Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Richard Henkes Beatification

Witnessing Faith in the Church and in the World

Fr. Richard Henkes, S.A.C., who died in the Dachau Concentration Camp during World War II, will be beatified on September 15th in Limburg, Germany. Fr. Henkes was a member of the German province of the Society of Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines) and was a vocal critic of the Nazi regime. Due to this, Fr. Henkes was arrested in April 1943 and was sent to Dachau three months later. He cared for and ministered to the sick people of the Dachau, particularly the Czech people who were imprisoned there. After over a year in the concentration camp, he contracted a disease that would ultimately take his life in February 1945. He was declared by Pope Francis in December of 2018 to have died "in hatred of the faith" and declared a matryr. This allowed his cause of canonization to move forward.

The Catholic Apostolate Center, working with Pallottines internationally, now offers a resource page devoted to the life of Fr. Richard Henkes, S.A.C. It also provides more information on his cause for canonization. A book on Fr. Henkes's life is forthcoming which will be available in both eBook and hard-copy. Please pray for the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers around the world on September 15th, as well as for the canonization of Fr. Henkes.
More resources link above

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

 

Apostles for today

Prayer and reflection

July 2013


Holiness: A Path Travelled Together
“Growth in holiness is a journey in community, side by side
with others.” – Gaudete et Exsultate 141.


   Pope Francis, in this affirmation from his Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world, touches on a central aspect of our lives as members of the UAC.
As a member of the UAC and in the community journey shared with the other members, I am struck by how St Vincent embodied the great Christian value of Hope.

  St. Paul speaks of the three great Christian virtues: Faith, Hope and Love in 1 Corinthians 13:3. So many books and articles have been written on Faith and Love that Hope appears to have been somewhat undervalued by many writers; but not by St Vincent Pallotti. Hope based on an unshakeable belief and trust in Divine Providence was part of the very fabric of his existence. Hope is the Christian  value that is often most needed in times of adversity. The Church went through many difficult times during the ministry of Fr. Vincent. He could see possibility in every situation. He began by befriending the shoemakers and very soon they were attending his retreats. This ministry very quickly spread to other guilds and so began this aspect of the working life of this great missionary priest. It was out of his life-experience and his total reliance on the Holy Spirit that he saw the possibilities and potential for a Union of Catholic Apostolate. 
   I first became aware of the Union when a young Pallottine priest, Fr. Johnny Sweeney, approached me after Mass one morning and invited me to a meeting about the Union of Catholic Apostolate in the Provincial House in Dublin. Fr. John Fitzpatrick, the then Provincial, greeted us and introduced us to Fr. Seamus Freeman who was based in
Apostles for Today Prayer and Reflection - June 2019

Rome at that time. Fr. Seamus showed the group a short video on the life of St. Vincent Pallotti and spoke to us about the Pallottine Charism and Pallottine Spirituality. 

  What struck me most forcibly at that meeting was the fact that St Vincent Pallotti was so far ahead of his time in the Church. He was a true pioneer of Catholic Action through an active Apostolate. He felt called by the Holy Spirit to strongly advocate that each Catholic needed to become aware of his or her own responsibility for the mission of Christ and not to imagine that it was the exclusive responsibility of the priest. Each person, whether a teacher, lawyer, shoemaker, farmer, mother, father, single person, young or old were all called to the Apostolate. This ideal, which Fr. Vincent Pallotti felt Christ was calling him to strive for, resonated with me as I had been involved with a program in the diocese of Dublin based on the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Christifideles Laici’ of St. Pope John Paul II. Much of what Fr. Freeman said seemed to me to be very close to what the Pope had written.

  Over the years, the Union has helped me to try and transform my life to a deeper and more personal relationship with the Risen Christ. I feel blessed to be on this journey of discovery into Pallottine Spirituality with other Pallottines. Our UAC meetings, Lenten and Advent retreats, pilgrimages to Knock and Rome and the regular opportunities for faith formation in our communities have all helped to facilitate people hearing the call of God in their own place and within their own culture and situation. 

 This call invites us into a loving communion with God through experiencing the redeeming presence of Christ who accompanies us on our earthly pilgrimage as children of God.

