2016 - A Year of Mercy and an Anniversary
Fr. 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.
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.
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Our Weeping Mother by Arcabas
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.
Jean-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.
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The Developing Mission of the Church
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.
Gathering of La Salette Missionaries for
Provincial Chapter, Oct. 19-22, 2015 in Orlando, FloridaAt 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.
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La Salettes and the Cry of the Poor
A 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 – See the Rainbow
Editor: This presentation was originally the third part of the La Salette Triduum, given at the La Salette Shrine in Enfield, N.H. in the 1980s.
The Formation of the La Salette Mass
In the early 1940s, in anticipation of the centenary of her Apparition at La Salette — the occupation of France by Nazi Germany notwithstanding — Our Lady’s Missionaries intensified their appeals to Vatican officials for the privilege of a proper Office and Mass in her honor. Word reached them in early 1942 that the Holy See was willing to accede to their wish.
The La Salette General Council of the Congregation saw to it that a formulary for the new Office and Mass be drafted and submitted to the Congregation of Rites. Suitable prayers were written up, hymns were composed and, more importantly perhaps, appropriate Scripture passages were selected.
The second reading for the La Salette Mass, taken from St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, was an obvious choice, as was the classic passage from St. John’s Gospel which places Mary at Calvary.
Particularly insightful and inspired, though, is the first reading, borrowed from the Book of Genesis, focusing as it does on both the renewed covenant of reconciliation between the Creator and every creature and on the rainbow, the sign and reminder of our restored friendship.
At the dawn of sacred history, the Lord saw that human wickedness was great on the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of the human heart was evil continually. And the Lord God regretted having made the human creatures on the earth and was grieved to the heart (Gen 6:5-7).
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Overcoming Our Indifference and Fear
Window in the La Salette Shrine Church in
Salmata, ItalyAt La Salette our Weeping Mother sensed fear in the two children and said, “Come near, my children. Do not be afraid.”
When we reflect on getting involved in some aspects of life, in challenging relationships, in reaching out to those in need, we may experience hesitation, fear or even indifference. These tendencies are countered by the second of the two great commandments: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). Responding to this invitation to love seems to me incompatible with any tendency to indifference.
The tendency to attempt to be indifferent is a refusal to be affected by another person, event, situation, or almost anything. It seems to spring from a yearning to be neutral or perhaps to avoid our fear of others, or can even come from a pure lack of interest. It can also result from an accumulation of worries, or wanting to avoid any emotional reactions or encounters.
What Does Jesus Say?
At the heart of the storm, while his companions were panicking, Jesus remained asleep! Is this indifference? Certainly not! He sleeps with confidence in their expertise as sailors.
When the shepherd of the parable of the lost sheep leaves his flock to rescue one sheep, is this indifference for the ninety-nine others? Certainly not! It is rather an expression of his passionate concern for the lost and helpless sheep that he takes time away from his flock to go looking for him.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan on the way to Jericho, the priest and the Levite pass by, perhaps pulled away from involvement by their insistence of the importance of their own need for purity, an expression of their Jewish faith. They chose not to “defile themselves” with their involvement with the injured, abandoned Samaritan, thus preventing them from practicing their religion.
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Her People, His People
My people – three times Mary uses this phrase, once early on and twice in the conclusion of her merciful message at La Salette. Very clearly from the outset, she indicates that we are the recipients of her great news – far beyond just Maximin and Melanie. She addresses the entire people of God.
At La Salette Mary invites us to join in a spiritual revolution. One hundred and twenty two years before the Second Vatican Council, she very clearly invites us out of an individualistic attitude of mind into a personal, active commitment in faith. She has a truly personal yet universal message involving ourselves, our God, and our spiritual life – all within the context of an immense family of faith, the people of God.
We find the phrase, my people, more than 2,000 times in the Bible, including 150 in the New Testament alone. And, of course, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council wrote:
“...it pleased (God) to bring (humanity) together as one people, a people which acknowledges (God) in truth and serves (God) in holiness. He therefore chose the race of Israel as a people unto himself. With it he set up a covenant. Step by step he taught and prepared this people... I will be their God, and they shall be my people...
For those who believe in Christ... are finally established as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people... who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God". That messianic people has Christ for its head... The state of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons (and daughters) of God... "(Lumen Gentium, #9, emphasis added).
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Mary – Model for Our Pilgrimage of Faith
Bringing Mary Out Of Eclipse
Stamp issued by Italy, for the 1983 Holy YearIt is no exaggeration to say that Marian devotion suffered a diminution during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Some blame the Second Vatican Council; others hold theologians at fault. And yet no council has ever spoken so beautifully of Mary as does Lumen Gentium, nos. 52-69. Prominent theologians such as Karl Rahner, Schillebeeckx, and even the non-Catholic Max Thurian have written exquisitely on Mary. Bishops’ conferences have issued pastoral letters on Mary, such as the American Bishops’ beautiful letter, Behold Your Mother.
The eclipse perhaps came as an overreaction to excesses that at times existed in some Marian devotions; the eclipse also may have come because our attention was focused on other essential aspects of our Christian, ecclesial life.
But Mary is so integral a part of the fabric of our faith that she cannot remain in eclipse. In fact, in Argentina, Cardinal Primatesta, in a conference to members of the Council of the Congregation, went on at great length to emphasize that it is Marian devotion that has preserved the Christian faith of the Latin American people over the centuries. This great gift cannot remain in eclipse.
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Meeting God on This Holy Mountain
The Holy Mountain of Our Lady of La Salette is very close to heaven, being atop an Alpine peak in the French Alps. In fact it is a high, holy ground – a good place for you to meet your God. Overview of the Holy Mountain in France
In order to do this, you must first enter this stately La Salette Basilica, leaving behind your masks, and ready to hold God’s truth like a fragile flame in the palm of your hands. You must also be silent and aware of God’s awesome presence in this truly holy space.
Can you sense Mary’s lingering and loving presence? No loneliness can resist her tender words.
Look to the upper dome, above the sanctuary. Take in the majestic face the Christ, with his arms open in blessing, a shadow of the cross on his face. He is the Reconciler who calls you to a renewal of your faith in the privilege of this moment.
Looking around the central dome, heavenly light steals into this quiet space, softly lighting up the stained glass windows of the mysteries of the rosary.
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