The Joy of Love

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
In a landmark document, Pope Francis has called for the Catholic Church to revamp its response to modern family life, striking a delicate balance between a more accepting tone towards homosexual people and the defense of traditional church teachings on issues such as abortion.
In the document entitled The Joy of Love, Pope Francis outlined his vision for the church on family issues, urging priests to respond to their communities without mercilessly enforcing church rules. He wrote, “Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs”.
The apostolic exhortation concludes a two-year consultation that saw bishops gather twice in Rome to debate issues affecting the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
In comments likely to be welcomed by some organizations, Francis urged the church to “reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”
But the pope stopped short of pushing for a change in church doctrine. Same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.
Following lengthy debate about the role in the church for remarried divorcees, who are not allowed to take Holy Communion, Francis did not call for the rules to be changed but said such parishioners must be made to feel part of the church. They should not be confined into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment. Divorce was described as an evil that priests should help Catholics avoid, while being understanding towards those whose marriages have broken down.
This document shows something has changed in the church discourse. Pope Francis speaks about families with a clarity that is not easy to find in the magisterial documents of the church. In an era of global crisis in which families often suffer, the exhortation takes a positive look at the beauty of married love and the family.
The broader document saw Pope Francis recognize the Catholic Church’s waning appeal to young people, urging churchmen to present a more appealing view of marriage. I think of St. Valentine’s Day. In some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than the leaders of the church. When I was a kid in Sicily, I used to bring flowers to all the girls of the neighborhood, whether I liked them or not. It was just a sign of respect and admiration
The Pope also dedicated two pages to the erotic dimension of love within marriage, promoting a positive vision of sexuality which must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses.
The Pope voiced the Church’s opposition to abortion in all circumstances. No alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life. He also showed no opening towards fertility treatment, describing creation as something which must be received as a gift and suggested infertile couples to adopt babies or children who need parents.
Much hurt and many problems result when we stop looking at one another, listing a string of common complains of family members feeling invisible or uncared for. Technology affects relationships, such as when people stay on their mobile phones during meal times. The fast pace of the online world is impacting people’s approach to relationships. They believe, along the lines of social networks, that love can be connected or disconnected at the whim of the consumer, and the relationship quickly blocked.
Dear Confreres, we were loved even before our parents dreamed of us. This love fills us with joy. The joy of being loved by God, family and friends. The joy of belonging to a Church that accompanies us with the Sacraments from birth to death. The joy of one day being called by God and seeing Him face to face as He is and do the same with our beloved who have gone ahead of us or will join us later on. Sometimes joy is mixed with tears: in this way we imitate Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead to restore our real joy. In this beautiful month of May, I pray that we all experience the joy of love while pondering how much we love and how much we are loved whether it is human love or divine love.

Mary, “Memory of the Church”

