Dear friends, La Salette Laity,
September 10 is a very important date for you since a few years ago, because in this day we celebrate the World Day of La Salette Laity. This was officially requested during the first meeting of La Salette Laity at La Salette (September 2011) and was accepted and ratified by a decision of the General Chapter 2012 .
The celebration urges you and us Missionaries not to forget the inspirational principles which created a base of this church movement which echoes the reconciliation message of Our Lady of La Salette . The principles that are reflected in the message of reconciliation by the Beautiful Lady of La Salette are:
1) Involve yourselves so that there is always a consistency between faith and life lived and the right balance between prayer and daily work
2) Living and witnessing with joy our membership in Christ and his Church
3) To know, to deepen and to make our own the message of the Virgin of La Salette
4) Become men and women who build bridges and work for a reconciled world at all levels (family, work environment, profession ...)
5) Share the joys, sufferings, and challenges of the evangelizing mission of the La Salette Missionaries
6) Praying to the Lord to send priestly and religious vocations to his Church and to our Congregation
September is a very precious month for us all, because we remember and celebrate the anniversary of Mary's Apparition at La Salette on the 19th of September. For us missionaries and for you La Salete Laity it all started this day, at the feet of the Weeping Virgin ...
Wherever you are in the world, I wish each of you, to become more and more active and zealous members of our great "charismatic La Salette family" following the example of the two witnesses (Pastorelli) Maximin and Melanie who, were overwhelmed by the words and tears of the Beautiful Lady, and they never hesitated in making public testimony of the profound human and spiritual experience lived on the mountain of the Salette on 19 September 1846.
I wish all of you a good family celebration and promise to remember you in our prayers.
P. Silvano Marisa
Wisdom, Submission, Tears
(Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 22:19-23; Romans 11:33-39; Matthew 16:13-10)
The readings are about authority. A certain Shebna is replaced by Eliakim as master of the palace; Simon is established as the rock foundation of the Church, with power to loose and bind; and God’s judgments require no advice from anyone.
From another perspective, however, they are less about authority than about God’s free choice. Why God chose Shebna or Simon is not stated, but God’s wisdom and knowledge are deep and rich, and he knows what he is doing and why. This can be difficult to grasp, especially in moments of public or private tragedy. ‘It’s God’s will’ is not always perceived as a satisfactory explanation. Even Job and Jeremiah seemed to expect God to justify his treatment of them.
It should not surprise us, then, that the farmers around La Salette railed at God when their crops were ruined. Theirs was a hard life at the best of times, and rules about Sunday rest and worship were for them just old wives’ tales, of interest only to the ‘few elderly women who go to Mass’—to use the Beautiful Lady’s words.
Mary feels no need to defend God. Quite the opposite, she calls us to submit. The submission she envisions is not mere passivity. It is an active recognition of who God is and who we are, of God’s all-encompassing knowledge and infinite wisdom.
This theme is not new with La Salette. Spiritual writers have long used the language of ‘abandonment’ and ‘surrender’ to God’s will. What stands out at La Salette is what happens when the People of God do not recognize his will, accept it and submit to it.
Natural disasters, for example, are exactly that: natural, though they are often called ‘acts of God.’ Not every catastrophe is a punishment. Still, the suffering and unhappiness that often surrounds us can make us wonder about our world and our place in it.
Mary provides a detailed list of troubles appropriate to the place where she appeared: crops of all kinds were failing, and young children were dying. If she were to appear in our country, what disasters and tragedies would bring tears to her eyes today?
House of Prayer
(Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 56:1-7; Romans 11:13-32; Matthew 15:21-28)
Jesus was moved by the deep faith of the Canaanite woman and spoke to her admiringly: “O woman, great is your faith!”
She demonstrated her faith in two ways: first by believing that Jesus could cure her daughter, and then by acknowledging that, as an outsider, she really had no right to ask for his help and was throwing herself on his mercy. It was this humility won him over.
This is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” The Temple was originally a house of prayer for Jews only. In Acts 21:28, St. Paul is erroneously accused of bringing a gentile into the Temple—a very serious offence. But Isaiah foresaw the day when the Temple would in fact be open to all peoples. That Temple is the Church, the People of God.
The vast majority of Christians are descendants of gentiles. In the Acts of the Apostles we read that the gentiles rejoiced that the Gospel was being preached to them. St. Paul today again expresses his hope that his own Jewish people will one day accept the gift of faith he offers, that they will be sufficiently jealous of the gentiles to say, “I want what they have.”
It all boils down to a question of mercy, God’s free gift. No one but he can decide who is deserving of it. He is bound by no rule. “I will grant mercy to whom I will.” (Exodus 33:19, quoted in Romans 9:15)
La Salette is in the same vein. Not for nothing we speak of Mary’s ‘merciful apparition.’ In different portions of her message, she strikingly paraphrases Isaiah’s words about foreigners, “loving the name of the Lord, and becoming his servants—all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.”
Mary appeared in 1846 because the ‘House of Prayer’ had ceased to be a place where her people found joy. Many La Salette pilgrims rediscover God’s mercy, leading to faith. For others, rediscovering faith leads to recognizing God’s mercy. Either way, they all rejoice to find their place in God’s House of Prayer.
Anguish of Heart
(Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time: 1 Kings 19:9-13; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:22-33)
Before and after the episode recounted in the first reading—the wind, earthquake, fire, and gentle sound—the Lord asks Elijah, “Why are you here?” and both times Elijah answers: “I have been most zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant.”
St. Paul describes the anguish he is experiencing for his own people. Having experienced for himself Jesus as Messiah and Savior, he dearly desired to share his faith with all devout Jews. That is why, in his missionary journeys, he went first to the local synagogues to preach the Good News, but with little success.
At La Salette Mary described her anguish in these terms: “How long a time I have suffered for you!... However much you pray, however much you do, you will never be able to recompense the pains I have taken for you.”
Jesus expressed disappointment with Peter’s little faith. Many Catholics and Christians today are grieved, not so much by the little faith as by the seemingly total absence of faith of so many. It is a comfort to know that St. Paul and the Beautiful Lady knew that sorrow as well. We are not alone.
In the Responsorial Psalm we find encouragement.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the Lord — for he proclaims peace…
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.
The Lord himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
How close this comes to the image Our Lady uses about the abundant harvests that will follow, ‘if they are converted.’ Her deeper purpose is to plant the seeds of peace and reconciliation, of truth and fidelity, of justice, which is a righteousness that includes but goes well beyond the requirements of commandments and laws. If these take root and produce fruit, the Lord’s benefits will follow.
Anguish of heart didn’t stop St. Paul or Our Lady from reaching out to their people. We needn’t let it stop us either. If for any reason we are unable to reach out in direct ways, we can always do so in prayer.