Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lifting High the Cross

One summer my sister and I decided to tour Washington National Cathedral in D.C., a stupendous Episcopal church and, as it happens, dedicated to the honor of Sts. Peter and Paul. We drove around, looking for a parking space. Finally spying one, I offered to stand guard over it while she inched up alongside the car in front, preparing to parallel park.

Good move. As I planted myself possessively over our precious find, a mini-van halted directly behind her and in front of me. The passenger window slid open, and the driver called out, “That’s our space; we got here first!” “I’m sorry,” I pointed out, “we are in front of you.” “But we had our blinker on,” she barked.” We did too. I shook my head and stood my ground. She sputtered, “And you call yourself a Christian!” That was low. I snapped back, “‘Christian’ does not equal ‘doormat’!” She left.

Jesus did not allow himself to be bested when the integrity of his message was at stake. A Temple, moneychangers, and a whip come to mind. There came a time, though, when losing himself out of love was his message. He had already “emptied himself” by becoming human; then he “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death” (Phil. 2:6-7). His faithfulness to the truth of his identity and his mission led him to choose death, on a cross no less, and by doing so, save the world.

I’m afraid to be vulnerable. It leaves me open to possible abuse and exploitation. Even with an infinitely good God, it makes me feel powerless. That’s why I need the cross of Christ. I need a reminder of where vulnerability will surely take me and of the fact that it was a God, my God, who went there before me…and lives to tell the tale. This is where the Good News becomes Great News. He didn’t stop being vulnerable when he rose from the dead (think Eucharist), but his openness became undying life.

As for Christ, so for Christians. If the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us, that Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies, also (See Rom. 8:11). As we celebrated the Exaltation of the Cross a few days ago, we were reminded that the cross is triumphant because of the Resurrection, and it triumphs in those who believe: “This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith” (1Jn. 5:4).

One day journalist James Foley made a decision to pray the Apostles’ Creed “mindfully” every day. “A remarkable thing happened,” he wrote. “I could feel my connection to Christ Jesus and His church strengthening. With my every assent I realized I was connecting with, and conforming to, God’s giant and ongoing “YES,” which formed and sustains all of creation.” This yes gave him wings. Commenting on his Libyan captivity in Tripoli, he wrote in the Marquette Magazine: “If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released….”

“No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily” (Jn. 10:18). This is said in a unique way about the God-Man, but also in an ordinary sort of way about each of us. Could my sister and I have relinquished that coveted parking spot? Of course. Did the other driver need to hear what Christianity is and is not? Yes. It was unjust for her to demand—and in the name of Christ—what we had a right to. Likewise, for us to give it up out of coercion, even in the name of Christ, would have been dysfunctional. Only freedom makes love possible. Paul wrote that Christ was his law (See 1Cor. 9:21). So, love leads me to imitate Jesus Christ, not just conform to a law. My course of action may be the same. My decision will be made, however, not out of indignation, but in love.

M. Thecla once encouraged the Daughters of St. Paul at the Queen of Apostles Clinic, saying:

M. Thecla with Fr. Alberione & FSP, Albano, 1959
“To love God is to do his will, and to do the will of God and love God is sanctity. In these days, at the end of the Divine Office, this antiphon is always sung: ‘The Lord Jesus was obedient unto death and to death on a cross’ (cf. Phil. 2:8). And for this obedience ‘God…gave him the name which is above all other names… (Phil. 2:9). Behold the obedience of Jesus! Let us follow Jesus!
“May we have this holy ambition of ascending high in heaven, right there where we hope they’ve written our names. We have sought only the Lord. And we continue to seek him, even if we sometimes deviate a little. Let’s go straight ahead, seeking the Lord, his will, sanctity and the love of God” (April 1, 1961).
How do you feel drawn to exalt the cross of Christ in your “ordinary sort of way”?
Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, originally from San Francisco, has been a Pauline evangelizer since 1973 and has worked in various phases of the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. Since attending the nine-month Charism Course in Rome in 2012-2013, she is now based in Boston, where she serves on the provincial Cooperator Team in the area of ongoing formation.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Thirst

Perhaps it is because we are entering the last few weeks of summer and the forecast calls for the highest temperatures of the season in the next few days. Or, because many sections of our country are experiencing unprecedented drought. Or because I keep thinking of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Middle East, being forced from their homes and villages, fleeing into mountains and deserts with barely the clothes on their backs.

