God alone is holy
You alone are Holy, you alone are Lord ”, sings the Gloria. Before evoking the recognized holiness of certain people, in the first rank of which stands the Virgin Mary, the Most Holy, we must always keep in mind this fundamental affirmation of our faith: God alone is Holy. It is moreover out of respect for the holiness of God that the people of Israel never pronounce his name.
The word "holy" originally evokes the idea of separation. But the God of the Bible wants to communicate his holiness: he is not only holy, he is also the source of all holiness. By creating humanity out of pure love, God offered her his holiness, invited her to communion with him. The contemplation of this unfathomable mystery amazes Saint Paul: “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He has blessed and showered us with the blessings of the Spirit in heaven in Christ. He chose us, in Christ, before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy, immaculate before him, in love ”(Ephesians 1: 3-4).
This call to communion with God is addressed to all, without exception, by means known only to God. The whole of human history is unfortunately there to attest that this immeasurable gift has not been welcomed. However, God does not abandon us to the power of sin and death. Out of love for all of humanity, he gives us his Son, Jesus, through whom salvation is offered to us. “He loved the Church, he gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by purifying her by bathing in baptismal water, accompanied by a word; he wanted to present her to himself, this Church, resplendent, without spot, or wrinkle, or anything like that; he wanted her holy and immaculate ”(Eph 5: 25-27).
Holiness and Baptism
How can we receive, and properly welcome, the holiness of God? For those to whom the Gospel has been announced and who have had the opportunity to ask for this sacrament, God communicates his holiness through the sacrament of baptism. Vatican Council II quite rightly recalls that “the disciples of Christ have truly become, through baptism of faith, sons of God, participants in the divine nature and, consequently, truly saints. This sanctification which they have received, they must therefore, with the grace of God, preserve it and complete it with their life ”(Lumen Gentium 40).
Such, then, is the authentically Christian life: a life which seeks to preserve and complete the sanctification received on the day of baptism. For this, we have an example and support. An example, that of Jesus, who is the model of holiness with whom we learn to love in deed and in truth: “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
But we know that an overly edifying example risks turning out to be overwhelming, inimitable. This is why God wanted that in addition to the model, we should benefit from his support, from the unfailing help of his grace to walk, day after day, in the following of Jesus: "he who abides in me and in whom I remain, this one bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing ”(John 15: 5).
How do you become a saint?
In the broadest sense, but also the most exact, of this term, one can say that one becomes holy by a life of ever deeper communion with God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, from whom one receives the charity which is “the soul of holiness to which all are called” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 826).
In the vast majority of cases, this holiness remains hidden, known only to God and, possibly, to relatives. The person concerned, in any case, completely ignores it; otherwise, it would mean that she would have succumbed to pride and presumption.
During his earthly life, the holy person shines through his humility. She is convinced that sin marks her life, as Saint John so clearly recognizes: “if we say that we have no sin, we ourselves are going astray, and the truth is not in us. If we recognize our sins, he who is faithful and righteous goes so far as to forgive our sins ”(1 John 1, 8-9). At most, this person will admit: "what I am, I am by the grace of God" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Each year, the solemnity of All Saints' Day reminds us of the existence of these very many saints.
Some of these saints are canonized. They are not necessarily the greatest in the sight of God. It is quite possible that in Heaven non-canonized saints precede canonized saints. So what is the meaning of canonizations? We can say that it is twofold: on the one hand, it is the solemn recognition that these people have heroically practiced the virtues and lived in fidelity to the grace of God, on the other hand, that they are for us role models and intercessors.
Investigations and declaration of the heroic nature of the virtues
Since communion with God is effected by grace, invisible, the Church must be satisfied with signs to approach the mystery of a person's holiness. These signs belong to very different registers (heroic virtues, martyrdom, reputation for holiness, miracles ...) which should be studied not only thanks to the testimonies collected but also with the help of experts in theological, historical, medical matters. ... To this end, a lengthy investigation is being carried out.
