That All May Be One…

At the IRL National Meeting banquet, held on April 6, 2013, Mother Mary Clare Millea, ASCJ, received the Pro Fidelitate et Virtute award from the IRL in recognition of her extraordinary fidelity to the consecrated life, as well as her tireless dedication as a daughter of the Church. Mother is Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and was the Apostolic Visitator for Institutes of Women Religious in the United States.

In the news yesterday was the report that Pope Francis reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform needed by the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). Archbishop Gerhard L. Müller, the prefect for the Vatican’s doctrine congregation and Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle, who was named to carry out the reform of the group, met met in Rome with conference president Sister Florence Deacon on April 15 among others.

Archbishop Müller thanked the sisters for their “great contribution” to the Church, “as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor” that have been founded and staffed by religious. The assessment noted that while the LCWR promotes social justice issues, it largely ignores matters of life, marriage and sexuality, which have played a large role in recent public debates. At their conferences, the talks included those with “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

Let us all pray that the LCWR, the affected communities, and those responsible for carrying out the reform may act in good faith, with the help of the Holy Spirit and strive to achieve the unity under Holy Mother Church so desired by our Lord.

For more information, see the Catholic News Service.

East Meets West

At the 2013 IRL National Meeting this year we were blessed to have the Divine Liturgy celebrated by Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis of Holy Resurrection Monastery in Saint Nazianz, Wisconsin, on Friday night. Graced with the choir from Fr. Thomas Loya’s parish, Annunciation of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Parish in Homer Glen, Illinois, it was truly a memorable and inspiring opening to the weekend.

Here is the link to the homily given by Abbot Nicholas courtesy of the Byzantine Forum in which he describes what the “Eastern” tradition can offer to the “Western” or “Latin” tradition, particularly in this time of crisis for Western Civilization when secularism and a do-it-yourself spirituality has infected society to such a large degree.

From my experience, the Eastern-Rite liturgy is dramatic; the words are clear, the sense of mystery is over-powering. The heart and mind can sense and see heavenly realities. Abbot Nicholas said, “Mystery for us is not just what we do in church! It’s how we see everything! Every Christian is part of the hidden life of the Sacred Trinity. Every Christian is a mystic. Being a mystic means being a liturgical being, nothing more. Everything we do is (or ought to be at least!) wrapped in the mystery of the direct experience of God.”

“Let’s think specifically about the Byzantine Liturgy. This liturgy is long, not because we think God begrudges us our time, but because in time we already begin to experience the first inkling of eternity. It is rich in ceremony, not because God wants to dictate our movements, but because our natural human yearning for beauty—whether in color, movement, the scent of incense or whatever—finds fulfillment in our experience of God in the Divine Services.”

Abbot Nicholas believes that the East and West united are essential to the success of the New Evangelization. He concludes, “What is it that we offer? A reminder, perhaps, that mystery, transcendence and the experience of God are not for a few Christians, but for all….Let’s unloose the bonds that hold us back, let’s get to know one another’s strengths, and just see what the Spirit can do!”

Visitors are welcome to Holy Resurrection Monastery. Please visit their website for information and directions.


World Youth Day – Not A World Away!

It’s not too early to start thinking about World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero (July 23-28, 2013)! Who would have guessed that a native born son would be leading the celebration? May Pope Francis and all the attendees be bountifully blessed and nourished by the Word of God!

The theme of the meeting is:  “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (Mt 28:19)

While hundreds of  thousands if not millions of people from around the world will make the trek to Rio, there is an option for young people closer to home. The Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate sponsor their own event coinciding with World Youth Day called: World Youth Day ~ Not a World Away! To be held July 26—July 28, 2013, the 3 day celebration of our faith in this Year of Faith features dynamic speakers, music, drama, catechesis, discussion groups, Mass, confessions, Living Stations of the Cross, and Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as video clips of the Holy Father and the young people in Brazil.

Pope Benedict  XVI said in his Message to Youth (18 October 2012): “Be a new generation of missionaries, impelled by love and openness to all! Follow the example of the Church’s great missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier and so many others.”

For more information, visit the Parish Visitors website.


