Listen to One Another

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A couple of years ago, I was flying from Detroit to Tokyo. I had an aisle sit. Next to me sat a gentleman who appeared to enjoy the sight from the little window. We had a 12 hour trip ahead of us. I tried several times to make conversation and he replied with grunts. When I made a comment, he either ignored me or gave me another groan. I decided to forget him. I said to myself: he will have to go to the rest room and ask me to move. He never did. Perhaps God endowed him with long term organs. We need to stop looking at our cellular phones, and instead really encounter and listen to one another. Beware of bad habits that prevent us, even within our families, from truly listening to others and empathizing with them. We can draw inspiration from the Gospel reading where Jesus brought back from the dead the only son of the widow of Nain. “When the Lord saw her He felt sorry for her. “Do not cry,” He said. Then He went up and put His hand on the bier and He said,” Young man, I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God.” (Lk. 7,13-15). An encounter with Jesus overcomes our indifference.
Often when people meet each other, they think of themselves, they can see the other person but are not looking at him or her; they can hear that person but are not listening to him or her.
An encounter is something different. It is an encounter between a man and a woman, between an only living son and an only son who had died; among a joyful crowd because they had encountered Jesus and were following Him and a group of people, weeping, accompanying that woman, who had come out from the gate of the city; an encounter between the exit gate and the entry gate. An encounter that makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other. Jesus “was moved with pity.” When Christ observed something unfortunate, He encounters and reacts, never remaining indifferent. If we see something sad, we say ‘what a shame!’ Jesus doesn’t pass by, He is moved with pity. He goes up to the woman for a real encounter and then performs the miracle and, at the same time He restores the dignity of the mother and son.
In this Gospel’s encounter, we not only see His tenderness but also the fruitfulness of that encounter that restores people and things to their proper place.
We are accustomed to a culture of indifference and we must strive and ask for the grace to create a culture of encounter, of a fruitful encounter, of an encounter that restores to each person his or her own dignity as a child of God, the dignity of a living person.
We are accustomed to this indifference, when we see the disasters of this world or small things: ‘What a shame, poor people, look how they are suffering,’ and then we carry on. And if I don’t look, it’s not enough to see, no, we must look. If I don’t stop, if I don’t look, if I don’t touch, if I don’t speak, I cannot have an encounter and I cannot help to build a culture of encounter.
We all are in need of his Word and need that encounter with Him.

In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, we watch the TV or write messages on our cell phones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter. Even within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter. May this help us to strive for this culture of encounter, just as simply as Jesus did so. As Christians we need to look, listen and meet, rather than just see, hear, and pass by. Don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity. Draw near, touch and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment, the language of the heart: Do not weep, and donate at the very least a drop of life.
Whether we are Cooperators, Brother Knights or Religious, Jesus loves us and wants a creative relationship with us. And from his fullness we all received grace upon grace.

Traces of God’s Presence and Human Quests and Desires!!

My head was aching, heart was heavy, spirit quite low and there was a spiritual desertification! I felt that I needed a spiritual revitalization and then I went for an annual retreat to research the traces of God’s presence in my consecrated life journey. I thought that this desire would be helpful due to the unfavorable situation around me, negative criticism, unfair and unloving attitudes. A deep despair was setting in… and I knew I could not change this situation. When I attended the retreat and listened to the preacher and spent more hours in silence I got this unexpected surprise! The Lord said, “My son, it’s not the lovelessness, imperfections of others or your non-stop visits causing this pain, you are in pain, you have withdrawn your love from Me and, are focusing on others’ momentous concern, love and friendship. And whenever anyone blocks the free flow of this energy of love they are bound to suffer.” By becoming hard, insensitive, unloving, and judgmental, we harm ourselves and become nervous but often we do not realize this. The master creator has designed us very wisely. In our bodies, there is a system of ‘chemical reward/punishment’ that acts instantly. A single negative thought about someone is enough to generate toxins in our body that manifests itself not only in our emotions, but also on our very countenance!
Since I am on my canonical visitation in Vietnam/Philippines I would like to emphasize the aspect of ‘interculturality’. Today our Congregation is made up of members from many different countries, that is international/multicultural. Now-a-days no one is surprised to hear questions like: present society bets on mono-culture or multicultural? Internationality is not just an accidental happening, related to the numerical composition of the groups and communities, but it is leading people to make valuable choices, being capable of appreciating in them the birth of a very positive missionary attitude, such as: tolerance, openness, receptivity, dialogue, creativity, appreciating of whatever is different in others. As W.H. Auden says “civilization should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”

Where is God in my Suffering?

