Pope Francis Message for Lent
March 1 - April 15
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR LENT 2017
"The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift"
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.
1. The other person is a gift
The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.
The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means God helps. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).
Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.
2. Sin blinds us
The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).
The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.
The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).
The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.
Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).
3. The Word is a gift
The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).
We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.
The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.
The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).
The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbour. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.
Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.
From the Vatican, 18 October 2016
TWENTY-FIFTH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2017
MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
FOR THE TWENTY-FIFTH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 2017
Amazement at what God has accomplished:
“The Almighty has done great things for me…” (Lk 1:49)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On 11 February next, the Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick will be celebrated throughout the Church and in a special way at Lourdes. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Amazement at what God has accomplished: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me….’” (Lk 1:49). Instituted by my predecessor Saint John Paul II in 1992, and first celebrated at Lourdes on 11 February 1993, this Day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and, more generally, of all those who suffer. It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters. This celebration likewise gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalized (cf. John Paul II, Motu Proprio Dolentium Hominum, 11 February 1985, 1). Surely, the moments of prayer, the Eucharistic liturgies and the celebrations of the Anointing of the Sick, the sharing with the sick and the bioethical and theological-pastoral workshops to be held in Lourdes in those days will make new and significant contributions to that service.
Even now, I am spiritually present at the grotto of Massabielle, before the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, in whom the Almighty has done great things for the redemption of mankind. I express my closeness to all of you, our suffering brothers and sisters, and to your families, as well as my appreciation for all those in different roles of service and in healthcare institutions throughout the world who work with professionalism, responsibility and dedication for your care, treatment and daily well-being. I encourage all of you, the sick, the suffering, physicians, nurses, family members and volunteers, to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will. May you always find in faith, nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments, the strength needed to love God, even in the experience of illness.
Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary. The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called “the Lovely Lady”, looked at her as one person looks at another. Those simple words describe the fullness of a relationship. Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt that Mary was looking at her as a person. The Lovely Lady spoke to her with great respect and without condescension. This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such. The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life. They never become simply objects. If at times they appear merely passive, in reality that is never the case.
After her visit to the Grotto, thanks to her prayer, Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others. Thanks to her love, she was able to enrich her neighbours and, above all, to offer her life for the salvation of humanity. The fact that the Lovely Lady asked her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ. Mary gave Bernadette the vocation of serving the sick and called her to become a Sister of Charity, a mission that she carried out in so exemplary a way as to become a model for every healthcare worker. Let us ask Mary Immaculate for the grace always to relate to the sick as persons who certainly need assistance, at times even for the simplest of things, but who have a gift of their own to share with others.
The gaze of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, brightens the face of the Church in her daily commitment to the suffering and those in need. The precious fruits of this solicitude for the world of suffering and sickness are a reason for gratitude to the Lord Jesus, who out of obedience to the will of the Father became one of us, even enduring death on the cross for the redemption of humanity. The solidarity shown by Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, is the expression of God’s merciful omnipotence, which is made manifest in our life – above all when that life is frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalized and suffering – and fills it with the power of hope that can sustain us and enable us to get up again.
This great wealth of humanity and faith must not be dissipated. Instead, it should inspire us to speak openly of our human weaknesses and to address the challenges of present-day healthcare and technology. On this World Day of the Sick, may we find new incentive to work for the growth of a culture of respect for life, health and the environment. May this Day also inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons, not least through a correct approach to bioethical issues, the protection of the vulnerable and the protection of the environment.
On this Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick, I once more offer my prayerful support and encouragement to physicians, nurses, volunteers and all those consecrated men and women committed to serving the sick and those in need. I also embrace the ecclesial and civil institutions working to this end, and the families who take loving care of their sick. I pray that all may be ever joyous signs of the presence of God’s love and imitate the luminous testimony of so many friends of God, including Saint John of God and Saint Camillus de’ Lellis, the patrons of hospitals and healthcare workers, and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, missionary of God’s love.
Dear brothers and sisters – the sick, healthcare workers and volunteers – I ask you to join me in praying to Mary. May her maternal intercession sustain and accompany our faith, and obtain for us from Christ her Son hope along our journey of healing and of health, a sense of fraternity and responsibility, a commitment to integral human development and the joy of feeling gratitude whenever God amazes us by his fidelity and his mercy.
Mary, our Mother,
in Christ you welcome each of us as a son or daughter.
Sustain the trusting expectation of our hearts,
succour us in our infirmities and sufferings,
and guide us to Christ, your Son and our brother.
Help us to entrust ourselves to the Father who accomplishes great things.
With the assurance of a constant remembrance in my prayers, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.
8 December 2016, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
Blessed Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD
New Feast Day to be celebrated on February 4th
Fr Marie-Eugene was born Henri Grialou on December 2, 1894, into a simple and deeply Catholic family in a mining village of the Southwest of France. From early childhood he desired to be a priest.
When his formation was interrupted by World War I, he served as an officer on the front lines, and for himself and his men he felt the powerful protection of St Therese of Lisieux. This Carmelite nun, now proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, was famous for saying "My vocation is to be love in the heart of the church" - a sentiment which inspired and moved Henri, and his love for her and her teachings continued his entire life. Fr Marie Eugene did not hesitate to write of her (in the time before her canonization while she was still Bl Therese) "It seems to me that the mission of the little Blessed is to spread divine love in souls in the form which God wills for our times."
In 1920 he discovered the writings of St John of the Cross, a saint who belonged to the Carmelite monastic order and who lived in 16th Century Spain. His writings and poetry are famous for their mystical character, for their insight into prayer and intimate contact with God through contemplation, and for the deep mark of love created in the soul by close contact with it's creator.
Deeply inspired by his discovery of St John of the Cross, Henri Grialou felt a deeper call beyond his vocation to the priesthood, to that of monastic life, specifically as a Carmelite monk
Upon completing his seminary studies after World War I, and his ordination as a priest in 1922, he entered Carmel and in religious life he took the name of Father Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, indicating his dedication to Our Lady, and the depth to which he was inspired by St Therese, who took the name of Sr Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.
A man seized by the absolute of God and by the Marian grace of Carmel, he worked at making known the teachings of the Carmelite saints, believing the ways of contemplation and sanctity are open to all Christians living an ordinary life in the midst of the world.
His major work, I Want to See God and I am a Daughter of the Church provides a rich synthesis of Carmelite spirituality shaped by personal mystical experience; it is a study of the three great luminaries of the Carmelite Order, St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross and St Therese of Lisieux. Its two titles, I Want to See God and I Am a Daughter of the Church, words attributed to St Teresa of Avila, are like a twin call to everyone.
Called by God to share his charism with many, he founded the Institute of Notre Dame de Vie with Marie Pila in 1932 in Venasque, France, while serving at the highest levels in his Order and travelling extensively.
Fr Marie-Eugene's whole life was marked by the powerful influence of the Holy Spirit and Our Lady. He died on Easter Monday, March 27, 1967, the very day on which he loved to celebrate the Easter joy of Mary, Mother of Life.
Cause for Canonization
On Easter Sunday 1985, the Archbishop of Avignon, France, formally opened the cause for the canonization of Fr Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus. Testimonies have been received worldwide, recounting numerous material and spiritual favors granted through his intercession.
On 19 December 2011 Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Fr Marie-Eugene, thus declaring him "Venerable" in the eyes of the church.
Fr Marie Eugene was declared Blessed at a Mass in Avignon on November 19, 2016. Blessed Father Marie-Eugene's feast day will be celebrated on February 4th, the day he was ordained a priest.
March for Life - January 21, 27
Theme - The Power of One
The mission of the March for Life is to provide all Americans with a place to testify to the beauty of life and the dignity of each human person. Both in January, on the anniversary of legalized abortion in the US, and throughout the year we bring together pro-life leaders and groups to organize, unite and strategize around a common message, and to communicate this message to the government, the media and the nation in a way that is powerful and life affirming. This year's theme is taken from J.R.R. Tolkien, "even the smallest person can change the course of history."
January 22, 1973 is ingrained in the minds of pro-lifers because on that infamous historic day the Supreme Court invalidated 50 state laws and made abortion legal and available on demand throughout the United States in the now-infamous decisions in Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton.
The March for Life in Washington, D.C., began as a small demonstration and rapidly grew to be the largest pro-life event in the world. The peaceful demonstration that has followed on this somber anniversary every year since 1973 is a witness to the truth concerning the greatest human rights violation of our time, legalized abortion on demand.
At the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, we mourned the death in 2012 of Nellie Gray, the founder of the March for Life and the “Joan of Arc” of the pro-life movement. In October 1973, months after the Roe and Doe decisions, a group of thirty pro-life leaders gathered in Nellie’s home in Washington, D.C. to discuss how to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Roe.
There was a fear that January 22 would pass as any other day rather than allow for a moment to reflect upon how legalized abortion had hurt women and taken babies’ lives over the course of the year. That was the day that plans for the first March for Life began.
World Day for Consecrated Life
February 2, 2017
In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church (Feb 4,5).
Five New Postulants
New Candidates enter the Province
On January 20, 2017 the community of Mount St. Joseph in San Jose, CA welcomed two new postulants, which now brings the number to five young men who have entered in the past three months.
In the picture above from left to right: Colin Livingston, Wes Nagel, Frank Sharma (who is entering for the Canadian Region), the Postulant Master/ Vocation Director, Fr. Robert Barcelos, OCD, and our two new postulants, Dustin Vu and Matthew Knight.
We ask you to keep all these men in your prayers, as well as our other friars in formation.
International Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 18-25, 20017
The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us." (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII). . . , "it was in the context of the Reformation Anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany took up the work of creating the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017. It quickly became clear that the materials for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents: on the one hand, there should be a celebration of God's love and grace, the 'justification of humanity through grace alone', reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther's Reformation. On the other hand, the materials should also recognize the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, openly name the guilt, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation."
National Migration Week - January 8-14, 2017
Creating a Culture of Encounter
For nearly a half century, the Catholic Church in the United States has celebrated National Migration Week which is organized and directed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. This is an opportunity for the Church to reflect on the circumstances confronting migrants, including immigrants, refugees, children, and victims and survivors of human trafficking.
The theme for National Migration Week 2017 draws attention to Pope Francis' call to create a culture of encounter, and in doing so to look beyond our own needs and wants to those of others around us. In the homily given at his first Pentecost as pope, he emphasized the importance of encounter in the Christian faith: "For me this word is very important. Encounter with others. Why? Because faith is an encounter with Jesus, and we must do what Jesus does: encounter others."
With respect to migrants, too often in our contemporary culture we fail to encounter them as persons, and instead look at them as others. We do not take the time to engage migrants in a meaningful way, but remain aloof to their presence and suspicious of their intentions. During this National Migration Week, let us all take the opportunity to engage migrants as people of God who are worthy of our attention and support.
50th World Day of Peace
Non-Violence: A Style of Politics for Peace
This is the theme Pope Francis has chosen for the next World Day of Peace, to be celebrated on January 1, 2017. Pope Francis has talked about the worrisome surge of violence that has taken over the world.
He wishes that this 50th World Day of Peace, the fourth of his pontificate, be a beacon of diplomacy and good will. The Pope wants to underline the prevalence of law in international affairs as a way to ensure a peaceful future.
The World Day of Peace is a project started by Paul VI in 1968. It is celebrated the first day of every year, and it is usually an occasion where the pope makes important statements about the Social Doctrine of the Church.
Fr. Michael Buckley, O.C.D. 1920-2016
Lead Kindly Light
Fr. Michael Buckley, OCD passed to eternal life, Thursday, December 22, 2016. He died peacefully at our House of Prayer in Oakville, CA.
Funeral rites and ceremonies where on December 28 and 29. He was interred at our monastery cemetery in Mt. St. Joseph in San Jose, California (See Official Obsequial Letter to the Province).
Before the presence of his Carmelite community, his family, and friends, the following homily was given by Fr. James Geoghegan, OCD in San Jose:
Fr Michael Buckley, O C D Burial Service Mt. St. Joseph 12 29-2016
In this holy season we recall the circumstances of the birth of Jesus Christ and we are painfully aware of the tragedy of civil war in the Middle East and the sufferings of refugees. It is appropriate to think of these as we bid farewell to Father Michael..In November on the occasion of his 96th birthday he wrote to me “I think at this time always of the rough ride my mom made , on the run, to save her little boy from the Tans in Tournafulla. And my birth within an hour or two as she just reached the sanctuary of her brother's home in Castleisland” It was during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. Fr. Michael's father was hiding from the British Army and his mother got a horse and cart and set out for her brothers home to avoid harassment. A couple of hours after her arrival she gave birth to Michael.
Three years later in the tragic civil war in Ireland there was disruption again. Fr. Michael's father , Patrick Buckley was taken prisoner by the government forces and murdered, leaving behind a very young family of which Michael was the baby. In a new book the Irish historian Tim Pat Coogan tells of this tragedy and how the government “in a mean spirited and ungenerous approach” then refused to give any compensation or help to the widow and children of Patrick Buckley. Coogan's father, a high ranking officer in the government police force said of the family “they have no visible means of obtaining a livelihood”.
That was the beginning of Fr. Michael's life. When he was 3 his mother sent him to school with the other children of the family. I remember Fr. Michael's mother when she visited the seminary when Fr. Michael was our teacher. She was described by one of the priest's as like Our Lady of Sorrows. Kitty Scholl of Napa who grew up in Castleisland said the her mother described Mrs Buckley 'as so kind and gentle that you could go to confession to her”. I think we have enough evidence to know how difficult was Fr. Michael's childhood. Recently he told me that he had no bitterness in his heart and that time had healed the divisions of the country He was a brilliant student and received an excellent education. He studied in the National university of Ireland and in the Carmelite seminary in Dublin
After ordination he was sent to Rome where at the Angelicum and the Biblicum he received degrees in Theology and Sacred Scripture. He spoke fluently English, Irish, Latin, Italian, Spanish and could read Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and French. Always interested in sports he played soccer for the university team. One of the other players was a young Polish seminarian called Carol Wojtyla later known as Pope John Paul II.
After Studies in Rome he returned to Dublin as professor of Scripture. Some of us here had the privilege of studying under him He was so clear and a marvelous teacher. Over 60 years later I attended one of the classes in Oakville. At 95 he was as clear as ever. He loved the Scriptures, they were the living presence of Christ. He loved to teach, he loved to share.
He went as a missionary to India where he taught in the major seminary at Alwaye. While there he was involved in ecumenical work. Eventually he came to California where he was elected Major superior. During his time we Carmelites founded a house in Washington State. Because of his success here he was then elected Provincial Superior of the Anglo Irish Province, which at that time embraced Ireland, England, United States, Australia, and the Philippines. At the end of that service he returned to California. When Fr. David Costello went to Africa Fr. Michael took his place as superior of our House of Prayer in Oakville.
Stationed here in San Jose he was in charge of the Carmelite Secular Order for eleven years. Wherever he was stationed he made a big impact because of his intelligence and his quite holiness. He cooperated with the Central Office in Rome on various projects and of course was always a brilliant contributor to issues affecting us her in the Western Province. He was a free man, unafraid of anyone or any idea. In fact he was the burr under the saddle of our Provincials always reminding them to fulfill the tasks assigned by the Provincial Chapters.
In his later years he led a quieter life, always interested in Ireland and its football teams, and always a perfect example of Christian kindness. A man of prayer and study he was a wonderful confessor, preacher, writer and lecturer, and ever a contributing member of his religious community. Toward the end he suffered partial paralysis of his face and blind in one eye. He wrote to me “Well praise God for his testing: because a good share of that now and its hard to smile with a paralyzed face. But a share of smiling goes on inside I believe” He kept going, still teaching class and sharing in the work of the monastery.
A man of his word and of The Word he loved the Bible and literature in general .He loved poetry , especially Newman's
lead kindly light amid the encircling gloom
lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene – one step enough for me.
Twilight and evening bell,
and after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark
For tho' from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.
And Robert Louis Stephens epitaph.
This be the verse you grave for me
Here he lies where he longed to be :
Home is the sailor , home from the sea,
and the hunter home from the hill
I think that his favorite passage from literature was a section from Uncle Tom's Cabin that describes the death of Eva the young girl and friend of Tom. 40 years ago he wrote it out for me.” In that book (Bible) which Eva and her old friend (Tom)had read so much together, she had seen and taken to her young heart the image of one who loved the little child: and as she gazed and mused, He had ceased to be an image and a picture of the distant past, and come to be a living all- surrounding reality. His love enfolded her childish heart with more than mortal tenderness; and it was to Him, she said,she was now going, and to His home”
That too could be a description of Fr. Michael's death. He died peacefully like a little child and went home to the one whom he had studied and loved for so long..
Michael is now at home joining his beloved mother and meeting the father he did not remember and could say in the recent words of an Irish poet Paul Durcan
“and now I put the key for the first time
Into the door of my father's house.”
Solemnity of St. John of the Cross
His Dying Days
On December 14, 1591, at the age of 49, Saint John of the Cross passed to Heaven and joined with the choirs of angels to sing the mercies of the Lord.
In the months before his death, Saint John headed for the monastery of La Peñuela, which belonged to the Province of Andalucia. It was a simple community. He arrived in August and during this time, the community worked in the fields tilling chick peas (garbanzo beans). John spent many hours in his cell, likely using his time to revise The Living Flame of Love, or making copies of The Spiritual Canticle.
After about a month in La Peñuela, he began to experience small episodes of fever. As the fever intensified, the superior thought it best to take him to the monastery in Ubeda, where he could be placed under the care of a doctor. St. John himself thought that his stay in Ubeda would be short and that he would be back in La Peñuela, to his assigned monastery.
He arrived in Ubeda on the evening of September 28, 1591. The community was small, simple, and deprived of many commodities. The attending doctor, Amobrosio de Villarreal, diagnosed St. John of the Cross as having a cellulitis infection diffused in his right leg. The illness caused him extreme pain. The pain intensified as the infection spread from his leg to the foot, but the Saint patiently dealt with this excruciating pain with serenity.
The doctor treated the infection by performing surgery and cauterization to prevent further infections, procedures that only added to the anguish and pain, to say the least. Yet the doctor attested to the peacefulness in which John bore his medical treatment. Saint John did not have rest from his pain, except for a small cord that hung from the ceiling to his bed; he would clutch it with his hands to distract himself from the pain in order to speak to visitors.
The treatment, needless to say, did not work. The early weeks of December were for John, days to prepare for death. In the last hours of his life, eyewitnesses recount how St. John of the Cross directed his gaze of faith on the Love of the Lord. The friars gathered in his cell and recited the prayers of dying, in which John devotedly responded. At about midnight on the clock church, Brother Francisco Garcia, the bell toller, came out of John’s cell to toll the bell for Matins. As he finished ringing the bell, St. John gave his last breath on earth.
It is said that in his final hours, Our Holy Father St. John of the Cross asked for three graces which the Lord granted: 1) the grace to die where nobody knew of him so that neither in life, nor in death should anyone honor him. This was the grace to be small and unnoticed. 2) He asked that he would die without ecclesiastical honors (such as a prelate or superior) in order to exercise humility. 3) Finally, he asked that the Lord grant him a purgatory while on earth.
A friend of St. John of the Cross, Ana del Mercado Y Penyalosa, obtained from the Provincial, Nicolas Doria, permission to bring the body from Ubeda to Segovia. Nine months after the Saint’s death, Ana and her brother enacted the transfer. Almost two years later, the coffin was opened, only to find St. John incorrupt.
The body finally arrived in Segovia on May 1593 for its final resting place in a niche on the wall near the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The remains of the Saint continued to call pilgrims from all parts of Spain, as they were experiencing healings and various miracles. Around the body, witnesses recalled smelling sweet fragrance. After the death of the Provincial Nicolas Doria, the new provincial moved the remains out of the wall and placed it in a large urn in the shape of sarcophagus in the center nave for the proper veneration of all.
Pope John Paul II, who wrote his doctoral thesis on St. John of the Cross, visited his body in Segovia on November 4, 1982. In 1993, he named Saint John of the Cross patron of all Poets.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe
From a homily by Rev. Bro. Leonel Varela
I would like to draw out two points from today’s Gospel about the Angel Gabriel sent by God to the Virgin (Luke 1:26-38) that might be of help in living our religious vocation. Let me begin by noting the emphasis given to joy in the First Reading from the Prophet Zechariah (2:14-17) in the gentle imperative, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!” We hear much about joy throughout the scriptures, but especially during this season of Advent. It is a message that is heard even in the midst of chaos, war and suffering. It is, indeed, an imperative that the scriptures proclaim. And it is with this very imperative that the Angel greets Mary: “Rejoice (Chaire), full of grace (kecharitōmenē).”
We also are being asked to rejoice. “Why rejoice?” we might wonder. Because the Lord is with us. The Lord is in our midst in a way far more intimate than in the time of the Old Covenant. Mary is surprised by this greeting. In her nothingness she lets herself be surprised. She is like us in all things. In the eyes of the world she is just a young girl. She is not living in a palace. She is at her home, a home like her neighbors, and it is there that God has surprised her with a surprise that will change her life. Not only her life, the whole cosmos will be forever changed.
God always surprises us in the most ordinary ways of our lives as he did with Mary. He comes to us also in our nothingness, in our weakness, and He breaks our models, our expectations. He burst our categories. It is so easy for us as religious to be set in our ways of thinking. We already have an image of what it means to be a religious, a Carmelite. Yet God always wants to surprise us with something better, an even more beautiful image of our Carmelite religious life. We just have to give Him an opportunity, just as Mary did. This is the first point.
The second point is that Mary does not hesitate to say yes to God, yes to His surprises. Thus her response: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary does not seem bothered. It is not an inconvenience for her. We know that she goes and serves Elizabeth after this encounter with God. How much are we bothered by one another? Are we bothered by the fact that we are called to service and ministry? Would we be bothered if God called us to a distant land such as our mission in Uganda or any other place, to be messengers of his love and joy? If we let ourselves be surprised by God then we will experience joy. To be joyful and to be Christian are synonymous. In today’s feast we see this model. Mary lets herself be surprised. She rejoices and brings Christ to Elizabeth and to Juan Diego, and Juan Diego in turn did the same. So today let us be surprised by God. And let us respond in haste so that we can experience the joy of being Christians.
Carmelite Missions Newsletter - December 2013
Greetings from Uganda!
Our children of the Mission joyfully thank all our benefactors for their wonderful support throughout the year. Their happy faces and smiles reflect the joy of the shepherds at the birth of Jesus and make us wonder at His presence today among the poor and little ones of our world. “Our special gift to all the friends and benefactors of our Mission will be a Novena (9) of Masses offered by me at Christmas time. May the joy of Jesus’ Birthday fill your hearts and homes with lasting peace and many special blessings.”
P.S. Our December Newsletter is availabe here. Enjoy!
St. Teresa 5th Centenary Celebration
Celebrate the 500 year anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila's birth.
Celebrate the 500 year anniversary of St. Teresa of Avila's birth with the Discalced Carmelite family of Friars, Nuns, Sisters, and Secular Order members in the western United States. When: August 21-23, 2014
Where: San José, California For updated information as it is available, please visit us:
Website - www.stj500westernus.com
HM Teresa of Jesus & the New Evangelization
A Homily by Fr. Stephen Watson, O.C.D.
Feast of St. Teresa of Jesus
October 15, 2013
By: Fr. Stephen Watson, O.C.D.
Rector and Student Master
Carmelite House of Studies
Mt. Angel, OR
I want to pick up on that part of the homily Fr. Laurence (Poncini, O.C.D.) gave yesterday where he spoke of the call to the new evangelization. On a day when we solemnize the memory of our holy mother St. Teresa of Jesus it is a good thing to ask ourselves what she might have to say to us about this new evangelization. First of all there is no doubt that she would be all for it not only because of the evident need for it but because it is the ecclesial movement of our time, not just any ecclesial movement whatever, but an endogenous movement, that is to say, something produced or growing from within the heart of the Church.
On Saturday I mentioned the document of the second Vatican Council on the adaption and renewal of religious life, i.e. Perfectae Caritatis. In a couple of years we’ll be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Oh, what a big deal that document was. One of the key principles of renewal enunciated in that document was that the founder’s spirit and special aims be faithfully held in honor. What I want to reflect on briefly is how our holy mother’s spirit and special aims harmonize with the new evangelization called for by the Church.
First we must ask about this “new evangelization”. What is it? It was Blessed Pope John Paul II who first called for a new evangelization when he addressed the Episcopal Conference of Latin America, March 9, 1983, in Haiti. “Look to the future,” he said, “with commitment to a New Evangelization, one that is new in its ardor, new in its methods, and new in its expression.” This now famous phrase is as far as I can go this morning in, if not defining, at least describing in some way the new evangelization. Interestingly, I came across a similar expression used by the then newly elected Pope Paul VI when he opened the second session of the Second Vatican Council, September 30, 1963. He said the Church must move “towards new ways of feeling, wishing and behaving”, an attitude which surely anticipates the new ardor, new methods and new expression of the new evangelization.
