No One Else but Jesus
(Feast of the Transfiguration: Daniel 7:9-14; 2 Peter 1:16-19; Matthew 17:1-9)
Over the main entrance to the Basilica on the Holy Mountain of La Salette is a stained-glass representation of the Transfiguration of Jesus. As you step outside, the site of the Apparition our Our Lady is directly in front of you.
The visual comparison is obvious. On a ‘holy mountain,’ Jesus’ face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. The Blessed Virgin at La Salette was first seen in a globe of blinding light, and she herself was all light. In both cases we seem to be dealing with what St. Paul calls the glorious, spiritual body (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:43-44).
Jesus chose three witnesses. Mary chose two. St. Peter emphasizes that he and his companions were eyewitnesses of the ‘majesty’ of Jesus. Maximin and Mélanie were eyewitnesses of a ‘Beautiful Lady.’
Then there are the words. In the Gospel they come from the cloud: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.” This left Peter, James and John ‘very much afraid.’ Jesus then tells them not to be afraid. Since the children were terrified at seeing the globe of light, Mary first told them to come closer without fear.
The most essential point in common between the two ‘high mountains,’ however, is the Beloved Son. He is the fulfillment of Daniel’s vision of “One like a Son of man, who received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him.”
Mary mentions her Son several times, and twice reproaches her people with the abuse of his name. In other words, they do not serve him; they do not respect his dominion, glory and kingship.
It was after the Transfiguration that Jesus began his last journey to Jerusalem. As he approached that beloved city, he wept, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace.” He then predicted the calamities that would befall her, “because you did not recognize the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).
If those who call themselves Christian fail to recognize and welcome Christ, the consequences are devastating. But conversion is always possible.
And so, Mary directs us to her Son and, like the voice from the cloud, invites us to ‘listen to him.’
The Question of Prayer
(Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 3:5-12; Romans 8:28-30; Matthew 13:44-52)
It is fairly common for people devoted to Our Lady of La Salette to say an Our Father and a Hail Mary because that is what Mary told Mélanie and Maximin to do. Her exact words, however, were: “Ah, my children, you should say your prayers well, at night and in the morning, even if you say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more.”
That’s an important distinction. This is not an encouragement to settle for the minimum, which in ordinary circumstances could not be qualified as “praying well.”
Nor is it just a question of time. Solomon’s prayer is a excellent example. After acknowledging (in the omitted verse 6) God’s goodness to his father David and to himself, he then asks not for what anyone in his position might want, but for what he knows he will need to govern well his—and God’s—people. He has prayed well, and the Lord responds accordingly.
Discernment is essential when we come before God to ask for something. There is nothing wrong with wanting something for ourselves, but prayer must never be selfish. St. Paul writes, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God,” so we can place unfailing trust in him to meet our needs even as we pray for the needs of others. The important thing is to pray for what is… well… important!
Think of the treasure in the field, or the pearl of great price. Part of “selling all we have in order to buy it” is the willingness to place all we have and all we are in God’s hands, at God’s service.
Consider the magnificent prayer of St. Ignatius:
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all I have and call my own.
You have given all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace, that is enough for me.
Think of that the next time you ponder the Beautiful Lady’s question: “Do you say your prayers well, my children?”
(Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Wisdom 12:13-19; Romans 8:26-27; Matthew 13:24-43)
Today’s readings are a veritable treasure trove of La Salette connections.
In Wisdom: God has care of all; he has not condemned unjustly; he is master of might, but judges with clemency; he has given his children the possibility of repentance.
Mary asked the children, “Do you say your prayers well?” They did not; but they had never been to catechism and had not learned to pray properly. Paul writes to the Romans, “We do not know how to pray as we ought.” The Spirit, therefore, takes over, as it were, and God reads what is in our hearts.
The Gospel speaks not only of seeds—a recurring image in the parables that we find also in the Message of La Salette—but of God’s patience with us. There comes, however, a time of harvest; patience then comes to an end. Our Lady speaks not only of ruined harvests past and future, but of the arm of her Son. Jesus also uses a frightful image: the weeds will be cast into the fire. But this is followed by a wonderful image: “Then shall the righteous shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father,” while the Beautiful Lady evokes a vision of heaps of wheat and self-sown potatoes.
The parables of the mustard seed and the measure of yeast have nothing fearsome about them. The seed and yeast just take their natural course to grow and expand. This is what is the Kingdom of heaven is like.
Jesus came to lead his people into that Kingdom, “an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace” (Preface for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe).
The Blessed Virgin came to La Salette to lead her people back into that Kingdom. They had not followed the natural course of faith; that seed, instead of growing, had withered; that yeast had somehow lost its power to permeate their lives.
But all is not lost. “The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.” The unrighteous can be restored to righteousness. It is almost as though the weeds can be transformed to wheat, impossible in nature, but eminently possible by grace.