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

I was ordained on December 21, 1967. The preparations, the emotions and the reality of the priesthood lifted me to another planet. I felt like a jumping robot moving from one event to another, one celebration to another. The Christmas holidays made the days even more crowded.
The New Year brought me back to the reality and the consciousness of having been ordained a priest and all the duties and responsibilities connected to it. I was so happy. I felt so blessed and tried to imagine my future life, duties and assignments. My parents and relatives treated me like an extraterrestrial. The celebrations were over and I was prepared to report to my superior. I was still preparing when I got a letter from my superior. Thirty five words told me to report to the Mother House and prepare myself to move to the United States as soon as possible. I could not believe it! What happened to my dreams, my teaching certificates? My degrees, my languages! I did not know a word of English as opposed to Italian, French and Spanish. These are not my fathers, they are my torturers! Why are they punishing me? What happened to charity, compassion, human understanding? These were my feelings: anger, discouragement and a sense of emptiness.
And so, incapable of understanding my emptiness, I arrived in the United States. I knew no one. I felt lonely and isolated. And where was God in my suffering? In Philadelphia I had the grace to meet Bishop Sheen. I remember his words: “I am glad you are not spiritually comatose. It is normal to question and to doubt when you are hurting and feeling vulnerable. You have to look deeper inside, seek out the place of faith in your heart and re-examine the promises of your ordination and the vows of your religious life. God does not promise you will never suffer; life is joy and sorrow. However God does promise to remain with you in your suffering. Bishop Sheen asked me to reconnect that invisible cord that bonded me to God. I soon found my connection with God. My job was to take care of forty children with intellectual and physical disabilities. They quickly understood that I needed more help than they did. They kindly and gently told me where everything was located. They taught me the English words of items and things. They showed how things were done and what my job was. They became the greatest gift God gave me. I loved them like they were my children. They stopped calling me ‘Father’ but Joe, and I loved it. I learned in this way that God stays with us even when the road gets rocky. When you reach those dark and rough places, doubt can still creep in. God doesn’t abandon us. If we remain open and allow God to enter our pain, we can experience God’s compassionate presence. God touches us through other people.
As I sat with Bishop Sheen, crying and distraught, he suddenly got up from his chair, dropped to one knee in front of me, and just put his arms around me. I held on tightly. That comfort, that healing touch of love, was just what I needed.
I am so grateful to Bishop Sheen and the special children who continued to show me their love. In time I also learned that their love was God’s love. Fifty years later I am so grateful and happy for giving all my life caring for special children. They were God’s messengers who taught me to love and how to love by understanding that God is love and wants us to exchange this love with Him.

Heart of Jesus – A Home of Love!

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the living and vivifying source of eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. It inflames our hearts with the ardent love of the Father, pours into our hearts the graces of His source and grants that our hearts may be so closely united to His; so that His holy will may be done in and through us. The Sacred Heart is the bedrock of Divine Providence. This explains why for so many centuries, most facets of our devotion revolve around the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Even the Eucharistic devotion which has become the source and summit of Catholic worship is predicated on the outpouring of the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Therefore the Heart of Jesus is truly the home or the sanctuary of Love. To certify this truth, the stories and parables of Jesus in the Bible will guide us well.
One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in ‘THE FATHER OF THE PRODIGAL SON’. The younger son, returning home, approaches the father completely broken; yet the love in the heart of the father sees only that his son is back and his response was fully an explosion of love! The next evident parable is ‘THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN’. It captures in a very vivid way, love in action. The heart of the Samaritan went out to the victim in love, compassion and total identification. The very essence of his ‘altruism’ was precisely the essence of love – to give, give some more and to keep on giving until one is totally empty.
Another confirming event is THE STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO WAS CAUGHT IN ADULTERY and brought before Jesus Christ for “judgment”. It amply demonstrates His revolutionary love. The woman’s accusers could not see beyond the sin. But Jesus Christ, whose heart is the fountain of love saw it differently. His response was a challenge that eventually silenced the accusers. With love comes the knowledge that all are sinners in need of redemption. With love comes the realization that we are all beneficiaries of God’s abundant mercy that needs to be extended to our brothers and sisters.
Next, on seeing the multitude of people by the lakeside, Jesus felt sorry for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. On that occasion His compassion led Him to FEED FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE in the same manner as God had fed the Israelites with manna in the desert. Finally, while HANGING ON THE CROSS, JESUS PRAYED: “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ prayer amply demonstrates the truth that the very nature and essence of Jesus’ heart is love.
Therefore, the heart of Jesus Christ as the home of love cuts across all boundaries – race, culture, gender, class etc, thereby making all into one family with one history and one destiny. It is so total and unconditional that we are reluctant to accept it. For us it is much easier to accept love that is conditional with the hope that love would be reciprocated, but Jesus’ is different. His love precisely demonstrates a unique and revolutionary form of love which is unconditional, unhurtful and descending upon us. Unlike the limited heart of man and woman, the heart of Jesus is limitless in love. The nature of Jesus’ heart is love par excellence. It is not that Jesus has love and Jesus can love but the essence and nature of Jesus’ Heart is Love for ‘God is Love’.
His love accepts us as we are and completely. We are invited to that LOVE. It sets us free to love as Jesus loves. The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a training in the love of Jesus. As religious ‘the more one is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the more the person is expected to manifest Christian virtues especially LOVE. Let us strive to become the personified witnesses of Christ’s love for it is the Heart of the World.
Hail, Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

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