Reflections

Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) – It’s a little-known fact that near the end of her life, Mother Teresa went to China three times in order to establish her order there, but was “heartbroken” when her efforts failed because of the poor diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See.
Untitled-1Mother Teresa (Photo by Manfredo Ferrari, used with permission)
“Mother Teresa long dreamed of serving the people of China and, after bringing her sisters around the world – including to Russia, the United States and Muslim countries – China became and remained her focus,” said Fr. John Worthley, who lived and taught in China for many years and accompanied Mother Teresa on all three of her trips.

“Indeed, Pope St. John Paul II asked her to live her final years as a bridge of love and reconciliation to China from the Universal Church,” Fr. Worthley said at a symposium on Mother Teresa held Sept. 2 in Rome.

Reconciliation between China and the Universal Church may not be far off, according to Fr. Worthley. “I am very hopeful that something will happen soon. There's been a lot of good discussion and both sides are getting close to being ready,” Fr. Worthley told CNA.

The priest admitted that there are still many obstacles to improving relations between the Holy See and China. He said there are many people who know a lot and “think it's naive to expect something soon.” Fr. Worthley is hopeful, however, that it will happen soon, “only because of Mother Teresa's sacrifices.”

 

To Serve Those in China

 

Mother Teresa wanted “to be with the poor all over the world,” but especially China, he said. When she was first founding her order, the Missionaries of Charity, and she received permission to lead the sisters, she was told that “a sacrifice would be offered for the success of the Missionaries of Charity.”
A week later, the priest who had guided her through part of the process of founding the order died, and “she considered that a sacrifice,” Fr. Worthley explained. “He had talked to her about China, and maybe that was what began” her interest.

Everybody complains about work, just as everybody complains about the weather.

Untitled-1If our work is demanding, we gripe because it’s too hard. If it’s effortless, we whine that it’s boring.
I have a friend who calls this the Law of Conservation of Discontent. In certain areas of life, our dissatisfaction can be neither created nor destroyed. It’s just there – always looking for a place to land. It often lands in the place where we work.

 

So It’s Labor Day!?

 

So what on earth are we doing when we celebrate Labor Day? It’s not on the Church calendar, but Labor Day has been a federal holiday since 1894 – and I’ve never known anyone who refused the day off on principle. We may complain about our jobs every other day of the year, but on that first Monday of September we dutifully take the time to honor the very laboriousness of our labor. And it’s worthy of our honor.

As much as we complain about work, we don’t like to be without it.

Yet, there’s more to it than the paycheck. Our own José H. Gómez wrote a rather amazing essay some years ago, titled “All You Who Labor: Towards a Spirituality of Work for the 21st Century.” If you have the time, I recommend that you read the whole thing.

As Richard Gaillardetz, reminds us, “…Vatican II didn’t just say we’re a church of pilgrims; it said we’re a pilgrim church. The church itself is on the way. It hasn’t arrived.” This was a dramatic shift from how we described ourselves previously.
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The Church used to see herself as a city on a hill which looks down on her people, but a people painfully journeying through this life of ours, described often as this “valley of tears”. Vatican II now asks us the see ourselves as a pilgrim people journeying toward God, sharing our joys and sorrows, our successes and disappointments. Therefore our journey as Church binds us together and gives us company along the way.

 

A Movie about a Pilgrimage

 

How many of you saw the movie, The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez. The movie is about an arrogant American Doctor, played by Martin Sheen, the actual father of the film’s director, who in the movie chooses to complete his dead son’s wish to make the historical pilgrimage along the “Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James)”.

What is happiness? The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, said, "Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the aim and end of human existence." Put more simply, Charlie Brown, in a song from the Broadway musical, “You’re a Good man, Charlie Brown”, describes happiness as “anyone or anything at all that’s loved by you.”

Untitled-1Yes, using whatever words we may choose, happiness is important to each person on this earth. It may be defined or seen differently yet it seems to be central to who we are as persons.

In a 2005 Time magazine article entitled, “The Science of Happiness”, Martin Seligman, a contemporary psychologist, educator and author, noted that there are three ingredients in our experience of genuine happiness: pleasure, engagement with others and the discovery of meaning in life. It’s as simple as that!

First, we certainly know that pleasure is part of happiness. Many of us go to great lengths to live a life filled with experiences of pleasure – whether through food, sex, or rock and roll. Pleasure is certainly a “keeper” when we think of the necessities of life.

Saint James reminds us that we are to be: “doers of the word and not just hearers” (James 1:22). In other words, the Gospel was never meant to be just heard, but it was meant to be lived.

Untitled-1(from left): Lunchtime; Rooftop workIn Matthew’s Gospel, at the section called “the last judgment”, Jesus says, “I was homeless and you gave me shelter.” With the Jubilee Year of Mercy under way as well as the 170 anniversary of the La Salette Apparition, a group of seven people from the La Salette National Shrine in Attleboro, MA, lived this out our faith journey in Mexico in early August.

On August 6, 2016, Samantha and Stephane De La Bruere, John and Gina Rufo, Grant Haley, Mary Ellen Petersen, with Father Ted Brown, M.S., headed to the Tijuana, on the Baja California peninsula of Mexico, to help build “dignified, humane housing” for two poor families of Tijuana County. Working with the organization, Esperanza International, we joined about 30 other volunteers from around the United States.

