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)

Christmas

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

Dear Bothers and Sisters in Christ, as I prepared the homily for the first Sunday of Advent, I came across one of the concepts of celebrating the birth of Jesus, the second coming and my personal encounter of the Lord when He will call me, sooner than later at my age. I realized that I needed to examine myself. I would like to share the result with you.
Ah, Christmas! “The most wonderful time of the year.” Of course, it’s “the most wonderful time of the year,” but we must not forget what really matters. A time to gather with family and friends and, with smiles on our faces, pretend we aren’t quietly measuring who received the best present and which of our relatives really, really needs to stop drinking. A time to hang tinsel and baubles from the tree, and a time to hang up our hopes of losing those last 10 pounds this year.
Such a joyous season! The real point here is Christmas is what we make of it.
For Christians, however, there are some very specific things you can’t do if you want to actually honor and follow the person we say we celebrate this season.
So, I give myself and other Christians five things we should do at Christmas.
1) Remember Those Without Food
Jesus once said that when we feed the hungry we are feeding Him. Anyone want to guess what it means when we ignore the hungry? How about forgetting about hungry children and their families as we scrape the leftover Christmas ham from our plates into the trash? Maybe we need to change the name of the season to Gluttonousmas? Too many presents, too much food, too little consideration for those in need.
2) Remember Those Without Shelter
One of the key moments in the story Christians celebrate is the moment when Jesus was almost born in the streets of Bethlehem. Our need to clean up the Christmas story assumes that the innkeeper told them to use the manger but the Bible says no such thing. There was no room at the inn, leaving Mary to place her newborn child in a smelly feeding trough. For that night they were without shelter. Throughout His life Jesus would spend His ministry with no place to lay His head. This time of year we celebrate a homeless man. Do our actions, do the places we spend our money, honor that?
3) Remember the Message about Resisting Abusive Power
Mary and Joseph and their family had to flee their homeland because King Herod strong-handedly used his power to squash out what he saw as a threat to his power. I can guarantee you two things: One, in the house where Jesus grew up, the narrative of why they had to flee to Egypt and of the senseless deaths imposed on other families by the powerful was a story that was told time and time again. Two, the focus on abuse of power in Jesus’ teaching and His constant willingness to confront it was no accident. Christmas should cause Christians to recommit to confronting those who abuse power.
4) Remember Those Without Presents
If you have two coats give one away. In announcing the coming of Jesus, John the Baptist told us what God was asking of us. Coats are just an example, a placeholder if you will. If you have two Christmas presents, give one away.
5) Distinguish the Religious Observance with the Secular Holiday
It may be that December 25th was picked as the date to celebrate Jesus’ birth to compete with or even to adopt the followers of the pagan celebration of Saturnalia, which included decorating with evergreens, gift giving and parties. Why does that seem so familiar? I bring this up to make a simple point. A lot of our “War on Christmas” problems would rightfully go away if we simply acknowledged that there are two celebrations of Christmas each year. One is religious and one is not.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Newness and the Least Brethren Today!

Nowadays, our world and society are filled with new happenings and changes. In the USA, November 8th was a memorable day because of the election of President-Elect Mr. Donald Trump. In India, our Prime Minister suddenly introduced the “Demonetization” process which is considered a “historic step” to eradicate black money circulation. It’s also sad to see long queues caused by the exchange problems and inconveniences in distribution. Small farmers, sellers, daily wage laborers, traders and peasants are suffering from this sudden change.
To help remedy these situations, we are entering into the liturgical season of “Advent” which prepares the way for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas. It is a time of great change because many values prevalent in our Christian societies are becoming too self-centered and very materialistic. We should concentrate on at least one annoying habit or some deviation which is stealing our joy and peace of mind from Jesus. Our mind and heart must undergo profound changes in our personal spiritual life to be aware of God’s presence and existence in this season.
Jesus Christ assumed our whole humanity through His Incarnation, and identified with the poor, the suffering, and the weak of society; but in the name of newness and constant change these people are being victimized and cornered. In his recent Apostolic letter, “Mercy and Misery,” our beloved Pope Francis in concluding the Year of Mercy, solicited the pragmatic aspect of Mercy. He calls on Catholics to work to “restore dignity to people, especially those who do not have work, do not have a house, are marginalized, are hungry, have to migrate, are in prison in inhumane conditions or do not have access to education.”
May this Advent season and Christmas celebration bring a more existential and religious vision, “the Word, being God, became man and though He was rich, became poor.