All posts by Anne Tschanz

St. Francis de Sales

Today we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) : Bishop, Evangelist and Spiritual Director.

Though he died almost 400 years ago, his words of wisdom for those desiring to deepen their spiritual life are as pertinent today as they were then. He presented a wonderful image to keep in mind on the value of  receiving of Holy Communion regularly: “As the hares living in our snowy mountains grow white from living in the snow, so by perpetually worshiping and adoring beauty, goodness and purity in this Divine Sacrament, you, too, will become beautiful, good and pure” (An Introduction to the Devout Life).

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us and for the Church.

Sisters of Life

Today, the Church asks all people to pray for the legal protection of unborn children. Tens of millions of children have died since the Supreme Court ruling of 1973. But out of this darkness, a beautiful seed of hope has arisen — the Sisters of Life. Founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life, they profess the three traditional vows but also a special, fourth vow— to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

The Sisters of Life, an IRL Affiliate, carry out their mission with the hope of revealing to those they serve the inherent goodness and beauty of their own lives, so that each person may see and experience the truth that they are an unrepeatable creation of the Master.

The Sister of Life are opening their eighth convent in Rockland County, NY, which will be their motherhouse. We pray this day for them and the 700 women a year they serve through outreach programs and advocacy.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

World Day for Consecrated Life Set for February 4-5 in U.S.

The 16th annual World Day for Consecrated Life will be observed in parishes in the United States the weekend of February 4-5.

The annual celebration was established by Pope John Paul II in 1997, to be marked each year on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation.

The U.S. bishops voted to observe the occasion the weekend following the feast, to highlight men and women religious in consecrated life as part of weekend Mass celebrations and to enable expressions of appreciation for the service of those who have chosen the consecrated life and to pray for an increase of vocations.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations (CCLV), heralded the role of religious.

“Many consecrated men and women share Christ’s light and love through their work in parish or diocesan ministries, education, health care, social services, spiritual direction and prayer,” he said. “Through their service and vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they show that Jesus Christ is our most valued possession.”

The Church recognizes several forms of consecrated life, said Father Shawn McKnight, executive director of the Secretariat. “All who embrace the consecrated life promise poverty, chastity and obedience,” he said. “Religious priests, sisters and brothers live and pray in community, and they serve the Church in apostolic service or are wholly devoted to contemplation. Members of secular institutes fulfill their promises living within, not apart from, the world. Consecrated virgins, who are consecrated by the diocesan bishop, also serve the Church while remaining within the world, and hermits observe separation from the world in solitude, prayer and penance.”

Prayers of the Faithful, a bulletin announcement and a prayer card for the World Day for Consecrated Life can be found on the U.S. bishops’ website here .

In 1997, Pope John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.

Eastern Rite Monastery Opens Doors

In October, five monks, members of the Eastern rite Catholic Church, arrived at their new monastery in St. Nazianz, about 50 miles south of Green Bay. The three-story structure, originally a convent, offers enough space for the community to grow and to welcome guests from around the Midwest for retreats and worship.

“We are a new foundation of a very ancient tradition in the Eastern Catholic Church,” said Abbot Nicholas Zachariadis, leader of the monastic community. “We began about 17 years ago and we had a home in Newberry Springs,” located in the western Mojave Desert in California.

Last year, one of the monks, Fr. Moses Wright, came across Maria Haus — formerly St. Mary Convent in St. Nazianz — while doing an online search for church property. “So we came and looked at it and we liked it,” said Abbot Nicholas.

“Bishop Ricken extended his invitation for us to come and made us feel very welcome,” said Abbot Nicholas. “He’s very enthusiastic about our presence and ministry here, so his support is important.”

With boxes yet to unpack, Abbot Nicholas said the monks are eager to settle into their new home. It’s especially significant to land in a community named after a father of the Eastern Catholic Church, St. Gregory Nazianzen.

Abbot Nicholas said the monastery wants to offer retreats and days of reflection to the community. “We hope to have Saturdays as days of pilgrimage and reflection,” he said. “Most Saturdays we hope to have groups of anywhere between 10 and 50 people who will come for the day to celebrate liturgy with us; Mass in the morning and lunch. We can show them around and explain to them about our tradition. Then they can stay for vespers.”

