Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Feast for Our Lady of Mount Carmel

There are many statues and images that have been designed throughout the years showing a large variety of titles for Mary. Today, June 16, is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

Since Mary is an important part, in various ways, of our spiritual life, it is enriching to focus today on this title of Mary. The most common image that represents today's feast shows Mary holding the child Jesus along with a brown scapular. The brown scapular is often a part of First Communion gift sets.

Today's feast takes its name from the mountain, Mount Carmel, that overlooks Galilee. In addition, St. Simon Stock in 1251 had a vision of Mary from which the Brown Scapular was developed. Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the patroness of the Carmelite Orders and of the country of Chile in South America.

Our prayer life is enriched when more of our senses are incorporated. Let us be open to being inspired by learning about Our Lady of Mount Carmel. She can intercede with God for us in making our important decisions.

Written by Sister Carmeli Proano, D.C.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Feast of St. Francis Regis Clet

In the year 2000, St. Francis Regis Clet was canonized in Rome. This was a great event for the whole Vincentian family. But, for four elderly Chinese Daughters of Charity, who had endured the disbanding of the community, the brainwashing, and the terrors of the Cultural Revolution during Mao Tse Dung's reign, this was an intense spiritual experience.

St. Francis Regis Clet was a son of St. Vincent and an adopted son of China. For the sisters, this was their first trip out of China and their first visit with a Pope. These sisters had suffered so much at the hands of the Communists, because they would not deny the Pope. To be allowed to be in the line to receive Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II during the Canonization Mass was an exciting privilege for them. They were even invited for a private audience of about 60 persons to be with the Pope.

The canonization day culminated with a dinner in honor of St. Francis Regis Clet, with members of his own family present. These elderly sisters knew what his martyrdom meant because they too had shared sufferings of a similar martyrdom.

Written by Sister Martin Dehlinger, D.C.

Monday, July 8, 2019

St. Francis Regis Clet

St. Francis Regis Clet, who died a martyr in China in 1971, has an interesting vocation story. He became a Vincentian priest with the hope of going to China as a missionary. God had other plans. Clet's first assignment was as a college professor. At age 40, he became the Director of Novices for the community - a long cry from a missionary. He seemed doomed to spend his life in the academic world, but God heard his prayers.

Another Vincentian, who was assigned to go to China, had to back out shortly before the ship was ready to sail. To fill his place, Superiors turned to Fr. Clet and, with very little preparation, he boarded the ship and was off to China.

Age 43 is not the optimum time to begin learning Chinese, but his heart was in it as well as his zeal to bring the message of Christ to the Chinese people. His command of the Chinese language never did become very good, but his holiness touched the hearts of the people as he worked diligently to cover the 270,000 square miles of his immense parish.

After 28 years of exhausting labor of Christ in the midst of unbelievable privations and sacrifices, he was betrayed by a "friend" and handed over to the government, which was hunting down priests. He endured indescribable tortures and was finally hung on a cross and strangled. His feast day is celebrated on July 9.

Written by Sister Kathleen Grimley, D.C.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Marguerite Naseau

The eldest of nine children, Marguerite Naseau (1594 - 1633) was baptized on July 6, 1594, a significant date on the Vincentian liturgical calendar. Marguerite, "faithful to her Baptism," served persons who lived in poverty and "her charity was so great that she died from sharing her bed with a plague-stricken girl."

Though Marguerite died before the foundation of the Daughters of Charity (in 1633), she cared for sick and poor persons in the Confraternities of Charity (1630) with St. Vincent and St. Louise. St. Vincent thought she was "an ideal Daughter of Charity." Both observed in Marguerite the hallmarks of one who might discern God's call to be a servant of the poor. Marguerite "was the first sister who came to the parish of Saint-Sauveur" and "the first...who had the happiness of showing others the way, both to teach young girls and nurse the sick poor."

Open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, Marguerite reached out in an active love, her spirit of availability leading her to "give up a practice of charity to take up another."

Presently, Daughters of Charity around the world prepare for the General Assembly in 2021 with the theme "EPHPHATHA," the prayer said to open the candidate's ear to the Word of God at Baptism. Each sister can be inspired by Marguerite, "the one who influenced" St. Vincent and St. Louise.

Recently, Pope Francis described the Blessed Virgin Mary as an "influencer." Her "yes and her desire to serve were stronger than any doubts or difficulties." Likewise, it was with Marguerite Naseau.

St. Vincent's Conference on Marguerite Naseau (1643) provides a blueprint for Daughters of Charity characterized by such virtues as simplicity, charity, humility, zeal, and dependence on Divine Providence.

