Saturday, May 2, 2020

Apostles for Today - May 2020


Apostles for Today
Prayer and Reflection
May 2020

 “A sense of deep communion with the rest of nature
cannot be real if our hearts lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings.” (Laudato Si’, 91)  

On 24 May of this month, we celebrate the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis, Laudato Si ’. This month also marks the 185th anniversary of St. Vincent Pallotti’s “Appeal to anyone who has zeal for the glory of God  and charity and compassion for the spiritual salvation of his neighbor.” (OOCC IV, 119) In the Appeal of the Month of May as it is commonly called, Pallotti offers an invitation to all to collaborate in the work he calls Catholic Apostolate. A summary of this work is in number 14 of the Appeal :   

“In a few words, therefore, in order to associate with the Catholic Apostolate, it is important to commit oneself to reviving Holy Faith  and piety  in one’s native country, and to spreading it to the remotest  areas  of the two hemispheres.” (OOCC IV, 137-38)  

The Catholic Apostolate called  forth  “all Catholics”  into  the  apostolic work.  (OOCC, 124) Pope Francis in Laudato Si’  speaks in a similar way and even calls it an “appeal”. (14) He says: “All  of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.” (14). Both appeals are calls to co-responsibility which is also at the heart of the way of the Union of Catholic Apostolate as number 1 of the General Statutes states clearly:  
  
“The Union of Catholic Apostolate, a gift of the Holy Spirit, is a communion of the faithful who, united with God and with one another in accordance with the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti, promote co-responsibility of all the baptized to revive faith and rekindle charity in the Church and in the world, and to bring all to unity in Christ.”  
  
We are called to be in communion with God, with neighbor, and with all of creation. As Pope Francis points  
out, if we “lack tenderness, compassion and concern for our fellow human beings” then we cannot be in “deep communion”. (LS, 91) Compassion is to “suffer with” as Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross out of love. The love of Christ impels us  forth to care for each other. St. Vincent Pallotti expresses this type of compassion in the form of an aspiration for himself:  
  
“I would like to become food to feed the hungry, clothing to cover the naked, drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty, a soothing potion for the stomachs of the weak, a soft bed for the repose of the tired limbs of the weary, medicine and health for the sick, light for the blind, life to raise the dead, so that if they could return to live on this earth they might do great things, which they would certainly do for the glory of my God, of my Father, of my Creator, of my Good, of my All.” (OOCC X, 115)  
  
When there is not an integral ecology rooted in faith and science, then an imbalance will occur, communion  
will be lost, and compassion and tenderness for the needs of human beings and the natural environment will not be cared for well. A person with a self-centered attitude has little concern for God or creation. It is simply about self, an inflated pride that makes oneself the center of the universe, rather than placing God in the center of all things and recognizing the beauty of God’s creation, human beings and nature. When the human person is not seen as in the image and likeness of God, then it is easy to dispose of them. We become a “throwaway culture”  as Pope Francis often mentions. (LS, 16) Some may be quick to say that they do not act in this way. Pope Francis  offer us an examination of conscience with this analysis:  
“Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel  
busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment. An integral ecology includes taking time to recover a serene harmony with creation, reflecting on our lifestyle and our ideals, and contemplating the Creator who lives among us and surrounds us, whose presence ‘must not be contrived but found, uncovered’.” (LS, 225)  
  
Serenity which is true and lasting peace is found most profoundly through life in Jesus Christ. Nothing else will give us the peace that comes from him. We are in the Easter season. The Risen One is not only our hope, but also our peace, our serenity. He is compassionate and infinitely loving with us. His Mother, who we particularly venerate during the month of May, offers us the way to live the fullness of our humanity, not in pursuit of selfish  
desire, but in love of God and neighbor. Pope Francis reminds us that “an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.” (LS, 11)  
  
Our “common home” created by God, the Infinite Love, requires our co-responsibility. Our care needs to extend beyond self-interest, or certain causes, to communion with all creation. We cannot leave these concerns simply to someone else. St. Vincent Pallotti and Pope Francis appeal to us to be co-responsible, to collaborate, to be in communion. It is our free choice.  God provides the grace so that we can be in “holy cooperation” with one another. Let us take up these appeals of Pallotti and the Pope and go forth as apostles of Christ into the world assisting all in loving God and all Creation more fully and deeply in true communion.   
  
