Friday, December 1, 2017

Apostles for Today - October 2017

Apostles for Today

Prayer and reflection
October 2017

Economics is one of those social sciences which helps the correct functioning of a world developed according to the will of God, and what follows is also the consequence of the words written in the Bible, Genesis (1:26):
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."
This is the world we received as a gift of original creation, for the purpose of proper management, of Cactive and careful administration”.
Active and careful administration (dominion) is not only recommended by the Gospel, but also by local law established for our congregations and also for the Union, as recalled by Fr. Friedrich Kretz SAC in his introduction to the Textbook of Economic Administration for the Società.
This “dominion” as expressed in economic science, is a means and a use of various tools for the purpose of “administration”, ie. responsible management taking care of what has been given and entrusted.
In order consciously to be able to take care, to manage according to God's will, it is necessary to include God in this dialogue, as the Creator of what has been given to us. The Dialogue in Economics, God's dialogue, takes place at various levels: local and personal. This dialogue concerns everyone personally, depending on their situation and condition. It concerns the owner, manager, supervisor, employee and everyone who makes us of the product of their work. We are all protagonists in the same dialogue.
Let us leave the global economy to the experts of this world who, like us, will one day have to give a final account of their stewardship (Lk 14: 25-33).
In the following part of this reflection, I would like to share my personal experience of dialogue in economics, on the level of my relationship with God, with other people and myself, giving some indications, perhaps even some suggestions, models which have been very useful in helping me to remain actively engaged in this Dialogue.
The essence of the beginning of this difficult dialogue with God, in the management of HIS property, is God’s invitation to work, to make money, to accumulate money, to spend and administer them. The result of this invitation is the awarennes,given by God Himself, that all these goods belong to Him, and have their beginning in Him. Putting God in first place, not depending solely on my own skills, education, resourcefulness, need to possess and to create a world in my own image instead of in HIS image, is an act of trust which, instead of “JESUS I trust myself”, expresses “JESUS I trust in YOU”.
Much time passed before I understood and accepted this, and it has become for me a kind of conversion, metania and liberation. Such conversion is probably more difficult for lay people in their contexts, as their life is so connected with the skills they possess in order to acquire such goods, but this conversion is also necessary in consecrated life in order to understand God's will regarding the possession and administration of such material goods.
Awareness that what I have is not my own, but something which I have received in order to manage, changes the perspective of looking at the world, at work, at earning, investing and saving. It is a conversion that gives life, as the Scriptures say: “Repent and live!” (Ez 18:32). Such awareness is not easy to develop and every day requires conversion, prayer, dialogue, giving a “management report”, a continuous renewal of friendship with HIM to whom all belongs.
St. Vincent saw economic resources as ultimately belonging to our Lord Jesus Christ and as the heritage of His poor. (cf. SAC Law n 26).
On my way to work, in my daily dialogue with God, I try to completely entrust to Him my day, my skills, my decisions, my partners, my employees and the people I will meet that day, in order to enable me to be a useful instrument “in the vineyard of the Lord”.
In prayer, together with God, I find solutions to professional problems or other matters entrusted to me. Sometimes the answer comes immediately, but often it needs more time, in order that my heart be opened and prepared for it.
The best place and time to talk about these topics related to work is before His presence in the Blessed Sacrament or in the Sacrament of Penance. In these two realities of His presence, the answer to the questions asked comes to the heart or directly to the “ear”.
I often entrust my work and professional duties to God through the saints, but especially to St. Joseph the Worker. Pope John XXIII taught me this prayer, which I offer here as an aid which you may find useful.

