21 October 2009

Memorial of Blessed Charles of Austria

Today is the Memorial for Blessed Charles of Austria who was a member of the Order of Malta. At the Canonization for Blessed Charles website there is a testimony written by Br. Nathan Cochran O.S.B. which gives a good look at the character of Blessed Charles and how he can be an example for men of today. As emperor he was a man of great wealth and power yet he died penniless. The whole article is a good read and here are a couple highlights. Please note that since the time of publication of this article Charles has in fact advanced from being Venerable and been declared Blessed. Pray that he will finally be canonized.


“Are you a monarchist?”
“Why does an American care about an Austrian Emperor?”
“Is your family from Austria?”

In the course of promoting the cause for beatification of Emperor Karl, I frequently hear these questions, as well as many others. More often than not, an Austrian or some other national from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire makes the inquiry. And, more often than not, it is asked in disbelief—as though they cannot fathom what might be special about this man.

The questions may be innocent enough, but they demonstrate that Emperor Karl’s story has not been told often enough or far enough. In American history books—as well as many Austrian ones—Emperor Karl’s reign is frequently relegated to a footnote. His importance, however, is far greater than that acknowledged by historians—especially historians who may not be entirely without bias. I say this because if they were familiar with the story of the last Habsburg Emperor, they would realize that Karl’s life, character, honor, and fidelity have universal inspiration and appeal to everyone—regardless of politics, race or nationality.

The three questions mentioned above, therefore, are really irrelevant to the subject The question that should be asked is: “why is Karl of Austria worthy of beatification?” The answer to that is five-fold: because Venerable Karl was a man of faith, a Christian family man, a Catholic monarch, a resolute peacemaker; and a seeker of God’s Will.


By now it should be obvious why the three questions at the beginning of this essay are not important. They are not important because Venerable Karl’s story has universal appeal. His story touches North Americans, Latin Americans, Asians, Africans and Europeans. His faith inspires Catholic men and women, husbands and fathers, military men, politicians, and heads-of-state. His influence reaches out beyond the borders of Austria and the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and embraces the world with his Christian example.

In a world where many do not believe in God ... we need Venerable Karl’s faith.
Where the world is indifferent to the poor and needy … we need Karl’s example of charity and almsgiving.

Where abortion is perceived as birth control, and illegitimate births outnumber births to married couples … we need Emperor Karl’s compassion and care for all human life.

Where the number of couples cohabiting without benefit of marriage is at an alltime high … 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.

In lands where politicians rely on polls to create their policies rather than on moral and ethical principles … we need the moral conviction of Emperor Karl.

Where politicians seek office for personal gain … we need the selflessness of King Karl of Hungary.

Where Catholic politicians vote against Catholic teaching, and their conscience, in order to stay in office … we need the fidelity to the teachings of the Church exhibited by Venerable Karl.

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!”

Venerable Karl of Austria must be beatified! Not because he needs it, but because we need his inspiring and selfless example.

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