Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Apostles for today - November 2023

 Apostles for Today

Prayer and  Reflection

November 2023

“Do not turn your face away from anyone
 who is poor” (Tb 4:7)

With this invitation, Pope Francis invites us to live the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November. We propose the same passage from the Old Testament to live our monthly meditation in the month of November and remain in tune with the thought of the Universal Church.

It is an evocative and strong invitation, taken from the book of Tobit. But lived firsthand by Jesus as the evangelists bear witness in the New Testament. There we find numerous accounts of Jesus surrounded by the poor, the sick, the needy of all kinds. It would be good in our meditation to close our eyes and imagine Jesus in precisely these situations; touching lepers, stooping down to the sick, consoling those who weep, listening to those who stop him, looking at the person, etc..... Jesus teaches us to look at such people with caring attention, with attention that recognizes human dignity despite everything, to recognize each person as having a name. Remember that the poor in Jesus’ episodes in the Gospels have names: a poor man named Lazarus stood at his door, covered with sores, eager to eat what fell from the rich man's table (... Lk 16:19-31
); Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper (... Mk 14:3-9).

In our sharing in the community, we sometimes talk about the poor that we know, that we meet every day around the Vatican. Many of us know them by name, because we stop with them to talk, to listen to them. We can agree that sometimes it is easier to give a euro in alms, to pay for a sandwich, a cappuccino, than to stop and give them some of your time to talk or listen.

It is touching when these poor young people ask you: Sister, aren't you ashamed to talk to me? Listening to their life story, you realize that maybe you could end up like them or you were lucky not to be there; they can teach you what they want most, what help they are waiting for. It is obvious that they normally want to eat but above all to be recognized as human beings, worthy of respect. Sometimes they point out that we who stop with them to talk, who give them a handshake, who bring them a sandwich and look them in the eye treat them as human beings and not as rejects of humanity. What is important - 'Do not look away from the poor' - see in the poor a friend of God.

For us Christians, it is important to continue to pray for them and motivate them to change their lives with new choices. It is certainly an action that requires gentleness and courage. We think of one homeless man who was sleeping on the Vatican grounds until a saintly woman spoke to him, prayed for him, and then we can say a miracle happened. This man asked himself - what do I do with my life? To be brief, he rediscovered his faith and the desire to change his life drove him to eventually get a role in Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, in which he plays a Roman soldier in the scene of the scourging. His life was completely changed. We think of another poor man, an acquaintance, a talented painter but addicted to alcohol who ended up on the streets. One of our nuns gave so much time, showed so much patience, accompanied him for so many hours to help him change his life. He now lives in a community and also continues to paint, and has even done several portraits of St Vincent Pallotti.

We, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters who live in Rome, can touch various forms of poverty at close quarters in our guest house: poor people without food or drink who come almost every day to ask for a hot meal or a sandwich; people abandoned by relatives, or without any relatives at all - so much loneliness that hurts and needs to be filled with human warmth even for a short time. That is why people return to us because they feel at home.

Certainly physical poverty is more visible, closer to our everyday life. But we know that there are many other poverty's, existential peripheries that cry out for our help. We often share in the community among ourselves how much spiritual poverty and suffering we can experience here. Often having as guests the families of sick children, admitted to the Bambino Gesù Hospital, we spend a lot of time listening to their parents torn apart by pain, anguish and worries. Listening and
consoling, crying together with them and giving them the courage to endure by entrusting them to God's love - this is a great mission and challenge for all of us every day. "Do not look away from the poor" (Tob 4:7).

We desire that this biblical recommendation always echo in our ears and hearts.
"Haste, by now the daily companion of our lives, prevents us from stopping to help care for others ", Pope Francis writes in his letter this year. Let us keep this in mind but not allow it to influence our choices.

St Vincent Pallotti always had a special concern for the poor and the weak. We already know by heart his desire to become food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, clothing to cover the naked, etc. This desire of his never ceases to be to us, the members of his Pallottine Family, a strong examination of conscience, never leaving us in peace but calling us to continuously live the creative sharing of our material and spiritual resources, our time and talents.

Fr. Francesco Amoroso SAC wrote: The sick gave him no respite; in order to be able to answer everyone, he placed a box at the door of the rectory, where those who knocked, if there was no one there, would give their address and, as soon as they returned, he, or a priest of the Society, would rush to the call. He brought food and medicine to the sick and served them; he also organized a daily distribution of soup, for the poor, in the courtyard of the building next to the rectory. It seemed as if he would succumb, that he had contracted the disease; someone said to him: "Father, you are tired, rest!", he replied: "We will rest in Paradise!"

In this meditation we ask for the help and intercession of dear Saint Vincent to have eyes that are always open, a sensitive heart that never stops loving, the courage to respond and the readiness to share. The saints teach us to always see in others the face of God, and especially in the poor and suffering the face of the suffering Jesus. This good practice does not allow us to remain indifferent to any face of poverty.

Only in this way can we become more and more the joy of our Lord, the joy of those we have helped, and fill our lives with joy and meaning. We all need this.

Community of the Pallottine Missionary Sisters House of Procura - Rome

Monday, October 9, 2023

Apostles for Today - October 2023

 Apostles For Today

October 2023

Burning Hearts, Walking Feet

For years now, the month of October has become a focal point for missionary awareness and activity. World Mission Sunday, which always takes place on the penultimate Sunday of the month, was established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 and it is thanks to this day of prayer, mobilization and gathering that the entire month has become known as "Mission Month"!

Mission is not something to be thought of and accomplished in just one month of the year. We know well that mission is vital and essential for the Church to be truly Church: "the Church is by its very nature missionary," teaches the Decree Ad Gentes of the Second Vatican Council. The post-conciliar pontifical Magisterium has also deepened and made even clearer this ecclesial missionary self-awareness

(1). For example, in his Message for Mission Sunday 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wrote that the mission ad gentesis, in fact, the "paradigm of all ecclesial action"! Pope Francis took up this expression in Evangelii Gaudium and, in a meeting with the Governing Council of CELAM - the Episcopal Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean - explained that the "paradigm is the yardstick," the yardstick of all ecclesial institutions and activities. In other words, mission, proclamation, evangelization are the measure of the value and evaluation of the whole Church!

