Legacy Remembered Lent 2018: Prayer and Suffering…

frABacc10As we are in the Lenten season, it would be appropriate to reflect upon the greatest testament which our beloved Founder St. Louis Guanella left to us his disciples: Prayer and Suffering. It can be well understood from the words of Bishop Aurelio Bacciarini, the successor of Fr. Guanella. Prayer is the first necessary condition for the stability, progress and success of the Houses of Fr. Guanella. He also differentiates prayer and the spirit of prayer: Prayer is the common and ordinary invocation of God that we raise to Him during the day. Spirit of prayer is something more intense and deeper. Therefore for these extraordinary charitable acts not only mere human hands are needed but also the kind and strong intervention of God. Without the spirit of prayer, we would not receive God’s favors. Hence it is a requirement for every member of a community and whole of the congregation to be soaked in prayer and make the Houses of Charity real tabernacles of constant praise to God. How to make our life prayer? a) from the Altar of the Holy Eucharist, let us draw the treasures of Divine Mercy b) from the reception of Holy Communion, let us unite ourselves with Jesus with the fervor of saints, so that nothing of this world may separate us from Him c) From the Holy Tabernacle – Paradise on Earth – let us sanctify our work, our travelling and our rest by keeping our hearts and minds on the Lord, in conversation with heaven.
Suffering is a word that drips drops of blood. Unless and until one is filled with the spirit of prayer, it is highly difficult to understand the term suffering. From the very life of Jesus, we can perceive that there is no redemption without the cross, suffering. The Church of Jesus Christ floats on the blood of the martyrs. All her triumphs are rooted in suffering. The Houses of Fr. Guanella were born from martyrdom. Fr. Louis Guanella suffered martyrdom in everything: contradictions, accusations, opposition, humiliations, disappointments, hunger, thirst, tiredness, agonies of body and soul. Let us understand that suffering is the key to reach paradise. As imitators of Jesus Christ and followers of Fr. Guanella, let us strive to endure daily suffering, suffer discomforts and privations, endure and carry the crosses that faithfully accompany our daily lives. The very legacy of Prayer and Suffering teaches us a lesson to despise the world and detach ourselves from its allurements. Let us live in God by prayer and suffering as our beloved Father and Founder did.
At the invitation of our Holy Father the season of lent is a favorable time which is offered by God as ‘a sacramental sign of our conversion. Lent summons us and enables us, to come back to the Lord wholeheartedly, and in every aspect of our lives’. Prompted by Pope Francis, we shall recollect the aspect of prayer and suffering as Guanellians. He says that prayer should become the driving force to enable us to reach out to the poor, marginalized and the victimized. Prayer is the constant response of our hearts to the will of God. The attitude of penance reminds us that we need to suffer with endurance, to say no to our selfishness. Acts of charity should be the constant striving of our hearts to share our time and resources with those who have nothing or nobody.
Added to our own physical, psychological, socio-economic problems, the present religious and political situation impels us to march forward with much courage to face the prejudices and persecutions against us Christians in order to be rooted out from a particular country or territory. Generally this might arouse in us questions like where is God? Why all these to us alone? and make us lose hope in God. On a positive note this happens to us because God wants to communicate with us but we are busy doing our work. Often we are after our minds by being too much indulged in social networks, technology, media which keeps us away from the creator who is behind every sphere. Rather we are called to be after our hearts from where love proceeds and inclines us to care for the anthropological aspect of our existence. It is high time this Lent that we fast from the media, network culture and be rooted in communicating with God in prayer and receive graces to face our trials and tribulations. May this Lenten Season help us to have metanoia and a fruitful celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord.


Filling our Hearts with Jesus

Legazpi – The Harong Kan Sagrada Familia community welcomed Fr. Charlton Viray for a visit November 6th–8th. During his visit, he offered a class for all the novices entitled, “Prayer with the Bible” teaching them to use this kind of prayer in their own spiritual life. He said, “once, one gets to know and apply this prayer in their spiritual life, one may discover their own self and may realize their own self with the painfulness of spirit which self needs to accept it in order to grow.” With this type of prayer, we no longer pray alone, but we listen, understand and meet Jesus in our hearts. Prayer becomes a personal dialogue with Jesus and we discover “who is Jesus in my life?” In seeking him in others: neighbors, poor, needy, we also see him in our own hearts, for He is waiting for us there. Getting to know Him is getting to know ourselves.

Food for the Soul

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

Did you have to change the hole in your belt after the Christmas holidays? I did: ashamed and worried. Your body is the temple of the spirit of God. Respect it. There is food for the body and food for the soul. So, what are we waiting for? A person is not just a physical being, but a unity of body and spirit. And while the body may be finite, the spirit is indestructible. What if we learn to tap the power of our spirits in order to nourish our hearts and bodies? Miracles happen in countless people’s lives, but they all have one common denominator: they were believers. We need to realize a truth: there are more life sustaining nutrients in a positive mind and a cheerful disposition than there is in a prime rib.
Good health starts with a good soul. It begins with a kind and giving heart. It also means that one should be forgiving. Our body is the temple of the spirit of God. Respect it by looking after yourself. Do not desecrate your body. If you do, then you also taint your spirit. There is nothing wrong with comfort food. But when you are depressed, turn to spiritual matters to lift you up. Find comfort in prayer and meditation instead of finding solace in food. It will not give comfort because it can give you more calories. Thus one week of overindulging will lead to weight gain.
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise. While doing your daily walk, exercise your mind on uplifting matters. When you train your body, remember to keep your soul fit too. Feel the love. It is called the most powerful force on earth. When there is love, there can be no fear. The heart needs to stay in good shape as well. So allow yourself to love and be loved. People who do not accept the love of others feel that they are unworthy of love. Think healthy to be healthy. Focus on the beautiful, awe inspiring and noble in life, in yourself and others. There is always a redeeming quality in people, especially you. You just need to let go of your biases. Think big to see the big picture. Think small and you get to see only the smallness and pettiness in life.
This, plus the negativity you are feeding on. Avoid gossip at all times. It can only lead to self destruction. If you have nothing good to say, zip your mouth. Practice kindness. Be kind to yourself and others.
This is what I preached to myself. Does it sound to you like a New Year’s Resolution?
I would like to share the results with you before Easter. God bless.

Struggling to Pray

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A good friend, who also is a good father, husband and benefactor, came to visit for the usual Christmas wishes. He asked me what I was reading. I told him I was trying to read the letters of St. Paul, taking up the theme of prayer in his letters. He was in a talking mood and continued saying that he loved the Jubilee Year of Mercy for its themes of fasting and almsgiving. However, he added that he had difficulties with prayer. “The Hail Marys and Our Fathers have become meaningless. Mass, including the homily, is boring. I keep hearing that we need to pray more, but I fail to pray.”
We all are struggling to pray until we learn what prayer really is. We need to reflect on the essential role of the Holy Spirit for those who wish to communicate with God.
Prayer is not a fruit of human effort, but a gift, the fruit of the living, vivifying presence of the Father of Jesus Christ in us. We, the believers, have the human desire for prayer. We want to pray, but God is far off, we do not have the words, the language, to speak with God, nor even the thought to do so. We can only open ourselves, place our time at God’s disposal; wait for Him to help us to enter into true dialogue. St. Paul says: this very lack of words, this absence of words, yet this desire to enter into contact with God, is prayer that the Holy Spirit not only understands, but brings and interprets before God. This very weakness of ours, through the Holy Spirit, becomes true prayer, true contact with God. The Holy Spirit is the interpreter who makes us, and God, understand what it is we wish to say. Prayer brings us to understand that we are weak, poor creatures. And the more we advance in listening and in dialogue with God, the more we also perceive the measure of our limitations, not only in the face of the concrete situations of everyday life, but also in our relationship with the Lord.
It is the Holy Spirit who helps our inability, who enlightens our minds and warms our hearts, guiding us as we turn to God. Prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit in our humanity. He takes our weakness and transforms us from men bound to material realities into spiritual men, when we allow the Spirit of Christ, and not the spirit of the world, to work in us as the interior principle of all our actions.

From the blog of Fr. Ed Broom, OMV (http://bit.ly/2iF2gxP)

Prayer animated by the Spirit enables us to abandon and to overcome every form of fear and slavery, and so to experience the true freedom of the children of God.
We then come to understand that, through prayer, we are not delivered from trials or sufferings, but we are able to live them in union with Christ, with His sufferings, and participating also in His glory. Prayer, sustained by the Spirit of Christ who speaks in our interior depths, never remains closed in upon itself, it is never only prayer for me; rather, it opens out to a sharing in the suffering of our time, of others. It becomes intercession for others, and thus freedom for me; a channel of hope for all creation and the expression of that love of God, which has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit who has been given to us. And this is a sign of true prayer, that it does not end in ourselves, but opens out to others and so liberates me, and so helps in the redemption of the world.
Dear confreres, we have a treasure in our faith and in our heart: the power of prayer. We need to enter in communion with the Holy Spirit and He will teach us how to love Jesus the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit the Sanctifier. I wish all of you a Happy New Year, a year when, accompanied by the Spirit we can discover what an incredible treasure the power of the Spirit is in our souls, our Order and all believers.

Prayer for the Intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta

O Jesus, Savior of the lowly, WClare13ho made Blessed Clare Bosatta shine through the spirit of sacrifice, by rendering her an untiring apostle of Your Gospel among the poor; teach us her total abandonment in Divine Providence, her love of prayer, her patience in suffering, and her spirit of dedication to the most needy. Grant us, through her intercession, the grace … that we ask you for trustingly through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be …
Blessed Clare, intercede for us!

Self Knowledge = God’s Knowledge

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo

In my life, I have dealt with many people from all different walks of life and status. Some were highly educated and some less. Some were successful and some less. I have been an educator and I have attended a few schools. After many years, I have discovered that the key to success and happiness is the knowledge of oneself which leads to God’s knowledge if we let God help us.
Jesus began teaching the Apostles by motivating them to truly understand who they were. After the first year with Jesus, they asked him: “Jesus, teach us to pray.” At the end of the second year they begged him: “Jesus, increase our faith!” In the third year, it was: “Jesus, show us the Father!” They understood who Jesus was and who they were. On Pentecost day, they stood, ran and spread their faith in Jesus all over the world.
Father Guanella is a great model for us. At first, he did not understand Sr. Clare. He was her confessor and spiritual director. She was a mystic and he did not know anything about it. He studied St. Theresa of Avila and learned that he had a precious pearl in his hands. Both of them are saints. Later on, when Fr. Guanella became a Founder, some priests asked him to join his congregation. Some, like Bacciarini, were holy, some were alcoholics, some in trouble with chastity, some were rebels in their Diocese, some who lost their faith and others from painful backgrounds. Father Guanella accepted all who knocked at his door. Slowly and painfully, like a master sculptor, he started to change them by making them understand their inner self. Their inner self made them take wrong decisions and sometimes make bad decisions. But at the end, they became acceptable priests.
The knowledge of self is the foundation of our life. Our life is constantly trying to balance our body and our soul; but this may not be possible without self-knowledge. Often we are attracted by other people, but are spiritually and emotionally too lazy to discover our true identity. Therefore our mistakes increase and our disappointments become a collection of failures. Our daily life runs through the complete experience of ourselves: study, work, love, sport and friendship compete for the first spot, but the true scale depends on the level of self-knowledge.
Even our prayer depends on who we are if we want a relationship with God. But if we do not know who we really are, often we decide against nature, our character and even against our personal history. In prayer, for example, we should not ask for something that we would never be able to do. When we pray, we beg God; we enter into an agreement with God who is a loving Father. It brings to mind the foolish experience of Herod and Salome. Mark tells us the story. “The king said to the girl: ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you. He even swore to her: I will grant whatever you ask of me, even half of my kingdom. (Mk 6, 22-23).
We know the end of this story! The head of John the Baptist, despite Herod’s feelings, was presented on a platter. John and James, ask Jesus for a special favor, showing that they do not know anything about the kingdom of God. Mark again relates: “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left. Jesus said to them, you do not know what you are asking.” (Mk 10, 37-38).
The first thing we should ask in prayer is the understanding of our mystery, of our interior light, our qualities, and our charism. It is necessary to have a practical understanding of our habits, expectations, times of learning and attitudes. The farmer who prays for a quality harvest knows the land and its activities.
Prayer always reveals the heart of each one of us. Jesus explained to his disciples that it is always necessary to ask or answer when we pray, like we do in our every day relationships, without fooling ourselves and starting with our real means. How many times have we blown it because we did not really know what we were doing! John the Baptist can explain to his followers the nature of his role, because he knows the role of Jesus. In this way he avoids the danger of misrepresenting history.
Our relationship with God is essential and our life depends on it. Christ gave us the light to understand the Will of God. The Father is creator, redeemer and inspiration. Where there is His blessing, there is no failure. Without these truths we will fall into criticism, dissatisfaction, weakness and mediocrity. Before sending his disciples all over the world, Jesus prepared them for the Kingdom of the Father. Without the knowledge of God there is no faith. Without the knowledge of self, there is nothing to hold together our prayer with the heavenly truths.

The Heritage is Passed On………

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

The last will and testament is a precious gift to the children. Before leaving this world, St. Guanella left us his legacy that our religious life should be deeply rooted in an intense spiritual life and in the exercise of charity. In his writings, he urged his disciples, “if we want the works of mercy to progress, we need people of prayer and many fervent souls able to endure suffering”.

We, the spiritual children of the Servants of Charity, Daughters of St. Mary of Providence, Lay Collaborators and above all thousands of poor, are admirers of St. Guanella and have an intimate touch with the joy of the Canonization event which took place two years ago. Our Founder’s heart that beat with such great affection and fatherly tenderness; his example of virtue; the wisdom of his direction and advice- are all a precious inheritance.

What does his Canonization anniversary say to us? What does his holiness and virtue mean for me personally? When we think about his holiness of life, he did not all of a sudden become a star but more like a laughing stock waiting for the “hour of mercy”. He underwent an incredible amount of rejection, hurt, misunderstandings, isolation, persecution, and suspicion from his superiors and civil authorities. He locked himself up in the sorrow of his heart and had the temptation to drop everything and leave for mission lands. He never gave way to anger and bitterness or closed his relationship with anyone but simply trusted in God’s Providence who called him and would strengthen him. The Servants of Charity must set their aim high and see to it that the institute is filled with needy persons- “good cannot be done except by ascending the fatiguing road to Calvary”.  I am deeply touched by reading the most moving passage of his autobiography which speaks of the joy that God sows in his trails, “The same contradiction and adversity, whether in body or mind and heart, the good Lord converts them into a shower of gold, and the storms of the storm in many grains such as precious stones that enrich the home of the spiritual, living tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.”

The very purpose of the Congregation and the goal in our religious life is “glory to God and the salvation of our own souls and those of others”. The Founder would admonish that “more miserable is the religious who does not know how to grow in his sanctification by means of the spirit of penance” and of the often repeated phrase- “Pray and Suffer.” We have a responsible call to spread the ‘Good News’ and the gospel of charity henceforth there is no room for gossip, showing an indifferent attitude and creating confusion among us.

Let us all grow in the affinity and in the bond of Charity. We are in the Congregation and for the Congregation and by the Congregation, who is our beloved mother. St. Guanella founded and established our Congregation with an exuberant love and limitless labors and anguish. What gift do we want to present to St. Guanella for his Feast? To study, follow and transmit his spirit and to have a lively desire for perfection by uniting with his last will and testament: “Paradise, Paradise! Let us pray and hope “Providence will never, never abandon us!”

Faith Walk

600 people gathered for prayer and recollection in India.

600 people gathered for prayer and recollection in India.Sivagangai – Prayer is the unique experience that can strengthen as well as widen our relationship with God the Father. In order to deepen such experience, in the season of repentance, the parish of Bosco Mayyam, Pallithammam organized a ‘Faith Walk’ where the parishioners from each village, more than 600 faithful, walked and gathered as one in Yesuvanam for one day recollection. Fr. Pakiyanathan, the director of Vianney Pastoral Center, Sivagangai was the preacher of that special day. His simple and practical sharing of the word of God was enlightening. The faithful ultimately felt one with his message and spent the day in unity by participating with genuine heart in the sessions, adoration, Eucharistic celebration and purifying themselves by making a sincere confession. The faithful experienced the mission activities of the Yesuvanam community and walked home filled with joy and satisfaction.Fr. Pakiyanathan, the director of Vianney Pastoral Center, Sivagangai preaches to a crowd of 600 people from nearby villages