Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Apostles for Today March 2021


        - 
Apostles for Today
         

         March 2021

         
                                            
  

 “THE BODY IS ONE AND HAS MANY MEMBERS, BUT ALL THE MEMBERS, MANY THOUGH THEY ARE,  
                                  ARE ONE BODY; AND SO IT IS WITH CHRIST.”  (1Cor.12:12)  

                                                                              

No man is an  island nor  any one person self-sufficient in his or herself.  God created a world of plurality of  beings each with their own culture, gifts, treasures in their land, uniqueness in their environment, and richness  in their earth.  What a great God to create such a world for each of its unique culture.  

All this beauty could never be known or appreciated if we did not share with one another, through tourism,  technology, dialogue, activities and cultural participation in a country.  Therefore how important it is for us to  acknowledge the diverse cultures that live in our land.  In Central America the Maya culture has an everlasting  impact in our land.  (The creole –African) fill us with dynamic music and folklore.  The Mestizo sprinkle their  exotic dances to the sound of the marimba and in a land of many more cultures the music, the songs the dance  and the language, the creative activities of each culture offer a kaleidoscope of brilliant stars in our land.  In the  midst of all this beauty the infinite love of God draws all together in the uniqueness of the friendliest people In  Central America.  What a good God we have.  

In true dialogue we develop our views as well as contribute to the views of others.  In true dialogue we grow in  respect and appreciation of our own culture and also the diverse cultures that surround us.  In true sharing we  stand in awe at the beauty of others culture. What a great cultural world God created for his children.  Nature  develops, the environment colourfully burst out, and the people of the land become the greatest resources of the  world.  What a great God we serve.  

In true dialogue we develop our confidence and also respect for others ideas.  This allows all cultures to feel  free and realize that there is beauty in all cultures.  If we are not pressured to share or feel less then our inhibition  falls to the ground.  A new life is born, new joy, new activities that help us to continue to love, appreciate and  stand in awe at the beauty of others culture.  

All cultures are unique, special and one of a kind.  Therefore, the solution is not relative to any particular culture  through free discussion and respect one comes to a consensus that is benefial to all.  There is no need for power  struggles whether political or spiritual, whether holistic or egoistic. No one culture,  leader, political  activist,  religious self-righteousness, holds the truth in their power.  The community villages, nation, through discussion  open and sincere come to the realization of truth, love and honesty for their people.  

The world is no longer inhabited by one set of people.  The smallest  countries in the world boast  a variety of  culture that colors the beauty of that country.  In the same manner the diverse cultures create an infinite level of  thinking power, openness, focuses and a high level of reasoning that may not have come from book knowledge  but from survival experiences.  It is to our benefit to cash in on the deep wealth of knowledge that the diverse  cultures bring to our negotiating table discussion, or dialogue.  Let us remember that no one’s, pre mediated  reasoning is automatically correct.  In the midst of open discussion there are certain acceptable values that may  not be accepted by all but in the midst of open discussion even these values will be discussed and  at times  accepted.  In the midst of all this openness let us not forget that the hand of God lead where we cannot see

.  
The dream of a new society where all cultures complement each other and add to the level of government,  education, social gathering, sports, and all other aspects of development of community develop to the point that  we accept and complement each other to the building of a new society of respectable, diverse and cross-cultural  union.  It may take long but in certain small pockets of our historical society the Maya Indian teacher is principal  of their elementary school in their village but why not principal of the leading high school in the main city of  our country?  

In looking at culture let us realize that culture flows through our life like the blood stream in the human person. It colors their way of life, their thinking, their food and in short runs through their whole life and makes them  who they are.  What a beauty it would be if each man and woman would feel culturally accepted, culturally  efficient to dialogue with other cultures, culturally uninhibited   to speak with confidence and boldness in open  discussion.    When  the  cream  of  the  crops  are  melted  and  molded  in  God  a  new  culture  is  created  but  the uniqueness of each person co–exist with each other.  

This new world can only become a reality when we acknowledge, accept and interact with different cultures.  Only when we genuinely interact with acceptance and realization of our differences can we begin to accept and  appreciate one another.  We, then, will begin to accept one another as companions in a journey.  When we work and dialogue together we begin to acknowledge the giftedness of each culture.  When I begin to acknowledge  them, I begin to accept them as my true friends.  

QUESTIONS:  

     1.    Why is it that in certain countries there are certain areas that are provided for the less socially accepted   cultures to settle and build their homes, while others of the upper class are provided more scenic or more  acceptable areas?  
     2.   Can we  honestly say that we accept children of all cultural groups in leading parts of school play or   sports?  
     3.   Do we have open discussion or do we choose who will participate in the discussion?  
     4.   What efforts do we make in offering open discussion in church, or country when important questions  arise?   

PRAYER  
God, Father of each of us and all of us in one you did not hesitate nor   Measure your gifts in the diverse cultures of this world.  Help us to  Manifest and continue to create the manifestation of every culture  
                                 
In the 21st century.  Let us as we each bring our gifts to the service of others.   Touch each one of our cultures as you melt and mold them into the  Kingdom of your love.  AMEN  

  
                                                                                                             Sr. Consuelo Burgos, Belize  
  

  

Friday, February 5, 2021

Apostles for Today -Feb 2021

 

Apostels for Today

Prayer and Reflection

February 2021


To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Lk 1,78-79)

In the first chapter of the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, the Holy Father makes an insightful assessment of the reality in which we live today. He mentions very specific phenomena that have become firmly established in our existential everyday life. These include the lack of historical awareness, globalization, social inequality, exploitation, privileged social groups, the destruction of a sense of human value in order to control someone, the tendency to homogenize the world, where the interests of the authorities are emerging, where they benefit from someone's low self-esteem and where, through the media and networks, attempts are being made to create a new culture at the service of the most powerful. Finally, the apparent freedom, the promotion of a consumer lifestyle and the support of a mentality of fear and mistrust, which leads to a weakening of the sense of community and the inability to engage with everyone. Of course, these are not all the phenomena of the present world mentioned by the Holy Father.

Nor is it a question of listing them all at this point. However, reading the first chapter of the Encyclical, one can get the impression that it is an analysis of phenomena, signs of the times, which our founder, St Vincent Pallotti, also observed closely. For example, the first point of the May Appeal you can read: Anyone who closely observes the current state of the world and its attitude to religion is well aware that, despite all the horrors that our unhappy age has witnessed and is constantly witnessing, there is a great need for faith everywhere, and even non-Christian nations seem to show a tendency to adopt a Catholic religion (OOCC IV, p. 120).

Of course, someone would say that it was at other times. However, they were marked by a rather complex political and social situation. After all, it was a period of the French Revolution, later the Roman Revolution, whose supporters took up the fight against the Church in a very concrete way. Vincent Pallotti wrote in May Appeal a programme to everyone to show how important way of life and evangelization proposed by the United of Catholic Apostolate is. Nowadays, the temptation to create a culture of walls is becoming more and more visible,' writes the Holy Father in his encyclical, walls in the heart, walls in people's contacts, walls that ultimately surround people and take away horizons (FT 27). Saint Vincent Pallotti, together with the work he created, fits even more clearly into the current global context. Fraternity, community, caring for the individual person being together in diversity for the common goal of salvation of souls - these are the values that sound even more resound today. As a result, the charism left to us is still very relevant. Saint Vincent Pallotti, in the May Appeal mentioned above, places cooperation as a means to carry out the apostolate. At a time when attitudes of closure and intolerance are growing, isolating themselves from others and, on the other hand, when digital communication seeks to show everything - as the Pope wrote, Pallotti reminds the whole Pallottine Family that working together for the salvation of souls is very important. Cooperation itself presupposes good communication, building relationships, and this cannot be achieved without direct contact. There is a need, wrote the Holy Father, for physical gestures, facial expressions, silence, body language, and even smell, shaking hands, blush, because all this belongs to interpersonal communication (FT 43). Of course, you can now hide behind the limitations of direct contact and appreciate online contact. But, on the other hand, these digital ones can only be for a while, they can be a form of continuation of the work we have started, but they can never replace direct involvement. Meeting is a very important language of love. It can be short, lasting only a few minutes, but in full attention given to the other person. This short moment is a gift given - valuable, because it will never come back. Our holy Founder made it very clear to us that communication and relationships are to lead to building a community of faith. He did this himself by engaging with others in various tasks. He did so with full respect for each person. We are partners in adult life. There is no place for dominant attitudes here. If I need something, I ask, then I recognize both the skills and the value of the other person. By asking, I show that the other person has something to offer, something that is important to me and represents value. Cooperation, which is quite a difficult art, can transform, improve and sensitize everyone. On the one hand, it has an auto-formational dimension, on the other hand, the value of the tasks discussed is much greater and the way they are carried out is more experienced by others. The good that is revealed is mutual help, support, mobilization, encouragement… Listening also plays an important role in cooperation. Jesus in the Gospel according to St. Mark (12:29) says: Listen, O Israel…. The ability to listen in collaboration is important. When I speak, I am conveying what I already know, what I have learned. When I start to listen, I open up to what is new and I can learn something.

It may seem that listening is easy, but in fact it is a difficult task. We risk changing our thinking, our perception of ourselves, of others and even the world. Sitting down and listening to the other person is a behaviour typical of meeting between people, wrote the Holy Father in his encyclical. It is a model of the open-minded attitude of those who overcome their narcissism and accept the other, pay attention to them and accept them into their own circle (FT48). We can look together for the truth, we can look for new engagements in dialogue, in silent conversation or in heated discussion. This is an arduous process, Pope Francis wrote. This process consists of silence, suffering, the ability to gather patiently the vast experience of people and nations. Cooperation is therefore given to us and is our task.

The Pope also refers to the global tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has awakened the awareness for some time that we are a global community, sailing on the same boat, where the misfortune of somebody hurts everyone (FT 32). It took away the illusions that we are the ones creating reality and that our intentions, certainties and plans became nothing in one moment. The pandemic unveiled a blessed membership of one human family. In Pallottine family we also felt a taste of brotherhood, belonging and solidarity. May St Vincent Pallotti show us the paths of authentic apostolic commitment for God's infinite glory, for the destruction of sin and for the salvation of souls at this time.

Reflection:

• Which of the signs of the times, in my opinion, does Holy Father mention in his enciclical, affect my country most?

• Which of the essential elements of building a community of faith are important to me at this moment: cooperation, listening, talking?

• Am I a person open to God's calls and looking for inspiration from the Holy Spirit?

• Am I living the mission, the mission to which I have been called?

- Sr. Monika Jagiello SAC, Poland 


Tuesday, January 5, 2021

January 2021 Apostles for Today

 


Monthly Reflection, January 2021
-
The Pallottine Charism in the Encyclical
Fratelli Tutti

Pope Francis published the social encyclical “Fratelli Tutti”, his third encyclical, on October 3rd, 2020 on the occasion of the vespers of the liturgical memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, in his city, in order to demonstrate his intention to connect the social doctrine of the Church with the universal person of Francis. Let us remember that St. Vincent Pallotti also was a universal person and was profoundly connected to both apostolic and social work as well as to Franciscan spirituality. In this way we can find the presence of the Pallottine charism in the new encyclical, in dialogue with all people, in view of fraternity and of social friendship in belonging to the human family because we are all children of the one Father.

The first chapter of the encyclical, “Dark Clouds over a Closed World” seeks to look at reality in the actual context and it identifies the necessity of the historical awareness of every race and of the tendency of all of humanity to fall into the falsehood of political proposals that lead to violence. It is fundamental to open oneself to a common project in respect of the innate rights of the human person. Globalization means that human dignity is without borders and progress has to have a common circle in order to face up to the present pandemic as well as the other scourges of humanity. St Vincent Pallotti was particularly interested in the reality of his time: the cholera epidemic in Rome in 1836, the Napoleonic Invasion, the elections of the Popes, the cultural and political events, etc. Similarly the members of the Pallottine family cannot live closed in on themselves, but by means of dialogue seek to know the reality.
The second chapter “A Stranger on the Road” is an exegesis on the question of a doctor of the law who asked Jesus, “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). The observance of the law, as Jesus indicates, is to do good, respecting especially the stranger and the poor. In any case, the parable of the Good Samaritan is the biblical guide for the encyclical in which all of us are called to an awareness, without borders, of the needy. The life of St. Vincent Pallotti was an offering to the poor. Let us recall to mind that the cause of his death was the giving of his cloak to a poor man and that gesture brought about pneumonia.
The third chapter is “Envisaging and Engendering an Open World” by means of charity in order to integrate everybody. In that sense Pope Francis presents some inadequate understandings of a universal charity that would be a model of globalization, that pretend to make everybody the same, destroying the uniqueness of each person and of each people. In reality, universal charity promotes people, the moral good as well as solidarity, and it highlights that with the right to private property there corresponds also a social function. From charity it moves on to the concept of universal rights. For St. Vincent Pallotti, based on biblical theology, every human being is an image and likeness of the God of Love. Therefore, to love is part of human nature and happiness does not exist if not by means of charity.
The fourth chapter “A Heart Open to the Whole World” and deals directly with migration which calls for concrete actions in the countries of origin of the migrants; but at the same time the right of every person to seek a better life in another country has to be respected. In that sense it is necessary to have a just balance in the destination countries between protecting the rights of the citizens of those countries and the guarantee of welcome and assistance to migrants.
Nevertheless, what are called for are always concrete actions like the provision of humanitarian corridors, the guarantee of accommodation, the possibility of work and education, favouring the re-unification of families, the protection of minors, religious freedom and social integration. One must consider the human family and international collaboration.
St. Vincent Pallotti paid great attention to migrants and as a concrete example he made a collection for the building of the Italian Church in London, assisting spiritually and materially the poor migrant labourers.
The fifth chapter “A Better Kind of Politics” recognizes the importance of the people, as distinct from the concept of populism that signifies the structuring of the people to remain as they are or to take power. The preferred ecclesiology of Pope Francis is the Church as the People of God that has its biblical and patristic roots and was a fundamental concept during the Second Vatican Council. The best politics is that which protects work so as to develop its capacity as an authentic social service to the poor. To offer money is only a temporary solution, but a genuine anti-poverty strategy seeks to promote work as a means of solidarity and assistance/support. Politics must also legislate against corruption, inefficiency, the wicked abuse of power and the lack of respect for the law. In reality, politics is centred on human dignity.
The encyclical, moreover, highlights the relevance of popular movements and of the necessary reform of the United Nations organization. The General Statutes of the UAC underline the common priesthood of the People of God for the realization of the apostolic mission as an association that is open to welcoming all (G. Statutes 7 and 13) The sixth chapter “Dialogue and Friendship in Society” presents the concept of life as an act of encounter between people, especially with those who live on the economic peripheries. Dialogue respects human dignity, it is not relativism without universal principles, neither is it moral norms that prohibit intrinsic evil, rather it promotes the human family. In a world marked by violence and darkness Francis calls for the miracle of kindness to build bridges and not construct walls between peoples. St Vincent Pallotti was a person open to dialogue and he had a kindness that everybody admired. His way of acting, of praying, of exhorting was not arrogant; rather he showed a respectful refinement towards every human being, an image and likeness of God.
The seventh chapter “Paths of Renewed Encounter” is a call to all of humanity to make, as a craftsman would, a society based on truth, on justice and on mercy. A social encounter calls for social forgiveness, especially by means of justice, without however renouncing the memory of the facts. It is not possible to simply forget the terrible events of the past, like the Shoah, the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the persecutions and massacres of ethnic cleansing. Reconciliation does not mean to forget because the nuclear threat and governments who do not respect human rights are still present with us. St Vincent Pallotti was a just man and, at the same time, merciful. We do not find in his life-story any sign of seeking revenge, rather he always promoted pardon. A clear sign of this characteristic was his dedication to the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both as a confessor and as a penitent.
In the eighth chapter “Religions at the Service of Fraternity in our World” Pope Francis affirms that violence has no foundation in religious convictions and that terrorism is an erroneous interpretation of religious texts. Therefore, it is necessary to guarantee religious freedom as a fundamental human right. For its part the mission of the Church in the world also has a political dimension, because one cannot live “enclosed in the sacristy”; the Church has a social role to play. At the end of the encyclical Pope Francis presents to us Blessed Charles de Foucauld as a model of universal brother, who identified himself with the lowest. The idea of St. Vincent Pallotti, when he founded the UAC was to call all to the apostolate, involving the social and cultural reality that the Church would not be able to live far from the daily life of the people.
Therefore, the new encyclical is fully connected with the Pallottine charism in which the fundamental concept is that each person is created in the image and likeness of God. That concept distances us from any form of religious and political fanaticism, thereby opening us to a world without borders. All are called to contribute to the social good and to the salvation of one’s neighbor. The apostolic practice of St. Vincent, evidenced in being very close to the poor, to young people with no opportunities for scholastic formation, as well as long hours in the confessional allows us to view him as universal, but also a person who did not neglect his daily life in the Church of Rome.

Some questions for personal reflection or in groups:
1. Do we consider that the fundamental rights of every human being are without borders?
2. Are we aware that the apostolic work of the Church is also to be understood as a social involvement?
3. Do we recognize that ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue is a dimension of our Christian Faith?
4. Do we carry out concrete actions in favour of our migrant brothers and sisters?

Fr. Denilson Geraldo SAC 


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Apostles for Today Dec 2020


                JOY AND PEACE TO THE WORLD!

 ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven and peace on EARTH to those with whom He is pleased!’ (Lk 2: 14) 

The message of Christmas echoed by the angels on Jesus’s birth is very clear: it is to give glory to God and to let peace reign on Earth: our common home! Throughout the year 2020, Apostles for Today, has been reflecting on the care of our common home. More than ever, the Earth today which we commonly call our home has been filled with loss, uncertainty and fear. An invisible virus has made our common home quite a scary place to live in with all its psychological and economical scars that continue to haunt us every day. In these gloomy times, we all have two choices to make, one to be fearful and die in despair or live in eternal hope believing that the Earth, we commonly call home is a divine gift to us. Genesis 1: 31 says, ‘God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…’ Hence, as Christians, we all have every reason to be hopeful that the Earth is in safe hands of our eternal God, the Lord of the entire universe. And more so, Christmas is just another extra-ordinary event and a reminder to reassure this humanity that God loves this home. Each year, God visits this home during the Christmas season with a powerful message of peace, joy, love and hope. As Christians therefore, this Christmas is unique and special as it calls for our commitment to be great witnesses of peace and hope to this world that is gripped with fear and despair. How can then we live and be the true messengers of hope, peace and joy during this Christmas? 

True peace and joy come with the conviction of being satisfied with what we have and just like the Holy Family believing that, the less they had, the more they were blessed with: God Himself! ‘…It is the conviction that ‘less is more’. A constant flood of new consumer goods can baffle the heart and prevent us from cherishing each thing and each moment. To be serenely present to each reality, however small it may be, opens us to much greater horizons of understanding and personal fulfillment. Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little…’ (Laudato Si’, 222). To be happy and serene with what we have and with our present reality is the secret to true joy. There is a popular saying; ‘there is enough for everyone’s need but not for everyone’s greed. In many parts of the world, a lot of natural places are being turned into concrete jungles. A great portion of natural resources are being destroyed in the name of development. The time of peaceful living with a satisfaction of being happy with what we have, is being substituted by greed and wants by the consumerist society. As during this time of the pandemic, time has slowed down our bustling life, it’s a time given for us too, to stop and reflect and then make wise choices, like the wise men from the East of what gift can I give to the Jesus for His birthday? 

Apparently, our gift to God this Christmas would be to live and spread the message of God’s peace, joy and hope. To make this possible and to understand this concept who can give us more insight than the life of the saints itself who lived on this very earth to make us realize that ‘less is more’. Let’s look at the life of our dear founder, St. Vincent Pallotti itself, who says: “It is necessary to find himself in a poor habitation, in an abject place…to do everything to keep the flesh mortified, the heart detached from pomp and vanities of the earth. (OOCC II, pg. 36). To achieve this one must seek grace to let go of unnecessary attachments and vanities and be happy with what we have, thus the lesser we have the more inner peace, the more interior joy and more fulfillment we will find in our lives. On the other hand, no one can cultivate a sober and satisfying life without being at peace with him or herself…inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good…Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid noise, interminable and nerve- wracking distractions?... (Laudato Si’ 225) St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 14: 17- 19 tells us: For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 

Therefore, one way to be messengers of hope and peace is to embrace the values of ‘less is more’ and live with total joy and mutual edification. While the whole world reluctantly now accepts to live in discomfort and sacrifice, Christians have a great opportunity to embrace and live the message of Christmas, a message ‘less is more’ an ultimate path to true joy and peace. It’s time we think globally and act locally. ‘Less is more’- are we ready for a change? Mahatma Gandhi, says, ‘Be the Change, you wish to see in this world’. 

Questions to ponder: 

1) What measures can I take personally, as a community/ family to conserve natural resources of the Earth for the future generations? 

2) What steps can I personally take to use and accumulate less and strive after things which bring more inner peace and joy? 3) How can we, as a community/ family and society make this Christmas different by sharing what we have to the less fortunate and bringing hope to their live, thus creating a better world around us? 

Sr. Alda Isa Paes SAC

India

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Prayer and Reflection for November 2020


Many Rooms in the House ...

Since several months a Muslim woman lives in our household. 
She is the nurse for my old mother. She considers herself of being a modern woman; she does not wear a scarf and has a modern and elegant outfit. At the same time, she is religious and follows the rules of Islam. She prays five times a day, early before sunrise, in the midst of May that is about five o’clock in the morning. Since April 24th at the beginning of Ramadan, I became witness of her strict abstinence from any food and drink during daytime. From dawn until sunset she does not touch any food. In the meantime, the days are long, dawn begins early morning before 4 a.m. and the sun sets at 8.30 p.m. – it ´s a long day and Ramadan lasts for 30 days. During the night she eats a light and nourishing meal. It is not easy for her, having such a short night and working the whole day, for she must look after my mother, must do the cooking, the washing and many other things. When I asked her, she answered she did the strict fasting most willingly for God. It was not for keeping herself healthy nor for the reduction of weight, but simply and solely for God. She also practises Zakat, the giving of donations, and she gives a remarkable amount of her modest income to various organisations and persons. – What shall I say? I am impressed and touched by her witness of faith.

I know that Islam – just as any other religion – has many different faces and tendencies, not different from Christianity either. As a Christian it is fascinating and enriching for me living together in one household with a Muslim. We often talk about our comprehension of God and of faith. It is a process of learning. Her regular prayers remind me of the rhythm of monastic tradition lived by monks and nuns. Mohammed himself has drawn an inspiration out of monasticism. Of course, I am aware of the differences between the traditions of our religions. I do not belong to those who believe that respect for family life and high morality is more to be found with Muslims, whereas Christians, at least in the western world, had supposedly lost ethic and religious values ... This topic is rather complex, but one thing is clear: Living together is a way of learning. It means giving and receiving, it is a process of mutuality. The fundament is a high esteem of each other. The Declaration of the 2nd Vatican Council Nostra Aetate says: The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth...). Mission is first of all searching and finding traces of God ´s presence in the other person, in other cultures and religions.

I can very well accomplish how impressed Francis of Assisi must have been, when he, on the occasion of the crusade in 1219, was guest of Sultan Malek Al-Kamil in the camp in Egypt from the end of August until the midst of September; he then lived among the Muslims. His first intention was not to convert them but to set a sign that all men take part in the holiness of creation. In the Christian world of that time regular praying was only done in monasteries, it had become a privilege of monks and nuns. The biblical call to pray addressing all had been forgotten. Not so the Muslims: All of them would respond to the call of the Muezzin and pray five times a day. The Franciscan historian Michel Cusato has published interesting results of his research on the encounter between Francis of Assisi and the Muslims in Damiette in Egypt. He describes the wide effects of this encounter, of the meeting of Francis of Assisi with the Muslims. One consequence was the “democratization of prayer”. Cusato writes: „ In the West, for the most part, prayer was typically viewed as the prerogative of a spiritual elite, a duty and an honor for priests and canons, nuns and religious, even though it was during this same period that some forms of lay participation in the prayer of the Church were beginning to be developed... The Poverello was moved and impressed by the prayer of Muslims. All men and women, young and old – prayed. Prayer was not reserved to nor the special prerogative of a spiritual elite as it was in the West. Rather, at regular intervals, every member of the society was called into prayer. It is my contention that Francis reflected on this phenomenon and came to the simple conclusion that prayer was indeed constitutive of every single creature of God: in other words, to be a creature was to be a praying creature. ... Francis, in short, could not have been but favorably impressed with a society that takes time out, five times a day, to render praise and glory to God. And if the allegedly ‘infidel’ (faith-less) Muslim, why not the allegedly faith-filled Christian? This vision of the religious implications for the nature of creature-hood is the “democratization of prayer” (compare Michael Cusato: Francis from Assisi (1182-1226) – How lonely he stayed as a witness of Islam piety in the Occident, in: Bsteh/Proksch: Pacemaker of the interreligious dialogue, volume III, Vienna 2020). This impulse he passed on into his religious surroundings, and this is the beginning of the noon prayer („Angelus“) and of the rosary. The little towers with a bell to be found on the roofs of the farmers ´ houses in Austria, that served to call the field workers to prayer, are the precious historical memory of this. Since that time the whole church prayed.

When in February 2019 Pope Francis signed a document on ‚Human Fraternity’ together with the Imam Ahmad Mohammed Al Tayyeb of the Al-Azhar in Kairo at Abu Dhabi, that was a reminiscence of Francis of Assisi ´s stay with Sultan Malek Al-Kamil 800 years ago. This fraternal belonging together, that is spoken of here, rooted in the conviction that all humans are God ‘s beings and his images. – Eight billion of people, eight billion of different images, none is like the other.

Also, Pallotti was fascinated by this vision. Again, and again he speaks of the fact that one should see the image of God in anybody, the image of the Trinity and the image of the Crucified. That is why he was open to learn from everybody and to embody everyone into his engagement. In his spirituality there is a remarkably openness to universality that was not really standard in his time.

Sisters and brothers living together in the global world at the one house, that is the frame of the text of the Encyclical „Laudato Si” published five years ago. The image of a house is of Jewish origin (e.g. 1 Henoch 39); John ‘s gospel takes it up again (Joh 14,2): „There are many rooms in the house of my father ...”, that is how it is formulated in the farewell speeches. This metaphor beautifully expresses unity and variety. The many rooms in the citadel or in the house (or castle) play an important part in the history of Christian and Muslim (especially Sufi) spirituality. But – humanity does not really experience itself as a joint household. The various selfish interests of the different countries, societies, politicians, economies and also individuals are too manifold. Does the one house remain an eschatological image? The experiences of the Corona crisis have given evidence of the contrary. The connection of all humans, the interdependence of all beings has become evidently clear. We cannot escape the globalisation any more. It has its good sides as well as its bad sides.

Consequently, it is important to look at the common house as a whole and to organise the household in it so that brothers and sisters will arise from the many inhabitants. The encyclical “Laudato Si” puts its hopes on the traditional principles of the Catholic Social Doctrine, on an education of an understanding of public welfare, that forwards the integral human development. Love as ethical principle is needed for that approach. Political and social action have to be influenced by love – a high demand!

The conviction of all men being images of God is in Christian view the fundament of the same dignity of all, and subsequently, of the same rights. In spite of that the experience of diversity can be dramatic. I have been working at an international institute in Vienna for 19 years, and therefore travelled a lot, especially in Africa and Asia. Besides fascinating similarities of the human abilities, I often experienced the enormous differences of cultures. I asked myself again and again whether there is more that unites us or more that separates us from each other. Humans are so diverse in many aspects that probably only the conviction of equal dignity and equal rights is that which unites us and not even this is a point to which everybody would tend to agree. Christian mission – according to Pallotti – is to study all the different images of the Crucified in the many people, to “contemplate” them, as he says, in order to learn and to become a grateful person...

A final hint: In these days a volume on the spirituality of Vincent Pallotti is printed. Title: „ Spread wide the Place of your Tent - Vincent Pallotti’s Inspiration for a Church of Greater Participation, Diversity and Dialogue” (available in the German/Austrian Provincialate).


Brigitte Maria Proksch

(brigitte.proksch@pallottiner.org)


This text has been produced late in May 2020 when the first lock down paralysed Austria and 

many other countries worldwide. – The author lives in Vienna, the old multicultural capital of the country, where 45% of the population are Catholics. Also, many Muslims and Orthodox and Lutheran Christians are living there, also a small Jewish community and many others. One third of the 2 Million inhabitants have migration background.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Apostles for Today - Oct. 2020


The Catholic Church 
– a moral point of reference for humanity 

    I want to begin this article with an invitation to focus our attention on these words of Jesus: “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill-top cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine in people’s sight, so that, seeing your good works, they may give praise to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
     Simeon reminds us that Jesus isa light to enlighten the nations” (Luke 2:32); for his part Zechariah refers to the Lord as “the Rising Sun who has come from on high to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78-79). And so, He who is “light” and “the Rising Sun” appoints us as “light of this world”, calling us to a mission that requires courage, consistency and fidelity. 
    The darkness of despair, moral relativism and sloth are covering the whole world and all of humankind is experiencing the effects of their presence among us.
   In the course of history we have “evolved” in different areas: we organize ourselves as societies, we define the principles of law and of justice, and thanks to scientific progress we have learned how to combat diseases. However, at the same time we have distanced ourselves from God and bit by bit we “discover” that faith is merely superstition, and that religion is of no use if one really wants to find happiness. 
    This supposed evolutionary journey has led to a negligent neglect of what is essential. We forget what is really and truly important, losing sight of the moral principles that govern our existence. 
    Saint Ignatius of Loyola tells us: “Man is created” (Ignatian Exercises 23); if we take these words in a non-religious context we can reach the following conclusions: 
    I am a being: I exist, I am a reality and my existence changes the existence of my environment. 
    My being does not come from myself: I did not take the decision to exist; I did not choose the moment of my existence; I am not aware of how the world was prior to my existence. 
    My being comes from a superior being: There has to be a being that made the essential decisions of “my being”; that is someone who will make the vital decisions for my existence, decisions that were not made by me. 
    When we subject these truths to a deeper analysis, we discover that the journey of progress is taking us towards our own destruction: wars and hatred are clear proof of what it means to live without God.         The Catholic Church has the responsibility to open the doors of paradise to the millions of souls that have lost their way in this world; the Lord has given to us the grace to be called and He gives us everything we need to be able to respond to that call. This is a time of grace in which Jesus purifies His Church and He invites us to work together; it is time to unite the diverse charisms that the Holy Spirit has bestowed both individually and as community, and to put into action all of our good intentions. 
        We have to turn our attention to the poor, to those who are sad, to the oppressed, to the defenseless, because Our Lord lives in them. In the same way it is time to raise our voices, to proclaim the truth with courage, but above all, it is time to bring joy once more, a joy that seems to have been lost in the midst of much confusion. Finally, I want to invite you to pray sincerely, to perfect our relationship with Christ, from whom all good comes. 
    To Him be honor and glory forever and ever. 
Mr. Gilson Freddy Roncon
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
___________________________________________________

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

Monday, September 14, 2020

Apostles for Today Sept


 


  Apostles for Today         
Prayer and reflection 

for Sept 2020

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

The encyclical “Laudato Si” has revitalized awareness toward our common home that is our mother earth. The earth has a dignity, it is not simply a material object to be exploited for our needs but it has to be respected because it was created by God to be a place to live in, the home of humanity both in the present and in the future.

Today the earth is abused and plundered, one can lament; this lament unites us to all those who are poor and all ‘the rejected' of the world. Pope Francis invites us to listen to them, urging each and every one, individuals, families, groups, communities, parishes, religious institutes, local societies, nations and international communities to an “ecological conversion”, according to the expression of Saint John Paul II, that is, to “change course” assuming the responsibility and the loveliness of a commitment to the care of our common home. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew has also given a strong warning: “That the human race destroys the biological diversity [...] they contribute to climate change [...] they pollute the waters, the ground, the air: all of these are sins.”

The European Christian Movements among whom the Pallottine Family is also represented by means of the involvement of my community, the Fifth Dimension (Quinta Dimensione) dedicated May 9th of this year to celebrate Europe Day precisely with the following theme:

“An Integral Ecology: a sustainable utopia for Europe”: this was the title of the event on which the focus is “Yes to creation defending nature and the environment, gifts of God to be defended with the utmost respectful commitment for future generations.”

I had the pleasure of collaborating in the preparation of the event and I was one of the moderators. Many experts from this sector took part, they demonstrated the very heart of the theme, first of all in a scientific way, exploring the theme from the point of view of Christian re-discovery and then with a more reflective moment: an occasion of ecumenical prayer with representatives of the various Churches, each one of them gifted us with a moment of grace and reflection in a unique manner. This event in respecting the regulations governing the present Covid-19 emergency, was carried out online and is available on YouTube.

A strong spirit of co-operation saw approximately 500 entries on live channels, and in each of these accounts there were at least two participants - drawn together from the north and south of Italy in order to solemnize together the aforementioned Europe Solidarity Day.

As always this special day gathers the diverse expression of all the Christian churches, in this case in a common project of respect for creation.

The interventions placed great emphasis on the health of the Earth and on how we can act, cooperating together for the Common Good, caring with respect for our common Home, choosing a lifestyle that is sober and which can be shared, which is ethical and ecological. They helped us understand how much this theme is felt by all. It unites us all; it brings us to uniting our efforts and our wills for a better and more humane world, and not just for Europe.

The message of the encyclical and of the speakers is that “only an integral ecology that encompasses the environment, the economy and society, culture and daily life, orientated towards the Common Good and to justice between the generations” is the future.

All of us can observe that there is an environmental crisis and a crisis of society that has never been seen before now. Our mother earth is gravely sick; it is on the danger list. In various parts of the world awareness of the importance of the environment has spread, as well as the preoccupation for the damage that the earth is suffering.

God entrusted to humankind the task of working for and caring for the earth. The moment has arrived for us to reflect on how much we have promised and never carried through with regard to the safeguarding of creation. Let us take cognisance today the cry of pain that comes from our blue planet, which is the home of every living species and not just humankind. Humankind has, through egoism, exhausted all the resources of the planet in a most inconsiderate way. The time for words is finished; now we need to begin the process of entering into a new relationship with creation. We need to show a greater respect in how we use the resources which the earth offers to us because on this depends the very future of humanity.

We men and women are special in the position occupied within creation and how we are integrated within creation. If we take upon ourselves the care of the earth, she, for her part, will take care of us like a mother takes care of her children.

In the world there exists a harmonious ecosystem in which the streams, the seas, the hills and all the living beings are interconnected. No single element can exist without the other. ALL (God) is in all. St. Vincent reminds us to seek God in all things because we will find Him in all things, to seek Him always in order to find Him always. We human beings need to learn to contemplate creation and to appreciate its inbuilt harmony.

In order to build a better world we need a sustainable utopia and the clarion call of the Pope to an integral ecology can help us to achieve it, but we cannot promote an integral development if there is no healthy environment. Creation needs the contribution of each and every one of us.

We have an obligation to do something to change our attitude to these issues confronting creation, our behavior coupled with our sincere repentance and conversion will better prove that humankind's end and true happiness do not reside in economic interests and in selfishness but in love for our fellow human beings and a love of nature. In this way the world will transfigure itself and become a terrestrial paradise.

Let us ask God to increase within us the courage to use our scientific abilities to protect and to safeguard nature and the environment which He has given to us by living new lifestyles in respect for future generations.

Pope Francis, on April 22nd last, on the occasion of the 50th Earth Day, said the following, among other things in his message: “Because of our selfishness we have failed in our responsibility to be guardians and stewards of the earth. We need only take a frank look at the facts to see that our common home is falling into serious dis-repair. We have polluted it, we have despoiled it, endangering our very lives (...) a Spanish saying (...) states as follows: God always forgives, we humans sometimes forgive, sometimes not; the earth never forgives.”

The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes His loving plan or repents for having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. - Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 13

Mr. Giuseppe Del Coiro

___________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org