Prayer of the Pope John XXIII to St. Joseph the Worker
O Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus, chaste spouse of Mary, who passed your life in the perfect fulfillment of duty, sustaining the Holy Family of Nazareth with the labour of your hands, protect kindly those who trustingly turn to you. You know their aspirations, their miseries, their hopes, and they have recourse to you because they know that they will find in you one who will understand and protect them. You too have known trial, labor and weariness.
But, even in the midst of worries of the material life, your soul was filled with profound peace and it exulted in unerring joy through intimacy with the Son of God entrusted to you, and with Mary, his most sweet mother. Make those whom you protect understand that they are not alone in their labour, but show them how to discover Jesus near them, to receive him with grace, to guard him faithfully, as you have done.
And assure that in every family, in every factory, in every workshop, wherever a Christian works, all may be satisfied in charity, in patience, in justice, in seeking to do well, so that abundant gifts may descend from heaven.
Trusting, discovering and allowing God to lead us allows us to enter into a specific dialogue with God, sometimes allowing us to gauge a particular economic situation and whether or not to take concrete action. I will try to describe it through a particular example.
Once while contemplating the joyful mysteries of the Rosary, it struck me that, based on their meaning, it was possible to find an answer regarding the appropriateness of choosing a particular economic task and creating a feasibility study.
At the very beginning, before a new “business idea, product, project to implement” comes to birth, the Annunciation is to be followed - a certain thought, God’s touch, the Angel’s prompting: “You might do this”, or “maybe this might be important to do”... Annunciation is a specific beginning of the process, the conception of an idea, the START UP. Annunciation is also the skipping of a heartbeat, a brainstorm, when a “wonderful” new idea appears. But in the mystery of the Annunciation, there is remains a lot of uncertainty, a response yet to be given: will something happen? Will it come about? Is it really God’s will? Will it be anointed by God?
The next step is to do further evaluation, to try to reduce risk and see whether our idea is a one-off, unique, innovative, because only such characteristics and our way of implementing our idea can guarantee its future success (and show whether it is “anointed by God”). It is also necessary to check our design against what is already in the market, to see whether there is already anything similar to our idea. There are often many similar products but only some are successful. Mary’s visit to Elizabeth further confirmed to her that her son was the Messiah; Elizabeth’s son was already even at this point shown to be “prophet”, already pointing to and revealing Mary’s son as the promised “Messiah”, “anointed by God”.
If your idea is “anointed by God”, you can sing the Magnificat and bring it forth to be an instrument in the hands of the Father for helping to “save the world”. If you say that it is a “prophet”, this decision to bring it forth still rests with you, but the possibility of success can be far more difficult to achieve.
We go to the mystery of “Birth”, a coming to be in which the idea becomes reality and complements God’s plan of creation. This mystery can meditate on further, the revelation to the shepherds, the Epiphany of the “birth” and so on, as the Lord will suggest. The level of detail of this plan can be worked out within the Dialogue, which begins where God is invited.
In the mystery of the “Presentation of the Lord”, we touch on the question of entrusting to God, in the temple, what already belongs to Him. In meditating on this mystery, I often try to understand the nature of God’s action in me which led to the realisation of the idea, in order to reentrust it to His care. This offering is also has a public dimension, involving promotion, marketing and all the consequences resulting therefrom.
In the mystery of “the Finding of Jesus in the Temple”, we touch on the problem of product sustainability, design. If the product has stayed on the market for a “12” year period and we continue to find it in the divine economy of creating and developing the world (even if it is a small thing, as we do not know who and what will inspire us in the future), it means we have succeeded in the economic field and in God’s field at the same time.
In other mysteries of the Rosary, certain connections, comparisons or touches can be found, but I will leave this for individual meditation.
An example of the connection between prayer and reflection on the mysteries of Rosary in the context of our attitudes of dialogue in the economy of everyday life is a generalization, perhaps not the best, but showing the possibility of seeking and finding a space of economic dialogue in a sphere exclusively for contact with God.
Dialogue always leads to cooperation, this “holy cooperation”, and not only with God, but also with the people who we invite to cooperate.
The purpose of every dialogue is always to better understand the other person and their faith, and also deepen understanding of our own faith in being an apostle wherever God sends us.

Questions for personal and communal reflection:
1.       Do I know and have a sense of responsibility that my whole life (including money and finance in everyday life) and all of my actions constitute my participation in God's plan of creation for the world?
2.       Does my Dialogue with God cover matters of my daily life, work, management?
3.       What is my responsibility for the place where I work, and for the people with whom I work?, Do I pray for my employers, employees, cooperators, superiors?
                                                                           Marek Kalka,
                                                                            UAC Poland
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia

Apostles for Today - Nov. 2017

Apostles For Today
Prayer & Reflection
November 2017

Is our life is truly inspired by God? 
How many things do I put before God every day?
(Pope Francis)

On February 10th next, we will celebrate four years of the Pallottine mission in the province of Vilcashuamán, Ayacucho, Perù.
The arrival of the Pallottine missionaries took place in a situation of the abbandonment of places of worship and also of the life of faith of many of the faithful who were not able to count on the presence of priests for the celebration of the sacraments and on the pastoral care necessary in order to live and strengthen their faith.
The missionaries spared no effort and began the work of reviving and rekindling charity. At the beginning there were only three communities to serve, because of the distance between them. In a short time, the Pallottines were already serving the entire province, which is almost four hundred kilometers long, containing eight districts with their villages.
The challenges are enormous, but progress can already be seen and celebrated. Mastery of the language, particularly the native language of the people of that region, Quechua, was initially a great difficulty, but with the grace of God and the help of the people it was overcome. Now the language is no longer a problem. Celebrations and pastoral visits take place in many villages which haven’t had the presence of a priest for a long time. Many sacraments and patronal feasts were celebrated in all of the villages.
The parish, which did not seem to have any life, has received a new vitality in the faith and in the religious expression of the people. Today it has a new face, with the presence of young people, children and families at Mass. A demanding work, but one which produces good fruit, is our presence in the schools, with Masses and talks for the preparation of sacraments, as well as formation in human and religious values.
The Sisters of the Cenacle Pallottine Sisters have given a new expression to this mission with their charism. They support all of the pastoral activities of the parish. Another very important presence is that of the Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate: they are Mexican sisters who carry out missionary activities in another part of the of our parish, especially in catechetical  and faith animation in many villages.
God has blessed the Pallottine mission in these parts of Peru with a candidate who has already begun his Pallottine formation in the Pallottine postulancy in Brazil. The mission is developing and growing. The Pallottine missionaries are conscious that much has already been done, but that much also remains to be done. In this way, the hearts of the missionaries are filled with a feeling of gratitude along with all of those who pray for and support this mission.
Through the intercession of our founder, Saint Vincent Pallotti, may God bless all of us.