To read the complete article, click here. For more information, about Holy Resurrection Monastery, visit www.hrmonline.org.

Los Angeles Regional Meeting – 1/28/12

On January 28, 2012, the Institute on Religious Life will host a Regional Meeting entitled: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of Hosts. The meeting will be held in Wilmington, CA, at Sts. Peter & Paul Parish beginning at 9:15 AM. All are invited. There is a $15.00 registration fee. Registration must be received by January 25, 2012.

This year’s regional meeting will offer reflections on the vital importance of the Sacred Liturgy in the Church’s life and mission. Special emphasis will be given to how Divine Worship relates to the consecrated life. Speakers will include: Rev. Brian Mullady, O.P., Mother M. Julie Saegaert, S.C.M.C., and Rev. Norbert Wood, O.Praem.

As the Catholic Church embraces the revised edition of the Roman Missal, it is good to be reminded that “an indispensable means of effectively sustaining communion with  Christ is assuredly the Sacred Liturgy” (Vita Consecrata, 95).

Click here for registration information or call (310)521-1930, ext. 112 or FAX (310)521-9645.

St. Anthony of Egypt – Founder of Monasticism (251-356)

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Anthony of Egypt, founder of monasticism.

Born in Coma, Upper Egypt to wealthy parents, Anthony got rid of all his possessions and lived among the local ascetics as a youth. Later he withdrew into the desert, where he lived in complete solitude and was repeatedly tempted by the devil. Remaining steadfast, he attracted a number of disciples to a hermit’s life in the desert and a small monastery was formed at the place. From there he, in 311, went to Alexandria to encourage the confessors during the persecution of the Emperor Maximinus Daia (emperor in the east 310-313).

St. Anthony was reputed to be a miracle-maker and many were converted by him. His surviving works include a letter to the Emperor Constantine and  several ones to different monasteries. St. Athanasius, who knew Anthony well and wrote his biography, said, “Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God.”

Anthony lived a long and righteous life and died at the age of 105. In keeping with his instructions, two of his disciples buried his body secretly in an unmarked grave. In 561 his relics were transferred to Alexandria, and much later, they were claimed by Constantinople and by La Motte, where the Order of Hospitallers of St. Anthony was founded c. 1100.

O God, by Your Holy Spirit You enabled Your servant Anthony to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Give us grace, with pure hearts and minds, to follow You, the only God; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Report on Women’s Religious Life in the United States Sent to the Vatican

A three-year survey of women’s religious life in the United States has concluded with the filing of a final report by the Vatican-appointed apostolic visitator, Mother Mary Clare Millea. “Although there are concerns in religious life that warrant support and attention, the enduring reality is one of fidelity, joy and hope,” Mother Millea said in a Jan. 9 release announcing the submission of her findings to the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. Along with her comprehensive report on women’s religious communities, Mother Millea is presenting individual reports on nearly 400 religious institutes to the congregation’s secretary, Archbishop Joseph Tobin.

These reports are likely to be completed by the spring of 2012. Cardinal Franc Rodé, the congregation’s former prefect, began the visitation in December 2008 to “look into the quality of life” of  communities nationwide. Mother Millea, who is the superior general of  the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and hails from the U.S., oversaw the process and conducted much of the research. Her review of women’s religious institutes spanned 2009 and 2010, with a further year dedicated to compiling and summarizing the findings. Its first three stages involve meetings, questionnaires and other communications, along with visits to around a quarter of the groups nationwide.

The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of  Apostolic Life has not yet set a date to announce its own conclusions from the report. But Mother Millea said the apostolic visitation had “generated widespread interest” and was already reaping “tangible benefits” in the U.S. Church. “The attention to it has resulted in a renewed appreciation for the role of religious in the Church and society and has increased dialogue and mutual awareness among the various communities in the United States,” she noted. Not all of the attention drawn by the visitation was positive, as some communities challenged its mandate and opted not to provide requested information.

However, Mother Millea called the three-year process “demanding, but equally refreshing,” a reminder of religious orders’ “history and vital
role in the Church in the United States.” She said after submitting her report to the Vatican congregation, “As I learned of and observed firsthand the perseverance of the religious in the United States in their vocations, in their ministries and in their faith … I have been both inspired and humbled.”