Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Apostles for Today - Prayer and Reflection Dec. 2016

Apostles for Today 
December 2016
My God, I ask you now to grant me the grace, through the intercession of Mary and of all the angels and saints, lay and religious saints, to give me the light to know myself  (OOCC X, 264)

 A Blessed Advent to you!

One year ago, reading the Bull of Induction of the Jubilee of Mercy (which is very beautiful), I was very struck by the expression which the Pope used to finish his thoughts in announcing the opening of the Holy Year on the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, 2015. Here is how he spoke about Mary: “[God] turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, n.3).

Mary, holy and immaculate in love

These words continue to have a profound echo in my life. It sometimes happens that I repeat them like a kind of litany, in my prayers and in my activities, in tiredness and when making quick progress.

And now one year later, reading the Apostolic Letter closing the Jubilee Year (which is also very beautiful!), another phrase of the Pope resounded in my heart just as deeply: “We have to remember each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history; this is what makes us different from everyone else. Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the merciful gaze of God.(Pope Francis, Misericordia et Misera, n. 14).

each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history

With amazement I realize that my story, our story is within the mercy of God. All of me, of us - joys and sorrows - is to be sung because His merciful gaze is in everything and in every fragment of everything.

Mary, holy and immaculate in love
each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history … :
they are two realities which call out to each other and unite themselves to each other. Mary, the All Beautiful One, and we,  all less than beautiful, can look at each other, continually loved by the mercy of God.

And there is even more: with faith we can dare to desire and with children’s hearts ask Mary to intercede for us with her mother’s heart before God so that we too may be made holy and immaculate in love.

Mary, holy and immaculate in love
each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history … :
are given to us by the Church, which teaches us to go to the heart of our charism and to take on the mission of our Pallottine Family with responsibility. In this year and a half I have also had the grace of visiting Brazil, Poland, Ireland, Germany, London, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and India. 

… go to the heart of our charism … :
in all of those places I saw that the Union is an authentic presence of the Church. And the Church is a communion because, as for the action of the three divine Persons, it is “a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 4).

I have always felt, in fact, and for me this is our gift to the Church, that the life of the Union, that is, of our entire Family, is a fabric of relationships through which we learn that communion must be made flow through relationships, and that the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti still now reveals the newness of its content in this life of relationships. Because in the face of each one of us there is always the face of someone else who, in this life of relationships, first encountered, attracted and formed me, and so forth right back through history until arriving at the origin: the life of relationship between St. Vincent Pallotti and God, the Most Blessed Trinity.

… and take on the mission
of our Pallottine Family with responsibility …:
in each country I encountered people (among the priests, brothers, sisters, lay people, seminarians, candidates, young people, older people, the sick) who live deeply their conviction and their commitment to follow Jesus Christ and attract yet others to Him, calling all and uniting the efforts of all in service of the Church.

This is what Saint Vincent intended by the expression “co-founders” of his work. I recognize with gratitude that the gift of the Holy Spirit to Pallotti is still working here and now in his sons and daughters for the good of the Church and of humanity.

 “The pious Union campaigns under the most effective protection of the Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of Apostles, for two most holy ends: the first to obtain through the merits and intercession of the great Immaculate Mother of God all of the graces and gifts in order that the pious Union, in the moral body and in the present and future individuals, may always exist in the Church of God with the fullness of fruit and may be propagated quickly in proportion to the needs of souls in whatever part of the world; the second end is that all, lay people and secular and religious clergy of whatever order, state and condition may have in Mary Most Holy, after Jesus Christ, the most perfect model of true zeal and perfect charity(cfr. OOCC I, p. 7).

For personal and communal reflection:
We are already near to Christmas. We gaze at Jesus who is born and recollect ourselves, united together, meditating on these words of the Founder as if we ourselves had said them:

 “My God, who are You and who am I? Who am I before You? What did you desire me to be before You?” (cf. OOCC X, 482);

 “Come Lord, do not delay, because I cannot be without You for a moment” (cf. OOCC X,  277);

 “And when I have nothing else to use for this end, I will never cease to pray that there be one fold, and one Shepherd, and thus I hope to arrive in Paradise to enjoy the fruits of the Apostolate of Jesus Christ for all eternity” (cf. OOCC I, 129-130);

 “The pious Union does not have a new objective, but the eternal law of charity” (OOCC IV, 317).

