Spirituality and Charism

Editor: Most of this summary is based on a pamphlet originally published in 1946 by the Diocese of Grenoble, France, in honor of the 100th anniversary of the La Salette Apparition (edited).

 

What is the Event of La Salette?


A Mountain – an Apparition – a Place of Pilgrimage
 

1) La Salette is a mountain – Towering some 1,810 meters – almost 6,000 feet – above sea level, it is Untitled-1General overview of Holy Mountain in France located in southeastern France. It resides in the department of Isère and Canton of Corps, between the Drac and Valbonnais Passes, above the small village of La Salette, from which the apparition takes it name. It is a majestic and severe site, grandiose and barren, conducive to meditation on the power of the Creator and the drama of redemption. Many poets have spoken of it as a new Sinai, a new Calvary.

2) La Salette is an apparition – In the afternoon of September 19, 1846, two small cowherders from Corps, Maximin Giraud and Melanie Mathieu, were guarding their herd on the mountaintop, near a ravine called Sézia. Suddenly there appeared a swirling globe of light. Within it they could see a "Beautiful Lady" in tears, seated, beautifully clothed, wearing a crucifix radiating light. She stood and spoke to them for half an hour, and then left, rising and disappearing into the sky.

As I learned in High School English Class when reading William Wordsworth, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Robert Frost has his own description: “Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

Whatever we believe about poetry, it can have many possible sources – truth, beauty, faith, emotions. The following are poems about the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. Some of these were also put to song and are in the pantheon of La Salette Hymns.

We invite you to read the following poems and see what these words stir up in your heart.

 

From Fr. James P. O’Reilly, M.S. (1913-2008)
as listed in Cyril Rober’s, Our Lady's Praise in Poetry.
(Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944):

 

A Song of La Salette
by Fr. James P. O’Reilly, M.S.

Untitled-1-RecoveredOn flower-enamelled peak of Dauphine
The lilting voice of nature's Mistress rings,
And quickly a sweet water-music springs
From streamlet sadly mute until this day.
Nature unfolds a carpet blue and green
Before this light which makes the sun to pale,
Forget-me-not, blue gentian, violet frail,
A color-rhapsody sing to their Queen.

All round, the vast and snow-capped mountains rise
Like stairs that beckon to eternal halls;
Beyond the birds and trees their purple walls
Go steeply up into the noonday skies.
Below, the cataracting torrents lead
Down craters dense with fir and silver pine;
On sloping meadows browse the peaceful kine,
The fertile loam lies harrowed for the seed.

In his inspiring book, Mercy: the Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian People, Cardinal Walter Casper speaks about mercy, giving us a widened and deepened appreciation of the concept and pastoral reality of God’s mercy.
Untitled-1Cardinal Walter Casper, well-respected German Roman Catholic theologian, born in 1933.
My own experience of having been brought up in a La Salette Parish from my earliest years meant that I heard the phrase, “Mary’s merciful apparition at La Salette”, literally thousands of times during sermons, Novenas, Stations of the Cross, and in our Catholic Grammar School classroom.

Yet as I progressed through Catechism classes and entered the nearby La Salette Seminary, it did seem quite beyond my understanding that God is all-powerful and yet is also just and merciful. Of course, the problem of evil continued to bother me; namely, if God is omnipotent and so merciful, then why do people – even good people – suffer? How can God be just and yet be “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4)?

 

Recent Popes on Mercy

 Pope John XXIII during the speech to open the Second Vatican Council, said: “Nowadays… the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity.” 


Pope St. John Paul II’s second encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), was published in 1980 and reminded us that “justice alone is not enough” (#12). It needs to balanced by mercy. Early in his encyclical he also acknowledged that “Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has” (#9).

Pope Francis, in his Angelus Message of March 17, 2013 said:

Editor: This is part two (of two) of a presentation given by Fr. Donald Paradis, M.S., in October of 2005 to a gathering of La Salette Formation Personnel at our Shrine in Attleboro, MA. The first presentation is titled, “Our La Salette DNA”.
Untitled-1Fr. Donald Paradis, M.S., (1932-2015)
Without putting the text of our present Constitutions and Norms into a computer along with all the Rules in our jagged La Salette history, let us ask what elements of significance – as distinctive to our religious La Salette family – have come down to us intact, or perhaps merely clothed in slightly different language?

