Vatluru – The rich who are financially sound with generous hearts can contribute materially to the poor but not someone who is alone and working with minimum pay. “Charity begins at home,” is an old saying with a deep meaning. Yes, charity began in her heart, she who has no one, an unknown lady without any selfish motives approached our institute willing to contribute her savings to buy clothes for all the boys. She brought all the boys to the garment shop, allowed them to choose with discretion and shared her joy with them. On October 24th, the feast of our Founder, she also offered a dinner at her expense. She expressed that she felt at home, as if she was buying clothes for her own children. The words of Jesus come to mind, “I tell you the truth,” He said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others,” Lk 21,4.
“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).
The month of November for the Catholic Church is special because the militant church commemorates its relationship with the triumphant church and the penitent church through the celebration of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These two celebrations remind us of the temporality and the eternity of human existence. In other words they reiterate our fundamental vocation as Christians to become holy or saintly. Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect. (Mt 5,48)
This month gives us, Guanellians additional privilege and joy since we celebrate the feast of the mother of Divine Providence. It is very evident from the life of our founder that the concept of Divine Providence was very close to his heart that he named his autobiography The Ways of Providence, that he named the first institution House of Divine Providence, that he called the bulletin of that house The Divine Providence and named the sisters the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence.
In general Divine Providence would mean that God governs and directs everything and therefore the entire universe is under His control. Moreover even when things go wrong, he can straighten up the crooked designs of human beings (Saul becoming Paul, the story of Joseph in the Old Testament) and produce good out of the bad which human minds design. Personally one can think of Divine Providence in terms of his existence, his family, his education and well-being etc.
Our founder does not stop with this idea of Divine Providence as God’s intervention in one’s life. He moves further to assert that human cooperation is a must to avail this gift: “It is God who does; we are only instruments in the hands of God”. He recommended his followers to merit Divine Providence through trust, work and sacrifice. For example, he was fully convinced that Divine Providence and poverty go hand in hand: “if you want to weaken the institution, let it become rich, to live in much poverty and to entrust ourselves completely to Divine Providence is a virtue of high perfection”. Divine Providence means human charity too: when the fortunate helps the unfortunate, the haves hold up the have-nots, when the healthy accompany the crippled.
Providence does not mean looking at the roof and waiting for some treasure from nowhere, it is doing what one can in his concrete situation: “If a man limits himself to be a zero, he is nothing and will never do anything. If instead he tries to be something, he does whatever he can, he becomes a positive reality, after all he has only to ask Providence to add one zero, two zeros, three zeros to his small number and immediately the small things become large”. As members of the Divine Providence Province with a lot of energy and enthusiasm, youthfulness and vitality, let us inculcate this teaching and exhortation of our founder in our minds and hearts: you try to provide first with what you are, what you have and God will do miracles.
I wish you fruitful celebration of the feast of the Mother of Divine Providence. On behalf of the province I extend my sincere wishes and prayers to our Guanellian sisters as they bear this name. I make this special plea for your ardent prayers (both common and personal) for the good health of our confrere Rev. Fr. Bala Yesu who is under treatment.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC
Legazpi: The Servants of Charity community performed an act of charity on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2nd. They gave a helping hand to relieve the burden of the evacuees of a natural disaster, the Mayon volcanic eruption. The evacuees received rice, milk and biscuits which are their primary needs while they remain at the evacuation center.
Chennai – “Charity is the best weapon by which we can take actions similar to God”. Don Guanella Special School held ‘Food Fest’ on Feb 5th to raise funds and awareness for the special children. The event, which was held at Don Guanella Major Seminary, started with a prayer dance followed by an introduction of the project for the special children. Approximately 2000 people attended. The arrangements and organization by fathers and brothers was meticulous, creating a significant means to find Souls of Mercy for the Works of Charity.
The world, like an area subject to earthquakes, suffers tremors and shocks threatening to destroy it. Yet, it will survive because the spirit of charity, spreading in our midst, will disable the evil activities of the spirit of darkness.