To the entire Union of Catholic Apostolate in every part of the world, a Blessed Christmas!

                                                                Donatella Acerbi,

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Apostles for Today - October

Apostles for today 

Prayer and Reflection 
October 2016

Mercy and Mission

       The Year of Mercy has really given us an opportunity to reflect on this theme, but above all, to experience the unconditional love of God, and through concrete gestures and actions to spread it to others.
       My first observation takes some questions as its starting point: what is the relationship between mercy and mission? What does it mean to discover the mercy of God? Because of the greatness and complexity of the topic, I am sure that I will not succeed in giving a completely satisfactory response.
       The gospel reveals to us that we must continue the work begun by Jesus Christ, being at his service and that of our brothers and sisters. In this very complex historical reality, the human person can receive the merciful intervention of God through our evangelical action.
       Jesus is “the face of the mercy of God” (Misericordiae Vultus), and we are called always to contemplate this mystery of love.
       No one can claim with certainty to have discovered and exhausted all of the aspects which characterise the essence of  mercy. We may try to say something, but will never succeed in saying it all, because the essence of mercy is within the heart of God and only those who experience it will live the joy of feeling themselves pardoned and gathered into the love of the Father.
       Intoxicated by this divine love, we can “comprehend” or come closer to the true meaning and sense of mercy. Therefore, faith can never be missing, a faith that brings us to seek the answers in God. We are called to allow God to work in his creative freedom, to lead us by ways that are different from ours, to live in his mystery and to throw ourselves fearlessly into the mission that God has entrusted to us.
       Our Founder, St. Vincent Pallotti, lived this experience of love deeply. We can see this in his writings, where he was in the habit countless times of repeating words, such as eternity, infinite, immense, my mercy ... (Poem of Mercy). Pallotti lived this experience with great modesty. He humbly recognizes his nothingness and imperfection, to the point of saying, “I am nothingness and sin.” However, this feeling of nothingness does not alienate him from God, but moves him to a total confidence, to placing himself completely into the Merciful love of the Father, to then exclaim: “My God and my all.”
       With great joy we recognise that our Founder experienced the merciful love of God in the depths of his being, leading him to implore “that in me and in all, there may remain the fullness of the merciful love of God.”
       Following St. Vincent Pallotti’s inspiration, we get in touch with our deepest roots and can there discover the essence of our path of conversion and enjoy the great experience of merciful love, bringing us closer to what Jesus has told us: “You, therefore, must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
       This experience of love that Pallotti lived brought him into contact with many realities of Rome of his day, leading him to feel the need of involving the laity, priests and religious as apostles, and he used to say: we must be “evangelical trumpets,” in order to proclaim the Word of God to everyone and to glorify Him in everything through works of mercy.
       Every baptized person ought to have the awareness of being called to become an apostle, evangeliser, to proclaim the Good News, to speak of its marvels, to announce Jesus and to bear witness that He lives and walks with us as Church, as the People of God.
       We, the Pallottine family, have a very rich inheritance as our charism which impels us to mission, to “be and to form apostles”, and we cannot forget this mandate. Our Founder always displayed a profound missionary zeal, and desired to pass it on to all, announcing the greatness of the Reign of God.
       At times, we lack the courage to say yes to the mission, especially when we have to leave our country and face new realities. Let us remember St. Paul, who allowing himself to be led by the love of Jesus Christ, exclaimed: woe to me if I do not announce the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).
       Being an apostle means being a missionary, being a disciple of Jesus, and this implies the need to so live in communion with Him as to be able to affirm: “I live not I, but Christ lives in me. And this life that I live in the body, I live in faith in the Son of God who loved me and has given himself for me (Jn. 2:20).
       To be a true missionary we must allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit as did Mary and the apostles in the Cenacle, with the possibility of giving place to a true “missionary outburst which took place at Pentecost” (EG 284). Our evangelising action has its roots in the mandate of Jesus: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Good News to all creatures” (Mk 16:15).
       What is this mission? Jesus himself gives us the answer. “Go therefore and make disciples of all people, baptizing then in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always until the end of the world” (Mt 28: 19-20).
       It is up to us to be open to listen to the call and to take the path on which God sends us, to build this project of love without forgetting the three pillars of assiduous prayer, attention to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and witness of life.
       We must ask God not only to respond, but to have the courage to walk along his paths which are unknown to us, with the certainty that He is faithful and never abandons his children.
       I conclude this reflection with the final words of the Gospel of St. John: it is not possible to write all the things that Jesus did (cf. Jn 21:25).
Some questions will help us to develop this theme a bit further:
Am I a door of mercy for others?
How can I be the merciful face of God for others?
How do I live my missionary vocation of being an apostle today?