What  are  ways  in  which  each  of  us  can  assist  others  in  living  more  fully  their  communion  with  God  and Creation?  
  
How can greater co-responsibility, collaboration, and communion be fosters in the life of the Union of Catholic Apostolate in a way that leads to going forth as apostles of Christ more fully and freely?  
   
Fr. Frank Donio, S.A.C.  

The Director, Catholic Apostolate Center, USA 
_________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com


Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Apostles for Today - April 2020


Apostles for Today


April - 2020

Starting Over: An Invitation to take care of our “Common Home”  

 
 In re-reading the Encyclical “Laudato Si” I found a text that touched me and inspired me to propose this reflection.  Pope Francis refers to the Earth Charter: “The Earth Charter calls on all of us to leave behind a phase of self-destruction and to begin anew, but we have not yet developed a universal consciousness that makes this possible.  This is why I propose once again that special challenge: “As never before in history, our common destiny obliges us to search for a new beginning […].  May our era be remembered for the re-awakening of a new reverence for life, for the resolve to attain sustainability, for the acceleration of the struggle for justice and for peace, and for the joyful celebration of life” (1).” 
 In the light of this text, I propose to make a comparison, based on a reflection of Leonardo Boff, between the two documents of global relevance on the ethics of the care of our Common Home.  This concerns the affinities between the encyclical of Pope Francis Laudato Si on the care of our Common Home and the Earth Charter. 
  
The encyclical “the care of our Common Home” and “the Earth Charter” are perhaps the only two documents of world importance that have so many common affinities.  They concern themselves with the degraded state of the Earth and of life in its various dimensions outside of the conventional vision which is limited to environmentalism.  These are two documents that can give us hope. 
  
As we can see, from the passage cited above, the encyclical knows the Earth Charter and cites it in one of the encyclical’s fundamental points: to search for a new beginning (n. 207).  This concept of a new beginning is taken on board by Pope Francis and proposed to all of humanity.  According to Leonardo Boff, there are many affinities between the two documents.  In order to facilitate our understanding, let us list some of these affinities, among others. 
  
First, it is the same spirit that pervades both texts: an analytic approach, bringing together the most secure scientific data; a critical approach, denouncing the current system that has produced the imbalance of the Earth; and a hopeful approach, indicating ways to save the earth.  It does not give up in the face of criticism and dismissal, rather it trusts in the capacity of humanity to forge a new lifestyle as well as in the innovative action of the Creator “the Sovereign Lover of life” (Wisdom 11:26) 
  
They both have the same starting point.  The Charter affirms: “the dominant models of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the reduction of resources and a massive extinction of species (Preamble 2).  The encyclical repeats this: “We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious disrepair (…) the present world system is certainly unsustainable from a number of points of view” (n. 61). 
  
There is the same proposal.  The Charter affirms: “Fundamental changes are needed in our values, institutions and lifestyles” (Preamble 3).  The encyclical underlines: “Every effort to protect and improve our world entails profound changes in ‘lifestyles, models of production and consumption, and the established structures of power which today govern societies” (n. 5). 
  
The declaration of the Charter is innovative, and proposes a new cosmological and ecological model.  “Our environmental, economic, political, social and spiritual challenges are interconnected and together we can forge inclusive solutions” (Preamble 3).  There is an echo of this affirmation in the encyclical that there are “a number of themes which will reappear as the Encyclical unfolds … the intimate relationship between the poor and the fragility of the planet, the conviction that everything in the world is connected, the call to seek other ways of understanding the 
economy and progress, the value proper to every creature, the human meaning of ecology, … and the proposal of a new lifestyle” (n. 16).  What is important here is the solidarity between everybody, the shared moderation and “to replace greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing” (n. 9). 
  
The Charter affirms that “there is a spirit of kinship with all life” (Preamble 4).  The Encyclical emphasises the same point: “Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection to brother sum, sister moon, to brother river and to mother earth” (n. 92).  It is Franciscan universal fraternity. 
 
The Earth Charter underlines that it is our duty “to have respect for and to take care of the community of life (…), to respect the earth in all of its diversity” (I, 1).  Every encyclical, starting with the title “to care for our Common Home”, makes this imperative a type of refrain.  It seeks “to motivate us to a more compassionate concern for the protection of our world” (n. 216) and “a culture of care that permeates all of society” (n. 231).  Here the concept of “care” emerges not just as a mere attitude of benevolence, but as a new model, being loving and being a friend of life and of all that exists and lives. 
 
