There is nothing that confounds the wisdom of this world so completely as the report of a supernatural apparition. Scientific progress has intoxicated humanity with a sense of its own importance until it has come to believe that nothing lies outside the range of human intelligence.
To the modern mind, anything that evades the chemist's retort, the physicist’s microscope or the astronomer's telescope is purest unreality. It doesn't exist except as a figment of the mind, and the entire field of actuality is an open book to humanity's intelligence.
Out of This World
But with beautifully timed irony Divine Providence intervenes from time to time to effect a work that defies the created intellect to assign its cause. So today Lourdes with its series of miracles annoys the scientist, and the visionary of Konnersreuth, Germany, Therese Neumann (1898-1962), proves quite exasperating. The learned scientists and philosophers of modern thought have not the humility to admit the reality of anything that cannot be touched or weighed and labelled with technical formulae.
Mary serves as a powerful example and model of her capacity to recognize what God is doing in our lives. Her Magnificat is precisely this: Mary’s personal experience of God’s action in herself and in her people. This consciousness compels her to break out into simple and wholly inspired praise, bodily proclaiming the undimmed truth about God, who “has done great things” in her as well as in the whole universe (John Paul II, RedemptorisRedemptoris Mater , #37).
Mary was truly attuned to what God was accomplishing. Could we not write our own Magnificat – on a personal level and on a community level?
The Garden of Paradise by Anne Anderson; (1874-1930)
If there is one thing that a human beings should stop and ponder at their leisure, it is the fact of God's unending benevolence. God's determination, if we may so speak, to save humanity and have us enjoy the happiness of eternity, strikes the mind with astounding force. God will not let us go.
Supremely happy Himself, He has heaped blessing upon blessing on us from the day He drew us from the clay. We, however, almost as determinately, have fled from God. He sought by every means in his power to get away from that love of God, as if he could find happiness anywhere else. The poet, Francis Thompson has described the process with an understanding that amounts almost to inspiration:
"I fled Him down the nights and down the days; / I fled Him down the arches of the years. / I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways, / Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears / I hid from Him and under running laughter Up vistaed hopes I sped: / From those strong feet that followed, followed after."
We walked in the Garden
God created us and placed us in a garden of delights. We are told that God walked and talked with Adam in that garden, but even that did not hold us. We sinned. God sent his only-begotten Son to take on human nature so that we could satisfy God's justice. Some of us laughed and went the way that to them seemed more pleasant – the way of sin.
God then sent Mary to renew the battle for the conquest of these souls. Mary has come to our earth many times but only once in a direct appeal to our hearts, to turn to our God, and return love for love.
Human hopes never arrive in absolute success which fully quenches the thirst for peace and happiness. The sentiment that nothing can correspond to what one hopes, seems always is the way and returns always. However, human beings brings in themselves an untiring energy toward hope, the irrespressible soul that allows the building of history.
The Three Theological Virtues – Faith, Hope, and Charity
It is not as if we separate the "three theological sisters" – the virtues of faith, hope and charity. Faith is the base. Love is the way. Hope is the compass that indicates the terminal point of the journey of life in the light of the Word of God.
The virtue of hope is a gift, like a divine response to human desires. It is the root of the religious experience of Abraham and the history of the people of God, lived in the light of the Promise. Christ, however, by his words and his life has pointed us toward the infinite horizons of the meaning of Abraham's hope – not a people as numerous as the stars of heaven, but truly the Kingdom of God.
“In” the World But Not “of” the World
The Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium, signals the grandeur and the importance of hope for the Church. Christians know that, here below, they do not have a permanent home. That is why they actively look for the future home, by seeking to live "in the hope of new heavens and of new earth where justice resides." (2 Peter 3:13; Hebrews 11:10,13-14; Philippians 3:20). The Letter to Diogenes speaks of this: "The Christians live in these their countries, but as transients.. they live on the land, but their city is in heaven... They are in the world, but not of the world."
Bro. Donald Wininski. M.S., hold his new painting of “St. Joseph with the Child Jesus”
We thank Brother Donald for bringing his painting of Saint Joseph to the chapel this morning. It brings two important pieces of today’s celebration together: The role of St Joseph in our lived faith and the role of our religious brothers in the life of our community. In fact the person of St. Joseph and our La Salette Religious Brothers go together very well.
We certainly know Joseph from the many Christmas cards we receive. He is either traveling with Mary on their way to Bethlehem, or standing quietly, sometimes holding a lamp in the stable, looking at the Child Jesus. Sometimes we know Joseph from the holy cards we know, similar to the recent painting by our La Salette Brother Donald Wininski, M.S.
A Faithful Presence
Thousands of babies are baptized Joseph each year, yet Joseph never speaks a word throughout the Gospel and by the second chapter of the gospel of Luke, with the finding of Jesus in the temple, he disappears. Yet he still has great sway in the life of the church, even though silent and off-stage.
Our La Salette Brothers are very similar to St. Joseph in that they work, do their job – sometimes in the background – but what they do is important to our La Salette life and ministry. I would like to offer some similarities between our honored St. Joseph and our own La Salette Brothers.
