Thirty years ago, on June 28, 1987, at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Pope St. John Paul II raised our beloved Renovator, Blessed George Matulaitis-Matulewicz, to the honors of the altar. It was truly a joyful day.
Saint John Paul II captured the heart of this holy man when he said in his homily: “He was a shepherd full of courage and initiative. … His only concern was always the salvation of the souls entrusted to his care. … I wish to remind you of his zeal. … In heroic degree he strove to be everything to everyone, deeply conscious of his pastoral mission, true apostle of unity, dedicated without reserve to preaching the gospel and the salvation of souls.”
For Blessed George (1871-1927), “to love” was “to serve.” The commandment of love of God and of neighbor, for him, was simply an invitation to a life of dynamic, self-giving and sacrificing. Love in relationship to God meant whole-hearted acceptance of Him and His Word, complete entrustment to His guidance, and making “God and His glory the center of life, the axis of all thoughts, feelings, desires, and works.”
To love God meant to love His Church, Christ’s body on earth through whom the Lord Jesus, together with the Holy Spirit, teaches, guides, heals, and sanctifies. For Blessed George, to love God also meant to love and serve His people, materially and spiritually. He addressed various needs as he saw them. For the neglected orphans, he established orphanages and helped them materially. To serve the elderly and those who were poor, both materially and spiritually, he founded two religious communities of women religious. For mistreated workers, he helped establish unions. For the unemployed, especially those who lacked skills and places of work, he established technical schools and places of gainful employment. For those wounded and spiritually impoverished by atheism, tepidity, immorality, and apostasy, he established centers of spiritual and intellectual formation.
When he saw human families divided by ethnic antipathies, political party affiliations and ideologies, he called them to unity. “We are all Christ’s and we belong to the party of Christ.” When he witnessed people continually hurting one another, unable to let go of past wounds, he preached St. Paul’s motto: “Overcome evil with good.”
He saw ordinary Christians as powerful instruments in God’s hands who proclaim the Gospel through the witness of their daily lives and bring Christ and the Spirit of God into their homes, work places, centers of learning, and political activities. He used every possible means to bring to all humanity Christ and His Kingdom of truth, grace, love, justice, mercy, and peace. He was able to do so by the power and grace of God, flowing into his heart, through his intimate union with Christ amid his fruitful ministerial and sacramental activity. Christ became his “all in all.” May we be inspired by his example and imitate him in his wholehearted love and zeal for Christ and His Church.
Blessed George is a powerful intercessor, through whom many have received great graces. If you wish to begin a novena of prayer through his intercession, here is the prayer you may use:
Prayer for a Special Grace through the Intercession of Blessed George
O God, our Lord and Father, You surround us always by Your care; receive our humble petition, and through the intercession of Blessed George, who suffered so much for Your glory and for the increase of Your Kingdom here on earth, grant me the grace for which I ask You with confidence, promising to live from now on with greater fidelity to Your commandments. Amen.
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory be to the Father …
Pope St. John Paul II, during the Mass of Beatification of Blessed George on June 28, 1987.