Manila – Flores De Mayo, which means “flowers of May,” was celebrated by the Filipinos throughout the month of May in honor of and gratitude for the Virgin Mary. The Servants of Charity and San Isidro Labrador Parish offered this annual program for the children of Pantanco, San Agustin, Roque and the ‘good children’ from Guanella Center and Guanella Home. The purpose is to emphasize the Catechism and educate them about celebrating the month of May in honor of Mary. For the first time, the San Isidro Labrador Parish conducted a quiz bee which focused on topics in the Bible. All of the children participated. May 26th was the culmination of the Flores De Mayo celebrations, beginning with a question period by the seminarians. They quizzed the children on their knowledge of Flores De Mayo. Prizes were given to those children who were able to answer the questions. A series of presentations given by the children who participated in the Flores De Mayo program brought the month to a close.
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
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)
Manila – On May 23rd the Guanellian Family journeyed on a local pilgrimage to five Churches in Quezon City. Around one hundred thirty participated including the special children, parents, youth, elderly, staff, volunteers, lay cooperators, seminarians and religious community. The group visited the Immaculate Conception Cathedral-Cubao (Diocesan priests), the Shrine of the Divine Word (SVD priests and brothers), Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine (Carmelites-OCD), National Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary-La Naval de Manila (Domincans) and the National Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes (Franciscan Capuchins). The pilgrimage was planned in connection with the celebration of the Centennial of the Death of St. Louis Guanella. In each Church, a decade of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary was prayed in the Guanellian way, using the Guanellian Rosary Prayer Book. Everyone was full of gratitude for the opportunity to be together, to pray and experience God through Mary.
Kumbakonam – January18th was the Parish celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Periyanayagi at the substation in Perumpandy. It began with a flag raising and solemn Mass celebrated by Rev. Fr. Kuriakose, SdC. During the nine days of novena, a Rosary and Holy Mass were celebrated by several priests from the diocese of Kumbakonam. Every day during the homily, they shared their reflections on Mother Mary and her virtues.
With the help of our sisters, three ANBIAMS animated the Holy Mass during three days of the novena in a meaningful way. From January 19 – 24th, the following the priests celebrated the Novena Mass; Fr. Karunakaran, Fr. Devadoss, Fr. Bosco, Fr. Suvakin, Fr. Gnanapragasm and Fr. Pushparaj. Rev. Fr. Henry Pushpa Raj, Director – Pastoral Center, Kumbakonam, presided over the final Mass on January 25th, and blessed the car procession following Mass.
This car carrying the statue of Our Lady of Periyanayagi, was driven through the streets of our substations. The following day, Fr. Bosco celebrated the feast day Mass and lowered the flag, marking the end of the celebration. The guidance of our parish priests and tireless sweat of the village leaders made this a successful celebration, bringing us the intercession of Our Lady of Periyanayagi and the grace of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bangalore – On the Feast of The Visitation of The Blessed Virgin Mary, May 31st, the Guanellian family rejoiced as four Novices promised to serve the kingdom of God as Servants of Charity. Fr. Adaikalam, the Novice Master, presented the Novices and Fr. Soosai Rathinam, the Provincial Superior, received them with love and joy. The Guanellian family from many communities, priests, sisters, brothers, parents, GLM, friends and benefactors were present. Fr. Soosai celebrated Holy Mass and received their profession. In addition, 13 lay cooperators renewed their promise and two new cooperators took their first promise to live the values of Christ by following the footsteps our Founder, St. Louis Guanella. They have been working for the welfare of Don Guanella Aged Home and Oratory Children for the past few years
E. Providence – May was a month full of spiritual growth for the students at Sacred Heart School. The second graders received their First Holy Communion and were featured in their Communion garments at the May Crowning. Mrs. Chalmers even brought the first graders to Adoration where they were all so excited to recite the Rosary in its entirety. Thank you Mary for guiding the children through the month dedicated to your honor.
Grass Lake – Family Day at the Pious Union was held on May 18th. After Mass, the large group of active participants including adults and children processed to the Grotto of Lourdes singing hymns in honor of Mary along the way. A large Rosary was drawn on the asphalt to help organize the ‘Living Rosary.’ Five adults presented the intentions of the mysteries while the Hail Marys were led by the children standing on the Rosary beads. To complete the devotion, the statue of the Madonna was crowned and the entire group recited the Act of Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Fr. Paul released a white dove as white balloons carrying each person’s prayer ascended into the sky. The afternoon came to a close after a potluck lunch was shared. It was a new step in the journey of the local church, those committed to deepening and living in a family environment that rests on reasons for faith and witness.
by Novice Alfie Matulac
Half naked children scavenging for food in piled up garbage, a group of youngsters smoking in the waiting shed, construction crews working very late, a homeless family sleeping under the bridge, and young women dressed in seductive attire in front of a beerhouse waiting for their customers to come; these were some of the harsh and disparaging realities of the people we encountered on the long and tiring trek toward our destination. On January 15th, Novice Master, Fr. Charlton, Novice Adornaldo and I started our first-ever pilgrimage by means of walking. From Quezon City we walked to The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Voyage in Antipolo City, Rizal (also known as Antipolo Church). The 35 km walk took six long hours, making our legs ache and our feet sore. I remembered that during that long walk, we came to the point that we were dragging our feet just to keep going. When at last we reached our destination, though exhausted, I sensed the fulfillment deep within us as we recited the Hail Mary while holding onto the grills of the gate at the Shrine. Ours was an exhausting but enriching experience; the realization that life is a long and tiring journey, and in the process along the way there comes a point that we want to give up, saying to ourselves that we can’t go on anymore even a single step. But if we have something to aspire for, it will empower us and bring us to the awareness that we can go beyond our expectation. The first hand encounter of the people along the way of our pilgrimage made us realize that we who are aspiring to be religious should be sensitive to the needs of these people, and that our prayers should focus on alleviating their suffering.
Vatluru – Fr. Moses and Fr. Vijay Anand, Redemptorist priests from Tenali, were invited to Sacred Heart Parish for a 5 day mission of house counseling and preaching. They visited every home in the village, praying and counseling the families; accompanied by the Legion of Mary. In the evenings they preached the word of God and celebrated the holy Mass. Also during the Month of October, which is especially dedicated to praying the Rosary, the faithful in the parish showed their devotion to our Blessed Mother. According to tradition, a ‘one day one house’ prayer meeting was arranged. The members of the Legion of Mary carried the statue of Mother Mary to each house; praying the Rosary devotedly, sharing the word of God, and receiving the prayers and blessings from the priests.