The month of May is a season of growth, when nature is reborn. It is the time when the earth bursts forth fresh foliage and green grass after the stern frost and snow of winter; the raw atmosphere; the wild wind and rain of the early spring; it is the season when the blossoms are upon the trees and the flowers are in the gardens. It is the time when the days get long, the sun rises early and sets late. With such gladness and joyousness of nature, it is so fitting for our Mother Church to make this month a special and significant season of renewal and rejuvenation for her faithful through devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the pure threshold of divine relationship.
God willed both: to reveal Himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome the revelation in faith. The desire to know and love God is a gift. It is a reflection of the mystery of the divine relationship of the Holy Trinity, a divine communion of persons. The uncreated Persons of the Trinity willed to make communion with the human, the created persons of their image and likeness. After countless covenantal promises and break-ups, finally they found a holy threshold, the ‘Blessed Virgin Mary’, to renew and re-erect the imperishable pillar of relationship with humanity through the great event ‘Incarnation’. Mary’s beauty is known in her fiat and total Amen. She is referred to as a “Woman of Assent and the Memory of the Church”.
St. John Paul II so beautifully named Mary the ‘Memory of the Church.’ The Church, as Mary, is Virgin and Mother. She is the model, the mother, and the personal summa of the Church. Mary’s fiat is the nexus whereby all mankind is able to give consent to the influx of the communion of the Trinity. Time and eternity hinged on this maiden’s ‘Yes’ to the communion of grace and holiness, which made her the ‘Woman of Assent.’ She is also the ‘fullness of grace’ that is the plenitude of Trinitarian communion. She is the daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Understanding these divine privileges in the life of blessed mother Mary, St. Louis Guanella surrendered both of his Congregations unto her care and protection. He initiated all his religious ministries upon his strong trust in the Providence of God and unshakable devotion to the Mother of Divine Providence, Blessed Mary. Enjoying her motherly kindness and guidance, St. Louis Guanella has beautifully written a book dedicated to her ‘In the Month of Flowers.’ In his writing he has strongly exhorted his followers ‘to adorn ourselves with the holy virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to embrace her footsteps to enjoy divine communion with the Holy Trinity.
Fr. Guanella had strong affection and disposition towards Mary. Sharing the same family spirit and devotion, we also need to frame our religious life upon the style and surrender of Mary. As we happily prepare to celebrate the priestly ordination anniversary day of our holy Founder, it is more fitting for us to imbibe the spiritual nourishments of our founder for our holy priesthood. Our priestly life based on the virtues of Blessed Virgin Mary would be the most precious gift and honor for him. If our mere life would become a convincing witness and message, than our words as that of our Founder.
May is normally part of the Easter season, the period of fifty days which lasts from Easter to Pentecost. The Easter season is a fitting time to recall Mary’s immense joy over her Son’s Resurrection and to rediscover her role as mother and teacher in our lives. Mary has a unique role in God’s plan of salvation and in the Church. She consented to the coming of the Savior and cooperated in developing His mission. She brought Him into the world, raised Him and lovingly stood by His side during the years of His hidden life. She supported Him during His public ministry in a quiet way, beginning at Cana, where by her intercession Jesus performed His first miracle. She cooperated in His work, even uniting her own suffering with that of her Son, standing at the foot of His cross. Mary was Jesus’ first disciple, humbly following Him during every step of His journey and mission. She trusted in God completely and lived by His grace. She is our model of true discipleship and of complete faith.
The Blessed Virgin Mary offered the disciples her prayers, motherly care, and witness. She continues to offer us her motherly love and intercession. During this month of May, let us rediscover her maternal role in each of our lives. Let us offer our spiritual mother our sincere prayers, that just as she aided the first Apostles with her prayers, she may also guide and intercede for us in our journey of faith. Let us learn from her how to love and trust God completely and how to be faithful witnesses of the Risen Lord.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

Blessed Clare Bosatta, DSMP

Blessed Clare Bosatta was beatified by St. John Paul II on April 21, 1991. On April 20th we celebrate her feast day. Twenty-six years ago we were delightedly surprised by the Holy Father’s decision to beatify our Sister Clare. In expectation of the celebration of the event we lived intensely a period of great enthusiasm in order to acquire a deeper knowledge of our Sister’s holiness and, as from the day of her beatification, we have certainly experienced her protection as well as her encouragement to deepen our knowledge of her message and to imitate her example.
As the years have passed, she has become ever more familiar to us and has enabled us to better understand the holiness and spirituality of St. Louis Guanella. Indeed, we might say that her beatification gave a further impetus to promoting our Founder’s canonization. There is no doubt that Blessed Clare contributed with her prayers from heaven to ensure that Fr. Guanella was declared a Saint. We know that Blessed Clare had a crucial influence on the Founder’s journey to sainthood. Still today, those who kneel before their urns at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Como cannot but receive that holy incentive to integrate hard-working charity with the contemplation of the sources from which the grace of our activity comes. May the memory of Sr. Clare’s beatification revive in all of us gratitude to the Lord for our holy origins. Faithfulness to living their spirit and putting it into practice will increase our faith and love.
Walking towards holiness together, as Fr. Guanella, Sr. Clare and all the good people of God did will reinforce communion and collaboration among the people of God. We also want to renew our commitment of spreading the devotion to Blessed Clare and to ask our Blessed for her intercession so that her holiness may be proposed to the entire Christian world with her canonization. St. Louis Guanella loved Sr. Clare. In the beginning he was puzzled by Sr. Clare’s religious life style. He had an inspiration that Sr. Clare was a mystic. Fr. Guanella was moved to intensely study the works of St. Theresa of Avila. From then on, he understood that Sr. Clare was a saint and a mystic. She was the “little flower” of Guanellian spirituality.
Fr. Guanella wrote a biography of Blessed Clare. It is available at the St. Louis Center upon request.
Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta
O Jesus, Savior of the lowly, who made Blessed Clare Bosatta shine through the spirit of sacrifice, by rendering her an untiring apostle of Your Gospel among the poor; teach us her total abandonment in Divine Providence, her love of prayer, her patience in suffering, and her spirit of dedication to the most needy. Grant us, through her intercession, the grace … that we ask you for trustingly through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be … Blessed Clare, intercede for us!

