Suffer and Love

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.

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New Provincial Council Announced

It is with gratitude in our hearts for the many years of service from our outgoing Provincial Council that we wish them all a fond farewell as they transition into their new positions within the Congregation. With hopefulness we welcome our incoming Council and pray that they transition well into their new leadership roles.

Fr. Jesiah Ronald – Provincial Superior

Fr. Antonysamy Kulandaisamy – Vicar and First Council

Fr. John Samson Rajasegaran – Second Council

Fr. Alphonse Satheesh Caniton – Third Council

Fr. Selvaraj Francis – Fourth Council

Portraits of Councilors

 

The Church and Homosexuals

photography of family near pine tree
Photo by Amber Morse on Pexels.com

A gentleman who calls me his friend, among other questions about the Church asked me: “Isn’t the Church’s teaching discriminatory against homosexuals?” Not at all.
The Church does not discriminate against homosexuals. It revolves around the distinction between homosexual activity and homosexual persons. First is the Church’s belief that Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. Under no circumstances can they be approved (Catechism, # 2357). The Church also insists, however, that men and women with same sex attractions are valued members of the human family and must be treated with the same respect and love as every other child of God. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Hatred, persecution, prejudices and ridicule of homosexuals is a grave sin and must always be treated as such.
The teaching of the Church does not intend to offend our homosexual brothers and sisters, and we recognize that for some individuals and their families, especially parents, questions of sexual identity and behavior can be very difficult and emotionally charged. To those individuals and their families we offer our sincere concern and prayerful support
As a society, however, we have to understand the possibility, sometimes the necessity, of loving and respecting their inappropriate or immoral behavior. Parents have to do that with their children once in a while.
What harm is done if the activity is between consenting adults? The fact that two adults consent to an action doesn’t make it morally right or socially acceptable. The “harm” is that such reasoning leads us down a very dangerous and permissive slope to the detriment of the common good and the spiritual impoverishment of the individuals involved. After all, two consenting adults can engage in drug use, prostitution, polygamy or other immoral activity. In other words, the determination of the morality of an action is found in the act itself and not in the consent of the people involved.
Same sex unions affect the family. We should recognize that in every culture and society throughout the ages traditionally defined marriage, as a stable union of one man and one woman, has been normative and has been given protection and respect. The definition of the family’s identity is a priority. Such marital and family stability does not only depend on the good will of concrete persons; it takes on an institutional character of public recognition by the State. The recognition, protection and promotion of this stability contribute to the general interest, especially of the weakest, that is the children.
In other simple terms, marriage as traditionally defined has always been a privileged institution, and that distinction should be recognized, preserved and applauded. Accepting other personal unions as equivalent to marriage undermines the special status afforded to marriage in every society and culture.
Examples of this point: in the classroom if all the students routinely get an “A” on their report card, the work of the real “A” student is devalued. In the Olympics, if everyone receives a gold medal, why bother competing? And if every intimate relationship between consenting adults is marriage, then marriage is nothing.

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

We are God’s Imprints, Hence no Distinctions

‘In every human person there is the imprint of God’- Pope Francis. The statement reminds us that each of us is created in God’s image and likeness. Our province has given birth to new houses for the good children in the United States and in India, on June 12th a formal dedication of ST. LOUIS GUANELLA VILLAGE along with the grand opening of four new CHILDREN’S HOMES for children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities and on June 29th, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, DON GUANELLA RESIDENTIAL HOME for the orphaned special children respectively. These are the outcomes of the untiring efforts of our confreres along with the Staff, Parents, GLM, Benefactors and well-wishers. It is realized after 58 & 20 years of our ministry presence in USA and Chennai as per the sayings of our Founder St. Luigi Guanella, ‘A new house develops little by little according to the ways of Divine Providence.’ It is also a miracle of Providence. Fr. Luigi invites us not to put our trust in economic security or fixed revenues or human protection but in prayer, work, sacrifice and poverty. He not only expressed this by his words but by deeds of trusting in God and soliciting help from the people.
Every human person is born with a heart of compassion which reacts in accordance with the feelings of fellow humans. Compassion, love, affection and care are the innate qualities which make us human. It is these qualities that define the human person. All world religions ecumenically share and support this concept of treating others with courtesy and kindness. The best example of humaneness is the parable of “The Good Samaritan” in which a lowly Samaritan assisted a helpless man who had been waylaid and injured.
Therefore my humble reminder to all those associated with the Guanellian Mission in our province as we remember the foundation day of our ministry on July 3rd to inculcate a heart of compassion, love, affection and care to the differently-abled people who need love and compassion. Pope Francis rightly said in one of his audiences when he directly met the sick and the differently-abled people: “God has a special place in His Heart for differently-abled people.” Dalai Lama said: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries… without them humanity cannot survive.” So let’s always strive to be persons filled with compassion and love for humanity without any distinctions. Having the imprints of God in us, let’s see God’s imprint in our fellow humans.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC27752410_2035681073115937_2824256014328965860_n