 Another important affinity is the value given to social justice: the Charter maintains a strong relationship between ecology and “social and economic justice” that “protects the vulnerable and serves” those who suffer (III, 9c).  The encyclical reaches one of its central points when it affirms that “a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor (n. 49:53). 
 
  Both the Earth Charter and the encyclical underline the current sense that “every form of life has value, regardless of its use to mankind” (I, 1a).  The Pope re-iterates that “all creatures are connected, each must be cherished with love and respect, for all of us as living creatures are dependent on one another” (n. 42).  In the name of this understanding the Pope makes a vigorous criticism of anthropocentrism (nn. 115-120), since this only sees the relationship between human beings and nature in terms of using it and devastating it and not vice-versa, forgetting that humanity is part of nature and mankind’s mission is to be nature’s guardian. 
 
 The Earth Charter formulated a definition of peace that is one of the best ever reached by human reflection: (peace is) “the fullness that results from correct relations with oneself, with other people, with other cultures, with other life-forms, with the earth and with the Whole which we are part of” (16, f).  If, according to Pope Paul VI, peace is “the balance of movement” then the way is “to restore the various levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God”(n. 210).  The end result of such a process is perpetual peace. 
 
 These two documents are like lighthouses that guide us in these dark times, giving back to us the necessary hope by which we can save both ourselves and our Common Home (2). 
 
 Brothers and Sisters of the UAC, it is my wish that, by reading and developing an awareness of these texts as well as the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Beloved Amazonia of the Holy Father Pope Francis, they can push us towards the construction of a universal brotherhood where there is “life in abundance for all” (John 10:10), according to the programme put forward by Jesus Christ. 
 
Fr. Gilberto Antonio Orsolin SAC 
 
FOOTNOTES 
 
th
1. The Earth Charter, Haia (June 29 2000) 
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Apostles for Today - March 2020


Apostles for Today
Prayer and Reflection
March 2020


“Imaging God by taking care 
of our common house”

The Holy Scripture teaches us that God created heaven and earth and all that it contains. God’s work of creation reached its climax with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1, 1-28). Every time God concluded each day of creation, as the biblical author narrates, he saw that it was good, and even very good. That goodness is what God entrusted to humankind with the duty to perpetuate it: “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1, 28). The Psalmist was so overwhelmed at God’s empowerment of humankind that he exclaimed: “What is man that you should care for him…you made him a little like a god, crowning him with glory and splendor…you made him rule over the work of your hands…” (Ps 8, 5-9). It means then that ruling over the work of God’s hand should always reflect the godliness that indwells in human beings and sustain the goodness that creation contains originally.

Jesus Christ, the Apostle of the Eternal Father, has always understood his mission as the continuation of the Father’s work: “My Father is at work and so do I” (John 5, 17). And this work is of salvation, of redeeming the world and reconciling it with the Father, that is, re-imaging human beings to God and bringing the whole of creation back to its original goodness. St. Paul, on his part, understands Jesus Christ as the image of the invisible God in whom the work of creation was accomplished and reconciled with the Father. Jesus Christ is the recapitulation of creation, therefore the architect of the New creation in the Holy Spirit (Col 1, 15-20): “Behold I make all things new” (Rev 21, 1-5).

The commitment of the Church to the caring of the earth and all that it contains is inscribed within her evangelizing mission in fidelity to the commission of her Lord and Master: “As the Father sent me, so I also send you” (John 20, 21). This has been the driving force of different Pope’s commitment to the caring of our common home. Pope Francis inscribes his call to the awareness of our common call to protect the earth within the tradition of the Church. The Church cannot carry out her evangelizing mission while remaining indifferent to the state of the earth, the environment within which evangelization takes place. The reason behind this as Pope Benedict XVI said, is that there is an interconnectedness of creatures to the extent that anything that happens to one affects the others. The African vision of the world looks at the universe as a vital connection that exists between the cosmos, the divine and humankind. A traditional proverb states: “You cannot cut a branch of the tree on which you are seated”. It implies that by cutting that branch, you are most likely to fall down with it. This interconnection explains why Africans consider the universe and humankind as sacred, due to their origin in the divine. Any offense directed to one aspect of creation provokes a disorder in the others. Consequently, any good that affects one aspect of creation accrues and reinforces life in the others as well. Human beings have the responsibility to care for the harmony that the Creator put in creation in order to enjoy the benefits of creation.