                                           Fr. Manoel Santana Vieira SAC,

Note: The above text which we received a short time ago is very similar to an article in the SAC AsiaOceania E-BULLETIN #227 - apologies to those who may feel a sense of deja-vu.

Questions for personal and communal reflection:
1.    How strong is our sense of co-responsibility for and practical commitment to supporting overseas mission projects?
2.    How are we involved in supporting such projects materially and/or through prayer? Is there something further that we are being called to do?
3.    How can we live and promote a deeper sense of missionary co-responsibility in our Pallottine family and in the wider Church?

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia

Friday, September 1, 2017

Apostles for Today Sept 2017

Apostles for Today
Prayer and Reflection
September 2017

Dialogue, a Path that leads us to Ourselves, to God and to the Other

There are several kinds of dialogue, but I will only consider two, which I believe are the basis for the others.
üInner Dialogue: is the most demanding. It is a necessary process for the human being to grow in consistency. It is in this inner dialogue that the world of the conscious and unconscious relationships between the human and the divine manifests itself.
üExternal dialogue: is with all that is added to our existence from outside of ourselves, stirring up desires that are not always necessary for our existence, but both are pertinent to each other; since the interaction between the two favours the solid construction of the identity of the person and the world in which one lives.
For our Pallottine family, such dialogue is, or at least should be, informed by a particular kind of prior experience, because Pallotti's pedagogy brings us back to the Cenacle where one learns and is enabled for the universal apostolate. The lack of such a profound personal experience of the Cenacle and of its transforming power limits us as persons, with a corresponding limit in our apostolate.
Effective apostolic action requires an understanding and appreciation of oneself and of the world in which our apostolate is carried out, an understanding of the bearer and the receiver of the message, of the person and of the culture.

 "Dialogue, a path that leads us to ourselves, to God and the other."
In the episode of Pentecost, everyone understood what the apostles were saying (Acts 2: 8), all understood the message of salvation despite being people of different languages and cultures. That dialogue generated the communion between people and their cultures.
Today's culture continually influences us to increasingly become simply consumers of things and ideas. Even the simple advertisement of a chocolate bar has the power to stir up this question in me: is this necessary for me right now? So it is in relation to many other things, which are unnecessary for our happiness. For many, having is more important than being.
The external dialogue produced by the greed of few has caused the lack, the poverty, the absence of a profound inner sense of the human heart. Therefore, there is more interest in knowing the other, what is different, because the richness of the inner self is not known (you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free, Jn 8:32).
Those who have been given a space for dialogue from an early age, will have no difficulty in experiencing and manifesting to the external world the consistency of their inner world.

"Dialogue, a path that leads us to ourselves, to God and the other."
In all peoples, the family is central in the formation of the person, with the richness and the imperfections of each member. The dialogue between the members includes that between the older and younger generations, thus enabling the transmission of an enduring identity with the proper characteristics of the particular cultural and social group.
The cultures which were evangelized by Christians soon found in the Christian-apostolic tradition an understanding of the saving event through the words of Christ after his death. Faithful to the command of Jesus, the apostles carried the message of salvation to all peoples, through dialogue, accompanied by signs of the effects of the evangelical proclamation in the hearts of the hearers of the Word.. (Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to all nations; Mt 28:19, Mk 16:15).
Modern life has made it much more difficult for people to truly encounter themselves, the other and God. There are many conversations, much knowledge of the outside world, but there is also so much emptiness inside people. We are almost constrained to be experts in the knowledge of things. As far as human beings themselves are concerned, however, we seem to be increasingly unaware of the power of our nature. Encounters with others often serve to reveal the inconsistency of the human being.
Jesus’ dialogue with the disciples on the road to Emmaus is a wonderful model of encounter in dialogue leading to new life. He began by asking them a simple question regarding what they were speaking about, giving them the space to express all that burdened their hearts so deeply in their current situation. Only after listening deeply to the depths of their pain and anguish did he speak to them a life-giving and life-changing word, a word that had the power to cut through their despair and challenge them to look at their situation and their lives with new eyes open to the hope that the Gospel gives. It was only later, after the Lord had opened their eyes fully to who he was, that they recognized the mysterious power of their dialogue with him on the road and the mysterious effect it had been having within them: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?" (Lk 24:32). It was by learning to listen again with new ears, by seeing again with new eyes, that their hearts were transformed, that they were confirmed again as disciples of the One who had laid down his life for them, and that they were able to became bearers of the reality of his Risen life and presence to others.

