Editor: Recently Fr. Fernand Cassista, M.S., went back to the Father of us all. During his ministry as a La Salette Missionary, he spent much of his life giving Retreats, Days of Recollection and doing Spiritual Direction with many people who came to the La Salette National Shrine in Attleboro, MA.
In his personal file, he stated that, in place of a homily at his funeral, his Personal Rule of Life be read. He wanted to share with his family and friends, directees and fellow La Salettes the central focus for his life and ministry expressed in his Personal Rule of Life. We offer this for your personal reflection. See also his own article on his treasured ministry as a Spiritual Director.
A reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Christians at Philippi (3:7-17)
Because of Christ, I have come to consider all these advantages that I had as disadvantages. Not only that, but I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him.
I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.
All I want is to know Christ and that power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet; I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture that prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you, my brothers and sisters, I am far from thinking that I have already won. All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus… Let us go forward on the road that has brought us to where we are.
My brothers and sisters, be united in following this rule of life. Let us take as our models everybody who is already doing this and study them.
My Personal Rule of Life
1. I reaffirm and choose as the goal of my life, ministry and activities the knowledge and love of Jesus whom I desire to love above all things. To this end, Scripture, Prayer, Eucharist and study, as well as faithfulness to the vowed life will be the priorities of my daily life.
2. I choose to simplify my life and belongings by ridding myself of unnecessary and excessive possessions – all that would stand in the way of inner freedom – all unnecessary clutter in possessions, concerns and behavior.
3. I choose to strive for perfection in Christ and in following him as a true disciple and not as an enigmatic, compulsive one, which can only lead to frustration. I will try to remain aware that I am very poor indeed, as a weak human being, fully dependent on God for the very air I breathe. I will strive to remember that only God is perfect. All I can do is strive daily to respond to Christ's pursuing love for me.
4. I will strive to remember daily that the Paschal Mystery is essential to being a disciple and lover of Jesus, that the cross is part of life, and only by living its mystery willingly and lovingly can I hope to share in Christ's resurrection.
5. I choose to forget what has been. I want to learn from past experiences and mistakes, but I also choose to let go of all that has been the result of weakness and sin because I believe deeply in God's unconditional and infinite forgiveness. I will strive daily for repentance and conversion from those things that stand in the way of knowing and loving Christ more faithfully.
6. Realizing that I cannot change the world, the culture we are part of, as well as community, I will strive to be true to who I am meant to be as a male, vowed religious and priest, because I know that only in being true to myself and to Christ can I have a positive effect on community and the world at large. I believe that change and renewal occur from the inside outward, and in that way I must strive to build community. Knowledge and love of Jesus leads to love of others and to service.
7. I choose to study and learn from the experiences of the models, saints and mystics, both past and present, who have succeeded in being true lovers of Christ and who can challenge me to be a grateful and faithful follower and lover of Jesus.
8. As a La Salette, I will celebrate Mary our Mother, not as the center of my life, but as the caring and tearful Mother who taught me to make Jesus the Center of all that I am and desire to be. I will be grateful and devoted to Mary as the one whose intercession obtained for me the gift and grace of experiencing Jesus' love in a most profound way.
9. I will also be deeply grateful for Saint Ignatius of Loyola, whose Spiritual Exercises were the turning point of my life; for his life and writings, for his Companions, the Jesuits, who have been and are true companions and friends, as well as spiritual directors to me, and who have guided my discernment and my spiritual journey by teaching me to strive always:
“to know Jesus more clearly,
to love him more dearly and
to follow him more nearly... day by day.”
10. I embrace Jesus as my God and Savior, my Brother, my best Friend and intimate Lover. May it always be so!
And Jesus said: “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. What gain, then, is it for a man to win the whole world and ruin his life? (Mark 8: 34-36)"