Marriage

Anytime the subject of marriage comes up in a conversation, the questions are always the same. Why is the Church so adamantly opposed to “gay marriages” and civil unions? Doesn’t the Church’s stance discriminate against homosexuals? What harm is done if homosexual activity is between consenting adults? How does it affect my marriage and family? Why does the Church care if in fact the Church won’t be required to witness such unions?
These are just some of the questions debated today over gay marriage and civil unions. For the sake of the record, there is no difference between the two: just different terminology for the same thing. It seems however, that some advocates use civil unions as a stepping stone to legitimize gay marriage.
As the debate continues, it’s really important that Catholics understand why this is such a critical moral issue and why the Church is involved. And we begin with a review of the Church’s fundamental teaching about marriage. As Catholics we believe that matrimony is a sacred institution, designed by God and raised to a level of a sacrament by Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly sets forth God’s plan for the human race: “God created man in His image, in the divine image He created him, male and female He created them. God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fertile and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Gn 1,27-28).
The teaching of the Church explains: the intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by Him with its own proper laws. God Himself is the author of marriage.
The two divinely established purposes of marriage are obvious: to promote life and love and to be creative and unifying. “This life giving complementarity between the sexes is natural and normative. Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another.” (Catechism, #1604). A statement of the Pontifical Council for the family explains it this way: “We can also see how incongruous the demand is to grant marital status to unions between persons of the same sex. It is opposed, first of all, by the objective impossibility of making the partnership fruitful through the transmission of life according to the plan inscribed by God… Marriage cannot be reduced to a condition similar to that of a homosexual relationship: this is contrary to common sense.” (#23).
The statement refers to “common sense and I think that’s important. When we learned about the birds and the bees, it was always male and female; it was always male and female birds and bees, wasn’t it? Some advocates of homosexuality point to the fact that there is evidence of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom, and I suppose that’s true. But it always emerges as an exception to the norm.
Finally, even from a biological standpoint, the “facts of life” are obvious: man and woman are physically designated for union with each other. In short, from the evidence of the Bible, the teaching of the Church, common sense and biology, so called gay marriages and civil unions are contrary to God’s plan, morally objectionable, and an unacceptable substitute for marriage.

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

Hope and Joy-Filled Easter People!

The resurrection of Jesus creates hope for our present and future existence. We see and recognize God present in each and every creation that has the capacity for complete transformation and fulfillment. We have a partial resurrection in each and every minute of our lives as we exist on earth: child leaving the womb, the adolescent entering the adult life, the adult experiencing middle-age crises and finally the human person leaving this earthly life with his/her death, all these move towards a fuller life. Are we living our lives with a hope of resurrection or minds filled with all the negative elements over self and others? Easter is a call for all of us to see the goodness of each other and avoid finding fault with others because of our disillusionment.
Resurrection is a missional event to enter into new ventures like that of the disciples of Jesus Christ. It is not an event of fear but the event of peace and joy. The very first word that Jesus uttered to the disciples was “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21) or “Fear Not” because they were filled with fear. Our mission, hence, is not to create our own presence but be the presence of the Risen Christ that leads people, structures, systems and cultures. Be ever ready with an open mind and heart to become border crossing persons because the scenario we are living in is impelling us for missionary stations. Instead of saying something like the system is not good or the persons in authority are not very effective, let’s strive to create an impact of the resurrected Jesus by giving hope to others amidst desolation.
In this hope and joy filled season of Easter, may I earnestly make an appeal to all for a personal experience and encounter with the living Christ as we are fast approaching the 20th General Chapter. Please be filled with the presence of the Resurrected Jesus by increasing our prayers and be spiritually united with the delegates of the chapter. May this Easter be an illumining experience of the Risen Christ the light of all nations to move beyond our bindings and borders to become intercultural persons filled with hope and courage to be Servants of Charity to the universe!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

