Most of us would readily state that we are good Catholics. But how much do we know about the powerful area of Catholic Social Teaching. Here is a brief reflection from various sources concerning what we believe about the life and dignity of the human person.
From Paul’s first letter to the Christians of Corinth we hear: “You are holy, for you are God’s temple and God dwells in you. (1 Cor 3:16)”
A wonderful document from Vatican II reminds us of the innate dignity of each human person:
“Whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury” (The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes]), #27.
In July, 2008, representatives from the La Salette Missionaries in Attleboro, two conservation organizations and government officials gathered together at the city hall in Attleboro. Why? To celebrate the dedication of 117 acres at the National Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette as a permanent sanctuary for the benefit of people and wildlife – a remarkable achievement that was decades in the making.
The seed for safeguarding this serene landscape was planted more than 25 years ago. While walking La Salette’s property, local landscape designer David Perry met Fr. Richard Delisle, M.S. Perry knew of the property’s history as a medical sanitarium dedicated to the relief of suffering humanity. Perry suggested designing a variety of outdoor gardens on the land for all to enjoy as a way to honor the land’s rich history and the La Salette mission of reconciliation of ourselves to God, and to our neighbor. Fr. Delisle proposed the idea to the local Shrine community. Although the La Salettes were interested, legal and management concerns put the project on hold.
Fast forward to fall 2005. Fr. Roger Plante, M.S., then director of the retreat house at the La Salette National Shrine, attended a conference sponsored by the Religious Lands Conservancy Project, a joint program of the Massachusetts Land Trust Coalition (MLTC) and the Crystal Spring Center for Earth Living (a project of the Dominican Sisters of Kentucky). Sr. Chris Loughlin, O.P., director of the Crystal Spring Center, spoke about the web of relationships that connect all beings, and how caring for the planet was a priority that could lead to healing within ourselves. Her talk reinforced La Salette’s mission and charism (gift) of reconciliation from the apparition message of Our Lady of La Salette.
I had to chuckle recently when I saw a sign on the wall of a local printing business which said: “Hire teenagers while they still know everything.”
In my college years I had just completed a course in economics and went home for the summer. My machinist father, who had only completed third grade during Depression times, told me that recently the boss had called him over to the office. He introduced my father to a newly hired young man and told my father to teach this fellow all that he knew about running these machines.
Smiling, my dad told me that he taught the new man everything he needed to work the machines but not all the “tricks of the trade” that he had learned over some twenty-five years of hard work. When I asked him why he had done this, he simply said: “I’m not stupid. After all, if I taught him everything I knew, he’d probably take over my job!” How true! My dad was a person of wisdom.
|Fr. Jerry Lebanowski, M.S.|
Christ gave the boat a gentle push. Soon it was floating quietly in the waters. The navigator, a man named Peter, studied his map. The objective was clear but the journey appeared to be long and the way less clear. He decided to leave clearer instructions to the navigators who would take his place one day but he never found the time to do so.
Several of the faithful took hold of the oars. Among them were Paul, Martha, James, John, Mary, Philomena. They were the "power" that propelled the boat ever forward. Other believers on board helped, replacing the rowers when they got tired.
It happened that one day, a certain group of self-assured believers called "clerics" decided that they alone should be "rowers". Other believers on board were henceforth called "laity." This division remains even to this day.
More recently the clergy realized that since all were full members of the Church by their Baptism, they asked the laity to take their rightful place as rowers once again. The boat continues steadily towards its objective, now powered, as it was in the beginning, by all of God’s people. On occasion, spirited conversations take place among the rowers yet the boat moves on inexorably toward its goal, the shores of the Kingdom.
|Fr. Richard Landry, M.S.|
The operative color in today’s society is green. Our ongoing growth in environmental awareness seems to dictate that we go green. If we build or repair our house, we will probably make sure that it is energy efficient. We’ll examine the insulation, lighting, heating and be aware of any water-saving bathroom fixtures. If we’re considering the purchase of a new car, we’ll consider mileage economy, cleaner energy sources as well as bottom line costs. As we try to live healthier and live longer, we’ll try to eat more balanced meals, get proper rest and take the time to enjoy our family to the fullest. That’s not only good ecology – it’s God’s will for us all.
The green way is the way to go as part of the family of creation. How quickly we forget that God created the world and “saw how good it was” (Gen 1:10). We are all part of God’s family, the family of creation. And just as reconciliation is needed in the human family the world over, it is also needed in the family of creation.