       God, the Father of Mercy, we believe in your Infinite Love, in your Infinite Goodness; we believe that you have invited your Son to redeem us and all people; we believe that your Spirit is the source of light in the mission that you have entrusted to us through St. Vincent Pallotti.
       We beg, O Divine Spirit, abundant light on the Union of Catholic Apostolate. Fill every member with your gifts, so that our prayer, our announcing of the Word and our suffering may be filled with apostolic zeal, that God may be infinitely glorified and that as soon as possible there may be one flock under one Shepherd.
       Mary, Queen of Apostles, form us so that we may respond generously to the call of the Church; using all possible means to faithfully and lovingly live our consecration; to revive faith and love in all; to always serve with joy and availability.
       Lord, grant us the grace to seek the will of God in everything and what will help us to build your Kingdom of love, justice, truth, fraternity and peace. This we ask you through the intercession of Mary, Queen of Apostles and of St. Vincent Pallotti in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

                                             Sr. Venícia Meurer
                                             Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate - Pallottines
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Apostles for Today - September 2016

Apostles for Today 

Prayer and Reflection
September 2016


Prayer and Mercy.

Misericordiae Vultus begins with a powerful connection between Jesus Christ as the face of the Father’s mercy and our need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. We have, therefore, the link between mercy and prayer at the very beginning. When we study the writings of St. Vincent Pallotti, we are encouraged and challenged by the same combination: prayer and mercy.
For those who have studied the writings of Vincent Pallotti, his emphasis on the place of prayer in our lives and on the Infinite Mercy of God is well known: The practice of holy prayer is most necessaryA Christian without prayer is a person without reason…. A missionary without prayer is a soldier without a sword.
The model of a life of prayer and of mercy is Jesus Christ the Lord who is the true image of the Father’s mercy. Jesus reflects the mercy of God in his very person. And so Pallotti stands before God in prayer, asking for that grace to “be Jesus” on this earth. “In all my works may it always be Jesus Christ who lives and acts in me. United with him, I offer you the correspondence of his most holy humanity. “
This “living in Jesus” in the twofold presence of contemplative prayer and merciful works gives direction and shape to specific aspects of our Christian Life as stated in Misericordiae Vultus:
~      Relationship with God and with one another
~      A source of joy, serenity and peace
~      A meeting place and a bridge between the person and God, between me and the other
~      A more effective sign of God’s action in our lives
~      A sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit, guiding the steps of believers to cooperate in the work of Christ
All of these elements are familiar to those involved in the Union of Catholic Apostolate. The life of Jesus – the very image of mercy – constitutes the “Rule” of the members of the Pallottine Family. The place of prayer is fundamental to our deepening relationship with God and each other, a relationship that, in fact, promotes peace and joy not only within ourselves but throughout the world.
Vincent Pallotti stressed the importance of confidence in our prayer, expecting God to respond generously to our requests: When I ask for some spiritual grace, I shall imagine with solicitude, confidence, humility and gratitude that I have immediately obtained it. I will perform internal acts as if I had really obtained such a grace. And I do not doubt I will obtain it. (OOCC, X, pp. 112-113). How much more can we apply this to ourselves in the UAC when it comes to praying for God’s grace to be a people of mercy and apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.
St. Vincent often refers to our being “a trophy of God’s mercy,” through the institution of that holy Society which respects, venerates, favors and assists the Catholic Apostolate. By virtue of our very foundation, we are called to be apostles of mercy and imitators of God, alert to the needs of God’s children.
We are further reminded by Pallotti that by the grace of God our lives, words and deeds will be works of God’s mercy and we can safely add that they will be the witness of Divine Love acting in and through us through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. In addition, we are challenged by our Founder to move forward with utter confidence during this Year of Mercy:
      Let us make every effort to do great things for the glory of our Creator, and let us remember that it is divine grace that makes us holy, and that the same God can give us so great a grace that can make us become greater Saints than any other Saint that has already lived in the Church of Jesus Christ. And let us believe most firmly that God will give us such a grace.

