IRL Summer Intern Reflects on WYD and What Love Truly Means

wyd logoWorld Youth Day. A time where the Pope and millions of Catholic and Christian youth come together and learn about the love of God and how to spread that love into the world. WYD reminds us that we are not alone in this world. That no matter where we are or who we are …we all strive for this one greatness that this world needs more now than ever…WYD has a great impact on this mission.

This year, it is taking place in Krakow, Poland. More than two million youth are expected to attend, which is incredible. Despite the threats in the world, we are determined to do better at loving each other and not letting anything get in the way of that.

airplaneSt. John Paul II, a great patron of Poland, is a wonderful example of how love can  be shown no matter who or where you are. JPII traveled to more than 100 countries to express the message of love, faith, and peace. He played a major role in the fall of communism after WWII. Even after a murder attempt on his life in Vatican City, he forgave the man who tried to kill him. The devil tried but God won.

The same thing is happening in our world today. Another saint of Poland, Saint Faustina, is known for the messages of Divine Mercy that that she received from Jesus. This year of mercy comes at a time when forgiveness is difficult and scarce and judging others is profuse and an “expression of yourself.”  We all know someone who has issues with the Catholic Church or even with God. Unfortunately, and I very much hope that this changes very quickly, love is defined by whether you agree with what someone does, believes, and says…which is absurd. Since when did “I love you,” equal “I agree with you?’”Jesus never said “I agree with you,” to Mary Magdalene, so therefore He loved her. A parent doesn’t stop loving their child if they make the wrong decisions.

download (1)Many Catholics are portrayed in this way. When the media hears that the Pope still prohibits abortion, they automatically think he hates women.  Pro-life is actually pro-woman (pro-mother) and even pro-human. Pro-life is a belief and a way of life of love over evil. Life is universal and priceless and choosing who gets it and who doesn’t is pure discrimination on the most innocent and fragile of life.

But, disagreeing with someone’s stance on abortion (or anything) should NOT influence your amount of love. By giving unconditional love, mercy and compassion, amazing things happen and we overcome hatred. That is how God created it to work. As the world progresses, there are becoming more ways to hate and destroy, but we cannot forget that there are becoming even more ways to love. World Youth Day in Krakow could not have come at a better time when our youth are dealing with unfathomable misconceptions and direct violations on humanity. These youth are coming together for one thing: to learn love. There is no greater weapon.

“Angel of Dachau” to Be Beatified

fr unz picOn September 24, 2016, Fr. Engelmar Unzeitig will be beatified in Würzburg, Germany. Known as the “Angel of Dachau,” Father Engelmar died of typhoid fever, contracted while caring for the sick with this deadly disease in the infamous concentration camp. As it says in his short biography, “He volunteered to go to those doomed to death, thereby condemning himself to death.”

Father was born in 1911 in Czechoslovakia. Four of his six years as an ordained Mariannhill Missionary priest were spent in Dachau where he was imprisoned as a traitor for insisting that one must obey God more than man and for defending Jews. Dachau was known as the “largest monastery in the world” for there were 3000 clergyman detailed there, 95% of whom were Roman Catholic priests. Father was especially solicitous of the Russian prisoners, learning the language so he could he could bring them back to the Faith.

In late December of 1944, Father was one of 20 priests who volunteered to care for the victims of typhus who were dying at a rate of 100 per day. Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, OFM Conv., who gave up his life to save a married man, Fr. Engelmar knew he was marching to certain death.

fr unz iconA fellow prisoner-priest said that the help he gave was a “fruit of his priestly love of neighbor. He gladly heard the confessions of his poor sheep and comforted them in his kind and quiet way in the misery of the camp…He offered them more than just his time and selfless concern. He gave them his whole priestly love. That was his goal while death reaped its terrible harvest.”

In his last letter to his sister, Father Engelmar wrote, “Love doubles one’s strength, makes one inventive, renders one inwardly free and happy. It really has not entered into the heart of any man what God has prepared for those who love Him.” He died on March 2, 1945. The camp was liberated just one month later.

Because he was so highly esteemed, a priest contrived to have his body cremated alone and thus they were able to retrieve his ashes and secretly deliver them in a sewn linen bag to the Mariannhillers in Würzburg. Fr. Engelmar was declared venerable by Benedict XVI in 2009, and in January 2016, Pope Francis pronounced Father Unzeitig a martyr, killed in hatred of the faith.

