Series of presentations by Fr. Kevin Kraft, OP
Sundays 9:15 – 10:15 am
at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church, 630 E St. SW, Washington DC
The perspective of this series is to study conjugal spirituality (i.e., the specific Christian way of life, values, and challenges of married people), considered:
- not from the sociological perspective of polls, trends, and statistical analysis of the characteristics of Christian marriages in relation to society,
- nor is it a dogmatic presentation of the resources for the conjugal life, or the role of the family in the larger social sphere, deduced from the Bible, Church documents, or canon law;
- but by looking at concrete couples of holy life, that can be examples and encouragement for married couples today. That is, married people who have been (or who are on the way to being) declared saints by the Catholic Church – – and their spouses.
The saints have a very significant place in the Catholic understanding of the Christian life. Now there are hundreds, – thousands and even millions- of unknown ‘saints’: that is, those who share already in the glorious presence of God), who were never formally canonized. That doesn’t mean that they didn’t “make the grade”, because it may simply be that there are not enough historical records to verify the life and virtues of the (canonized) saints. Among these, there may be some of our relatives, colleagues, and friends. Those that have been declared by the Church as saints and blesseds are those whom the Church recommends to us for their enduring and heroic striving in the Christian path of holiness. Canonized saints are those whom the Church judges to have responded to the challenges of their times1, and proposes to Christians as models, intercessors, and friends2. Any of these can be an incentive to us, no matter what their state in life. Yet, for Christian spouses, married saints have a special witness and example to give of the resources, challenges, and specific virtues of this very challenging vocation. Many of the better-known married saints were from biblical times, or early Christian centuries, medieval times, up to and including the Reformation era. But in most of these cases, we may find the world they lived in was so different from the world we inhabit, that it may be difficult to know how to imitate them.
In view of this, those married saints and holy couples of recent centuries may be more “accessible” to us. What we propose to do here, then, is to study principally modern, well-married saints and holy couples, so that the participants may “take home” several (or many!) of them, whose lives bear a particular resemblance to our own lives.
The focus throughout this series is on the conjugal life (the intimate marital relationship) between the spouses: how they shared together prayer, sorrows, joys, and family moments, how they faced the death of their children, or the chronic illness of one of the spouses, etc. Some of them are already widely known who carried out individually works of mercy or other notable projects, but here we want to zero in on their marital and family life, speaking of these other activities only briefly.
Furthermore, the particular focus of this series is based upon the conviction that holiness in married life is always a matter of both spouses. God has designed the vocation and sacrament of marriage so that each one is the helper to the other in the way of holiness. Even when only one of the spouses is canonized (or in the process of canonization), we can presume that such a one was mightily helped by his/her spouse (and even in the worst of cases, unconsciously) to live the Christian life to the full. In this series, we will investigate particularly this aspect of the sacrament of marriage.
- It is not the author’s intention to anticipate the judgement of the Church concerning the sanctity of any of the people presented herein; I simply submit that, according to the knowledge that I have of those persons not yet canonized, as concerns their conjugal life, it seems to me they could be worthy candidates for beatification or canonization. I accede to the judgement of the Church in every case presented here.
- The “Communion of Saints,” is a biblically based doctrine that all those who are in Christ (those living now and those who have gone before us) are united in Christ. So we can truly honor, pray to, and take as friends and models those who have gone before us, especially those who lived a vibrant Christian life while facing similar challenges to those we face. They —and we too— all are alive in Christ (Lk 20:38: Heb 12:22-23). So, just as any Christian will on occasion ask for prayers of their fellow believers or pastors, so too we Catholics pray to the saints.
|Overview of the series (pdf)||Apr 16|
|The Book of Ruth (pdf)||Background to understand the story … |
[Song of Songs]
|The Book of Tobit (pdf)||Prov. 31:10-31 (wife), Ps 111 (husband) |
Ps 128 (family)
|The Holy Family (pdf)||Biblical data, in Christian art; Prisca & Aquila||May 7|
|Overview of married saints |
through the centuries (pdf)
|Gregory and Basil’s families; Felix & Liliosa; |
Margaret of Scotland; Louis IX of France;
Frances of Rome; Annamaria Taigi
Modern times: 19th to 21st centuries
|1. Venerable Pierre & Juliette Toussaint (pdf)||Haiti to the USA (New York), early 19th c.||June 4|
|2. Blessed Frederic & Amelie Ozanam (pdf)||France, 1st half of 19th century||June 11|
|3. Saints Louis & Zelie Martin (pdf)||France, mid-19th century||June 18|
|4. Servant of God Elisabeth & Felix Leseur (pdf)||France, end of 19th, early 20th century||June 25|
|5. Blessed Conchita & Pancho Armida (pdf)||Mexico, end of 19th, early 20th century||July 2|
|6. Servant of God Catherine & Father Eddie Doherty (pdf)||Russia / USA to Canada, 20th century||July 9|
|7. Blessed Franz & Franziska Jägerstätter (pdf)||Austria, 20th century||July 23|
|8. Servant of God Takashi & Midori Nagai (pdf)||Japan, mid-20th century||July 30|
|9. Venerable Enrique & Cecilia Shaw (pdf)||Argentina, mid-late 20th century||Aug 6|
|10. Saint Gianna Beretta & Pietro Molla (pdf)||Italy, mid-late 20th century||Aug 13|
|11. Servants of God Cyprian & Daphrose Rugamba (pdf)||Rwanda, late 20th century||Aug 20|
|Concluding Session – Mini Retreat at Madonna House, Washington DC|
Blesseds Józef & Wiktoria Ulma (pdf)
|Overview, Reflection & Evaluation|
Poland, early 20th century