Friday, June 8, 2018

Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

The word "heart" brings to our minds LOVE and the emotions that emit from the word. A popular Marian devotion is that of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. It is celebrated close to the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

According to the doctrine of the Church, Mary is the Immaculate Conception. This gift to Mary from God was in preparation for the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ.

Mary was conceived without original sin and was preserved throughout her life from committing sin. Because of this grace, her heart is called immaculate. In her carrying Jesus within her, His heart was created and given the life of a human and the unconditional love of God. This is why the two hearts are honored so close together.

The Daughters of Charity recognize the Immaculate Heart of Mary with special devotion. In 1830, Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, a young French Daughter of Charity, and asked her to have a medal made and distributed to the faithful, especially for the grace of the conversion of sinners. The medal was to be worn around the neck.

On the front of the medal was the image of Mary, encircled with the words, "O MARY CONCEIVED WITHOUT SIN, PRAY FOR US WHO HAVE RECOURSE TO THEE." These words, directly from Mary, were confirmation of the dogma of her Immaculate Conception. On the reverse of the medal, is an image of the Cross of Christ surmounted by the letter "M." Beneath it are symbols of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This apparition to St. Catherine Laboure spread the devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary while other apparitions confirmed Mary's title as the Immaculate Conception.

Let us join in prayer on June 9, the day the Church commemorates her Immaculate Heart, and June 8, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and ask Mary to help us live our lives with integrity and for the graces needed to live our life centered in prayer with a great love for Mary, her Son, and all those we meet.

Written by Sister Martha Garcia, D.C.
Miraculous Medal Photo Source: ChurchPop

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Feast of the Visitation

"In those days, MARY SET OUT AND WENT WITH HASTE to a Judean town in the hill country where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leapt for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord'" (Luke 1:39-56).

And Mary responded with the beautiful prayer/song that we now call the Magnificat! The Church celebrates this Feast of the Visitation on May 31.

In its beginnings, the Daughters of Charity were concentrated in the sections or neighborhoods in Paris around the home of St. Louise de Marillac. As requests came for our sisters, Louise sent them to places in the city and outskirts of Paris. They traveled distances that are not far by our experience today with modern transportation, but were significant distances by foot or stagecoach in the 1600s. It became difficult for Louise to gather her sisters at her home, or what eventually became the Motherhouse, for formation, guidance, and education.

Louise, having a strong devotion to Our Blessed Mother, recognized the gift Mary brought to Elizabeth by her visit. Mary brought herself and she brought her Lord! It was an encounter of sharing and service. Louise modeled Mary's visit to Elizabeth as she began to visit her sisters on a regular basis. She was a link between the sisters of a local community and the other houses of the sisters. Louise conversed with them about their relationship with God (spiritual life), with those who were poor (their ministry), and with one another (their life in community). She listened, observed, and guided where needed.

As the Community grew outside of France (as sisters were sent to Poland), new provinces were formed to oversee the particular country or geographical area. A Daughter of Charity was named in each of these provinces to do what Louise was doing in France. As visiting the sisters and the houses was a major part of this sister's ministry, she was called a visitatrix, the French word for one who visits.

As provinces increased around the world, there came to be a feast day to focus on, pray for, and send blessings to these visitatrixes. The model goes back to Mary's visit to Elizabeth. The community celebrated this feast still today. This year, our two visitatrixes from the United States, Sister Katie Norris (Province of St. Louise) and Sister Julie Kubasak (Province of Los Altos Hills) are celebrating with visitatrixes from all around the world during the International Visitatrixes Meeting in Paris.

Written by Sister Louise Gallahue, D.C.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Blessed Marta Anna Wiecka: Gave Her Life for Another

Marta Anna Wiecka (January 1, 1874 - May 30, 1904) was born in Nowy Wiec in what is now Poland (then, the Kingdom of Prussia). She was the third of 13 children of Marceli Wiecki, a wealthy landowner, and his wife Paulina Kamrowska. Marta entered the Daughters of Charity in Krakow on April 21, 1893 and began working to care for not only the corporal needs of the sick, but also their spiritual needs. Conversions occurred as a result of her care.