Points for Reflection:
1. How can we as Union – as individuals, families, cenacles -- further develop our life of prayer that will lead us more deeply into the spiritual and corporal works of mercy?
2. In living out the charism given to us by God through St. Vincent Pallotti, what must we do to better listen and respond to the Word of God – our Rule of Life – to be genuine witnesses of mercy as imitators of our Merciful God?
3. What are the needs in our area that we can respond to as a group within the UAC – taking into account the importance of effective prayer and planning as a part of the entire process?
4. What can I do personally in my own prayer life and in my actions to embrace the challenge in this Year of Mercy to be merciful like the Father?

                                        Sr. Carmel Therese Favazzo, CSAC
                                        Sisters of the Catholic Apostolate

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Novena - Beatification of Elizabeth Sanna

Novena in preparation for the Beatification
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna 

The eagerly awaited beatification of Venerable Elisabetta Sanna is approaching. It will be celebrated on September 17th in the Basilica of the Most Blessed Trinity of Saccargia. The first beatification of a lay member of the Union of Catholic Apostolate is a great joy for our entire Pallottine Family. Thanking the Lord for this grace, we humbly Him that we may be able to open ourselves completely to the graces which He will give us through this occasion. In order to prepare ourselves as well as possible for the beatification, we are publishing - for private use - this novena in preparation for this joyful event.

Biographical information
Elisabetta Sanna was born in Codrongianos (Sassari) on April 23rd, 1788. At the age of three months, she lost the ability to raise her arms. She married and raised five children. In 1825, she was widowed and made a vow of chastity; she was spiritual mother to the girls and women of her area. In 1831, having embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she ended up in Rome, and was unable return due to grave physical ailments. She dedicated herself totally to prayer and to service of the poor and sick. She was among the first members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate of Saint Vincent Pallotti, her spiritual director. Her dwelling became a shrine of faith and of burning love. She died in Rome on February 17th, 1857 and was buried in the church of SS. Salvatore in Onda. Witnesses confirm and shed light on the words of Saint Vincent Pallotti, reported by Fr. Scapaticci and Fr. Vaccari: “Two people until now have carried our Institute forward: one is, as you have often understood from Fr. Vincent, Elisabetta Sanna, a poor woman; the other is Cardinal Lambruschini”. For this reason the “poor” Servant of God received the privilege of being buried in the church of SS. Salvatore in Onda, near the tomb of Saint Vincent Pallotti. When she died, her reputation for holiness was so great that, just four months after her death, a postulator was named for her cause of beatification, which however lasted more than one and a half centuries. She was declared Venerable on January 27th, 2014. The miracle which finally paved the way for her beatification, approved by Pope Francis on January 22nd, 2016, was the healing of a young Brazilian woman (31 years of age), Suzana Correia da Conceição, of an atrophy of the muscles of the right forearm and hand with grave functional impairment on May 18th, 2008 - Trinity Sunday.

