Pope Benedict has announced he will proclaim St. John of Avila Doctor of the Universal church. His announcement came on Saturday at a Mass for young seminarians in the cathedral of Santa María la Real de La Almudena in Madrid. Emer McCarthy reports from the Spanish capital:
On Saturday, to the joy of Spaniards, priests and Catholics around the world Pope Benedict XVI declared he would make St John of Avila a Doctor of the Universal Church.
Madrid’s neo-gothic cathedral of Santa María la Real de La Almudena filled with the voices of young men raised in prayer Saturday morning, the future pastors of the Spanish Church. “Looking at you”, – Pope Benedict told them, – “I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world”.
The Mass with the young seminarians, was the Pope’s second appointment of the day. Earlier in the morning, as the sun rose over the city, he had travelled to the vast park in the very heart of the capital, the Jardines del Buen Retiro. There since midweek priests – from all over the world – have been on hand to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to pilgrims. 200 open-air white wooden confessionals line the park, and there on Saturday morning – for the first time ever during WYD events – Pope Benedict joined the confessors to administer the Sacrament to four young pilgrims- two French speaking, one German speaking and one Spanish speaking.
Later, in his homily in Almudena cathedral, he returned to the role of the priest as minister of God’s forgiveness: “Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders”.
Pope Benedict XVI also gave words of advice to the over 6,000 young men many of whom assisted in the celebration from the courtyard outside the Cathedral. He said their years in the seminary “should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church”.
He told them to model themselves on Christ, supreme pastor: “ Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice”.
“Approach the priesthood – Pope Benedict said – only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts”.
Then to the joy of the young men before him and the priests and lay faithful around the world, Pope Benedict XVI announced he would shortly declare the great XVIth century preacher,St. John of Avila , doctor of the universal Church
There are currently 33 doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila. St. Therese of Lisieux was the last to be proclaimed doctor of the Church in by Blessed John Paul II in 1997.
This makes me want to revise part of my Saintly Planning post since this is something I forgot to consider.
We are all called to be saints, but hey why not plan also to be a Doctor of the Church since this is so obviously way cool. So I am thinking of moving to Avila since apparently you have a much better chance of being named a Doctor of the Church if you are from there. Besides it has a much cooler ring to it. St. Jeff of Jacksonville not-so-much. St. Jeff of Avila – bingo.
As of today there are only 33 named Doctors of the Church out of so many thousands and thousands of saints. Certain saints have been named thus because of the great advantage the whole Church has derived from their doctrine. So first you need to plan to come up with some doctrine which will have “great advantage” for the whole Church. For example I believe Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body will lead to him one day being proclaimed a Doctor of the Church after he is canonized. Though you don’t have to go all fancy-smancy doctrine-wise. Consider the fact that the Little Flower is a Doctor of the Church and the impact she made.
Now if you do decide to hope to be named a Doctor of the Church someday then you should also know that so far no martyr has been named a Doctor of the Church. The Church takes martyrdom seriously and dying for your faith is a pretty high calling and a witness to the Church. So martyrdom in some ways trumps being named a Doctor of the Church. This is not a hard and fast rule though and the situation could change. For example many consider Saint Teresia Benedicta of the Cross a perfect candidate for being named a Doctor of the Church. Her writings certainly fit the classification.
That reminds me of another consideration if you want to plan to be a Doctor of the Church. Consider becoming a Carmelite. Out of 33 named Doctors of the Church, three are Carmelites. Sure the other orders are well represented, but not to that extent. So becoming a Carmelite and moving to Avila really should be seriously considered in your Doctor of the Church planning. Just expect a long wait. The latest Doctor of the Church St. John of Avila died in 1569. By the way congratulations St. John of Avila, you did it! By the way it is rather awesome that in his preaching he not only preached to other future saints, but to a fellow future Doctor of the Church St. Teresa of Avila.