Friday, December 2, 2016

ADVENT- CONTEMPLATING BIRTH AND HOPE

As the world  longs for Advent, we are reminded why Jesus was born in Bethlehem. This preparation time reminds us of the state we were in before that miracle birth happened, and what would have become of us if God hadn't done the unthinkable and become man.  Humankind was at its
Bradi Barth
darkest hour, the light was all gone. The distance between us and God was insurmountable. How could we ever bridge the chasm that separated us? But we were not without hope. As we continue through this Advent let us keep in mind our struggle to remain faithful to our call as lights in the world, be it through the active or cloistered life.

On September 8, 2016, Pope Francis received in audience some 250 participants in the congress of Benedictine abbots and abbesses gathered in Rome to reflect on the monastic charism received from St. Benedict and their faithfulness to it in a changing world.

This theme acquires special meaning in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy since, as Pope Francis affirmed, “if it is only in the contemplation of Jesus Christ that we perceive the merciful face of the Father, monastic life constitutes a privileged route to achieve this contemplative experience and to translate it into personal and community witness.”

"Today’s world clearly demonstrates the need for a mercy that is the heart of Christian life and “which definitively manifests the authenticity and credibility of the message of which the Church is the depository, and which she proclaims. And in this time and in this Church, called to focus increasingly on the essential, monks and nuns safeguard by vocation a peculiar gift and a special responsibility: that of keeping alive the oases of the spirit, where pastors and faithful can draw from the wellsprings of Divine Mercy.

With the grace of God and seeking to live mercifully in their communities, monks and nuns “announce evangelical fraternity from all their monasteries spread out in every corner of the globe, and they do so with that purposeful and eloquent silence that lets God speak out in the deafening and distracted life of the world.”
Therefore, although they live separated from the world, their cloistered life “is not barren: on the contrary, an enrichment and not an obstacle to communion.”



May the  lovely poem of the Carmelite nun, Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit  (Jessica Power) inspire us to seek the Child and hold Him in our hearts and keep Him nestled within as Our Lady did.

In Mary-Darkness

I live my Advent in the womb of Mary
And on one night when a great star swings free
From its high mooring and walks down the sky
To be the dot above the Christus i,
I shall be born of her by blessed grace.
I wait in Mary-darkness, faith’s walled place,
Italian

With hope’s expectance of nativity.
I knew for long she carried me and fed me,
Guarded and loved me, though I could not see,
But only now, with inward jubilee,
I come upon earth’s most amazing knowledge:
Someone is hidden in this dark with me.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

BLESSED IN CANADA

Our neighbors to the north have some new saints added to their list of very holy men.
BL. FREDERIC JANSSOONE, O.F.M.,was a popular preacher who re-established the Order of Friars Minor in Canada.
The greatest desire and prayer of Bl. Frederic was to help others come closer to God. His ministry as a Franciscan took him to many places, from Europe, to the Holy Land and then to North America, where he died.
He was born in Flanders in 1838 as the youngest of 13 children in a wealthy farming family. Frederic was nine when his father died, and he dropped out of school to work as a traveling salesman in order to help support his family. His mother died when he was 23. He completed his studies and then entered the Franciscans. He was ordained in 1870, and served as a military chaplain during the Franco-Prussian War.
He was then sent to the Holy Land, where he reinstated the Stations of the Cross in the streets of Jerusalem, built a church in Bethlehem, and negotiated an accord among the Roman, Greek and Armenian Christian churches concerning the sanctuaries of Bethlehem.

He first came to Canada in 1881 on a fundraising tour, but eventually moved permanently to the country seven years later. He helped to develop the popular shrine of Our Lady at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. He wrote biographies of the saints, newspaper articles and sold religious books door to door.

He died of stomach cancer in Montreal in 1916 and is buried in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, a city close to the Marian shrine he helped to develop. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic in 1988.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

ADVENT- THE CLOISTERED LIFE

Pope Francis has set Nov. 21, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, as a day to pray for and support cloistered and monastic religious. It is called WORLD DAY of CLOISTERED LIFE, also known as Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”).