Introductory Prayer:
Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I thank you for having enriched our sister Elisabetta Sanna in a marvellous way with wisdom, counsel and fortitude. Through her merits, I ask you to grant me the grace which I earnestly desire …………………, if this is in accordance with your Most Holy Will.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

First day: wife and mother (September 8th)
From when she was a young girl, Elisabetta desired to become a nun. Having lost the ability to lift her arms, she didn’t think of getting married, and yet, as a young woman, many young men wanted to marry her. Thus, on September 13th, 1807, at 19 years of age, she celebrated marriage with a certain Antonio Maria Porcu, a truly good Christian of modest means. Antonio was an exemplary husband and father who loved his wife and trusted her completely. In fact, he said to his friends: “My wife is not like yours, she is a saint”! Elisabetta would say: “I was not worthy to have such a husband, he was so good”. Their family was a model for the entire area. In the following years, seven children were born to them. She spent her days between the house, the education of her children and the land, where she worked without sparing herself. And she also found time for long hours of prayer in church. She didn’t fear criticism for the faith which she so publicly professed and lived: “This is my style of life - she responded - it hasn’t prevented me from attending to my duties as the mother of a family”. She herself prepared her children for Confession and Communion and passed on to them a great love for Jesus, with much tenderness, without ever being sharp. A true education from the heart


O God, sanctifying Spirit, who love the Church your Bride, you poured the flame of your love into the heart of Venerable Elisabetta Sanna and radiated it in her family, the domestic church. I thank you for this exemplary wife and mother, for her encouraging and simple witness. Give to every woman - married, mother, single, consecrated - the grace of being a presence which forms every family, every community, into a cenacle of faith and love, in generous hard work and sanctifying service.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Second day: widow and bride of Jesus Christ (September 9th)
Of her seven children, two died at a very young age. On January 25th, 1825, her husband Antonio, attended by her, died young. Widowed with five children, the oldest being seventeen, the youngest just three, she felt responsible not only for the administration of the house and land, but above all for their spiritual and temporal education. Maturing in her spiritual path, Elisabetta made a vow of chastity in 1829, with the permission of the Franciscan Lenten preacher, Fr. Luigi Paolo da Ploaghe. She asked her confessor to reminder her often that she was a bride of Jesus Christ.

O Lord, You who consoled Mary after the death of Joseph and had compassion on the widow of Nain, grant me the strength to accept my aloneness without losing myself in sadness. As you did for Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, grant me your peace, your strength and your joy, so that I may use them to serve You courageously in serving others - above all in my family, but also with those dear to me who, in your goodness, you place on my path of life, knowing that every day brings me closer to my ultimate encounter with you, together with (name of husband/wife, if applicable)

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Third day: pilgrim (September 10th)
In 1829, the young assistant parish priest, Fr. Giuseppe Valle, arrived in Codrongianos. He became confessor and spiritual director to the Sanna family, in particular Elisabetta. The Christian life of Elisabetta became even more fervent. During the aforementioned Lenten exercises of that year, the preacher Fr. Luigi Paolo spoke with great fruitfulness about the Holy Land. Together with other women, Elisabetta went to him to know more, and remained so inspired that a very strong desire was kindled in her to go to Palestine to see the places where the Son of God was born and was crucified, feeling called to follow Jesus more closely. Thus, in the first months of 1830, she asked Fr. Giuseppe Valle’s permission to go there on pilgrimage. Fr. Valle, after various explanations, said no. Several months passed however, and in July Elisabetta returned to ask him for the desired permission. After deep reflection and prayer, he agreed and decided to accompany her. They began to prepare themselves and their families discretely for the planned journey, hoping that it would help them to grow spiritually and to better serve others. Elisabetta was sure that her mother, then already 65, and her priest brother Fr. Luigi, living in Codrongianos, would be able to take care of her family during the pilgrimage. At the end of June 1831 she, along with Fr. Valle, embarked for Genoa. There the boat for Cyprus was awaiting them. At the last moment, however, Fr. Valle discovered that he lacked the visa for the East. He and Elisabetta then decided to go to Rome, saying: “There too is also Holy land”. And so they arrived in Rome on July 23rd, 1831. From the very beginning, this journey had the character of a pilgrimage.

O God, always going out to encounter each person, you enkindled in Venerable Elisabetta’s heart the desire to be a pilgrim. I thank you for her encouraging witness. Give me the strength and courage to always go forward to encounter you. Becoming your disciple is the goal of all of my journeying in life. Let me learn to improve, guided by the word of the Gospel. All that I have known and learned now becomes the legacy of my existence, so that I may transmit it through the witness of my life.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Fourth day: collaborator of Saint Vincent (September 11th)
In Rome, Elisabetta Sanna lived in a tiny dwelling near the Basilica of St. Peter’s. In her pilgrimage around the churches of Rome, yearning in prayer, Elisabetta encountered a holy Roman priest, Fr. Vincent Pallotti, in the church of Saint Augustine. When in 1832 he decided to accompany her spiritually, Saint Vincent wrote in her name to her priest brother, explaining to him that his sister could not leave for Sardinia for health reasons, but that she would do so once she improved. The Servant of God, while trying to get better, collaborated with Pallotti through prayer, counsel and help to the most needy. Unfortunately, her health got worse. Pallotti supported her in her treatment and in her spiritual growth, and also found her a small job with Archbishop Giovanni Soglia, the future cardinal, while she awaited some improvement in her health. When in 1838 doctor Petrilli wrote, “I am of the opinion that undertaking another journey by boat could lead her to an even worse condition”, Pallotti said to her: “God wants you in Rome”. And the Servant of God remained there, until her death in 1857.

O Venerable Elisabetta, help me to be conscious that my happiness is in doing the will of God. I ask you, Lord, to give me the ability to accept all things that happen to me and, with Your help, always to do the best I can every day according to Your will. You can help me - as you did Venerable Elisabetta - to always listen to You and do Your will. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Fifth day: woman with a disability who became an apostle (September 12th)

When Elisabetta was only three months old, a smallpox epidemic caused the death of many children in Codrongianos, and she too was infected. She got better, but was left with slightly twisted arms and somewhat stiff joints. This did not prevent her from growing, learning to bear her disability as something natural, to attend to most of the housework, and to always present herself neat and clean. Notwithstanding her physical disability, she became a collaborator in the Union of Catholic Apostolate, founded by St. Vincent Pallotti in Rome. Those who drew near to her would say of her: “She saw God in everything and adored him in everything. The love of God was her life. Every greater interest disappeared in the face of the interests of God”. In fact, Elisabetta herself often used to say: “My God, I love you above all things”.

Venerable Elisabetta who, with great patience and trust in God, bore the physical pains of illness and the mental anguish of not being able to return to Sardinia, obtain for me in my life your surrender to suffering and the ability always to live beneath the gaze of God, in order to become a docile instrument of Providence for the salvation of others. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Sixth day: faith in everyday life (September 13th)
Elisabetta received a profound Christian education in her family, about which her brother, Antonio Luigi, clearly spoke. He speaks of prayer together in family, of praying the Rosary, of participation in church functions and of help given to the poor. Elisabetta persevered in this attitude to faith and prayer throughout her life. All of the witnesses said that people only discussed spiritual things with her. When they went to her room, the conversation alternated between religious instruction and prayer. In a letter written to Fr. Giuseppe Valle on May 18th, 1846, Saint Vincent confirmed her spiritual progress with the following phrase: “She continues in good works and I hope that she will reach the perfection desired by God, the Father of Mercies”. Every morning she went to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica was her home. When she died, the cry echoed out: “The saint of St. Peter’s is dead”.

O Venerable Elisabetta, help me to be faithful to my daily duties: to the duty of adoration which is the first necessity of my spiritual life; to the duty which unites me to my neighbour, to the particular duties of my vocation, to the duty of material and spiritual charity, conscious that dialogue with my neighbour is above all in the fulfilment of my daily duties with a spirit of faith and charity. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Seventh day: spiritual mother (September 14th)
Another area of Elisabetta’s living out of her faith and love was that of spiritual counsel. She had the gift of spiritual discernment and she used it to help the many people who sought her help. In her poor attic, before the painting of the Madonna Virgo Potens (Powerful Virgin), she prayed with her visitors and gave them wise advice. Cardinal Giovanni Soglia also consulted her in certain matters of conscience. Pallotti himself consulted her and brought his spiritual children to listen to her. For this reason, Fr. Rafaele Melia who knew Elisabetta very well, gave her the title of “most attentive mother” of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, and Fr. Ignazio Auconi, his successor in the office of General Superior, confirmed that she had the attentiveness of a mother towards the Work of Pallotti.