But why this? Is it just out of a desire to propagandize? Or to increase the number of followers? Does mission arise out of an impulse to proselytize? Or does mission exist out of a desire for power, to make the Church stronger or Christianity more hegemonic?
No! These cannot be the missionary motives! These are not the reasons why mission is truly crucial and the sine-qua-non condition for the Church to be truly Church.
Mission is essential because it is the direct result, the visible consequence, the overflow of that experience of faith and salvation, the fruit of the intimate encounter with Jesus, who gives Life and gives it abundantly (cf. Jn. 10:10)!
When the bishops of Latin America and the Caribi gathered for their Fifth Conference in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007, they recognized this unique and saving experience as the motivation for all the Church's missionary activity. This is what he urged in the final document of that Fifth Conference:
"We cannot fail to take advantage of this hour of grace. We need a new Pentecost! We must go out to meet people, families, communities and peoples to communicate and share with them the gift of the encounter with Christ, who has filled our lives with 'meaning,' truth and love, joy and hope!We cannot sit and wait passively in our temples, but we must urgently go out in all directions to proclaim that evil and death do not have the last word, that love is stronger, that we have been liberated and saved by the paschal victory of the Lord of history, who calls us together as the Church and wants to multiply the number of his disciples to build his Kingdom on our continent!
Let us be witnesses and missionaries: in the great cities and countryside, in the mountains and forests of our America, in all environments of social coexistence, in the most diverse "areopagus" of the public life of nations, in the extreme situations of existence, assuming ad gentes our solicitude for the universal mission of the Church."
In addition to the inspiring, enthusiastic and contagious content of these words, the bishops made it clear that a person is "missionarily" active only if Jesus has become essential in his or her life. "We must go out to meet people, families, communities and peoples to communicate and share with them the gift of the encounter with Christ, who has filled our lives with 'meaning,' truth and love, joy and hope." So it is true that we need to go out ad gentes, to meet people, but this will only be possible IF-and "only" IF-He, Christ, has filled and continues to fill our lives with meaning...
Now, if Jesus no longer has a central value in a person's experience of life and faith, that person will not be impelled in the least to go out to meet others, to evangelize, to serve and to love. Pope John Paul II had already clarified the relationship between the experience of faith in Christ and missionary vigor: "In the history of the Church, in fact, the missionary impulse has always been a sign of vitality, just as its decline is a sign of a crisis of faith" (RM 2).

Therefore, mission is the result of a profound experience of faith...on the other hand, the cooling, weakness and even questioning of missionary action would be the sign of a crisis... Of a crisis of faith! a crisis of faith!
It is along these lines that we can best understand Pope Francis' message for this year's World Mission Day. Inspired by the episode of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (cf. Lk. 24:13-15), he proposed the following theme, "Burning Hearts, Walking Feet."
According to the Pope, "those two disciples were confused and disillusioned, but the encounter with Christ in the Word and in the broken Bread kindled in them the enthusiasm to set out on the road to Jerusalem and announce that the Lord was truly risen." Identifying this necessary heart-warming experience of faith, Pope Francis also teaches that it is from this experience that eyes are opened to recognize the Lord and feet move to proclaim him.

The faithful Christian is one who makes up his mind for Jesus, accepts his commandments and seeks to live them. The heart of this believer must be a heart in love, and therefore warmed by love. Nor should it be confused with being "crazy in love." In fact, when our founder St. Vincent Pallotti writes "God alone, alone, alone, alone.... My God alone! " (OOCC X, p. 66) - and he writes it that way, over and over again - perhaps an unsuspecting person would think he is crazy... but a poet would recognize in this repetition of words - precisely because they cannot express true feeling - a heart in love!
So, the driving force of this saint's life, his personal holiness, his way of understanding and living the Church, and the fruits of his commitment were all rooted in his mystical experience of God (2): it is from a heart warmed by the experience of faith that we see all the apostolic vigor of our founder arise.

This is also what Pope Francis teaches us in his message:
"One cannot truly encounter the risen Jesus without being inflamed by the desire to speak of him to all. That is why the first and foremost resource for mission are those who have recognized the risen Christ in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, and who carry his fire in their hearts and his light in their eyes. They can witness to the life that never dies, even in the most difficult situations and darkest moments."
We could present so many apostolic and missionary reflections here, as well as so many models and plans. They are really necessary, because mission is not done on the spur of the moment: it takes technique, plans and organization. But all this is a second step. It is an afterthought. Missionary vigor comes from the heart-warming experience of faith. Thus, feet will go where they need to go and hands will reach those they need to embrace only if the hearts of the faithful are already convinced that the One who came first and embraced, welcomed and loved has become essential to their story.
Therefore, the first attitude of a missionary must be to cultivate a deep and intimate life with Jesus, the apostle of the Eternal Father, through Word, Eucharist and Community. It is by starting from Christ and abiding in His Love (cf. Jn. 15:9) that we will be more active, more missionary and more apostolic!

Questions for personal and community prayer:
1. Is the person of the risen Jesus Christ really essential in my life?
2. If yes, why don't I have the courage to "get out of myself" and reach out to others to proclaim the great joy of believing?
3. What is the fear that paralyzes and encapsulates me, depriving me of my missionary enthusiasm?
4. After naming this paralyzing fear, how about praying with it, handing it over to Jesus to help you overcome it?