What is the objective ? This investigation wants to help the Pope to reach moral certainty on the heroic virtues of a deceased person, on his possible martyrdom or on a miracle obtained through his intercession. In this way, he can issue a final sentence on the holiness of that person; this is called canonization.
How is this investigation going? Over the centuries, procedures have evolved a lot. Currently, we proceed in two stages: first, a diocesan inquiry, then a Roman inquiry (see Vatican website). The diocesan inquiry is a canonical process, instructed by the competent bishop, which aims to collect evidence pro and against the canonization of a person. Once this investigation is completed, all the documents collected (usually thousands of pages) are sent to Rome.
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints begins by carefully examining the file sent. In particular, it verifies that the various standards relating to diocesan inquiries have been observed. If this is indeed the case, the case is then entrusted to one of the rapporteurs of the Congregation. This one, with the help of a person outside the Congregation (in general, someone who participated in the diocesan inquiry and therefore knows the file well) prepares the positio which is a kind of summary (between 500 and 1000 pages approximately) of the most important points of the dossier.
The positio is first submitted to historian consultors so that they can express themselves on its scientific value. It is then submitted (with the written votes of the historian consultors and the possible clarifications of the rapporteur) to the theological consultors so that they may study the controversial theological questions and express themselves on the merits of the cause. The votes of the theologian consultors, as well as their conclusions, are finally entrusted to the judgment of the cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation (about thirty).
Their opinion is brought to the attention of the Pope who alone has the right, after having collected all these opinions, prayed and reflected, to decree that a person is holy.
For miracles, a specific diocesan and then Roman survey is carried out, which has the particularity of involving medical consultants whose conclusions and votes will be submitted to the theologian consultors, cardinals and bishops, and finally to the Pope himself.
Beatification or canonization
We sometimes wonder about the difference between beatification and canonization. For a person to be beatified, the Pope must recognize the heroic nature of his virtues (he is then qualified as venerable) as well as a miracle obtained through his intercession, after his death. In the particular case of martyrdom, the miracle is not required for beatification. The public worship of this beatified person is however limited to a geographical area or to a spiritual family. If a new miracle is obtained through his intercession, after his beatification, the Pope can then pronounce a final decree by which the blessed person is elevated to the honor of the altars in the whole Church and recognized as holy.
Pauline Jaricot's cause
There are two types of causes for canonization: recent causes for which virtues (or martyrdom) can be proven by oral depositions of eyewitnesses and old causes where the only proof is written evidence. The cause of Pauline Jaricot (1799-1862) belongs to this second category.
At the time when this case was introduced, the procedure provided for an ordinary trial (in other words diocesan) where the first testimonies on his life were received (See his Life ) and his writings were studied (See the Bibliography ), which was to conclude at Rome with the papal approval which allowed the opening of the apostolic process (in other words Roman).
The Roman archives attest that the cause of Pauline Jaricot, founder of the Works for the Propagation of the Faith and of the Living Rosary, began in Lyon and then entered its Roman phase, when its introduction before the Congregation of Rites (today replaced by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) was approved by Pius XI on Wednesday, June 18, 1930.
As of Tuesday February 19, 1963, the same archives mention a general meeting of the Congregation of Rites, in the Apostolic Palace, with cardinals, prelates and theologian consultors, in the presence of John XXIII.
On that day, three cases were studied: a miracle attributed to John Népomucène Neumann (beatified in 1963 and canonized in 1977), a miracle attributed to Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (beatified in 1963 and canonized in 1975), two American saints, and the virtues of Pauline Jaricot. Unanimously, the cardinals, prelates and consultors vote in favor of the heroic virtues of Pauline Jaricot, which will be confirmed by John XXIII on Monday, February 25, 1963.
Conscious of the fruitfulness of his works (see the Works page), more than ever we must ask the Lord for a miracle (see the Testimonies page), in this case a physical healing through the intercession of Pauline, because we all have can't wait to see her beatified, then canonized!