We have stepped into the month of June which is noted for devotion to the Sacred Heart in our Christian tradition, very close to our father and founder St. Louis Guanella who out of his immense love and devotion to the Sacred Heart published a booklet called In the Month of Fervor in 1884. The Sacred Heart was everything for him and for us: name and reality, project and protection, a title of recognition. We were known as sons and daughters of the Sacred Heart at our origin and even the names that we bear now (Servants of Charity & Daughters of St. Mary of Providence) are the evolution and development of that initial name – Sacred Heart.
St. John Paul II said, “Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart yearns to know the true and unique meaning of life and its own destiny to understand the value of authentic Christian life.” Our founder in fact learned from the Sacred Heart how to be a hearty person, in other words, his entire life was full of heart. Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi testifies, “In the afternoon on October 24th, before bowing his head and taking his last breath, he assembled us around his bed, he looked at us with fatherly love and we understood that in that final gaze there was all his heart.”
Our Founder truly understood what the implications of the Sacred Heart meant: “The Lord is a Father so generous that He gives His Heart to poor creatures who in return offer Him their poor hearts. The heart of Jesus is the heart of a father and the heart of a father cannot stand being away from his children” (In the Month of Fervor). The fatherly love he experienced from God he tried to exhibit to his children, the Hearty love he received from the Father, he donated to his disciples.
From the witness of Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi, we understand how big his heart was:
- The Lord gave a big heart to Fr. Guanella, a heart that He formed and moulded since early childhood.
- How recollected he was in the presence of the Tabernacle or the Holy Host
Charity was always at work in his conversations, with love for all, even sinners.
- At times he looked worried and expressed complaints or protests but never lost his serenity of spirit.
- At times he reluctantly made concessions, and showed some exterior impatience but always with the attitude of goodness and affection.
- He never excluded anyone and never denied his familiar conversation to anyone even to those who once were against him.
- Comfort was always the final gift of his conversations as well as his reprimands.
- Though he attached great importance to the Rule, he was ready to excuse someone who was not observing one of its numbers.
- He took great care not to emphasize his outstanding qualities of intelligence and soul, or marks of honor due to his status and responsibility.
- He laughed heartily at the jokes of his confreres, making himself familiar with using nicknames for them.
- My heart was never well understood. He said these words because he had given everything for the love of God and neighbor but he did not find adequate response to it not even from his disciples.
O big heart of Fr. Louis, May our hearts become like yours, filled with love for God and charity toward our brothers and sisters.
O kind and smiling face! Look at us kindly from Heaven until we see you again.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Chennai – The Divine Providence Province organized a meeting for all the treasurers led by Fr. Ronald, Provincial Superior; Fr. Dennis Weber, Provincial Treasurer; and Fr. Francis, Treasurer In-charge of India. Nineteen members participated. The first day began with a prayer service animated by Fr. Bernandes and Fr. Arulraj. Fr. Francis welcomed the gathering with his introductory message. Fr. Ronald made his presentation on the aspect of economy in the XXth General Chapter. After this session, Fr. Francis invited Mr. Charles (Province Accountant) to share the details of the audit and of the government dealings. Fr. Francis welcomed Fr. Dennis Weber for the third session in which he invited all the confreres to recite the prayer to St. Louis Guanella. His talk was on the topic, “The spirituality of Don Guanella and the office of the Treasurer”.Fr. Xavier Packiam, Sdb, the Provincial Treasurer of Salesian Province, Chennai; presented the topic, “Governance and Financial Management”. He also gave a quick glance at: TDS (Tax Deducted at source), EPF(Employees Provident Fund organization), ESI (Employees state Insurance) and GST(Goods and Services Tax). The final session was the submission of budgets from each community. Each community’s treasurer discussed their annual budget for the 2019-2020 academic year with the Provincial and the councilors. Fr. Ronald thanked the DGMS community for their delicious food, fellowship, kind hospitality and their generous treatment for the treasurers meeting. The meeting ended with a short prayer.
