Blessed Karl: An Advent Companion

The religious devotions below are taken from the “Positio” compiled in the Cause of Canonization for Blessed Karl. The collection of documents called the “Positio” compiles evidence obtained by a diocesan inquiry into a candidate's heroic virtues in a form suitable for presentation to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

  Blessed Karl with son, Archduke Otto

Blessed Karl with son, Archduke Otto

  Blessed Karl’s sons, Archdukes Otto, Felix, and Robert, as altar boys during the Christmas season in the house chapel during the family’s exile in Switzerland.

Blessed Karl’s sons, Archdukes Otto, Felix, and Robert, as altar boys during the Christmas season in the house chapel during the family’s exile in Switzerland.

Blessed Karl had been close to the holy Mother of God since earliest childhood, loving her as his own Heavenly Mother. As he later would do for his own children, he was enrolled in the brown scapular at an early age. He loved to visit her places of pilgrimage and to decorate her little roadside shrines with flowers. The nearby Maria Taferl, which overlooked the Danube above the castle where he was born, had enthroned above the high altar the miraculous image of Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows. Even before he knew the meaning of the title, he identified with the Sorrowful Mother.

Blessed Karl was determined to pass his life of faith on to his children. As soon as each child was born, he would make the sign of the Cross on its forehead with holy water, and attach a medal of Our Lady to its crib. While the children were still very young, he would carry them into the chapel, fold their tiny hands, and help them make the sign of the Cross. He led them in morning and evening prayers, and through stories of religious history and the life of Christ, used every opportunity to deepen their faith. Even the little sorrows and mishaps of his children became occasions to help them better appreciate how much Our Lord had suffered for love of them.

The life of Blessed Karl's family was woven into the tapestry of the Church year, with its feasts and seasons. During Advent he taught his children to multiply their daily sacrifices. For each sacrifice, he would have them place a little blade of straw in the manger bed to prepare a warm cradle for the infant Savior. Christmases were always so special that when he and Zita were exiled to Madeira, not knowing if they would ever see their children again, it must have been an unbearably lonely Christmas. Yet Blessed Karl could send this encouraging message to his children: “At midnight Mass, before the Eucharist, nothing can separate us.”

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