Water From His Side: Death and Resurrection

Water…Water…Water…Unseen drought and water scarcity in the last 125 years in India! Cauvery Delta has become a cursed area of dry land..sudden death and suicides of farmers…families in tears and frustration…farmers threatened by loan-givers, pushed to shame and disgrace…Insensitive rulers who are prepared to sell water-resources to multinational companies depriving the native poor of their right to have access to water… still pathetic the Church, the Body of Christ, especially the Urban and institution-filled Church considers this problem as the problem not pertaining to it…No water…thirst, thirst…everywhere. Land is thirsty, animals domestic and wild are thirsty… and this Good Friday, the Church once again preaches on the last words of Jesus on the cross, ‘I THIRST.’
It is very simple to give a spiritual explanation for the words of Jesus, I Thirst. His thirst was for the Kingdom which would imply a community built on brotherhood, fellowship and unity. Sensitivity is the basic aptitude lying below these humanitarian values. Is it possible for us to celebrate the Paschal Mystery of Jesus while a part of this mystical body is moving towards abandonment, alienation and death? Jesus could rise again and resurrection was possible for Him, as He was able to relive the abandonment of the poor Israelite, “Why did you abandon me?” Identification with the poor, reliving the miseries of the miserable, undergoing the atrocities of the unjust along with those who were persecuted for the sake of justice…were the unmistaken means of His exaltation….He could be exalted to the right hand of the Father only because he was at the right and left of other crucified men! The piercing of His side with the flow of water and blood was the last means of satisfying His thirst for God’s kingdom here on earth.
During Lent, during Holy Week, and especially on Good Friday, are we going to thirst … thirst for identification with those who are thirsty, literally begging for sustenance, food, water …to live a few more years on this earth. Can we be satisfied with the streams of water gushing from His side while we are not prepared to spare our fellow-men, the members of the mystical body of Christ, to quench their thirst? It is time for us to think what we must do collectively and individually for these thirsty parts of humankind if only we would celebrate the joy of the gushing waters…the Resurrection!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

The Birth of the Servants of Charity

St. Guanella and the mountains

In Como, on March 24, 1908, Fr. Guanella and eleven other confreres pronounced public and perpetual or temporary vows, according to each one’s status, during an intimate and moving ceremony.
This decision apparently appeared to be an obvious contradiction. Father Guanella, in fact, had just received for the third time, a negative response to the request for approval of the Servants of Charity. The history of those days would never stop amazing us for the amount of surprises and drawbacks.
The procedure had been suggested by Fr. Claudio Benedetti who represented the Holy See and acted in its name: “It was established that Fr. Guanella should put his mind to correcting the Constitutions and fully conform them to the norms of the Sacred Congregation; to make a more precise and total separation of the houses occupied by the Sisters from those operated by the Servants of Charity; to profess and have the others make their vows as already planned; to establish a general government according to the aforesaid norms; to open a novitiate house better than the existing one.”
Father Guanella had the opportunity to present the status of the Servants of Charity and promised to welcome and accept any counsel, to pursue the desired approval. That was enough to make every perplexity fall, and proceed to the first accomplishments.
The evening of Tuesday, March 24, 1908, was the vigil of the Feast of the Annunciation. Father Guanella’s priests gathered in the church of the Sacred Heart in Como to promise their fidelity and also legally become a Congregation. The sober description, almost terse, was composed by Father Guanella himself: “On this evening the undersigned priests gathered to profess simple, perpetual vows, in the institute of the Servants of Charity in this order. The Priest, Louis Guanella, as the Founder, made the perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions received, and revised by the most Rev. Consulter, Fr. Claudio Benedetti in Rome. Afterwards, the above mentioned twelve confreres received the profession of the simple perpetual vows.” (6)
Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi, one of the twelve newly professed, tells about the extremely emotional atmosphere: “In that late hour Father Guanella would open his lips in his humble, good, simple words; but his mouth did not speak, his great heart, his holy soul spoke feelings of rare sublimity of thought and affection. When we heard him, the martyr of such great fatigue and of many past sorrows, thanking us deeply so moved, oh then our heart could no longer withhold our tears, and we shed tears of love, of holy jubilation, of repentance, of recognition that left an indelible mark on our sous.” (7)
The same ceremony with the same emotions was repeated on March 28th in Milan; on April 1st again in Milan; on April 5th again in Como; on May 18th in Fratta Polesine; on June 7th in Rome and on June 26th for the third time in Como. Twenty-five perpetual professions and eleven for a three year term, and many more to come. Each one of them felt as if they were giving life to a reality that would leave a mark on the history of the Church. They felt to be a factor in the birth of an agile, young congregation that would know how to renew itself in love, moment by moment. On March 28th, the first General Chapter of the congregation was assembled at St. Cajetan House in Milan. The chapter fathers were fifteen and on that occasion, Father Louis Guanella was acclaimed General Superior. It was a first step of the unthinkable prospective of a community united by a sole bond of charity.
He wrote to Fr. Benedetti informing him of what had been done. It seemed that now the road for his institutions would be less strenuous. Many obstacles had been removed. Now Father Guanella could look with more confidence and serenity to the future: “Today is the 42nd anniversary of my sacred Ordination, and I beg you to bless me and our institutions, where I believe the Spirit of the Lord rests. God willing, in His mercy, I hope that the two institutes reach their proper goal. I enjoy repeating that they give me much comfort and hope.”