Father Engelmar Hubert Unzeitig? He was a very dear, precious man. He was love in person. More than that I cannot say. That he was: love!”

An Adult Coloring Book on the Rosary

avemaria mitsuiOne of the hot items now is adult coloring books.  I have seen ones containing flowers, nature, animals and the like, all looking vaguely New-Age-y. My niece is using them as therapy as she sits at the bedside of a sick loved one. The coloring of the images is therapeutic and often results in an incredible picture!

Therefore, I was pleased to see that Daniel Mitsui has issued The Mysteries of the Rosary: An Adult Coloring Book (64 pages, 8.5 x 11, $9.95)  to draw people who are interested in this type of artistic endeavor into the mysteries of Christ’s life. Elizabeth Scalia, US Editor-in-Chief of Aleteia, writes in the Forward that she found that spending time working on Daniel’s images “brought me first into a place of deep focus, then into relaxation, and finally into the stillness that comes with prayerful adoration.”

front_coloringIf you are unfamiliar with Daniel’s work which is reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts, check out his website. To the right is sample artwork similar to what you would find in the Rosary Book. His work is incredible detailed and rich and theologically profound, using images that you often find depicted in ancient stained-glass windows. Yet it is wonderfully original and fresh for our modern eyes.

The coloring book is formatted to resemble one of the early devotional books dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Daniel took the mysteries from a series of large drawings he originally drew in ink on calfskin vellum. Many of the borders and ancillary pictures he took from other drawings. All the artwork came from his own hand.

This unique coloring book contains thirty illustrations— Fifteen full-page drawings of the Rosary; Twelve vignettes featuring prophets, evangelists and Church Fathers; and Three larger drawings with the artist’s commentary.

thumb_millefleur_resurrectionSince Daniel’s reception into the Church in 2004, he has focused on religious subjects. In 2011, the Vatican commissioned him to illustrate a new edition of the Roman Pontifical. In 2012, he established Millefleur Press, an imprint for publishing fine books and broadsides of his artwork and typography.

To order the Rosary book, please visit Ave Maria Press.

New Canadian Carmelite Monastic Foundation Forming

ChurchCroppedI always life to keep abreast of new beginnings in religious life so I thought I would let people know of a new Carmelite Monastic foundation that is being formed in southern Saskatchewan. Called the Monastery of the Transfiguration, Sr. Juana Benedicta of the Cross has received approval from the archdiocese to begin this work of evangelization though the apostolate of prayer.

These Carmelite Monastic Sisters are a family of solitaries living the eremitical life in a monastery, in the Teresian Carmelite tradition.  “For the style of life we aim to follow is not just that of nuns,” said St. Teresa of Avila, “but of hermits.” The contemplative sister assists the Church by giving witness that God is the only Absolute, enlarging “the Church by her hidden apostolic fruitfulness.”

The monastery is located on 60 acres of land on the Saskatchewan prairies. It includes a large chapel, dedicated to Mary, Mother of Divine Grace, that was recently renovated. The Rule is the Primitive Rule of St. Albert, written for Carmelites sometime between 1206 and 1214.

IMG_0003_200x132on200As Carmelite solitaries, the ideal of Elijah contemplating God on Mount Carmel becomes the ideal for a life dedicated to a personal encounter with the Eternal Father and the desire for transformation through the Holy Spirit by imitation of His Son Jesus.

A young woman interested in this way of life of silence, solitude, strong community and the spirit and joy of the Gospels, (between the ages of 18 and 35, in good health, a minimum of high school education and some work experience), can receive more information by contacting:

Carmelite Monastic Sisters Inc.
Monastery of the Transfiguration
Box 1896
Moose Jaw, SK S6H 7N6
Canada

Email: carmst@sasktel.net

Two Founders Canonized

Earlier this month, Pope Francis canonized two founders of religious congregations: Bl. Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad (1870-1957) of Sweden and Bl. Stanislaus Papczynski (1631-1701) of Poland. If the names are unfamiliar, the communities probably aren’t because they are the founders of the Order of St. Bridget and the Marians of the Immaculate Conception respectively.

