For Erika Bachiochi, the Catholic Church has been able to offer a genuine pro-woman theology which not only safeguards and protects her stance as a feminist, but also enhances her ability to be strong in all aspects of her life.

Untitled 1Erika Bachiochi (left) and Dr. Mary Anne Case
Dr. Mary Anne Case would like to differ. She believes that while Catholic feminism exists, the institutional Catholic Church – namely the Vatican and Magisterium – is overtly anti-woman.

These two legal scholars from varied backgrounds met on the common stage of feminism at the Aquinas Institute for Catholic Thought’s 10th annual Great Debate in Boulder, Colo. on Feb. 23, 2017. The two women presented dissenting arguments for both sides of the spectrum on Catholic feminism and tackled the question: is the Church anti-woman?

Pros and Cons

Dr. Case, a law professor at the University of Chicago, answered in the affirmative, while Erika Bachiochi, a visiting fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, answered in the negative.

“In my lifetime, the Church that had made me a feminist betrayed me,” Dr. Case said in her opening statements. “I think the Church has let us down, and I think the Church has let us down relatively recently. The early church was very much not anti-woman. The gospels are not anti-woman,” she continued, saying the Catholic Church of the past was not anti-feminist.

The Stations of the Cross or the Way of the Cross is a devotion connected with the earliest events of Christianity. They were originally based on the pilgrim’s route through the Holy City of Jerusalem, commemorating Jesus’ Via Sacra or Via Dolorosa (Holy or Sorrowful Way).

Over the centuries, when Christian pilgrims returned home their pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they wanted to imitate the devotion they experienced in Jerusalem.

More recently, in the information found in Wikipedia , “In 1686, in answer to their petition, Pope Innocent XI granted to the Franciscans the right to erect stations within their churches. In 1731, Pope Clement XII extended to all churches the right to have the stations, provided that a Franciscan Father erected them, with the consent of the local bishop. At the same time the number was fixed at fourteen. In 1857, the bishops of England were allowed to erect the stations by themselves, without the intervention of a Franciscan priest, and in 1862 this right was extended to bishops throughout the church.”

Today we expect that every Church would have the fourteen Stations of the Cross to be used by individuals and groups to pray their way through each station, reflecting on Christ who gave his life for us on the cross.

Our Virtual Stations of the Cross

With all this in mind, we offer you these brief (2 minute) virtual “Stations of the Cross”, produced by for your personal reflection. You might view them all or choose one for your daily meditation. Enjoy this ancient but ever-new Lenten habit of faith.

First Station: Jesus is condemned to death

Second Station: Jesus carries his cross

Untitled 1Visual of the Weeping Mother, drawn during World War IIEditor: This brief article explores the relevance of Mary’s message to the author’s age (post-World War II Europe) and some would say they are strangely similar to our own ongoing struggles in the world at large and in our nation; the author (1881-1965) was a member of the Académie Français. This article was translated from the French and has been edited.

Perhaps there is no moment in our annals of human history when La Salette's merciful message takes on a more striking significance than in the days in which we presently live and which evidence the greatest antipathy and divisions in our history.

Change is Everywhere

Everything is now moving and changing. Everything is at once being born and decaying simultaneously. Our old world is collapsing, and a new world is being born in the midst of the rubble.

Yet never has the human race, once isolated and repressed, begun to overcome its own impotence better than in this age . . . whose supreme end is ironically the possible destruction of the world.

It is at this hour that we realize the relevance of La Salette and Mary’s Message.

Mary Speaks to All Her Children

On a desolate mountain in a harsh corner of France, the Virgin gives two children the revelation of what makes her heart so heavy – blasphemy, the profanation of Sunday. She announces that the coming terrifying events have resulted from our long contempt for the divine voice of love and reason.

U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements from PICO National Network on Vimeo.

You may not have heard about it, but it was a big deal – big enough to inspire Pope Francis to get involved.

Untitled 1Archb. José H. Gomez (2nd from left) links arms with other participants at U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements; CNS photo: Dennis Sadowski.
The big deal was the under-reported U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements (WMPM) that recently gathered on Feb. 16-19, 2017 in Modesto, Calif. Drawing together hundreds of faith-based and social justice organizers from across the United States and the world, the WMPM focused on the themes of “land, labor and lodging,” along with immigration and racial issues.

