From Heart to Being Hearty

We have stepped into the month of June which is noted for devotion to the Sacred Heart in our Christian tradition, very close to our father and founder St. Louis Guanella who out of his immense love and devotion to the Sacred Heart published a booklet called In the Month of Fervor in 1884. The Sacred Heart was everything for him and for us: name and reality, project and protection, a title of recognition. We were known as sons and daughters of the Sacred Heart at our origin and even the names that we bear now (Servants of Charity & Daughters of St. Mary of Providence) are the evolution and development of that initial name – Sacred Heart.
St. John Paul II said, “Near the Heart of Christ, the human heart yearns to know the true and unique meaning of life and its own destiny to understand the value of authentic Christian life.” Our founder in fact learned from the Sacred Heart how to be a hearty person, in other words, his entire life was full of heart. Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi testifies, “In the afternoon on October 24th, before bowing his head and taking his last breath, he assembled us around his bed, he looked at us with fatherly love and we understood that in that final gaze there was all his heart.”
Our Founder truly understood what the implications of the Sacred Heart meant: “The Lord is a Father so generous that He gives His Heart to poor creatures who in return offer Him their poor hearts. The heart of Jesus is the heart of a father and the heart of a father cannot stand being away from his children” (In the Month of Fervor). The fatherly love he experienced from God he tried to exhibit to his children, the Hearty love he received from the Father, he donated to his disciples.
From the witness of Fr. Leonardo Mazzucchi, we understand how big his heart was:

  • The Lord gave a big heart to Fr. Guanella, a heart that He formed and moulded since early childhood.
  • How recollected he was in the presence of the Tabernacle or the Holy Host
    Charity was always at work in his conversations, with love for all, even sinners.
  • At times he looked worried and expressed complaints or protests but never lost his serenity of spirit.
  • At times he reluctantly made concessions, and showed some exterior impatience but always with the attitude of goodness and affection.
  • He never excluded anyone and never denied his familiar conversation to anyone even to those who once were against him.
  • Comfort was always the final gift of his conversations as well as his reprimands.
  • Though he attached great importance to the Rule, he was ready to excuse someone who was not observing one of its numbers.
  • He took great care not to emphasize his outstanding qualities of intelligence and soul, or marks of honor due to his status and responsibility.
  • He laughed heartily at the jokes of his confreres, making himself familiar with using nicknames for them.
  • My heart was never well understood. He said these words because he had given everything for the love of God and neighbor but he did not find adequate response to it not even from his disciples.

O big heart of Fr. Louis, May our hearts become like yours, filled with love for God and charity toward our brothers and sisters.
O kind and smiling face! Look at us kindly from Heaven until we see you again.
Fr. Ronald J, SdC

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Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional

By Fr. Amal, SdC

When human suffering is understood in its deepest meaning, it ceases to be something that is experienced in a passive manner. Rather, one becomes free to meet suffering with courage, seeing it as an opportunity for active and positive collaboration in the work of human redemption. Suffering, whether physical, spiritual or psychological, is often an opportunity when many question the existence of God, or at the very least whom this God is who allows suffering, in particular the suffering of the innocent.
This year we celebrate the 27th World Day of the Sick on February 11th. In 1993, Pope John Paul II instituted this annual commemoration as a way to bring compassion and greater attention to the sufferings of humanity, as well as the mystery of suffering itself. Don’t waste your suffering, feel fortunate to suffer, offer it up, I will pray together with you for the redemption of humanity, are all words of St. John Paul II whenever he encountered the sick and suffering.
Charles Spurgeon once said, “Health is a gift from God, but sickness is a gift greater still.” Life is a gift from God. St. Paul asks: “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor 4:7). Precisely because it is a gift, human life cannot be reduced to a personal possession or private property, especially in the light of medical and biotechnological advances that could tempt us to manipulate the “tree of life” (cf. Gen 3:24). God had an eternal purpose in allowing His own Son to suffer. St. Paul taught that this purpose was that we might understand and know God’s wisdom and love through His plan to redeem us through the death of His Son. Therefore, if God has allowed even His own Son to suffer to fulfill His eternal purpose, then we must also trust that He is working out His eternal purpose in us in the midst of our suffering. God may use our suffering to redeem someone else’s life by our testimony and example.
But, how can we be sure that something good will come of our suffering? St. Paul taught, “We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Note that Paul does not say that all things that happen to us are good, but that God takes all things and works them together for good in order to fulfill His eternal purpose. There is a story in the Gospel about Jesus walking along with his disciples and they see a man begging who was born blind. The disciples ask Jesus, “whose fault is it – this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus says it’s not anyone’s ‘fault’ but rather the man is born blind for the glory of God. The apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. When St. John Paul II once visited the sick people he said, “I am here with you to pray with you for all those who trust in your prayers.” In its brokenness the human body still reveals itself as a call to make a gift of ourselves in love.
Whenever St. John Paul II had a special intention he went to the sick saying to them, “I am entrusting the Church to you,” because in their weakness they have power. Jesus didn’t suffer so you wouldn’t have to, but Jesus suffered that you will know how to suffer. The Church is not merely a collection of Christians. It is a living instrument of redemption- an extension of Jesus Christ throughout time and space. He continues His salvific work through each member of His body. When a person understands this, he sees that the idea of “offering it up” is a calling to participate in the salvation of the world.
Suffering is also a place of purification. St. Thomas Aquinas in one of his conferences said, “Whoever wishes to live perfectly should do nothing but disdain what Christ disdained on the cross and desire what He desired, for the cross exemplifies every virtue.” In suffering we learn humility, obedience, how to love and be patient as Jesus exemplified on the cross.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” Whether we cry or smile the pain does not change but the suffering does. When we accept our pain without resisting it and offer it as a gift, the pain becomes a means of salvation for us and for the whole world.

