Friday, June 27, 2014

Time for a Miracle -- Novena Day Three


Sometimes I get teased about being in the "saint making" business.  Of course, it is only God who "makes miracles" and it is the Church that "makes saints."  But, there is a good deal of work involved in bringing a cause for canonization forward.   

For example, Pier Giorgio's cause began in the 1920s.   Everyone who was involved in the effort back then has surely passed away by now.  The fact that his cause is still moving forward certainly adds to its credibility. 

Something essential to the canonization process is the appointment of a postulator.  This person formally guides the future saint's cause through the administrative/judicial processes put in place by the Church.  At the time of the beatification of Pier Giorgio Frassati, the postulator was Father Paolo Molinari, SJ.  I had the opportunity to meet with Fr. Molinari in 2006 at the Jesuit headquarters in Rome where he resided until his death last month.  As his obituary notes, his retirement meant that the cases he was handling needed to be reassigned.  

After several years of trying to identify the appropriate person to assume the responsibility for Frassati's cause, Dr. Silvia Correale was appointed.  Like Pope Francis, she is from Argentina.  She holds Italian nationality, has a doctorate in Canon Law and is one of the few female postulators in the world.  In the video above, she explains a bit about the canonization process.

FrassatiUSA began in 2006 with the mission of promoting the spirituality of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and working toward his canonization.  Over the years, many favors have been reported through his intercession.  When these reports are received, they are forwarded to Frassati's niece in Rome and Dr. Silvia Correale.  When a case is deemed worthy of additional investigation, FrassatiUSA provides whatever assistance is requested, if possible.  The miracle now under investigation -- the one we are praying throughout this novena will be verified and credited to Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati -- was formally reported in January of 2011.  We'll call it "Emily's Case."  

Emily's case has been slowly but surely advancing through the canonization process. Extensive documentation was submitted and reviewed and re-reviewed.  After some very good news in April, it is expected that Dr. Correale will be in the U.S. this fall to officially transfer the case to Rome for the next step.  We need a lot of prayers now for the proceedings that will take place in Italy.

Here is a brief summary of Emily's case:

Emily, a 22-year-old college student from Illinois, was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of tongue cancer.  After numerous rounds of radiation and chemo, her cancer seemed to have been successfully treated.  Two months later, however, a PET scan showed it was back, spreading, with ill-defined borders and terminal within less than a year.  The surgeon recommended cutting out half of her tongue, all of her back teeth and removing the lower portion of her jaw in order to prolong her life.  Opting for quality of life rather than quantity, Emily chose to have only the tumor and a clinical margin around it removed.  She had the weekend to spend with her family, in case she did not survive the surgery scheduled for Monday morning.   

God had big plans for Emily that weekend.  Yesterday, I described the second-class relic card that was significant in the first miracle from 1933.  One of those cards was handed to Emily the morning after her distressing discussion with the surgeon.  A family friend had acquired one and felt compelled to bring it to Emily because, as the friend explained, Frassati was 24, Emily was 22; Frassati was a college student, Emily was a college student; Frassati needed a miracle, Emily needed a miracle...  Taking the relic card, Emily said, "I'm his miracle."  

Emily and her family enlisted everyone in her extensive prayer chain to beseech the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.  They stormed heaven all weekend long. Monday, when Emily awoke following her surgery, she heard her mother say, "You got your miracle."  And she did!  The tumor had miraculously changed to a perfectly circular and much smaller one and was easily removed.  In a few months, Emily will mark five years of being cancer-free.  She completed her college degree and is a recent newlywed.  Her husband entered the Church at Easter, about one month before their wedding, and took the Confirmation name of who else?  Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati!

Although I had read the details of this case several years ago, I cannot begin to describe what it was like to sit with Emily and hear her tell her story.  Seeing her was seeing God in action. In the ninth chapter of St. John, the disciples ask Jesus to explain whose fault it was that a particular man was born blind.  Was it his sins or the sins of his parents?  Jesus answers, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him."  (John 9:3)

Each miracle story is a manifestation of God's awesomeness.  In Emily's case, through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, God's works are made visible in such a powerful way.  She is a physical reminder of how big God is, how small we are, and how much He loves us.  If this were a sporting event, it's around now that the crowd would go wild. 

Go wild!  

Verso l'alto! 

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