St. Sharbel, Saint for the World

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.

sharbelSt. Sharbel (or Charbel) Makhluf was born in 1828 as Youssef Antoun Makhluf. His father died when he was only three, though his mother re-married to a man who later sought Holy Orders. The family’s piety sparked in Youssef a desire to learn about the Saints. He began to spend long hours in daily prayer, and, in 1851, Youssef left home to enter the Lebanese Maronite Order.

The Maronites still use Syriac, a dialect of the Aramaic that Jesus Himself spoke, and take their name from the hermit-priest, Saint Maron, who died in 410 AD.They have never been in schism with Rome.

Youssef’s training began at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouq, though he was later transferred to the Monastery of St. Maron. Here, Youssef received his religious habit and took the name “Sharbel,” which is the name of a second century martyr from Antioch.

 Although he was ordained a priest, he was also called to a hermetic life. Nevertheless, whenever a Superior requested his assistance outside of the hermitage, Sharbel would cheerfully obey. Many sought his counsel and admired his life. Sharbel never raised his eyes except to look up at Heaven in prayer. For this reason, those who saw him never were able to see his face.

 

In December of 1898, at age 70, Sharbel suffered a stroke and was born into eternal life. Even after his death, none beheld his eyes since they were shut. His eyes in death were as they had been in life: hidden.

 

The evening of his death brought severe, snowy weather. Many locals wanted desperately to see Sharbel (many were already calling him “saint”), and to receive one final blessing from him simply by attending his burial journey. The cold and howling wind at his high-elevation hermitage made the villagers understand the suffering Sharbel had endured for Christ. St. Sharbel interceded for his little flock, however, and the weather subsided so that the people were able to make the journey to see their “saint” one last time.

 St. Sharbel is honored as a Saint in the Roman and Eastern Rite Churches. The veneration of St. Sharbel allows the Church to “breathe with both lungs,” as Pope St. John Paul II was known to say. Let us keep all of our monastic communities in our prayers today, and ask St. Sharbel to intercede for us!


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The New Brigittines

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Men's communities | No comments yet.

brigittine vowsToday we celebrate the feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden who founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior in 1346 after her husband, Ulf, died. The holy couple had eight children, among them St. Catherine of Sweden.

The Order of the Most Holy Savior consisted of men and women, and are better known as the Brigittines. This order suffered much, particularly during the persecutions of Henry VIII. The King envied the Brigittines because of their wealth, which they freely gave to the poor. Ultimately, his greed drove him to seize all of the community’s property, including Syon Abbey, the only Brigittine house in England.

Henry VIII also despised the Brigittines because they did not support his marriage to Anne Boleyn. Members of the Brigittines spoke openly against the King, though some sources suggest this was done only in the confessional.

St. Richard Reynolds

St. Richard Reynolds

Among the Catholic religious who were persecuted by Henry VIII, St. Richard Reynolds, the only Brigittine Monk honored with Canonization, particularly angered the King. Because of his loyalty to the Church, St. Richard was martyred on May 4, 1535 by drawing and quartering, a punishment reserved for the most treasonous criminals.

During the funeral procession of Henry’s body from London to Windsor for the burial, the King’s casket rested overnight at Syon, then a country home. According to claims and eye-witness accounts, people noticed a rotten stench coming from the casket. The casket seemed to have expanded and even opened and oozed blood in parts. When men came to reseal the casket, a dog was seen to lick up the king’s blood.

This strange and bizarre occurrence seemed to fulfill a prophecy made by a Franciscan friar years earlier, which foretold of the King’s disgraceful burial if the King continued to behave like Ahab. After King Ahab’s death, wild dogs had licked Ahab’s blood (cf. 1 Kings 22:38).

Due to the severe persecution of the order, the last succeeding Brigittine monk died in 1863. Few Brigittines remain throughout the world, and only one community of monks, founded in 1976, exists today. We would like to extend our warm wishes of a blessed feast day to our affiliate community, the Brigittine Monks in Amity, OR.

St. Bridget of Sweden, pray for us!


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The Life and Death of a Communist

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.

jarulzewskiThose of us who lived through the Cold War, taking place for all the world to see in particular in suffering Poland, cannot forget the name Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. He held various positions of power in the Communist government during the 1980′s including chief of state and president. He combated the pro-democracy movement Solidarity and declared martial law. Many people view him as a Polish traitor.

As a story in the National Catholic Register shows, even this man, who died in May and was reviled by his fellow countrymen, was not out of the reach of his Heavenly Father.

A little background….

