Saturday, December 4, 2021

Saints for Today: Solanus Casey, Priest (1870-1957)

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Dr. Jean Lee
Jean M. Lee, M.A., D.Min., is a licensed behavioral health and substance abuse counselor, founding a nonprofit, state-licensed behavior health counseling agency and Christian gift/book store. Volunteer work includes: Jail ministry, Legion of Mary membership, door-to-door evangelization, and writing a weekly newspaper column titled “Faith and Inspiration: Encyclopedia of Saints for Today.” A Catholic revert after 32 years away from the Church, she is devout in the Catholic faith, loves the saints, and lives a deeper spiritual/religious and more joyful life since returning to the Church.

Beatification: November 18, 2017

Solanus Casey was beatified this past week in Detroit, Michigan at Ford Field and was the first American-born man to be beatified. The Mass and Beatification Rite took place in front of an estimated crowd of 60,000 and was led by Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Solanus’ history is extremely interesting. He was the son of Irish immigrants in Wisconsin and felt called to the priesthood after witnessing a drunken sailor stabbing a woman. Somehow, this scene of sin and suffering caused him to dedicate himself to God and to promote God’s love as the answer to the world’s troubles.

By human standards, Solanus Casey was a failure. A mediocre student, he was dismissed from a diocesan seminary, and he barely made it through the Capuchin seminary. When the Capuchins finally ordained him in 1904, his superiors placed restrictions on his priestly faculties. He was not permitted to hear confessions, preach on doctrine, or even wear the Capuchins’ distinctive hood. Instead Solanus spent his fifty-three years as a priest in menial service as a sacristan and porter at St. Bonaventure’s monastery in Detroit and worked in the friars’ soup kitchen.

Despite his humble office, Solanus’ extraordinary spiritual gifts were quickly recognized. A gifted reader of souls, he became particularly renowned for his ministry of healing prayer. Scores of people sought him out each day for spiritual counsel and intercession. Dutifully, he recorded their petitions in his prayer book and promised to ask God’s assistance. Even in his lifetime, hundreds of miraculous cures were attributed to his prayers. So many people were miraculously touched, that Solanus Casey ranks among the most prodigious wonder-workers in church history.

In his final illness, he remarked, “I’m offering my suffering that all might be one. If only I could see the conversion of the whole world.” Since his death in 1957, at the age of eighty-six, the reports of healing miracles have continued unabated. When he died, twenty thousand people passed by his casket in one-and-a-half days. They came to say thanks to the saint through whom God had worked miracles in their lives. And had Solanus Casey been an ordinary priest—had he not been a “failure” consigned to the lowest places—he may not have had the opportunity he had to serve so many so well. The next step for Blessed Solanus Casey is canonization for sainthood.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
Ellsberg, Robert. “Blessed Among Us: Day by Day with Saintly Witnesses.” Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016.
Ghezzi, Bert. “Voices of the Saints.” Chicago: Loyola Press, 2000.
“Solanus Casey”. Wikipedia. 20 November 2017. Web 19 Nov 2017. 

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