What is the Use of Proclaiming Saints?

We mention St. Joseph a lot and also Charles de Foucauld, who is set to be canonized in the near future. But why should we care about saints? Why bother with the whole process of canonization, which may seem like a relic from the past? Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has an excellent answer:

“To proclaim saints helps convince us that this vocation really exists, that the Gospel works, that Jesus does not disappoint and that we can trust in His word. . . . The saints don’t need our recognition, but when we appreciate them as such, we recognize the presence of God among us, and what can be more beautiful and comforting for a Christian than to feel the warmth of the closeness of the Lord?


“God is love and every expression of authentic charity has His fingerprints. But there are differences. While the heroes of this world show what a person can do, the saint shows what God can do. Canonizing one of its sons or daughters, the church is not exalting a human work but is celebrating Christ alive in him or her. Christian heroism proclaims God and spreads in the world His grace and blessing, which we cannot do without.”

Holiness comes in many forms, which is fortunate for us because we are all called to be saints. Let us pray for each other, and for all people, that we may reach our full stature as children of God. Since November is when we remember in a special way all the faithful departed, let us also pray for those who have gone before us. May we one day stand together in our heavenly homeland, rejoicing with all the saints, knowing at last just how good God is.

The image below is a close-up of one of the tapestries depicting the “Communion of Saints” at the Los Angeles Cathedral. Visit the cathedral’s website to learn more about these beautiful works of art: olacathedral.org/tapestries

Discovering a New Saint
Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, wrote the following in his autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain:

“It is a wonderful experience to discover a new saint. For God is greatly magnified and marvelous in each one of His saints: differently in each individual one. There are no two saints alike: but all of them are like God, like Him in a different and special way. In fact, if Adam had never fallen, the whole human race would have been a series of magnificently different and splendid images of God, each one of all the millions of men showing forth His glories and perfections in an astonishing new way, and each one shining with his own particular sanctity, a sanctity destined for him from all eternity as the most complete and unimaginable supernatural perfection of his human personality. . . .


“The discovery of a new saint is a tremendous experience: and all the more so because it is completely unlike the film-fan’s discovery of a new star. What can such a one do with his new idol? Stare at her picture until it makes him dizzy. That is all. But the saints are not mere inanimate objects of contemplation. They become our friends, and they share our friendship and reciprocate it and give us unmistakable tokens of their love for us by the graces that we receive through them.”

A discovery for Merton was the sanctity of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. His autobiography contains this admission: “And not only was she a saint, but a great saint, one of the greatest: tremendous! I owe her all kinds of public apologies and reparation for having ignored her greatness for so long.” St. Thérèse became Merton’s new friend in heaven, and as a true friend she was there to help him. “It was inevitable that the friendship should begin to have its influence on my life,” he realized.

Merton entrusted to St. Thérèse the conversion of his brother, John Paul, which was successful. Shortly before John Paul departed for England during World War II, he visited Merton at his monastery in Kentucky, at which time he was baptized and received his First Communion.

Thérèse of Lisieux. “Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what God wants us to be.”

A New Friend to Discover
On October 13, 2021, during an audience with Cardinal Semeraro, Pope Francis authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate decrees regarding eight people, advancing them along the road to official sainthood.

Of these eight, one is a member of the Br. Charles family: Élisabeth Marie Magdeleine Hutin, who was recognized for her life of heroic virtue and is now honored with the title of Venerable!

Élisabeth was born on April 26, 1898 in Paris, and died on November 6, 1989 in Rome. Inspired by the life and writings of Charles de Foucauld, in 1939 she founded the Little Sisters of Jesus. Her name in religious life was Little Sister Magdeleine.

Today, the Little Sisters of Jesus number about 1,400 women from 60 countries, living in small groups throughout the world. They are noted for their blue habits (the habit of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary is based on theirs).

