July 23-31

“No greater love than to lay one’s life for one’s friend…”

Today, friendship is a word that is easily misunderstood and less easily understood.  Its meaning is often equated to the meaning of acquaintance.When two businessmen meet, and negotiate on commerce and of profit, they call themselves friends. When students cheat during exams and agree not to tell on each other, it is a good friendship. Many of those who are call one another best friends base their friendshipon liking the same food, music andbooks, expressing the same opinions or wearingthe same fashion, etc.  One story of true friendship is that of Saint Pedro Calungsod and Fr. Diego Luis San Vitores.

Saint Pedro Calungsod, is the second Filipino martyr.  He wascanonized last October 21, 2012.His story beautifully and courageously depicts the words of Jesus:“ No greater love than to lay one’s life for one’s friend…”At 14, he became a missionary catechist chosen to accompany the Jesuit missionaries to the Mariana Islands. From the Philippines, Pedro sailed the wide Pacific Ocean with his friend, aSpanish Jesuit missionary Father Diego Luis San Vitores to bring the Gospel to the Chamorro people. The two missionariesformeda beautiful friendship based on their faith on Jesus Christ. This friendship generated a deep bond of love for one another, for Christ and for His Gospel to be known and loved everywhere. Through their catechesis, many native Chamorros were converted to Christianity. When they were attackedby the natives because of their  proclamation of Christ, Pedro courageously defended his friend, Fr. Diego, by using himself to shield him from the arrows of death. Pedro’s agile and strong youthful stature easily avoided the sharp arrows of the hateful natives but eventually he was struck by them and got killed. When he died, the natives also killed Fr. Diego and theirdead bodies were thrown to the deep sea. The young Pedro Calungsod had been a friend to Fr. Diego to the end. Their friendship is a model for all of us.Fr. Diego and St. Pedro Calungsod offer the exemple of true Christian friendship.

The 2012 Synod says: “Our Young people are both the recipients and agents of evangelization especially among their peers. They are in the stage of searching for truth and meaning in life that Jesus who is the Truth and their Friend can provide. Through exemplary Christian adults, the saints, especially the young saints...the Church becomes visible and credible among them.”(Synod Proposition 51,  Youth and New Evangelization)

Let us recall that Marie Rivier named some young Saints -- John Berchmann, Aloysius de Gonzaga, and Stanislaus Kostka as Patron Saints of our Religious Family. Let us offer them again as examples of faith and friendship with Jesus Christ especially among the youth of today.

Thoughts from Mother Rivier…

“Instruct the young well. They are the ones who will renew the world…”

“To converse with Jesus as a friend and to talk to him anytime, without fear of tiring or disturbing him! It is indeed and honor above all honors…”

Sr. Charito

July 16-22

Listen my people, give ear to my word...”

I would like to share the personal reflection of Cardinal Luis Antonio G. Tagle of the Philippines on listening to the Word of God  in our world  today and what it involves.

Listening is first of all, being drawn to the One who speaks to me. It is to be in touch to the deepest desire in my heart which is to welcome God who wants to enter my life. Knowing that deepest desire leads me to be interested in Him who takes the initiative, and to be attentive to what he’ll say to me. Listening involves openness to hear from God words which I might not like orwhich I am not expecting to hear; andthe openness to be hurt by Someone who loves me and desires what is good for me and for others through me. Listeninginvolves readiness to be changed, to be converted, to be transformedand readiness to respond in action. My listening is complete only if I acted on what I have heard. Listening alwaysinvolves a mission --- a listening with others. I don’t listen as an individual, I listen as someone who is part of a people with their hopes and dreams…The objective Word of God in Scripture comes to me in a unique way and comes to my unique world. I believed that Jesus who spoke then,continues to speak to me… continues to visit theMarthas and Marys of this world.Jesus continues to visit tombs and cries…Jesus continues to meet widows who bury their sons and daughters…Jesus continues to cry with many people “My God, my God why have you abandoned me?”…we listen to Jesus and we listen to the world around us…”(Synthesis of TV interview by Salt and Light Canada)

The Synod of 2012 Proposition 11,“The New Evangelization and the Prayerful Reading of Sacred Scripture” says: God has communicated himself to us in his Word made flesh. This divine Word, heard and celebrated in the Liturgy of the Church, particularly in the Eucharist, strengthens interiorly the faithful and renders them capable of authentic evangelical witness in daily life...” It invites us to continue the LectioDivina or the prayerful reading of the Word of God to nourish our spiritual life. This path should impel us to a renewed faithfulness and enthusiasm to learn and re-learn the art of reading and listening to the Word of God.  The reflection quoted abovemay inspire us to search for our own creative way of listening to the Word necessary for the New Evangelization.

