Sunday, May 20, 2018

NEW FEAST FOR OUR MOTHER




Pope Francis celebrated the first feast of Mary, Mother of the Church saying that without the emphasis placed on motherhood, the Church would be isolated, composed of no more than “old bachelors.”
“Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance – because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.”
In his homily Pope Francis said “the Church is feminine, because it is 'church' and 'bride,'” both of which are grammatically feminine in the Italian language.
The Church is also a mother, “she gives life,” he said, adding that only a feminine Church would be able to have a truly “fruitful attitude” in accordance with the will of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”
“The important thing is that the Church be a woman, that it has this attitude of a bride and of a mother, when we forget this, it is a masculine Church.”
Mary's motherhood is emphasized throughout the Gospels, from the Annunciation to the foot of the cross, he said, explaining that the fathers of the Church realized this attention to motherhood is not just applied to Mary, but can be applied to the entire Church.
The Church itself is feminine, he said, noting that the Fathers of the Church say, “even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.”
“It is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church,” the pope said, adding that if this aspect is lost, “the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, but not the Church.”
Francis said the primary distinctive quality of a woman is tenderness, which can be seen in Mary's act of wrapping her newborn son “in swaddling clothing” and laying him in the manger in Bethlehem.
In this action, Mary cared for Christ with meekness and humility, the strongest virtues mothers possess, he said, explaining that “a Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness.”
“It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion,” he said, explaining that this attitude is also representative of those people who live as part of the Church, knowing that they are “[like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A RENEWED EARTH





"Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your SPIRIT and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth."

We pray this prayer to the Ho;ly Spirit often in the monastery, certainly before every important gathering in which a decision must be made.

I have always  thought that we need to add that the earth will be renewed only by us, with  His help, as we are the instruments through which He performs His miracles. And only by accepting  the seven gifts of His Spirit will we make the changes in our own life that in turn can effect change in our world.

“O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.”



Sadao Watanabe

Thursday, May 17, 2018

SERVANT TO THE POOR




In our last Blog we spoke of SERVANT of GOD ORESTE BENZI the spiritual director of Ven. Sandra Sabattini.  He was an Italian priest and the founder of the  "Community of Pope John XXIII". Father Benzi championed the rights of the individual and founded his association to aid teenagers in their lives and their path to Jesus Christ while also striving to evangelize to those including the destitute.

Oreste Benzi was born in San ClementeItaly in 1925 the seventh of nine children to the poor Achille Benzi and Rosa Silvagni, who instilled a sense of great piousness in her children.

His second grade teacher Olga Baldani spoke of a priest and of a scientist and explorer in a tale meant to challenge the students as to what would seem the better profession. This had a profound impact on the child who returned home and told his mother that he wanted to become a priest.

He began his studies for the priesthood in 1937 first at Urbino and then at Rimini. He transferred his studies to Bologna due to Allied bombings during World War II around Rimini. After ordination in 1949 he was appointed as the chaplain for the parish of San Nicolò in Rimini.


In 1953 Father Benzi was made  the spiritual director of students in Rimini and he later oversaw the establishment of an Alpine vacation home for teenagers in Alba di Canazei (built between 1958 and 1961) that saw him make several visits to the USA in order to raise funds.

In 1968 he founded the "Community of Pope John XXIII". The priest opened the first home for families at Coriano in 1973. The Italian government recognized the movement, while it received diocesan recognition in 1983. The Pontifical Council for the Laity recognized the movement as an "association of the faithful" in 1998.

Father Benzi was known for his action in defense of those who were marginalized and his battle against prostitution and homosexual unions. His work bought him into contact several times with Pope John Paul II. From 1969 until 2000 he served as a parish priest at the Resurrection parish in the Grotta Rossa neighborhood of Rimini. St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. Maximilian Kolbe inspired him as well as spiritual writers such as Cardinal Henri de Lubac and Bl. Antoine Chevrier.



Father Benzi died in 2007 after suffering a heart attack. More than 10 000 mourners attended his funeral and it included several of the prostitutes that he had rescued. His movement is now present in a total of 27 European countries as well as in Asia and Africa and Latin America and Australia.


When Father Benzi  died, Pope Benedict XVI sent his heartfelt condolences, recalling Father Benzi’s early enthusiasm for pastoral work as a parish priest and his later role as an indefatigable apostle for charity in favor of the least and the defenseless, shouldering the burden of so many of the serious social problems afflicting our modern world.

Monday, May 14, 2018

A NEW PATRONESS FOR YOUTH






Will this new venerable be the next Bl. Giorgio Frassati,  a patroness for the youth of today, so sadly in need of inspiration. 

VENERABLE ALESSANDRA (SANDRA) SABATTINI, a medical student  dedicated all her free time to young people and the poor

She was born on 19 August 1961 in RiccioneItaly. iIn 1972, at the age of 10, she started keeping a diary: “A life lived without God is just a way of passing time, whether it’s boring or fun, time to be filled in while waiting for death.”.