Here is how Little Sister Magdeleine described the life and purpose of her community:

“The Little Sisters ask to be allowed to live as the leaven in the dough of humanity. They desire to integrate totally with other human beings, while leading a deeply contemplative life, like that of Jesus in the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth and on the highways and byways of his public life.


“The Little Sisters identify wholly with the working class, but represent at the same time a bridge between all classes, races and religions. They must be a catalyst for worker and employer, Muslim and Christian, so that each learns to live with the other, loving with a greater love and doing away with all hatred and enmity.


“Their community life should be a living witness to Christian love, ‘Jesus Caritas.’ They will not be cloistered. Their doors will always be open, so that their communities will be a meeting ground for lay and religious who will find there deeper understanding and greater love. The Little Sisters would like to live as one with the working class, in the factories and workshops. They ask for nothing more than to be thought of as ‘workers among workers,’ as they are ‘Arabs among Arabs’ and ‘nomads among nomads,’ so that the light of Christ shines out of them, in humility and silence. In the lives of the Little Sisters we must see, from near at hand, the real face of the religious life and of the Church, the real face of Christ.”

Little Sister Magdeleine of Jesus. “God took me by the hand, and blindly I followed.”

In 1997, her Cause for Beatification was opened and she received the title Servant of God. All of this recognition given to Little Sister Magdeleine is not only a testament to her individual holiness, but an affirmation of the spirituality of Charles de Foucauld and a sign of its vitality. The life of Nazareth leads to sainthood!

The most well-known person recognized on October 13 was Albino Luciani, who in 1978 became Pope John Paul I. Although he was pope for only 33 days, during his ministry as a priest and later as Patriarch of Venice he was known for his humility and his dedication to the poor and disabled. A miracle attributed to his intercession has been accepted, and now Pope John Paul I, “the smiling pope,” will be beatified at a future date and be known as Blessed.

Pope John Paul I had a short prayer that he recited to himself, and it is a good prayer for anyone who wants to be a saint, meaning it should be a good prayer for everyone:

“Lord, take me as I am, with my defects, with my shortcomings,
but make me become as You want me to be.”

John Paul I. “In order to be saints it is not necessary to accomplish extraordinary things, perform miracles, or be privileged with very special graces. It is enough to perform ordinary works, though the commitment to and love of God are not ordinary.”

Confused about all of the steps to sainthood? Here is a helpful summary: solanuscasey.org/about-us/the-cause-for-sainthood/learn-more-about-the-steps-to-sainthood

Newsletter: January 2018

Pope John Paul I.

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

To the world, he was John Paul I, a pope known primarily for the shortness of his term (33 days). To Pia Luciani, however, he was Uncle Albino, and in a recent interview she shared her memories of him:

Pia: He told stories, sometimes even jokes with a moral ending, exhorting us always to practice eutrapelia.

Reporter: Excuse me, what does that mean?

Pia: It is a Greek word, it means showing happiness to others, finding the joyful and playful side in all things, because, he told us, “When things go wrong, they never go completely wrong. There is always a solution.”

Eutrapelia. There, we’ve learned a new word for the new year and a good one to keep in mind. 2017 had a heaviness to it, and we need to look for the light, for the solutions to our problems, because they exist.

Dorothy Day, the writer and social activist, had a similar philosophy she called the “duty of delight.” She made it her response to suffering:

I was thinking how, as one gets older, we are tempted to sadness, knowing life as it is here on earth, the suffering, the Cross. And how we must overcome it daily, growing in love, and the joy which goes with loving.

It’s easy to look at the world today and sigh. The problems can seem overwhelming. Unthinkable violence is becoming commonplace. The common good is sacrificed because of greed and the lust for power. Life is devalued and creation is just a commodity and trash dump. But reacting with fear and despair leaves us cold. That turns the human heart into stone, and makes us mean and self-centered and prone to scapegoating.

Dorothy Day.

As Dorothy said, despair is a temptation, and overcoming it requires making a decision, every day, to move in the other direction with action, effort, and focus. She was ready for her critics:

People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.

