Cardinal, Francis Xavier Van Thuan
may be another example
of 'the offering of life'.
It's fine to question, to delve into the reasons for it, but as a Catholic, it doesn't seem to be a great mystery to me. I don't understand why Catholics online are so sceptical. (It reminds me of those who reject the notion that as Pope, JPII could add five new decades of the rosary.) Maybe the skeptics aren't cradle Catholics? Maybe they don't really understand mystical theology? Maybe it's the influence of Protestant teaching on One Mediator and so on; even though, as we read St. Paul's testimony in his own case, he clearly embraced, and even rejoiced in his sufferings, declaring, "in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church."
FYI on the motu proprio from Zenit:
Pope Francis opened the possibility of a new way for the processes of Beatification and Canonization: “the offering of life,” which is added to the martyrdom and heroic virtues. Here is our complete translation of the Apostolic Letter in the form of the Motu Proprio “maiorem hac dilectionem,” published on this matter on July 11, 2017. - Text here.
It seems to me the new consideration in the process of beatification is not all that 'new', since there are saints who have exemplified this aspect of a total gift of self who have already been canonized. I'm thinking of Edith Stein, Maximillian Kolbe, and so on. Perhaps the Trappist Martyrs of Atlas would also fit this category? And certainly Cardinal, Francis Xavier Van Thuan.
I may be wrong on the victim soul thing, but ...
However, it seems to me "maiorem hac dilectionem" may also open the way for so-called victim souls. I'm not sure, but the 20th Century seemed to have plenty of them. Adrienne von Speyr, Maria Sieler, Consolata Betrone, and Josepha Menedez immediately come to mind as holy souls who made a heroic offering of their lives as victim souls. Never forget, the saints are not canonized for their spiritual gifts, such as stigmata, but for heroic virtue. The women mentioned made the heroic offering of their lives for the sake of souls, especially priests, and so on. It has traditionally been understood as 'white martyrdom'. In that respect, I would think countless Carmelites and Poor Clares could be considered for beatification.
It is terribly important to understand the vocation of victim souls and those who make 'a heroic offering of charity' - specifically the theological and mystical definition. To help in this, I reprint something from another post I did on a similar topic. It's reprinted from the comment box of the post and is from Jordan Aumann, OP:
Offering Oneself as Victim.
It would seem that it is impossible to go further in love of the Cross than to prefer sorrow to pleasure. Nevertheless, there is still another more perfect degree in the love of suffering: the act of offering oneself as a victim of expiation for the sin"s of the world. At the very outset, we must insist that this sublime act is completely above the ordinary way of grace. It would be a terrible presumption for a beginner or an imperfectly purified soul to place itself in this state. "To be called a victim is easy and it pleases self-love, but truly to be a victim demands a purity, a detachment from creatures, and a heroic abandonment to all kinds of suffering, to humiliation, to ineffable obscurity, that I would consider it either foolish or miraculous if one who is at the beginning of the spiritual life should attempt to do that which the divine Master did not do except by degrees." (14)
The theological basis of offering oneself as a victim of expiation for the salvation of souls or for any other supernatural motive such as reparation for the glory of God, liberating the souls in purgatory, attracting the divine mercy to the Church, the priesthood, one's country, or a particular soul, is the supernatural solidarity established by God among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, whether actual or potential. Presupposing the solidarity in Christ that is common to all Christians, God selects certain holy souls, and particularly those who have offered themselves knowingly for this work, so that by their merits and sacrifices they may contribute to the application of the merits of the redemption by Christ. A typical example of this can be found in St. Catherine of Siena, whose most ardent desire was to give her life for the Church. "The only cause of my death," said the saint, "is my zeal for the Church of God, which devours and consumes me. Accept, O Lord, the sacrifices of my life for the Mystical Body of thy holy Church." She was also a victim soul for particular individuals. Other examples of victim souls are St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Gemma Galgani, and Sister Elizabeth of the Trinity.
In practice, the offering of oneself as a victim for souls should never be permitted except to souls of whom the Holy Spirit asks it with a persistent and irresistible motion of grace. It should be noted that, rather than contributing to the sanctification of the individual (although it does add something), this particular act is ordained to the spiritual benefit of others. The soul that would give itself in this way for the salvation of others must itself be intimately united with God and must have traveled a long way toward its own perfection in charity. It must be a soul well schooled in suffering and even have a thirst for suffering. Under these conditions the spiritual director could prudently permit a soul to make this oblation of self as a victim soul. Then, if God accepts the offering, the soul can become a faithful reproduction of the divine Martyr of Calvary. - Jordan Aumann, OP
Thinking with the Church.
It seems to me the problem of accepting anything from the Vatican these days is because people have been confused by what is reported and what is taught. Some are mistrustful because "ambiguity seems deliberately written into documents" even though they read their own fears and suspicions into the so-called tainted documents. They make snap judgments based on "a quick reading" adding fuel to conspiracy theories regarding papal teachings. The lack of study into criteria for canonization, or understanding the reason so called 'ordinary souls' are elevated to the altars, as well as a lack of sound Catholic training in mystical theology, may account for their own confusion. Criteria for canonization in Orthodox churches differs from out own, just as their lack of acceptance of Roman Catholic proclamations concerning the Virgin Mary, not to mention the Christological differences with the Copts especially.
It's a shame how Catholics can wreak such confusion by what they post online. The fake interview comments by former CDF Cardinal Mueller and the rumors of a commission to redo Humanae Vitae are clear examples of the misinformation generated on social media by those who distrust Pope Francis.
Having said all of that, the criteria for beatification and canonization still includes the necessity of a posthumous miracle for each step; beatification, canonization. (So don't worry about Bill Gates getting canonized.) Likewise, veneration of the saints takes nothing away from Christ but adds to it. People need to go back to thinking like a Catholic - not just worrying about some arcane outward identity. If you think like a Catholic, you think and act with the Church, One Holy and Apostolic. If you want to be Russian Orthodox, Greek or Copt, or you want to be Anglican - do that. If you want to be Catholic - think and act in accord with the Church.
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Update: I just noted Fr. Z has an excellent post on heroic virtue and ordinary virtue as it fits into the process for canonization. Go here.