She met (Servant of God) Father Oreste Benzi, founder of the Pope John XXIII Community, when she was 12. She dreamed of becoming part of the medical missions in Africa. On the weekends and in the summer breaks of 1982 and 1983 she tended to drug addicts in the association's rehabilitation centers. She got up each morning to meditate in the church in the dark before the Eucharist and loved to do so on the floor to demonstrate her meek and humble nature; she sung in a choir and learnt the piano..

Sandra later met Guido at a Carnivale event. The two started dating and were later engaged to be married though both decided to lead a chaste engagement. To their delight both wanted to become missionaries in Africa after getting married but her father, who knew of the couple's dreams, advised his daughter to take things at a slow pace rather than to rush into things.

In late April 1984 the association prepared for their meeting in Igea Marina near Rimini. On  the 29  at 9:30am she arrived there with her fiancé and her friend Elio. Just as she got out of the car both she and Elio were struck when another car came past placing her into a coma from which she never recovered. Sandra died less than a week later from her injuries . Her funeral was celebrated on 4 May. She was 23 years old.

In 1985  Father Benzi edited the first edition of her journal and again in 2003 along with notes on her life. Father Benzi once said that "Sandra should not be sought among the dead" alluding to potential exhumation. His musings proved correct for in 2009 (after Father Benzi died) an exhumation took place but no remains were found. This was attributed to the fact that she wished to be buried in bare earth which meant corrosion of the casket was most probable following internment


"Sandra was deep in a clear, intense relationship with God. She lived every moment with profound joy. She relished the entire universe, discovering all its beauty together with Him.
Her life was directed toward the Infinite, Light, Mystery and Love." 
Father Oreste Benzi


Thursday, May 10, 2018

ORA et LABORA



I have been away so was not able to post this timely message from the Holy Father when he  spoke to Benedictines gathered in Rome last month.

(Perugino 1495)

I welcome you on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation, and I thank the Abbot Primate for his kind words. I would like to express all my consideration and gratitude for the important contribution that the Benedictines have made to the life of the Church, in every part of the world, for almost fifteen hundred years. In this celebration of the Jubilee of the Benedictine Confederation we wish to remember, in a special way, the commitment of Pope Leo XIII, who in 1893 wanted to unite all the Benedictines by founding a common house of study and prayer here in Rome. We thank God for this inspiration, because this has led the Benedictines all over the world to live a deeper spirit of communion with the See of Peter and between themselves.

Benedictine spirituality is renowned for its motto: Ora et labora et lege. Prayer, work, study. In the contemplative life, God often announces His presence in an unexpected way. With the meditation of the Word of God in the lectio divina, we are called to remain in religious listening to His voice in order to live in constant and joyful obedience. Prayer generates in our hearts, willing to receive the amazing gifts that God is always ready to give us, a spirit of renewed fervour that leads us, through our daily work, to seek to share the gifts of God’s wisdom with others: with the community, with those who come to the monastery in their search for God (“quaerere Deum”), and with those who study in your schools, colleges and universities. An ever renewed and invigorated spiritual life is thus generated.

Some characteristic aspects of the Easter liturgical season, which we are living, such as announcement and surprise, prompt response, and the heart willing to receive the gifts of God, are indeed part of everyday Benedictine life. Saint Benedict asks you in his Rule to “put absolutely nothing before Christ” (No. 72), so that you may always be vigilant, today, ready to listen to Him and to follow Him obediently (cf. Prologue). Your love for the liturgy, as a fundamental work of God in monastic life, is essential above all for yourselves, allowing you to be in the living presence of the Lord; and it is precious for the whole Church, which over the centuries has benefited as though from a spring water that irrigates and fecundates, nourishing the capacity to live, personally and in community, the encounter with the risen Lord.


If Saint Benedict was a luminous star – as Saint Gregory the Great called him – in his time marked by a profound crisis of values and institutions, this was because he was able to discern between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, placing the Lord firmly in the centre. Lord. May you, his children in our time, practice discernment to recognize what comes from the Holy Spirit and what comes from the spirit of the world or the spirit of the devil. Discernment “calls for something more than intelligence or common sense. It is a gift which we must implore … of the Holy Spirit. Without the wisdom of discernment, we can easily become prey to every passing trend” (Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 166-167).


In this age, when people are so busy that they do not have enough time to listen to the voice of God, your monasteries and convents become like oases, where men and women of all ages, backgrounds, cultures and religions can discover the beauty of silence and rediscover themselves, in harmony with creation, allowing God to restore proper order in their lives. The Benedictine charism of welcome is very precious for the new evangelization, because it gives you the opportunity to welcome Christ in every person who arrives, helping those who seek God to receive the spiritual gifts He has in store for each of us.

Moreover, the Benedictines have always been recognized for their commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue. I encourage you to continue in this important work for the Church and for the world, placing your traditional hospitality at its service. Indeed, there is no opposition between the contemplative life and the service of others. The Benedictine monasteries – both in cities and far from them – are places of prayer and hospitality. Your stability is also important for people who come to look for you. Christ is present in this encounter: He is present in the monk, in the pilgrim, in the needy.

