Saturday, February 15, 2014

Apostles for Today

A Word of Explanation
On March 1st of 2014 the Blog that I have been posting the monthly reflections "Apostles for Today" is closing.  There is a wonderful resource here for Prayer and Reflection for the members of the UAC.
 " My Opera" is closing but they have offered to transfer the data so that it can still be accessed.  I have chosen to place it here.  In the process I found that it will still take some editing to put it in readable and understandable format.  Please bear with me as I move the material to its new home.
Thanks 
Fr. Greg Serwa, SAC



The Year Of Faith, The Synod Of Bishops On The New Evangelisation
And
The 50th Anniversary Of The Canonisation Of Saint Vincent Pallotti


Receiving an invitation to prepare a reflection which in some way includes the above themes, all of which are fairly important for our Pallottine Family, is like being invited to plunge into the ocean. So many themes, such important arguments, so many challenges to face. I am afraid of talking too much; we have less and less time to listen to others and even less again to read what they have written.

I know that my first thought is to put myself at the feet of the Master, of Jesus whom I proclaim to be my only Saviour. What I really need is to be crazy enough to trust in the Lord and desire to entrust all of you to his love.

What immediately comes to mind is the word of Saint Paul (for whom St. Vincent had a deep love) which still echoes in my mind and heart from the time of our Symposium on the New Evangelisation:

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Co 9:16). ...


In a changing world, the Gospel does not change. The Good News always remains the same. Our vocation to be its bearers and our responsibility are always current. "The core of the proclamation always remains the same: the Kerygma of Christ who died and rose for the world's salvation, the Kerygma of God's absolute and total love for every man and every woman" (Benedict XVI, Message for World Mission Day 2012).

I ask myself, what do we, sons and daughters of St. Vincent Pallotti, need in this era of the New Evangelisation?

Like everyone in the Church today, I need to re-examine, with courage and humility, my way of being an apostle, sent to evangelise, I need to understand the profound sense of insufficiency of my proclamation and my witness; otherwise, how can I explain the fact that so many people
around me do not know God and live as if God did not exist?

"God created human beings in time only in order to lead them happily to eternity. His desire is to see all of them saved, enlightened by his graces and by the exercise of his Providence. For this reason, St. Dionysius the Areopagite says that the most holy, most noble, most august, most divine work of all of the Divine, august, noble and holy works is to cooperate with the merciful plans, wishes and desires of God for the salvation of human beings". OOCC IV, 124).

At some point in the past, each one of us met Jesus, each one replied with love and courage, 'Yes, send me', to his invitation, 'Follow me'. Each person lives out in their own state of life as mother, father, sister, brother, priest, young, sick etc., day after day, their being an apostle, sent by Jesus. All of us have the same desire, implanted in our hearts by our Creator, to be happy. As good Christians, we must desire the same happiness also for our brothers and sisters. We find the fullness of our happiness in Jesus Christ who is our Way, our Truth and our Life.

Placing myself before the Master, I must find the courage to reflect on the effectiveness of my proclamation and my witness. This is the first and most important step towards my personal contribution to the New Evangelisation. It doesn't matter if the truth hurts me, because sincerity will lead me to conversion and healing. Habit often extinguishes the power of creativity and enthusiasm, leading to dullness. The lack of fervour in missionary spirit which manifests itself in weariness, in frustration, in disinterest, in indifference, in minimalism, could be a sign of crisis.

Whatever my diagnosis I have to let myself be spiritually renewed by the encounter and lived communion with Jesus Christ. Without the renewing breath of the Holy Spirit there can be no New Evangelisation. Without a deep desire for the Holy Spirit on my part, "the new man, the new woman", true witness of God, cannot be born in me. I already realize from my life experience how risky and unpredictable it is to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit and his action within us
But if we open our hearts and minds to the fire of the Holy Spirit who acted in the life and missionary activity of the first apostles, of St. Paul, of the saints of all times, including our holy Founder, we can experience unexpected change. Like the disciples of Emmaus, like the disciples who left the Cenacle after Pentecost transformed from simple chroniclers into passionate witnesses of the Risen One, from frightened apostles into courageous bearers of the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. It is the Holy Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God.

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Co 9:16).

I really find the need to be changed into an ardent witness of the Risen Jesus from whom life springs for me and for the whole world. Not to be simply a chronicler of facts, of events immortalised in the pages of the Gospel, but to believe strongly in the extraordinary power, and feel the life, which the Gospel possesses. The most difficult thing today for each of us, for every Christian, I think, is to take seriously the Gospel which we have in our hands, to try to translate into practise what Jesus says to us about simplicity of spirit. But this is precisely what is being asked of us with great insistence in today. The Good News of the Gospel is always the love of God for each human person; we are expected to give concrete form to this message and it is only then that those close to us will be able to understand the message of love and hope. A "theology of the face", meaning meeting and welcoming the other in a personalised way, seems more relevant and necessary. It is very much needed today in human relationships. The most effective way to share the Good News with others is to communicate it heart to heart. Every person wants to feel themselves to be worthy of our attention, our interest, our love, and many want to see in us people of God.

I remember a recent encounter with an immigrant from Burkina Faso who stopped me on the street asking for help in order to eat. He was desperate, sad, tired of struggling for his life here in Italy. In our brief conversation he recounted how he had escaped from his country because of the war and had come to Italy, but had also found life difficult here. He seemed to be very sincere, and looking into his eyes I saw a suffering human person who was often denied respect for his humanity. Unfortunately that day I had no money in my pocket and it seemed that I could not help him. I offered to pray with him and I placed my hand on his head, praying for and blessing him. Really moved, he said: Sister, your prayer for me is worth more than money.

Yes, to open our eyes and discover that this other is my brother, a son of the same Heavenly Father, just like the Word of God teaches us. Yes, it is true that if our hearts do not burn with the fire of the Word, we will not set the world on fire with the Gospel which is life. Only you, Lord, can help me to open myself to the "novum" (newness) proposed by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise I will always have the same habits, the same methods, etc. and, I ask myself, with what result?

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Co 9:16).
"Remember, that my Divine Son in the kingdom of Glory, will reward you for every thought, word, work, and for every little thing, that you have committed to the propagation of the holy Faith, and indeed, if you do as much as you can in every way possible for this end, he will crown you for all eternity with the Crown of glory of your Apostolate". (OOCC IV, 333).


For a moment of prayer:
Lord, I would like my life to become a continuous experience of your presence to be shared with others, a space for the action of your Gospel, of the Holy Spirit, so that you may be known, loved and glorified throughout the world.

***
Father of infinite goodness and tenderness,
who never tire of sustaining your children
and of nourishing them by your hand,


The Year Of Faith, The Synod Of Bishops On The New Evangelisation 
And
The 50th Anniversary Of The Canonisation Of Saint Vincent Pallotti


Receiving an invitation to prepare a reflection which in some way includes the above themes, all of which are fairly important for our Pallottine Family, is like being invited to plunge into the ocean. So many themes, such important arguments, so many challenges to face. I am afraid of talking too much; we have less and less time to listen to others and even less again to read what they have written.

I know that my first thought is to put myself at the feet of the Master, of Jesus whom I proclaim to be my only Saviour. What I really need is to be crazy enough to trust in the Lord and desire to entrust all of you to his love.

What immediately comes to mind is the word of Saint Paul (for whom St. Vincent had a deep love) which still echoes in my mind and heart from the time of our Symposium on the New Evangelisation:

"For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!" (1 Co 9:16). ...

allow us to draw from the Heart of Christ, pierced on the cross,
the sublime knowledge of his love
so that renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit
we may bring to all people
the riches of the redemption. Amen.
(From the Italian liturgy for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Question for reflection:

Do I feel the need for conversion, for change, in my life?
Do I feel the need for the renewing power of the Spirit of God in my apostolate, in my mission?
Am I ready to open myself to the "to the "novum" (newness) proposed to me by the Holy Spirit, in which he wishes to involve me?
Sr. M. Bozena Olszewska SAC

____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org
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apostles-for-today-december-2012


As a Pallottine Family
We want to express our Sorrow and sadness at the tragic death of Josephine Gay the Grand daughter of Bob and Louise Gay - The president and secretary of UAC coordinating committee.
We pray that the Lord take all these little ones home to himself and heal the wounds that the violence of this tragedy has caused for all the families involved. Grateful too for the heroism shown by the teachers and personnel who also lost their lives we ask the Lord... Rain down Peace on all of Newtown, Conn.


Josephine Gay had just celebrated her seventh birthday on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, days before she was killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Former neighbor Sinde Candella wrote on Facebook that Josephine's parents, Bob and Michelle, are loving and "very into doing things with their girls."

According to a Wall Street Journal article, Josephine liked to ride her bike in the street and set up lemonade stands.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


prayer-for-josephine-gay


The New Evanglisation In The Light Of Pallottine Spirituality

I would like to begin this contribution on the theme of the New Evangelisation in the light of Pallottine spirituality by entrusting ourselves to the intercession of Mary, thus understanding, in her footsteps, the deepest meaning of every Christian and of the whole Church:
“The stages of Mary’s path [...] are marked by the capacity to maintain a persevering climate of recollection, to meditate on every event in the silence of her heart, before God (cf. Lk 2:19-51), and in her meditation before God also to understand the will of God and become capable of accepting it interiorly. The presence of the mother of God with the Eleven, after the Ascension, is not then a simple historical note of something past, but assumes a meaning of great value, because she shares with them what is most precious to her: the living memory of Jesus, in prayer; she shares this mission of Jesus: to preserve the memory of Jesus and in this way to preserve his presence”
(Benedict XVI, General Audience of March 14th 2012). ... 





In the stages of our path as Union of Catholic Apostolate, God also calls us to this same very high model. Let us entrust to Mary every moment of our own lives, so that we may preserve the presence of Jesus, as did Saint Vincent Pallotti throughout his life.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, in the great number of events in this year which is so special for faith and so rich in graces because of the canonization jubilee, we are introduced more and more to knowledge of the fullness of the truth of this charism which today, more than ever in the Church is called communion, collaboration, unity.

It is important now, in the sense of the New Evangelisation, to live the Pallottine charism with a new outlook on things, on events, on situations, on ourselves. That is, see the fullness of the charism – as is the case for every charism in the Church – reflected in the times in which we are living.

As we well know, adhering with our lives to the will of God means bringing about a dynamic conversion in ourselves, keeping our souls always fixed on the memory of the history of our communities, of our groups, as did Mary. And the first memory is the life of our holy Founder. He, at a certain point in his life, asked God: “My God, who are You and who am I? Who am I before You? What might you wish me to be before You?
They are questions which we need to ponder throughout our lives. Each of us must ask them of ourselves, and the answer will depend on our faith and on the faith of all those who feel themselves to belong to the Church in general and, in particular, to the family of the UAC.

Our Founder also says this to us: “Seek God and you will find Him; seek Him in everything and you will find him in everything, seek Him always and you will find Him always”.

It is essential for us, called to be apostles in this time of new evangelisation, to live this ‘contemplation’: to see God above all in others, venerating His Image in them, even when it is disfigured by sin or when the gulf between the Gospel and life seems insurmountable.

The life of Saint Vincent Pallotti and all of the other events of our history, inserted into that of the development of the Union as a whole, make us realise that in order to evangelise, precisely now, ‘something more’ is asked of us with respect to our individual life.

That ‘something more’ is to be united, to be in communion. So doing and so being, we implement the testament of Jesus: “As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe” (cf. Jn 17:21), so greatly desired by Saint Vincent Pallotti in actions and in words: one flock under one shepherd..

But this ‘something more’, this communion, can be brought about in us by a special grace from the Father if he finds, however, a particular disposition in us. And the disposition, that is the essential condition, is this: to live among ourselves the substantial constitutive of the whole Union of Catholic Apostolate and of the Church, love: “love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). The mutual love which, together with “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16) is the foundation of Pallottine spirituality.

And to love one another not simply as friends or because we agree or because we work on joint projects, but love one another as Jesus has loved us, to the point of being able to give our lives for others. In the communion of mutual love, Jesus himself will then become through us the Evangeliser, the Apostle.

As Pope John Paul II affirmed in Christifideles Laici, ‘new evangelisation’ means therefore ‘mending the Christian fabric of [human] society... [by] remak[ing] the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself’; it means helping the Church to continue to be present ‘in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters’, to animate their life and direct it towards the Kingdom which is coming.

For personal/community reflection:


  1. “He summoned those he wanted […]; they were to be with him and to be sent out to proclaim the message” (Mk 3:13-14). Can we to transmit the Gospel if we do not have as a basis a ‘being with’ with Jesus? What does it mean to ‘be with’ Him?

  2. The Lineamenta of the Synod states: “new evangelization” ‘means to have the boldness to raise the question of God in the context of [the] problems of the world], thereby fulfilling the specific character of the Church’s mission’. How can we achieve this, starting from the roots of the Pallottine charism?

  3. “Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself” (Christifideles Laici, 34). What is the specific fabric of the Union of Catholic Apostolate?

Prayer: 

God the Father of mercies,
grant that we may live this time of joy
in a spirit of gratitude, humility and prayer,
so that our hearts may be filled with Your grace
which is rich in mercy and blessings.
Allow us to imitate Jesus the Apostle
after the example of Saint Vincent Pallotti:
reviving in us Faith,
strengthening in us Hope,
rekindling in us Charity,
in order to spread them throughout the world.

In this time of spiritual and apostolic renewal
we wish to have a profound experience of God,
in which your Word will be a light and guide for our steps,
the Eucharist will be food to nourish our spirit,
so that we may be authentic missionary disciples of Christ. Amen

(from the Prayer for the Jubilee of the Canonisation of Saint Vincent Pallotti)
Donatella Acerbi, Rome


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


The New Evangelization: Insights of the Founder

During the month of October 2012, His Holiness Benedict XVI gathered nearly 300 Cardinals, Bishops and experts fo
r the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. His purpose was to gain their assistance in discerning how best to respond pastorally to today's challenges rooted in the allure of Western secularization and the resulting rising number of Catholics who have been turning away from the Church. 

As with each preceding synod, the Vatican prepared the participants in this Synod for a New Evangelization by first circulating a lengthy preparatory paper (Lineamenta) throughout the Church. The feedback resulted in a working paper which was then sent to the Synod participants in June of 2012. Fr. Vincent Pallotti, were he invited and given a copy, would have been an enthusiastic and resourceful contributor. As we know, his lifelong ministry was that of an evangelical trumpet, announcing the Good News of Christ and responding to the signs of his times.

Vincent would have been of one mind with Benedict's primary purpose, to enlist all Catholics, especially the laity, in calling secularized people back into the fold of true believers. The Synod for the New Evangelization was aimed "principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life… (Message, article 2). For the sake of brevity, I will respectfully refer to this target population as "secular." ...


The New Evangelization: Insights Of The Founder


During the month of October 2012, His Holiness Benedict XVI gathered nearly 300 Cardinals, Bishops and experts for the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. His purpose was to gain their assistance in discerning how best to respond pastorally to today's challenges rooted in the allure of Western secularization and the resulting rising number of Catholics who have been turning away from the Church.

As with each preceding synod, the Vatican prepared the participants in this Synod for a New Evangelization by first circulating a lengthy preparatory paper (Lineamenta) throughout the Church. The feedback resulted in a working paper which was then sent to the Synod participants in June of 2012. Fr. Vincent Pallotti, were he invited and given a copy, would have been an enthusiastic and resourceful contributor. As we know, his lifelong ministry was that of an evangelical trumpet, announcing the Good News of Christ and responding to the signs of his times.

Vincent would have been of one mind with Benedict's primary purpose, to enlist all Catholics, especially the laity, in calling secularized people back into the fold of true believers. The Synod for the New Evangelization was aimed "principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life… (Message, article 2). For the sake of brevity, I will respectfully refer to this target population as "secular." ...
So what makes today's evangelization "new"? Clearly, the gospel
message itself has not changed. Nor has the Vatican to date encouraged a novel strategy. What is clearly "new" is the target. As noted above, the primary focus is on the large population of former Catholics who, once familiar with the gospel message, have now turned away. In particular, as the Synod's concluding Message made explicit, the rising numbers of these secularized Europeans and North Americans have captured the Vatican's pastoral concern. To a lesser extent but also of serious concern is the limited number of South Americans who have been aggressively and successfully evangelized by non-Catholic religions.

Vincent was no stranger to the rise of secularism in his own day. The first and last decades of his life were like bookends, during which Rome itself was taken over by French troops who expelled religious and clergy from convents and monasteries and forced three popes into exile. Vincent's response, like that of the 2012 Synod Fathers, was to affirm total trust in divine providence and redouble all efforts to spread the Good News to the ends of the earth.
His Holiness Benedict XVI will weigh the Synod's recommendations and, within a year or so, write an Apostolic Letter on the New Evangelization, directing the Church's future pastoral course of action. While eagerly awaiting that publication, we, as members of the Pallottine family, can prayerfully reflect on the insights which the founder brought to the task of evangelization in his day. One in particular has long impressed me as worthy of imitation, namely, Vincent's explicit affirmation of God's image within each person, even prior to that person's birth, baptism or evangelization.

Vincent believed that each person was born in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). For him, this was not simply an exaggeration or metaphor, but a reality expressing the Creator's infinite love for each individual. He understood each person to be a living image of God and thus also of all the divine attributes (Cf. God the Infinite Love, Meditations VIII-XX, OOCC XIII, pp. 59-115). One implication which flows from this Pallottine insight is the need for us to bring a sense of deep respect for those with whom we intend to share the Good News.
The Synod Fathers' concluding Message (article 1) took as its starting point Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5 ff). They affirmed Jesus as the authentic living water for which every human heart thirsts. They highlighted that the Samaritan woman came to the well with an empty bucket and noted that she was, as we are today, at risk of harm by drawing from society's polluted wells. The Synod offers this image to encourage us to be confident that the Church is the authentic source of Christ's living waters.

This stark contrast between true believers and an antagonistic culture reminds me of the challenge facing the first generation of Christians. They struggled with how to be effective evangelizers, first to the Jews and then, after much soul-searching, to the gentiles. Vincent was well aware of St. Paul's struggle to convince St. Peter to accept the gentiles as respectable participants in evangelization. Peter's encounter with the Roman Centurion Cornelius (Acts 10) concluded with Peter reversing his opinion and finally admitting that nothing that comes from the hand of God should be called "unclean." Again, in Acts (ch. 15), when the disciples were arguing this same tension in Jerusalem, Peter told them that he had changed his earlier beliefs because he saw that the Holy Spirit was given to Cornelius even before he, Peter, arrived to proclaim the good news (15:8-9). Peter's conversion and conclusion reminds me of Vincent's insight: because we come from the hand of God, we are born as His image even prior to the flow of baptismal waters. The examples of Saints Peter, Paul and Vincent encourage us to begin our evangelization with respect for all persons, including those who have different beliefs or who have turned away from the Church.

Here then are several questions that may be helpful for prayerful mediation as we seek to discern our Church's call to commit ourselves to the New Evangelization and to identify what made Fr. Vincent Pallotti's evangelizing so effective in his day.

Reflection Questions and Actions

  1. The call to personal conversion is central to Jesus' message. Recognizing this, the New Evangelization encourages all who have previously rejected Church membership to take a second look at their view of the Catholic faith. A practical way to begin is to reach out to "secular" friends, family members and colleagues and ask them: What aspect of the faith or of the Church, if any, have you found most troubling?
  2. 2. St. Peter, with Paul's urging, had a conversion experience in how he approached gentiles. To what extent are there aspects within yourself or the Church which would benefit from discerning a need for conversion? Examples?
  3. Share your findings with the members of your religious or Union community. Ask: to what extent do our findings confirm or challenge our understanding of why these former members of the Church have moved away from the Church? Do we, the Church, need to express our faith differently and do a better job of catechizing children and adults? Or, does the challenge require us to go deeper than simply doing a better job of delivering the message?
  4. For the better part of nearly two centuries, the Pallottine family has engaged in evangelization by reviving faith and rekindling love. What aspects of this charism do you personally most treasure? How have those aspects influenced your own spirituality and guided the way you do your ministry, your work or how you interact with others?
  5. This emphasis on being respectful of those who we attempt to re-evangelize is certainly not new to the Pallottine family. Share with one another some of the ways your community has followed St. Vincent's respectful approach to others.


Andrew Thompson, Washington DC, USA


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


apostles-for-today-february-2013-2

  The Transforming Effect Of The Cenacle Experience And The New Evangelization



1. Inspiration for the Cenacle Experience

The inspiration for the cenacle experience is drawn from St. Vincent Pallotti, who had a filial and tender devotion to Mary as Queen of the Cenacle. The Cenacle icon of Mary Queen of Apostles was drawn under his direction and it depicts the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Our Lady and the apostles. Mary overlooked the failure of the apostles during the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus and gathered them in prayer in the cenacle for the gift of the Holy Spirit. As a result the missionary Church is born from the maternal care of Mary.

The life of St. Vincent Pallotti was moulded by this icon of the Cenacle. He writes in his spiritual diary: “Wherever I shall be, I intend to imagine myself to be together with all creatures in the Cenacle in Jerusalem where the apostles received the Holy Spirit. I shall remind myself to renew this desire often. As the apostles were there with Mary, so will I be in spirit with my most beloved mother Mary and Jesus. As they are special intercessors, I am confident that they will help me and all other creatures to receive the abundance of the Holy Spirit.” (cf. OOCC X 86) ...

2. Gospel Foundation for the Cenacle Experience

The large upper room which Jesus told Peter and John to prepare for the Passover meal is referred to as the cenacle (Lk 22:12). It is here in the cenacle that Jesus expressed his earnest desire to eat the Passover with his disciples, capturing the warmth of relationship between him and his disciples in love and friendship (Lk 22:15). During the Passover meal, which was his last supper with his disciples, he instituted the Eucharist establishing the new covenant of love. The context of the feast of the Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb is sacrificed heightens the nuance of Jesus’ own death on the cross for the salvation of humanity (Lk 22:7). The self-gift of Jesus on the cross is emphasized in the Gospel according to Luke with the words: “This is my body which is given for you,” and “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk 22:19-20). The cenacle is, therefore, the place of love, intimacy and self-gift in the Eucharist.

According to Acts 1:13, the disciples continued to stay in the cenacle in Jerusalem in obedience to the command of Jesus not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for the promise of the Father, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit (Lk 24:49; Acts 1:4-5). On the one hand, they were continually in the temple praising God (Lk 24:53), and on the other, they gathered in the cenacle together with Mary the mother of Jesus and devoted themselves to prayer with one accord. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that Pentecost took place here in the cenacle, although Acts 2:1 does not explicitly refer to it but only says “they were all together in one place.”

3. Characteristics of the Cenacle Experience

Acts 1:13 in its context gives us the following characteristics of the cenacle experience – being gathered by Mary, being Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, devotion to prayer and living in Fellowship.

3.1 Being Gathered by Mary

The apostles are gathered, sustained and united in prayer by Mary who is at the centre of the cenacle. From the cross Jesus had entrusted John to Mary with the words, “Woman, behold your son” and John was told “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:26-27). From that moment on, Mary became the mother and queen of the apostles and of the Church. Therefore, the cenacle experience is essentially characterized by a filial devotion to Mary who as the Spouse of the Holy Spirit became the mother of Jesus, accompanied Jesus all through his life and gathered the disciples to receive the gift of the Spirit at the beginning of the Church. To stand at the foot of the cross with Mary and meditate on the passion of Christ is thus central to the cenacle experience.

3.2 Being Spirit-filled and Spirit-led

The apostles are gathered with Mary in the cenacle to be clothed with power from on High. The “power of the Most High” that overshadowed Mary at the annunciation and which descended on Jesus in the form of a dove at his baptism, is the same Holy Spirit who will rest on the disciples as tongues of fire. The effect of the Spirit on Mary was that she conceived and brought forth Jesus into the world. Jesus was equipped with the Spirit and carried out his ministry. This same Spirit is now given to the disciples through the cenacle experience that they might give birth to Jesus in the world like Mary, and that they might be equipped with the Spirit in their ministry like Jesus.

3.3 Devotion to Prayer

Another characteristic of the Cenacle Experience is continuous prayer. After the ascension of the Lord, the disciples are continuously in the temple blessing God and the temple is a house of prayer. Acts 1:13 says that they devoted themselves to prayer in the cenacle. Describing the first Christian community Acts 2:42 says that “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” It was in the cenacle that Jesus instituted the Eucharist and the cenacle experience is fundamentally an experience of Eucharistic communion and adoration. A meaningful celebration of the Eucharist and adequate time spent in Eucharistic adoration are integral to the cenacle experience.

3.4 Living in Fellowship

Prayer leads to fellowship among the members of the cenacle community. Despite the varied backgrounds of the apostles and the varying degrees of their denial of Jesus, they now with one accord devote themselves to prayer. Mary is the reconciling and bonding agent among them who through her maternal care keeps them united in fellowship with a common focus on Jesus. Therefore on the day of Pentecost they are all together in one place (Acts 2:1) to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. The example of service and mutual self-gift that Jesus gave them in the cenacle also binds them together as one family.

4. Concrete Expressions of the Cenacle Experience

Inspired by the spirituality of St. Vincent Pallotti who imagined himself to be always in the cenacle, Fr. Tomy Churathil SAC began to realize that priests and religious can lose their power and effectiveness in their sacred ministry unless they are clothed with power from on high as a result of having gone through a cenacle experience with Mary and the apostles. They will not be able to reawaken the faith of Catholics or enkindle charity if they themselves are not empowered. Involved as they are with various administrative and social responsibilities they can enter into various types of crisis. In fact, Ecclesia in Asia says: “People in Asia need to see the clergy not just as charity workers and institutional administrators but as men whose minds and hearts are set on the deep things of the Spirit” (EA 43). Therefore, reaching out in compassion for the renewal of priests and religious and wanting to take on the role of Mary who kept the apostles in prayer in the cenacle, Fr. Tomy started the cenacle experience retreat for them in 1996. Those who have gone through the cenacle retreat began to experience greater commitment to their vocation and ministry as Spirit-filled leaders in the Church.

Fr. Tomy was also inspired to found the pious association of the Cenacle Sisters of the Sacred Heart (CSSH) together with Sr. Chandrika in September 2002. The charism of the members is to strive towards one’s own renewal and to work for the renewal of the people of God, especially the clergy and the religious after the example of Mary, Queen of the Cenacle, who remained in the cenacle and gathered others also in the cenacle building up the community of faith and love to continue the mission of Christ. They become signs of God’s love poured out in the cenacle as they live the motto “Burning with love to heal the broken hearted” with the tender loving touch of St. Vincent Pallotti.

5. The Transforming Effect of the Cenacle Experience in New Evanglization

In Redemptoris Missio the late Bl. Pope John Paul II invited the entire Church to new evangelization. "The moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes. No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples." (RM 3) New evangelization is essentially Christo-centric. The basis of sharing the life of Christ with others is life in Christ. We are called to know Christ and to make Him known. The fundamental activity, therefore, of those called to be missionaries is receptivity to God, of complete docility to the Holy Spirit. "It is not possible," John Paul II states, "to bear witness to Christ without reflecting his image, which is made alive in us by grace and the power of the Spirit" (RM 87). An essential characteristic of this missionary spirituality is intimate communion with Christ. For this every Christian must be renewed in holiness and mission (RM 90). "Missionary activity”, declares the pope, “renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!" (RM 2).

The pope also explains that in today's world from the viewpoint of evangelization we can distinguish three situations that need to be addressed differently. The first is the situation of the mission ad gentes in the proper sense of the term. Bringing the Gospel to peoples, groups and socio-cultural contexts in which Christ and his Gospel are not known (RM 34). Secondly, there are healthy mature Christian communities that are fervent in their faith who need to be cared for pastorally. Thirdly, there is what the pope calls an intermediate situation, where there are entire groups of the baptized who have lost a living sense of the faith, or no longer consider themselves members of the Church. "ln this case what is needed is a "new evangelization" or a "re-evangelization." (RM 33) In this third situation people need to be brought into situations of vibrant faith (RM 51). Some need their faith to be renewed and enlivened. Others have had little or no training in the Christian faith and essentially need to be evangelized with the basic Gospel and receive formation in the faith. He believes that this new evangelization is very much tied up with "entering a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians, and missionaries and young Churches in particular, respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time" (RM 92).

In the above context of new evangelization, the cenacle experience has a very important role to play and has a transforming effect for the Church. The cenacle experience, with its emphasis on being empowered by the Spirit as a result of prayer and contemplation in the company of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is certainly an agent of renewal in the Church and a way of fulfilling in today’s world the Church’s call to new evangelization.

Sr. Chandrika cssh, Cenacle Sisters, India.


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


Some reflections on "New Evangelization" from an apostolic viewpoint

At the same time that Vincent Pallotti was writing his works on the ideal of a "Universal, Catholic Apostolate" in the 1840's, hundreds of kilometres north of Rome the Lutheran philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) in Denmark gathered his own reflections on what it means to be an "apostle" in a short essay entitled "The difference between a genius and an apostle":

"An apostle is not born; an apostle is a man who is called and appointed by God at a specific point in time and sent by him on a mission. An apostle does not develop in such a way that he gradually becomes what he is [according to his own inherent ability]. [ … ] every human being is essentially equally close to becoming that. [ … ] By this call to become an apostle he does not become more intelligent, he does not acquire more imagination, greater discernment, etc.-not at all; he remains himself but by the paradoxical fact is sent by God on a specific mission."
People are not only not born apostles, they are not born Christians! At first every human being "is essentially equally close to becoming that" - we are all born equally close to - or maybe more precisely equally far away from - being a Christian! ...

One does not become a Christian "automatically" in the sense of an unbroken development (but rather, as Kierkegaard says, "through a gradual, evolutionary development"). Becoming a Christian happens at a specific point in time, a turning-point which the Sacred Scriptures call "conversion", a process of re-thinking and changing my life.
A person begins to become a Christian at that specific moment of life when he or she discovers that God himself is calling them to a distinctive, unique way of life that is not "normal" compared to the life of people in our world. From the moment we listen to this call and "follow", when we commit ourselves and our life to God and his Gospel in order to live our daily life with him and through him, we begin the process of conversion, of becoming a Christian.

Vatican II, in a wonderful definition, calls Christian faith a way of life by which we commit our whole self freely to God (cf. DV 5).

We do not become Christians in too easy a way ... simply because our parents have been Christians or because it's "normal" to be Christian. In a strict sense it is not self-evident or natural to be or to become a Christian! We should not forget this while we talk so much about "New Evangelization" in our Church today!

The Church has no right to expect that there be countries (for example in Europe) where all people automatically or naturally would be Christians, even if that seemed to have been the case for centuries. In Germany for example baptism involved a kind of political correctness... everyone had to be "Christian", you were not asked if you really wanted to "commit your whole self freely to God". Christianity seemed to be just the "normal" way of life ... In 19th century Denmark Kierkegaard complained more than once about the shallowness produced by this "tradition".

The necessity, the adventure, the enterprise and the risk of "Evangelization" begins anew with every newborn child.

Therefore we should stop complaining about all the people and countries which were once "naturally Christian", that people "have lost their traditional faith", that they have "fallen away from Christianity", that we as Church have to "get them back". That would be a twisted understanding of New Evangeliszation!

Instead of deceiving ourselves in this way we must be aware that the challenge to "evangelize" is always and will always remain "new" for us. First of all, we as "Christians", we as women and men who are on the way to becoming Christians should care about coming closer to the reality of the world of the Gospel. We first have to evangelize ourselves and our Church.

It is always a new challenge to listen to God's call, to commit ourselves to him ... and to care about "making God's call audible" for the people around us. Our task is to live our lives with the Gospel in a way that is attractive, "magnetic" for others.

This- if we want to follow Pallotti or Kierkegaard - is the only way that people living around us in a "normal", "worldly" way can become "infected" with the idea that God is calling even them to another, different way of life characterized by the fire of infinite love, by justice, compassion and charity.

And if anyone wants to "follow" the call of God and commits him- or herself freely to the vision of a life with God, we should be aware that most people do not normally find such a free decision to be "normal"!

Stimulus for reflection and discussion (I)

  • " Is my decision to live as a Christian in our world really free and conscious?
  • " Can I remember any "specific point of time" in my life when I "heard God calling me", when I got an idea of what might be the mission for which I am sent ?
  • " What circumstances and persons influenced me, impressed me?
  • " What questions were decisive for me to listen to the Gospel?
  • " Did my life change in any way through my choice to live my life with God?
  • " Personally: What does it mean for me to "commit - my whole self - freely - to God"? Every word counts :
  • " How can we intensify our living of the Gospel?


Vincent Pallotti: A daily practical reminder (1848/49)
"There are few who constantly and seriously strive to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ because there are few who think of it; but those who do think of it, in so far as they immerse themselves in this holy thought, aspire likewise, to imitate Him more and more, and from this, love for our Lord Jesus Christ grows in them. As love grows, so trust in the grace necessary to imitate Him grows and with it also, the knowledge of one's unworthiness to receive such grace. In this way one is open to receiving grace ever more abundantly. These are the few who constantly strive to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ".

The " daily practical reminder", which every member of the Union of Catholic Apostolate should carry "to read and think about on every possible occasion" and in this way become one of the "few who constantly strive to imitate Jesus", is taken from St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians:

I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (St. Paul to the Galatians, 2:20)

Text for reflection:
"Lutherans and Catholics together acknowledge the biblical witness on justification and the church as an unmerited gift of grace; they see in this witness a tremendous challenge in our world. God 'desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth' (1 Tim 2:4). The message of justification is an expression of God's universal saving will. It promises salvation and the right to life without regard to merit and worthiness. God accepts the sinful creature in pure mercy and thus cancels out the law of works and achievement as the basis for life. God thus opens up a way of life which most profoundly contradicts that which prevails in the world: the life of love. This love arises out of faith and passes on the boundless mercy which it has received. It suffers from the distress and injustice that others experience and meets it with self-sacrifice and renunciation. And it urges the members of the church to promote justice, peace and the integrity of creation together with all people of good will amid the glaring contrast between poor and rich, and in the conflicts between ideologies and interests, races, nations and sexes. Thus the church is both a contradiction and a challenge in our world as the place where merciful justification is proclaimed, as the locus for community and love, as co-shaper of a more just and humane world".
(Lutheran-Catholic Commission on Unity, sponsored by the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity: Church and Justification. 1994)

Stimulus for reflection and discussion (II)

  • " What does it mean for me to live my life conformed to Christ ?
  • " Where and when can I experience that Christ is living in me and in my life?
  • " Where and when do I experience that God "justifies" my life, makes me "just"?
  • " In what sense does the life of the Gospel "most profoundly contradict that which prevails in the world"? Where do I personally experience this?
  • " Is such a "contradiction" and challenge more a source of fear or of energy and strength? Where do I find courage to live such a life?
  • " What do we as Christians "offer" to the people around us? Why is being a Christian really "attractive"?


Prayer (after thoughts of St. Vincent Pallotti)

My God, my mercy,
in every instant you nourish me with your infinite love,
with your compassion and charity, with your justice.
You are destroying all the corruptness of my nature
transforming me into yourself more and more.
You destroy all the carelessness of my thoughts, and make me realise
that my soul is your living image and likeness in this world.
You preserve my hunger and thirst to become similar to you
more and more.
You are transforming and changing my whole life!
You nourish me with your strength
eradicating all my weakness:
You make me strong - living in you!
Therefore I gratefully praise you - and I pray to you:
The life of my Lord Jesus Christ be my life!
Edward Fröhling SAC, Vallendar, Germany


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

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Beauty and the New Evangelisation


Love beauty, which is the shadow of God upon the universe.

(Gabriela Mistral, Chilean poet, 1889-1957, Decalogue of the Artist)

There is something about beauty which has the power to touch us deeply, to leave us breathless in wonder, to move us to the very depths of our being. The beauty of sun rays bursting through the clouds, of the starlit heavens on a clear night, of swallows darting effortlessly through the summer sky, of the sound of waves lapping against the seashore, of a piece of poetry or music or a work of art which speaks to us in ways beyond our ability to explain, of the almost infinite variety of human beings of so many different shapes and sizes and qualities.

To those whose hearts are attuned, the beauty of creation is a sign pointing beyond itself. In The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky urges: 'Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things'. ...


In a wonderfully evocative passage, St. Vincent also speaks of this sacramental dimension of creation: God 'has given us light, so that we might aspire... to understand and contemplate forever that Inaccessible Light, which is God, ... the darkness of the night... so that we may prepare for the eternity of rest in heaven, ... sweet scents so that we may elevate our souls to the eternal sweetness of God... different sounds, so that we may fall in love with the eternal canticles of glory in the splendour of the saints. He has given us innumerable varieties of delicious food and drink, so that we may fall in love with the eternal joys which are in God, ... garments of immense varieties, so that we may seek to be clothed in all the virtues which will prepare us to be clothed with eternal glory in heaven, ... riches, gold, silver, jewels, precious stones and pearls, so that we may aspire to the eternal riches, which are God himself in the manifestation of his glory. All these things he has granted us in a temporary corruptible and limited way, in order that we may aspire to the eternal, immortal, infinite, immense, and incomprehensible God himself... You have given me all that is visible to help my soul to keep alive and ever-growing in the kingdom of your holy love and thus come to be wholly immersed and transformed in your divine love, in your infinite charity and in yourself' (God the Infinite Love, Meditation VI, OOCC XIII, pp. 51-53).


We are invited to be attentive this dimension of beauty also in our efforts to bring the Gospel to others. Cardinal Godfried Danneels said that our contemporary world 'doubts the truth, resists the good, but is fascinated by beauty'. At the deepest level of our being, we already 'resonate sympathetically' with beauty because we ourselves are beautifully created in the image and likeness of God, the source of all beauty (von Balthasar). 'To say that God is the author of beauty not only means that he created all the beautiful things in the world but that he also created the very sense of beauty, putting a love for and a capacity to recognise it in the hearts of human beings... He wanted beauty (together with goodness) to be a ladder on which to ascend to him, the "one who attracts", the magnet' (Contemplating the Trinity, Raniero Cantalamessa, p. 75).

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, says that we 'mustn't be surprised if we find the reflection on beauty located within the theme of the New Evangelisation. The [way of beauty] belongs in a privileged way to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel because love, of its very nature, is expressed through beauty... Beauty communicates the mystery of faith better than other forms' (La Nuova Evangelizzazione, pp. 113, 115).

Dostoyevsky famously said that 'beauty will save the world', but immediately asked 'what kind of beauty'? Beauty is ambiguous: 'there is a beauty that can save the world and a beauty that can lead to its perdition' (Cantalamessa, p. 77), a beauty that can act as a springboard to freedom, lifting us out of ourselves and drawing us towards incorruptible Beauty and towards a deeper humanity, and there is also a beauty which can seduce and enslave us and lead us to degrade ourselves and others. Dostoyevsky is referring 'to the redeeming Beauty of Christ. We must learn to see him. If we know him, not only in words, but if we are struck by the arrow of his paradoxical beauty, then we will truly know him, and know him not only because we have heard others speak about him. Then we will have found the beauty of Truth, of the Truth that redeems' (The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 2002).
The Son of God came in the flesh to teach us where true beauty lies. Out of love, he allowed himself to be stripped of all outer beauty during his Passion (cf. Is 53:14), and in this way redeemed beauty itself, revealing that there is 'something superior to the very love of beauty, and that is the beauty of love' (Cantalamessa, p. 83).

It is this love of Christ shown forth in all its fullness on the cross that most deeply reveals the beauty of the love which is the eternal communion of the Blessed Trinity. It is the beauty of this infinite love of God that we seek to incarnate in our personal and community life, that we seek to communicate to others, and this is possible only if we allow our hearts to be truly captivated by it, because only hearts and communities which are themselves aflame can inflame the hearts of others.

This Gospel beauty retains a paradoxical quality, because Christ, divine beauty become one of us, identified himself with what seems far from beautiful by ordinary standards: with the poor, the suffering, the lost, the rejected, the marginalised, the sinner - and so we too are invited to seek God's beauty in those same unexpected places - and to allow the beauty of the love of Christ to come to concrete expression in every situation and in every relationship.
St. Vincent was profoundly aware of this truth, and sought to communicate the beauty of this divine love to others in every possible way, but first and foremost in his burning commitment to do everything in his power to allow the beauty and power of this love to touch and transform his own life and the lives of others. He was also very much aware of the power of tangible signs to draw people more deeply into this relationship of love, commissioning paintings such as Mary Queen of Apostles and the Mother of Divine Love along with organising popular celebrations, most notably the Octave of the Epiphany, in order to help people experience in tangible ways and be drawn more deeply into this mystery of love.

We too are invited to follow him with childlike hearts along this path of beauty, to contemplate anew the beauty that surrounds us and allow it to draw us towards the One who himself is Beauty, to let our hearts be pierced anew and healed by the paradoxical beauty of the crucified and Risen Christ and made capable of perceiving him and of serving him also today in the poor and the suffering, the marginalized and the despised with whom he identified so deeply. We are called to create community, to build a family, which is rooted in and gives profound concrete expression to the generous, self-giving, tender, passionate, beautiful love which is the heart of the Blessed Trinity, and to communicate this love in every possible way, making creative use of the gifts and talents which themselves are reflections of the beauty and action of God within us and in our world.

Questions for personal and community reflection

  • Do we ever take time to contemplate the beauty of God's creation with wonder and gratitude?
  • Do we really believe profoundly that we are beautifully created in the image and likeness of God? How does that affect our attitudes to ourselves, to others, to God, in daily life?
  • Is our relationship with beauty truly human, truly wholesome, truly at the service of our own human dignity and that of others, or do our hearts need to be freed in any way from attachment to beauty that enslaves, beauty that leads ultimately to death rather than to life?
  • Does the paradoxical beauty of the love of Christ still pierce and touch our hearts profoundly or do we in some way need to recover the capacity to be moved deeply and personally by this extraordinary love?
  • In what ways are we invited to use our gifts and talents creatively and generously in order to communicate the beauty of the love of Christ to others?
  • Do our hearts need to be purified in order to be able to perceive the paradoxical beauty of Christ in the poor, the suffering, the marginalised, the rejected, and to commit ourselves to accompanying and serving him in the least of his brothers and sisters?
Rory Hanly SAC, Rome


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


Mon, 27 May 2013 18:20:13 GMT


A Message from The General Coordinating Council
Dear sisters and brothers in the Union,
in these days of grace, during the novena of Pentecost, we, the members of the GCC, met, in the spirit of the Cenacle, giving priority to prayer, dialogue, listening and sharing in communion.
We praised the Lord for the marvels which he has accomplished during this Jubilee Year, for the many beautiful occasions of enrichment, meetings, celebrations, in a particular way those which included the visit of the relics of the Founder, which have revived faith and the desire for holiness in the members and collaborators in many countries of the Union. ...

A Message from The General Coordinating Council
Dear sisters and brothers in the Union,
in these days of grace, during the novena of Pentecost, we, the members of the GCC, met, in the spirit of the Cenacle, giving priority to prayer, dialogue, listening and sharing in communion.
We praised the Lord for the marvels which he has accomplished during this Jubilee Year, for the many beautiful occasions of enrichment, meetings, celebrations, in a particular way those which included the visit of the relics of the Founder, which have revived faith and the desire for holiness in the members and collaborators in many countries of the Union. ...

This year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the erection of the Union, an event for which we are preparing with a word from the Gospel which we will bring to life in our apostolic works, with a witness of life in order to continue to let the holiness of God shine forth.
We also unite ourselves to the joy of the great event of the 175th anniversary of the Foundation of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (CSAC) and of the Missionary Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate (SAC) which was celebrated in the Church of SS. Salvatore in Onda on Sunday May 19th 2013 at 4pm - the solemnity of Pentecost - with a Eucharist of thanksgiving, led by the Rector General Fr. Jacob Nampudakam SAC.
The reports and the exchange of experiences during these days have highlighted the growth of the Union in various countries, but also the urgency of having formators who can guide the members and collaborators in a serious personal and apostolic formation.
Re-reading the appeal of the Rector General regarding the Pallottine response to the challenge of the New Evangelisation, we all feel the need to commit ourselves as Union in concrete apostolic projects. We particularly feel the need to appreciate and accompany the family in a growth of faith so that it can become ever more fully a domestic Church.
We had the opportunity to view the website of the Union and we realise the importance of modern means of communication in order to evangelise and to share experiences throughout the world. We want to make greater use of live streaming, as an opportunity to experience directly all of the important events and celebrations of the Union.
The meeting of the GCC with the three General Councils of the Core Communities was very effective, during which we reflected together on the latter's specific role in guaranteeing the unity of the apostolic life of the Union; together, we also continued our reflection on the identity and role of the GCC (cf. GSt 78).
In all of our meetings, above all in prayer, you were with us and the presence of the Spirit sustained and enriched us/.
In this Year of Faith, we continue to deepen our sense of the beauty and preciousness of our charism, always relevant in responding to the call of the Church.
May Saint Vincent and Mary Queen of Apostles intercede for us so that we may always rejoice in the presence of the Blessed Trinity within us which helps us to make Jesus, Apostle of the Eternal Father, known, not just in words but through the witness of personal and community life.
We wish you an enduring Pentecost; may the Holy Spirit always inflame our hearts with his Infinite Love.

In communion always,
Your sisters and brothers of the GCC
Rome, May 2013

Fri, 31 May 2013 21:03:33 GMT



THE EUCHARIST
SOURCE OF THE NEW EVANGELISATION

The idea of the Eucharist as source in the above title is taken literally from n. 5 of the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, Presbyterorum Ordinis o
f the Second Vatican Council. References of a similar nature and content can be found in other documents, such as Lumen Gentium, 11: “the Eucharistic sacrifice, ...the fount and apex of the whole Christian life” and in the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 31: “the Eucharist is the centre and summit of the Church's life”. ...
To understand the theological foundation of these affirmations, it is sufficient to ask what constitutes and what is the purpose of evangelization. The Second Vatican Council (LG 7) always responds that the main purpose is that all be conformed to Christ "until Christ be formed in them". Moreover, the command of Jesus to the Apostles was: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:19-20).

The mission of the Church is, therefore, in continuity with the mission of Christ because He sends his disciples into the world to continue the work of salvation accomplished by him. Christians of every generation, therefore, are called to bring the message of Christ to their contemporaries and to empower them to attain a personal encounter with the Saviour who is present in his Church - in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist - until the end of time.

The Second Vatican Council wanted to remind us of this explicitly: "As members of the living Christ, incorporated into Him and made like unto Him through baptism and through confirmation and the Eucharist, all the faithful are duty-bound to cooperate in the expansion and spreading out of His Body, to bring it to fullness as soon as may be"(AG 36). The Church constantly draws strength to fulfil this mission from the Eucharist, from the experience of Communion with the crucified and risen Christ. In fact, every encounter with Him in the Blessed Sacrament intensifies in the faithful their commitment to cooperate with the saving plan of God. St. As Saint Paul teaches, participating in the Eucharist means being involved in the proclamation of the salvation brought about by Christ: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes"(1 Co 11:26).

But the Eucharist not only urges the Church and every Christian to proclaim by word and deed this salvific event "to all nations" (Mt 28:19), "to every creature" (Mk 16:15); but also inserts the Church, and through it, the whole of creation, into the mystery celebrated. In fact, in communion with Christ and his redemptive sacrifice, every Christian is called to offer his or her very life - body, blood and all that daily existence involves -prayers, work, joys and sufferings, works of charity, of apostolate, of service to others and to society - with Him and like Him, for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Mt 26:28, Mk 14:24, Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:24). Cf. Angel Garcia Ibañez, L’Eucaristia, dono e mistero, pp. 659-660). Thus, it is clear that we must perceive the intimate and unbreakable link between the two essential realities of the Church, the missionary and the Eucharistic-sacramental. The power inherent in evangelisation fully employs the extraordinary power coming from the Word of God, which finds its full realisation in the Eucharist, because in evangelization the Word of God is proclaimed and in the Eucharist it is realised. Every liturgical action and especially the Eucharist, recalls the history of salvation and re-enacts for the life of the faithful the entire Trinitarian plan of salvation. Evangelization brings it to attention and the Eucharist causes it to be experienced, felt, effects it for the good of the faithful, and requires that our lives bear witness to it.

It is clear that, for a good part of those who call themselves Christians, the only moment or occasion to be evangelised is their participation in the Sunday Eucharist, and at this point we recall what St. Justin says in his First Apology, " on the day called Sunday, all... gather together,... and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read;... then,... the one who presides over the assembly delivers a speech with an exhortation to imitate these good examples.” Let every baptized person then, in order to be an apostle and evangelist as St. Vincent urged all, listen to the Word of God with humility and simplicity, welcome it with joyful gratitude, and live it with ever-renewed fervour. Let every Christian have an ever-deeper awareness of the inherent duty of every baptised person to proclaim the Word which has been received, experienced and celebrated to his or her brothers and sisters, near and far. And this is in order to lead them to the Table of the Eucharistic, the centre, core and inexhaustible source of the life and mission of the Church. From the Eucharist, from the intimate encounter with the Risen Christ, springs the commitment to be real evangelisers: we recall how the eyes of the disciples of Emmaus were opened and they recognized Jesus only when he took the bread, broke it and gave it to them. After this encounter the two disciples were able to return to Jerusalem immediately and joyfully in order to tell other disciples what had happened to them and how they had recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Eucharist gave them the strength to become evangelizers (cf. Lk 24:30-35).

In summary: the missionary impulse of the Church has its roots in the commandment of the Lord Jesus; such an impulse has grown constantly from communion with Him, who is truly present in the Eucharist. For this reason we can say with certainty that the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church's mission.

Reflecting, let us ask ourselves:
  • Are we as members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate truly conscious that we cannot be apostles of the new evangelization unless we constantly nourish ourselves with the Eucharist?
  • Is our relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist limited to participation in the Eucharistic celebration or do we know how to draw strength and guidance also through Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament?
  • How do we express our relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus in our daily life, in our apostolic commitment? Does the love of Christ really impel us to go beyond what is convenient to reach the margins, to enter into a communion of practical solidarity with the spiritually and materially poor and needy?


PRAYER

Lord Jesus, who have made the sacrament of your Body and Blood the source of the Spirit that gives life, make your Church, as it breaks bread in your memory, the seed of a renewed humanity, to the praise of God the Father. You who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

The Eucharistic Sisters of St. Vincent Pallotti



____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org
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apostles-for-today-june-2013

Sun, 14 Jul 2013 12:13:39 GMT



In the spirit of Saint Vincent Pallotti
World Youth Day/Rio de Janeiro

There is a famous Catholic song in our Latin American repertoire, sung from the north to the south of this immense continent, which provides the first step for this text which will have as its background the theme of youth and World Youth Day - an event that takes place this month here in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. One verse of this song "Missionary Soul" says:

“Lord, take my new life, before the long wait consumes years in me …”

Yes, this is saying that there is a desire expressed in these words - before the years consume the enthusiasm, the joy, the courage of youth of each person, may the Lord send us in mission to announce his Name, proclaiming his Lordship and building up his Kingdom! ...
I think that our holy Founder understood this deepest youthful longing; for this reason his life was short and from his earliest years he decided to listen to the good call of the Lord, dedicating his very life to it.

Pallotti as a young person

His life was short: not even 55 years! And what is 55 years today, with respect to life expectancy which is around 80 years! Yes, it is true that Pallotti lived a good while given the Roman conditions, which we cannot compare with our own today, but if being young means between 20 and 30 years, we know that precisely during these years he took on great responsibility, such as priesthood, and opened new paths in the pastoral activity of the Church of Rome.

Pallotti did not waste his youth, but sought in his life all of the strength needed to be a joyful servant of the Lord Jesus, as a young seminarian and then as a young priest.

Pallotti and young people

After he was ordained priest, in love with Christ and with humanity, our

Saint sought to evangelize young people: he was certain of the effectiveness of work with them done well.

Thus, he worked with them creatively so that the youth of his day would know the Lord and be educated towards a more just and honest society: night schools, oratories, spiritual direction, etc. If those such as Popes and Cardinals and nobles benefited from the zeal of Saint Vincent Pallotti, we know well that many of the poor but also many young people did so too.

Pallotti the Founder

By convention, our Union is said to have begun from the inspiration of January 9th 1935. This means that, from then on, it began to be understood that the Church was in need of a work which, in addition to reviving faith and rekindling charity, would put itself at the disposal of the Gospel message and unite apostolic forces for a more effective Evangeliszation: collaboration is a decisive factor for apostolic action and for achieving results.

This is why, at a particular moment, he expresses himself as follows: "Have care for the instruction of young people from their earliest years in every way possible, and collaborate in it".

This means then that in order to be original, to be initiators in working with young people, we need also to join forces with every apostolic reality that works with and for young people. We would then truly be able to affirm: cooperation is of vital importance!

Pallottines in Rio de Janeiro

Once we have a profound understanding of our charism, we understand that cooperation is essential; it was for this reason that the first Polish missionaries came to Brazil in the 1970s. They first went to the south of Brazil and then, for reasons of God's providence, when the Italian Pallottines decided to return to Italy or go to the United States, the Polish missionaries assumed the work in the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro. A detail: they were young priests!

It is interesting to note that in this young history of the Polish Pallottine presence in Rio de Janeiro, nearly all of the priests who came in mission were newly ordained, young in age and in ministry. It is as if that song were repeated in the life of each of them: “Lord, take my new life, before the long wait consumes years in me!”

Pallottines in Rio de Janeiro and work with young people

Young people attract young people. Youth attracts youth. From the moment the young priests arrived in Rio, directly and indirectly, they began to work with young people. Many priests, in a spirit of collaboration, became spiritual directors of youth movements.

This work awakened vocations. Young boys, coming from different parts, were accompanied in vocational discernment and many of them decided to try out life in the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. Of these, some persevered to perpetual consecration, others no, but all thank God for their time lived in community. All benefited from this period.

Recently this work with young people joined with the national structure of Juventude Palotina (Pallottine Youth). Here in Brazil, this work is organized, structured, with national and regional coordinators. It gathers young people from all fronts of our work, that is, from parishes, schools or missions. We work together, priests, brothers, lay people and sisters, Pallottine and non-Pallottine. And now, also here in Rio de Janeiro, Juventude Palotina is present.

Pallottines in Rio de Janeiro, who work with young people and World Youth Day

In this way, therefore, all of the work of the young Pallottine priests is reaching a culmination with the great event which will take place in a few days time here in our city of Rio de Janeiro - World Youth Day.

When we came to know of our responsibility to host World Youth Day, from the time of the announcement in Madrid, a mixture of joy and expectation, of emotion and of challenge, struck the heart of young “cariocas” (residents of Rio). All were happy, but without knowing how it all could happen.

In this spirit of collaboration, typical of every follower of Saint Vincent Pallotti, each of our young people, through the parishes, began to commit themselves as volunteers in preparing the day. Some took on the responsibility of organizing accommodation for pilgrims; others in a more artistic vein already made themselves available for the formation of a "Choir" and also to be actors in different scenes which will be located throughout the city; others again, together with the Pallottine Major Seminary, made themselves available to coordinate one of the 25 Chapels of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which will be installed in the Campus Fidei - the place in which the Vigil and Mass with the Holy Father will take place; others are volunteers with the social networks and communication.

This time it is the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro which is hosting World Youth Day, and it was decided that, in the spirit of collaboration, Juventude Palotina as a group would take on voluntary work. And this decision was wise, because being thus scattered in different parts of the organization, the ideals of our Holy Founder can be sown here and there, in addition to confirming in each person the universal call to the apostolate in the spirit of cooperation, so dear to Pallotti.

However, before World Youth Day in Rio, all of Juventude Palotina, with people coming from various parts of Brazil and from other nations, will gather for a week of reflection and sharing in Curitiba. Some of our young people here in Rio will be there together with the seminarians. Pray for them. For updates, please go to the Juventude Palotina website: www.juventudepalotinabrasil.com.br

Dear friends, sisters and brothers in Christ and followers of Saint Vincent Pallotti, there is much joy in writing these lines: it it lovely to know that, despite our weaknesses and many limits, all of you are praying for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio. Both the official prayer and hymn can be found in various languages at the website www.rio2013.com

Oh, and if you cannot come for the Day, the invitation remains for a future visit to the Marvellous City: our arms, and those of Christ the Redeemer, remain always opened wide to welcome you.

Wherever we may be, whatever our age, let each of us be inspired by Pope Francis' words in his Palm Sunday homily: "Dear young people... you have an important part in the celebration of faith! You bring us the joy of faith and you tell us that we must live the faith with a young heart, always: a young heart, even at the age of seventy or eighty. A young heart! With Christ, the heart never grows old!... Prepare well – prepare spiritually above all – in your communities, so that our gathering in Rio may be a sign of faith for the whole world. Young people must say to the world: to follow Christ is good; to go with Christ is good; the message of Christ is good; emerging from ourselves, to the ends of the earth and of existence, to take Jesus there, is good!"

Part of the official World Youth Day prayer

Oh Father, You sent Your Eternal Son to save the world, and You chose men and women, so that through Him, with Him and in Him,

they might proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to all nations.

Grant us the necessary graces, so that, by the power of the Holy Spirit,

the joy of being the evangelists that the Church needs in the Third Millennium may shine in the faces of all young people.

A young person from Rio de Janeiro



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

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apostles-for-today-july-2013


The Communication of Faith
in a Mass-Media Society

Saint Vincent Pallotti was a talented communicator and a man of multiple relationships. His letters bear witness to his numerous contacts. He made use of printed materials to spread his pastoral and apostolic initiatives. However, as a confessor and spiritual director, he was able to listen with great sensitivity to peoples' sufferings and anxieties. We know that he also had the education of missionaries and apostles in the field of communication skills at heart.

In the "Rule" called "Copia Lambruschini" (the Lambruschini Copy) he wrote: "All will learn the language of the area in which they live, without neglecting the culture of their own language, which will be very useful in the place itself or for the works for the glory of God or the spiritual benefit of one's neighbour" (OOCC VII, p. 162).

This suggestion of Pallotti is not only care for the teaching of foreign languages. It can be understood as a concern to understand the mentality and language used by modern human beings. We know that at times in the modern world the language we use for speaking about God and faith is difficult for many people to understand. In his recommendations for those conducting popular missions Pallotti encouraged them to seek "from the most dedicated workers among the clergy... to gather with great and edifying attention all of the information about the people regarding their customs and all of their spiritual needs". This knowledge gathered must be used "for preaching", in such a way that they can "guide... consciences... aptly" (OOCC VII, p. 215).

These indications of Pallotti have retained their relevance. In one of my classes with theology students I asked if anyone knew of a case of conversion as a result of looking at on line content. There was silence. One student timidly mentioned that a friend had come across a video on YouTube and became interested in the question of miraculous healings. It was the only reply to the question about conversion.
Then I asked who knew of any story where the Internet had caused harm or damage to someone. At this point the room seemed to be a sea of hands. Nearly everyone has a story to tell about an event in which a surfer has suffered material or spiritual damage through use of the Internet.
The meeting with theology students clearly shows that this is our stereotypical association and evaluation regarding the Internet and the new technologies connected with it. At first glance, the Internet seems to be a breeding ground for superficial entertainment and vulgar content, which thrive on the dark side of our human nature. The conversation with the theology students, however, continued further. I asked them to describe the different ways of using the Internet to increase the life of faith. Then it was discovered that many of them have sent emails to their friends asking for prayer, have searched for websites with information on the life of their communities and for texts of papal talks. They have been able to enjoy listening to Christian music and Internet radio. Many liturgical encounters, homilies and talks are also available for those who have need of such content.
The discussion described with the theology students on the role of new media in strengthening and sharing of faith is a good example, expressing several important truths and principles. It is true that direct conversions before the computer screen with mouse in hand are rare. The Internet is no substitute for direct face-to-face encounters. It is no substitute for concrete help, for giving a glass of water or for time spent at a sick person's bedside.
On the other hand, Internet tools can be extremely useful in supplying information on the life of the Christian community, in maintaining relationships within the community and in finding spiritual content.

Disciples and apostles of Jesus are invited to share their faith. This is the essence of every evangelisation, old or new. Sharing our faith is also done using new means of communication. Our websites, emails sent, information on Facebook, the sending of text messages or the use of apps on mobile phones - all of this can be an instrument which helps us to strengthen our faith and hope or to share them with others. On the other hand, the same media and media content can contribute to the weakening of faith and to the loss of trust in God and in his Church.
These assertions are the starting point for further reflection. It involves finding criteria to distinguish when the means of communication are leading to a deepening of faith and of ecclesial communities, and when they become an instrument for weakening and blurring its edges.
To respond to these questions what is needed above all is a deeper reflection on the nature of faith. Faith is a gift that comes from God. Voluntary acceptance of this gift is the response of the human person. But "[f]aith is not a mere intellectual assent of the human person to specific truths about God; it is an act with which I entrust myself freely to a God who is Father and who loves me; it is adherence to a "You" who gives me hope and trust" (Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 24th 2012). Therefore, a person does not begin to believe simply because he or she has decided to do so. There are people who have a vast knowledge of the Christian religion but who are not believers. Knowledge is not the same thing as faith itself, even if believers do all that they can in order to know God and all that God has revealed.

The strengthening of faith happens through personal prayer and reflection on the Word of God. The best environment for strengthening faith is a living encounter with other believers, with whom we are able to pray together and speak about the most basic and essential values of life.

For personal/community reflection:

  1. Jesus says: "You will know the truth and the truth will make you free " (Jn 8:32). The world of today proclaims instead a distortion of the words of Jesus, raising unfounded fears: "If you know the truth, the truth will make you slaves". How can we distinguish, in the flood of present information, truth from falsehood, useful from harmful content?
  2. Pallotti encouraged us to know the mentality, language and needs of the people among whom we live. Are we able to discover the most important needs of others regarding their means of livelihood and their hopes and fears for the future?
  3. Pallotti wrote about the missionaries who should be "eager to learn with great precision and perfection the difficult art of the propagation of the Holy Faith" (OOCC VII, p. 246). I am able to share my experience of faith with others?

The prayer of Benedict XVI for
vocations for evangelisation (2007)


"[W]e turn to Mary, who supported the first community where "all these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer" (Acts 1: 14), so that she may help the Church in today's world to be an icon of the Trinity, an eloquent sign of divine love for all people. May the Virgin... intercede so that the Christian people will not lack servants of divine joy: priests who, in communion with their Bishops, announce the Gospel faithfully and celebrate the sacraments, take care of the people of God, and are ready to evangelize all humanity. May she ensure, also in our times, an increase in the number of consecrated persons, who go against the current, living the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, and give witness in a prophetic way to Christ and his liberating message of salvation.
May [Mary] help you to say with your lives: "Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God" (cf. Heb 10: 7)".

Fr. Zenon Hanas, SAC,
Warsaw, Poland.
____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

These assertions are the starting point for further reflection. It involves finding criteria to distinguish when the means of communication are leading to a deepening of faith and of ecclesial communities, and when they become an instrument for weakening and blurring its edges.
apostles-for-today-august-2013


Sat, 31 Aug 2013 16:19:13 GMT


Education and the New Evangelization 
1 - The new mission to evangelize and the contemporary urgent social need

This s
hort text is an effort to stimulate reflection on the relationship between the proposed "new evangelization", Pallottine thought and the needs of contemporary society in many different areas, particularly in the fields of education and youth in the rekindling of Christian faith.
Many are baptised, but still need greater discernment and reflection on the foundations of their Christian convictions; beyond this, the spreading of the values present in the Gospel should permeate the practice of the Catholic educator and faithful, thus allowing the formation of youth consistent with a life plan of love and charity, a clear necessity in our days - this includes their individual mission as Christians along with the dimension of historical-social needs. International meetings for youth, pilgrimages to shrines of ancient and recent origin and the flowering of movements and ecclesial associations are clear signs of a continuing religious sense. In this context, the "new evangelization" requires that the Church know how to discern the signs of the Spirit at work, addressing and educating people to the Spirit's manifestations, in light of a mature, informed faith "until attaining the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Eph 4:13) [1]. ...

2 - Revive faith, a Pallottine mission

The proposal to revive faith in Christ calls us to carry out actions inspired by the teachings of the Gospel. This is a special mission for formal and informal educators who have faith in the Word as the foundation of their lives, the Gospel as a reference point and the example of Saint Vincent Pallotti as an example of apostolic action. Furthermore, it is fundamental to ask ourselves: to what extent do our plans and actions satisfy effectively the needs of our students and of the other people involved? What is our concrete commitment to the new proposals and platforms for the "new evangelisation"? Do our proposals really face up to the need to carry on the process of evangelisation according to the specific cultural characteristics and realities of every situation in which we are involved?
The Synod Fathers, who gave the most recent guidelines for new evangelisation, affirm: "Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society, the clarity of its content and the coherence of its fruits. It is not a matter of starting again, but of entering into the long path of proclaiming the Gospel with the apostolic courage of Paul who would go so far as to say "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Corinthians 9:16) [2].
These proposals are fully in harmony with the desires of Pallotti - the need for instruction and for missionaries of Jesus as instruments to bring people close to their "primary origin" through the Gospel and through charity. Every Christian, each in his or her own time, has experienced and will experience the challenges posed to missionaries and pastors. Saint Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate (OOCC IV, pp. 1-3), has left us the brief formula "revive faith and rekindle charity" as a spiritual heritage, which he saw as a remedy for the problems of faith and of charity in his time. He realised that the faith of his contemporary Christians had become insipid and that their charity had grown cold. In order to help the Church to face this problem, he saw the urgency of reviving faith and rekindling charity among Catholics. Thus, like Pallotti, we Catholic and Pallottine educators, engaged directly or indirectly in educational processes, must reflect, question ourselves and renew our daily practical actions - often an arduous task but, however, an urgent social necessity. What are we doing each day to revive our faith and our charity and that of others?

3 - A "new world" and a new evangelisation

The term "new evangelisation" has been used from the end of the 1970s. Pope John Paul II directed the pastors of the Church to act in an innovative way according to the concrete needs of the people with whom they were in contact. This period in which the proposal was elaborated was characterised by profound and constant changes, which gave rise to many tensions. From the moment the new evangelisation was announced, it was clear that it was in harmony with the Second Vatican Council. The present day exhibits particular characteristics when compared with the 1970s and 1980s; however, the need for action to strengthen faith and a life enlightened by the Word, in this world of conflict which is seeking answers, seems urgent to all of us educators. If what is written in the last lines above cannot be considered a rule, it is still evident that it points to the urgent need for a reflection on the actions and practices which have compromised the quality not just of evangelisation, but even of human existence itself on our planet, as well as on the best ways and means of communication in the process of contemporary evangelisation.

In periods of transformation and of major questions, the action of Christians in expressing and spreading the Gospel according to the needs of the society in which they are inserted is fundamental. Pallotti, attentive to the Word as a source of inspiration and direction for human existence, is an example of dedication to reviving faith in others in the light of the Gospel. His life story is living proof of his search for the ideal way to revive faith in a changing society. As an apostle, he was faced with the most difficult challenges to living faith in his time, and so it was necessary to rekindle it; this, no doubt, has had a significant influence in the development of the Pallottine apostolate up until today. Christians must be attentive to the guidance of the Church in the project of evangelization in order to draw close to God. With the celebration of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church has rediscovered that the transmission of faith, understood as an encounter with Jesus, takes place through Sacred Scripture and the living Tradition of the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit [3].
Education plays a fundamental role in revitalizing the contemporary process of evangelization. The Gospel, for Christians not simply the greatest book, but also called to be their fundamental living rule of life, is made present in the human condition and reality and makes concrete the will of Jesus to the extent that Christians and the Christian community allow themselves to be continuously challenged and transformed in the ongoing process of dialogue with the living Word. The guidelines for the new evangelisation are very clear on the need to welcome the Word of God, to revive faith in Christ, as fundamental pillars of the Christian life. For Pallotti, reviving faith means exercising Christian charity with commitment - it is in charity that God becomes visible.

What we call new evangelisation does not provide an objective practical manual or theory regarding what should be done or how the process of evangelisation should be implemented; nevertheless, it does indicate a clear path which is no less challenging for those engaged as leaders in this process of evangelisation. We are all invited to revive love for Jesus Christ in an intense form through the Word, through faith and through the exercising of charity.
Contemporary society clearly indicates the need to adopt new methods and offer new experiences in spreading theory regarding Christian values and in concrete actions within and beyond the traditional educational sphere. In this sense, it is the responsibility of Christians to reflect on the quality of charity and how this can bear witness to our personal relationship with Christ in our everyday lives, since Christianity particularly proposes personal friendship with Jesus and with each person of the Blessed Trinity.
Guaranteeing an effective education in faith and charity to young people is one of the greatest challenges which the worldwide Catholic community must face; without doubt, this moment demands an innovative, perhaps even "revolutionary", spirit, but without losing the essence of the teachings of Christ and all of their historical and social dimensions.

Part of the official prayer for WYD

Oh Holy Spirit, Love of the Father and of the Son, with the splendor of Your Truth and the fire of Your Love, shed Your Light upon all young people so that... they may bring faith, hope and charity to the four corners of the earth, becoming great builders of a culture of life and peace and catalysts of a new world.
Amen!

[1] XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Lineamenta "The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith", n. 8.
[2] Message to the people of God from the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, October 26th 2012, n. 2.
[3] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation - Dei Verbum, 7s.
Sr. Roseli da Encarnação, CSAC with the collaboration of teacher Cristiano Tolomio (Scuola Palotina "Vicente Pallotti" - São Paulo - SP - Brasil)

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


apostles-for-today-september-2013

Wed, 9 Oct 2013 22:15:14 GMT


NEW EVANGELISATION IN THE FAMILY
I think that the best way to understand our theme for reflection is by immersing ourselves in the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Family of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the eyes of Mary.
This is precisely what St. Vincent Pallotti did in daily life, not separating himself even for an instant from the image of the Mother of Divine Love and leaving us the icon of the Queen of Apostles as a privileged ‘place’ of encounter for the whole Union, for our entire Family.
The month of October is connected directly with October 7th 1571, when Pope Pius V instituted the commemoration of Our Lady of the Rosary in thanksgiving after the victory of the Christian army against the Turkish one in the battle of Lepanto. In fact, from that event, October became the month of the Rosary. ...
It is a month in which thousands of families throughout the world unite every day in order to reflect on the life of Jesus, in communion with Mary.
The return to the past, to the prayer of our parents and grandparents, to the Church of our origins, the renewing of what by now seems archaic and useless: this is “New Evangelisation”, in which what is “old” becomes “new”.

Lk 1:26-38:
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, most highly favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her”.

Let us ask ourselves, therefore, in a “new” way, with Mary, what this greeting might mean.

In the prayer of the Rosary all become participants.
With Saint Vincent, it could be said: “The Father who created me is here – the Son who redeemed me is here – the Holy Spirit who sanctified me is here. I am in the company of the three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity – Oh what company!” (OOCC XI p. 236).

Oh what company… and more again, with Mary, St. Joseph and the Angels… at least Archangel Gabriele.
To meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary is to enter with Mary into the life of Jesus. It could be said that the Rosary is the Gospel of Mary; it is the life of Jesus through the eyes of Mary.

“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae n. 1, Blessed John Paul II)

We begin our reflection on the Joyful Mysteries with that of the Annunciation. We find this first mystery again in all of the other mysteries of the Rosary. In every mystery, in fact, we repeat the words of the Angel Gabriel “Hail Mary...” The feast of the Annunciation (on March 25th according to the tradition) is the day in which Christ, the “New Adam”, was conceived in the most holy womb of Mary, who thereby became the “New Eve”.

“God moves however in the dimension of time as we move in the dimension of space” – says a philosopher – and all of this is already accomplished... or better: is continuously being accomplished. The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a mystery on which in a marvellous way we meditate in every part of the Rosary in reciting the Hail Mary... it is a constant whisper of the Angel Gabriel which makes itself heard throughout the prayer.

Mary has experienced so many difficult moments: from the Annunciation itself, through the scourging and death of her Son to his crowning in heaven. And this would not have been possible without the constant presence of the voice of the Angel Gabriel who whispered to her in every moment: “Hail Mary... full of grace... the Lord is with you... blessed is the fruit of your womb... JESUS”. It was a continuous voice which Mary heard within herself, the voice which helped her to live her life.

Does not this angel whisper it to us too in every moment… so that we have the necessary strength in life like Mary?
In every “Hail Mary” in the life of my family, I hear this voice confirmed by the victory of Mary.

In our parish community, in the “Caritas” Centre of Divine Mercy, we meet with the sick every Wednesday at 18.30 to pray the four parts of the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament. The prayer concludes with the common thanksgiving of the Eucharistic Celebration.

St. Vincent also dedicated Wednesdays and Saturdays to particular devotion to the Madonna through various forms of penitence.

Our communal Wednesday Rosary allows each one of us to be embraced in each mystery. It is a time dedicated to Jesus and to Mary in a special way, a time in which I find that I learn many things from her. Even the place of prayer is sanctified in a particular way, in that being among many suffering people who are praying I feel as if I am hidden in the wounds of Jesus.

In the mysteries on which we meditate in the Rosary, we encounter Mary who fixes her gaze on Jesus attentively and tenderly, we see St. Joseph whose task will be to help the Saviour of the world to grow.

As a father, in my daily life I learn from St. Joseph how to educate my children so that they may become heirs of God despite not myself being their God.

In the words “Hail Mary, full of grace” which we speak 200 times during the Rosary a continuous consolation of God for Mary and for each one of us is heard.
Through his angel, God whispers unceasingly to Mary during her life and to each one of us through all of the mysteries of our lives (beginning with the joyful mysteries, through the luminous, sorrowful in order to arrive at the glorious ones), that “you are full of grace”, that He “is with you”, that you are “blessed” according to the promise and finally, that Jesus is blessed and that we are called to give birth to him every day. This is our call from the beginning.

Anioł Ślązak, a poet and mystic, wrote beautiful and profound words: “It is necessary that I become Mary and that God be born in me”.

It is a task for life for each one of us. Then He will glorify himself in us.
“Not touch but God!
Not the heart, but God!”
( OOCC X 131)

St. Vincent Pallotti had a particular bond and intimacy with Mary. Every day he recited the Rosary, he always recited the prayer of the Angelus kneeling (wherever he found himself). When speaking the name of Mary he used to remove his hat as a sign of respect and great love, and every morning he asked her blessing.

Looking today at the life of St. Vincent, I am certain that the “fruit of his womb” is Jesus, God the Infinite Love.

The Rosary is a continuous repetition, many times, of the same prayer, just as St. Vincent walked via Giulia countless times in his life (from the hospital to the prison and vice versa), and also like the repetition of many tasks in our lives.

For me the Rosary is also daily breakfast with my family, sending my children to school, going to work and returning home, the Eucharistic celebration and everything, like for St. Vincent, multiplied.

“Each of us has our own Rosary of life” – says my friend Darek. At the moment, I find myself around the middle of the mysteries of Light.
Still before me are the Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries.

Each of us has our own Rosary in life and it would be good to know how to find ourselves in it.
I have peace in my heart because every day the angel whispers to each one of us, to my wife, to our children, the words once given to Mary:
“Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with you...” (Lk 1:28)
Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you...

Marek Kalka

Poland


____________________________________________________

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

apostles-for-today-oct-2013


Thu, 10 Oct 2013 06:39:15 GMT


Let us pray with Saint Vincent Pallotti in thanksgiving for ten years of the erection of the Union as an international public association of the faithful


God the Father of mercies, who love your Church and always want it to be renewed, enriched with charisms and prepared for every work of evangelisation and of charity, as we celebrate this anniversary in the life of the Union, repeat the gift of a new Pentecost.

Grant your Church always to hold fast to the word of life.

Grant that our hearts may be moved, as was your Son's, in the face of all who are confused and restless, yet yearning for You, for your Light, your Peace and your Justice.

Grant us to pray with the same love which poured out from the heart of your beloved Son: "Send forth, O Lord, laborers into your vineyard, and spare your people".

Make us feel deeply our responsibility for many brothers and sisters who do not yet know you, and awaken in our hearts a new passion for holiness and for mission, so that your Kingdom may spread to the ends of the earth and find a home in every heart.

Help us to take up the Church's call for a New evangelisation with renewed apostolic zeal, so that every brother and sister who is far from faith may discover the hope, the joy and the true meaning of life which are found only in You.

We ask you, through the intercession of Mary Queen of Apostles, to grant us, members and collaborators of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, to be faithful to the charism and to the mission which you have entrusted to us.

We ask you to sanctify us all in the truth, confirm us in the communion of life and faith in the Union, transform us into icons of Jesus Christ, your beloved Son and Apostle, sent into the world to lead all to the fullness of life. Amen

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Wed, 6 Nov 2013 06:59:13 GMT


New Evangelisation and the dying - a personal experience
"Lord, the one whom You love is sick." (Jn 11:3)

I have been serving in Clinic Pastoral Ministry at St. Vincent Pallotti Hospital (VPH) in Bensberg since October 1980.

During my training I became aware that I was walking in the footsteps of Vincent Pallotti, in the sense that he had often been called to assist people in hospitals who were sick and dying.
During the first years of my ministry I was often asked what I was doing, since I could not even give a blessing… In the course of time I found my own "sacramentals": for example, approaching each person very consciously, glancing lovingly at someone whose face is disfigured by cancer (even though I needed time to learn to be able to do that). Such encounters often develop into fruitful, blessed times of accompaniment, especially with those in the final stage of their journey in this life. ...


New Evangelisation and the dying - a personal experience "Lord, the one whom You love is sick." (Jn 11:3)
I have been serving in Clinic Pastoral Ministry at St. Vincent Pallotti Hospital (VPH) in Bensberg since October 1980.

During my training I became aware that I was walking in the footsteps of Vincent Pallotti, in the sense that he had often been called to assist people in hospitals who were sick and dying.
During the first years of my ministry I was often asked what I was doing, since I could not even give a blessing… In the course of time I found my own "sacramentals": for example, approaching each person very consciously, glancing lovingly at someone whose face is disfigured by cancer (even though I needed time to learn to be able to do that). Such encounters often develop into fruitful, blessed times of accompaniment, especially with those in the final stage of their journey in this life. ...
My daily visits in the Hospice and Intensive Care Unit time and again present me with new challenges. I never know what will happen, and am often amazed at what actually does happen. For example, after the death of one woman, her daughter said to the nurse: ""My mother found her way back to faith through the visits of the sister." For such great gifts I thank Jesus. If He wants to use such daily visits to come closer to a person, He can count on me. However, I also remember that I once passed the door of that same woman, because I just couldn't face trying to listen patiently to her many repetitions.

Now and then I meet with refusal by patients, sometimes because through my religious habit, I am for them a visible sign of the Church. In such cases I try to break through the wall by means of some small concrete act of kindness. In the case of one woman who completely ignored me, a breakthrough came simply by bringing her cherry jam which she desired. Some time later, she was dying, but she had not entered any information in her documentation about belonging to a particular confession or religion. Her friend was sitting at her bedside and I came and sat with them, wondering whether or not it would be right to pray out loud. The dying woman had been a taxi driver, and several images connected with driving began to come to mind, which I tried to make into a kind of spontaneous prayer of encouragement: "You are on the main street - you have the right of way"…and so on. At a certain moment her friend called out: "Monica, you are on the priority road, go ahead!" at which point Monika drew her last breath.

Often, in difficult situations I remember the words of Pallotti:

Through your infinite mercy I am certain, that you help me now.


One day the nurse asked me to visit a patient who had expressed a wish "to put something in order". When I asked what I could do for her, the woman answered: "Sister, I left the Church when I was young. At that time I thought I was doing the right thing. However, over the years I realized that I had made a mistake. I searched on the Internet how I could come back, but found it too complicated, and so I dropped the idea. Since my diagnosis it has become a question for me once again. Is there any way to do something about it here?" I was able to call the priest and within a short time she renewed her membership of the Church once more. Her gratitude and happiness moved me deeply and I was touched to witness God's mercy and his infinite patience with us.

Of myself I can do nothing with God I can do everything. I will do everything for love of God. To God the Glory!

This is often my prayer - and God always surprises me with the words which He puts in my mouth, especially in difficult situations: in the delivery room at a miscarriage or stillbirth, when meeting patients after a serious accident or an attempted suicide or with relatives after a suicide.

Once, in the hospice, I had an experience with a Muslim patient. She radiated a great happiness on that day and I asked her the reason. She responded: "I was in the garden with my husband, and I saw the 'Great Lady'. Tomorrow we will go there again and I will say to her: 'Great Lady, help me to live two more years - then my children will have finished their studies, and you can come and fetch me." I understood that she had been at our Lourdes grotto in the garden. Weeks later she lay on her death bed. Before entering her room, I went to the chapel, lit a candle and prayed to Mary to assist her in her last hour. At her bed I told her that I was coming from the "Great Lady" and that there was a light burning for her…. The dying woman shook her head saying: "not Great Lady - but Great Mother!"

Blessed by such an experience I prayed with Pallotti:

My God, through your mercy grant to me and to all
a deep and true veneration of Mary

Once, sitting at the deathbed of a woman who was a nonbeliever,
I breathed with her and in her own rhythm, I "prayed"


Breath out everything that is a burden…

Breath out everything that was not good in your life…

Breath out, what you don't need any more…

The New Breath is helping you…

The New Breath brings you to your destination…

The New Breath does not deceive!!

Breathe God in…
Breathe God out…
with a simple glance to God,
present everywhere.

In a retreat I once heard a sentence about Pallotti which made me reflect on our Pallottine way of 'doing apostolate': Most of what Pallotti did, he did through others, in the sense of calling them to be apostles in their own right to collaborate in bringing the love of God to the wider world. For 30 years I have been the reference person for the so-called "Green Ladies", a group of about 20 people identified by their green outfit who minister as volunteers to patients and help them in many ways. Once a week they take their turn, sitting at the bedside of a patient, giving comfort to them, often just by being with them. They are a blessing for many people, a sign of the love of God, especially for those who do not receive visits, those who are in crisis or are searching for comfort before serious surgery.

Experience tells us that the good done alone is usually lacking, uncertain and of limited duration, and that the noblest efforts of individuals cannot bear fruit if they are not united and directed towards a common goal.


This is a sharing of my ministry in collaboration with many others, by day and often by night.

With Pallotti let us pray:

My God I am infinitely in need of asking you: I want to become hope for those who are in despair I want to become reconciliation for those who have gone astray I want to become desire for the discouraged I want to become joy for those who are mourning I want… I want….

Sr. Maria Reginata Nühlen, SAC



(Pallotti's words taken from Vinzenz Pallotti, Hunger und Durst, edited by Josef Danko SAC, 1988.)

Suggestions for individual and/or common reflection:

  • What can I, what can we as community, do to help the seriously ill and the dying to experience the special closeness and love of God?
  • How can we, as individuals and as a community, especially in this month of November, draw close to those mourning the death of a loved one, witnessing to our hope of eternal life?

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