“Everything in him speaks of Mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion.” (MV8)
“How long a time I have suffered for you…as for you, you pay no heed!” (Mary at La Salette.)
On the wall behind the altar of our chapel here in Rome, there are two posters, one at the right and the other at the left of the wooden statue of the Virgin. One poster is the logo of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and the other is that of the 170th anniversary of the Apparition. Furthermore, on the altar is a terra cotta lamp, a gift from our sisters, which also has the logo of the Year of Mercy. All these are for us a daily reminder to journey with the entire Church the road of the Jubilee of Mercy, and as La Salettes, to live our community life and our service to the Congregation and the people of God in faithfulness to the charism of Reconciliation, rooted in the Apparition of La Salette whose 170th anniversary we are celebrating.
These two jubilee events are not in conflict nor are they in competition with one another. They are joined to each other and harmoniously complement and enrich one another. The message of La Salette indeed reminds us that the tears of Mary are not tears of desperation, but of mercy. They are tears that reveal the “compassion” of God for his sinful children, who are always loved, with a love that is not diminished in spite of the repeated lack of coherence in their life and in spite of the frequently broken covenant. They are tears that speak of hope and of redemption, and thus recalling the possibility of a true and promising human and spiritual rebirth for all those who allow themselves to be embraced by the Mercy of the Father.
The Jubilee Year will be a moment of grace if we are disposed to rediscover in ourselves that which truly should make a difference in our religious life: to try, in our living together and in our ministry to proclaim each day the beauty of God which is revealed Jesus Christ. For us religious what is important is not money, nor the wellbeing, nor the quest for an easy and comfortable life, but instead to live in coherence with and fidelity to our identity and in joy as Jesus lived his mission in our midst. He is our model to whom we should return in order to “reconstruct” our Salettine, personal and communitarian Religious Life.
We also, like the whole Church, should be in “exodus” or going forth. Pope Francis does not tire to remind us. The Jubilee Year is a providential opportunity to change not only the way we do ministry, but also to see what we have to change in our personal lives in order to improve our community life. The renewal should always begin with us and with our community.
In the third circular letter which the Congregation for Religious has sent to all consecrated persons in the month of December 2015, entitled “Contemplate” are put forth three attitudes (Verbs) that should characterize the life of every religious especially in this year of grace. I invite you and me myself to let them sink into our daily reality.
The first attitude is: To Search. This requires effort, commitment, constancy and the willingness to challenge the nights and their dangers. As Pope Francis says: “Contemplation” and we can add spiritual life “is intelligence, heart, and knees.” Our present historical and civic condition is no longer in agreement with this. It is a time of failure and fall, of indifference and loss of taste. It is indispensable to be aware of this inconvenience and of the fact that Christian life, and consequently our religious life, imposes purification and uplifting that is totally foreign to our prevailing culture. To be truly “profound” pilgrims, we need to reawaken the anxiety and the strength of the question (within ourselves) in order to “walk with courage and determination towards Christ in order to center life in Him”. (Testimoni, January 2016, page 14).
The second attitude is to dwell. We are called to a process of continuing conversion which can be concretely threatened to diminish in importance because of the existing tension between the life in the Spirit and the activism that dries up the heart into joining the worldly spirit. This is “hidden behind the appearance of religiosity and even in the love for the church; this consists in searching for human glory and for personal wellbeing instead of the glory of God” (Francisco EV 93), “Interior life demands asceticism of time and of body, demands silence as a dimension in which to dwell; invokes solitude as essential moment of personal purification and integration; calls to hidden prayer, in order to meet the Lord who dwell in secret and take to heart the interior cell. (Contemplate, n. 38).
The third attitude us: to form. The fruit of spiritual formation should be the commitment to live the nearness of Mercy, the closeness of the faces. The passage should be from the contemplation of the cross to the vision of many who are crucified in history, and to the victims of violence, who, like other Christs, are hanging humiliated.” The hearts of Christians and of religious in particular, are hearts that see and contemplate the faces and the nature that surround them. In other words, they are hearts that know how to read and decipher the signs of the times, the silent tracks of the divine in each one’s story and in the world.
There is indeed a lot to reflect on in order to give our personal and communitarian religious life the wings towards new heights.
