Why Now?

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On the day of the canonization of St. Stanislaus Papczynski, members of the Marians' General Council had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis.

"We've waited more than 300 years for this day," the Marians' Superior General Fr. Andrzej PakuĊ‚a, MIC, told the Holy Father.

Smiling, Pope Francis responded, "Io non cedo 300 anni," by which he meant, roughly: "I'm the type of Pope that, if I find a holy person, I will not wait 300 years." In other words: "Don't blame me it took so long."

Kidding aside, why now? Why, 315 years after the Marian Founder's death, has God seen to it that he be canonized? Is He merely dotting i's and crossing t's to enshrine the good name of a man who founded a Congregation whose impact on the world would become mighty centuries later?

No. Through St. Stanislaus, God is calling upon us, at this point in history, to model ourselves on the Founder's preaching and practice.

"Significant is the fact that Fr. Stanislaus is declared a saint during the extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy," noted Cardinal Stanislaus Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, in his homily at the Marians' Mass of Thanksgiving the day following the June 5 canonization. "He left us the example of a man and a priest with a great heart, concerned about his neighbor's poverty and not indifferent to his fate."

Through St. Stanislaus' canonization, we can discern what God is telling us.

God is Mercy
At a time when most preachers dwelt on a wrathful God and the fate of the unfaithful, St. Stanislaus predominantly focused on the mercy of God and the fate of the faithful — a catechetical corrective that remains at the heart of the Marians' apostolic work today.

Indeed, the Marians point to Divine Providence to explain the remarkable and reaffirming fact that the central theme of St. Stanislaus' ministry — that God's greatest attribute is mercy — reoccurs later in the Divine Mercy revelations of St. Faustina, of which the Marians have been lead promoters since 1941.

In words that were later echoed in St. Faustina's revelations, St. Stanislaus wrote, "The most merciful Savior of the world cares for the salvation of all people, and not only does He have in consideration the happiness of the just, but also, or even mainly, of the sinners."

May we take up as our own the exhortation of St. Stanislaus to "learn to immerse with great trust all [our] imperfections in the immense abyss of this Divine Mercy."

Mary Immaculate is our gracious advocate
Guiding St. Stanislaus throughout his life was the Mother of God herself. He wrote: "I know that she is concerned for us in the same way that she was concerned for Christ the Lord."

Nearly 200 years before the proclamation of the Immaculate Conception as a dogma of the faith, St. Stanislaus professed: "I believe everything that the holy Roman Church believes, but first of all I profess that the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, was conceived without any stain of original sin."

Why is this mystery so central to the faith? As St. Stanislaus knew, by being preserved from all stain of original sin, Mary became living proof to God's love and care for all of humanity. Through her Immaculate Conception, we find solace that Christ had conquered sin and that we are called to eternal life in Heaven.

Let us take up as our own the frequently repeated prayer of St. Stanislaus: "May the Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception be our health and our protection."

We are obliged to strive after sanctity
Saint Stanislaus preached that each of us is called to be a "mystical temple of God," built and maintained by means of prayer, sacrifice, submission to God, and love of neighbor.

Let us follow St. Stanislaus' advice: "Plead with God for light so that you may understand how great is the importance of each virtue, all that He wants you to do, and how He wants you to advance in perfection."

Turn to God with trust
Saint Stanislaus suffered trials in every stage of life. In his childhood, he struggled to learn the alphabet. Later, he nearly died of illness. His family was not supportive at first of his religious calling. He was persecuted throughout his religious life. He had difficulty obtaining the Holy See's approval for his new Order.

Through St. Stanislaus, God tells us that we are to persevere in our faith, even if all signs on earth seem to indicate He has forgotten us.

Let us take to heart St. Stanislaus' words: "The heavier are the crosses that you endure on earth, the greater shall be the rewards that await you in Heaven."

Be prepared for death
Saint Stanislaus taught that we are to live with our attention on dying, looking toward our ultimate meeting with God.

Let us learn from him: "Wherefore, since you surely are not able to promise yourself an additional morrow ... pay close attention to your every thought and deed; seriously improve your life; adopt more holy conduct, and apply yourself more assiduously to perfection."

Be intimately engaged with the world
We are to be people of God and people of our times. Indeed, St. Stanislaus was not only a man of deep prayer; he was intimately engaged with the people and events of 17th century Poland, a time of great upheaval.

He served as a chaplain in the Polish army when his native land was being plundered by foreign invaders. Having experienced poverty and even homelessness, he was especially sensitive to the needs of the poor. He took the Word of God to the socially marginalized whose spiritual needs were overlooked. Witnessing widespread alcoholism, he taught sobriety and prayer as effective curatives against all forms of dependency.

May we make St. Stanislaus' words our own: "[L]et us apply ourselves to the works of mercy, let us exert ourselves; through them we restore the Temples of God, our souls."

Pray for the souls in Purgatory
It's safe to say that among the thousands of saints throughout Church history, none was more moved than St. Stanislaus to engage in, and advocate for, prayer and penance on behalf of the souls in Purgatory.

In one account, at a gathering with a family and other guests, St. Stanislaus had a profound mystical experience of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. He later told his confreres: "Pray, brethren, for the souls in Purgatory, for they suffer unbearably." He then locked himself in his cell and spent three days praying for them.

Let us respond to St. Stanislaus' teaching that "it is the greatest charity to pray earnestly to God for the freedom of the souls remaining in Purgatory, or to assist them by merciful alms as by various other means."

As Marian Helpers, we are called to be the spiritual heirs of St. Stanislaus. The world needs holy, joyful, self-sacrificing witnesses.

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