Marguerite depended on Divine Providence greatly. In her desire to teach, "she mistress but God" because "she was...a poor, uneducated cowherd." Marguerite equipped herself with the resource to accomplish her task. She bought a "primer." In humility, she sought help in learning to read; "she went and asked the Pastor to tell her the first four letters of the alphabet." Later, "she asked about the next four and so on for the rest." Boldly, she looked for a passerby who might help her. She wasted no time, studying while taking care of the cows. She "gradually learned to read, then taught other girls in her village" and when instructed, brought them "from village to village to teach the young people." Having no resources "except Divine Providence," she experienced poverty while remaining "humble and submissive."

Marguerite had no self-interest. Her motive was God's glory. Even though she helped everyone, she was ridiculed by the village people. Nevertheless, "her zeal grew."

Marguerite was "so attached that she gave away all she had. She provided for the education of a few men...supplied them with food and encouraged them to serve God." Her good witness "attracted other girls" and she encouraged them to "detach themselves from all superficial things and to embrace a devout life."

While engaged in work, Marguerite was attacked by illness and, ready to die, she went to the hospital, "her heart filled with joy and conformity to God's will." Her fidelity to Baptism and her loving service makes her an inspirational figure for all Daughters of Charity as they "give themselves to God in community to serve a spirit of humility, simplicity, and charity."

Written by Sister Anne Neylon, D.C., Province of Ireland

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

On July 4, we celebrate the feast day of one of our official patrons for World Youth Day in 2013 in Rio. A pipe-smoking mountaineer, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

In this video, noted media person Father Barron tells of his first encounter with the life of Pier Giorgio Frassati and what he learned about his desire to climb the heights by serving the lowly.

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was a vibrant young outdoorsman who combined a deep love for Christ, a desire to serve the needy, and a mission to imbue society and politics with Christian ideals. He died after an acute attack of poliomyelitis on July 4, 1925 at the age of 24. In his short life, he touched the lives of so many people through his volunteer work with St. Vincent de Paul.

A Saint on Skis

When the covering was removed from the image of Pier Giorgio Frassati draped on the facade of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome as he was newly proclaimed Blessed by Pope John Paul II on May 20, 1990, what became visible to those present was not the classic portrait of a saint. Surprisingly, it was the photo of a strong, young man wearing the gear of a mountain climber, leaning on a long ice-axe with one foot sturdily on a rock.

"Toward the Top"

A month before his death, Pier Giorgio Frassati and some of his friends had been climbing in the Val di Lanzo where some difficult points had to be overcome by climbing or by using a double rope. On the photo, which shoes him holding onto the rock hazing up toward his goal, he later wrote the words, "Verso l'altio" (in English: "toward the top"). It was a short phrase which was the synthesis of his way of life--always seeking what enhances, that which carries us beyond ourselves, toward the best we can be as people, toward the best of ourselves. It is to strive toward perfection of life, toward sainthood. It means to strive toward the source of life: God.

Rugged Mountaineer

The mountains were Pier Giorgio's favorite place. He wrote to a friend: "With every passing day, I fall madly in love with the mountains; their fascination attracts me." From his youth, he was accustomed to climbing the highest peaks. He was a member of the Italian Alpine Club and climbed the Gran Tournalin (3379 m), the Grivola in the Val d'Aosta (3969m), Mon Viso (3841m), the Ciamarella (3676m), the Bessanese (3532m), and a large number of lower mountain peaks. He also lived through some critical situations such as a sleepless night spent in a hole dug in the snow and a descent in a snow storm. For him, the mountains represented the pleasure of testing his athletic body, filling his lungs before the strain of a skiing competition or a difficult climb. He experienced the spirit of emulation always tinged with contagious joy.

The Joy of Friendship

The mountains, for him, also meant the joy shared with his companions, whether that be his dearest friends or perhaps more improvised compassion for whom he expressed his kindheartedness and generosity. He took upon himself the burden of those who are a bit slower or tired. At times, he would say his foot hurt and he needed to stop and rest so as not to humiliate those who really needed to do so. Or, he would go back and forth between the mountains and the plain in order to lighten the backpacks of those who were a little weaker. He did all of this with a good spirit that nothing could destroy, not even fatigue. With a rather off key voice, he would start singing for the group or, in the silence of the camp, he would invite everyone to pray before going to sleep.

Everyone can draw inspiration from the way Pier Giorgio Frassati lived. The mountains, his mountains, can be a school, a temple, a gym to help each of us strive ever always to the top.

Verso en alto - to the heights.

Written by Father John Freund, CM