The Fruits of the “Nun Run”

Lest anyone doubt the fruitfulness of  the “Nun Runs” I cite the recent example of a young woman from Minnesota who went on a “nun run” with 12 other young women from the University of St. Thomas. They visited  ten different convents in ten days in March of 2007, one which was the home of the Passionist Nuns in Whitesville, KY

The Passionists are one of the least known of our nation’s contemplative, cloistered communities so I am thankful that these young women made the long trek to Kentucky to experience their life.  Founded by St. Paul of the Cross, the Passionist Nuns are “Consecrated as brides of the Crucified by their holy vows, they live solely for the Christ and His Body, which is the Church…The Passionist Nuns vow to live in the light of the self-sacrificng love of Jesus.”

As the “Nun Run” van pulled into the Passionist driveway, one of the young women said to Ane Kirstine Wynn, “This is so exciting. Maybe one of us has a Passionist vocation! You might have a Passionist vocation!”  Her words proved to be prophetic as Kirstine found herself drawn to the Passionst way of life.

Kirstine, a Lutheran convert,  returned two years later for her three month aspirancy. After a year as a postulant, she received the beautiful Passionist habit and her religious name: Sr. Cecilia Maria. Finally, on February 2, 2013, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, she pronounced the five Passionist vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, enclosure and the vow to keep the Passion of Our Lord alive in her heart and in the hearts of the faithful.

Within the Church, the Passionist Nuns are called to be a sign of the love of Jesus Crucified for the Father and for mankind. By their unceasing contemplation of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus, the greatest and most overwhelming work of God’s love, they are certain of contributing to the fullness of the Church’s presence to mankind…convinced of the absolute necessity of God’s grace for the fruitfulness of the apostolate, they offer their unceasing prayer and joyful penance that God send zealous workers into His harvest, convert sinners and open the minds of non-Christians to hear the Gospel.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus Brings a Son Home

In a publication issued by the Association of Hebrew Catholics called fittingly enough The Hebrew Catholic there is a beautiful story about the conversion of a Jewish man named Jean-Rodolphe Kars.

Jean-Rodolphe was born in India in 1947 where his Jewish parents had taken refuge because of Nazi persecution. Raised in France by his parents who were non-practicing Jews, he became an international concert pianist, an environment he described as very narcissistic. There was a contempt for the Church and a resentment against the shackles  which the Church put on “freedom.”

When he faced a personal crisis, he was directed to a prominent member of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal who radiated love, humility and faith, and who seemed to Jean-Rodolphe to have the faith of an early Christian. That night, he experienced the frightening sensation of evil. When he begged God to intervene, the anxiety went away and was replaced by the gentle presence of the Lord.

He was received into the Church at the Basilica of Sacré-Coeur on Montmartre in Paris in 1977. He was ordained a priest in 1986 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Paray-le-Monial in France where St. Margaret Mary received the visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Sacre-Coeur, Paris

Before Jean-Rodolphe’s conversion he had left the jacket cover of a new Debussy recording to the whims of the publishers. When it came out, he was disappointed, because the piece of music called ‘The Engulfed Cathedral’ was illustrated with the Sacred Heart Basilica and an overprint of a photo of the sea. He forgot about it until shortly before his conversion. “I looked at the sleeve and at that instant I was staggered: I saw Sacred Heart Basilica where I was going to be baptized in a few months…The sea and the Basilica were emerging out of water. Water is the symbol of Baptism and, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a symbol of the Church and of a new life.” He felt the Lord was telling him that even though Jean-Rodolphe had been distant, the Lord keeps His eyes on us and awaits the slightest movement of the heart to rush in.

Since 1986 he has been Chaplain of Paray-le-Monial. In his paternal family line, there are a long list of rabbis. Now as a priest and a Jew, he feels that God has given him “a place in His Heart, in the heart of the Church but also in the heart of Israel.”

For more information about the Association of Hebrew Catholics, please visit their website. You can request a free copy of the their newsletter such as the one which describes Fr. Jean-Rodolphe’s conversion story (# 90).