Since this coming Sunday starts the beginning of ADVENT  (yes, it is very early this year) I thought it appropriate to use this as our theme this year- focusing on the Contemplative life, which should be for all Christians who strive to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

We must all make a place for the Christ-child who is to come into our hearts. Advent is that time of silence and the sense of wonder and waiting that is necessary to prepare our hearts for His birth. 

What do we mean by the Cloistered life? Many, especially in our un-churched Northwest ask what we do all day with our lives, behind these walls.

Cloistered religious embody lives “hidden with Christ.” Within our monastery walls we offer prayers and sacrifices that go unnoticed to most of the world. “By their lives of silence, solitude and sacrifice they obtain the graces needed for countless souls to experience the merciful love of God in ways we can only imagine! In Our Lord’s revelations to St Faustina, Jesus speaks of “chosen souls” who are invited to share in His mission of mercy. Our Merciful Savior states that these special souls “fill my Heart with joy. They bear My features; therefore the Heavenly Father looks upon them with special pleasure....Their number is small. They are a defense for the world before the justice of the Heavenly Father and a means of obtaining mercy for the world. The love and sacrifice of these souls sustain the world in existence” (Diary, 367).”

In his recent Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei Quaerere, Pope Francis reflects upon the vital importance of cloistered contemplatives in the life and mission of the Church. He notes that the contemplative monastic life “is rooted in the silence of the cloister; it produces a rich harvest of grace and mercy.” The Holy Father also reminds those who embrace such a sublime calling that “the Church greatly esteems your life of complete selfgiving” and “counts on your prayers and your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel.”

OLR Chapel on a Winter Night

As we celebrate World Day of Cloistered Life, let us remember these contemplative religious who in convents, monasteries and hermitages give of themselves selflessly to God in hidden sacrifice and in silent work. Let us always assist these dedicated souls by our spiritual and material support, in whatever way we can, even if it is like the poor widow who offers two small coins. We are aware that God is never outdone in generosity and that we each will be judged not on the amount we give to others, but on the intensity of love that is behind the gift. 

Let us invoke Our Lady who gave of herself totally to the Lord and shares intimately in her Son’s mission of Mercy. She, who dedicated herself to God in the Temple as a young girl and who the Church as always looked upon as the summa contemplatrix, demonstrates for all believers the need to immerse ourselves in the Lord so as to see things with spiritual eyes and to respond generously by faith, hope and love.



Saturday, November 19, 2016

CHRIST THE KING of MERCY



This past week many of us saw the supermoon, not seen since 1948, and not to be seen again till 2034. This image of Christ the Redeemer (Rio de Janeiro) is one of those "pictures worth a thousand words"!


As today ends the Jubilee Year of Mercy, let us journey into a new year with continuing faith and hope in the Lord’s Mercy for us now and always.

Monday, November 14, 2016

MEXICAN MOTHER of MERCY



As we near the last weeks of this Year of Mercy, we present
VENERABLE MARIA de JESUS GUIZAR BARRAGAN, the second Mexican to recently be named venerable by Pope Francis. She could be called a modern day saint of MERCY.  She was the  5th of 16 children born to Don Emiliano Guizar y Valencia and Lucia Barragan Guizar in 1899 in Cotija, Michoacan. She was a teacher of catechism in her early teens, showing the children the gentle face of the Father. She visited the sick and imprisoned showing the tenderness and mercy of God. The dying she told not to be afraid to go to the presence of such a good Father who gives mercy to all who are sorry for their sins.
As a young woman

At age 15 she suffered from a near fatal illness, leading to serious reflection, which led to her dedicating herself to God.

In 1961 she founded the Guadalupan Handmaids of Christ the Priest to care for elderly and sick priests.  About the priests she would say, if they have given everything for the Church our mother, then we must take care of them with love and mercy.Till her dying day she dedicated her life to the sanctification of priests.