Lenten Journey… Fasting From…?!

As we embrace our Lenten journey, let us reform and reorganize our life. Our Holy Father invites us through his meaningful message, “The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift.” Today we are dominated, to a terrifying extent, by ritualism, legalism, and resigned spiritual mediocrity. Does our almsgiving proceed from a genuine love of God and neighbor? Fasting from wounding words and constant unwanted gossiping by means of social communication would be a way of almsgiving. Let us try to develop a rhythm of withdrawal and return, because we are called to discern within ourselves that we may be sinking and drowning with a storm of our passions and evil habits. The rich man’s real problem was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbor.
Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ and a realization of our nothingness, weak flesh and sinfulness. Father Guanella left us as his last will ‘Pray and Suffer.’ While he was preaching a sermon- the seven last words of Jesus on the Cross on Good Friday at St. Mary’s House in Lora in 1908 along with Father Bacciarini, he was explaining the words “I thirst,”- “Jesus is thirsty for our sanctification, for my priestly soul, that I do not pursue enough.” At a certain point his voice broke down and he was unable to continue and then burst into uncontrollable tears of sorrow. Father Bacciarini, moved by such humility and sincere sorrow, took the pulpit and finished the Seven Last words. What is God going to do for me in these next forty days? We focus our attention on physical health, diet or body building but how seldom do we talk about spiritual health! Lent is a fitting time for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered to us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

Food for the Soul

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

Did you have to change the hole in your belt after the Christmas holidays? I did: ashamed and worried. Your body is the temple of the spirit of God. Respect it. There is food for the body and food for the soul. So, what are we waiting for? A person is not just a physical being, but a unity of body and spirit. And while the body may be finite, the spirit is indestructible. What if we learn to tap the power of our spirits in order to nourish our hearts and bodies? Miracles happen in countless people’s lives, but they all have one common denominator: they were believers. We need to realize a truth: there are more life sustaining nutrients in a positive mind and a cheerful disposition than there is in a prime rib.
Good health starts with a good soul. It begins with a kind and giving heart. It also means that one should be forgiving. Our body is the temple of the spirit of God. Respect it by looking after yourself. Do not desecrate your body. If you do, then you also taint your spirit. There is nothing wrong with comfort food. But when you are depressed, turn to spiritual matters to lift you up. Find comfort in prayer and meditation instead of finding solace in food. It will not give comfort because it can give you more calories. Thus one week of overindulging will lead to weight gain.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. While doing your daily walk, exercise your mind on uplifting matters. When you train your body, remember to keep your soul fit too. Feel the love. It is called the most powerful force on earth. When there is love, there can be no fear. The heart needs to stay in good shape as well. So allow yourself to love and be loved. People who do not accept the love of others feel that they are unworthy of love. Think healthy to be healthy. Focus on the beautiful, awe inspiring and noble in life, in yourself and others. There is always a redeeming quality in people, especially you. You just need to let go of your biases. Think big to see the big picture. Think small and you get to see only the smallness and pettiness in life.
This, plus the negativity you are feeding on. Avoid gossip at all times. It can only lead to self destruction. If you have nothing good to say, zip your mouth. Practice kindness. Be kind to yourself and others.
This is what I preached to myself. Does it sound to you like a New Year’s Resolution?
I would like to share the results with you before Easter. God bless.