The Road to Recovery

Image courtesy PIXABAY

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

Image courtesy PIXABAYI met Cruz on a sidewalk in Detroit begging for money: she was addicted, hungry and homeless. I convinced her to enter a residential program where she would be treated with dignity and love. She accepted. I drove her with the promise of visiting her as often as I could. Cruz spent three years trying to get around that mandate as she stayed stuck in the disease of addiction. Not until she finally gave up faking it, got honest with herself and got into recovery did she make any progress. The two-word requirement fundamental to sobriety is rigorous honesty.
Cruz grew up in a rough part of East Detroit, MI, where her drug addiction was almost inevitable. She lived in the drug world and she inherited the genetic brain disease. At age 13, her drug was marijuana and she got hooked on cocaine at age 18. By the time she was in her forties she lost everything, including her four children. Cruz moved away to get a new start, but she found out that her disease came with her. Between 2001 and 2007, she spent three years in jail for committing crimes to buy drugs. She wasn’t a good criminal, because she always got caught.
In jail, for the first time, she wanted to be sober. In 2014, she entered Our Hope, the women’s recovery home in the Heritage Hill district of Grand Rapids. That’s when she first tried to get honest. She told her therapist, “I was afraid of my feelings, so I buried them with anger and drugs.” Cruz stayed sober in a Recovery Roadhouse for six months before disaster struck. The father of her children went to prison for dealing drugs, and since she didn’t have custody of them, her four children were given up for adoption. She lost all hope and went on a two year binge. Then her children’s father got out of jail, and Cruz got pregnant. In November 2016, she delivered a healthy baby girl who was taken away from her in the hospital.
When Cruz was discharged, she went straight to a drug clinic, where they gave her a second chance at Our Hope. She said God, too, gave her another chance to be the good mother she always wanted to be. This time at Our Hope the counselors insisted Cruz had to get rigorously honest with her feelings if she wanted to stay sober. Finally Cruz understood that she was the problem. “Before when I was hurt, I used. When I was angry, I used. When I was sad, I used. When I was happy, I used.” Our Hope taught her how to be emotionally honest, the sine qua non of recovery. Our Hope’s program also led her out of the chaotic life her brain disease created into the structured, orderly days she leads now. Cruz has a job, lives in the Catholic Community’s first Step House, has a sponsor, a recovery coach, and best of all, sees her seven month old daughter whose foster mother has cared for her as her own child.
Cruz dreams of having her older children back in her life one day. She prays, “They will want to find me and see me as the good mother I always wanted to be for them. I never thought God would let me be a mother again. Now by God’s grace, I have another chance.”