My own interest in the Earth and ecology dates back to 1984. I volunteered to minister on the Native American reservations in San Diego County, CA. I served there for five years and began to appreciate the Earth-centered spirituality of the Native Americans. Though our worshipping community was Catholic, I did my best to integrate many Native American rituals into our liturgies and I witnessed many of their traditions.
|Cover of Recording of
Depression era songs
We are creatures of our history. Everything around us effects us – for better or for worse. It’s strange how events can change the tenor, even the entire view of our lives.
I remember well my parents speaking about the Great Depression with the Stock Market Crash of October, 1929, and it’s toll on everything – from finances to family living, from food to entertainment. I vividly remember my mother speaking about the challenges of her own farm family of eleven children and what they had to do in order to survive.
The Great Depression apparently cast a pall over much of life as did our recent national financial breakdown, the residue of both perhaps still impinging on our national psyche. Yet problems should not always result in losing hope or lessening our motivation to meet the challenges and therein become stronger.
Even if Mary had not uttered a single word, everything was eloquently expressed by her tears.
I recently heard a story about a toddler just four years of age. He lived next door to an old man who had just lost his wife to whom he had been married for many years. One day, the child saw the man sitting on his front porch, weeping. Without hesitation the little boy walked over to the older gentleman, and gave him a long hug. Afterwards when his mother asked him what he had said to the old man, the boy replied, "I couldn’t say anything! I just helped him cry."
We appropriately attach great importance to the words that the Beautiful Lady of La Salette addressed to Melanie and Maximin on September 19, 1846. Following the apparition, it was remarkable that these two unschooled children would be able to repeat, word-for-word, her formal French, despite the fact that they only knew their native dialect!
|Second Station: Jesus
takes up his cross
We have a wonderful tradition here at St. Ann’s Parish in Marietta, GA, ministered by the La Salette Missionaries along with our staff of lay professionals. The St. Ann’s Players usually present the Living Stations of the Cross for our parishioners just prior to Holy Week. It is always an exciting and inspirational moment for all of us.
When interviewed and asked to relive the memories and successes of having participated in all 16 previous performances of the “Living Stations of the Cross,” retiring Director/Actor/Scriptwriter, Pete Borden, of the St. Ann’s Players replied, “It’s almost like a special, separate lifetime of emotions, experiences and blessings.”
In fact, he felt he could practically recall and write the entire history of the spiritual drama in an essay or book. It’s a typical response from this “man for all seasons,” also well-known throughout the Atlanta theatre community as a playwright, author, producer, and promoter.
The “Living Stations,” which follow the last few days of Christ’s life, did not skip a beat this year, despite Pete handing over his Director’s Chair (along with that of his co-Director, Sue Borden, his wife).
|Conclave in the Sistine Chapel,
about the elect Pope Francis
As any student of the history of the Catholic Church knows, the Catholic Church has not only grown and changed over the centuries but has also had its challenges from within and outside of the Church. In other words, it’s difficult to keep our Church family together and “on the same page.”
With the substantial changes she has experienced over just the past 100 years, the “barque of St. Peter” has survived some hurricanes on this sea of life – including the recent cases of sexual abuse by clergy and others.
The cardinals, in their preparations for and in their experience within the conclave which elected Francis, apparently discussed many key challenges which needed to be faced head-on. They chose our Pope Francis ready and capable of dealing with them.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, Jacob, and formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). God says: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you.” No matter how I emphasize these words, they bring comfort and joy.
When I think about how fear rules and destroys our lives, I am amazed at how little I pay attention to or even listen to God. I come to this point in my life where I just might be ready to finally listen to and trust in God. I am thankful today for the Prophet Isaiah who has brought this message to my attention.
When we receive the sacrament of Confirmation, our soul receives the seal of the Holy Spirit. This seal is permanent. In celebration of this, we have gifts bestowed upon at this time – gifts like wisdom, knowledge, understanding, courage, counsel (the ability to make right judgment), reverence, and wonder and awe in the presence of God!
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Our Community: The Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette are deeply rooted in the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette which occurred near the hamlet of La Salette in southeastern France on Sept. 19, 1846. The Missionaries were founded in 1852 by Bp. Philbert de Bruillard, Bishop of Grenoble, France, and presently serve in some 25 countries.
Our Province: The Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas, was founded in 2000AD and is one of several provinces in the congregation. The members of this Province serve mainly in the countries of Canada, the United States and the Region of Argentina/Bolivia.
Our Mission: Our La Salette ministry of reconciliation responds to the broad vision given by Mary at La Salette as well as in response to the needs of the Church. As reconcilers, we together with the laity take seriously Mary’s mandate: “You will make (Mary’s) message known to all (her) people.”