What our Faith Tells Us about Immigration


Catholic Social Teaching tells us that it is our “duty to welcome the foreigner out of charity and respect for the dignity and rights of the human person.” (Source: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)


What We See


Untitled-1Families and Communities Torn Apart: Our faith recognizes family as the cornerstone of our communities, but hundreds of thousands of families are separated by our broken immigration system. Backlogs at USCIS of up to 22 years and the insufficient number of family-based visas force family members to choose between being separated for extended periods of time or entering the country without documentation. (Source: Bread for the World)

Talent Wasted: Catholic Social Teaching directly states that all people have a right and duty to participate in society for the common good, and that we must provide avenues for participation in the U.S. Many immigrants hope to pursue higher education, join the military, or enter the workforce, but their lack of legal status jeopardizes those dreams and exposes them to deportation…

Value of Work Denied and Workers Exploited: Much of our U.S. economy is dependent on migrant labor. These men and women are an integral part of the U.S. economy and there is a general failure to recognize their value. Because migrants live in the shadows of society with no pathway to obtaining citizenship, they are often subject to exploitation that is inconsistent with the Catholic Social Teaching principle of the dignity of work.

As a follower of classic James Bond movies, I love the clever title of “You Only Live Twice”. A few years ago I also read about a not yet released 12-hour miniseries by Steven Spielberg entitled “Nine Lives.” Well, wouldn’t it be nice to have, say, nine lives like the proverbial cat, but in a sense we do.

Untitled-1A few years ago I was part of an Acculturation Workshop at our National Shrine in Attleboro. With the help of our facilitator, Sr. Katie Pierce, IHM, from Detroit, we discovered together the intricacies of the repeated process in which members of one cultural group adopt the vision and behaviors of another group; for example, an adult adjusting to a new cultural or life situation.

However “new cultural situations” doesn’t necessarily mean moving to another country. In fact, most of us enter a new situation when we grow into a new stage of our life; for example, growing from childhood to adolescence, or having our first child, discovering what it means to have an “empty nest” as our children begin their own families, or when we retire.

We probably do not give ourselves much credit for making these major adjustments in life. We may see them as expected transitions but they may even involve rethinking our own place or purpose in life or necessitate our letting go of a previous way of understanding ourselves or others.

Aleppo (Agenzia Fides) – The tragic death of Father Jacques Hamel, the elderly French priest murdered while he was saying mass, “belongs to the great history of Christian martyrdom including the recent Untitled-1Martyrdom of the seven Hebrew brothers, Attavante degli Attavanti, Vatican Librarymartyrs of the Eastern Churches”. Therefore “it deserves not to be exploited, certainly not by persons who until recently for their own interests, thought to exploit the same jihadists invoked by the priest’s young terrorist murderers”.
This is how Georges Abou Khazen OFM, Vicar apostolic of Aleppo for the local Catholics of Latin rite, views from the Syrian martyr city yesterday morning’s tragic event in the church Saint Etienne du Rouvray, not far from Rouen.

“Down through the centuries” says the Franciscan Bishop conversing with Fides, “for Christians, martyrdom has always been considered the greatest act of faith. While they mourned their martyrs, they also celebrated them as Christians who redeem all of us and save the world, because they take upon their shoulders suffering for the sake of the name of Jesus, and doing so they apply to their contemporaries the redemption brought by Christ”.

Untitled-2Most Rev. Georges Abou Khazen, OFM, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo for the Latin Rite CatholicsFor Bishop Georges this event, so close to the mystery of salvation, shall not be disfigured by persons feigning indignation for their own political gain. “For years” says the Vicar apostolic of Aleppo “we Bishops in the Middle East have cautioned those western powers which to safeguard their own interests do not hesitate to support those groups of fanatics which pursue jihadist ideologies.

Now I see all around ferocious reactions which identify all Islam with these groups blinded by an ideology of hatred and death which seems to be spreading everywhere along unknown ways. We must be as harmless as doves and astute as serpents, as the Gospel teaches. But astuteness does not consist in letting oneself be contaminated by the poison of the snake”. (GV)

(Used with permission of Agenzia Fides)
I was not aware until recently of the many ways of understanding the phrase: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”.
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Over the past month or so the La Salette Shrine in Attleboro, MA, has been invaded by young people – and some not-so-young people – walking around the Shrine, cell phones in hand. Now and then they let out a hoot of excitement and we’d hear the words “I got one!”

La Salette Shrine has been invaded by Pokemon Go players. Apparently the Shrine is a treasure trove of Pokemon monsters. The game has brought hundreds of people seeking these little game creatures.

The game was launched during the very hot month of July, 2016. As soon as we at the La Salette National Shrine in Attleboro, MA, realized what was happening, we went to work and had volunteers go out to greet the Pokemon Go players, welcoming them to the Shrine and handing them a bottle of water. We are truly pleased they are here.

…Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compassionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and vocation are two sides of the same coin, and continually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.
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Blessed Paul VI, in his exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, described various steps in the process of evangelization. One of these steps is belonging to the Christian community (cf. no. 23), that community from which we first received the witness of faith and the clear proclamation of the Lord’s mercy…

The call of God comes to us by means of a mediation which is communal. God calls us to become a part of the Church and, after we have reached a certain maturity within it, he bestows on us a specific vocation…

I urge all the faithful to assume their responsibility for the care and discernment of vocations… the Christian community is always present in the discernment of vocations, in their formation and in their perseverance (see Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, #107).


Vocations are born and grow within the Church

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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.”