Sponsored in part by the Vatican’s department of Integral Human Development and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the WMPM in California was the first such regional gathering to follow three previous international meetings.

Editor: This is a recent letter from the Presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) to President Donald J. Trump. Visuals added.)

Untitled 1President Donald J. Trump
Dear Mr. President,

The gift of leadership is given to American leaders by the “Right of the People.” Leadership brings with it a great joy and a great responsibility.

We serve as Presidents of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), respectively. Together we represent the elected leaders of 38,800 Catholic Sisters and 17,000 Catholic Brothers and religious priests who live and minister throughout the United States. As elected leaders we know and share with you both the joy and the burden of this service.

We and the members of our communities seek to be instruments of the reconciliation our people urgently need. In our poverty of spirit, we rely on the help of God and the example of Jesus, the one who came to serve us all.

Since before the founding of our nation and often during its darkest hours, Catholic Sisters, Brothers and religious priests, ourselves often immigrants, have served the needs of both civic leaders and those on the outskirts of influence. We have chosen to live with those who were sick, dying or living in poverty.

Untitled 1The 17th century English poet, William Cowper, was the author of our now-famous saying, “Variety is the spice of life.” Or as he more quaintly put it, “Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. (The Task, 1785)” Ain’t that the truth!

As a native New Englander, I enjoyed the perpetual sunny days but barely survived the seemingly unending summers of Orlando, Florida for some eight years. And I gladly returned north to our sometimes challenging cycle of four seasons but I just love it here.

Sunday Mystery Rides

As a person in my 70s – or as I’m told, “the new 60s” – I am still, in a sense, growing up. When I was a young boy, I loved to go with my father on what he termed our “Sunday afternoon mystery rides”. You see, my father would simply invite my mother and myself to go somewhere with him. In fact when he started the car, even he didn’t know where we were going. I loved the true excitement of not knowing who we’d meet or what we’d see. It was like a short Disneyworld vacation, all in a few hours.

After learning a little about my personality type in the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory – a simple but very useful way of understanding ourselves – I learned that (as an INFJ) I not only like variety, I actually need it in order to flourish as a person. It literally “spices up” my life.

Active Vacations

This is evident in the way I spend my vacations – never laying on the beach for hours on end but rather choosing to visit countless places of interest. When I had a choice of where I would move after my time in Florida, I chose New England and a very busy place to live – the Shrine in Attleboro.

The bishops of Mexico on Thursday reacted to United States' president Donald Trump's executive order to build a wall on the nations' border by urging a more thoughtful response to legitimate security concerns.

A wall will punish the poorest and most vulnerable

Untitled 1Mexican Bp. Alfonso G. Miranda Guardiola, with Pope Francis
“We express our pain and rejection over the construction of this wall, and we respectfully invite you to reflect more deeply about the ways security, development, growth in employment, and other measures, necessary and just, can be procured without causing further harm to those already suffering, the poorest and most vulnerable,” the Mexican bishops' conference said Jan. 26 in a message titled "Value and Respect for Migrants".

Trump had Jan. 25 ordered a wall to be built on the U.S.-Mexico border. An estimated 650 miles of the 1,900 mile-long U.S.-Mexico border have a wall constructed currently.

The Mexican bishops noted that for more than 20 years, the prelates of “the northern border of Mexico and the southern border of the United States have been working” to achieve “the best care for the faithful that live in the sister countries, properly seen as a single city (from a faith perspective); communities of faith served by two dioceses (such as Matamoros and Brownsville, or Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, for example).”

“What pains us foremost is that many people who live out their family relationships, their faith, work or friendships will be shut out even more by this inhuman interference,” they lamented.

A wall destabilizes the communities living along the border

The bishops recalled the statement of Bishop Joe Vasquez of Austin, head of the United States bishops' committee on immigration, that “this action will put immigrant lives needlessly in harm's way. Construction of such a wall will only make migrants, especially vulnerable women and children, more susceptible to traffickers and smugglers. Additionally, the construction of such a wall destabilizes the many vibrant and beautifully interconnected communities that live peacefully along the border.”

The Church has a long tradition of assistance towards leprosy patients, especially in mission territories, which is expressed not only with medical care and spiritual assistance, but also offering them the possibility of reintegration into society.