Chantal Artisans

In May, we will see the ordination of many men to the priesthood. Are you looking for a special gift to give one of these newly-ordained men? Is your Pastor having a Jubilee or Anniversary of Ordination? Would you like to remember a loved one by donating a vestment in his or her memory? Something magnificent  to consider are beautiful vestments created by the Sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary in Tyringham, Massachusetts.

The monastery belongs to the illustrious Visitation Order that was founded by St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane de Chantal in France in 1610.  They were unique for their time in not practicing severe penances. Rather they are called to “interior renunciations, great simplicity and joy in the common life.” Even though they are a contemplative, cloistered Order, they welcome individual women retreatants, giving priority to those who are considering a vocation.

The sisters sing the Liturgy of the Hours five times each day and have special mission entrusted to them of prayerfully  spreading devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Visitation Monastery in Tyringham is dedicated to the Heart of Jesus and the Heart of His Mother, Mary. Thus their monastery is called Mont Deux Coeurs or the Mount of the Two Hearts.

Sr. Gemma Maria is a master seamstress who has been practicing her craft for 40 years. She is now guiding other sisters in the design and creation of sacred vestments. Each Sister within the monastery contributes some artistic handiwork for the enjoyment of others. In order to provide for their growing community and to help to support themselves, they have brought together their creative talents to launch this endeavor.

The beauty and elegance of a well-made vestment enhances the solemnity and sacredness of the Liturgy.

We are privileged to share our artistry and our labor for the Lord with you!

For more information, visit Chantal Artisans!

Seen Through the Eyes of Mercy

Pope Francis has chosen to retain his episcopal motto, Miserando atque eligendo, for his Papal coat-of-arms. In English it means: Because He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him. Taken from a homily by the Venerable Bede, the phrase comes from the Gospel of Matthew (Mt 9:9-13) who wrote about Jesus’ calling of Matthew, the tax collector. Jesus tells him, “Follow me.”

St. Matthew has a special significance for Pope Francis for it was on the Feast of Saint Matthew in 1953 that the seventeen-year-old Jorge Bergoglio was “touched by the mercy of God and felt the call to religious life in the footsteps of Saint Ignatius of Loyola,” as reported by Vatican Radio.

Tomb of the Venerable Bede

The Venerable Bede (d. 735) wrote the classic treatise: “Ecclesiastical History of the English People” which outlines the history of Christianity in Britain from its beginnings up to his present time. Long after his death, he was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899. I had the good fortune of stumbling across the Ven. Bede’s grave in northern England while on vacation. It is located in beautiful Durham Cathedral, a Romanesque Church which was once Catholic. On the Cathedral website it says : It is the only cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship, and one of few to preserve the unity and integrity of its original design. The Cathedral was built as a place of worship, specifically to house the shrine of the North’s best-loved saint, Cuthbert, in whose honour pilgrims came to Durham from all over England. It was also the home of a Benedictine monastic community. In fact, the Ven. Bede was a Benedictine monk.

The Venerable Bede said, “(Jesus) saw the tax collector and, because He saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, He said to him, ‘Follow me.’ This following meant imitating the pattern of His life – not just walking after Him…This conversion of one tax collector gave many men, those from his own profession and other sinners, an example of repentance and pardon….Matthew drew after him a whole crowd of sinners along the same road to salvation.”

He Leads, I Follow

The Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration received wonderful news during Holy Week!

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, signed a Decree of Miracle which paves the way for the beatification of the foundress of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, Venerable Mother Maria Theresia Bonzel. The beatification will take place in Paderborn, Germany, on November 10, 2013.

A four year old boy (who is now a young adult) in Colorado Springs had a persistant severe viral illness that normally ran its course in one week but was stretching into months. The Sisters began a novena to Mother Maria Theresia and the young boy was healed without any scientific explanation.

As their name suggests, the sisters foster in a special way the continuous adoration of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament as a sign of their surrender, in thanksgiving, in atonement for sin, and in intercession for the needs of the Church, for their congregation and for the world.

They have apostolates in Germany where they were founded, in the US, Brazil and the Philippines. They cherish the  the motto of their Foundress, Ven. Mother Maria Theresia , “He Leads, I Follow.”

May our dear Savior bless us from His Cross and preserve us in His grace.

Ven. Mother Maria Theresia