Author Archives: Brian Williams -Liturgy Guy

Now More Than Ever: Blessed Karl of Austria

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Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three child visionaries of Fatima, prophesied that the “decisive battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be over marriage and the family.”

In May 2015, Ireland voted to legally recognize gay marriage, joining other (once) Catholic nations of Europe in debasing the family. Next year the country will hold a referendum on whether or not to repeal its current ban on abortion.

Following this past May’s presidential election in France, journalists noted that Western Europe’s major leaders (Merkel of Germany, May of Britain, Gentilon of Italy, and Macron of France) are all childless.

It is in this unbelieving age then, at this moment in time, that God has given us an exemplary intercessor to look to. The last of the Habsburg monarchs, the last Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary, he would reign for less than three years (1916-1918). A ruler who, though dying in exile, never abdicated his throne.

Blessed Karl, emperor and king, was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II on October 3, 2004. Though he was born August 17 (1887), and died on April 1 (1922), Holy Mother Church in her wisdom celebrates his feast on October 21, the date of his wedding. This is key to understanding his importance for us today. As noted by Pope John Paul at Emperor Karl’s beatification:

On the 21st of October, 1911, he married Princess Zita of Bourbon and Parma. The couple was blessed with eight children during the ten years of their happy and exemplary married life. Karl still declared to Zita on his deathbed: “I’ll love you forever.”

Marriage and family. At a time when the west attacks the family at its foundation and degrades life from conception, Blessed Karl is the epitome of an authentic Christian vocation fully lived. He is a contradiction to “modern sensibilities.” Karl contra mundum.

And this is why the cult of Blessed Karl continues to grow. The faithful are drawn to his witness and recognize the need for his intercession. The official website for the Emperor Karl League of Prayer, which promotes his cause for canonization, expresses it beautifully.

Regarding life and the family:

In a world where many do not believe in God, we need Blessed Karl’s faith. In an epoch when the world is indifferent to the poor and needy, we need Karl’s example of charity. Where abortion and euthanasia are rampant, we need Emperor Karl’s compassion and care for human life. Where the number of couples cohabiting without the benefit of matrimony, we need Karl of Austria’s example of Christian matrimony. Where divorce is rampant and absentee fathers all too common, we need Karl’s steadfast love for his wife and children…

Concerning our elected leaders, most particularly those who are Catholic:

In lands where politicians rely on polls to create their policies rather than on moral and ethical principles, we need the moral convictions of Emperor Karl. Where politicians seek office for personal gain, we need the selflessness of King Karl. Where Catholic Politicians vote against Catholic moral and social teaching, and their conscience, in order to stay in office, we need the fidelity to the teachings of God and His Church exhibited by Blessed Karl.

And finally, the need for authentic Catholic social justice:

Where laws are made to benefit wealthy lobbyists rather than common people, we need the example of Karl’s love and concern for people of every race and social class. Where war, strife, discord and conflict abound, we need the passion for peace of the last Habsburg Monarch. Where millions suffer from illness and infirmity, we need the example of Karl who bore all trials and tribulations with the words: “Thy Will be done!”

This year there are no less than ten highly promoted Masses being offered on his feast day or the week immediately following. Two in particular, one at St. Mary, Mother of God in Washington D.C. and another at St. Ann Catholic Church in Charlotte, are both being offered in the Extraordinary Form by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan.

Now more than ever we need to ask for Blessed Karl’s intercession. We also need to recollect his saintly life and discover for ourselves his humility and obedience. May we join with him in praying the very words he uttered shortly before his untimely death at 35:

Thy Holy Will be done. Jesus, Jesus, come! Yes—yes. My Jesus as Thou willst it—Jesus.

Blessed Karl of Austria, pray for us!

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