Damian, Apostle of the Lepers of Molokai

Untitled 1Countless people around the world subject to leprosy; photo: AIFOThe testimonies of missionary Saints who dedicated their lives to alleviate the suffering of leprosy patients are eloquent in this regard, such as St. Jozef De Veuster Damian SSCC, universally known as the Apostle of the lepers of Molokai, and Saint Marianne Cope, O.S.F., who spent 35 years in Molokai and together with other sisters carried out the work of Fr. Damiano; or Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Jan Beyzym, S.I., who served his pastoral role among the lepers of Madagascar, the venerable Marcello Candia and Raoul Follereau, the French writer and journalist who in 1954, introduced World leprosy Day, to be celebrated on the last Sunday of January.

According to the latest "Statistical Yearbook of the Church", the Catholic Church runs 612 centers for leprosy patients in the world: 174 in Africa, 43 in America (total), 313 in Asia, 81 in Europe and one in Oceania.

Very Sad Numbers

The nations that are home to the largest number of centers for leprosy patients are in Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo (27), Madagascar (26), Kenya (21); North America: United States (2); Central America: Mexico (5), Honduras (2); Central America-Antilles: Haiti (2) and Dominican Rep. (2); in South America: Brazil (14), Ecuador (4), Peru (4); in Asia: India (234), Korea (22), Vietnam (15); Oceania: Papua New Guinea (1); in Europe: Portugal (63), Germany (16), Belgium (1), Italy (1).

One person is affected by leprosy every two minutes

Untitled 1Pope Francis said . . . the strength of the Church does not reside primarily in grand gestures, but in the quiet faith of Christians in minority areas, who continue to practice even in the face of persecution and martyrdom.

“We are pleased when we see a great ecclesial act, which has been a great success, the Christians revealing themselves,” he said in his homily during Mass at the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta on Jan. 30. “And this is beautiful! Is this strength? Yes, it is strength.”

Martyrs are the strength of the Church

“But the greatest strength of the Church today is in the small Churches, tiny, with few people, persecuted, with their bishops in prison,” he continued. “This is our glory now, this is our glory and our strength today.”

In his homily, Francis called out those who do not experience this kind of persecution, yet complain about small grievances: “This is the glory of the Church and our support,” he said, “and also our humiliation.”

“We who have everything, everything seems easy for us and if we are missing something we complain … But we think of these brothers and sisters who today, greater in number than those of the first centuries, are suffering martyrdom!”

Reflecting on a passage from Hebrews 11, which calls to mind the history of the Lord’s people, the Pope said that “without memory there is no hope.”

The memory of docility, of mighty deeds, and of martyrs

Dividing the history into three categories, he said the first is the “memory of docility,” the memory of those people who were quietly obedient to the Lord’s will, like Abraham, who bravely left his home without knowing where he was going.

What Mental Prayer is Not

Untitled 1Unlike yoga or other Eastern spiritual practices, meditation, in a Catholic context, cannot be reduced to a technique. It is not like a gadget in which certain buttons are pushed so as to get a result. Neither can it be said that mental prayer is simply a methodology in which certain steps are carried out in order to produce a certain effect. No.

Christian meditation is deeply personal in that it largely depends on the spiritual and moral disposition of the Christian towards God. For instance, the person who is addicted to (a substance or practice) will not draw the same fruit from mental prayer as one who is faithful to the moral law. Holy desire, a repentant heart, the capacity to love and a virtuous life determines how much we get out of mental prayer.

Having said that, there are common principles of mental prayer which guide us along the way. The ones we will consider have been practiced among the Saints throughout the centuries. Faithfully and consistently applied, these principles of mental prayer will, as Fr. Edward Leen said, “prepare the soul for the action of the Blessed Eucharist.” The union between the soul and Christ is but the happy result.

Three Important Principles

Meditation is nothing other than thinking about Christ, an aspect of his life or some spiritual truth. When a diamond specialist examines a diamond, he looks at all of its facets and sides. Shimmering different colors from each angle, the diamond reveals something new about itself as it is manually rotated under the light.

Prayer e-Book

Our La Salette Prayer Book is available for your e-readers at Amazon.

La salette prayerbook

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Do you pray well my children?

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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.”