Charity will rekindle Faith. In turn, Christian practice stirs up charity. How can we love our suffering neighbor without loving God, without giving Him the worship of our faith? How can we believe that we see the face of God in the poor when we do not hasten to help and serve them? To help this work of charity and faith and to assist the poor, gathered in the Houses of Divine Providence, it will be useful to establish Committees or Pious Associations in each House. The Servants of Charity, the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and local Superiors should follow them with great zeal and imagination. It serves no purpose to assume this is too difficult an undertaking. All good works meet great difficulties. It is precisely these difficulties that are a sign that what we do is good. Where there is a will there is a way. We should first gather one or two people; then we will add more as Divine Providence will send them to us. It is not realistic to establish a master plan valid for everyone and everywhere. Experience teaches that we should adapt and review it case by case according to the regions and their means. Pious Associations, even the small ones, are admirably useful to the development and stability of the Houses, and do great good for families and places where they are active. It is essential that the Houses of Divine Providence do not isolate themselves. They should share their spirit and activity all around because their nature is wide-ranging and has to be expressed, not only inside the walls of the House but also outside, in the cities and towns where the Houses are located, trying their best to spread and stir up faith and charity everywhere. Many good people do not engage in meaningful activity. Sometimes a simple invitation to cooperate or some good is enough to transform them into active workers in the field of charity. Each House should make effort to spread our Magazine that carries the monthly news regarding noteworthy events happening in the House, in general, and the ministry, in particular. The more distribution the Magazine has, the more the House will be helped. The Magazine will be useful to increase the connection of the Houses to the Motherhouse to keep alive the relationship between the Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity, to enkindle their determination, and increase their zeal. All Houses should show great regard to the Cooperators and Benefactors. Keep a list of their names and keep them in your prayers. Invite them to the celebrations held in the House and take an interest in their life’s events. Be present to comfort and help them when in need. The Daughters of St. Mary of Providence and the Servants of Charity will see their Houses prosper and their efforts succeed when, by acts of charity, they work hard to gain not only the hearts of the good people but also the hearts of the irreverent ones. They should be discrete in their action, and moved only by the right desire to do good. The Salesian Cooperators are not just thousands but hundreds of thousands. The Association is increasing in number and no boundary of town or country can stop it from spreading. We should do the same thing and imitate our teachers Fr. Bosco and Fr. Rua. It will be healthy publicity, a protest against false respect in obedience to the evangelical precept, “Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” We would like to extend this exhortation to all our faithful friends because nothing goes beyond our desire for the good of society for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
One last prayer: We encourage the committees and sub-committees of the big and small towns to care for this humble Magazine whose purpose is to share the news of Divine Providence’s family to far away children and friends.
To make it more interesting, I ask those who are capable of writing articles, to send us the news and events of your Houses. The more the Magazine of Divine Providence is spread and read, the better the Houses will be supported.”
By St. Louis Guanella
July 2016 is both significant and historical for the Divine Providence Province in particular and for our Congregation in general because two of our Guanellian priests with open hands and hearts, will set foot in the Solomon Islands to be our pioneering Guanellian missionaries. Fr. Mathias Lourdusamy and Fr. Arockia Raj, both from India, heeded generously and courageously the invitation to stay, and not just to visit, and become bridges of love to a nation full of hope, beauty and gifts but not without struggles, predicaments and challenges. As religious missionaries, by vocation and mission, we are bridge-builders, bringing together in unity peoples of different origin, culture, mindset and race into the same family of God. We can do this in the measure that we are able to go out of our own comfort zones and enter into the world of others. Love is the name of bridges we build.
Our desire to be present in the Solomon Islands, is just but one of the several humble efforts that our Province would like to accomplish in faithful witness to the original wish of our founder, who pointed out clearly in the 1910 Regulations of Servants of Charity that: “the Institution can be providential for our time namely, by renewing the world with the fire of Charity and being an instrument to help spread Divine Charity throughout the world.”
We recently concluded our 12th Divine Providence Province Plenary Council Meeting and 2016 Assembly of Confreres in the United States and we have ended our meetings with renewed enthusiasm and joy in spreading the works of charity by looking more closely and creatively in engaging ourselves in new projects and “seeking out new poor and new needs for the less protected poor in our society.” (7th General Consultation)
Building bridges of love is what has also been consistently in the heart and mind of our Holy Father. With the theme “Love is our Mission,” Pope Francis’ visit to the United States last year encourages all of us to be missionaries of love: “I take this opportunity to thank all those, of whatever religion, who have sought to serve the God of peace by building cities of brotherly love, by caring for our neighbors in need, by defending the dignity of God’s gift of life in all its stages, by defending the cause of the poor and the immigrant. All too often, those most in need of our help are unable to be heard. You are their voice, and many of you have faithfully made their cry heard.” (Speech at Independence Mall, Philadelphia)
Let us continue to dream dreams and see visions. Let us make anew our commitment not to stop as long as there are poor to be assisted and distresses to be relieved. Let us never be tired of giving our best efforts in building bridges of love.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Cuddalore – Members of the Guanellian family are very sensitive to the needs of the poor, especially when heavy rain poured on the people living in huts. Many lost their homes, belongings and especially their kith and kin. Groups were organized to assist these unfortunate people. They were provided material goods such as groceries, clothes and especially food. The people who received benefits belong to various religions and they really appreciated the care and concern. The people who came to help the needy brethren enjoyed the Guanellian hospitality and friendship.