She died in 1973.  At the centenary of her birth (1999)  the  Apostolic Nuncio Justo Mullor in his homily said: She is one of those voices that the Holy Spirit wants to be felt with urgency and insistence inviting all believers in the Church to purify not only our miseries and sins, but also superfluous cultural adhesions and to focus our personal and community lives in all that is essential and to put our wills in tune with the will of God.”  


Ministering to the poor

With her Community
She showed the tenderness and mercy of God to others and is a great example to the Mexican people.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

NEW SAINTS FOR MEXICO



One of the new updates for sanctity announced recently by the Holy Father is VENERABLE PAUL MARIA GUZMAN FIGUEROA, founder of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity. He was one of those people who left his mark, challenging fate amid adversity, while helping others to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

Venerable Paul was born on September 25, 1897, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico.

In 1909 he moved to Queretaro, working as a telegrapher for two years and contemplating marriage. He went to school to become a pharmacist, even opening his own pharmacy, but then he met the Venerable Servant of God Father Felix Jesus Rougier, founder of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit. His life took a 180 degree turn and in1919, he entered the novitiate. 

In 1923 he was ordained, becoming a missionary in Mexico and in other Latin American countries. In 1936, he felt called to found the Congregation of the Eucharistic Missionaries of the Holy Trinity. The following year, he started the Missionary Auxiliary Daughters of Soledad de Maria, opening the doors to lay women who wanted to join his work. The two foundations live the Spirituality of the Cross.


Because he was interested in Catholic education, he opened several colleges along with Mother Enriqueta Rodriguez Noriega. Taking advantage of modern travel, he transversed the world spreading the faith and making new foundations.

 He was always grateful to God for the gift of priesthood. He was a priest close to the people, frequently visiting their homes and encouraging them with his infectious joy. He sought holiness in the simple things every day.

On February 17, 1967, in Mexico City, he died with a reputation for holiness. The slogan that marked his priestly life was "God and souls."


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

YOUNG LOVER OF CHRIST


RICHIE FERNANDO was a 26 year old Filipino Jesuit missionary in Cambodia. He was sent to Cambodia before his priesthood. There, he worked as a teacher in a technical school for the handicapped. In the school, people who were disabled,  especially landmine victims, learned skills which helped them earn a living. Richie loved his students in Cambodia and encouraged them to share their stories with him.

Among Richie’s students was Sarom, a sixteen-year-old boy who was a victim of a landmine. He wanted to finish his studies there but he was asked to leave by the school authorities for his disruptive attitude. According to Richie, Sarom was tricky but he still had a place for him in his heart.

On October 17, 1996, Sarom came to the school for a meeting. Angered, he suddenly  reached into a bag he was carrying, pulled out a grenade, and began to move towards a classroom full of students; the windows of the room were barred, leaving the students no escape. Richie Fernando came up behind Sarom and grabbed him. Sarom tried to let Richie go, but the missionary held on to him. Sarom accidentally dropped the grenade behind Richie, and in a flash, Richie was dead. The missionary had protected Sarom and the other students from the violence that was about to come.


Four days before he died, Richie wrote to a friend in the Philippines, “I know where my heart is. It is with Jesus Christ, who gave his all for the poor, the sick, the orphan ...I am confident that God never forgets his people: our disabled brothers and sisters. And I am glad that God has been using me to make sure that our brothers and sisters know this fact. I am convinced that this is my vocation.”

Shocked by what he had caused, Sarom sat in his jail cell and mourned too. In March 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Fernando wrote to Cambodia's King Sihanouk, asking for pardon for Sarom; somehow, someone had to stop the violence. Sarom had not wanted to kill Richie. “Richie ate rice with me,” he said. “He was my friend.”

The body of ichie Fernando is buried at he Sacred Heart Cemetery in Novaliches, Quezon City

At a retreat earlier in 1996, he wrote:


I wish when I die, that people remember not how great, powerful, or talented I was,
but that I served and spoke for the truth. I gave witness to what is right. I was sincere with all my words and actions. In other words, I loved and followed Christ.