‘Live and Let Live’- The Way to Holiness

“Holiness is one of the most beautiful gifts a human heart can offer to God.” – Mother Teresa. We know well that life is a precious gift of God to all of us and what we make out of our lives is our gift to God in return. I was told that in the culture of the United States as also of India, when you go to visit a family, never go with an empty hand. I wonder what gift we need to carry when we go to our eternal home (heaven) to our Father. We know well that we cannot carry anything but our pure soul and the good things we did here on earth. We fatigue a lot to earn so many things just to leave them to others as the proverb says “When he dies he will carry nothing away” (49;17). Each one must now reflect what gift we will be carrying to our Father once we are done with our pilgrimage here on earth. What good do we possess or cultivate? Humility? Forgiveness? Patience? Love? Charity? Kindness? Sharing with the needy? Endurance in suffering? What is the gift that I will present to God?
We begin this month remembering and honoring our ancestors who lived before us and returned to the Father. November 1st, we honor All Saints and November 2nd, we commemorate All the Faithful Departed. St. Bernard says the lives of the saints assure us that holiness is possible, they teach us by their lives and their writing how to serve God, and they can intercede for us when we need God’s help. Honoring the saints and millions of others who have tried to live a good and holy life, including those who have fallen along the way, but who have gotten up and kept on going. Saints are people who lived their lives according to the design of God and helped others also live their lives well. When we live our life fully and help others as to live well, then we become holy ones in the eyes of God.
Live: Whether we know it or not, we all have a vision for our lives. We all have a philosophy that sets out how we want to live and what we want to accomplish. It’s this vision that guides many of our decisions and actions. At the heart of our vision is the desire to do what makes us happy. As we mature, our vision gets refined and sharpened. It also becomes increasingly selfless. Our life is not just made of what this world has to offer us. Remember that we are the children of God and that heaven is our true home. We need to tell ourselves that we are more than our job, our skills, our wealth or education. We are precious to God and He delights in us. This is the call to live our life fully, meaningfully and joyfully.
Let Live: As we journey on earth God is asking us to love our neighbor as a commandment. God asks us to take the risk for the sake of His people. Our Founder, St. Louis Guanella, and Mother Theresa didn’t try to solve all of the world’s problems: they simply lived their life in radical service and love of their neighbor. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians alike saw in them a role model. They invite us to let others live with a simple program of life, “Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier. At the end of life, we are going to be judged on the basis of our love for one another.” Fr. Guanella invites his followers to attain holiness with this simple program of life, “in doing our daily duties with love, we embrace holiness.” I would like to quote a passage from The Imitation of Christ. “How many people will remember you and pray for you once you are dead? So do all you can now, for you do not know when you will die or what you will face after death. Gain merit for eternity now while there is time and concern yourself only with your eternal salvation.” (Ch. 23; 8).

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A Celebration of Saints

E. Providence – Each year the students of Sacred Heart School celebrate All Saints’ Day November 1st by dressing as a saint. The entire school attends Mass which is followed by a parade of the Saints. The main purpose for this activity is to help the students learn about the lives of the saints, the Church Triumphant, and the contributions that they made to the Kingdom of God on earth. The parents get involved too, because they are helping to create the costumes, therefore the Annual All Saints’ Parade is an event to enrich the lives of the extended Sacred Heart School Community.

All Saints and All Souls

Legazpi – “From purgatory, which is painful and sorrowful, the crying voices of the souls resound in great sorrow, with the belief that mother Mary will have pity on those who cry for help.”
The holy souls not only wait for Mother Mary, they also wait for the prayers of their own family, their beloved ones. Unfortunately, many are forgotten by their own families, forgotten by this world. They can no longer do anything for themselves in order to get back to God, Who is the greatest desire of all souls. They suffer the great fire which burns in their hearts day after day. The only hope that they have is the Church Militant who journey together in this world to pray for them and to do acts of charity for them. We must always remember the holy souls, what they had done for us while they were in this world. After their passing from this life, they must not be forgotten but must be remembered everyday of our lives. In November especially, the novices went to many different cemeteries to visit the holy souls and to pray for them according to the teachings of the church.

Immortality and Embrace with God

In our lifetime we try or like to play different roles and we think that we are going to live forever in this world! I asked the Lord, “If I am not playing these roles, then WHO AM I?” All I could see and feel with closed eyes was ‘infinite waves of ocean’! In that sacred moment I knew my real ‘SELF’ and tasted the immorality of this self. The words of scripture resounded in me, “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?”
It was a profound experience, being an inseparable part of the cosmic energy… the energy that runs this body, this mind, and so on. In spiritual language we name it: being, consciousness, light, spirit, power, soul… Any word would do. What is important is the realization that I am the ‘being’, using this body and playing so many roles and responsibilities.
Navigators are trained to find the ‘eye of the storm’ where they can stop for safety in the midst of a storm. And in the storms of life, for us to find our safe refuge and stability is to be rooted in the immortality of our very being.
I have referred a book ‘On the Tombs of the Deceased’ by Fr. Louis Guanella who wrote this series of meditations on the Christian cult of the dead following the traditional setting of a novena in preparation for the feast of ALL SAINTS and the Commemoration of ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED. The family of the just on earth rejoice with the family of the blessed in paradise! What a delightful spectacle, what an illustrious and numerous family! Our founder is asking a powerful assistance for the sake of ourselves and for the sake of the souls of our deceased brothers and sisters and feel compassion toward the souls in purgatory.
On October 25, 2017 Pope Francis, during his general audience, spoke about hope’s fulfillment in heaven and reminded the faithful that no one should despair because God’s grace is always present for those who put their trust in Him. “Paradise is not a fantasy land or even an enchanted garden. Paradise is an embrace with God, infinite Love, and we enter it thanks to Jesus, who died on the cross for us.”
Our fraternity, considered by the Founder “a small communion of Saints” goes beyond the mere level of human relations and also with gratitude we cherish the memory of those members whom the Father has already called to his house and let us commend divine mercy upon them.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

A Constellation of Saints!

