Pope Francis continues to puncture the vast blog-o-sphere with his direct, challenging and fresh way of expressing Church truths. In an address earlier today to the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), the Holy Father spoke to the sisters about obedience, poverty, and chastity. His reflections are not just for religious but for all people.
Poverty: “Is also expressed in a soberness and joy of the essential, to put us on guard against the material idols that obscure the true meaning of life. …. Theoretical poverty doesn’t do anything. Poverty is learned by touching the flesh of the poor Christ in the humble, the poor, the sick, and in children.”
Chastity: “Please, [make it] a ‘fertile’ chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers: they must be mothers and not ‘spinsters’! Forgive me if I talk like this but this maternity of consecrated life, this fruitfulness is important! May this joy of spiritual fruitfulness animate your existence. Be mothers, like the images of the Mother Mary and the Mother Church. You cannot understand Mary without her motherhood; you cannot understand the Church without her motherhood, and you are icons of Mary and of the Church.”
Obedience: “It isn’t possible that a consecrated woman or man might ‘feel’ themselves not to be with the Church. A ‘feeling’ with the Church that has generated us in Baptism; a ‘feeling’ with the Church that finds its filial expression in fidelity to the Magisterium, in communion with the Bishops and the Successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, a visible sign of that unity….It is an absurd dichotomy to think of living with Jesus but without the Church, of following Jesus outside of the Church, of loving Jesus without loving the Church.”
This is a call to all Christian people—to physically be with the poor, to actively evangelize and beget spiritual children, to be united in all things with the Rock of Peter.
Tomorrow, May 7th, is the day that the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, will have their second CD of sacred hymns released to the general public. Titled Angels and Saints at Ephesus, this CD follows on the heels of their chart-topping first album, Advent at Ephesus, which was #1 on Billboard’s Classical Music Chart for 6 weeks!
“The Benedictines of Mary have again created a beautiful recording to connect us to the oldest traditions of European monastic chant and hymns,” said Costa Pilavachi, Senior Vice-President, Classical A+R Universal Music Group International.
The second album features 17 English and Latin hymns sung a cappella honoring feasts of the holy saints and angels. Songs include: Ave Regina Cælorum, Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence, Virgin Wholly Marvellous, Lorica of St. Patrick. The sisters hope that this music will draw more people closer to the Lord through these most powerful intercessors, the angels and the saints.
The Benedictines of Mary are a young community that is growing. Following the Rule of St. Benedict, they are privileged to daily partake in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (1962) as well as the 1962 Monastic Office, with its traditional Gregorian Chant, in Latin, continuing the rich legacy of their predecessors.
As it says on their website: We have been richly blessed by God thus far with vocations, zealous young women imbued with the call to offer their lives to Jesus, through Mary, on behalf of all priests. Please pray that God Who has begun His work in us may bring it to fulfillment.
Ordering directly from the nuns allows more of the proceeds to go directly to them which helps to alleviate their debt and realize more of their new projects. Click here for more information on how to order.
We at the IRL are thinking about getting more deeply involved in the prison ministry field. We get many letters from prisoners, mostly men, asking for donations of prayer cards, books and bibles. Some however are asking to do more for the Church. One group of men describes themselves as “monks in blue.” They live a monastic life in the confines of their cell and seek personal holiness while trying to be evangelists to others. Our main correspondent will be receiving a degree in theology this year through a correspondents course.
We got another letter today from a regular writer who relayed to us a beautiful story. He is a very active evangelist in prison with the heart of a lion. Their prison chaplain retired, so they have volunteers who come to distribute communion. Here is a story from last week:
Today there was a mixup and two groups were scheduled to be in the chapel at the same time; ours and the Buddhists. The Buddhists got there first. But, instead of going home, the volunteers asked if we could have it outside. We did and it was awesome. It is a powerful thing to have a Communion service right in the prison yard with the prison staff going on all around us and the devil couldn’t do a thing to stop us. This is my monastery and my mission field. God, is that cool!
These men ask us what they can help us do with their prayers. We sometimes give them the names of faithful communities who are struggling with vocations. These are very sacrificial men, seeking to be men of God in trying circumstances. How beautiful is their ministry.
Tags: Prison Ministry
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!