All of these images keep bringing to mind the words of Jesus on the cross: “I thirst.” (Jn. 19:28).

The human body is 60% water. Our bodies thirst for water to sustain life, to grow, to prosper. When we don’t get enough water, our bodies begin to shut down.

But is not only the body that thirsts. Our souls thirst, too. Often we don’t know what it is we are thirsting for, or how to quench the thirst of a soul in turmoil, in despair, in doubt, in darkness, and in search of the joy that can only be found in Jesus.

“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord, my God” (Ps. 63).

Recently we observed the feast of St. Augustine.  For those unfamiliar with this great saint, well, let’s just say he led a very colorful life, including fathering a child outside of marriage, before becoming a bishop and Doctor of the Church. In his acclaimed autobiography, The Confessions (Chapter 9), he states, “Whatever way the soul of man turns, it is fixed upon sorrows any place except in You.”

How many times do we find ourselves empty, searching, unhappy, only to pursue a course that, while perhaps providing momentary pleasure or escape, leaves us even more thirsty? “I looked for love and I found none” (Ps. 69:20).

As St. Augustine began the process of his conversion, he wrote in Book 6, Chapter 11, “I loved the happy life, I feared to find it in Your abode, and I fled from it even as I sought it.” We were made for God. Deep within us is an innate desire to go back to him, to become holy, to be the saints. He is waiting for us to be, but with sin and temptation all around us and the weakness of original sin, we fall, we get discouraged, and we lose our thirst for God. Another great saint, also a Doctor of the Church, Catherine of Siena, talks about thirst in The Dialogue, her guide to a deeper spiritual life. She states, “One who is not thirsty will not persevere.”

And how do we become thirsty? St. Catherine talks of the three powers of the soul: the memory, the intellect, and the will: 

  • "The memory retains the remembrance of My benefits and My goodness.
  • The intellect gazes into the inexpressible love that I have shown you by means of My only begotten Son.
  • The will drives you to love and desire Me, who am your end.
"It is then that the appetite of the soul is disposed to thirst; for virtue, the honor of My name, and the salvation of souls.” 

Our Lord Thirsts for Us

As our hearts and souls thirst for God (even when we don’t realize it), so, too, does our Lord wait for us, thirst for us. Blessed Mother Teresa, who died 17 years ago, September 5, has a beautiful meditation on the Lord’s thirst for us, entitled, “I Thirst for You”: “…No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life, there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change.  I THIRST FOR YOU…”

Blessed James Alberione, SSP, founder of the Pauline Family, writes that the thirst of Jesus is both material and spiritual. He highlights the apostolic dimension of that spiritual thirst:

Anyone with an apostolic spirit feels the thirst for souls. The apostle has two aspirations: souls and the sanctification of souls. He desires the salvation of all, that the kingdom of God may be established over the entire earth.

“Therefore, in the Masses at which he assists, in his Communions and visits to the most Blessed Sacrament, the apostle always asks the salvation of everyone; he carries all in his heart."

St. Columbkille, Adoration Chapel
Be the One
In her private writings published as Come Be My Light, Blessed Mother Teresa encouraged her sisters to “be the one who will satiate His thirst…Instead of saying I Thirst, say be the one…do whatever you believe God is asking you to do to be the one to satiate him.”
So, how can we “be the one” who quenches the thirst of Jesus?
  • Unite our will to the will of the Father, in all things, in small things, in the everyday challenges of life. In being patient when things don’t go as we planned.
  • Spend time with our Lord, in prayer, at home, or in adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  Our parish (St. Columbkille) opened a perpetual adoration chapel in June 2012. It has been one of the greatest blessings to our parish and to my husband and me. That hour of peace and serenity when we can just ‘be’ with Jesus.
  • Bring others to Jesus. St. Francis of Assisi is quoted as saying, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
We thirst for God. God thirsts for us.
 “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink” (Jn 7:37).

