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
Chennai – For Guanellians, the month of June remains a Month of Fervor as our Founder mentions, because in this month the perpetually professed confreres renew their vows. On June 8th ten priests at Don Guanella Major Seminary renewed their vows in the Devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Fr. A. Periyanayagam presided over Mass and Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, gave the homily. He spoke of the devotion that our founder had to the Heart of Jesus and reminded us that our hearts must be like the heart of Jesus burning with love for the poor, needy and all those who say I have no one. At the end of the Mass the confreres renewed their vows to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the living and vivifying source of eternal life, infinite treasure of divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. It inflames our hearts with the ardent love of the Father, pours into our hearts the graces of His source and grants that our hearts may be so closely united to His; so that His holy will may be done in and through us. The Sacred Heart is the bedrock of Divine Providence. This explains why for so many centuries, most facets of our devotion revolve around the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Even the Eucharistic devotion which has become the source and summit of Catholic worship is predicated on the outpouring of the Love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Therefore the Heart of Jesus is truly the home or the sanctuary of Love. To certify this truth, the stories and parables of Jesus in the Bible will guide us well.
One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in ‘THE FATHER OF THE PRODIGAL SON’. The younger son, returning home, approaches the father completely broken; yet the love in the heart of the father sees only that his son is back and his response was fully an explosion of love! The next evident parable is ‘THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN’. It captures in a very vivid way, love in action. The heart of the Samaritan went out to the victim in love, compassion and total identification. The very essence of his ‘altruism’ was precisely the essence of love – to give, give some more and to keep on giving until one is totally empty.
Another confirming event is THE STORY OF THE WOMAN WHO WAS CAUGHT IN ADULTERY and brought before Jesus Christ for “judgment”. It amply demonstrates His revolutionary love. The woman’s accusers could not see beyond the sin. But Jesus Christ, whose heart is the fountain of love saw it differently. His response was a challenge that eventually silenced the accusers. With love comes the knowledge that all are sinners in need of redemption. With love comes the realization that we are all beneficiaries of God’s abundant mercy that needs to be extended to our brothers and sisters.
Next, on seeing the multitude of people by the lakeside, Jesus felt sorry for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. On that occasion His compassion led Him to FEED FOUR THOUSAND PEOPLE in the same manner as God had fed the Israelites with manna in the desert. Finally, while HANGING ON THE CROSS, JESUS PRAYED: “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Jesus’ prayer amply demonstrates the truth that the very nature and essence of Jesus’ heart is love.
Therefore, the heart of Jesus Christ as the home of love cuts across all boundaries – race, culture, gender, class etc, thereby making all into one family with one history and one destiny. It is so total and unconditional that we are reluctant to accept it. For us it is much easier to accept love that is conditional with the hope that love would be reciprocated, but Jesus’ is different. His love precisely demonstrates a unique and revolutionary form of love which is unconditional, unhurtful and descending upon us. Unlike the limited heart of man and woman, the heart of Jesus is limitless in love. The nature of Jesus’ heart is love par excellence. It is not that Jesus has love and Jesus can love but the essence and nature of Jesus’ Heart is Love for ‘God is Love’.
His love accepts us as we are and completely. We are invited to that LOVE. It sets us free to love as Jesus loves. The Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a training in the love of Jesus. As religious ‘the more one is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the more the person is expected to manifest Christian virtues especially LOVE. Let us strive to become the personified witnesses of Christ’s love for it is the Heart of the World.
Hail, Sacred Heart of Jesus!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Chennai – It was indeed a happy moment to cherish the love of the Mother of Divine Providence on her solemn feast day. To increase devotion and love for the Blessed Mother of Providence, the theological seminary brothers held a triduum with specific themes and reflections. The festal celebration was colored with Guanellian priests, sisters, brothers, lay Cooperators, beneficiaries and friends. Fr. Ligory, SdC, celebrated Holy Mass; speaking the Word and breaking the bread in a gracious manner. To make the day more significant, the foundation stone for the enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Statue was laid in front of the portico.
On June 12th, we will be celebrating the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Guanellian family’s DNA-Genesis born out of the heart of a merciful Father. In fact, in our founder’s life, we can trace 30 little sermons on the Sacred Heart invoked in many titles. In Asia, we begin our new pastoral year from June onwards whereas in America it begins in September, therefore I want to focus on “our origins,” especially the attitude and style of community, the way they evangelize, handle problems, etc.
We look at the panoramic vision and mission of Como: The first generation of our confreres and sisters, along with our poor, stayed under the same umbrella like in Noah’s ark. Kindergarten; educational and professional schools; printing press; homes for the elderly; home for good children; agricultural colonies; parishes; chaplaincies; oratories; after-school programs; assistance to immigrants; homes for orphans, etc.
Analyzing the human resources, the average age would have been 20 to 30 and full of energy and enthusiasm, creativity and joy, they were able to spread the charism and mission through sacrifices and with heroic virtues. But we have to take into account the reality of the two congregations during the time of evangelization – with a different mentality, different people and language, and way of understanding.
Do we think that these communities were without problems? Certainly, our first Guanellian communities had problems due to weak personalities; poor dedication to the spiritual life, meditation, visits, spiritual exercises, and reading; abuses in the area of relationships and in the use of food and alcohol; reckless excesses of grumbling and gossip; tensions in the fraternal life and expense reporting; reluctance in the practice of obedience; excessive autonomy in the mission; difficulty of relationship between the Servants and the Daughters; long silences and scarcity of communication with superiors; mediocre skills; moral issues with even some scandal; lack of tradition, etc. Henceforth, we could notice an underlying problem of “Identity” and “pastoral nature”- what kind of religious do we want to be and which type of ministry do we want to take over?
But in spite of these difficulties and problems, the confreres and sisters were very open to live and absorb the genuine spirit of St. Louis Guanella. Therefore, our vocation, in and of itself, does not consist of merely organizing our lives, but to share it and to be poor like them. For real monks, whose first work is to be always of God, witnessing to our origins with the spirit of “Prayer and Suffering.” The modern monks are those who spend time between contemplation of Christ and service to the poor in action. The importance given by Father Guanella and the tradition of our first common prayer was “when you are not praying you work, when you are not working you pray.”
Finally, the community and mission: Father Guanella always insisted on growing in the “Bond of Charity” and sense of belonging with an attitude of benevolence and courtesy during times of opposition and conflict. I admire the wisdom of our founder to read and understand others in three perspectives: persons are “saveable, redeemable and educable.” Don Guanella was more practical and convinced that there is not much time to waste; the keyword is to do, do quickly and serve immediately because “Caritas Christi Urget Nos”- the Charity of Christ impels us.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Cuddalore – The local confreres attended monthly recollection on June 25th at St. Joseph Minor Seminary. Fr. Gregory presented a reflection about the feast days of June, above all the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. He said, “let it be Jesus who lives in you.” United with Jesus we are called to give to the poor His riches and to the rich His poverty. After the presentation it was time for Adoration; during which the confreres contemplated the love of God.
In our Province, we have the joy of entering into the “New Pastoral Year in Asia” which consists of labor, watchfulness, perseverance and self-denial. In “The Cup of our Life”, Joyce Rupp writes, “ A cup is a container for holding something; whatever it holds eventually has to be emptied out so that something more can be put into it, to make room for the new. Therefore, a constant process of emptying and filling, of giving and receiving, of accepting and letting go.” These are the qualities of life in the field of mission, education, and formation that is, “doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well,” and our magic formula is “Imitate, Improve and Innovate” which is the strategy of Japan to become a super power.
Be Proactive: it is the awareness that you are the animator of your life, a strategic thinker, following a plan and anticipating obstacles before they become problems. We are all responsible for our life and actions. Therefore, we need not throw our responsibilities on others without conviction or be carried away by shifting the responsibility for our action to someone else.
Aim for the fullness of life: Pope Francis on May 10, 2014 addressed around 300 thousand people, mostly students, saying, “Let us not steal the love for school; true education makes us love life and opens us to the fullness of life.”
Let us have full FOCUS on our ministry! When it comes to ministry the question shouldn’t be what else can I do? The question should be, what can I do that no one else can do? And what can I do that no one else is doing?
June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart which represents the core of the person, center of all our spiritual activities, and seat of emotions, love and compassion. Therefore “when a heart is inflamed with a heavenly charity, it will certainly work miracles of holy undertakings”- St. Louis Guanella.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Cuddalore – “Vocations are a sign of hope founded in faith,” said Pope Francis. In India, intensive vocation drives started in the heat of summer around Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karnataka. The Guanellian confreres and some lay friends went to familiar places and proclaimed the goodness of our congregation; sowing the seeds of vocations. On April 14th, 23 boys from the various dioceses arrived at St. Joseph’s Seminary for the 4 day Summer Vocation Camp, organized for boys who finished their 10th and 12th grade studies.
Different sessions were presented: ‘Discernment on Religious Vocation,’ ‘The call of different Prophets in Scripture’ and ‘Synthesis on life and Spirit of St. Louis Guanella.’ There was time for gathering, cultural night and competitions on different subjects. On the final day, Fr. Provincial encouraged the boys to follow the charism of the Congregation and interviewed the students regarding their intentions.
Fr. Rajesh and his team travelled to Sivagangai for another Summer Vocation Camp looking for candidates from southern Tamil Nadu. There were only a few good hearts wanting to say yes to the Lord’s call. A pilgrimage to Oriyur, to the Shrine of St. John De Britto, and Idaikattur, to the shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, helped to verify intentions.
East Providence– Sacred Heart Parish celebrated its patron feast in a grand fashion. They put on a three day festival, a procession of the Blessed Sacrament around the parish blocks, a special Mass for the anointing of the sick; days of fun for children; booths and Portuguese food. Many young parents and their children enjoyed the safe environment and the many games. The beautiful weather proved to be favorable for attendance at Sunday Masses and the procession. May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the major Patron of our Guanellian Family, bless and protect the parish and all the parishioners especially those who, like Jesus on the cross, are nailed on the cross of their daily suffering.
Legazpi – On June 15th, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, two seminarians Adornaldo O. Jacob and Alfie S. Madulac were formally accepted into the Postulancy program. In a Eucharistic celebration held at the community chapel, presided over by Fr. Battista Omodei, Sdc, the local community superior and director of Postulants, the seminarians were officially initiated to the rite of Postulancy. The Eucharistic celebration also marked the renewal of vows of the confreres and the commitment of three aspirants.