Exploring our Call and Mission as La Salettes


What about “refounding” – about which much was said by religious in the late twentieth century but which experts in the matter were quick to qualify as extremely difficult to bring about?

Concerning obstacles to our proper centering of and exploration of our life and charism, Fr. François Denaz (1811-1857), an early La Salette, had listed three principal ills, reminiscent of those presented in 1 John 2:15-16:

 

“Do not love the world or the things of the world. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eye, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world.

Untitled-1 Bishop Philippe de Bruillard blesses the Apparition in 1851Editor: This is part one (of two) of a presentation given by Fr. Donald Paradis, M.S., in October of 2005 to a gathering of La Salette Formation Personnel at our Shrine in Attleboro, MA. His second presentation is titled, “What Makes a La Salette?”

More than a century and half after the La Salette Apparition, we are asking questions and wondering. But we are here. How did we get here? Is the roadmap bequeathed to us somehow incomplete?

 

Our La Salette Legacy

 

What carried our heroic La Salette predecessors in their day? Was it new ministries? When they migrated to the United States in 1892, in no significant way did the La Salette Missionaries innovate where their ministries were concerned. With the possible exception of their greater willingness to take on the pastoral care of the faithful in parishes, they did not step out of the familiar and time-tested parameters? Should they have been expected to do so?

What has been handed down to us? What is our “La Salette DNA”? It seems that a number of distinctive traits are discernable. Among these are:

 

Untitled-1The Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette, on September 19, 1846, carries with it the signs of the Cross of Our Lord. In this particular event, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, appears as the Mother of Sorrows at the foot of the Cross of her Son, the Cross that she carries on her breast. She weeps because of her people who continue to crucify Jesus.

 

French Life and People in 1846

 

The people of La Salette lived in a human situation of misery because of the famine that brought death to many persons in the region. It was also a deplorable situation from the moral and religious point of view, because indifference, unbelief and blasphemy were widespread and deeply rooted in the life of the people. 


Mary’s tears, her lamentations and the Cross she carried on her breast, reveal the pains that she suffers because of her children who have strayed from the ways of the Lord. Her incessant call that her people live the spirit of Lenten conversion is a sign of her compassion for them. Our Lady, patient and merciful awaits the return of her children to the house of the Father.

Her call was listened to and aroused the reconciliation of her people with God. Prayer as well as the practices of daily Christian life and penance as a way to conversion, brought a new life to the people of La Salette. The cross of the people, by the grace of God, became a road to the Resurrection.

 

The Cross and Resurrection at La Salette

Untitled-1Fr. Silvano Marisa, M.S. La Salette Superior General…Christmas reminds us of the gift that God gave us of himself in the person of Jesus… God has revealed the face of a Merciful Father in the Little Child of Bethlehem, born amidst the indifference and rejection of many. His coming was not triumphant, but marked with humility, simplicity, silence and lack of fanfare.

 

Greetings!

 

I would like that these greetings reach also our many young men in formation, who are preparing to be of service to the cause of the Gospel in the spirit of Reconciliation; and our sick and elderly brothers whom we appreciate for the witness of their lives and their commitment and fidelity to the Congregation in spite of their diminished physical energy;

Also I would like to speak to all those who are experiencing moments of difficulty and uncertainty in their community life and ministry; and the many “La Salette Laity” who are guided by the message of the Weeping Virgin, and wish to build with us a bigger “La Salette Charismatic Family.”

This year, Christmas is marked by some ecclesial events which touch us dearly as Missionaries of La Salette…These are: 1) the beginning of the Year of Mercy… and 2) the celebration of the 170th Anniversary of the Apparition.


I am deeply grateful to Fr. Edilson Schio, M.S. and his brief introduction to this new painting of the Weeping Mother of La Salette, commissioned for the Chapel of Encounter on the Holy Mountain of La Salette, in honor of the 170th anniversary of the La Salette apparition. 