Bl. Elizabeth Hesselblad
Bl. Elizabeth Hesselblad

Bl. Elizabeth was born a Lutheran in Sweden but converted to Catholicism in 1902 in New York. Like her mother in spirit St. Bridget of Sweden, Elizabeth desired that all may be one in Christ (Ut omnes unum sint). After her conversion, Elizabeth was permitted to live in the convent in Rome once inhabited by St. Bridget herself. She re-founded the Bridgettines in 1911, which, after being founded by St. Bridget of Sweden in 1344, had been virtually extinguished by the Protestant Reformation. She was also able to re-found monasteries in Sweden: Djursholm in 1923 and Vadstena in 1935, the city where St. Bridget remains reside. In the U.S., they have a monastery in Darien, CT, where the sisters have a special mission in furthering ecumenical work.

brig nunThe Bridgettine sisters wear a distinctive Crown signifying the Five Holy Wounds for their order was founded to have a specific devotion to the Passion of Christ. By their Crown with its 5 red stones, they remember Christ’s suffering on the Cross and keep that awareness alive in our cold world. Because of Elizabeth’s own works of charity during World War II, she was cited among the Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust center in Israel.

mic john
Bl. Stanislas

Bl. Stanislaus (John) Papczyński (1631-1701) was born in 1631 in Poland. He was ordained a Piarist Father but received the calling to found the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in 1670. Their mission is threefold: devotion to Mary Immaculate; offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead, especially those who were not prepared to die; and active service to the Church. In America, they are best known for their work promoting the message of Divine Mercy from Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

mic george
Bl. George

Like the Bridgettines, the MIC’s were almost wiped out. However, their “Renovator,” Lithuanian-born Bl. George Matulaitis, re-founded the MICs in 1910 which had been reduced to one member thanks to persecution by Russian authorities. Blessed George rewrote the Constitutions, attracted new members, and “unleashed the renovated Marian Congregation as a zealous army for Christ and the Church in the modern world” as it says on the MIC website!

mic
Fr. Seraphim

The IRL was blessed to honor Fr. Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, with its’ 2016 Pro Fidelitate et Virtute Award for his tireless work in spreading the message of and devotion to Divine Mercy as revealed to the world by Sr. Faustina. You can get a copy of his two talks by visiting the IRL website.

A Triumph For the Sacredness of Life – Friars of the Sick Poor

fsp groupThe Friars of the Sick Poor are a relatively new community of men in Los Angeles, founded by Bro. Richard A. Hirbe, fsp, on December 12, 2001. Their mission is to give themselves to God in the service of the sick poor and marginalized, whom they receive in God’s name.

Many of you are aware that California recently passed the so-called Death With Dignity Act. Hence, we were thankful to receive this message from Bro. Richard recently: “I am pleased to forward you this memo from our CEO … St. Francis Medical Center (SFMC) has taken the stance, that although no longer under the sponsorship of the Daughters of Charity… will not participate in the California Death with Dignity Act…. Another triumph for the sacredness of LIFE!”

With hope as their charism, they help people to find meaning in their suffering and sickness as being redemptive, inviting them to a fuller life within the Church.

Bro. Cesar John Paul
Bro. Cesar John Paul

One of the most inspiring vocation stories that we have featured in Religious Life magazine was of a Friar of the Sick Poor – Br. Cesar John Paul Galan. Cesar, a young man growing up in a challenging neighborhood, found his life changed forever when both he and his brother Hector were the victims of a shooting. One of the first people Cesar met at the St. Francis Medical Center where he was in the ICU was the chaplain – Bro. Richard Hirbe.

Brother Richard told him that Hector was on life support and unable to survive. He also had break the news that Cesar that was now paralyzed and would never walk again. Cesar remembers grabbing Brother’s habit and saying: “Brother…If I am never going to walk again, then teach me to fly.” He wanted to turn something ugly into beauty, just as Jesus did on the Cross.

Brother did;  first, as a post traumatic stress chaplain at that same hospital, SFMC, then as a Friar of the Sick Poor, clothed in the habit in 2010. He is now studying for the priesthood so he can return to  SFMC and offer people the sacraments “during the most critical time of their lives.”

Brother had the blessing, with Brother Richard, to meet Pope John  Paul II who told him: “Never be afraid my son.” He began in that moment to see his infirmity as a gift for others. “Ever being ready to tell them the reason for our hope” (1 Peter 3:15).

For more information about the Friars, please visit their website: friarsofthesickpoor.org.

