Carlos Manuel Rodríguez
Blessed Carlos Manuel or, Blessed Charlie, was a Puerto Rican layman who dedicated his life to serving the Church. He worked and studied diligently to spread his love of the Catholic faith, especially the liturgy and sacred music to all those he touched.
Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago was born on November 22, 1918, in Caguas, Puerto Rico and grew up in a devout Catholic family. He attended the local Catholic grade school and served as an altar boy.
Carlos graduated from eighth grade in 1932, at the top of his class, winning a medal for religion. However, his early success in academia was not to continue. During his high school years, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, a gastrointestinal disorder. Unable to complete high school at Perpetual Help Academy in San Juan due to his condition, he moved back to Caguas and over several years worked part-time and studied, finally earning his high school diploma in May 1939.
In 1946, Carlos began to work towards a bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico. Despite excelling academically, illness again prevented him from completing his degree. Undaunted and with a true love of learning, he continued his studies informally, even teaching himself to play the piano and the church organ.
His love of the sacred liturgy led him to begin publishing the magazines Liturgy and Christian Culture, filled with liturgical texts that he translated into Spanish and edited. He organized a Liturgy Circle in Caguas and later another in Río Piedras at the University to spread the power and beauty of the liturgy and the love of Christ to all. In 1948, he formed a choir called Te Deum Laudamus. He was an active member of the Brotherhood of Christian Doctrine, the Holy Name Society, and the Knights of Columbus. He also taught catechism to high school students. He lived simply, with humility and grace, giving all to the Kingdom. A mark of his humble lifestyle was that he only owned one pair of shoes.
At the time, before Vatican II, the Catholic Mass was only celebrated in Latin. Carlos worked to promote the idea that Mass should be celebrated in the language of the people participating. He translated the Latin Mass into Spanish so that the beauty of the prayers offered could be understood by those in his community. In addition to his love of the liturgy, he had a particular passion for restoring the Easter Vigil to the night of Holy Saturday. He was known to often say, “Vivimos para esa noche.” (“We live for that night.”). Carlos was to see this change officially implemented by Pope Pius XII in 1952.
Carlos Manuel's life was cut short when it was discovered that he had terminal cancer. He died in 1963 at the age of 44. Marked with the status Venerable in 1997, Pope John Paul II beatified him, declaring him Blessed, only 8 years later — the fastest beatification of a lay person to date. He’s fondly remembered today as “Blessed Charlie” and is the first Puerto Rican and Caribbean-born layperson in history to be beatified by the Church.
Oh God, Father of Goodness, who inspired Blessed Carlos Manuel with an ardent devotion to the Paschal Mystery and moved by the generosity of Your grace, led him to the joyful celebration of the mysteries celebrated in the Liturgy; You also filled your servant with apostolic zeal and love for those in need.
Grant us, through his intercession, that, celebrating with faith the holy mysteries of the Death and Resurrection of Your Son, we may live in life what we celebrate in the Liturgy. Grant us, too, the special grace that we now ask of you (ask for the grace that is desired).
Through Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord.
(Prayer Source: https://www.pmariamm.org/vida-4-beato-carlos-manuel.html#:~:text=Oh%20Dios%2C%20Padre%20de%20Bondad,y%20amor%20a%20los%20necesitados. Translation by LPi.)