The awareness of the interconnection among the elements of creation not only prompts in human beings the responsibility of caring for the mother earth but also of the “global ecological conversion” when people realize that they “are sinning by contributing to the disfigurement of creation”. The degradation of the ecosystem is a sin in the sense that our actions against mother earth disconnect us from the Creator and bring about disharmony within creation. We are no longer imaging God who entrusted to us the care of creation because we have become disobedient to the will and order of God. And this justifies the call to conversion; that is, a renewed attitude towards creation rooted in God. The renewal of the ecosystem is tied up to the renewal of attitude. It is a belief that things can change when human beings correspond to God’s image imprinted in them and come together “to dialogue and converse,” to honestly look for ways that uphold the common good as Pope Francis urges. 

St. Vincent Pallotti, our Founder and Father, like the Psalmist, was captured by the nobility of human beings who are created in the image and likeness of God. That is the expression of God’s infinite love and mercy. Being created in the image of God, Father, Son and Hoy Spirit entrusts to humanity a corresponding responsibility of reflecting God’s behavior, that is, “creating” and “preserving”. Caring for “our common home” is constitutive of what it means to be humans. It translates the gift of the free will that God has bestowed on humankind. St. Vincent Pallotti is convinced that the gift of the free will should be used to always grow in resembling more and more the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Although sin had disconnected human beings from God, Jesus Christ has come to reestablish that connection and redeem in humanity the capacity to mirror God. This mystery is channeled through the sacraments of Baptism and confirmation whereby humanity is configured to God and empowered by the Holy Spirit to correspond to God. Unfortunately, as Pallotti decries, it happens that human beings use their free will and the gifts of creation to offend God. Scores of the offenses against God through the negative attitude of humankind towards mother earth demonstrate how human beings have become destructive of God’s creation. The environmental degradation Pope Francis points out, extends also to the deforestation of the Amazon, the plastic bags in oceans and on the Himalayas, the melting of glaciers and the deforestation of tropical forest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, rightly termed as “the second largest tropical rain-forest area on earth” after the Amazon. 

Recently, in January 2020, there happened two major events: the 50th anniversary of the Davos World Economic Forum and the opening of the Australian Open, a major tennis tournament. Both events happened while the Australian bush was on fire, with several people losing their lives and property and large parts of the bush destroyed. In Australia, tennis stars organized functions to combat bushfire, while in Davos, debates evolved around climate change. Gretta Thunberg, a Norwegian teenager together with her peers not only strongly called on world leaders to act now and not to wait until 2030, but also were committed not to give up the fight, even when the leaders did not. Their claim points to the fact that “our common home is burning now” and that they as the children, “will be the ones to suffer the “irresponsibility” of those who have power and influence to act, yet do not”. Antonio Guterres, the United Nations’ General Secretary denounced at Davos 2020 the lack of political will to effectively implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and warned that “humankind has declared war on nature and nature is striking back in every violent way”. 

These voices respond, one might say, to Pope Francis’ call for everyone to come together, and never tire to protect and care for mother earth and the sisters and brothers that live in, whether nature or humans. It raises hope that progressively people are more and more aware of their call to mirror God through their responsibility towards our common house.

 - Do I understand my commitment to the care of our common home as a cooperator/collaborator
   in the evangelizing mission of Jesus Christ and the Church?
 - As members of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate, what concrete action (s) can we undertake
    locally or globally to respond to Pope Francis’ call for dialogue and conversation in order to shape
    together the future of our planet?

Fr. Désiré Bakangana, sac.
Saint Vincent Pallotti Parish/Bukavu (D.R. Congo)
Holy Family Province (Central Africa)

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Apostles for Today - Feb -2020



Apostles for Today

Prayer and Reflection

February 2020


Father Paul de Geslin de Kersolon, an enthusiastic follower of St Vincent Pallotti, was visiting him in Rome when he received a letter from his home in France. He writes: “... as it (the letter) was of no importance, I squeezed it up and was about to throw it into the fire, when Padre Pallotti stopped me with these words: ‘Oh, my friend, you are going to lose those bits of paper.... some parts of that sheet can be used!’ ’Paper is so cheap,’ I exclaimed.