"Dialogue, a path that leads us to ourselves, to God and to the other."
Dialogue with authorities has often proved fruitless and not conducive to communion, with little compatibility of thought. It seems that we have men and women who are infantile in their relationships. The crisis of the human being came about through the crisis of authority; we have many authoritarians, and few true authorities. Authoritarianism involves an absence of affective presence, because it is through affection that we acquire that adult maturity which is able to welcome the other without losing one´s own identity.
In my opinion, in all our Pallottine apostolate we urgently need to learn to perceive, explain and integrate into our praxis the verbs: to feel, to hear and to see, because these verbs are responsible for authentic and consistent dialogue between people. Awareness of feeling is the basis of inner dialogue. What we hear is the basis of listening, of knowing how to open ourselves to other values. What we see forms the basis of our overall vision about the totality that manifests itself in our existence and in the world in which we live.
Dialogue as an instrument for liberation has a principle that we use in our therapeutic community of Mother of Divine Love, in the recovery of chemically-dependent young men who reside in our house; "The diseases that affect the soul enter by the feelings, by what we hear and by what we see. The disease leaves through the mouth, that is, if you do not say what you feel, there is no recovery”.
The ten years of the existence of this charitable apostolate to people who have chemical and/or emotional dependencies have shown us that the more one speaks of what one feels, the more quickly one gains or regains health of soul. The whole therapeutic process is based on love.
Love Heals: detoxification of the body
Love saves: perseverance, those who persevere will be saved from the trafficker, from death, from judgment, from crime, guilt, rejection, etc.
Love liberates: to know one’s inner world, to realize what has led them to the prison of unhealthy affections and drugs.
Love reconciles: with oneself, with God and with others, that is, makes reparation for what one did in a dishonest way.
Living with these brothers, we identify that there are innumerable causes that led them to such suffering, but the main cause was the lack of that dialogue which makes people feel at one with others. Such lack of communication through affective dialogue particularly with those in authority in their lives, with their primary caregivers, has left them fragile, falling into the trap of chemical and affective dependency.
"Dialogue, a path that leads us to ourselves, to God and to the other."
Thus, the charism of our Holy founder Saint Vincent Pallotti remains a light for the men and women of today, as it was for the people of his time. This inheritance belongs to all Pallottines (Fathers, Brothers, Sisters and Laity).
We are called to be a light for every child of God in whatever misery or suffering they find themselves, since the grace of our baptism qualifies us for this purpose. Each one who is armed with the salutary sign of the holy cross, can be sure to do all that is of the greatest glory of God and for the sake of one´s own soul and the soul of the other (cf. OOCCIII.449-450)
In Amoris Laetitia, the Holy Father Pope Francis says: those who love are capable of speaking words of comfort, strength, consolation and encouragement. These were the words that Jesus Christ himself said: "Take heart, my son!" (Mt 9:2). "Go in peace" (Lk 7:50). Do not be afraid! (Mt 14:27). (Amoris Laetitia, N° 100).
All of these words should be shared in our families and communities, where the weak becomes strong, the fearful takes courage, the sinner attains holiness.
In short: Dialogue is a door that brings us to the knowledge of the human and divine mystery.
1.       What dialogue do we have with our inner world - what do I not want to see and why?
2.       Has our apostolate revealed the Pallottine charism to the poor of today?
What kind of dependency do we have that prevents us from being the image and likeness of God's love to ourselves and to others?

                                                                                Fr. Orlando SAC.
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Apostles for Today - August 2017

Apostles for Today
Prayer and Reflection
August 2017


The family consists of and is based on dialogue, made up of a thousand small things, all of which are important and significant: the simplest gestures, considerateness, kindnesses, outdoing one another in serving each another, but above all, nurturing harmony between people without ever tiring.
We believe that two things are particularly important: reciprocity and perseverance. But who can give us these gifts if not grace?
The Holy Family is the example which Jesus offers to us. He at the centre of the family, not as a baby who attracts attention as such, another object of some “vice”, benevolently granted by the parents, but rather as the “holy one” among them.
Around Jesus there was a first mystery which involved his parents, from the moment of the Annunciation: the dialogue between Mary and Joseph was supported by faith in God who sustained everything and who always accompanied them. God was the “guarantor” of that family.
The moment of birth was also unusual, but the simple and the strangers were there to welcome the baby and his parents.
How much Joseph and Mary must have talked among themselves. How many questions must have been asked about the events and about their future. Jesus certainly did not create the basis for a simple and predictable future … perhaps they weren’t even thinking about it … Providence was the lamp that led them forward.
Providence is working also today, but do we make room for it? Do we question ourselves in our family to understand why unexpected things happen and what Jesus might be wanting to say to us in this way? Contemplation, when it is shared, is a different way of dialoguing … contemplation is the response to the sacred.
A friend whom we know was struck by a very serious and rare illness; her husband, a doctor, was obviously very worried. After her initial treatment we went to visit them and they told us that they had encountered a lot of suffering and had been struck by the gentleness and serenity of other families who were facing the same painful situations, simply speaking together and being affectionate. They simply said to us: “this was the greatest learning experience for us”. In this way, having the eyes to sense Jesus who is speaking to you in different situations and to contemplate him together is a very deep level of dialogue, perhaps even a gift.
Life today is very often frenetic and it seems that there is never enough time. This is partly true, but dialogue between a couple is something which is built up over the years … it is a basic way of being which is acquired through grace and which must be nourished every day, with creativity in every situation.
We parents, it could be said all adults in general, also have the opportunity to form even the youngest in profound contemplation and communication. To involve them in an environment where people live in this way, without presuming that everything must be perfect. In fact, our entire humanity accompanies us and our children, but we know that our limits are overcome by the love of Jesus.
It is not easy to keep the dialogue with our children alive, above all in the years of growth, but we have tried to, without becoming discouraged over silences or conflicts. They formed part of the “package”, so to speak, but then, once they had gone through adolescence, recognised our firmness and understood the importance of dialogue particularly in the most difficult moments.
We understood in our family life within the Pallottine Family the importance of loving the other through opening ourselves to listening, to authentic dialogue, free from prejudices and unselfish. To understand the other’s reasons whoever they might be in order to be able to live our differences as a richness; this is something which we can do wherever we find ourselves and in any situation.

 “… each one, imagining themselves to be in the House of Nazareth as if part of the Holy Family of the Man-God, is to commit themselves with that humility, respect, simplicity, and spirit of benefitting as much as can be imagined that they would have practised and promoted as if they really had found themselves living with Jesus, Mary and Joseph” (OOCC II, 104).


-        Do we feel the need and the joy of sharing our experiences?
-        How much time do we dedicate to dialogue in the family/community? 
-        When we confront one another, do we try to convince others, or do we try to understand them and their reasons and experiences?
-        Does our outward attitude put others at their ease, creating a climate of trust and reassurance, or do we inadvertently raise a dividing wall when faced with someone who has a different view?
- How do we react when faced with someone sharing their pain? Is it easier to rejoice together or to face a difficulty?

                                Rosa Colucci and Giuseppe del Coiro,

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Apostles for Today - July 2017

Apostles for Today
Prayer and Reflection

July 2017


The opening of dialogue between various realities in the Church and world is welcome and appreciated, being today not only useful, but urgent, demanding loyalty, transparency and a search for what is true and good by the dialogue partners.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God; Christ, God the Son, sent to human beings, clothed in flesh (Cf. Jn 1) to free us and bring us back to the Father. And Christ, revealer of the Father, gives us his Spirit and enters into dialogue with us.
At Pentecost, Jesus pours out the Spirit, revealing the Most Blessed Trinity as a communion of divine Persons. The mission of Christ and of the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church, sent to proclaim and spread the mystery of the Trinitarian communion. And it is the Spirit who gives the baptised charisms for the many different functions, so that they may live in communion in the Church and in the world and bear the fruits of the Spirit (cf. CCC 144; 148).
It is only the Lord himself who can enable a fruitful dialogue between charisms, these these supernatural realities given for the building up of the mystical body of Christ. He alone can help us harmonise them in a practical way which leads to unity in charity, allowing us to appreciate the richness given by such a multiform variety of gifts. It is Christ himself who desires such unity: that they may be one. The greatest charism is charity which leads to unity.
Today simple human relationships and dialogue can seem very difficult. We need to start afresh from Christ, to look at Jesus in the Eucharist. From the Eucharist springs that spirituality of communion which is so necessary for establishing the dialogue of charity of which the world of today has such great need. Relationships, dialogue, fraternity are fruits of the love received from the Father and shared with our sisters and brothers.
The Christian community urgently seeks to present itself as a sign of an ever-possible dialogue, of a communion of charisms capable of harmonising differences. This involves welcoming the various charismatic realities, bearing witness to the value of Christian fraternity and to the transforming power of the Gospel, recognising ourselves as children of the one Father, and impelling us to a self-sacrificing love towards all, especially towards the least ones.
The gift of the charism always carries within itself a call expressed in various forms or different ways of following Jesus and of serving the Church. Each Church community has the task of making the spirituality of communion grow, firstly within the ecclesial community itself and also beyond its confines, constantly practicing dialogue in charity, above all where the world of today is torn apart by ethnic hatred and murderous violence.
The charism is also living memory which is open to the future. Keeping the memory alive, we open ourselves to the great challenges of today. Living with these challenges, we feel the dynamism and prophetic force of the charisms, making us sense their providential up-to-dateness and the possibilities to which they open us. More than something to try to define, the charism is a gift to be followed and to be responded to, which no one can claim exclusively as their own because it is a gift for others.
Often, the dimension of charity is expressed through meals. It was often during meals that Jesus gave sublime lessons of forgiveness, of friendship, of welcoming all, He who ultimately made himself into “food” for us in the Eucharist. The meal becomes the place in which a sense of gratuitousness in communion is expressed and, in a certain way, the climate for a free and peaceful dialogue is created. Humankind was not in a position to create true communion until Pentecost when, with the grace of the Spirit, it received gifts and charisms and combined them in order to become the ecclesial Body of Christ which unites His scattered members in one new Person.
What is referred to as consecrated life lived in community is one of the “places” in which it is almost natural that the charisms be united and collaborate. The document Mutuae Relationes (MR 11) says that the “very charism of the Founders (Evangelica Testificatio 11) appears as an “experience of the Spirit,” transmitted to their disciples to be lived, safeguarded, deepened and constantly developed by them, in harmony with the Body of Christ continually in the process of growth”.
The Christian community with the variety of charisms and institutions, working in synergy in the Church and with society, especially with its multinational, multiethnic communities, offers precious experiences of dialogue, communion and collaboration. For a long time, the opening of individual institutions and creating dialogue between them was not always easy. They kept themselves somewhat closed and separate, even though they may have been apostolically active and effective. Vatican II offers repeated invitations to create openness, dialogue and a more conscious communion between the Institutes of Consecrated Life, without however obscuring the originality and identity of each charism. It also called them to organise together in Conferences of Major Superiors at the national, continental and global levels. In this way relationships of dialogue between institutes were progressively opened up with notable results, particularly through joint study, reflection, research and the exchange of experiences.
This dialogue subsequently opened up to also include charisms given to new ecclesial realities: movements, associations, communities, … which include lay people animated by the fire of the Spirit, eager for sharing, for spiritual communion, for dialogue, gradually leading even to collaboration in organising very worthwhile ecclesial and social works.
These developments, certainly inspired by the Spirit of charity, unity, dialogue and sincere communion, have made visible in the Church and to the world that “Springtime of the Spirit” so greatly desired by the founders of religious orders and the pastors of the Church, but no less so by the entire people of God, eager to live in a Church and a society in which communion, fraternity, sharing are not a utopia, but a gift from above and also an achievement of people of good will.
The Spirit blows where and as it wills. It is working at all times and involves people who are open to its breath for a renewed and regenerated ecclesiology of communion. We need to work through dialogue which is profoundly open to welcoming and gathering the “seeds of the Word” present in every culture, precious values which are also human and cultural, translating them into true worship of God, giver of every gift and perfecter of all things.
It is the Spirit which unites us in communion and unity. The charism, therefore, as gift of the Spirit, equips the person chosen by God to carry out a particular mission, and to work in communion with others who, by vocation, share the same mission. It is the love of Christ in the Spirit which has gathered us to make us one.
And now with great pleasure I come specifically to the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti.
God gave St. Vincent the gift of a profound experience of his infinite love and mercy. Vincent contemplated this love in action in the creation of the world and particularly in the human being created in God’s image and likeness; as also in the redemption of sinful human beings, brought about by Jesus. Following the impulse of the Spirit, he felt moved to found an institution of universal apostolate in order to revive faith and rekindle charity among Catholics and spread them throughout the world. This in summary is the charism given to St. Vincent by the Spirit, with Christ the Apostle as his model, ideal, guide and the source from which he drew continually, but also the goal towards which he tended, because he wanted to be transformed into Christ and to continue His very apostolic mission.
Vincent was very clear that, in the Church, we all have the anointing of the Spirit with equal dignity, are all incorporated into Christ by baptism, participating in his prophetic and royal priesthood, and so we all are apostles and continuers of his mission. And it is through the Son sent by the Father that we receive the gift of the Spirit who enables all believers to proclaim the gospel of salvation to all creation. Therefore, the Church, with the multiplicity of charisms, is equipped for every work of evangelisation and of charity. The individual charisms allow us represent one of the infinite faces of Christ, his sentiments, operations and missions. The followers of the Founder take on the project which becomes shared with other people and lived together in community, in a religious family.
St. Vincent writes: ”I would like to possess that spirit which each Founder had in founding his or her religious institution, but since such a most perfect spirit is found in Jesus Christ Crucified, in this way through divine grace I will learn it from Jesus, in whom is found Love, Humility, Charity, Poverty … and all the prerogatives of Christ the Apostle” (OOCC X, 126-7). In Christ the Apostle Vincent finds all charisms.
Vincent not only was in dialogue with the charisms of his day, but also joined
many confraternities of his time, participating in and sharing in their gifts of grace and charity. He also knew how to welcome into the Christian communion people of every class, condition of life and situation, promoting them and urging them to be apostles according to their own conditions.
Jesus said: “I have come to cast fire on the earth and would that it were already ablaze! (Jn 12:47); this is the Gospel Word that Vincent incarnated and from which he set out to kindle in many hearts the passion that sprang from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and to unite in spiritual communion those who were open to the grace and mission of Jesus Christ. In fact, Vincent acted always with the sole  intention of obtaining the infinite glory of the Father and the salvation of all.
Vincent always seeks to unite all; encounter, dialogue, communion are indispensable steps to create true Union and lead all peoples to become one flock under one shepherd. Dialogue is the door, unity is the goal of this demanding and fascinating journey. The Gospel of salvation is directed to all; all are sent to collaborate in this “holy and divine work”, which Christ will continue in us until the end of time.
Mary is present in the Church and in the work entrusted to St. Vincent as Queen of Apostles, but is also the mother of the Church and of all peoples. Recorded as having spoken few words, yet her dialogue with God and with humankind is enduring, effective and co-redemptive; she invites us, inspired by our distinctive charisms, into this transforming dialogue, through which we are made ever more capable of engaging in that Christ-like dialogue which opens the hearts of people to experience the infinite love and mercy that only the Gospel can give.

                                                                                Sr. Lilia Capretti, CSAC.
Questions for reflection:
1.       “More than something to try to define, the charism is a gift to be followed and to be responded to”. How have we experienced the power of the charism of St. Vincent in our personal and community lives? Let us ask the Holy Spirit, giver of all charisms, in insistent prayer, to grant us - members, friends and collaborators of the Union - a deeper and more dynamic spiritual experience of this wonderful gift so that it may be ever-increasingly a real driving force in our personal and community lives.
2.       Where have we experienced fruitful dialogue, communion and collaboration with charisms of other religious families? How, as followers of Christ inspired by the charism of St. Vincent, can we help to promote such experiences for the building up of the Body of Christ and to give a more united, effective and fruitful apostolic response to the manifold challenges and needs of our time?

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia

Friday, June 9, 2017

Apostles for Today - June 2017

Apostles for Today

June 2017

Prayer and Reflection


In order to speak of dialogue in mission, it is necessary to consider several aspects of the missionary process. The first is dialogue with ourselves and with God: the two being inseparable. The second, connected with the first, is dialogue with culture, with the people who live that same culture and its implications. The third is the aspect of interreligious dialogue; consequently some writings of Pallotti and of Pope Francis on charity in the process of dialogue itself.
Every mission is born of a passion for Jesus which is translated into a desire to serve Him in serving others. Mission, above all, is being where God wants us and doing what he asks of us. In this sense we can say that mission is a long journey towards the heart of God who takes full care of our life and leads us in his ways.
Mission is to set off, to journey, to leave everything, to go out of ourselves, to open ourselves and allow ourselves to be led, to allow the Heart of God to lead us to greater service. This requires of the missionary maturity, constant dialogue with oneself, in order to understand the process. It demands an intense review of oneself in a new reality, in order to discover the new Creator God and grow in the spiritual life.
The true missionary walks with the Lord, speaks with Him, works with Him, perceives Him independently of his or her own activity.
Being a missionary means allowing “the life of our Lord Jesus Christ to be my life”. It means opening myself without fear to the action of the Spirit and my very life becoming a living proclamation of transfiguration in Christ, alive and risen. The human being is essentially “sent”, that is, someone who has received a mission. Transformation in Jesus Christ leads necessarily to participation in his redemptive mission.
A second aspect of fundamental importance is knowing that the missionary is a guest, a stranger who makes his or her dwelling in another’s home. This requires the capacity to constantly give and receive. One moves as a pilgrim and lives permanently as a stranger, bearing witness to impermanence and to the continual search for an abiding dwelling place. The missionary is invited to carry only one tunic, that is, to be clothed in Christ. He or she is someone who seeks a treasure hidden among peoples and cultures, who at the same time bears the treasure of God’s compassion, in a process of mutual help and of seeking the Absolute.
Being a guest means living a situation of dependence; one’s home is that of another, it is a sacred home, holy ground on which it is necessary to “remove one’s sandals” in order to enter into a new culture. And in this situation, new relationships are established and spaces made available are occupied.
Mission moves us, disturbs us, takes away our structures and pushes us to go beyond where we are and who we are. It allows us to overcome the habit which leads us to close ourselves within our own identity and prevents us from recognising the gift of otherness. Faith in the  Trinity and living mission as a fundamental attitude, manifests the joy of knowing ourselves to be in communion with God and with others, allowing us to celebrate the feast of love with others, especially with the poor and the excluded (cf. Paleari, Giorgio, Espiritualidade e Missão (Spirituality and Mission), pp. 61-62. Paulinas, 2005).
The first attitude which accompanies the missionary is silence and listening in the face of mystery, because that land is sacred. It is the land of the revelation of God which at the same time gives rise to both anxiety and joy over what is new. One seeks to know the people, their customs, their histories and their difficulties. Mission is the place of revelation of one’s identity.
Dialogue and contact with people deepens the possibility of plumbing the most intimate depths of one’s being, of uncovering the roots, of living a profound experience of God. The missionary is always a disciple in search of the treasure and of the face of God.
The missionary is one who is always learning with the Other and with others and, at the same time, the teacher who shares the gift received from God. Teaching and learning at the same time. Advising and receiving advice. Sharing what he or she knows and sharing the other’s knowledge. Recognising that every person is worthy of his or her commitment (cf. EG 274).
Learning from each other consists in gathering the gifts which the Spirit has given through them. Dialogue implies giving and receiving, speaking and listening, teaching and learning. It is the word in the gestation phase, the word which becomes flesh in the dwelling of the life of every person. Sharing what overflows from the heart, of the experience of God. Discovering the seed of the Word: “to embrace the mysterious wisdom which God wishes to share with us through them” (EG. 198).