Chennai – The second plenary Council meeting of the Divine Providence Province took place at the provincialate house from January 11 – 13th. Fr. Satheesh and Fr. Dennis Weber joined the meeting from the US. It was a moment of prayer, fraternity and discernment. The agenda and the schedule was prepared in advance by the provincial secretary and sent to the council members. The meeting gave the council the opportunity to look at the future of the province from different aspects through the prism of the XXth General Chapter. The council appreciated the hard work of the individual communities and confreres and concluded on a note of hope and surrender to the Lord.
By Fr. Amal, SdC
When human suffering is understood in its deepest meaning, it ceases to be something that is experienced in a passive manner. Rather, one becomes free to meet suffering with courage, seeing it as an opportunity for active and positive collaboration in the work of human redemption. Suffering, whether physical, spiritual or psychological, is often an opportunity when many question the existence of God, or at the very least whom this God is who allows suffering, in particular the suffering of the innocent.
This year we celebrate the 27th World Day of the Sick on February 11th. In 1993, Pope John Paul II instituted this annual commemoration as a way to bring compassion and greater attention to the sufferings of humanity, as well as the mystery of suffering itself. Don’t waste your suffering, feel fortunate to suffer, offer it up, I will pray together with you for the redemption of humanity, are all words of St. John Paul II whenever he encountered the sick and suffering.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Health is a gift from God, but sickness is a gift greater still.” Life is a gift from God. St. Paul asks: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). Precisely because it is a gift, human life cannot be reduced to a personal possession or private property, especially in the light of medical and biotechnological advances that could tempt us to manipulate the “tree of life” (cf. Gen 3:24). God had an eternal purpose in allowing His own Son to suffer. St. Paul taught that this purpose was that we might understand and know God’s wisdom and love through His plan to redeem us through the death of His Son. Therefore, if God has allowed even His own Son to suffer to fulfill His eternal purpose, then we must also trust that He is working out His eternal purpose in us in the midst of our suffering. God may use our suffering to redeem someone else’s life by our testimony and example.
But, how can we be sure that something good will come of our suffering? St. Paul taught, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Note that Paul does not say that all things that happen to us are good, but that God takes all things and works them together for good in order to fulfill His eternal purpose. There is a story in the Gospel about Jesus walking along with his disciples and they see a man begging who was born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “whose fault is it – this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus says it’s not anyone’s ‘fault’ but rather the man is born blind for the glory of God. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. When St. John Paul II once visited the sick people he said, “I am here with you to pray with you for all those who trust in your prayers.” In its brokenness the human body still reveals itself as a call to make a gift of ourselves in love.
Whenever St. John Paul II had a special intention he went to the sick saying to them, “I am entrusting the Church to you,” because in their weakness they have power. Jesus didn’t suffer so you wouldn’t have to, but Jesus suffered that you will know how to suffer. The Church is not merely a collection of Christians. It is a living instrument of redemption- an extension of Jesus Christ throughout time and space. He continues His salvific work through each member of His body. When a person understands this, he sees that the idea of “offering it up” is a calling to participate in the salvation of the world.
Suffering is also a place of purification. St. Thomas Aquinas in one of his conferences said, “Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what He desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.” In suffering we learn humility, obedience, how to love and be patient as Jesus exemplified on the cross.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Whether we cry or smile the pain does not change but the suffering does. When we accept our pain without resisting it and offer it as a gift, the pain becomes a means of salvation for us and for the whole world.
“I did not change the whole world but I changed the world for a few.”
In 1997, St. John Paul II established the special Day of Consecrated Life to coincide with the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem (February 2nd). The Pope gave three reasons for his selection of February 2nd as a special day for religious women and men: first, to praise and thank the Lord for the gift of consecrated life; second, to promote the knowledge and appreciation of consecrated women and men by all People of God; and third, to invite all those who have dedicated their life to the cause of the Gospel to celebrate the wonderful ways the Lord has worked through them.
