remembers the one canonized man in the United States. John Neumann came to the still infant US from the very heart of Europe, from Bohemia and the meeting place of German and Czech cultures. He travelled across the ocean and worked mostly with immigrants in Philadelphia, proving himself so fully a man of God that the Church recognized his virtues as heroic and recognized him as among the blessed in Heaven, and so included him in the canon, that is, “canonized him.”
But what about us, now, in the 21st century? What is our way to sanctity? What would a saint look like in our time, in our place, in our own “Multi-cultural” context? I do have one idea: in a world increasingly run by computers, and dominated by a computer mind, a human heart, open to the Sacred Heart, must surely be the way of holiness. Still, only God can make saints, and God sends saints as He wills. He creates them as the time and place need. I believe we are desperately in need of saints: so let us beg God to send us saints. And – gulp – let us beg God to make saints of us. Here, now, in the US of A. Amen.