Legacy Remembered Lent 2018: Prayer and Suffering…

frABacc10As we are in the Lenten season, it would be appropriate to reflect upon the greatest testament which our beloved Founder St. Louis Guanella left to us his disciples: Prayer and Suffering. It can be well understood from the words of Bishop Aurelio Bacciarini, the successor of Fr. Guanella. Prayer is the first necessary condition for the stability, progress and success of the Houses of Fr. Guanella. He also differentiates prayer and the spirit of prayer: Prayer is the common and ordinary invocation of God that we raise to Him during the day. Spirit of prayer is something more intense and deeper. Therefore for these extraordinary charitable acts not only mere human hands are needed but also the kind and strong intervention of God. Without the spirit of prayer, we would not receive God’s favors. Hence it is a requirement for every member of a community and whole of the congregation to be soaked in prayer and make the Houses of Charity real tabernacles of constant praise to God. How to make our life prayer? a) from the Altar of the Holy Eucharist, let us draw the treasures of Divine Mercy b) from the reception of Holy Communion, let us unite ourselves with Jesus with the fervor of saints, so that nothing of this world may separate us from Him c) From the Holy Tabernacle – Paradise on Earth – let us sanctify our work, our travelling and our rest by keeping our hearts and minds on the Lord, in conversation with heaven.
Suffering is a word that drips drops of blood. Unless and until one is filled with the spirit of prayer, it is highly difficult to understand the term suffering. From the very life of Jesus, we can perceive that there is no redemption without the cross, suffering. The Church of Jesus Christ floats on the blood of the martyrs. All her triumphs are rooted in suffering. The Houses of Fr. Guanella were born from martyrdom. Fr. Louis Guanella suffered martyrdom in everything: contradictions, accusations, opposition, humiliations, disappointments, hunger, thirst, tiredness, agonies of body and soul. Let us understand that suffering is the key to reach paradise. As imitators of Jesus Christ and followers of Fr. Guanella, let us strive to endure daily suffering, suffer discomforts and privations, endure and carry the crosses that faithfully accompany our daily lives. The very legacy of Prayer and Suffering teaches us a lesson to despise the world and detach ourselves from its allurements. Let us live in God by prayer and suffering as our beloved Father and Founder did.
At the invitation of our Holy Father the season of lent is a favorable time which is offered by God as ‘a sacramental sign of our conversion. Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly, and in every aspect of our lives’. Prompted by Pope Francis, we shall recollect the aspect of prayer and suffering as Guanellians. He says that prayer should become the driving force to enable us to reach out to the poor, marginalized and the victimized. Prayer is the constant response of our hearts to the will of God. The attitude of penance reminds us that we need to suffer with endurance, to say no to our selfishness. Acts of charity should be the constant striving of our hearts to share our time and resources with those who have nothing or nobody.
Added to our own physical, psychological, socio-economic problems, the present religious and political situation impels us to march forward with much courage to face the prejudices and persecutions against us Christians in order to be rooted out from a particular country or territory. Generally this might arouse in us questions like where is God? Why all these to us alone? and make us lose hope in God. On a positive note this happens to us because God wants to communicate with us but we are busy doing our work. Often we are after our minds by being too much indulged in social networks, technology, media which keeps us away from the creator who is behind every sphere. Rather we are called to be after our hearts from where love proceeds and inclines us to care for the anthropological aspect of our existence. It is high time this Lent that we fast from the media, network culture and be rooted in communicating with God in prayer and receive graces to face our trials and tribulations. May this Lenten Season help us to have metanoia and a fruitful celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.

Hypocrisy Hurts the Church By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

If you wish not to damage the Church and others, be truthful and never hypocritical. Pope Francis gave this recommendation during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta a couple of weeks ago, while speaking to a group of pilgrims from the United States. He warned that hypocrisy isn’t the language of Jesus, nor of Christianity.
Drawing inspiration from the Gospel, where some Pharisees and Herodians tried to ensnare Jesus in his speech, the Holy Father observed: “The hypocrite always uses language to flatter.”
Jesus, Pope Francis reminded, uses the word “hypocrite” often to describe the doctors of the law, because, as their title illustrates, they claim to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case, they give opinions and issue judgments, but are false.
Hypocrites, the Holy Father warned, always begin with adulation, exaggerating the truth, feeding into one’s vanity.
However, Pope Francis underscored, Jesus makes us see reality which is the opposite of hypocrisy and ideology. Pope Francis underscored that, as we see with the doctors of the law in the Gospel, flattery is triggered by bad intentions.
The Holy Father warned that they had put Jesus to the test, flattering him first and then asking him a question with the intention of making him err, namely that: “is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Pope Francis stresses that the hypocrite is two-faced, but Jesus knew their hypocrisy. Jesus always responds to hypocrites and ideologists with reality: everything else is either hypocrisy or ideology. In this case Jesus said: “bring me a coin”, and He answered with the wisdom of the Lord: “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” The reality was that the coin carried the image of Caesar.
The language of hypocrisy, Pope Francis also said, is the language of deceit, the same language the serpent used with Eve. While it starts with flattery, it ends up destroying people. It tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person. It destroys communities, Pope Francis stated. Warning all Christians who at times are hypocritical, Pope Francis stressed how problematic this sin is for the Church. The hypocrite is capable of destroying a community. While speaking gently, he ruinously judges a person. He is a killer, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis concluded, giving two pieces of advice: Respond to flattery only with truth, and respond to ideology only with reality and prayer. Pope Francis concludes his talk: “Let us ask the Lord to guard us from this vice, to help us be truthful, and if this is not possible to keep silent, don’t ever be a hypocrite.”