In 1966, the General was such an ardent Communist that he refused to enter a Catholic Church to attend his own Mother’s funeral. Certainly, his great nemesis through these turbulent times was Pope St. John Paul II who believed that the Marist-educated General was deep down at least a nominal Catholic Pole not a atheistic puppet of Moscow.

Here is the ending. Just 13 days before the General’s death, he confessed his sins, received communion, and received the Last Rites of the Church. His funeral took place much to the surprise of the country in a Catholic Church.

Archbishop Jozef Michalik, past president of the Polish bishops’ conference, said, “It’s exceptionally difficult to evaluate this man. When a person crosses the threshold of eternity, we should remember only God knows the true state of his conscience.”

General Jarulzelski once said in a 1994 interview, “I am absolutely sure that the best opinion is expressed about anyone after his death. Because I am past 70, probably in the near future they will talk about me even better, when I will be in the cemetery.”


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My Life for Your Freedom

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in General interest | No comments yet.

white scapularMy Life for Your Freedom. This phrase captures the spirit of the Mercedarian friars and sisters around the world.

Yesterday, our pastor blessed a whole basket of brown scapulars and offered them to the faithful in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. It reminds me that the brown Carmelite scapular, while certainly the most popular, is by no means the only scapular around for the laity. There is also the beautiful white Mercedarian scapular.

The Scapular was originally the long, wide piece of cloth worn around the neck by religious as part of their habit. Today’s religious orders continue to wear such a Scapular but smaller versions are available to lay people.

The Mercedarian friars wear a white habit composed of a tunic, belt, scapular, capuche and shield. The white Mercedarian Scapular can be seen as a “smaller version” of the Order’s habit for laypeople.

The Mercedarian Scapular spiritually unites its wearer to the work of the worldwide Mercedarian Order in its work in ransoming Christians from various types of captivity. The Sodality of the Scapular is a spiritual organization of the laity who have a special devotion to the Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Mercy. They unite themselves spiritually to the work of the Mercedarian Friars in the ransoming of Christian Captives in danger of apostasy. Besides wearing the White Scapular, members offer daily prayers for the Order, the Holy Father, and suffering and persecuted members of the Church.

The wearer of the Scapular places himself under the loving protection of Mary.

For more information on the Sodality of the Scapular, visit the Mercedarians’ website. There is also a YouTube video of a Mercedarian Sodality Scapular Investiture. For information on the Mercedarian sisters, go to their site as well.


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Looking For Spiritual Renewal?

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News, Women's Communities | No comments yet.

dscjpodiumRight now, the IRL is hosting the Vita Consecrata Institute, a summer program of  spiritual renewal and graduate-level studies on the theology of the consecrated life. One group of attendees who attended the first session came from the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Christoval, Texas.

Sr. Magdalena, Sr. Mary Thomas and Sr. Elizabeth Ann took classes on the Theology and Spirituality of the New Evangelization and the Vows according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Sr. Elizabeth Ann was able to pray in front of the tomb of her patron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the sisters had fun going kayaking in the Shenendoah river!

dscj kAYAKAs you can see from the pictures, it is not all classroom study! There are outings, a daily schedule of prayer and lifelong friendships developed with different communities from around the country and sometimes the world. The course of studies is designed for priests, religious and other consecrated persons who seek spiritual renewal and enrichment. You can take the courses for credit towards a Masters Degree or simply audit them.

The classes are held at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. For more information, visit our website.

 

 


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May crowning - Sr Tanya 2On this beautiful Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, it is wonderful to highlight the Golden Jubilee of a daughter of Carmel, Sr. Tanya of the Carmelite Monastery in Latrobe, PA.

Sr. Tanya (born Tatiana) knew from age six that she had a desire for God. Though she frequently went to daily Mass with her mother at a nearby Carmel, she first spent some time with the Maryknoll Sisters before coming to Carmel in 1962. The Carmel in Latrobe was founded from the Carmel in Loretto, PA, in 1961. Sr. Tanya was one of the first two women to enter the new Carmel.

Sr. Tanya is a talented artist who painted the images of the Way of the Cross that are hanging in the the Chapel. She is an avid gardener and has great devotion to Our Blessed Mother and skillfully makes Rosaries to sell in their store.

Her sisters say that her fidelity to God and to the Queen of Carmel is manifest in her generosity and self-giving love.

With a public celebration of the Eucharist in August followed by a reception, the sisters will thank God for His goodness to her and to their community.  Later this year, the Carmelites will begin a year-long celebration preparing for the 500th birthday of St. Teresa of Avila, who reformed the Carmelite Order.