Dialogue with culture implies hearing the cry, paying attention to the fragilities, recognising the suffering Christ and caring for the dignity of the person. It is taking upon oneself human sufferings, anxieties and limitations. It is being in solidarity with the poor and excluded and at the same time committing ourselves to their cause, becoming a prophetic voice when necessary.
The missionary is one who is profoundly committed against injustice and contributes to the development of projects for redeeming human lives. Who lives out the ideal of the Kingdom in closeness and solidarity, with a personal, silent compassion, in hope that the world will be transformed and become more fraternal, always pointing towards a kingdom of justice and fraternity for all.
Like Pallotti we can say that: “We are all called to observe the precept of charity since all are, according to the reality of creation, true images of love in essence. This is why God has ordained that all be concerned for their neighbour, just as God himself is (cf. OOCC IV, 132, 310, 451).
Before being an activity, dialogue is an encounter and a Christian imperative. It is profoundly rooted in the Trinitarian mystery, in a God who is love and communion. As St. Augustine said: His mission has its origin in love, is sustained by love and communicates love, thereby creating communion.
Love of God becomes love of neighbour. “Caritas Christi urget nos” – is the soul of our apostolate. Love must be lived in such a way that it fulfils the mandate of Christ when he invites us to love as He has loved (cf. OOCC I, 8).
In addition to a dialogue with him- or herself, with God and with the culture encountered as a stranger and pilgrim, the missionary comes into contact with peoples of other confessions; this requires a clear religious identity, and a firm conviction that God desires the salvation of all (cf. I Tm 2:4); that His grace goes beyond the visible limits of the Church; and that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of all humanity, the Church being the place in which are found the fulness of the means of salvation. Dialogue is always associated with the proclamation; both are connected by the desire to clearly know who we are encountering.
The missionary is a person of compassion, of solidarity, capable of seeing what is different not as a threat but with respect. Salvation is always a great gift of God, offered to all, according to the Lord’s own criteria and methods. Therefore, openness to other religions and the respect which ought to accompany our drawing closer, requires a constant openness to the action of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rm 8:29).
In religious experience, dialogue is achieved when people of different confessions communicate their own path towards God; when peace is sought in a common effort to build unity and overcome conflicts; when there are theological exchanges, in which the adherents of the various religions reflect and compare the data of their own faiths. The experience of listening to and communicating with the other can be said to transform the missionary, because from this is born the deep desire to search for unity in God and to respect diversity profoundly.
Interreligious dialogue is sustained and enlivened through a spirituality based on a living faith in a creator God who is Father of all humanity; in a convinced and open hope that does not look for immediate results and in an effective and dialoguing love as a free gift of God.
The missionary both lives on and goes beyond frontiers, with a spirituality rooted in universality which finds its space in an openness beyond frontiers. The principal objective of missionary action is to arrive at a communion of persons with God and with one another.
The dynamism of a communion of life leads to charity, to solidarity, to encountering and listening to the other, to missionary cooperation, to ecumenical, interreligious and social dialogue, to working on what unites us, in this way promoting reconciliation and universal communion. “Let there be unity in what is necessary; freedom in what is unsettled, and charity in any case” (GS, 92).
Communion is one of the most important objectives of mission; and at the same time one of the most effective means of witnessing for evangelisation: "so that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, let them also be one, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21). The Church in communion (Koinonia) becomes a sign and an instrument of union with God and of the unity of the whole human race (cf. GS 92).
Our commitment does not consist exclusively in activities or programmes of promotion and assistance; what the Holy Spirit mobilizes is not an unruly activism, but above all an attentiveness which considers the other “in a certain sense as one with ourselves”. This loving attentiveness is the beginning of a true concern for their person which inspires me effectively to seek their good. This entails appreciating the poor in their goodness, in their experience of life, in their culture, and in their ways of living the faith. True love is always contemplative, and permits us to serve the other not out of necessity or vanity, but rather because he or she is beautiful above and beyond mere appearances” (EG 199).
Love for our brothers and sisters is authentic, it commits us to act in order that Jesus be loved and “known” (cfr. OOCC I).
Foreign missions were always a concern for Saint Vincent Pallotti; it could be said that it was the beginning of the UAC, its reason for existing and its goal.
  1. What do I do individually and as in community in order to help overseas (“ad gentes”) missionary activity?
  2. We find ourselves in a constantly changing culture. What do I do to promote dialogue in the concrete reality, with the many challenges of means of communication which lead to a cultural, religious, social and individualistic indifference?
  3. In what way, as UAC, can we collaborate for peace, in a world which continually promotes violence?

                                                                       Suor Maria Neide Sibim, CSAC
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia