Category Archives: News

Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi Celebrate 70 Years in U.S.

osf laconUnless we strive to offer and impart to them the basic and fundamental need to draw closer to God, we have given them very little.

With these beautiful hearts, the Daughters of St. Francis of Assisi in Lacon, Illinois, continue on with their mission to serve the poor, sick and aged in their apostolates. On August 13, 2016, they will celebrate their 70th anniversary in the United States. There were founded in 1894 in in Budapest, Hungary, by Anna Brunner to serve the poor and the terminally ill, in the compassionate spirit of St. Francis. They came to this country in 1946 from Slovakia and settled in Illinois.

laconThey remain an international congregation serving in Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania and the United States in hospitals, nursing homes, hospice, and schools with the same spirit of compassion and the love of God that guided Mother Anna during the congregation’s early years. They seek to serve Christ in His poor, sick and aged brothers and sisters at their nursing home in Lacon, Illinois, and their hospital in Mountain View, Missouri. They are fortified by their union with Christ in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Rosary, meditation and personal prayer.

We pray that during this celebration year, that God may grant them the grace to fully live out their charism of poverty, humility and a loving union with God.

We will, therefore, so live our religious vocation as to convince all that through our consecration to God we do not become estranged from our fellow men, but that our union with them grows deeper in Christ’s love.

New Apostolic Constitution Released on Women’s Contemplative Life

rsz_mother_angelica_nuns_at_memorial_mass_march_29_2016_jeff_bruno_ewtn-650x495On July 22, 2016, the Holy See issued the Apostolic Constitution Vultum Dei Quaerere (“Seeking the Face of God”) on women’s contemplative life.

In the document, the Holy Father called for reflection and discernment on twelve aspects of consecrated  life in general and the monastic tradition in particular:

  1. Formation – the “process aimed at configuration to the Lord Jesus and the assimilation of His mind and heart in the complete gift of self to the Father.” One startling thing was noted: “for initial formation and that following temporary profession, to the extent possible, ‘ample time must be reserved,’ no less than nine years and not more than twelve.”
  2. Prayer – must not be “self-absorption; it must enlarge your heart to embrace all humanity.” “By your prayers, you can heal the wounds of many.”
  3. The centrality of the world of God – “Lectio divina,” the prayerful reading of God’s word, bridging the gap between spirituality and everyday life. Lectio divina is “not concluded until it arrives at action (actio) which moves the believer to make his or her life a gift for others in charity.”
  4. The sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation – “The Eucharist is the heart of of the life of every baptized person and of the consecrated life itself.” Adoration is also praiseworthy. Reconciliation grants one the “grace and to become prophets and ministers of His mercy.”
  5. Fraternal Life in Community – Seeking to become “one heart and one soul” as modeled by the early Christian communities, “an eloquent witness to the Trinity,” a witness to a world marked by inequality and divisions.
  6. The autonomy of Monasteries – Autonomy favors stability of life ad internal unity but it should not mean independence or isolation, especially from other monasteries of the same family.
  7. Federations – Are important structures of communion between those sharing the same charism,  ensuring assistance in initial and continuous formation and practical needs. Federations are encouraged.
  8. The cloister – “A sign of the exclusive union of the Church as Bride with her Lord.” It takes four forms: the one common to all, papal, constitutional and monastic.
  9. Work – Through labor you share in the work of God, and with those who live by the fruit of their toil and the poor. Ora et labora.
  10. Silence – Entails self-emptying to grow in receptivity. Mary Most Holy is the example.
  11. The communications media – Prudent discernment is necessary.
  12. Asceticism – Liberation from worldliness; stability is also a sign of fidelity, a witness to people who never sink down roots.

A nice reflection by Ann Carey with comments from Fr. Thomas Nelson, O.Praem., can be found here.

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.

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.