As we continue our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I would like to introduce you to Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez. He was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, where my mother was born and her mother's family still lives today. He was born on Nov.22, 1918, to parents who had very strong Catholic roots. One of his brothers became a priest and one sister became a Carmelite nun. This year, many parishes throughout Puerto Rico are celebrating his jubilee year with pilgrimages and masses in his honor.
At the age of 6, "Charlie," as everyone called him, and his family lost their store and home to a fire. They ended up moving with Charlie's maternal grandmother who was a great influence on him. She was a very holy and devout woman. His father was a man of hope and faith and his mother taught him her love for the Eucharist. When Charlie received Communion for the first time, it marked the start of a love that would last forever.
As a youth, he became an altar server, serving every opportunity. He went to a Catholic school that was attached to his parish. There he came in contact with the Sisters of Notre Dame who was a great influence in his faith life. It was a friendship which lasted his whole lifetime. He also became in contact with the Redemptorist Fathers. He received his initial religious and humanistic education from them. He wanted to become a priest but health issues didn't allow this to happen.
He attended college for one year. Unfortunately his health prevented him from continuing on. Charlie's health did not prevent him from sharing his love of the Eucharist and the Liturgy with others. He continued educating himself by reading about the arts, science, philosophy, religion and music.
He spent most of his money earned through his office work to promote knowledge and love of Christ. Sacred Liturgy was his love. He translated various articles on liturgical subjects. He began publishing liturgy and Christian culture. He was convinced that "the liturgy is the life of the Church." He organized various liturgy circles at the Catholic University. Many said that they were able to grow in their faith because of what Charlie taught them. Some joined the religious life because of him.
More than anything else in this world Charlie loved the Easter Vigil. One of his favorite phrase was, "We live for this night," reminding us that the heart of the Christian life is the paschal mystery, the truth that the God of the universe, made incarnate for you, died for love of you and rose again, conquering sin and death.
Blessed Carlos lived in constant pain, but he lived in hope and called all those he knew to do the same. He died at the age of 44 of colorectal cancer. He is Puerto Rico's first blessed. Blessed Carlos, pray for us.
World Mission Sunday and African Thanksgiving Bazaar Mass Celebration will take place Oct. 21 at Our Lady of Hope Church, 248 Lafayette Ave., Buffalo at 11 a.m., followed by a reception with the Taste of African and theme baskets. Please join us.