St. Pius V Corner: Fumino And The Catholic Stars

The holy council commands… that in accordance with the usage of the Catholic and Apostolic Church, received from the primitive times of the Christian religion, and with the unanimous teaching of the holy Fathers and the decrees of sacred councils, they above all instruct the faithful diligently in matters relating to intercession and invocation of the saints… teaching them that the saints who reign together with Christ offer up their prayers to God for men, that it is good and beneficial suppliantly to invoke them and to have recourse to their prayers, assistance and support in order to obtain favors from God through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who alone is our redeemer and savior, and that they think impiously who deny that the saints who enjoy eternal happiness in heaven are to be invoked, or who assert that they do not pray for men, or that our invocation of them to pray for each of us individually is idolatry, or that it is opposed to the word of God and inconsistent with the honor of the one mediator of God and men, Jesus Christ, or that it is foolish to pray vocally or mentally to those who reign in heaven.

The Council of Trent (On The Invocation of Saints)

Everyone has something that drives them to accomplish their future goals, dreams, and their individual aspirations. As traditionalist Catholics, our goal is the same one: to live out the precepts mandated by Jesus Christ, and reach Heaven. The path is difficult – as I have experienced many times in my own personal life – but as St. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, it will be all worth it in the end. For this reason, the Church institutes a repertoire of holy men and women, known as saints, that we can individually turn to whenever we need inspiration in living out a Christian life. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most misunderstood of all concepts in Christianity – with Protestants eschewing belief in such on the grounds that praying to “dead persons” is useless, and Vatican II’s sectarian loyalists downplaying their supernatural abilities in favor of misrepresenting them as over-glorified secular social activists.

Recently however, it dawned on me that this concept was also included, albeit implicitly, through Fumino’s backstory from the anime series Bokutachi Wo Benkyou Ga Dekinai, which I had talked about last summer when discussing her relationship with her math tutor, Yuiga. Her relationship with her late mother, and the ethereal connection she has to the stars as a likeness of her, was something that I found resembled how Catholics view saints, and pay homage to them. Considering how yesterday was All Saints’ Day, I felt like writing on the topic of connecting these two together.

FUMINO’S MOTHER: A STAR ON EARTH AND HEAVEN

After being introduced to Yuiga as her math tutor, the two of them acquaint themselves with each other one night as they are walking home from school. At that very moment, Yuiga finds Fumino literally staring off into space, a sight which baffles him. In inquiring about this peculiar behavior of hers, she reveals her reason why she wants to become an astronomer – despite her ineptitude for numerical formulas:

Yuiga: Do you like stars or something?

Fumino: Well, yeah! I’ve loved the stars ever since I was little. On some nights when the stars are beautiful I look at the sky hoping to find where my late mother is among them… Because of that, I started to pursue my goal of studying astronomy. I want my life to have a connection to the stars… and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

Fumino shares her dream, S1E1
Fumino, like the regular Catholic, believes in the idea of someone watching over them from way above the heavens.

Fumino admires her mother, Shizuru, very much, and has fond memories of her which are explored in significant detail during episodes 9-10 of the second season, which I like to call the Mother’s Laptop arc. Here, we learn about how both Fumino and her father, Reiji, looked up to Shizuru, a mathematical genius herself, and marveled at her talents and uncanny ability to solve even some of the hardest mathematical problems known to mankind. Unfortunately, she died young and her passing would leave a deep void in both Fumino and Reiji’s hearts; which, unbeknownst to her would push away the father-daughter relationship further. It is not until Yuiga and Fumino discover the secret behind her mother’s laptop – the last relic of her memory – and the message within it, that her father is finally able to accept Fumino’s love for astronomy, and finally gives her his approval for her to pursue that goal.

One can also see, through this arc, how Fumino’s mother played a vital role in shaping her daughter’s adolescent posture. Her daughter’s graceful, aloof and kind personality follows from that of her mother; both of them develop a mathematical ability through hard work and intense dedication, have a modest outlook in fashion, manners, and feminine tendencies, and they both share a deep love for their father, even going as far as to name a star they find after him. For this reason, their close relationship still persists even after the latter’s death.

Fumino’s mother, Shizuru, plays a crucial role, long after her death, in interceding on Fumino and Reiji’s behalf, mending their broken bond.

In linking the stars to her mother, Fumino affirms that she believes that her mother is watching her from above; as someone who’ll always be looking out for her best interests, and someone who she can turn to for comfort whenever needed. If you think about it, it’s pretty much the same like the relationship between Catholics, our saints and how we venerate them, the shining stars of Christendom.

SAINTS: ROLE MODELS FOR HOLINESS AND VIRTUE

Since the beginning of Christ’s ministry, His main purpose was laid out in the directive He listed to his apostles: “Come ye after me, and I will make you to be fishers of men.” (St. Matthew 4:19). Through His example, His miracles and His fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, many became inspired to live lives in imitation of Him. In order that many could be led towards salvation, God called up many people to commit their lives to His cause – these people, which would be known by the Church, as saints.

Communion of Saints: Biblical Introduction & Overview | Dave Armstrong
Belief in the Communion of Saints – that is, a multitude of holy men and women living with God in Heaven, is a teaching that can be traced back to the Nicene Creed.

In the traditionalist Catholic perspective, a saint is to be regarded as someone who has dedicated their entire life to the service of God; having eschewed all material pleasures to seek out a life of holiness in the hope of seeing Heaven at their end. Driven by this love of God, and having extinguished any sense of egotistical desire to be glorified by the world, they spend many hours not just performing works of charity, humility and altruism towards others (think feeding the poor, tending to the sick, or teaching students for free), but also dedicate many hours to prayer, a devout reception of the Sacraments, and in some cases, undertaking a defense of the Faith. Sometimes, they experience a connection with God that is far more than the average person, and this intense relationship with Him spurs them on to do all these wonderful things, sometimes made manifest through miraculous experiences or visions.