The Art of Accompaniment
First, our Brothers are men of accompaniment. This is the word, that Pope Francis loves so much to describe the role of the Church. Like St. Joseph, the Church is to accompany people on their journey of life. Pope Francis wants to remind the Church of this so much that he inserted Joseph’s name into the Eucharistic Prayer.
Pilgrims process around the Apparition site on the Holy MountainEditor: This article was originally given on the occasion of Profession of Vows of several La Salette Seminarians, perhaps in the 1950s.
On the solemn occasion of our First Religious Profession when we initially pronounced our simple vows at the hands of Very Reverend Father General’s delegate and in the very presence·of·our Eucharistic Lord, we formally became members of the La Salette family.
Early in life we received the call from on high to become the favored sons of our·Weeping Mother. It is a wondrous favor we at times do not sufficiently appreciate. We must have a legitimate sense of pride in being sons of Mary of La Salette and in having been chosen among a million other possible candidates for the spreading of her tearful message is woefully lacking.
We are not always loyal to the ideals of La Salette and perhaps undeservedly criticize our members and our slow development.
The La Salette “Esprit de Corps”
A strong “esprit de corps” – a spirit of solidarity – is needed if we are successfully to popularize Mary's message. We are all – from the humblest professed religious lay-brother to the Superior General himself – members of a large religious family canonically approved by the Church and frequently blessed by its spiritual head, the Pope of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on earth.
"A meeting in order to deepen our faith as persons and to strengthen more definitely our mission as La Salette Laity for a reconciled world."
It is through this short phrase that I would like to briefly describe what has been lived through the second meeting of the La Salette Laity which took place at La Salette Shrine in France in October 2016.
Everything that was part of the studies, reflections and actions, as well as every human relation and expression of community which we were able to feel in our hearts, as well as in the silence and spirituality emanating from the Holy Mountain of La Salette always reveals a strong presence, full of tenderness of Mary, the Mother of Reconciliation. Absolutely everything has contributed to the accomplishment of the 2nd International Encounter of La Salette Laity and to the attainment of its objectives.
Many years ago, I participated in an Enneagram Basics weekend in Dayton, Ohio. I was intrigued by the Enneagram System and, for me, this experience of self-discovery was the beginning of a grace-filled journey.
In the following months, I participated in three other weekends entitled Enneagram and Spirituality. Ever since, I have greatly enjoyed reading and studying the system and its implications in human life, in relationships, and especially in spirituality.
At our Retreat Center in Attleboro, I have conducted workshops myself in the hope of helping others derive as much benefit from the Enneagram and in the hope of sharing my own discovery and growth with others. The Enneagram has proven to be a true gift from God to me.
An Enneagram View of Life
The Enneagram teaches that much of what we are is due to our very early childhood education and, in large part, to our own early conscious and unconscious choices of behavior with which we were secure and by which we protected ourselves from the outer "threatening" world. This system helped me discover very concrete things about myself:
When the two shepherd children of La Salette, Maximin and Melanie, first saw "the Beautiful Lady" of the Apparition. a great fear came upon them. The little girl dropped her pastoral staff in sudden awe and wonderment, and the boy spoke encouragement to her that he little felt himself.
It was the old dread of the unknown that so often paralyzes the human heart and robs it of strength and happiness. It was only when Our Blessed Mother arose and spoke those comforting words, "Come near, my children, be not afraid!", it was only then that their courage came, warming back to their hearts, and they had strength to draw close to her – so close they tell us afterwards, that a third person could not have passed between them and the radiant Visitor from heaven.
They felt a great peace in their hearts, a strange and wondrous happiness that held them ecstatically unconscious of the passing of time, as they stood there eating the words of the queenly Messenger. Fear melted from their hearts just as the cold chill of winter is dispelled by the searching rays of the June day sun – and a great calm and peace flooded their souls.
The Dark Shadow of Fear
How often is not this experience of the children at La Salette repeated in the life of every person! So many times the human heart is chilled, with cold fear of impending evil. The shadow of a future cross casts its gloom across our pathway and darkens prematurely the happiness of our soul.
St. Don Bosco (1815-1888) in Torino, Italy in 1880The . . . canonization of Don Bosco adds one more name to the list of saints who have been devout clients of our Lady of La Salette and champions of her cause from the earliest days. Instinctively, his saintly soul welcomed this message from heaven and made it a favorite theme of his sermons and conferences, besides an inspiration for his own personal sanctity.
The Challenges of Don Bosco’s Early Ministry
In 1846, Father John Bosco was a young priest, thirty years of age, just inaugurating his wondrous work among the youth in the vicinity of Turin, Italy. Harassed by difficulties on all sides that would have discouraged a less valiant heart, he went about seeking a kindly refuge for his small flock. Unsympathetic neighbors finding his troop of youngsters too noisy and lively for their own comfort, chased him from one shelter to another, until at last he was able to establish himself permanently in Turin at a place since become famous under the name of the Oratory.
He Discovered La Salette
It was in such circumstances that the news of the wondrous Apparition of Mary at La Salette came to the ears of Don Bosco. In Italy, as in France, the daily newspapers carried long articles describing the great event, and the name of La Salette was on everyone's lips. The saintly soul of Don Bosco sensed immediately what an incomparable grace heaven had accorded the world in the blessed apparition, and he lost no time in acquainting his little community with all the details.