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The Diseases of Our Christian Life

Untitled-1Pope Francis delivering a speech to the prelates during the audience of the Curia, the administrative apparatus of the Holy See, for Christmas greetings in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. (Photo: Osservatore Romano via AFP)

Editor: Pope Francis never fails to impress me with his unusually direct ideas that can be quite surprising, on this particular occasion coming openly from the Bishop of Rome to the officials of his own Curial Office on Dec. 24, 2014. One journalist described this talk as “a lump of coal” for the Curial leaders. But, make no mistake about it, we must also reflect on how these same “diseases” may also be afflicting us and our own lives of service to our own family and the Church at large.


A Word of Thanks

Before all else, I would like to offer all of you – co-workers, brothers and sisters, papal representatives throughout the world, and all your dear ones – my prayerful good wishes for a holy Christmas and a happy New Year. I want to thank you most heartily for your daily commitment in the service of the Holy See, the Catholic Church, the particular Churches and the Successor of Peter.

Read more: The Diseases of Our Christian Life

The Little Drummer Boy in All of Us

There is certainly something special about this season of Christmas.

Untitled-1When I hear the songs of the Christmas season – Winter Wonderland, Jungle Bells, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas and the Christmas carols, Silent Night, O Holy Night and Joy to the World – my heart is moved and my mind travels back to my early days at home, with all the excitement of this magical season.

Now that I am older and count myself among those in their seventies, I still have much to learn about appreciating the small and beautiful things than can melt our hearts. Often I express my disagreement that “Christmas is only for children.”

One of my favorite Christmas musical gems is the song, The Little Drummer Boy. Its extensive background is somewhat surprising. According to Wikipedia, it seems to have its roots in a traditional Czech carol and was written in 1941 by the American classical music composer and teacher, Katherine Kennicott Davis as “The Carol of the Drum”. Later Harry Simeone had it arranged and renamed it, “The Little Drummer Boy,” recording it with his chorale in 1958 and it became an internationally renowned hit.

Read more: The Little Drummer Boy in All of Us

Being Holy Families

Untitled-1The Holy Family by Jan de Bray (ca.1627 – 1697), a Dutch Golden Age painterOn the Sunday following Christmas we will celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. Mary and Joseph, the couple, became a family with the birth of Jesus.

Those of you who are parents will remember the birth of your first child – and undoubtedly remember how it changed your lives in so many ways. It was no different for Joseph and Mary. Like every couple who become parents, they too had to grow into their role as parents – and that growing took place together with their child.

They were a Holy family because each person took her or his role seriously, seeking to discover how to fulfill God’s design for them – individually and as a family unit.

Mary’s “fiat,” her “yes” to God’s invitation to becoming the mother of Jesus, was not a one-day affair. It was a life-long commitment.

Joseph’s “yes” to not being afraid to take Mary as his wife was also a life-long engagement. His fleeing with her and the child to the land of Egypt in the middle of the night in order to save Jesus’ life proved how committed he was.

Read more: Being Holy Families

Pope Francis on Consecrated Persons

Untitled-1Washington, DC ( - The Pope begins his beautiful message for the Year of Consecrated Life with his characteristic simplicity and humility, in stating that he sends his message not only by virtue of his office as Successor of Peter, but also “as a brother who, like yourselves, is consecrated to God. ”

A Year of Unity and Communion

It is a simple and short opening line, yet already contains the kernel of what he will expand at greater length as he first explains the aims and then the expectations for the year, and most especially where he lastly elucidates the horizons to which this year ought to reach: a strong emphasis on unity and communion amongst all those who are in Consecrated Life, amongst the entire Church in appreciation and support of it, between those Consecrated within the Catholic Church and those in the Orthodox and Reformed Churches, and even with those living a life fully given to God in the other great religions.

Read more: Pope Francis on Consecrated Persons

Hope in a Time of Loss

Hope in a time of loss can be very difficult

I remember one of my fellow La Salettes coming up to my mother, a few weeks after the death of my father, and, after expressing his condolences, very affectionately saying, “Time can heal many wounds.” As I spoke with my mother afterwards, his words did help her. As the years passed, she did somewhat get Untitled-1Castle fire
(Photo courtesy of The Attleboro Sun Chronicle)
used to my father’s death. In a sense, time did heal her initial loss but life was really never the same for either one of us.

Fifteen years ago, on November 5, 1999, in a spectacular conflagration, the “castle at Attleboro Springs” burnt to the ground. I remember being at a community meeting some fifty miles away and there was a shared sadness that day, for the one life lost in that terrible tragedy, Fr. Paul O’Brien, as well as for the long history of the building that was an important part of the history of Attleboro and of my own La Salette community.

In Rick Foster’s article in the Attleboro Sun Chronicle on the 10th anniversary of the castle fire, his title “La Salette rises for the ashes”, speaks volumes about how hope and goodness can rise up from tragedy. This is much like the Arabic bird of old, the legendary Phoenix, which consumes itself by fire every 500 years, and a new Phoenix springs from it's ashes.