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.”

Power Means: Deepest Intention of Love and Goodness!

This month, we celebrate the loving memory of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary which looks to eternity and gives us hope. Our mother country, India, is also leaping and dancing for joy for the celebration of her 69th Independence Day. When I thought of writing this article, my eyes moved towards our DPP’S bookshelf and my attention was drawn to “The Art of Power” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a national bestselling author who promotes peace in every step. His approach towards power is different. What does power mean to us? Why are most people willing to use power and desire so much to hold onto it?
The subject of power has focused primarily on the state’s monopoly on violence, its proper legal use, and the legitimacy and behavior of those who control it. Thich Nhat Hanh begins his inquiry into power at its very base, its most “organic level” which means with the will and our deepest intention of love and goodness.
What does power mean to us? Why are most people willing to do almost anything to get it? Most of us seek to be in a position of power in order to control our life situation, namely wealth; professional success; fame; physical strength; military might and/or political control. To facilitate and maintain power, we drain and strain our relationships. The purpose of having power or freedom means to become the best version of oneself such as being free from addiction, fear, despair, discrimination, fundamentalism, or anger.
Many great teachers and leaders like Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, Moses and Gandhi had their profound desires for peace; relieving the sufferings of the most vulnerable in society and to bring about religious harmony and universal brotherhood.
We will change the world and our country simply by behaving like a committed Christian and living in the presence of God by focusing on our spiritual power. When we suffer in our personal lives with heavy workloads, constant stress, unrealistic expectations, and worldly attractions, we will be bound with various slaveries. Let us be happy and relaxed so that we bring joy and hope to everyone!

Christmas with Evening School Children

evening school christmasChennai – December 21 was a remarkable day for the Don Guanella Evening School Children, they celebrated Suppose Christmas. In spite of their unfamiliarity with Christianity, they enjoyed the celebration by the touching events organized by the leaders and those in charge. Rev. Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, was invited as the Chief Guest for the celebration and gave an inspirational talk that touched the hearts of the children. He started the celebration with the blessing of the Child Jesus statue and the Creche. The children entertained the audience with their colorful dances, songs, skits and gift exchange. Moreover, they were delighted by the lunch bags that Fr. Soosai gave as Christmas gifts for all Seventy-two children. The children were refreshed by the snacks donated by the family of Rev. Fr. Pravin Vinodh Raj who came to celebrate with them. His family members also entertained the children with dance and song.

Your Face, O Lord, I Seek… in His Will is our Peace!

Fr. Soosai gives a gift to a student

We are in the joyous season of Easter and, as consecrated persons, our search that leads to the experience of peace, “in His will is our peace.”

As you come to know the New Religious Assignment proposals in our communities, we seek together and carry out God’s will generously and, for that, we need to grow positively in fostering our free will. We are all believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and in the God of Jesus Christ who, “although he was a son, he learned obedience.” Abraham left comfort and security and, without hesitation, he “obeyed and went” even when obedience was difficult. His faith is an example for all of us. Obedience means to hear with glad acceptance. The vow of obedience is undertaken in a spirit of faith and love.

In the present cultural context, we are tempted to search for personal well-being and to show a “Why me?” and a “but” attitude. Following the advice of the Founder, we obey not merely out of servile fear or out of human submissiveness, but we strive to obey like sons in order to please the heart of the Father.

When we look at religious assignments, we look at the good of the confrere, the good of the community and the service of the poor. We could compare our journey to an “Exodus” which is guided by the cloud, both bright and obscure, of the Spirit of God. Are we willing to obey God even when it’s not easy and when we don’t understand? “Gli occhi hanno pianto vedono meglio” (eyes which shed tears will see better). We obey by spending time in prayer, listening as well as speaking, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us. Our beloved Holy Father Francis says, “Obedience is the means by which a man puts himself at the service of another.”

Through St. Joseph the Worker, we can learn and appreciate the value of all that is humble, simple, hidden and, above all, to work according to God’s will. Thank you for hearing and accepting the new assignment proposals. May our Blessed Mother, perfect model of obedience, bless your generosity of mind and heart!