P. Daniel Rocchetti, SAC

1. Paul VI with the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi; John Paul II with the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio; Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium.
2. Ratio Institutionis of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, Rome 2004, no. 79. (The text of the "Ratio Institutionis SAC" in six languages can be found at www.sac.info, SAC Documents - IDENTITY OF THE SAC, Ratio Institutionis)

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Apostles for Today - Sept 2023

 Apostles for Today
                          September -2023

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

A few years ago I was ministering in a parish in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Paris. I was a parish priest and at the same time leading the Divine Mercy Apostolate movement of our Pallottine Region in France. The goal of this movement is to spread devotion to the Merciful Jesus by organizing prayer and formation meetings, publishing books, pamphlets and pictures.... Walking to church for one of the prayer meetings organized by the Apostolate of Mercy, I passed migrants living on the street around the church. There were really hundreds of them, and among them were women and children, including pregnant women! Preaching that evening about God's mercy, I felt very uncomfortable: a moment ago you passed by homeless migrants and refugees sitting on the ground, and now you are trying with words to convince the faithful gathered for prayer that God is merciful and leans over everyone, especially the poor, the suffering, the little ones... That evening made me realize that I cannot remain confined within the walls of the church and rectory. The Pope calls for the proclamation of the Risen Christ in the periphery, that is, in places where there is no God, but also in the so-called existential periphery marked by material poverty, spiritual poverty, loneliness, sadness, illness, suffering, indifference, rejection… These peripheries were around our church. I began to go around the streets of the parish every day to meet homeless migrants, the vast majority of them newcomers from Africa. After a while, a group of parishioners formed and began not only to visit the homeless but also to help them. Many took up residence in the parish, while the children went to Catholic schools. Our Pallottine parish began to be known in Paris for its help to migrants. But there was also a lot of criticism: "we already have too many migrants", "your help encourages others to come". I am not in favor of migration. People should not have to leave their families and homes and travel far, often at the risk of their lives, to seek a better life. Pope Francis mentions this in his Encyclical Fratelli Tutti (38-39): Emigrants "experience separation from their environment of origin and often cultural and religious uprooting. The rupture of contact also affects the communities of origin, which lose the most energetic and enterprising members, and families, especially in the case of the migration of one or both parents leaving their children in their country of origin". Therefore, "before the right to emigrate, it is necessary to realise the right not to emigrate, that is, to be able to stay in one's own land". The charitable and educational work of the missionaries, including those of the Pallottines, and their assistance to the poor in countries affected by war or poverty, is intended precisely so that people can look to the future with confidence, staying at home and among their own. This is also the meaning of, for example, the action "Adoption of the Heart", run by the Pallottines in Poland, which consists in helping children from poorer families in some missionary countries. Donors help the children by paying for their schooling, financing the purchase of school materials, food, necessary medicines and anything else that is necessary at a given time for the development of a particular child. Currently, 3,500 children are covered by this action. The Region of Divine Mercy joined in this action: on the occasion of its 75th anniversary, a solemn jubilee celebration was dispensed with, offering 75 annual scholarships for the children. Pope Francis, like his predecessors, continues to call for a fairer and more solidarity-based world. On 23 September this year, he will be present in Marseille for the conclusion of the Mediterranean Encounter. The event will bring together Catholic bishops, representatives of other Churches and young people of all faiths to discuss the challenges facing the Mediterranean region. And these challenges are many: geopolitical, socio-economic, environmental and precisely migration challenges. In the face of these challenges, we Christians are called to mobilize. How? First of all, by praying for illuminating reflections to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and by acting as Christ would have done in the face of these problems. Unfortunately, many of our brothers and sisters are still forced to migrate. In the history of the Church, concrete assistance to migrants and refugees is not new. In the prayer and works of the Church there has always been a special place for those who have had to leave their own, who live in a foreign land, who suffer. By caring for the excluded, the poor, the weak, something of the face of Christ is revealed to us." The Church's action in favor of the weakest, the excluded, has its origin in the life and teaching of Christ himself, but already in the Old Testament we read: "A stranger, settled among you, you shall regard as a native. You shall love him as yourselves, for you too were sojourners in the land of Egypt" (Lev 19:32-34). Working in a Paris parish and developing the work of helping migrants and refugees, I have met Christians, including even priests or nuns, who have pointed out that this help is sometimes morally questionable because some of them have arrived illegally and have no right of residence. It is therefore necessary to keep reminding people that the Church is not there to make laws that states must enact. But the Church must proclaim, also through charitable works towards migrants, that there is an impassable red line, which is the limit of respect for human dignity. The Church is the one who reminds us that human dignity is inviolable, from conception to natural death. This dignity is also inviolable when a foreigner arrives on our soil. It is not up to us to decide whether they legally have the right to stay or not. No matter what. Every person must be treated with dignity. Even one who is on the territory of a country illegally. Helping such persons is not an exhortation to disobey the laws of the state, but is a prophetic cry that for the love of one's neighbor there are no limits. Sometimes extending a helping hand to a migrant may be considered illegal by the law, but it is an obligation to our humanity. This, incidentally, is what the headmaster of a Catholic school in Paris, who collaborated with us, said, when accused of taking in migrant minors residing in France illegally: "maybe what I am doing is illegal, but it is loyal to our humanity and to our faith". While claiming the right to unconditionally care for migrants and refugees in need, the Church does not call for breaking the law, but reminds us that no law can put a limit to love of neighbors. So before we consider the presence of migrants and refugees in any territory, we first have a duty to care for them. This is probably what Jesus Christ would have done, this is what Vincent Pallotti would have done too. Because the poor, the migrants, the refugees are like the tabernacle in which Christ is present. If that needy person is before me, it is because the Lord has given him to me as a neighbor that he is entrusted to me so that I can take care of Him. This is not always easy. In our societies, communities and families, there are fears that the newcomer, especially the poor, 'stranger' who needs help, is a threat to my well-being, to my future, to my values. "What remains today is faith, hope and charity; but of these three the greatest is charity," reads St Paul the Apostle's letter to the Corinthians. Mercy is a word that refers directly to love, the source of which is God himself. This is how I distinguish mercy from solidarity or humanitarianism. By doing good in the name of solidarity or humanitarianism, I am doing something good for another, for one who is in need. An act of mercy, on the other hand, is allowing Christ to express His love for each person through our concrete actions. It is also expressing our love to Christ by leaning on my brother or sister: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matt 25:40). By opening myself to a refugee or migrant, I open myself to Christ. By seeing the dignity of the person in the refugee and migrant, I also see it in myself. Through this, we grow together. Saint Vincent Pallotti understood this perfectly. And he did not remain here only in the realm of fine words and theories. In 1844, he sends one of his companions, Fr Rafael Melia, from Rome to minister among the Italian emigrants living in London. Two years later he was joined by Joseph Faa di Bruno. They begin efforts to build a church dedicated to St Peter, which would become a center of not only spiritual and moral, but also social and material help for Italian emigrants. One could even say that the Pallottine mission among the Italians in London was the prototype of the pastoral action undertaken in the name of the Church and at the request of Pope Pius IX himself. In fact, it found recognition in the Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII on the spiritual care of emigrants (Exsul Familia) of 1 August 1952. In it, Pope Pacelli writes as follows: "We feel it a pleasant duty to mention the person of Blessed Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. For we ourselves called him 'the glory and adornment of the Roman clergy', including him in the luminous company of the Blessed when the Jubilee celebrations of the universal Church began. It was he who, driven by love of souls and a desire to consolidate the faith among the Italians emigrating to England, directed many members of his congregation to London to undertake the spiritual care of his compatriots there" (no. 13). In 1884, Fr Emiliano Kirner, a Pallottine of German origin, set off for the United States, where he organized the first parish for Italians, building a shrine to Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In time, this shrine would become a point of reference for all Italian migrants in the United States and a place around which various works of social assistance would be developed. Already two years later, in 1886, a dozen Pallottine confreres began their ministry among Italian migrants in Uruguay and Brazil. Maintaining religious customs, culture and the Italian language, the Pallottines did not undertake only the pastoral care for Italian migrants. They also contributed to the emergence of new cities, which even in their names remain very Italian: Santa Maria, Nova Treviso, Nova Palma or Palotina (see Fr. Stanislaw Stawicki, Holy Fathers of Migrants) Pallotti wrote: "Whoever abides in love (that is, whoever practices acts of love) remains in God and God in him. If, therefore, one wishes to abide in God and desires God to be in him, he must abide in love (that is, he must abide in the practice of love). Love concerns God and neighbor. Thus friend or foe, Catholic or heretic, pagan or infidel, Christian or Jew, compatriot or foreigner of any nation on earth - is our neighbor" (OO CC, III, p. 152). Today, in the many countries where members of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate, spiritual disciples of Pallotti, minister, there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners: refugees from war, persecution or poverty. How do we express to them, both individually and communally, the love and care of which Pallotti wrote and which he concretely showed by sending Rafael Melia 179 years ago to care for migrants? The positive effects of this courageous decision are still bearing fruit today. May Saint Vincent Pallotti, by his intercession and example, help us to overcome our fears and apprehensions so that, in building the Kingdom of God, we do not stop at enjoying a certain security and complacency, but know how to accept risks and face new challenges with confidence.