May Sr. Tanya have many more joyous and fruitful years ahead, all to the glory of God!

Photo of community taken by Sr. Tanya. She is at the upper right.

Photo of community taken by Sr. Tanya.


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Little Flowers in Lincoln

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Women's Communities | No comments yet.
The sisters with Bishop Bruskewitz

The sisters with Bishop Bruskewitz

The Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Mercy, is a new IRL Affiliate Community located in Lincoln, Nebraska. Originally founded in Vietnam, the sisters are now a Diocesan Congregation established in 1999 by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz.

What, you may ask, are Vietnamese sisters doing in Lincoln? Like many Vietnamese, some sisters were forced to flee as the Communists advanced. Eventually, via Australia and Missouri, they ended up in the diocese of Lincoln.

Sister Rosaria Hoang was one of the original sisters. As a 22 year-old, she was one of 34 sisters who were placed on the last Australian Air Force flight out of Vietnam. They thought their exile would be temporary. But after the fall of Saigon and the ensuing persecution of the Church, they knew this was not to be.

“We all go into the chapel, all the sisters. We cry. We pray. We encourage each other to restart our lives, outside of Vietnam,” said Sister Rosaria. Bishop Patrick Flavin, the late bishop of Lincoln, asked three of Missouri sisters, including Sister Rosaria, to come with him to Lincoln and work with the community’s Vietnamese refugees.

The Lincoln sisters are teachers, child care providers (Little Flower Child Care Center), religion instructors, nurses and assistants to the bishop. They also remain on-call as interpreters for the Social Security Administration. And supportive of their sisters in the community in Vietnam.

“However, the work we are doing is not important as to whom we are,” Sister Rosaria said. “With our witnesses to the religious consecrated life, we pray and hope that the Holy Spirit will ‘tap’ on those we have a chance to interact with and draw them all closer to him.”

See a wonderful story on them in the Journal Star.

Let No Wolf Enter the Sheepfold

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in Papal Address | No comments yet.

pfrancisThe following is Pope Francis’ homily given on July 7 in the chapel of Santa Marta, attended by victims of sexual abuse by clergy, along with some families and carers and members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

It is worth reading in full.

After the Mass, the Holy Father spent three hours with six abuse victims, three men and three women, from Britain, Germany and Ireland.  

The scene where Peter sees Jesus emerge after a terrible interrogation… Peter whose eyes meet the gaze of Jesus and weeps… This scene comes to my mind as I look at you, and think of so many men and women, boys and girls. I feel the gaze of Jesus and I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons. Today, I am very grateful to you for having traveled so far to come here.

For some time now I have felt in my heart deep pain and suffering. So much time hidden, camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained until someone realized that Jesus was looking and others the same… and they set about to sustain that gaze.

And those few who began to weep have touched our conscience for this crime and grave sin. This is what causes me distress and pain at the fact that some priests and bishops, by sexually abusing minors, violated their innocence and their own priestly vocation. It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created. Childhood, as we all know, young hearts, so open and trusting, have their own way of understanding the mysteries of God’s love and are eager to grow in the faith. Today the heart of the Church looks into the eyes of Jesus in these boys and girls and wants to weep; she asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left life long scars.

I know that these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair. Many of those who have suffered in this way have also sought relief in the path of addiction. Others have experienced difficulties in significant relationships, with parents, spouses and children. Suffering in families has been especially grave, since the damage provoked by abuse affects these vital family relationships.

Some have even had to deal with the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide. The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church. To these families I express my heartfelt love and sorrow. Jesus, tortured and interrogated with passionate hatred, is taken to another place and he looks out. He looks out upon one of his own torturers, the one who denied him, and he makes him weep. Let us implore this grace together with that of making amends.

Sins of clerical sexual abuse against minors have a toxic effect on faith and hope in God. Some of you have held fast to faith, while for others the experience of betrayal and abandonment has led to a weakening of faith in God. Your presence here speaks of the miracle of hope, which prevails against the deepest darkness. Surely it is a sign of God’s mercy that today we have this opportunity to encounter one another, to adore God, to look in one another’s eyes and seek the grace of reconciliation.

Before God and his people I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.

I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.

On the other hand, the courage that you and others have shown by speaking up, by telling the truth, was a service of love, since for us it shed light on a terrible darkness in the life of the Church. There is no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with the utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors, and they will be held accountable.

What Jesus says about those who cause scandal applies to all of us: the millstone and the sea (cf. Mt 18:6).