As we begin this month by celebrating All Saints Day, we are called to remember the variety of colors of Holiness and the luminous faces of them. We have begun the centenary of our Holy Founder and he himself promised on his death bed, “I will pray for you in heaven… I will help you and comfort you from heaven.”
In our life time, we suffer from various physical, mental, emotional and psychological injuries. The process of becoming a normal person, turning to Jesus Christ and experiencing his extravagant love, mercy and forgiveness, is like a course of rehabilitation which consists of pushing and pulling. Saints too had their twistedness and stoniness because they were human with their weaknesses and sins but they were very courageous to change their lives through ‘self denial’ and said ‘yes’ to the spirit and voice of God.
In the Gospel of John 18:36, Jesus openly declared, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Henceforth, His purpose was not to enjoy Himself or become a popular, miracle performer. But, He came to lay down His life as a sacrifice for sin, as a ransom for many. St. Louis Guanella would call his excruciating suffering “God’s providence” and an opportunity to obtain an extraordinary grace. Therefore, problems and hardships we have to deal with are tools in God’s hands for making us holy. The saints purified and accepted their brokenness and failures and showed their willingness to submit to God’s will. As Pope Francis says, “The Church is a vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wounds; this is the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners in need of God’s infinite mercy.”
Holiness or becoming holy does not involve serious study, God is not a topic to study, to make an analysis of, but a person to encounter and embrace. Matthew 5:48 states, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
May the constellation of saints above watch over us and fill us with beauteous light! As our Regulation number 27 recommends to us, “Every year, as an act of communion and a pledge of charity, each confrere priest should celebrate a Holy Mass for the Superior General, possibly on the anniversary of his election; similarly, it should be done for the provincial superior within the province.” Happy anniversary to our Divine Providence Province and a blessed Feast of the Mother of Divine Providence!

Fr. Soosai Rathinam

A School Full of Saints

School girls in Saint costumes

 

E. Providence – To celebrate the feast of All Saints, the students of Sacred Heart School came dressed as their favorite saint. There was a parade of saints from the school to the church for the celebration of Holy Mass and the children all gathered outside afterward to display their costumes. Teacher and students in Church as saints  School girls in Saint costumesSacred Heart School - Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints and a Pilgrim Province

Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’

artists rendering of All Saints in heavenHoly Mother Church acclaims, in celebrating and venerating All Saints Day, that the church was built upon the foundation of the apostles, martyrs and saints. The blood of the martyrs is the seed in the ground of the church. The beloved emeritus Pope Benedict, in his homily on the Solemnity of All Saints 2008, spoke of the Church as a “botanical garden” where the Creator spread a variety of colors of holiness on the luminous faces of the saints. As we are filial sons and daughters of St. Louis Guanella, we are crowned in pride of celebrating the 2nd year of his canonization and the centennial celebration of his birth in heaven within two years. It is a special month for the Divine Providence Province as it celebrates its first birth anniversary of its second term. It is a vibrant and young Province within our congregation having much richness in the midst of many challenges and difficulties, joys and sorrows. It has its very special features and characteristics which are very unique and awesome- that is unity in diversity and unity of direction. It is comprised of four Nations namely India, USA, Philippines and Vietnam. Each nation is well known for their spirituality, tradition, language, heritage, culture, art and architecture, customs and so on yet we have a unity of direction and a unity in diversity. As one province, we need to be proud of being together in carrying the fire of charity to every nook and corner of the world. Albert Schweitzer says- “Life is short. Do not forget about the most important things in life such as living and doing good for other people. I don’t know what our destiny will be, but one thing I do know; the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve”. “To suffer for God is glory, and to take the trouble for the sake of souls is the greatest enjoyment” said Fr. Guanella in the Spiritual Pages. So each and every confrere of the province is called to show initiative and to be enthusiastic, innovative, and energetic; only then will our aspirations turn to inspiration for others. We can also avail the words of our founder into our own terminologies that the ‘whole world is our homeland’ and let us work like a honey bee in order to build the province into the realm of charity which our founder envisioned: “We will persist until we succeed. We were not delivered into this world into defeat, nor does failure course our veins. We are not a sheep waiting to be prodded by our shepherd. We are a lion and refuse to talk, walk and to sleep with the sheep. We will persist until we succeed.” So Dear Confreres, I invite you all to partake in this joyous celebration of our birth anniversary. We have to work on it with a vigorous determination and with a joyful spirit, so that pleasing God we may give others a good example of abnegation and so attain the goal to which God has called us. I also acknowledge the confreres for their tireless hard work in sustaining the growth of the province. As we celebrate All Souls day, may we also have the pleasure of remembering and praying for our confreres. May the blessings of all the Saints be with you all and may you enjoy a blessed Feast of the Mother of Divine Providence!

Fr. Soosai Rathinam