Saturday, June 15, 2019

Three Relationships of the Holy Trinity

I have a special relationship with each person of the Holy Trinity.

First is the Father. He is my creator, with the Son of the Spirit, my source of life. He is the one to whom Jesus fled for help and teaches me to do the same. Jesus desired to be in His Father's house, the temple. At the end of His life, Jesus committed His spirit to Him.

Second is Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of the Father. Because Jesus is both human and divine, I relate so closely to Him. He is the one who saves me and the whole world from sin. He has given me His body and blood in Holy Communion to be my strength for the journey. Because I am a Daughter of Charity, He is the one who I try to see in the people who are poor. Before He left his earth, He desired to send the Spirit who would help us to understand all that Jesus has taught us.

Third is the person of the Holy Spirit, the love of the Father and the Son. The Spirit is the one I ask to take over for me when things are too difficult for me to handle on my own. The Spirit has never failed to take over for me, bringing surprises at times.

For me, "Trinity" means loving relationship. The icon of the Trinity is my favorite because each person seems to be relating to the other two. They truly are One in Love!

Written by Sister Doris Moore, D.C.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

A Story of Caring

Visit: visitare - to go to see and stay for a while.

Soon after Mary came to know she would bear a child, she visited Elizabeth for two reasons: to share the news and to see how her older cousin's pregnancy was going.

I just came back from visiting two of my older cousins, Alice and Bernie. They're sisters and daughters of my aunt and uncle, both of whom entered eternal life quite a few years ago. My visit started with a ninety-minute drive guided by my faithful GPS--nothing compared to the ninety-nine miles Mary traveled. I only stayed for about five hours; Mary stayed three months.

My two cousins get up close to the parish church. They both married and still live in the same area they grew up. They are Eucharistic Ministers and help with the linens, flowers, and sacristy needs. Like Mary and Elizabeth, their experience of God is an "of course" understanding. Like Mary and Elizabeth, "it's God's doing" is a common expression for them.

Both Alice and Bernie were unable to place flowers on the family grave sites this year for Easter. This was part of the reason for my visit. I had palms that I prepared weeks ago, woven and decorated with ribbon. Together, we found the graves, placed the palms, and took pictures of our ancestors' resting places. We remembered, we celebrated, and we shared a few hugs before the final glance. As we did so, I sensed the depth of their "Be it done unto me according to your word." Their life of "yes" radiated. Their example of the wisdom and care they can offer to young women filled me with peace and happiness all the way back home.

As the caravan took Mary back to Nazareth, Elizabeth and Mary hugged and waved to each other. "Peace be with you," they said. "Shalom."

Written by Sister Barbara Ann Smelko, SC

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Blessed Marta Ann Wiecka

The Vincentian Family has been blessed with three great "giants of sainthood" - Vincent de Paul, Louise de Marillac, and Elizabeth Ann Seton. These "rock stars" of living the Vincentian dream of prayer, community, and service are recognized around the world for their energy, passion, and selfless giving. In addition, however, there are many lesser known individuals who lived out the Vincentian spirit in their own time and the Church honors their path of holiness. Such a woman is Blessed Marta Ann Wiecka. Let's get to know her.

Marta was born on January 12, 1874 to a wealthy farming family in rural Poland. At the age of two, Marta became very ill. Her family prayed fervently to the Blessed Virgin Mary and she miraculously recovered. We don't know exactly how this event affected her, but clearly she must have sensed that God had something special in mind for her life.

After receiving her First Communion in 1866, young Marta's devotion to the Eucharist continued to deepen. She frequently walked the more than seven miles to daily mass in the parish church in Skarszewy. She took a leap of faith at the age of 16 and applied to enter the Daughters of Charity; however, they told her she was too young. Two years later, Marta was accepted into the community in Krakow on April 26, 1892.

Sister Marta was sent to serve God's people as a nurse and was quickly recognized as a person who worked diligently and gave herself untiringly to her patients. One of the hallmarks of her service was her ability to combine both physical and spiritual care for the people entrusted to her. She encouraged the dying to access the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This reminds me of the way St. Vincent de Paul frequently spoke to the Daughters of Charity of the call to bring both spiritual and physical comfort to the people we encounter every day. It is not enough to feed people's bodies; we must also offer them a way to nourish their relationship with God.

Sister Marta's life was not an easy one, but she accepted difficulties with a heart filled with courage and perseverance. At the age of 30, she contracted typhoid after disinfecting the room of a patient in the place of a young coworker who appeared fearful of this task. She died on May 30, 1904 in Sniatyn. Her gravesite quickly became a place of prayerful gathering of local, ordinary people who knew her to be an example of holiness for them.

What can we learn from Sister Marta? What aspects of her life do you connect with? Are you a person who is willing to offer both spiritual and physical comfort to those in need?

Sister Marta, pray for us!

Written by Sister Joanne Vasa, D.C.