The Hope and Promise of New Life
On Palm Sunday, as I was visiting our La Salettes in Washington, DC, our Presider at Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception was the Apostolic Nuncio, Most Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, DD. His homily touched on the power of Christ’s passion and death to bring about the hope and promise of new Apostolic Nuncio to the United States,
Most Rev. Carlo Maria Viganò, D.D.life. I could not help but reflect on this theme in light of where we are journeying as a religious missionary community sent to make the message of the Gospel and the grace of the La Salette event known “to all [God’s] people.”
For the Will of the Father and for Love of Us
New life is for many of us uncharted territory. We experience the challenges of change every day. Sometimes new life is as puzzling to us as it was for Nicodemus in his nighttime appointment and dialogue with Jesus (cf. John 3:1-21). We are all too familiar with the paradox of Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, “unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat. But if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). Living out these words is at times a significant challenge.
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Jacques Maritain – Mary’s Tears at La Salette
How could the Lady weep at La Salette? Isn't she among the saved, the elect in heaven? How can there be sadness in Paradise, tears in a world of bliss?
Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), a French Catholic philosopher, theologian and friend of Pope Paul VIOn earth, tears are the unmistakable sign of sadness and pain. Here on earth, tears are also a sign that the person weeping has come to the end of his or her resources. Weeping is a sign of helplessness before evil or pain. The heart is filled to overflowing with affliction, and tears must come.
The great French Catholic philosopher, Jacques Maritain (1882-1973), has interesting insights into tears and especially the tears of Our Lady at La Salette. He writes:
"It is easy to answer that this is only a manner of expressing oneself – not infrequent in Holy Scripture, where it is said that God repents, is angry, etc... We must be careful, however, not to weaken the truth by our comments and to change God's language into figures of speech or hyperboles. If Our Lady wept, if she spoke as she did, it is because, within the system of signs that people commonly understand, nothing could better express the unspeakable reality of what is happening in heaven. "
"It is not by excess, but by default..."
And the great philosopher reveals what is perhaps the greatest insight into the tears of Our Lady at La Salette:
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With Loud Cries and Tears
Editor: This is a homily given by Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., Cardinal-Archbishop Emeritus of Milan at a Mass in honor of Our Lady of Sorrows celebrated on the Mountain of La Salette on July 2, 1996.
Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, S.J., (1927–2012), an Italian Jesuit, Archbishop of Milan (1980 to 2002) and elevated to the cardinalate in 1983.In the letter to the Hebrews we read: “During his life on earth, (Jesus) offered up prayer and entreaty, aloud and in silent tears, to the one who had the power to save him out of death, and he submitted so humbly that his prayer was heard” (Heb 5:7).
A commentary on the Passion of Jesus, this is one of the most moving of New Testament passages. With the exception of the agony in Gethsemane, the Gospels describe Christ’s Passion in an impartial, detached, and almost cold manner, as though Mark, Matthew and Luke had decided not to allow their own feelings to intrude.
Hebrews Expresses the Very Heart of Jesus
These words from the Letter to the Hebrews, on the contrary, take us into the very heart of Jesus, for the author has every intention of having us contemplate our sovereign high priest as he offers himself for the sinners of the world, and as he offers God perfect worship, and as he is offering it now in the heavens.
Might not this image of our high priest in the heavens make him seem far too removed from us? For this reason the author of Hebrews assures us that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness” (4:15).
Let us now take a close look at the passage Heb 5:7-9: “In the days when he was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.”
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La Salette and the Name of Her Son
"Holy Kiss" by Nancy Bradley
The charism of La Salette is a factor in the Lady's injunction to reverence the name of her Son. In the Hebrew-Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, his name meant "Yahweh Saves". Reconciliation, then, was wrought in his person. It is crucial for every person to know that his or her passport to heaven and to glory was countersigned with the name of Jesus. Abusing his name is an indication of ignorance of the Christian faith.
“You are to name him Jesus.”
That God should come to earth, be born in the same flesh we wear is a clear will to brotherhood and intimacy with the human race. That he should be given a name, a human name by which he could be distinguished from other humans is another sign that he took on our humanity completely. We remember with awe that this was the name by which his mother and father knew him, and it was also the name his heavenly Father gave him. The angel said to Joseph: "She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Mt.1: 21). The name of Jesus tells who he is and what he will do, what will be his mission. That mission will be totally dedicated to the glory of his Father by the salvation of people.
We are Christ-ians
The whole focus of prayer is centered on this Name. It is, in fact, the Name we give to our faith. It is the leverage of all our prayer. The Name is the one we turn to in sorrow and distress, when we skirt the outer edges of hope. Repeatedly in the Gospels, God the Father is shown offering rescue and wholeness "in the name of Jesus." "And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it" (John 14: 13-14).
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Thomas Merton and La Salette
This year is the 100 anniversary of the birth of Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk of Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky, ordained a priest in 1949, died Dec. 18, 1968. He is considered a major 20th century Catholic spiritual writer, thinker, and even a "mystic", by some.
A Prolific and Respected Author
Merton wrote 70 books on a wide range of topics: spirituality, monasticism, prayer, contemplation, comparative religion – especially Eastern and Christian – social justice, civil rights, nuclear arms, pacifism, as well as collections of poetry.
His most popular book was his bestselling autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain (1948). It had a tremendous impact and was responsible for a great number of World War II Veterans, college students and other youths entering monasteries across the U.S. during the 50s. The magazine, National Review, featured the book in its list of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century.
Merton's influence has grown since his death in 1968. There are a number of Merton study centers and groups throughout the United States. Interest in his work has played an important part in the rise of spiritual exploration during the last decades.
A Relatable and Inspirational Writer
I believe much of his popularity can be attributed to the humanity evident in his work. His spiritual writings are very "incarnational" – filled with common sense. His ideas resonate in many of us because his spirituality courses in and through our own flesh and blood.
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La Salette 2015 – Justice, Peace and Reconciliation
2012 General Chapter in session in Willimantic, CT
As people connected in some way to the event of La Salette and our Weeping Mother, we know well from her example at La Salette that we are called as reconcilers to respond compassionately to the needy as she did with the two children, Maximin and Melanie.
Every six years, we, the La Salette Missionaries, gather in a General Chapter (three-week meeting) with worldwide representatives of our community. In 2012 we met in Willimantic, CT, to choose not only our leadership but our goals as a community for the next six years.
Among the topics these representatives discussed – and for which they made goals – included community, charism, formation, mission and laity. They also emphasized new efforts at making justice and peace an integral part of our mission.
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The Tears of Mary, Reconciler of Sinners
Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656)The Christian people... spontaneously invoked Our Lady of La Salette under the title, Reconciler of sinners. Official church documents make no mention of it among the titles it attributes to Mary. Let us, however, listen to what Vatican Council II teaches:
“The Father of mercies willed that the consent of the predestined mother should precede the Incarnation, so that just as a woman contributed to death, so also a woman should contribute to life... she devoted herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son... (B)y the grace of Almighty God she served the mystery of redemption” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, #56).
The Meaning of Mary’s Tears
... In her role as Mother, she shared in a singular manner in the salvation accomplished by her Son. This is the meaning of her tears at La Salette... We know that tears are the consummate language of maternal love... we are familiar with the story of St. Monica; what torrents of tears had she shed for her son, Augustine. Well then, Mary’s tears are the expression of her maternal love for us... Her tears speak to us “who pay no heed!”
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A Madagascar Thanksgiving
There are many ways in which we can say thank you! Here are some of the ways we can say thanks in the La Salette world: Merci
(Ukrainian), and Kyay Zoo Tin Pa Deh
Every year when we observe Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S. on the last Thursday in November), I recall one of the earliest Thanksgivings I celebrated in Madagascar.
Although Thanksgiving is an American holiday, none of our Missionaries whether they were Malagasy, French or Italian would have any reluctance to join in celebrating this special day.
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Understanding the La Salette Invocation
The La Salette Invocation:
Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners,
pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you.
Fr. Silvain-Marie Giraud, M.S., La Salette Superior General from 1865 to 1876As familiar as this invocation may be to many of us, perhaps we have more to learn about this central element of La Salette Spiritiuality. The following are reflections from severla authors on this invocation.
1) Fr. Donald Paradis, M.S., in the endnotes, #34, of his English translation of “The Book of the Spiritual Exercises of Our Lady of La Salette” by Fr. Silvain-Marie Giraud, M.S. Fr. Paradis gathers several points of information. He begins by saying:
That Our Lady of La Salette was invoked very early on as the Reconciler of sinners is beyond doubt. Precisely when and under what circumstances – whether the invocation sprang spontaneously from the lips of pilgrims or is to be attributed to prompting of some sort – cannot be determined with any certainty.
1a) “Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of sinners, pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you. – From what lips did this invocation, destined to be repeated so often thereafter everywhere on earth, spring for the first time?
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