Fr. Krzysztof Hermanowicz SAC

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Apostles for Today - August 2023


Apostles for Today

August 2023

The young men and Mary ... She got up and ran (Lk 1:39)

 In the spiritual life, we are blessed to have pivotal religious who assist us in the responsibilities that the Lord uses to shape our destiny. For me, they are Fr. Frederick Link, Sr. Carmel Therese CSAC, Fr. Joseph Lasak SAC, Fr. Peter Sticco SAC, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam SAC, and Pope Francis.

 Fr. Link, a diocesan priest in the United States, received his vocation at the canonization of St. Vincent Pallotti. 54 years later, again in Rome, he asked the young woman he had baptized two decades ago if she would like to see a special Church.

In an instant, St. Vincent became the saint of my conversion, and the saint I promised my life to. 

 These imitators of Christ tap the essential dynamism of youth, on the exhilarating premise of complete trust in the Holy Spirit’s determinative fire and genius in young people. Their accompaniment, good humor, and encouragement, “linked with spiritual direction, is a systematic school of the interior life”. (St. John Paul II, Dilecti Amici

Through the Society’s Immaculate Conception Province, I’ve been blessed to witness the spontaneity and passion of the Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, and Lay Youth Leaders who are involved in creating and realizing flourishing youth ministries for the Pallottine Congregations across the world. Likewise, seated in Rome for six years, I’ve been equally blessed to meet the Pallottine greats. 

An African proverb says that when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground; and when an elderly woman dies, a school burns to the ground.

 Fr. Wolfgang Weiss SAC pointed me to the words of Juliana of Norwich, who wrote in her Revelation of Divine Love that "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all matters of things shall be well." 

Mother Lilia Capretti CSAC (+) explained that “we are in two different stages of our life; mine, the end; yours, the beginning. Both are beautiful; do not be afraid.” And the three books 

Fr. Nicolàs Drieling SAC (+) sent to Rome from Turdera, on St. Vincent’s Argentinian history, reached me only after his death. They are now cherished on a shelf in the Union office. 

Those that truly lead the youth are intensely grounded in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ; courageously pointing to “ideals other than those of this world, testifying to the beauty of generosity, service, purity, perseverance, forgiveness, fidelity to our personal vocation, prayer, the pursuit of justice and the common good, love for the poor, and social friendship.” (Pope Francis, Christus Vivit

When I reflect upon these experiences, I recall the words of St. Therese of Lisieux: we do not need complicated means. The youth apostolate, then, can be meditated upon with one conversation in the Gospel.

 “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:1) St. John Paul II writes to young people that “this meeting has a universal and timeless character, it holds good constantly and continually, throughout centuries and generations.” 