‘I know well,’ he continued, ‘but it is an imperfection voluntarily to waste anything, however small its value. Look at our good God, richer than any earthly monarch: He never permits anything He has created to be lost. The humblest drop of water serves to refresh a blade of grass or to quench the thirst of a little bird. And it is our duty to utilize everything so
that we may imitate our Heavenly Father! Tear off the bit on which there is no writing and put it in the basket.’

I obeyed rather unwillingly, when he spoke again: ‘That basket must be nearly full. Will you look out for one of the men who collects such scraps and send him up here?’ I did so, and the man offered about a dime for the whole lot, which was 
accepted.”

As we know, the story ends with St Vincent purchasing a bag of biscuits with the money and using the biscuits to save the soul of a dying man. Was St. Vincent Pallotti the first person to recycle? I don’t know the answer to that question but in my view, he is the most famous person to have been involved in the recycling business. We live in a throw away, consumer society and we all need to change the way we think and act as individuals, before we can move out to the world at large.

When one reads the bible, it is hard not to think how stubborn and silly our Old Testament forefathers were when they continuously turned away from the God who loved them. Yet I wonder if we today aren’t equally as hard hearted as our ancestors. St. Vincent Pallotti’s writings and actions 200 years ago are just as relevant today and the parallels between Laudato Si and the charism, spirituality, writing and life of St. Vincent Pallotti are uncanny. The words of Sr. Monica at the UAC Formation Coordinators Meeting came to mind: “It is good to have a Pope who speaks like our Founding Father”.

Yes Sr. Monica, I agree, but it would be even better if we listened!

St. Vincent invited everyone to join the Pallottine Family, his writing and his philosophy was simple but very powerful.

We are called to be apostles by virtue of our creation not our baptism. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jer. 1:5). It is comforting to know that God has a plan for everyone and every part of our lives, if only we would be open and receptive. St Vincent’s only entry requirement was that of love, to love God, and God’s creation. Similarly, Pope Francis’ encyclical is addressed to everyone, “now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet”. It is therefore written in simple language that we can all understand.

When caught in a rain-storm St. Vincent said to his grumbling friend: “Have you reflected that each drop of this rain was created by the Almighty with infinite wisdom for our use and our good?” How much time do we spend reflecting on the wonder and the beauty of God’s creation? If we did spend some time, I’m sure our reflection would galvanize us into action and our planet would be a lot better off.

Today’s society is an “all care and no responsibility” society, “they must solve the problem”, “the government must deal with it”. But what are we as individuals doing? Laudato Si is a call for collaboration, “everyone’s talents and involvement are needed.... all of us can cooperate as instruments of God for the care of creation”.

St. Vincent wanted to win souls for God all over the world however he sorrowfully admitted that faced with a world of secularism, agnosticism and sin, he alone would not be very effective. He realized that he could achieve his aim by collaborating with others and multiplying everyone’s talents “infinitely”. Pope Francis is well aware that St. Vincent started with twelve collaborators, and in the short space of two hundred years, the Pallottine Family has covered the globe and brought, maybe not an infinite number but certainly a very large number, of people to God. (We in Australia are forever indebted to the German Pallottine priests for bringing St. Vincent to our shores.)

Pope Francis calls us to consolidate St. Vincent’s teaching on love of God and God’s creation with his call for collaboration and urges us to all become involved “each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talent.” Both Pope Francis and St. Vincent call us to do what we can, not what we can’t. St. Vincent said if you can’t do, you can still pray. Prayer is a pillar of Pallottine spirituality. Being part of the Pallottine Family has helped me, through prayer, to deepen my relationship with the Blessed Trinity, Mother Mary and the Angels and Saints. If we all examine our lives prayerfully then, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am sure we will find opportunities to become “instruments of God for the care of creation”(LS).

Pope Francis provides us with some encouragement in the face of a very daunting situation, “In some countries, there are positive examples of environmental improvement: ... these achievements.... do show that men and women are still capable of intervening positively”. Likewise, St. Vincent encourages us: “When [an apostle] acts with true zeal and fervent love,
there is no temptation, no difficulty and no obstacle he cannot overcome.” St. Vincent gave us the model of the Cenacle.

