It is natural for people to have heroes, be they soldiers, leaders in the world of politics, business, arts or sports. So it is in the Church. We call them saints.
On Sunday, 29 April, some 40 people gathered in Hastings to hear Fr Anthony Malone OFM talk about Suzanne Aubert and sainthood.
The meeting took place on the same weekend that the Home of Compassion, Island Bay in Wellington, celebrated its centenary – as a contribution of Hawke’s Bay to the festivities.
What a treat did we get! Fr Malone is an outstanding lecturer and speaker and gave two fascinating talks. Fr Malone was the Promoter of Justice at the diocesan phase of the canonisation process for Suzanne Aubert in Wellington in 2004.
His task as promoter of justice was to challenge the cause for canonisation at every stage as far as reasonable.
He must do this by challenging the documentation, by exposing the flaws in any evidence submitted, and by asking the hard questions of the witnesses. No wonder that the promoter of justice was popularly called the devil’s advocate.
In the first of his two talks, Fr Malone explained why we have saints, why there is this canonisation process and how it works, why miracles are required and what miracles actually are.
He spoke of how Christians have had heroes from the very early days. Martyrs are people who gave their lives for Christ. Saints have lived the gospel in an extraordinary heroic manner. Miracles are a sign of their intercessory power.
In his second talk he spoke in detail about the evidence of miracles presented at the 2004 enquiry. He also talked at length about the six areas where he had thought there might exist obstacles to having Suzanne Aubert declared a saint.
They included Suzanne’s relationship with her family – was that always characterised by respect and appreciation? And her attitude towards hard work – did she overdo it?
They were two first-rate talks with ample time for questions. Fr Malone, who is Auckland based, may well be willing to repeat the talks in other parts of our dioceses. Highly recommended!