How can a religious order like ours look back to its founder, in our case holy mother St. Teresa of Jesus, and be faithful to her spirit and special aims and at the same time be fully engaged in the new evangelization characterized by this new ardor, new methods and new expressions? It will soon be time for you to go to your classes at the seminary so the best I can do now is get you to reflect on this question. The answers you come up with may prove very important for the future direction of our Province and Order. I’d like to suggest a few places to start reflecting with Teresa in reference to her writings. In the first chapter of the Way of Perfection Teresa clearly states her aim. “All my longing was and still is,” she says, “that since He (Our Lord) has so many enemies and so few friends that these few friends be good ones.” Do we identify with Teresa’s longing? It’s not just whatever longing but “all my longing”. Continuing, she says, “My heart breaks to see so many souls lost…I would not want to see more of them lost each day…O my sisters in Christ, help me beg these things of the Lord. This is why He has gathered you together here.” We should ask ourselves why we have I come here. Later on in chapter 16 of the Way she expresses a wish: “God deliver us, Sisters, when we do something imperfect, from saying: ‘We’re not angels, we’re not saints.’ Consider that even though we’re not, it is a great good to think that if we try we can become saints with God’s help. And have no fear that He will fail if we don’t fail. Since we have not come here for any other thing, let us put our hands to the task, as they say, c.16,12.” Have we come here for some other thing than to be holy? Then she says this, “The presumption I would like to see present in this house, for it always makes humility grow, is to have a holy daring.” It is important for us to realize that holy daring, launching out into the deep as Our Lord told Peter, is compatible with humility. But, she exclaims: “O Lord, how true that all harm comes to us from not keeping our eyes fixed on You,” c. 16,11. This centrality of Christ for St. Teresa is beautifully illustrated in the second reading of her Office,. “Many, many times I have perceived this through experience. The Lord has told it to me. I have definitely seen that we must enter by this gate if we wish his Sovereign Majesty to reveal to us great and hidden mysteries. A person should desire no other path, even if he is at the summit of contemplation; on this road he walks safely. All blessings come to us through our Lord. He will teach us, for in beholding his life we find that he is the best example,” Life 22, 6-7,14. This, by the way, is the first principle of the renewal of religious life in Perfectae Caritatis, the document I mentioned at the beginning of this homily.
There is one last excerpt from the writings of our holy mother that I want to share with you as a possible help to your reflection on the new evangelization a la Teresa. It is from the Interior Castle towards the end where she is describing spiritual marriage. In this state of profound intimacy in which the Lord dwells in the soul in so particular a way, a person cannot think of his or her own rest, or care about honor or esteem. A person’s only concern is how to please Him more and how or where he or she will show Him the love he or she bears Him. “This,” says Teresa, “is the reason for prayer, the purpose of this spiritual marriage: the birth always of good works, good works,” Interior Castle, VII, 4, 6.
The few points of reference I have made here to the writings of our holy mother St. Teresa of Jesus indicate, for me anyway, her spirit and aims. Her spirit was truly evangelical. She wanted to live the evangelical counsels as perfectly as she could, occupied in prayer for the Church and a world “all in flames”. She had a “holy daring”, “trusting in the great goodness of God who never fails to help anyone who is determined to give up everything for Him.” In her holy daring St. Teresa certainly brought a new ardor, a new expression and a new method to the spread of the Gospel in her day and age. It is her spirit and aims that will guide us in our time to a new ardor and new expression and new method of living and sharing the Gospel with a world that doesn’t seem to realize how desperately it needs Jesus Christ. We must be open to new ways of feeling, wishing and behaving precisely to be true to the spirit of our holy mother whose very life was the sweet odor of Christ, fresh, new and uplifting. Holy Mother St. Teresa, protect this vine which you have planted. It grows in a soil and climate quite different from your 16th century Spain but it is still invigorated with your spirit and cared for under the guidance of the sound traditions and patrimony bequeathed to us by your sons and daughters. Impart to us your intense apostolic love for the Church as She spreads the Gospel with new ardor, and new methods and new expressions. Amen.
Carmelite Missions Newsletter
Proverbs and riddles contain great wisdom in many cultures. On my recent retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Vina, I came across these 3 riddles written by Brother Louis Cortez in the Monastery Newsletter...
Click Here to read the September 2013 issue if the Carmelite Missions Newsletter
RELICS OF ST. THERESE VISIT ST CECILIA CHURCH, STANWOOD WA
All left feeling elated and blessed!
Sunday, September 15, 2013 – The crowd at St. Cecilia Catholic Church was among the largest gathered for the 9 AM Mass. The parking lot was full and church was packed. There was a large banner at the entrance of the church with a greeter alongside.
As one entered the vestibule, there was a table of literature & St. Therese bookmarks that, later on, people touched to the relics. Of course, other items like Rosaries were likewise blessed.
During the quiet moments of the Mass, Fr. Paul Koenig, O.C.D. told the visiting Priest, Fr. Andrew Small, OMI about his 8 years in the Uganda mission fields.
The missions were a major theme in Fr. Small's subsequent talk as Therese is Co-Patroness of the Missions, along with St. Francis Xavier, SJ who was a real missionary. Confined to her cloister, Little Therese, of course, was their spiritual support.
