Saturday, September 23, 2017

For Oklahoma, and Beyond, A Blessed "Shepherd"

(Updated 2pm ET with video, etc.)
Out in the Plains, this Saturday morning brings a historic moment for the Stateside Church – the first major beatification to take place on American soil, and of the nation's first declared martyr at that.

Beginning at 10am Central (11am ET, 5pm Rome) in Oklahoma City's 15,000-seat Cox Convention Center, the Mass declaring Fr Stanley Francis Rother (right) among the ranks of the Blessed will be celebrated by the Vatican's Saintmaker-in-Chief, Cardinal Angelo Amato, serving per usual as the papal legate for the occasion. 

Though one earlier instance of the step before sainthood has taken place in the US since the rites were returned to the local churches by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, the 2014 liturgy in Newark that elevated a Bayonne-born nun as Blessed Miriam Teresa Demjanovich garnered far less prominence than the cause of Rother, a missionary in Guatemala who was murdered in 1981 by a guerrilla death squad.

Today's Mass is the first of two beatifications taking place in the US over the coming weeks: on 18 November, the Capuchin Fr Solanus Casey will be raised to the rank in a massive ceremony to be held at Ford Field, the 60,000-seat NFL stadium in his hometown of Detroit.

Back to Rother, it bears recalling that – as beatification provides solely for the veneration of a person on the local level – the celebration of the new Blessed's feast on the July 28th anniversary of his martyrdom will initially be restricted to the archdiocese of Oklahoma City alone. Should a critical mass of petitions from other US bishops arise, the USCCB may proceed to placing the feast on the national calendar, with an affirmative vote from the bench subject to recognitio by the Holy See.

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SVILUPPO – 12.30CT: While full on-demand video of the rites won't surface until later (Ed.: here it is) – and as the arena-sized venue ended up exceeding its sizable capacity – here's the Rite of Beatification itself...

Amato's powerhouse of a homily – a rare English-speaking turn for the onetime lead aide to B16:

...the Post-Communion remarks of OKC's Archbishop Paul Coakley – the figure who steered the process to today's result and, like Rother, a product of Mount St Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg:

And lastly, as a souvenir of the event, here's your copy of the 60-page worship aid – highlighted by the debut of the proper Collect used today, which'll now mark Blessed Stanley's feast:

O God,
who gave your priest Blessed Stanley
the heart of a pastor and the fidelity of a martyr,
grant, through his intercession,
that the humble flock may reach
where the brave Shepherd has gone before.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.