Dear Friends of the Kolbe Center,
Glory to Jesus Christ!
In our last newsletter, we recalled that the Catholics of the age of the Apostles and Church Fathers transformed a pagan world into a vibrant Catholic civilization primarily in three ways: Through their supernatural Faith, through their Supernatural Charity, and through the miracles God worked through them. It is no coincidence, then, that at almost the same time that our last newsletter appeared, we received word that Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster, OSB, the foundress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, who died four years ago, was recently found to be incorrupt. According to a recent report by the Catholic News Agency:
Known for her devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass and her faithfulness to Benedictine contemplation and the Liturgy of the Hours, she died at age 95 on May 29, 2019, on the vigil of the solemnity of the Ascension.
Roughly four years later, on the solemnity of the Ascension in the Latin rite, the abbess and sisters decided to move her body to a final resting place inside their monastery chapel, a long-standing custom for founders and foundresses.
Expecting to find bones, the Benedictine Sisters instead unearthed a coffin with an apparently intact body, even though the body was not embalmed and the wooden coffin had a crack down the middle that let in moisture and dirt for an unknown length of time during those four years.
“We think she is the first African American woman to be found incorrupt,” the current abbess of the community, Mother Cecilia, OSB, told EWTN’s ACI Group on Saturday. As the head of the monastery, it was her role to examine what was in the coffin first.
The body was covered in a layer of mold that had grown due to the high levels of condensation within the cracked coffin. Despite the dampness, little of her body and nothing of her habit disintegrated during the four years.
The shock was instant for the community who had gathered to exhume her.
“I thought I saw a completely full, intact foot and I said, ‘I didn’t just see that,’” the abbess said. “So I looked again more carefully.”
After she looked again, she screamed aloud, “I see her foot!” and the community, she said, “just cheered.”
“I mean there was just this sense that the Lord was doing this,” she said. “Right now we need hope. We need it. Our Lord knows that. And she was such a testament to hope. And faith. And trust.”
The Catholic Church has a long-standing tradition of so-called “incorruptible saints,” more than a hundred of whom have been beatified or canonized. The saints are called incorruptible because years after their death parts of or even the entirety of their bodies are immune to the natural process of decay. Even with modern embalming techniques, bodies are subject to natural processes of decomposition.
According to Catholic tradition, incorruptible saints give witness to the truth of the resurrection of the body and the life that is to come. The lack of decay is also seen as a sign of holiness: a life of grace lived so closely to Christ that sin with its corruption does not proceed in typical fashion but is miraculously held at bay.
Miracles: Signs of God’s Blessing
The miraculous preservation of Sister Wilhelmina’s mortal remains has a special significance for our Kolbe family. This is because the congregation of the Benedictines of Mary has constantly supported the mission of the Kolbe Center with their prayers, ever since we first became acquainted with each other, soon after the congregation moved to Missouri. I have been privileged to make many presentations to the Benedictines of Mary, both in their Abbey in Gower and in their new foundation in Ava, Missouri, where one of our daughters is a postulant. Mother Abbess Cecilia has even granted the Kolbe Center permission to use the sisters’ magnificent music to accompany our new DVD series “How the World Was Made in Six Days,” the first DVD of which, Day One, begins and ends with their heavenly singing. We see in God’s miraculous preservation of Sister Wilhelmina a sign of His blessing upon her congregation’s fervent faith in the traditional Catholic doctrine of creation and on the charity that flows from that faith in God’s special love for mankind.
During the millennium-and-a-half-long history of the Benedictine Order, countless miracles have been worked with the Medal of St. Benedict. In the traditional prayers for the blessing of this medal, one can see the close connection between faith in God’s revelation of how He created all things by fiat in six days at the beginning of time and faith in God’s power to heal, sanctify, and restore His creatures in this valley of tears.
|Priest:||Our help is in the name of the Lord.|
|Response:||Who made heaven and earth.|
|Priest:||In the name of God the Father + Almighty, Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, I exorcise these medals against the power and attacks of the evil one. May all who use these medals devoutly be blessed with health of soul and body. In the name of the Father + Almighty, of His Son + Jesus Christ our Lord, and of the Holy + Spirit the Paraclete, and in the love of the same Lord Jesus Christ Who will come on the last day to judge the living and the dead.|
|Priest:||Let us pray. Almighty God, the boundless Source of all good things, we humbly ask that, through the intercession of St. Benedict, Thou pourest out Thy blessings + upon these medals. May those who use them devoutly and earnestly strive to perform goods works be blessed by Thee with health of soul and body, the grace of a holy death, and remission of temporal punishment due to sin. May they also, with the help of Thy merciful love, resist the temptations of the evil one and strive to exercise true charity and justice toward all, so that one day they may appear sinless and holy in Thy sight. This we ask through Christ our Lord.|
Urgent Prayer Request
In recent weeks several members of the Kolbe Center’s leadership team have been participating in an on-line debate with an evangelical-turned-Catholic-turned-atheist. Through these encounters, we have seen how important it is for Catholic young people to cultivate the company of the saints, not only by associating with good and faithful companions in their social lives, but also by reading solid biographies of the saints and having frequent recourse to them. It is the saints who bear witness most powerfully to the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to the perfect reliability of His Word and of the Church He founded. Indeed, He lives and communicates His love and divine power through His saints, so that those who live in the company of the saints have no difficulty in believing in any of the doctrines of the Faith, including the fiat creation of all things at the beginning of time.
Through the prayers of the Mother of God, the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, may the Divine Paraclete convict, convert, cleanse, heal and sanctify us all; and may He lead us all into all the Truth.
Yours in Christ through the Immaculata in union with St. Joseph,
P.S. For a long time, Coronamania prevented us from evangelizing visitors to the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C., as we had been doing. I have applied for a permit to evangelize on Sunday afternoon, June 11. If you live anywhere in the DC area and would be willing to join us, please send me an email at email@example.com so that I can contact you as soon as I know that we have been granted a permit.
P.P.S. Our annual leadership retreat has been scheduled to take place from August 27-September 2, 2023, at the Apostolate for Family Consecration retreat center in Bloomingdale, Ohio. For more information or to register, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.