In the name of the General Administration, I extend to all of you, dear young people in formation, novices, students and brothers and priests in whatever situation you are living in, my religious and fraternal wishes for a Holy Easter of the Resurrection. May the Risen Lord fill your life with his light and his joy, and your ministry an aspect that cures and eases the wounds of this world in the spirit of reconciliation and of mercy.
I would also like to extend these Easter Wishes to all our La Salette Laity in the various provinces who, in a variety of ways, collaborate in the proclamation of the Gospel under the maternal gaze of the beautiful Lady of La Salette. I wish that our common mission in the bosom of the Church and the Congregation give each one an ever increasing realization, motivation and joy in the fact that we belong to a large reality that embraces all of us, that is to say our “La Salette Charismatic Family”.
Blessed Easter to all!
Silvano Marisa, M. S.
Some news from Rome:
- Every Friday of Lent the religious community with the student priests boarding with us, gather in our chapel for the celebration of the Way of the Cross. This is a way of immersing ourselves more deeply into the spirit of penance and reconciliation that emanates from it especially during the Lenten period.
- Last Feb. 21, we had the joy of welcoming Msgr. Desiderius Rwoma, Bishop of Bukoba, (Tanzania) who was in Rome, and we shared a simple Sunday lunch with him. The day after, the 22nd of February, we received and read his letter officially inviting the Congregation to establish a La Salette presence in his Diocese. The opening of said Mission is scheduled for the month of July 2016.
- On the 24th of February we joyfully and thankfully welcomed at the General House three Brazilian Confreres: (Fr. Luis Carlos Lopes, Bro. Franzei Zenatti and Bro. Edvan Santos da Silva). The following day, accompanied by Fr. General and Fr. Adilson, they went to Naples to be with the La Salette community there, for a collaborative effort between the Brazilian and Italian Provinces, in a pastoral ministry for youth and the promotion of vocation.
- It has given us much joy to receive encouraging news from Fr. Joseph Bachand, who left Rome on the 4th of January for the La Salette Shrine in France as the new Superior of the International Community. He finally arrived at the Holy Mountain on the 27th of February. He had spent a couple of months studying the French Language and familiarizing himself with the culture of his new host country. We wish him well and a fruitful ministry in the service of the La Salette Religious community put under his care and in welcoming pilgrims that will come to the Shrine at the beginning of the coming pilgrimage season.
- On February 26th to the 28th there was a meeting of a small committee consisting of Frs. James Henault (USA), Adilson, Henryk and Silvano, with three La Salette Laity coming from France and Italy: Anne Marie Heretier, Francoise Magnin and Ginette Orsini. The committee prepared the agenda for the 2nd International meeting of the La Salette Laity which will be held at La Salette Shrine (France) from Sept. 30th to Oct. 9th 2016. The results of the meeting will be communicated to the whole Congregation and the La Salette Laity of every Province at the earliest possible time.
- From the 7th to the 11th of March the International Finance Commission of the Congregation held its annual meeting at the General House under the guidance of Fr. Alex, the General Treasurer. They examined the annual Financial Reports of the General Administration and the various Provinces. Present at the meeting were Frs. Alex, Adilson, Efren, Silvano (CG) Gabriel Ngonga (An) Dominique Mabboux (Fr,) and Giancarlo Bersacola (It).
- In the meetings of the General Council in February, some of the important decisions taken are the following:
- Since Fr. Henryk has been named Pastor of the Parish of Rome, it became necessary to think of another one to be Procurator General to the Holy See. The General Council decided to name Fr. Belarmino Tchipundukwa to take over this responsibility, while remaining Secretary General.
- The Gen. Council also approved the texts for the Official Prayers of the Congregation for Vocations and for the General Chapter of 2018. The two prayers will be sent shortly to the Provincial Secretaries to be distributed to all religious so that said prayers maybe used individually and in community.
As far as the District of Myanmar is concerned, the Gen Council approved the following decisions taken by the District Council: 1) P. Nicodemus Aung Than Aye was named Director of Theologians and responsible for vocation promotion. 2) Fr. Valentine Sun Tun was named Master of Novices and District Secretary.