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Social Media and Our Catholic Faith



We as Catholics believe that Jesus is the Word of God and our call as Church is be evangelizers – people who share the excitement and challenge of faith to others. And since we are urged by Mary at La Salette to make her message (and that of her Son) known, our call to communicate to others is central to our baptismal call.

In this modern age, we are surrounded and sometimes bombarded by electronics – computers, smart phones, ipads and tablets – and social media possibilities like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like. Yet the Catholic Church and our Popes for the last fifty years have emphasized that there is a rightful place for these opportunities to be used in the service of God and the Church.

1963 – A Signature Effort to Appreciate Communication

Read more: Social Media and Our Catholic Faith

Principles of Christian Living

Fr. G. Gregory Gay, C.M., Superior General
of the Congregation of the Mission, meets
with Pope Francis after his audience with
the 800 Superiors General in Paul VI Hall
in the Vatican.

Editor: Since his election as Pope on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis has shown in word and deed what it means to be a truly Christ-like follower of Jesus. Over this past year he has outlined a new mindset for the Church; namely that all Christians need to be more conformed to the words and witness of Jesus.

Logically yet remarkably, his vision for Christian living applies to himself, to others in authority in the Church, as well as to laity across the world. Although his brief words on May 3, 2013, were addressed to the Superior General of Religious Orders worldwide – the “upper echelon” of Religious dignitaries – they apply well to every member of the Church universal.

The Centrality of Christ and of His Gospel

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). It is Christ who called you to follow him… and this means continuously making an “exodus” from yourselves in order to center your life on Christ and on his Gospel, on the will of God, laying aside your own plans… This “exodus” from ourselves (and following God’s will) means setting out on a path of adoration and service. The exodus leads us on a journey of adoring the Lord and of serving him in our brothers and sisters. To adore and to serve: two attitudes that cannot be separated, but must always go hand in hand. To adore the Lord and to serve others, keeping nothing for oneself: this is the “self-emptying” of whoever exercises (their faith).

Read more: Principles of Christian Living

Catholic Tribute to Mandela

Untitled-1Johannesburg – "Let us now sing the praises of famous men, great men in their generations... They ruled their governments wisely, were known for their valour. Their counsel displayed wisdom, they saw things from afar” (Ecclesiasticus 44:1-3).

"With these words we, the Catholic Church in Southern Africa, express our gratitude to Tata Mandela for the sacrifice he made for all peoples of South Africa and for the leadership and inspiration he gave in leading us on the path of reconciliation", writes his His Exc. Stephen Brislin, Archbishop of Cape Town and President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC), in the message of condolence sent to Nelson Mandela’s family, the historic leader of the struggle against apartheid and the first President of democratic South Africa, who died Dec. 5, 2013, at the age of 95.

In the message, sent to Fides Agency, Archbishop Brislin stresses that Mandela "never compromised on his principles and vision for a democratic and just South Africa where all have equal opportunities, even at the great cost to his own freedom".

Read more: Catholic Tribute to Mandela

Protecting Filipino Children

In response to the devastation of Typhoon
Haiyanin the Philippines, UNICEF set up
special programs and facilities for
protecting children. (Photo: UNICEF)

Cebu (Agenzia Fides, Vatican City) - Children are the most vulnerable to violence, exploitation and abuse and need more protection. A month after Typhoon Haiyan, Plan Internacional, one of the world's largest international NGO that deals with safeguarding the rights of children, is collaborating with the Philippine State with regards to a recovery program.

Currently there are eight million displaced children on the islands who are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect. The NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) has set up various "Child-friendly Spaces", supported by staff and volunteers who offer children a place where to play, learn, receive psychological support and be able to say what happened, but in a safe environment. The primary objective is to protect the rights of children and help the children return to school.

Read more: Protecting Filipino Children

Fighting Poverty

Happy children in the soup kitchen
of our Mission Catholique in
Ankavandra, Madagascar

After colonial regimes began to crumble and give way to many independent, self-governing counties, especially in Africa and Asia, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB) were lending them sizeable sums of money for local development.

Easy Money Can Equal Enslavement

Problems created by this “easy money” for these countries were multifold – the money-making infrastructures of the colonial period were dissolved, corruption was proliferated by inept and greedy officials, nationalization of industries discouraged future private investment, nepotism and favoritism eroded sound governance, direction and financial accountability.

A few years later, especially after irresponsible regimes were replaced, these countries were answerable for exorbitant interest and capital payments. What had seemed to be a means of liberation became a source of even greater enslavement and poverty.

Forgiving Debt

Read more: Fighting Poverty

2015 Dedicated to Religious Life

Pope Francis, Time Magazine’s
2014 Person of the Year

The year 2015 will be dedicated to consecrated life, which "is prophecy". Pope Francis made the announcement at an audience with 120 superiors generals attending the 82nd General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General that ended today in Rome. During the three-hour meeting, the Union said in a press release, Pope Francis gave a speech but also took part in a question-and-answer session.

For the pope, a radical approach is required of all Christians, but men and women religious are called upon to follow the Lord in a special way, because they "can awaken the world. Consecrated life is prophecy. God asks us to fly (from) the nest and be sent to the frontiers of the world, avoiding the temptation to 'domesticate' them. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord.”

When asked about the state of vocations, the Holy Father emphasized that there are young Churches which are bearing new fruit. This naturally gives rise to a re-evaluation of the inculturation of charism, following the example of Matteo Ricci (an Italian Jesuit). Intercultural dialogue calls for people with various cultural backgrounds, expressing different ways of living charism, to join the governance of religious institutes.

Francis insisted upon the importance of education, which he presented as based on four fundamental types of training, namely spiritual, intellectual, communitarian and apostolic training. At the same time, it is vital to avoid every form of hypocrisy and clericalism through frank and open dialogue on all aspects of life.

Read more: 2015 Dedicated to Religious Life

On the Shoulders of Giants

War Memorial in the center of Attleboro, MA

I love the idea that we are all “standing on the shoulders of giants.” This is particularly true when thinking of those who have given their life for the cause of freedom.

Each year we have various days commemorating those in military service who have gone before us, whether Memorial Day (in May), D-Day (June 6th), Independence Day (July 4th), our own Massachusetts celebration of Patriot Day (September), December 7th (Pearl Harbor Memorial), or other memorials. These days often bring to mind those who have fought for the freedoms we perhaps too often take for granted.

Recently I happened to stop by the Veteran’s Memorial in the center of Attleboro out of simple curiosity. I wanted to see if there were any of my family name who died in various wars over the past century. I was surprised to find the names of several relatives who died in World War II, and in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

The City of Ypres, Belgium – World War I

Over my lifetime I have had the privilege to visit three places which were directly involved in several wars. The first was Ypres, an ancient city in western Belgium (the Flemish Province of West Flanders), the center of intense and sustained battles between Allied and German forces from 1914 to 1917.

Read more: On the Shoulders of Giants

Thou Shalt Not Be Comfortable

For several years now I have been telling my students, the people in the Christian community where I preside at Eucharist regularly, and my spiritual directees — perhaps ad nauseam —that there is actually an eleventh commandment in addition to Untitled-1the standard ten. This commandment is “Thou shalt not be comfortable.”

Over the years I have come to realize that when I really am challenged to change or grow that is when God is especially present in my life and has in store a special blessing for me. I’m not always happy about this. I’m kind of like the character Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof.” I want to say that I’m grateful that I belong to God’s chosen people, but that sometimes I wish that God would choose someone else!

But over the years I believe that, like Paul Tillich, (the renowned Protestant theologian) says, God works most effectively on the “boundaries” of our lives — the boundaries of faith and doubt, of health and sickness, of Christianity and other religions, of comfort and discomfort.(1)

Tintern Abbey by J. M. W. Turner

I love the image of God, first suggested to me in a prayer by Pierre Talec, as an “Alpine guide.” (2) We are not called so much as to be happy in our lives as to be people of great and deep joy and freedom. God is a challenging God, challenging us to climb higher, to perhaps risk a bit more, to trek farther than we would naturally. But at the end the blessing is a fuller life, a deeper capacity for experience.

I have found this deeper and richer life as I’ve struggled with other languages and other cultures, worked through an always lingering lack of confidence in my abilities, risked working on a PhD and getting a position at a major theological school, begun to write and speak around the country and around the world, and faced major health issues in my life, especially in the last several years.

Tony Gittins images God as “A Presence That Disturbs.” The reference of this image is a line from William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey”:

. . . And I have felt
a presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns . . . (3)

Read more: Thou Shalt Not Be Comfortable

The Vatican Internet Service

Mgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, from Santa
Fe, Argentina, head of the Vatican
Internet Service since 1997

The morning after Cardinal Bergoglio was elected Pope, he ran to a shop and purchased a white iPad which he immediately called "iPapapad", which was given to Francis on the morning of March 16, at the end of the Pope's audience with journalists. Forty-eight-year-old, Mgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, from Santa Fe, Argentina, has been working as the head of the Vatican Internet Service since 1997. Basically, he is the Pope's webmaster.

He served the Congregation for the Clergy for a number of years, building the website and looking after the technical side of teleconferences – a sort of theological forum which brought together theology experts from all around the world around the same table in one morning. As of 2009, Msgr. Ruiz has been Head of the Office of the Vatican Internet Service and telecommunications department and is in charge of the Vatican's entire web service.

"We are like a border control office," the Pope's webmaster said. We are the part of the chain that has to provide the technology and support necessary for the Pope's message, teachings and gestures to get to the furthermost corner of the world. In a way, we are the arms, legs and digital voice of the Pope.

Untitled-2But we are not the only ones ensuring the Pope's active online presence, we are a big family, which includes the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Press Office, the Vatican Television Centre, Vatican Radio and the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. Communication is carefully studied, thought out, prepared and produced, in the awareness that this family is assisting the Pope in his Petrine ministry."

Read more: The Vatican Internet Service

Learning to Pray

As if it were yesterday, I remember when my mother, of French-Canadian descent, having first taught me how to say my prayers in English, then asked if I wanted to learn them also in French! I was amazed that God understood French too. After all, Untitled-1I was only six years old at the time. About a year later, my mother even taught me how to say the rosary – with its repetition of Our Father’s, Hail, Mary’s, and Glory Be’s. All this was so fascinating to a slight-of-build young redhead of a boy going to Catholic School.

As the years went by, I developed a habit of prayer, each morning and evening kneeling at the side of my bed and “saying my prayers.” In school, I distinctly remember Sister Mary Grace, our First Grade Teacher (remarkably still alive in her late 90’s), who said one day that praying was simply speaking to God. She said that we could even use our own words. This was a revelation to me since I thought God would only listen to the “official words” of our formal prayers that we were all taught to use. That more personal approach felt much easier for me to do, but I always said my formal prayers too.

In my teen and early adult years, I discovered that God wants us to pray from where we are; that is, to pray from the real surroundings of life and not just from some ideal world where problems or challenges can never touch us. When I have just spent some time with a family who has lost their first-born at the hospital, my prayer should be different from the prayer on a peaceful Thanksgiving Day with my family and friends.

Read more: Learning to Pray

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

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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.”


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