 Manifested is a profound truth of man, and an honest question that the Union - when viewed in its juridical structure and central governance as an Association of the Faithful - must ask itself. 

Have we gone away sorrowful, overly fearful and tied to our structures? Have we resisted change, to the point where young people do not see the Union as relevant or critical to their lives? Are the roles we assign to the youth passive, so that we can stifle a different style, schedule, pace, and method? (Cf Pope Francis, Christus Vivit

St. Paul VI professed that Pallotti enriched the Christian community “not for the passive and quiet acceptance of faith, but for the active and militant profession of it.” 

To attract the youth, Union members must rise to the consciousness of their commitment. A consciousness that declares “we are responsible! Tremendous, dynamic, disturbing, energetic; and who understands it can no longer remain sleepless and indifferent!” (St. Pope Paul VI Homily on St. Vincent Pallotti, Frascati 1 September 1963) 

These same verbs are the characteristics of the theme of this year’s World Youth Day; “Mary arose and went in haste.” (Luke 1:39) “She did not hold back or remain indifferent; and this gave enthusiasm and direction to her life.” (Pope Francis’ Message for World Youth Day, Lisbon 2023)

 Like Mary, “when we are faced with urgent needs, we need to act quickly; the Holy Spirit permits no delay.” (ibid) Her focus, always directed outward, gives rise to another set of questions Pope Francis posed in his message for Lisbon; which is best contemplated in the context of the National Coordination Councils.

  • What kind of haste do we have? 
  • How do we react to the needs around us? 
  • Do we think of some reason to immediately not get involved? 
  • Do we show interest and willingness to help? (ibid)

 In every instance, and at every age, “the Blessed Mother is the inspiration of everyone.” (Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Your Life is Worth Living) 

The first to notice if we have accepted this imperative of doing today and immediately for the Union will be the young people, just as little children recognize and replicate the mannerisms of their parents. It will be impossible to invest in the youth’s fearlessness wherever there is an indifference to the urgent needs of the present. 

To Jesus Himself, and the greatest saints, indifference was an insufferable endurance. Christ revealed to St. Faustina that lukewarm souls cause Him the most suffering, so great that His heart “cannot bear it.” Venerable Fulton Sheen professed, “I wonder maybe if Our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference than He did from the Crucifixion.” (“Spectators of Indifference”) 

St. Pope Paul VI preached that “St.  Vincent Pallotti had what the saints all possess: a warning, which becomes painful and almost dramatic in them. Many Christians continue to be passive and forgetful of the great call that God - with Christianity - has given the world.” (Ibid 5) 

And this young woman’s inexpressible pain is no different. Where she sees no urgency for structure or proper elections, she sees the impossibility to will the good of the Union’s future. Where she sees a central governance not at the service of the Holy See, she sees one directed to its own imminences and interests, without the spirit of openness, or radicality sine glossa. (St. Francis of Assisi - “without gloss” - living the radical Gospel as it demands) “I have many thoughts, so do you, but God has only one thought. Let us go to God.” (Ibid 10)

 All of our vocations are unique and precious gifts that create the mystical body of Christ, and just one missing would render the Church incomplete; as each individual soul is worth more than all the world. 

Mary’s haste teaches us that the commitment to the Union is not a badge, but rather an inseparable way of life in which the daily becomes heroic, and the heroic becomes daily. St. Zelie Martin We do not need complicated means. (The daughter of St. Zelie Martin, St. Therese of Lisieux)

Nos cum prole pia, benedicat Virgo Maria

Julianne Calzonetti,
 a youth
Rome / USA (New Jersey)

Monday, June 26, 2023

Apostles for today - July 2023

Apostles for today

Prayer and Reflection 
July 2023

 The elderly, living signs of God's benevolence

We are all familiar with World Youth Day, but the fact that Pope Francis is inviting us for the third time to a "World Day of Grandparents and Elders" is new to many; this year it will be celebrated on 23 July. Well, as members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, we know that Pallotti was never tired of emphasising that "everyone is called", everyone is called, always and at all times, to be an apostle, to participate in the mission of the Church and to bring faith and love to the world - everyone, including the elderly.

In the prayer to the Queen of Apostles, Pallotti points out all the ways to respond to this vocation of ours and makes us pray: "and if all else is denied us, let us not cease to pray that soon the one flock may be united under the one Shepherd Jesus Christ!" and for all of us - young and old - what Pallotti says applies: "... therefore the life of Jesus Christ, which is his apostolate be the model for the apostolate of each one" (OOCC III, 142).

What was Pallotti's time like? Elderly care as we know it today was still unknown. Pallotti did not know his grandparents, either on his father's or mother's side. But we know how worried he was about his parents growing old and becoming ill. As a student, Pallotti was not only active in youth work, but also helped at the St. Galla Hospice, a home for the homeless. His connection with San Michele a Ripa, in Trastevere, was also multifaceted.

For almost 30 years, Bernardino Fazzini was our founder's confessor and spiritual director. For many years he was parish priest of Santa Cecilia in Trastevere and from 1825 until his death (1837) he was rector and parish priest of the Apostolic Hospice of San Michele a Ripa. This huge complex of buildings on the Tiber housed an orphanage, a youth prison and also a rest home for lonely old men and women. Since Pallotti often visited Fazzini, he must have also visited and cared for young and old people there.

The theme of this year's 'World Day of the Grandparents and the Elderly' chosen by Pope Francis is: 'From generation to generation his mercy' (Lk 1:50) and mercy is probably one of the key words that characterise Pallotti's life and work. Mercy addresses the whole person, and his physical and spiritual needs. In his 'enlightenment', his experience of prayer, on 9 January 1835, he became clearly aware of his vocation to also found "an institution of universal Charity in the exercise of all the spiritual, and corporal Works of Mercy, so that in every way possible You may be known in man; for You are infinite Charity." (OOCC X,199). His proxy plan shows how Pallotti envisioned this; it was a plan for thirteen working groups for the most diverse areas of the apostolate. Today this is probably a task for the Coordination Councils at all levels. The task of the ninth Procura (procura - from the Latin pro-curare, to care) was to care for the sick.

