The Joy of Love

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
In a landmark document, Pope Francis has called for the Catholic Church to revamp its response to modern family life, striking a delicate balance between a more accepting tone towards homosexual people and the defense of traditional church teachings on issues such as abortion.
In the document entitled The Joy of Love, Pope Francis outlined his vision for the church on family issues, urging priests to respond to their communities without mercilessly enforcing church rules. He wrote, “Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs”.
The apostolic exhortation concludes a two-year consultation that saw bishops gather twice in Rome to debate issues affecting the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
In comments likely to be welcomed by some organizations, Francis urged the church to “reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while every sign of unjust discrimination is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”
But the pope stopped short of pushing for a change in church doctrine. Same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. Such families should be given respectful pastoral guidance, so that those who manifest a homosexual orientation can receive the assistance they need to understand and fully carry out God’s will in their lives.
Following lengthy debate about the role in the church for remarried divorcees, who are not allowed to take Holy Communion, Francis did not call for the rules to be changed but said such parishioners must be made to feel part of the church. They should not be confined into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment. Divorce was described as an evil that priests should help Catholics avoid, while being understanding towards those whose marriages have broken down.
This document shows something has changed in the church discourse. Pope Francis speaks about families with a clarity that is not easy to find in the magisterial documents of the church. In an era of global crisis in which families often suffer, the exhortation takes a positive look at the beauty of married love and the family.
The broader document saw Pope Francis recognize the Catholic Church’s waning appeal to young people, urging churchmen to present a more appealing view of marriage. I think of St. Valentine’s Day. In some countries, commercial interests are quicker to see the potential of this celebration than the leaders of the church. When I was a kid in Sicily, I used to bring flowers to all the girls of the neighborhood, whether I liked them or not. It was just a sign of respect and admiration
The Pope also dedicated two pages to the erotic dimension of love within marriage, promoting a positive vision of sexuality which must be seen as a gift from God that enriches the relationship of the spouses.
The Pope voiced the Church’s opposition to abortion in all circumstances. No alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life. He also showed no opening towards fertility treatment, describing creation as something which must be received as a gift and suggested infertile couples to adopt babies or children who need parents.
Much hurt and many problems result when we stop looking at one another, listing a string of common complains of family members feeling invisible or uncared for. Technology affects relationships, such as when people stay on their mobile phones during meal times. The fast pace of the online world is impacting people’s approach to relationships. They believe, along the lines of social networks, that love can be connected or disconnected at the whim of the consumer, and the relationship quickly blocked.
Dear Confreres, we were loved even before our parents dreamed of us. This love fills us with joy. The joy of being loved by God, family and friends. The joy of belonging to a Church that accompanies us with the Sacraments from birth to death. The joy of one day being called by God and seeing Him face to face as He is and do the same with our beloved who have gone ahead of us or will join us later on. Sometimes joy is mixed with tears: in this way we imitate Christ who suffered, died and rose from the dead to restore our real joy. In this beautiful month of May, I pray that we all experience the joy of love while pondering how much we love and how much we are loved whether it is human love or divine love.

