Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Feast of the Rosary

The rosary is a simple prayer with great power that has been prayed for years. According to the stories, St. Dominic received the rosary from the Virgin Mary in 1214. The Feast of the Rosary was brought about by St. Pius V in 1573.

The rosary has developed throughout the years. In the Middle Ages, the monastic monks prayed the 150 psalms. Many of the laity and some monks were unable to read and began a practice of praying 150 "Our Fathers" and 150 "Hail Marys." The rosary, in its present form, was developed in the 16th century. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries.

In Praying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth, Edward Sri does a wonderful job explaining the rosary and sharing ways to make it a more meaningful prayer in our daily lives.

In chapter 7, Sri shares 10 of St. John Paul II's insights to encountering Jesus more in the rosary. These are:

  1. Announce each mystery and visualize it.
  2. Listen to the word of God. Look up the mystery in the Bible and read the passage slowly before starting that decade of the rosary.
  3. Silence. At least briefly at the beginning of each decade, use silence to recollect yourself and to help yourself listen to how God will speak to you while praying it.
  4. The Our Father: Praying in union with God's family. Never pray the rosary in isolation in a sense to honor God and our union with others.
  5. The Hail Marys: Contemplating Christ with His mother. "Contemplating the scenes of the rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning to "read" Christ, to discover His secrets, and to understand His message," (P. 45, RVM 14).
  6. Glory Be: The height of our contemplation. Praise to God in response to these events of salvation.
  7. A concluding prayer: Life application. It is popular practice to use the Fatima prayer at the end of each decade; however, Pope John Paul II opens an opportunity for other prayers. For example, at the end of the first joyful mystery, the Annunciation could be prayed: "Pray for us, Mary, that we may respond in obedient faith as you did."
  8. The beads as symbols.
    • The beads converging on the crucifix represent the beginning and the end of the prayers of the rosary. They can remind us of Christian life centered on Christ.
    • The chain of beads symbolize linking us to God and His servants.
    • The chain reminds us of our relationship with others. They are intertwined in the common bond of Christ. Often, we pray for special intentions.
  9. Opening and closing. The Apostles Creed, 1 Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Hail Holy Queen, Prayer for the Pope.
  10. Weekly rhythm of the mysteries. The Pope says that the rosary, with its mysteries, gives each day its spiritual color.
Is the rosary a part of your life? Do you ever get tired of praying the rosary? Does your mind sometimes wander when praying the rosary? If so, that is okay! We are just asked to be faithful. God will work through us to do wonderful things. If the rosary is not a part of your life, you're invited to learn more about the rosary and how it can enrich your life.

Written by Sister Mary Shea, D.C.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God's love commits me here.
Every this day/night be at my side,
To light, to guide, to rule, and guide. Amen.

Yes, we each have a guardian angel. The first duty of angels is to worship and adore the face of God. They also provide every human life with physical protection and spiritual guidance. Of the many Bible references, this one is very special to me: "For He will command angels to guard us in all His ways," (Psalm 91).

I want to tell a story that came from another sister. She was in the car with five other Daughters of Charity and the sister who was driving was unaware of an upcoming stop sign. Another car was heading directly toward them. The five sisters ducked, lowering their heads to protect themselves from the inevitable collision. But the cars didn't hit. How could this be? Truly, the providence of God sent their guardian angels to protect them all!

I'll admit that I don't think about my guardian angel enough. Certainly, I become aware on the feasts of the Archangels or when I narrowly avoid an accident. But for me, I have felt the presence of my guardian angel the most at my darkest moments, when I feel like I can't pray. It could be the death of someone close, a seemingly impossible situation, or a failure. These are the times I have recourse to my greatest advocates: the Virgin Mary and my guardian angel. They pray for me when I don't have the words. As the Creed says, "I believe in things seen and unseen." It's a reminder that, no matter how isolated I might feel, I am never truly alone.

Celebrate your guardian angel on their feast today and forever.

Written by Sister Nancy Stewart, D.C.

Friday, September 25, 2020

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.

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.