Our PPP assembly this past week experienced a full agenda of insightful and productive presentations as well as taking part in touring the neighboring communities of La Salette - some of which are of great significance to the message of The Beautiful Lady of La Salette. As we began our second week of our PPP this past Sunday, our PPP participants and facilitators ventured out together after Mass to tour the community of Corps and visit the homes of the families of Maximin and Melanie. We also went out to the rural community of Coin, the place in which our Blessed Mother reminds Maximin where he had seen spoiled wheat, and gathered together as a La Salette family within the small chapel there dedicated to the message of La Salette. Our PPP assembly was surprised with an unexpected stop and visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Laos. We enjoyed learning of our Blessed Mother’s apparitions to this site and we were able to spend some contemplative time there before heading for our next visit. We ended our day with a wounderful visit to our SNDS community of Gap, where we were graciously received and shown true La Salette hospitality.
As our week continued with structured prayer, contemplation and lecture time, our PPP assembly was fortunate to have been able to receive priceless insight and direction from Sr. Elizabeth Guiboux - Superior General of the Sisters of La Salette, Sr. Estelle Razafinjatouo - Assistant Superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, and Fr. Louis of the community of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette of France. On Monday and Tuesday,Sr. Elizabeth took great care in providing our PPP assembly with a moving presentation on the Evangelical Councils of poverty, chastity and obedience. These two days were directed in an atmosphere of personal and silent reflection. Wednesday and Thursday brought forth continued study and reflection for our group as Sr. Estelle presented a fantastic presentation on community life. Sr. Estelle, in a spirit of religious life, inspired our group to contemplate on the presented material in community rather than in solitude. Our group, divided into language groups, were able to contemplate and study in Lectio Divina, focusing on scripture specific to the charism of reconciliation and how we, as community, each understand our charism within our community.
Fr. Louis closed our week of study and reflection with a very moving presentation on the sacramental gifts of God. Sacramental gifts of God, as Fr. Louis explained, “bring us, as La Salette’s, into relationship with God through our consecrated life and reflects within our identity as religious women and men.” Through the sacrament gifts of God, we become sacramental people for Christ.
Each of our provinces and regions represented in our PPP of 2017 have also taken part in the planning and delivery of our daily liturgies. Each of our ten provinces and regions represented this year interact with each other and share in some part of each daily liturgy. This has been a great opportunity for all of our participants to experience the cultural riches of each of our communities. Friday, July 14th, the PPP assembly will celebrate the “Feast of France.” This day is a celebration for France and all the world, as this day marks a tremendous change in the country of France as it entered into a revolution that brought forth a republic for all the people. This feast on Friday evening is expected to be filled with great celebration. Our Brazilian community has taken charge i planning and facilitating our event, in light of the day being the Feast of St. Junina of Brazil.
Our coming week is expected to bring great reflections, insights, presentations and prayer. We will definitely keep everyone up to date with all of the happenings here at our PPP. As well continue our journey this month in our preparation for our perpetual profession, we humbly ask that you please keep all of our us and the volunteers in your prayers during this month of our PPP assembly.
Manuel Crespo, ms
PPP 2017 - Week 1
This past Sunday, our Congregation began our largest PPP assembly ever! Close to 70 attendees, translators and facilitators have come to the Holy Mountain from nine provinces and regions including Angola, Brazil, France, Italy, Madagascar, Myanmar, Philippines, Poland and the United States. This year’s PPP assembly is also the first time our congregation is uniting together with our sisters of La Salette to experience what will be a tremendous month of spiritual renewal as our women and men prepare to profess their perpetual vows.
The first week of our PPP was an amazing opportunity for all of our participants to come together from all over the world and unite as a La Salette family. Participants were encouraged to tell their stories. Each sister and brother shared their individual vocation story with one another. In doing so, many participants enjoyed the challenge of listening and understanding each other's story in unfamiliar languages. This challenge became was far from being a barrier - this challenge was an opportunity to really work on getting to know one another in genuine sincerity. This first week of our PPP also included a presentation on the spirituality of the Holy Mountain by Fr. Joe Bachand and a presentation on understanding the apparition of Our Lady of La Salette through biblical text by Fr. Celeste and Fr. Anthony Skalba.
All of our PPP participants have quickly bonded and are enjoying in each other's brotherhood and sisterhood as all continue to learn more about each other - one’s customs, cultures, traditions and commonalities. Some of our participants have commented that it feels as if they have been together much longer than simply one week. The coming three weeks plus will continue to provide great insights and experiences for each participant as they continue in their spiritual journey in preparation for their perpetual vows. This coming week, the PPP assembly will be making a visit to Coin, as well as visiting the homes of Maximin and Melanie in Corps and the SNDS community in Gap. Please keep all of our participants and volunteers in your prayers during this month of our PPP assembly.
Manuel Crespo MS