Greeting of Pope Francis

Greeting of Pope Francis-St  Charles 2Springfield – The World Meeting of Families (WMOF) which took place from September 22nd-26th and was the first held in the Americas, brought thousands from the region, the U.S. and from throughout the world to Philadelphia to attend with its theme being Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive. Historically, the reigning popes would attend some part of the WMOF and this proved to be true for the WMOF held in Philadelphia. Joined to Pope Francis’ memorable and inspirational visits to Cuba, Washington, D.C. and New York City, his visit to Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, was met with great enthusiasm, excitement and warmth.
From the very beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has taught and modeled a “message of mercy” and this was very much in evidence during his stay in Philadelphia. He spoke on the issue of migrants at Independence Hall; he met and spent time with prisoners in one of the city prisons; he blessed a grotto of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, a particular devotion of the Holy Father; and he met with victims of clergy sexual abuse. These were all highly publicized parts of the itinerary of the Holy Father and rightly so representing for us that our pontiff is a “servant” and “martyr” (to bear witness to the faith) of mercy.
One last example of Pope Francis’ witness to the “Gospel of Mercy” was a pre-arranged but little publicized greeting of the Holy Father upon his arrival at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary- his home for his two day visit. Word was received two months before the pope’s arrival to Philadelphia that a group of residents, nine in all, from the programs of Don Guanella Village, Divine Providence Village and St. Edmond’s Home, along with 2 family members each, the administrators of the programs and I would have the blessing and privilege of greeting and meeting the Holy Father as he entered the grand foyer of the seminary. Much anticipation and excitement accompanied this greeting which would take place on Saturday, September 26th. After the Holy Father was met and greeted outside the main entrance of the seminary by Archbishop Chaput, the seminary rector and the 150 seminarians, he entered into the foyer and immediately began to shake hands, embrace and bless the residents and their family members. You could see the warmth, the love and the spirit of encounter that the Holy Father often speaks of present in the demeanor of the Pope. It brought to mind for me the motto Pope Francis has chosen for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, “merciful like the Father.” In Pope Francis, we beheld the merciful, compassionate and generous love of the Father and the “face of mercy”, His Son Jesus Christ. An incredible, blessed and grace-filled experience for all who greeted Pope Francis that day!

Be a Game-Changer Sparking with Innovation in 2014!!!

Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC
Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC
New Provincial Superior of the Divine Providence Province: Fr. Soosai Rathinam, SdC

What is a game changer? It is an idea, a strategy, a product or service, a process or person that can create a breakthrough and take an organization to the next level. We could say the ‘iPod’ did it for Apple, breakfast did it for ‘McDonald’s’,  and cell phones and the Internet were game changers for the whole world.

We approach the New Year, 2014, with hope, joy and expectation! Let us have a quest for a moral and spiritual renewal in restoring respect for life and truth and to rebuild trust in proclaiming and living the sanctity of human life. God wants to win with His love and wisdom, and He wants to build you up spiritually so as to live in His love and walk in His ways.

The message of the Holy Father for the celebration of the ‘World Day of Peace’ on January 1, 2014 was, “Fraternity, the foundation and pathway of peace”, needs to be discovered, loved, expressed, proclaimed and witnessed.

The UN has declared 2014 as an International year of Family Farming ( IYFF). Family farming includes all family-based agricultural activities and it is linked to several areas of rural development: organizing agriculture, forestry, fisheries, pastoral and aquaculture production. Therefore, family farming has an important socio-economic, environmental and cultural role and is inextricably linked to world food security.

“Our Mother May is full of beauty because she is full of grace,” said Pope Francis. We are blessed to bless others! Her grace, generosity, and recollectedness are with us. Let us pass on and discover the joy of a never-ending cycle of blessing, joy and peace to others. The mighty forces that will come to our aid are Father, Son and Holy Spirit and let us be SMARTS! (Simple-Meaningful-Actionable-Relational-Transformational-Scalable) and become the Spirit-filled Evangelizers of 2014!

FAMILY DAY 2012

Families arraive at Guanella Center in ManilaManila – Family day was held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at Guanella Center for everyone associated with the house. Bro. Joseph Peddarapu, SdC, opened the program starting with a prayer and Fr. Eduardo Cerbito, Guanella Program Coordinator, gave opening remarks highlighting ways for everyone to serve God. The parents were sent to the Guanella Home for a presentation by Mr. and Mrs. Pilarta; a talk that taught them to educate their children with God as a teacher in the family. The children watched a movie to inspire the choices in their daily lives. After the movie they played games; showing sportsmanship and friendliness to each other. Each group prepared a presentation. The Elderly Program sang a song, Catechetical Program and Guanellian Youth Ministry performed energetic dance numbers, Lectors and Commentators revealed their golden voices paired with dance of “Sa Duyan ni Nanay” and Sponsorship beneficiaries presented their Gangnam style dance. After the presentations, there was a raffle drawing and games for adults. It was a successful and meaningful day for the Servants of Charity and everyone who attended the program.Fathers and babies at Family Day in Philippines