Many parts of the Family meet in a Cenacle type environment to pray, discuss their apostolic endeavors, receive encouragement and plan before returning to their apostolic pursuits. Loving support and encouragement are never very far away when you are a member of the Pallottine family.

Pope Francis uses creation theology to explain that God loves all of creation, he calls us to be humble not domineering and points out the need to repair our relationships with God, our neighbor and the earth which sin has broken. St. Vincent has written at length on the need for humility, and indeed lived a very humble life putting God first and then his neighbor before any of his own needs. In a description of Vincent in an early Italian biography we read: “His prudence was most remarkable; but his great characteristics were his deep humility, and the most ardent charity towards all who were in need and trouble.” We are loved by God and having been created in the image and likeness of God, we in turn need to humbly love our neighbor and all of God’s creation.

St. Vincent did not want to start a new society in the church, but rather a way of being church. I would argue that it became much broader than that, that the UAC became a way of being with only one rule, that of love. Being part of the Pallottine Family doesn’t require us to perform great feats but rather to do all of the ordinary things in an extraordinary manner and for the greater glory of God.

St. Vincent’s “way of being” is achievable but not easy, even he had ways to remind himself to stay in focus. When asked why, when eating and drinking, he took only little drops or bits at a time St Vincent replied: 
“When we eat and drink, it is certainly not sacramental communion: but I always think it is a sort of communion with God’s power, goodness and providence. Every mouthful of food and very drop of water contains all these things, for it is God who has given to our food the property to preserve and sustain life. Does not the Apostle tell us, even in partaking of our daily food, to seek in this, as in everything else, the glory of God? Now I in my weakness, am only too inclined to forget these things, I try by dividing my bread into little bits, to help my poor memory!” Yes, it is good to have a Pope who speaks like our Founder, because his encyclicals are our reminder of how we need to “be” in order to live the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti.

I will be reflecting on finding ways of loving all of God’s creation in an extraordinary way for God’s greater glory, as I go about my very ordinary life.


Steve Kay
Formation Co-ordinator UAC Australia

22nd January, 2020

_________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Apostles for Today - January 2020

UAC 

Monthly Reflection, 

January 2020 

-

“The earth is like a sister with whom we share our life.
The earth is like a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us”
  (Laudato Sí, 1).

As an environmental chemist, I always say that the level of care we give to creation is a measuring bar of sin and of grace. It is a special perspective from which we see how man thinks, acts and lives. I dealt with the theme of the relationship between faith and ecology in three conferences, one and international conference and the other two national conferences, as well as in a monograph. These were conferences requested by fellow scientists – even non-believers – in which science questioned Sacred Scripture and listened to the words of our founder, Saint Vincent Pallotti.

Laudato Sí opens with a broad panorama of the suffering inflicted by man on the planet; it is not an arid and external complaint, rather it is an objective analysis shared by scientists of all faiths, cultures and backgrounds. It is both a denunciation and an invitation to “ecological conversion” for the very survival of the human race. The meeting between nature and our faith re-lives the event of the Epiphany. The Magi represent the wisdom that questions and that marries itself with science (they seek God and they want to meet with Him to adore Him); Herod, on the other hand, represents a search for knowledge that produces technology that, in turn, is influenced by idolatry (knowing in order to exploit and to dominate). Immediately, we must ask ourselves which side are we attracted to, each one of us with the actions, the choices and the attitudes of our lives. So, how do we position ourselves before the protection of creation, the discovery of the mysteries of nature, the search for the common good and for the good of every creature.

The first chapter of Laudato Sí carries the mark of Pope Francis and it was developed by people of science, who know, each one in his/her own field of studies the “state of the planet” and the various scenarios that await us as a consequence of the political decisions and common actions of recent decades. Pollution has existed since the beginning of humanity, but for millennia the moral question of the production and dissemination of waste (urban, biological, industrial, radioactive, chemical…) has never been asked. At most, humanity simply moved the problem from some areas to other areas. For example, the air quality of western cities is much cleaner than twenty or fifty years ago. But western countries have passed on and continue to pass on ‘dirty’ technologies and waste to countries in the developing world. The problem is amplified by the increase in the global population during the last century, by an out-of-control recourse to energy sources and by the over-production of goods that are passed off as being primary and essential needs. This humanism, which is “so little human” disguises a vision of humanity that is characteristic of selection, that is, it is “only the strongest” who will survive, because the world is simply too small to contain all of us and at the same time satisfy everyone’s expectations and well-being. The so-called developing countries pressure the so-called developed countries not only because of greater demography, but also because of a desire for development and access to better living standards.

