3 Faith Lessons We Can Learn from Fr. Solanus Casey
Tomorrow, November 18, Fr. Solanus Casey will become just the second American-born male to be beatified (you can watch the beatification LIVE on CatholicTV at 4pm ET). Like all the individuals the Church recognizes as holy through beatification and canonization, Fr. Solanus offers us a beautiful example of how to live a Christian life by following Jesus. While there are likely many saints who are in heaven but have not been canonized, we pay special attention to those who have been canonized (or are on the road to canonization, like Fr. Solanus) because the Church teaches that we can learn something important from their lives. This is certainly the case for soon-to-be Blessed Solanus, who is a wonderful spiritual role model not only for Americans, but for all people.
Here are the three key lessons we can learn from Fr. Solanus about living holy and faithful lives:
Fr. Solanus was born into a large family and worked at several humble jobs in his youth. When he answered the call to the priesthood by entering his diocesan seminary, he struggled academically and was advised to join a religious order instead. This led him to the Capuchin Franciscan Order, in which he was ordained a simplex priest, meaning that he could not hear confessions or preach publicly. Through all these trials that could have been demeaning for Fr. Solanus, he persevered in following the path God had paved for him. He never considered any task from God or state in life as below him, but humbly accepted his role. In our own lives, we may not be called to positions of leadership and power, but we are still called to something, and we can fulfill whatever that is with great holiness and love.
When we look back on American history, it might seem surprising that of all our great Catholic figures, one of the very few individuals to be beatified is a quiet priest who never tried to draw attention to himself. However, when we look at Fr. Solanus’s life, it becomes clear that God worked amazing things through the priest’s simplicity. Fr. Solanus had low-level jobs in his monastery, and he did not preach to large crowds. Yet his simple holiness itself drew thousands of people to him. The people of Detroit, where he served, recognized his holiness without the need for spectacular events. This legacy of Fr. Solanus continued after his death even until today. We, too, can live so simply that we let God’s love work fruitfully in us.
3. How to give
Today, some people recognize that there is great need in the world, but they don’t know how to address it. Fr. Solanus teaches us that there is always something we can give to those who are in need. In his job as the porter at his monastery, Fr. Solanus opened the door to guests and gave them what he could, whether materially, emotionally, or spiritually. He was discerning about what people actually needed, and he was able to provide it. By doing this, he opened the door not only to the monastery, but also to God’s love. His spirit of giving perhaps took its most concrete shape in the founding of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit. We pray that we might learn to give as freely as Fr. Solanus and, doing so, point others to Jesus.