I am grateful for your service in the field of education and formation, here in Rome and in many parts of the world. The Benedictines are known for being “a school in the service of the Lord”. I urge you to give to students, along with the necessary ideas and knowledge, the tools for them to grow in that wisdom that drives them to continually seek God in their lives; that same wisdom that will lead them to practise mutual understanding, as we are all children of God, brothers and sisters, in this world that so thirsts for peace.


St. Benedict Church, Baltimore
In conclusion, dear brothers and sisters, I hope that the celebration of the Jubilee for the anniversary of the foundation of the Benedictine Confederation may be a fruitful occasion for reflecting on the search for God and His wisdom, and how to most effectively transmit His perennial riches to the future generations.

By the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with Saints Benedict and Scholastica, I invoke upon each one of you my apostolic blessing. And I ask you, please, to continue to pray for me. Thank you.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

NEW MARIAN FEAST--MOTHER OF THE CHURCH




Since May is the month dedicated to our heavenly Mother we present some news for her!

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has given the Church a new feast in honor of the Blessed Mother to  celebrate her role as “MOTHER  of the CHURCH”. This feast will be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost (this year May 21).
The decree establishing the memorial was published March 3 in a letter from Cardinal Robert Sarah, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
As Cardinal Sarah explained, Pope Francis added the memorial to the Roman Calendar after carefully considering how the promotion of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under this particular title might encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.”

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed,” Cardinal Sarah wrote.
The cardinal noted that the “joyous veneration given to the Mother of God by the contemporary Church, in light of reflection on the mystery of Christ and on his nature, cannot ignore the figure of a woman, the Virgin Mary, who is both the Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church.”
The memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, has been added to the General Roman Calendar, the Roman Missal, and the Liturgy of the Hours. The Latin text has been published, and the translations will be prepared by the bishops’ conferences and approved by the congregation.
A celebration of a memorial generally means that prayers and readings specific to the day’s memorial are used in the Mass.j
The Marian title of “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Pope Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council. It was also added to the Roman Missal after the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975.
Some countries, dioceses and religious families were granted permission by the Holy See to add this celebration to their particular calendars. With its addition to the General Roman Calendar, it will now be celebrated by the whole Roman Catholic Church.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

ANOTHER MODERN VIRGIN MARTYR


Another modern virgin martyr soon to be beatified is ANNA KOLESAROVA, who  was born in 1928 in the village of Vysoka nad Uhom, outside the city of Michalovce, in the eastern Slovak region of Zemplin, in what was then a part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia. Her family was described as a pious farming family that attended church regularly and lived out their faith in their daily lives.


When she was ten years old, her mother died, and it fell on Bl. Anna to look after the household, as well as her older brother Michal. Her life was described as modest and simple, going regularly to church.

During the autumn of 1944, the Second World War was approaching its final and bloodiest phase, the Eastern front was passing through the eastern Slovak district of Michalovce, which was then a part of Hungary. During this violent transition period, the inhabitants of Vysoká and the surrounding villages would hide in their cellars, waiting for the shelling and fighting to end.

On 22 November, the village was occupied by the Soviet Red Army troops. Jan Kolesár sheltered with his family and their neighbors in the cellar under the kitchen. During a tour of the house, a drunken Soviet soldier discovered the hideout and peered inside. At first, at her fathers insistence, Bl. Anna emerged from the hideout, walked up to the kitchen and served the soldier with food and water.

Due to the uncertainty of the war, she and the other women of the village wore black dresses in order not to attract unwanted attention to themselves, and to discourage improper behavior from the soldiers. Despite this however, the soldier later started to make sexual advances towards her. When she refused him, he ordered her, either to sleep with him or be killed. She, however, despite his threats to shoot her, again refused. She pulled herself out of his grip and ran back to the basement. The soldier pursued her, then allowed her to say goodbye to her father before he pointed his  rifle at her and killed her on the spot.

Despite the massive fighting that was ongoing around the village, Bl. Anna was buried in the evening the next day, with the funeral conducted in secret, without a priest present. Catholic funeral rites were performed one week later by Father Anton Lukac on 29 November.




Father Lucac, who was the parish priest in the nearby village later himself investigated Bl. Anna’s death. He interviewed the villagers and obtained signed statements from five witnesses. He then recorded the incident into the parish chronicles of Pavlovce. Another native of the village, the Jesuit priest Fr. Michal Potocky, also gave testimony about the saint’s life and the circumstances surrounding her death. Despite this, after the war, the new socialist government of Czechoslovakia banned mention of the incident, and strictly enforced a ban on any open gatherings at the grave site.

The house where Bl. Anna  is today used by a Catholic youth organization which was founded and dedicated to her memory. That organization; Domcek, is organizing in volunteer work, prayer, workshops, sports games and social events. Three times a year in February, April and August, at nearby Pavlovce, there is a large Catholic youth gathering, dedicated to Bl. Anna's legacy, which each year draws more and more young people.