All of this contributes to the race for over?production and hyper-consumerism. The most evident and dramatic results of this approach are the changes in climate, the increasing pollution of all of the environmental elements (air, water, soil, food), the appearance of new diseases, a shortage of water and the loss of biodiversity. And yet, authoritative advocated of the scientific and political worlds do not believe all this evidence, attributing it to natural fluctuations in the climate, and putting their trust in man’s capacity to self-regulate, that somehow humanity will always know how to find appropriate solutions. But, in truth, they consciously do not listen, they do not see nature and the results of the forecast study models that have been published in the thousands in scientific journals, and also, they do not accept and do not believe in the reports drawn up by experts and by international organizations.

Diverse theologians and philosophers have spoken out, repeatedly warning against treating the earth like a landfill dump. But such warnings seem in vain when faced with the powerful and the rich of this world who view nature as an evil monster which takes revenge by means of environmental disasters and who is not like a mother who is exhausting her strength and resources to sustain and maintain her own children. It is into this context that Laudato Sí comes, a superficial reading of which appears to give credence to those who reduce the faith of Pope Francis to a vision and an action that is horizontal, in which God remains behind us and that the spiritual (vertical) dimension moves us to go out (of oneself, out of the churches) in order to look on the world and on the other, and that it remains only an interior disposition and does not need to find occasions and forms of expression in taking initiatives to go out to meet all that is other than us.

It is from this that the criticisms that define him as a communist pope, an ecologist and an unrealistic pacifist, which are put forward by the powerful of the earth, and even by people within the Church herself; on the opposite side, then, is the concerned acclaim of the “green” fundamentalism, which advocates a return to understanding nature in a deterministic and/or pantheistic sense. They mirror the two “heresies of our century” which Francis outlined in Gaudete et Exultate. Man puts himself at the center of the universe in order to dominate it and exploit it, molding it “in his own image and likeness”, according to a vision that, because it is only focused on itself, ends up taking the place of God the Creator. So it is that man no longer knows who he is, neither where he has come from nor where he is going to, he creates himself and without points of reference. The relationship with God disappears, as does his relationship with his fellow man and with himself. A society and an individual that are turned in on themselves are inexorably devoted to their own goals and aims.

At this juncture it can happen that even theology which should illuminate and ignite the flame of faith, hope and charity, in some cases is not able to get out from the universities and “be broken into pieces”, making itself understandable to and digestible by the common man, close to humanity that Jesus meets today on its streets, in the factories and in the mines, in the offices and in the fields, in the houses and in the shanty-towns.

But the vision and the action of Pope Francis is something completely different. He, following precisely in the wake of another Francis, sings of God as Father, Brother, Intimate Companion of the soul, Wisdom and Freedom, Power that is translated into mercy, communion and joy. In a word, beauty: beauty that reflects itself in the world, in the life of everyone, created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus is the intimate companion of every man, he died for everyone. He saves them where they live and how they are, each one with his/her own baggage of nobility and misery, virtue and sin, just as Saint Vincent intuitively and experimentally understood of himself and every other person.

In return Jesus asks us to believe, not to stop at what we perceive to be our limits, but to commit ourselves, to spend ourselves, to give of ourselves. This implies that we see our neighbor precisely in him/her who stands before us, a riches and a gift to be welcomed and to care for; so it must be also with nature, with the universe and our earth as a place to be cultivated and made fruitful like the Garden of Eden. Every creature, even the stones, the black holes and the insects are the work of God and, as such, precious. They are, in their extraordinary variety, an entirety, a home and a mother. We are made of the dust of the earth, into which God breathed a breath of eternal life; matter and spirit find a synthesis and a point of convergence which Christ has made his own. The Word became flesh.

The relationship with God then is to be nourished every day; by means of prayer, interior silence (and also exterior silence, like turning off our cell phones – why not!!), celebration that is stripped of all triumphalism and ritualism, with spaces and times reserved for Him and for our meeting with Him, in adoration and in the face of everyone we meet. It is only from this starting point that our “going out” in order to encounter others is found.

Returning to the image of the Epiphany, the Magi represent “the people”, the men and women and countries of every culture, class and faith who seek “the One that they do not know” but who is closer to them than they can imagine. Christians and all people of good-will belong to that group and they are bearers of other people. They are not those who isolate themselves because of fear, who arm themselves, who discard and reject. The Pope is the prophetic voice of God who calls on us to “get involved”, to get our hands dirty, and to also risk our “holiness” for the “Jesus who is hidden and rejected”, who is in us and just outside of us. He urges us to make use of public places, politics, the schools of formation, the times and spaces for education, the mass media, the theaters, culture, homes and churches, to start a process of integral human progress, where God creates history with man. This true ecology is the natural face of “Catholicity”, of a universality that includes all people and all of humankind, it is the holiness of next door, lived in daily interaction with other people. “I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people: in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile. In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant.

Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbors, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness” (GE 7), the new apostolate or – in present terminology – the new evangelization. Thus, the person returns to being the manager, the caretaker of the land that God confidently entrusts to him, like the five talents in the parable and just as He entrusted Jesus to Mary and Joseph and, as he entrusts children to their parents. Nature, like every neighbor, is not an enemy, rather it is another who completes us and who helps us to fulfill ourselves here on earth, according to the plan to which God has called us, and for the Kingdom, God’s destiny for us. The earth is our home, albeit not our definitive home. God creates history with man, every man, and man with God, in time, and that history will be fulfilled at the end of time. Saint Vincent Pallotti was a man of his time, but it is also certain that he too is a spiritual son of Saint Francis. He searched for and practiced a spiritual harmony with nature of which he felt part. The sun, the moon, the seas, the winds, animals and plants incessantly praise their Creator, giving back all to Him and to His beauty and goodness and inspiring joy and a song of blessing. Vincent rediscovers this dimension and he keeps himself humble, materially poor as well as poor in spirit; and yet he is rich, in need of nothing more than to receive and give love, becoming the voice of all creatures who, with one voice, sing the glory of the Lord. We too could sing the canticle of creation in the Benedicite of the Founder, we could sing it with our everyday lives, where we are and how we are.

For personal and community prayer and reflection
1. Do we think and live “in the world” as in a home to be cared for, to help it grow and beautify it,       giving glory to God for everything?
2. Do we want to move from the way of solidarity to the way of synodality with every person, and   with Christ living in every person, that everybody and everything may be “the glory of God”?

Angelo Cecinato
The Community of Quinta Dimensione
Member of the NCC Italy
_________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com


Monday, January 27, 2020

Celebration of St. Vincent Pallotti's Feast


Our Celebration of the Feast of St Vincent Pallotti in Milwaukee January 26,2020

We celebrated the Feast of St. Vincent Pallotti beginning with a Novena of  Evening Masses Each day and Ending with a Parish Mass and Pot Luck Lunch with the main Celebrant our New Auxiliary Bishop James Schuerman.  At this Celebration the members of the UAC Present Renewed their Commitment to the Union of the Catholic Apostolate.  At the Lunch we also had a number of Displays including copies of some of our literature to take home.  It was a wonderful celebration of the Pallottine Family - Fr. Greg Serwa

Friday, January 17, 2020

Novena Prayer

Novena Prayer
In Honor of St. Vincent

St. Vincent Pallotti, you were formed and called by God, the Infinite Love.
You answered God’s call to serve.

You were there:
for those seeking forgiveness and counsel,
for the sick,
for the youth and the aging,
for the rich and the poor,
for the people of every profession and walk of life.

Every person is important to you.
You inspire us to seek God in all things,
Reminding us of our call to be apostles
In the Church and in the world.
Now we call upon you to intercede for us.

Help us to pray. Help us to pray only for what we truly need;
Help us to grow in holiness, to live for the honor of God and for the salvation of our neighbor. You received many graces from God and we ask you to bless us now by presenting our petitions to God (Pause to mention your intentions)
With you we give thanks to God as if He had already granted us what we have asked in the name of Jesus who lives and reigns with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen!
St. Vincent Pallotti, pray for us
Our Lady Queen of Apostles, pray for us
Our Father…Hail Mary…Glory be…