O Mary, Powerful Virgin, help our families and communities, above all those who struggle to live in faithfulness, unity and concord! Help consecrated people always to be transparent signs of the love of God. Help priests to be able to communicate the beauty of the mercy of God to all. Help those who govern to know how to always and only seek the good of people. O Powerful Virgin, protect life in all of its forms, ages and situations. Support each one of us so that, through the example of Venerable Elisabetta, we may be able to discern the ways of God and become enthusiastic and credible apostles of the Gospel.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Eighth day: a great love for the Eucharist (September 15th)
In Codrongianos, Elisabetta took part in the Mass nearly every day. In Rome, she was in St. Peter’s Basilica every morning and, if she didn’t have other commitments, remained there until the last Mass, because she was convinced that through the Eucharist, we can worthily give to the Lord what we should, through adoration, praise, thanksgiving and prayer. She also encouraged others to go to daily Mass. In a particular way, she adored Jesus in the Eucharist in the churches where the “40 hours of Adoration” were held, and where she remained for a long time, in profound adoration. Fr. Valle said that she managed to receive up to seven Eucharistic blessings in one day. Here the words of Fr. Melia, regarding Elisabetta’s love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, are proven true: “She was so devoted to and enamoured of it that she would have consecrated her whole life to continuous adoration”.

 (prayer of Saint Vincent Pallotti before the Blessed Sacrament):
And you, o Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominations, Powers, Principalities, Virtues, Archangels and Angels, come to visit the Sacramental Jesus, and adore him, thank him and love him for me; and you too, o Holy Patriarchs and Prophets, Apostles and Evangelists, and Disciples of the Saviour, o Most Holy Innocents, Most Holy Martyrs, Most Holy Pontiffs, Bishops, Doctors, Most Holy Priests and Levites, Most Holy Confessors, Virgins and Widows, and all you Saints of Paradise, come all of you and visit his most divine Son in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar and, all together, now and always let us adore him, thank him, and love him.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Ninth day: The serene hope (September 16th)
To her profound faith and her burning love for the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, Elisabetta added her serene and joyful hope. When a certain Luigi Schiboni asked her if he would be saved, she replied: “And do you doubt it? Do you not know that a God died for your soul?” Fr. Filippo Tancioni, secretary to Cardinal Soglia who esteemed Elisabetta as a saint, said that she “had total confidence in being saved by the merits of Jesus Christ … and sought to inspire the same trust in everyone”. She often repeated: “I trust in the God of Mercy”. In moments of nostalgia for her family in Sardinia she exclaimed, “mercy, mercy”. These and similar exclamations, rooted in her very lively faith and great love for God, developed in her the serene hope to reach Paradise. Thus, even while still in Sardinia, she composed a kind of poetry (Lauda): “I am completely of God, I am completely of Jesus. I can no longer live far from God. Jesus is my heart, and I am of Jesus!” She expressed her desire in this serene manner: “I would like Heaven full, Purgatory emptied, Hell closed”.

O Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, I admire your courage and constancy in imitating Jesus with faith and serene hope even in the most difficult situations. I am ashamed of my frequent lack of certainty, of my laziness and my lack of coherence: help me to become fully responsible for the gift of faith and thus to always do good with a Christian spirit, so that my neighbour may more easily join with me in praising the Most Blessed Trinity. Amen.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…
Saint Vincent Pallotti, pray for us!
Venerable Elisabetta Sanna, pray for us!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

August - Prayer & Reflection

Apostles for Today
August - 2016

Dialogue, Relations and Cooperation between People of Different Religions with the Common Purpose of Mercy.

"Go forth, as missionaries, to bring the message of the Father’s tenderness, forgiveness and mercy to every man, woman and child” and follow Jesus’ example “by reaching out to others, in a spirit of respect and openness, in order to share with them the gift we ourselves have received.”
(Video message of Pope Francis for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu City, Philippines)
Every follower of Christ by Christian vocation is called to live dialogue in daily life, which is motivated by the teaching of the Gospel, and shown in human action through mercy and love of others (Luke 10:27; Rom. 13 9-10). Dialogue is a significant approach to persons of other faith communities for the purpose of mutual understanding, cooperation, and transformation. Our dialogue doesn’t end with meetings and conferences but it is a way of living out Christian faith in relationship and commitment to those neighbors.
Scripture gives us many images of neighborliness which extend across conventional boundaries. In the Old Testament (Genesis 12), we find God challenging Abram and Sarai to go and live among strangers. In the New Testament, Jesus breaks convention by speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:6-30) and shows how she can be reached through dialogue. Speaking with a lawyer (Luke 10:25), Jesus reminds him that his neighbor, the one to whom he should show love and compassion, and from whom he may receive grace, may be a stranger. Today, our Lord's call to neighborliness (Luke 10:27) includes the “strangers” of other faith traditions who live in our towns and cities.

Testimony of Relations and Cooperation with other religions:
At this juncture, I would like to share something of my life experience of working with people of other faiths for the common purpose of mercy.
In my 30 years of Consecrated Life, I have been sent to different states of India on mission. Without realising the challenges, I was ready to accept the task entrusted to me by my Congregation. Though I come from a very strong Catholic background, it is here in my ministry that I have discovered my vocation is to give witness to the merciful God in dialogue with the people of different religions.
In one of the Hindu villages, my congregation proposed beginning the ministry of taking care of senior citizens, and eventually I was given the responsibility of constructing a residential building for this purpose. Before I arrived at the place, I was warned about the danger of wearing a religious habit which is not accepted by Hindu fundamentalists in the village. But I was not discouraged or anxious but, rather, was determined to pursue my work from the beginning clothed in the religious habit. Initially, I faced many obstacles which caused sleepless nights, fear and doubts within me. Yet, my trust in the merciful God didn't let this spirit in me die, but urged me to demonstrate his love through my daily service.
Ultimately, one rainy morning, as I was walking towards the village, I saw a man lying under the tree on the water. Though many people passed by no one reached to help him. As every human being, I too hesitated at first, but with the encouragement of my co-sister, a nurse by profession, we lifted the man who was covered with maggots, and washed him in the presence of many bystanders who were of other religions.
This witness of love and mercy towards a Hindu brother transformed the hearts of many fundamentalists around the village, who came forward to render their support. Soon the news of good deeds done by two women of Christ spread around the town. The misconceptions towards a different faith began to disappear in the hearts of the people. At this point I realized that this was a God-given opportunity to visit the families of people of other faiths and take part in their celebrations. This interaction gradually opened dialogue between us to deepen our mutual understanding, and to focus on shared concerns for the common good.
The most joyful event of Christ’s birth is celebrated in our village and town with much spectacle. The procession of the live crib is done together with people of other faith traditions. It is remarkable to realise how all faiths teach us to love one another, and encourage building harmony while honouring the integrity of our differences.
Today there is no longer fear of hindrance in my ministry. Most of the workers in our campus are of other religions. We work together by listening and speaking in openness and respect. Our Home for Senior Citizens has become a centre of service for the cause of humanity, where people of other religions become our partners in spreading Christ’s message of love and mercy to others.

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, God is calling us into a new millennium with its own challenges and opportunities. We need to understand how the Holy Spirit works among all peoples of the world, especially among those in other religious traditions. We do not hide our differences, nor avoid conflicts, but seek to make them constructive. Thus, the greater our engagement in interreligious dialogue, the fuller our respect and trust become, leading us to an increase in cooperation and common action. Pope John Paul II, on his first visit to India, said: “Dialogue between members of different religions increases and deepens mutual respect and paves the way for relationships that are crucial in solving the problems of human suffering” (Address to non-Christian leaders, Madras – Chennai, 5 February 1986).

Let us pray with St. Vincent Pallotti
My God, my mercy, I would like to say – but in looking at You in me, I lose myself; I say little or almost nothing: [...] Work in me, all the more […]. Since I feel and I believe that in my inconceivably greater misery, [...] I alone am the creature fit to form the most specific object of your infinite mercy. In me alone does your infinite mercy find the capacity to shine, to stand out and to produce its infinite effects” (OO CC, X, p.313-314).

Sr. Eugine Nirmala Francis SAC

Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia uac@uniopal.org