As someone who lives in a parish served by the Pallottines, I want to say that the journey of allowing oneself to be transformed by the Word of God daily is enhanced and encouraged by the tireless preaching and example of our priests. They seek to awaken in us a deeper awareness that we are all called by God to imitate the Life of Christ as best we can. Our UAC gatherings and activities are helping groups of lay people to become both formed and informed in Pallottine Spirituality, thus enabling us to meet the varied and changing demands of the Apostolate. They have helped us to become conscious of being a leaven in our own families and in the wider communities that we serve.
Each month we are gathered by the Lord, we are nourished and fed by the Word and then we take the Word back with us to our families, to the workplace and to the wider  community.
  However, we live at a time when the prevailing winds of change are blowing against our Church and against our Catholic faith. I am sure that we are all familiar with the trends that the statistics portray. These have been evident for quite some time now and suggest that the Church structures will have changed significantly by 2030. By then,
the current parish system will almost certainly have changed. Existing faith communities will have to be nurtured and preserved for future growth. In such a scenario, how we form and inform groups for the Apostolate may well mean that the Union becomes a model for other
groups and even dioceses to replicate.

  If we are to do this, we might look at our present formation as members and communities of the UAC.
Does our formation and do our formation programs cover the basic tenets of our faith? Is our formation broad enough? Do we have a program that is attractive to new people, to persons who are searching for God? Are our existing groups equipped to provide training for persons chosen to serve, for example, in liturgical ministries in our local Church communities? One very apparent current need in my own parish community is that of a ministry of bereavement and engagement in funeral ministry. Fr. Vincent Pallotti was able to see what others could not see in his time. He was a visionary who could find the good in all people and in all things. Today in Ireland, we need to see the good in people who no longer frequent our churches. We need to see the sacred in the secular and be all things to all people because God has not abandoned our world or our Church. We have the sure and certain hope in Christ’s promise to the Apostles: “Look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time”.
  I am mindful of what Fr. Vincent said to his confreres just minutes before he died: “This Society will be blessed. And I say this not only with confidence but with certainty.” This is why I look to the future with hope, hope that is based on trust in Divine Providence. Let the Spirit open our eyes and our hearts to seeing new ways to rekindle faith and charity in all those we encounter daily.

For reflection:
“Each one of you has received special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 4:10-11).

For prayer in the community:
“Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.”
From St Patrick’s Breastplate

And in this spirit let us pray: “Christ with me, and I with Christ, always and in every place, amen.”
Pat Maguire,
NCC President, Ireland.

____________________________________________________

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com

Saturday, June 15, 2019


Rome, 02 June 2019

FINAL MESSAGE
Annual Meeting of the General Coordination Council of the Union


28 May ˗2 June 2019

Dear Brothers and Sisters
    We wish to share with you, your families and communities, the great joy we have experienced together during the annual meeting of the General Coordination Council of UAC.
     Pope Francis often speaks to us about growing in the culture of encounter, something very close also to the heart of St. Vincent Pallotti. The reports of the President of the Union, the three General Superiors, the other GCC Members and GCC Commission representatives, demonstrated an increase in the understanding of our charism in evangelization and in the mission of forming apostles in service of the Church and of the Kingdom of God.
During her report, Donatella Acerbi, the President, made use of a very important word synodality, proposed by Pope Francis. “Synod” literally means “journeying together”, hence synodality expresses the nature of the Church as a pilgrim people, journeying and regularly taking counsel together on the way led by the Pope and the bishops. This dynamic has marked us from the beginning as sons and daughters of St. Vincent, encouraging us to seek together both a deeper understanding of our roots and also greater
faithfulness and dynamism in living them in the Church and today’s world. In a very real way, the Pallottine Family is seen as a model of collaboration and inspiration for other Charismatic Families, who are deeply impressed by St. Vincent and his vision. This challenges us as a family to grow more deeply into what we already are and are called to be. We know without doubt that we have a long way to go before fully realizing this vision. It requires constant growth in unity, in the commitment of our time and all of our talents to fulfill the mission entrusted to us. We were strengthened on this path of growth by Fr. Hubert Socha SAC and Fr. Denilson Geraldo SAC, who helped us to understand more profoundly the Union as a Public Association and the importance of growing in synodality, which characterizes public associations. 
     This is our way of living co-responsibility and collaboration according to St. Vincent’s vision. Fr. Jacob Nampudakam SAC, the Ecclesiastical Assistant, reminded us of the enduring validity of the call of Pope Saint John Paul II to the Pallottine Family: continue to increase your commitment so that which Vincent Pallotti prophetically announced, and which the Second Vatican Council authoritatively confirmed, may become a happy reality, and that all Christians become authentic apostles of Christ in the Church and in the world (Teachings of John Paul II [1986], p.1899).
    Our meeting also marked a time of particular transition for the life of the Union at the General level: Fr. Rory Hanly SAC completed his time as General Secretary, a role of service which Fr. Roque Gonsalves SAC now takes on. We thank Fr. Rory for his eight years in this position, for his heart and patience, and wish Fr. Roque every blessing in his new mission. Many thanks to Cheryl Sullivan and you who helped us to improve the work of the General Secretariat by completing the questionnaire sent out several months ago. Your input has made a great contribution to helping us identify further action which the Secretariat can undertake to improve its role in serving the Union. Many thanks also to Dr.
Katharina Anna Fuchs from the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, who helped us to deepen our knowledge regarding the protection of minors, an issue that is so important for the whole Church today.

    Like St. Vincent Pallotti, we also want to live today in deep harmony with the Church, constantly expanding our horizons. Thanks to the presence of the Holy Spirit, thanks to your prayers and to our unity of heart and mind. Our meeting was beautiful, fruitful and enriching. May God help us together as Union to become an ever clearer visible sign of His love and mercy for every person who seeks his face.

With warmest greetings and prayer
The Members of the General Coordination Council of the
Union of Catholic Apostolate

Friday, June 14, 2019

Apostles for Today

Apostles For Today

Prayer and Reflection - May 2019
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Holiness: A Path Traveling Together



Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 5:3)

I would like to begin by thanking the General Secretariat of the Union for the opportunity given to me and God for the gift of life which He gives me day by day and for having given me Christian parents who from my infancy have guided me on my way and through the precepts of the Lord.

How I became part of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.

Since every call is a vocation from the Lord with a specific purpose, and we only have to say to the Lord, “See, I have come to do your will, O God”, my call to the Union of Catholic Apostolate began in Luanda on September 24 th 2008, when I made my first journey to Rome on a Sabena/Brussels
flight via Brussels to begin my studies in Rome. At that time, my family had just come to know a priest friend from the missions who was in Rome, Fr. Paul Bacchelett; who was able to host me for just two months in Via dei Falegnami and enrol me in the Angelicum University. 
However, when I arrived in Rome, the university itinerary had changed, and I went instead to the Salesian University where I spent one year. And I was in Via dei Falegnami for just two months because the priest who received me had to return to the land of his birth, Lisbon in Portugal. 
For some time, Fr. Paul had known the John XXIII Centre in via del Conservatorio nº 1, where foreign students coming from developing countries lived, along with the priest who looked after them, Fr. Remigio Mozzaragno, and so requested that I be allowed to live at the Center. On my
arrival there, the choir of Angolan students was formed, which sang at the 10am Sunday Mass. My room in the Center looked out on the Pallottine church, SS. Salvatore in Onda, and when I opened my window every morning, I had a desire to visit that little church. In the end, I found myself visiting it one Thursday afternoon.
- As soon as I entered, an elderly priest, Fr. Corrado, the custodian, welcomed me warmly and gave me a guided tour with his “Spanish-style Portuguese”, also telling me about his holy founder St. Vincent Pallotti, whose body it was kept under the main altar. Simply because of the fact of having been received so courteously by that elderly man, I returned the next day and Fr. Corrado asked me to help him by serving Mass, inviting me to sit next to him at the altar.
- There were also two elderly women attending the Mass, who took care of the readings. As I was greeting Fr. Corrado after Mass and preparing to leave, the two women came and introduced themselves: Myriam Cecilia and Dina with her husband Elio. They asked me where I lived and if I could read, immediately inviting me to be part of their group of readers, entrusting me with the 2nd reading for that Saturday evening. We then sat down together and wrote out a weekly reading schedule.
- Three things about that Church had struck me immediately: 1. recollection and tranquility, 2. the painting of Our Lady in the midst of Jesus' disciples in the Cenacle, 3. the welcome of the priest for every single person who entered. When I left that small church, these three characteristics made me feel that there was also a place for me there, which I would further subsequently discover in the family of Saint Vincent Pallotti. It was Jesus who had chosen and called me from distant Angola to Rome, to thereby help me to get to know the Union of Catholic Apostolate, UAC, and send me as a missionary to the country of my birth, precisely according to the vision of Pallotti to “enkindle and revive faith in the most distant people and places” and, if possible, also in Angola. After one week, Myriam Cecilia spoke to me about the Pallottines and told me that the Pallottine family included not only those who were reading during Mass, but was much more numerous. She asked me to join the UAC choir in the church of SS. Salvatore in Onda: in this way I saw my life in the midst of a
family grow a little. I was the youngest of the group, and now I had new friends, a community to which I belonged on which I could count. In this way I began to attend the choir, giving me experiences of spiritual and apostolic life.
After four years, the desire grew to become a Pallottine member. There were difficulties however in finding someone to conduct my formation. Then Fr. Rory, the General Secretary of the Union, organized with the Quinta Dimensione Community and Corrado Montaldo, a lay man, coordinator of the Union choir and then President of the Italian UAC, made himself available as my formator. My formation had to be intensive as I was preparing to return to Angola, and so for 6 months we met twice a week. I recall that my formation with Corrado was not simply about Pallottine spirituality, but also of sharing regarding lived experience and daily life. And on February 2 nd 2015, I formally
made the Act of Apostolic Commitment, in this way becoming a member of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.

What does the Union of Catholic Apostolate mean for me?

There are two important aspects for me in responding to this question:
1. Being part of the UAC choir made me rediscover my sense of being a Christian. I think that singing, using the human voice during the celebration of Mass is not just about sound and harmony, but is a giving of oneself to God using what ultimately belongs to Him, and that He makes Himself present in the celebration. And it is the most beautiful feeling, the gift to offer to Jesus who is present, alive and very close to us all, gathered as a people who are singing in adoration.
2. To the same question, I can also reply that the Union of Catholic Apostolate founded by Saint Vincent Pallotti, is a group of people who love God, to Whom each one turns in their own social situation, who however have a particular “very rare and precious perfume” which suffuses everything and everyone, “Jesus”, who Pallotti himself called the Beloved Apostle of the Father. And the Union or those who belong to it carry this “rare and good perfume” in themselves and spread it everywhere they go. And whoever smells it falls in love with it. 


The Sacred Scriptures, in Lk 7:36-50, tells us: “One of the Pharisees asked Jesusto eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in thePharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. She stood behind him at his feet,weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Thenshe continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man werea prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touchinghim—that she is a sinner.” Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something tosay to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak”. [...]Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I enteredyour house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tearsand dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she hasnot stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointedmy feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven;hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” Thenhe said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him beganto say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” And he said to thewoman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”.


This story wants to teach us that for Jesus everything can be spent. The woman took the jar with the perfumed oil, perhaps it being the most precious thing she had, but she didn't measure the consequences, she cried and wiped the Master's feet with her hair. And Jesus does not judge the woman; he accepts her as she is and lets himself be touched by her in a gesture of love and veneration. Meeting for the first time the rare perfume of the Union in people was a revelation of the secret of that Jesus who was hiding in people, and of Pallotti, who wants to spread Jesus in the world: I have the example of Myriam who, looking at me after a few months said: “I see you as a good member of the Pallottine Family”, even though she was not formally part of the Union. Like Myriam, there have also been many other people I have met but who I will not mention and who after a few months trusted me by letting me enter their homes without prejudice, indifference and social conditions or hesitation, because we were united in the same ideal of love and charity, because we looked for the same rare perfume everywhere: that of Jesus who wears it and who wants to bring everyone to salvation”. I thank everyone and I confirm my complete unity with all members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate

.Antònio João Tchissingui


Angola
__________________________________

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fr. Noel's Funeral Homily

FR. NOEL’S FUNERAL: Homily by Fr. Derry

Homily for the funeral Mass of Fr. Noel O’Connor, SAC, 16th May 2019.
A very warm welcome to our Community chapel, we gather here several times daily to pray and to celebrate Mass. We are gathered for our final Mass in Noel’s presence here on earth.
Today we celebrate his life, a life well lived; and we celebrate his death, which he went to with faith and trust; in this our funeral Mass. The Mass is the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ and is the bedrock of our Catholic faith, and it is right that we celebrate today our Mass of thanksgiving for Noel, for his person, for his life and for all he was to us and for others. We had a gathering in Noel’s presence in our chapel in Dundrum on Tuesday evening and I was struck by the sharing of Noel’s brothers and sisters and how the words “thank you Noel”, were repeated time and again.
Noel was born on 17th December 1952 into a faith-filled family and faith was to be central to him and to his life. What can I say about Noel? Well, lots, as all of us who are gathered here could say about him. Yesterday Noel’s sister Anna was telling her sister Rachel of the gathering in Dundrum on Tuesday and she said, with a smile, “we canonized Noel last night”, and as we all smiled, she added “we knew the complete Noel, faults and all”; as did we his Pallottine family. A few weeks ago a mutual friend on hearing that Noel was not well sent me an e-mail and he wrote “Noel is a living saint as far as we were concerned even though he has his faults but he was a true missionary”, and there is truth in this affirmation, Noel was saintly, however there was the lived day to day life of family and of life in the Pallottine community with his faults and failings. If I were to pull both of these together, I would summarize and say Noel was a man of Faith. He had a deep, unshakable, unbreakable faith in God. He sought God everywhere. He had a great appetite for the things of God, and Noel’s faith deepened, matured and was refined by suffering, his own, and that of others, but it did not waver. In his six years of living with brain cancer he lived by faith. We lived with him, and he never complained, never ever, occasionally he would wince at loud noises, or banging doors, because he had a sore head after the surgeries, but no complaints.
Noel’s faith was his belief in God, his continuous openness to God, his search for God – in prayer, in the Word of God, in the various Church movements in which he participated over the years, in the Sacraments, and in all of life and ministry he sought God. Noel’s faith in God morphed into knowledge that God is; God is person; God was life giving to him and with him. It is true to say that faith is a gift, but Noel ‘worked on it’ and sought an ever-deeper faith; and all of us learnt from that.
Secondly Noel was a man of integrity, of great personal integrity and probity, and this was shown in how he related to others and to life situations. We would joke about Noel being ‘a bit of an operator’ and a ‘bit of a gangster’, and he could be, but always what he looked for was for others, and never for Noel himself.
Thirdly in Noel’s life there were no half measures, he gave all, and in a sense he burnt himself out in a life of service and of hard work.
The readings chosen for today’s funeral Mass speak to us of Noel and his Christian life. The first reading from the Old Testament, from the Book of Wisdom was read by his niece Lisa; it is a reading that we have heard so often at funerals, but what is expressed in it is so true of Noel. The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God; they did appear to die, their going looked like a disaster … but they are in peace … their hope was rich with immortality … they were tried by suffering, tried like gold in a furnace, purified, and accepted by God. Yes, it is true that Noel was too young to die, too strong to die, but as the reading affirms his going from us is not annihilation and he is in peace.
The Psalm was Lay Your hand gently upon us O Lord, a prayer of petition and trust sung beautifully by Rachel.
The second reading read by Noel’s niece Ashling is from chapter 8 of St Paul’s letter to the Romans, a passage that Noel loved. St Paul writes of his own experience, of the unbreakable bond between him and Jesus Christ, which Noel hungered for in life and which became his experience and his conviction, nothing could, or did, separate him from God in Jesus Christ.
The Gospel reading is from Chapter 5 of the Gospel of St Matthew, the beatitudes, with the repetition ‘blessed are … happy are … the’; and if you go through them one by one then you can tick them off, one by one, because Noel modeled himself on the heart of Jesus and here we have expressed the heart of Jesus; and Noel lived these, imperfectly, but he lived them. ‘Happy are the poor in spirit’ and Noel was poor in spirit; happy the gentle, Noel was gentle, happy those who mourn … happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right … happy the merciful … happy the pure in heart … happy the peacemakers … happy are you who are persecuted in the cause of right … Noel lived these, imperfectly, but he lived them, he hungered for justice, he was merciful and compassionate, Noel had a pure heart all through life, Noel was a peacemaker, in his family and certainly in our Pallottine community, Noel strove for what is right.
Noel has left a legacy, though not a whole lot of material goods because he had very little and what is there probably came from others anyway – he would go away for a few days to visit one of the family and take with him a little plastic bag and arrive back with perhaps a new jacket, shirts, a jumper, trousers and more. His legacy to us is the lived life of a man of faith and what faith in God becomes in a lived life. His legacy is the good which lives on and the happy and grateful memories that are lasting.
To us Pallottines his legacy is his commitment to and his dedication to our Pallottine community and to our work and life. JJ will speak to us later of what he left to his family.
We have been overwhelmed with the messages we have received in these days, text messages, WhatsApp messages, e-mails, phone calls and the assurance that there are many masses being celebrated for Noel all around the world. There will be a memorial Mass in Wyandotte, Michigan, on Friday 24th May at 7pm; perhaps we can join spiritually with those gathered there that day.
Noel was born on 17th December 1952 and was baptized on the 20th. He was confirmed on 2nd May 1965. He entered our Pallottine community as a postulant in September 1967, he made his first Pallottine consecration on 12th September 1974, his perpetual consecration on 4th June 1977 and was ordained deacon shortly afterwards and was ordained to the priesthood on 10th June 1978. He died on 13th May; the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and his brother Tom who arrived a few short minutes after Noel had died commented how appropriate it was that he die on that feast day as his mother had a great devotion to Our Lady of Fatima.
Noel was a faithful missionary disciple; may he enjoy the eternal presence of God.
Fr Derry Murphy, SAC.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Apostles for Today - April 2019


Apostles for Today - April 2019

Prayer and reflection

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Holiness: A Path Traveled Together


Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. (Mt. 5:4)
  My first real encounter with Pallotti took place after much soul searching about what I wanted to do with my life. From childhood, I have always gone to church and taken part in the various activities and liturgical celebrations and devotions in a parish served by Pallottine priests from its very beginning. The large image of Pallotti hangs in the balcony still. But for some reason I don’t remember hearing about this wonderful saint. Maybe I just wasn’t attentive enough. After university, my involvement in the parish deepened and many opportunities were presented to me, helping me to grow in my faith life.
  In my late thirties I was approached to take the formation course for the UAC. I wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do, but I felt it couldn't hurt to find out more. This was where I finally met the person of St. Vincent Pallotti, his charism and what his vision of the Church was. It felt good and this was where I felt I belonged; where everyone can belong. After all, Pallotti tells us that “Yes, in my opinion, all, […] important people and simple people, whether rich or poor, priests and lay people, alone or in community, old and young, men and women, the sick and the healthy, in any position of life assigned to them by God in his mercy, will be able to find some way of participating in the apostolic mission of Jesus Christ – with the merit due to them” (OOCC IV 182, cf. 326f).
  Today, many years later, to belong to the UAC means to be part of a large family which is striving to bring Christ’s vision of a unified people to all, to make all aware of God’s infinite and ‘wasteful’ love for us. We do this not in an attitude of superiority towards others, but in all humility. For, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. Pope Francis tells us: “These are strong words in a world that from the beginning has been a place of conflict, disputes and enmity on all sides… Ultimately, it is the reign of pride and vanity, where each person thinks he or she has the right to dominate others…. Jesus proposes a different way of doing things: the way of meekness” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 71). We are not better than our brothers and sisters. Our actions must convey the message of God’s love towards all we meet. God uses those who are humble or meek, who trust in God to lead them, no matter what the situation.
To be meek (humble) is not the same as being weak. “Meekness is yet another expression of the interior poverty of those who put their trust in God alone” (GE, 74). It takes great strength to be humble, especially when we are being ridiculed, made fun of because of our beliefs, attacked for saying or doing what is right when everyone else seems to be saying or doing the opposite. It is not easy to stand up for something when the world teaches or portrays something different.
  But how do we come to be meek? St. Vincent tells us that “To be humble, it is necessary to live distrusting oneself, but trusting in God” (OOCC, X, p.543). To be distrusting of oneself, one must know oneself, our abilities and our weaknesses. For our abilities, we give thanks to God and trust he will help us use them for the benefit of others. When we know our weaknesses, and that they can lead us astray or to failure, we must put our trust in God that he will use even these to accomplish what he wants to happen in our lives. In his Month of May for Religious, Pallotti writes, “It is very useful to know one’s weakness. For this reason, you are in need of nothing so much as of God and his help.” Pallotti saw himself as “nothing” before God. Yet it was this nothingness that God used to do great things – reconciling the dying with God; caring for orphans; setting up schools for poor youth; organizing prayer services and retreats for soldiers, youth and religious; teaching catechism; hearing thousands of confessions.
  “We should remember that holiness consists in a habitual openness to the transcendent, expressed in prayer and adoration” (GE, 147). “In that silence, we can discern, in the light of the Spirit, the path of holiness to which the Lord is calling us” (GE, 150). “Prayer of supplication is an expression of a heart that trusts in God and realizes that of itself it can do nothing” (GE, 154).
  Pallotti was such a man; with an intense, persistent and constant prayer life. He felt the need to be close to God so as to know the will of God for his life, to feel the peace of God through all situations, to have the ability to say ‘yes’ to whatever God asked of him, to put into action the love that was bestowed on him so that others too may experience the unfathomable love of God. With Jesus as his model, as the model Pallotti sets before us as the perfect one to follow, he seeks to imitate the life of Christ, in all his humility. “Jesus, my beloved, you have deigned out of love for us to endure endless insult and incomprehensible humiliation. Impress deeply in our hearts, esteem and love for humility and a burning desire to imitate you” (OOCC VII, pp. 333-334).
Jesus became human to journey with us, even though the situations he was in were often humiliating to him – his ability to respond to the Pharisees who objected to his eating with sinners; allowing Mary Magdalene to wash his feet in front of the elite who were appalled that he would accept her gift; bidding those he healed not to say anything to anyone; healing the sick and sinners without asking for anything in return; entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey, not in a fancy chariot with an armoured guard; suffering the most humiliating death on a cross for us. But as the beatitude says, blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
  So, this humility, this meekness, is not for nothing. There is a reward for such an attitude and actions. Pope Francis says, “…our deepest desires will be fulfilled … for [we] will see God’s promises accomplished in [our] lives” (cf. GE, 74). Pallotti goes even further. He says that this Beatitude means that the meek are blessed, because meekness of heart leads securely to the possession of Paradise” (Month of May for Laity, OOCC XIII, p. 563). Christ’s humiliations also led him to the resurrection and to Paradise. Thus, when we celebrate Christ’s resurrection this Easter, let us remember that he goes before us to show us both how to live and what reward awaits us.
St. Vincent’s Prayer for Humility
Lord, you resist the proud but are merciful to the humble. Give us true humility, after the example of your only Son. Deliver us from pride so that we may never know your silence; give us the gift of true humility, the virtue which obtains for us your grace. We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
For Reflection
Pallotti encourages us: In all things, but especially when you feel bad temper rising up intensely, contemplate in faith your divine exemplar Jesus Christ, meek to the point of death on the Cross.
When we feel superior to others, pray Pallotti’s prayer for humility.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explained that “the purpose of the promise of land (the Promised Land) in the Old Testament was that given as space for worship, for obedience, a realm of openness to God, freed from idolatry.” Set aside some time to contemplate this.
Maria Domke, Canada
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Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Apostles for Today


Apostles for Today
Prayer and reflection
March 2019
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Holiness: A Path Traveled Together

The Pallottine Charism - A Prophetic voice of a New era St. Vincent Pallotti, “Prophet to the Catholic Church”, “an Innovator and Saint of a new era”. Indeed, his prophetic voice which gives equal space for everyone in the Church to be Apostles according to one’s state and condition of life is really amazing. I am deeply inspired and inflamed by his charism of “rekindling charity and reviving faith” in the Church as an Indian in a Church marked by traditional practices, perceived as placing particular emphasis on hierarchy, traditions and popular saints. This led me to experience much confusion in the initial stages of my Religious life, and a sense of the Pallottine charism being clouded in my mind. Involvement in various UAC gatherings inspired me to deepen my studies regarding St. Vincent Pallotti’s life and charism, and involvement in various Pallottine ministries lifted my gaze out to the deep, to the vast sea of Pallottine spirituality.

The Union of Catholic Apostolate (UAC) is an innovative way of life where people come to know Jesus and love him. In fact, the Pallottine mission is moved by the Love of God alone. Pallotti expresses his passion for God by following Jesus, the Apostle of the eternal Father. It’s very clear when he says: “not my will, but God; not food, but God; not drink … but God; not clothing, but God; … God alone” (OOCC X, 131). This very call that I received from the Lord through the Catholic Apostolate showed me where this God really is and it is what urged me to embrace vulnerable children infected with HIV/AIDS. For me, they represent our wounded God in human flesh encountered in person, similar to the initial apostolic fire which Vincent experienced towards the children affected by cholera in the Rome of his day.

In 2006, the alarming rate of the killer epidemic HIV/AIDS in the districts of Karimnagar in the state of Telangana was very high. It also swallowed the life of thousands in the state of Andhra Pradesh. This crisis was further Apostles for Today Prayer and Reflection - March 2019 exacerbated by illiteracy, poverty, unemployment, migration and a lack of
awareness regarding HIV/AIDS, methods of safe sex and the use of unsterilized syringes, needles etc. Upon coming to know of their illness, some people became severely depressed and wanted to end their lives. Apart from this, they were also discriminated against by relatives and neighbours by being thrown out of their families and villages. They were unable to do any work and were deprived of basic needs like food, housing, and medical services. Thus, they underwent a very hard time. Men and women together with their children lived in a stressful environment. At times they even failed to believe in the existence of God in their lives. In this challenging and risky situation, the motto of Pallotti pushed us to think about housing for their children irrespective of caste and creed. In the midst of the cholera epidemic, though fear invaded him, Vincent moved with a great love in his heart - “Caritas Christi Urget Nos”. (2 Cor 5:14). Our concrete answer to this situation was the opening of our HIV Center called “Krupa Bhavan” (House of Grace) in the village of Dacharam in 2006, where we could accommodate the children infected with HIV/AIDS. The first children we welcomed suffered with deformities, oozing wounds, mouth ulcers and skin diseases. They were almost on the brink of the grave. Our care reached out over miles; to affected villages and families. Once the children were brought in, they were provided with medication, care, education and faith formation. Priests and lay benefactors aided the center with their personal and material resources. Gradually these children were accepted by our villagers as well as by the schools. At present, a few of them are doing their university studies without any discrimination and living a hopeful life in Jesus the Lord.

I firmly believe that we could not do this simply by ourselves. “Da me nulla posso ... Con Dio posso tutto… By myself I can do nothing ... But with God I can do everything ...” (OOCC XI, 521). When we listen to the One who has called us, it is He who makes everything possible. The Lord raises up new realities. We need to be dynamic in the current circumstances of the world, a world often sinking into darkness. It is time to break out of the shells of our comfort zones and put on the armour of passion and compassion, a passion to serve the poor, downtrodden, marginalized, broken, vulnerable, children, youth, men and women, wounded by epidemic and chronic illness, these voiceless of society, let our voice be one which rekindles them and revives their lives. From the very beginning of his Papacy, Pope Francis has never stopped exhorting the world’s priests to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”(VATICAN CITY- CNS, Feb.3 rd , 2014)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4). In Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis invites us to embrace the beatitudes like our identity card as Christians (cf. GE 63). “Knowing how to mourn with others: that is holiness” (GE 76). We live in a challenging world where people can be constant bearers of conflict, stress, tension and every type of abuse. In the pains and sorrows of our sisters and brothers we are called to feel empathy. Today we are challenged to help bear the pain of others, their physical and spiritual wounds. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pt 2:24). Personal holiness is the ultimate goal of the Pallottine
vision and mission. “Tutti santi, presto santi, grandi santi ... All saints… saints soon ... great saints”, says St. Vincent Pallotti. Not to stand idle within a protective shell of life, we need to feel the pain of others, to know how to cry with others. As St. Paul says, the Church is one body: If one member suffers all other suffer with it (1 Cor 12:26). It is high time to change our ways, to live our vocation of holiness, sharing the sufferings of others and building the kingdom of God (cf. GE 76).

In his recent letter about the scandals in the Church, Pope Francis highlighted that “every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need” (Letter of Pope Francis to the People of God (20 August 2018)). The foundation of the Union of Catholic Apostolate rests on a unity between priests, the consecrated and laity. The active participation of all members in the Church helps to create that communion and support in the ecclesial body which can eliminate
many of the evils which cause the destruction of the individual. God expects our commitment in the saving mission of the Church. In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis calls us to share the joy of the Gospel. Pallottines are called to live the Gospel as the fundamental rule of their life, to know and to make to known Jesus and to find real happiness in that life.

Vincent addresses Mary, Mother of Jesus, as the woman of faith, model of communion and Queen of Apostles, which in our day could be expressed as New Evangelizer par excellence. The Cenacle is a powerful symbol of this new evangelization. The disciples united with one heart and soul with Mary our mother. The Cenacle as commissioned by Vincent Pallotti symbolises an ecclesial vision of unity and communion. Today the Church faces a number of challenges and hardships, including issues of its own reputation, of being overly institutional in spirit, of abuse of power and money. The Union of the Catholic Apostolate is a model for the Church today. The little church gathered in the cenacle is a symbol of an ecclesial vision of communion, where all the faithful feel co-responsible for the mission of the Church and participate in it with equal dignity and right. In this model of Church there is fundamentally no claim to a leading position, but all are equals among equals” (cf. The Charism of St. Vincent Pallotti. Origin, Development, Identity, 6.e., pp. 48-49). Let our mission be dominated by the same spirit of being “equals among the equals”. Mary still continues to be our guide, walking alongside us to proclaim Jesus to this challenging world.

Jesus came on earth to give life, and life in abundance, to the full (Jn 10:10). We are evangelical trumpets called to invite everyone in the Church to participate equally to proclaim the infinite love of God to others. Through my endeavors in the field of social work I learn more and more to be an authentic Pallottine. en kindling the hearts of the poor and marginalized. I follow the rule of life of Jesus, bringing justice to the poor in a spirit of equality, respecting the dignity and worth of each person, as everyone has been created in the image and likeness of God. “God created mankind in
his own image, in the image of God he created them male and female he
created them (Gen 1:27).

The season of Lent reminds us of God’s infinite love for all people. Let us challenge ourselves change our ways so that we may become more worthy to have him in our life. We can only do it if the Holy Spirit comes and removes our tepid and wayward heart. While the world often ignores and flees from the sickness, sorrow and pain that surrounds us, we instead once more gaze on the Cross of Jesus, to be made capable of forgiving, of forgetting our past omissions and of touching the hearts of people with the love of Christ. In this way, we discover ever more deeply the true meaning of our Pallottine commitment for today’s challenging world in whichever state of life and vocation we have been called.

Sr. Sindhu AnjIkkal (CSAC),
India
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Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uacgensec@gmail.com