 

 

The Pauper Theologian: St. Anthony of Padua

AnthonyofPauduaToday the Church celebrates the feast of one of the earliest Franciscan saints and a Doctor of the Church, Saint Anthony of Padua. More than aiding one to find lost articles, St. Anthony led a remarkable life that was spurred by an encounter he had with the Franciscan protomartyrs.

St. Anthony was born into a prominent family in Lisbon, Portugal in the year 1195. At the age of fifteen, he joined an Augustinian monastery where he studied intensely and was ordained a priest. His life was changed forever, however, when he encountered the bodies of the first Franciscan martyrs who had been tortured and beheaded in Morocco for their preaching.

Inspired to preach the Good News like the Franciscan protomartyrs, St. Anthony gained permission to leave the Augustinian Monastery and become a Franciscan. He then went to Morocco where he became ill and was forced to return to his homeland. On his return journey, however, strong winds forced him and his companions to land in Sicily where he eventually attended the Pentecost Chapter of Mats. Saint Anthony continued to live as an obscure Franciscan friar until he was asked to give a sermon at a meeting with a group of Dominicans. The depth of his knowledge and holiness shone throughout his speech and he was assigned to preach in northern Italy.

St. Anthony quickly became renowned throughout Christendom for his preaching which he nurtured through his deep prayer life and studies. He died at the age of 36 and was canonized in less than one year. Over three hundred years after his death, St. Anthony’s body was exhumed and his tongue was found to be incorrupt, a testament to his teachings.

Conventual FranciscansThis early Franciscan saint is especially honored among the Conventual Franciscans who have custody of the basilica in Padua where his relics reside. They continue to promote education and study amongst friars especially those in formation like Br. Bernard Fonkalsrud OFM. Conv. who said, “the Conventual Franciscans have always encouraged our friars to seek to learn, inspired by ‘il Santo’ who was really the first Franciscan theologian and teacher. St. Francis entrusted St. Anthony to teach the friars, so long as it did not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotedness. We can see products of this mindset through such examples as St. Bonaventure, Bl. Duns Scotus and St. Maximilian Kolbe.” Br. Bernard and the Conventual Franciscans continue to lead lives inspired by St. Anthony of Padua who himself was inspired by the holiness of earlier Franciscans.

Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen Celebrate 775 Years

hank familySome communities are celebrating 25 years and 100 years this year but another is celebrating 775 years! Amazing!

The Franciscan Sisters of Dillingen were founded in 1241, just 15 years after the death of Saint Francis. In the early 14th C, they received the Third Order Rule of St. Francis.  Throughout the centuries, they suffered the “slings and arrows” of misfortune as a result of the vicissitudes of history but they have persevered. In 1632, for example, the sisters had to flee from an invading army.  By 1635, of the five sisters remaining, 4 died of the plague. In 1828, because of governmental laws forbidding the acceptance of new members, there were only 5 sisters left again. But by 1968, they had over 2000 sisters!

Motherhouse
Motherhouse

Today, they are an international congregation serving the Lord in 5 countries: Germany, the United States, Brazil, Spain and India. The sisters in Hankinson, the North American Province, currently live in six convents with 25 sisters. Worldwide, there are 800 sisters!

In May, three sisters from Hankinson travelled to Germany for the festivities. Back home, the sisters were busy planting trees – 42 of them in one day! According to tradition, when Sr. Mathilde arrived from Germany in the early days, she looked at the barren plain and yearned for the trees of Bavaria. So they planted trees. Lots of them! In honor of the 775th anniversary, the congregation decided to plant 775 trees throughout their 7 provinces.

hankchurchTrees have deep roots. They appear to be asleep for a brief period of time and then they blossom forth again. “This related well to our Congregation,” say the sisters, “as through the years we have experienced the dry times when our congregation was down to one Sister and then a springtime of new growth, branched out in newness reaching the United States, Brazil, and India to share the message of Jesus Christ in caring for the sick, the hungry, the widow, the children and the lonely.”

The imitation of Christ, in love, 

is the way & goal of our vocation.

Apostleship of Prayer: June Intentions

ApostleshipofPrayer

The Holy Father’s prayer intentions for the month of May as well as reflections by Fr. James Kubicki, S.J., National Director of the Apostleship of Prayer.

UNIVERSAL INTENTION

Human Solidarity. That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find–even within the huge cities of the world–opportunities for encounter and solidarity.

