Chennai – March 19th is celebrated as Saint Joseph’s Day. This year on this special occasion the Don Guanella Major Seminary community invited the Guanellian family to be nourished spiritually and physically. A special Mass was celebrated by superior Fr. Samson along with all the community fathers and brought the blessings of the Lord amidst us. People who are sponsoring the seminarians were invited as special guests for the event. As a sign of gratitude, they were honored for their benevolence to our community and given a memento for their generous contribution to our congregation. Everyone enjoyed a delicious meal and Fr. Samson concluded the day with a final blessing.
By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC
In these days we experience the love of Christmas, which gradually draws us to the source of Christian joy. We are called to foster this joy among our relatives, friends and neighbors. It is important that we do not let ourselves be robbed of this joy.
Christmas is also accompanied by tears. The Evangelists did not disguise reality to make it more credible or attractive. They relate the birth of the Son of God as an event full of tragedy and grief. Quoting the prophet Jeremiah, Matthew presents it in the bluntest way: “A voice is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children” (2,18). It is the sobbing of mothers mourning the death of their children in the face of Herod’s thirst for power. Today too, we hear this touching cry of pain, which we neither desire to ignore or to silence. In our world we continue to hear the lamentation of so many mothers, for the death of their children, their innocent children.
To contemplate the manger also means to contemplate this cry of pain, to open our eyes and ears to what is going on around us, and to let our hearts be open to the pain of our neighbors, especially where children are involved. It also means realizing that a sad chapter in history is still being written today. Can we truly experience Christian joy if we turn our backs on these realities? Can Christian joy even exist if we ignore the cry of our brothers and sisters, the cry of the children?
St. Joseph faced the atrocious crimes that were taking place. St. Joseph, the model of an obedient and loyal man, was capable of recognizing God’s voice and the mission entrusted to him by the Father. Because he was able to hear God’s voice, and was docile to His will, Joseph became more conscious of what was going on around him and was able to interpret these events realistically.
The same thing is asked of us today: to be attentive, and not deaf, to the voice of God, and therefore more sensitive to what is happening all around us. Today, with St. Joseph as our model, we are asked not to let ourselves be robbed of joy. We are asked to protect this joy from the Herods of our own time. Like Joseph, we need the courage to respond to this reality, to arise and take it firmly in hand. The courage to guard this joy from the predators of our time, who devour the innocence of our children. Innocence robbed from them by the oppression of illegal slave labor, prostitution and exploitation. Thousands of our children have fallen into the hands of gangs, criminal organizations and merchants of death. We hear these children and their cries of pain; we also hear the cry of the Church, our Mother, who weeps for the pain caused to her youngest sons and daughters. Today, as we commemorate the feast of the Holy Innocents, let us renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst. Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect the lives of our children in every way, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, we support, clearly and faithfully, zero tolerance.
Christian joy does not arise on the fringes of reality, by ignoring it or acting as if it did not exist. Christian joy is born from a call to embrace and protect human life, especially that of the holy innocents of our own day. Christmas is a time that challenges us to protect life, to help it be born and grow. It is a time that challenges us to find new courage. The courage that generates ways capable of acknowledging the reality that many of our children are experiencing today, and working to ensure them the bare minimum needed so that their dignity as God’s children will not only be respected but, above all, defended.
Let us not allow them to be robbed of joy. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of joy, but guard it and nourish its growth.
A few days ago I happened to read a beautiful book, “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Henri J.M. Nouwen, a bestselling writer, and pastor of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, Canada, who died in 1996. He portrays Rembrandt’s depiction in which the disheveled young son is kneeling before his old father in order to be blessed and forgiven. The tender way in which the father touched the shoulders of his young son was heart breaking and reveals a welcoming attitude.
Grief, forgiveness and generosity are the three ways by which the image of the father can grow in each one of us.
Grief: is the discipline of the heart that sees the sin and there is no compassion without many tears. The tears should well up from our hearts. To become like the Father whose only authority is compassion because His divine love is so boundless.
Forgiveness: it is very hard to remain at home and wait. In our communities and mission places have I dared to carry the responsibility of a spiritually adult person? Or becoming a welcoming home for those who have been hurt and wounded? There is a dreadful emptiness in this spiritual fatherhood which includes no power, no success, no popularity, and no easy satisfaction. We behave like the rebellious younger son and the resentful elder son. Henceforth both sons in us can gradually be transformed into the compassionate father.
Generosity: the third way to become like the father is generosity. The father gives himself away completely without reserve. The way the younger son is treated with robe, ring, sandals and a welcoming with a sumptuous celebration are the visible gestures of the generous father. In order to become like the Father, I must be as generous as the Father is generous. Today our great motivations are survival, self-preservation, self-interest, greed and power.
May St. Joseph, role model for fatherhood with his fatherly greatness, provide profound insights to imitate his virtues!
Fr. Soosai Rathinam
Grass Lake – On Saturday evening, December 13 a group of sixteen young adults and high school age youth gathered at the Pious Union of St. Joseph for our first Christmas Youth Pilgrimage. Fr. Satheesh, Sr. Brenda & Sr. Ann welcomed some brand new youth, with some coming from as far as Ypsilanti. Many were youth that have grown with us through our monthly Retreat Days.
It was truly a Pilgrimage. After some introductions and a Nativity game, the evening began as the youth placed themselves on the journey with Mary and Joseph on their search for lodging in Bethlehem. With lighted candles they followed Mary and Joseph from door to door asking for a place to stay and singing carols until they were finally welcomed into our “stable” (the renovated “Barn Church”).
Then the celebration began as we welcomed the “Light of Christ” and heard the words proclaimed by Fr. Satheesh: “What has come into being in Him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
Fun and fellowship was enjoyed by all with a hearty lasagna meal. Then each member of the group made a symbol (ornament) that represented their own witness to Christ. We ended with adoration and prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Cuddalore – The patronal Feast of St. Joseph’s Minor Seminary was celebrated on March 19th with a car procession and Holy Mass. The confreres and seminarians prepared themselves spiritually with TRIDUUM; meditating on the many virtues of St. Joseph. Many religious near our Seminary, parishioners of Sagaya Matha Parish and students from the Boys Home attended. Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Visuwasam, and a fellowship meal was shared by all.
Chennai – To celebrate his grand feast, Fr. Soosai Rathinam, Provincial Superior, visited the community and met each confrere personally. The feast day of St. Joseph was highlighted by Holy Mass and a sumptuous meal. The theologians of Don Guanella Major Seminary finished their semester exams and started their summer program with the annual tour; this year to Thekkadi, a dense forest and attractive tourist spot in Kerala. The priests and theologians started the journey on March 20th; spending two joyful days on Thekkadi. First they went boating where wild elephants came to drink water on the lake. The next morning they went to Periyar National Park on a jeep safari; experiencing the beauty of nature in the dense forest from the open jeep. Later they enjoyed a long walk. As they climbed the mountain, they were reminded of the strong mountaineer, St. Louis Guanella, climbing the steps of Savogno. They thoroughly enjoyed the fraternity and relaxation of the trip which was planned and funded by Mr. Manohar, a lay collaborator from Madurai.
Vatluru – The Feast of St. Joseph gave birth to the Guanellian Lay movement (GLM) in Vatluru. The Guanellian parish, Sacred Heart Church, with its 9 sub- stations has become the locus for its establishment. For the past 10 years Guanellians have been entrusted with the pastoral needs of the people. The Guanellian presence has brought out changes in the ethical and moral values of the people and made CHARITY the center of every activity. The Superior, Fr. Peter Sebastian, and confreres felt it was time to establish the GLM. Invitations were sent to people of five substations, the Guanella Bhavan area and the Minor Seminary to become GLM members. Nearly 30 members attended the inaugural session at Guanella Bhavan. The meeting began by invoking the Lord’s blessings with prayer. A short biographical book on Fr. Guanella was distributed and recommended to read. Fr. Peter spoke of the importance of the GLM and the laity in the Church. He highlighted the changes in the functioning of the Church since Vatican II. The pyramid has become circular, bridging the gap between the religious and laity. Teaching about the GLM, he said that Fr. Guanella started two religious congregations DSMP for women and SdC for men. He started the cooperators as a third order; making the laity members of the Guanellian Family. Therefore, the family would be incomplete without the laity. He thanked them for helping to spread the love of God to the least in society. He encouraged them to work in an organized manner through the GLM. Doubts were clarified and members expressed their happiness to join the GLM. A solemn mass was celebrated by Fr. Charles Borromeo in honor of St. Joseph. The meeting ended with a delicious meal. A similar group was also started at the parish creating two GLM groups for the local Guanellian family.
“No one can live without delight and that is why man, deprived of spiritual joy, goes over to fleshly pleasures” (Thomas Aquinas). Our reliance on other persons and attachment to worldly possessions in this hedonistic culture is quite normal. For some, a car is a wife for others, computers, cell phones, friends and financial security and so on and so on. I have trusted him/her like a mountain but he/she has abandoned, betrayed me… these are the desperations and cries of today’s lives. In this context, possessions lead to attachment which leads to greediness and a grabbing mentality.
Instead of relying on material security, we should rely on God and in His Providence and thus we become voluntarily poor like St. Francis of Assisi who said “My God and my all” which was his prayer. In the life of Jesus, He identified Himself with the poor and His lifestyle had no security, comfort, permanent house, and He was even buried in a borrowed grave. The followers of Jesus also left everything- nets, boats, hired servants, tax office, etc.
“Give what you have to the poor” and “poverty depends on Charity “says our father of the poor St. Guanella. His eyes were able to see Jesus in the poor, “the most abandoned of all, bring him in, sit him at your table and make him yours, because he is Jesus”. Fr. Guanella warned the religious “let the two sins against providence be avoided “spending uselessly and refusing ourselves what is necessary for food, clothing and health. Our founder underwent umpteen sufferings, miscomprehensions, the FOUR F’S (fame-hungry, freddo-cold, fumo-smoke, fastidi-adversity) He always encourages us to love poverty, love the cross, and embrace penances and thus we can ascend the ladder of perfection.
Our Holy Father’s Lenten message is an eye opener to make an examination of conscience on a life of evangelical poverty in three types (of destitution): material, moral and spiritual and show our ‘Diaconia’ in meeting the needs of the poorest and alleviate the poverty with compassion, tenderness and solidarity of His love. Lent is a fitting time for self-denial in order to enrich others by our own poverty and solidarity. The recent Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India also urged us to become an example of simplicity, transparency, justice and mercy in a society polluted by corruption and violence.
St. Joseph loved poverty and suffered the privation of life with patience and without murmur or complaint! He is a model of patience and was full of the virtue of humility and, with a righteous attitude, obeyed the plan of God. May he bless each one of us to be generous through our personal and community poverty!
The Pious Union of St. Joseph, a confraternity of Prayer for the Sick, Suffering and dying was founded by St. Louis Guanella at St. Joseph’s Basilica in Rome in the year 1914. Pope Pius X approved the movement and became its first member. St. Joseph is the universal patron of the dying and the Pious Union of St. Joseph works under his patronage. The Pious Union of St. Joseph is spread throughout the world in many nations and the prime motive of the movement is to pray for the good health of the sick, a good death for the suffering and dying and for the salvation of departed souls.
The Movement has a GOLDEN BOOK, in which all the names of the sick and suffering are written and the movement offers continuous prayer for them. There are regular masses, Adoration, Rosaries and group prayers organized in the Guanellian Communities in India.
- Every Wednesday 6 to 7 pm Adoration to pray for the sick, suffering and dying.
- Every First Friday, Holy Mass for the sick, suffering and dying.
If you would like to become a member of the Pious Union of St. Joseph, contact the nearest Guanellian Religious Community in India. Your name will be enrolled and members will pray for the beloved sick and suffering amongst your family, relatives and friends.
Grass Lake – As part of the charism of the Guanellian Mission and the Pious Union of St. Joseph, members of the local Guanellian Family gathered at the home of a cooperator suffering with cancer on September 26th. Fr. Joseph and Fr. Satheesh led a short prayer service and brought her communion. Sr. Rosemary Bell, DSMP and several members from the St. Joseph Women’s Guild were also present to pray through the intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta. A first class relic was left in her home to assist in prayer. Please continue to pray that through the Intercession of Blessed Clare Bosatta, God’s will be done.