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Pope Francis in a Poncho

Untitled-1Pope Francis during his visit to the PhilippinesEditor: Pope Francis, in his visit to the Philippines, had an outdoor Mass on Feb. 15, 2015, on a rain-soaked day at Tacloban Airport with about 150,000 worshippers. Insisting to use a yellow Poncho, also passed out to the vast crowd, he quickly put aside his prepared homily. He spoke spontaneously to many in the crowd who had lost everything in the recent typhoon, in which four million Filipino people became homeless and 10,000 died.

Jesus Became Sin for Love of Us

In the first reading, we heard that we have a great priest capable of sympathizing with out weakness, who in every respect has been tempted as we are… (cf. Heb 4:15). Jesus is like us. Jesus lived as we do.

He is like us in everything. In everything but sin, for he was not a sinner. But to be even more like us, he took upon himself our sins. He became sin! This is what Paul tells us, and it was something that he knew well. Jesus goes before us always; when we experience any kind of cross, he was already there before us.

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Justice – The Call of the Gospel

Editor: This is the conclusion of Fr. Donald Senior’s talk, given during the 2014 U.S. Catholic Mission Association Annual Conference, held in Alexandria, VA, Oct. 24, 2014, directed by our own Fr. Jack Nuelle, M.S., Director of the U.S. Catholic Mission Association. The La Salette Missionaries were one of the four major sponsors of this conference.

Untitled-1Fr. Donald Senior, C.P., S.T.D. (Photo: Rev. Arthur Carillo, CP)It should be clear... that Pope Paul VI's famous declaration that "justice is constitutive of the Gospel" and the renewal of that call to a mission of justice in Pope Francis’ “The Joy of the Gospel” are neither novel innovations nor a modern trend, but a restatement of the Christian heritage as old as the biblical witness.

The social mission of the Church is not one topic among many; it strikes at the heart of the Christian witness; it is essential to an understanding of the very nature of the Gospel. To believe this and to be committed to it calls for constant conversion of heart.

Indeed, the Catholic Church is blessed with an incredible and powerful heritage of social teaching − teaching eloquently affirmed from the time of Pope Leo XXIII down to the most recent encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis’ exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel.” The source and inspiration for that social teaching − even when it is not stated in biblical terms — is rooted in our Scriptures.

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Pope Francis, Climate Change and the Poor

Untitled-1Pope Francis speaks often about the poor being effected by climate changeHopefully it is not a secret to Catholics and others interested in the movements of the Catholic Church that Pope Francis will place a significant emphasis on the issue of global climate change this year. For more than a year the Vatican has been hinting that Francis will release a Papal encyclical on climate change in early 2015. He will also tie the issue into a visit to the Philippines this month where he will meet with people still recovering from Typhoon Haiyan, a mega storm that wreaked unprecedented havoc on the Pacific nation.

The media attention on Pope Francis’ climate change focus is beginning to grow, which is exciting. But there is something that worries me.

Too often in today’s polarized media, conversations about the environment and Catholic faith quickly digress to divisive political opinions and extreme perspectives. They fail to recognize the “faith” behind Francis’ engagement in the issue of global climate change. An example reported on by Media Matters , which analyzes a Fox News story on the upcoming encyclical highlights this fact, but it is not just Fox News that is making this mistake. An op-ed entitled “Should we heed the pope over global warming call?” published in many metropolitan newspapers recently, offers two perspectives on climate change but makes the same mistake.

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Embracing All Religions

Untitled-1The light display near the entrance to the Attleboro Shrine with its various religious symbols during this year’s Christmas Festival of Lights.Editor: La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, as it's done for so long, again displayed a white Star of David, a blue cross and the religious symbol of Islam in one of its signature displays near the entrance to the Shrine during its 61st annual Festival of Lights. But the inclusion of the Islamic symbol, this year, came under fire from some visitors.

Attleboro – The 61st Festival of Lights held at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro, has just come to an end. Thousands of lights, for the past five weeks, have been welcoming visitors and pilgrims, inviting them to come closer to the One who is the Light of life (John 8:12).

A further occasion to reflect on the meaning of Christmas came from critical comments shared by some visitors regarding the display of the religious symbol of Islam between a white Star of David and a blue cross. We should be grateful for such comments as they can deepen our understanding of this liturgical time and its pastoral repercussions.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”