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Sunday, October 7, 2018

Our Lady of the Rosary


On October 7, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the yearly feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is a very special feast, sacred to all those who have special devotion to Our Blessed Mother.

In the Constitutions of the Daughters of Charity, it says: "By daily meditation of the Rosary, the prayer of those who are poor and the contemplation of the miseries of Christ, they express their love and gratitude to Mary."

Here are a few other quotes about the importance of saying the Rosary:

"Continue to pray the Rosary every day." - Our Lady of Fatima to Sister Lucia

"You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary." - Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche

"The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary." - St. Francis de Sales

"'Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!' No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to me anything that pleases me more." - Our Lady to St. Mechtilde

Hopefully, during this month dedicated to our Blessed Mother, the Rosary will become more a part of your everyday prayer life.

Written by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Story of the Feast of the Guardian Angels

Perhaps no aspect of Catholic piety is as comforting to parents as the belief that an angel protects their little ones from dangers real and imagined. Yet guardian angels are not only for children. Their role is to represent individuals before God, to watch over them always, to aid their prayer, and to present their souls to God at death.

The concept of an angel assigned to guide and nurture each human being is a development of Catholic doctrine and piety based on Scripture, but not directly drawn from it. Jesus' words in Matthew 8:10 best support the belief: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my Heavenly Father."

Devotion to the angels began to develop with the birth of the monastic tradition. St. Benedict gave it impetus and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the great 12th century reformer, was such an eloquent spokesman for the guardian angels that angelic devotion assumed its current form in his day.

A feast in honor of the guardian angels was first observed in the 16th century. In 1615, Pope Paul V added it to the Roman calendar.

How many times do you pray to your guardian angel(s)?

Reflection:

Devotion to the angels is, at base, an expression of faith in God's enduring love and providential care extended to each person day in and day out. (Adapted from the Franciscan Media)

Written by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Feast of St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul, co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, was a man of many talents. Talents which have been emulated throughout the past four centuries by organizations around the world. Many of these groups attach Vincent's name to their programs for impoverished people and his name has become a symbol of charitable service and ingenuity.

The Daughters of Charity were one of the first three groups who worked under the inspiration of Vincent. The Ladies of Charity began in 1617, the Vincentian priests (the Congregation of the Mission) in 1625, and our sisters (the Daughters of Charity) in 1633. All three groups have remained international and active since their founding.

Among his many talents, Vincent was able to draw other people into sharing whatever gifts they had to facilitate programs which assisted desperate populations. Rich ladies gathered up and cared for abandoned infants. Government officials provided access to helping prisoners. Wealthy patrons provided the money to support country ministries and poor country girls served those who were homeless and sick in the city. There was always a balance of Vincent's audacious creativity and the resources he made available through people invited to help make those ideas a reality.

The sisters continue to do the direct service so dear to our hearts. However, we also follow Vincent's lead and continually invite others to help make that service possible. Little can be done without the resources, skills, influence, and collaboration that results in both effective service for the immediate problem and the systemic change that prevents or reduces the problem in the future. This "now and later" approach was Vincent's and is now ours. It means, for example, that programs do not just feed the hungry, but offer education or job preparation. It means not only respect for the dignity of each person, but also advocacy for equality in our laws.

We serve under the banner of St. Vincent de Paul because his example of organized service systems is as important and effective today as it was in 17th century France.

St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us!

Written by Sister Mary Louise Stubbs, D.C.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, we celebrate the feast of the Blessed Mother receiving the prophecy of Simeon.

"Your own soul a sword shall pierce." (Luke 2:34-35)

As we read this, we pause for a breath. How many mothers today are experiencing a sword of sorrow piercing their hearts? I think of the mothers separated from their children at the border. I think of mothers whose children are lost in habits of various forms of addiction. I think of mothers who hold their dying or dead child in their arms--children who have incurable diseases or have been victims of violence. All of these are sorrowing mothers.

May the Blessed Mother stand with them and support them through her intercession in their hour of need.

Mother most sorrowful, hear our plea. Obtain from your Son, Jesus, the graces we need. Hold our hands as we too pray, "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will." Amen.