While working at Sniatyn, Sister Marta learned of a hospital worker who was given the job of disinfecting the rooms of those with highly contagious typhoid fever. Knowing this worker was a young father, she volunteered to take his place and subsequently fell ill with typhoid fever. After a brief course of illness, at the young age of 30 on March 30, 1904. Her funeral was an occasion of grief for people of many religions including Catholics, Greek Catholics, and Orthodox, and some with no religion at all.

The beatification of Sister Marta Anna Wiecka, D.C., took place on May 24, 2008 in Bohdan Chmelnicki Culture Park in Lviv, Ukraine.

Written by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Blessed Trinity

I can't remember when exactly my deep love for God as Trinity began. Most of us go through different stages as to how we relate to God. Mine from passed God as Father to God as Jesus to God as Holy Spirit. But several years ago, an idea of how wonderful it would be to relate to a God who is a Trinity of Love--all three persons--took root in me. Thinking of God as Trinity meant that I could never think of God as being alone. God is a relationship of three who love each other and communicate that love everywhere, so much so that creation continues and is never ending, just like love itself! I am so caught up in this relationship with Trinity as is all of creation!!!

About the time that I had this idea, I read the novel, The Shack, which further piqued my interest. Then, the movie was released and I made it a priority to see it. I was not disappointed! Most recently, I have read (and am already re-reading) The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell. Fittingly enough, William Paul Young, author of The Shack, wrote the forward to the Divine Dance. Since seeing and reading The Divine Dance, I now think of my relationship with God as being a relationship of movement, a relationship of giving and receiving love. It is a dance that pulls me in and sends me out to continue the relational connection with all those I meet.

One of the ways of trying to live out the relation of the Trinity to everyday life is what is called the law of threes. This law, as described by Father Richard Rohr and Cynthia Bourgeault (episcopal minister and writer), is built on being open to seeing a third option in situations of polarized opinions: my way, their way, and a third way which is likely different from either of the other two views. By being open to the possibility of a third way, prejudgements, adversarial feelings, and discussions may take on a more creative and relationship-building opportunity.

In my daily life, I want to move from an either/or mentality to one of reconciling opposites, a way of bringing love and compassion into situations that could be confrontational. This, of course, is an aspiration and not as close to a lived reality as I would like. But, my love for God as Trinity inspires me to keep trying to bring this movement of a dance rather than a stand-off in tense situations.

Written by Sister Sharon Richardt, D.C.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Creative Explosions of Pentecost

"The first Pentecost was anything but a tame event. The winds howled, the walls rattled, the earth shook. What's more, 'tongues of fire' descended upon everyone huddled in that upper room. Clearly the Holy Spirit came, not as a gentle breeze, but more as a hurricane or earthquake.

"The disciples too seemed filled with this 'untamed power' of God. They didn't leisurely saunter out of the upper room that day. No, they were almost catapulted out the doors and into the streets. Once outside, they began speaking with such joy and enthusiasm that some of the bystanders thought they were drunk. The effect of their preaching was also wildly amazing: 3,000 individuals converted to the gospel in a single day!"

I am borrowing these words from Sister Melannie Svoboda, SND, because they speak well to us about the meaning of Pentecost for us as Daughters of Charity and as members of the Vincentian Family. They also speak to us about St. Louis de Marillac's event at Pentecost and the profound effect it had on her and the "Little Company."

Here is a brief description of her Pentecost experience: "On the Feast of Pentecost, June 4, 1623, Louise, while at prayer, had a vision in which she saw herself serving the poor and living the evangelical counsels in community. She wrote this 'Lumiere,' or a Pentecost experience, on parchment and carried it with her as a reminder that, despite her difficulties, God was guiding her life. In that vision, a priest appeared to her whom she later identified as Vincent de Paul, her future confidante and collaborator in ministry, " (Spiritual Writings of Louise de Marillac: Correspondence and Thoughts, p. 1-2).

And listen to what St. Vincent's creativity featured.

When sending forth his first missionaries, St. Vincent de Paul said, "Our vocation is to go, not just to one parish, not just to one diocese, but to all over the world and to do what? To set people's hearts on fire, to do what the Son of God did. He came to set the world on fire in order to inflame it with his love."

Is there any wonder about the Spirit being so alive in the lives of our founders and the first disciples?!

Their "flames" are still burning...what about yours and mine? Let's challenge each other to be alive in the Spirit and spread those creative explosions of Pentecost to all those we serve and meet each day of our lives!!!

Written by Sister Regina Hlavac, D.C.