Fr. Paul told the audience about the true life healing of a man assigned to the Relics of St. Therese that came to St. Cecilia 3+ years ago. Her actual bone - a first class relic – was included in that tour.
The man assigned to transport them from place to place was having immense back pain and could hardly maneuver about. His family back home was praying he could continue for the entire circuit of churches. He was able to pocket a few St. Therese relic rose petal cards and continued his journey.
On arrival home, he was nearly paralyzed with an extensive medical history of medical treatments and physical therapy. His wife decided to do an immediate back massage - prior to going for a PT appointment the next day. He pulled a rose petal card out of his pocket and his wife applied the card to his back. His pains vanished instantly!
The next day both the doctor and physical therapist were speechless. The physical therapist sobbed for she knew well his extensive injury. X-Rays proved his cure was without precedent or scientific explanation. The man returned to his many venues - St. Cecilia Parish among them - and gave his testimony to in gratitude for his healing.
Fr. Small then came to the podium to speak. He introduced the small portable wooden writing desk - which St. Therese used to pen her most intimate dealings with Mysticism and love. This was a lap desk that was her daily companion for the last 3 years of her life, complete with dipping bottle of ink and fountain pen. Her writings were copied onto original paper for an authentic view of her handwriting and style of prose.
St. Therese, a Doctor of the Church for her "Little Way" to union with the Sacred Heart of Jesus, is a major missionary model. She never left the Lisieux cloistered convent, but by her intercession helped and recruited a generation of religious for the missions.
After Mass all were to write their intentions on a small square of paper and place it on your heart, thank God, and touch the relic case with it. The intentions were given to Fr. Small who would return the relics to Lisieux and place all the petitions on the grave of the Little Flower.
After Mass, the congregants lined up and respectfully viewed the tiny relics. Shortly, the next Mass was ready to begin and Fr. Small and Fr. James Zakowicz, O.C.D. were ready for another round.
Many came from Seattle - 50 Miles south - and Bellingham 40 miles north. Some dressed in ethnic costumes and others quite informally, bringing grandchildren and visitors who were all called by the Little Flower to attend her sweet, loving event.
It was a testimony of faith and gratitude - as many remarked getting roses, or scent of roses, in the days and weeks prior to this holy commingling - answering their pleas for help then, and in years past.
All left feeling elated and blessed!
To view more pictures of the event, visit our Facebook page!
The Solemn Profession of Bro. Leonel Varela, O.C.D.
On July 5, 2013, Bro. Leonel of Jesus and Carmel, O.C.D. made his Solemn Profession of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience with the words, "forever". The ancient ritual took place within the Eucharistic Sacrifice at St. Therese Church, Alhambra.
In a total act of surrender to God, Bro. Leonel prostrated on the floor in the sign of a cross while the community interceded for him by the chanting of the Litany of Saints. Please pray for his faithful perseverance. May he be a saint!
Fr. Jerome Lantry, O.C.D
1920 - 2013
It is with sadness that the Discalced Carmelite Province of California-Arizona announces the passing to eternal life of Fr. Jerome (James) Lantry of the Immaculate Conception, O.C.D., who died peacefully at Santa Teresita Hospital on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.
Fr. Jerome, born February 7, 1920, grew up on a small farm in Lusmagh, County Offaly, Ireland, and entered the Anglo-Irish Province of the Discalced Carmelites as a teen-ager. He made his First Profession of the religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience on September 2, 1940, (Fr. Michael Buckley, OCD, who resides at our House of Prayer in Oakville, made profession alongside Fr. Jerome on that day in 1940 also). Ordination to the priesthood took place on July 14, 1946.
Fr. Jerome was devoted to the whole of the Discalced Carmelite family, having an extensive ministry to the Carmelite Nuns and the Discalced Carmelite Secular Order. Known for his spiritual insights that were accessible to all, and a deep love for the Virgin Mary, he was much sought after as a spiritual director.
To the end of his life, he was hard at work in the vineyard of the Lord, teaching bible classes, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions and helping as he could in our parish of St. Therese Church in Alhambra, CA. He suffered though his final health issues with determination and optimism, giving all who knew him a great example of the virtue of fortitude in the face of advancing age.
We pray that Our Lady Of Mount Carmel will intercede on behalf of Her great servant, Fr. Jerome, and that he may be rewarded for all that he did to help build up the Body of Christ and the Carmelite Order.
Eternal rest grant unto Fr. Jerome, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.
Fr. Matthew Williams, O.C.D.
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