Along with mother Church we thank the Lord as the Divine Providence Province for all the graces we received throughout these years, especially the gift of vocations, hundreds of young men saying “Yes” to follow and serve the Lord in and through the Guanellian Charism and Spirit.
Secondly the Presentation of the Lord invites all of us to appreciate and to assert who we are. What is our identity? In other words we must speak boldly about the goodness of religious life. At times along with the tides of competitive society, people may make a comparison of our religious life with other walks of life and we may fall prey to their calculations saying what is so special in this life? But we all know deep down that this life is the prototype of the heavenly table, the continuation of the early Christian community, the antidote to the divisive world, the real globalization, we go where the Lord sends us and still we own people as our children and others own us as their fathers and mothers. We left one family but we are part of many families around the world.
Thirdly it is a moment of celebration and sharing with others what the Lord has done in and through me. I did not change the whole world, but I changed the world of at least a few people, I was the eye for the blind, I was the hand and leg for the crippled, I was the mind for the intellectually disabled.
At this juncture we thank the Lord in a special way for the special grace that has been given to our confrere. Bro. Praveen, who met with a road accident, has been freed of all charges. We appreciate all those who involved themselves in this process and accompanied our confrere.
Let us celebrate the sacerdotal ordination of eight confreres on February 11th and their first Eucharistic celebrations in the following days. We thank and appreciate all the formators and in a special way the formation team of DGMS for their accompaniment and stewardship in the final phase of their preparation.
Let us welcome and celebrate the presence of the DSMP superiors who are on their Canonical Visit. Let us keep them in our prayers and sustain them.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
CHELSEA – The Servants of Charity Community in Michigan was honored to host our Superior General, Very Rev. Umberto Brugnoni and his assistant Bro. Franco Lain, for a five-day visit from Friday, October 19th through Wednesday, October 24th. The purpose of the visit was to provide the new leader of the Servants of Charity with an opportunity to visit St. Louis Center in Chelsea and the Pious Union of St. Joseph in Grass Lake, and to assess the operations of each program and visit their new facilities. Fr. Umberto and Bro. Franco were relaxed and comfortable during their stay, and enjoyed the opportunity to visit their confreres in the United States.
“Holiness is one of the most beautiful gifts a human heart can offer to God.” – Mother Teresa. We know well that life is a precious gift of God to all of us and what we make out of our lives is our gift to God in return. I was told that in the culture of the United States as also of India, when you go to visit a family, never go with an empty hand. I wonder what gift we need to carry when we go to our eternal home (heaven) to our Father. We know well that we cannot carry anything but our pure soul and the good things we did here on earth. We fatigue a lot to earn so many things just to leave them to others as the proverb says “When he dies he will carry nothing away” (49;17). Each one must now reflect what gift we will be carrying to our Father once we are done with our pilgrimage here on earth. What good do we possess or cultivate? Humility? Forgiveness? Patience? Love? Charity? Kindness? Sharing with the needy? Endurance in suffering? What is the gift that I will present to God?
We begin this month remembering and honoring our ancestors who lived before us and returned to the Father. November 1st, we honor All Saints and November 2nd, we commemorate All the Faithful Departed. St. Bernard says the lives of the saints assure us that holiness is possible, they teach us by their lives and their writing how to serve God, and they can intercede for us when we need God’s help. Honoring the saints and millions of others who have tried to live a good and holy life, including those who have fallen along the way, but who have gotten up and kept on going. Saints are people who lived their lives according to the design of God and helped others also live their lives well. When we live our life fully and help others as to live well, then we become holy ones in the eyes of God.
Live: Whether we know it or not, we all have a vision for our lives. We all have a philosophy that sets out how we want to live and what we want to accomplish. It’s this vision that guides many of our decisions and actions. At the heart of our vision is the desire to do what makes us happy. As we mature, our vision gets refined and sharpened. It also becomes increasingly selfless. Our life is not just made of what this world has to offer us. Remember that we are the children of God and that heaven is our true home. We need to tell ourselves that we are more than our job, our skills, our wealth or education. We are precious to God and He delights in us. This is the call to live our life fully, meaningfully and joyfully.
Let Live: As we journey on earth God is asking us to love our neighbor as a commandment. God asks us to take the risk for the sake of His people. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella, and Mother Theresa didn’t try to solve all of the world’s problems: they simply lived their life in radical service and love of their neighbor. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike saw in them a role model. They invite us to let others live with a simple program of life, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. At the end of life, we are going to be judged on the basis of our love for one another.” Fr. Guanella invites his followers to attain holiness with this simple program of life, “in doing our daily duties with love, we embrace holiness.” I would like to quote a passage from The Imitation of Christ. “How many people will remember you and pray for you once you are dead? So do all you can now, for you do not know when you will die or what you will face after death. Gain merit for eternity now while there is time and concern yourself only with your eternal salvation.” (Ch. 23; 8).
The month of November for the Catholic Church is special because the militant church commemorates its relationship with the triumphant church and the penitent church through the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These two celebrations remind us of the temporality and the eternity of human existence. In other words they reiterate our fundamental vocation as Christians to become holy or saintly. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5,48)
This month gives us, Guanellians additional privilege and joy since we celebrate the feast of the mother of Divine Providence. It is very evident from the life of our founder that the concept of Divine Providence was very close to his heart that he named his autobiography The Ways of Providence, that he named the first institution House of Divine Providence, that he called the bulletin of that house The Divine Providence and named the sisters the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
In general Divine Providence would mean that God governs and directs everything and therefore the entire universe is under His control. Moreover even when things go wrong, he can straighten up the crooked designs of human beings (Saul becoming Paul, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament) and produce good out of the bad which human minds design. Personally one can think of Divine Providence in terms of his existence, his family, his education and well-being etc.
Our founder does not stop with this idea of Divine Providence as God’s intervention in one’s life. He moves further to assert that human cooperation is a must to avail this gift: “It is God who does; we are only instruments in the hands of God”. He recommended his followers to merit Divine Providence through trust, work and sacrifice. For example, he was fully convinced that Divine Providence and poverty go hand in hand: “if you want to weaken the institution, let it become rich, to live in much poverty and to entrust ourselves completely to Divine Providence is a virtue of high perfection”. Divine Providence means human charity too: when the fortunate helps the unfortunate, the haves hold up the have-nots, when the healthy accompany the crippled.
Providence does not mean looking at the roof and waiting for some treasure from nowhere, it is doing what one can in his concrete situation: “If a man limits himself to be a zero, he is nothing and will never do anything. If instead he tries to be something, he does whatever he can, he becomes a positive reality, after all he has only to ask Providence to add one zero, two zeros, three zeros to his small number and immediately the small things become large”. As members of the Divine Providence Province with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, youthfulness and vitality, let us inculcate this teaching and exhortation of our founder in our minds and hearts: you try to provide first with what you are, what you have and God will do miracles.
I wish you fruitful celebration of the feast of the Mother of Divine Providence. On behalf of the province I extend my sincere wishes and prayers to our Guanellian sisters as they bear this name. I make this special plea for your ardent prayers (both common and personal) for the good health of our confrere Rev. Fr. Bala Yesu who is under treatment.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Dear loving Confreres, DSMP sisters, GC and GLM members, seminarians, benefactors, Parishioners, staff and residents of our facilities,
I send my simple and sincere wishes and greetings in the name of the newly appointed provincial council of Divine Providence Province.
We are not makers of history; rather we are made by history – Martin Luther King Jr.
I believe that what we are today as the Divine Providence Province is what our veterans and pioneers dreamt, toiled and shaped. It is good to recall that some of the pioneers went back to the Lord telling Him, “I have finished the race. Give me the crown prepared for me,” (2 Tim. 4: 7-8). Some others for different reasons are not able to be physically present in the province, yet we sense their countenance amongst us.
At this historical juncture, I would go unjustified, if we are not grateful to you, dear confreres our veterans. My mere thank you is a small way in which the entire province repays you for what you are to us.