In the first half of the 19th century there were hardly any old people's homes. Therefore, the elderly who could not be cared for at home were often found in hospitals. Pallotti emphasized that works of corporal mercy open the sick to works of spiritual mercy. The task of the Twelfth Procura was Caritas, the care of the poor and needy - and the elderly were - and still are today - often present in both groups at the same time. When Pallotti saw people in need and in difficulty, he always tried to help them. There is nothing in his instructions for the work of this office that he himself did not experience. His instructions testify to both his love and his sober knowledge of human nature. 

In many countries of the world the number of elderly people is increasing and many of them suffer from loneliness due to illness and the death of close relatives. That is why the most beautiful and precious thing we can give the elderly is our time: time to visit them, time to spend with them, time to listen to them. And sometimes it helps us to remember: I too will grow old and become old. There is no maybe! I too will grow old one day.

Last year, Pope Francis spoke about the dignity and beauty of old age in several of his Catechesis at the General Audiences. In the catechesis of 22 June 2022, he went so far as to talk about the dialogue between the risen Jesus and Peter in the last chapter of John's Gospel. The Pope emphasizes here that we all grow old, can no longer help ourselves and need help. But 'the following of Jesus always goes on', with good or bad health; 'always follow Jesus, on foot, walking, slowly, in a wheelchair, but always following him'. And we pray that the Lord, who has called us all to follow him, will help us to do so.

In the Union we have many people who, despite their advanced age, are witnesses who continue to live their apostolate to the full. We share two examples that give us tenderness, joy and hope:

My name is Sister Guglielmina, I belong to the Congregation of the Pallottine Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate. 

For over forty years I have been carrying out my apostolic mission in Riposto (Sicily). For several years I taught in the kindergarten, and at the same time I took care of the boys who were in boarding school. To this day I take care of the children in the residential community: 'Piccoli Gabbiani'. All the children I take care of are scarred by big wounds: children with parents in prison, some of them abused in the family and other situations of poverty. All of them express their need for affection in their own way, sometimes even through big tantrums

and bullying. Of course, welcoming these frailties is not easy, and it takes a lot of human and spiritual strength to be there for all of them. I thank the Lord, because despite my 77 years of age, He always gives me new energy to deal with the daily grind of dealing with: anger, aggression, opposition from the children. This truly free service has enriched me and made me a happy woman and nun. I exercise my motherhood in this way and every day I bring to the Lord, in my prayers, the pain and hopes of the little ones and their families. (Sr Guglielmina Vozzo, CSAC - Italy)


I am Dayse, Brazilian, widowed, with a family of four children, five grandchildren, two sons-in-law and two daughters-in-law. We should live the stages of life intensely, with much love, experiencing and living God's Love. I am 73 years old and try to live this stage by serving God and my family. I am active in my parish, serving in visiting the sick, in formation, in leading retreats and in the UAC. In the family I am the pillar because I try to lead and be present in everyone's life. I am now experiencing one of the most rewarding phases of life, that of being a grandmother. As the matriarch of my family, I try to be the living memory of the family history and thus transmit the values of the Gospel, so that they can feel and experience the value of family. I try to live and thus teach through the testimony of life, acceptance, understanding, sharing and brotherly love. We must not get stuck in the past and think that we can no longer contribute to building a just and fraternal world. As long as there is life and health, let us reconcile our apostolic work with our family.  


(Dayse da Conceição Barros da Conceição - Lay Pallottine Brazil)

Limburg, July 2023

P. Wolfgang Weiss SAC

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Apostles for today - June 2023


Apostles for today

Prayer and Reflection 

June 2023

The Eucharist in the life of St. Vincent

Dear members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate,

In the month of June we continue our journey of reflection and formation. I would like to share with you, through three points; the path lived by Pallotti regarding his Eucharistic experience. At the end of these three points, I leave a question so that it can help us in our personal reflection on our charism, the charism of the Union, and also to make us reflect on our way of celebrating and living the Eucharist today, with the Church.

It all begins in the family.

We know that Pallotti would say, "The Lord gave me holy parents”1 ; the Eucharist was at the center of his family's faith life.

After the death of his mother, Fr. Vincent retired to the Monastery of Camaldoli (Frascati) and there wrote a long letter2 addressed to his spiritual director. In this text, Fr. Vincent "reported that his father heard at least one Mass every morning".3 The Eucharist was the comfort in his father's illness. Every morning priest Vincent brought him Holy Communion. Even on the day of his father's death he had received the Eucharist from Fr. Vincent.

The Priest Pallotti was also close to his brothers. We know that from his visit to his brother John (1805-1869) who was ill and he "...after the administration of the Most Holy Viaticum (...) had an instantaneous recovery”.4

Pallotti was admitted to First Communion in 1805 at the age of 10.5 In the school of the Clerics Regular of the Pious Schools, the students were also taught and encouraged "devotion to the Eucharist"6 and as a young man he was allowed to receive the Eucharist frequently. Our founder would remain in the family until 1837. In his house he had a small chapel to celebrate Mass. His parents, to facilitate the exercise of his ministry, made available to him the third floor at 130 Via del Pellegrino.

Let us ask ourselves: What place is given to the Eucharist in our families?

