East meets West in America’s new Blessed
(Vatican Radio) “It’s interesting that God has chosen to honour a contemplative instead of an activist for the next American to be beatified,” said Bishop Kurt Burnette of the Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Eparchy of Passaic. He was speaking to Vatican Radio about Sister Miriam Teresa Demjanovich, who was beatified on Saturday in New Jersey.
Listen to his interview with Andrew Summerson:
Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, Sr. Miriam Teresa is the fourth American-born woman to be beatified. However, this is the first time that the Rite of Beatification will take place on U.S. soil. Cardinal Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided the ceremony, which took place in Newark’s Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart.
The process of investigation was opened in 1945 to investigate the sanctity of Sr. Miriam Teresa’s life. She was raised in the Byzantine Ruthenian Church and taught for a brief period in Jersey City, before entering the convent of the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth in 1925.
Her spiritual director recognized her sanctity and asked her to write reflections on holiness. Although she fell ill and died two years after professing her final vows, Sr. Miriam Teresa’s writings still remain as a source of inspiration to this day. The collection of her writings, entitled “Greater Perfection”, was published shortly after her death.
Bishop Burnette reflected on the impact of her legacy on Eastern and Western spirituality.
“One of the remarkable things about her writings, I believe, is that she brings an Eastern Christian spirit of unity into the Western analysis. The Western theology tends to be analytical. For example, when she talks about prayer, in the West they had divided prayer up into three stages. What they called the purgative, the illuminative and the unitive. But Sr. Miriam Teresa claims that prayer always includes all three parts.”
Pope Francis approved a miracle attributed to Sr. Miriam Therese when a young boy who lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration was cured after prayers through her intercession. For Bishop Burnette, this miracle along with her profound humility, spirituality and insight are clear signs of God’s confirmation of her sanctity. “I don’t believe we really choose who is going to be canonized, God does,” he concluded.