Read more: Hope in a Time of Loss

Reconciling Faith and Science

Editor: Bro. Guy Consolmagno, S.J.. spoke recently to the college students at the Newman Center at LIU (Long Island University), Post Campus. Fr. Ted Brown sent information on Bro. Guy for our perusal, including the following article on creationism as a kind of paganism.


Untitled-1Bro. Guy in his laboratoryHe was born in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1974 and Master of Science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978-80 he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory, and from 1980-1983 continued as postdoc and lecturer at MIT.

In 1983 he left MIT to join the US Peace Corps, where he served for two years in Kenya teaching physics and astronomy. Upon his return to the US in 1985 he became an assistant professor of physics at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught until his entry into the Jesuit order in 1989. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.

Read more: Reconciling Faith and Science

A Priesthood for Today

Untitled-1Pope Francis with the “Holy Spirit window” from St. Peter’s Basilica in the backgroundEditor: This is the Address of Pope Francis to Assembly of Congregation for Clergy, including bishops. The Pope speaks about the attitudes necessary in the candidate for the priesthood and in those who form them.

Brothers and Sisters, …What I would like to say to you today pivots around three topics… : vocation, formation and evangelization.

Vocation is a Gift

Taking up the image of Matthew’s Gospel, I am pleased to compare the vocation to the ordained ministry to the “treasure hidden in the field” (13:14). It is truly a treasure that God has always placed in the heart of some men, chosen by him and called to follow him in this special state of life. This treasure, which requires being discovered and taken to the light, is not made only to “enrich” someone.

Whoever is called to the ministry is not the “master” of his vocation, but administrator of a gift that God has entrusted to him for the good of all people, in fact for all men, also those who have distanced themselves from religious practice and do not profess faith in Christ…

Read more: A Priesthood for Today

Vietnam Memorial Helps Veterans Find Healing

Untitled-1A Celtic cross hangs with military identification tags at a National Park Service museum storehouse in Landover, MD. (CNS/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)Washington – When La Salette Father Phil Salois, M.S., visits the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, he always goes to panel 13 on the west side of the memorial and looks to lines 70 and 71. There he finds the names of Spc. Herb Klug and 1st Lt. Terrance Bowell, whose deaths in Vietnam March 1, 1970, changed Father Salois' life forever.

Past chief of the chaplain service for the VA Boston Healthcare System and national chaplain of Vietnam Veterans of America, Father Salois was not a chaplain or even a priest when he and Klug ran into a firefight 60 miles northeast of Saigon to rescue several members of his unit in the Army's 199th Light Infantry Brigade and to retrieve the body of Bowell, who had been killed in action.

It was then that Father Salois told God, "If you bring me back safe and sound, I'll do anything you want." He was one of only seven members of the 27-man unit who "didn't receive a scratch" that day. It took him a while to realize that God wanted him to become a priest and he was ordained in 1984. He has devoted much of his priesthood to helping veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Beginning the Healing Process

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial… can be a big part of the healing process for survivors of the Vietnam War, in which more than 58,000 Americans died. About 4 million people visit the memorial each year, making it one of the most visited monuments on the National Mall in Washington.

Read more: Vietnam Memorial Helps Veterans Find Healing

Called to Action for Justice

Editor: Amy Woolam Echeverria is the International Coordinator of the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Missionary Society of St. Columban.

Untitled-1Bishops at the Synod in Vatican City in 1971

“Justice attains its inner fullness only in love. Because every person is truly a visible image of the invisible God and a sibling of Christ, the Christian finds in every person God himself and God's absolute demand for justice and love.” (Synod of Bishops, Justice in the World, 1971, #34).

Written at a time of great global social and political upheaval and on the heels of the Second Vatican Council, we hear the Church calling for a radical restructuring of the world where the first will be last and the last will be first (Mat 20:16) and where we define our neighbor not by nationality, race, or creed, but by a love that impels us to be in relationship in the world especially with the vulnerable and marginalized.

Read more: Called to Action for Justice


Editor: This is the summary version of the report. The full report is available at the conclusion of this article (in downloadable PDF format).

(Vatican Radio, October 14, 2014) As discussion at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family got underway Monday morning, it was announced that the second phase of this process – next year’s Ordinary Synod – will be held October 4-25, 2015, and will have theme: The vocation and mission of the family in the church and the modern world.

Untitled-1Following the announcement the General Rapporteur, Cardinal Peter Erdő, presented the mid-term report outlining the main questions highlighted over the past week of General Congregations which will now be examined in by the bishops, fraternal delegates, auditors and experts in the ‘minor circles’ or small working groups.

Cardinal Erdő began by highlighting that the Synod Fathers spoke of how Jesus looked at men and women with love, accompanying them patiently and with mercy. He spoke of how Jesus Christ, "the Truth, became incarnate in human fragility not to condemn it, but to heal it”. Jesus – he said - taught marriage was indissoluble, but showed understanding of those who didn't live up to this ideal.


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La Salette Missionaries, Province of Mary, Mother of the Americas

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.”

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