Bernadette Boguski has been a Pauline Cooperator for over 20 years. She is a member of St. Columbkille Parish in Parma, OH, where she serves as a Eucharistic Minister, cantor, and member of the music ministry. Bernadette holds a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University and currently serves as the development director for Womankind, a nonprofit agency providing free prenatal care and support services for pregnant women in need.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Fruits of Our Labor

Food for Thought – Our Calendars
St. Joseph the Carpenter, by Georges de la Tour
As we approach the end of summer, we cross that milestone, Labor Day. For many of us and our families, it is back to school and back to more routine work-a-day schedules. Warm weather begins to cool as we move toward winter. In such transition times, I am drawn, for both inspiration and grounding, to the calendars which mark our seasons and celebrations. These annual remembrances give us the opportunity to examine the nature and fruits of our labor. We have both liturgical and civil calendars which provide such a framework for our activities.

On the civil calendar, Labor Day reminded us that we are all at work of some kind or other. Hence, here is a meditation on the role of work in both our material and spiritual lives. At first glance, most of us think of work as our jobs and/or daily home responsibilities and regular, committed volunteer work. These are probably the most significant aspects of work for each of us. As we know, a job is usually much more than a set of mechanical tasks we perform in order to earn a living and keep our homes in order. But, beyond this, what are the more extended direct and indirect fruits of our work? How does our work reflect our sharing in the burdens of society and in the redeeming work of our Savior? How does our labor contribute to our growth in personal holiness?

The Example of Pope Saint Gregory the Great
According to our liturgical calendar, the saint whose feast we celebrate on September 3 is an excellent model to us all, especially in terms of his great work which nurtured the survival and growth of the early Church at an important turning point in history. Saint Gregory the Great (Pope Gregory I) was someone who was most content living the contemplative life of a monk. Yet, he responded in great generosity to the call of the early Church to leave his quiet life and become Bishop of Rome. By leaving his preferred monastic life and accepting this challenge of public service, Saint Gregory’s sacrifice joined in the redemptive work of our Lord and Master, Jesus. Do we respond as generously to the call to serve? Do we even give ourselves ample opportunity to hear the call by making time for prayer, to better discern the Way, Truth, and Life to which we are specifically called?

There is great value also in examining the indirect fruits of our work. What is the role of work in my life these days? What are the fruits, both direct and indirect, of my labor? In the course of our work, we interact with others, thereby developing and affecting our many personal and community relationships. The Church’s tradition is replete with support and guidance in the effort to discern the true fruits of our labor.

Hearing & Answering the Call to Holiness
The universal call to holiness requires a life of balance to ensure a robust spiritual life. Maintaining this balance is a key element in Blessed James Alberione’s “Workers’ Prayer” found on  pp. 246-247 of The Prayers of the Pauline Family:
Jesus, divine Laborer and Friend of workers....We present to you the needs of all who carry on intellectual, moral, or physical work.
Grant us the wisdom, virtue and love which sustained you in your toil-filled days. Inspire us with thoughts of faith, peace, moderation, and thrift, so that together with our daily bread, we will always seek spiritual goods and heaven. Save us from those who deceitfully try to deprive us of the gift of faith and confidence in your providence.
…Inspire social laws which are in conformity with the Church’s teaching. May charity and justice reign together, through the sincere cooperation of all members of society.
Decades later, the Catechism of the Catholic Church paralleled Father Alberione’s connections with the statement: “Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ” (n. 2427).

A Final Meditation from Pope Saint John Paul II
Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of work in helping both the individual and society, as a whole, to mature spiritually and in justice. He explains that work is an identifying “mark” of our humanity:
Through work, man must earn his daily bread and contribute to the continual advance of science and technology and, above all, to elevating unceasingly the cultural and moral level of the society within which he lives in community with those who belong to the same family. And work means any activity by man, whether manual or intellectual, whatever its nature or circumstances; it means any human activity that can and must be recognized as work, in the midst of all the many activities of which man is capable and to which he is predisposed by his very natures, by virtue of humanity itself. Man is made to be in the visible universe and image and likeness of God himself, and he is placed in it in order to subdue the earth. From the beginning therefore he is called to work. Work is one of the characteristics that distinguish man from the rest of creatures, whose activity for sustaining their lives cannot be called work. Only man is capable of work, and only man works, at the same time by work occupying his existence on earth. Thus work bears a particular mark of man and of humanity, the mark of a person operating within a community of persons. And this mark decides its interior characteristics; in a sense it constitutes its very nature. (Laborem exercens, “Blessing”).
Jesus, Master, Way, Truth and Life: Enlighten our minds and hearts, and guide us so that our daily work may join in your own redemptive work.
Marie-Louise Handal has been a Pauline Cooperator for the past decade. She holds a Master’s Degree from St. Joseph's Seminary, an M.S. in the Foreign Service from Georgetown University, and is a candidate for the S.T.L. from the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton. She also holds a Certificate in Spiritual Direction from the New York Archdiocesan Center for Spiritual Development. Her professional work experience encompasses 20 years in international banking and finance, followed by a second career as a mathematics educator in Manhattan. Marie-Louise is a native New Yorker, born and raised in New York City.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My True Treasure

A well known legend about St. Lawrence of Rome has persisted since the third century. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence had the responsibility of distributing the Church's alms to the poor. Thinking that Christians had great riches, the prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, demanded that Lawrence hand over to him all of the Church’s treasure. Three days later Lawrence returned but instead of bearing with him piles of gold and silver, Lawrence led a great multitude of the blind, lame, leprous and poor of the city. He lined them in rows before the prefect and announced, “These are the treasures of the Church.” Holy Lawrence understood well that these people were the face of Christ, a reflection of God the Father’s love and as a result were worth more than anything else he could ever present to the Prefect. 
This prompted me to think about what I might do if I was asked to assemble the treasures in my life. I thought immediately of the members of the Pauline Family: consecrated men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving God and his people. Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, at the first light of the twentieth century, “felt deeply obliged to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the men and women of the new century with whom he would spend his life” (Abundantes divitiae gratiae suae, #15). Furthermore, Alberione believed that in the new century generous people would experience what he was feeling and that together they could combat evil with good. In the years that followed, right up to the present day, thousands of generous souls including clergy, religious and laity have walked in his footsteps and brought the Gospel message to a world in need. Each new member that has taken up this mission has been a gift to the Church and, I can say without hesitation, a precious treasure in my life. 
The summer of 2014 has helped me to understand ever more deeply the value of this treasure. I have participated and will participate in a number of celebrations, such as silver and golden jubilee anniversaries of Paulines who have dedicated many years to the mission, as well as new professions that are a blessing for today and a promise for the future.
The summer began in early June with two Pauline celebrations in New York. The first marked the 100th anniversary of the official founding of the Pauline Family. Guests from various parishes joined with members of the Pauline institutes on this happy occasion. Everyone had reason to celebrate, as we all could attest to the countless ways that the Pauline Family has brought the presence of Christ into our lives. 

Fr. Edmund Lane and Fr. Ignatius Staniszewski
The second event commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination for Father Edmund Lane and Father Ignatius Staniszewski. These two priests of the Society of Saint Paul have faithfully served the Pauline mission in various roles. Fr. Edmund has been a longtime editor and publisher for St. Pauls and a pioneer in using personal computers for the apostolate. Fr. Ignatius has served in a number of capacities, from being a teacher and formator at the seminary to being a publisher and editor of books and magazines. The gems these men have offered over these past fifty years has been their wisdom and pastoral sensitivity in the dissemination of religious materials through various social media.
A few weeks later in early July, I led a day of retreat for members of the Pauline Holy Family Institute. This Institute is an organization of Catholic couples and those who are widowed who wish to live their lives in a more consistent, God-oriented way. The goal is the sanctification of family life. They commit themselves to allowing the love of Christ to reign in their hearts and in the hearts of their children. The retreat day included Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration, spiritual talks, religious themed games, a family barbecue, and great fun. Two families that were central to its success were the Fedaks with their ten children and the Jakubs with their nine. By consecrating their own lives to Christ in the Holy Family Institute, Dave and Kate Fedak and Rob and Keisha Jakub place Christ at the center of their lives and teach their children to do the same. In this way, while raising their children to enjoy typical activities of kids in our society, such as sports, dance, music, and art, they become the first witnesses of faith to their children. They also have helped me as a priest become more dedicated to serving families, the domestic Church.
Fr. Michael Harrington with the Fedak and Jakub Families
As August began, I participated in another jubilee celebration. This time it was for the Daughters of Saint Paul. Sr. Mary Domenica Vitello, Sr. Sharon Anne Legere, and Sr. Barbara Gerace celebrated fifty years of religious profession, while Sr. Nancy Michael Usselmann and Sr. Maria Grace Dateno celebrated twenty-five years. These sisters have been instrumental in my own vocation. It was their energy and commitment that first attracted me to the Pauline life. They have served in countless ways: as book store and media center managers, local community superiors, vocation coordinators, media workshop presenters, and much more. However, even more importantly, they have been my friends, helping me to draw closer to Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life. Each sister brings her unique gifts to the Pauline Family. They are pearls, emeralds, and rubies that fill up the Pauline treasure chest.
Sr. Mary Domenica Vitello, Sr. Barbara Gerace, Sr. Sharon Anne Legere, Sr. Nancy Michael Usselmann, Sr. Maria Grace Dateno with Bishop Richard Lennon
Finally, at the end of August, I will participate in one more Pauline celebration. Two young women, Sr. Cheryl Galema and Sr. Theresa Noble will make their first profession of vows. I have watched them grow as postulants and novices, along with Sr. Julia Karina, who will be making her first profession in September in Mexico.
Postulants, novices, and junior professed sisters with Sr. Rebecca Hoffart (director of postulants ), Sr. Carmen Pompei (director of novices ), and Sr. Donna Giaimo (director of junior professed )
I have witnessed how they have jumped in with both feet onto the Pauline path of discipleship. They remind me that Jesus keeps filling up the Pauline treasure chest. As much as we keep taking from it, it will never be empty.
St. Lawrence presented the poor and weak of the city of Rome as treasures, because he recognized that they were an antidote to the problem of corrupt and selfish leaders who saw worth only in material pleasures. I consider the Pauline family members, including the Cooperators, as treasures, because in their desire to live in a spirit of poverty, chastity, and obedience and in their commitment to apostolic zeal, they are illuminating the world with the presence of Christ and in their own way offering an antidote to our media driven society that seems to have largely forgotten God. They remind us that there are things far more precious than automobiles, houses, and electronic devices. Treasures in heaven: things we should value and want to have, because they come from God, bring us close to God, make us better people, and prepare us for our eternal reward.

Click on "Comments" below and tell me who or what your treasures are. 
Fr. Michael Harrington is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and a member of the Pauline Institute of Jesus the Priest. An economics and political science major, he worked in finance for five years, before entering the seminary in 1994. He was ordained in 2000 and has since served the Church as parochial vicar, state chaplain to the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus, and for the past several years, assistant director of the Office of Vocations and director of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity. Fr. Michael made his first profession of vows in the Institute of Jesus the Priest on November 22, 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Remembrance of Father James Alberione

Chapter delegates. Br. Al pictured directly above 3rd kneeling figure at Pope's left.

One of my earliest up-close experiences of Father Alberione was at the first General Chapter of the Society of St Paul in the spring of 1957. The Chapter would mark a certain coming-of-age of his maturing religious family. It would decidedly take it from a rudimentary adolescent stage to grown-up apostolic adulthood—spurred by the founder’s vibrant Paul-like faith, form and fire.    

The Chapter’s deliberations would take him from Founder to “Superior General”. And his charismatic leadership would now be situated in the great tradition of consecrated ingenuity in transmitting the Gospel to the generations of our age.

From the care and effort he made each morning explaining the essential  fundamentals of being Pauline, to forging an intelligent and indispensable heart/mind/will relationship with the living Christ, we were caught up in exciting vocational discovery, purpose, and challenge. 

Motivated within by Christ as Master, we had first to understand a God-given mission and its practical  approaches to today’s  cross sections of humanity. Like Paul, we aimed to meet this milling modern humanity where it was: in the pulsing and often bewildering marketplaces of today’s world. Soldiered on by Jesus, with competency of means and members, it was for us to become faith-bearing samaritans of his Way, Truth, and Life to the multitude of today’s  unknowing, wandering, and weary—”out there”—on countless digital and side-of-the-road lonely impasses.

Br. Aloysius offers deference to the new Superior General.
“The harvest is great.” The reach of preaching was not. For this, Father Alberione presented himself disposed to the Spirit’s guidance in recasting methods and means for effectively allowing the wisdom and power of Jesus’ message to make contact with a distraught epoch, its distant and yearning  humanity—now all within reach—and everywhere so very much in samaritan need.

Many have been the saints and right-minded men and women who have suffered and protested the awful human consequences of wrongdoing paraded as good: love and life squandered, a perishing sense of the sacred, the depreciated qualities of human worth and dignity, and, pitied most of all, the surrendered capacity of praising the Creator and intuiting Truth, Goodness, the Beautiful.

As Father Alberione himself summarized:
“a)  How much is Christian life practiced today in conformity with the Gospel? In what way is this life lived in the world today?  In what is it lacking?  What means are to be adopted for a valid purification and elevation in Jesus Christ, the Master? ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’. ‘Learn of me’.  ‘I AM THE WAY.’  
“b)  How far has the doctrine of Jesus Christ been spread? With what acceptance and understanding? How has it been preserved in its wholeness and purity in the world? What are the means by which it can win all minds, mindful of the mandate of Jesus Christ, the Master, to the Church: ‘Teach all people’. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know the one, true God, and him alone whom he has sent, Jesus Christ’.  ‘I AM THE TRUTH’.
“c)   How and in what way do we pray in Christ and in the Church ‘in spirit and truth’? How and in what way are we fruitful in life and in grace as true children of God, as co-heirs of Jesus Christ? How can we better apply the words: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’? What are the difficulties and application in actual practice? ‘Prayer must be made without ceasing’. ‘Whatever you ask the Father in my name, it will be given you’. ‘I AM THE LIFE’.”
On Christmas Eve 1947, Father Alberione issued a booklet of thirty brief meditations and prayers called “The Way of Humanity.” He proposed a review of the destiny of human beings—their “Way,” beginning with creation, then touching on revelation, Jesus’ life and ministry, the Church, eternal life, etc. Following are samples of these meditations in which the Founder proposes a theological expression (Truth), an invocation to assimilate the expression (Way), and a prayer (Life).

The Most Holy Trinity gathered in council, and issued the decree: “Let us make man in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  In the plan of God, Mary is seen as the masterpiece of creation, the prime and final goal of all creation.
   My Lord, I am entirely the work of your omnipotent love.
   I adore you, my God, one in nature and triune in Persons.
   I thank you, because you have made me for the happiness which lies in you and for your eternal glory.
   Save me with your omnipotence!
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.   

After Jesus Christ finished teaching by example at Nazareth, he began the school  of the spoken word. On the Mount of the Beatitudes he outlined the way of peace and salvation, and revealed God to men and women, announcing the new law of love (cf. Lk: 4:14-30; 6:20-38).
   I adore and thank you, Divine Master, who declared yourself to be the Way and Truth and Life.
   I recognize you as the Way I must follow, the Truth I must believe, the Life which I must eagerly long for.   
   You are my all; and I want to be totally yours: mind, will, heart.
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, have mercy on us.