SAINTS: POWERFUL INTERCESSORS IN HEAVEN

Contrary to the popular Protestant misconceptions on saints, Scripture affirms that those who have died in Christ, are alive in Heaven – even Christ Himself affirms this in saying “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live: And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever.” (St. John 11:25-26). Funny how the hardcore pushers of “sola scriptura” end up somehow skimming over this! In being able to share the glory of Heaven and attaining their eternal status as citizens of God’s Kingdom, they are capable of being able to intercede on our behalf with whatever we ask of them. In fact, each saint has their own patronage towards a particular ailment, personal situation, or is sought after for the protection of a particular place. For example, St. Blaise is the patron saint of those afflicted with throat disorders (which explains the blessing of throats ceremony done at the end of Mass each St. Blaise’s day); St. Jude Thaddeus is invoked in lost causes, and St. Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Christ’s earthly father, is seen as the protector of Canada.

This is not to say that saints are replacements for God. True, Jesus Christ is the sole mediator of graces – but in the same way as we ask our friends and family to pray for us whenever we face a problem, the same concept can be extended to saints. Remember, if they are alive in Heaven, they are capable of hearing our prayers and bringing them to God (see Revelation 8:4) – so why can’t we also ask them to pray for us too?

Nay, is it not a common practice among ourselves, and even among our dissenting brethren, to ask the prayers of one another? When a father is about to leave his house on a long journey the instinct of piety prompts him to say to his wife and children: “Remember me in your prayers.” Now I ask you, if our friends, though sinners, can aid us by their prayers, why cannot our friends, the saints of God, be able to assist us also?

… If it is vain and useless to pray to the saints because God can hear us, then Jacob was wrong in praying to the angel; the friends of Job were wrong in asking him to pray for them, though God commanded them to invoke Job’s intercession; the Jews exiled in Babylon were wrong in asking their brethren in Jerusalem to pray for them; St. Paul was wrong in beseeching his friends to pray for him; then we are all wrong in praying for each other. You deem it useful and pious to ask your pastor to pray for you. Is it not, at least, equally useful for me to invoke the prayers of St. Paul, since I am convinced that he can hear me?

James Cardinal Gibbons, “Faith Of Our Fathers” (p. 158, 162)
bankston | Catholic pictures, Catholic images, Catholic altar
At every Mass, we ask the saints to intercede for us on our behalf, to inspire us by their spirituality and bring us closer to God

SAINTS: LEAVING A BEAUTIFUL LEGACY OF FAITH

Even in death, their legacy does not fade away. Rather, many saints, such as Sts. Alphonsus Liguori, Augustine, and Church Fathers like Sts. Ignatius of Antioch or John Chrysostom have left behind a wonderful collection of treatises, writings and homilies in the treasury of the Christian religion. Through these, other Christians after them can learn a thing or two from them on how one can live as a true follower of Christ, and fulfill their duties to Him. In declaring someone a saint, the Church, likewise, also approves their writings as suitable for us to read – free from error or theological flaws, lest the Church would lose Christ’s protection and unwittingly approve of something that could lead souls astray. The legacy of the saints is also made known every day during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; at the start of the Mass, the priest recalls the memory of the saint commemorated on that day, according to the rubrics of the Catholic calendar, and asks for their intercession and bestowal of God’s graces on attendees.

I’m happy to say that I own a copy of some of these texts, and I highly recommend other like-minded Christians to seek them out online, and spend perhaps a lunch break or two to study and read them.

CONCLUSION

Taking the above points into account, the logical conclusion for justifying the veneration of saints is inescapable.

  • We know that the saints are alive in Heaven, as Christ teaches in the Gospel, and can hear our every word and thoughts
  • We have Biblical examples of people asking their disciples and even angels, for the gift of unfailing Faith and their safety
  • Thus, we can always ask them for help and bring our intentions to God whenever needed; but not, however, to regard them as demi-gods with intercessory powers independent of God

The theology behind the communion of saints is a powerful testament to how there is hope in an eternal paradise beyond our earthly senses; likewise, the veneration of them is one of the most beautiful practices instituted within the Catholic Church.

Like Fumino’s relationship with her late mother, which brings her to overcome all obstacles towards her goal of becoming an astronomer, and enriches her life with a testimony of encouragement and positivity, we can be sure that there are saints in Heaven who, at this very moment, are watching over us from way above the stars, praying for us to overcome all the struggles, temptations and afflictions we face. Even more important however, is that if we want to join the saints as stars in Heaven, we should make this a full-time commitment to follow their footsteps! For starters, spend some part of the day to read about their biographies, be inspired by their God-driven works and imitate their examples in our everyday life. And also, think on the words of Blessed Charles of Austria, the last Habsburg Emperor, who on the day of his marriage to his wife (and Servant of God) Empress Zita, said the beautiful quote: “Now, we must help each other get to Heaven”.

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai! Season 2 - Episode 10 discussion : anime
Just as Fumino was awed by the stars, among which her mother she believes is among them, we should be awed by the multitude of saints whose lives serve as sterling examples of Christian faith, in a world that needs it most.

2 thoughts on “St. Pius V Corner: Fumino And The Catholic Stars

  1. It always surprise me when I see Trent quoted in any type of media (even if I know the importance of Council of Trent).
    Because for me it was always the small city near me 😀 never seemed so famous!

    Good article btw

    Liked by 3 people

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