“Counting your Blessings, March with an Optimistic Attitude”

“LIFE” is explained as Love In Full Experience. It’s an opportune time to retrospect and look back at the attitudes which guided our life journey in 2017 in order to approach 2018 with an optimistic attitude. The world in 2017 encountered various tragedies like hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, landslides, other natural disasters in Tamil Nadu (OCKHI Storm) at Kanyakumari district and faced challenges in the present political scenario (RK Nagar election). This must not hinder our progress and let our attitude falter. Rather we must march forward at the right altitude and with a positive attitude. When we focus on the tragedies and disasters we cannot get in line with our journey of life as happy and joyful human beings on earth. Therefore, this New Year is an invitation to each of us to count the blessings of 2017 by being grateful to God in the words of St. Paul, ‘in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus’ (1Thes 5,18) and welcome the New Year with vigour, hope, courage and strength. Once we start appreciating all the blessings bestowed by God, our attitude changes, we stop complaining and finally we become thankful, which produces Joy.
Life completely depends on our attitude. Why depend on our attitude? From where does our attitude arise? In this New Year I intend to focus on our attitude because the present scenario is all about instant news through TV, computer, network, mobile phones, tablets and so on. We hear bad news much more quickly. We are bombarded with negative information from every direction and there is a possibility of slipping into an emotional mood. We will easily be worried about the situation of the country and society; politically and economically but what change will we see personally? During difficult times, each of us likes to choose the better and have a positive outlook. Having encountered various disasters and changes in the past, are we going to face the upcoming year with gloom and doom? Are we going to feel that nothing will work out for us? When we are deep into our problems and unable to find solutions we will sink into discouragement. To avoid this ill feeling and overcome it we need to be prepared with an attitude adjustment called optimism.
“OPTIMISM” means the confidence to transform the worst into the best. It is like the seed that has fallen from the beak of the bird, which does not complain rather begins to grow into a big tree that gives shade and shelter to many. At the closure of 2017, it is high time to check how optimistic we are in our daily life. Do we go on cursing people and situations or do we try to make the best out of every event that happens in life? In line with this thought I remember an Ancient African proverb, “even in hell there is a little corner known as heaven.” It means that in difficult times we need to march with a positive attitude so that we can receive blessings for ourselves and others. Therefore I would like to bring to your attention that attitude has a drastic impact on life (both positive and negative attitudes). What do we choose: Positive or Negative? Positive – will lead to success, make us humble in our dealings, develop faith in God & others, become content with what we have and finally we become thankful personalities. Negative – will lead to unhappiness, poor relationships, difficulty at work and ultimately poor health.
Our attitude arises from within not from external circumstances/people. Let’s choose our attitude by being mindful of the blessings we have received: life, parents, kith and kin, relatives, friends, vocation to married and religious life and good health. We shall learn this choosing of the right and positive attitude from our Holy Founder, St. Louis Guanella, who was a merciful father because of his gratefulness for everything. He possessed the special power of healing souls, of dispelling their difficulties without ever recalling them. He was generous in forgiving his adversaries and he implied the very motto ‘Mercy more than justice’ all though his life where he experienced love in full and transmitted to the very needy people of his time. Hence, like our founder and other great personalities let’s keep the mercifulness at the center and dwell with a positive outlook, moving forward with an optimistic attitude to become successful in 2018. May I wish you all an optimistic and a prosperous New Year. May God reward you with more blessings.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam