Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Apostles for Today

        Sun, 2 Oct 2005 

POLAND!!! It’s been a long time coming but after a 10 hour flight from O'Hare in Chicago and a seven hour difference in time we arrived greeted by Christopher, a deacon from the seminary in Ołtarzew. Why were we in Poland from August 22-27, 2005? The first UAC General Congress since the General Statutes were approved by the Vatican was held at the Center for Mission Animation in Konstancin, (near Warsaw). The theme was "Now is the time for a new ‘creativity’ in charity." Prior to leaving we were asked to do a prayer-novena each month for spiritual preparation. Twenty-six countries participated and 5 major languages (English, German, Polish, Portuguese and Italian) were spoken. Ten members from the US National Conference were represented. As the laity, religious and clergy arrived you could feel their excitement and anticipation ready to make St. Vincent Pallotti’s dream come true.

At the first session Fr. Czesław Parzyszek welcomed everyone followed by Fr. Seamus Freeman who opened the Congress. Fr. Derry Murphy, the Secretary General of the U.A.C., along with members of the general secretariat moderated the Congress.  It was Fr. Marek Gulbinowicz who gave us the practical information, like where to find the bathrooms, the food etc. and could be found always with camera in hand taking pictures of everything and everyone throughout the week. We were invited by all of the speakers to discover the ideals of Vincent Pallotti, listen to others, be enriched and enter into the spirit of communion with each other. Most important was to get to know each other - to learn from each other and in this way strengthen our Union - TO COLLABORATE.

We were asked to review the General Statutes, bring the statutes to life. Many countries have not actually read the statutes and we were asked to review them with our UAC Cenacles. We need to deepen our understanding of them. We have until 2008 to look them over to see if we need to make any revisions. Other areas to be looked at are formation materials, local coordination councils, and national coordination councils.  There are 48 Countries where Pallottines live but so far there are only 18 NCC’s.

Our meeting room had a large stained glass image of Mary Queen of Apostles as a back drop so it was easy to envision ourselves beginning each day at prayer in the Cenacle.  Because the various presenters did not always speak our language, we all wore headsets that were connected to translators who listened to the speakers and then translated their words so that each person heard the talk in their own language. After each speaker, small language groups gathered together to share thoughts and ideas on the talk given.  Collaboration, formation were priorities for most groups as we came together to share what had been discussed.  We were also impressed with a deep love of St. Vincent and the Union found in the group sharing. We got to know each other, we were enriched.

Each of the Speakers presented us with a challenge.  The First day was a prayer day – reflection on the Scripture.  We were called to be apostles as in the cenacle – the thrust of the challenge here was to bring what we learn to cenacles at home – we are sent as apostles.  Each country was asked to bring their flag which was displayed in the courtyard and a picture or statue of Mary which had a special meaning for our country. A procession was held on Tuesday evening, August 23rd to the chapel where these were placed in front of the altar. The image chosen by the U.S. delegates was the Immaculate Conception.  Under this title she was named our Patroness, dedicated in the 1800’s by the 3rd Plenary Council and located in the National Shrine in Washington D.C.  After the closing Liturgy on Saturday, August 27th each country picked a name of a Madonna from a different country and we were asked to take the statue or picture home and pass it to everyone in our Union Group and to pray for the Union throughout world.

Wednesday evening the countries did a presentation of their customs, songs, dance, etc. The evening was fun, relaxing and a chance to get to know each other. It was very impressive. From the United States we chose to sing two songs, America the Beautiful and Take Me Out to the Ball game. It was a neat and fun experience.

On Thursday morning Mr. Andy Thompson from the United States spoke on "Poverty, how it affects human dignity, created in the image of God, and how it touches the Church and the union.  Andy’s challenge for us was to understand poverty not only as a lack of goods but also to recognize what might be called an intellectual poverty, or a lack of openness to diversity in ways of thinking.

Thursday we enjoyed a fun and relaxing afternoon as we took a bus to Warsaw’s downtown.  Seeing the sights of Warsaw together, buying souvenirs we even stopped for an ice cream cone. We ended the day with a Eucharistic Celebration at the Provincialate of the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers. Each day we celebrated Eucharist in a different language. It was enriching to celebrate the Mass in various languages and especially to see so many priests concelebrating.
Father Hubert Socha, SAC made some outstanding comments on the General Statutes on Friday.  His challenge to us was to put life into the Union.  He encouraged us to use our lived experience to enflesh the skeleton of the General Statutes.  Another speaker Mr. Corrado Montaldo of the “Comunita V Dimension” spoke of his own experience in being nervous about performing some ministry until he took the focus off of himself and realized he was doing it for Christ.
Some of the proposals made on Saturday were to look into ourselves and community, take away the prejudices in our lives, to build communion on all levels, and cooperate. Don’t be just a listener but a doer.  Make the UAC known with a logo or some kind of symbol.  Each group gave suggestions as to where they would like the 2008 or 2009 General Congress to be held and Rome and Brazil were the favorites.

Saturday the Congress ended with a Eucharistic Celebration. During the Liturgy the members of the UAC made a renewal of their Apostolic Commitment. At the closing the Sign of Peace was extended and it was hard to say good bye and there were so many tears and hugs. No one wanted to leave. It was very touching and emotional. A lot of e-mail and home addresses were exchanged to keep in touch.

It was quite an experience meeting and sharing our thoughts and ideas about St. Vincent, his spirituality, charism and how we as Union members can make Pallotti’s dream come true. Being together bonded by a deep love of St. Vincent Pallotti helped us to strengthen our unity and keep his dream alive, real apostles.

Sunday we had an option to take a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Czestochowa (Black Madonna) which some of us did. It was a fun four hour bus trip there. When we arrived we began with a Mass in one of the smaller chapels, presided over by our UAC Pallottine Priests. There was a long line to see the Black Madonna but when you saw her the emotions that flowed through you is unexplainable. After the Liturgy we had lunch at the Pallottine Shrine in honor of the Mercy of God within walking distance of the Pauline Monastery where the Madonna is venerated.  We later walked back to spend more time at Czestochowa. We had time to see the small village surrounding her and to buy souvenirs and of course had an ice cream cone. Poland has yummy ice cream.  Four of us did not return to as we were going to continue to see other sights of Poland so our farewells had to be said at the bus and once again there were hugs and tears.

We wish everyone could have shared the rich experience of being at the General Congress in Konstancin.

Betty Reichertz and Fr. Greg Serwa
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      Wed, 30 Nov 2005 

Thursday - 1st week of Advent
The answer to prayer
“ Ask, and you will receive.  Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7
I likened my life to a house built on sand.  When the wind would blow, it would leave a bare spot, so I would quickly replace the spot with a solid brick house. When the wind would blow again, I would continue to place the brick in the bare spot. The wind is both harsh and mild, so in time this house solidified. Now my house of brick is strong and can weather any storm. I knocked on God’s door and He opened it to me. He showered me with many blessings. So with God’s help and love much can be achieved.
Evelyn Voelkel, UAC
 
Isaiah 26:1-6, Psalm 118:1-27, Matthew 7:21-27
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Friday - 1st week of Advent
From Darkness to Light
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!"  …Matthew 9: 27
Lord let me see and understand,
I have learned over the years that healing can be a slow process.  Often times we travel over twisted, bumpy roads on our journey to begin this process of healing.
My youngest son encountered the first bump of his journey when he was told that he needed a delicate brain surgery.  Since that day he has experienced many twists and turns as he awaits word when this surgery will take place.  I watch him struggle physically, and I wonder if either of us will feel peace of mind.  At times there have been doubts and I wonder if Jesus will heal our son.  We look deep within our hearts and draw upon our faith that Jesus’ healing powers will end this weary journey.  During this Advent season, it is especially important that we are not blinded by any trails and may see light along this darkened path.  We will continue to look for signs that all will be OK; we will continue to believe and have faith as Jesus has taught us.
Lord help us to turn away from darkness, and draw us closer to the light of the Lord.
Betty Reichertz, UAC
Isaiah 29:17-24, Psalm 27:1,4,13-14, Matthew 9, 27-13
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Saturday of the 1st Week of Advent
Celebrate By Giving to Others
Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils.  Freely you have received, freely give...(Matt 10:8)
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas - a saint who signifies and is often thought of as the true Santa Claus.  Saint Nicholas selfishly gave of himself to others just like the Apostles.  While Jesus empowered the Apostles to perform miracles, the acts of charity St. Nicholas performed appeared like miracles to his recipients.
It was the gift of his giving to others that was St. Nicholas's greatest talent.  The small acts of kindness brightened children's day just as the Apostles shed light when tending to and healing the sick.
Jesus taught us how to share and how to live through the examples of the Apostles and St. Nicholas.  We hope that their acts will help us to put others first, and spread warmth and light by becoming more loving and giving.
Although God works through each one of us in different ways, He has found a place in us all.  Some of us may preach and some of us work small miracles, but we all do these things for one another.  All these gifts are from the same Spirit.
I find when I go to the Nursing Home one or two days a week to visit a friend, I have also made other friends at the home by just a touch or talk with them.  I receive smiles and a lot of joy from their conversations and they welcome my visits.  I feel good inside when I leave.  And I'm smiling, as I not only give to them, they also give me joy.
Lord, we want to let our light shine by being more loving and giving.  Please help us to shine.
Betty Reichertz, UAC
Isaiah 30: 19-26, Psalm 147: 1-6, Matthew 9:35-10:8]]>
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      Tue, 6 Dec 2005 
Celebrate By Giving to Others

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, and cast out devils.  Freely you have received, freely give...(Matt 10:8)

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas - a saint who signifies and is often thought of as the true Santa Claus.  Saint Nicholas selfishly gave of himself to others just like the Apostles.  While Jesus empowered the Apostles to perform miracles, the acts of charity St. Nicholas performed appeared like miracles to his recipients.
It was the gift of his giving to others that was St. Nicholas's greatest talent.  The small acts of kindness brightened children's day just as the Apostles shed light when tending to and healing the sick.
Jesus taught us how to share and how to live through the examples of the Apostles and St. Nicholas.  We hope that their acts will help us to put others first, and spread warmth and light by becoming more loving and giving.
Although God works through each one of us in different ways, He has found a place in us all.  Some of us may preach and some of us work small miracles, but we all do these things for one another.  All these gifts are from the same Spirit.
I find when I go to the Nursing Home one or two days a week to visit a friend, I have also made other friends at the home by just a touch or talk with them.  I receive smiles and a lot of joy from their conversations and they welcome my visits.  I feel good inside when I leave.  And I'm smiling, as I not only give to them, they also give me joy.
Lord, we want to let our light shine by being more loving and giving.  Please help us to shine.

Betty Reichertz, UAC
Isaiah 30: 19-26, Psalm 147: 1-6, Matthew 9:35-10:8

      2005-12-06 

Fundamental Rule 18 – Seek in Humility
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, lost, was found by Mary Most Holy, and by Joseph, in the Temple in the midst of the Doctors, listening to them, and asking them questions; that is, he was listening to those Doctors, and he asked them questions as if he were a fool, while all the time he is infinite Wisdom:  therefore, for love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and for the greater sanctification of ourselves and of others, we must love to receive instructions and we should diligently seek them, and be avid to manifest our ignorance; and through this humble path God will grant us much wholesome intelligence.” (OO CC III, p. 47-8).
Reflection
Human beings are curious.  We want to know.  From the time we are small and able to pose questions, one of the first is ‘why’, often to the distraction and frustration of our parents.  Later, the questions also include ‘how’, and sometimes even ‘who’. We look for answers to the way the world around us functions.  How do the intricacies of nature, of God’s physical creation work?   Why do all flowers have such unique scents?  How do animals know to care for their young? How can we capture lightning energy?
We seek to understand the ins and outs of our relationships with others.  Why are we attracted to some people more than to others?  How do we act and react to the many people we meet?  Who are we as human beings?
We explore the depths of the oceans and the realms of space, always seeking, always pushing the limits, always looking for more.  Always yearning for more what?  Simply more answers to the physical aspects of life?  Or do we yearn, ever more profoundly, to know God?  Is this not what we truly seek, often unbeknownst, even to ourselves?
We need answers for our life journey so that we, as individuals or a society, will not get lost on our way, but reach our destination.  Living in the confines of time and space, we have to reach beyond the horizon for the eternal and the infinite to find the answers for the world of here and now.
On their journey back to Nazareth, Mary and Joseph are separated from Jesus and return to search for him.  It is a situation familiar to many, or all, parents and children at some point in their lives.
How blessed are parents who will find their lost child in the Temple.  How blessed are the sons/daughters who have been guided by and learned from their parents to go to the Temple to find the guiding answers.
When Jesus stays in the Temple, the house of his Father, he is not simply listening to discussions on the workings of nature. Rather he is listening to discussions of God’s revelation as brought to the Jewish people through the prophets. These revelations were deeply cherished by the Jewish people and applied to their lives; these were not just fleeting thoughts to stimulate the mind.  Jesus asked questions of the ‘learned’  which would address their/our deepest yearnings and clarify the relationship they/we have with the God who loves us.  Already as a young man, Jesus’ intimate relationship with the Father was visible.  By being present, open and listening to God, Jesus had embraced the mission God laid out for him.  Through his questions and astounding answers to their queries, he could awaken the doctors (and us) to the love of God present in their lives.
Jesus, as infinite Wisdom, showed us that we too must question, we must seek answers, so that we may come closer to, become aware of, and find God in our lives.  This is the most important task we have as human beings, to seek God and to love him.  Jesus would later say to a scribe that the greatest commandment is, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” (Mk. 12:30) “Blessed are the poor”, those who know that they do not know everything but are open to listen and to learn, searching for the ultimate truth.  And how do we accomplish this, if we do not listen and ask, and ask and listen?
Pallotti goes so far as to say that we must be humble and admit our ignorance of God.  As the Son of God, Jesus was the infinite Wisdom; as a human being he too had to listen and ask and learn.  So, we take our example from Him. We must strive to learn as much as we can about our heavenly Father, so that we may attain understanding which will be beneficial to the salvation of our souls and the souls of others.
The whole of God’s salvific action depends on Jesus’ coming to earth.  In the Incarnation, God became one with humanity in Jesus, the Christ.  He is God’s incomprehensible love and mercy for us.  Through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus opens the door to God’s love for us and clarifies our destiny and our destination.
But salvation also depends on the ability of His people to ‘hear’.  We have an active role.  We must be open, appreciative, willing to receive and respond to the greatest gift so generously given: God’s merciful, infinite love to be experienced forever.  Mary is the first model of such openness.  Her ‘yes’ to God’s call could only be made because she was prepared and willing to receive the Saviour into her heart and into her womb.  She readily gave her heart and self to God to be used in any way he saw fit.
St. Therese of Lisieux, in her little way to find God, also tells us that we must be focused on God, practice humility and love Him who has loved us first.  In a letter to Sister Agnes of Jesus in 1889, Therese writes:
“If you knew how great is my wish to be indifferent to the things of this world! What matter all created beauties to me? Possessing them, I should be utterly unhappy, my heart would be so empty!… It’s incredible how big a thing my heart seems when I consider the world’s treasures,,, since all of them massed together could not content it…but how small a thing it seems when I consider Jesus!  I want to love Him so!…To love Him more than He has ever been loved! – My sole desire is to do the will of Jesus always…”
Like St. Vincent, St. Therese gained great spiritual inspiration from  The Imitation of Christ.  We too can pray with the saints:
“O Lord, grant me heavenly wisdom, so that I may learn above all things to seek You and to find You, above all things to delight in You and love You; and to value everything else according to its place in Your wise plan. (The Imitation of Christ, Book 3, XXVII)
Pope Benedict wrote:
“The way to the right kind of life runs: ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27).  The first thing should thus be that God is present in our life.  The sums of human life don’t work out if God is left out: all that remains then is nothing but contradiction.  So we mustn’t just believe in some theoretical way that God exists: we must consider him to be the most important and real thing in our life.  As Scripture says, he must penetrate every layer of our life and fill it completely: our heart must know about him and let itself be moved by him; our soul; the power of our will and decision; our intelligence.  He must be everywhere.  And our fundamental attitude towards him, our fundamental relationship to him, must be called love.” (Card. J. Ratzinger, “The Yes of Jesus Christ.” 1989)

We pray with St. Vincent
“Seek God and you will find him.  Seek him in all things and you will find him in all things.  Seek him always and you will find him always.” (St. Vincent to Brother Benedict, Camaldolensian, 22 July 1836, letter 382. Ed. Hettenkofer, 1930)
“Lord, you resist the proud but are merciful to the humble. Give us true humility, after the example of your only Son.  Deliver us from pride so that we may never know your silence; give us the gift of true humility, the virtue which obtains for us your grace.  We ask our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (UAC Community Prayers, Tuesday Evening prayer, Weekly Cycle)
Scripture Meditations
Psalm 37:7 - Be quiet Psalm 46:10 Be still and know
Psalm 63:1 - You are my God Isaiah 55:6  - Seek the Lord
Proverbs 15:33 - Humility Jeremiah 7:23 - Listen to my voice
Matthew 7:7-8  - Ask 1Peter 5:5 - The humble

Questions for Reflection
1) Do I actively seek to know God better?
2) Am I open to God’s love in my life? Am I present to God?
3) Is God number one in my life?

A Final Prayer
“O Father, give us the humility which
  Realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes,
  Recognizes its need, welcomes advice,  accepts rebuke.
Help us always  to praise rather than to criticize,
  To sympathize rather than to condemn,
  To encourage rather than to discourage,
  To build rather than to destroy,
  And to think of people at their best rather than at their worst.
This we ask for thy name’s sake. Amen.”

William Barclay 1907-78



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

      2007-05-01 17:05:31
   
      reflection-and-prayer-for-may-2007

Extraordinary General Assembly of the Union of Catholic Apostolate,
Grottaferrata, Rome, May 14 - 16, 2007.

Final message.

“The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth (Jn. 16,13).”

We, the members of the General Coordination Council of the UAC and all those who participated in the Extraordinary Assembly of the UAC, greet you all, brothers and sisters in the Union, fraternally and with affection, at the end of the Assembly.

With full hearts we thank God and our Mother Mary, Queen of Apostles, for all that they gave us in these days and especially for the joy of being together in our deliberations and in a spirit of communion.

These have been intensive days dedicated to the revision of the General Statutes of the Union, which, as you know, were approved “ad experimentum” for a five year period, by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2003.  Parts of the Statutes have been rewritten in order to present them again to the Holy See in 2008, this time for definitive approval.  This has been a very demanding task but one in which we  experienced reciprocal listening and the riches of our diversity.

We come from different corners of the world ranging from Cameroon to Brazil, from Australia to Poland, from Uruguay to Tanzania, from the United States of America to Ireland and South Africa, and indeed from many other countries, therefore we have diverse cultures, many languages and very varied life experiences. We have striven to put all this treasure at the service of one another so as to discover that which the Holy Spirit wished to communicate. We asked for an awareness of this right from the opening Mass in which the President of the Union, Fr. Séamus Freeman, invited all to pray the Spirit that His will be fulfilled and not our individual wills, for the good of all.

There have been moments of very intensive work and occasions to nourish the spirit in communal prayer and liturgy from which we drew strength to serve our common family. We were very aware that many persons throughout the world were supporting us from a distance with their prayers and the offering of their Christian lives lived in union with us.  We were just an expression of this broader communion.
In the final Eucharistic Celebration we lived another experience of universality and of love.  Fr. Fritz Kretz, Rector General of our priests and brothers, and spiritual guide and assistant of the Union, reminded us that while the statutes, like all laws, have a purpose which is to protect the charism, or gift of God, and to indicate the way to be followed, that which is more important is life and living. The lived life and the charism which is incarnated day after day is what makes us what we are today: a Cenacle, gathered around Mary, living a journey towards a destination which is known to God but not to us.

The awareness of being family, a true family, gathered in the name of Jesus, Apostle of the Eternal Father, to revive faith and rekindle love, everywhere and with every means, has matured slowly in us; this is an ‘old truth’ which is also always new, always to be rediscovered.  

The General Coordination Council and the entire Assembly wishes to be at the service of all, and so we have kept you all in our hearts, together with God’s  presence. In this spirit everything is done in service of the entire Church, striving to respond to her need of evangelization; and in service of the world which has a great need of authentic Christian witness and of our apostolic spirituality.  

In the course of this week everything took place in simplicity and in service; each person, priest, sister or lay, was at the service of all.  We got to know one another, we shared many experiences with one another and, finally, we said goodbye, but with the commitment to remain united by our charism and in forming part of the same family. We invite all to live this same communion in your life situations, in the community, in the family and in the missions.

We return home, and to those with whom we live, certain of having taken another important step forward in the history of our Union, not merely because of the task accomplished,  but because of the work of the Spirit in these days.

Our thanks to those who welcomed us and cared for our lodgings, our thanks to God for the gifts received and which we will strive to transmit to all, thanks to our Heavenly Mother for having supported us, and to St. Vincent for having accompanied us.

Ad Infinitam Dei Gloriam.

      2007-05-25 
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Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

Fundamental Rule 19 – Obedient to God’s Will

St. Vincent Pallotti writes:
When His Blessed Mother meekly complained about His staying behind (in the Temple), our Lord Jesus Christ answered respectfully: “Did you not know I must be busy with my Father’s affairs?” Out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, unless in some rare case when necessity and charity clearly demand otherwise, we must avoid the company (the conversation) of our relatives if there is a danger that it might prevent us from doing the Will of God our Father in all things and at all times.   OOCC III, p. 48
There are further passages in Holy Scripture where Jesus teaches us that there can be situations in which the duties of family life do not take precedence.

Let us meditate on some Gospel passages:
In Mt 4,22 Jesus calls the sons of Zebedee … “At once, leaving the boat and their father, they followed him.”  There would surely have been enough work for them all to do in order to  provide for  the family, but they followed Jesus’ call.
In Mk 3, 22 - 35 we read that the scribes thought Jesus to be possessed, therefore his family came and requested to talk to him, and he observed “Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother,” and he does not allow his family to intrude.
Finally, in Lk 10,42, he rebukes Martha for complaining that Mary did not help her to serve the guests, but rather was listening to his words, he said “Martha, Martha, you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one.  It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.”
Thus, it seems to be a question of being aware of the heavenly family we belong to, of knowing its duties, and of responding to them. We are to hear Jesus’ call, follow his example and cultivate brotherly/sisterly relationships with all persons, so that all persons, but most  especially those who did not  have the good fortune of having a good family life, will experience God’s love through loving persons who know that they belong to the heavenly family, the family of Jesus, and who take others into this community.

Let us therefore pray with St. Vincent:
… Oh how foolish I have been in not profiting by the intercession of the Angels and Saints and my most beloved mother, Mary, as I could have and should have. …
I never cared to imitate the virtues of the Saints as I could and should have done. But now, enlightened by Your grace, through your infinite mercy and through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ,  …I firmly believe that you will grant me … the grace to imitate the Saints in order that I may closely imitate my dear mother Mary, and my first-born brother, Jesus Christ, with greater perfection until death.”   (from the 25th meditation of “God, the Infinite Love”)
But let us return once again to fundamental rule 19 and let us meditate on the phrase: “unless in some rare case when necessity and charity clearly demand otherwise”.
There is, in our time, a change in family life, the old traditions and standards, especially those of the Christian family, are carelessly and thoughtlessly abandoned.  There is an urgent need to look at this reality, love calls us to respond in this pastoral and apostolic field which is the family because it is in the family that the foundation of a person’s life of faith is formed, here he or she learns to see life as being filled with the presence of God. Awakening in the child a sensitivity to God is fundamental, what is transmitted to the child by living in a truly Christian family cannot be learnt, even by the very best catechesis.  It is unfortunate but many children grow up in non-Christian surroundings and this important education and formation of the heart is withheld from them.

Let us listen to Bishop Joachim Wanke, talking about this in his homily on the Feast of the Holy Family in the Cathedral of Erfurt, Germany, on December 31st. 2006:
… It seems that there was at least one successful family, namely the Holy Family of Nazareth. …
The experience of security and acceptance is part of Jesus’ humanity. The experience of having to learn what is required from each one by living together in cramped surroundings is part of his humanity. Enduring need and lack is part of it, as is the experience of just how precious solidarity and human sympathy can be in times of hardship.
As we celebrate this feast of the Holy Family, we unite our thanks for the Holy Family of Nazareth with our thanks to God for all the holy and, less than holy, families of today.  There is a great deal of gossip about broken marriages and families, but let us also keep our eyes fixed on the reality of many successful marriages and families which form the basis of our human society.
Today we celebrate that God gives grace so that a man and a woman are faithful to one another, that they give life to children and nurture them to grow into life, that younger family members care for the older ones, sometimes to a heroic degree of caring for them in illness and debility for many years.  It is a blessing that there are families!
The family is also, today, a learning space for successful human and Christian life. The family helps to introduce young people to the mystery of God and to stay rooted in it. One can understand the fundamental tenet of our belief, that we are loved by God, only if one can experience what this means: being accepted and being loved by another person. The warmth and security experienced in the arms of one’s mother and father, the active concern of parents, the community of brothers and sisters, of relatives, of friends: all of this is an introduction to the mystery of God’s presence, even today in our world which is characterized by reason and technology.
Let us not forget that all the love and solidarity that we give to each other is embraced by, is made possible by, God’s love and mercy. In Holy Scriptures the love of a father and a mother is referred to as a greater love which carries and sup-ports us even when all earthly securities fail.
Living together in a family is a school for selflessness. There is no better place in which there is the opportunity to practise selflessness than in a family: the experience of becoming richer instead of poorer by letting go. …
In the bosom of the family one learns best what we call Christian life practice. The feasts of the liturgical cycle of the Church’s year as entry doors to believing in God; the experience of praying and sing-ing together at home and in church, of talking about life while sitting at the kitchen table so that all the problems and difficulties of faith can be brought out and discussed, and last, but not least, it is in the bosom of the family that the practical model of Christian Catholic parents and grandparents who do not talk a lot, but just follow single mindedly and faithfully their path of faith within the Church, is seen.  All of these are precious aids for the upcoming generation in order that they themselves may grow into being upright Christians.

For Reflection:
- Do I cultivate relationships with the persons I meet in a brotherly/sisterly spirit that is life giving?
- What about the relationships with my family; do I escape from my relatives and cultivate love for “my neighbour”, or for those outside of the family circle?
- Do I keep contact with my heavenly family and do I ask them for their help with all my concerns?

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


      2007-06-05 

      June-prayer-and-reflection

Fundamental Rule 20 - Perfect Obedience and Submission

Our monthly reflection continues to be oriented by the 33 points of the Fundamental Rule which St. Vincent Pallotti left to us.  This month we come to point 20 which speaks to us of Jesus' obedience.
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, having been found in the temple by Mary and Joseph, returned with them to Nazareth, where He lived until he was thirty,  the Gospel says of Him, "He was obedient to them", (Lk. 2,50).  He was obedient and subject to Mary and Joseph while He practised virtue in a life hidden from the world, thus preparing Himself for the preaching of the Gospel for our instruction and salvation (Rm. 15,4).
For love of our Lord Jesus Christ, for our greater sanctification and to prepare ourselves through the hidden life for every kind of apostolic work, and to enable ourselves to maintain and grow in holiness and perfection  we must strive to live in the most perfect obedience and submission. Perfect obedience must be:

(1) Christian and religious; (2)Universal; (3) Indiscriminate; (4) Exact and complete; (5) Prompt; (6) Blind; (7) Simple; (8) Humble and respectful; (9) Cordial and affectionate (Phil. 2.8).
In order to practise until death perfect obedience and submission with all the qualities enumerated, we must cultivate the spirit of obedience and submission not only to superiors, and our fellow members, but also to those outside of every rank, state, and condition, in so far as it is not against the law of God, of the Church, and our Holy Rules and constitutions.  This is necessary for more effective cooperation in the various efforts undertaken for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls."  OOCC III, p.  71-2.
Introduction[/B]
Every faithful Jew, including Jesus, had a heart-felt commitment to respond to "Shema," to first "listen" and then obey God's will by responding completely.  Christians will recognize this prayerful universal call:  "Listen Israel: Yahweh our God is the one Yahweh.  You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength." (Deut 6: 4-5)
Saint Vincent Pallotti's Teaching on Obedience
Vincent Pallotti modelled his life on Jesus, whom he saw as having responded to God's will completely, with heart, soul and all his strength.  In his foundational documents, the daily Memorandum and Rules, Father Pallotti encouraged his disciples to give priority to daily reflection on and imitation of Christ.  Vincent's twentieth rule called to mind the example of Jesus as a twelve year old, who, when Joseph and Mary discovered him in the Temple of Jerusalem, submissively returned home and "was obedient to them." (Luke 2:50)
In this spirit, Vincent encouraged all his followers to hear God's call in the word of superiors, whether religious or lay, and to be prompt, complete, blind, simple, respectful and affectionate in obeying.    
"This is necessary for more effective cooperation in the various efforts undertaken for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls."  OOCC III, p. 50.  Here again Vincent cites the example of Jesus "who was obedient unto death, even unto death on a cross." (Phil. 2,8)
A Reflection on Vincent's Teaching
Actions speak louder than words, and the two together give us a portrait of greater clarity than either of the two in isolation.  When viewed synoptically, or side by side, actions and words help us recognize nuances that otherwise we might overlook.
Consider, for example, Luke's story of the obedient 12-year-old Jesus and notice the tension. Jesus had disappeared for three days, hardly an act of filial compliance to his parents' intentions.  Luke noted that in the temple, Jesus had been listening intently to the doctors.  When Joseph and Mary found and questioned Jesus, can one detect a slight rebuke in his response: 'Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?'  What would happen if you disappeared for 3 days and then offered that line as an explanation to your local religious superior or employer?
In Vincent's life as with Jesus' life, we can recognize in his actions several levels of meaning.  On the one hand we see Vincent's extraordinary generosity in his continually giving away his personal clothing.  He did this from his childhood days until his last fateful winter when he gave his cloak to a penitent and then caught a cold which contributed to his death.  These charitable actions were, no doubt, contrary to the admonitions of his family and friends.  Vincent's intentions and actions, like our own, are not necessarily gifted with infallibility.  On the other hand, when he believed his mission was wrongfully undercut by some religious authorities, he was not submissive but petitioned the broader community of the religious leaders in Rome. With their discernment and signatures, he succeeded in establishing the validity of his unique pastoral mission.  So sometimes Vincent complied with authority figures.  Other times he did not and instead, appealed to a higher authority, whether God's will or Church authorities.  Life is rarely simple and without ambiguity.
Perhaps it is with this complexity in mind that one community of Benedictine monks portrayed their understanding of the vow of obedience.  Just a little south of Rome, high on a crest, stands the Abbey of Monte Cassino.  Here, in 529 A.D., St. Benedict, the founder of one of history's most prolific religious orders, established what is called the "cradle of Benedictine spirituality." Here is where he lived the majority of his years and also where he died.  This Benedictine Abbey's cathedral is filled with paintings that express the Order's spiritual insights.  In one painting, high on a pillar, an artist portrayed the significance of the Benedictine promise of obedience.  It shows a robed young woman, standing in perfect attention, with hand cocked to ear, listening with complete presence of mind, heart and strength.  This painting reminds us of Isaiah's words: "The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear . . . .  So, too, I set my face like flint . . . ."( 50: 4,7)  But to what is the woman listening:  to religious superiors, to God's voice within the community, to God whispering in her heart or imagination?  Our religious formation stems from many sources: personal relationships, biblical inspirations, creation and "sacraments" very broadly understood.  Which areas are more nurturing for you?
For Prayerful Reflection on Your Experience of Obedience

  • When you were an adolescent, to what extent did your family or parents encourage you to follow authority blindly?  What authority did they highlight: themselves, the Church, teachers, your conscience?
  • If you were to consider obedience as listening to God's voice, which are the sources for that voice in which you have a sense of confidence?
  • During your lifetime, who or what have been the forces encouraging you to develop your own internal guidance system, your sense of self-direction?
  • To what extent do you hear the voice of God speaking to you through questions that surface in your mind or imagination?
  • "What are the places, situations or communities where you find it is relatively easy to hear God's voice for your life?  Which are the difficult situations? 
  • Who are the people who help you discern what God is saying to you?
  • Once you have discerned God's voice, how do you usually respond?
  • What are some areas in your life where your passion is strongest? Based on how you use your time, which concerns more fully capture your mind, heart and strength?   To what extent are these the priorities to which you want to be committed?  What changes, if any, do you want to make?
As a concluding prayer, and consistent with the disciples' sharing in the Upper Room, consider sharing with others your responses to the above questions.

Here is a link for the Benedictine portrait of Obedience:
http://www.officine.it/montecassino/disegni/foto_htm/obbedien.htm
____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

      2007-07-04 
      reflection-and-prayer-for-July-2007

__________________________________________________________________
Fundamental Rule no. 21 
Wisdom and grace shone forth in Jesus…..

Introduction
In point number 21 of the Fundamental Rule we read a new meditation on the hidden life of Jesus.
"St. Luke (2,52) tells us that our Lord Jesus Christ, subject to Mary and Joseph in the house of Nazareth, "progressed steadily in wisdom and age before God and men", that is, as He advanced in age, there shone forth in Him, more and more wisdom and grace. This was because He fulfilled exactly all the duties of an Israelite and of a son; while Mary fulfilled those of a mother and St. Joseph those of a foster father.
Therefore, out of love for Our Lord Jesus Christ and so as to imitate Him in our progress in the spiritual life, we must consider and keep in mind the sacred ternary: Jesus, Mary and Joseph, who formed the small family in the house of Nazareth, in fulfilling perfectly all the natural and religious duties and take them as models for every Christian family.  And even more must we take them as models for the family formed by our little congregation as a whole, as well as, by the individual communities in our holy houses/retreats.
And so, each one of us in his office, in his rank, is obliged to imitate with all possible perfection Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in the fulfilment of all duties towards God, superiors, confreres, fellow-men, and even in regard to our very selves, by striving for greater holiness.  Therefore, all of us must do our work as prescribed by the holy Rules and Constitutions.
And, as there was never in the Holy Family of Nazareth even the slightest expression of laziness, each of us is likewise obliged to keep far from the community, from others and from oneself the slightest expression of laziness.
Finally, as in the Holy Family of Nazareth there reigned perpetual peace, charity, holy cheerfulness and spiritual joy, so too we must strive so that these virtues also reign in our congregation and in our holy houses/retreats as one of  their distinctive characteristics".  (OOCC III, 50)

Reflection
Who knows how often our Founder, in his contemplative prayer, tipped into the home of Nazareth on his toes!
What would he have observed?
What would he have learnt?
What revelations would he have received?
He would have been enchanted to meet the peaceful gaze of Joseph, the unconditional attention of Mary and the prompt obedience of Jesus.
What would the revolutionary feelings in St. Vincent have been?
Who knows how many times he would have gotten lost in the peaceful ecstasies of the House of Nazareth.
How much peace and joy reigned in those hearts and how much radiance shone on those faces …
How he revelled in letting himself be moulded by the members of the Holy Family.
A wonderful exchange of energy!
Vincent learnt from each member the art of living, he learnt to listen, he learnt to anticipate the needs of the other, he learnt to pray, he learnt to contemplate the wonderful work which God has done …
He knew that the small family of the Catholic Apostolate could survive only if it nourished itself with this energy which he, as father, transmitted.
Yes! What else could he leave to his children if not the desire to imitate the "sacred ternary" (the Holy Family) as he called it?
Who knows how many times he entrusted each member of the UAC to the care of the ternary, with the dreams and hopes for each member?
The highest dream or aspiration would have been that of holiness.
To be holy as those three were.
To live communion as they lived it.
The communities, the holy retreats, the families, were all safe under the light of such example.
St. Vincent continues, today, to look at us in God, …waiting to sing the divine mercies for all eternity.
And now, dear brother and sister, you are going through this and reading these few words, listen to the desire of St. Vincent.
Read and make your own the behaviour and the silent teaching of Mary, of Joseph and of Jesus.
Take them as models for your life.
Strive to begin a conversation  with the Founder and turn to him in all your needs.

Ask yourself:
1. "Jesus subjected himself to Mary and to Joseph".
How do you live your relationships with others?

2. "Jesus progressed steadily in wisdom and age before God and men".
How are you taking care of your life?
Does wisdom shine forth in you?
Do you allow yourself to be enlightened by divine grace?

3. "Jesus fulfilled exactly all the duties of an Israelite and of a son; while Mary fulfilled those of a mother, and St. Joseph those of a foster father".
Do you know how to imitate Jesus in your civil, religious and moral duties?
Ask Mary and Joseph for a new heart so as to live intensely your duties as mother, as father, with your loved ones and with all those who have been entrusted to you.

4. "In the family of Nazareth there was never the slightest expression of laziness".
Try to evaluate how you are using the time that God gives you.
Laziness is the father of all vices - so says a proverb - examine how you use time to spread Love, to revive faith, to encourage those who live in sorrow, in anguish, in desperation, and so do the work of the Catholic Apostolate.
 
5. "In the Holy Family of Nazareth there reigned perpetual peace, charity, holy cheerfulness and spiritual joy".
Look at your family, at your Community, at your work place and observe the atmosphere there.
What can you do in order that peace and love may grow and increase?
What can you invent so that spiritual cheerfulness and joy can always reign there?
Turn to the Holy Family and to St. Vincent and listen to their suggestions.

Prayers
From the writings of St. Vincent Pallotti
" "Most loving Virgin Mary, Mother of mercy, Queen of the angels and saints, our support and our hope, look with mercy on our community which you have cherished from the beginning.  Guard it now and in the future and bless it with continued growth.  May poverty, chastity and obedience, the spirit of prayer and the sharing of resources, in a spirit of serving with the love of Christ, remain alive in our hearts.  Preserve our community from all harm, especially from any danger of luke-warmness.  Mary, our support and our hope, obtain these blessings for us from your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.  Amen.
(Pallottine Community Prayers, p. 234-5)

" "Eternal Father, in union with the most holy hearts of Jesus and of Mary, we offer you the precious blood of Jesus Christ in thanksgiving, as if you had already given us the gift of perfect observance of the holy rules, and for all the possible ends that please you".
(Le Preghiere - A. Faller - p. 290)

Let us pray together
Let your mercy fall upon us abundantly, O Lord our God,
and through the merits and intercession of the
Immaculate Virgin Mary, of St. Joseph
and of our holy father Vincent,
preserve our community and help its growth.
Grant that it may grow in spirit and in number
and thus may be able to glorify your Name on earth
as it already is glorified in heaven.  Amen.
(Pallottine Community Prayers, page 229, no. 12)
____________________________________________________
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

     2007-08-01 01:08:51

      prayer-and-reflection-for-August
   
Fundamental Rule 22 – Jesus, out of love, humbled himself
St. Vincent Pallotti writes:

Our Lord Jesus Christ, although without sin, dwelt among sinners as if one of them, and humbly submitted to public baptism at the hands of His holy precursor, thus inspiring us to lead a life of humility and penance. Out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, we must curb our self-love and our pride, striving to humble ourselves, not only internally but also externally by acts of humility performed in accordance with our holy Constitutions (rule of life). Our community will never bear fruit for eternal life if we lack authentic internal and external humility.

     (OOCC III, p.51-52).

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. (Mt 5:11)

Reflection

    Vincent Pallotti, as Jesus before him, admonishes us that the cost of discipleship is humility. Like the disciples, we often have to be reminded that we are called to serve, to adore, to give of ourselves generously and joyfully, even at the cost of life. Like the apostles, we are often tempted to look for success in numbers, property, power, position, influence, esteem, and recognition. But as Jesus had to remind His followers: “Learn from me, because I am meek and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls” (Mat 11:29), Vincent Pallotti reminds us to be aware of inordinate self-love, of the greatest obstacle to holiness: Pride. Pride as hubris, attributes one’s talents, possessions, success, to one’s efforts alone, forgetting God, the giver of all good things. “In their pride the wicked do not seek Him; in all their thoughts there is no room for God” (Ps 10:4).

    Humility is truth: it requires honesty and sincerity; thus some passages of Sacred Scripture liken the humble person to a little child, whose natural spontaneity and acceptance of life is the antithesis of the often complicated adult with its many masks, hidden resentments, and prejudices. “Unless you become like a little child, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (Lk 18:17) … “for the least among you is the greatest” (Lk 9:48). Genuine humility – feared by so many because they interpret it as unfair humiliation – is a most charming virtue. Everybody feels welcomed, affirmed, and accepted by those who respect them as being created in the image and likeness of God. A humble person is a modest person; he or she does not need to be the centre of attention. True humility requires that we esteem in ourselves and in others the many gifts God has bestowed upon us. We are called to acknowledge them to ourselves and others in the spirit of St. Paul who reminds us never to forget “that we may know the things that are given to us from God” (1Cor 2:12). True humility preserves us from the pain and bitterness of envy and jealousy, because it acknowledges and honours the good not only in oneself, but also in others, and recognizes the limits of one’s own talents, abilities, and authority.

In today’s world in which humility is often equated with weakness, and viewed as a hindrance to success, we need to guard against an erroneous idea of humility. This virtue -- so necessary for evangelization and unity -- does not require us to esteem the gifts and graces God has granted us less than similar gifts in others. Nor does it ask that we deny gifts which are superior to the gifts of someone else. But it obliges us to search for and acknowledge the gifts in others which we do not possess and to give them due credit and an opportunity to serve with those gifts. In Proverbs 9:10, we are taught: “the fruit of humility is the fear of the Lord.”

Pause for reflection.

    The most striking human example and model of humility is Mary, our mother, the handmaid of the Lord. As the evangelist Luke has Mary say: “Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk 1:48). Her yes to the will of God was the fruit of her trust in God’s abiding love. “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). She spoke her yes at Cana, when she did not understand her son; yes was also her response at Nazareth, at Bethlehem, and on Calvary, when sorrow pierced her heart. May we implore her and pray with her:


Ant.: My soul magnifies the Lord, for he has done great things for me.

Psalm 62

In God alone there is rest for my soul,
     from him comes my safety;
with him alone for my rock, my safety,
     my fortress, I can never fall.

How many times will you come rushing at a man,
     all of you, to bring him down
Like a wall already leaning over,
    like a rampart undermined?

Deceit their sole intention,
    their delight is to mislead;
with lies on their lips they bless aloud,
     while cursing inwardly.

Rest in God alone, my soul!
     He is the source of our hope;
with him alone for my rock, my safety.
     My fortress, I can never fall;
Rest in God, my safety, my glory,
     the rock of my strength.

In God I find shelter; rely on him,
    people, at all times;
Unburden your hearts to him,
God is a shelter for us.

Ordinary men are only a passing shadow,
     important men a delusion;
put both in the scales and up they go,
     lighter than a puff of wind.

Put no reliance on extortion,
    no empty hopes in robbery;
Though riches may increase,
keep your heart detached.

God has spoken once,
     twice I have heard this:
It is for God to be strong
     for you, Lord, to be loving;
     and you yourself repay
     us as his works deserve.

Glory be …

Ant.: My soul magnifies the Lord, for he has done great things for me.

Our Father

Intercessions:

Lord, you resist the proud but are merciful to the humble
 -- make us instruments of your love and mercy.

Lord, deliver us from pride
 -- so that we learn to serve you in fidelity and truth.

Lord, make us meek and humble of heart
 -- so that we might become instruments of your grace.

May Mary’s example of trust and faithfulness
 -- awaken in us a total reliance on Christ’s promise.

Free us from the competitive and excessive belief in our own abilities
 -- so that we proclaim your Word instead of our own.

Lord, make us remember that without your friendship and love we are but dust
 -- so we turn to you in need for strength and courage.

Lord, open our hearts to receive the gift of truth
 -- so that we might become credible disciples.

Lord, when they hurled insults at you, you did not retaliate,
 -- let us be slow to justify ourselves and magnanimous in forgiving.

Prayer

Lord, you resist the proud
but are merciful to the humble.
Give us true humility
after the example of your only son.
Deliver us from pride
so that we may never know your silence.
Give us true humility
The virtue which obtains for us your grace.
We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen

     (Pallottine Community Prayers, p. 65-66)
Closing hymn

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

      2007-09-02 
      reflection-and-prayer-September2007
 
Apostles for Today
Fundamental Rule no. 23
Solitude, prayer, a life of mortification and humility in order to overcome temptations
Introduction
  Knowledge of the Fundamental Rule brings us back to the source, that is, to the experience St. Vincent had at Camaldoli in 1839. He himself described it in his Spiritual Testament1 in 1840:
“Having arrived at the Holy Hermitage on July 10th, God in his mercy, inspired me to be seriously attentive right from the beginning to the reordering of my poor spirit … Then …I began to write the Rules for the Pia Casa di Carità established in Rome by the Pious Society (Union) of the Catholic Apostolate …
     Having finished the writing of the Rules for the Pia Casa di Carità and while reading in the Life of the Blessed Virgin of how the Apostles after the coming of the Holy Spirit were led to preach the holy Gospel in the diverse areas of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ put into my mind the idea of the true nature and the works of the Pious Society (Union) “
(OOCC III, p. 26-27).
  This experience gave rise to the Fundamental Rule; point number 23 of the Rule is the subject of our meditation for the month of October 2007:
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, before beginning to preach His heavenly doctrine for our spiritual welfare, withdrew into the desert where He prayed and fasted for forty days, and He humbled Himself even so far as permitting the devil to tempt Him three times. Out of love for Our Lord Jesus Christ, we must strive to imitate Him




  1. in love of solitude, to which we must frequently aspire. For this reason our houses are called ‘retreat houses’, and we should also make good use of the ten days of Solitude prescribed by the Constitutions:






  2. in a life of prayer, praying especially, with great fervour and diligence, all the vocal and mental prayers that are also prescribed by the Constitutions:






  3. in a life of mortification, observing the Fast days of the Church, and all the fasts, abstinences and penances prescribed by the Constitutions






  4. in a life of deep humility and trust in God learning to practise the difficult are of overcoming all temptations”.


  5. (OOCC III, p. 52-53)
    Meditation on a biblical episode
      Our Holy Founder in the text Daily Practical Memorandum2 invites us to ensure the identity of the Union, which has as the “…Fundamental Rule of our little Congregation the very life itself of Our Lord Jesus Christ” (OOCC III, p. 35-36). Let us place ourselves into the episode in the life of Jesus Christ (Mt 3,13-4,11) from which point number 23 comes.
      Jesus came to the Jordan: I invite you to meditate, watching how he arrives. John recognized him (cf. Jn. 1,29-34): now accept the grace to know Jesus, together with John the Baptist. Jesus presented himself for baptism at the hands of the precursor: try to see and to feel all that is taking place. Jesus came up from the water: He did not confess his sins like all the others were doing, He is Holy; renew in your heart the memory of the sanctifying grace of your holy baptism. A voice was heard from heaven: “This is my Son, the beloved, my favour rests on him” (Mt 3,17): meditate on the words of the Father, which he pronounced also for you, in Christ. And then … Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, being tempted there by the devil for forty days (Lk. 4,1-2).
      We take notice of the decisions which were taken by Jesus, they are a victory over temptations gained for us by Him “in the wilderness”: Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mt 4,4); You must not put the Lord your God to the test (Mt 4,7); Be off, Satan! For scripture says: ‘You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone’ (Mt 4,10). So should it be, and so it is, right from the start of every faith journey.


    The example and the teaching of our saintly Founder
      “Our Lord Jesus Christ before he began his heavenly preaching for us, withdrew into the Desert …”: the events which are described in the wilderness took place for us and we participate in them together with St. Vincent, as experienced at Camaldoli: “… our Lord Jesus Christ put into my mind the true idea of the nature and of the works of the Pious Society” (Union).


      Our saintly Founder had an experience similar to that of Jesus when He was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, and where he was tested by the devil. He indicates for us four aspects or elements which “form in my mind the true nature” of the life of the Union. They are:





    • 1. a love for solitude … this is not a flight from people, nor an unwanted solitude; in the holy retreats the members should practise this “going off to a lonely place” following the example of Jesus who as the “Beloved Son” “lived in the Holy Spirit for forty days in the wilderness”;






    • 2.  a life of prayer … the Founder has left us a clear principle: “therefore, even if it is not with perfect and uninterrupted compliance [but] at least with a right intention, the life [of the member] will be a life of prayer” (OOCC II, p. 63). Here we see that we should have the intention of growing in our faith, of going beyond saying: “I do have faith, help the little faith I have! (Mk 9 24), that is, to pass from a prayer that requests – “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lc 11,1) – according to the principle of “ius credendi ius orandi” (the standard (law) of prayer determines the standard (law) of belief) … to a “deep humility and trust in God”;






    • 3.  a life of mortification ... our saintly Founder is, for us, an example. Already in 1816 he wrote: “In all of my actions, and always, I intend to combat my body which has rebelled against reason, and to humiliate and to mortify the spirit that has rebelled against God, thus ensuring that the powers of my soul, the feelings of my body and my entire self concur so as to give glory to God …(OOCC X, p. 74).


    •   In 1846 in the Rule for the Society of priests and brothers, he wrote:

        “So as to live in perfect observance of the holy Law of God, of the Church, of the Rules and of the Constitutions … we are obliged to strive to create in ourselves a spiritual building with the holy virtues as exercised by Our Lord Jesus Christ … we, out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, from the moment of our entry into the Congregation until death, with the most perfect mortification of all of our passions, are obliged to live and to die in the practise of a life of sacrifice”.  (OOCC III, p. 42-43);






    • 4.  a life of continuous deep humility, and trust in God … Vincent’s deep desire to imitate Jesus Christ in his spirit of humility and trust in God shines through in his letter to Fr. Parenti: “Live in a constant mistrust of oneself and of ones strengths; in perfect trusting abandonment in God and have no fear, because God will support all when we do all, sure that we cannot do anything without God” (OCL II, p. 56).


    •  In a letter to Mons. Piacentini we find a concrete indication to help us trust in God: “He who trusts in God is not confused. Therefore, if you are confused, it is a sign that you do not trust. Look at God, and look at yourself; you will never encounter God without mercy, nor yourself without need of it. God is always favourable to your poverty, and your poverty is the object of the goodness and mercy of God”. (OCL III, p. 126)


      To be an apostle according to Fundamental Rule 23





      1. Firstly: to live a balance between ensuring “the reordering of my poor spirit” and allowing Jesus Christ to “put in my mind the true idea of the nature and the works of the Pious Society (Union)”.






      2. Secondly: to acquire and to assimilate the four characteristics of the imitation of Jesus Christ as they were meditated above.






      3. Thirdly: “for us”, without this one cannot “be an apostle”. The more we live in communion with Jesus Christ convinced that He has done all “for us”, the more we will fulfil our call to be apostles.



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


              2007-10-04 
              reflection-and-prayer-October-2007
         
        Apostles for Today


        Fundamental Rule no. 24

        Jesus, persecuted for his good works,is our model.
        Introduction

         In number 24 of the Fundamental Rule we read a meditation on how to imitate our Lord.

        “Our Lord Jesus Christ coepit facere et docere (‘first of all did and then taught’, Acts 1.1), and for the glory of the heavenly Father and for the eternal salvation of all souls he went about the towns and villages of Palestine preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, curing all weaknesses and illnesses, giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, health to the sick, life to the dead, satisfying the hungry and evangelizing the poor, thus he always did good to everyone, and occasionally he withdrew alone to pray for us to his heavenly Father; though he was often persecuted he did all and endured all, with infinite love. Therefore for love of our Lord Jesus Christ we must maintain a life of prayer and be frequently in solitude so as to exercise the works of the sacred Gospel ministry for the greater glory of God and for our greater sanctification and that of our neighbour: and above all, according to our holy Institute, we must promote all those works and holy institutions that are ordered and admitted by our Holy Constitutions and the Pious Society, also called, of the Catholic Apostolate, instituted by our Congregation. So as to ensure that we truly strive to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ in our little Congregation, no person is to be admitted to exercising the Gospel ministry if he is not mature in holy works and in doctrine having imitated our Lord Jesus Christ in coepit facere (firstly in doing), and then go on to imitate him in docere (teaching). In order to obtain more abundant fruit from all the evangelical works in imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must strive to do good to all the needy of every kind by exercising all the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, rejoicing and giving thanks to our heavenly Father if, after having done all this, we are persecuted; because this would be one of the most precious gifts for us if he deigned with such persecutions to make us similar in some way to his beloved Son on whom his favour rests.” (OOCC III, p. 53-54)

         St. Vincent looks at Jesus as he walks amongst people preaching the Gospel, doing good, generously bestowing divine gifts, and despite all he is persecuted.

         We, like Jesus, should not be afraid to “spend ourselves”, to go out from ourselves in helping all those in need with deeds of material and spiritual mercy, even though we may be persecuted for doing so.

        Meditation

         To act as Jesus did means to imitate him so as to be as similar to him as is possible.

         In Jesus “the image and likeness” of God in human form (Gen 1,26) finds its fullest expression. Jesus is the “ideal man” and as such is the model for every person, a sure guide for our steps, an enlightened response to our weaknesses, uncertainties and unbelief, an antidote to the temptation to indulge in compromises and easy options in our lives of faith.

         The rule of St. Vincent is to look at Jesus always, to imitate him at every moment: this is “In all the various circumstances of the day, before starting any activity, we should consider what the thoughts of our Lord Jesus Christ would be, what would be the movements of his divine heart”. (OOCC III, p. 36)

         It is important to have constancy in seeking Jesus because to compare oneself with him is to live in continuous prayer.

         It is essential to have an intense desire for God and for faith. St. Vincent says: “ In the soul (the person) who believes in Jesus Christ and who, with humility and trust, strives to imitate him, Jesus Christ destroys in it every deformity and weakness. Jesus Christ enters into that soul. He lives in it and he applies the merits of his most holy works. In this way that which Jesus says: he who believes in me will do those same works that I have done and will do even greater ones, will be realized”. (OOCC III p. 37)

         We constantly try to put ourselves in the limelight and we are full of self-love, so each time that we manage to empty ourselves of all this in order to be filled by Jesus our lives are lightened by charity because Jesus is Charity, by humility because Jesus was humble even to assuming the condition of a slave, by love because Jesus is, in his essence, Divine Love.

         Jesus repeatedly invites us to direct our capacity to love towards others, he says: “You must love your neighbour as yourself”. (Mk 12, 31)

         He encourages us to imitate him, to do as he did: “Love one another, as I have loved you”. (Jn 15,8-13)

         The first duty of a Christian is to give freely that which he has received freely: in bringing the Good News, in being light for the person who is in darkness, in sharing the joy of faith in the Word of God.

         The appeals in our world to a spirit of love and of charity are truly many. Poor persons who ask for help, sick persons who need moral support, older persons who suffer from solitude, young persons rendered helpless by depression or driven crazy by drugs, countries in which hunger, sickness and tribal warfare decimate so many lives.

         When St. Vincent urges us to: “strive to do good”, he is speaking not only about a commitment to doing things, but also to being sensitive, to being attentive to the needs of ones neighbour …

         “I would wish to be perpetually in the hospitals, in the prisons and to be in every place on earth in order to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and the illness of the sick;…but to do so in a manner which goes unseen. Except by God alone… I would wish to became food to satisfy the hungry, clothing to clothe the naked, drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty, liqueur to fortify the weak; soft feathers to give rest to the weary limbs of the exhausted, medicine and health to heal the sick, the lame, the crippled, the deaf,; light to enlighten the blind both spiritually and corporally, life to raise up the dead, … so that they could do the great things that they would do for the glory of my God, my Father, my Creator, my Good, my All, if they came back to this earth again … and for this I offer myself to suffer whatever suffering, disgrace, even infinitely, but with your grace and loving infinitely but without being noticed. My God, my God, my God” (OOCC X p. 114-16)

         Let us avoid remaining immersed in that superficiality which prevents us from seeing the suffering all around us. Let us ponder on the fact that charity produces miracles of consolation, even when it is made up of small things such as a listening ear, a smile, a caress.

        The definitive meaning of Fundamental Rule 24.

         Jesus is our vital essence. How can we truly love others, forgive those who offend us, if not with his grace? The Lord says “Cut off from me you can do nothing”. (Jn 15,5).

         It is only with his grace that we will be able to accept that our good works will give rise to criticism, disapproval or be opposed because of prejudice, the dictates of social convention or by a lack of understanding on the part of those who live distanced from the faith.

         So we conclude with St. Vincent that “persecution would be among the most precious of all gifts”.

        Let us pray with St. Vincent
         “My Jesus, he who does not love does not live. May all the love of eternity, and if it were possible of all infinite eternities, by mine in every instant for all of eternity. For infinite eternity, may all be lost in love, and may it not be more than all the flames of love. My Jesus, may your Passion and the dolours of Mary be my book for all of eternity, all fire and flames.” (OOCC X, pp. 226 -227)

        “Oh if I could love for ever in doing penance and being infinitely humiliated, so as to do all for the infinite glory of God and for the salvation of souls! Oh if I could only suffer infinitely for our Lord Jesus Christ, for the Father and for the Holy Spirit, oh if only I could”. (OOCC X, pp. 231-233)

        Final prayer

         Herald of the love of the eternal Father
         you were completely lost in Christ,  so that the poorest of the poor could experience  the mercy and the goodness of God.  You became all things to all persons just as Christ did  while here on earth.  Help us to follow your example and to see Jesus always  so that his love may live in us.  Herald of truth, all the baptized are called by God to be apostles.  Form the hearts of the faithful in the knowledge  and awareness of this call.  Make of us one flock under one shepherd  so that your peace may reign in the world.  May your blessing be with us now and always.

        (Text H. Perne, 1985)
        ____________________________________________________
        Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
        Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2007-12-28 
         
        Apostles for Today
        Fundamental Rule 26

        Jesus, with infinite love, prayed to the Father for those who crucified him.
        St. Vincent Pallotti writes:
        Our Lord Jesus Christ, having just been crucified, with infinite love prayed to the Father for his Crucifiers, that he would forgive them: therefore, for love of Our Lord Jesus Christ, we are obliged in the same way to regulate the feelings of our hearts, so that we may always be disposed to pray for our enemies, and to forgive any serious or minor offence done to us by anyone, even those we have helped most; and therefore the prayers of the Congregation will be directed also to pray for all our enemies. (OOCC III, P. 55-6).
        Through this point of the Fundamental Rule, St. Vincent directs our attention to something at the very core of the Christian life, something that marks true Christian love and is of its very essence – in imitation of the God who is love itself, and who has revealed the unfathomable depths of this love to us in Christ his Son, we are called to love not only those who do good to us and to others, but also to love and forgive even those who hurt us, who do evil to us and to those we love. In the Gospel, Christ himself calls us to go even one step further: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly’ (Luke 6:27-28) We are called to a love that not only forgives those who hurt us and the people we love, but that even reaches out to do good to them, ultimately to love them as brothers and sisters – we are called to a love without limits! ‘You must therefore set no bounds to your love, just as your heavenly Father sets none to his’ (Mt 5:43-48 - this is either an explanation, or a very particular translation of the text!).

        This is one of the great challenges of the Christian life, and one that is impossible to meet by human resources alone. St. Vincent himself knew first-hand the demands that this kind of love makes on us as we struggle with ourselves and with the effects that the actions of others have on us. It is said of him that he was of an innately passionate temperament ‘which incited him naturally to anger, disdain, and resentment’ and that he only managed to keep this natural irritability in check with great effort, ‘with indefatigable vigilance over every irregular motion of the mind… in such a manner as not to do the least act inconsistent with the meekness and sweetness of Jesus Christ whom [he] had chosen as his model’ (Fr. R. Melia “‘The Life of the Servant of God Vincent Pallotti”, p. 160). This he managed, amidst numerous, prolonged and serious trials, not by mere force of will, but as a fruit of his profound personal experience of the infinite love which is God himself and of his own deepest identity in the light of this love. God is infinite merciful love; our deepest identity is that we are made in the image and likeness of this love; this image and likeness has been damaged and distorted by sin; it is only through Christ that this love of God within us is restored and deepened, that we are filled with the love which is God himself, who through us desires to reach out and do good even to those who do evil to us and to others.

        This can seem like an impossible dream when we look into ourselves and see all those petty resentments and feelings of irritation raging up within us, sometimes at the slightest misunderstandings or unintended slights, not to mention the truly monumental struggles we can have when we have been deeply hurt by another or when we look out on our world and see the terrible things that human beings do to one another. And yet as followers of Christ we are given no opt-out clause when it comes to forgiveness of others: ‘If you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either’ (Mt 6:14-15).

        Let us call to mind again St. Vincent’s conviction that if anyone believes in Jesus and strives to imitate him with humility and trust, then Jesus himself will destroy in that person all that is lacking and will come and live and work in and through that person, continuing his life through them (cf. OOCC III, p. 37). Again and again he reminds us that we must begin this path with prayer and continuously deepen it with prayer. Let us make our own some of St. Vincent’s thoughts and advice on learning to imitate Jesus in his spirit of forgiveness, some of which he puts on the lips of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Month of May for the Faithful):

        When tempted to pettiness in relation to others:
          ‘If sometimes you find yourself … disappointed, or offended by a brother [or sister], or see others, even undeservedly, chosen or distinguished, then in order not to lose charity remember that you must be patient and kind, you must not carry resentment or envy…nor be rude, but rather remember the precept of Jesus Christ, who expressly commands us to love our enemies, to do good to those who do us evil, to bless those who curse us, to pray for our persecutors …’ (OOCC VI, p. 256).

        Christ is not merely an example to follow, but also the source of the strength necessary to do so:
          ‘Remember, my child, that in Jesus you not only have the divine exemplar to encourage you to be peaceful, but in him you also find the grace, the virtue necessary to imitate him perfectly (OOCC XIII, p. 590, 7th Day of Month of May for the Faithful).
        No one has been treated as badly as Jesus who was innocent – how can we refuse to imitate him in his forgiveness?
          ‘…although Jesus was holy, innocent, without sin, no one had as many enemies as he, no one was cursed and calumniated as [was he]… and with all this he loved all, blessed all… and in the extreme anguish of his painful agony, with infinite love turns to the Father, and prays for his enemies, for those who hate him, blaspheme him, calumniate him. Tell me, O child, in the ineffable splendor of your divine exemplar Jesus, holy and innocent, can you refuse to imitate him?’ (OOCC XIII, p. 639, 17th Day of Month of May for Faithful)

        The less we trust in ourselves, the more we are led to trust in God:
          ‘If in your resolution to imitate Jesus you do not trust your own strength, do not lose courage, but rather know that such distrust disposes you and leads you to trust in the grace of Jesus himself!’ (OOCC XIII, p. 639, 17th Day of Month of May for Faithful)

        Offer the merits of Jesus’ forgiveness:
          ‘To obtain more easily the perfect gift of forgiving offences I would like that you fairly frequently offer to the Eternal Father the infinite merit of the forgiveness which Jesus asked for his cruel crucifiers’ OOCC XIII, p. 669, 24th Day of Month of May for Faithful).

        The spirit of reconciliation sows seeds of the Kingdom, seeds that can truly change the world: we think of people like Nelson Mandela in South Africa and Gordon Wilson in Northern Ireland (who forgave those who killed his daughter in the Ennis Killen bombing and opened dialogue with members of the group responsible).

        Let us be humbled and inspired by two modern examples of the depths which forgiveness can plumb in the hearts of those open to God:
        Bishop Hassam Dehqani-Tafti, the first Iranian to become an Anglican bishop – an assassination attempt on him failed and he fled to Cyprus, but his son Bahram was killed instead. He wrote the following, poignantly titled, ‘A father’s prayer upon the murder of his son’:
          O God, we remember not only our son, but also his murderers; not only because they killed him in the prime of his youth and made our hearts bleed and our tears flow, not because with this savage act they have brought further disgrace on the name of our country among the civilized nations of the world; but because of their crime we now follow your footsteps more closely in the way of sacrifice. The terrible fire of this calamity burns up all selfishness and possessiveness in us; its flame reveals the depths of depravity and meanness and suspicion, the dimension of hatred and the measure of sinfulness in human nature; it makes obvious as never before our need to trust in God’s love as shown in the cross of Jesus and his resurrection; love which makes us free of hate towards our persecutors; love which brings patience, forbearance, courage, loyalty, humility, generosity, greatness of heart; love which more than ever deepens our trust in God’s final victory and his eternal designs for the church and for the world; love which teaches us how to prepare to face our own day of death. Our son’s blood has multiplied the fruit of the Spirit in the soil of our souls; so when his murderers stand before you on the day of judgment remember the fruit of the Spirit by which they have enriched our lives. And forgive.
        A wonderful prayer found scribbled on a piece of paper near the body of a dead child at Ravensbrook camp where 92,000 people died:
          O Lord, remember not only the men and women of goodwill, but also those of ill-will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we have bought, thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, our courage, our generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown out of all this, and when they come to the judgment, let all the fruits that we have borne be their forgiveness.

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


        Apostles for Today

        Fundamental Rule 27 

        Seeing his mother and close to her the disciple he loved, Jesus said to her: 'Woman, here is your son’. Then he said to the disciple: 'Here is your mother’ ( Jn, 19, 26-27).

        St. Vincent Pallotti wrote:

        "While he was dying (on the Cross), our Lord Jesus Christ, said to Mary, most Holy, 'Woman, here is your son’ (Jn 19, 26), with this gesture he gave us Mary, most Holy, as our Mother.  And when he said to John : 'Here is your Mother’ (Jn 19, 27), he made us children of his Mother. Therefore we must be ever grateful to our Lord Jesus Christ for such a precious gift. So too we should propagate (make known) the glories of Mary most holy in whatever way possible, and even more by encouraging the use of the devout practices that are approved by the Church and have been enriched by indulgences. We should stimulate a greater confidence in ourselves and in all persons, in the powerful intercession of so august a Mother. As children of hers, to console her, (to make her happy,) we should strive to become as similar as possible to our first-born brother, our Lord Jesus Christ. (OOCC III, 56-57)

        St. Vincent Pallotti turned frequently to our Mother Mary, and he addressed her in many forms using many adjectives to both recognize and honour her, which all confirm his devotion and his certainty that each work, every act that he commends to her care, and which we too commend to her, will be blessed and protected very specially.
        We find him addressing her as 'my most beloved Mother’, or exclaiming: 'In Mary the abyss of grace shines forth’ (OOCC X, 289).
        St. Vincent used to carry around in his hand a picture of the 'Mother of Divine Love’, an image very dear to the Romans. He placed the Union under the spiritual protection of 'Mary, Queen of Apostles’. He promoted devotion to Mary through the exhortations of the 'Month of May’. In these texts he addresses Mary as Mother of God, as Daughter of the Eternal Father, as Spouse of the Holy Spirit. These exhortations of Pallotti were not only addressed to his contemporaries, but are also very relevant for us in our devotion to Mary.

        The presence of Mary in the life of St. Vincent was so strong and so fundamental that in reading his writings one comes across constantly the words ‘the Mother´, ‘the Spouse´, ‘the Queen´. We are drawing inspiration now from number 27 of the Fundamental Rule, but in every volume of his writings and in the various chapters we also encounter these references, for example in the daily rule, in his spiritual exercises, in the Rules of 1846, 1847 and 1849; and we could go on listing the references.

         Prayer (OOCC XI, 85-86)

        O Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of Apostles!

        With you and all the angels and saints in paradise,
        I thank the Holy Trinity that I have been given the gift of faith.


        I am happy, dear mother, to greet you with the title of Queen of Apostles,
        because while this title gives honour to you, it gives courage to me.


        So I implore you to unite yourself as a mother to me, a sinner,
        and to the entire heavenly court,
        while we offer now and forever the Precious Blood of your Son,
        his merits and those of the whole Church. Amen.
        [/I]


        In the Fundamental Rule which is the subject of our reflection this month, the sentiments of St. Vincent in his recognition of the infinite mercy of God in giving us our Lord Jesus Christ as our first-born brother in the words he addressed to Mary 'Here is your son' are of special importance.
        Some quotations from his writings 'The God of Infinite Love’[/B] are particularly relevant:


        XXIV. The infinite love and the infinite mercy of God in giving us our Lord Jesus Christ as our first-born brother.
        XXV. God, in giving us his divine Son, made man for us, as our first-born brother, gave us also the most holy mother of his divine Son as our mother. He gave us all the saints as our brothers and sisters, and this is why the holy angels look up to us.

        Prayer
        My God, my merciful Father, you alone know and understand how ungrateful I have been. Not only have I forsaken you, but I have betrayed my brother Jesus as well. I have betrayed him as many times as the sins I committed and helped others to commit. Moreover, many times I have wounded the heart of my dear mother, Mary, with the spear of iniquity. I have neither profited from her mediation nor from the mediation of all the Saints, my beloved brothers and sisters. I have always been a sinner, because I never cared to imitate the virtues of the Saints as I could and should have done.
        But now, enlightened by your grace, through your infinite mercy and through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, my most beloved mother, and of all the Angels and Saints, I firmly believe that you will grant me perfect contrition for my sins and the grace to imitate the Saints in order that I may closely imitate my dear mother Mary, and my first-born brother, Jesus Christ, with greater perfection until death.’

        MARY OUR MOTHER.
        Short reflections based on the book
        El silencio de María
        (The Silence of Mary) by Ignacio Larrañaga:





      5. Mary´s personality is striking due to her traits of humility and courage. Throughout her life she stayed hidden, always in the shadows of the background; however, when the hour of humiliation arrived, she came forward and took her place in the forefront, dignified and silent.






      6. The Romans, keepers of law and order, used to ensure that the bystanders were kept at a distance from those crucified, with few exceptions; one of these was Mary, she was at the foot of the Cross, a solemn moment in her life and in that of the Church.






      7. It is here that Mary´s spiritual maternity is born, what appears to be a series of circumstances which give way to a simple domestic arrangement to take care of the mother, contain a messianic meaning.






      8. In the context of the social customs of that period the task Jesus entrusted to John must have seemed very strange, were it not for another very clear and patent meaning.






      9. Jesus established a double relationship, but the most important part was announced first. This first part is a descending relationship, commending Mary to receive John and to care for him as if he were a son. In the person of John he gives Mary as Mother to all of humanity.






      10. Given the fact that the Mother is one and the children are many, it is sufficiently clear that, in John, all those whom Jesus wished to redeem, are represented.






      11. From that moment on and forever, all the redeemed have a Mother by the express and final will of the Lord, she is his very own Mother. Nobody need ever complain of being an orphan or of loneliness in life´s journey.






      12. Jesus Christ revealed the Father to us and gifted us with a Mother! He gave his Mother to Humanity in order that it would take care of her with faith and veneration, and he gave all of Humanity to his Mother so that she would care for it and transform it into a Kingdom of Love.






      13. Humanity in general does not exist, men and women exist. It was because of this that Jesus, the great teacher, gave the gift of his Mother to the concrete person John, who represented all of Humanity. With this symbolic gesture Jesus wished to signify that just as the maternal-filial relationship of Mary and John was expressed in mutual attention, so too should be the relationship of the redeemed with our Mother.




      14. ive in the world of faith: we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ, who died and rose from the dead, we are embraced by the strong loving arms of God the Father, and we are cared for by a consoling Mother whom Jesus gave to us in his final hour!






      15. Mary is consolation and peace for every moment. She transforms bitterness into sweetness, combat into tenderness. She is benign and delicate. She suffers with those who suffer, she stays with those who remain, and she departs with those who depart. Our Mother is patience and security. She is our joy, our delight and our tranquility. Our Mother is full of sweetness and of invincible strength.  


      16. Final prayer: Hail holy queen, mother of mercy, hail our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you do we cry poor banished children of Eve, to you do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then o most gracious advocate your eyes of mercy towards us and after this our exile show unto us the fruit of your womb Jesus. O clement, o loving, o sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us o Holy Mother of God so that we may be worthy of the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.
        ____________________________________________________
        Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
        Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
              reflection-and-prayer-february-2008

              2008-02-11 
         
        Fundamental Rule 28
        Conversion of Sinners

        “Our Lord Jesus Christ promised paradise to the good thief who asked him to remember him when he came into his kingdom. Therefore out of love for our Lord Jesus Christ, and with confidence in his infinite mercy, we must work for the conversion of poor sinners even if they had been obstinate throughout their lives and remained obstinate even when in danger of death. In such cases we should increase our prayers, our humility, our trust and all spiritual efforts in accordance with the spirit of the Congregation.”
        (OOCC III, p. 57)

        Reflection
        This month we are moving towards Easter.  During Holy Week we will relive the passion of Jesus and together with him, we will celebrate the victory of his resurrection and new life.  In this time of preparation we listen to words of Pallotti in which he refers to the encounter on the Cross of Jesus and the criminal crucified beside him.  When we allow these words of Pallotti to speak to us, which images come to our minds? What ideas do we form? Perhaps there are images of preachers and missionaries, standing in front of others, telling them what they have to do and what they may not do, how they have to live.  Ideas that involve a higher and lower order, an above and a below, a better and a worse
        However, Vincent Pallotti presents an image completely different to us.  His basic concern is that in visualizing the image of Jesus that we, looking at him, our example and model, may be transformed and become similar to him.  In giving us the Daily Practical Memorandum he urges us to make this our basic concern too.  He unfolds this basic concern in his fundamental rule of the 33 Points: we look at Jesus so that his image, his likeness, may be more and more impressed in us and that we might act according to his example.

        This is the image of Jesus that Pallotti refers to in this point: Jesus is hanging on the cross, between the two criminals who were crucified with him.  He is not standing in front of them or above them, he does not indoctrinate them, nor does he tell them what they have to do.  He is hanging beside them and grants this promise to the one who asks him: ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise’ (Lk 23, 43).  In this manner he continues his path of saying ‘Yes’ to the Father’s will, enduring his own powerlessness, and listening to and accepting the confession and the plea of the criminal beside him.  The sinner does not convert because Jesus is preaching to him, but because he experiences the example of Jesus.  Let us listen to the biblical account: ‘Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.  And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left.  And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” … And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” … One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him…’ (Lk 23, 32-40).  All that Jesus does for this person is to assure him that he will be with him in paradise.

        Thus the example of Jesus tells us in which way we also can and shall ‘convert sinners’:
        -  by affirming again and again the will of God in and for our lives
        -  by accepting and using what God has given to us: life, gifts, talents …
        -  by accepting the stones put in our path, the cross laid on our shoulders
        -  by enduring injustices and by forgiving
        -  by orienting ourselves towards God and saying ‘Yes, Father’ when we experience the      fullness of life and when we experience our powerlessness
        -  by being attentive to the confession and the pleas of others
        -  by feeling their desire and by assuring them, in God’s name, of life and salvation
        -  by, in the words of Vincent Pallotti, multiplying our prayer, increasing our humility, our   trust and all spiritual efforts.

        In the midst of all of this we should not forget that we ourselves are the first sinners to be converted.  Therefore Vincent Pallotti prompts us again and again to care for our own and our neighbour’s eternal salvation.
        In this way Holy Friday changes and becomes Easter.  In this way, in the midst of the powerlessness of love, life can break through with all its power, but without violence.

        Meditation
        In his first encyclical letter Deus Caritas est Pope Benedict reminds us of this powerless love of God: ‘Hosea above all shows us that … God's love for man goes far beyond the aspect of gratuity.  Israel has committed “adultery” and has broken the covenant; God should judge and repudiate her.  It is precisely at this point that God is revealed to be God and not man. “How can I give you up, O Ephraim! ... My heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender.”(Hos 11:8-9) God's passionate love for his people – for humanity – is at the same time a forgiving love.  It is so great that it turns God against himself, his love against his justice.  Here Christians can see a dim prefigurement of the mystery of the Cross: so great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love ...  This divine activity now takes on dramatic form when, in Jesus Christ, it is God himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep”, a suffering and lost humanity.  When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity.  His death on the Cross is the culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him.  This is love in its most radical form.’  (Deus Caritas est, 10.12)
        This is the way God uses to convert us.  This way we shall learn from him – for the path of our own conversion and for our encountering others.

        Biblical Texts for Further Reflection

        There are also many other episodes in which we encounter Jesus as the one who meets and invites people by loving, asking and in humility.  Let us take some time to deepen within ourselves this image of Jesus.
        ‘Jesus … said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.  And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost”’ (Lk 19, 5-6.9-10).
        ‘Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Mt 11, 28 – 30).


        Prayer
        L. Lord, you have given us your love.
             You open for us the road to life.
        A. Lead us ever deeper into the mystery of your love.
        L. You came so that people may have life
             and have it to the full (Jn. 10,10).
        A. You ask us to give your love to others
             And thus help all to enjoy this abundance of life.
        L. You said: I came to cast fire upon the earth. (Lk. 12,49).
        A. Do not let us rest until this fire has inflamed us all.
        L. Our holy founder Vincent Pallotti was impelled by your love.
        A. Lord, we sincerely ask you:
             fill us  with the fire of your love, with the power of your truth,
             with your divine life,
             until we too are impelled to bear witness to you
             to the ends of the earth. Amen.
        (Pallottine Community Prayer, Tuesday Midday Prayer)

        ____________________________________________________
        Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
        Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
              2008-03-01 
        Apostles for Today


        Fundamental Rule 29

        Thirst for the glory of God and the salvation of souls


        St. Vincent Pallotti wrote:

        Our Lord Jesus Christ while in his agony said "I thirst" (Jn. 19,28), with this phrase he wished to express not only natural (physical) thirst, but more his mystical thirst for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. Therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are to make use of all the spiritual means at our disposal in order that our thirst for the greater glory of God and for the well-being of souls, be alive and growing in us each day until death. This perfect and growing thirst should be one of the distinctive characteristics of all members of the Union. (OOCC III, page 57-58)

        Reflection

        When the executioners heard Jesus say “I thirst”, they thought he was asking for vinegar to relieve his pain. Jesus accepted this humane gesture of pity when they held up a damp sponge for him, but he merely moistened his lips and refused to drink. With this gesture he wanted to acknowledge human mercy but, at the same time, show that the real thirst of the heart cannot be satisfied simply with worldly means.

        The “I thirst” that Jesus uttered acquires paramount significance once we realise the circumstances. Jesus is about to die, he is fully aware of his condition. On the one hand, he is in agony and every single word has to break through the barrier of excruciating pain and deadly exhaustion. On the other hand, his death is the crowning of his mission and so he wants to give us his final teaching and for the last time recap and convey the very essence of it. This shows us that suffering and dying cannot be an excuse to dispense us from thinking about the most important things, but rather they can be an opportunity to see them in perfect freedom and truth and cleanse us of our disorderly desires. Jesus wants to tell us that his thirst was the driving force of his life, the original cause for the incarnation and the reason that led him to the cross. In a spiritual sense, Jesus is dying of thirst. But what exactly does he thirst for? In its essence, this thirst is love.

        Firstly, Jesus wants to show how much God cares for people, if he decides to die for us. “For love is strong as death” says the Song of Songs (Song 8,6). Every person who has truly loved knows that real love is inseparable from suffering, as it requires one to be open to another person and thus also open to rejection or longing. In another book of the Old Testament God says “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6,6), emphasising that it is only the voluntary and selfless love of man, rather than his religious practices, that satisfy the thirst felt by God. In fact the whole history of creation and salvation is one great “I thirst” addressed to man by God, a desire for reciprocation. God desires the salvation of every sinner and he especially wants to be with this sinner at the moment of death.

        Secondly, Jesus voices his thirst also as a human person. Everyone knows how many needs we have to satisfy so as to survive and achieve at least a minimum of happiness. Undoubtedly, Jesus can feel all those desires of all persons in all times, their insatiable needs, fractured dreams, their inability to be fully satisfied, their thirst for food, safety, health, intimacy and happiness. Jesus know, however, what the deepest thirst of each human being is and wants to be the model of how this thirst may be satisfied, to be the model of a perfect human. The deepest desire of the person is to be united with God, which can be achieved by fulfilling his will. Jesus encourages us to distinguish the hundreds of desires that we experience: desires for useful things, of comfort and pleasure, from the one and only real thirst we feel.

        A good illustration of two different responses to this teaching of Jesus are the desires demonstrated by his two fellow convicts. The first one only wants to save his life, to escape death, while the other opens himself to his deepest thirst of being united with God in heaven.

        Through his death Jesus provides an example of the deepest union with his Father. By crying out "I thirst”, he wants to show that his sacrifice was not a sentence imposed on him from the outside, but rather his personal choice taken so that all things could be fulfilled.

        An author writing about Pallotti’s life  observed that our patron comes to embrace this posture of Jesus as his own: “This union with God’s will that Pallotti now strives to achieve exceeds any previously practised posture of obedience. He no longer resolves questions by his own choice or his own judgement, neither is it mere waiting for or conceding to the course of events; not at all, instead we can see a soul that is thirsty for love and consciously pursues its purpose. It no longer says "Fiat – let it be” but instead cries out “Sitio – I thirst!”.

        In our lives, prayer is a practical means to explore the depths of God’s thirst. Pallotti says: "If you want to please Jesus, you must entreat him at all times to grant you his precious ‘I thirst!’ – the thirst for the salvation of souls.”

        In a moment of prayer reflect on your deepest thirsts. Consider if and how those desires converge with God's will for you. Pray God to cleanse and give order to your desires and aspirations so that you may become a true witness of Christ and follower of Pallotti.

        Excerpt from a book by Father Marie-Dominique Phillippe, OP


        This cry of thirst (...) is also for Mary and for John and for us. This cry should be considered in conjunction with a different proclamation: “On the last day and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, ‘If any man thirsts, let him come to me! Let the man come and drink who believes in me. As scripture says, 'Out of his breast shall flow rivers of living water.'’ He was speaking about the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given” (Jn. 7,37-39).

        This thirsty cry was uttered by the crucified Christ in order to incite in us an ever greater thirst for Jesus and his love. As always, Jesus is present to awaken us, to "concretize and actualize" in us something which in him is complete and eternally fulfilled, but in us has still to be realised. This is the final teaching of Christ to Mary, to John and to us. That is the reason why John communicates it to us. John lived on this thirsty cry; each of us embraces this cry, in proportion to the value of our love, by practicing our faith. This is the most beautiful thing. This is a call addressed to each of us by one who begs for love, an exceptional call incarnated in the Crucified Body. The fact that this cry is lived by the whole body of Christ makes it “authentic”, as we would say today. This is the final call of Jesus to human kind.

        Biblical Texts for Further Reflection

        The thirst of Jesus is also discussed in another important text of the Gospel in which Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at a well (Jn. 4,1-26). He asks the woman to give him a drink and then tells her that real satisfaction may only be found in God, saying: “Whoever drinks the water that I shall give will never be thirsty again; the water that I shall give will turn into a spring inside him, welling up to eternal life." (Jn. 4,14).

        A burning thirst for God is also expressed in a psalm: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I go to see the face of God?” (Ps. 42,2-3)

        Prayer


        Lord Jesus, when dying on the cross, you fully experienced all the most burning and deepest human thirsts. Blood and water flowed from your pierced side and became a spring of fresh water quenching all the deepest human needs. Through your death and resurrection we pray:






        • for all people suffering from hunger and thirst






        • for all those yearning for the Good News, as man does not live by bread alone






        • for all those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, that they be satisfied






        • for all married couples who are open to the gift of life but whose godly desire to have

        •        a baby  cannot be satisfied





        • for all those living in de facto unions who cannot satisfy their yearning to be close

        •        to you through sacramental life





        • for all the dying, that in the final moments of this earthly life they may clearly understand

        •       that man’s deepest desire is the thirst of God
          _______________


           Albert Peter Walkenbach SAC, Der unendliche Gott und das «Nichts und Sünde», Lahn-Verlag, Limburg 1953



           "J'ai soif". Entretiens sur la sagesse de la Croix. Éditions Saint Paul, Versailles, 1996

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-04-01 
                prayer-for-april
             
          Apostles for Today
          Fundamental Rule no. 30
          Jesus, infinite love, wishes that the sinner convert and live

          St. Vincent Pallotti wrote:


          Our Lord Jesus Christ in his final agony wished to suffer the greatest anguish of all, namely, that of being abandoned by his Father, so that the sinner convert and live even though he deserve to be abandoned by Grace because of his sins. Therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ we should be ready and happy to bear each and every suffering in order to obtain the conversion of poor sinners.  This too must be one of the characteristics of our Union (OOCC III, p. 79-80).


          Through this point of the Fundamental Rule, St. Vincent invites us to enter into a journey of conversion and to accept God's saving gesture of reconciliation and of pardon.  The response to the offer of salvation is born of God's infinite love and mercy for the person.  The salvific gestures with which God shows his mercy and his great love for the human sinner are the passion, death and resurrection of his Son and the sacrament of baptism. Through the sacrifice of his Son on the Cross God makes the sinner just, and in baptism he gives him in Christ his love.
          We should remember that the activity of God in the Paschal mystery of Christ is born of his gratuitous love.  This is how St. Paul describes this love of God for us sinners:

          "The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us. We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men. It is not easy to die even for a good man - though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die - but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners." (Rom 5, 5-8).

          God's merciful ways become real in the welcome he extends to the sinful person, even though he has a radical aversion for the sin.

          The sinful action, even though it may signify a rejection of the love of God and indeed of God himself, cannot annul the divine-human relationship of communion with which the person was called into existence.  God's fidelity to his loving project is a guarantee of his benevolent attitude towards the person even though he/she is a sinner. God desires reconciliation and this is both made manifest and fulfilled in Christ's Paschal mystery. In the death of Christ on the Cross God shows that he has taken sin seriously and has directly confronted it: the death and resurrection of Christ is God's response to the sinner.

          St. Vincent saw sin as a refusal to respond to the gifts of God:

          "You, o God, source of grace, know that all of my life has been an opposition to your gifts … My God, sin, indeed each and every sin, is  infinite evil …" (OOCC X, 295-296).

          The mercy of God is shown very clearly in that God does not condemn the sinner, rather he welcomes and loves him/her so that he/she may convert and live: "God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins he brought us to life with Christ"( Eph. 2, 4-5).

          Mercy calls to conversion

          St. Vincent Pallotti shows us the way, he teaches us the Christian attitude towards the sinner:

          "love, patience and gentleness must increase … they should not approve of what he does, or says, but they should feel pity for him, and with Christian compassion and with committed charity and industrious love they should cooperate in his conversion" (OOCC I, p 299).

          It is fundamental that one rediscover the relationship with God as a story of God's fidelity in the face of man's infidelity; God seeks out the person, he wishes to be reconciled with him/her and to save him/her.

          There is a great deal of thoughtlessness in the attitude of people with regard to sin.  A true sense or consciousness of sin is lacking today, a greater awareness of God's merciful love is necessary.


          The love of God for sinners is expressed clearly and with tenderness in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15, 11-32).  It is said that the Father is anxiously awaiting the return of his younger son, he runs out to meet him, he embraces him, kisses him, pardons him, he takes from his hand his list of sins, he celebrates the return and he gives him back his sense of being a son, and through his affection, he transmits to the son a desire to take up his life again  (v. 20-32).

          The Father is not content to merely welcome his son who came home, with love; he wants a feast, a celebration and he organizes it to honour him.


          The celebration was a great banquet (Lk. 15, 22). The food for this banquet is, according to Pallotti,
          "…the true and glorious body and blood of Jesus Christ,  …" (OOCC XII, p. 188). "In the Eucharist it is not merely the divine Person of the Incarnate Word who is present,  but the Father and the Holy Spirit are also there.  Thus He (God), mercifully nourishes me, and destroys my infinite evilness…" (OOCC X, 451-452).

          "God destroys in me all my sins and all the consequences of my sins. He becomes nourishment so as to transform me into Him to the point that I am like God, and being one with God, all that is me is totally annihilated, and God is all in me" (OOCC X, 698).

          A community of reconciled sinners


          St. Vincent,  when faced with the experience of knowing himself to be  "nothing and sin", also had deep experiences of God's mercy, he savoured the joy of forgiveness,  the outpouring of mercy and all the expressions of God's loving favour.

          Pallotti could address God as "my mercy" because he had lived experience of the mercy of God, so much so that he would exclaim: "My Jesus, my judge, who died so as not to condemn me to death!" (OOCC X, 668)

          We Christians are called to show that we have experienced the grace of God's mercy, a mercy which creates new attitudes and relationships.  While there is condemnation of sin and of injustice there is a welcome for the sinner, mutual forgiveness, a refusal to judge …

          Conversion is both a necessary and on-going attitude in the life of the Christian.  A Christian is one who converts to Jesus Christ,  who reveals the Father, a Christian lives life in a new manner which is to see reality with new eyes, eyes that know oneself to be a sinner, but one who is saved, a child of God, who is loved and forgiven.

          While on the path of conversion St. Vincent Pallotti wrote:

          "…take courage in God, and with trust in the intercession of the Mother of Mercy  resolve to convert and indeed, convert …"(OOCC 13, p 699). For Vincent "…the Marian month was experienced as a most efficacious means to obtain conversion and the sanctification of many souls" (OOCC I, p 239) and he invites each one of us to a true conversion:

          "…be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. O children of the Church if one is a sinner, turn to Mary and never loose confidence." (OOCC XIII, p 699); and "…the more you see that the conversion (of a person) is difficult  the more you should increase your prayers, and you are to do it with great confidence and you will be able to prepare (the person) to die as a sincere and holy penitent" (OOCC I, p 298).

          Mercy and conversion are inseparable.

          God does not desire the death of the sinner, but that he/she convert and live!
          The Word of God leads us to reflect …

          - Lk 15, 3-7   - Lk 10, 29-37      - Lk 7, 1-50
          - Lk 15, 11-32   - Jn 8, 1-11 - Lk 19, 1-10

          Topics for reflection
           (personal or as a group)





        • - What is my attitude towards those who are far from the faith or who live in a disordered manner? Do I put into practice the invitation of  Jesus to show mercy in fraternal correction?  






        • - Mercy is the fundamental characteristic of God which Jesus revealed to us.  Do I accept God's mercy as the path to a new life of conversion?






        • - How often do I approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation, do I receive it with a true desire to be renewed?






        • - Is the forgiveness that the Lord gives to me a cause of joy and does it lead me to a greater commitment for the good of the community?


        • Prayer to the Queen of Apostles

          O holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and advocate of the human race, we humbly pray to you: intercede for us with your only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, so that with the grace of the Holy Spirit we may be courageous in increasing, spreading and defending faith and charity.


          Answer our prayers. In your mercy accept our petitions. Deign to obtain for us the grace, so that having fought the good fight, having finished the race we may keep the faith, and so may be among the ranks of the holy Apostles to receive the crown of righteousness (cf. 2 Tim. 4,7-8), through Christ our Lord, Amen.


                2008-05-02 
                reflection-and-prayer-for-May
             
          Apostles for Today

          Fundamental Rule no. 31


          It is accomplished
          Our Lord Jesus Christ close to death said “ Consummatum est” “it is accomplished” (John 19,30): therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ who did all he did in order to save us, we are to use profitably all the means that God has given to us in the Congregation- and in the Union of Catholic Apostolate – and which must be nurtured right up to the moment of death with ever increasing perfection, we are to do all for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of our souls and those of our neighbour, without ever neglecting any of the works,  great or small,  that God wishes to entrust to us.  (OOCC III, 58)

          A - Introduction
                 It is accomplished. These words of Jesus, the last of the seven words spoken by him on the Cross, reveal the feelings of his heart and are like his last will and testament and are therefore very precious and dear to us.  In the course of time they were heard and meditated on by countless Christians and even set to music by some composers, among whom was F. Joseph Haydn [1732-1809], a contemporary of Pallotti.  These seven last words were also commented on by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and popularized by the Franciscans in the form of meditations on the seven wounds of Christ as an antidote to the seven mortal sins.  It was from this perspective that our Founder inserted them into the Fundamental Rule of the 33 points.

                 It is accomplished: these words have two meanings. It is accomplished  signify the end of earthly life and the encounter with death. This is exactly what the Evangelist John conveys: “and bowing his head he gave up his spirit” (John 19,30). But these words also have a deeper sense, that of having brought everything to its fulfilment, of having realized completely the mission that the Father had entrusted to him.  “My food, - Jesus had said previously – is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work” (Jn. 4,34).

                 It seems that Vincent Pallotti was referring to this second meaning of these final words of Jesus when he wrote in number 31 of the Fundamental Rule: Our Lord Jesus Christ close to death said “ Consummatum est” “it is accomplished” (John 19,30): therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ who did all he did in order to save us, we are to use profitably all the means that God has given to us in the Congregation- and in the Union of Catholic Apostolate – and which must be nurtured right up to the moment of death with ever increasing perfection, we are to do all for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of our souls and those of our neighbour, without ever neglecting any of the works,  great or small,  that God wishes to entrust to us.

          B – Reflections on two texts from the writings of St. Paul

          1. “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength” (Phil. 4,13)

                 The year of St. Paul will be inaugurated in June 2008.  We know that this apostle occupies a privileged place in the life and writings of St. Vincent Pallotti.  Indeed, Vincent referred often to the letters of St. Paul even though he did not always do an exegesis on the texts.

          “The holy collector of texts did not have time to comment on them. He must occupy himself with more urgent matters” observed Fr. Francesco Moccia  (OOCC XII, p. IX). Nevertheless, St. Paul’s presence vibrates in the writings of Pallotti and particularly in the short phrase with which Vincent opens his Spiritual Diary: “There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength” (Phil 4,13). It is true that a person cannot save himself or herself but can and must cooperate with God as “a useless servant”.  He or she must do all, “all, all, infinitely all, if possible” (OCL I, 19), for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of ones own soul and that of ones neighbour, without neglecting any of the works, great or small, that God entrusts to us.   This conviction would lead St. Vincent Pallotti to see the Apostolate as a collaboration between the person and the grace of God.  He expresses this dynamic in what appears to be a paradoxical formulation which recalls that of the great mystics: “God will sustain and strengthen all’, he wrote to Francesco Parenti, ‘when we do all, convinced that we cannot do anything without God” (OCL II, p. 56). Vincent will say the same again in a very simple manner in the Rules for the Seminaries and Monasteries, for which he suggests the following exercise: “On awakening all will get up … and with holy water make the sign of the Cross and express their trust that they will be strengthened by the power of God, enlightened with the wisdom of the Son, and sanctified with the virtues and the love of the Holy Spirit.   They will say ‘by myself I can do nothing .. with God I can do all things … for love of God I wish to do all … to God be honour and contempt to me” (OOCC II, p. 305-306).  With this movement of collaboration between God and the person St. Vincent shows the essence of his thinking and his own personal practice, he was both a mystic and an apostle.

          2. “I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith”  (2 Tm 4, 7)

           If one wanted to sum up the life and the apostolic activity of St. Paul one could do it with the sentiment expressed by him in his second Letter to Timothy: “I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith”, this  is Paul’s equivalent to saying “It is accomplished”. One could say that for St. Paul the expression “I have run” means first of all that “I have finished my journey to the ends of the earth” as the Lord asked me to do, but also “I put all my strength and my talents at the service of the Kingdom of God”.

          Examination of conscience
          -         What does “I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith”, mean to me?
          -         Do I really put all my strength and my talents at the service of the Kingdom of God?
          -         Do I strive to use all the means that God offers me in the Union of Catholic Apostolate in order to commit myself to work for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of my brothers and sisters?

          To be an apostle today in the spirit of no. 31 of the Fundamental Rule

          It is said that the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the original foundation of Vincent Pallotti, like the composition of his contemporary Franz Schubert [1797-1829], is similar to his “unfinished symphony”.  The Union of Catholic Apostolate is an incomplete work, first of all because the Founder died prematurely without being able to complete it, but also because the time was not right as the project of a universal apostolate was ahead of its time.  Furthermore, it seems that the Union was meant to be incomplete because it is not a fixed model established once and for all, but it is rather a prophetic sign of the reality of the Kingdom of God, a parable of apostolic unity.  As a consequence of this the Union must always remain “in a state of continual incompleteness”, always open to the needs of the Church and the world, and also to be “faithful to the future”. This is the true and specific identity of the UAC as intended by the Founder: “I pray now and always, and I intend to pray even after my death (…) that you in your charity and your religious fervour (…) will be committed in the permanent institution and in the rapid and most profitable propagation of the pious Society as if you were elected by our Lord Jesus Christ to be its Founder” (OOCC III, 28-9).  Therefore from its very foundation the Union of Catholic Apostolate was presented as being both a “high-point” and a “beginning”.  It is a “high-point” because it was thanks to a gradual process that the ideas of Pallotti were clarified and defined; but it is also the “starting point” of a foundation which is open to the future in which the first steps of the Founder were the prelude to an “unfinished symphony”.

           It can be said that the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the “unfinished symphony” of St. Vincent Pallotti, like that of F. Schubert has just two movements: ‘allegro moderato’ (moderately quick) and the ‘andante con moto’ (at a walking pace with motion).  The Union expects that every generation of Pallottines will supply the third movement of which the entire symphony is usually composed and which is the ‘allegro vivace’ (a lively and bright marching tempo)!  So it is up to us to continue the completion of this foundation with the conviction that Vincent Pallotti “… has left us as our heritage not only that which he had already undertaken but also that of which he dreamt”  (Pope Pius XII).

          Let us pray

          Lord,
          teach me to discern
          the things that I can change
          from those that I cannot change.
          Give me the courage to change the former,
          and give me the strength to support
          the latter.

          (From the prayers of St. Francis de Sales)
          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-05-31 
                prayer-and-reflection-for-June



               Fundamental Rule no. 31


          It is accomplished

          Our Lord Jesus Christ close to death said " Consummatum est" "it is accomplished" (John 19,30): therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ who did all he did in order to save us, we are to use profitably all the means that God has given to us in the Congregation- and in the Union of Catholic Apostolate - and which must be nurtured right up to the moment of death with ever increasing perfection, we are to do all for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of our souls and those of our neighbor, without ever neglecting any of the works,  great or small,  that God wishes to entrust to us.  (OOCC III, 58)


          A - Introduction


          It is accomplished. These words of Jesus, the last of the seven words spoken by him on the Cross, reveal the feelings of his heart and are like his last will and testament and are therefore very precious and dear to us.  In the course of time they were heard and meditated on by countless Christians and even set to music by some composers, among whom was F. Joseph Haydn [1732-1809], a contemporary of Pallotti.  These seven last words were also commented on by St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio and popularized by the Franciscans in the form of meditations on the seven wounds of Christ as an antidote to the seven mortal sins.  It was from this perspective that our Founder inserted them into the Fundamental Rule of the 33 points.

          It is accomplished: these words have two meanings. It is accomplished  signify the end of earthly life and the encounter with death. This is exactly what the Evangelist John conveys: "and bowing his head he gave up his spirit" (John 19,30). But these words also have a deeper sense, that of having brought everything to its fulfillment, of having realized completely the mission that the Father had entrusted to him.  "My food, - Jesus had said previously - is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work" (Jn. 4,34).

          It seems that Vincent Pallotti was referring to this second meaning of these final words of Jesus when he wrote in number 31 of the Fundamental Rule: Our Lord Jesus Christ close to death said " Consummatum est" "it is accomplished" (John 19,30): therefore, for love of our Lord Jesus Christ who did all he did in order to save us, we are to use profitably all the means that God has given to us in the Congregation- and in the Union of Catholic Apostolate - and which must be nurtured right up to the moment of death with ever increasing perfection, we are to do all for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of our souls and those of our neighbor, without ever neglecting any of the works,  great or small,  that God wishes to entrust to us.

          B - Reflections on two texts from the writings of St. Paul

          1. "There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength" (Phil. 4,13)
          The year of St. Paul will be inaugurated in June 2008.  We know that this apostle occupies a privileged place in the life and writings of St. Vincent Pallotti.  Indeed, Vincent referred often to the letters of St. Paul even though he did not always do an exegesis on the texts.

          "The holy collector of texts did not have time to comment on them. He must occupy himself with more urgent matters" observed Fr. Francesco Moccia  (OOCC XII, p. IX). Nevertheless, St. Paul's presence vibrates in the writings of Pallotti and particularly in the short phrase with which Vincent opens his Spiritual Diary: "There is nothing I cannot master with the help of the One who gives me strength" (Phil 4,13). It is true that a person cannot save himself or herself but can and must cooperate with God as "a useless servant".  He or she must do all, "all, all, infinitely all, if possible" (OCL I, 19), for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of ones own soul and that of ones neighbor, without neglecting any of the works, great or small, that God entrusts to us.   This conviction would lead St. Vincent Pallotti to see the Apostolate as a collaboration between the person and the grace of God.  He expresses this dynamic in what appears to be a paradoxical formulation which recalls that of the great mystics: "God will sustain and strengthen all', he wrote to Francesco Parenti, 'when we do all, convinced that we cannot do anything without God" (OCL II, p. 56). Vincent will say the same again in a very simple manner in the Rules for the Seminaries and Monasteries, for which he suggests the following exercise: "On awakening all will get up … and with holy water make the sign of the Cross and express their trust that they will be strengthened by the power of God, enlightened with the wisdom of the Son, and sanctified with the virtues and the love of the Holy Spirit.   They will say 'by myself I can do nothing .. with God I can do all things … for love of God I wish to do all … to God be honour and contempt to me" (OOCC II, p. 305-306).  With this movement of collaboration between God and the person St. Vincent shows the essence of his thinking and his own personal practice, he was both a mystic and an apostle.

          2. "I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith"  (2 Tm 4, 7)
          If one wanted to sum up the life and the apostolic activity of St. Paul one could do it with the sentiment expressed by him in his second Letter to Timothy: "I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith", this  is Paul's equivalent to saying "It is accomplished". One could say that for St. Paul the expression "I have run" means first of all that "I have finished my journey to the ends of the earth" as the Lord asked me to do, but also "I put all my strength and my talents at the service of the Kingdom of God".

          Examination of conscience

          - What does "I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith", mean to me?
          - Do I really put all my strength and my talents at the service of the Kingdom of God?
           - Do I strive to use all the means that God offers me in the Union of Catholic Apostolate in order to commit myself to work for the greater glory of God and the sanctification of my brothers and sisters?
          To be an apostle today in the spirit of no. 31 of the Fundamental Rule
          It is said that the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the original foundation of Vincent Pallotti, like the composition of his contemporary Franz Schubert [1797-1829], is similar to his "unfinished symphony".  The Union of Catholic Apostolate is an incomplete work, first of all because the Founder died prematurely without being able to complete it, but also because the time was not right as the project of a universal apostolate was ahead of its time.  Furthermore, it seems that the Union was meant to be incomplete because it is not a fixed model established once and for all, but it is rather a prophetic sign of the reality of the Kingdom of God, a parable of apostolic unity.  As a consequence of this the Union must always remain "in a state of continual incompleteness", always open to the needs of the Church and the world, and also to be "faithful to the future". This is the true and specific identity of the UAC as intended by the Founder: "I pray now and always, and I intend to pray even after my death (…) that you in your charity and your religious fervour (…) will be committed in the permanent institution and in the rapid and most profitable propagation of the pious Society as if you were elected by our Lord Jesus Christ to be its Founder" (OOCC III, 28-9).  Therefore from its very foundation the Union of Catholic Apostolate was presented as being both a "high-point" and a "beginning".  It is a "high-point" because it was thanks to a gradual process that the ideas of Pallotti were clarified and defined; but it is also the "starting point" of a foundation which is open to the future in which the first steps of the Founder were the prelude to an "unfinished symphony".

          It can be said that the Union of Catholic Apostolate, the "unfinished symphony" of St. Vincent Pallotti, like that of F. Schubert has just two movements: 'allegro moderato' (moderately quick) and the 'andante con moto' (at a walking pace with motion).  The Union expects that every generation of Pallottines will supply the third movement of which the entire symphony is usually composed and which is the 'allegro vivace' (a lively and bright marching tempo)!  So it is up to us to continue the completion of this foundation with the conviction that Vincent Pallotti "… has left us as our heritage not only that which he had already undertaken but also that of which he dreamt"  (Pope Pius XII).

          Let us pray
          Lord,
          teach me to discern
          the things that I can change
          from those that I cannot change.
          Give me the courage to change the former,
          and give me the strength to support
          the latter.

          (From the prayers of St. Francis de Sales)
          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-07-01  

                apostles-for-today
           
          Prayer for August

          Fundamental Rule 33


          “He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was” (Jn. 13,1).

          “While our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified for us, agonized on the Cross, his enemies said to him: “If you are God’s son, come down from the cross”;  however, he preferred a lingering death on the cross. Therefore if our spiritual enemies should say to us: “descend from the cross of perpetual observance and of a humble, poor and work-filled life in the Congregation”; we for love of our Lord Jesus Christ, with trust in his omnipotent grace and in the powerful intercession of Mary most holy, of the angels and saints, should overcome them and persevere until death in the congregation. Our Lord Jesus Christ now sits glorified at the right hand of the Father. If we have been spiritually crucified with him, have become like him in a life that is humble, poor, work-filled and unappreciated, have been crucified on this earth, he will make us like him in glory for all eternity. Amen.” (OOCC III, p. 59-60).

          Vincent Pallotti on founding the Union of Catholic Apostolate left us the life of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Fundamental Rule.  The Holy Spirit inspired him and under this inspiration he composed the 33 points to recall the years that Jesus lived among us.  Jesus is Emmanuel, God-is-with-us (Mt 1,23b; Is 7,14). He made his home among us (cf. Apoc 21, 3); and “He had always loved those who were his in the world, but now he showed how perfect his love was (Jn 13, 1).  His presence in this world “renewed the face of the earth” and brought new life and new hope.  With Jesus among us, the person, marked by sin, became aware that he/she is made in the image and likeness of God and as God’s is loved by him from all eternity.  In the face of this reality revealed by Christ Pallotti became conscious of his state as ‘a man of sin’, but also one redeemed by Christ (cf.1Cor 6, 19-20).

          In contemplating the face of Christ Pallotti realized just how much he was loved.  This is why he says that God “is crazy with love” so much so that he sent his only begotten Son into the world where he was condemned to death for our sins.

          The Son was obedient to the will of the Father and accepted the challenge of liberating all of humanity from the humiliation which sin had produced in those who are created in the image of God.  Vincent Pallotti was fascinated by this loving intervention in human history, he considered himself to be unworthy of such a great gift and wished to do all possible to correspond to this love.  He wanted the entire Church to contemplate Christ and come to be obedient to the Father’s project.

          This is the proper measure of our dignity as human beings.  It is the reality of life here on earth.  We are God’s partners, not his opposition, for a better future and for the salvation of the world. Therefore, in communion with Jesus Christ, let us, in all things, aspire to the infinite, eternal, immense, immortal and incomprehensible (Pallottine Community Prayers  p. 131).

          The mystery of salvation shaped a large number of Vincent’s prayers.  He lived the abundance of spiritual and corporal atonement.  Not only this but he also propagated devotion to the blood of Christ in order to arouse true compassion in Christ and Mary. He wanted all to be aware of the royal priesthood (1Pt 2, 9), so that all people might consciously offer the blood of Christ.

          More than anything he makes one understand that in Christ and in his blood the fight against sin is like a war in which all must enrol and for which they must train (‘The Prayers’, A. Faller, p. 33).

          Pallotti who was convinced that it is necessary to return to Jesus’ school every day and ask of him: “Lord, teach us to pray”, put this principle in action (cf. Faller, p. 39).

          From Jesus he learnt the habit of prayer and also to choose the right place and time: “In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there” (Mk. 1,35). This example was essential for Pallotti and so he established and rigorously observed fixed times for prayer and meditation.

          The man become prayer

          Vincent had the gift of praying a great deal and of praying  continuously.  Not only was he ‘the man become prayer’, that is the man of continuous prayer, but he was also a master of prayer.   One of his particular merits was that he discovered and spread the special prayer which the Divine teacher taught: “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest”, and that he revealed through his preaching the compassion of Jesus for the sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9,37-38; cf. Faller, p. 52).

          The purpose of Pallotti’s prayer was to give glory to God and the salvation of souls, and in order to save souls grace is necessary as well as continuous prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments so as to receive this grace.  (cf., Faller, p 44).

          Father Vincent was convinced that the time dedicated to God in prayer would bring benefits to all.  He was even more convinced of the truth expressed in the affirmation: “Ask for that which is great and you will also be given that which is little”.  He was aware that the holy intention and an offering repeated various times in the course of the day are transformed into an attitude which is constantly nourished by the spirit of faith.  This overcomes obstacles and causes one to grow in the spirit of prayer and thus is the creature deified. (Ibid, p. 47).

          For Vincent prayer should make one like to Christ and so he says:

          “May I be totally identified with you, so that I am no longer me, so that nothing of me be in me, and that only you be in me”. This means that, on the one hand, God would spiritualize all of his past, present and future life, and on the other, increase his thirst to be ever more like God (Ibid, p. 49).

          Thus prayer is in harmony, not only with infinite mercy, but also with unlimited poverty and with permanent penitence. Vincent added a preference for an apostolic intention to this elevated religious concept.  The priority remains the divine gift of a living, generous and perfect desire for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls (Ibid, p 53).

          The Word of God


          A prayer asking for true understanding of the Word

          God of infinite goodness, enlighten my mind to understand your Word; open my eyes to banish the blindness which does not allow me to contemplate your infinite love; open my ears so that all of my being can relish your Word, and touch my lips so that I can proclaim your wonders to the whole world (cf. OOCC XIII, 158).

          (Mt 9, 6; 20,34; Acts 10,34-42; Rm 6, 4-11; 1Cor 2,2-9; Wisdom 2,12-22).

          The Word as mediation: reflect

          The Word of God is a light that enlightens the road, thus Pallotti was always sure of receiving special graces (cf. OOCC X, 84-85).

          God dispenses floods of graces because his love is infinite.  God is crazy with love (cf. OOCC X, 235)

          The mediation of the Word leads us to take an interest in our brothers and sisters to the point of being light for the blind and drink for the weak  (cf. OOCC, 15-16).

          Jesus, you who died for us, may your life be my life (cf. OOCC X, 618-625).

          God infinite love

          My God, my eternal Father and Lord of the universe, infinite love of my soul, only you can understand in your own infinite love and mercy the mystery of our souls!

          Only you can know how ungrateful I have been and just how much I abused all the graces which you mercifully and with infinite love have given me.  

          Now, however, I have complete trust that in your infinite mercy, and through the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary most holy and of all the angels and saints, you will grant me to always remember the infinite love and mercy which caused you to give me innumerable graces and in particular the gift to profit from the graces until death, in accordance with your will. Amen.


          Prayer to obtain mercy

          My Jesus, my infinite, immense, incomprehensible mercy, you give me your very own mercy and you transform me into your mercy so that my life may be one of corporal and spiritual works of mercy for the good of all persons.  Where I cannot reach with my own strength, may you,  in the fullness of your mercy, reach so as to fill the entire world with your mercy for all time and eternity. Amen.


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

                2008-07-31      apostles-for-today

          Fundamental Rule no. 1



          Together with St. Paul we exclaim: "Yet I am alive; yet it is no longer I, but Christ living in me." (Gal 2,20a)

          The Fundamental Rule of our little Congregation is the hidden and public life of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We must imitate Him as perfectly as possible in humility and confidence. Our aim in doing so is the greatest glory of God, our heavenly Father, as well as the greater sanctification of our own soul and those of our neighbours. Whoever, therefore, joins this Congregation, must be moved only by perfect love of God and neighbour, in order to assure the eternal salvation of their own soul.  (OOCC III, p. 40)

          Reflection

          The journey of Christian formation is essentially a journey according the Spirit and consequently, is meant to be open to a continuing renewal of the commitment to spiritual formation.

          Since Christ, sent by the Father, is the source and the origin of the entire apostolate of the Church, it is evident that fruitfulness of the apostolate depends on our vital union with Christ;  He himself assured us in his Word: "Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing" (Jn. 15: 4-5).
           
          This does not mean that one should change ones own spirituality and adopt  one which is essentially of others in the Church, but, it does mean that one should seek a spirituality which,  in the concrete circumstances of ones life, would allow one to "remain in Christ in order to bear fruit" and to "walk according to the Spirit" in the situations which are particular to each baptized person.  This spirituality is lived in ones own family ( religious or natural), in ones  work and professional environment; in the complex social, political or cultural  reality of today.

          The characteristic elements of Christian spirituality, which would seem to be ones that we are to be aware of,  reflect on and develop are:

          • " The call to incarnate in the 'ordinariness of the  mundane' a way of life inspired by the Gospel;
          • " To introduce in different social institutions a spirit of service and to give witness to charity;
          • " To be bearers of hope for others, a hope which is active and committed;
          • " To be persons who work for reconciliation and peace at all levels of life;
          • " To continue to develop the Baptismal - Eucharistic roots of ones own mission;
          • " To have a profoundly Christian and ecclesial identity, one which is inseparably united with the capacity to live in universal openness;
          • " To have a capacity for prayer and contemplation within the concrete situations of daily living and of world history.

          Together, let us reflect on how much we adhere to these realities.

          How much do we desire to fulfil this mission in all its dimensions, do we  try to live it profoundly every day?

          The apostolate of St. Vincent Pallotti expresses his soul: his joy in helping others to know and love the God whom he loved.

          The greatness and the immensity of the apostolate are in proportion to the intensity of ones love. Love bursts out from the eyes and, indeed, from the very pores of the person who loves.  In the same way apostolic activity blooms spontaneously and inevitably overflows from a heart in which the love of God has a true home and plays a significant role.

          There is not and there can not be a separation between true love of God and true apostolate. There was no such separation in Jesus Christ, the Apostle of the Eternal Father.

          For our Founder, to love and to help others to love God as much as He merits to be loved; to sanctify oneself and to promote the most perfect sanctification of all creatures, are two activities of the Spirit and they are  not four, as some may think. To help others to love is not different from loving, it is simply an expression of it; to promote sanctification or holiness is but an overflow of the authenticity of ones own holiness.

          How much more did Pallotti want to tell us, when he wrote: "My Jesus, the proof of the love  which you want from me, is the salvation of souls" (OOCC X, p. 676). This is a dominant characteristic of Pallottine life and holiness.

          According to St. Vincent, holiness must serve the apostolate and the apostolate is not authentic without spirituality. The person who loves God cannot but desire that others love Him too, he or she can not stand passively under the cross of Jesus Christ. The person who knows what the soul is, knows its value and what Jesus has done to redeem it, cannot but work for the salvation of others.


          The apostolate constitutes the expression of all human relations; the call to the apostolate comes from creation itself and receives a certain sacramental character from Jesus' commandment: "You must love one another just as I have loved you" (Jn. 13, 34). Therefore, the apostolate, before it is activity, is an apostolic soul.  (from the book Una santità per l'apostolato - Holiness for the Apostolate, edited by Fr. Francesco Amoroso).

          Let us pray with St. Vincent

          "Eternal Father you sent your divine Son, Jesus Christ for the salvation of the human race.

          In Your infinite mercy and through the merits of Jesus Christ, deign to hear us as we comply with what he asked of us,  we pray that You will send evangelical workers who are filled with Your Spirit,  in order to convert all souls to You.

          With the precept of charity you commanded all peoples of every state, degree and condition, to seek the salvation of their neighbours soul as eagerly as they would their own.  We ask you now and always to infuse the fullness of your charity in all those who live and who will live on this earth, so that all may work together in every possible way, to effectively gain the multiplication of the spiritual and temporal means necessary and opportune for the propagation of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ in all the world, so that there may be one flock and one shepherd.
           
          In union with all the angels and saints, with the souls of all the just until the end of the world, we offer you the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, His infinite merits and the merits of His Church, in thanksgiving, as if You had already heard us, and there where You are we will all come to sing for all  eternity your infinite mercies".
          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-09-09 
                apostles-for-today
              Prayer for October

          Fundamental Rule no. 2



          Fr. Vincent Pallotti  wrote the Rule for his companions in 1846, and in point number 2 exhorted them:
          "We must all live in perfect observance of the holy Law of God and of the Church, and do so in perfect chastity, obedience, poverty and perseverance in the Congregation (Union), and in observance of the holy rules and constitutions." (OOCC III, p. 41)


          Reflection.



          Fr. Vincent had found in the Law of God as revealed in the Scriptures a sure guide for his person and life.  He was convinced that the Church, the body of Christ, had a central role to play in guiding and accompanying all her members in their lives of faith.  He was wise enough to know and acknowledge the limitations of his own learning and intelligence in the face of revelation, but he never ceased to increase his knowledge and awareness by a constant search to know God, the mystery of God and the continual activity of Christ in his Church. He urged his companions, as he would us today, to study the Law of God and that of the Church, as part of our journey into the fullness of Christian life.  As the Psalmist exclaimed "Happy those who walk in the Law of the Lord, who seek him with their whole heart … and walk in his ways. You yourself have made your precepts known to be faithfully kept." (Ps. 119, 1-5)
          In 1839 he wrote a long meditation of his experience of God's activity which he calls "An incomprehensible triumph of the Divine attributes" (OOCC X, 289-358),  this text ends thus: "… for God, who is infinite mercy, and through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary and of all the Angels and Saints, and through the merits of the Church of Jesus Christ, has deigned to make me the Miracle, the Trophy, and the Abyss:


          • -   of his Omnipotence, which is infinitely merciful;

          • - of his Wisdom, which is infinitely merciful;


          •  - of his Goodness, which is infinitely merciful; 
          • of his Charity, which is infinitely merciful;

          •  - of his Justice, which is infinitely merciful;
          •  - of his Clemency, which is infinitely merciful;
          •  - of his Purity, which is infinitely merciful;
          •  - of his Holiness, which is infinitely merciful;
          •  - of his very infinite Mercy itself, and of all the infinity of his divine attributes which are infinitely merciful.
          My God, my infinite Mercy, I believe I have understood very little, I believe I have said very little in comparison to all that you have given to me, and which you desire to give me perfectly, and for all of eternity, infinitely multiplied; so much so that I do not understand nor will I ever understand.


          God became man so that man could become God.

          God loved the world so much that he gave his only son (Jn. 3,16).

          Will he not give us everything with it (Rm. 8,32)?

          To the eternal, invisible and only God, be honour, glory, praise and gratitude for ever and ever (Cf. 1Tm. 1,17). Amen

          God, God, God, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.


          I submit all to the sense of the Church and to the judgement of the Holy Mother Church, and as the Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Mother Church teaches, believes and professes, so too do I believe and profess now and always, and so may God help me together with the Blessed Virgin and all the heavenly courts."(OOCC X, 356-58)


          Vincent was convinced that God was transforming him and making him like unto God himself in his various attributes.  Meditation on the law of God, contemplation of God and his activity, a listening ear to the teaching authority that Christ entrusted to the Church, these were all part of his spiritual path.


          It is interesting to note that in point number 2 Vincent proposed for his companions that they promise 'perseverance' in the community along with the more traditional promises, or evangelical counsels; he thought that a promise to persevere was a way of expressing ones desire to love freely but within the context of stability and continuity. "In the thinking of Pallotti, perseverance represented an never-ending project in every stage of a person's life.  Quoting Luke 2,40 'the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom and God's favour was with him', he felt that for all those who would enter his community the consecration of oneself to God would always be incomplete and would entail a permanent project of growth in holiness and in evangelical perfection, in accordance with the Rule and the spirit of the Society."  A second reason for the introduction of 'perseverance was "for Pallotti perseverance was essentially a virtue of relationship….imitating the Holy Family of the House of Nazareth, in perseverance through the bond of love of God, which is strong as death … this suggests that at the heart of the commitment to perseverance throughout life is a commitment to bonds of relationship rather than to mere obligations."  (Cf. SAC Renewal 2000 [6]).
          At the heart of perseverance is the recognition that "Jesus Christ is the divine model for all of humanity" (OOCC II, p. 541), that he is the model for all persons, but is especially a model to be imitated by those who wish to "comply with the loving and merciful desires of his divine heart in evangelical works", such a person is to imitate Jesus perfectly, and one aspect of this imitation is 'perseverance', Jesus persevered, he was faithful to the tasks and commitment undertaken for the good of humanity.  St. Vincent outlined five reasons for imitating Jesus and they all centre around fidelity to oneself and to others.

          In persevering we:

          (1) do not obstruct the road to holiness of others in our community;

          (2) each make our unique and personal contribution to the apostolic works of the community;

          (3) ensure that the works of the community for the good of souls can continue and will not cease because of lack of 'man-power';

          (4) do not defraud those who are associated with our work through their spiritual and material support;

          (5) are not unjust with ourselves, we do not deprive ourselves of eternal happiness in the kingdom of God. (Cf. Ibid. p. 541-43).  


          He urged us: "pray frequently with humility to the Lord for the grace of perseverance, aware that all our efforts will come to nothing without humble, confident and persevering prayer." (OOCC VIII p. 95).

          We may have the feeling that we are tossed about in a world of rapid change, we may sense an impermanence, a rising sense of uncertainty, all around us. Our times are certainly characterized by such movement.  We are not immune from the effects of this.  Our faith urges us to engage with this world, to cooperate with the desires of the heart of God for this world, for this we need to meditate on the Law of God 'day and night' as the Psalmist does.  The Church prompts us to Proclaim the Gospel of Hope and to do this "calls for steadfast fidelity to the Gospel itself … increasingly centered on the person of Jesus." Such a proclamation requires that we be "credible evangelizers whose lives … radiate the beauty of the Gospel; and that "holiness is the essential prerequisite for an authentic evangelization capable of reviving hope." (Cf. Ecclesia in Europe, Post-Synodal Exhortation, June 2003, 44-49).

          Let us pray with the Psalmist:

          "Happy the man who never follows the advice of the wicked, or loiters on the way the sinners take,
          or sits about with scoffers,
          but finds his pleasure in the Law of the Lord,
          and murmurs his law day and night.
          He is like a tree that is planted by streams of water,
          yielding its fruit in season,

          its leaves never fading;
          success attends everything he does."
          (Psalm 1, 1-4)

          Texts for reflection:

          Psalm 119 'In praise of the divine Law';
          Jeremiah 31, 31-34;  Luke 5. 1-11;  1 Cor. 13, 4-12.

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-10-04
                apostles-for-today
           
          Prayer for November

          Fundamental Rule no.  3


          The Rule written by St. Vincent Pallotti with the special protection of Mary, Queen of Apostles, responded to his need to conform to Canon Law in order to fulfil the common religious and priestly obligations; in point number 3 he exhorted:
          "The Novitiate, (or preparatory formation) is of a two year duration, following it the members do not make solemn vows, but according to the judgement of the superiors, they make a solemn consecration of themselves.  In making it they also enter into a contract with the Congregation and promise to live in it in accordance with the Rules and the Constitutions in chastity, obedience, poverty and perseverance."  (OOCC III p. 41)

          Reflection

            St. Vincent in using the expression 'they do not make solemn vows', wanted to stress that the consecration is not the living out of a vow but rather is an expression of a permanent contract with the Congregation to live a total giving of oneself to God which would oblige all, priests, brothers, sisters and laity, to live in God and to act always for God with all ones senses and the strength of ones soul.

            All the Christian virtues and, indeed, vows themselves, are 'implementations' and 'visible manifestations' of Love because the life of the Christian is to be an imitation of our Lord Jesus Christ and a personal consecration, as expressed in the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, is a perfect imitation of Jesus, poor, chaste and obedient onto death on the Cross.

            St. Vincent himself affirmed: "I intend, O my God, to live, suffer and die with the selfsame uniformity with which Jesus Christ was obedient for me even unto death on the Cross." ( OOCC X pp.292-293)

            In reflecting on our own sanctification and on that of our neighbour we must think of Jesus who was poor and love him in cultivating poverty as a detachment from earthly goods, this is especially so for the lay members who live immersed in the world, they are to know how to enjoy the gifts of the Lord without becoming overly attached to them and turning them into idols that distance one from God.

            In contemplating Jesus who was chaste we should not merely limit this virtue to celibacy which is a prophetic proclamation of our definitive state after the Resurrection of the dead, but we are to also see it as part of matrimony, because conjugal chastity has its own value in the salvific mission of the Church when it is lived as a love that is selfless and a free giving of oneself to the other without selfish calculation.

            In the same way obedience when lived as a willingness to allow oneself to be guided by superiors, or as lived out in marriage in a mutual donation of self, responding only to the law of Love, respecting the times and the limits of each other, becomes an implementation of that which St. Vincent spoke of:

           "…because we are all obliged to become saints, to be perfect as the Heavenly Father is perfect and to perfectly observe the commandment of love, we must also strive with all in our power to procure the greater sanctification of our neighbour, and to be  willing to lose even the world before losing our very soul and that of our neighbour; in our consecration we make a public commitment to live these obligations".  (OOCC VII p. 284)

            St. Vincent had understood the importance of making this project a reality by leading every action back to 'sister Charity', as all Christians, while having diverse vocations, share the common commitment to sanctify themselves and sanctify others following the model of Jesus, the Apostle of the Eternal Father.

            It is thus essential to form oneself in the following of Christ who "… chose twelve; they were to be his companions and to be sent out to preach …" (Mc. 3,14 ), and it is vital for the Christian to live a spiritual infancy which leads to a recognition of and a trust in the Father's love so as to become beacons of the virtues which sanctify us.

            The two precepts of charity are love of God and love of neighbour, it is not necessary, therefore, to think of extraordinary phenomena, but to look to the essential experiences of love as lived in the routine of daily life and expressed in small gestures.

            The Magisterium of the Church stresses our common vocation to holiness which is lived out in perfecting charity in every ambient of life: "that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society" (Vat. II, Lumen Gentium, 40)

            The community, be it a religious community, or the community of the family, is our place of growth, it is the fertile soil where we are invited to live in perfect communion, aware that we are being formed by the common activity of the Holy Trinity and that it is together that we both look at it and respond to it, each according to his or her own circumstances.

            To live in community, or in a family, does not distance us from one another, but paradoxically inserts us into a new, fulfilling experience which gathers us together in the One and Triune God.  When the hearts of all are turned to God, when we share the same openness to charity and holiness which is differentiated only by our human nature and the history of each one, we are in perfect communion, nothing divides us, but everything unites us, even things which appear to separate us such as the diversity of language and culture.

           One single breath, because we all come from the one Breath, who loves each of us without conditions or limits, we are called to imitate him in the firm conviction and awareness that our Consecration, understood as a complete giving of ourselves to God, is not a human initiative, but a divine one; in this the words of St. Vincent provide us with comfort: "My God, of myself I can do nothing, with you I can do all. For love of you I wish to do all.  To you be honour and to me contempt". (OOCC X. 656-657)

            By virtue of the death and resurrection of Jesus God commits himself to conform us to the image of Jesus, "… You must therefore be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect" ( Mt. 5,48).

            Formation is synonymous with conformation to Jesus and is born in the heart of God, it is to Him that we respond freely with commitment. Formation is structured on baptism which is further developed in consecration to God through the evangelical counsels, prayer and service of ones brothers and sisters.

            Formation as conformation with Jesus guides us as we become Christians who are committed in the Church, each according to his or her vocation, we are called to develop the divine potentiality which is given to us in Baptism and so evade worldliness.

            To adhere to this path of holiness is equivalent to allowing oneself to be transformed by the Holy Spirit who desires that Christ be formed in us, as St. Paul affirmed: "I have been crucified with Christ, and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in this body I live in faith: faith in the Son of God who loved me and who sacrificed himself for my sake. I cannot bring myself to give up God's gift …".  (Gal. 2,20)

            To adhere to, and to commit oneself, in the "Pious Union" is to bind together both consecration and secularity, Church and world, in accordance with the teaching of Vatican II.

          Let us pray with the Psalmist

          Sing to the Lord a new song,
          let the congregation of the faithful sing his praise!
          Let Israel rejoice in his maker,
          and Zion's children exult in their King.
          Let them dance in praise of his name,
          Playing to him on strings and drums.
          For the Lord has been kind to his people,
          Conferring victory on us who are weak.
          The faithful exult in triumph,
          Prostrate before God they acclaim him
          with songs of praise on their lips.  (Psalm 149)

          Texts for reflection.

          Ps. 148; Mt.5,14;  1Jn. 4,16-19; Rm. 5,5; Rm.8,19-22;  Rm.8,28-30;  Ac.2,42-47.
          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-11-02 
                apostles-for-today

          Here is a little Slide show -- Some Images of St. Vincent Pallotti from around the world
                2008-11-11          (click on the Link)


          Fundamental Rule no.  4
          "Vows can be made privately, for a fixed period of time, with the consent of the spiritual director and they can be renewed. This consent is given with the understanding that the respective rector can annul such vows even before the period for which they were taken has expired. If the member who has made the vow leaves the congregation, whatever the reason for leaving, the vows are annulled." (OOCC III, p. 41)
          St. Vincent speaks to us of vows, spiritual directors, rectors or superiors …. words and terms all that remind us of fidelity, commitment, service, virtues.  While cherishing the reflections we have been offered each month I would like to share with you as a member of our common family of the Union, the ideas and feelings that have arisen in me while reflecting on this point of the fundamental rule.

          Reflection

          I would like to open with a passage from the Gospel: “The Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.
          Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls; when he finds one of great value he goes and sells everything he owns and buys it” (Mt 13, 44-45).

          Some time ago, during a session of catechesis for adults and elderly persons, this passage from the New Testament was read and we reflected together on what it would mean to meet the Lord in our lives and on what would change “afterwards”.  There were many comments and remarks, all were convinced that to meet Jesus would mean to begin something new, something different from what had gone “before”, as if we would not be the same persons any more. We said that this does not happen just once in a life-time but in many moments and different circumstances. We all began to make a long list of things that would have to be done to show our acceptance of, and devotion to, Jesus. Many things and as the enthusiasm grew, very different things.  However, at a certain point a woman, perhaps the oldest, said: “this is all very well, but it is so difficult!” The others were all in agreement with this. They turned to me, the group catechist, for a reply, a solution.  I felt that they were right: the way of God is difficult, it is very demanding. I had to look deep within myself as I did not want to merely come up with a response that was rational or catechetical.  Briefly I looked back on my own experiences, right back to my time in secondary school when I met a person who truly lived the Gospel, then I also was won over to this new life, my own life changed.  But, I had to also be thankful to God because I recognized that if I am still on this path it is thanks to him, my own will and efforts would not have been sufficient to remain faithful.  Deep within I felt that it has been the presence of the Lord in my life and in the community of which I am a member that has kept me on the path. I shared all this with those who were present and did not hide the fact that I would have changed paths often had it not been for the help of God and of my brothers and sisters. It has been, and is, difficult to be consistent with the Christian way of life, but with these resources and help it has been possible and true.

          My own personal experience has shown me clearly that the origin of everything is the encounter with God; it can be through a thousand circumstances which differ for every person that we come in contact with something that enters into our lives and changes it from within. It is not something imposed from outside, it occurs within us. The first thing born of that fundamental encounter was, naturally (if one can use this term to refer to the things of God) to begin with a spirit of service towards all persons.  Prior to this I would have made distinctions between the persons I found congenial and those I found disagreeable, between those who thought as I did and those who were different to me, between those who I found interesting and those who were of no use to me.  This changed.  Jesus loved every person. I also wanted to do the same.  However, realizing how extremely difficult it is to live charity always, I soon began to discover that prayer and the sacraments are indispensable resources to progress on this path.  Sharing this way of life with others has also been indispensable for me.  Gradually we committed ourselves to progressing together even though our defects and our fears became ever more evident.
          In the light of this I believe that all of us, both in the Union and beyond it, have experienced the desire to commit ourselves to God and to others.  The charism has inspired us on how to live our commitment, but it has been, and is, the encounter with God which moves us (charitas Christi URGET nos), and God knows just how much we need these nudges.  It must be said that we have often experienced, or maybe are presently experiencing, the darkness within us and around us and there are many reasons for this: in such times we have slowly discovered that what we termed “the Cross”, has  been the time when our commitment was put to the test. Such times are often moments of grace, of blessings, even though the price to be paid is often high.  Personally I have learned that in such moments we meet Jesus, and our encounters then are stronger than at other times; in all of this the life of St. Vincent has a lot to teach us.

          If someone were to ask us what the Union is, what the charism is that gives it life and inspires it, we would give the necessary explanation (here I think of our Statutes), but we should also tell them how we live our daily lives with God and with those who are near to us.  We could tell of an experience in order that the person who is listening understands just what God has done in us and among us. When St. Vincent met persons, and nobody came close to him in vain, he communicated something which drew them to him, which engaged them, something that brought them closer to God.  The riches we have received are indeed great! But we cannot live on that, on our inheritance, as if it were a bank account to which we go and from which we draw out when we do not have any more money, and which, furthermore, we did not set up ourselves but rather another did it for us.  We cannot merely live on the rent of others. If this treasure, this pearl, this charism has been present in our lives, if it has triggered off and continues to produce a change of life in us and among us, then we must communicate this as if it were the greatest riches, because it is all the merit of God, it is all his gift. Then the bank account would increase, and all persons will be able to “draw on it”.

          In the gatherings of the Union, in the Congresses and also in interpersonal relationships, I have been greatly enriched in listening and communicating, in conveying how this common commitment is lived.  There are very different cultures present in the Union and these diversities increase the riches.  May we never tire of journeying together, of sharing our experiences of the Spirit with one another, because this is our wealth.  Our commitment, therefore, which is so well expressed in our annual renewal of the Act of Apostolic Commitment, is a commitment to God and to all persons. Jesus is the Apostle of the Father because of the love which binds them together, so too, from our mutual love and from our sharing among ourselves, will the world know Christ, indeed it already knows him because there are many expressions of this already taking place.

          Christmas is coming close.  Let us ask the Lord to be born in us, to remain in us and among us in the ways that only He knows how to invent. May we show ourselves both willing and ready to be consistent with and faithful to our commitment, placing all our confidence in Jesus. A commitment to fidelity and to communion, a commitment to unity in the Church and of service to all persons.

          Let us conclude, with:
          St. Paul: “My brothers, you were called to liberty; but be careful, or this liberty will provide an opening for self-indulgence. Serve one another in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5, 13-14);
          St. Vincent: “I will look on all that concerns God as the hidden treasure and I will strive to liberate myself from all that prevents me from acquiring it, and when I have acquired it, I will consider it as hidden to me, because I will never understand the value of the things of God” (OOCC. X, 7);
          Pope Benedict XVI at Lourdes (14.09.2008): “Dear brothers and sisters … you who see before your eyes the infinite humiliation of the Son of God and the infinite glory of the resurrection, remain in silence and adore your Lord, our Master and Lord Jesus Christ.  Remain in silence, then talk and say to the world “we cannot keep silent what we know”. Go and tell the entire world of the marvels of God, present in every moment of our lives, in every place on earth. May God bless us and protect us, may he lead us on the path to eternal life, He who is  Life, for ever and ever. Amen.

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2008-12-04 
           
                apostles-for-today-december
           
          Fundamental Rule no 5
          In number 5 of the Fundamental Rule St. Vincent Pallotti calls us to live “Perfect common life”.

          “They must live a perfect common life. Therefore, anything that the member acquires after having made solemn consecration is acquired for the congregation. Only inherited property is excepted. However this are to be administered and used as indicated by the holy constitutions, and may be disposed of by a will.”   (OOCC III,  p. 41-42)

          Reflection

          Every Christian community is made up of persons with their unique qualities but also with their weaknesses, an ideal community does not exist. The community is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is a place where one becomes a brother or sister (“Fraternal Life in Community” 11), a place of formation and of growth, of forgiveness, patience, a place where Christ is present (Mt 18, 20). Community is where one lives a life that is based on sharing and is in contrast with the individualism and selfishness of our time.

          St. Vincent chose as his model for a common life the community of the Cenacle, the first community in Jerusalem, and also the community formed by the holy family of Nazareth.  There one grows together with others in faith and love, one’s capacity for the apostolate is developed and the criteria for the apostolic mission are chosen together.

          St. Vincent was convinced that authentic apostolate in the Church cannot exist without the activity of the Holy Spirit.  He saw this was true for Jesus, he was moved by the Spirit to fulfil his apostolate which was the work of salvation; he also saw it in Mary who, in opening herself to the Spirit, became the mother of the Apostle of the Father and also of the disciples of Christ; in the Cenacle she remains in prayer while waiting for the Holy Spirit.  We know just how important the meaning and value of the Cenacle was for Vincent.  While he was still a seminarian he expressed his desire to always be in the Cenacle with Mary and with all creatures in order to receive the fullness of the Spirit.  

          “Wherever I find myself, I intend to imagine myself to be with all creatures in the Cenacle in Jerusalem where the apostles received the Holy Spirit. I shall remind myself to renew this desire often.  Just as the Apostles were there with Mary…” (OOCC X, 86).

          While Vincent was forming the base for his foundation he found himself immersed in misunderstandings and trials, however in the community of the cenacle filled by the Spirit, he discovered the true nature and the ideals underpinning his foundation: “Having finished writing the rule for the Pia Casa di Carità, while reading how the Blessed Virgin and the apostles after the coming of the Holy Spirit, were moved to preach the most holy Gospel in the different regions of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ placed in my mind the true idea of the nature and work of the Pious Society, its  general aim is the growth, the diffusion and the spreading  of piety and the catholic faith” (OOCC III, 27).

          Thus the Cenacle becomes the place where Christians, with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Mary, listen to the Word, share reflections and experiences, examine their lives, pray and prepare themselves for the daily commitment and the apostolate.  

          According to Vincent an essential norm which permeates community life is mutual love as lived by Jesus, who loved even unto giving his life (Jn 13, 34-35), “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples”. Vincent insists: “Pray to God that he will give you the precious virtue of charity”.  This is an essential aspect of an evangelizing community, it requires “unity in charity”, working as a community for salvation.  Vincent recognized the validity and worth of the activity of the individual, but he also recognized from his experience that “the good that is done individually is limited, uncertain and often of short duration, the efforts of the most generous individuals cannot achieve anything great, either in the moral or religious order, but if they unite and work for a common goal … the concentration of their efforts and their unity  will obtain abundance, certainty and long lasting results”(OOCC V  228).

          What is important for St. Vincent is the sense of community (OOCC V, 228; IV, 124). His vision of the Church is based on a pluralistic unity which is expressed in a diversity of means, of gifts and of charisms.  It is only the Holy Spirit who creates unity in love, a reciprocal acceptance of diversity, who can liberate humanity from the constant temptation to seek worldly power which seeks to dominate all and render it uniform.  To accept the diversity of others is enriching, it is not a danger.

          A characteristic of the community which lives the joy of sharing life and mission is the welcome it extends to others: “The entrance of a new member to the Community is to be greeted in the same way that the birth of the Savior was greeted, because the new member of the Community will be one who will be a true imitator of Jesus Christ … and the Community, like Bethlehem, is the city of bread since it is rich in spiritual food which are all the means necessary to … cooperate for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls”(OOCC II, 15).

          The first Christians “… were assiduous and united in prayer”.  Prayer was the principal activity of the early Church, in prayer she received the gift of unity from the Lord and in prayer she allowed herself be guided by his will.  Before he becomes a man of activity, Pallotti was first of all a man of prayer; his effectiveness came from his intimate communion with God.  He wrote: “Since prayer is a powerful means of ensuring the success of each apostolic activity … no person, of any age, sex, state or condition is excluded from being part of the Catholic Apostolate…” (OOCC IV, 358). He had “the gift of praying a great deal” (OOCC X, 265). A Word gushed forth like a spring from his meditation on the Gospel, this Word was light for his actions and his behavior, so much so that he wrote the “Daily practical memorandum” (OOCC III, 34-39). This is a path to becoming a community which lives the Gospel in the pursuit of holiness.  We are invited to become aware of an interior desire to live common life in a new manner: by being open to others, in sharing work, difficulties, sufferings, joys, living in an atmosphere of true fraternity born of faith and nourished by the Word.

          The community is united by the one Bread and the One Chalice (cf. Jn 6, 56). The Community at Jerusalem lived this reality: “They remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2, 42). We too can live this reality by celebrating the Eucharist as the central moment of the day, and by seeing the community as an instrument to create communion.  

          The mystery of the Eucharist is the mystery of the life, passion and death of Jesus.  Jesus was sent by the Father and he realizes the Eucharist fully in his self giving.  St. Vincent, a man of communion, said: “God who became man also made himself food for my soul, he wants to nourish me with his essence and his divine nature, because in the Eucharist not only is the Incarnate Word present, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit: God…leads me to trust that he fills me with favors, gifts, mercies … for the good of … my neighbor” (OOCC X, 451-454). Therefore the gift received cannot be kept for oneself, it needs to be turned into giving, into evangelizing activity, the Eucharist is “…the source and the apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel” (PO 5). We need to place the Eucharist at the center of all our choices and set out again from “Emmaus” (Lk 24, 13-35) so that our missionary commitment may be credible.

          The ecclesial Community, with Mary’s attentive presence, grows as a family renewed by a powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready to take on the challenges of a new evangelization.  It contemplates the merciful face of Jesus in others, especially in the poor, the needy, in those who are far from faith and from the Gospel. The Community is not afraid to proclaim Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14, 6); it is not afraid to show with joy that the person of Christ is both the centre and the content of the good news.  When all is said and done the decisive element of the proclamation is the witness of a lived life.  Only the believer who lives that which he or she professes with the lips has a hope of being heard.  The apostolate of the community is made up of words and deeds, but above all of witness.

          Texts for reflection:

          Acts 1, 12-14; 2, 42-47;

          Rm 12, 3-18; Mk 3, 13-19; 34-35;

          1 Thes 4, 9-12; 1 Cor 13, 1-13.

          Let us pray with the Psalmist:

          “How good,
          how delightful it is for all to live together as brothers:
          fine as oil on the head,
          running down the beard, running down Aaron’s beard
          to the collar of his robes;
          copious as a Hermon dew falling on the heights of Sion,
          where Yahweh confers his blessing, everlasting life.”

                                         (Psalm 132).



              ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2009-01-01 

                apostles-for-today-January-2009


          Fundamental Rule no 5
          In number 5 of the Fundamental Rule St. Vincent Pallotti calls us to live “Perfect common life”.

          “They must live a perfect common life. Therefore, anything that the member acquires after having made solemn consecration is acquired for the congregation. Only inherited property is excepted. However this are to be administered and used as indicated by the holy constitutions, and may be disposed of by a will.”   (OOCC III,  p. 41-42)

          Reflection

          Every Christian community is made up of persons with their unique qualities but also with their weaknesses, an ideal community does not exist. The community is a gift of the Holy Spirit, it is a place where one becomes a brother or sister (“Fraternal Life in Community” 11), a place of formation and of growth, of forgiveness, patience, a place where Christ is present (Mt 18, 20). Community is where one lives a life that is based on sharing and is in contrast with the individualism and selfishness of our time.

          St. Vincent chose as his model for a common life the community of the Cenacle, the first community in Jerusalem, and also the community formed by the holy family of Nazareth.  There one grows together with others in faith and love, one’s capacity for the apostolate is developed and the criteria for the apostolic mission are chosen together.

          St. Vincent was convinced that authentic apostolate in the Church cannot exist without the activity of the Holy Spirit.  He saw this was true for Jesus, he was moved by the Spirit to fulfil his apostolate which was the work of salvation; he also saw it in Mary who, in opening herself to the Spirit, became the mother of the Apostle of the Father and also of the disciples of Christ; in the Cenacle she remains in prayer while waiting for the Holy Spirit.  We know just how important the meaning and value of the Cenacle was for Vincent.  While he was still a seminarian he expressed his desire to always be in the Cenacle with Mary and with all creatures in order to receive the fullness of the Spirit.  

          “Wherever I find myself, I intend to imagine myself to be with all creatures in the Cenacle in Jerusalem where the apostles received the Holy Spirit. I shall remind myself to renew this desire often.  Just as the Apostles were there with Mary…” (OOCC X, 86).

          While Vincent was forming the base for his foundation he found himself immersed in misunderstandings and trials, however in the community of the cenacle filled by the Spirit, he discovered the true nature and the ideals underpinning his foundation: “Having finished writing the rule for the Pia Casa di Carità, while reading how the Blessed Virgin and the apostles after the coming of the Holy Spirit, were moved to preach the most holy Gospel in the different regions of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ placed in my mind the true idea of the nature and work of the Pious Society, its  general aim is the growth, the diffusion and the spreading  of piety and the catholic faith” (OOCC III, 27).

          Thus the Cenacle becomes the place where Christians, with the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Mary, listen to the Word, share reflections and experiences, examine their lives, pray and prepare themselves for the daily commitment and the apostolate.  

          According to Vincent an essential norm which permeates community life is mutual love as lived by Jesus, who loved even unto giving his life (Jn 13, 34-35), “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples”. Vincent insists: “Pray to God that he will give you the precious virtue of charity”.  This is an essential aspect of an evangelizing community, it requires “unity in charity”, working as a community for salvation.  Vincent recognized the validity and worth of the activity of the individual, but he also recognized from his experience that “the good that is done individually is limited, uncertain and often of short duration, the efforts of the most generous individuals cannot achieve anything great, either in the moral or religious order, but if they unite and work for a common goal … the concentration of their efforts and their unity  will obtain abundance, certainty and long lasting results”(OOCC V  228).

          What is important for St. Vincent is the sense of community (OOCC V, 228; IV, 124). His vision of the Church is based on a pluralistic unity which is expressed in a diversity of means, of gifts and of charisms.  It is only the Holy Spirit who creates unity in love, a reciprocal acceptance of diversity, who can liberate humanity from the constant temptation to seek worldly power which seeks to dominate all and render it uniform.  To accept the diversity of others is enriching, it is not a danger.

          A characteristic of the community which lives the joy of sharing life and mission is the welcome it extends to others: “The entrance of a new member to the Community is to be greeted in the same way that the birth of the Savior was greeted, because the new member of the Community will be one who will be a true imitator of Jesus Christ … and the Community, like Bethlehem, is the city of bread since it is rich in spiritual food which are all the means necessary to … cooperate for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls”(OOCC II, 15).

          The first Christians “… were assiduous and united in prayer”.  Prayer was the principal activity of the early Church, in prayer she received the gift of unity from the Lord and in prayer she allowed herself be guided by his will.  Before he becomes a man of activity, Pallotti was first of all a man of prayer; his effectiveness came from his intimate communion with God.  He wrote: “Since prayer is a powerful means of ensuring the success of each apostolic activity … no person, of any age, sex, state or condition is excluded from being part of the Catholic Apostolate…” (OOCC IV, 358). He had “the gift of praying a great deal” (OOCC X, 265). A Word gushed forth like a spring from his meditation on the Gospel, this Word was light for his actions and his behavior, so much so that he wrote the “Daily practical memorandum” (OOCC III, 34-39). This is a path to becoming a community which lives the Gospel in the pursuit of holiness.  We are invited to become aware of an interior desire to live common life in a new manner: by being open to others, in sharing work, difficulties, sufferings, joys, living in an atmosphere of true fraternity born of faith and nourished by the Word.

          The community is united by the one Bread and the One Chalice (cf. Jn 6, 56). The Community at Jerusalem lived this reality: “They remained faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2, 42). We too can live this reality by celebrating the Eucharist as the central moment of the day, and by seeing the community as an instrument to create communion.  

          The mystery of the Eucharist is the mystery of the life, passion and death of Jesus.  Jesus was sent by the Father and he realizes the Eucharist fully in his self giving.  St. Vincent, a man of communion, said: “God who became man also made himself food for my soul, he wants to nourish me with his essence and his divine nature, because in the Eucharist not only is the Incarnate Word present, but also the Father and the Holy Spirit: God…leads me to trust that he fills me with favors, gifts, mercies … for the good of … my neighbour” (OOCC X, 451-454). Therefore the gift received cannot be kept for oneself, it needs to be turned into giving, into evangelizing activity, the Eucharist is “…the source and the apex of the whole work of preaching the Gospel” (PO 5). We need to place the Eucharist at the centre of all our choices and set out again from “Emmaus” (Lk 24, 13-35) so that our missionary commitment may be credible.

          The ecclesial Community, with Mary’s attentive presence, grows as a family renewed by a powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready to take on the challenges of a new evangelization.  It contemplates the merciful face of Jesus in others, especially in the poor, the needy, in those who are far from faith and from the Gospel. The Community is not afraid to proclaim Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14, 6); it is not afraid to show with joy that the person of Christ is both the centre and the content of the good news.  When all is said and done the decisive element of the proclamation is the witness of a lived life.  Only the believer who lives that which he or she professes with the lips has a hope of being heard.  The apostolate of the community is made up of words and deeds, but above all of witness.

          Texts for reflection:

          Acts 1, 12-14; 2, 42-47;

          Rm 12, 3-18; Mk 3, 13-19; 34-35;

          1 Thes 4, 9-12; 1 Cor 13, 1-13.

          Let us pray with the Psalmist:

          “How good,
          how delightful it is for all to live together as brothers:
          fine as oil on the head,
          running down the beard, running down Aaron’s beard
          to the collar of his robes;
          copious as a Hermon dew falling on the heights of Sion,
          where Yahweh confers his blessing, everlasting life.”

                                         (Psalm 132).

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
           
                2009-01-01 21:01:22

                apostles-for-today-January-2009-2
           
          Fundamental Rule 6

          “Since the life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the fundamental rule of our little congregation before we start any work and in all the different circumstances of the day, we should consider what our Lord Jesus Christ would think, speak or act in similar circumstances, and we must strive to do what is the most perfect in all things and always” (OOCC III, p.42).


          As I sat down to write on point number 6 of the Fundamental Rule many feelings and thoughts came together and amongst these was a need to ask St. Vincent Pallotti to help me with this and to pray for the grace necessary to be faithful to what he understood by it and how he lived it. It was also an opportunity to rethink what it means for me and my life to live like Jesus in the light of the spiritual experience of the community to which I belong.

          The spirituality of St. Vincent Pallotti is the lived expression of his experience of the Spirit which developed throughout his life on earth from birth to death and attained sanctity. This, in the special plan of God, was communicated in the original charism of the foundation of the Union of Catholic Apostolate. In continuing to understand and develop the charism, the Union as a whole and every member of it, discovers and follows the same spiritual path of St. Vincent.

          The spiritual inheritance he left to us is abundant, superabundant, and is comprised of works and activities, writings and illuminations, prayers and letters, directories and supplications, appeals and initiatives, inspirations and commitments. On the one hand in looking at this inheritance one admires and loves, with the devotion of a child, the profundity of St. Vincent and his limitless and unique figure, on the other hand, with the same admiration and the same love, one feels gratitude to him because due to this superabundance the Lord does not exclude anyone: one can experience what it is to be like St. Vincent at least in some thing – however big or small it may be – and like him one can give back with an act of pure love that which the Lord has already given one.

          Through the working of the Holy Spirit, the Church in her saints, has shown one or other of the qualities of Jesus Christ, Son of the Father and Spouse of the Church, in order that each person and all of humanity, in the course of history might redirect themselves to re-establishing the image and likeness of the Creator. For saints such as Francis, Clare, Catherine, Dominic, Teresa, Ignatius and on up to the saints of our time, nothing was more important that reciprocating the love of “the God who has a human face and who has loved us to the end, each one of us and humanity in its entirety” (Spe Salvi, 31). St. Vincent Pallotti felt the same and this is the very basis of his heritage. When he founded the Union of the Catholic Apostolate he wanted the fundamental rule to be the life of our Lord Jesus Christ and, inspired by the Holy Spirit, he composed the Rule for the foundation in 33 points that recall the number of years which Jesus lived amongst us. Jesus Christ is at the centre of the Fundamental Rule and of each of its points because His very life itself is the Fundamental Rule: “Since the life of our Lord Jesus Christ is the fundamental rule of our little congregation…”

          Point number 6 continues with expressions that are part of Pallottine spirituality, “any work”, “in all the different circumstance of the day”.

          The most pressing desire of St. Vincent was always that of not limiting the Christian life to any one specific characteristic but that it include and embrace universality, it is not coincidental that the Union as a whole and in each of its parts, also embraces in its title its catholic, or universal, identity.

          This universality even if it apparently gives less criteria for a sure identification and therefore is less ‘ordinary’, is not less practical, indeterminate and made up of vague intentions nor is it fickle when it comes to activity; the contrary is true because it is always Jesus who is the measuring rod for the start and the end “what would our Lord Jesus Christ think, speak or act in similar circumstances”. The identity of each person and of every created thing is to place oneself before him in order to open oneself to his love.

          To become Jesus means to do the will of the Father in every single minute out of love, to do it in every action and activity (“seek God in all …”); to live the sacramental life fully; to increase charity in a life of communion; to know how to recognize and love him in every person we meet, “that no soul (person) pass by me in vain” and also to recognize him when he visits us in times of suffering and pain.

          This is the path to take in order to be totally transformed in Jesus and to be able to say with St. Paul “it is no longer I who live but Christ living in me”.

          To live in Christ is a path or journey that begins with Baptism and continues throughout our life on earth, on this journey we can listen to the voice of Jesus, hear him who knocks on the door of our hearts, open this door to him, welcome him and bid him enter into our lives.

          In saying ‘yes’ to the life of Jesus in our own lives we become, as St. Vincent, ready to serve others in accordance with the demands of justice and of charity in so far as we are able; it also means that when we ‘become like Jesus’ the places in which we work and live are also changed because wherever Jesus enters everything is reborn and renewed.

          Furthermore, the Church today points the Pallottine family towards the path of a “spirituality of communion” (NMI 43) as the privileged ‘place’ in which to live the experience of charity; it is not so much a physical place it is more the occasion and the circumstance in which the different expressions of each vocation, gathered in the name of Jesus, make him present in reciprocal love “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” (Jn. 13,35).

          If the life of Jesus really has become our life we would meet the expectations of St. Vincent for whom charity should be exercised according to the commandment of Jesus Christ “this is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 15,12) (cf. OOCC I, 8).

          To live like this does not mean that it is necessary to invent something new, it involves opening ones eyes and heart to what is encompassed in a Christian life which, in the final analysis, is centered on Christ himself, who is to be known, loved, imitated and lived, and through our witness, is to be presented as a “Person”, the only one capable of drawing to himself and of giving credibility and spiritual unity to the life of every person.

          Point number 6 ends with a call and an exhortation which are true to the soul of St. Vincent “we must strive to do what is the most perfect in all things and always”. In our following of him, as we are being formed in his ‘school of formation’, even our sins, limitations, betrayals, abandonment, discouragement, illness and failings can become occasions for the grace of God to act in us and for his mercy to abound, it is enough that we ask Him to come and save us, the abyss into which we may have fallen does not matter. Knowing that we have been saved and are being saved continuously enables us to know what love is, it is the charity that makes everything perfect, always.

          The points of the Fundamental Rule are written in the first person plural, “we should … we must strive”; perhaps in this special historical moment of the development of the Union we are called to give greater emphasis to the bond of reciprocal charity within each community, each group, each association and in this way the life of each person will be enriched, strengthened and supported.

          The fruits that will come from this will be worthy of St. Vincent, they will be perfect and forever, in gratitude we will give them to the Church and through her to humanity.


          “My almighty God, Father of mercies and God of all consolations, I thank you for deigning to create us in your image and likeness, you have transformed us into living images of Charity itself, because you are the self same Charity itself.”    (cf. Regole Fondamentali, edited by A. Faller SAC)

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
             
                2009-01-31 
                apostles-today-for-February

          Letter to Religious
          from the Conference of Major Superiors of Women and Men in the US


          Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

          In his homily on the feast of the Presentation on February 2, 1997, the late Pope John Paul II spoke of the great challenges and opportunities open to all people who recognize the eminent invitation of God to be witnesses to the incarnate life and love born into the world so that all may have life and have it to the full. Referring to the Gospel passage proclaimed on this sacred feast, he spoke of the simple yet profound significance embodied in the events which unfolded when, forty days after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph went to offer him to the Lord as prescribed by the Mosaic law.

          Recalling the occurrences inside the temple witnessed in the words uttered by Simeon and Anna on that day, the pontiff spoke of the gratitude owed to the Creator of every human life, of life as a great and sacred gift of God, and of the challenge of that sacredness which invites response by becoming the Light of the Gentiles. The words uttered that day in prophesy express the longing that pervades human history. They articulate in the Pope’s words, that waiting for God, that universal desire, unconscious perhaps, but ineffable, that God would come to meet us. These two witnesses embodied the image of humanity striving to grasp that ray of light which renews all things, the seed of life that transforms all old age into everlasting youth.

          It was in this context that John Paul II announced that the Church was celebrating for the first time the World Day for Consecrated Life. The celebration was now to move from being a local, communal celebration to a worldwide celebration that shows God’s People the joy of unreserved commitment to the Lord. The mission of the consecrated life, therefore, in the present and in the future of the Church, concerns not only those who have received this special charism, but the entire Christian community. In effect, the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for its mission, since it manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling and the striving of the whole Church towards union with Christ.
          The feast is indeed an eloquent icon of total offering of one’s life for all those who are called to witness in the Church and in the world, by means of the evangelical counsels, the characteristic features of God’s Love and Word made flesh – the chaste, poor and obedient one.

          Religious women and men have not only a glorious history to remember and to recount, but they also have a great history still to be accomplished! As members of the Church we look to the future, where the Spirit of God is sending them in order to do even greater things.

          The 2009 World Day for Consecrated Life will be celebrated on February 8, 2009.
          As we gather to celebrate this special day of prayer we would do well to remind ourselves of a reflection offered by St. Teresa: What would become of the world if there were no religious? This is a question which inspires our gratitude to God, who by this singular gift of the Spirit continues to enliven and sustain the Church on its demanding journey through this world.

          We pray that God who began this wonderful work in you and in all the members of your community will continue to bless you – for all you have done in the past, are doing now in the present, and will invite to unfold into the future. For God is with us as our source of faith and abiding hope.
          And may Christ be with you on this wonderful journey of love and light.
          Sincerely yours in Christ,
          Very Rev. Thomas Picton, CSsR    -   -    Sr. J. Lora Dambroski, OSF
                                         CMSM President -                  – LCWR
          Most Rev. J. Terry Steib, SVD
          USCCB Delegate to the Commission on
          Religious Life and Ministry


                2009-02-07 19:02:16
             
          “Lord Jesus … may Your life be my life”
          (OOCC X, p. 488)


          St. Vincent Pallotti’s invitation



          We have meditated on the 33 points of the Fundamental Rule each month
          during the past few years, in them St. Vincent exhorted us to imitate our Lord
          Jesus Christ and to make of his holy life the rule for our own lives. “The fundamental Rule of our little Congregation is the Life of our Lord Jesus
          Christ”
          (Fundamental Rule 1, OOCC III, p. 40). He was convinced of the basic
          truth that “If all Christians are obliged to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, then
          with how much greater perfection, diligence and fervor must we imitate him?
          Have we not received the gift of the very life of our Lord Jesus Christ as the
          fundamental rule of our little Congregation? Do we not receive daily in the
          congregation numerous and special graces that allow us to imitate him?
          We should keep before our eyes God made man who is our example, our
          model and the practical rule of both our interior and exterior life. With trust
          in his omnipotent grace we should do everything in the best possible way and
          with the utmost diligence, attention, fervor and humility, trusting in the
          graces that our Lord Jesus Christ with infinite love wishes to lavish on us so
          as to imitate him. A person who believes in Jesus Christ and who in humility
          and trust strives to imitate him, receives (as grace) that Jesus destroys in
          him/her all faults and deformities. Jesus Christ enters into that soul and
          operates in it and Jesus Christ continues his very life in that soul, He lives in it
          and communicates to it the merits of his holy works, thus the promise of
          Jesus Christ is verified “I tell you solemnly the one who believes in me will 
          perform the same works I do and will perform even greater works”
          (Jn.14.12), this is indeed true, because Jesus Christ does everything in us” (Daily
          Practical Memorandum, OOCC III, 35-37).

          St. Vincent, with bold assurance, affirms that if a person seriously undertakes
          to imitate Jesus Christ with humility and trust, Jesus Christ himself will
          destroy and straighten out in that person all that is to be destroyed and
          straightened. When everything is clean and orderly He himself enters in and
          takes possession of the person and fills his/her faculties, He lives and
          operates in the person, and his/her actions acquire the value and the merit of
          the holy actions of Jesus Christ himself.

          Let us ask ourselves in silence:

          What fruits we have drawn for our spiritual and apostolic lives as Pallottines from these meditations?
          Do we share in our hearts the same desire that St. Vincent had: “Lord Jesus… may Your life be my life”?

          Let us pray using the invocations written by St. Vincent during a retreat he
          made in 1841 (OOCC X, p. 656- 681)

          “My Jesus (…) Your prayers will become my prayers.

          My Jesus (…) may the communication of Your holy life with all Your virtues
          and merits be in me and in all persons now and always.

          My Jesus, infinite Wisdom (…) may Your life be my life.

          My Jesus (…) make Your conformity my conformity.

          My Jesus, my Judge (…) give me Your life, I want to live with it, I want to die
          with it and with Your life to present myself before Your divine tribunal.

          My Jesus (…) give me Your purity, thus Your purity will be my purity.

          My Jesus (…) form in me the Eight Beatitudes through the communication of
          Your life, and thus I will possess them in true fullness.

          My Jesus (…) grant me all Your prayers and all the infinite merit of Your
          sacrifice.

          Jesus my Truth (…) give me all Your life which is Truth, is true and eternal
          light.

          My Jesus (…) give me Your charity, and transform me into Your charity so
          that I may live it.

          Jesus is the most amiable, the most loving and is little loved. My Jesus (…)
          grant me and all persons, now and always all of Your love.

          Jesus, the proof of love that You want from me is the salvation of Souls,
          therefore destroy in me all that stops me from being fully occupied and
          effective for the well-being of souls, give me all of Your life, all of Your
          virtues, all of your characteristics, all of Your energy, all of Yourself so as to
          bring the souls of every person living and who will be born to Your heart.

          My Jesus (…) give me Your life, and with Your life may I always work and
          exercise all the different parts and functions of the Gospel ministry.

          My Jesus (…) grant that the fullness of Your life may be in me and in all
          persons always so as to prepare all people for heaven.

          My Jesus with the holiness and perfection of Your life destroy all of my life,
          give me Your life and I will always live with Your life”.

          “My God I firmly believe that every moment you destroy all my life in me and
          bring Jesus Christ to life in me so that in everything and always it be Him who
          thinks, speaks and works in me with all of His being, all of His virtues and all
          of His works” (OOCC X, p. 261).

          To pray with the life of Jesus

          The journey of growth and the maturity that takes place in the life of each one
          of us helps us to understand its deepest meaning which is the gift of the
          infinite love of God. This consciousness or awareness reveals a reality to us,
          be it the revelation of what is good or the revelation of that which comes
          from evil. The season of Lent is an ideal time to rethink our lives and to adapt
          them more to Christ.

          In the writings of St. Vincent we find numerous prayers which are the fruit of
          profound reflection on his life and go right back to the moment of his
          conception. Particularly fascinating are his attitude of humility and gratitude
          to God, his optimism and the search for the fullness of life. In his prayers his
          desire to live the life of Jesus is strikingly and ardently shown. One of these
          prayers is the “Benedicite” composed by St. Vincent shortly before his death.

          It is a hymn that wells up from his heart with a singular thirst: “Lord Jesus
          expel me from within me and put Yourself in me. May my life and every
          action of mine be destroyed and may Your life be my life”. This prayer, like
          many others written in diverse moments of his life, show us how Pallotti
          prayed (with) the life of Jesus. In the light of the life of the Lord Jesus Pallotti
          would find the deeper meaning of the different stages and the events of his
          life and he allowed himself to be totally transformed in Jesus.

          Suggestions for personal meditation:

          The letter of St. Paul to the Philippians 3,7-12.

          Sharing of experiences

          We have seen from the letters that were received in the General Secretariat of
          the Union that many members, collaborators and friends of the Union in
          various parts of the world have been following this journey of the imitation of
          Jesus according to the teachings of St. Vincent. At the conclusion of this
          period spent meditating on the 33 points I feel as if I am at the start of a new
          stage in my life! As I reflected on the Fundamental Rule I used to ask myself:
          ‘what does St. Vincent want from me in proposing that I follow his path? I
          looked for a response to this question in his writings, especially in volume X
          which is called “I Lumi” (the enlightenments). There I discovered
          meditations, prayers and litanies which have all helped me to know better the
          treasure that has been hidden from my eyes up to now: the life of Jesus is a
          gift to me, but one to be shared with others! When I read in the Gospel
          of St. John a passage which was frequently quoted by St. Vincent “God so
          loved the world that He gave His Son …” I asked myself what these words
          mean to me and what God is teaching me for my life. And I borrow the
          words of St. Vincent and say “My God (…) with infinite love You thought to
          give me your beloved Son Jesus, and with Jesus You have given me
          everything” (OOCC X, 479).

          It is true that:

          “Jesus Christ, true God and true man,
          in soul, body and divinity is ours and is all ours;
          and all the life of Jesus Christ
          and all his infinite merits and most perfect virtues are all ours!

          Jesus Christ is mine, the Word became man, in soul, body and divinity is
          mine;
          the virtues (…) of Jesus are mine,
          and mine are the works that Jesus has done on this earth…”
          (God the Infinite Love med. XXII)
          As I meet with other members of the UAC what can I share of what I
          have experienced, felt and discovered in the itinerary of imitating Christ
          which we have lived in these 33 months?
          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2009-03-02 
           
                apostles-for-today-march
             
          “In unison they began to sing, glorifying and blessing God … may you be blessed, Lord God”
          Dan. 3, 51-2.

          This month we will relive the greatest mystery of our faith, the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. In March we reflected on our Pallottine spiritual journey as one of a continuous molding of ourselves to Jesus Christ. We propose to continue this theme taking as our text the “Benedicite” of St. Vincent Pallotti. The text is found in vol. X of the Complete Works in pages 488 – 496; it was composed by Fr. Vincent between 1849 and 1850, a short time before his death.
          This prayer-reflection was composed in Latin and in it Pallotti shows one of the characteristics of his personal spirituality, the imitation of Christ and transformation in Christ; he often prayed like this “My Jesus (…) give me your life, and with your life may I always work and exercise all the roles and functions of the Gospel ministry” (OOCC X, 679). Another characteristic of his spirituality is an expression often used by him in the context of formation, that of “neither too much, nor too little”.  “It is as if Pallotti intended to say that neither a situation of excessive want, nor a state of excessive satisfaction favor the development of the person. Formation is best when it is an experience of times of want and dissatisfaction as well as times of fullness and happiness.” (Ratio institutionis of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, Rome, 2004, num. 71).
          “Neither too much, nor too little” was the balanced rule of St. Vincent’s life, he lived according to this principle in all aspects of his life, in his relationships with others, his use of material things, his relationship with his own body. It also emerges in his self examination which he always did within the context of his close rapport with God, the Trinity of persons.
          We see this balance clearly in his Benedicite.  It is a long prayer of blessing; he joins with all of creation in blessing God for all his benefits, for all his gifts, but above all for the gift of Jesus Christ and for the salvation given to us in him and in the work of salvation. The text is firmly rooted in Sacred Scripture, he frequently quotes verses from the Gospels and from the writings of St. Paul, the central thread running through the prayer is the Canticle from chapter 3 of the Book of the Prophet Daniel; the quotations from the Canticle run through the Benedicite like a refrain.

          Let us meditate on it together:

          “Lord Jesus eliminate me and put yourself in my stead. May my life and every one of my actions be destroyed and your life be my life… May your death be my death, your resurrection be my resurrection … May the life of the Most Holy Trinity be my life.
          I am a sinner from the moment of conception (Ps 50,5) I lived in my mother’s womb without faith, hope and charity, but the merits that our Lord Jesus Christ acquired in the womb of his Mother Mary, through the charity and mercy of God, are my merits.
          You waters above the heavens, bless the Lord (Dan 3,60).
          I was born a son of anger (Eph 2,3) but Jesus Christ’s poor and humble birth made me a son of God, a friend of God, an heir of God, a coheir with Christ (Rm 8,17), the merits that Jesus had from his infancy can be my merits.  
          You showers and dew, all bless the Lord; winds bless the Lord (Dan 3,64).
          I grew in age, in malice and in ignorance, but Jesus grew in age, wisdom and grace … but the very merits of Christ’s growth destroy my malice and all my ignorance.
          And you fire and heat … cold and heat, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,66).
          I did not do that which I should have done and that which I should have omitted I did not omit … but the actions, the virtues and the obedience which Jesus showed to Joseph and his Mother Mary, through the charity and mercy of God are my actions, my virtues and my obedience.
          And you dew and sleet … frost and cold, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,68).
          I received baptism but I did not profit from it as I should have. In confirmation the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, came down into me, but I always disappointed him. However, the baptism of Christ is my baptism, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit in Christ is now also my fullness.
          And you frost and snow … night-time and day, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 70)”.

          Here we see that Vincent Pallotti appreciated and valued all the natural gifts both physical and personal which were given to him by God; however, at the same time he recognizes that they are limited, he sees their imperfections in comparison with the person of Jesus and all of his human and divine perfections.  He gives thanks for the gifts he had received, he acknowledges the times and ways he has not corresponded fully to them, then he expresses his confidence that the merits of Jesus will make up for all his faults and render his gifts perfect through the application of His merits to them.  The Benedicite is a hymn to life; to human life; to divine life; to Jesus; to salvation; to the numerous and varied graces of God.  Vincent knows what God was calling him to and he was living his call in all the complexities of his life.  He suffers because he sees his faults and he understands them clearly as he compares his life with that of Jesus.
          Continuing his prayer Fr. Vincent examines all that he had done and affirms that in his own eyes and in the eyes of others what he had done appeared to be good. When his life was judged by human criteria he had certainly lived well, but, when he compares himself with Jesus he sees with greater clarity the imperfections of his actions, he does not lose his optimism and his hope because he knows, is aware and is convinced that “through the charity and mercy of God” the activity of Jesus has become his activity and his activity is thus purified, healed, and, in Jesus, acquires a value.  
          “To me and to men it seemed as if I fasted, prayed and kept vigil … but … through the charity and mercy of God, Christ’s  fasts, vigils and prayers are my fasts, vigils and prayers.  
          And you darkness and light…night-time and day, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,72).
          To me and to men it seemed that I did good … (but) I did not instruct the faithful as I should have, I did not preach the Gospel of Christ to all creatures … but Christ’s deeds and preaching of the kingdom (Lk 10,9) are my deeds and my preaching.
          O let the earth bless the Lord, give glory & eternal praise to him (Dan 3,74)”.
          Fr. Vincent continues in the same vein:
          “To me and to men it seemed as if I brought back dispersed sinners to Christ’s flock … that I healed the sick … that I evangelized the poor … that I had instituted something good” and he recognizes with sadness all that he has not done.
          His final meditation is on the Eucharist: “Because of my wretchedness and my godlessness I have not ever profited from the incomparable institution of the most holy Eucharist; but through the most holy mercy of Jesus Christ I have been filled with every grace … and the fullness of the virtue of Jesus Christ’s very sacrifice has been given to me, even if I am the most unworthy of all creatures past, present and future.”
          A footnote to this text in the Complete Works reads: “Cf. Daniel 3, 86 ff. As can be seen the composition is interrupted. The final 3 verses of the ‘Benedicite’ are not quoted.”  And, Fr. A. Walkenbach, SAC, wrote “Pallotti did not finish writing the final points of the Benedicite … death snatched the pen from his hand. The Church continued to write the Benedicite right to the very end …” and she did so through her recognition of his holiness and by raising him to the altars of the Church (Cf. Bayer e Zweifel, V. Pallotti, Scritti Scelti p. 296).
          We also can walk in the footsteps of St. Vincent composing our own Benedicite, either as a community of St. Vincent’s foundation or as his spiritual sons and daughters.
          Suggestions for personal meditation:
          Daniel 3, 51 - 90; The “Benedicite” of St.Vincent Pallotti.


          Sharing of experiences
          Do I share with others the tension experienced in my life between “what I would like to be” and the “actual reality”; am I aware that “We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us.” (2Cor 4,7 )?
          In what spirit do I embrace the gift of salvation that Jesus is bringing to fruition in me and in all in this new and eternal Easter resurrection?
          Let us end with the prayer of St. Vincent which expresses our limitations and our total trust in God:

          “My God, by myself I can do nothing
          with You I can do everything
          for love of You I want to do everything
          to You be glory and to me dishonour.  Amen”

                                                                                    (OOCC X, 657).

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

          The ‘Benedicite’ of Fr. Vincent Pallotti,
          composed shortly before he died (OOCC X, p. 488-95).


          Lord Jesus, banish me from within myself and replace me with yourself.
          May my life and all my actions be destroyed and may your life be my life.
          May your agony be my agony, your death my death, your resurrection my resurrection.
          May your ascension be my ascension;
          may all things that are yours, be mine, may the life of the blessed Trinity be my life.
          O all you works of the Lord, o bless the Lord.
          To him be highest glory and praise for ever (Dan. 3,57).
          A sinner was I conceived (Ps. 50,7);
          but the conception of Jesus Christ has destroyed my sin
          and the conception of Christ is my conception.
          And you, angels of the Lord, o bless the Lord,
          and you, heavens of the Lord, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 58).
          I lived in my mother’s womb, without faith, without hope, without charity;
          but the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ which he acquired in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary
          through the charity and mercy of God are my merits.
          Any you, waters above the heavens, o bless the Lord,
          and you, armies of the Lord, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,60).
          I was born under God’s anger (Eph 2,3);
          but Jesus Christ’s poor and humble birth made me a child of God, a friend of God,
          an heir of God, a co-heir of Christ (Rom 8,17),
          and replenished me with every good.
          And you, sun and moon, o bless the Lord, and you, stars of the heavens, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,62).
          In the first days of my life I did not do any action worthy of eternal life;
          but through the great charity and goodness of God and through the sweetness of his divine mercy,
          the merits which Christ had from his infancy can be my merits.
          And you, showers and dew, o bless the Lord, and you, breezes and winds, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,64).
          I grew in age, in wickedness and in ignorance, culpable ignorance;
          while Jesus grew in age, in wisdom and in grace in the sight of God and before men;
          may the same merits of Jesus’ growth to maturity destroy my wickedness and my ignorance.
          And you, fire and heat, o bless the Lord;
          and you, cold and heat, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 66).
          That which I should have done, I did not do, and that which I should have omitted, I did not omit.
          I should have obeyed those to whom I owed obedience, but I did not obey them;
          but the actions, the virtues and the obedience which Jesus showed in his relationship with Joseph
          and the Blessed Mother Mary, through the charity and mercy of God, are my actions, my virtues and my obedience.
          And you, showers and dew, o bless the Lord, and you, frosts and cold, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 68).
          I received baptism; but I did not profit from it as I should have.
          In confirmation the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, descended on me; but I thwarted him always.
          But the baptism of Christ is my baptism, and the fullness of the Holy Spirit which was in him is my fullness.
          And you, frost and snow, o bless the Lord, and you, night-time and day, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 70).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I fasted, kept vigil, prayed;
          but all my fasts, my vigils and my prayers are as nothing before the Lord.
          However, through the charity and mercy of God, Christ’s fasts, vigils and prayers, are my fasts, vigils and prayers.
          And you, darkness and light, o bless the Lord, and you, nights and days, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,72).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I worked and taught well;
          but I have not done anything other than evil and all evil.
          I did not instruct the faithful as I should, I did not preach the Gospel of Christ to all creatures (Mk 16,15);
          but the works of Christ and his preaching of the Kingdom (Lk 10,9)
          are my works and my preaching.
          O let the earth bless the Lord, to him be highest glory and praise for ever (Dan 3, 74).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I brought back the lost sinners to Christ’s flock;
          but I through my great and numerous scandals have rather distanced numerous souls which are dear to God and to Christ, from Christ’s fold.
          But all the labours and the zeal of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, are my labours and my zeal.
          And you, mountains and hills, o bless the Lord, and you, all you creatures that live on the earth, o bless the Lord (Dan 3,75).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I healed the sick (Lk 10,9), but through my sins all men became ill.
          I did not restore sight to the blind;
          I did not cause the lame to walk (Mt 11,5),
          I did not make the deaf hear,
          I did not make the dumb speak
          I did not raise the dead.
          But, through the great charity of God and his holy mercy all Christ’s works of charity are my works.
          And you, fountains and springs, o bless the Lord,
          and you, rivers and seas, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 77).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I evangelized the poor (Lk 4,18);

          I, rather, have given scandal to all.
          But Christ’s preaching to the poor is my preaching.
          And you, creatures of the sea, o bless the Lord,
          and every bird in the sky, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 79).
          To me and to others it appeared as if I had instituted something good;
          but I have done all that which is evil
          but all that Christ instituted is mine.
          And you, wild beasts and tame, o bless the Lord,
          and you, children of men, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 81).

          I did not baptize all peoples, but rather because of my sins,
          innumerable persons have died without baptism.
          And yet through the infinite charity of God
          and through his holy mercy the institution of the baptism of Christ,
          its propagation and its fruits are my propagation and my fruits.
          O Israel, bless the Lord, praise and exalt him for ever (Dan 3, 83).
          Because of my poverty and my lack of holiness I have never profited from the ineffable institution of the most holy Eucharist; but through the holy mercy of Jesus Christ I have been filled with every grace, as if I had fully profited from it.

          And you, priests of the Lord, o bless the Lord, and you, servants of the Lord, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 84).
          I have never profited from the most august sacrifice of the Mass, neither as a layman nor as a priest;
          rather I have always assisted at it and I have celebrated it in a less than fitting manner.
          But through the holy mercy of Jesus Christ and in his great charity
          I have been granted the fullness of the merits of the very sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
          even though I be the most unworthy among all creatures, past, present and future.
          And you, spirits and souls of the just, o bless the Lord,
          and you, holy and humble of heart, o bless the Lord (Dan 3, 86).

          Footnote on page 495 OOCC X, “See Dan 3, 86, note the composition was
          interrupted, the final three verses of the ‘Benedicite’ were not quoted.”



                2009-04-01

                apostles-for-today-April

          In communion with Mary.

          I. Mary, Patroness of the Union of Catholic Apostolate

          Introduction: the month of May is traditionally a month dedicated to Mary, Jesus' beloved mother; in this month we celebrate the feasts of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and of the Visitation of Mary. St. Vincent entrusted his nascent foundation to Mary, he put it under her protection, he entrusted it to her as patroness and relied on her prayers and intercession. Article 3 of the General Statutes of our Union reads: "The Patroness of the Union is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles, exemplary model of the spiritual life and of apostolic zeal".  We propose to reflect on Mary and pray with her in three issues of Apostles for Today.


          St. Vincent wrote: "The pious Society operates under the efficacious protection of the Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of Apostles, for two holy purposes: the first is to obtain through the merits and the intercession of the great Mother of God, the Immaculate, all the graces and all the gifts in order that the Pious Society considered both as a moral body and in the individual (members) present and future may exist always in the Church of God and be fruitful and that it spread rapidly according to the needs of souls in any part of the world. The second purpose is that they all, lay people, secular clergy and religious of any order, state and condition have in Mary most Holy, after Jesus Christ, the most perfect model of true catholic zeal and of perfect charity …". (OOCC I, p. 6-7, cf. also OOCC III, p. 6).

          Mary, our Mother, our Protector, our Patroness.

          This month we take the first purpose, Mary as our Mother, protector and patron.  Fr. Vincent had a particularly strong devotion to Mary throughout his life even though the foundational experience of his life was his experience of God and his one over-riding purpose was to correspond to the three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity, individually and as One God.  His relationship with Mary did not take from this centrality of God in his life, rather Mary was Mother to him, and as the years went on Mary undertook to reveal to him her Son Jesus Christ, to obtain for him from her Son all the graces necessary for his life and mission.  It was similar to Mary's attitude at the Wedding Feast in Cana of Galilee (Jn, 2,5), she noticed a need, a lack, and she pointed it out to her Son, then she told those who were there "Do whatever he tells you", and with complete trust and confidence waited until he responded and fulfilled her request.

          Fr. Vincent was graced with several mystical experiences during the course of his life, one of these was his experience of January 9th when he received the charism of the Union.  A second event that had a lasting effect on him and on his life was a Spiritual Espousal with Mary which took place on December 31st 1832, from this point on his relationship with Mary took on a new dimension, the experience is recorded in OOCC X, 195-6: he experienced it as a special grace which allowed him to enter into an intimate relationship with Mary.  It is for him essentially an experience of mercy, first of all the mercy of Mary who mercifully deigned to make a spiritual marriage with him, he who considered himself to be among the poorest of all creatures on earth. Mary does not come empty-handed to this spiritual marriage, she brings her dowry, the dowry she gives Vincent is "all she possessed and helped him to recognize her own divine Son, and being the Spouse of the Holy Spirit she committed herself so that he be entirely transformed in the Holy Spirit." Mary promised to give Vincent the gift of knowing her Son Jesus, and because she is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, she commits herself to work for Vincent's inner transformation in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Vincent is deeply moved by this manifestation of God's mercy; he speaks of  "the mercy of Mary, immaculate Queen, who in love and devotion prays, intercedes and obtains" for him graces. He is convinced that this grace is an expression of the mercy of Jesus as he listens to the pleas of his Mother Mary on Vincent's behalf.  He concludes his account praying "Mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, mercy, Paradise is full of Mary's mercy. I will sing the mercies of God for all eternity, I will sing the mercies of Mary for all eternity. My God and my all."  In this account we see that Mary was not merely an object of devotion for Vincent, far from it, she was an active presence, it was she who took the initiative here, it was she who gave all of herself to him as dowry, she who committed herself to reveal her Son to Vincent.

          We see here that Mary was Mother for Vincent, concerned for him, for his well-being, for his growth, for his happiness.  She was a merciful Mother, mother of mercies.  His experience was of Mary as Mother, a mother who was so moved by the 'wretchedness' of her son that she prayed, interceded and obtained for him this special grace. Recently a woman asked me how Vincent's term of address for Mary can be translated, he referred to her as "la mia più che innamorattissima Madre", I suggested 'my beloved Mother', she was not satisfied with this and suggested 'my mother who is deeply in love with me and most dear to me'.  She as a woman and mother was struck by the intensity of Vincent's feelings for Mary, fruit of her love for him and her activity in his life.

          It was after this experience that Vincent began to prepare and write his treatises on the Month of May (of Mary) for the faithful, for religious and for the clergy. In fact he prepared all three texts in 1833, so full was he of enthusiasm and zeal to lead others to a deeper relationship with May.  In the meditations for the faithful, Vincent puts words into Mary's mouth, she speaks lovingly to her children, invites them to learn of Jesus, through her, she invites them "…I, as a heavenly teacher will teach you with motherly affection to way of Paradise." (Preliminary meditation). Mary encourages the faithful who engage in these exercises by saying "I assure you my child in the joy that comes from the Most High, that my heart with maternal affection, and the heart of Jesus with infinite love, burn with a living desire to see you a saint, to see you a saint soon, to see you a great saint." OOCC XIII, p. 573. Mary goes on to assure the retreatant that the road to holiness is simple, it consists in listening in faith to her Son, who with his Word and his message of salvation offers us the means to attain it.

          Mary is presented as Mother, as Teacher, as Mother of Mercy, as Advocate. This is clearly evident in the text of the day of preparation for the exercises; "Jesus said on the Cross: 'Behold your Mother' (Jn.19,27), my divine Son Jesus, in his agony on the Cross forgot the sins of his creatures … and left me to his beloved disciple John as Mother, and in John Mother of all the children of the Church … he (Jesus) wishes that you, my child, even though you may be a sinner, in this month consecrated to me, recognise me as your Mother, experience me as Mother of Mercies … I, as your heavenly Teacher will teach you with maternal affection to way to heaven … and even though you know your sins I do not want you ever to lose courage because I am your Mother, your Advocate, the Refuge of sinners, and as the Daughter of the Eternal Father I am able to help you in all your needs…" OOCC XIII; 550-51.

          However, in all of this devotion and love of Mary Vincent never loses sight of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All the exercises are based on an attentive listening to the Word of God as seen though the eyes and heart of Mary, the purpose of the meditations is the building up of the Kingdom of God. The entire spiritual exercise is oriented towards an increase of faith, hope and love, and to lead the person to a greater commitment to the works of faith and charity in the world.

          Let us meditate together:

          John 19, 25-27: "Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, 'Woman, this is your son'. Then to the disciple he said, 'This is your mother'. And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home."

          John 2, 3-4 "…the mother of Jesus said to him, 'They have no wine'. Jesus said, 'Woman, why turn to me? My hour has not come yet.' His mother said to the servants, 'Do whatever he tell you'.

          And with the Church let us sing Mary's hymn, the Magnificat.

          Sharing of experiences

          Which is my preferred title of Mary? Can I express why one of Mary's titles or attributes is more important to me than others? How do I live my relationship with Mary?

          Let us end with prayer:

          1. "St. Vincent Pallotti, from your earliest days you were ardently devoted to the Mother of God. You were indebted to her in a special way for your growth in grace and in the love of God.

          2. We ardently desire the same effects of her intercession that you experienced in your life. Intercede for us, therefore, St. Vincent, that we may obtain an enlightened conscience and be able to understand the greatness of the Mother of God, to have an unshakable faith in her, and to leave our lives in her hands. Obtain for us also a child-like and truly dedicated love for her and a courageous heart to follow her virtuous example." Pallottine Community Prayers, page 241.
          ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico

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


                2009-04-30 
                apostles-for-today-may
           

          In communion with Mary

          II. "Mary, Queen of Apostles, exemplary model of the spiritual life".

          This month we will reflect on this topic taken from article 3 of the General Statutes of the Union. Mary, the exemplary model of the spiritual life, occupies a central place in our Pallottine spirituality. As we contemplate the icon of Mary in the Cenacle in prayer with the Apostles we are invited to cultivate our personal and community prayer life which are part of our growth in experience of God.

          The Cenacle is an ideal place to develop the contemplation which underpins our spiritual life and motivates us to mission. Prayer and apostolate go hand in hand, but it is prayer which moves apostolic action. Our 'Pentecost' begins with baptism.


          "All these joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers" (Acts 1,14). In the Cenacle Mary encouraged the Apostles to wait for the coming of the Spirit, the Paraclete, because without Him (cf. 1Cor 12,3) we can do nothing.


          Mary present in the Cenacle, at Pentecost, is a model of the praying Church for the entire Christian community, she teaches that: a) as Church, we need to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his Apostles not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised (cf. Acts 1,4-5); b) we need to prepare ourselves to receive the gift of the Spirit, in the same way in which Mary, the Apostles and the women prepared themselves, in prayer. The Acts of the Apostles affirms several times that the descent of the Holy Spirit is linked to prayer. We have need of the Holy Spirit to be able to pray and we pray to receive the Holy Spirit. This gift is freely given to us and we, in prayer, allow it to grow and bear fruit. It is life-giving when our hearts pray with faith for one another, when we say 'Come Holy Spirit!'; c) it is also necessary that this prayer be united and persevering, just as in the Cenacle, "the whole group of believers was united, heart and soul" (Acts 4,32). The power of prayer is increased in the miracle of love.

          Mary, our model of prayer

          Personal prayer - Mary lived life deeply, in the Spirit, in an attitude of prayer. Her life was transformed through an intimate, loving, intense and continuous union with God. She herself was always attentive to his permanent and active presence. Mary's prayer was centered on God and not on herself.


          Mary, a silent woman, loved being with God, she sought out intimacy with him in personal prayer; in Nazareth she meditated and listened attentively to God speaking to her heart. Mary's meditative prayer is noted twice by the Evangelist Luke: at the birth of Jesus, at the moment when all were "astonished" and "as for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Lk. 2,19), and twelve years later when she found her son who have been lost for three days, she once again prayed in silence (cf. Lk. 2, 51).

           
          Mary teaches us that our life in the Spirit needs to be cultivated in silence in order to acquire its true value. St. Vincent Pallotti wrote "Silence predisposes one for prayer and leads us to intimate union with God" (point 9 of the 33 points of the Fundamental Rule). He also taught us to give priority to the moments of intense personal prayer in order to consolidate our apostolic mission.

          A spirituality for daily life

          It is possible to fall into a trap of separating life and prayer, for this reason it is necessary to develop a spirituality of daily life, one that is lived in times of joy and success, sorrow and suffering.  Mary lived her daily life fully, but in the simplicity of Nazareth, and this is what we live each day. She prayed in all that she did because she lived fully in communion and in harmony with God.

          We too can pray in daily life through persons, events and in and through all that we do. We have the example of Jesus, of Mary and of our holy Founder, St. Vincent, who as Fr. Faller wrote, was "a man who became prayer", because he lived immersed in God and prayed in all he did, he was a contemplative in action.

          In our spiritual life the ordinary prevails over the extraordinary. Prayer, contemplation of life in God, involves all of our being. Experience of God can be lived in "the heart of life" in every moment and in whatever mission we engage in.

          Prayer is a question of love, of priorities and of perseverance. The fundamental motivation is always LOVE. God loves us first and awakens in us love for him, but our FAITH and our CONCRETE COMMITMENT are also important factors. St. James says "Faith without works is dead" (Jm 2,17). The more we show forth God in concrete ways the greater chance we have of rereading events in the light of faith and of responding to the challenges posed by our world. Spirituality is incarnated in reality.

          Mary our model of community prayer

          Mary is also a model of community prayer. After the Ascension we find her with the Christian community gathered together 'in the upper room', in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit: " …and Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation" (LG 59).

          Mary occupies a central place in the Cenacle, the Christian meeting for community prayer. She is a permanent, loving and encouraging presence for all. As she prayed in the Cenacle Mary once more "treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart".

          The Cenacle becomes a mystical Bethlehem where she once again conceives through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through this rebirth Jesus, through the Spirit, remains always with his Church.
          Mary is close to the Apostles and to the women, she prays and together with them waits for the fullness of the Spirit. With her silent praying presence she plays an exemplary role in the Church. The Holy Spirit generates Community. At Pentecost the first community of Jerusalem was formed with its special characteristics: "These remained faithful to the teaching of the Apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers" (Acts 2,42).
          Common and shared prayer sustain our Christian communities: we gather with one another and with God as one large Christian family. Christ the Apostle promised "Where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them" (Mt. 18,20).

          Mary model of contemplative prayer

          Mary is the perfect contemplative, she looks at God and at all persons with wonder. In her looking towards God we see concentrated all the transparency of creation, we see the divine will and its revelation, and here the Word, Jesus Christ, centre of the universe and of history, is generated.

          In Mary contemplation and service are inseparable, they are an expression of the fruit of love. Her 'Magnificat' arises out of her silent contemplation of the Incarnate Word in her womb. It is a hymn that proclaims the victory of her people, of the humble, the simple, those without a voice, the obedient, those who entrust themselves to the will of God. She in wonder, sings of her personal experience of God, of all that He has done with His People.
          • Mary's place in Vincent Pallotti's spiritual life
          In Vincent's spiritual journey Mary occupied a central place, but secondary to that of Christ. As a child he used to say "My Mother, make me holy". He prayed the Rosary every day with his family. His mother transmitted to him a tender affection for Mary. He says to us "a person who has true devotion to Mary will not only be saved, but through her intercession will become a great saint and his/her holiness will grow daily" (OOCC V 447).


          Vincent lived a deep Marian spirituality, he sought to imitate Mary in her virtues, in her spiritual life "I intend to imagine myself as being close to my dearly beloved mother Mary in order to possess purity in all".  Vincent saw Mary at the foot of the Cross as the co-redemptrix. She collaborates in the redemption of humanity together with her Son in the work of salvation.
          As a young man Vincent formulated an intention to be in the Cenacle "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…As the Apostles were there with Mary …" (OOCC X, 86-87). "I intend to imagine myself as being together with my loving Mother Mary and my beloved Jesus (…) they will cause the abundance of the Holy Spirit to come down on me and on the others … (OOCC X, 86-87).


          We also have in Mary, but after Jesus, the most perfect model for our spiritual and apostolic life.

          Shared reflection:
          • - What is Mary's place in my spiritual life?
          • - What is my 'every day' experience of God?
          • - Mary is our model - how can I describe my spiritual life in the face of the events and the challenges of the present day world?

          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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


                2009-06-02
                apostles-for-today-june

          In communion with Mary
          III. “Mary, Queen of Apostles, exemplary model of apostolic zeal”.
          This month we conclude our three part reflection on article 3 of the General Statutes of the UAC and take as the theme for our reflection ‘Mary, Queen of Apostles, exemplary model of apostolic zeal’. As such Mary is the Model for the Apostolate of All. Vincent Pallotti’s 1835 appeal to the Catholics of his time to join the “Union of Catholic Apostolate,” was born out of an urgent need to awaken the whole Church to serve the mission which Jesus had entrusted to her. Vincent’s was not a movement in the Church but a movement of the Church. His vision of apostolate was world-embracing, it was not to take over the official apostolate of the Church (of which as he was accused) but to be of service to it. He was aware of the mobilization of anti-Christian forces that intended not only the unification of Italy but the creation of a new humanistic secular society with Rome at its centre. In response Vincent sought to mobilize all, especially religious and lay people, in a collaborative work of “Catholic Apostolate.”

          Mary, Queen of Apostles: trigger releasing the Church’s hidden potential
          How could he do this when the official Church was opposed to any seemingly laicist movements? The theology of that period was that Catholic Apostolate belonged only to the Pope and the Propagation of the Faith to those trained for it. Vincent found his answer in the title given to Mary in the Litany of Loreto as Queen of Apostles. She was neither a priest or bishop, she did not preach, yet the Church acknowledged that she was superior to the Apostles. He wrote, “The Church honours Mary as having the merit common to the Apostles without the office of preacher” (OOCC IV:325). Mary’s unique role is as a lay person who, nevertheless, is endowed with the title and merits of the Apostles. Her role is extended to include not only Apostles with a capital “A” but the myriad of small “a” apostles in every sphere of life. “One who is not a priest can be honoured with the name apostle, and his/her work an apostolate” (00CC III: 140, cf. 182).

          Mary’s life: a Gospel beyond words
          In 1976 a French Church Commission consulted women on their role in evangelisation. One woman wrote, “A woman is more suited to what pertains to life rather than structure, more suited to activity involving personal relationships. A true life is a life lived according to the Gospel. This goes before any other consideration. If you would preach a sermon, you must yourself be a sermon.” This was especially true of Mary, honoured three-fold as Queen of Apostles: by “her true Catholic zeal and perfect love;” her “surpassing the Apostles in merit”; her “cooperation in spreading the faith far beyond the Apostles” (OOCC I:7).

          Catching the fire of the Spirit
          Mary evangelised in a unique way by her faithful mothering of Jesus and the apostles. Mary’s radical openness to God’s Word and Will sprang from a strong, realistic self as she enquired, “How can this be?” A self coupled with a readiness to surrender, “Let it be, let it be done, let it become flesh in me.” Mary remained faithful under the cross. She put courage into the disciples by her presence, and readied them for the transforming experience of the Spirit. Did they ask Mary, “Oh tell us, tell us what happened when the Spirit came on you?” Mary would not only tell them, but lead them to prepare for the Spirit in the ways she knew: of silence, unceasing prayer and by interceding powerfully with her Spouse the Holy Spirit. What came first was the desire, wanting to be used by Jesus, to carry on his mission. Mary led them further in disciplined learning, to await the Spirit who ignited them into action. That desire disposed them to receive the Spirit who brought all they had learned from Jesus on fire within them. “If you lack courage,” Mary says to priests, “pray to me with confidence. I shall ask the Holy Spirit (my Spouse) that he may set you on fire with his infinite charity, so necessary to exercise the apostolate of Jesus Christ” (Month of May for Clerics, 80). Vincent’s own life, his initial devotion to Mary, Queen of Apostles in the Cenacle, became a dynamic reality after his Espousals of December 31st, 1832, when Mary, Spouse of the Spirit and Queen of Apostles, empowered him for ministry through the graces of her Son. When Vincent wanted to rouse apostolic idealism in people he invoked the image of Mary as Queen of Apostles; when he wanted to awaken the inner life of the people, to nurture them, he spoke of her Motherhood.

          Holiness: living from the heart outwards
          Vincent was convinced that holiness gives power to apostolate. “Holiness consists in fulfilling with exactness and pure intention the duties of one’s state of life” (OOCC X:111), and doing it from an apostolic intent. “With all her power Mary cooperated in the propagation of the faith without preaching but, in the ordinary circumstances of her life, doing it with such perfection that she surpassed the Apostles in merit ….” (OOCC III: 145). When we try to live the virtues of Jesus and Mary in an inner way we become transparent of God, not for ourselves but for others. Vincent described this process for lay people, “Internal holiness of heart enlivens and vivifies the exterior of a person so that all may glorify our heavenly Father” (Month of May for Lay People, Day 18). The external act had to mirror the inner intent. Mary modelled the interior quality of holiness linked to a gospel following of Jesus in her daily life. It was lived holiness.
          Every aspect of Mary’s self was consciously used to bring Christ to birth in herself and in others. How Mary used things to nourish the humanity of the incarnate One, inspired Vincent “to understand and imitate [Jesus] in the use of created things … to do the Will of the Father according to the designs and ends of infinite Love.” (OOCC X: 260). Her divine maternity nurturing Christ through faith, became a spiritual mothering of all under the cross. In her zeal, “Mary, burning with love, desired to give her life with her Son for the salvation of the human race” (OOCC IV: 450). She journeyed from a mother’s love to the dedication of a disciple. Vincent taught people that they could share in the merit of the apostolate corresponding to their zeal in cooperating in the spread of the Gospel (OOCC IV:136).

          Mary, model of ministry
          By her life Mary witnessed to that essential aspect necessary in every ministry, whether priestly or lay, namely, spiritual motherhood: a faith-filled and loving openness to God’s power giving birth to Jesus. Mother Mary uses her intercessory power to produce Christ in us (cf. OOCC III: 78-9); and discipleship: a conforming of herself to Jesus, that is, a faithful imitation of him in her whole life, body, mind and heart, thereby making Christ present to men and women so that they may experience God’s saving power. “Mary walked so faithfully in the footsteps of her Son that she surpassed all the angels and saints” (Ep Lat 20). Mary, Queen of Apostles, stands at the very heart of the one mission and diversity of ministries within the People of God. When the title of the Union “Catholic Apostolate” came under fire, Pallotti placed it under the special protection of Mary Queen of Apostles. That name said it all. She was his advocate, intercessor, and the great missionary.

          Shared reflection:
          -  In what way can Mary, Queen of Apostles, help us catch fire as apostles?
          -  How would Vincent motivate people to live the spirit of UAC?
          -  What is your experience of Mary reawakening your faith-relationship with
                    Father, Son and Spirit?

          ____________________________________________________
          Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
          Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                2009-07-01 
                apostles-for-today-july-prayer
           
          God, the Infinite Love

          Introduction

          From this issue you will realize that, in this month of August, we are beginning a new theme in our monthly reflections. For more than 31 months you will receive the reflections based on the meditations taken from St. Vincent Pallotti’s booklet “God, the Infinite Love”.

          St. Vincent Pallotti proposed to Christians some meditations and prayers as a way to know and recall the infinite love and the infinite mercy of God, the title of the book which contains them is God, the Infinite Love. It was always his great desire to correspond to God who was incessantly communicating himself and his divine gifts to him. And, as St. Vincent intuited, prayer constitutes a privileged moment for God to communicate himself to a person, to fill her/him with his innumerable gifts. It is in faithful and humble prayer that the human heart is capable of opening itself to God, of receiving with gratitude his gifts, and of experiencing the joy of feeling oneself the object of the infinite love of God and the sadness of not having corresponded with such a great love and with the grace with which God wishes to perfect our soul.

          The Historical Premise to our General Statutes when describing  Pallottine spirituality affirms that “the dynamic principle on which the multifaceted apostolic activities of St. Vincent Pallotti was founded was his personal faith experience. God gave him, as a gift of the Spirit, a profound experience of his infinite love and mercy. According to Vincent Pallotti, the most profound motivation of God’s activity is infinite love. For this reason men and women, created in the image and likeness of God, reach the full understanding of the meaning of life when they continually exercise the love of God and love of neighbour (cf. 1 Jn 4,16)”. The Statutes encourage the members of the Union to “wholeheartedly allow themselves to be permeated by God’s infinite love…” (GS art.18).

          The meditations proposed by our Founder in the book God, the Infinite Love are a good means which can help each one of us, both personally and together in our communities, to be filled with the infinite love of God and to become its messengers for others.

          A brief history of the booklet God, the Infinite Love

          This booklet God, the Infinite Love  is one of the last writings of Vincent Pallotti and it reveals his spiritual maturity and shows characteristics of his deep spirituality. It was written by our Founder in a very particular situation of his life. He began to think about this book of meditations on the infinite love of God in 1847 and he was searching for someone to whom he could entrust the task of writing it. He asked Fr. Vincent Marie Michettoni, a priest of the Oratorian Fathers, whom he knew well, but he did not have the time at his disposal to accept the request. This happy difficulty permitted Pallotti to pour out all that he had in his heart and all that he understood of the works of the infinite love of God. In 1849, during the revolution, a time of great persecution of the Church, he was constrained to take refuge in the Irish College and while there he wrote these meditations. Today we can visit this place situated in Via Santa Agata dei Goti and thank God for his infinite love revealed to our Founder in those days.

          God, the Infinite Love is a little booklet of 149 pages written in Italian. The text contains modifications and additions made by Pallotti himself. It is an incomplete work because St. Vincent wished to write the meditations basing them on the 12 articles of the Creed; instead, the present booklet contains 31 meditations which treat in depth only 3 articles.


          The original text of God, the Infinite Love, is preserved in the Archives of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate. Fr. Hettenkofer, a German Pallottine, the Postulator for the cause of the beatification of Pallotti, was the first to work on this booklet and prepared it for the1936 edition. He considered these meditations to be our spiritual treasure. In the introduction he wrote: “Aware of the infinite love with which God has created man and blessed him with innumerable supernatural gifts and graces in order to glorify him in a blessed eternity, the Venerable Vincent Pallotti, filled with a sense of admiration and gratitude, felt himself compelled to remind all the faithful of the precious gifts given by God which enable man to participate in his divine nature and to become ever more like his divine model, the Incarnate Word”.

          The method of the meditations:

          In the 31 meditations, which are based on the truths contained in 3 articles of our Christian Creed, St. Vincent follows the same method which helps the person who decides to pray regularly with them to learn the difficult art of meditation. He teaches us how to meditate on the truths of our faith in order to open ourselves to the marvellous work of God in our lives and be filled with His infinite and merciful love. We can learn by looking at Pallotti and how he himself meditated and follow his advice and example.

          Pallotti himself :




          • recalls and reflects on one of the truths of faith proposed for the day,






          • contemplates the infinite love and mercy of God towards human beings and marvels at the works of God in his own life,





          • formulates a prayer in which he commits himself to disposing his heart in order to profit from the gift of faith as God desires, and with a contrite heart makes an act of faith that God will perfect his soul,






          • renders thanks to God – and makes an offering of himself.


          • Pallotti proposes as a way to do the meditations:




          •  to read the reflection on one of the truths of faith,






          •  to recite with love the prayer that follows,

          •  



          •  to conclude with the prayer of offering.


          • Pallotti believed that the faithful who meditate in this way on the truths of faith would be able to profit from the incomprehensible gift of faith according to the designs of the infinite love and infinite mercy of God.
             

            “God, you will grant me the gift of always remembering your infinite love”


            In our daily life God manifests his infinite love in many different ways. St. John in his first letter invites us to see the love of God and his wonderful works. While meditating on the Word of God let us desire to see and be touched by this outpouring of the love of God:

            “You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children - which is what we are! The reason why the world does not acknowledge us is that it did not acknowledge Him. My dear friends, we are already God’s children, but what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed. We are well aware that when He appears we shall be like him, because we shall see Him as he really is. Whoever treasures this hope of him purifies himself, to be as pure as he is.” (1 Jn 3, 1–3).

            In the introduction to this book St. Vincent Pallotti wrote: “No one is capable of profiting from a  precious object if he does not know its value and the worth he can draw from it for himself and for others”. We can apply the same words to the meditations proposed by Pallotti. They can be a precious gift for us, members of the Union, in order to benefit ourselves from them and so too all the persons with whom we will share the infinite and merciful love of God.

            Let us pray with St. Vincent:

            “My God, my Father, Father of Mercies, God of all consolation, it is impossible for me to understand your infinite love and that infinite mercy, which moved you and are always moving you to grant me innumerable graces, favours, gifts and mercies through the Holy Angels (…).

            You are infinite Love and infinite Mercy and I firmly trust, rather I am certain, that through the same most loving infinite mercy, (…) you will grant me the grace to know you in your infinite Love and in your infinite Mercy, and in all your divine attributes, and the grace to know myself in my wretchedness in so far as You will, and you will give me the gift of always remembering your infinite Love and your infinite Mercy in the distribution of your graces so that I may profit from them according to your will. Amen.” (God, the Infinite Love, meditation V).

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

                  2009-08-05 
                  apostles-for-today

             

               
                   God, the Infinite Love
            of St. Vincent Pallotti

            Prayer
            Come, oh Holy Spirit,
            speak to my heart, now,
            through this meeting with You:
            Infinite Love.
            Fill me with wisdom and discernment
            in order to enter into the mystery of the tender
            heart of the Father, who continually
            regenerates me through Jesus,
            with Love and for Love.
            Place in my heart
            the desire to love infinitely
            with the same intensity
            with which St. Vincent loved you
            so that I too
            become a place of love
            and a proposal of love for all. Amen.

            Presentation

            This month we begin to present you with the text God, the Infinite Love, written by St. Vincent Pallotti.
            It is a small book, meant for all the faithful, brothers and sisters of our crucified Lord Jesus Christ and is composed of 31 meditations on the Apostles’ Creed.
            Each article is laid out in a way that follows a constant rhythm of a meditation, with a prayer that is relevant to the theme and then a prayer which is also an offering of oneself; the same pattern is followed in each meditation.

            Vincent Pallotti, the author, proclaims the marvels of God at the top of his voice, he enters into a dialogue with Love, a dialogue of reverence, respect, admiration, a fusion of hearts …
            Every word is steeped in contemplation of God. A God who takes care of human existence and who gives life, body, colour, taste to every living being and who creates the marvels of the universe and the beauty of the Earth for humanity.
            Through these meditations one plunges into and is submerged in the depths of the soul of the Saint and one comes to know the depth of his faith, the strength of his charity, of his continuous prayer and above all else, of his humility and his infinite trust in God.

            The title: GOD, the INFINITE LOVE.

            There is no more beautiful attribute that one could give to God than that of LOVE, for Vincent God is not only Love but he is also INFINITE LOVE.
            He made of the Infinite a style of life.
            Frequently he pauses and becomes aware of his existence:
            “Who am I before you, my god, and You, day and night, whether I am awake or asleep, whether I think of You, or whether I do not think of You, notwithstanding my ingratitude and sins, with Infinite Love, You always think of me so as to destroy my unworthiness and transform me in You?” (OOCC X, 472).
            There are many other of his expressions which are written in the “Lumi” (volume X of the complete writings of St. Vincent which contains his spiritual diary), and which spring readily to mind:
            “I would love God with an infinite love…I would multiply the works infinitely… Oh love, love, infinite love… infinite Mercy… infinite tenderness and wisdom…”
            The preface to the book ‘God, the Infinite Love’, written also by St. Vincent, leads us as it were by the hand to observe the preciousness of life and of each and every thing which God has placed at our disposal.

            We read:
            “Nobody is capable of profiting from a precious object if he or she does not know its value and the benefit which can accrue from it for oneself and for others; therefore we who are privileged to have the gift of faith amongst so many millions of persons, we need to know or at least to remember according to the illuminations of faith, the infinite love and the infinite mercy with which God has created us and keeps us in being, with which he has redeemed us and sanctified us with the grace of holy Baptism, and if we have lost baptismal grace through sin, God himself who time and time again has been offended by us, sanctifies us again with the sacrament of penance, and he further fills us with his gifts in the sacrament of confirmation, and above all else he sanctifies us with the Holy Eucharist because with infinite love he wishes to glorify us for all of eternity”.
            By simply meditating quietly on this presentation one becomes aware of the horizon of his infinite contemplation.

            Vincent had truly understood the preciousness of life and of salvation.
            Who knows the number of times he took time to contemplate creation together with the mystery of redemption. The number of times he touched with his hands the sanctifying activity of the Spirit in his “to be among the people”.
            He repeats and he repeats again, he stresses and he invents new expressions in order to highlight the preciousness of God’s Infinite Love and of his infinite mercy towards all of humanity.

            How many occasions of grace God preparing for us!
            Being with Vincent it almost seems as if we are seeing with his eyes the “guile of God” in order to save humanity.

            Often, this reality leads him to cry out:
            You are crazed by Love, oh my infinite mercy…
            … oh, my God, I do not understand,
            I feel your infinite love and your mercy, but I do not understand it, and I forget it at each moment
            (OOCC XIII, 144).
            Vincent leads us to see the sacraments as very special instruments in the hands of God for our salvation and to receive them as such. Everything which was done with Love for us by Him who is Infinite Love.

            In the preface Vincent writes: “…in these few pages we will recall those truths of faith which are contained in the Apostles’ Creed…and because God has done all with love and moved by his infinite mercy for us, …thus will we pray these prayers in order to know and to recall the infinite love and the infinite mercy of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
            The pages which follow are, in effect, meditations and prayers which arise out of his heart and reach into ours so that we in turn reflect them into the hearts of those with whom we are in contact.
            Vincent concludes:
            “Blessed are those fathers of families, and those Superiors of homes for the sick, residential schools and communities of every kind who in common prayer …will unite with us in this pious exercise of faith”.
            Yes indeed, we are blessed, we will be blessed if this abundance of grace does not fall in vain, blessed are we if we are capable of receiving it and pouring it out in the world of the apostolate.
            I would like to conclude by expressing a wish that all, and principally myself, profit from this opportunity to enter into the catechetical and apostolic experience of St. Vincent which is expressed in this text and to make it our own by incarnating it in our daily lives so that it be an instrument of evangelization and of conversion.

            Concluding prayer

            Let us make the desire of St. Vincent our own and pray together with him:
            “My Jesus, communicate to me and to all
            All of your Love!
            May the universe be all Love.
            Fill all things.
            May I and all persons
            live immersed in Love.
            My God, all Love,
            in everything Love.
            My Jesus,
            the proof of the love that you want from me
            is that it save souls:
            give me all of your life,
            all of your energy
            in order to bring all people to your Heart. Amen”.  (OOCC X,676)

            ____________________________________________________
            Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
            Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                  2009-08-31  
                 
                  apostles-for-today-september-prayer
             
            God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
            When St. Vincent composed this booklet he set out to reflect on the Infinite Love of God and on the articles of faith expressed in the Apostles Creed. St. Vincent, however, only managed to reflect on the first three articles of the Creed. This month we begin our reflections which are based on the first article:

            I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY
            CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH
            ____________________________________

            “God, blessed in Himself, moved by his infinite love and mercy, created the world in order to give himself wholly to creatures.”

            Thus begins the first meditation of ‘God the Infinite Love’.

            God, through all of creation, allows us to share in his diffusive, radiating, creative, eternal, but above all infinite, Love, a love which is unlimited and without end.

            I have always been struck by St. Vincent’s insistence on the concept of infinity (infinite love, infinite mercy, infinite merits etc.) attributed to God, and then I think of how much we, in our manner of behavior with all our limitations and our feelings of guilt, in our daily lives are often unaware of his infinite mercy.

            In relation to this difficulty that we experience, which is the result of conditioning and of fears induced in us, I will recount a summary of a fable which was written by Claude Steiner, an American transactional analyst, which allows us to observe what goes on inside of us and may clarify our difficulty.

            “Once upon a time, a long time ago, there was a place where happy people lived. To understand how happy they were you have to understand how things were in those days.
            You see in those happy days everyone was given a small, soft Fuzzy Bag when born. Any time the child reached into this bag they were able to always pull out a Warm Fuzzy. A warm fuzzy was the size of the small fist of a baby and had a warm and tender colour; as soon as the fuzzy saw the light of day it would smile and blossom into a large, shaggy, warm fuzzy. When the warm fuzzy came into contact with a person and when it was caressed, it would melt right against their skin and make them feel good all over for a long time. In those days warm fuzzies were very much in demand and it was very easy to get them. Anytime that somebody felt like it they could ask for one and they would feel happy, warm and fuzzy most of the time. If people were deprived of them for a period of time they ran the risk of developing a strange and rare illness. This illness started in the spine and slowly the person would shrivel up and eventually die.

            At that time people used to visit one another often and they would exchange warm fuzzies, and since the  were free there were always in plentiful supply.

            One day a bad witch who made salves and potions for sick people became angry because everyone was so happy and feeling good and no one was buying potions and salves. The witch was very clever and devised a very wicked plan. One beautiful morning the witch crept up to a child and whispered in his ear,  "Do you know that the fuzzies are going to run out?"

            The child was astonished by what the witch said and from that moment he began to count all the times he gave warm fuzzies to someone else because he was afraid he would run out of them.

            The other children watched this and soon began to get the idea that it was wrong to give warm fuzzies any time you were asked or felt like it. They too became very careful, they were afraid they would lose something, they began to feel guilty whenever they gave them away so they reached in to their fuzzy bag less and less and became more and more stingy with them.

            We all know well how contagious fear can be, in fact, very soon, these fears began to spread over the whole area and less and less people exchanged warm fuzzies.

            Despite this people could always find a warm fuzzy every time they sought one in their sack, but they began to take them out less and less, they became more and more selfish and mean.

            Soon people began to feel the lack of warm fuzzies and as a result they felt less warm and less fuzzy. They began to shrivel up and, occasionally, people would even die from lack of warm fuzzies.

            People felt worse and worse and, more and more, people went to the witch to buy potions and salves even though they didn't really seem to work. Well, the situation was getting very serious indeed and day by day it got worse ....”

            The fable does not end here because it is up to us to give it an ending by asking ourselves about our lives up to the present:

            • What “bad witch” has suggested to us that love is not infinite? That mercy has its limits and may run out?
            • Perhaps it was the education we received, or the way we interiorized negative judgements: “you are impossible!” “You are very bad when you behave in that way!”   Or perhaps it came from the threats of those who educated us: “if you behave like that nobody will love you, not even Jesus”, or even punishment received when we committed some misdemeanour?


            Let us reflect on our own personal story in order to understand which of our many memories, often hidden and unacknowledged memories, continue to “suggest” to us that the patience, acceptance, understanding, trust and forgiveness we receive and that we show to others are limited and are not infinite.

            Then, let us strive together to believe, as St. Vincent did, that love may be INFINITE. That love and mercy are indeed INFINITE even when we make mistakes, or when in our own eyes we are blameworthy, which may be the effect of a habit acquired in time, or perhaps when we feel that we are at fault and are unable to truly forgive ourselves. God loves us INFINITELY and he cannot but love us infinitely because it is in his nature to love as he is the essence of love. If we can really come to believe this, which may mean that we have to sidestep the ‘sentries of fear’ which are within us, then we can radiate our love in all that we do and say.

            Let us repeat often each day during this month a simple phrase that we can memorize: “I love myself and others infinitely”, reflecting especially on the word “infinitely” and thereby forgiving all the faults and offences both committed and received. This short phrase will increase our awareness of the infinite love which is present in us, for us and all around us.

            We bring our reflection to a conclusion pondering the words of St. Vincent:

            “Oh my God, holy Faith reminds me of all these truths concerning your infinite love and mercy, but who will learn to know and profit by them as you wish? My God, only you can enlighten and help me, therefore, through your infinite mercy help me to pray in this way.”

            And we pray with St. Vincent, sure and certain of having received this infinite love which he always believed in:

            “Eternal Father, in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I offer you the most precious Blood of the Immaculate Lamb, our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving, as if you had already granted all the graces I have requested for me and for all, now and always. Amen”
            ____________________________________________________
            Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
            Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                  2009-10-01 20:10:43
             
                  apostles-for-today-October
             

            God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti

            2nd meditation

            The Creation of the Angels

            for the Benefit of Man

            Prayer
            Father in heaven!
            Let our hearts be totally consecrated to you.
            Fill us with great love for you and for our neighbour.
            Let this time of meditation be a light
            that will enlighten our way.
            Let it strengthen us so that we can serve you. Amen.
            (Pallottine Community Prayers, Sunday, morning prayer)

            Introduction
            The 2nd meditation in Vincent Pallotti’s book “God, the Infinite Love” is the first of four meditations on the angels.

            How do we feel about this topic? For some years there has been an outright “angel boom” in our country; you meet them as figures and in pictures, in books and in the cinema. They are presented as being saccharine, touching, caring. Often this is a far cry from the powerful appearance of angels in the Bible. Yet in this trend many people find access to them whether they believe in God or not. These angels appeal to them because the presentation does them good. The trend touches an emotion which takes over from years of scepticism during which anything supernatural was questioned and even among theologians there has not been clarity regarding the existence of angels.

            For Vincent Pallotti the issue was not one of an entry into discussion between the two positions, apart from the fact that the modern fascination with angels as we now have it did not exist at his time. He writes his meditations on the Creed. First and foremost they are about God, the Creator, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And with this, as in each meditation, his starting point is the “revelations of our faith, found in the Bible and in the teachings of the Fathers”. With this it is simply clear to Vincent that as a part of the invisible ‘things’ created by God there are angels and there is a hierarchical structure and classification among such celestial beings.

            Based on this premise St. Vincent wants to invite us for prayer. Therefore the issue is not one of theological reflection or discussion, but rather it is about faith: what role do matters that we are told by the tradition of Holy Scripture or the Fathers, play in our faith, in my faith?

            Reflection and Sharing

            Vincent Pallotti wants to awaken our sense of faith and to revive faith. Therefore, let us open our thoughts, our attitudes and mindset to his words: “God is always engaged in communicating His gifts, graces and mercies to man. These He grants them either directly through Himself or indirectly through the guardian angels”.

            Can I imagine this? Can I accept and believe that God is so interested in us, cares for us, for me and for each person? How does this affect my life, the manner in which I live my daily life?
            Again and again St. Vincent confronts us with the invitation of faith. We are invited to believe and to accept that God desired my existence and loves me. And even more than this that God has also created more things than I can imagine to be of service to me and my life. “Yes, such is Your esteem for our souls that You wisely employ all Your works and the service of so many millions of angels to help us and provide for our needs of body and soul. In this way we will not meet with any hindrance in attaining our ultimate goal, which is You ...”.

              •  Do I live with the awareness that God, infinitely great, has created all visible and invisible things so that they may help me to live rightly and well? Do I experience myself as being served by God and not hindered by him?
              • With this we come to a second important point which Vincent Pallotti addresses in this meditation, namely, that all of this is given to us for an “ultimate goal, which is You and the manifestation of Your immense, infinite, eternal and incomprehensible glory”.



              • Is God the goal of my life, the goal that shapes my daily life and gives direction to it? Does all that is given to me – for body and soul – serve as a source of assistance and a stimulus to me towards this goal?
              • In prayer Vincent refers to this, he calls it ‘deficiency and guilt’: “I have not profited from the most loving plans of Your infinite love, mercy and graces as I should have. I have abused Your infinite love and mercy.”


              • Do I profit from and use the everyday gifts and experiences of my life to nurture faith and trust in God? The access to faith that is given to me, the insights and experiences, nourishment and material goods, talents and abilities, relationships and friendship, family and community, disappointments and set-backs, hurts and illness ...?
              • Faith does not only mean the acceptance of what is true. Faith shapes and forms our lives: I do not leave the ‘gift’ that is given aside, but I perceive it as a call of God, to trust him and to go deeper and deeper in my relationship with him. We do have a way, a goal, before us: to reach God, in order to finally be with him, to live in his presence. We need not, and cannot, travel this way on our own. We are given other persons and things as assistance which bring life to us and convey that we are cared for and loved, guided and accompanied. All this is an invitation and challenge, to trust in God and to believe that he loves me infinitely.
              Vincent Pallotti’s trust is unlimited. He looked at the negative ways of abusing God’s gifts that lead us to other goals, however he did not end up at an impasse of resignation or self-pity. Rather he trusts that God will recall his attention to: “the fact that the greater my unworthiness the more You will grant me graces in order that I may always profit by Your infinite love and mercy.”

              From many of his other writings we know that Vincent was convinced that we only profit from the love and mercy of God by making his care for human beings our own: “Who does not know that in not observing the precept of charity one cannot gain eternal life? Therefore everyone … is bound to confess that each person who lives on this earth must effectively procure the eternal salvation of his neighbor in so far as he can … because we have received every good from God and we have received them in order to use them for his glory and simultaneously for the salvation of our own soul and that of our neighbour…” (OOCC IV, 173-174)
              Final Prayer

              Finally, let us give thanks to God for the gifts he has given to us in this hour of reflection and prayer:

              “We thank you, Lord, for all the lights and favours which you have given us. Give us the grace to profit by them. By ourselves we can do nothing, with you we can do everything. Because we love you, our Lord, we will do all for you.” (Pallottine Community Prayers, ibid.)
              Vincent Pallotti made use of the angels’ care also by invoking them again and again as intercessors. Let us pray together with him:

              “Queen of the Apostles, ask your Son, the Lord of the harvest, that he may send workers into his harvest and have mercy on his people. All holy angels, archangels, thrones and dominations, princes and potentates, virtues of the heavens, cherubim and seraphim, patriarchs and prophets, holy doctors of the law, apostles, all martyrs of Christ, holy confessors, virgins of the Lord, anchorites and all saints, pray the Lord of the harvest, that he may send workers into his harvest and have mercy on his people, that all of us with Him and the Father and the Holy Spirit may rejoice for ever and ever. Amen” (OOCC II, 378).

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2009-11-01 20:11:17
                 
                    apostles-for-today-November

              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
              3 meditation

              How the Angels in the first Hierarchy minister to our souls

              Prayer

              My God, Infinite Love,
              give me the strength to await the Spirit of Love as it comes upon me
              and gives me with its coming wisdom and love
              and with the gift of love the ability to speak to every heart.
              Oh immense light of my God,
              come to help me,
              teach me to speak,
              help me to be silent,
              guide me on my journey,
              check me in order that I stay close to You,
              so that each word spoken or silenced,
              each step taken or refused,
              all will be according to the perfect will of God.
              Oh divine light may all Your warm rays
              give me the serenity of the Saints.

              Reflection
              How the Angels in the first Hierarchy minister to our souls.

              St. Vincent Pallotti wishes - in this third meditation of the book entitled “God, the Infinite Love” – to have us reflect on the value and indeed on the ministry that the Angels exercise on our spiritual journey. They are the very ones who lead and accompany us to an awareness of Infinite Love.

              God, Infinite Love and Mercy, wishes that our souls, while living on this earth, have within them, a reign, the reign of His holy love. This is why our Lord Jesus Christ affirmed “The Kingdom of God is among you.” (Lk. 17, 21). This love transmits to the soul God himself, in fact, St. John often repeats to us:  “Deus caritas est: God is love, anyone who lives in love lives in God and God lives him him” (1Jn 4,16). Therefore our souls do not possess an earthly kingdom, but possess God himself, who is infinitely greater than any existing or possible kingdoms. And it is thus that the soul possesses God through sanctifying grace and possesses him for all eternity in the glory of heaven.

              For as soon as a soul performs an act of love of God it deserves heaven; this soul which lives in the love of God and in His grace, is able to have as many paradises as there are thoughts, words or good deeds done at any moment and for the love of God. Furthermore, the soul can acquire as many paradises as there are good intentions which it makes, works for, and desires, even in the most trifling things as long as everything, except sin, is done with the love of God.

              All this happens because in heaven there are as many degrees of glory as there are good aims which one has in thinking, speaking, and working out of the love of God. In order to reach such an infinite, immense, incomprehensible richness God has given us a help which are the blessed Spirits which form the choir of Seraphim. At each moment they move us with impulses or darts of love in our souls. In order that the reign of the holy Love of God, once possessed, will not be lost, the Choir of Cherubim communicates to us those gifts, revelations, and graces which make us realize that only God can give Infinite love to us.

              The choir of Thrones communicates to us all the graces, gifts and divine illuminations to prepare our souls to be temples of the Holy Spirit and tabernacles of the most Holy Trinity. Oh, one cannot imagine so many inventions created by God for the salvation of our souls. And one cannot understand the happiness of a soul which achieves possession of the kingdom of Infinite Love and enamored with the infinite loveableness of God never stops loving God and thus becomes the throne of His Divinity.

              It is marvelous to believe that there is nothing more beautiful, more profound or more perfect than the Love of God.

              Nothing more beautiful: this is a certainty that leads me to discover the beauty of the persons who are near to me, a beauty that consists of having encountered them in God; it is based precisely, in the power of the encounter. Thus there is nothing more profound than to discover the truth about ourselves.

              St. Vincent used to say “and who am I before God … nothingness and sin!” A growing awareness of who I am leads me to have need of this supernatural strength which guides me along the road to perfection.

              • Let us reflect on all these inventions created by God, Infinite Love!
              • Let us try to achieve true happiness;
              • Let us make the effort to possess the kingdom of Infinite love!
              • God loves us with Infinite Love
              • Let us thank Him for the gift of the Angels.


              ‘The Angels, our protectors’

              Ask yourself:

              • What is your relationship with the angels?
              • How much do you esteem your personal Guardian Angel?
              • Do you know that St. Vincent and so many other saints used the angels to call persons in order to fill the Church?
              Let us pray with St. Vincent Pallotti:

              “My God,
              my infinitely lovable Father,
              eternal Sovereign of my soul,
              in Your infinite love and moved by your infinite mercy
              through the Seraphim you are always working to give me the graces to love You;
              through the Cherubim the enlightenment to know You as worthy of infinite love;
              through the Thrones You communicate to me other graces so that my soul may become forever Your throne.
              Yet, instead of loving You, I have loved creatures,
              I have turned my eyes toward them
              and I have allowed them to captivate my mind and heart.
              Oh my God, I am sorry;
              may You help me to be sorry always,
              and in Your infinite mercy,
              and through the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ,
              through the merits and intercession of Mary,
              and of all the Angels and Saints of paradise,
              grant me at the very least to remember Your Infinite Love,
              and Your Infinite Mercy
              in order to achieve the holiness that You desire.”
              (cf. God, the Infinite Love, med. III)


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


                2009-11-30 09:11:34
                 
                    apostles-for-today-December
               
              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti

              4th meditation

              How the Angels in the second Hierarchy minister to our souls
              God shares his love

              “With the eternal and infinite love with which God loves himself, God mercifully feeds me, and makes the love of God live in me, stay in me, operate in me, so that it is not I who love God in me, but God eternally and infinitely loves himself in me, the abyss of profane and earthly love.” (Pallottine Community Prayers p. 252, OOCC X, 453)                                                                                                                                    
              Reflection: How the angels in the second hierarchy minister to our souls.

              The angels bring us into communication with God. In this fourth meditation St. Vincent wishes us to discover a God who communicates, a Father who with infinite love is looking for ways to help us understand, live and enjoy his graces, favours, gifts and supernatural illuminations, and so rejoice in his kingdom of love. He speaks to us of knowing the gifts and graces that bring us closer to the kingdom. He tells us that God grants us all the graces necessary in order that ‘the most pure love of God’ alone may guide, regulate and animate our thoughts, words and deeds.

              The person is, by very nature, a social being. A person who lives totally isolated from others would be diminished as a person. In order to grow, fulfil oneself, to be oneself, it is necessary to be in communication with other persons.

              We live in the era of communications. Today it is possible to receive news from the furthest reaches of the world a few seconds after something has happened. A telephone, a computer puts us in contact with the culture of far away countries. We may be led to believe that this is the era of the best communication between persons.

              In order to communicate we have created diverse forms of language, gestures, the spoken word, the written form, telephone, the Internet etc. Today we can all communicate with all others. Even in the most difficult circumstances communication between persons is possible in practically every moment.

              Words are the principal means at our disposal to satisfy our need to communicate. Dialogue helps to know the joys and the sufferings of others. Through the spoken word what is most intimate in life is revealed. We know that words allow us to be in harmony with others, however we sometimes do not know what words to use in order to communicate. Experience teaches us that words can raise a person up or make him or her feel desolate and in a desert. Behind every word there is an intention, an intention that marks the relationship with the person with whom we speak. Very often insurmountable barriers that impede a good relationship are raised between people simply because they do not speak.

              We live in the era of communication and yet we often feel very much alone. We look around us and see people who often journey together, work close to one another, live in the same buildings, even perhaps share the same house, and despite all this they are alone, isolated one from the other, they do not communicate. At the same time we receive information minute by minute, at every second of life. An infinite number of messages are transmitted visually. Everything around us seeks to communicate with us. We ask ourselves what these messages mean, with what intention have they been transmitted.

              We could ask ourselves how is our communication with the persons closest to us?

              What are the aspects of our lives, of communication, what words, which of our attitudes distance us from others?
              Who are we most in communication with?

              How does this communication take place? In order to communicate do we emit signals, are we capable of receiving from others, of listening, of being attentive to their non-verbal messages?

              There are so many questions we could ask ourselves in order to better our communication with our families, our friends, the members of the community, with all those who form part of our social circle.

              Sometimes I ask myself ‘how would our world, our Church, our groups, both small and large be, if we were to use the means, all the talents, all the virtues, all the gifts that God gave us to simply COMMUNICATE?

              “We give thanks to God who has given us the gift of the word with which we can communicate with Him through his Son, who is His Word.” (Final document of the V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, num. 25).

              St. Vincent says to us time and again, that:

              God communicates himself so that we may know his love.

              God communicates himself so that we may know that He is infinite love.

              God communicates himself so that we may glimpse the Kingdom of Love which we are called to inhabit.

              The Word of God is a poem, a letter written with infinite love by God who wants to communicate to the men and women of all times a truth, a truth he shouts in all languages: ‘I am infinite love and I want you to know this, I love you in a way that only I am capable of’.

              The author of the Letter to the Hebrews summarized God’s communication as this: God spoke many times and in many ways to our fathers in the past, through the prophets, and in these recent times he has spoken to us through his Son (cf. Hebrews 1,1-2).

              The Word is God’s supreme communication with his beloved children. He does not cease to search for ways and forms to communicate with persons.

              What is your relationship with the Word of God?

              Do you read the Word often in order to listen to God who speaks to you?

              Do you take time to silently be in his presence and listen to his communication with you?

              In the first meditation St. Vincent told us of God’s desire to communicate and his own certainty of this:

              “God, blessed in himself, moved by his infinite love and mercy, created the world in order to give himself wholly to creatures.” (God, Infinite Love, med. I)

              In other writings he affirms:

              “My God, you deigned to speak, and you spoke with infinite love, you pronounced omnipotent words … all infinitely merciful…and with Jesus you have given me everything”.  (OOCC X,478-9)

              St. Vincent asks to have the gift of the word, one of total communication:
              “My God, I want to say a word to you, but do not trust my word, because I have never kept my word, I have always been unfaithful. Yet, my God, this is the word I say to you: ‘I wish to correspond to your infinite love! And (to do so) united with all existing and possible creatures …”. (OOCC X 473)
              We are close to Christmas, celebrating the start of a new year, we are celebrating God’s communication with people of all races in the feast of the Epiphany, therefore as Christians and members of the Union let us do some investigation:
              Do you know the manner in which St. Vincent celebrated the Epiphany in Rome?
              Do those who participate in the celebration of Epiphany in Rome still do so in the same manner?
              Is the feast of Epiphany celebrated in a special way in your community?
              Prayer
              “My God, my Father, eternal ruler of the universe, infinite love of my soul, only You can understand Your infinite love and mercy toward my soul. Only You can understand how ungrateful I have been and how I have abused all Your graces, granted to me through Your infinite mercy. Now I trust that through Your infinite mercy, through the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, and of all the angels and saints, You will grant me the gift of always remembering the infinite love and mercy which You have granted me and that You will grant me innumerable graces, and especially the gift of profiting from them until death, according to Your wish.”
              (God, the Infinite Love, med. IV)

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-01-04 
                    apostles-for-today-January
               
              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
              4th meditation

              How the Angels in the second Hierarchy minister to our souls
              God shares his love
              “With the eternal and infinite love with which God loves himself, God mercifully feeds me, and makes the love of God live in me, stay in me, operate in me, so that it is not I who love God in me, but God eternally and infinitely loves himself in me, the abyss of profane and earthly love.” (Pallottine Community Prayers p. 252, OOCC X,453)                                                                                    

              Reflection: How the angels in the second hierarchy minister to our souls.

              The angels bring us into communication with God. In this fourth meditation St. Vincent wishes us to discover a God who communicates, a Father who with infinite love is looking for ways to help us understand, live and enjoy his graces, favours, gifts and supernatural illuminations, and so rejoice in his kingdom of love. He speaks to us of knowing the gifts and graces that bring us closer to the kingdom. He tells us that God grants us all the graces necessary in order that ‘the most pure love of God’ alone may guide, regulate and animate our thoughts, words and deeds.

              The person is, by very nature, a social being. A person who lives totally isolated from others would be diminished as a person. In order to grow, fulfil oneself, to be oneself, it is necessary to be in communication with other persons.

              We live in the era of communications. Today it is possible to receive news from the furthest reaches of the world a few seconds after something has happened. A telephone, a computer puts us in contact with the culture of far away countries. We may be led to believe that this is the era of the best communication between persons.

              In order to communicate we have created diverse forms of language, gestures, the spoken word, the written form, telephone, the Internet etc. Today we can all communicate with all others. Even in the most difficult circumstances communication between persons is possible in practically every moment.

              Words are the principal means at our disposal to satisfy our need to communicate. Dialogue helps to know the joys and the sufferings of others. Through the spoken word what is most intimate in life is revealed. We know that words allow us to be in harmony with others, however we sometimes do not know what words to use in order to communicate. Experience teaches us that words can raise a person up or make him or her feel desolate and in a desert. Behind every word there is an intention, an intention that marks the relationship with the person with whom we speak. Very often insurmountable barriers that impede a good relationship are raised between people simply because they do not speak.

              We live in the era of communication and yet we often feel very much alone. We look around us and see people who often journey together, work close to one another, live in the same buildings, even perhaps share the same house, and despite all this they are alone, isolated one from the other, they do not communicate. At the same time we receive information minute by minute, at every second of life. An infinite number of messages are transmitted visually. Everything around us seeks to communicate with us. We ask ourselves what these messages mean, with what intention have they been transmitted.

              We could ask ourselves how is our communication with the persons closest to us?

              What are the aspects of our lives, of communication, what words, which of our attitudes distance us from others?
              Who are we most in communication with?

              How does this communication take place? In order to communicate do we emit signals, are we capable of receiving from others, of listening, of being attentive to their non-verbal messages?

              There are so many questions we could ask ourselves in order to better our communication with our families, our friends, the members of the community, with all those who form part of our social circle.

              Sometimes I ask myself ‘how would our world, our Church, our groups, both small and large be, if we were to use the means, all the talents, all the virtues, all the gifts that God gave us to simply COMMUNICATE?

              “We give thanks to God who has given us the gift of the word with which we can communicate with Him through his Son, who is His Word.” (Final document of the V General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops, num. 25).

              St. Vincent says to us time and again, that:

              God communicates himself so that we may know his love.
              God communicates himself so that we may know that He is infinite love.
              God communicates himself so that we may glimpse the Kingdom of Love which we are called to inhabit.

              The Word of God is a poem, a letter written with infinite love by God who wants to communicate to the men and women of all times a truth, a truth he shouts in all languages: ‘I am infinite love and I want you to know this, I love you in a way that only I am capable of’.

              The author of the Letter to the Hebrews summarized God’s communication as this: God spoke many times and in many ways to our fathers in the past, through the prophets, and in these recent times he has spoken to us through his Son (cf. Hebrews 1,1-2).

              The Word is God’s supreme communication with his beloved children. He does not cease to search for ways and forms to communicate with persons.

              What is your relationship with the Word of God?

              Do you read the Word often in order to listen to God who speaks to you?
              Do you take time to silently be in his presence and listen to his communication with you?

              In the first meditation St. Vincent told us of God’s desire to communicate and his own certainty of this:
              “God, blessed in himself, moved by his infinite love and mercy, created the world in order to give himself wholly to creatures.” (God, Infinite Love, med. I)

              In other writings he affirms:

              “My God, you deigned to speak, and you spoke with infinite love, you pronounced omnipotent words … all infinitely merciful…and with Jesus you have given me everything”.  (OOCC X,478-9)

              St. Vincent asks to have the gift of the word, one of total communication:
              “My God, I want to say a word to you, but do not trust my word, because I have never kept my word, I have always been unfaithful. Yet, my God, this is the word I say to you: ‘I wish to correspond to your infinite love! And (to do so) united with all existing and possible creatures …”. (OOCC X 473)
              We are close to Christmas, celebrating the start of a new year, we are celebrating God’s communication with people of all races in the feast of the Epiphany, therefore as Christians and members of the Union let us do some investigation:
              Do you know the manner in which St. Vincent celebrated the Epiphany in Rome?
              Do those who participate in the celebration of Epiphany in Rome still do so in the same manner?
              Is the feast of Epiphany celebrated in a special way in your community?

              Prayer
              “My God, my Father, eternal ruler of the universe, infinite love of my soul, only You can understand Your infinite love and mercy toward my soul. Only You can understand how ungrateful I have been and how I have abused all Your graces, granted to me through Your infinite mercy. Now I trust that through Your infinite mercy, through the infinite merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, and of all the angels and saints, You will grant me the gift of always remembering the infinite love and mercy which You have granted me and that You will grant me innumerable graces, and especially the gift of profiting from them until death, according to Your wish.”
              (God, the Infinite Love, med. IV)

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-01-04  
                    apostles-for-today-January-2
                 
                God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
              5th meditation

              How the Angels in the third Hierarchy minister to our souls
              Reflection:

              This month we bring to a conclusion our reflections on the ministry the Angels exercise in our souls. St. Vincent Pallotti had a clear vision of the role the Angels play in our daily lives and this is seen in his four meditations which he dedicated to them in “God the Infinite Love”. It is important for us his spiritual sons and daughters that we share something of this same vision in order to obtain the desired graces.

              In Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Church affirms the very close relationship between the heavenly Church and the Pilgrim Church: “Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him …some of His disciples are pilgrims on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding "clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is"; but all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbour and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him.” (LG 49)

              In this meditation St. Vincent expresses his faith in these terms: “Enlightened by holy faith, we must remember that God, wholly infinite love and mercy, moved by the same infinite love and infinite mercy, in order to provide for our souls gives us His gifts, graces and divine favours, and does so also through the Angels who form the choir of Virtues. He does this so that our soul, having attained possession of the Kingdom of the Love of God, may continue to do the greatest and most difficult deeds and thus give the most shining proof of true love of God.

              In fact actions are the true proof of love: ‘the proof of love is the performing of deeds’ (St. Gregory the Great).

              Since faith in the mysteries of God’s divinity and infinite love and mercy towards men encourages the soul to live a life of holy love of God, God, through the choir of the Archangels, communicates all those gifts, favors, graces and ineffable mercies which we need to profit from these incomprehensible mysteries by the precious light of faith.

              In order to provide for all other needs of our souls and to free us from every true evil, he communicates to us all the necessary graces through the choir of the Guardian Angels. They guards us always, day and night, even when we sin or live in sin, and they never abandon us.

              Through the ineffable gift of infinite love and infinite mercy each soul has an angel who guards it, who communicates holy inspirations to do good and avoid evil, and provokes remorse. This angel is with us always and wherever we may go and remains with us to guide us swiftly toward our only and final blessed end.

              Oh my God, my Father: Love, ineffable Love, infinite Love, eternal Love, incomprehensible Love; my mercy, eternal mercy, infinite mercy, who can ever understand You?

              Shared reflection

              • Am I aware of the presence of a Guardian Angel in my life?
              • Can I share my experiences of my Guardian Angel’s help?
              • When I sin do I remember my Guardian Angel and the warnings I received?
              • Do I share St. Vincent’s conviction of living and operating as a member of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ?

              It is important to recognize in our daily lives and in our prayer the role the Angels have. If the Saints intercede for all people, then the Angels not only pray for us but they also act directly on our behalf and all around us.

              The Angels are present and marvel at every sacrament, but it is in the liturgy of the Eucharist that they give particular witness. St. John Chrysostom wrote: “The angels surround the priest. The sanctuary and the space around the altar is full of the celestial power to honour Him who is present on the altar.”

              The Cure of Ars also invites us to recognize the spirit with which the Angels adore Jesus in order to imitate it as far as is possible: “Oh! If we had the eyes of the Angels, seeing our Lord Jesus Christ who is present here on the altar looking at us, how we would love him!”

              P. Ansgar Fallar, wrote: “Nevertheless, those four meditations on the angels are of great value...God works generally through secondary causes (angels and persons). He permits creatures to co-operate, reign and love with Him. The providence of God uses instruments which are endowed with free will. This idea was always one which made Don Vincent happy. But the love which engaged countless hosts of pure spirits in the service of creation overwhelmed Pallotti. (Faller A. SAC, ‘An introduction to Vincent Pallotti’s God Infinite Love,’ 1992).

              St. Vincent prayed: “Grant, O my God, that through the holy Guardian Angels all persons and all places in the entire world, now and always, be sufficiently provided for, assisted, sustained, governed and defended in every need so that everything exist to glorify you, my God. I desire that all things and all persons work together to glorify you as you deserve and do so for the reasons that please you. Amen.” (OOCC X, p. 435-7.)

              It is good to ask our Guardian Angel to pray with us and for us in Eucharistic adoration. We can also entrust to them the task of preserving our imagination and our minds from any dark images or thoughts, of guiding all our interior and exterior senses towards God, who is present, though his is a hidden presence.

              Scriptural texts for reflection and sharing:
              Daniel 8, 35 ff; 9, 20 ff; 10,9 ff.
              Matt 25, 33; Lk 1, 26 ff.
              Acts  8, 26-40; 12, 7 – 11.

              Prayer
              “My God, my Father, Father of Mercies,
              God of all Consolation (cf. 2 Cor 1,3),
              it is impossible for me to understand Your infinite love and mercy, which moved You and are always moving You
              to grant me innumerable graces, favours, gifts and mercies
              through the Holy Angels.
              It is impossible that I could ever come to understand
              my horrible ingratitude for Your graces
              and my infinite unworthiness.
              But because You are Infinite love and mercy I firmly trust,
              rather I am certain that through the same most loving mercy,
              through the infinite merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
              the merits and intercession of Mary,
              and of all the Angels and Saints,
              You will grant me the grace to know You
              in Your infinite love and mercy,
              and to know You in all Your divine attributes,
              and the grace to know myself in my unworthiness as You will.
              Grant me the gift of always calling to mind Your infinite love
              and Your mercy which is infinite in the distribution of Your graces, so that I may profit from them according to Your desire.” (God Infinite Love, meditation V)

              Offering:

              “Eternal Father,
              in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
              I offer You the most precious Blood of the Immaculate Lamb,
              our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving,
              as if You had already granted all the graces
              I have requested for me and for all persons, now and always.”
              (God, the Infinite Love, meditation V).
              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-02-02 07:02:29
                   apostles-for-today-February

              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
              5th meditation

              How the Angels in the third Hierarchy minister to our souls
              Reflection:

              This month we bring to a conclusion our reflections on the ministry the Angels exercise in our souls. St. Vincent Pallotti had a clear vision of the role the Angels play in our daily lives and this is seen in his four meditations which he dedicated to them in “God the Infinite Love”. It is important for us his spiritual sons and daughters that we share something of this same vision in order to obtain the desired graces.

              In Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, the Church affirms the very close relationship between the heavenly Church and the Pilgrim Church: “Until the Lord shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him …some of His disciples are pilgrims on earth, some having died are purified, and others are in glory beholding "clearly God Himself triune and one, as He is"; but all in various ways and degrees are in communion in the same charity of God and neighbor and all sing the same hymn of glory to our God. For all who are in Christ, having His Spirit, form one Church and cleave together in Him.” (LG 49)

              In this meditation St. Vincent expresses his faith in these terms: “Enlightened by holy faith, we must remember that God, wholly infinite love and mercy, moved by the same infinite love and infinite mercy, in order to provide for our souls gives us His gifts, graces and divine favors, and does so also through the Angels who form the choir of Virtues. He does this so that our soul, having attained possession of the Kingdom of the Love of God, may continue to do the greatest and most difficult deeds and thus give the most shining proof of true love of God.

              In fact actions are the true proof of love: ‘the proof of love is the performing of deeds’ (St. Gregory the Great).

              Since faith in the mysteries of God’s divinity and infinite love and mercy towards men encourages the soul to live a life of holy love of God, God, through the choir of the Archangels, communicates all those gifts, favors, graces and ineffable mercies which we need to profit from these incomprehensible mysteries by the precious light of faith.

              In order to provide for all other needs of our souls and to free us from every true evil, he communicates to us all the necessary graces through the choir of the Guardian Angels. They guards us always, day and night, even when we sin or live in sin, and they never abandon us.

              Through the ineffable gift of infinite love and infinite mercy each soul has an angel who guards it, who communicates holy inspirations to do good and avoid evil, and provokes remorse. This angel is with us always and wherever we may go and remains with us to guide us swiftly toward our only and final blessed end.

              Oh my God, my Father: Love, ineffable Love, infinite Love, eternal Love, incomprehensible Love; my mercy, eternal mercy, infinite mercy, who can ever understand You?

              Shared reflection

              • Am I aware of the presence of a Guardian Angel in my life?
              • Can I share my experiences of my Guardian Angel’s help?
              • When I sin do I remember my Guardian Angel and the warnings I received?
              • Do I share St. Vincent’s conviction of living and operating as a member of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ?


              It is important to recognize in our daily lives and in our prayer the role the Angels have. If the Saints intercede for all people, then the Angels not only pray for us but they also act directly on our behalf and all around us.

              The Angels are present and marvel at every sacrament, but it is in the liturgy of the Eucharist that they give particular witness. St. John Chrysostom wrote: “The angels surround the priest. The sanctuary and the space around the altar is full of the celestial power to honour Him who is present on the altar.”

              The Cure of Ars also invites us to recognize the spirit with which the Angels adore Jesus in order to imitate it as far as is possible: “Oh! If we had the eyes of the Angels, seeing our Lord Jesus Christ who is present here on the altar looking at us, how we would love him!”

              P. Ansgar Fallar, wrote: “Nevertheless, those four meditations on the angels are of great value...God works generally through secondary causes (angels and persons). He permits creatures to co-operate, reign and love with Him. The providence of God uses instruments which are endowed with free will. This idea was always one which made Don Vincent happy. But the love which engaged countless hosts of pure spirits in the service of creation overwhelmed Pallotti. (Faller A. SAC, ‘An introduction to Vincent Pallotti’s God Infinite Love,’ 1992).

              St. Vincent prayed: “Grant, O my God, that through the holy Guardian Angels all persons and all places in the entire world, now and always, be sufficiently provided for, assisted, sustained, governed and defended in every need so that everything exist to glorify you, my God. I desire that all things and all persons work together to glorify you as you deserve and do so for the reasons that please you. Amen.” (OOCC X, p. 435-7.)

              It is good to ask our Guardian Angel to pray with us and for us in Eucharistic adoration. We can also entrust to them the task of preserving our imagination and our minds from any dark images or thoughts, of guiding all our interior and exterior senses towards God, who is present, though his is a hidden presence.

              Scriptural texts for reflection and sharing:
              Daniel 8, 35 ff; 9, 20 ff; 10,9 ff.
              Matt 25, 33; Lk 1, 26 ff.

              Acts  8, 26-40; 12, 7 – 11.

              Prayer
              “My God, my Father, Father of Mercies,
              God of all Consolation (cf. 2 Cor 1,3),
              it is impossible for me to understand Your infinite love and mercy, which moved You and are always moving You
              to grant me innumerable graces, favours, gifts and mercies
              through the Holy Angels.
              It is impossible that I could ever come to understand
              my horrible ingratitude for Your graces
              and my infinite unworthiness.
              But because You are Infinite love and mercy I firmly trust,
              rather I am certain that through the same most loving mercy,
              through the infinite merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ,
              the merits and intercession of Mary,
              and of all the Angels and Saints,
              You will grant me the grace to know You
              in Your infinite love and mercy,
              and to know You in all Your divine attributes,
              and the grace to know myself in my unworthiness as You will.
              Grant me the gift of always calling to mind Your infinite love
              and Your mercy which is infinite in the distribution of Your graces, so that I may profit from them according to Your desire.” (God Infinite Love, meditation V)

              Offering:

              “Eternal Father,
              in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary,
              I offer You the most precious Blood of the Immaculate Lamb,
              our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving,
              as if You had already granted all the graces
              I have requested for me and for all persons, now and always.”
              (God, the Infinite Love, meditation V).
              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-02-02 
                    apostles-for-today-february-2

              Article and meditation by Sr. Sara Carfagna, CSAC

              There is a prayer in the Pallottine Tradition, well known in our communities, in which we turn to the Lord and ask him to keep alive in our family the spirit with which St. Vincent was filled, so we strive to love all that he loved and to do what he taught us ...

              This prayer, which we recite almost every day, is really a key to interpret and analyze the underlying motivations that bind us to our Founder and which give us a strong sense of belonging to his family.

              As his children we want to love what St. Vincent  loved.
              As his disciples we want to do what he taught us.

              It is in his experience of prayer that we discover what Saint Vincent loved even before looking at his apostolic zeal and his enthusiasm in charity towards all. Furthermore, his relationship with the Lord is the place where we come to know who  he loved and by whom he feels infinitely loved.
              "You, O my God, who mercifully  created me and  with everlasting love have loved me, and love me, and therefore having mercy on me have drawn me to yourself, guide me, move me according to your infinite mercy in every thought, word, and operation." (cf OOCC 10, p. 134). ... 



              Article and meditation by Sr. Sara Carfagna, CSAC

              There is a prayer in the Pallottine Tradition, well known in our communities, in which we turn to the Lord and ask him to keep alive in our family the spirit with which St. Vincent was filled, so we strive to love all that he loved and to do what he taught us ...

              This prayer, which we recite almost every day, is really a key to interpret and analyze the underlying motivations that bind us to our Founder and which give us a strong sense of belonging to his family.

              As his children we want to love what St. Vincent  loved.
              As his disciples we want to do what he taught us.

              It is in his experience of prayer that we discover what Saint Vincent loved even before looking at his apostolic zeal and his enthusiasm in charity towards all. Furthermore, his relationship with the Lord is the place where we come to know who  he loved and by whom he feels infinitely loved.
              "You, O my God, who mercifully  created me and  with everlasting love have loved me, and love me, and therefore having mercy on me have drawn me to yourself, guide me, move me according to your infinite mercy in every thought, word, and operation." (cf OOCC 10, p. 134). ...

              "... Being a living image of God, a living image of the Holy Spirit, who is infinite love, incomprehensible immensity of the Father and the Son: therefore since You are a natural constituent part of my Soul  which aspires to infinite Love ...  I am obliged to live a life of Love in the Infinite Love: therefore I have to regulate all the thoughts of my mind and affections of the heart with Love to aspire to infinite Love ... (cf. OOCC 13,  p. 83 - 84).

              When  indicating a place from which prayer springs, the Scriptures speak sometimes of the soul or of the spirit and  more often of the heart ... it is the heart that prays.
              The heart is the dwelling place where I am, where I live (according to the Semitic or Biblical expression: where I "descend"). It is our hidden center, beyond the reach of our reason and of others, only the Spirit of God can scrutinize and know it. It is the place of decision which is in the depth of our psychic faculties. It is the place of truth where we choose life or death. It is the meeting place, since we are beings in the image of God we live in relation (to others) (cf. CCC nos. 2562-2563).
              With great respect and devotion we dare to enter the innermost sanctuary of the heart of St. Vincent, we do so like children who accede to the place that is most dear, secret, or closely guarded by their parents.
              We dare to enter with the fear of one who does not wish to desecrate a holy place and at the same time with the right of children who know that in this shrine the most precious wealth that he left us as a legacy is kept:
              "Desiring greatly to love God
              I wish to and intend to do so effectively  and to have loved
              and to love God and give him infinite glory with infinite perfection
              infinitely from all eternity, for all eternity, infinitely
              but in such a way as if I were at the same time in Heaven and on earth; in Heaven to love God supremely ...”
              (OOCC 10, p. 69).
              When we enter the shrine or sanctuary of the inner life of St. Vincent - especially through his spiritual diary - we come face to face with a mine of desires, intentions, aspirations, professions of faith, in which his choice of God reaches its climax, even to the extent of annihilating the most vital needs of the human person: "My God ... not the intellect, but God, not the will, but God ... not the soul, but God, not sight, but God, not the hearing, but God, not smell, but God, not taste, and speech, but God ... " (OOCC 10, p.131).
              Looking at his relationship with the Lord in prayer, we understand the motivations, reasons and the way he loved God, but especially we appreciate how he feels loved by God the Father most amiable, loving, tender.
              None of us ignores the fact that St. Vincent received a solid education in prayer. We know many episodes of his childhood, especially the way in which his mother led him and accompanied him (we think of the novena to the Holy Spirit). St. Vincent acquired a spirit of prayer from his parents, from the Sacraments, from daily participation in the Eucharist with his father, from spiritual direction, through his desire for assimilation to Christ (flagellation) and through his intense relationship with the Madonna, up to the Mystical Marriage in which it is she who takes the initiative.
              Already in his youth he was a man of prayer. We could even say he was a man who became prayer.
              We cannot penetrate his mystical experience which was a very personal and ineffable encounter with the Mystery, but as children we want to know how he prayed in order to allow ourselves be permeated by his spirit of prayer.

              In perfect harmony with the canons of the Christian Tradition, the prayer style of St. Vincent is just as it is described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

              "Great is the mystery of the faith!" … This mystery, then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. This relationship is prayer (cf. CCC n. 2558).
              St Vincent lived prayer as a personal relationship; an intense relationship, one that is intimate, profound, uninterrupted, ineffable, a true immersion in God.

              His prayer is a prayer of awareness, full of presence and self-consciousness; enriched by all the connotations of the relationship between God and the human person, that are present in Revelation: "If you only knew the gift of God! " (Jn 4:10). The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God's desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God's thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for. (cf. CCC 2560).

              In the experience of San Vincent, on every page of his diary, this spiritual truth shines: it is God who desires and wants to communicate to him His great love, His infinite love.
              Prayer, as a relationship with the Lord, so tender, loving, amiable Father and the most beloved Jesus, enamored of souls, is the most precious gift of the communicative Love of God: ‘My heart can no longer hold itself back in its desire to communicate with souls’, this is how St. Vincent writes, borrowing the words of the Heart of Jesus to Saint Margaret M. Alacoque. (cf. OOCC 10, p. 85).

              His prayer is:

              confessio laudis: a proclamation of what God does for him, of how much God loves him: "You, O my God, have loved me, and love me ...” (OOCC 10, p. 134).

              confessio vitae: a lucid and sincere declaration of his unworthiness and ingratitude is a constant and recurring attitude, as we are taught by the doctrine of the Church: "Prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God."
              “But when we pray, do we speak from the height of our pride and will, or "out of the depths" of a humble and contrite heart (Psalm 130,1)?
              He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer,
              Only when we humbly acknowledge that "we do not know how to pray as we ought (Rom 8,26)," are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer." Man is a beggar before God." (cf. CCC 2559).

              confessio fidei: a solemn act of unconditional trust that may even seem implausible, going so far as to affirm that the greater is his unworthiness and his misery, so much the greater is the deluge of graces and mercies that God continues to pour out upon him "I believe, O my God, that I would abuse your mercy if I were to think that your infinite mercy does not triumph over my indisposition, and I am treated mercifully by You in your infinite mercy with a great abundance of grace as if I were righteous of heart ..." ( OOCC 10, p. 182).
              His prayer is continuous and uninterrupted, "Pray all the time, asking for what you need, praying in the Spirit on every possible occasion "  (Ephesians 6.18) as the continuous flow of a river of clear water, moment by moment, breath by breath, without respite.
              His prayer is an intimate dialogue with the Lord and a deep and personal conversation in which he feels himself to be the subject of an infinite love which is free, unconditional, a love that grows just as much as his unworthiness, or rather his awareness of not being worthy to merit it, grows.
              His prayer is an ineffable experience, untranslatable into common terms, often made up of very short words or silence, because words are not enough; it is a silent contemplation, adoration, a mystical experience of personal encounter with Jesus Christ, who is the more than beloved Bridegroom of the Soul ...

              His prayer is Trinitarian: it is always directed to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. His apostolic prayer for vocations, and each one of his prayers of offering, intercession and blessings are shining examples of this.
              His prayer is Christ centered, always in union with Jesus, through the merits of Jesus Christ, in the name of Jesus: “anything you ask for…in my name ” (Jn 16, 23).  Thus St. Vincent turns to the Father: I intend to adore you, love you, thank you and pray to you with all the affection of the most holy heart of Jesus.

              His prayer is Marian; Mary has a place of honour and has a most important role in the spiritual life of St. Vincent Pallotti. There isn’t any invocation of God that is not expressed as through the merits and the intercession of Mary most Holy, our more than beloved Mother. His rapport with our Lady culminates when “the great Mother of Mercy, to triumph with a Miracle of Mercy over the ingratitude and inconceivable unworthiness of the most miserable of all the subjects of the Kingdom of mercy, most mercifully deigns to effect a spiritual espousal and she gives him as a dowry all that she possesses and she makes known to him her own Divine Son, she pledges herself that everything may be totally transformed in the Holy Spirit”.  (cf. OOCC 10, p. 195).
              His prayer is Universal: always for all and in union with all the Angels and Saints, with all creatures.

              His prayer is transformative, a full immersion in God, in His love and in His mercy:

              •      immersed in the blood of Jesus I confess your infinite magnificence, and my immense misery …  (OOCC 10, p. 29).
              •      immersed in your infinite mercy…   (OOCC 10, p. 204)
              •      to arrive at and to be fully immersed in, and as it were transformed in your Divine Love and in your infinite Charity, and in all of You… (OOCC 13, p. 53)
              •      everything entirely immersed in God, and thus immersed in purity in essence… (OOCC 13, p. 431)
              •   for ever immersed in the sweetest torrent of your true joy… (OOCC 13, p. 568)
              And the list could go on, up to infinity …
              The experience of the relationship with God in prayer delights the heart of St. Vincent and it renders him capable of receiving the Infinite Love, the Infinite Mercy, and the Holiness itself of God.
              As well as being a man who became prayer, St. Vincent is a great master of Prayer.
              As his disciples we want to do as he has taught us: “ Do as he tells you  (Jn 2,4 )”.
              How  did St. Vincent teach us to pray? With words and above all with example as we have seen.
              His teaching, which is contained in the Rule, in ‘God the Infinite Love’, in his letters, in the texts of the various ‘Months of May’ – where he has Mary speak – trains us to develop in ourselves a profound attitude of prayer and of contemplation of the Love of God for us all.
              In his school we learn to cultivate a constant attitude of openness to the presence of God and of availability to the action of His Spirit.
              Our interior glance becomes more acute and is able to contemplate the prodigies of grace and of the mercy of God, which take place in us and all around us; optimum conditions are created in which the power of God together with an awareness of our misery, frailty and incapacity, can finally meet and holiness can blossom.  
              It is not possible to present here the vastness of the teachings of St. Vincent on prayer, we limit ourselves to some elements, aware that we are only drawing on part of his riches.
              Let us consider all that he taught us to begin the day, how to live the time of meditation, how to adore and as it were breathe the presence of God.
              “Grant O Lord that your worship and the ecclesiastical ceremonies be exercised in the most exact, perfect and holy way”, this was the desire of St. Vincent from the making of the sign of the cross in the morning until the last act of the day. His aspirations always tended towards the most sublime perfection.
              As soon as we wake and get up, he invites us to:
              •     kiss the most holy Crucifix which we have under the pillow;
              •     take the holy water and make the  sign of the Cross;

                     trusting that we be fortified with the power of the Father.
                     enlightened with the Wisdom of the Son,
                     and sanctified with the virtue and charity of the Holy Spirit.

              It seems that he never insists strongly enough in proposing the making of the sign of the cross as he had learnt it from St Francis de Sales and which he calls ‘a devout and very effective practice’ and which he reformulated in a more extensive and personalized version:

              By myself I can do nothing, with You I can do everything,
              for your glory I want to do everything,
              to You be endless glory, honor, love, reverence,
              to me scorn, shame, sufferings. (cf. OOCC 10, p. 122).
              As an expert Master of Prayer, he suggests to us also the attitudes to be cultivated:
              •      sincere distrust of our own strength;
              •      with complete trust in God;
              •      with purity of intention and animated by pure charity;
              •      with a true sense of our own unworthiness;
                the motivations:
              •      to increase our trust in grace;
              •      to spend the day in the fullness and in the perfection of holy works;
                the occasions:
              •      each time that we hear any call to a  community exercise;
              •      in temptations of any kind;
              •      at the beginning of and throughout the duration of works or activities.

              Furthermore he invites us to promote the use of these prayers among the faithful, by word of mouth, or by having them printed.
              Even in dressing ourselves and in our walking he exhorts us pray:

              •      Psalm 94   with the most lively and effective desire that all the beings who are, and who will be until the end of the world, may know, and may render homage, adoration and perfect obedience to the Most High:
              •      Psalm 66   to obtain for ourselves and for all persons the mercy and the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and Eternal Life;
              •      Psalm 116   to be recited with a tone of voice of one who is being heard and with the most lively desire that all peoples and all nations may come to praise the Most High;
              •      Psalm 50  to begin all the works of the day with a spirit of true humility and penance.
                He exhorts us to :
              •      make continuous acts of adoration, love, gratitude, as devotion and trust inspire us ;
              •      renew and increase faith in the presence of God:

              My God, I am unworthy of this gift of faith and the practice of your divine Presence … My God, my adorations deserve to be rejected by You, I intend to adore you from all eternity and for all eternity at every infinite moment as You are, One in Essence, Triune in Persons, infinite in Your attributes and I adore You with the Adoration of all Angels and Saints and of their most holy Queen, Mary, and that of all creatures, I intend to adore you, love you, thank you, and pray with all the affections of the most holy Heart of Jesus.

              He recommends adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to us and suggests:
              •   to remain in silence, with humble confidence and great concentration,
                     listening to Jesus speaking to us: "I will not put any limit to my graces for those souls
                   who come looking for them in this my heart."
                He exhorts us to give great importance to daily meditation:
              • to pray to obtain the enlightenment and the graces to meditate fruitfully;
              • to be clear on the purpose of meditation;
              • to cultivate inner silence;
              • to ask pardon for faults committed in meditation;
              • to give thank for the gifts and the enlightenment received;
              • to pray for the gift to maintain and increase the fruits of meditation.

              I ask forgiveness of the Lord and of St. Vincent for all the limitations and inadequacies of this sharing.

              To conclude let us turn to St. Vincent and pray the final part of the prayer mentioned at the beginning:
                    “I pray O Father, that Your spirit of humility and charity be in me and in all your children.
                    As Jesus Christ prayed for his disciples,
                    so too You pray in the Holy Trinity for us all,
                    for we may be freed from evil, sanctified in the Truth and confirmed in the Union.”
              For personal reflection
              1.   In order to learn how to pray, I must know what kind of relationship I have with the Lord.
              2.   How has my belonging to the Family of St. Vincent Pallotti influenced, enriched and deepened my relationship with the Lord and the style of my prayer life?
              3.   For my future life, what attitudes do I want to cultivate for a life of prayer that is more intense  and deeper?


              Sr. Sara Carfagna, CSAC,

              Rome, January 2010.



                    2010-02-11 
               
              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti


              6th meditation

              On the purpose of the infinite love and mercy of God
               in giving us the use of created things

              Opening prayer

              “Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing for joy. Know that he, the Lord, is God. He made us, we belong to him, we are his people, the sheep of his flock. Loving Father, out of love you have created us and made us your people. We give you thanks. Help us today to be witnesses to your love. Amen.” (Pallottine Community Prayers, p.38)

              Introduction

              From the very beginning Christians have professed:
              “I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, of all things, visible and invisible”. St. Augustine suggested: “Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air, amply spread around everywhere, question the beauty of the sky, and question all these things. They all answer you, 'Here we are, look; we're beautiful. Their beauty is their confession. Who made these beautiful changeable things, if not one who is beautiful and unchangeable?” (Sermon 241, 2)


              “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Gen 1, 1), the first chapter of the Bible begins with these solemn words, they express a fundamental truth: the eternal God is the source of all that exists outside of Himself. Sacred Scripture presents the creative work of the Creator in a symbolic manner as a continuous ‘activity’ which ends with the ‘repose’ of the seventh day (Gen 1,1-2,4) . Scripture affirms that on having completed every work: “God saw that it was good”, that it was beautiful. The things created by God, in all their splendour, in the diversity of colours, forms, perfumes, sounds and taste reflect, each one in its own particular way, a ray of the wisdom and of the infinite goodness of the creator.  Humankind is the high point of creation. St. Irenaeus was moved to exclaim in wonder “The glory of God is the human being fully alive!” We find an echo of this wonder in the life of St. Vincent when he asks: “My God who are you? … My God, I am aware that if I do not know you I can never have eternal life […]. O my God, what knowledge must I have of you?” (OOCC X, 464). We are aware that amongst all the visible creatures only the human person was created “in the image of God” and because of this occupies a special place in the work of creation.


              Meditation
              In the sixth meditation Father Vincent invites us to stop and to observe and contemplate the works created by God in order to reflect for a while on the purpose of creation and to profit from the truth that I, a person, am “the glory of God” and that all that exists will help me to know, love and glorify my Lord.


              We are invited to meditate on the infinite generosity of God and on the fact that each one of us has received many gifts. God, the creator, created the universe from nothing and with love gave it in possession to humankind. In this generous gesture the Creator reveals his deepest spirit of joyful hospitality. He gives to humanity all that he created and thus expresses his love: “Since I regard you as precious, (…) and I love you” (Is. 43.4). Let us listen in our hearts to these words full of tenderness. Let us accept with gratitude the invitation of the Lord to rejoice in creation and to make full use of his gifts. Let us reawaken in ourselves the desire to know God, his generosity, love and tenderness.


              “Since through the grandeur and beauty of the creatures we may, by analogy, contemplate their Author” (Wis 13,5). The desire to know God is deeply rooted in our human nature because each person carries in him or herself a reflection of divine beauty. We experience a thirst, a desire to experience Love, Beauty and Goodness which is God himself. Father Vincent affirmed that God “desires that we aspire to contemplate for all eternity the inaccessible light which is God himself”.


              The person created in the image of God is called to know him and to love him and in seeking him discovers the paths that lead to this knowledge. These ‘paths’ are called ‘the proofs of the existence of God’; but here we are not dealing with scientific proof but rather questions which allow us to reach true certainty. The starting point on these ‘paths’ which lead us to God is creation, the tangible world and the human person.


              Truly living as a created being


              Let us listen to the words of St. Vincent: “My God and my Father, (...) you created all visible things and you have given me use of them so that above all  I profit from them in order to know you who are the omnipotent creator of all things, and to come to posses you the infinite, immense and incomprehensible good”.


              I ask myself, what is my attitude towards the world created by God? I call to mind the moments in which I have delighted in the works of creation, in the firmament of heaven, in the magnificence and beauty of nature, of the works of art. Am I sensitive to the beauty of the world and the beauty of people? Do I stop frequently to admire created things? Do I have the capacity to be awestruck by them and to marvel at them?



              The person is not always conscious of feeling his or her thirst for beauty. In daily life which is often full of occupations one may not even perceive the movements of the heart in the face of this beauty. Let me ask myself, do I commit myself to finding time to stop, how much time do I seek for reflection, do I ponder and reflect on my daily life? Now and again at the end of a tiring day we could take time to look at the sky, at the beauty of the stars and of the clouds in the night sky, to fill our hearts with beauty which will raise them up towards the Lord and glorify him for the gift of sight, of the ability to rejoice. Let us ask the Lord to give us again the sensitivity of heart of the child who knows how to be awestruck. Let us ask for the grace to want to know the love and the goodness of God as revealed in all of creation.


              Glorify God with all of oneself
              “To glorify God” means to see, and to wish to receive from God, all of his gifts of love, to fill ones life with them and to give thanks to him for them: “Yahweh our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the world” (Ps. 8, 1). The person is WILLED by God, he or she is the reflection of his beauty, love, goodness and wisdom. God wishes to be KNOWN by the person, he desires that the person be open to this relationship, to know him, love him and glorify him committing ones whole self, ones being, ones humanity, all ones potential, ones mind and also all ones affections and ones sensitivity. In this meditation St. Vincent teaches us HOW to know God with all of ones self, HOW to embrace him with all ones senses: with ones sight and with ones touch: “he has given us the clouds at night, clothing of such variety, gold, silver, precious pearls and stones …”; with one’s sense of smell: “he has given us the scent of flowers”; with the hearing “he has given us the variety of sounds, and canticles”; with the sense of taste: “he has given us an immeasurable variation in the taste of food and of drink”. Let me ask myself once again if I am aware of the fact that my senses, my ability to feel, should lead me to be enamored with the beauty of God?  In enjoying created things, do I enjoy the beauty and the goodness of God, do they lead me to God?  St. Vincent says to us that “all these things God has given to us so that we aspire to eternity, to infinity, to what is immortal, immense, incomprehensible, all of which is God himself”.


              Reflecting on our own experiences, let us recall situations in which created things have led us to the Creator. Let us recall moments of wonderment, of awe when faced with the beauty of nature, let us recall works of art which awakened in us a thirst for something that is in itself beautiful and immense, the thirst for God.



              We ask for the grace to know how to use created things. It is thanks to this gift that the Christian, docile to the activity of the Holy Spirit, can discern with clarity between that which leads him or her to God and that which separates from Him.  The Holy Spirit warns us that things which in themselves are good can become damaging for persons in as much as they distance one from his or her supernatural aspiration.  Such a situation is a product of disorder, of an eagerness to possess and to attach ones heart to material things. The gift of discernment helps a person to perceive created things as signs which lead us to God. It is a gift of contemplation thanks to which the person enters into the mystery of God himself and something similar takes place when the gift is that of intelligence and wisdom.  In personal prayer we ask the Lord to increase in us this gift and help us to draw many benefits from it.


              Concluding prayer – spontanous

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-03-01 
                    apostles-for-today-march

              St Vincent Pallotti – “God the Infinite Love”
              Meditation VII
              On the most infinite Mercy of God in the conservation of all created things at the service of man, although he abuses them to offend God instead of profiting by them according to God’s wishes.

              Opening Prayer

              “My God, you are infinite goodness and as such you wish to give yourself infinitely to your creatures. Filled with eternal love and mercy, you designed the work of creation in order to spend yourself totally in your creatures. You have made all things for our use, providing everything we need for life. We wish to use as much of what you have provided for us as is necessary to attain our last and blessed end.” (Pallottine Community Prayers, Sunday Midday, p. 40)

              Reflection

              In creating the world and entrusting it to humanity God offers all people the possibility of profiting from created things, his plan is that mankind would use all created things, make them fruitful and be master of all that he created (Gen, 1,28). The person is called to preserve and increase this magnificent gift of God which is creation and to see it as an expression of the Creator’s love. However, experience shows that we tend to forget our responsibility for this gift of creation. Instead of using well all that is received from God we tend not to profit from created things as willed by God and St. Vincent terms this attitude an abuse. All that exists is given to humanity for our development. Light, sounds, food, beverages, clothing and riches all derive from God and are to be used prudently.  A lack of interior balance in the use of created things leads us to sin, be it against ourselves or against the Lord in offending him. The correct balance in the use of all created things requires of each of us a great deal of wisdom. Created things and riches when they are misused can be a source of danger for us, when well used that can increase our love of God.
              St. Vincent’s awareness of not having used well created things moved him to thank and glorify the Mercy of God. Our Founder recognises that he has abused frequently the gifts of light, sounds and food and deserves to be deprived of all that which is necessary to satisfy our earthly needs. However the discovery of his negligence and sin do not lead him to a lack of hope. In the very moment in which he confesses his ‘abuses’ to God he discovers also that God never stops loving him. He shows us in this that a recognition of the truth of one’s own limitations should not be a source of sadness, neither should it lead one to be submerged in guilt. St. Vincent shows us that while being aware of our own sins we can also praise God for his Mercy.

              When we know the gifts of God and the difficulties involved in using them correctly then we will be able to understand properly Pallotti’s words. He saw in all created things and in all that he received from God an expression and a reflection of the Mercy of God. Sometimes we are even tempted to think that if God saw only our ingratitude in the face of all he gives us he could take away from us all that we abuse. However, God does not react in this manner. He does not lose patience with his creatures nor does he punish us for our sins. He does not cease to give us all of what we need in order to be happy in this life and he continues to satisfy our needs. His gifts, even the more ordinary and simple ones which are as obvious as the air we breathe, are like ‘sacraments’ of his mercy.

              In this reflection we can ask ourselves how we profit from the gifts of God and in which situations do we abuse them. St. Vincent reminds us that all that we receive from God should be used in accordance with the will of the Creator. He encourages us to examine our consciences and to reflect on how we profit from created things. Following the example of St. Vincent let us praise the Mercy of God which continues to rain down on us and is stronger that our sins. Nothing can change the generosity of God who will never change his original loving plan.

              Questions for reflection:

              1. How do I profit from the gifts which I continually receive from God?
              2. At what moments and in which situations do I abuse God’s gifts?
              3. How do I use material goods?
              4. How do I increase the love of God and his kingdom on earth?
              5. How can I deepen my relationship with God in the use of created things?
              6. Do I express my gratitude to God for his gifts?

              Meditation on the Word of God: Lk 15, 11 - 32

              St. Vincent in his book “God the Infinite Love” contemplates the infinite love of God and his mercy towards all persons and he marvels at the workings of God in his life. In order to deepen our awareness of this fundamental truth of God’s mercy let us meditate on this passage from St. Luke’s gospel and allow the merciful love of God for us sinners to touch us again.

              What can I ask of God? – to be deeply moved in experiencing the mercy of the Father and a desire to love him with all my being.

              Jesus speaks to us of the prodigal son and of the father’s love. Jesus wants to tell us our own story. Attentively I try to observe the behaviour of the son and that of the father.

              Firstly I observe the son who leaves home; then I notice the father who remains silent because he respects the son’s freedom. I ask for the grace to feel the pain of the father and the weight of the sin of the son which pains the father.

              I ask myself: when I acknowledge my sins in my examination of con science or in the sacrament of penance, do I see the Father’s face and the pain he feels?

              Following closely the story of the son who left his father I see how sin generates further sin and eventually brings the son to a state where he is living in misery. I try to see similar situations in my own life.

              I contemplate the father’s deep emotion as he embraces his son on his return home. I kneel before God the Father, I sincerely confess my sins to him, I ask his pardon and experience his paternal love and my desire  to feel myself as a child in his embrace.

              I also take note of the reaction of the elder son who does not wish to enter the home. He is incapable of accepting the father’s behaviour towards his brother, he is convinced that he does not deserve the father’s love. What do I think of the elder son’s behaviour?  

              Reflecting on the words of the father to his elder son I recognize that he addresses them to me also. All that the father possesses is mine. I have received everything gratuitously. I do not have to earn his love, he wishes that I allow him to love me. Now I turn to prayer and praise.
              Prayer of intercession

              1. O God, Lord of life and death, open our hearts to the mystery of Easter, help us to live the paschal mystery so that together with Jesus we can pass from death to life.

              2. O God, Merciful Father, you unite priests, consecrated persons and laity in a common aim, that of spreading faith and love. We pray for the Union of Catholic Apostolate in the entire world that it may fulfil its mission in the Church and in the world.

              3. O God, Infinite Love, we entrust the General Congress of the UAC to you in order that it may bear abundant fruit for the Church and increase in each of us a spirit of communion and of collaboration.  

              4. We praise you Lord for the merciful work of the Church. Strengthen missionaries in their proclamation of Your Word.

              5. Almighty God, in your infinite love you have created us in your image, you have given us the gift of freedom, help us to profit from your gifts and all created things so that we may grow in your love.

              Let us pray together with St. Vincent Pallotti
              “My God, my Father, my infinite love and mercy, most loving creator, most patient custodian, it is impossible for me ever to understand the infinite love and mercy with which you conserve all created things so that they may continue to provide for all my temporal needs according to your most holy and loving purposes, although I have used them to sin and to cause others sin; it is also impossible for me ever to understand how ungrateful and guilty I am before you. But through your infinite mercy, through the merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, and of all the Angels and Saints, I firmly believe and I am certain that you will grant me the gift of a perfect contrition and of always recalling your infinite love and mercy so that I may profit from it according to your desire
              (God, the Infinite Love, meditation VII)

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-04-03 
                 
              God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
              8th meditation
              God’s Infinite Love and Mercy in the Creation of Humankind

              Opening Prayer

              O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
              You have set your glory above the heavens.
              When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
              the moon and the stars that you have established;
              what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
              mortals that you care for them?

              Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
              and crowned them with glory and honor.

              You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
              you have put all things under their feet.

              O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
              (Psalm 8: 1, 3-6, 9)

              Introduction: ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’ (Gen. 1:26)

              Because faith tells me that God has no body, therefore we must say that (the human) soul is created according to the image and likeness of God. Therefore, our soul is a living and intelligent being with the distinctive characteristics of being a living image of God, and of the whole God. (God the Infinite Love, Chapter VIII)

              As Pallotti reflects on what being created in the image and likeness of God really means, he came up with a list of characteristics that were included in God’s image and likeness. These included being:

              • a living image of God
              • a living image of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit
              • a living image of infinite power
              • a living image of wisdom and goodness
              • a living image of justice, mercy and purity
              • a living image of holiness and perfection.

              Reflection

              The image of the human person, with a soul created in the image and likeness of God fits in well with the image given in Psalm 8: the human being as being full of dignity and honor in the eyes of God.

              Looking at this possibility calls us to an optimism and hope that goes beyond the usual acknowledging of sinfulness and failing, and believing in God’s mercy and willingness to forgive. As human beings we are created in the image and likeness of God with all of these characteristics as our birthmark. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to reflect more deeply on this positive view in order to really claim it as my own, as Pallotti encourages us to do in this reflection.

              Pallotti himself is aware of how hard it is to comprehend the magnitude of this grace, recognizing how most people, even himself, experience ‘negligence and ingratitude’ in not appreciating the great gift of our souls.

              At times, there is a great temptation to focus on our inadequacies and what we cannot do - the themes of negligence and ingratitude mentioned by Pallotti. However, through the course of Church history, there have also been spiritual writers like Pallotti who have been willing to address this tension.

              This tension between darkness and light is the focus of a speech given in 1994, attributed to Nelson Mandela but originally written by Marianne Williamson[1]: "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. …We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

              From scripture, it is obvious that letting our light shine is fundamental to we who are called to be as Christians: ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.’(Matt. 5:14) ‘The Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.' (Acts 13:47) ‘You are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness’. (1Thess 5:5)

              In his treatise On the Holy Spirit[2], St. Basil the Great explains how the presence of the Spirit helps to illumine this light within us: “The Spirit is the source of holiness, a spiritual light, and he offers his own light to every mind to help it search for truth...Like the sunshine which permeates all the atmosphere, spreading over land and sea, and yet is enjoyed by each person as though it were for him alone, so the Spirit pours forth his grace in full measure...

              As clear, transparent substances become very bright when sunlight falls on them and shine with a new radiance, so too souls that carry the Spirit, and are enlightened by the Spirit, become spiritual themselves and a source of grace for others. Through the spirit we become citizens of heaven, we enter into eternal happiness and abide in God. Through the Spirit we acquire a likeness to God; indeed we attain what is beyond our most sublime aspirations—we become God.” For, as Pallotti recognizes, this is the image in which we are created.

              The Franciscan author Richard Rohr sees the implications of accepting that we are made in the divine image: “the enormous breakthrough is that when you honor and accept the divine image within yourself, you cannot help but see it in everybody else, too, and you know it is just as undeserved and unmerited as it is in you. That is why you stop judging, and that is how you start loving unconditionally and without asking whether someone is worthy or not.”[3]

              In other words, recognition of the being made in the image of the divine, leads to a fuller manifestation of the divine image in the lives of the faithful. We are all called to come closer to the image of the divine in whose image and likeness we are created. This continues to be an ongoing process, punctuated with times of ingratitude and negligence but also nourished by prayer and practice. As the Lent I preface to the Eucharistic prayer states: ‘As we recall the great events that gave us new life in Christ, you bring the image of your Son to perfection within us’.

              Pallotti interprets our being made in the image and likeness of God as a call to holiness and perfection. However, it is only through our clumsy, less than perfect attempts at love, justice and mercy that we can be transformed more into the image of God in whom we are created. And so, we can pray with Pallotti:

              Prayer

              “My God, my most loving Father, my most merciful creator,
              it is impossible for me to understand the value of my soul
              created in your image and likeness,
              because I cannot arrive at knowledge of you.
              But how much more impossible it is for me ever to understand
              that divine love and mercy with which you deigned to create me in your image,
              although you know with your infinite love and mercy how little esteem I have
              for such a great gift.
              Therefore, it is also impossible for me to understand my wretchedness.
              But, through your infinite mercy,
              through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ,
              through the merits and intercession of Mary,
              and of all the angels and saints,
              I firmly believe and I am certain that you will grant me the gift
              of perfect contrition and of always remembering your infinite love and mercy,
              and of always esteeming my soul and the souls of my neighbors
              and of being grateful to you for such an infinite gift. Amen.” (God the Infinite Love, Chapter VIII)

              _______________________________________________________________________________
              [1] John Mark Ministries: Nelson Mandela’s speech  jmm.aaa.net.au/article

              [2] From the Office of Readings Tuesday 7th week of Easter

              [3] Richard Rohr; The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See. Crossroads Publishing 2009. P. 159
              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-05-04
                    apostles-for-today-may-2010
               
              St. Vincent Pallotti – “God, the Infinite Love”
              Meditation IX

              God has granted us the power of free will so that with the help of his grace we may profit from it  in order to make our souls perfect as living images of God

              Introductory prayer

              “Lord, open my lips,
              and my mouth will speak out your praise.
              Sacrifice gives you no pleasure,
              were I to offer holocaust, you would not have it.
              My sacrifice is this broken spirit,
              you will not scorn this crushed and broken heart.” Psalm 51.

              Reflection

              In this the ninth mediation in “God, the Infinite Love’, St. Vincent Pallotti invites us to meditate on the gift of free will with which God has endowed us. The meditation begins in a tone of awe, Vincent expresses his wonder at receiving this gift, he marvels at the goodness and generosity of God, it almost seems as if he cannot believe nor conceive that God has been so magnanimous in endowing the person with this faculty.

              Let us listen to him: “Oh my God, my Father, infinite love and mercy of my soul, You, moved by your infinite love and mercy, deigned to create me in your image and likeness and also to grant me the gift of free will. Throughout my life I will employ it…so that I may strengthen my soul in its very intimate nature, since it was created by you…”
              The points that St. Vincent underlines in this mediation are few but precise:
              1. God has created me in his image and likeness;
              2. God has given me the gift of free will and I can choose to use it in order to perfect myself in becoming progressively more like him;
              3. This is not limited to earthly life, God wants me to become like him in his eternal glory of the kingdom of the Father; he wants me to be blessed like him, rich as him, like him in everything;
              4. Who could ever understand these merciful desires of God?
              5. However, he also recognizes and confesses his lack of correspondence with this gift of free will.

              He goes on to further develop the third point by making a reference to the first Letter of St. John, chap. 3,1-3, written when John was already an old man and which reveals a beatific vision of eternal life: “My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.”

              This is the beatific vision, our destiny is to be in the presence of God, seeing him as he is, and in this state to be transformed in perfect likeness of him. A heartening and inspiring vision: “You want me to be blessed like you, rich as you, like you in everything;”. St. Vincent is moved to say: “My God, my Father, my love, my infinite mercy, you know that I will never be able to understand that infinite mercy and love with which you have created me in your own likeness and granted me the gift of free will…”.

              St. John adds a further verse to the text already quoted, “Everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ”. St. Vincent follows this direction with a profound and heart-felt recognition of his ingratitude, unworthiness, lack of correspondence with, and even abuse of, the gifts of God.

              With the gift of free will God has conferred on us a great dignity, the person is the only being in this universe endowed with this faculty. In exercising free will the person determines his or her own choices, does what he or she thinks best, this gift enables one to examine all the options, to explore all the roads, to risk experimenting, and even to make mistakes and to leave the path chosen if one wishes. While the gift of free will confers a dignity on us at the same time it carries with it a responsibility. We are often very aware that not all our choices are the best ones, they are not all opportune or the best ones for us and for others. In this meditation the truth that we have been created for freedom is reaffirmed, the freedom of the children of God as St. Paul terms it, however, we do not always choose the path that leads us to greater freedom for a variety of reasons, we sometimes make choices that close us in on ourselves, which create a prison within us and around us.

              In the Gospel Jesus offers us a very clear example of the dilemma which we are faced with in using our free will: “He was setting out on a journey when a man ran up, knelt before him and put this question to him, ‘Good master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You must not kill; you must not commit adultery; you must not steal; you must not bring false witness; you must not defraud; honour your father and mother.’ And he said to him, ‘Master, I have kept all these from my earliest days’. Jesus looked steadily at him and loved him, and he said, ‘There is one thing you lack. Go and sell everything your own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But his face fell at these words and he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.” (Mk. 10,17-22).

              Gaudium et spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church of Vatican II, in article 17 deals with the “the importance of human freedom”. “Only in freedom can a human being direct himself toward goodness. Our contemporaries make much of this freedom and pursue it eagerly; and rightly to be sure. Often however they foster it perversely as a license for doing whatever pleases them, even if it is evil. For its part, authentic freedom is an exceptional sign of the divine image within a human being. For God has willed that a human being remain "under the control of his own decisions," so that he can seek his Creator spontaneously, and come freely to utter and blissful perfection through loyalty to him. Hence a human being's dignity demands that he act according to a knowing and free choice that is personally motivated and prompted from within, not under blind internal impulse nor by mere external pressure… he pursues his goal in a spontaneous choice of what is good, and since a human being's freedom has been damaged by sin, only by the aid of God's grace can he bring such a relationship with God into full flower.”

              Fr. Vincent reflected frequently on this faculty, we can see, for instance, that it was a theme during his annual retreat in November 1841: “November 15th: Meditation 2 (1) Man created in the image and likeness of God. (2) Man is endowed with the gift of free will in order that he profit from it in perfecting himself as an image of God. (3) Man must perfect himself since he is an image of God in order to be like unto God in glory.

              My God, I have never lived in accordance with the end for which you created me. My God, I have never truly obtained the salvation of souls redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ as I should have done.

              My Jesus, with your holy life destroy all that I have done which has been bad in so far as I did not live in accordance with the end for which I was created: and with the perfection and holiness of your life perfect my life, my soul and that of all people.

              God my mercy
              Jesus my mercy
              Mary, most holy, mercy”.” (OOCC X, 661-2).

              Point for reflection:
              1.Do I cultivate my freedom? In what way?
              2.Do I use my freedom to spontaneously seek my creator?
              3.What criterion/a determine my choices?
              4.In what way do I recognize that my freedom is limited and even badly used in the circumstances of daily living?

              St. Vincent ends each meditation in “God the Infinite Love” with a ‘Pious Offering’ which is always the same: “Eternal Father, in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I offer you the most precious Blood of the Immaculate Lamb, our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving, as if you had already granted all the graces I have requested for me and for all, now and always.”

              St. Vincent regrets and repents of his failings in the light of the infinite goodness and mercy of God, however he is not demoralized by these failings, he has found a way to overcome them, by uniting his prayers of contrition to the sacred hearts of Jesus and Mary and by uniting himself with their offering of the blood of Jesus to the Father.  Identifying himself with the prayers of the hearts of Jesus and Mary, Vincent affirms that “I firmly believe, rather I am certain” that God will grant him the graces requested. And in this way he advances on the road of holiness.

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                   
                    2010-05-30 21:05:17
               
                    apostles-for-today-June 
               
              St. Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"
              Meditation X 

              Since we are created in the image and likeness of God we are obliged by nature and by reason of creation always to work well, without succumbing to laziness, so that we may imitate God who always works.

              Introductory prayer  
              Psalm  24(23)
              To Yahweh belong earth and all it holds,
              the world and all who live in it;
              he himself founded it on the ocean,
              based it firmly on the nether sea.

              Ecclesiasticus 17, 1-10
              The Lord fashioned man from the earth,
              to consign him back to it.
              He gave them so many days' determined time,
              he gave them authority over everything on earth.
              He clothed them with strength like his own,
              and made them in his own image.
              He filled all living things with dread of man,
              making him master over beasts and birds.
              He shaped for them a mouth and tongue, eyes and ears,
              and gave them a heart to think with.
              He filled them with knowledge and understanding,
              and revealed to them good and evil.
              He put his own light in their hearts
              to show them the magnificence of his works.

              They will praise his holy name,
              as they tell of his magnificent works.
              He set knowledge before them,
              he endowed them with the law of life.
              He established an eternal covenant with them,
              and revealed his judgements to them.
              Their eyes saw his glorious majesty,
              and their ears heard the glory of his voice.
              (Ecclesiasticus 17, 1-11)

              These words from the Book of Ecclesiasticus set the scene for the beautiful meditation that St. Vincent gives us the gift of, this meditation shows us how Vincent continuously submerged himself in God's infinite and gratuitous love, a love that embraces all his creatures.
              Introduction:  "Yahweh God took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden to cultivate and take care of it" (Gen 2,15). To work always, to be active  and to do good means that laziness does not take hold of us. Enlightened by faith I am invited to reflect on the fact that God has worked, has been productive from all eternity and he continues to work and will do so for all of eternity. God, in his infinite love and according to the designs of his infinite mercy which he graciously gives us in every moment of life in gifting us with free will, wishes to enrich us with innumerable works which merit eternal life.  He has deigned to create us in his image and likeness so that, in the order of creation, there is in our souls an impulse and an instinct to always work and work well without laziness. With the help of grace we are therefore invited to embrace and profit from the sublime gift of creation in order to work and to create always and in a meritorious manner, to do otherwise would be to degrade or diminish our souls and would in fact be going against the goal of creation. This is why God as soon as he created our father Adam introduced him into an earthly paradise so that he might work even though he was innocent and his toil and effort was not the result of sin. (cf. 'God, the Infinite Love', meditation X).

              Reflection

              St. Vincent Pallotti, in contemplating creation as the infinite work of the Creator, invites us to grasp both the immensity and the extraordinary beauty of all of creation and also the great responsibility to which God calls each and every one of us by working always and by doing good in the place in which God has planted us and which he has desired for us from all eternity.
              Pallotti shows us the true place that the creature has in relation to the Creator, he shows us the attitude that we are to have towards our Creator and all of creation; he urges us to acquire a clear awareness of who we are and who we are called to be as children of a God who has always loved humankind in every age. In reading between the lines of Vincent's ecstatic contemplation as he submerges himself in God's infinite and gratuitous love, as he breathes it in until his lungs are full, we are gently led to thinking about our presence in the world, to reflecting on the significance of our lives in it.

              Vincent asks us to look at our being here on this earth with new eyes; to wake up to the wonder of creation, not to take anything for granted and to come face to face with our responsibility, one which God has extended to us by entrusting to us, both personally and as a community, the world!  Vincent's thinking is very explicit, he helps us to understand that because we are created in the image of such an infinite love then we cannot allow ourselves to live with attitudes that do not transmit the true significance of life, attitudes such as;
              - to laze about or wander around without a goal;
              - to remain a simple spectator of life;
              - to act as if one were absolute master of the gifts one has received gratuitously.
              Pallotti strongly emphasised that the human being is called to care for, cultivate and watch over the earth that God has created (Lev 25,23);
              to be a faithful and enthusiastic guardian of the life which pulses in all of the universe.
              In the light of these reflections on being created beings who act together with the Creator we can ask ourselves:


              • " Am I consciously aware that God has given me everything freely?
                " Have I ever reflected on the responsibility to which God calls me in asking me to care for the world?
                " What can I (we) do in order to better the little piece of the world (family, group of friends etc) in which I (we) live?

              We, the ordinary people of the streets
              "We, the ordinary people of the streets, believe with all our strength that this street, that this world where God has placed us, is for us the place where we become holy. We believe that we lack nothing necessary here in the streets; if we did need something more, God would have already given it to us. In the street, hemmed in by the crowd, we prepare our souls to be caverns of silence where the Word of God can find rest for itself and can resonate. To us people of the street solitude does not appear to be the absence of the world but rather the presence of God. The whole world is like coming face to face with him whom we cannot evade. We cannot stand upright except to move forward, except to plunge in with the enthusiasm of charity. We must live our lives, not as if it were a game of chess where everything is calculated, nor as if it were a brain- teasing theorem, but rather live it as an unending feast in which encounters with the Lord renew us like a dance, in the arms of his grace, dancing to the universal music of love."  (by Madeleine Delbrel)

              Our solitude is the encounter with God everywhere. For us, being alone in a crowd, is participating in the solitude of God.

              Let us pray with St. Vincent Pallotti
              "O, my God, my Father, infinitely loving creator, infinite mercy, you have tolerated me on this earth for so many years in spite of my monstrous ingratitude…, but in your constant infinite mercy you come to my help enabling me to pray like this: my Creator, infinitely loving, infinitely merciful, you think of me constantly, you have tolerated me on this earth for so many years even though I have never profited as I should have from the infinite love and infinite mercy with which you created me, you created me like you yourself, you who are always active and productive. I firmly believe and I am certain that you will grant me perfect contrition of my sins and the grace to make amends for all the losses of the past by beginning to work well from now on up until the hour of my death; may I profit and take advantage of all the moments of life which you mercifully grant me. Amen."
              (Cf. God, the Infinite Love, med. X)

              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                    2010-07-03 
                    apostles-for-today-July

              St. Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"

              Meditation XI
              On the obligation of becoming perfect, since our souls are living images of the eternal Father


              Introductory prayer  

              God our Father, Protector and the true reality of human lives.
              We thank you for the gift of your servant St. Vincent Pallotti
              who, through his great faith, revealed to us your infinite love.
              Amidst the chaos of this passing world grant us your wisdom
              to realize your loving presence in all aspects of our lives.
              Lead us to share with others your infinite love and mercy
              so as to give us courage to be true witnesses of your love
              to those who seek you with sincere hearts.
              We make this our prayer through Christ the divine savior
              Amen.

              God is pure holiness,


              In his reflection on God the infinite love, Vincent Pallotti has a great desire to perfect his soul to be worthy of the image of God. He desired to live a holy life free of all sin and infirmities. We read in the  prophet Isaiah that God the holy one has displayed his holiness by his justice. (Is. 5:6) and in the book of Leviticus God himself reveals to the people of Israel his holiness and assured them of sanctity because God is Holy. "You have been sanctified and have become holy because I am holy" (Lev. 11, 44). Holiness is a pure quality of God who shares that Holiness with human beings. It seems in practice, however, that to be perfect one would need to struggle to live habitually or virtually according to ones spiritual needs. "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven (Mt. 19:21). St Vincent Pallotti in his reflection says that if every moment of our lives is rooted in God we would constantly perfect our souls as living images of God. He wrote: "I must be wholly intent in meditating upon and contemplating my soul, your living image, and you yourself in your essence and infinite attributes. In this way I may imitate you, o eternal divine Father, in eternal contemplation of your whole self".  Our failure to look upon our souls and to contemplate God present there denies us of the profit that comes from his infinite love and mercy.

              Our souls the living images of the eternal Father

              Through faith, St. Vincent Pallotti recalls that the human soul was created in the image of God. God chose us to be his image as we read in the book of Genesis, "Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves" (Gen. 1:26).  He expresses his belief that there is a natural obligation rooted in us by God to look at, to contemplate, both our souls and God. What is unique in St. Vincent Pallotti's reflection on the image of God is the going beyond our natural image. The true image of God is the human soul. To be the image, the likeness of God is to share in his divine nature by virtue of Grace.
              By being images of God we resemble God. Resembling someone entails some similarities. For example when a child is said to resemble a parent, there must be some elements that  people look at and recognize in the child. It may be the way of talking or just the way of doing things. When Peter denied that he was one of Jesus' disciples one of the soldiers saw some resemblance to Jesus in Peter, "you are certainly one of them [disciples] too, your accent gives you away" (Mat. 26:73). Our behavior, our way of being and of acting, as individuals or as a community, even the accent that we use,  are like the footprints of the likeness of God if we were true images of God. To become persons who are truly in God's image and likeness is a "task", a mission that needs our involvement and cooperation.

              St. Vincent says "None is capable of profiting from a precious object if he does not know its nature and the worth that he can draw from it for himself and for others".  We must work to nurture that image which reveals the perfect love of God in us. One of the great characteristics of God is that God is perfect. If we are to witness to the true image of God we must strive to grow perfect. Jesus in admonishing his disciples calls the disciples to be perfect as the heavenly Father is "You must therefore be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect"(Mt. 5, 48). On the obligation of becoming perfect, St. Vincent  says that "I profit from the gift of free will to perfect my soul with deeds worthy of eternal life, for I am a living image of the same eternal Father" (God, the Infinite Love, XI).

              Another of the great characteristics of God is that God is Love. To be images of God we must be an incarnation of God's infinite love. St. Paul says "the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us" (Rom. 5, 5).   If our hearts are guided and led by the Spirit of love then our actions become the footprints of love which perfect in us the image of God.
              Community of love, the perfect image of God.

              Loving our neighbor and loving God is the only way to render the image of God alive. In this the eleventh meditation of God, the Infinite Love, St. Vincent Pallotti has so many expressions that show that the infinite love of God is rooted in the human soul. "I am aware, eternal divine Father, that in creating me in your image and likeness, you have made me to lead a life according to the nature of my soul".  Either as  a community or as individuals, like St. Vincent, we are impelled by God's love to contemplate always on our souls and God.

              It is when we deny ourselves and take on board our various ministries and our fundamental apostolate in following him that we become more and more the image of God. It is to die to self and live for others. God is Love and therefore we are led to practice that love towards one another in our community.
              Our apostolate is shared with other persons. Realizing that I am the image of God and that I am called to be perfect just as my Father in heaven is perfect, gives me a reason to regard and treat the other as the true image of God, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself".
              The Second Vatican Council refers to the Church as the body of Christ, in other words the Church is the holy image of God since it is composed of the members who are created in the image and likeness of God. Since God's love is infinite, our community becomes a community of infinite love. My sisters and brothers, as we are living in a broken world, full of insecurities, suffering and a loss of hope, people could look to our communities for love, for  hope and charity. In his desire to live a life worthy of being a perfect image of God, St. Vincent Pallotti says "You oblige me to practice the art of looking into my souls and upon you, my living image". If as a community we develop the art of looking into our souls and upon God, the living image, we will resemble the body of Christ which becomes  perfect as God himself is.

              Let us pray:

              God of Mercy and Love,  if each breath I take,
              and every step I make, and every movement
              were guided by you incarnate love,
              I would be more aware of the needy around me.
              My loving Father, give me your wisdom
              that I may persevere in my apostolate for the salvation of souls.
              Grant me joy that I may become a fount of your infinite love
              to those who are living in pain and suffering.
              Amen.

              And with the Psalmist, Psalm 111:

              "I give thanks to God with all my heart
              where the virtuous meet and the people assemble.
              The works of God are sublime,
              those who delight in them are right to fix their eyes on them.
              Every work that he does is full of glory and majesty
              and his righteousness can never change.
              He allows us to contemplate his marvels
              God is merciful and tender-hearted,
              He provides food for those who fear him and never forgets his covenant.
              All that he does is done in faithfulness and justice
              in all ways his precepts are dependable,
              ordained to last for ever, framed in faithfulness and integrity.
              This fear of God is the beginning of wisdom
              they have sound sense who practise it.
              His praises will be sung for ever."

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

              2010-08-01      apostles-for-today-august-2010


              Saint Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"

              MEDITATION XII


              "On the obligation we have to meritoriously perfect ourselves since we are living images of the Son."

              Prayer:  (with eyes closed, sing or pray)

              Fill my being.

              Fill my being.
              Spirit, anoint my being.
              Pour out your love,
              descend on me,
              Spirit, anoint my being.


              Silent reflection

              In the reflection from St. Vincent Pallotti which is presented this month, we see how important, necessary and urgent it is that we enter the Cenacle of our hearts and ask the Spirit of God to fill our being and our hearts and thus experience that which St. Vincent lived:

              "Enlightened by holy Faith I must recall that my soul is created in the image and likeness of God and so is also a living image of the divine Son. As such, by the natural order of creation, with trust in grace, I must profit from my free will in order to become more and more a living image of the same divine Son of the Eternal Father..." (God, the Infinite Love, p. 43).

              A person who is attentive to all that takes place in his or her heart; the feelings, aspirations and dreams, will be able to perceive the activity of God in every moment of life. He or she will become ever more sensitive to His call in the small activities of each day and will respond with generosity.
              "Since the divine person of the Son is infinitely like the Father, therefore my soul of its very nature needs to perfect itself in being in the image of God and of all of God, to do otherwise would be to go against its very nature and against the demands of the nature of my soul according to the wise designs, or objectives, of the infinite love and the infinite mercy of God who wishes it to be like him in glory." (God, the Infinite Love, p. 43).
              "Aided by grace I am obliged to do everything in my power to imitate God in all things in accordance with his designs, therefore in all my thoughts, affections, words and works I will do all I can to imitate him" (God, the Infinite Love, p. 43).

              When we make God's truth our own we become mystics. The heart of the mystic is turned to heaven while the feet are on the ground. The mystic recognizes and lives the reality of the creator Spirit interiorly, concretizing it each day. The mystic recognizes his or her nothingness and poverty in a very fragile heart, but believes in the power-filled strength of God which emanates from his or her depths.
              "My God, you have created me like this as faith affirms and which I believe,  you grafted into my soul this precious natural obligation; and you placed it there even though you knew just how ungrateful I would be and how I would work against you in offending you and ruining my soul; so, why do you tolerate me on this earth? But for your greater glory make your infinite love and this, your infinite mercy, known in all the universe; and in your infinite mercy help me so that I can always pray like this…"( God, the Infinite Love, p. 43-4)

              The person is an image of God right from the moment of conception. This dignity is present in every phase of human life. It is God himself who gives this special gift to the person, and he expects the person to recognize it and to give thanks for it, to make it manifest in his or her life and allow it to grow and produce fruit, to bear courageous witness   to being an image of God in the activities of daily life. To say that God has created us in his image means that he also has a plan or project for each of us. Since the perfect image of God is Jesus Christ himself (2 Cor 4,4; Col 1,15; Heb 1,3), the person must be modeled on him (Rm 8,29). In effect, in order "to become" increasingly an image of God it is necessary that the person actively collaborate in his or her transformation in accordance with the model of image of the Son (Col 3,10).

              Sin does not destroy, does not annul the image of God in the person because it is part of the essence of the person. Sin disfigures this divine image, it wounds it, obscures it, and once the person is wounded by sin he or she is in need of salvation. God who is infinitely good, offers this salvation through his Only Son, Jesus Christ, who liberates and heals the wounds of each person through his death and resurrection.

              Time of silence for reflection

              "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free" Jn 8, 32
              Taking this affirmation as a starting point, in a period of silence, let us look into our hearts. Let us stay with Jesus and allow him to really see the truth within us until we can make it our own and commit ourselves with all our being to be at the service of the Kingdom of God.




            • - What feelings are in my heart at this time?





            • - Which objective has priority now?





            • - What importance do I give to God and to the mission entrusted to me?


            • With the entire Pallottine Family let us pray with the words of St. Vincent Pallotti:
              Leader: My God, my Father, infinite love, infinite mercy of my soul, ineffable love, incomprehensible love!
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: Only you understand my ingratitude and the number of sins I have committed which have all been a consequence of my ingratitude to your infinite love and to the infinite mercy with which you created me in your image and likeness.
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: Because I have not profited from your love, and especially because I have acted in ways that were not in conformity with the nature of my soul as a living image of the eternal Word, your divine Son, who is infinitely like You.
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: My God, if I had profited from your grace, I would never have sinned, I would have multiplied holy works for your greater glory and for the sanctification of my soul and that of my neighbour, however I am guilty of so many sins, I am without merit, and my soul is poisoned, wounded and chained by innumerable faults.
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: My God, who will give me tears to cry for such black and monstrous ingratitude to your infinite love and mercy?
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: My God, my love, infinite love of my poor, deformed, wounded and poisoned soul.
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: Being in such an abyss of wretchedness, o my God, you who are the essence of mercy, do you want me not to hope in you?
              All: Holy Spirit fill and anoint my being.
              Leader: Rather, because of your infinite mercy, and by the infinite merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ, by the merits of Mary Most Holy and of all the Angels and Saints I firmly trust and I believe that you will immediately give me perfect contrition for all my sins and for my monstrous ingratitude.
              All: You will give me immediately the grace to start afresh and to continue until death living a life that is totally occupied with attending to the greater perfection of my soul, with fervour and with increased diligence! With your grace I will be able to remember always your infinite love and your infinite mercy with which you created me like unto you, in order to profit from them just as you desire, and so become like unto you in glory for all of eternity.

              Pray the Our Father for Christian Unity.

              We conclude praying the blessing of the Lord Jesus on us:

              May the Lord bless us and free us from all evil and lead us to eternal life.
                
              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
               2010-08-31
                    apostles-for-today-Sept-2010
                 
              St. Vincent Pallotti - God the Infinite Love

              Meditation XIII


              "…I must recall that my soul, being a living image of God,
              is also a living image of the Holy Spirit,
              infinite, immense, incomprehensible love of the Father and the Son."


              Lord, teach us to pray: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

              Prayer: My Lord, my Life, my Love, I adore you profoundly with all that I am and all that I have. Come to me, Father, in Infinite Love, enter into me and fill me with Your utter Fullness. Jesus my beloved breathe in me the Breath of the Holy Spirit and touch especially those areas of my life that resist you. Holy Spirit, Divine Love, let your light, the warmth of your presence, the flame of love take possession of me so that I may be all flame, the flame of Love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

              Scripture: John 3:5-8
              In all truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; what is born of human nature is human; what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above. The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its' sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

              Reflection:
              I am the living image of the Holy Spirit and I wonder what is the Holy Spirit like, how can I become like Him.
              There are two main images of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. The first is the wind & breath. "The wind blows where it wills and you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going; so it must be with those who are born of the Spirit." After His resurrection Jesus breathed the breath of the Spirit on the apostles and in Acts the Spirit comes as a mighty wind that shakes the house.

              Last year in Argentina we came upon a tormenta, a storm that uprooted trees and blew the roof off the small church. Every moveable thing inside the church was either toppled or broken. And it seemed to me to be what an authentic Pentecost might do to our attachments, the sacred icons by which we are connected to God; snatched from our grasp so that we have nothing to hold us back from surrender to that which we cannot control.

              To be a living image of the Spirit means to have the quality of wind, air or breath - something that I cannot control or order. We are used to demanding of ourselves and others, an ordered way of living that is clearly defined, predictable, dependable, and safe. The Holy Spirit is never clearly defined or predictable but He is dependable and safe and does have His own order that we are called to surrender to.

              This is the key - surrender. Surrendering to the movement of the Holy Spirit in my life. Surrender and trust - trust in the Spirit rather than trust in myself. The perfect example of this surrender and trust is Mary.

              The Jesuit poet, Gerald Manley Hopkins wrote a poem called "The Blessed Virgin Compared To The Air We Breathe" and in it he describes her as "wild air world mothering air, nestling me everywhere." I like this image because it connects Our Lady with the Holy Spirit -  the wind that blows where it will. Mary is not simply the quiet still woman but she is also a woman of great strength. She has the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit in her and she is carried in that strength.

              The second image of the Holy Spirit is fire - what John of The Cross calls "that living flame which is the Holy Spirit" whose interior action causes me to send out flames of love to God and to others. This is the flame that impelled Mary out from herself to go to the aid of Elizabeth. Our experience of the Holy Spirit is only authentic when it inflames us, enkindles love in us and sends us out to others. This is the Caritas Christi urging us.
              "The divine awakening produces in the soul of the perfect flame of love…that living flame which is the Holy Spirit Himself...this is the operation of the Holy Spirit in the soul that is transformed in love, that His interior actions cause it to send out flames...This flame wounds the soul as it is given, but the wound is tender, and, instead of causing death, it increases life…" John of the Cross

              Vincent Pallotti's meditation reminds us of the obligation that is ours as a result of our being living images of Infinite Love. "…helped by grace, I am obliged to profit by the gift of free will to become perfect inasmuch as I am a living image of the infinite love of the Father and the Son". This awareness inspires Pallotti to an honest prayer of repentance and mercy. "Instead of living the life of love, in your Infinite Love, I have loved myself, I have loved the brutal excesses of my evil passions, I have loved material things, I have loved sin."

              Repentance:
              I have loved sin. This is the truth that Pallotti recognizes in himself, it is the truth about me that I actually love the sin that I commit. Take a little time to acknowledge your sin before the Lord, without fear, because Infinite Love is infinitely patient. Give to Him that which you are unable to overcome in your life. In nothingness and helplessness abandon yourself into the hands of the only One who is able to set you free, the One who desires to set you free.

              The Lord says, "I have seen the misery of my people…I have heard them crying for help…Yes I am well aware of their sufferings. And I have come down to rescue them" (Ex 3:7-8)

              Prayer of trust
              Through His infinite mercy God helps us to pray with St. Vincent in this way:

              My God, my Father, infinite love and mercy of my soul which is a living image of Yours…I am sure that You will look upon me and be moved to compassion… I firmly believe, rather I am certain, that immediately You will grant me perfect contrition for my sinful life…rekindle in my soul the flame of Your most pure love, grant me the efficacious grace to live always a life of such ardent love that I make amends for both my sins and the sins of all others. Deign to transform me wholly in Your holy love so I may become similar to You in glory, oh my infinite, eternal, immense and incomprehensible love.

              Meditation
              Vincent Pallotti encourages us to breathe God in and out:
              Be still now in the presence of the Lord.
              Be still and breathe.
              The Holy Spirit is everywhere,
              He is in the air that you breathe,
              in every breath you take you are filled
              with the utter fullness Spirit who is Infinite Love.
              You are in the Cenacle of Love with Mary,
              in the communion of praise and adoration
              with all the angels, saints and the whole Church.
              If you need a word to help you then you can repeat this phrase silently - I am a living image of the Holy Spirit. Remain in this place, this blessed state, as long as the Holy Spirit allows.
              Before concluding ask for the particular grace you need in this moment of your life and surrender everything trustfully into the hands of God.

              Offering:
              Eternal Father, in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I offer you the most precious blood of the Immaculate Lamb, our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving, as if you had already granted all the graces I have requested for me and for all, now and always.
              Amen.
              ____________________________________________________
              Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
              Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

              2010-10-01       apostles-for-today-October


              St. Vincent Pallotti – “God, the Infinite Love”

              MEDITATION  XIV

              “On our obligation to become perfect because we are 

              living images of God, infinite power”
              Prayer

              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of wisdom, enlighten me.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of intelligence, instruct me.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of counsel, guide me.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of fortitude, strengthen me.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of knowledge, overcome my instability.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of fear of God, free me from all sin.
              O Holy Spirit, giver of the gift of peace, bestow peace on me.


              Reflection

              The power of God in the work of creation
              In this short reflection our Founder explains concisely the aim and the very core of our call to a life of faith. The way of holiness which we embarked on with our baptism has its source and its ultimate goal in God, the omnipotent Lord and Creator. Sacred Scripture affirms that “for nothing is impossible to God” (Lk, 1, 37), and in the Book of Wisdom God’s power and goodness are compared: “You…, disposing of such strength, are mild in judgement, you govern us with great lenience, for you have only to will, and your power is there”(Wis. 12, 18).

              The act of creating us was born of God’s will, it is an expression of his infinite love. We are called into existence because HE DESIRES IT. We are an expression of the love that God wishes to share with his creatures and this is the reason why our call to holiness passes through the way of perfection and the following of Christ.

              The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that “Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God. Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness...”(Cat. 44 & 45). St. Vincent was convinced of this and he reminds us of the need to commit ourselves to reaching this communion through the use of our free will, he also explains that the goal is to glorify God, sanctify our own souls and those of others and to overcome earthly temptations (AIDG, ASA, ADP): “...fortified and made powerful in God, I will be able to perform all acts for the greater glory of God and for the greater sanctification of my soul and my neighbor. I will be able to live always doing, saying and thinking…according to God’s law and the teachings of the Church…never will I allow anything to weaken me in such a manner as to make me give in to the temptations of the devil, the snares of the deceiving world and the allurements of evil passions...”.
              “He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly” (Lk 1,52)

              The story of salvation shows us many instances in which God reveals his strength. Starting with the creation of the world from nothing, his solicitude for his chosen people, in the Patriarchs and Prophets, and finally in his own Son Jesus Christ (through his miracles, teaching and his passion, death and resurrection), in all of this God unceasingly shows the greatness of his infinite power. It is not, however, the attitude of a despot taking advantage of his subjects by oppressing them. The Lord God is good and patient and his power is revealed in his mercy which is confirmed many times in Sacred Scripture. His heart’s desire in that his creatures, whom he has called to life in love, will respond to him with love. We know from our own lives that this is difficult. Every time our pride “triumphs” over humility we experience defeat in our fidelity and in our call to follow him. However, when we strive with humility to look at the world through pure and simple eyes, we begin to see things as they truly are and we accept our littleness before the Lord. True humility admits ones own limitations and accepts them with serene confidence while entrusting oneself to the arms of the Father. Such trust and confidence is the most eloquent expression of the power of the Lord who works in and through us.  Convinced of this truth we can exclaim with St. Paul:
              “For it is when I am weak that I am strong.” (2Cor 12,10)
              “To know your power is the root of immortality” (Wis, 15,3)

              Today we tend to understand ‘power’ in a sense that is very different to that of this inspired author of Sacred Scripture. In the secularized world of today the words ‘power, strength, force, energy, influence’, give rise to images in which domination of others is projected in all areas of life from the physical to the intellectual and from the military to the material.  God, through the words of St. Vincent Pallotti, encourages us to seek a different type of power. Created in his image and likeness we are called to follow him in his manner of exercising power which is shown through forgiveness.  Sanctifying grace leads us along this road and in cooperating with it we remain firmly on the road. And if and when we do sin, sincere repentance and the forgiveness we receive in the Sacrament of Reconciliation give us the strength to continue to be instruments of God’s mercy. We know that the desire to return to the Father is already a manifestation of the power of God at work in us, left to ourselves, without his powerful grace, we would be incapable to getting up again and resuming our journey.

              Blessed Fr. Michał Sopoćko, spiritual director of St. Faustina Kowalska, wrote of this extraordinary sign of the power of God: “The mercy of God…precedes justification and prepares the sinner for conversion. Mercy accompanies the sinner in all his actions and sustains his weakened attempts, forgives faults…and pours out grace. Mercy arms the penitent for the battle against temptations and guides his works of penance in order that he acquire the necessary virtues. Mercy communicates the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the penitent to lead him to a participation in the life of God. While having the power to exterminate sinners or at least to punish them severely, God sustains and supports them as if he were carrying them in his arms, he nourishes them, he fills them with delights, he permits the sun to warm them and the rain to fall on them and in order to forgive them in the right moment he pours his love into their souls and brings them to an equal standing with the just. This is truly the sign of his sublime power.”

              We have all been sinners and experienced his infinite power on being forgiven, we have gone from being sinners to becoming saints, from wrongdoers to doers of good, from being rebellious children to being adopted children of God and heirs of his Kingdom.

              Let us, therefore, be witnesses of the great works of the Lord! Let us bring to the world the true image of God infinite power, in which he has created us, loved us, forgiven us and chosen us for eternal life with him.

              Texts for reflection and sharing:
              Gen. 1,27;    Psalm 8;    Psalm 18(17),1-4,30.33-36;    Psalm 7(26)  
              Wis. 12, 18;   Lk 1,30-33,35.37;   Rm 1,16;   2 Cor 6, 2b-10

              Concluding prayer

              My God, my mercy, I am infinitely unworthy of Paradise, but your mercy assures me of Paradise, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, Most Holy, of all the Angels and Saints, and now and always in union with all creatures, past, present and future, I intend to offer you the most precious Blood of Jesus Christ in thanksgiving as if you had already granted me and all persons Paradise without going to Purgatory…
              My God do with me as you will. Grant me the grace to work and to do as you will. My God, my all, now and always – may this be my Paradise – to suffer infinitely, to love infinitely, to experience your grace without rejoicing in it, rejoicing only in that you are infinitely glorified and that I am infinitely disdained. Amen.   (Cf. OOCC X , 188-190)

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

                    2010-10-31       apostles-for-today-November
               
              St. Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"

              MEDITATION  XV


              "On our obligation to become perfect
              because we are living images of God, Infinite Wisdom"


              St. Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"


              MEDITATION  XV


              "On our obligation to become perfect
              because we are 

              living images of God,
              Infinite Wisdom"


              ... Introductory Prayer


              God our Father, Giver of all gifts, we are not worthy of the many gifts that are ours by your goodness and love. Be merciful to us, God our Father giver of all gifts and send your Holy Spirit to overshadow us and illuminate our ignorance. Fill us with Wisdom to overflowing that we be fully capable of perceiving and interpreting the signs of the times. And when that is fully understood, Father, give us that inner strength and determination so that, like the Apostles, we go to the uttermost ends of the earth to proclaim your name. This we ask through Christ our Lord.
              Amen.

              "God is eternal, infinite and merciful Wisdom…and although I am infinitely unworthy of His illumination…still He mercifully nourishes me with His eternal and infinite Wisdom. With such nourishment He completely destroys my unworthiness and the darkness of my ignorance" (OOCC X, p. 454).

              Reflection

              St. Vincent experienced God as Eternal and Infinite Wisdom. The wisdom of God which is beyond measure. No one can totally understand God's wisdom nor come near comprehending the immense wisdom enveloped in the immensity of God. Yet, every person needs God's wisdom in order to grow and understand the perplexities of this world.

              All living things, plants and animals, manifest the immense wisdom of God by simply living and growing as God created them to be. Their expression in the world adds the beauty, the diversity and the infinite manifestation of their Creator. They provide us with myriad opportunities to admire, to use, to enjoy and to give God praise. How much more we, his creatures, can and do manifest his wisdom because we are made 'in the image of God'. How generously and profusely we see God's wisdom freely given to his people and how that wisdom in people continues the work of recreation in this world. Our doctors, scientists, teachers and persons of other professions touch the humanity of this world. St. Vincent was conscious that although he was unworthy of God's illumination, God continued to mercifully nourish him with Infinite Wisdom which completely destroyed the darkness of his ignorance. Pallotti reminds us in this meditation that wisdom is not merely a gift for the elite and learned but is for all of us who are made in the image and likeness of God; that is, you and I, we are capable of acknowledging and harnessing that gift to illumine the far corners of this earth. I may not be worthy but his wisdom will completely overpower the darkness of ignorance in my human heart and fill me with true knowledge and correct my understanding so that I can perceive life and in it God's plan for me. I am capable of manifesting God's wisdom in his world by stepping out in faith to put into practice what he tells me to do. Did he not tell Jeremiah, "I will put the words into your mouth"? Do we doubt that he will place his words in our mouths today when we step out in faith to accomplish his mission? I must heed these words and emulate them in my life. I must recognize and acknowledge along with Vincent Pallotti that my human wisdom is founded on the immense wisdom of God that I can draw from that immense wisdom if I need and desire to.

              Scripture passage: Wisdom 9, 1-6.

              In this passage from Scripture we see that Solomon, like Vincent Pallotti, realized that Wisdom is a gift from God and he therefore longed to take Wisdom as his own. Solomon realized that it was only in asking that he could get her and therefore he asked for Wisdom so that Wisdom could be with him and work with him because Wisdom knew what God's pleasures were. Wisdom is capable of guiding Solomon quietly and discretely in all his activities.

              In ministering to the indigenous people of Central America we are, in turn, ministered to by them when we walk the mountains to bring the Good News to them in the remote corners. We recognize the Wisdom of God in these people who walk for hours to listen to the Good News and praise our God for the message. In their simplicity of heart they are ready to be nourished with the Wisdom of God who sends his messengers to impart his Word. Even though they do not have the academic knowledge and understanding of the Eucharist these indigenous people manifest the Wisdom of God because in faith they leave everything behind to follow, to listen and to bask in the Good News they receive. They have life and have it abundantly.

              If Wisdom guided Solomon, and later Vincent, and now the indigenous people of Central America, why would we doubt that Wisdom would not also guide us in the ways of the Lord? By the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God we can claim like Solomon, Vincent and the indigenous people that divine illumination which banishes our ignorance. This realization and conviction can help us to live life to the fullest.

              Perhaps we could spend some time reading and reflecting on chapters 11 to 18 of the Book of Wisdom to appreciate how Wisdom guided the Israelites through the desert to freedom.

              Reading these chapters we ask ourselves if we can identify areas of our lives or specific times when Wisdom guided our choices and how the outcome could have been different had we not consciously called on Wisdom to guide us.

              We are called to repentance and conversion, the Lord loves all things that are made and loathes nothing that he has made: "You are merciful to all because you can do all things and overlook men's sins so that they can repent. Yes, you love all that exists, you hold nothing of what you have made in abhorrence, for had you hated anything, you would not have formed it. And how, had you not willed it, could a thing persist, how be conserved if not called forth by you? You spare all things because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life, you whose imperishable spirit is in all" (Wisdom 11, 24-26). Here we see that Infinite Wisdom in his mercy nourishes us unworthy though we are, with such nourishment the darkness of our ignorance is destroyed and we can live life to the fullest.

              Suggested texts for reflection and sharing:

              Deuteronomy chapters 4, 6 and 29; Ecclesiasticus chapters  1, 4, 12 and 24: 1 Corinthians chapters 1, 2 and 3: Romans chapter 11 verse 33; Matthew chapter 13 verse 54: Luke chapter 2 verse 40; Psalm 104.
              For study:
                 In the Book of Wisdom chapter 1, why does the author personify 'justice' as 'he' and 'wisdom' as 'she'?




              1. In Matthew chapter 13, what do the parables of verses 44 - 50 teach about the value of the kingdom? With what emotion and energy should it be pursued? How does the parable of the net compare with the parable of the weeds? Who are the teachers of the Old Law who have been instructed in the new Gospel? How does the hometown crowd's response to Jesus differ from that of other Isrealites? How does where I come from or my background affect my ministry? How do I deal with that?





              2. In the Book of Wisdom chapter 6, what does the author promise to reveal about Wisdom in verse 22? The author states that "in the greatest number of wise men lies the world's salvation", what is the value of a number of people sharing their wisdom and prudence in leadership? Why was Solomon revered by his people, (verses 24 and 25)? How is Solomon like all other men (chapter 7, 1-6)? How is he distinctive?


              3.  How am I like other people? How am I distinctive?

                Closing prayer:

                O God, eternal and infinite Wisdom, I am unworthy to receive all the gifts and
                illuminations that you so generously have in store for me. Yet, in your mercy you look upon me and lavishly nourish your eternal and infinite wisdom which completely destroys the darkness of my ignorance.
                Give me that inner strength to freely and generously use the gift of Wisdom in helping all people to live to the fullest in this world.
                We ask this through Christ our Lord and through the intercession of St. Vincent Pallotti.
                Amen.
                ____________________________________________________
                Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
                Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

                      2010-12-04       apostles-for-today-December-2010



                     St. Vincent Pallotti
                -
                "God, the Infinite Love"

                MEDITATION  XVI

                "On the obligation to become perfect, since we are living images of the Infinite Justice."

                ... Prayer

                "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8 NRSV)Lord, you resist the proud, but are merciful to the humble.  Give us true humility, after the example of your own Son.  Deliver us from pride so that we may never know your silence; give us the gift of true humility, the virtue which obtains for us your grace.  We make our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.
                (UAC, Community Prayers, Tuesday Evening Prayer)

                Reflection

                This meditation provides an opportunity to reflection on the biblical understanding of justice as "right relationships." Living "right relationships" challenges the human person to be in proper relationship with God and with neighbor.  Not simply in this meditation, but throughout his writings, Pallotti clearly desired to be in a "right relationship" with both God and neighbor.  His relentless movement toward perfection contained within it a deep need to conquer his pride and live a life of humility.  Pride, which places one person, people, region, or culture over another is a choice that is made by the prideful rather than a necessity.  The choice of pride by the human person often leads to injustice.  Pallotti recognized that the path to justice was via the road of humility in the example of Jesus Christ who freely and humbly gave himself over in sacrifice for us on the altar of the cross.  In and through this salvific act, human persons were brought back into "right relationship" with God.   Our response to this act on the part of Christ is to live a just and loving life.

                Pallotti understood that justice and love could not be separated from one another.  Our love of God is made manifest through our love of nneighbor Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical letter Deus caritas est clearly articulates this interconnection between love of God through love of neighbor, a lived love that hopefully leads to a more just world.

                "Love of neighbor, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level: from the local community to the particular Church and to the Church universal in its entirety. As a community, the Church must practice love. Love thus needs to be organized if it is to be an ordered service to the community. The awareness of this responsibility has had a constitutive relevance in the Church from the beginning: "All who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need" (Acts 2:44-5). In these words, Saint Luke provides a kind of definition of the Church, whose constitutive elements include fidelity to the "teaching of the Apostles", "communion" (koinonia), "the breaking of the bread" and "prayer" (cf. Acts 2:42). The element of "communion" (koinonia) is not initially defined, but appears concretely in the verses quoted above: it consists in the fact that believers hold all things in common and that among them, there is no longer any distinction between rich and poor (cf. also Acts 4:32-37). As the Church grew, this radical form of material communion could not in fact be preserved. But its essential core remained: within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life (n. 20)".

                As the General Statutes of the UAC state in article 1, the UAC is a "communio of the faithful united with God and with one another" which is meant to "revive faith and rekindle charity in the Church and in the world."  As a communio of the faithful there is no distinction among us as human persons.  "God, who is justice in essence," as Vincent Pallotti says in the meditation, beckons us to live a life that is in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, particularly those who are one with us in the UAC.  We cannot be indifferent to the needs of those who are around us and let our pride keep us from living in true solidarity, justice and love.  As St. Vincent Pallotti notes, "in order that I be faithful toward my neighbour, I must love him as myself for the love of God."  Our focus on the needs and dignity of the other in justice will lead us down the path of greater humility and deeper love.

                Our lives as members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate are not lives lived simply for ourselves, but for God and neighbor in the example of St. Vincent Pallotti.  Our activity in charity and justice deepens and extends our relationship in communio with the Triune God and our neighbor.  The UAC document "Together and For One Another - the characteristics and the way of the Union." summarizes well the understanding of St. Vincent Pallotti on this point when it states,

                In Pallotti's perspective the entire human race, as a consequence of its being created and redeemed, constitutes a united community of solidarity: each person is a unique image of God1  and is called to the apostolate. The Triune God lives and works in each one. All are 'partners and co-workers', bound to one another in the realization of the plan of creation and redemption with mutual responsibility, and are together on the road towards the heavenly Father. Each person has the capacity to respond to God's love and to share it reciprocally. No one is so poor that he cannot enrich his neighbor, no one is so rich, that he does not need the help of others. (n. 8)
                St. Vincent Pallotti in his XVI meditation on 'the obligation to become perfect since we are living images of Infinite Justice'  reflected on how he lived this vocation in three stages and offers us three areas of reflection on how we live 'justice' or 'faithfulness';

                let us reflect and compose our responses to what he has written:

                "In order that I be faithful toward God …";

                "In order that I be faithful toward my neighbor …";

                "In order that I be fair to myself …".

                Suggested texts for reflection and sharing

                Isaiah 58; Hosea 2:19-21; Micah 6:8; Psalm 7;
                Matthew 25: 31-46; Luke 10:25-37; Luke 16:19-31; James 1:19-25.

                Concluding Prayer

                "My God, my Father, my infinite love, justice in essence, I am a living image of You. But, my most horrible ingratitude deformed this image. Oh, how guilty I am of so many sins which I have committed and caused to be committed. I have never profited from this gift, rather I have acted against the infinite love and mercy with which You created me in Your image and likeness. Thus, I have deserved all the pains of time and eternity, and these multiplied as many times as the sins which I have committed and caused to be committed. But, through Your infinite mercy, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary, and of all the Angels and Saints I firmly believe, rather I am certain, that immediately You will grant me perfect contrition for my sins and the grace to utilize all the means to be just toward You, Infinite Goodness, toward my neighbour and toward myself. In this way, at the hour of my death, I may be found disposed to be similar to You in glory for all eternity. Amen." (God, the Infinite Love, med. XVI).

                1 Each person is "unique in his essence" and as such, is "essential" for the whole of humanity. Every person, including the seriously handicapped person, thus has a special significance (M. Overdick-Gulden, Der Leib ist erzähltes Leben, in: Die Tagespost, 3.2.2007, no. 15, p. 12).

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

                      2011-01-01      apostles-for-today-January-2011

                St Vincent Pallotti – “God, the Infinite Love”

                On the obligation to become perfect
                since we are living images of Infinite Mercy

                - Meditation XVII


                INTRODUCTORY PRAYER

                O God, merciful Father, who have revealed your love in your Son, Jesus Christ, and have poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. We entrust to You today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman. Bend down to us sinners, heal our weaknesses, conquer all evil, and grant that all the inhabitants of the earth may experience Your mercy.May they always find the source of hope in You, the Triune God. Eternal Father, for the sake of the sorrowful Passion, and the Resurrection of Your Son, have mercy on us  and on the whole world. Amen.

                (Act of entrusting of the destiny of the world to Divine Mercy)

                MEDITATION

                God is Mercy. Mercy that is “eternal, infinite, immense and incomprehensible”. God, in His mercy, created us in His image and likeliness – He also created us as merciful persons.

                The fact that we are able to love with mercy is not to our credit. It is “a priceless gift” given to us by God. However, we are responsible for everything that we do with this awesome and tremendous gift. We are called to take care of, develop and improve this gift – in using our will, which is given by God, and availing of His grace.

                God wants us to be redeemed. He wants to show His mercy after death and that is why he made us able to love with a merciful love (caritas): Happy are those who are merciful to others; God will be merciful to them! (Mt 5,7). At other point in the Bible we read the description of the Final Judgement: Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom (...)!I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; in prison and you visited me (Mt 25, 34-36). We can paraphrase these verses as ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom (...), because you were merciful.’

                That is why St. Vincent writes that each of us has a duty to “busy myself in the practice of all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, according to my capability, state, position and condition, and with all the means at my disposal”.

                Let’s recall what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on the works of mercy, which are “charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbour in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and buring the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity”. (CCC 2447).

                Financial support of the poor has always been and will always be a very important element of fulfilling the commandment of love. It is worth reflecting on how in our times, the times when we have efficiently working welfare programmes, charitable organisations, there are night shelters and soup kitchens open, how can we do the works of mercy towards our brothers and sisters in need. We cannot ignore our needy brothers and sisters and leave them without help. The way of doing that: by organising the collection of food, donating to charitable institutions or giving a small amount of money to a beggar, must be discerned by each of us in our conscience.

                However, many people who we meet every day are poor in a manner that is different than financial poverty. Let’s think whether we also help them.

                QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

                We can call “homeless” also those who for some reason do not have and cannot find or build a “home”, those who cannot form lasting relationships. Those who feel threatened, who do not have support, who miss a family and friends.




              4. Can we invite them to our “home”? To the home of our hearts, with friends, in our free time, into our family, to the home of our caring, offering them a feeling of security, with good words?




              5. We meet many ‘naked’ people. They are persons whose dignity is ragged, perhaps they do not have a good name, or high self-esteem, maybe their  secrets, their intimacy has been betrayed.





              6. Can we cloth people by saying something good about them without passing on some gossip, by keeping their secrets, by protecting their dignity?





              7. We bury the dead without the due respect to them. Regardless of what kind of people they were, whether they did more good or bad things during their life. Everybody is worthy of a good burial. They are worthy of it because they are God’s children, they are God’s creation.





              8. Can we see the dignity in people who are, in some way, dead? Who spread the dazing stench of sin, hate and contempt around them? Can we give them our respect, which is due to every person because of their being God’s creation? Can we look at those people with love? Can we talk to them like we would with beloved brothers and sisters?


              9. In 1835 when our Founder Vincent Pallotti received the charism of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, he noted that it was to be ‘multiple institution’ and that the third objective was “An institution of universal charity in the exercise of all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy so that you God who are infinite love may be known and loved.” (OOCC X, 199).

                THE TESTIMONY OF THE LIFE OF ST ALBERT CHMIELOWSKI:

                “Brother Albert Chmielowski was a man with a very rich nature of many talents. He had all the makings of a great painter, was valued by all the masters of the brush, he will always stay in the memory of our country as a representative of great art. We know that he was very rich also because he did not spare himself. He proved it as a 20-year-old man taking part in the January Uprising. For the love towards his Homeland he staked everything on one card. This love burned in him a lifelong stigma: he remained a cripple till his death – instead of his own leg, he had a prosthesis (…) Brother Albert is a incomparable example for us. He almost did not have any means, he did not possess any funds, any ready institutions, so he decided to give himself. That is why God put him on his knees in front of the man most disinherited, for him to give himself. And he did do it until the very end of his days; he tried his best. It was a sign of his faith and love. This sign of his faith and love is invaluable for us and for God as well. We need that our society come back in a new way sensitized to other people, to their needs, misery and suffering. And ready to witness with their bare hands and a full heart; as this gift means more than full hands and rich means. “The greatest of these is love.”
                (Liturgy of the Hours III, p.1241, Polish text).

                PRAYER




              10. Let us pray for the Church in the whole world so that it show God as a Merciful Father, and not as a ruthless guardian of rules.





              11. Let us pray for the Union of the Catholic Apostolate so that it be a school of Merciful Love for all the members and collaborators.





              12. Let us pray for those who need help and support so that they receive selfless help, can accept it with gratefulness and use it appropriately.




              13. Let us pray for ourselves so that we become sensitive towards the needs of other people and do not stay indifferent towards them


              14. LET’S PRAY TOGETHER WITH ST VINCENT PALLOTTI:

                “My God, my Father, infinite love of my soul, eternal, infinite, incomprehensible and immense Mercy. I firmly believe, rather I am certain, that you will grant me a quick and perfect forgiveness of all my sins and for my ever reprehensible ingratitude. You grant me the grace to be always occupied in the perfect practice of all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In this way, I will perfect my soul more and more so that after this life I will be a living image of your mercy in the glory of eternity.”

                (Meditation XVII, “God, the Infinite Love”)

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



                      2011-02-01
                      apostles-for-our-time-February-2011


                St Vincent Pallotti - "God, the Infinite Love"
                On the obligation to become perfect since we are living images of
                God who is Purity in Essence - Meditation XVIII
                ... 


                Invocation of the Holy Spirit (with this prayer or with a song)

                1 - Fill me o Lord with your grace, I want to serve my brothers and sisters better!

                May your Spirit be present in me so that I may walk in your love!

                 Fill me, fill me o Lord, fill me o Lord with your love.

                2 - Grant that in my life I may seek holiness following the inspiration and the example of Jesus.
                In faith, in hope and in love, may I contribute to true freedom.

                Fill me, fill me o Lord, fill me o Lord with your love.

                Let us pray together

                "My God, my Jesus, I intend to love you for all eternity, in each and every moment, with all the love that has existed, that exists and that will exist, with all the love that could and should exist in time and in eternity and with all of your infinite love. Amen".

                REFLECTION

                Dear brothers and sisters, the topic that we will reflect on today as part of  the series of reflections on God, Infinite Love, brings us to contemplate the greatness of our God before whom Vincent Pallotti was enthralled by the true purity of the Holy Trinity, and he invites us to be this LIVING IMAGE, as created by God.

                Fr. Vincent reflected often on purity as a virtue of the Christian life and one that we are called to live, we can see this from his writings. For instance in his "Months of May" he reflects on the Beatitude - "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Mt 5,8), and he exhorts all, lay persons, consecrated religious and priests to live this beatitude fully and in accordance with the purity and modesty with which Jesus lived his life and which characterized him in his public ministry.

                In the book the "Month of May" for priests he urges his fellow priests to:

                "Love holy purity:
                let the thoughts of your mind be pure,
                purity in your words,
                in all you do,
                in the affections of your heart,
                purity in eating, in drinking, in rest.
                Purity in everything, purity, purity!
                Remember that God fills all things with his immensity,
                and consequently, I tell you in order that you understand:
                you are always immersed in God and thus are immersed in purity itself." (OOCC XIII, 431)

                May your thoughts be pure, your words be pure, your actions be pure, purity in the affections of your heart, purity in the manner you feed yourself, in what you drink, in your repose. In everything, purity.

                In effect the virtue of purity has a dimension which goes beyond all that is strictly related to observing the 6th and 9th Commandments, which mention it specifically.  Purity in its wider sense is an attitude that is contrary to deceit, to falsehood, to duplicity in day to day relationships which would all seem to be typical of what a large part of society in submerged in, and we are invited to let transparency shine in the midst of this. Transparent attitudes similar to those of a child which are pure. Purity in the broad sense is to live and to act transparently.

                Attentively we follow St. Vincent's reflections in meditation number XVIII:



                1. - I recall, in the light of faith, that God, in his infinite mercy and infinite love has created me in his image and likeness; my soul is therefore a living image of purity itself because God is purity in essence. By reason of creation, I am, aided by his grace, obliged to use my free will in order to better myself since I am a living image of purity in its essence.





                2. - Therefore at all times and in everything I should aim at purity in itself and use whatever means there are to live a life of purity in body and in spirit.





                3. - In order to achieve this I will use the powerful weapon of prayer, vocal and mental, I will strive to banish any impure thoughts from my mind and impure affections from my heart. I will fortify myself by receiving the sacraments frequently so that I may overcome temptations and restrain my passions.





                4. - I should diligently keep in check the feelings of my body and of my spirit, avoiding dangers, occasions and the conversations of persons which would put me in danger of losing the loveliness of purity of body and of spirit.

                5.  


                6. - In order to grow in perfection in holy purity, I must live and act in such a  way that I mortify my flesh and my vices, so that I can say that :

                7. All my thoughts are purity; all the affections of my heart are pure; the words, deeds and my life's conduct are pure because I am, through divine mercy, a living image of purity in its essence. By acting differently I would be going against the nature of my soul, which is a living image of Purity in its essence.

                  Having listened to the wise teaching of our Founder, let us observe a time of silence and read over the text again to notice what God may be calling our attention to.

                  SILENCE

                  Now let us sing or pray with Psalm 67 that we and all people may receive God's mercy which helps us to live as his beloved children created in his image and likeness.

                  May God show kindness and bless us,
                  and make his face smile on us!

                  For then the earth will acknowledge your ways
                  and all the nations will know of your power to save.

                    R. Let the nations praise you, O God,

                    let all the nations praise you!


                  Let the nations shout and sing for joy,
                  since you dispense true justice to the world;

                  You dispense strict justice to the peoples,
                  on earth you rule the nations.

                    R. Let the nations praise you, O God,
                    let all the nations praise you!


                  The soil has given its harvest,
                  God, our God, has blessed us.

                  May God bless us, and let him be feared
                  to the very ends of the earth.

                  Oh my God, purity in essence,
                  immense and incomprehensible purity!

                  I blush to stand in your presence. How unappreciative I have been, how ungrateful for your infinite love and mercy.  Although you had foreseen that I would be ungrateful, that I would go against your love in my manner of acting, you deigned to create me in your image and likeness, which is purity in essence.

                  In your infinite mercy help me to always pray to you like this:


                  My God, my Father, infinite love of my soul. It is true that I am ungrateful for your grace and your gifts. I have acted in opposition to the holy projects of your infinite love and mercy with which you created me and which surround me. My soul has been deformed as it houses impurities and my life is far from the sublime purity which it could and should be by creation and by grace.

                  But, will you forsake me because of this? Will you punish me as I deserve? Oh my God, I know that according to justice I do not deserve much, but you are purity by nature and infinitely merciful, and through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ and the merits and intercession of Mary and of all the angels and saints, I firmly believe and am certain that you will grant me perfect contrition for all my sins!


                  I trust and have confidence that you will destroy all that which is impure in me and you will grant me your purity and the grace to profit always by the gift of free will in order to use all the necessary and useful to better my soul because it is a living image of your purity. Amen.

                  For reflection in groups or individually: what are the 'means' that might help us to live "purity in essence"?


                  OFFERING

                  Eternal Father, in union with the most sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, I offer you the most precious blood of the Immaculate Lamb, our divine Redeemer, in thanksgiving, as if you had already granted all the graces I have requested for my and for all, now and always. Amen.
                  ____________________________________________________
                  Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
                  Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

                   2011-03-01 
                   
                        apostles-for-today-march-2011


                  On the Obligation to Become Perfect, since We Are Living Images of God,
                  Holiness and Perfection in Essence ...


                  God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti

                  19th meditation
                  On the Obligation to Become Perfect, since We Are Living Images of God,
                  Holiness and Perfection in Essence


                  Prayer

                  God, infinite Love,
                  today I am in front of you,
                  with the awareness that I have done many things that were wrong,
                  but surely I did some things right, too.
                  Have I been successful in striving to follow you perfectly?
                  Did I really try hard to be holy?
                  I put everything which was successful and unsuccessful in your hands.
                  God, you are infinite mercy,
                  change everything into blessings and to the good.
                  Amen.

                  Meditation

                  There is an expression that goes “holy mackerel”. Usually you use this phrase  when you see something very special or when something very special happens. But somehow you get the feeling that mackerel and being holy do not fit together. But what is the meaning of “holy”?

                  Let us first of all think about: What is particularly holy for me?

                  What does it mean for me to be holy in order to live holiness?

                  Try to find fitting words that begin with the first the letters of the word holiness.

                  Time for reflection

                  H ...
                  O ...
                  L ...
                  I ...
                  N ...
                  E ...
                  S ...
                  S ...

                  Vincent Pallotti writes in his treatise on the month of May for the lay person that when Jesus said “’You must be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect’ he wished to give this a precept to all people” (OOCC XIII, 696) and so if we are disciples of Jesus, if we are to be his apostles in the apostolate, then we too must  long to be holy as the heavenly Father is holy. Holiness of life is for Vincent Pallotti a sign of pure effectiveness in the apostolate. We can succeed in living a holy life in the imitation of Christ who is a living picture of God and the apostle of the Father. Our Founder applies to himself and to his life the words of Jesus in the gospel of John, where we read: “The one who believes in me will do even greater works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these.” To believe in Jesus, and this is connected to love of him, brings us back to the longing to learn from Jesus. It is the longing to be a disciple. Discipleship again is essentially connected with the imitation of Jesus: “To imitate our Lord, we need above all to have his spirit. That means that all the inner actions or movements of our souls be similar to those of our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we honestly imitate him in our external works, which have to be a true expression of the inner ones.” (OOCC III, 38)

                  Let us have a look at the 19th meditation of ‘God, the Infinite Love’:
                  “Enlightened by faith I must recall that my soul, through divine mercy, being created in the image and likeness of God, is also an image of God's Holiness and Perfection. Therefore, God, moved by His infinite love and mercy, has created me in such a fashion that, aided by His grace, I am obliged to profit by the gift of free will in order to better myself inasmuch as I am a living image of his sanctity and perfection. Thus, our Lord Jesus Christ, did not issue any new precept when He said, “Be perfect as my heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5,48)

                  […] I might thus get closer to holiness and perfection itself, although I am unable to attain it. God, therefore, has created me in such a way that should I not become holy and perfect as much as I can in my life, aided by His grace, then I am always, and I work always, in constant opposition to myself, for I am a living image of the Holiness which is Perfection in essence.”

                  Pallotti shows us here the big dimension of our lives. We are obliged to strive for Holiness and Perfection, but not because of an order or a command from God, but from a movement that arises out of our very nature. Everyone of us has this ‘movement’ towards holiness and perfection buried in himself / herself, each of us has to avail of the opportunity to realize it.  We know from our own experience that we are reluctant to do bad things. If the feeling that we experience in regard to some specific activity is bad, then we feel that we are acting against our nature. Our actions show or reflect that which is within us.  When our thoughts, words and actions are in God then we live in this threefold dimension in which we can become sanctified and more perfect. With Pallotti we can ask ourselves: “Oh my God! When did I live in conformity and harmony with your will?, with all the gifts of nature and of grace which you have given to me and give to me?”

                  Take a moment to reflect on and answer this question.

                  Texts for reflection and sharing:

                  It is important to share with others our experiences. A look into the Bible can widen our view. The following scripture passages could be used to animate sharing with others:

                  Ps 99
                  Wis 2,24-3,15
                  Isaiah 6
                  Lk 1,46-55
                  Mt 5,43-48
                  Eph 4,317-24
                  Rom 6,19-23
                  1Pet 1,13-25

                  Concluding Prayer

                  Vincent Pallotti, the man, had the weaknesses of human beings, he was very much aware of his own inadequacy when he compared himself to Jesus. Through his belief in the God of infinite mercy, he found encouragement. He teaches us that we have at any time, every day and every hour up until the moment of death, the opportunity to go on the way of perfection and holiness. Together with our founder and with our consciousness of our own weakness we can pray:

                  “Infinite mercy, eternal Holiness and Perfection, infinite, immense and incomprehensible; You have created me in Your likeness so that, becoming perfect as a living image of Your likeness and perfection, I may, after this present life, become like Your holiness and perfection in the glory of eternity. I have never profited by this incomprehensible gift of Your infinite love and mercy. I was never grateful for it. Rather I have abused it, acting in opposition to you. […]

                  Through Your infinite mercy, […] I firmly believe, rather I am certain, that now You will grant me at this very moment perfect contrition for my sins. Furthermore, You will grant me such efficacious grace, that I will begin to lead a holy and perfect life. With such fervour I will make up for my past losses, I will become as perfect as you wish me to be.”

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

                        2011-03-29      apostles-for-today-april-2
                   
                  God, the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
                  20th meditation

                  On the Obligation to Become Perfect, since we are Living Images of God, who is Eternal, Infinite, Immense and Incomprehensible.
                  ... 


                  Opening prayer

                  Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
                  The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
                  Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
                  the distant scene; one step enough for me.

                  I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
                  I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
                  I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,

                  pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

                  So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
                  O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
                  and with the morn those angel faces smile,

                  which I Have loved long since, and lost awhile! (Card. John H. Newman)

                  “Lord, bless us all, I pray, may your hand be on our heads, keep far from us misfortunes and sorrow.” Amen.

                  Reflection

                  In his reflection on God, Infinite Love, St. Vincent intuits through the light of the Holy Spirit, that his soul is bound to perfect itself since it is a living image of God the Father, perfect and infinite.  This is done through the exercise of free will and with the help of grace. It is a journey from being an image to being a likeness: in the gift of creation the person receives the dignity of being an image of God, but the person naturally tends towards the perfection of the divine likeness through the guidance of the Spirit.

                  St. Vincent’s way

                  He is very much aware that he is a limited creature, that he is unable to do all that he would like to do in order to correspond with God’s love. This is the source of his sorrow, his inability to fully realize his desire to glorify and serve Christ.

                  St. Vincent’s humility is reflected in how he considers himself, as an infinitely miserable being. Being thus he becomes a favourite of Jesus who, being infinitely merciful, can make up for his imperfections and render Vincent similar to himself.

                  St. Vincent’s zeal for his salvation finds its source and its model in Christ. Just as Jesus on the Cross wished to save all of humanity, so too Vincent learns from him not to fear sacrifices for the conversion of mankind. In order to do this he asks God to allow him have the same thirst which Jesus had on the Cross; this shows the extent of his commitment to the salvation of his brothers and sisters.

                  An unquenchable thirst, one which is never slaked. Christ is the only model, and we too, like Vincent, are not discouraged in following him, knowing that Jesus works through us.

                  …our way
                  Following the example of St. Vincent our way is founded on the experience of God as “Abba”, an infinitely good Father, and on our acceptance of his loving plan. This is brought about through conversion and faith, of which the entire Scriptures speak. The term ‘conversion’ in the Bible is expressed in two ways: the first is shuh, which means a return, and is used by the Prophets in the Old Testament to invite Israel to return to Jahweh when they have distanced themselves from him.

                  The second term is metànoia and is used in the Gospel of Jesus when he invites persons to conversion. It does not mean ‘return’ because we Christians do not return to something old, rather we are called to adhere to something new. Conversion as preached by Jesus means ‘a revolution of the mind’, He proclaims a call to convert and to believe in the Gospel.

                  In conversion I do not return to God, rather I insert the dynamism of the Gospel into my life and it becomes my life model. Jesus proposes that we make the Gospel our very lives!

                  Luke 15, 7: “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner that over ninety-nine virtuous men who have no need of repentance”. Jesus uttered this pronouncement immediately after having told the parable of the shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep, and having found it, happily places it on his shoulder and returns home. The ‘conversion’ of the sheep which gave such joy to the shepherd was that it allowed itself to be carried by the Lord abandoning itself into his hands. Often when we speak of conversion we think of it as something that we must do for God while, in reality, it is a question of accepting that which God wants to do for us.

                  Isaiah 40, 11: “He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes”. Jesus invites us to entrust our lives to him and to allow ourselves be carried by him, the infinitely good shepherd, who will lead us to perfect pastures, accomplishing the project of happiness written in the DNA of our very existence. He never speaks of obligations and duties.

                  Conversion accompanies faith. At times we say “I believe, my family believes…”, but, what do we believe in? In the Letter of St. James 2, 19 we read “but the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear”. Faith is not a belief in the existence of God and in some dogmas, true faith is Gospel faith. We often ask the Lord to increase our faith, but St. Paul writing to the Romans (12, 6) reminds us that “our gifts differ according to the grace given us”, in charisms, talents, gifts, therefore faith is to be exercised in order to bear fruit and to grow.

                  Matthew 17, 20: “If your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain ‘move from here to there’, and it would move, nothing would be impossible for you”. This is true faith! When we have a problem that blocks our way, when it seems as big as a mountain, we can sometimes remain blocked for our entire lives because that problem becomes our god. If we continue to look at it, it can become ever bigger. However if we start to say “mountain, problem, illness, move yourself from here to there”, we start a process or journey in which we become aware that nothing is impossible for God and for us.

                  Our faith will be capable of moving mountains because within us the ability to do the impossible will abide. We will come to a stage of enjoying life and of doing good not because it is written in the law but because we are following an internal moral imperative. A rose always gives off perfume, whether it is in an elegant room or under the stairs, it cannot but give off a perfume because that is its nature. We are created to be happy and to make others happy, the true believer is not so much the person who observes the law of God, but the one who strives to live a Love that is similar to His. The true disciples of Jesus discover that conversion and faith allow one to pass from sacrifice to gift, each step of life becomes a precious gift offered to us, in moments of joy it comes as a sense of fullness and in suffering as healing.

                  In this way time will no longer be Cronos, a tyrannical king who kills his subjects in consuming their lives, but it will become Kairos, a time of blessings to weave a fabric of relationships with others.  

                  Proposed texts for reflection and sharing:

                  Psalm 8, 5-7; Hebrews 2, 5-9; Luke 10, 25-37.

                  Final prayer: Lord, Holy Father, teach me to speak, not like a shrill trumpet, but like a gentle flute.

                  Help me to see myself in others, open the windows of my heart, enlighten my thoughts.

                  May I open wide my eyes to fill them with stars, do not allow me to close my hands in fists that ignore others.

                  Do not entrust me with the riches of the world, but give me wisdom of heart.

                  And, at the end of my days give me the greatest and most powerful gift, two strong and sure wings, formed by small drops of love, that can speedily fly above the clouds and come to You. To be like You, in You. This I ask through the intercession of Jesus Christ and of St. Vincent Pallotti, Amen.

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

                        2011-05-02       apostles-for-today-may-2011
                   

                  God the Infinite Love

                  Meditation 21

                  God, food for our souls
                  Eucharistic food


                  Through their infinite eternal likeness, the Father and the Son love each other with eternal and infinite love … and with this eternal and infinite love God mercifully deigns to feed me (in the Eucharist).” (OOCC X, 453) ...



                  God the Infinite Love

                  Meditation 21

                  God, food for our souls
                  Eucharistic food


                  Through their infinite eternal likeness, the Father and the Son love each other with eternal and infinite love … and with this eternal and infinite love God mercifully deigns to feed me (in the Eucharist).” (OOCC X, 453) ...
                    

                  Reflection: God, food for our souls.

                  With little doubt, the above quotation gives us a glance into the wealth of understanding that Pallotti gained through prayerful contemplation of God and of Jesus, and of the Eucharist.  This instruction on the Eucharist forms a complete circle beginning with God’s infinite eternal likeness (between God and Word) and, then, God’s eternal and infinite love (between Father and Son), and, finally, how this eternal and infinite love is given in the Eucharist. Pallotti does not waste one word or phrase.  In a succinct and precise manner, from the first phrase to the last, Pallotti speaks about relationship.

                  Through their infinite eternal likeness…

                  Jesus is begotten from the Father and was with the Father before the beginning of time.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God (Jn. 1, 1-2).  Pallotti explores this deeper by recognizing their infinite eternal likeness.

                  The primary foundation of Pallottine spirituality is that we are made in the image and likeness of God.  In the writing of Pallotti, he recognizes that the root of this truth is discovered in the relationship of the Trinity.  Pallotti begins:  Through their infinite eternal likeness.  (Unlike us, who are not begotten but created in the image and likeness of God).

                  From the very beginning there is relationship—the relationship of God and Word—dynamic, inseparable, divine union, communion, complete oneness—“infinite eternal likeness.”  St. Athanasius described the relationship as “a blend and energizing reality, self-consistent and undivided in its active power, for the Father makes all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit, and in this way the unity of the holy Trinity is preserved” (First Letter to Serapion).

                  In the Eucharistic prayers of the Sacred Liturgy, this energizing reality and active power is played out in word and action.  The Mass is a constant interchange as we address God through Jesus in union with the Holy Spirit.  The closing of the Eucharistic prayers comes to its climax with the doxology and great Amen:  Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, forever and ever.  AMEN.

                  … the Father and the Son love each other with eternal and infinite love

                  Pallotti continues with his reflection focusing on the essence of Eucharist—which is the essential relationship that precedes all others. “The Father and Son love each other” with a love that is beyond human measurements or understanding:  God, who is love; Jesus, who is the enfleshment of Love. The infinite eternal love of the Father and the Son is not stagnate but “an active power” and is, therefore, manifested through and throughout all creation.  This love reaches perfection with Jesus’ incarnation, coming to do only the will of the Father, taking upon himself the sin of the world, freely offering his life in exchange for ours, and is crucified and dies.

                  The night before Jesus’ dies, he spends intimate time with his disciples:  washing their feet, sharing a meal, and revealing to them his emotional pain—that one of them would betray him and one would deny him.  After finishing the meal, Jesus then spends intimate time with God—sharing with his Father the pain of perceived failure, fear about the future of his disciples, and asking to be spared but that it not be his will but that of his Father’s.  

                  God mercifully deigns to feed me in the Eucharist

                  Consistent with Pallotti’s personal spirituality when comparing himself in light of God—he perceives his nothingness and sin relying on God’s infinite love and mercy.  Therefore, Pallotti concludes by saying:  God mercifully deigns to feed me in the Eucharist.

                  Perhaps the question for each of us in light of Pallottine spirituality with the Gospel as our rule:  how is God food for our souls?  Ultimately, to be truly nourished we must be in right relationship.  We are called to be in right relationship with God and with one another—especially recognizing that each of us is made in the image and likeness of God.  Venerating the Blessed Sacrament is a natural part of our understanding of worship; yet, how often we fail to venerate or regard others with profound respect or reverence because we fail to recognize his or her likeness and image to God. Perhaps, we fail to acknowledge the same reality of ourselves.   No wonder Pallotti concentrated so intensely on God’s infinite mercy and love.  

                  For God to be the food for our souls we are open to intimacy with God and with one another—allowing the vulnerable and broken aspects of our lives to be shared—just as Jesus shared throughout his public life and dramatically at the Last Supper, in the Garden of Olives, and on the Cross. Jesus celebrated at weddings, cried at the death of Lazarus, shared his anger at the temple, and allowed his humanity to be revealed on the Cross.

                  God, in the guise of bread and wine, allows us to hold him in our hands, consume Him in our mouths and unites Himself totally to us.  God is vulnerable; God is intimate; God becomes one with us.  We, human beings, taste the Divine and are called to become what we eat—Love.

                  Pallotti prays:

                  I want nothing but God:  nothing, nothing.

                  My God, all, all, all,

                  Only God, only, only God.


                  God, food for our souls, works through us for the good of the church and the whole world.   This Love empowers us emphatically embraced by Pallotti and taken as our motto:  The Love of Christ impels us.  Fed by the body and blood, we are called to mission.  We become the mind, heart, hands, and feet to carry on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.  We are called to magnify the image and likeness of God in each moment.

                  This is the circle of our spiritual life:  to meditate on the relationship of Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier; to own and perfect our understanding of being made in the image and likeness of God; to open ourselves fully to receive God in every form and moment; to allow God’s love to impel us and to mirror back the image and likeness of God of those we encounter.

                  In this circle we, too, become food for others—allowing ourselves to be vulnerable; dying to ourselves to become alive in Christ. We set our sight on the ultimate goal:  God.


                  Prayer
                  “Jesus, infinite Love, truly God and truly human, my food and drink, I am unworthy to receive you, but I desire you and I wish to desire you with the fullness of love with which you are desired by the angels, the saints and their Queen, the most holy Mary, with the fullness of love of her own heart.  And relying on your infinite mercy which does not reject even the most miserable—indeed it seeks them out, I wish to receive you in every moment, forever:  and I wish … to make as many acts of love … and of adoration as you deserve and for all the goals that are pleasing to you.”  (OOCC XI, 63)

                  My Jesus, … you are already wholly mine, because the heavenly Father has given you to me and you yourself, with infinite love, … have given yourself to me. (OOCC X 254)

                  God in his very essence is love.  He loves us and unceasingly seeks what is for our benefit.  He did this in the most perfect manner possible by sending his only begotten Son to redeem us by his death on the cross.  Since all human beings, as creatures, are living images of this love, they must strive to be perfect in their love for every person.  That is what the commandment of love expressly confirms; this is why each and every person is obliged to contribute to the salvation of all through their gifts of nature and grace. (cf. OOCC IV 308-9)

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

                        2011-06-02       apostles-for-today-June-2011

                  God the Infinite Love of St. Vincent Pallotti
                  Meditation XXII


                  “God’s Infinite Love and Mercy in giving us his divine son,
                  made man for the redemption of our souls”

                  “He who has not spared even his own Son, but has delivered him for us all, how can he fail to grant us also all things with him?” (Rom 8:32 ...
                  Reflection

                  St. Vincent Pallotti’s spiritual teaching on God rests on God’s twofold characteristics: love and mercy. God the Father takes the initiative in his desire to communicate his infinite love with us. We in turn, are called to respond in faith, as we open ourselves to his love and mercy. Pallotti’s great desire was that God would become real in our lives; that we would spiritually grow and come to live our lives in that same infinite love.
                  Now this life in God depends fundamentally on our discovery of who God is in our lives. Pallotti asked the questions, “My God who are you?” and “Who am I before you?” (OO CC X, 464) This holy man was contemplating the essence of who we are and our true identity as children of God.
                  It was through his recollection of God that Pallotti recognized God as ‘Infinite Goodness’. Indeed he loved to identify God as Infinite love and mercy, and as Infinite love he envisaged God sharing himself completely with us. It was from his infinite goodness and mercy that God created the world in order that he might give himself completely to his creatures (Idd. I, 8).
                  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that those who believe in him may not perish, but may have life everlasting” (Jn 3:6). Creating us in his image and likeness God our Father desired to reveal himself completely to us, and it was in the sending of his own Son Jesus to redeem us that this gift of infinite love and mercy would become fully manifest.
                  After quoting the above scriptural passage in meditation XXII, Pallotti continues in his own words: “A God outraged, offended, disobeyed, a God forsaken by man so much loved the whole human race that he gave it his only-begotten Son, incarnate in the purest womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary”. We can imagine St. Vincent wondering at how God could send his only Son Jesus even though humanity had been so unfaithful to him.

                  Further on in the meditation he comments: “Oh my God, my infinite and incomprehensible love, my eternal, infinite, immense and ineffable mercy, what moved you to grant me such a gift but your infinite love, infinitely merciful?” This, for Pallotti, was the full revelation of infinite mercy - that even though we would reject God our Father, he would not reject us.
                  Pallotti goes on to speak of his ingratitude to God for all his gifts, i.e. of how he did not take advantage of this gift of infinite love. He comments, “Oh, what a monster of ingratitude I am! I was ungrateful to you so many times and for so many years. I did not correspond lovingly with your infinite love. I did not profit as I could and should have done by your incomprehensible gift to destroy the old man in me, which his sin…I have not put on the new man, who is our Lord Jesus Christ. I have not enriched my soul with infinite wealth and merits of Jesus Christ, with his virtues and his most holy life; rather I have loaded myself with all the miseries of vice”.

                  Pallotti shows here a deep knowledge and understanding of the anthropology of the human soul - how well he understood the workings of the spiritual soul and how it suffers under the enslavement of sin and the miseries of vice. He teaches us that in order to grow spiritually, we must open up to transcendence – to correspond to infinite love so that our transformation may take place, and thus we can, “put on the new man, who is our Lord Jesus Christ, with his virtues and his most holy life.”

                  The remedy for Pallotti was always ‘trust in infinite love’. How often he reminded us of this gift of infinite love, this gift of Jesus Christ for redemption - that we would abandon ourselves entirely to this same love and mercy.

                  In his ‘Opere Complete’, we read how Pallotti brings God’s mercy in contact with our misery: “His infinite mercy can easily communicate itself to our misery for he finds infinite misery in us…Through his infinite mercy and the merits of Jesus Christ, God destroys our infinite unworthiness and all the impediments that we posited to his mercy so that we may receive the communications of his attributes, especially his mercy”.

                  How consoling it is to comprehend that such communication of love has nothing to do with any merit on our part, but this gift of love has only to do with God and his desire to reveal the depth of his love for us. All this has been born out of his Infinite mercy. “Yes, my Lord, your infinite mercy has looked upon my misery and is always ready to destroy it in order to give us the true wealth, which is our Lord Jesus Christ”.

                  According to Pallotti, Jesus is the greatest gift of love the Father has given to us. We see this point emphasized when he comments, “Oh ineffable gift of infinite love and mercy! Oh, infinite, eternal, immense and incomprehensible gift! Yes, Jesus is mine! The eternal Incarnate Word is mine, in body, soul and divinity. The most perfect virtues, all the infinite merits of Jesus Christ are mine.” It is as if nothing is held back by the Father of mercies – that in Jesus Christ we have received everything.
                  Yes we have rejected God; yes we are unworthy of the Father’s love, and yet despite all our failings, he continues to love us and gift us with his very self. Jesus is offered to us for our redemption, giving us the opportunity to return to the Father.

                  The Gift of the Holy Eucharist

                  Reflecting on Pallotti’s understanding of this gift of Christ’s total self-giving, one can see parallels with the gift of the Holy Eucharist. We can recognise this gift of Infinite love made manifest in the Church through the various sacraments that have been born of Christ, but most especially in the sacrament of the Eucharist - the Sacrament of sacraments.

                  Pallotti recognized Jesus in the Eucharist as the gift to be offered in sacrifice by mankind to God, and he is also the gift of God to mankind (OO CC XI, 441). It is in this mystery of faith that Jesus, the Eucharistic Lord, gives himself to us completely - his body, his blood, his soul, his divinity – the total Christ is ours in this sacrament. We recognize here the gift of his love and obedience to the point of giving his life (Jn 10 17-18).

                  The Eucharistic mystery is for us a fountain of grace where we receive all the merits and graces of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. In participating in the Eucharistic celebration, we open ourselves to an abundance of graces. For St. Vincent, the celebration of the mystery of the Eucharist was an encounter with the total Christ.

                  Final Thought

                  In preparing this particular meditation, I believe I have come to a greater knowledge and appreciation of who God is for me; to understand that we can never make too many demands upon his infinite love, for he is always pouring himself out for us. Indeed Pallotti said that “God is always seeking man/woman in order to give himself wholly to them”.

                  At times when conscious of failing the Lord, when full of remorse, and knowing we may have hurt the Lord, let us never fail to recognise and feed upon this infinite love of God. Yes, I may with Pallotti, have “given vent to my brutal passions and to sins of all kinds”, and I know that I deserve to be punished, yet “infinite mercy looks upon my misery and is always ready to destroy it, in order to give us the true wealth Jesus Christ”.

                  Closing Prayer

                  My God, my infinite loving Father, I thank you for the gift of your infinite love and mercy. You have “created me in your image and likeness that we may become like you in glory for all eternity”. I know that because of my sins, I am unworthy of heaven, yet because of your infinite love and mercy revealed in Christ Jesus your Son, I can always return to you with trust and confidence, abandoning myself entirely to your mercy.

                  Heavenly Father, help us to keep in mind that out of your infinite love, you have offered Jesus to us as our redeemer. Give us the grace and strength to overcome our weaknesses and so respond more fully to the gift of your grace in our lives - that we may become what we have been created to be - children of God, heirs of God and co-heirs of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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

                        2011-07-09       apostles-for-today-July-2011

                  God the Infinite Love


                  Meditation 24 (OOCC XIII, pp. 147-151)

                  Jesus Christ, our Lord and also our older brother.

                  ... Prayer


                  "My Jesus! My most loving redeemer and very, very dear older brother". You who came in the name of the tenderness of the Father to share in your flesh the condition of the humble of the earth, I offer you my heart, ready to listen to you.
                  Open my eyes to see your marvels clearly,
                  Open my ears that I may hear your brotherly voice
                  Open my spirit to understand your Word
                  Open my lips to sing your praises.



                  Reflection and meditation


                  Saint Vincent Pallotti invites us to remember that the Heavenly Father gave us Jesus "so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers [and sisters]" (Rm 8:29).
                  Although abandoned and rejected by us sinners, God gave us his divine Son not only as redeemer, but also as an older brother. "In so doing, he wanted to revive very deeply and very significantly our faith in this intimate, true, close relationship which could be called supernatural parenthood through which we enter into our rights as children of God, heirs of God and co-heirs of Jesus Christ".


                  Through our baptism, we have been adopted by God, we are therefore adopted sons and daughters of God. This is not only a way of speaking, but a reality which touches our very being. Are we conscious of this adoption? Do we really live it out?


                  This adoption gives us the right to call God Father, Abba. Do we do this? Do we know how in our prayer to address God as a close, loving and just Father? Or do we simply recite the Our Father "by heart", without reflecting? Let us pause for a moment to respond to these questions in the depths of our hearts.



                  As sons and daughters of God, we are given the grace to be heirs of all that he possesses. Everything that belongs to God belongs to me, God opens his house to me, the house of God becomes "my house". My place is in the heart of the Blessed Trinity. Saint Vincent says to us: "Our eternal, infinite, immense, incomprehensible inheritance is God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all of the infinite attributes of God: infinite power, infinite wisdom, infinite goodness, purity in essence, infinite mercy, justice in essence, holiness, perfection…" (OOCC XIII, 149).
                  Our inheritance is magnificent, but we must know how to benefit from it and direct our lives in a way that allows us to carry out the duties which it bestows on us: goodness, purity, mercy, holiness, perfection… We must aspire to this with all our strength by putting ourselves into the hands of God, by relying on his Word, by following his commandments… Thus our fraternal bond with Jesus will be all the stronger because "Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, my sister" (Mt 12 :50).
                  Mary, the Mother of our Brother and therefore our Mother, will always be with us on this path, will lead us to the House of the Father. The Saints of God are also there to guide us by their example, to support us with their prayers.



                  This grace through which God has made us his adopted sons and daughters also makes us brothers of Jesus Christ, who is the older brother and natural son, while we are the adopted children, "sons in the Son" as the Church tells us. How many times in our prayer have we addressed Jesus as our brother? Are we aware that he who is our Saviour has by the grace of God become our brother? And even if we owe him the respect and love due to a Saviour, something which could put some distance between us, we have the right and the privilege of having him as such a close brother. He is the eldest, the first-born, the "older Brother" in whom we can confide, whom we can ask for help, the "older Brother" with whom we can share our joys and sorrows, the demands and the workings of grace in us.

                  It is with Jesus, our older brother, that we must learn to become sons and daughters. It is not so much about imitating his actions, but in the filial relationship he has with his Father who is also our Father.

                  I believe in Jesus, our brother, and I believe that he calls me too to become a brother. A brother for him, a brother for my neighbor. As Jesus surrounded all of his brothers, above the least ones, with his care, we too, as brothers and sisters, must take care of our brothers and sisters: "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers [and sisters] of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25:40).
                  It is to this that we will have to give an answer on the last day. Do we ask Jesus to teach us how to show love and mercy to our brothers and sisters? Do we ask him to enable us to say to every person, if not in words then at least through our whole way of being, "You are my brother, you are my sister"?

                  "It is a dogma of faith that if we live without mortal sin, we become children of God… not only living images of God, but also [his] adopted children", Saint Vincent Pallotti tells us. And he continues: "We are co-heirs of Our Lord Jesus Christ because He is our true first-born brother since we are adopted sons [and daughters] of God" (OOCC XIII, 148-149).
                  We are therefore living images of God, adopted children of God and Jesus Christ is our true older brother - but we must live without sin. Nevertheless, we fall, we fall often… Saint Vincent was fully aware of this: "My Jesus… when did I ever love and respect You as my most beloved first-born brother? Rather, how many times have I betrayed you? How many times have I encouraged others to betray You with my numerous and terrible scandals?  I have betrayed you… with grave damage to my soul" (OOCC XIII, 150-1).
                  He also knew that Jesus is "Mercy in essence" and trusted him completely:
                  "I firmly believe that… you will condescend to restore to me the precious right of being an adopted son[/daughter] of God, heir of God, and [your] co-heir. In this way I will enjoy with You the incomprehensible heritage of the glory of heaven for all eternity" (OOCC XIII, 151).

                  Are we aware that we "deprive ourselves" of this precious right when we delay or hesitate to ask forgiveness of God in the sacrament of reconciliation?

                  Finally, truly living out this adoption changes our view of the society in which we live. Sometimes we risk closing ourselves off in our individualism and our egoism,  and our contemporary world encourages us to do this too often. Sometimes others' differences frighten us. But when we look at them as brothers and sisters belonging to the same family, having the same Father as us, it is perhaps easier to overcome prejudices and build a new society, a greater harmony, that deeper communion for which Jesus, our brother, prayed to our Father and his Father.

                  The refrain of the WYD hymn for Madrid 2011 is as follows:

                  " Jesus, you our brother
                  Friend who sets us free,
                  Christ and Lord, strengthen our faith!" (internet sources)

                  The theme of our meditation for September has therefore led us along paths on which young people have also set out this summer. Jesus, you our brother, make us fully conscious that you are "our true older brother" and strengthen our faith.

                  Texts for reflection and sharing:

                  Mt 12:46-50; Mt 25:35-40
                  Jn. 1:9-12; Jn 20:17


                  Final Prayer
                  Our Father who art in heaven
                  You make us your children.
                  You make all human beings brothers and sisters,
                  And Jesus to be our older Brother:
                  He shows us by example.
                  As he has forgiven us, we want to forgive.
                  As he has consoled us, we want to console.
                  As he has loved us, we want to love one other.
                  Send us your spirit of love
                  That we may burn with love.
                  Amen.
                                     
                  (Fraternité de Jérusalem)
                  ____________________________________________________
                  Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
                  iazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org


                        2011-08-05       apostles-for-today-september-2011
                   
                  God the Infinite Love

                  Meditation 25

                  (OOCC XIII, pp. 152-156)

                  God, in giving us his own divine Son, incarnate for us as our first-born brother, gave us also as our mother the same blessed mother of his divine Son. As brothers [and sisters], he gave us all the saints – this is the reason why all the angels look up to us.

                  \
                  ...

                  Prayer
                                               
                  May love be enkindled in you,
                  May the great fire of God be enkindled.
                  Receive the Holy Spirit, says the Lord.
                  And enjoy a truly profound peace,
                  Enjoy an unparalleled peace.
                  Receive the Holy Spirit, says the Lord.
                  Understand and love my Word,
                  Understand my Gospel of love…

                  Merciful Father, we thank you for sending your Son, Jesus Christ, to proclaim to all people the Gospel of Salvation.

                  We thank you for the gift of life, of faith, and of your love, in particular for having called us to follow the ideal of Saint Vincent Pallotti in the Church …

                  Reflection

                  Dear brothers and sisters, following the sequence of reflections, we will now reflect on the infinite and merciful love of God, who gives us Mary as our Mother and her Son, Jesus, as our brother.

                  Because of his love, he has given us gifts, favours and graces which we will never fully understand. Through faith, we know that Jesus is our Brother and Mary our Mother.

                  Because of these gifts and graces, we have always been and will for all eternity be brothers and sisters in Christ, who hears our petitions, responding in his merciful love.

                  We are all welcomed by God with love. Pallotti asks himself, “How will I be received before the heavenly court of my brother Jesus and my Mother Mary, Queen of Apostles?”

                  “Oh, my God, I do not understand!...

                  Oh infinite and incomprehensible love, infinite mercy of my soul, enlighten me so that I may understand how ungrateful I have been; rather, how I abused Your gifts; how guilty I am for having worked contrary to what I should have done in order to Correspond to Your infinite love and mercy with love, humility and a grateful heart. Oh how foolish I have been in not profiting by the intercession of the Angels and Saints and my most beloved mother, Mary, as I could and should have, especially in order to obtain the grace to imitate Mary and all the Angels and Saints in all their virtues as You wish. But through Your infinite mercy I am sure that You will help me now and forever (OOCC XIII, pp. 154-155).


                  Suggestions for reflection and sharing



                  • · What is Pallotti saying to me in this reflection?





                  • · What must I change in my life so that the infinite and merciful Love of God may bear fruit in me?





                  • · What values of Mary, Christ and Pallotti should I imitate, in order that my being and my acting may bear fruit in my mission?


                  • Closing prayer

                    O, Lord, who became bread to feed me with your wisdom and your holiness, destroy my ignorance and my sins through your presence, so that only your wisdom and your goodness remain in me.

                    Lord, who are the substantial image of the Father and became my food to nourish me with your Divine Essence, destroy everything in me which offends you, so that the image of God, which you gave me as a gift by becoming human, will shine ever more vividly in me.

                    O, Lord, who are Infinite Love and who became my food to feed me with the love of the Holy Spirit, through your presence destroy all loves which have distanced me from you, so that it is no longer I who love you, but the same Holy Spirit who loves you and all creatures in me, Amen.

                    Offering

                    I give you thanks, my God, for the benefits received during my life, particularly for the gift of this day.

                    United to the most holy hearts of Jesus and Mary, I offer the intentions and affections, the prayers and work of this day, the acts of virtue  and of love done by me and by all creatures in time and in eternity for your infinite glory and for the good of souls, Amen.
                    ____________________________________________________
                    Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
                    iazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org

                    2011-10-01         apostles-for-today-October
                     


                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 26 (OOCC XIII, pp. 132-137)



                    God, Moved by His Infinite Love and Mercy, Did Not Stop Adam’s Sin in order that Our Life Might be Ennobled, Sanctified, and Enriched by the Merits of Jesus’ Life

                    Introduction
                             “Enlightened by faith, I recall that when God, perfection and sanctity in essence, does not prevent sin, He does so for reasons worthy of Himself and of all His infinite perfections. I am not able to understand all the most holy, loving and merciful reasons for which he did not prevent Adam’s sin, though faith helps me to see God’s principal reason in giving us Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, holy mother Church sings out the reason in the Liturgy of the Easter Vigil, “O happy fault, which merited having such a Redeemer.”

                      More than ever we have reason to wonder. For, had not God given His divine Son Incarnate for us, even though neither Adam nor anyone else had sinned, and if moreover all would have performed good deeds, these good works would never have been enriched, bettered and ennobled by the infinite merits, perfections and holiness of Jesus Christ. Jesus sanctifies, improves and enriches, with His infinite merits, all the words, thoughts and deeds of our life, even those which are mediocre, as long as they are done for God and as long as we are in a state of grace.

                      Without the merits of Jesus Christ, our good deeds would remain as they are intrinsically, that is, worth almost nothing in the presence of God. They are in fact, monsters of imperfection in the presence of the infinite perfection of God.

                      Oh my God, I am unworthy to contemplate the excesses of Your infinite love and mercy. You have permitted Adam to offend You in order to give us Your divine Son as our Redeemer from the slavery of sin. You not only destroyed our deformity, caused by sin, but rather You sanctified, ennobled and enriched all the thoughts of our minds, all the good affections of hearts, all the words, work, actions and feelings of our body and soul – everything. This you did with the infinite merits, holiness and perfection of all the thoughts, words, deeds, breathing, actions and everything of the most holy soul and pure body of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through the communication and application of Jesus’ infinite merits, all the imperfection of our actions, even though they are good ones, is destroyed. In fact, the deeds which we call good are just horrible monsters without the application of the perfection, merits and holiness of Jesus Christ. It is through the application of Jesus’ merits that the imperfection of these deeds is sanctified, perfected and enriched. In this way we can say that the perfections, merits, and holiness of Jesus are mine. All Jesus’ life is mine, because of the application of His merits” (OOCC XIII, pp 132-136).

                    Meditation

                      St. Vincent invites us to reflect on sin through the eyes of faith. “Enlightened by faith” – these words challenge us and afford us an opportunity to reflect on faith and discover how it helps to form us into the people we become. Faith is not stagnant, but is a living thing that leads us deeper into the realities of God and of his divine plan for us and for all creation. Pallotti assures us that Adam’s sin was allowed by God in order to reveal Jesus’ mission to us. Scripture tells us many things about Jesus’ eventual arrival on earth to redeem us. In the Old Testament, his coming was foretold literally for centuries. Although many names were given to this promise, faith continually encouraged believers to hope in it. The New Testament opens our eyes to the revelations of Jesus’ coming. Chapter 1 of John’s Gospel is an amazing reflection on God’s plan for his people through Jesus, “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world ... and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, ... From his fullness we have received grace upon grace.” (Jn 1:9-16) Does this piece of Scripture help to further clarify what Pallotti is trying to tell us in our passage for this month?


                      What is sin? It is any wilful thought, action, or failure-to-act that either weakens or causes a total disruption in our loving relationship with God. The effect of Adam’s sin is inherited by all humans from the first moment of their existence. Jesus became the new Adam and through his passion, death and resurrection provided us with the promise both of salvation from sin and of eternal happiness, which Adam lost for us through his turning away from God. In his letter to the Romans (5: 12 – 21), St. Paul reflects on how sin came into the world through Adam but how Jesus changed that, as he goes on to  explain -  “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all...” (Rm 5:18). Our hope of redemption is based on the faith that leads us to God in Baptism. Paul asks “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Rm 6:3) Chapter 6 continues to reflect on the relationship between sin, death and grace and the interplay between them which serves to free us from the overwhelming temptation to sin. Verse 6:14 states: “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under the law but under grace”.


                      Pallotti, the mystic, has reflected in a similar manner on sin, on our unworthiness, and on our inability to act without the grace which Jesus wills to share with us. Grace is a free gift from God, one that we his children can take advantage of by being open to its action through our efforts to live the Christian life and, in a particular way, through our fruitful reception of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Prayer is a vital part of each of our lives, and making room in our busy schedules to share a relationship with Jesus and the Triune God through an active prayer life will help us in different ways. It will help us to recognise the draw of sin within us which leads us to make choices which damage us and also our relationship with God and with others. It will teach us that only God’s free gift of grace received through prayer can give us the strength and courage to purify our lives, that only the working of grace within us can bring about true and lasting conversion and growth. The love and example of our families and of our brothers and sisters in faith can offer inspiration and guidance when temptation threatens to separate us from our Lord who loves us and desires us to live lives that are truly blessed. If we always keep in mind our continual need to be “enlightened by faith”, we will also grow to understand and experience first-hand the complexity of the issue of sin and how it is only through the merits of Jesus Christ that we can become the image of God, no matter how imperfect we may be. God loves the sinner and never ceases to applaud our efforts to become more “Godlike”.
                    ____________________________________________________

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


                          2011-11-02       apostles-for-today-november
                     
                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 27

                    (OOCC XIII, pp. 138-141)

                    The Infinite Love and Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ as Shown in His Baptism
                    ... Introductory Prayer:  


                    Jesus, Son of the living God, we stand in awe of your infinite Holiness. A Holiness that embraces our sinful humanity, as you descend into John's Baptism of repentance in the Jordan, even though you are without sin. Help us live out the holiness and dignity we received as son and daughter of God when we were baptised into you; help us renew it again and again in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We ask this in your name. Amen.

                            “What happened to Jesus at his Baptism must happen to you.” This was the expectation of the early Church spoken to people who wished to leave their old lifestyle and become Christians. They were handed the book of the Gospels which, if you took away the infancy narratives of Matthew and Luke, all begin with the Baptism of Jesus at the Jordan. So what happened at the Baptism of Jesus?

                    It was a moment of decision, a kairos moment, a call to Jesus from the Father to begin his public mission for the salvation of us all. Jesus submitted to John’s Baptism which was a baptism of repentance. This act encapsulated God’s work of incarnation/salvation. Jesus the Son of God, though he was without sin, entered into our sinful condition to redeem us from within, truly becoming our firstborn Brother. St Vincent dwelt in depth upon this mystery of the sinless one showing himself a sinner. In awe at the Holiness of Jesus, Vincent directs us to the Sacrament of Penance to restore our baptismal innocence. Instead of Vincent’s approach I will stay with Jesus’ Baptism and focus on Jesus’ Abba experience, which happened as he came up from the water, being empowered by the Spirit for mission, and hearing the Father’s voice. Fully holy and fully human, it is Jesus’ human experience of being Son of the Father, called to do God’s will.

                    Jesus’ identity as Son finds its basis here, in the all-encompassing awareness of being loved by his Father. St Mark accentuates this in his account of the theophany at Jesus’ Baptism, where Jesus is revealed as “Beloved Son” on whom God’s favour rests (Mk 1:11). The reference is to the ‘Servant’ spoken of in Isaiah 42:1, “the chosen one (eklektos) in whom God is well pleased.” Instead of eklektos, however, Mark uses “agapetos uios” (beloved Son) to underline Jesus’ own relationship to his Abba. The Hebrew word for being ‘well-pleased’  is ‘rason’ which also means ‘the one who always carries out my will.” Even in his agony in Gethsemane, Jesus’ relationship to his Father remained intact. His relationship to God, his striking use of Abba in prayer that he taught his disciples (even in the face of imminent crucifixion, Mk 14:36) left an indelible impression on them.

                    From his Baptism in the Jordan arose the urgent priority to proclaim the kingdom of God. The Holiness of Jesus in himself, and His Holiness in confrontation with sin, injustice and greed, highlight the two-fold meaning of the kingdom of God. The first meaning of kingdom is an inner experience in Jesus himself of God reigning as God in him. Jesus in his humanity was so attuned to the will of God that God could act as God in him. God’s reign was fully present in Jesus. The second meaning of kingdom is the outward manifestation of God’s reign, the overwhelming compassionate love of the Father, which compelled Jesus to challenge people to change the world to be the place his loving Father wanted it to be. The kingdom, solely the work of God, was already present in Jesus’ ministry of teaching, healing and exorcism in a radically new way, challenging every situation that was contrary to the loving kindness and justice of his Father. Throughout his ministry, the startling praxis and teaching of Jesus that angered his opponents, sprang from his unique intimacy with God. His experienced love of the Father is what Jesus sought to engender in those who followed him and in the most marginalized.

                    Vincent is right in calling us back to renew our Baptism through Penance, because what happened to Jesus is meant to happen to us. What is that? It is the decision to change our lives from sin, and from structural sin prevalent in our society that we are complicit in; it is our need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to let God reign as God in us; to work to bring about the kind of world the Father wants; and to reach out to the marginalized in our society and world as Jesus and Vincent did.

                    Let us Pray:  Jesus, give us your horror of sin and injustice, even though you lived in the thick of it. Give us your experience of being beloved son or daughter of the Father to overcome our fear and reluctance to act. Send your Spirit of love to awaken our conscience to all that is good and holy, to all that is wrong that we can remedy. Help us to act not singly but in solidarity with others. Help us to proclaim by our lives your kingdom in our midst. Through Jesus the Christ, our first-born Brother and Son of God. Amen.

                    Concluding Prayer:

                    Lord, you call us to live out the fruitfulness of our Baptism, that we in turn may experience being loved by the Father and generously take up the task of bringing about the kind of world the Father wants – a kingdom of love, justice and peace. Amen.


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

                          2011-12-02 

                          apostles-for-today-December-2011
                     
                    God the Infinite Love


                    Meditation 28
                    (OOCC XIII, pp. 141-146)

                    The Infinite Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ in the Desert

                    Introduction:

                    "My Jesus, who could ever have imagined that a God, eternal, infinite, immense, incomprehensible, blessed in Himself, wisdom in essence as You are, would deign to do all this, foreseeing that You would be unacknowledged and vilified. Oh my God, I do not understand this, I feel within me Your infinite love and mercy, but I do not understand it, therefore I forget about it" (OOCC XIII, pp. 143-144). ...

                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 28
                    (OOCC XIII, pp. 141-146)

                    The Infinite Love and Mercy of Jesus Christ in the Desert

                    Introduction:

                    "My Jesus, who could ever have imagined that a God, eternal, infinite, immense, incomprehensible, blessed in Himself, wisdom in essence as You are, would deign to do all this, foreseeing that You would be unacknowledged and vilified. Oh my God, I do not understand this, I feel within me Your infinite love and mercy, but I do not understand it, therefore I forget about it" (OOCC XIII, pp. 143-144). ... Reflection:
                    Saint Vincent Pallotti helps us to reflect on the total renunciation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted to withdraw, before beginning his public ministry, in order to teach us that we in our humanity can overcome every temptation by living his Word. That is what Jesus did; with the Word he overcame the devil: "But he replied: Human beings do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4). It is a proof of God's infinite love for us: Jesus in the desert, even when he had neither water nor food, even in temptation, didn't avail of his divine nature, but rather through a kenosis, a self-emptying, suffered and so made possible victory as a human being: "though he was in the form of God, [Jesus]did not count equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness, ... being found in human form (Ph 2:6-7).

                    It is fundamental to know that Our Lord Jesus Christ, being God, knows everything, also our unfaithfulness to his teachings: he already knew that we, his disciples, would not follow his example fully, but he wanted to grant us the grace, the possibility of a victory, fruit also of our handing over of our individualistic and overbearing "ego". Pallotti in this way gives us a further indication towards devoutly imitating Our Lord Jesus Christ: open ourselves, free ourselves from attachment to our own "ego". This is the objective of every Christian and every Pallottine who desires to follow the Gospel and his or her charism with great enthusiasm and commitment.

                    The desert, of which the Bible speaks and which St. Vincent quotes, leads us to solitude, to the essential: there we succeed in encountering ourselves and God. This experience moves us towards a true and intimate dialogue with Jesus, who can ease the burden of the vices of life for us and conform us more perfectly to himself.

                    Pallotti also proposed this deep encounter with the Lord to his spiritual children through the monthly retreats, so that we might become more conscious of our misery and incomprehension in the face of the immense and loving plan of salvation of the Lord. It is necessary to recognise ourselves as being "nothing" - as Saint Vincent did for all of his life - and in this way perceive that God makes us his worthy children, brothers and sisters of Jesus, and gives us his inheritance. He makes us partakers of his Love!

                    The love of God for us is revealed more concretely through the Divine Mercy which gives us the right and the joy of relating to him with familiarity, but we at times ignore it, preferring a frenetic life. Mercy teaches us to live with love, but we often choose egoism and self-sufficiency. The love of God teaches us detachment from vain things and we, however, are more attentive to the less important things.

                    The invitation to a desert experience calls us to break open the "shell" of our egocentrism, it favours the possibility of perceiving the incomprehensible love of God who invites us to a true life, conscious that only Jesus - our guide - is the authentic Way.

                    The desert can become a place of dialogue with the Lord who enhances the most authentic desires which he has placed in us, above all enabling us to overcome egoism. The desert is a suitable place to transcend our individualism and perceive that, even in our fragile human condition, the grace of God, through the infinite merits of Jesus Christ, continues to summon us to collaborate in the Proclamation of the Kingdom.

                    Reflecting...
                    Further, the desert presents us with the challenge of "human" solitude and invites us to a greater and more sincere facing up to ourselves, to our reality, so that the "masks" which we wear to be accepted by a social group or by each other fall away. It is important to welcome this opportunity to truly know ourselves and so present ourselves to the Lord without hypocrisy. Do we have the courage to put ourselves to the test?

                    Our Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself for love of us, putting aside his divine condition and subjecting himself to the human one, also to temptation. We instead, while knowing the humble teaching of Jesus, are often presumptuous and attached to our assignment and our social position. He won because of his humility and invites us to entrust ourselves to grace in order to overcome temptation. Let us ask ourselves: Do we let ourselves be overcome by vanity? Do we face different situations alone or do we turn to the Lord with humility so that He who experienced similar situations can help us?

                    With the experience of the desert, Jesus teaches us that, even through the mortification of the flesh, we can arrive at more intimate communion with God. Our Lord began his public ministry after the experience of the desert, where he experienced hunger, thirst and solitude. We, responding to the missionary mandate: "Go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News to every creature" (Mk 16: 15-16), and attentive to the Pallottine charism of collaborating in the apostolate of Jesus Christ, are called to bear the preoccupations and sufferings of our neighbour.
                    Do we have the sensitivity to put ourselves in the shoes of others in order to understand their afflictions and proclaim the Gospel in an effective way?

                    Prayer:
                    You are my perseverance
                    "My God, my Mercy, I am infinitely unworthy of the gift of holy perseverance. And you alone know the great and infinite evils that I have done by not having been faithful to the resolutions and not having used the means which you granted me in order to persevere. I am a sinful man, because if I make a promise I behave in exactly the opposite way. But your infinite Mercy, through the merits of Jesus Christ, through the merits and intercession of Mary Most Holy and of all the [Angels and] Saints, guarantee me that you will destroy everything in me, now and always, and that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have acted and will act in me.

                    All of your infinite attributes, all infinitely merciful, now and always, work and will work in me, for ever as if they had operated from all eternity. And you yourself, o my God, you are my perseverance. You are my eternal good. You are my all (OOCC X, 734-735, Spiritual Exercises at Montecitorio for parish priests and confessors, 1842).
                    ____________________________________________________
                    Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico

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


                          2012-01-02  
                     
                          apostles-for-today-january-2012
                       Extracts from the Papal Letter of John XXIII for the Canonisation of Vincent Pallotti, Confessor
                    “The burning desire of Christ that those who believe in him be one (cf. Jn 17: 21), also inflamed the heart of Vincent Pallotti, Roman priest, surrounded by us today with the crown of saints and invoked as our intercessor in heaven. He, in fact, urged on by love for God and at the same time moved by the infinite miseries of humankind, longed ardently all his life and strove in every way that human beings, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, be able to understand that eternal life consists in this: to know the Father, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (Jn 17:3). 
                    ...
                    This Saint (...) worked unceasingly in this city [of Rome], in the living hope that Catholics above all would recognise their own dignity as Christians, preserving their faith intact; that [other Christians] would return to the one fold of the Catholic Church under the guidance of one Shepherd; finally, that [non Christians] as yet unenlightened by the light of the Gospel would, through the omnipotent grace of God, submit to the law of Christ. He dedicated himself with every means possible to the education of children and young people; to the formation and spiritual direction of seminarians and of priests; to the care of soldiers, of the poor, of the sick, of prisoners and of those condemned to death; to the ministry of preaching; to the worship of God, also in external and solemn form, sometimes restoring the sacred ceremonies to their original splendour.
                    It pleases us to remember that, in order to complete these virtually innumerable activities, he united not only the work of priests, as is natural, but also that of lay people, men and women; so much so that he was rightly called precursor of what today is Catholic Action.
                    Vincent Pallotti was born in Rome on April 21, 1795, and was regenerated in the sacred waters of Baptism in the basilica of San Lorenzo in Damaso the following day (...). Over the years, he perceived clearly that he was called to the priesthood. The unjust laws of the time, however, forbade young men to enter the seminary, and Saint Vincent too was forced to remain at home. Here, however, he waited diligently to prepare for the priesthood in study, prayer and penance. He was ordained priest on May 10, 1818 and, filled as he was with zeal for others, he immediately became the apostle of Rome, making his own the motto of St. Paul: the love of Christ urges us on (2 Co 5: 14). And above all, in order to provide a good education for the young, he opened numerous schools which they could attend after work during the evening, also learning the first elements Christian doctrine. Caring particularly about young men called to priesthood, he accepted the role of spiritual director of the Roman Seminary and of confessor in the Scottish, Greek, English and Irish ecclesiastical colleges as well as that of Propaganda Fide (...). He alleviated the miseries of the poor in every way, to the point of depriving himself several times of his own bed and coat in order to help them. His concern for the sick reached the pointed of heroism when, in 1837, cholera broke out in Rome.
                    It was his custom to preach in the squares (...). After such sermons, he usually went into some church and got people to pray, while he heard confessions at length, sometimes late into the night. But (...) God wanted him for a very particular type of activity. Therefore, he conceived a plan in his heart to bring Christians above all to a more pure and active faith, in order then to lead all [non Christians] to conversion. For this purpose he founded the [Union] of Catholic Apostolate in 1835. All, directly or indirectly, must collaborate in achieving the goals of the [Union]; which are, to recall the words of the founder himself: “the increase, defence and spreading of charity and of the Catholic faith, under the special protection of the Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of Apostles, according to the directives of the Supreme Pontiff”.
                    Very many, taking up the invitation of Pallotti, gave their names to the [Union]. He promoted (...) an Octave, from the day of the Feast of the Epiphany itself , during which (...) different functions in different oriental Catholic rites were celebrated and talks given in different languages: a real manifestation of the unity and universality of the Roman Church.
                    Something else worthy of mention: Vincent Pallotti, with the aim of cultivating the spirit of piety in priests, invited them to special weekly meetings, during which not only secular and religious priests, but also bishops and prelates, parish priests, theologians, Consultors of the Sacred Congregations, listened attentively to the reading and explanation of passages from Sacred Scripture, and discussed theological and liturgical questions. He also had the gift of performing miracles, such as healing even the very seriously ill, converting sinners, freeing the possessed from demons, predicting the future for himself and others; he sometimes even had the gift of bilocation. His truly exceptional priestly prudence, fortitude and dignity were demonstrated especially when, in the middle of the 19th century, political disturbances broke out in Rome during which various priests were persecuted and killed, and he himself was repeatedly hunted in order to be killed.

                    On January 15th 1850, he suddenly fell ill. He seemed to pick up quickly but, to the amazement of all, he didn’t want to leave his bed. Instead, he asked for Viaticum and Extreme Unction and, after having given his children his final exhortations, he died peacefully on the day which he himself foresaw, the 22nd of that same month.

                    Very soon after his death, since his fame for holiness was on everyone’s lips, the opportunity to confer on him the title of Blessed began to be thought about. Therefore, after the usual canonical processes, the Supreme Pontiff signed the decree for the introduction of his Cause: it was January 13, 1887 (…). The virtues of Vincent Pallotti (…) were declared heroic by Pius XI with the decree of January 21, 1932. The rite [of beatification, led by Pius XII,] took place with great solemnity in the basilica of St. Peter’s on January 22, 1950, exactly one hundred years after his death. Then, because of the very many other miracles obtained through the intercession of the Blessed, the Cause for his canonisation was resumed; in particular, the canonical processes for the examination of two specific healings were instituted (…). On April 6, [1962] (...) we declared to be certain, without a shadow of a doubt, the healing of Angelo Balzarani from a carbuncular pustule [a dark itchy abscess or skin ulcer] together with grave toxaemia [blood poisoning], and that of Fr. Adalbert Turowski, Rector General of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate, from a very serious postoperative toxic-infectious syndrome, compounded by heart failure.
                    Having invoked the abundance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, in our quality as supreme teacher of the universal Church, we pronounce the following words: In honour of the Most Holy and indivisible Trinity, for the exaltation of the Catholic faith and for the increase of the Christian religion, with the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul and Our Own: after having pondered over the matter at length and repeatedly invoked divine help; having heard the views of Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops and Bishops resident in Rome; we declare and define that the blessed Vincent Pallotti is a Saint, and we enter him in the register of saints, arranging for his memory to be devoutly venerated every year on the day of the anniversary of his death, the twenty second of January. In the name of the Fa†ther and of the S†on and of the Holy†Spirit. So may it be.

                    Written in Rome, at the tomb of Saint Peter, on the twentieth of January nineteen sixty three, in the fifth year of Our Pontificate ”.

                    I, JOHN, Bishop of the Catholic Church
                                                                                                         

                       
                          2012-01-03  
                     
                          anouncement-of-st-vincent-pallottis-cannonization
                     
                    God the Infinite Love


                    Meditation 29
                     (OOCC XIII, pp. 157-160)

                    "The Infinite Love and Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ in everything He did for us during the years of his Preaching".

                    ... In this 29th meditation, Vincent Pallotti  describes his contemplation of the infinite Love and Mercy of Jesus, manifested in all that he did for us during the years of his preaching.
                    Through our Baptism, we receive the gift of faith, we commit ourselves to follow and imitate Jesus Christ in our being and in our doing. This discipleship requires a process of formation, of knowing and experiencing the Word of God in order to be living witnesses of his merciful love.

                    The incarnation of the Word has re-established communion with the Father, shattered by sin, revealing that God loves us with infinite love. The more this knowledge is penetrated in meditation and contemplation of the Word, the more a person succeeds in understanding their own dignity, having been made gratuitously in the image and likeness of God.  This enchants the heart and inspires absolute confidence in a God who is capable of loving in such a way.

                    The goal of the preaching of Jesus was to reveal to the world that the Father, from eternity, desires the happiness of every human being, which is attained by believing in his only Son, recognising his infinite Love and Mercy. In Luke 4:16ff. we find the description of the mission of Jesus: "to liberate people from chains which prevent them from realising and make concrete the Kingdom of God. Free from physical evils and enlightened by faith, human beings are able not only to understand the signs of the Kingdom of God, but also to feel themselves motivated and challenged to collaborate in order to bring it about concretely. This revelation of Jesus was a cause of discord and disagreement among the doctors of the law. The Kingdom was understood in a political and juridical manner, but Jesus understood it differently.

                    Considering the history of salvation, we realize that the chosen people of Israel, during the forty years of travelling in the desert, experienced great trials and suffering, but God promised to be with them at every moment and did not abandoned them.

                    Therefore, in various parts of the Old Testament we encounter very significant expressions which reveal God's love, God's favour for his chosen people. We will quote a few of them: "… Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine… For I am the Lord your God… You are precious in my eyes, since you are honoured and I love you" (cf. Is 43:1ff. In other passages: "It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I shall make you a light to the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the very ends of the earth" (cf. Is 49:6ff.). "I have carved you on the palms of my hands" (Is 49:16ff.).

                    The Word of God contains beautiful surprises. The name of Israel can be substituted with our own name, the word directed to Israel we can hear as directed to our hearts. This experience confirms the love that God has for us, it is He who sustains us on our spiritual path and who helps us to overcome life's difficulties.

                    Certainly, every person experiences hardship in their life, situations in which everything seems to lose its meaning. There are moments in which God puts our faith to the test; however, He is always faithful to his promise: "Do not be afraid, I am with you". Considering these difficulties with the benefit of the passage of some time, from the perspective of faith, we feel the need to exclaim: Without the presence and the grace of God we would not have been able to overcome these difficulties! Through faith we realize that the history of salvation is not something from the past, but that God continues to create the history of every unique and unrepeatable person

                    Vincent Pallotti, man of God, had this experience, which led him to recognize, with profound joy and gratitude, the infinite love of God. Motivated by such love he felt the call to communicate the Good News of the Infinite Love of God for us to the world. Today, we are called to proclaim, in word and in deed, the Good News to all of humanity. Whoever experiences the Lord cannot simply stand still and watch.

                    Such was his consciousness of this reality, which drove Saint Vincent to exclaim: "What did you want me to be, O God, when you made me in your own image and likeness? Just this: that I would be like You. That my life would be: light from Your Light, justice from Your Justice, love from Your Love, holiness from Your Holiness! (cf. OOCC X, 483).


                    Contemplating this great, eternal and incomprehensible God, Pallotti has no words, feeling himself to be nothing and sin, infinitely in need of grace, but at the same time, he feels himself to be so loved that he can come to say with the psalmist: the abyss of nothingness attracts the abyss of everything (Ps 42:8). It is not by chance that our Founder has called us to meditate every day on 1 Co 13:1-13, where we find the essence of our love, that is, love for God and neighbor.


                    We can understand that he, with this meditation, wanted us also to have the experience of being able to recognize the love of God the Father towards us through the teachings of Jesus Christ, his Son. This recognition drives us to make the love of God visible in our apostolic mission among the poor and the most needy.


                    We beg Mary, Mother of Divine Love, to help us in the process of identifying with her Son Jesus, in order to concretely live out the words spoken to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5).

                    For reflection:


                  • In what situations of your life are you conscious of having experienced the merciful love of God?


                    •  How can you and the other members of the UAC live the teachings of Jesus in this globalized world?




                  • How does your group value the Word of God in your formation process?


                    •  Compose your own psalm of praise to God for his infinite love and mercy and share it with your group.



                    Prayer:

                    My Jesus, my most beloved brother, Master of Eternal Life, wonder worker, when I remember all that you taught, did and suffered for us during the years of your heavenly preaching. Looking at my ingratitude, I do not lose faith. Through your infinite mercy, through Your infinite merits, through the merits and intercession of Mary and all the angels and saints, I firmly believe that You will grant me perfect sorrow for all my sins and effective and lasting grace to practice all Your heavenly doctrines. In this way I will always live in the belief and trust that You will continually work new wonders of eternal life in my soul, so that I will benefit from Your suffering by loving and enduring suffering and grief as You wish me to do in order to be completely like You.
                    ____________________________________________________
                    Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
                    Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org


                          2012-02-01 20:02:26
                              apostles-for-today-february-2012
                     
                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 30

                    (OOCC XIII, pp. 161-166)


                    "The Infinite Love and Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Choice of the Twelve Apostles".

                    ... When I first read this meditation, my immediate reaction was, "Oh no, oh Lord, why this topic, why me?" Although a priest, I find it a challenge to write honestly on the topic of Saint Vincent's meditation on ministerial priesthood in a way that will have some chance of being life-giving for the wide variety of people who will read this reflection. But then the image came to mind of the grain of sand or some other small object which acts as an irritant or stimulus to the oyster, leading to the formation of a pearl. It can be that when we find things uncomfortable, when we are forced to struggle in order to reflect more deeply and more personally on an area which we find challenging, something precious may come of it. That at least is my hope!


                    Why do I find this topic a challenge? Well, I come from a culture in which the profoundly damaging actions of some members of the ministerial priesthood have formed a substantial part of the daily diet in the mass media for almost 20 years, failures seriously compounded by the generally wholly inadequate response of many religious superiors and bishops to address in a just, compassionate, decisive and transparent way the pain of those who were deeply hurt through abuse suffered at the hands of ordained ministers and to protect other young and vulnerable people from future harm at the hands of those same ministers. Serious questions have been raised as to the adequacy of the response of the Church leadership at every level to this scandal and crisis. Ministerial priesthood in general in our culture was marked by an unhealthy clericalism, priests being seen in some way as belonging to a higher caste than the "ordinary" Christian, one result of which was that, in practical terms, the good of the Church was judged to lie more in protecting the good name of that priesthood than in protecting the young and vulnerable from harm. Church leaders were noted more often than not for exercising their authority in a harsh, domineering and controlling manner, reflecting a harsh, domineering and controlling image of God, and this too has left its mark in our culture on many peoples' image of God and of the ordained ministry. And I don't think that our culture is alone in that.


                    In such a climate, a reflection such as St. Vincent's which speaks in unequivocally positive terms about the gift that ministerial priesthood is can seem a little incomplete to say the least. And yet, Saint Vincent was no starry-eyed romantic; he was well aware of the failings of many priests in his own time, and of the inadequacy of an image of Church leadership which reduced the role of lay Christians to one of little more than spectators in the great drama of salvation history.


                    However, St. Vincent's response was one of faith, faith primarily in God's unfailing love made visible in Christ for all people, each one a unique living image and likeness of the infinite love and goodness which is God. But faith also in the gifts which God has given us in order to continue to help make this transforming love a tangible reality in our daily lives. He begins each of his 31 reflections in God the Infinite Love with the expression "Enlightened by faith" or something equivalent. It is only with the eyes of faith that we can discern the true value of God's gifts and of their importance for our lives and for the lives of others. This is true also of the gift of ministerial priesthood.


                    What aspects strike me in his reflection? His clearly biblical rooting of the call and sending of the apostles and of those who would succeed them in that of Jesus himself: their mission is to be, in a particular way, a sharing in and a continuation of Christ's own call and sending by the Father. They are sent to announce Christ's salvation to all, to proclaim his Kingdom to the whole world for the good of all, to take his place as "true shepherds… leading [others] to true pastures of eternal life", "spiritual doctors… curing spiritual ills" and "loving fathers" guarding "[them] in [God's] Divine Heart". It is Jesus himself who is working through their visible pastoral ministry to communicate his own invisible life to us, so that to listen or to reject their Gospel message is to listen or to reject Christ himself and the Father who sent him.


                    That is quite a commission! It is a commission also open to misinterpretation and distortion in how it is understood and lived as has been all too evident in the Church's long history, at times leading to a sense of privilege far from the Gospel ideal of the poor, humble, Christ who came not to be served but to serve, to pour himself out without reserve as the deepest possible expression of the infinite depths of God's love for an often lost and broken humanity. St. Vincent's use of the terms "shepherd", "doctor" and "father" above hint at a priesthood modelled on the compassion and tenderness of Christ, a priesthood which lives out Christ's paradoxical call to greatness by becoming last of all and servant of all.


                    And in St. Vincent's vision, this service is not one which seeks to control, but one which is called to inspire, to revive, to rekindle, to nurture, to challenge, but which also knows its own need to be constantly inspired, revived, rekindled, nurtured, challenged -  yes, by God himself, but often working through other brothers and sisters in the community, and sometimes in the most unlikely and unexpected of others in the most unlikely and unexpected of ways. To be authentically Christian, such service cannot be understood and exercised in an individualistic, self-sufficient, paternalistic manner, but rather as a member of a family of equals, each with their own God-given dignity and call and gifts. It carries in itself an implicit call to learn to collaborate, as equals, from the beginning, with others of every state of life in the Church and even outside of it in order to build up God's kingdom of love and peace and justice in our world.


                    Yes, it is a call to a particular role in the family of God, a call to Christian leadership, a call to exercise in a particular way the authority of Christ, but in a way that is truly at the service of the good of others, to help them discover and exercise the fullness of their dignity and freedom and authority as children of God who share in the very life of the Blessed Trinity and the very priesthood of Christ himself through baptism, as people made in the image and likeness of infinite love and wisdom and truth. It is a call ultimately to be, in collaboration with others, a builder of a community of love and of truth, of joy and of peace, of compassion and of justice, of mutual respect and encouragement, of equality in difference, modelled on that eternal community of love which is God.


                    A friend of mine who is a priest with the order of St. John of God and works with people with special needs wrote a thesis on Christian leadership, and concluded that he would only become a truly Christ-like leader if he could learn to serve the deepest needs of a particular man with whom he worked who had profound learning difficulties and no verbal communication! Let us ask the God of all consolation to grant us an ever-deepening gift of that kind of Christian leadership in our communities, to help each one of us to exercise leadership in a way that serves to lead others to the fullness of life which Christ desires for us as individuals and as members of the Christian and of the human families.


                    Some questions for reflection as we continue our Lenten journey:


                    What is my experience of leadership in the Christian community? In the UAC?

                    What for me would constitute truly Christian leadership? Are there people who embody this for me?

                    How do I exercise leadership in my own life? At work? In my family?

                    Where do I need to grow in humble and generous service and in my collaboration with others?



                    ____________________________________________________
                    Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico

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


                    ]]>      2012-03-01 15:03:11
                          2012-03-01 21:03:11
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                          <![CDATA[Apostles for Today - April 2012]]>
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                          <![CDATA[
                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 31

                    OOCC XIII, pp. 166-171)

                    "The Infinite Love and Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist".

                    ... ]]>      post
                          71
                          <![CDATA[
                    God the Infinite Love

                    Meditation 31

                    OOCC XIII, pp. 166-171)

                    "The Infinite Love and Mercy of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist".

                    ... Opening Prayer


                    Eucharistic Jesus, You deigned to stay with us forever by instituting the Holy Eucharist as a sacrament for the nourishment of our souls. Under the Eucharistic appearances of bread and wine You gave yourself wholly - Body, Soul, Divinity. Enable us to approach your throne of grace and mercy always to be enriched with your infinite treasures, to heal the wounds of our souls, to communicate your infinite merits, to be clothed in your most perfect virtues.  Amen.


                    The last meditation  of 'God the Infinite Love' gives us a glimpse of our Holy Founder St. Vincent Pallotti's personal experience of Jesus' infinite love and mercy in the Holy Eucharist.
                    The Christian faith is that Holy Eucharist is Jesus Himself. It is the Body of Christ - not just soul or divinity but his entire self with his real Body.

                    For Pallotti, the Eucharist was the Beloved, the Bridegroom of the soul who communicates himself to us -"we should always remember the infinite mercy and the Love of Christ who in order to continue his most holy life in us, deigned to remain among us in the most Holy Eucharist, thereby communicating himself to us as food and nourishment of our souls."

                    In the Eucharist Jesus gives himself entirely to us. It is not merely a communication of something partial, some graces or blessings. It is a total giving of Self - body, blood, soul and divinity, everything. It is indeed a self- gift of God - a sacrament of love - the supreme expression of love. Hence Pallotti demands that we return love for love. " Jesus makes us an infinite gift in the most Blessed Sacrament. The ways in which we can make a return of this gift are: frequent visits to him in churches, frequent reception of him in holy communion and offering him adoration and obedience." From Pallotti's most committed apostolic life, we also know that the overflowing love received in the Eucharist was for him the source of his untiring charity towards those in need whom he met: "The love of Christ impels us..."; "I would like to be food for the hungry..." Jesus in the Eucharist wants to open our hearts and help us to become with Him missionaries of the Love of God in word and deed.

                    According to Pallotti we really catch hold of Jesus in the Eucharist and take possession of him - " I wish to think with what fervor the Eucharistic Jesus, the sweetest Bridegroom, would be visited if he were to be found in only one church of the world. With what fervour we would receive him if we could receive him only once in life and that too from the hands of the supreme Pontiff after long pilgrimages and penances?"


                    Pallotti tells us, "There are 3 principal things in Holy Communion: the memory of the passion of Jesus Christ, an abundance of grace and the pledge of eternal life. These ideas of Pallotti are re-affirmed by the Church: Eucharist is a sacrament of love, a sign of unity and a bond of charity, a banquet in which Christ is received, the memory of his passion is recalled, the mind is filled with grace and the pledge of future glory given to us.


                    Pallotti's devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was something unique - " he passed hours in adoration both by night and day..." and during the celebration of the Mass so great was the fire of his love and fervour, as explained by his close companions - that "at the elevation he remained for a while immovable, with arms uplifted holding in his hands the celestial Bread" and also that "he was raised with his body about one foot from the ground."

                    Despite all of these mystical experiences, St. Vincent makes the protestation " I confess now… that I have not profited from the most Holy Eucharist." He could never be satisfied with acts of homage and veneration given to the Eucharist, never content in loving Jesus, wishing to love him in a measure without measure.

                    Through the Eucharist Jesus gives himself entirely, his life, his strength, his divinity and everything, enabling us to live a holy life - strengthening us with his own strength; "under the Eucharistic appearances of bread and wine, he gave us himself wholly, soul, body, divinity... He has come back on our altars as priest and victim .. Jesus with such incomprehensible love and mercy not only wants to remain with us forever on the altar on a throne of grace and mercy."  There is nothing that we cannot obtain from him - 'an incomprehensible excess of love'.


                    For Pallotti, Eucharist was a mystical food that created saints and mystics, that effected the celestial union between the finite human soul and the Infinite  God - that effects the transformation of the soul into Christ - " in the Eucharist he has come to me in person to visit me and to nourish my soul, with his entire self, in order to transform me wholly into himself and to be a pledge of paradise for my soul."


                    Eucharist, far from being a mere food, is God, containing in himself everything, the author of everything, the source of every grace and the goal of all beings - "the Saviour, the Priest, Victim, Food and nourishment of the soul... author and distributor of grace." Eucharist is in fact Jesus himself, our all in all; as the Council puts it, "It is the entire wealth of the Church."


                    Questions for personal reflection

                      •  Do I have a faith- filled understanding of the mystery of Eucharist?
                      •  Do I experience the total Christ when participating in Eucharist?
                      •  Does the Eucharistic celebration help me to recall the passion of Jesus, open me to experience the abundance of his graces?




                      Closing Prayer

                      O Love, Infinite Love, Incomprehensible Love, Unacknowledged Love, Outraged Love, O Love, convert me into love now and for all eternity. Amen
                      ____________________________________________________
                      Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
                      Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

                            apostles-for-today-april-2012


                      In this Jubilee Year, having concluded our series on Pallotti's "God, the Infinite Love",
                       we are now initiating a new series of reflections.

                      The starting point for this new series will be extracts taken from the homily of Paul VI in Frascati in September 1963, just a few months after the canonization of Saint Vincent. The first reflection takes as its starting point the following extract from that homily:
                      "Try to evoke the memory of the life, the example and the work [of Saint Vincent]; above all by highlighting his holiness and also reaffirming your intention to imitate his example, to work so that the great lesson offered by Saint Vincent to today's world, ... may have as a legacy a new and beautiful flowering of extraordinary initiatives... in order that Pallotti be alive in his spirit with the energies which he knew how to awaken in God's Church". ...


                      Prayer

                      "Sing a new song to the Lord!
                      Sing to the Lord all the earth!
                      Sing to the Lord, bless his name!
                      Proclaim his salvation day after day,
                      declare his glory among the nations,
                      his marvels among all the peoples"
                      (Ps 96:1-3)

                      We pray in this Jubilee Year for the grace to faithfully proclaim the Lord to all peoples in new and creative ways inspired by the Spirit of God, taking up the call of the New Evangelisation to have "the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today" (Lineamenta Synod on N. Ev, n. 5).

                      Aggiornamento Pallotti:

                      Bring Saint Vincent and his spirit to life again in order to awaken new energies
                      Vincent Pallotti envisioned a dynamic church which moved out from itself to act in the wider world, true for that time just as for today. Today, for instance, this year's National Catholic Congress in Germany (16-20 May) will be guided by the motto "Risking new departures". At the very dawn of the Church, as a result of encountering the Risen Lord, the Apostles themselves lived in this spirit, risking their very lives proclaiming, "Jesus is alive! Beyond Death! Today!" Pallotti finds a source of inspiration in the Acts of the Apostles: the second chapter describes a community of women and men treating each other lovingly, possessing everything together and sharing their belongings with those in need. They are disciples of Jesus, women and men expectantly praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit and "equipping" themselves with the Spirit of God before heading out for action.
                      Good technical equipment survives all kinds of wind and weather. Good tools are indispensable for practical activities, in order not to slave away alone, just with our own bare hands. This begs the question: how - spiritually - can I get good equipment? Two practical examples:

                      Trusting in God's Word

                      In the process of upheaval in the local church and while reshaping the pastoral ministry in our own Parish of St. Christophorus we were guided by the word: "Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice and all these other things will be given to you as well" (Mt 6,33) A concrete application of this Word led the co-responsible committees of the parish to a courageous decision. Trusting that God would take care of us when we made His care for people our first concern, while at the same time realizing the need to take cost-cutting measures, we avoided letting people go, instead taking the risk of trying to finance their services through donations. To this day, trusting in God, the parish succeeds in scaring up the necessary funds…!

                      God's care is for all people, with a clear option for those who are poor and marginalized. What answers do we give to fulfill the mandate to meet the needs of people in a way suitable for every day?
                      A walk through the city could offer the necessary inspiration to keep our eyes open and look out for God's people, not in an isolated way but rather in a concerted and united manner, with other like-minded comrades-in-arms. What does God's care look like concretely - for example,  here in Nord-Neukölln, our quarter - in the city, in the country, in the land, in countries of the third and fourth worlds? What does the preferential concern for the kingdom of God mean, looking at all of these people, looking at those who surround you in your own local area?

                      "Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice"

                      Our area is changing in recent times. A new milieu is emerging, with young creative people who are interested in art and culture and open to things "different" from the mainstream. Vincent Pallotti related to all kinds of people and associations; he invited all people of good will to collaboration; our UAC Statutes also express the possibility for non-Christians to collaborate. The founding here of the citizens´ group WIN (We in Neukölln) probably just about tallies with Pallotti's desire, as more than 40 very diverse groups and initiatives of civil society gather, also including many Muslim associations. The citizens' initiative WIN defends burning issues for all, for example, rising rents, lack of teachers and doctors, pollution of the roads, decline of public buildings, mistreatment of clients by the job centre etc…Matters are approached with consensus and co-responsibility. There are actually three platforms in Berlin forming parts of a base movement, financed by fundraising and donations. WIN will be involved in the National Catholic Congress. We too will be involved in it - with the church communities of St. Clara, St. Richard and St. Christophorus, together with Pallotti Mobile.

                      Feast on God's Life.

                      "Wherever I am ", writes Vincent Pallotti in his diary in 1816, "I will imagine myself (and I will strive to renew often this consciousness) to be with all creatures in the cenacle of Jerusalem, where the Apostles received the Holy Spirit; and as the Apostles were gathered there with Mary, I too will imagine myself to be with Mary and Jesus, so that obtain for me and others the fullness of the Holy Spirit. In this way I desire always to be in the cenacle together with all creatures." (OOCC X, 86 s.)

                      It is in the Cenacle that Pallotti refuels, that he finds a refuge. From there he develops his model for a life in community. The German dictionary translates Cenacle, slightly quirkily, but perhaps also providentially, as "refectory in a convent". Pallotti invites us to become sated with Holy Spirit in the Cenacle, the refectory of the Spirit.

                      "Hello, Holy Spirit, what are your plans for today? Look at my to-do list… all this needs to be managed. Nonetheless, what would give you pleasure today?" Doesn't this sound extremely silly, to be on such familiar terms with the Spirit of God? Yet I love to put exactly these questions during the morning cenacle or "breakfast with God", as a trainee expressed it one day. It's here that I discuss the agenda of the day - seeking the nourishment of the Holy Spirit. "Let go - let God!" This beautiful English wordplay invites me to surrender my plans to the Holy Spirit, to let go of control and yet to stay alert. Then, at the end of the day I sometimes marvel about how much of my to-do list has been done, almost by itself…! On a personal level I am discovering the partnership with the Holy Spirit as a source of things which can sometimes seem crazy, but which often turn out to contribute to healing. And I am grateful to Vincent Pallotti for the power of his vision for the Church and the world, again and again finding new nourishment in the Cenacle. Therefore bon appétit to all of us!
                      Lissy Eichert UAC

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

                            apostles-for-today-may-2012
                         

                       SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI -
                      PRECURSOR OF THE APOSTOLATE OF LAY PEOPLE


                      (Reflection on the Homily of Pope Paul VI during his visit to Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent Pallotti, exposed in the Cathedral) 

                      "Throughout the ages, God has endowed men and women with the gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to continue the salvific mission of Christ and to promote the building up of the Church".
                      ...   When we think about Saint Vincent Pallotti, we think of a man who knew how to reconcile the apostolate (apostle) and contemplation (mystic), who was able to maintain a "balance" between prayer and apostolic action for the benefit of the concrete realities of his times.
                      We see different terms currently used in direct reference to Saint Vincent Pallotti, such as: Apostle of Rome, Precursor of Catholic Action, prophet of hope, Apostle of lay people, mystic… These expressions recognise the greatness of our founder in ecclesial life and in his profound experience of belonging to the Church.


                        The mind of Saint Vincent was directed towards the need to awaken the apostolic consciousness of all the faithful so that everyone would do all that they were capable of for the Gospel. And this is evident from his reference to lay people in all of his many appeals. The Catholic Apostolate, as well as desiring to help with contributions and with spreading faith among non-Christians, wishes to reawaken and preserve faith in Christians and put at its service the exercise of any profession, work, art, prayer and all of the works of charity and of the apostolic ministry (cfr. OOCC III, 145-146).


                        We know of the admiration and respect which Gregory XVI and Pius IX had for our saint. Many other Popes make direct reference to our founder during their preaching. His canonisation, performed by Pope John XXIII during the great Second Vatican Council, reveals his importance in the transformation of the Church's thinking especially in relation to the vocation of lay people to the apostolate.


                        On September 1st 1963, during his summer holidays at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Paul VI went to the nearby town of Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent which was exposed for the veneration of the faithful in the Cathedral. During the Eucharistic celebration presided over by him, he gave an important homily in which he underlined the prophetic and pioneering spirit of our holy founder. His homily took on particular importance having been preached between the first and second sessions of the Second Vatican Council and addressing different aspects of the apostolate of the laity which would subsequently be inserted into the conciliar documents dealing specifically with the laity.


                        Paul VI had the firm conviction and certainty that Saint Vincent was a precursor who had anticipated the apostolate of the laity in the Church by almost a century, the discovery that lay people too are called to take on the mission of apostles. He affirmed that Saint Vincent "released new energies, he made lay people conscious of their potential for good, he enriched the Christian community with numerous vocations, not to a simply passive and tranquil acceptance of faith, but to its active and militant profession".


                        The term precursor reminds us of John the Baptist, the precursor of the Messiah, who prepared the way for the Lord; the great prophet showed Who was really to be followed. In Pallottine spirituality, this term is placed within the context of great transformations which involve the whole life of the Church, not just for a limited historical period but which, from the Second Vatican Council onwards, will always be present in the Church's reflections because it is a reality which involves all Christians.


                        We see at present that this great innovation proposed by Saint Vincent and taken up by the Church is, for many lay people, still very unclear and is often not understood, highlighting the need to encourage, develop and update it.


                        Saint Vincent perceived the vacuum, the spiritual and moral void of his times, marked by social revolutions and by a lack of respect for human dignity. According to him, it is necessary to rebuild a Christian society in which all feel themselves invited to and responsible for the building of a more worth world, more deeply marked by solidarity. We are responsible, responsible for our times, responsible for the lives of our brothers and sisters; we are responsible for our Christian conscience, we are responsible before Christ, before the Church, before God. For Saint Vincent, every Christian must seek to "obtain not only his or her own salvation, but also the eternal salvation of others". Human beings, in the image and likeness of God who is charity in essence, are such by reason of their very creation.
                      Our Saint saw that lay people could become active elements in the life of the Church and could consciously say: "I too must do something. I cannot simply be a passive and indifferent instrument".


                        We are encouraged not to become discouraged in our journey of faith and to take up our mission with responsibility and love. Today more than ever we are called by God himself to show forth our Christian commitment to the world, not just with lovely words but, above all and especially, by concrete actions, remembering constantly the effectiveness of gestures in a troubled world which has little time for listening. All who commit themselves to apostolic action are called to transmit the love of God and to carry out concrete works in order to demonstrate His presence in this world and more and more to work with untiring zeal for the bringing about of His Kingdom with constant enthusiasm and readiness.


                        As Pallottines, we wish to express our gratitude to God, One and Three, for having given this great saint, "precursor of the apostolic action of the laity", to the Church and to our Pallottine family. God enriched him with his gifts and inspirations to the point of making him an instrument in helping the Church to fulfil its mission. The charism of Saint Vincent Pallotti is the inheritance of the Union of Catholic Apostolate.

                      For personal reflection:





                    1. Do I truly consider myself to be a member of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church?





                    2. Does the great innovation introduced by Saint Vincent Pallotti in the life of the Church that we are all apostles motivate me to grow in holiness?





                    3. How do I demonstrate my belonging to Jesus Christ and to his Church to the world?


                    4. Prayer:

                      Saint Vincent Pallotti, herald of the Universal Apostolate of all Christians, intercede to God so that all, following your example, may dedicate themselves generously to serving the apostolate. Kindle in us the desire to actively collaborate in spreading faith and charity, so that the Kingdom of Christ may spread throughout the world. Amen.

                      Saint Vincent Pallotti, founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, pray to God for us all!


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

                            apostles-for-today-june-2012

                      Saint Vincent Pallotti – Precursor
                      Of The Apostolate Of Lay People


                      (Reflection on the Homily of Paul VI during his visit to Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent Pallotti which was exposed in the Cathedral )

                      “It would be interesting to examine how Vincent Pallotti had what the Saints possessed above all: an awareness, which, in them, initially becomes painful and almost dramatic; the perception of evil, of needs, of lacks, of the widespread unfaithfulness to the mercy and grace of God” (Homily of Paul VI)
                      ...   I would like to invite you to reflect on this passage from the homily of Paul VI. To begin, I invite you to use your imagination a little: Let us place ourselves at the time of Pallotti and in the places where he lived. Let us try to experience once more what he was able to experience within himself.

                        ... He lived in Rome, a beautiful city: let us look at the beautiful blue colour of the sky. Let us imagine the waters of the Tiber river and the buildings and other monuments which show the beauty of Roman architecture. Let us walk on the cobblestones, some of them witnesses of the first centuries of Christianity, such as the ones remaining on the street near the Colosseum.

                        … In our soul, the conviction springs up and grows stronger that “God, infinitely happy, brought all of creation into being out of his infinite love and infinite mercy in order to give himself wholly to his creatures”.

                        … Our heart feels fascination and admiration for God: “God fascinates me; not the intellect, but God; not the will, but God (…) God always, in everything. God, my God”

                        … The heart feels a pain which intensifies, which becomes stronger, which we cannot bear. The great pain, the strong pain... Why?

                        … There are people who raise their heads not to look at the beauty of the sky but to nourish their pride and to emphasise their own greatness; look at the Tiber… and think of the people who threw themselves into it, ending their lives in the river; people marvel upon seeing the beauty of the architecture of the city of Rome, admiring human genius… but perceiving nothing beyond human genius; people run on the cobblestones of the streets… to escape responsibility for their heritage, walking briskly … in order not to be troubled by their own and others’ consciences.

                        … Orphans, widows, prostitutes, soldiers who sometimes have had too much to drink, thieves, politicians who at times are self-important, rich people who have no sensitivity towards the poor; cold Christians, indifferent spiritual people… Divisions between people, the lack of faith and love…

                         Meditating on the words of Pope Paul VI, I think of his pain, of his preoccupation for Christians: “Many Christians continue to be passive, forgetful, if not even deserters, sometimes, of the great call which God, with Christianity, has bestowed on the world. He has called all to be children, to be followers of Christ, to profess faith and exercise charity. This humanity, which has responded to the great Christian vocation, unfortunately often forgets, falls into a stupor or returns to its temporal habits and buries itself in the immediate interests of external life. They hold these to be dominant, positive, capable of satisfying human desires and superior to the great invitation emanating from Heaven with the Gospel Revelation”.

                        … I hear the words of Saint Vincent in my heart:

                      “Enlightened by faith, I recall my God that with love you created us in your image and likeness, you gave us free will, so that we might perfect ourselves as your image in such way as to deserve your reward. But how many souls – we can count the millions and hundreds of millions – they have not reached this perfection because of their sins. (…)

                      Faced with such a situation I ask: is it pessimism? Desperation? Depression? No!!!

                      … Meditating on the words of the Saint: “My God, You are infinite Mercy. You always give it more and more fully, where there is more human misery. (…) I believe, I am sure that Your mercy destroys all of my misery and fills my soul with all of your gifts, in such a way that if all generations must admire for ever in Mary Most Holy the miracle of your grace, in me they will have to admire the miracle of Your mercy.

                      … I feel the call in my heart: Let us get to work!!!

                      “Now, how then are they to call on him if they have not come to believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? And how will there be preachers if they are not sent? As scripture says: How beautiful are the feet of the messenger of good news”(Rm10,14,15).

                      … and my response?“I would like to become food to feed the hungry,
                      clothing to cover the naked, drink to quench the thirst of the thirsty…

                      … the question : Must I do it alone?

                      … What does Saint Vincent suggest?: “Experience tells us that 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”.

                      “All, great and small, rich and poor, (...) priests and lay people, religious and diocesan clergy, who live in community or alone, merchants and workers, all who do any kind of work. All, old and young, healthy and sick, prisoners and free, all can in their state of life carry out the apostolate of Jesus Christ. All, whether in their own house or outside of it, studying or working, all can find a way to take care of the eternal salvation of their neighbour.

                      All can benefit from the gifts of God to propagate faith”.

                      … God calls me: DO IT TOGETHER, INVITE OTHERS!

                      “The grace of collaborating for the salvation of souls is one of the graces which God gives to his creatures. Of all of the divine gifts, it is the most divine, the greatest, the most noble for different reasons. The first is that those who receive it and benefit from it are greater imitators of Jesus Christ who came on earth to fulfil the work of salvation for the glory of the Heavenly Father; the second reason is that those who benefit from this grace perfect in themselves the image of the Most Holy Trinity in themselves and become more like God; the third reason is that this grace not only makes us similar to Jesus Christ and to God the Father and the Holy Spirit as their images, but makes us similar to them in glory”.

                        ... Let us walk the streets of our own towns and cities, with clouds passing over our heads, the sun shining. Before our eyes large buildings, shops, large offices… Let us feel the stone of the streets, each day hundreds of people who walk to work, to school, to church…

                        … The memory of our Founder’s conviction comes to mind, this conviction becomes mine, grows strong in me, takes on new strength in my heart, the conviction that: “God the Father who created me is present in all that I experience and meet, God the Son who redeemed me is present in all that surrounds me, God the Holy Spirit who sanctified me is present with all of his power to renew: I am in the company of the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity; what wonderful company”.

                        …Within my heart admiration for God grows, gratitude springs up and intensifies, gratitude for the person and work of our holy Founder, Saint Vincent Pallotti, and for all who following in his footsteps have carried God into this world which is sometimes uprooted from what is good.

                        … Prayer springs up within the heart …

                      Saint Vincent Pallotti, Founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, our beloved Father, urged on by the love given to us by the Holy Spirit we walk in your footsteps to be witnesses of unity, communion and peace in this world so full of divisions and separation. Filled with zeal, with all our hearts we desire to proclaim the Good News of salvation to all people, as you proclaimed it so that there would be one Flock under one Good Shepherd. Holy Founder, through your intercession help us in our apostolic activities, so that we may collaborate with God and with our brothers and sisters to help the Kingdom of God grow in the world in which we live.
                      ____________________________________________________
                      Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
                      Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

                            apostles-for-today-july-2012
                       
                       
                      As members of the Union we are called and sent again into the world to build the Kingdom. Our theme came from the Gospel of the 15th Sunday in ordinary time and couldn't be more fitting for the Congress -  Jesus sending his disciples out two by two.
                      ...
                        We are grateful for the Holy Spirit working in our midst as we celebrated our relationships with each other in the Union of Catholic Apostolate.  The Congress took place in Milwaukee Wisconsin July 13-15.  Bob Gay opened the Congress with a welcome to all and Bishop Don Hying, our newest Auxiliary Bishop continued that welcome reminding all of our Baptism in the Lord .  Speakers were Maria Domke from Canada, who shared her journey in faith that led to the Union and invited everyone to share their journey, Linda Barikmo from Milwaukee, reminded us that our commitment naturally leads to service, and Maureen and John Rotramel, also of Milwaukee shared their reflections on the coming year of Faith and the New Evangelism.  Fr. Rory concluded our weekend with a very thoughtful Liturgy in which we made a recommitment to the Union an were sent out again to continue the building up of the Kingdom.  Some of the photos from the Congress can be seen at http://my.opera.com/gpserwa/albums/show.dml?id=12249002
                      Some of the talks and material will also be posted on this web site as well.

                      During our days together we also had a chance to visit the churches in Milwaukee where our UAC communities had their origin and continue to develop.  The UAC members shared the symbolism of the art in our worship spaces there and told of their history.  Saturday evening we were introduced to Dorothy Day and her struggle to be faithful to the Gospel by Lisa Wagner, of "Stillpoint Theater", who presented her presentation of "Haunted by God."
                      I am sure that many went home renewed and more aware that the journey continues and however God calls us, he also blesses us with companions on the journey, sending us to collaborate in bringing the Gospel to others.

                      Grateful to God and to all who made this Congress successful.
                      Fr. Gregory Serwa, SAC

                            2012-07-22 
                            open
                            national-congress-at-marquette-univessity-milwaukee-wisconsin


                           SAINT VINCENT PALLOTTI:
                      WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR TIMES


                      (Reflection on the Homily of Paul VI during his visit to Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent Pallotti which was exposed in the Cathedral, September 1st 1963)

                      « We are responsible: The Saint adverts, on one hand, to the emptiness, that is, the need which reveals itself in everything around us and, on the other, to listening to this voice come down from heaven with a crystal clear appeal: Look, it is necessary to rebuild a Christian society; to reawaken it; see how we are responsible! Tremendous, dynamic, disturbing, energetic words; and whoever understands this can no longer remain restless and indifferent; but feels that such a word changes quite a bit of the perhaps narrow or bourgeois programme of one’s life. We are responsible for our times, for the life of our brothers and sisters; and we are responsible before our Christian conscience. We are responsible to Christ before the Church and before history; in the presence of God. A word, therefore, capable of restoring a particular dynamism to those who understand it”.
                      Paul VI


                      ...         The homily preached by Pope Paul VI in Frascati on September 1st 1963, encouraging devotion to Saint Vincent Pallotti, is a call to awaken all Christians of all times who wish to work actively throughout their lives for the salvation of the world.


                                 This homily of Paul VI, heroic in character, strongly affirms the grandeur of Saint Vincent Pallotti, the precursor of Catholic Action. It is no longer a mere affirmation, but rather, a pure reality. The work of Saint Vincent Pallotti on behalf of lay people is so magnificent that it will remain engraved on our hearts; above all for us lay people, who were previously kept apart, passive in the work of evangelisation.


                                 Saint Vincent Pallotti was the first to show that the laity on their part share different talents and vocations, possess hidden treasures, and should be employed in the work of evangelisation, of edification and of sanctification. Here, too, St. Vincent Pallotti launches an appeal, to lay people and to all Christians, always to do more, in the future too, as the way remains long with always much to be done.


                                 Pope Paul VI, in his homily, underlines that Saint Vincent Pallotti built a bridge between the clergy and the laity. This was a new phenomenon in all Christian societies. This collaboration between lay people and the clergy has become one of the paths most adopted by modern spirituality and one of those most rich in hope for the Church of God. Saint Vincent Pallotti honoured the vocation of lay people in an age when the Catholic laity was not encouraged, and nor was it developed as it is in our days.


                                Saint Vincent Pallotti had a special gift of insight and perception of the general unfaithfulness to the mercy and grace of God. This is normal for all of the saints: he underlined the passivity and even negligence which marked many Christians after the French Revolution. It was there that Saint Vincent Pallotti perceived the moral and spiritual vacuum which haunted the society of his day. Starting from that point, he awakened the conscience of Christians by highlighting the urgency of putting order and stability into their relationship with God, reminding Christians of the ultimate appeal which God makes to each one of us: that of being his children, disciples of Christ who must confess our faith and invite people to practise charity.


                              Our Patron Saint, in drawing attention to this vacuum, was able to identify the needs, as well as the solutions required to fill the vacuum. Thus, he emphasised the responsibility of lay people, indeed of all people, young and old, religious and lay, men and women, ordained and not, to work together. Yes, as Saint Vincent Pallotti always demonstrated, we are responsible and must always feel ourselves to be responsible for others, to our Christian conscience, to God, in order to give hope to our society.


                             Saint Vincent Pallotti was always optimistic about human nature. He did not believe in the psychology of the irredeemable human being, for ever fallen, fragile and weak. Rather he saw in them great potential. According to him, the human being, once redeemed, well directed and prepared, is capable of holiness and of heroism. He or she can become a good person, an ideal person for a new and modern society. These revolutionary ideas are such as to encourage lay people and all members of the Church throughout their spiritual paths. Without this revolution of Saint Vincent Pallotti, many Christians remain with their arms folded, on the pretext that they cannot do anything.


                              Saint Vincent Pallotti, quoted once again in the homily of Pope Paul VI, invites us to act in a timely manner in response to the invitation to Catholic action and to become aware of our role which is so prominent and decisive in the evangelical mission. Because we are Christians, we cannot accept remaining passive, negative, neutral. On the contrary, it is high time to go and teach the good news, to enter actively into the flow of grace. Saint Vincent Pallotti stresses, however, that the clergy cannot do everything; neither are they meant to do everything, as we are all are called in virtue of our baptism to be active elements within the Church, conscious that evangelisation is the work of all, without distinction.


                              Finally, following the masterpiece of Saint Vincent Pallotti, many traits of heroism are in our days rightly attributed to him. As Pope Paul VI reiterated, Saint Vincent Pallotti was, without question, the Pioneer and the Precursor of the Catholic action of the lay faithful. He was also the first to galvanise the consciousness of the laity within the Church. He was equally the inspirer of and the first to attribute responsibility to the active lay world. Saint Vincent Pallotti was also without doubt the Stimulator of collaboration between lay people, the clergy and religious, something he always wanted; his work is already bearing fruit everywhere in the world: that of reviving faith and rekindling charity throughout the world.



                      PERSONAL REFLECTION :




                    5. As a spiritual son or daughter of Saint Vincent Pallotti, do I fully realise my vocation as Apostle in the Church?






                    6. Am I conscious that I am called to be a Founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate in the present day and to be a bridge builder between different groups of people?


                    7. PRAYER :


                      St. Vincent Pallotti pray with us to the Lord, so that all Christians may live fully in Christ and for Christ, so that all  the baptized may recognize their vocation to the apostolate and firmly commit themselves to realising it, that all Christians, lay people, religious and priests, men and women, may open themselves to the renewing power of the Holy Spirit. And that all the sons and daughters of the Church may collaborate generously in the renewal of the Church in the world. Amen


                      St. Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!


                      Prosper KAVUBI,
                      Membre Laïc Engage de l’UAC,
                      Groupe Elizabeth Sanna,
                      Kigali, Rwanda


                      ____________________________________________________
                      Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
                      Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia    uac@uniopal.org
                      ]]>      2012-08-09 02:08:44
                            2012-08-09 07:08:44
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                            apostles-for-today-august-2012
                            publish
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                            <![CDATA[Apostles for Today - Sept 2012]]>
                            http://my.opera.com/gpserwa/blog/show.dml/53079752
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                            gpserwa
                            urn:myopera-gpserwa-blog-53079752
                            Tue, 18 Sep 2012 15:11:51 GMT
                            <![CDATA[Pallottines]]><![CDATA[Apostles for Today]]><![CDATA[religion]]><![CDATA[Prayer]]><![CDATA[Pallotti]]><![CDATA[UAC]]>
                            <![CDATA[
                      Saint Vincent Pallotti:
                      Act Immediately – Today!




                      (Reflection on the Homily of Paul VI during his visit to Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent Pallotti which was exposed in the Cathedral, September 1st 1963)



                      “[St. Vincent] made it possible for all to make a positive contribution of action and of Christian witness. Come with your understanding of the social needs which surround us, and with your genius for discovering new ways in which the Message of Christ can be made known. It is time to act, we must act today, today, because this is the law of the Christian conscience. When someone feels a duty, they don’t say: I will do it tomorrow. It is necessary to act immediately. This imperative to act today and immediately comes from the needs, which are truly great precisely for those who know how to see them. You don’t say to someone who is hungry: come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Christian aid must be given immediately to all these movements surrounding us which could be fatal for the life and history of our country, and which have an enormous need of people who will become apostles for them, who will free them from the errors which have brought them to this state and which still seduce them; an apostle who knows how to say to the good and generous hearted among our people: no, not this way, but the way of Christ. It is necessary to work today because tomorrow may be too late. The times are serious and, without being solemn, they may prove to be decisive. Let us take care not to become found lazy and slow, wayward children of the Gospel and of the Church. Let all seek to be faithful in bringing to the Church the effective contribution of their loyalty, of their word, of their help, and above all of their action. This is, indeed, the formula which the Church wants to adopt today and which the Lord, through his Spirit, wants to suggest for the salvation of the world: act in such a way that Christ be our Master and our Saviour now and always.” (Paul VI).
                      ... ]]>      post
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                            <![CDATA[
                      Saint Vincent Pallotti:
                      Act Immediately – Today!




                      (Reflection on the Homily of Paul VI during his visit to Frascati to venerate the body of Saint Vincent Pallotti which was exposed in the Cathedral, September 1st 1963)



                      “[St. Vincent] made it possible for all to make a positive contribution of action and of Christian witness. Come with your understanding of the social needs which surround us, and with your genius for discovering new ways in which the Message of Christ can be made known. It is time to act, we must act today, today, because this is the law of the Christian conscience. When someone feels a duty, they don’t say: I will do it tomorrow. It is necessary to act immediately. This imperative to act today and immediately comes from the needs, which are truly great precisely for those who know how to see them. You don’t say to someone who is hungry: come tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Christian aid must be given immediately to all these movements surrounding us which could be fatal for the life and history of our country, and which have an enormous need of people who will become apostles for them, who will free them from the errors which have brought them to this state and which still seduce them; an apostle who knows how to say to the good and generous hearted among our people: no, not this way, but the way of Christ. It is necessary to work today because tomorrow may be too late. The times are serious and, without being solemn, they may prove to be decisive. Let us take care not to become found lazy and slow, wayward children of the Gospel and of the Church. Let all seek to be faithful in bringing to the Church the effective contribution of their loyalty, of their word, of their help, and above all of their action. This is, indeed, the formula which the Church wants to adopt today and which the Lord, through his Spirit, wants to suggest for the salvation of the world: act in such a way that Christ be our Master and our Saviour now and always.” (Paul VI).
                      ... St. Vincent Pallotti calls us to work, to be apostles from the very moment of our Baptism; when we are anointed we are transformed into priests, prophets and kings and we must act as such. "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Co 9:6). But it is today that evangelisation needs men and women who are committed, sure of themselves through the power of the Spirit of God. New methods need to be employed; and we must not, through laziness on our part, leave it to others to take up positions in our place. Throughout his earthly life, Jesus did not leave anyone unattended, he went out to people, from the joy of the wedding feast of Cana to mourning and weeping for the death of his friend, from curing the paralytic to multiplying the loaves in order to feed the crowd.

                      May this  be our attitude, now and always, as followers of Christ, of the living Christ offered to us in the Eucharist every day.
                      "We must do the work of him who sent me while it is daytime; night comes, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world" (Jn 9: 4-5)

                      (In what follows, the bold print highlights ideas from St. Vincent Pallotti’s prayer to Mary Queen of Apostles)

                      The Word of God is clear and concise, the light of day, already here and now, enabling us to attain salvation by fulfilling the commandment of love, for ourselves and for our neighbor.
                      The vocation to follow Jesus Christ is the principal mission of the Christian - following his footprints, imitating his work - the urgency to do this revealing our witness to be authentic, a true testimony of the one who sends us to continue his mission of salvation.
                      We should place our weakness in His hands and in those of our Mother, trusting that they will safeguard our journey, which is his, through the renewal of our personal life and our apostolate.
                      Our life of prayer which supports and guides our actions will always be filled with the Spirit of God which has hovered over the waters since the beginning of creation. How can we not feel his presence when we are certain that it is Mary herself who obtains the Spirit for us as She did for the apostles gathered with her in the Upper Room?

                      Trusting in her maternal intercession we dare to offer , every day, our lives and every gift of nature and of grace, aiding those who have fallen, bringing mercy and comfort to those most in need, based on the premise that it is we ourselves who are needy,  with our joys and sorrows, health, sickness and even our trials...
                      We want to perform the works of the Catholic Apostolate to revive faith, rekindle love and lead all people to the unity of faith in Christ. This is the time to think and act, not waiting for God to work a miracle, but helping others to understand his message by becoming, ourselves, signs of the radical and definitive salvation that Jesus brings into the world, signs of his presence in the world the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. The works  of mercy and of solidarity carried out by the Church through her members, like relieving the hunger of the poor or the pain of the sick, must be done precisely and quickly because there are persons  who suffer from hunger and infirmity and who awaken our compassion and move us to action, like Jesus in the multiplication of the loaves. The desire to share our faith in the one Lord, but also our bread, should prevail in us.

                      And when we have no other means of contributing towards this goal, we will never cease to pray that there may be one flock under one shepherd, without treating God like a talisman who magically solves our problems and not the Word to which we must listen and who performs signs that are beyond our possibilities, while he continues to rely on us, to ask us, to involve us in the real problems that are to be solved in order that we actively participate with our generosity and trust.

                      In this way our personal and communal Christian life becomes a prophetic sign that multiplies good and speaks eloquently of the presence of Christ, Apostle of the Eternal Father, among us.

                      For reflection in personal or community prayer:



                    8. Do you feel that the Word of God, science and technology expand your knowledge, according to your talents and opportunities, making you more human, in order to put yourself at the service of others?




                    9. Does our relationship with God correspond to our need to be in solidarity with others and to work for justice and peace among the human family, leading us to being in connection with all of Creation?




                    10. Do we always remember that we are sent for the salvation of others not by our own merit but by the Lord Jesus who died for all?




                    11. Am I cooperating with God who has chosen me in order that the divine promise may be fulfilled: "There shall be one flock and one shepherd" (Jn 10:16)?


                    12.       2012-09-18

                            apostles-for-today-Sept-2012
                         
                      Pallottine Jubilee: 50th Anniversary Of The Canonization Of St. Vincent Pallotti 


                      That day, those present in the Basilica of St. Peter's, which was filled to overflowing, heard the following: "Having invoked the abundance of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, … we declare and define that the blessed Vincent Pallotti is a Saint, and we enter him in the register of Saints, arranging for his memory to be devoutly venerated every year on the day of the anniversary of his death, the twenty second of January".


                      The Pallottine Family is celebrating; it is good, right and worthwhile to recall and celebrate an event which gave much joy and a great spiritual impulse to the members of the UAC and to its individual Institutions.

                      Remembering also means reliving an event of grace and of great joy.
                      Bl. John XXIII, in his homily for the canonisation, introduces it as follows: "Mirabilis Deus in sanctis suis" (God is wonderful in his saints) (Ps 68,35) "Exultabunt sancti in gloria; laetabuntur in cubiculum suis" (Let the saints rejoice in their glory; shout for joy and take their rest) (Ps 149, 5).

                      ... TESTIMONY:

                      I am happy to share with you, even if only fleetingly, that unforgettable experience of the canonisation of St. Vincent Pallotti which took place on January 20th 1963.
                      I couldn't, however, speak about this event of grace without making brief reference to what preceded it, that is, the Beatification of St. Vincent, which took place on January 22nd 1950, exactly one hundred years after his death, while Pius XII was Pontiff. I consider it a great grace to have been present and to have enjoyed such a great privilege. Returning with mind and heart to such a particularly significant event for the whole Church and for all of the followers of Pallotti means reliving emotions, feelings and memories which have not only become part of my life, but which have marked it, enriched it and in some way even determined it. The Holy Father Pius XII had only recently opened the holy Door which began the holy year of the Redemption. In this way, we were offered a happy and holy coincidence.

                      I also regard it a great favour to have been present at the exhumation of the body of St. Vincent from the niche prepared in the left-hand wall of the Church of SS. Salvatore in Onda. A simple inscription marked the humble tomb where St. Vincent's body rested for one hundred years, awaiting God's time. The body proved to be intact, incorrupt. I will let you try to imagine the emotion to which it gave rise in those present at this event.

                      Participation in the solemn celebration and rite of Beatification of venerable Vincent Pallotti in the Vatican Basilica, all resplendent with lights and with beauty, was something truly worth remembering. Everything gave rise to joy and emotion, but more than anyone else, Fr. Giuseppe Ranocchini, general postulator, who for many years had worked, waited and really longed for this day which marked an important milestone on the way towards the canonisation, seemed to me to be overjoyed.

                      We now skip over the thirteen years separating the two events of the Beatification and the Canonization of our saint: 1950-1963.

                      I really enjoyed going back in spirit to remember and, in some way, to relive that most solemn day of January 20th to help those who didn't have the joy of being present, but who are keenly interested, to in some way participate in it.

                      But I also feel obliged to mention the preparations, the excitement of the various wisely distributed undertakings. The delicate and pleasant task of preparing the "relics" of the saint was entrusted to us Sisters: little fragments of skin taken from the body of the saint or tiny scraps of clothing used by him were placed in small reliquaries. Everything was adorned with nicely-arranged beads and golden thread. Many cloth relics were attached to small cards bearing the image of the saint, for distribution to the people. Another task was preparing music for the solemn celebrations which would take place after the canonization in the various Pallottine churches and communities, and also choirs with suitable hymns. Another practical task was taken on by the community of the Pia Casa di Carità of Rome, including the students: in addition to preparing many relics for the images to be given to the people, they embroidered the cushion, placed under the Founder's head, in gold and also the chasuble, all of which can still be seen today, which clothed the remains of the saint which rest under the altar of the Church of SS.. Salvatore in Onda.

                      And finally, the moment of arriving in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican; already many people were walking towards the Basilica. We had special entrance tickets and reserved places in the various sections of the Basilica:: St. .Longinus, St. Andrew, St. Helena; we felt the celebration to be ours and we enjoyed that awareness. The Basilica was really decorated festively, adorned like a bride ready for her wedding, illuminated splendidly: a vision of heaven, observed and enjoyed with indescribable emotion. The seats prepared for the Council Fathers were arranged in tiers on both sides of the central nave of the basilica. The happy coincidence with the celebration of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council allowed many Council Fathers to be present at the canonisation and they were visibly joyful. The Vatican personnel guarding and supervising the area also gave it a festive note; their multicoloured outfits and elegant uniforms contributed to creating a joyful atmosphere.

                      The Holy Father, John XXIII, joyful and smiling, passed through the basilica along the central nave greeting the faithful, who acclaimed him with joyful gestures and shouts. The organ meanwhile filled the air with sacred music, arousing devotion in those present. In a similar way the angelic voices of the "pueri cantores" (young singers) further contributed to raising hearts which were already visibly moved and as if suspended between heaven and earth.

                      The rite began and proceeded according to what was established, precise to the smallest details; the Holy Father preached his Homily, which was rich in content and stimulating above all for us, followers of Pallotti. A moment of particular excitement was when we saw uncovered the painting with the image representing the saint, well framed by the "glory of Bernini". The painting represented St. Vincent as raised up on great clouds with two angels at his side. The arms of the saint gently open: according to a personal interpretation, the left arm pointing downwards, his hand placed on the angel who accompanied him on his earthly pilgrimage (remember that Vincent had a great devotion towards the angels), the right one raised upwards, indicating the angel who was to introduce and present him to the Father. Vincent, from the meek and smiling face, seems to want to hide himself in the face of so much glory.

                      At the end of the sacred rites, in a sudden burst of happiness, all of the energy and joy pent up during the celebration was unleashed. Shouts of joy and exultation, with everyone singing and shouting for joy. The greetings, the congratulations, the good wishes followed. The crowd prepared to leave the basilica, and we too returned to our communities, our hearts full of emotion.

                      The house which welcomed all of the Sisters who came from various parts of the world and also from the Italian communities was the mother House, the general house situated in Via di Porta Maggiore. Here, as you can imagine, everything was prepared for the celebration and here the festivities continued. In the dining room, and then in the refurbished chapel, the hymns prepared for the occasion re-echoed. Everything was enjoyed and shared fraternally, with simplicity and holy joy, as St. Vincent wanted.

                      But the celebrations couldn't finish with the day of the canonisation. According to the programmes established, the casket containing the saint was carried in procession, through the streets of Rome, into the Church of S. Andea della Valle, escorted by a tide of the faithful; yes, precisely in that Rome and in those streets which had seen him move hastily and modestly, on his way to give help in places of human, spiritual and apostolic need. The Church of S. Andrea welcomed him for consecutive years, when St. Vincent celebrated the solemn Octave of the Epiphany, which he himself established. What a triumph that day, for that humble servant who, during the solemn celebrations, used to remain almost hidden in a corner of the Church.

                      The celebrations continued throughout the year at particular times. Another occasion, which has remained in the heart's memory, was when the casket of the saint was transported to Frascati, a town of the Castelli Romani, full of charm and beauty. Here from the time he was a baby, Vincent used to spend some parts of his summer holidays at his uncle's house, and here, in the Church of Jesus, he celebrated his first Mass. The Diocese in its representatives and the citizens welcomed the saint, almost their fellow citizen, with enthusiasm; the Camaldolese monks also rejoiced in having had such a precious guest during the time of his illness. Here in Camaldoli, according to Vincent himself, he was experienced such favours and so many of them that he felt as if he were "immersed in a deluge of infinite mercies".

                      The Lazio bishops, clergy, religious, consecrated and the people responded to the appeal: a sea of people in the streets of the town followed the casket as far as the Cathedral of St. Peter where the solemn celebration, presided over by His Holiness Paul VI, took place.

                      At the end of this summary description of the experience of the great event of the canonisation of St. Vincent, I would like to quote part of a prayer made by St. Vincent himself and which seems to me to bring to life his feelings towards God and towards himself:
                      My God, my mercy, my paradise; may the desire to work for your glory and for the salvation of souls, without paradise... be in me a flame burning infinitely for your glory. My God, act in me in your own way; expand my desires, give me the grace to work as you wish. My God, take away everything that I am and do everything in me yourself, so that you, Lord, may be infinitely glorified and I may be infinitely disdained. May this be my paradise, through the merits of Jesus Christ, of Mary Most Holy and of all creatures… (OOCC X, 727-728).

                      What a surprise St. Vincent will have had on seeing himself welcomed by you, O God, as a saint in your paradise! Did not you, my Lord, inspire Mary to sing that you are the God who humbles the proud and gives grace to the humble? Give us, Lord, the virtue of true humility which your only begotten Son made a model for the faithful, and which our Founder understood well and lived profoundly, in such a way that it was You who lived and worked in him during his life. Amen.

                      Questions for reflection:

                      1) What do you understand by legacy with reference to St. Vincent? If his charism is always current and living, what can you do to make it alive today, in your vocational situation?

                      2) At the time of St. Vincent the challenges to faith were many. What, today, challenges you most as a Pallottine?

                      3) What is the relationship between the New Evangelisation and the project of St. Vincent Pallotti?

                      Sr. Lilia Capretti CSAC

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


                            2012-10-02 
                            apostles-for-today-oct-2012
                       Meeting of Pallottine
                      Major Superior of Men in Ireland
                      Today, the 15th October 2012



                      Today, the 15th October 2012, at 9.00 A.M, the Rector General, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, officially opened the X Consultative Congress. Referring to SAC Law (nn. 131 and 367), he reminded those present that the aim of the Consultative Congress is to deal with the fundamental questions pertaining to the state of the Society and to set new goals to be achieved. Further, such an event is also to promote collaboration among the entities and to enable solutions to common problems and challenges to be found. Quoting the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians (3:16-19), he also prayed for a genuine spiritual renewal at the personal and community levels in our Society, always with the help of a profound experience of the love of Christ. ... 

                      The official opening was followed by the spiritual retreat conducted by Fr. Eamonn Monson, the Ex-Provincial of the Mother of Divine Love Province. Fr. Eamonn, a well-known retreat preacher, a person of deep faith, was able to share his own life-experiences as a Provincial Rector and as a priest. He referred to the call of Abram by God to go to the unknown land, as described in Genesis 12:1. He mentioned that the Post-Assembly Document (Ariccia 2010) speaks of Abraham’s experience of God, his experience of faith that drove him forward towards the blessings of God’s promise. The first basic movement of faith is to leave the past behind and follow God’s gravitational pull into the future (1.2.1).

                      Fr. Eamonn referred to the Scriptural theme of this Congress, “You in your turn must strengthen your brothers… (Luke 22:32), as an indication of what we are called to do as leaders and brothers. For Peter, this ministry of strengthening came only after his own experience of failure. Therefore, it is not our strength, not even our gifts, that are our greatest assets but our weakness -weakness that is surrendered to God whose strength alone is what makes it possible for us to witness. Christ carried our sufferings in his own body and in a similar way the Major Superiors embody the life of our community. The Upper Room is a place to strengthen our own lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters. The celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the imitation of the loving, obedient surrender of Mary to the will of God are other strengthening experiences in our lives. The surrender to the Spirit is the source of our lasting joy in the presence of life, which has its origins in God, joy that is God’s own joy.

                      As our confrere Bishop Séamus Freeman could not come due to unavoidable circumstances, Fr. Eamonn also presided over the Eucharistic celebration. All the participants of the Congress remain deeply grateful to Fr. Eamonn for strengthening his confreres in their own faith.

                      2nd Day, the 16th


                      The day, 16th October 2012, began with the Eucharistic celebration presided over by Fr. Antonio Lotti, Provincial Rector of the Queen of the Apostles Province, Italy. Reflecting on the gospel of the day, Fr. A. Lotti reminded of the importance of authenticity in our Christian life unlike the Pharisees who did not practice what they preached.

                      The rest of the day was dedicated to the reports of the members of the General Administration. The Rector General, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, speaking on the theme, “The Present Situation, the Challenges and the Projects for the Future”, examined the actual situation of the Society with the help of the statistical data and his own experiences from the Visitations. He spoke about a “New way of being Pallottines”, which will be characterized by spiritual depth, stronger Pallottine spirit and a universal attitude. He considered collaboration as the key to a better future of the Society. The following issues were identified as matters for urgent consideration and action: the future of the Pallottine presence in Africa, assistance to the entities that have few members, protection of minors, vocation promotion and formation, creative and responsible financial management, and offering of Pallottine charism as a response to the challenge of New Evangelization.

                      Fr. Adam Golec, General Secretary for the Missions, reminded that “faith is not only strengthened by giving but also urges us to be missionaries to that extent that the loss of vitality in the missionary impulse is a symptom of a crisis of faith”. He then elaborated all the activities of the Mission Secretariat such as the preparation for the Pallottine Mission Sunday, preparation of the VIII Congress of the Mission Secretaries and the visits to the mission territories.

                      It was followed by the report of the General Secretary for the Apostolate, Fr. Martin Manus. He explained the initiatives of the Secretariat such as the coordination of the Social-Charitable Apostolate, Pallottine parishes, schools and the organization of the Pallottine Volunteers program. In 2014, the Secretariat will organize a week of training for those involved in the volunteer program.

                      Fr. François Harelimana, General Secretary for Formation, explained the various initiatives of his Secretariat. The Ratio Institutionis and its implementation are one of the important tasks of this Secretariat. He also mentioned about the various courses of formation conducted during the last two years such as the seminar for vocation promoters, Pallottine common Novitiate Program, meeting of confreres celebrating their silver and golden jubilee of their consecration, meeting of those responsible for ongoing formation, preparatory formation and those responsible for formation in the entities. The annual course on Pallottine spirituality is also another important activity of this Secretariat.

                      As the member responsible for the Union of Catholic Apostolate within the General Administration, Fr. Gilberto Orsolin referred to the present challenge of New Evangelization and the Pallottine response to it. He pointed out the great relevance of the Pallottine charism in reviving faith and rekindling charity in the Church today. He was assisted in his presentation by Fr. Jeremiah Murphy, President of the Union, by presenting the gradual development of the Union at the global level and the challenges faced by us. He emphasized the importance of good formation and the responsible involvement of the members of the Core Communities in the diffusion of the charismatic vision of our Founder.

                      Fr. Markus Reck, the General Secretary, explained to the Major Superiors, the initiatives taken by the General Administration in various fields such as communication, publication and preservation of documents. One of the important publications is Acta SAC, vol. XXI and XXII.

                      All the presentations today were aimed at giving an understanding of the actual situation of the Society and the various initiatives taken in order to face the various challenges before us. It will be completed tomorrow with the reports of the General Bursar, Fr. Gerald Dwyer and the Procurator General, Fr. Vitaliy Gorbatykh.

                      The third day of the Congress, 17th October 2012


                      started with a concelebrated Eucharistic, presided over by Fr. Leon Martin, Provincial Rector of the Mother of God Province. In his homily he said: “We are called again to dream new ways of collaboration and of the handling on of faith in a culture living without God”.

                      The General Bursar, Fr. Gerald Dwyer, then presented his report, highlighting points such as the economic situation of the Society, the economic responsibility of the superiors, the economic situation of the Generalate, the scholarships and studies sponsored by Hotel Ponte Sisto attached to the Generalate, the formation of the Treasurers at all levels and the activities of the Financial Commission. The participants were able to clarify many practical points with the General Bursar.

                      Next, the Procurator General, D. Vitaliy Gorbatykh, presented his report. He explained the tasks already completed by the Juridical Commission of the Society to realize the decrees and recommendations of a juridical nature issued by the XX General Assembly. Particular attention was given to the decrees on the elections in the Society and the protection of minors. His presentation was very informative.

                      In the afternoon, the third session of the day was totally dedicated to the report of the Pallottine Youth Commission, prepared by members of the Youth Commission Fr. Andy Givel (CH), Fr. Andrzej Daniewicz (WA) and Fr. Martin Manus, Contact person for the General Council. The Commission is already doing excellent work. With the help of FaceBook Pallottine Youth Worldwide Be Connected, an entire communication network with youth around the world is being established. Participation in WYD 2013, including the Pallottine Youth Day in Brazil in 2013 will be another important project of this Commission.

                      In the last session of the day the participants, in plenum, deliberated on the 6 proposals formulated by Fr. Jacob Nampudakam in the light of the discussions so far. It has been very helpful in drawing up some practical orientations for future action regarding certain projects. The proposals approved by the participants of the Congress included: the possibility of establishing a new international community in Latvia under the jurisdiction of the Annunciation of the Lord Province, another possible international community in Jerusalem under the jurisdiction of the Heart of Jesus Province, the invitation of the Italian Province to other entities of our Society to establish Pallottine communities in Italy, the possibility of reducing the number of summer courses at the International ‘Cenacle’ Centre for Pallottine Formation in Rome, while at the same time strengthening the annual course on Pallottine spirituality, the preparation of a program of Pallottine Volunteers and extending support to the initiatives of the Pallottine Youth Commission. These practical proposals not only summarized the discussions of these days but also gave clear directives regarding some of the important future projects of the Society.


                      18th October 2012

                      The main celebrant of the Eucharistic celebration today, 18th October 2012, on the feast of St. Luke, was Fr. Ruben Fuhr, Regional Rector of the Argentinean Region of our Lady of Lujan. Referring to the Gospel passage of the day, Fr. Ruben mentioned among other things in his homily that, “The departure without baggage and farewells indicates above all the sense of urgency of the mission: the proclamation of the Gospel does not admit delays, the coming of the Kingdom of God is something that commits man in such a way that all other occupations or worries take second place”.

                      The rest of the day was dedicated to the main theme of the Congress. Fr. Adrian Galbas, Provincial Rector of the Annunciation of the Lord Province presented an excellent exposition of the main theme under the title: “On the way to revive faith and rekindle charity: Apostles of Jesus in a changing world. ‘You in your turn must strengthen your brothers’ (Lk 22:32).

                      Fr. Adrian insisted that the first thing that we should do was to answer the question, “What happened with the Document from Ariccia (Post-Assembly Document of the XX General Assembly SAC, Ariccia, September 20thOctober 15th 2010) in our communities?”

                      Then he explored the changes that are taking place in the world in which we live. He said that our task was that of sanctifying the world and not of condemning it, which meant that everything that was negative and difficult in this world was to be a challenge for us and not a reason to escape. As Pallottines we are obliged to intensify our efforts both to revive faith and to evangelise more zealously. The Holy Spirit is calling us to this, both as sons of Saint Vincent Pallotti and as sons of the Universal Church. Our response to this call will determine whether we are “to be or not to be” truly Pallottines.

                      The whole purpose of the Congress, as the Rector General wrote in his letter of convocation, is to find ways and means to bring about a spiritual renewal of members and communities. Fr. Adrian proposed some of the ways to achieve such a goal: personal conversion, spiritual life in 3D (decision, discipline and determination), the ability and courage to speak about difficult matters, being a superior with the charism of a father, an educator, a prophet and a missionary. Three requirements for an effective Pallottine apostolate are courage, competence and cooperation. Finally, Fr. Adrian emphasised new evangelisation as the special call for Pallottines today. The first thing in the process of new evangelisation is not action but a change of mentality. The mentality of a priest must be replaced with the mentality of an evangeliser who focuses on bringing the lost sheep to the fold. Witness of life and dialogue are also necessary for new evangelisation. As Pallottines, our lives and apostolic activities should be permeated by the spirit of new evangelisation.

                      The sessions in the afternoon were dedicated to group work and discussion in the plenum. It was decided to insert the entire conference of Fr. Adrian into the Post-Congress document with necessary modifications. It was also pointed out that each entity should make sure that these documents reach the individual members and that their content be reflected upon and put into practice. All agreed that what is most important in the final analysis is to live the essentials of Christian and Pallottine life in our personal lives as well as in our communities.

                      19th October


                      Today, 19th October 2012, started with the concelebrated Eucharistic celebration, presided over by Fr. Romuald Uzabumwana, Regional Rector of the Holy Family Region. These words from his homily are worth reflecting on: “St. Paul, the Apostle underlines the importance of faith in the mission of every believer, including the Superior of a Congregation. Without love, we run the risk of becoming simple workers – functionaries of God, as administrators of various agencies of the Catholic Church”.

                      The first session in the morning was dedicated to the juridical norms for the protection of children, prepared by the Juridical Commission and presented by its President, Fr. Vitaliy Gorbatykh. The second session was once again on the protection of children and the conference was given by Sr. Colette Stevenson. In this session, the psychological, social and religious aspects of the protection of children were considered.

                      Both the sessions in the afternoon were dedicated to Pallottine presence in Africa. Fr. Filipek Stanislaw, President of the Permanent Working Group for Africa presented the report of their study, followed by the report of Bro Bert Meyer, the Mission Secretary of the Heart of Jesus Province. After listening to all the discussions, the Rector General, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, drew certain conclusions for future action. A point that was emphasized by all was that we needed to reinforce the spirit of collaboration in Africa. Seeing the great need to coordinate all the initiatives taken in favor of our presence and apostolate in Africa, the Rector General himself assumed this responsibility, of course, to be realized in collaboration with the Provinces, the Permanent Working Group, the Permanent Secretariat for Formation for Africa and all the confreres. The discussion on these topics will be continued tomorrow afternoon.


                      20th October 2012
                      Fr. Augustine Varickakal, Provincial Rector of the Epiphany Province from India, the main celebrant today, 20th October 2012, made this reflection on the first reading from Eph 1,18a: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened”. This is the heart of the prayer. The heart has eyes. When the eyes of our heart are closed to the light of God, we stumble blindly through life… Once the eyes of our heart are opened, the light of God’s truth will come flooding in. Opening blind eye is the work of the Holy Spirit. He and He alone can do it, and this is the source of our hope.

                      In the first session, Fr. Józef Lasak presented the proposals of the Provincial Rectors. Coordinating the missionary activities and collaborative efforts in our Society was one of the important themes. The General Secretariat for the Missions of our Society was asked to evaluate and coordinate our presence in Bolivia. The question of the common novitiate experience in Rome was also considered.

                      In the second session, Fr. Peter Sticco, Provincial Rector of the Immaculate Conception Province presented the report of the ad hoc committee created for coordinating and animating the Pallottine presence in the United States. The report emphasized the importance of community for the confreres, the need for acculturation, the importance of fostering communication and collaboration among the entities and the significance of the role of the two U.S Provinces as stable forms of Pallottine life in this country.

                      The entire afternoon was dedicated once again to the Pallottine presence in Africa. A new house of preparatory formation for the French-speaking Pallottines will be established in Cameroon. The future of the delegature in South Africa and of our presence in Zambia and Malawi were also discussed. Now is the moment to work systematically on the proposals made during this Congress.

                      The day was concluded with a solemn supper and the special guest was Archbishop Dermot Clifford of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly. Fr. Jeremiah Murphy thanked the Archbishop for being our special guest today, and the Rector General and all the participants of the Congress, the Local Rector, Fr. Emmet O’Hara and all the members of the community for their presence and for their contributions towards the successful organization of the Congress. Tomorrow will be a day of picnic.

                      21st October 2012


                      Today, 21st October 2012, we had extraordinarily sunny weather in Ireland, which was ideal for the picnic day. We started with Sunday Mass at Holy Cross Abbey, presided over by Fr. Jeremiah Murphy, Provincial Rector of the Mother of Divine Love Province. This historical place, once a Cistercian monastery, is now a parish church. During his homily, Fr. Jeremiah (Derry) reminded us of our sacred duty to know Christ and to help others to know him, for which we ourselves need to grow in the spirit of communion.

                      Subsequently, we went to see the Rock of Cashel and afterwards had lunch in a restaurant, together with our confrere, Bishop Séamus Freeman. We then went to Kilkenny, where we visited the Cathedral of Bishop Freeman and Kilkenny Castle. It was a very happy moment for all of us to meet with our ex-General, now bishop of Ossory diocese. Bishop Freeman spoke to us briefly about the importance of kindling the fire of faith in our families. We prayed together and he gave us a blessing before we left for Thurles. As a whole, it was a fantastic day of outing after a week of continuous meetings and discussions.

                      22nd October


                      Today, 22nd October 2012, the last day of the Congress, was dedicated to concrete proposals based on the deliberations of the last six days.  The Vicar General, Fr. Adam Golec introduced the topic and invited the participants to come forward with their reflections and proposals. Some of the proposals made during the plenum after the group discussion were related to the formation of formators, responsible and transparent financial administration by all of the entities and members, and the role of Pallottine parishes in supporting our seminarians. In the afternoon session, the Union of Catholic Apostolate was once again taken up for consideration. It was pointed out that the members of the Core Communities have a special responsibility in promoting the charism of our Founder, together with all other members of the Union. The importance of good formation and a strong missionary commitment on the part of all members of the Union was underlined. Above all, it was emphasised that our charism should be offered as a response to the challenge of New Evangelization.

                      This was followed by an evaluation of the Congress as a whole. Fr. Markus Reck, the General Secretary, invited all of the participants to express their observations either verbally or in written form. The members expressed great happiness with the entire Congress, its content, dynamics and outcomes. All were also very appreciative of the great hospitality and care shown by Mother of Divine Love Province, its Provincial Rector, Fr. Derry Murphy, its Local Rector in Thurles, Fr. Emmet O'Hara and all the members and staff of this community.

                      The Rector General, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, thanked one by one all who were involved in this Congress. He expressed his satisfaction with the fraternal atmosphere which marked these days and the positive results that we were able to obtain especially with respect to the Pallottine presence in Africa. He mentioned the growing sense of 'Pallottinne-ness' and universalism among our entities and members. The spirit of collaboration is ever on the increase in our Society. All of the entities have been challenged to look for signs of new life and all are responding very well to these challenges. With these words, he officially closed the Congress.

                      The concluding Eucharistic celebration was presided over by the Rector General, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, accompanied by the Vice General, Fr. Adam Golec and the Provincial Rector of Santa Maria Province, Fr. Lino Baggio. The memory of Blessed John Paul II was celebrated and the Rector General reminded the participants of the commitment of this great Pope to the renewal of the Church.

                      One sad event that took place on the last day was the sudden death today of our confrere, Fr. Claudio Walmir Rossini, a member of the Santa Maria Province in Manaus, Brazil. Fr. Claudio was just 48 years old. During Mass on the occasion of the First Holy Communion of children, having completed the homily, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away within minutes. Without doubt, such a sudden loss of a zealous confrere is sad news. However, God's ways are different than our ways and we commended his soul to Him. R.I.P.

                      All of the participants are leaving Thurles one by one. Some are leaving already at 3.30am for Dublin to catch flights early tomorrow morning.

                      With this news item, we conclude this daily communication from Thurles which, in fact, were compiled each day by the Rector General himself, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam. After the intensive work of the day, he wrote these reports, forwarding them to Rome by midnight. Mr Joaquim Salvador then translated them into Italian early the following morning and sent it out to all of the Provinces and Regions. The photographs were forwarded daily by Fr. Vitaliy Gorbatykh.
                      I thank the Provinces and Regions who published the daily report and photos of the Congress on their websites. It was a small initiative, but something very important in creating a sense of communion among entities and members of our Society and the entire Union. I too am on the way to Dublin airport at 3.30am tonight and so had better try to get a few hours of sleep before the journey. More information on this Congress will be made available to you when the Post Congress document is published. God bless you all and let us continue to work together to spread the Good News of Jesus, always united in the spirit of our Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti.


                            2012-10-22       congress-of-major-superiors-sac

                      The Year Of Faith, The Synod Of Bishops On New Evanglization And The 50th Anniversary Of The Canonisation Of St. Vincent Pallotti 


                      These three momentous events are jockeying for position in my head and my heart as I prepare to write this reflection for the month of November, it seems as if it is easier to take just one of them and concentrate on that, but the reality is that as Pallottines of the Union of Catholic Apostolate we are invited to immerse ourselves in all three this year. ... A central facet of all three events is the desire of the heart of God to invite all people to cooperate with him in the on-going work of salvation. Fr. Vincent Pallotti made this desire his own. In St. Matthew's Gospel we read "And when he saw the crowds he felt sorry for them because they were harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples "The harvest is rick but the laborers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to his harvest" (Mt. 9,38). Importantly the following passage in the Gospel tells of Jesus sending out the twelve apostles in mission.

                      Jesus instructed his disciples to pray for laborers, to ask the Father, to intercede with him, that he awaken in the hearts of people a disposition to be a laborer in his vineyard. These words of Jesus echoed in Vincent Pallotti's heart and he composed his Apostolic Prayer and several litanies to ask God to awaken in the hearts and souls of many people the willingness to be laborers, workers, apostles and disciples. Vincent's prayers, based on the Gospel passage, are a precious legacy he has left to us, his spiritual family. Each day we pray "Send forth, o Lord, labourers into your vineyard and spare your people" and this prayer imperceptibly burrows deep into our hearts. If Jesus encouraged the disciples to 'ask the Lord of the harvest' to send workers into the harvest we likewise are encouraged to pray with the same intention.

                      Recently, Pope Benedict XVI in his message for World Mission Day, wrote "The number of those awaiting Christ is still immense…we must be attentive to those who do not yet know Christ." This echoes the words of Vincent Pallotti's Appello written in 1835 "Whoever considers carefully the present state of the world regarding religion comes to the conclusion that, because there is much evil in our age, we have a great need of faith. As a matter of fact, there are many non-Christian people who are willingly disposed to embrace Catholicism. But if one can say that the fields are ripe and waiting impatiently to be harvested, on the other hand one has to admit that the more abundant is the harvest the scarcer is the number of workers. The scarcity of ecclesiastical vocations, which are becoming fewer and fewer, and the difficulties of past events which have caused religious communities to decline in numbers have created a situation wherein we have neither enough apostolic men to spread religion nor enough to maintain it." And going back even further in time, Pope St. Gregory the Great (540-604) wrote "It grieves us to have to say that the laborers for this great harvest are few, because there are not enough people to preach the good news, although there are people waiting to hear it".

                      Three spiritual men, writing in three different times, expressing the same reality that Jesus spoke of. There is a certain consolation in this that, while we are facing great challenges in making a creative response to the call for a New Evangelization, the reality is that the world has always been in need of more laborers for the harvest'.

                      A Pallottine seminar on New Evangelization was held in Rome in September this year with the participation of over forty members of the Pallottine family. The seminar provided us with material for reflection and time to engage with it. This material will be made available in time; however, during the course of the Seminar some stepping stones emerged which can act as a support for us as we respond to this call of the Church this year.

                      Among those I identified are the following which may be useful for personal and community reflection and sharing:



                    13. "For it is not ourselves that we are preaching but Jesus Christ as Lord" (2Cor. 4,5).

                    14.  

                    15. "What you have heard …hand it on to reliable people so that they in turn will be able to teach others" (2Tm, 2,2).

                    16.  

                    17. Our faith is the very treasure that we have to share.

                    18.  

                    19. "Starting afresh from Christ" (NMI 29). Starting afresh from Christ has been the program for all reform in the history of the Church. Starting afresh from Christ is the only possible and valid program for the New Evangelization because the Gospel is Jesus Christ in person … however we start afresh from Christ, not from a Christ constructed with or reduced to human dimensions, but the true Christ, son of God.

                    20.  

                    21. Jesus Christ, through the Church, proclaims himself and communicates himself; he, through the Holy Spirit, is the primary, the very promoter of evangelization.

                    22.  

                    23. God is never an old God, God remains always miraculous and in his activity always surprising and new; according to St. Augustine, God is the youngest of us all.

                    24.  

                    25. Evangelization can be new only because today we evangelize with the same Gospel but in a new situation.

                    26.  

                    27. New Evangelization will be truly new if it is able to testify to this 'newness' or novelty of Jesus Christ which transcends all our categories and expectations.

                    28.  

                    29. The best method of evangelization is that of dialogue and of direct knowledge of the other person; dialogue which is a free and honest exchange of experiences, questions, fears, hopes, joys, of all dimensions of life.

                    30.  

                    31. An essential aspect of New Evangelization is 'self-evangelization' because we are not meant to stay the same for the next thousand years…we have to change, to move forward, we have to risk the process of transformation, the only thing which will remain the same is God himself and his love for the world and for all people.

                    32.  

                    33. The appeal to all Christians is to evangelize those whom we meet in daily life, relatives, family members, friends, work colleagues, those with whom we engage in recreational activities, neighbours; they are the ones to whom the message of God's infinite love is addressed.


                    34. For a prayer time:

                      Litany of Saint Vincent Pallotti: "Send laborers into your harvest" (OOCC XI 407 - 409)
                      Lord Jesus Christ, for the salvation of the world you became obedient even to death. You said to your disciples: "Ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest" (Mt 9:38). We unite ourselves with the intentions with which you yourself, while still on this earth, prayed to the Father. Through the merits and intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and of all the saints, we beseech your infinite mercy graciously to hear our prayer. Amen
                      Christ, our Saviour:...... Send laborers into your harvest.
                      Christ, our expectation and salvation:....... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our guide and gateway:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our master and teacher:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our pastor and director:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our way and our truth:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our mediator and advocate:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, our father and healer;...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, revealed to the nations by a star:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, sent to bring the Good News to the poor: ...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you made your Apostles fishers of people:....... Send laborers...
                      Christ, teacher wandering through cities and villages:......   Send laborers...
                      Christ, whose food it was to bring people to conversion:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you wish your disciples to be the light of the world:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, at the eleventh hour you send into your harvest
                      laborers who have remained idle throughout the day:..... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you gave to Peter and his successors the
                      power to bind and to loose:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you transformed Paul from persecutor into your
                      chosen instrument:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you sent your disciples ahead to every place
                      you intended to visit:....... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you ordered your disciples to preach the Good
                      News to every creature:...... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you ordered your disciples to bring into your fold
                      the sheep still outside:....... Send laborers...
                      Christ, you asked your Father to give you as your
                      inheritance the nations and as your possession the
                      ends of the earth:......   Send laborers...
                      Christ, you made your most chaste Mother Patroness
                      and Queen of Apostles:....... Send laborers...
                      Christ, by the most sacred mysteries of our
                      redemption and by the merits and intercession of
                      the Blessed Virgin Mary, conceived without stain of
                      sin, and of all the saints:...... Send laborers...
                      Save your servants, O Lord:...... Make your name known to all the nations.

                      Let us pray:
                      O God, you have assembled all peoples to praise your Name. Grant that we may willingly carry out your will so that your people, called to live with you for ever, may be of one heart in faith and good works.
                      Lord our God, faithful guide of your people, look with kindness on your servant, Pope N.N., whom you have chosen to be the Chief Pastor of your Church. By word and example may he so assist those for whom he has been called in special service, that all may attain eternal life.
                      We seek refuge under your protection, holy Mother of God. Listen to our petitions in our necessities, and deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
                      ____________________________________________________
                      Segretariato Generale, Unione dell'Apostolato Cattolico
                      Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

                            2012-11-02  
                            apostles-for-today-november-2012
                         
                      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,
                      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  

                            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.

                            open
                            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 Evangelization, 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 evangelization, 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 realize that in order to evangelize, 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:



                    35. “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?




                    36. 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?




                    37. “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?


                    38. 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  

                            apostles-for-today-january-2013
                         
                      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.  

                      4. 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?




                      5. 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?




                      6. 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.



                      7. 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


                              2013-03-03      apostles-for-today-march-2013

                        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)



                      8. " Is my decision to live as a Christian in our world really free and conscious?




                      9. " 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 ?




                      10. " What circumstances and persons influenced me, impressed me?




                      11. " What questions were decisive for me to listen to the Gospel?




                      12. " Did my life change in any way through my choice to live my life with God?




                      13. " Personally: What does it mean for me to "commit - my whole self - freely - to God"? Every word counts 


                      14. " How can we intensify our living of the Gospel?


                      15. 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)



                      16. " What does it mean for me to live my life conformed to Christ  ?




                      17. " Where and when can I experience that Christ is living in me and in my life?




                      18. " Where and when do I experience that God "justifies" my life, makes me "just"?




                      19. " In what sense does the life of the Gospel "most profoundly contradict that which prevails in the world"? Where do I personally experience this?




                      20. " 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?




                      21. " What do we as Christians  "offer" to the people around us? Why is being a Christian really "attractive"?



                      22. 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


                              2013-04-03      apostles-for-today-april-2013
                           
                        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 organizing 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  

                              apostles-for-today-may-2013
                            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 



                              2013-05-27 18:05:13
                              open
                              message-for-the-union
                           
                        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 of 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”. ...


                        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 of 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


                             
                                apostles-for-today-june-2013
                           
                           
                          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  

                              2013-07-14       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?



                          4. 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

                            Education and the New Evangelization


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

                            This short 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

                                  2013-08-31 
                                  apostles-for-today-september-2013


                            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
                               

                            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


                                  2013-10-10       prayer-in-thanksgiving-for-the-uac

                            New Evangelization 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:



                          5. 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?




                          6. 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?


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



                                  2013-11-06      apostles-for-today-nov-2013