Interculturality… and Universality of our Mission

My recent meeting in Rome, January 9th-13th, with our General Council along with all the Provincials and the Delegate of Africa was an enriching mutual learning experience for me. Our Superior General solicited us to live and witness to our fraternal life in a renewed way by revisiting the priorities of the 7th General Consultation.
Fr. David Glenday, former Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries and the Secretary General of the Union of Superiors General touched upon four key words with respect to “interculturality:” 1. Experience: one’s own experience, family background and personal growth along with the missionary experience; 2. Charism of our founder so that none other than his experience of the spirit should be transmitted “our mission-ad gentes;” 3. Formation: promoting or stimulating an awareness of inter-cultural formation; creating a manifold perspective of entering into a “new world” feeling the call to go beyond by emptying oneself; 4. Together: we are not called to live alone but with others. Therefore, we should promote and encourage collaboration with other religious through mutual acquaintance and the sharing of charism as well as some shared experiences of charity.
Meeting Summary:
Exchange of confreres: it is necessary to have an attentive discernment in the choice of the confrere and offering prior formation concerning one’s new mission. The receiving community should present a clear proposal of a project for which the confrere is expected to carry out. We also discussed how to promote missionary spirit and intercultural openness during the formative years.
Our works: the need for the closeness of the confreres with our poor and co-operation with the laity. We have to offer not only professional formation but also charismatic and pastoral formation.
New foundations: The aspects of dynamism of discernment, prudence and consolidation should be taken into consideration.
The formative commitment in the Congregation for different stages: the necessity of formation of the formators and supporting them to live and experience the Guanellian Charism and transmitting it to the formandi in a vibrant way. We also spent some time in analyzing the fragility and departing of some confreres.
Pastoral Vocations: great attention and sensibility in every community is needed and creating an environment of a “vocational culture.”
Reflection on the organization of the congregation: concerning the organization of Provinces and their geographic distribution, we need to raise awareness towards a better interprovincial collaboration.
The late, beloved Pope St. John Paul II indicates three borders that missionaries have to cross: people, groups and the socio-cultural context (Redemptoris Missio 33). Henceforth, plurality is not just a “matter of fact but a matter of principle.” Let us become a border-crossing person- across cultures, religions, genders, races-in order to embrace the life of the least and the lowly.

Struggling to Pray

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A good friend, who also is a good father, husband and benefactor, came to visit for the usual Christmas wishes. He asked me what I was reading. I told him I was trying to read the letters of St. Paul, taking up the theme of prayer in his letters. He was in a talking mood and continued saying that he loved the Jubilee Year of Mercy for its themes of fasting and almsgiving. However, he added that he had difficulties with prayer. “The Hail Marys and Our Fathers have become meaningless. Mass, including the homily, is boring. I keep hearing that we need to pray more, but I fail to pray.”
We all are struggling to pray until we learn what prayer really is. We need to reflect on the essential role of the Holy Spirit for those who wish to communicate with God.
Prayer is not a fruit of human effort, but a gift, the fruit of the living, vivifying presence of the Father of Jesus Christ in us. We, the believers, have the human desire for prayer. We want to pray, but God is far off, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, nor even the thought to do so. We can only open ourselves, place our time at God’s disposal; wait for Him to help us to enter into true dialogue. St. Paul says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, yet this desire to enter into contact with God, is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but brings and interprets before God. This very weakness of ours, through the Holy Spirit, becomes true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter who makes us, and God, understand what it is we wish to say. Prayer brings us to understand that we are weak, poor creatures. And the more we advance in listening and in dialogue with God, the more we also perceive the measure of our limitations, not only in the face of the concrete situations of everyday life, but also in our relationship with the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, who enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us as we turn to God. Prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity. He takes our weakness and transforms us from men bound to material realities into spiritual men, when we allow the Spirit of Christ, and not the spirit of the world, to work in us as the interior principle of all our actions.