Administrator’s note: One hundred years ago today the Pauline Family was founded. We join together in prayer, giving thanks to God for the good he has done through us and for his mercy in the face of our limitations. We ask for wisdom, courage, zeal, and joyful witness to Jesus Master  for ourselves and for every Pauline in the world, remembering in prayerful affection every Pauline, known and unknown to us, who has gone before us.
Brother Aloysius Milella entered the Society of St. Paul as a candidate for the Brotherhood on the feast of St. Paul, June 30, 1946, and pronounced first vows in September 1948. Following his perpetual profession in 1953, he was assigned to the staff of the SSP family monthly, Catholic Home Messenger, published in Canfield, OH, where he would be engaged in its editorial and production sectors for 14 years. He worked briefly as the province’s vocation director, before serving as a member of the congregation’s governing body in Rome for the next 17 years.  After returning to the States in 1986, he was involved in book center ministry and then in administration, guiding its day-to-day apostolic fortunes in various communities. After a period in Dearborn, MI, he returned to Staten Island in 2012.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In two short days the Church will celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven, that marvelous event when “Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (CCC 966). Mary’s assumption was a special gift from God. She had this unique privilege of bypassing the corruption of death, and going directly to heaven because she was sinless.

But what does this mystery of our faith say to us? What can we learn from it and try to incorporate into our lives? I believe that the Assumption of Mary has two particular lessons:

1)      That we have a mother and intercessor in heaven who prays for us!
2)       She gives us hope in eternal life, reminding us of our own goal, for she has already made it to the finish line!

Photo Credit: Margery Ketz/ Wikimedia Commons
      Mary as Our Mother and Intercessor
Most of us have either experienced the power and unconditional quality of a mother’s love ourselves or have witnessed it in another’s life. If we multiply this by a 100 or even 1000 times, I believe we can get a glimpse of Mary’s motherly love towards each one of us. For she is our heavenly Mother who awaits our prayers and requests. Did she not tell Juan Diego in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, “Do not let anything afflict you, and do not be afraid of any illness, or accident or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Do you need anything else?”

And in 1830 at Rue de Bac in Paris Mary explained to Catherine Laboure, a young novice with the Daughters of Charity, the meaning of her image on the Miraculous Medal, the medal that she wanted Catherine to have made: The words, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” would be printed around the medal’s edge, honoring her Immaculate Conception; rays coming from her hands would symbolize the grace that comes through her motherly intercession and prayers. And when Catherine asked Mary about the stones on her fingers that had no rays of grace coming forth, Mary explained, “that’s all the grace I want to obtain for people, but no one asks me.” All we have to do for our Mother to help us, to intercede for us is to ask her! And so we pray, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”

Blessed Alberione shows us the power of Mary's intercession when he cites St. Anselm in his book, "Mary, Hope of the World," "St Anselm presents Mary as a merciful Mother" writes Alberione "who helps everyone who approaches her." ( p 15). She is our Mother who loves us all and notices our needs, just as she did at the wedding feast of Cana. So let us remember to ask for her help.

Mary Gives Us Hope in Eternal Life
Mary’s bodily presence in heaven near her Son also gives us great hope, hope in the gift of eternal life, hope in our own resurrection at the end of time. She goes before us to “save us a seat,” if you will. She points out to us our eternal destiny as her children who were bought at a great price: the price of her own Son’s death and resurrection. Let us believe in and accept him as our Lord and Savior, our Way, Truth, and Life (Jn. 14:6).

And so when life is difficult, even at times overwhelming, we can turn to Mary knowing that she listens, that she cares for us with immense love, and that she will obtain for us the grace that we need, if we but ask.

On this Feast of the Assumption we thank our Queen and Mother for her powerful prayers and for the hope that she brings to our lives: “Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us! Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!”


Sr. Laura R. Brown has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1985 and has been assigned to many FSP communities. Her current assignments in St. Louis, MO, include parish evangelization and outreach, as well as assistance with Pauline Book & Media Center events. She has an MA in theology and participated in the Pauline Charism Course in Rome from 2008 to 2009.