By the same token we will continue to exercise vigilance in priestly formation. I am counting on the members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, all minors, whatever religion they belong to, they are little flowers which God looks lovingly upon.

I ask this support so as to help me ensure that we develop better policies and procedures in the universal Church for the protection of minors and for the training of church personnel in implementing those policies and procedures. We need to do everything in our power to ensure that these sins have no place in the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, because we are all members of God’s family, we are called to live lives shaped by mercy. The Lord Jesus, our Savior, is the supreme example of this; though innocent, he took our sins upon himself on the cross. To be reconciled is the very essence of our shared identity as followers of Jesus Christ. By turning back to him, accompanied by our most holy Mother, who stood sorrowing at the foot of the cross, let us seek the grace of reconciliation with the entire people of God. The loving intercession of Our Lady of Tender Mercy is an unfailing source of help in the process of our healing.

You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.

I am grateful for this meeting. And please pray for me, so that the eyes of my heart will always clearly see the path of merciful love, and that God will grant me the courage to persevere on this path for the good of all children and young people. Jesus comes forth from an unjust trial, from a cruel interrogation and he looks in the eyes of Peter, and Peter weeps. We ask that he look at us and that we allow ourselves to be looked upon and to weep and that he give us the grace to be ashamed, so that, like Peter, forty days later, we can reply: “You know that I love you”; and hear him say: “go back and feed my sheep” – and I would add – “let no wolf enter the sheepfold”.


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A Widow’s Walk

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News | No comments yet.
chervin pic

Dr. Rhonda Chervin, PhD, MA

Here is something greatly needed and timely for our times. “A Widow’s Walk” conference specifically for women who seek encouragement, comfort and wisdom from the widow saints after the loss of a husband.

The presenters for the three-day event are Dr. Rhonda Chervin and Marti Armstrong. Dr. Chervin, along with Anne Lassiter, has a 4-Disk DVD out entitled “A Widow’s Walk With Christ” which you may have seen on EWTN.

During the Widow’s Walk Conference, there will be two 1-hour talks a day followed by group sharing and prayer. It will be held at the Home of the Family of Jacopa Association in Steubenville, Ohio, from August 12th-14th, 2014. The Family of Jacopa was founded by Kathleen Marshall, FJ, (Community Servant), and it is a Franciscan Community specially for widows and women over the age of 40.

The topics look wonderful: saints who were widows, Jesus as the Second Bridegroom, Mary as the exalted widow, Stations of the Cross for widows, witness stories of the presenters, and much more.

Some saints who come to mind who were widows are Sts. Jane de Chantal, Elizabeth Seton, Bridget of Sweden, Frances of Rome, Rita of Cascia, and, of course, the Blessed Vrigin Mary. Like Consecrated Virgins, Consecrated Widowhood is making a comeback around the world.

On her website, Dr. Chervin has a list of options for widows desiring to give themselves more fully to the Lord including the names of communities that are specifically for widows or accept widows as an older vocation, the status of a Rite for Consecrated Widows, etc.

Right now, there is no official, canonically recognized Rite for widows to be consecrated in the Latin Church. However, the Canons for the Eastern Catholic Churches do allow for the consecration of widows and widowers.

For reservations for “A Widow’s Walk,” please call (740)314-8455. Please advise them if you need overnight accommodations.


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Radical Joy Conference – Tampa

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By Anne Tschanz | Filed in News, Vocations | No comments yet.

rad joyHere is an event that I wish every parish would sponsor or encourage: Radical Joy Expo – Religious Life Conference. It is an day-long meeting meant to introduce young people to religious life. As Pope Francis said, “No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord.”

Pope Francis has declared 2015 a year dedicated to consecrated life. This observance will be a distinct way for the Universal Church to thank religious for their witness and response to God’s call to radically follow Him in joy. It will also serve to promote vocations to this unique form of discipleship in the Church.

radical joyAll young people are invited to come together on this day, Saturday September 13th, so that they themselves can see that this radical witness of joy, joy that only Jesus can give, is still alive, well and making a big comeback! It is an opportunity for young people to talk face-to-face with sisters, brothers and priests.

Bring your school, bring your youth group, bring your family and friends. Don’t think that this invitation isn’t for you. Come, come see what God has in store specifically for you. The location is: Mary Help of Christians Center, 6400 East Chelsea Street, Tampa, FL, 33610. For more information visit the website or call  (813)626-6191.

“Consecrated life is a prophecy,” said the Holy Father. “Like birds, God ask us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, by avoiding temptation to ‘domesticate’ our young people we help our church grow. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”

 

 


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