Written by Sister Anne Marie Schreiner, D.C.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Exultation of the Holy Cross

This feast day in the Catholic Church commemorates three things:

  1. The public presentation of the actual wood of the cross on which Jesus died, which had been saved by his faithful followers in a secret special place
  2. The dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the tomb in which Jesus was placed after He died
  3. Christ's victory over death by His crucifixion and resurrection
To people without faith in Jesus Christ, this may seem to be a very strange commemoration, sort of like putting on public display the electrocution gurney table of a person who was electrocuted under the death penalty. But if this person were innocent, if this person had been promoting peace, justice, and mercy, if this person were the Son of God, and if this person's suffering and death had redeemed the whole world, the gurney table, upon which this person had laid before being executed, would perhaps be kept in a very special place and venerated.

In our days, recalling how Jesus died, we may be singing the hymn "Life High the Cross," in which the verses read: "O Lord, once lifted on the glorious tree, as thou hast promised, draw the world to thee. So shall our song of triumph ever be: praised to the crucified for victory." It is important to remember the crucifix--with the figure of Jesus on it--urges us to recall the charity and love with which He lived and which motivated Him to do good to and for others. In order to sanctify and redeem humanity, God became human. The way that Jesus had to die, with all the suffering He endured, was all a part of the divine plan.

When Daughters of Charity profess our vows in the community, we receive a crucifix to wear as a symbol that the charity of Jesus Christ always urges us to do good. Lay women in the International Association of Charity (commonly known as the Ladies of Charity) also receive a crucifix as a sign of their consecration and motivation. Perhaps you also wear a crucifix or cross as a sign of being Christian.

To see or to wear a cross is not a romantic or sweet thing. Rather, it is a symbol of redemptive suffering, a difficult effort that tries to make hard things better. Almost every Catholic church has a crucifix displayed within. I remember being in a church in Italy and seeing a crucifix with a very different artistic expression. It was a clear glass disc about four feet in diameter with the two hemispheres of the world etched on it. Superimposed on it was a wooden figured of the crucified Christ, His arms outstretched, embracing the whole world. It was evident that this expression was trying to say that Jesus embraced the suffering of the whole world. He is part of it. He suffers with it. He knows the world, loves the world, and redeems the world by His suffering.

In your personal good works for others, some encouragement may be needed so that you might persevere through some sufferings, inconveniences, or contradictions. They are your crosses. St. Vincent de Paul had a few thoughts on our crosses:
  • "The sufferings of our Lord gave fecundity to His words and your crosses will also give it to the holy seed you plant in hearts." (Life Long Maxims, p. 77)
  • "Oh, how blessed are those who lovingly bear their cross, walking in their footsteps of such a Master." (Life Long Maxims, p. 79)
  • "The cross on which you now find yourself is the best place for you in this world." (Life Long Maxims, p. 82)
  • Our Lord deals with you as He did the saints whom He led to holiness and glory by various tribulations... May it please His divine goodness that, while He multiples your crosses, He may increase your graces to bear them courageously. I shall not fail to offer you often to God for that intention." (Life Long Maxims, p. 84)
And St. Louise de Marillac offers these words concerning the cross:
  • "The greatest honor you can receive is to follow Jesus carrying His cross." (Life Long Maxims, p. 89)
  • "When sufferings come, we must love them and carry them to the foot of the crucifix." (Life Long Maxims, p. 91)
  • "I compassionate all your pain. They are a mark of the love our Lord has for you, having chosen you to honor Him in His sufferings." (Life Long Maxims, p. 91)
  • "We should offer our sufferings for the needs of the people." (Life Long Maxims, p. 93)
So that we might benefit from our own crosses, be they easy or difficult to carry, DynamicCatholic offers "The Prayer Process." This helps us to examine our crosses in six simple steps.
  1. Begin with a short personal dialogue with God about what you are most grateful for.
  2. Visit the times in the past 24 hours where you were or were not the best version of yourself. Talk to God about these situations and what you learned from them. In other words, examine the crosses in your life and how you reacted to them.
  3. Look at significant moments, people, or events in the past 24 hours and identify something you experienced. Were your feelings positive, negative, or neutral? Explore what God might be trying to say to you in that moment, person, or event.
  4. Ask God to forgive you for any wrong you may have committed and to fill you with peace.
  5. Speak to God about how He is inviting you to change your life.
  6. Lift up to God anyone you feel called to pray for, asking God to bless and guide them. End by praying the Our Father.
May you find this reading helpful to see how the crosses in your life are redemptive for others and yourself. "Life high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim, 'til all the world proclaim His sacred name."

Written by Sister Elizabeth Racko, D.C.