From the blog of Fr. Ed Broom, OMV (http://bit.ly/2iF2gxP)

Prayer animated by the Spirit enables us to abandon and to overcome every form of fear and slavery, and so to experience the true freedom of the children of God.
We then come to understand that, through prayer, we are not delivered from trials or sufferings, but we are able to live them in union with Christ, with His sufferings, and participating also in His glory. Prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ who speaks in our interior depths, never remains closed in upon itself, it is never only prayer for me; rather, it opens out to a sharing in the suffering of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and thus freedom for me; a channel of hope for all creation and the expression of that love of God, which has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us. And this is a sign of true prayer, that it does not end in ourselves, but opens out to others and so liberates me, and so helps in the redemption of the world.
Dear confreres, we have a treasure in our faith and in our heart: the power of prayer. We need to enter in communion with the Holy Spirit and He will teach us how to love Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, a year when, accompanied by the Spirit we can discover what an incredible treasure the power of the Spirit is in our souls, our Order and all believers.

…A Gift from God!

Our lives are beautiful gifts from God, and how we live them out is our prayer of gratitude for such a gift.
-St. Louis Guanella

The New Year’s fragrance staggered around the globe with its varieties of dreams, expectations and plans. We welcome the end of one calendar year and the beginning of a new one so happily. The manner of celebrating may differ from place to place. Nations use different calendars, but the passing of one year to the next is universally marked by deliberate reflections ‘change, to begin anew or making the gifted life as the best offering to God’ in the year to come. This is because we all hunger to be made new and, intuitively, we all know that means we must change within if we want to experience change around us. Today in this extremely-advanced world, this common hope ‘Changing or Newness’ stirs up everyone towards the ultimate destiny from where everyone sourced. But as for the truth, it can find its ultimate fulfillment only by turning to the One who can make all things new, Jesus Christ.
Adding significance to it, St. Gregory of Nazianzen once wrote, “The object of a New Year is not that we should just have a new period of time. It is that we should have a new soul and a new heart; new feet, new hands, new ears, and new eyes with the springs of Gospel and Christ. A life gifted by God must become reborn, renewed, rejuvenated in the Spirit of God, for unless a person be re-born and re-rooted in Jesus, he shall by no means cherish the life, the wondrous gift of God and make it a gratuitous prize for God.” For this, we are obliged to do three important projects in life: ‘Encountering God, Experiencing God, and Evangelizing God’. Encountering God or knowing the heart of the Father, through daily spiritual nourishment, Experiencing God, in conformity with Christ through personal holiness and moral maturity and Evangelizing God, through a life witness based on Gospel and natural norms.
Over the years, we have come to realize that every end truly can become a new beginning for the man or woman who has living faith in a living God who invites us to begin again, again and again. This invitation does not glow only with a bed of roses but is always accompanied by a bed of thorns. But God endowed upon us or has sown in us a divine gift to battle against all the challenges and clutches of the world. This gift is called grace – and through receiving this grace we become what the Apostle Peter called “Partakers of the Divine Nature” (2 Pt 1:4). For our sustenance, God gave us an example of how we are to live, by sending His Son to preach forgiveness and mercy for repentance and to allow Himself to be the final and complete sin offering for all the collective sins of mankind for all time.
The next greatest example is Mary, the Mother of God. Mary is sometimes referred to in Catholic circles as the Mother of the New Creation because the One whom she held in her womb is the only One who makes all things new! Mary was the first disciple, the prototype, the symbol of the whole Church. Along with her Son, she sought for peace and holiness in the world. We who are members of the Church, the Body of her Son, are invited to emulate her ‘Yes’ to the invitation of God and make it our own. We are called to make a place for Him within us and become bearers of Christ to the world. For He alone can make us new.
Therefore, I pray that in the Year of Our Lord, 2017, as a province taking refuge in the providence of God, we may all find the fullness of grace and the new beginning which comes through entering into a living relationship with the One who makes all things new, Jesus the Christ. (Rv 21:5). Let us make a renewed effort at daily prayer and spiritual reading, as well as regular participation in the Sacraments of Holy Mother Church. Let us renew our commitment to those given to our care to always appreciate the beautiful gift of life in them. Let our sins be turned into virtues and be the gifts we give to God the Son. Let us renew our willingness to die to all within us that is offensive to the God Child and renew our commitment and love for the Mother of God. Each day, let us rejoice at the wonderful gift of life in abundance and an eternity of bliss and live our lives to the fullest capacity we can. Let us invest our talents in service to our Divine Lord and thank Him every day for the splendid graces He brings us. Let us thank Him as well for those times of travail, for these too are a gift from Him designed to strengthen our patience and compassion for those who are also suffering.

“Whoever is in Christ is a New Creation: the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.”
(2 Cor 5:17)