Thank you dear Rev. Fr. Alfonso Crippa (Former Superior General) and his council for your paternal guidance and charismatic presence.
Thank you dear Rev. Fr. Gustavo De Bonis (Link councilor for DPP) for your edifying personal accompaniment.
Thank you dear Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam (former Provincial of DPP) for your simplicity and prudent leadership.
Thank you dear fathers Charlton, Visuwasam, Kulandaisamy, Dennis Weber, and Silvio De Nard for your encouraging animation.
Thank you dear Rev. Fr. Joseph Rinaldo for your tireless journeys and for your fatherly prodigality.
We are stepping into this new month of October, a moment very close to our heart. It is the moment when we bring back to our memory and relive the heavenly birth of our beloved founder St. Louis Guanella and the official recognition of him from the part of the church. We would be already in preparation for the festivities and dinners. At the same time we cannot be blindfolded to the fact that these are the days when our founder was bedridden and underwent pain and suffering. These last days of our founder are the touchstone of his program of life ‘pray and suffer.’ In other words, his yesterday’s pain has become my today’s joy. His carrying of the cross then is my exultation of the cross now. His fast has turned into my feast today. How apt it is to quote our founder at this moment “The Lord works in our soul little by little, like the chisel of the artist on the marble he wants to turn into a statue.”
I encourage all of you to continue this legacy of charity and relive it in our times. I thank you dear confreres for the religious witness you show forth and for being ‘fiery swords’ in your missions. My special thanks go to all those who take up new assignments for your generosity and availability.
Let me wish you a fruitful preparation and happy feast of our Founder.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
One of the more meaningful and fulfilling parts of the Catholic doctrine that is not well developed in other Christian denominations is the incredible value of suffering. Sadly many Christians believe that Jesus suffered and died for us so that we would not have to suffer at all. While Jesus did suffer and die to save us and that the redeemed will one day have every tear wiped from their eyes, our path of salvation to the final, eternal reward in this life is to follow in His footsteps. Christ promised us that, if we are truly His disciples, we will suffer just as He did. Suffering for a Catholic is never meaningless; it is always meant for the sanctification of our souls and to prepare us for heaven, no matter what form it takes: sickness, financial troubles, emotional turmoil, family strife, religious persecution, natural disasters, government oppression and so on. Whether we will it or not, we must suffer. There are some who suffer like the good thief, others like the bad thief. They both suffer equally. Only one knew how to make his suffering meritorious and accept them in spirit of reparation. Jesus said to him, “This day you will be with Me in Paradise.” The other, on the contrary, cried out, uttered blasphemies, and expired in the most frightful despair. There are two ways of suffering: Suffering with love and suffering without love. The saints suffered everything with joy and patience, because they loved. We suffer with anger, because we do not love. If we loved God, we should love crosses and be happy to be able to suffer for the love of Him who lovingly suffered for us. The Cross is consoling! But, we must love while we suffer, and suffer while we love. On the Way to the Cross, only the first step is painful.
Our greater Cross is the fear of Crosses. Most men turn their backs to Crosses. The more they run, the more the Cross pursues them. He who goes out to meet the Cross and embraces it courageously is purified and detached from this world. The Christian lives in the midst of Crosses as the fish lives in the sea. When the good God sends us Crosses, we resist, we complain, we murmur and we are so adverse to whatever contradicts us that we want to be always in a box of cotton, but we ought to be put into a box of thorns. It is by the Cross that we will go to heaven. Illness, temptations and troubles are so many Crosses which will take us to Heaven. Our Lord is our model. Let us take up the Cross and follow Him who has gone before us. The Cross is the ladder to Heaven. The Cross gave peace to the world; it must bring peace to our hearts. Nothing makes us more like our Lord than carrying His Cross. We must never question where our Crosses come from. They come from God. It is always God who is giving us this way of proving our love for Him. One of the greatest gifts in Heaven’s treasury is an understanding of the Way of the Cross, a love for trials and sufferings. If we could just spend a week in heaven we should understand the value of our moments in suffering.