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She Whom God Called "Mother"

Untitled-1Madonna of the Streets (or Madonnina, "Little Mother") by Roberto Ferruzzi (1854-1934)It is beautiful, it is worthy and beneficial to discourse at length on the title of the Blessed Virgin - the Immaculate Conception, the Divine Motherhood, Assumption, Mediation, Co-Redemptrix - if never forget that this Great Woman of all ages, called “blessed”, was also the lovely girl that her friends simply called Mary.

Mary – A Most Special Little Girl


We knew who she was, but, then again, we don’t know. We knew she was the only daughter of an old couple loved by Anne and Joachim and their neighbors. With them the small town of Nazareth certainly had jumped for joy the day their little girl was born.

Mary being their first-born, it may have appeared to them that God was not favoring them since being childless was seen as an infamous curse. Yet no doubt Anne and Joachim frequently engaged in fasting and praying, hoping, even in their old age, that God would finally bless them with new life.

We can imagine that God, since the very creation of the world, had sat down to think with more delicacy and attention before God created that very special soul – in many ways so special. Then, having completed this masterpiece, God resolved never again to create any similar person because, after all, God was creating the soul of the mother of God’s only Son. 

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Immigration Myths

Untitled-1Impressions can be dangerous, especially if they are unfounded. Here are some common myths about immigration which every Catholic should know and which you may find interesting.

 

MYTH: Immigrants increase the Crime Rate

 

FACT: Recent research has shown that immigrant communities do not increase the crime rate and that newly arriving immigrants tend to commit fewer crimes than native born Americans. Ruben Rumbaut, a professor of sociology at Brandeis University, found that “even as the undocumented population has doubled to 12 million since 1994, the violent crime rate in the United States has declined 34.2 percent and the property crime rate has fallen 26.4 percent.”

 

Cities where there are high levels of immigrants, such as New York, Chicago and Miami experienced declines in violent crime during this period. Other cities with numerous immigrants, such as El Paso and Laredo, are among the country’s safest cities to live in.


Untitled-2(Source: Immigration Policy Center, “Immigrants and Crime: Are They Connected,” December, 2007, Ruben Rumbaut and Walter Ewing, The Myth of Immigrant Criminality and the Paradox of Assimilation (Washington, DC: American Immigration Law Foundation, 2007); Radley Balko, “The El Paso Miracle,” ReasonOnline, July 6, 2009,

MYTH: Immigrants Don’t Pay Taxes

 

Read more: Immigration Myths

New Martyrs of the Twentieth Century

Untitled-1Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the Tiber Island, one of the first inhabited areas of the ancient city of Rome. Often we hear about the martyrs and perhaps we think of the early Christian martyrs and the persecutions by the Roman emperors such as Nero from 64-68 AD. Of course, the persecution of Christians has continued through the Middle Ages up to this present day.

New Christian Martyrs


From wikipedia we learn about the background of the new display: “In 1999, anticipating the celebration of the Jubilee 2000, Pope John Paul II created a Commission to the study the life and history of the New Christian Martyrs of the 20th Century. For two years the Commission worked in the Basilica of St. Bartholomew, collecting approximately 12,000 dossiers on martyrs and witnesses of faith from dioceses all around the world.


“Among the fruits of this study was the ecumenical prayer at the Coliseum, when the Pope gathered with several representatives of various Christian Churches during the Jubilee celebrations. The event revealed that the multitude of Christian believers killed or persecuted in the last century is like a continent still waiting to be explored, a heritage that all Christian denominations share.

Read more: New Martyrs of the Twentieth Century

The Nun Study

Untitled-1Rev. Myles N. Sheehan, S.J., M.D.In the first years of the 20th century, Alois Alzheimer, a German neurologist, cared for a middle-aged woman with a marked personality change, characterized by bizarre behavior and memory loss. This woman died about five years after he first met her, years characterized by an inexorable decline to a final stage in which she was bed-bound, required total care and was unable to communicate meaningfully. After her death, Dr. Alzheimer studied the brain of his patient and described the changes in intellect, behavior and brain structure that characterize the disease now known by his name.

Alzheimer’s disease is a particular type of dementia. Dementia, when used as a diagnostic term in medicine, refers to the progressive loss of cognitive function in an individual. Thus dementing illnesses affect memory, language, the ability to recognize and name individuals, sense of direction, personality and other aspects of what it means for us to think and reason.

There are various kinds of dementing illnesses, but Alzheimer’s is by far the most common. (Others include vascular dementia from multiple strokes and very unusual dementias like those caused by mad cow disease.)

Read more: The Nun Study

LIVING IN THE PRESENT MOMENT

Untitled-1As a man approaching my 70s, I have been reflecting on my life as I often look back to the treasured memories of my childhood, my parents, my friends and neighbors of long ago. Their presence lingers still in the warm memories of my youth.

In all of these memories, I have been somewhat puzzled by my initial reaction to my mother’s stoke and her eventually succumbing to Alzheimer's disease. In her healthier days, her warmth, attention and love lifted me up whenever I visited her.

When I eventually visited her in the nursing home and finally realized that she no longer remembered me as her son but merely as a nice man, I was initially crushed and felt so awkward when I visited her. With the onset of her Alzheimer's, my relationship with her changed and, in fact, I changed.

These thoughts and feelings all came to the surface recently when I read an insightful passage from the contemporary spiritual author, Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen, in his book entitled, “Aging.”

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Life and Dignity of the Human Person

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 Scripture:

Untitled-1From 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)”

 

From our Catholic Tradition:

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.

 

From Pope Francis: 

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Common Ground in Caring for Nature

Untitled-1In 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.

The Seed Sprouts

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.

Read more: Common Ground in Caring for Nature

Learning from the University of Life

Untitled-1I 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.

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A Parable of the Church

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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.

 

With Mary’s Example to Guide Us

 

Read more: A Parable of the Church

Coloring Our Earth Green

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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.

 

Native Americans’ Reverence for the Earth

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.

Read more: Coloring Our Earth Green

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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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