To that we say, “Amen!” We know we’re not alone in believing this because so many steadfast people keep the Joseph House Crisis Center in operation. How wonderful it is to be united in working for the good of others, to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Your support makes a difference. Here are a few people who can tell you how much:

Charlene, 31, is the mother of four children. A few months ago she had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed as bipolar. The process of recovery is not easy — Charlene is working hard to incorporate it into her journey through life. After finding the right medication level she is starting to feel more settled. She would have been lost without her mother’s help in taking care of the children.

Charlene came to the Joseph House a week before she was scheduled to return to work as a nursing assistant. A notice had been taped to her door by the sheriff’s office, stating that she was going to be evicted because of non-payment of rent. We called her landlord and received disheartening news: the entire amount of $1,400 needed to be paid to stop the eviction, not a penny less. That was way beyond our budget. We told Charlene we could hold $225 for her in case she found another source of funds.

Then the unexpected happened. An anonymous donor came to the door with a check for $1,400 to be used for Charlene’s rent. What? Angels exist! Charlene was overjoyed and so grateful as she took the check to her landlord.

Hilda, 40, lost everything when Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. She and her young son made their way to the States and the Eastern Shore, living in a car for over a month. A childhood friend in the area helped Hilda find a place to live. After we paid $200 toward the security deposit, Hilda and her son were able to make the move before winter arrived. Her new landlord gave them some furniture and clothing. Hilda and her son have little, but it is more than what they left behind.

Jack is in his sixties and going through some major life events. He was recently widowed and just lost his job as a bail bondsman (after 20 years). Before that he was a police officer. Jack lives with his son who has kidney problems and may or may not be able to go back to work. Jack himself has a large tumor attached to his spine. In the midst of this he is looking for a job. Jack came to the Joseph House after the water was shut off in his home. He never thought he would have to ask for help. We sent $250 to the water utility.

Don, 60, went on disability after suffering a series of mini strokes. He can no longer work as a truck driver. He lives very frugally but is still having a hard time paying his basic expenses. We paid $250 toward his electric bill so the power would not be cut off in his home.

Mavis, 67, is working as a home health aide to support herself. She had back surgery not that long ago and is slowly recovering. The loss of work put her behind in her rent. Even though Mavis must walk with a cane, she feels she is almost ready to return to her job. She has no choice. We sent $200 to her landlord.

Antonia was homeless with her three children. Fortunately, a shelter had a family room available, and once Antonia knew her children were off the streets she could piece her life together. Before their time was up she found a housekeeping job. We paid $225 toward the security deposit for an apartment so she and her children could escape the cycle of homelessness.

It is very gratifying when we can help families in crisis take a step toward stable living. Thank you for your generosity in supporting the Joseph House. As we begin a new year, we hope you will continue to join us in our service to those in need. We will have a report on our activities during 2017 next month.

Every night when we go to sleep we place ourselves in the hands of God. He is the reason we can rise with joy and look forward to the day, knowing that whatever happens we will get through it together. May His abiding love grant you peace and much happiness.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary


Sr. Marilyn Bouchard, LSJM.

With the unanimous consent of her community, Sr. Marilyn Bouchard has been named Superior General of the Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary. She replaces Sr. Connie Ladd, who served faithfully for 15 years.

Sr. Marilyn hails from Wisconsin and entered our community in 1990. She supervised our Baltimore mission for several years and then was the “right-hand woman” of Sr. Mary Elizabeth. Sr. Marilyn has been active in all aspects of the Joseph House and maintains close ties with the Village of Hope. She is an excellent promoter of our ministry to the community at large.

Sr. Connie will assist Sr. Marilyn as Vicar General. We pray that God will bless these two dedicated servants as they guide our community and direct our ministry with the poor. In His kindness, may He send wisdom and strength to help Sr. Marilyn carry out her new responsibilities of leadership. We know with her gentle spirit and loving heart she will be a good steward of the mission entrusted to us by our founder.