Solidarity is more than the name of a famous Polish labor union that brought about momentous change in the Communist world in the 1980s. It’s an important part of the Church’s social teaching.

Solidarity recognizes that every human soul is created by God and redeemed by Jesus. Thus, all people are equal before God and deserving respect.

At the beginning of World War II, Pope Pius XII wrote: “A contemporary error is disregard for the law of human solidarity and charity, imposed both by our common origin and by the equality of all men. This law is sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross.”

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that solidarity is “a firm determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”

More recently, Pope Francis wrote that solidarity is the answer to the “scourges of our own day.” Speaking to the United Nations and quoting from an Argentinian poet, he said: “Brothers should stand by each other, because this is the first law. If you fight among yourselves, you’ll be devoured by those outside.” Who is the one outside the human family who devours? The devil.

And so, in solidarity with people everywhere, we commit ourselves to praying and working this month for the common good so that all people, especially those who are alienated and abandoned may know they are not alone.

EVANGELIZATION INTENTION

Seminarians and Novices. That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.

Following Christ, we are all called to be missionaries. Pope Francis wrote that “if every baptized person is called to bear witness to the Lord Jesus by proclaiming the faith received as a gift, this is especially so for each consecrated man and woman. Since Christ’s entire existence had a missionary character, so too, all those who follow him closely must possess this missionary quality” (World Mission Day Message, 2015).

He went on: “Mission is a passion for Jesus. When we pray before Jesus crucified, we see the depth of his love. At the same time, we realize that the love flowing from Jesus’ pierced heart expands to embrace the People of God and all humanity.”

Those who have experienced the deep love of the Heart of Jesus and give themselves totally to God’s service as priests and religious sisters and brothers—these consecrated ones are called to share his passion for mission. They cannot keep the Good News of God’s love to themselves. But they need preparation so that their initial experience of God’s love may grow and so that they will know the best ways to share that love.

Seminarians and those beginning consecrated life in religious communities need teachers who will guard the spark that inspired them to serve God. They need joyful and wise mentors who will fan the spark into flame in such a way that it does not burn too fast and burn out but rather burn with the steady light and warmth that is the Sacred Heart of Jesus, “the burning furnace of charity.”

We join Pope Francis in praying that dioceses and communities may commit some of their best people to the formation of future priests, sisters, and brothers.

New Community Welcomed to New Ulm

ghentThere is a new contemplative community in the small town of Ghent, in southwestern Minnesota, called the Sisters of Mary, Morning Star (Sisters of Maria Stella Matutina). Founded in Spain in 2014, this Association of the Faithful is the only contemplative community of sisters in the diocese of New Ulm. There are 225 sisters worldwide in 10 countries.

The sisters are contemplative but not cloistered so they can participate in activities around the diocese and open their doors to the laity. Their primary work is to pray for the new evangelization and I read that they commemorate the Easter Triduum each weekend, beginning with a Holy Hour every Thursday where they recall the Lord’s Agony in the Garden. They also pray for a half hour after Mass and often spend 2 hours a day in Adoration. They live simply and support themselves by doing leatherwork and selling crafts.

ghent 2Their unusual name stems from one of Our Lady’s titles in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Morning Star. From the Book of Revelation (2:26-28), we read: “To the one who wins the victory, who keeps to my ways till the end, I will give authority over the nations — the same authority I received from my Father. He shall rule them with the rod of iron and shatter them like crockery; and I will give him the morning star.” In Song of Songs (6:10) it says: “Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun.” The planet Venus is known as the Morning Star, often visible just before dawn before the sun eclipses her light.  It is an image of Mary reflecting the light of her Son.

Their priory in Ghent is the site of their U.S. Novitiate. In 2015, they opened a second convent in Monona, Wisconsin, in the Diocese of Madison. For more information about the community, please email them at: SistersofMaryMorningStar@gmail.com or call (507)428-3919.

Our charism is to live the mystery of Christ’s offering to the Father, in light of the paternity of Saint John, and we desire to live with Mary her mystery of Compassion, for the Church and for all men.

 Our Community wishes to live a contemplative life in the heart of the world in order to respond to the call of the Holy Spirit for the New Evangelization.

 Living our contemplative life in the heart of the world allows us to welcome guests and share our life of Eucharistic Adoration, love for the Word of God, search for truth and fraternal charity.

%d bloggers like this: