Wednesday, July 29, 2020

World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

 "Certainly, there is a lot of ignorance on the topic of trafficking. But sometimes, there also seems to be little will to understand the scope of the issue. Why? Because it touches close to our conscience; because it is thorny; because it is shameful. Then there are those who, even knowing this, do no want to speak because they are at the end of the "supply chain" as a user of the "services" that are offered on the street or on the internet... Yes, it takes courage and honesty when, in our daily lives, we meet or deal with persons who could be victims of human trafficking, or when we are tempted to select items which may well have been produced by exploiting others.

"The work of raising awareness must begin at home, with ourselves, because only in this way will we be able to then make our communities aware, motivating them to commit themselves so that no human being may ever again be a victim of trafficking."

Pope Francis, February 2018

St. Vincent reminds his Daughters that love embraces justice. The Daughters of Charity are constantly solicitous for the development of every person in all the aspects of their being. That is why they are always alert to the ways of helping their brothers and sisters to become conscious of their own and agent of their own promotion. They plead the cause of the underprivileged who do not have the possibility of making their legitimate demands and aspirations heard. (Constitutions 24e)

What is your response? What will you do to rid the world of this plight against God's loved ones?

Created by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Pentecost and the Lumière

Have you ever had an experience that was so life-changing and memorable that you just had to write about it afterwards? Perhaps you relayed it in great detail in a diary, prayer journal, or letter to a friend. St. Louise had experience like that on the Feast of Pentecost in 1623.

Louise had been going through a very difficult time. In 1620, after only seven years of marriage, her husband Antoine fell ill. His illness, probably tuberculosis, made him moody and irritable and would, five years later, result in his death. In this time of darkness, Louise began to blame herself for her husband's distress and wondered whether this was a punishment from God. She even questioned her life choice of marriage (and she had never forgotten her original intention to become a nun, a choice which had been denied by the superior of the order due to her own fragile health.) Louise was filled with great anguish and self-doubt. She questioned her own goodness and felt that she was a failure in the eyes of God. Anyone who has struggled with depression, hopelessness, or regret can identify with her feelings at this time.

While at Mass on the Feast of Pentecost, Louise received a powerful experience of God's love and grace, which she called "Light" (in French, Lumière). We are blessed that her written description of this event still exists to this day and we can read the compelling words written in her own hand:

"My mind was instantly freed of all doubt. I was advised that I should remain with my husband and that a time would come when I would be in a position to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience and that I would be in a small community where others would do the same. I then understood that I would be in a place where I could help my neighbor, but I did not understand how this would be possible since there was to be much coming and going."

It is interesting to note that, even though Louise received great assurance of God's love, guidance, and care for her, she did not yet have a full understanding of what the future would hold. In fact, we know that she would continue to care for her ailing husband for at least two more years before his death. During that time, however, Louise would also meet Vincent de Paul who would become her spiritual director and would continue God's healing work in her heart. Together, they would revolutionize the care of those living in poverty and ultimately found the Daughters of Charity in 1633 where Louise would see the fulfillment of her Lumière in the taking of vows that her heart had longed for in the comings and goings of numerous Daughters of Charity in the service of those who are poor.

Can you recall a time when you felt an inner assurance of God's love and care for you, even when the future seemed uncertain?

Written by Sister Chris Maggi, D.C.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

God's Plan for Humanity

"God's plan for humanity is good, but in our daily affairs, we experience the presence of evil. It is a
daily experience. The first chapters of the Book of Genesis describe the progressive expansion of sin in human affairs. Adam and Even doubt God's good intentions; they think they are dealing with an envious God who impedes their happiness. This is where their rebellion comes from: they no longer believe in a generous Creator who desires their happiness. Yielding to the temptation of evil, their hearts are overcome by a delirium of omnipotence: 'if we eat the fruit from the tree, we will become like God.' And this is temptation: this is ambition that enters hearts. But their experience goes in the opposite direction: their eyes are opened and they discover they are named, with nothing. Do not forget this: the tempter is a bad payer, he does not pay well.

"Evil becomes even more disruptive with the second human generation, it is stronger: it is the story of Cain and Abel. Cain is envious of his brother; there is the seed of envy; even though he is the first born, he sees Abel as a rival, one who undermines his primacy. Evil appears in his heart and Cain is unable to control it. Evil begins to enter his hear: his thoughts are always turned to looking badly upon the other, with suspicion. And this occurs with his thoughts too: 'This one is evil, heh will hurt me.' And this thought enters his heart ... And thus the story of the first brotherhood ends in murder. I think of human fraternity today...war everywhere.

"In Cain's descendants, arts and crafts develop, but violence develops too, expressed by the sinister canticle of Lamech, which sounds like a hymn of revenge: 'I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for striking me, if Cain is avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven fold.' Vengeance: 'You did this, you will pay.' But the judge does not say this, I do. And I make myself the judge of the situation. And in this way evil spreads like wildfire, until it occupies the entire picture: 'The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.' The great frescos of the universal flood and of the tower of Babel  reveal that there is need of a new beginning, like a new creation, which will be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

"Yet, in these first pages of the Bible, another, less striking, much more humble and pious story is also written, which represents the release of hope. While almost everyone behaves in a wicked manner, making hatred and conquest the great engine of human affairs, there are people who are capable of praying to God with sincerity, capable of writing mankind's destiny in a different way. Abel offers God the firstling sacrifice. After his death, Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth, to whom Enosh (which means 'mortal') was born, and it is stated: 'At that time men began to call upon the name of the Lord.' Then Enoch appears, a person who 'walked with God' and was taken to heaven. And lastly there is the story of Noah, a righteous man who 'walked with God,' before whom God withheld his intention to blot out mankind.

"While reading these narratives, one has the impression that prayer is a bulwark; it is man's refuge before the flood wave of evil that grows in the world. On closer inspection, we also pray to be saved from ourselves. It is important to pray: 'Lord, please, save me from myself, from my ambitions, from my passions.' The prayerful of the first pages of the Bible are peace workers: indeed, when prayer is authentic, it frees one from the instincts of violence and it is a gaze directed to God, that he may return to take care of the heart of mankind. We read in the Catechism: 'This kind of prayer is lived by many righteous people in all religions.' Prayer cultivates flowerbeds of rebirth in places where man's hatred has only been able to expand the desert. And prayer is powerful because it attracts the power of God and the power of God always gives life: always. He is the God of life and he causes rebirth.

"This is why God's lordship passes through this chain of men and women, often misunderstood or marginalized in the world. But the world lives and grows thanks to the power of God whom these servants attract with their prayer. It is not at all a boisterous chain, and rarely makes headlines, yet it is so important to restoring trust to the world!

"I remember the story of one man: an important government leader not from these days, but from the past. An atheist who had no religious feeling in his heart, but as a child he heard his grandmother pray, and this remained in his heart. And at a very difficult time in his life, that memory returned to his heart and said: 'But my grandmother used to pray....' He thus began to pray with his grandmother’s formulas, and there he found Jesus. Prayer is always a chain of life: many men and women who pray sow life.

"Prayer sows life, small prayers: this is why it is so important to teach children to pray. I suffer when I encounter children who do not know how to make the sign of the Cross. They have to be taught to make the sign of the Cross properly, because it is the first prayer. Then perhaps they may forget, take another path, but the first prayers learned as a child remain in the heart, because they are a seed of life, the seed of dialogue with God.

"The journey of God in the history of God is conveyed through them: it has passed through a 'remainder' of humanity that has not conformed to the law of the fittest, but has asked God to perform his miracles, and above all to transform our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. And this helps prayer: because prayer opens the door to God, turning our often stony hearts into a human heart. And this demands a lot of humanity, and with humanity one can pray well."

Taken from Pope Francis's address on May 27, 2020.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Heroes in Stories

Human beings are story tellers. From childhood, we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we don't always realize it. Often, we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own. Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behavior. They can help us understand and communicate who we are... The stories of different ages all have a common "loom:" the thread of their narrative involves "heroes," including everyday heroes who, in following a dream, confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous, the force of love. By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.
Pope Francis on June 2, 2020.

Who are your heroes or heroines from Scripture? From the Communion of Saints? From your own family?

Why do you think of these people as heroes or heroines?

What can you learn from these people?

Are St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, St. Catherine Laboure, and/or St. Elizabeth Ann  Seton considered one of your heroes or heroines?

Submitted by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Feast of the Ascension

When I think of the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord into heaven, I think of it as being on a Thursday as we always called it "Ascension Thursday." But most Dioceses have moved it to the Seventh Sunday of Easter so many more Catholics can be present and truly celebrate this great feast.

I smile when I read the Entrance Antiphon because the Apostles got the same lecture my sister used to give me when I gawk at a new sight: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand there continuing to look up into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw ascending into heaven, will return the same way as you saw Him go up into heaven."

Jesus' message to the Apostles is "GO." GO throughout the world and tell the good news: that Jesus died to prove his great, unconditional love for us. He rose from the dead with the promise that He will be with you and me until the end of the world. Yes, Jesus is truly living in each one of us as we GO spreading God's love by loving and respecting others as we love and respect ourselves.

Written by Sister Caroline Clark, D.C.