Untitled-1Jean-Marie Pirot (b. 1926), known as Arcabas, presently lives in Isère, near La Salette. I offer my additional reflections on this expression of faith from the renowned French artist, Arcabas, who has painted many works of art for the Holy Mountain, including the magnificent “Jesus Christ, the Pantocrator (the All-Powerful)”, painted on the inside dome of the Sanctuary of the La Salette Basilica at La Salette.

 

About the Artist, Arcabas

 

Jean-Marie Pirot, born in 1926 in Trémery, in northwestern France, 387 miles from La Salette, and presently lives in Isère, near La Salette. Known as Arcabas, a name given to him by his pupils, he is a noted and well-respected French contemporary sacred artist.

He studied in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts of Paris and taught in the École des Beaux-Arts of Grenoble. He became known for his works in Saint-Hugues-de-Chartreuse Church.

From 1969 to 1972, he was appointed guest artist by the Canadian government, and was a professor of the University of Ottawa. Returning to France, he received several demands from the French government and religious institutions. His works can be found in France, Germany, Mexico, Canada or the United States. He currently lives in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse, in Isère.

He has used several techniques: sculpture, engraving, tapestry, mosaic or cabinet work, but especially painting. He has also worked for theater making scenery and costumes. His works are usually inspired by stories of the Bible.

 

Editor: On Mission Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, Bishop Donald Pelletier, M.S., concelebrated with Bishop Shawn O’Malley, OFM Cap, Archbishop of Boston, and preached at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, Massachusetts. His homily follows.

Untitled-1Gathering of La Salette Missionaries for
Provincial Chapter, Oct. 19-22, 2015 in Orlando, Florida
At this time in the life of the Church, we are flooded with diverse events that somehow find their unity through the all-embracing theme of Mission that we celebrate today.

 

Our Baptismal Call to a Missionary Vocation


The message of Pope Francis for this year's celebration underlined the link between Mission and Consecrated Life. As this Year of Our Lord, 2015, was set aside for Consecrated life, it would seem natural that he would remind and reaffirm and clarify the missionary vocation of all Consecrated Persons both active and contemplative. Through and with Consecrated Life, Pope Francis reached out and also included the laity in the mission of Christ.

 

"Living as Christian witnesses and as signs of the Father's love among the poor and underprivileged, consecrated persons are called to promote the presence of the lay faithful in the service of Church's mission… Consecrated missionaries need to generously welcome those who are willing to work with them, even for a limited period of time, for an experience in the field. They are brothers and sisters who want to share the missionary vocation inherent in Baptism" .

 

Thus once again a clear call that Consecrated people must include the laity in their mission. But it so happens that this year 2015 as we so often experience with various sporting seasons that overlap with one another, we have The Year dedicated to Consecrated Life that will end on Feb. 2, 2016, is overlapping with the Jubilee Year of Mercy that will begin on Dec. 8, 2015.

 

Untitled-1A group of La Salette Sisters and Brothers
gathered for a special program on the Holy
Mountain in July 2015 in preparation for
their Perpetual Profession as Religious.
When we gathered in our General Chapter in 2012, we had no idea that within a year we would have a new Pope. So there was no way we could know, when we decided to name 2015 a "Year of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace,” that Pope Francis would subsequently name 2015 the “Year for Consecrated Life."

At first, this seemed to take us in a different direction. However further reflection suggests that these two themes are not opposed, especially if we believe that both a General Chapter and a Papal Consistory are the work of the Holy Spirit!

There are three objectives mentioned in the proclamation introducing the Year for Consecrated Life; the first objective is that of giving thanks for the recent past (50 years since Vatican II) of consecrated life in the Church. "The Spirit can turn even weaknesses and infidelities into experiences of God’s mercy and love."

So we begin with the Spirit. We La Salette Missionaries have just concluded a year under the title, "The Spirit Renews the Face of the Earth, " (Ps 104:30). This affirmation calls us to recognize the work of the Spirit as renewing, reforming, renovating, recreating, etc., the present world just as the Spirit was first at work as a mighty wind sweeping over the waters of creation (Gen 1:2).

 

God hears the cry of the poor

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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.”