The Path to Priesthood

In his early writings we find his confident prayer in which he asks, "...I pray to my Jesus that from that Altar of the liveliest, and most wonderful love, where the Sacrament, day and night, dwells for the benefit of souls, he may deign to convert to himself with the odor of his ointments, to enlighten, sanctify, perfect, regulate, tranquilize, and console all these souls."7

Jesus in the Eucharist is for Pallotti the "most beloved Spouse of my Soul." And he proposed himself "in hearing some Bell ring" to raise his mind to God to glorify, praise and bless Him. In his Spiritual Protests and Devotional Exercises he writes: "I intend that all my actions, and of all creatures be immersed in the Most Precious Blood of J.C. and united to his merits, and the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass."8 With all creatures he wanted to be "perpetually occupied in the highest adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in all places where He is found".9

 And he intended that "the Most Holy Trinity and Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in everything be in my heart and soul”.10

His sense of unworthiness does not turn him away from the Eucharist. He writes "In the days preceding, accompanying, and following Communion I want to procure to excite myself to an interior consolation, and cheerfulness, because my soul is in Feast, and if it shall happen to me to receive Communion every day I will procure from time to time with the grace of God to excite myself to this interior cheerfulness."11 That is why Jesus in the Eucharist is "the more than beloved Spouse of my poor soul".12

We can end with Pallotti's prayer that says, "Jesus in the Sacrament, more than beloved Spouse of my Soul, I beseech You by the merits of Mary Immaculate, my more than loving Mother, and Sorrowful, and by the merits of the Angels, the Saints, and all the Righteous, vibrate from that Sacred Altar of Love most burning darts of charity into all Hearts, that all, all, may love You”.13

Let us ask ourselves: Personally, how do we approach the Eucharist? What are the feelings and thoughts that help me live a Eucharistic spirituality? The Eucharist in the life of the deacon and priest Pallotti We come to the third point: in the years "around the time of diaconal and priestly ordination”. 14 Pallotti, a young deacon, enrolled in the Confraternities "of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Lorenzo in Damaso"15 and "to the Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ”.16

This is between the years 1817-1818. The sacred ministry is close to entering his life; there will always remain in him the desire to educate God's people to celebrate Holy Mass well and to turn away from blasphemy. For this he thought of the Reparatory Lauds that later became customary in the Church after the blessing with the Blessed Sacrament.17

From this period is his writing Method of some Pious Works, where he thought about the spiritual concerns different for men and women and decided that at the end of the practices, "the Holy Blessing with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament will be given”.18

On May 16, 1818, he was ordained a priest and received "the faculty to celebrate Holy Mass in all churches in and around the city of Rome, as well as in the churches of the monasteries and private buildings”.19 This very great gift helped him deepen his unworthiness in the undeserved dignity of having been undeservedly elevated "to the most sublime degree of Priesthood"20 and he added that "it has deigned to raise me to the lofty Order of Priesthood...”.21 Before God he will always be "indignus sum sacrificium perpetuum Deo offerre". 22 And seventeen years later, in 1835, he will be able to say "Ah my God I already since 1818 made a Priest”.23

On May 17 he celebrated his first Mass in the Church of Jesus in Frascati. For the first time the voice of Vincent (alter Christus)said "Hoc est enim Corpus meum" and added "Hic est enim Calix Sánguinis mei, novi et aetérni testaménti: mysterium fídei: qui pro vobis et pro multis effundétur in remissiónem peccatórum." 

Let us ask ourselves: As a UAC member, does Pallotti inspire a particular way of celebrating Holy Mass?

Dear members of the UAC, I wanted to share these three points of St. Vincent's life and his close relationship with the Eucharist: they are just three points of a whole life penetrated by the Eucharist; indeed, he was so 'Eucharistic.' We could have seen even more, but I think these three selected points and even the questions can help us in this unending and endless journey to the infinity of God. 

P. Fabián Silveira, SAC 


 Luigi VACCARI, Compendio della vita del Venerabile Servo di Dio Vincenzo Pallotti, Roma, [s.e.], 1888, 11.

2 OOCC XIII, 915-950.

3 TODISCO (a cura di), San Vincenzo Pallotti profeta della spiritualità di comunione, 34.

ISTITUTO SAN VINCENZO PALLOTTI, Cronologia della vita di San Vincenzo Pallotti, Società dell’Apostolato Cattolico, Roma, 2018, 47.

5 Cfr. TODISCO (a cura di), San Vincenzo Pallotti profeta della spiritualità di comunione, 48.

Idem, 53.

7 OOCC X, 23, 102-103.

8 OOCC X, 76.

9 OOCC X, 77.

10 OOCC X, 88-89.

11 OOCC X, 110.

12 OOCC X, 111.

13 OOCC X, 102-103.

14 OOCC X, 145.

15 OOCC X, 499.

16 OOCC X, 500.

17 Idem, 427, 437-438 «Dio sia benedetto, benedetto il sia il Suo santo nome».

18 OOCC V, 443.

19 ISTITUTO SAN VINCENZO PALLOTTI, Cronologia della vita di San Vincenzo Pallotti, 31.

20 OOCC X, 148.

21 OOCC X, 324.

22 OOCC X, 160.

23 OOCC X, 264.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Apostles for Today April -2023


Apostles for Today

Prayer and Reflection

April 2023

Fix your eyes on the Light

 Fix your eyes on the light that comes from the resurrection of Christ For the Union monthly message "Apostles Today" I was asked to focus on the light that comes from the Resurrection of Christ. I thank you for the trust and I would like to share with you my thoughts on this topic.

Lumen Christi - the light of the Resurrection. What can we imagine by this, and is there something like this also for me, in my little life?

"Lumen Christi" we call out in the Easter Vigil. Light of the Risen Lord. A light that is not turned on and illuminates the room, but one that shines in us, especially in dark hours, and that becomes visible to others in our deeds. Thus, it is independent of lamps, lighters, and candles. It is not a light that you can forget at home and then not have when you urgently need it. Rather, this light is always with you once you have it. 

Light must hit something, otherwise it can neither shine nor work. The light of Christ illuminates us human beings, and we need it. We may thereby assume this unfinishedness of us humans as part of the divine plan of creation. When God created the world, he obviously had something completely different in mind than a finished, perfect museum piece. It did not concern him an earth without natural disasters and human total failure. He was hardly concerned with a faultlessly functioning "crown of creation". No, the earth consists of divine variety and intentional diversity. With humans as actors in it, who are to make this complex planet "subject" to themselves. 

