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Thank God Ahead of Time: The Life and Spirituality of Solanus Casey

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  • Posted July 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Giving thanks for God's involvement

    In this new biography, Fr. Crosby writes that Solanus Casey "evidenced a wonderful way of going beyond externals to get to the core of people and their basic needs." In one instance a woman called Solanus to ask if she might bring her critically ill baby to him for a blessing. The priest vetoed the idea, saying that the child was too sick to travel and the trip would be expensive. Ignoring canon law, which forbade this kind of "transmittal," Fr. Casey gave his blessing over the phone. He then urged the mother to donate the saved travel funds to the poor. The little girl recovered.

    This incident occurred some 20 years after Casey's 1904 ordination, which afforded him only limited powers. He was not permitted to hear confessions or to deliver homilies because his superiors deemed him "not smart enough." The author does a good job of explaining the reasons behind Casey's lifelong designation as a "Simplex" priest and its effect on his ministry. Before he entered the seminary, Casey worked as a logger, hospital orderly, street car operator, and prison guard. After ordination he was assigned administrative tasks including that of monastery "doorkeeper," first under the supervision of a friar. As he accepted these assignments with humility and good grace, his personal magnetism and gift for healing became evident.

    Crosby explains Solanus's theory that God's response to petitions was related, in part, to the petitioner's generosity to God in ways such as supporting the missions. Not that Casey believed that the only "successful" petitions were those that produced the requested healing. All petitions are answered according to God's plan; therefore faith and thanksgiving for God's involvement are always appropriate.

    Crosby reports that Solanus was "baffled' by suffering, but had a clear-cut perspective when it came to his own trials. In a letter to his sister, he mentioned his enormous workload and physical ailments as he advanced in years, then added, "What are fifty years of pain to the endless joys waiting us above?"

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