Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A New Saintly Wish for Another Blessed Chris

While I hope all the FIT readers still have there Miraculous Medals on and/or out, since today is St. Catherine Laboure's feast day, it is also the day the Church celebrates the martyrdom of Blessed Christopher Wharton. As with Blessed Christopher of Ramagno, I feel bound, since choosing Christopher as my confirmation name, to get at least one Chris "confirmed" into sainthood. But while I always ask my namesake saints to pray for me (and vice versa), I'm also going to ask this Chris to pray for my friend and former roommate at Notre Dame, Bill Nellist.

Like myself, Wharton got his undergraduate degree in the arts at a very exclusive college, in Chris' case, Oxford. But soon after graduation he converted to Catholicism, became a priest in 1584 and went to work in the English Catholic Underground which tried desperately to keep the faith alive during Queen Elizabeth's reign which taught the only good Catholic was a relapsed (or dead) one.

Christopher managed to fight the good fight for the faith for 15 years, but was finally caught and captured around 1599 and put in prison in York Castle. Although he proved in court he was not subject to Elizabeth's laws as he became a priest before her reign, it did not matter, and after refusing huge bribes offered him to conform to the queen's faith (or lack thereof) he was executed on March 28, 1600.

Now, as far as I can tell, Chris' connection to Bill Nellist goes like this. After rooming with me at ND for two years, Bill told me he decided to convert to Catholicism (from Lutheranism). We kept in touch over the years (Bill is the only friend who not only sends a Christmas card, but an anniversary card as well as a birthday card for me and each of the kids) but not long after he got married, I found out he stopped going to Mass and went to his wife's Episcopalian service to keep the peace. So I pray that Chris, who would not convert back in the face of conflict, would help Bill and his wife see the light. But it's not all bad -- Bill is allowed to bring up his two-year-old adopted daughter as a Fighting Irish fan!

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