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: June 2021

Dear Friends of Joseph House:

Picture a swiftly-moving river, tumbling over rocks, swirling with currents and eddies. Trying to swim in such a river would be a tiring, and probably frightening, experience. You would feel buffeted and pushed around by forces stronger than you. The world would seem to be rushing by. You wouldn’t know what to expect next.

Now picture yourself sitting on the bank, quietly breathing, observing the river. You now have perspective. You see the river in context: it has boundaries, it’s not all there is, and although in some places the water is swift and choppy, in others it is smooth and calm. Meanwhile the ground you are sitting on is solid. The river is moving, but you don’t have to go along for the ride.

The river can represent several different things: our thoughts, the stress of our daily activities, the endless stream of news and images on television and the Internet. It gets exhausting if we don’t take a break from it all. Thomas Merton wrote, “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.” He was a Trappist monk, and he wrote these words more than 50 years ago. Prayerful solitude gave Merton clarity: he saw how the frenzy of modern life destroys our capacity for inner peace and hence the fruitfulness of our lives.

We increasingly live in a manufactured world, one designed to “push our buttons” and keep us distracted. To preserve the sanctity of the human soul, an excellent and time-honored safeguard is found in contemplative silence. You’ve probably felt the need yourself for some periodic down-time. For us Little Sisters, one of the benefits of our life is that we have scheduled time every day for prayer and quiet. These times are more than simply taking a break: we let go of our restless minds and present ourselves to the Lord, being receptive to His presence.

Our model is Jesus, who, as Scripture relates, “in the morning, a great while before dawn, rose and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). You may recall that the mission of the Joseph House, which you share in through your support, is “Cry the Gospel with your life!” This is part of that, being men and women of prayer. The hidden spring of our service to the poor is our silence before God.

Centered and grounded, we can respond to someone’s crisis with peace. We can mirror to that person the reality of hope. It’s also easier to give that person our full attention, a fundamental sign of respect and affirmation of human dignity.

Fred, 60, first came to see us last summer and we wrote about him in our September Newsletter. He is disabled after being hit by a car while riding his bike. Fred was able to find a part-time job he could do and worked for a few months. His pay was not much, $196/month, but it helped a lot. Now Social Security is deducting that much from his check for the length of time that he worked since he was not allowed to do it. Fred could not pay his electric bill, so we paid $300 toward the past-due amount to keep the power on in his home.

Ross, 55, is a pleasant man. You would never guess at all the health problems he has. He is currently waiting for a heart transplant. Ross depends on doing odd jobs to pay his bills, but his health is slowing him down. He used his stimulus check to pay a very large overdue water bill and a few other necessary expenses. He did not have enough for the electric bill, so we contributed $300.

Venita, 63, supports herself by being a home health aide. Many of her clients, however, are afraid to use her services because of the pandemic. Venita is barely getting by month to month. She is afraid of losing her home where she has lived for 11 years. Her most pressing need at the moment was the electric so we made a payment of $300.

Joellen, 59, is a cancer patient and receiving chemotherapy. After losing her job she had to purchase private health insurance. The monthly premium takes half of her temporary cash benefits. Joellen fell behind in paying her rent. We mailed $300 to her landlord to stop the eviction proceedings.

Eunice, 66, is also sinking under the weight of health care expenses. Poor health is a ticket to poverty—that’s what our nation seems to accept. Eunice needs to have surgery on her back. Her out-of-pocket medical expenses eat away at her very limited fixed income. She could not pay the full amount of her last two rent payments and was worried she was going to get evicted. We contributed $300 to help her catch up.

Artie, 60, lives alone and needs his car to get to work. Unexpected vehicle expenses set him back with his other bills. Artie needed help with his electric bill, but was denied assistance at another agency because his income was slightly above the poverty threshold (which is only $12,760 annually for a single person—it’s not in touch with reality). Fortunately, there is no red tape at the Joseph House and we could help Artie with $300.

Thank you for your continued support! The Joseph House depends on you.

News about our Annual Golf Tournament Fund-Raiser: Regretfully, as a precaution against COVID-19, our loyal Golf Committee has decided to again postpone our 15th Annual Joseph House Golf Tournament. Since its inception in 2006 the event has been a source of much-needed revenue, thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and participating golfers, and the untiring effort of our committee and tournament volunteers. To all, we express our sincere thanks. Our hope is that, God willing, 2022 will see the return of our Golf Tournament at beautiful Green Hill Country Club!

In this “Year of St. Joseph,” patron of fathers, we wish all men blessed with the vocation to be a father a most Happy Father’s Day. And may the abundant graces of God be with you and your loved ones, keeping you healthy and safe and in good spirits. Part of our prayer time every day is spent praying for your intentions.

Your Little Sisters of Jesus and Mary

Please send us your prayer requests: Contact Form.
To help us serve those in need, go here: Donate.


Our convent has a chapel, Thomas Merton had a hermitage, but every home can have a sacred space for prayer. Here are a few ideas from Fr. Edward Hays:

The typical home in the Western world has rooms for all the important activities in life. There are rooms for eating, sleeping, bathing, storage, relaxing and even a room for keeping your vehicle. While your entire home is a sacred place where you pray and journey to God in different ways, it can be invaluable to set aside a particular place for your inner exercises. . . . For a fortunate few this personal shrine could be an entire room such as an unused bedroom or a small den. But for the majority it will mean a corner of a room.

You might, for example, choose a corner of your bedroom and set it aside as your prayer place. A stone slab could serve as a small altar, or you could create one out of wood. You may also find it valuable to have a small prayer rug to sit upon only in meditation or prayer.

If you are a highly visual person, you may desire to use a variety of symbols, icons, or images to grace your personal shrine. If you are not especially visually oriented, you might want to create a space which is void of all images. The very simplicity of an empty wall can help clear your mind and heart of clutter and help open you into prayer.

Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir in our Salisbury chapel. Our founder loved this image of Mary, also known as Our Lady of Tenderness, and wanted it placed in all of our chapels.

You may also find it beneficial to vary the design of your personal shrine or change the images in it with each of the four seasons. Because our technological culture often separates us from a direct contact with the changes that occur in nature with each season, altering the environment of your shrine can help make your prayer more natural and in harmony with God’s creation.

And since we easily become blind to what is “always” there, the introduction of visual changes for various feasts, holidays and special occasions has the power to cleanse the eye and so open the heart. To make use of flowers or other images on holy days and special occasions will also assist in making your personal shrine a “living” place of prayer. An unchangeable prayer space can easily become a static one.

Understanding that personal tastes and needs will direct your choices in these suggestions, experiment with finding the kind of environment that can best open you to God in prayer.

from Prayers For A Planetary Pilgrim

Thomas Merton (1915-1968) outside his hermitage at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani, Kentucky.

“The soul is made not for noise but for recollection, and life should be a preparation for heaven not only in meritorious works but also in peace and recollection in God. Man, however, is immersed in endless discussion; the lack of true joy he finds in noise should more than convince him that he has wandered far from his vocation.” – Charles de Foucauld