We recall that“LectioDivina is a way of listening to God today…How can we speak to God in prayer if not of the language of God—this divine word.”(Return to the Heart, Mother Jean- Theophane)

Thoughts from Marie Rivier:

“Learn in Jesus Christ to walk in the presence of God and to be nourished with the bread of his divine will.”

“It is in our conversations with the Lord that piety comes alive… from them we find lasting peace and deep tranquility…”

Sr. Charito

July 9-15

  Come to a lonely place…”

Jesus prays.All the evangelistsmention Jesus going out to a quiet place, going up to the mountain, teaching the disciple how to pray, inviting them to come to a lonely place, late at night or very early in the morning. His time of prayer was his time to meet and be alone with the Father. It wasthispersonal intimate relationship that strengthened him to fully accept and fulfill His mission that culminated on the glorious Cross. The Synod of 2012 briefly explained its propositionon the Spiritual Dimension of New Evangelization: “The experience of encountering the Lord must be fundamental to every aspect of the New Evangelization. This is the ‘contemplative dimension’ of the New Evangelization which is nourished continually through prayer…”. (Synod Proposition 36) Today, the world needs more and more contemplative space--- in personal life, in the working environment and especially in family life. We all agree that to desire and to seek God is inherent to every human heart. These are the basic driving forces of prayer that nourish spiritual life.St. Augustine insisted that our human heart is made for God and it is restless until it rests in Him.

Our Christian discipleship calls us from within to spend time with Jesus our Master. It is essential and thereforeindispensable in the call of New Evangelizationbecause,“New Evangelizationis not a matter of merely passing on doctrine but rather of a personal andprofound meeting with the Savior."  (Blessed John Paul II)

Let us recall that “to evangelize is to do the very work of Jesus Christ. This work is beyond our human strength and competence. We need strength from above.”(Mother Jean-Théophane Return to the Heart II p. 173)

 

Thoughts from Mother River:

“Our vocation is the vocation Jesus Christ. Our mission is the mission of Jesus Christ!”

“For this work (of evangelization) to succeed, you must be persons of prayer; your hearts must pray unceasingly, sighing before God: your fervent interior cries must draw down the powerful graces that you need.”

 

Sr. Charito

July 1-8, 2013 “Whoever welcomes me, welcomes the one who sent me…”

The Synod of 2012 says ‘Today there are new poor and new faces of poverty; the hungry, the homeless, the sick and abandoned, drug addicts, migrants and the marginalized, political and environmental refugees, the indigenous peoples, etc…’ (Synod Proposition 31) The situation of poverty is very ancient and it is everywhere. It is one of the world’s social concerns which as Church, touches us closely. There are many responses given and efforts made, but material response is always found insufficient. Perhaps we haven not really touched the core of the Good News:  Blessed are the poor’. Jesus being poor, embraced a poverty of self- kenosis (Philippians 2:5--11) to make himself a gift to everyone.  His whole life is a gift to us and maybe this is the gift which we have not yet fully given to the poor. To deeply reflect on this I share an excerpt from an intervention during the Synod 2012: Our gift to the poor is Jesus, only the love of Jesus, always the love of Jesus. Our bread will turn stale and our medicines will expire but the mark of the love of Jesus is the charity that we must always long to share. The charity of Jesus is the gift of Himself. The charity of the new evangelization must be the gift of Jesus...” (Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, Philippines)

Pope Francis indicated a similar path when his Petrine Ministry was inaugurated last March 19, 2013. His words were comforting to all of us as he said: “Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross…. he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!”

As disciples of Christ, let us take on once again and more seriously the challenge of the New Evangelization, of preferring once again the stance of evangelical poverty, a poverty that liberates the heart to be able to share and give witness to the love that is empty of self in order to welcome the poorest of the poor.

Let us recall that “with Mary, Marie Rivier’s compassion opened itself to all forms of distress… the orphans to her maternal love, the poor to her generosity, the sick to her tenderness. Everyone has a place in her heart.” (Mother Angèle, Mystery of Compassion p.9-10)

Thoughts from Mother Rivier:

 “From the beginning, God has marked us with the sign that his divine Son gave as proof of his divinity: we have evangelized the poor.”

“Our first duty is to help the poor of Jesus Christ…Assist the poor according to their needs and your own meager means.”   

Sr. Charito