This is less a free ride or an invitation to arbitrariness, but rather a task and responsibility. However, God places both possibilities of interpretation without restriction in the freedom of decision of man. I sometimes like to read this directive formulated in Genesis (Genesis 1,26-31) this way: "I hereby lend you perhaps my best work, to which I am very attached. I really had a lot of work with your planet and the design of all millions of living beings. Above all, I have been occupied with you humans. I have put great hope in you, and you have become terribly complicated about it, of course, but I wanted to have you just like that: In their decision free living beings - just also, what concerns the distinction of right and wrong. And because only you can do that, I love you more than anything else in the world. Infinitely much more, than you can already understand now! Honestly: if I had really wanted you differently, I would have had to make you only differently. Now listen, make the best of it. I wish that you use your huge chance for a fulfilled life in love and responsibility, by switching on your heart and your mind (what else would you have both for?). Because there is also something which I do not want at all: to I get sometime back from you a dying scrap heap called earth. Which has fallen victim to the obstinacy and the greed of people who always care more about themselves than about others! But I have infinite confidence in you. Maybe I will contact you occasionally, but you know how to find me. Let us stay in contact!".

But does the light of Christ show up in his first apostles as we know them from the New Testament? Were they a good mirror for the light that Jesus brought into the world not by means of prophets, but personally and as a human being? After all, these apostles sat "directly at the source", were allowed to get to know Jesus personally more exclusively than anyone else and even lived with him for a few years. They were eyewitnesses - in the immediate vicinity of the source of light. Could anything go wrong at all? At first glance, yes. Unlike Zacchaeus (Luke 19,1-10), for example, who met Jesus for only a few hours and then immediately turned his whole questionable life around, the apostles show very different sides of their personalities. 

Let us look at Peter. The rock on which Jesus wants to build his church- and makes him understand this quite clearly. When Peter wanted to walk on the water and when he looked at his feet instead of the Lord, he began to sink. But when Jesus is arrested after Judas' betrayal, the same highly determined apostle Peter cuts off Malchus' ear (John 18,10-11). He shows his willingness to defend Jesus and his loyalty in public, which was certainly not without danger for him. But soon after, this combative Peter is gone again when he despairs and three times denies even knowing Jesus. How does this fit together? And Thomas also leaves a strange impression. He belonged, as it were, to the inner circle of the disciples, had followed Jesus for a long time (John 15,15), but to the message of the resurrection of Jesus, who after all was his friend, he responded with doubt, demanded tangible proof (John 20,19-29). And the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: they were deeply disappointed and could not believe the "rumours" that He was alive; for what we do not understand cannot be true (Luke 24,32). Well, and then there is Judas, epitome of the traitor, for 2000 years without any forgiveness of mankind for his deed. 

Personally, I have sympathy for the minor slip-ups and some understanding for the major human failure of the first apostles. After all, in the face of their own inadequacy, it is also a relief to see how even Jesus' closest friends fail because of themselves, and how they always come to their senses afterwards and grow - with God's assurance of His forgiveness and help. Judas Iscariot, too, and above all, quickly felt the enormity of his deed, which disfigured him as a human being and completely alienated him from himself. The fact that in his despair he no longer wanted to know about his blood money and could not go on living also tests our own morality: 

who are we to judge his deeds? None of us can know how we ourselves would act in a comparable situation; what ways out we would see that another, tormented person no longer recognizes. It is even more so with Peter's famous denial and all the doubts of the disciples: for one thing, one must have the same experience and then do it better in order to feel superior to others. The first apostles tell us on this way that also we do not have to be perfect, God knows (!).

It is immensely comforting and perhaps the most valuable thing about our faith that God never loses sight of us or gives up on us with all our doubts, faults and even the very big sins. Never, never does the measure of His goodness seem to be finally full. For the light of the Resurrection always shines on us, and what we do not see and understand while we are alive hopefully becomes clear to us at the latest when we go home. In the Union, as baptized people, we consciously recognize the vocation to the apostolate; and you too, like many others in the world, are reading an issue of "Apostles Today." You are meant to be "apostles." Looking at these first apostles, we may consider how far we want to follow them and the saints and martyrs. Often, of course, we first look at our own doubts and imperfections in this question. But we should never overlook the good developments for which we may even have had enough faith and strength so far. We should be ever grateful for all what we, with God’s help, have achieved and done well, and where the light has already reached us. I was very lucky to be able to visit the Vinzent Pallotti College in Rheinbach, Germany, at the age of ten and to get to know very closely many Pallottine Fathers and Brothers over there. Probably none of them was a saint, but we experienced our teachers and prefects as very close and authentic. And yes, they were apostles. Not infrequently one could see and feel how they dedicated themselves to the weakest, to those who needed the most help. There was a lot of Pallotti in these men who could not have been more different, and yet they made common cause.

In fact, it does not have to be the very difficult testimonies to come to terms with oneself. Not everyone can be like Franz Reinisch, a Pallottine Father, who refused to take the oath of allegiance to Hitler and knew that he would be sentenced to death for it. Or a Vincent Pallotti who did as St. Martin did and shared his clothes with a needy person in the great cold - which brought him closer to his own death. Fortunately, most of us these days never get into situations where it is a matter of bare survival right away - just because we want to live our faith. Therefore, please be thankful that we can give so much to others without having to give up or put ourselves in danger. That we may pass on the light, for example, by contacting a lonely, disappointed, or needy person, so that, like an Easter candle, light may begin to glow in that person. The more we pass on this light, the more we ourselves become a light for the people around us, and can infect them with it.

I wish you all the personal blessing of such Easter experiences - for every day of the year.

Stefan H. Heuel UAC