(Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 5:1-7; Philippians 4:7-9; Matthew 21:33-43)
Since ancient times, the lands of the Middle East and the Mediterranean have cultivated vineyards. So, it is not surprising that the image of the vineyard recurs in their literature. A famous instance is in one of Aesop’s Fables, which gives us the expression “sour grapes,” describing the tendency to disparage what we want but cannot have.
Isaiah’s parable of the vineyard uses the same image, but in a much different way. Translations vary: the grapes are wild, or bitter, or sour, even rotten. God expresses his disappointment with the rulers of his people, who have failed to produce the fruits of justice and right judgment.
Jesus tells his own parable of the vineyard. The problem is not with the grapes, but with the tenant farmers who refuse to give the produce to the owner, and even kill the owner’s son. Immediately after this passage Matthew notes that the Chief Priests and Pharisees knew that Jesus was talking about them.
At La Salette, predicting the coming famine, Mary adds: “The grapes will rot.” This is meant literally, but may be taken symbolically, if we consider all the behaviors she describes where her people have failed to produce the fruits of faith. She does not allude to the leaders, but she does not excuse them either.
Whether from ‘sour grapes’ or other, more legitimate, causes, bitterness can settle in the soul. It can poison relationships, and is at the heart of much that goes wrong in life and in society. Our own self-centered concerns and desires can blind us to what may reasonably be expected of us as disciples of Christ. “Those who drive the carts,” Mary said, “cannot swear without throwing in my Son’s name… When you found the potatoes spoiled, you swore, throwing in my Son’s name.”
St. Paul cautions the Philippians not to give way to anxiety, but rather to direct their attention to whatever is “true, honorable, just, pure, lovely and gracious.” Often, this is easier said than done.
Perhaps this is why, almost in contrast to her challenging, prophetic message, Our Lady of La Salette has come to be known as the Beautiful Lady.
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32)
“When you found the potatoes spoiled, you swore, and threw in my Son’s name.” These words of Our Lady of La Salette come very close to those of the prophet Ezekiel: “You say, ‘The Lord’s way is not fair!’”
This week we are confronted once again with the question of God’s fairness. It is a matter of expectations.
Jesus had only one expectation for his life: to accomplish his Father’s will. Even when, in the Garden of Gethsemane, he asked to be spared the suffering that lay ahead, there was no hint of blame. He was, as St. Paul writes, obedient to the point of death.
Like the parable in today’s Gospel, the message of La Salette presents opposing scenarios—refusal to submit to God’s will, on the one hand, and conversion on the other—only one of which is acceptable.
Suffering is a great mystery, and Jesus expects his disciples to carry their cross. The Christian response to suffering can be one of questioning why, or asking to be spared—or conversion. The parable recognizes that people can change. The message of La Salette has the same expectation.
Conversion, turning to the Lord, doesn’t necessarily ease suffering, or provide the answer to the problem of pain. What it does is simply to let God in.
That is really what the Beautiful Lady is asking. Through prayer, worship, reverence, we can open the door and invite the Lord into our lives, painful or peaceful as they may be.
We will find that the Lord has been there all the time, just waiting for us acknowledge his presence.
Ezekiel says that whoever turns away from sin will “surely” live. The Hebrew here uses two forms of the verb “to live,” which could be translated literally as “living he will live,” or “he will live to live.” It suggests more than just being alive, a new intensity of life.
“If they are converted... potatoes will be self-sown in the fields,” Mary says. If we return to the Lord with all our heart, even if our lives are far from easy, we will know his blessing.
That is our Christian expectation. It’s called hope.
(Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 55:6-9; Philippians 1:20=27; Matthew 20:1-16)
The Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard often evokes a negative reaction in listeners, who feel that there is really something unfair in the landowner’s method of paying his workers. But God doesn’t think the way we think, Isaiah reminds us.
I maintain, furthermore, that this parable is especially compatible with the message of Our Lady of La Salette.
Jesus was addressing two different issues. The more obvious one is that we can’t place a price, as it were, on service for the Kingdom. The other is this: different persons respond in their own way, and in their own time, to the Good News. Even though there is always a certain urgency to conversion, it can’t be rushed.
As we can see in many of St. Paul’s letters, becoming a Christian implies a fundamental change of lifestyle. That was dramatically true in his own life, and even as an Apostle in the midst of his service to the Lord, he had to take the needs of others into account, as we see in today’s second reading.
St. Augustine’s path to a full Christian way of life took over ten years. St. Teresa of Avila describes herself as having been a mediocre nun for a long time before committing herself to a serious life of prayer.
Focusing as we do on the conclusion of the parable, we tend not to notice how often the landowner goes out to hire more workers. Reversing the appeal of Isaiah to “seek the Lord while he may be found,” it is the Lord who goes out to seek those who need what he has to offer, while they may be found.
Resentment toward ’latecomer Christians’ implies that those who followed Jesus earlier have lost something, because they have carried the “burden” of the Christian life longer. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The latecomers are the ‘losers’, because they have missed so much along the way. All the saints who were ’late’ converts expressed regrets similar to St. Augustine’s famous phrase, “Late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient and ever new.”
The Beautiful Lady of La Salette wants her people to seek that Beauty, ideally now, but latecomers will always be welcome.
REMEMBER, OUR LADY OF LA SALETTE, TRUE MOTHER OF SORROWS,
THE TEARS YOU SHED FOR US ON CALVARY. REMEMBER ALSO THE CARE YOU HAVE TAKEN TO KEEP US FAITHFUL TO CHRIST, YOUR SON.HAVING DONE SO MUCH FOR YOUR CHILDREN, YOU WILL NOT NOW ABANDON US.
COMFORTED BY THIS CONSOLING THOUGHT,
WE COME TO YOU PLEADING, DESPITE OUR INFIDELITIES AND INGRATITUDE. VIRGIN OF RECONCILIATION, DO NOT REJECT OUR PRAYERS, BUT INTERCEDE FOR US, OBTAIN FOR US THE GRACE TO LOVE JESUS ABOVE ALL ELSE.MAY WE CONSOLE YOU BY A HOLY LIFE
AND SO COME TO SHARE THE ETERNAL LIFE CHRIST GAINED BY HIS CROSS. AMEN.
RICORDATI, O NOSTRA SIGNORA DE LA SALETTE, delle lacrime che hai versato per noi sul Calvario. Ricordati anche della continua sollecitudine che hai per noi, tuo popolo, affinché nel nome di Cristo Gesù ci lasciamo riconciliare con Dio. Dopo aver fatto tanto per noi tuoi figli, tu non puoi abbandonarci. Confortati dalla tua tenerezza, o Madre, noi Ti supplichiamo. malgrado le nostre infedeltà e ingratitudini, Accogli le nostre preghiere, o Vergine riconciliatrice, e converti i nostri cuori al tuo Figlio. Ottienici la grazia di amare Gesù sopra ogni cosa e di consolare anche Te con una vita dedicata alla gloria di Dio e all’amore dei nostri fratelli. Amen.
POMNIJ, O MATKO BOŻA SALETYŃSKA, prawdziwa Matko Bolesna, na ƚys wylane za mnie na Kalvarii. Pomnij także na trudy, których się nieustannie dla mnie podejmujesz, aby mnie pojednać z Bogiem. Czyż tedy teraz możesz opuscić dziecko swoje, skoro dla niego tak wiele już uczynilaś. Tą pocieszającą myślą ożywiony, upadam do stóp Twoich, choć tak niewierny jestem i niewdzięczny. Nie odrzucaj modlitwy mojej, o przeczysta Dziewico, Pojednawczyni grzeszników, lecz nawróć mnie i wyjednaj mi tę ƚaskę, bym Jezusa umiƚowaƚ nade wszystko, a Ciebie pocieszaƚ życiem świątobliwym, bym mógƚ kiedyś oglądać Cię w niebie. Amen.
SOUVIENS-TOI, VIERGE DE LA SALETTE, des larmes que tu as versées pour nous sur le Calvaire. Souviens-toi aussi de la peine que sans cesse tu prends pour ton peuple afin qu'au nom du Christ il se laisse réconcilier avec Dieu. Et vois si, après avoir tant fait pour tes enfants, tu peux maintenant les abandonner! Réconfortés par ta tendresse, Mère, nous voici suppliants, malgré nos infidélités et nos ingratitudes. Ne repousse pas nos prières, ô Vierge Réconciliatrice, mais tourne nos coeurs vers ton fils : obtiens-nous la grâce d'aimer Jésus par-dessus tout, et de te consoler toi-même par une vie donnée pour la gloire de Dieu et l'amour de nos frères. AMEN.
Oração a Nossa Senhora da Salette
LEMBRAI-VOS, Ó Nossa Senhora da Salette, das lágrimas que derramastes por nós, no Calvário. Lembrai-vos também dos cuidados que, sem cessar, tendes por vosso povo, a fim de que, em nome de Cristo, se deixe reconciliar com Deus. E vede se, depois de tanto terdes feito por vossos filhos, podeis agora abandoná-los. Reconfortados por vossa ternura, ó Mãe, eis-nos aqui, suplicantes, apesar de nossa infidelidade e ingratidão. Não rejeiteis nossa oração, ó Virgem Reconciliadora, mas volvei nosso coração para vosso, Filho. Alcançai-nos a graça de amar Jesus acima de tudo, e de vos consolar por uma vida de doação, para a glória de Deus e o amor de nossos irmãos.
ACUÉRDATE VIRGEN DE LA SALETTE, de las lágrimas que has derramado por nosotros en el Calvario. Acuérdate también del cuidado que tienes siempre por tu pueblo para que, en nombre de Cristo, se deje reconciliar con Dios. Y ve, si después de haber hecho tanto por estos, tus hijos, puedes abandonarlos. Animados por tu ternura, henos aqui, Madre, supplicantes, a pesar de nuestras infidelidades e ingratitudes. Confiamos plenamente en ti, oh Virgen Reconciliadora. Vuelve nuestros corazones hacia tu Hijo Jesus. Alcánzanos la gracia de amarle sobre todas las cosas y de consolarte a ti con una vida santa, offrecida para gloria de Dios y amor de los hermanos. Amen.
GEDENKE, MARIA VON LA SALETTE, der Tränen, die du auf Golgatha für uns vergossen hast! Gedenke auch der Mühe und Sorge, die du beständig auf dich nimmst, damit dein Volk sich in Christus mit Gott versöhnen lasse. Du hast so viel für uns getan. So kannst du uns jetzt nicht verlassen. Deine Liebe macht uns Mut, dich immer wieder zu bitten: Auch wenn wir untreu und undankbar sind, nimm unser Beten an, Mutter der Versöhnung! Öffne unser Herz für deinen Sohn! Erbitte uns die Gnade, ihn über alles zu lieben und so auch dich zu trösten durch ein Leben zur Ehre Gottes und in der Liebe zu den Menschen! Amen.
TSAROVINAO RY MASINA MARIAN’I LASALETY, reny be alahelo tokoa, ny ranomaso narotsakao ho anay tany kalvery. Aza adinonao koa ny mafy nentianao lalandava hiaro anay tsy ho kapohan’Andriamanitra. Koa diniho àry raha azoanao ariana izahay efa nijalianao toy izany. Velom-panantenana noho izany izahay na dia ratsy tsy mahavaly fitia aza, koa avy mihanta aminao.aza lavinao ny fangatahanay ry mpampihavana ny mpanota. Fa ampibebaho izahay, ka mba ataovy tia an’i Jesoa tokoa sy ho masim-pitondran-tena, hanafaka alahelo anao sy hihaona aminao any an-danitra mandrakizay. Amen.
Avec l’aide de Marie, Notre Dame de la Salette, que chacun, chacune de nous puissions faire chaque jour le premier pas vers son frère ou vers sa sœur, et ainsi construire ensemble, jour après jour, la paix dans l’amour, la justice et la vérité. (D'après le message de notre Pape en Colombie)
Bonne fête !
With the help of Mary, Our Lady of La Salette, may each and every one of us make the first step every day towards our brother or sister, and thus build peace, day by day, in love, justice and truth.
(From the message of our Pope in Colombia)
Happy Feast day !
Com a ajuda de Maria, Nossa Senhora de La Salette, todos e cada um de nós podem fazer o primeiro passo todos os dias em relação a seu irmão ou irmã, e assim construir a paz, dia após dia, apaixonada, justiça e verdade. (Da mensagem do nosso Papa na Colômbia)
Feast of La Salette 2017
“I gave you warning …and you paid no heed.”
These few lines of greeting come to you from the Shrine where I am spending time with Fathers Adilson and Joe and the JRMS program - the final one of our Administration. Together we will celebrate, on this Holy Mountain, the 171st anniversary of the Apparition, in communion with all of you, no matter where you might be living and ministering upon this earth.
The month of September has always had a Marian flavor for the Church. In fact, the liturgy has us celebrating various feasts of Mary: her Nativity (8), the Holy Name of Mary (12), Our Lady of Sorrows (15). These are liturgical memorials that speak to us of the nearness of Mary in the life of every human being, and of her total involvement in the sufferings of Christ for the salvation of humankind. To these we must add, since 1846, the Feast of the Apparition at La Salette on September 19.
This month is also important for each one of us in that we are invited at this time to return regularly to the roots of our spirituality, which is fundamentally Christo-centric (see #7 of our Rule of Life) but also exquisitely Marian, because it is inspired by the message of Mary in her apparition at La Salette and by her faithful example throughout her life dedicated to the person and to the work of her Son (#13 of our Rule of Life).
Our world is greatly loved by God (Jn 3:16), but every day it seems more fragile, in contradiction with itself, ailing and wounded by evil. A world in which dialogue seems to be replaced by indifference, by selfishness, by the abuse of power of the stronger over the weaker, by contempt for life and for the dignity and uniqueness of persons, by the abuse of the environment and of nature in general. A world characterized by mass migration which, if not well managed, can create tensions, misunderstandings and waste; by a corruption spreading to all levels and becoming a way of life; by local wars which seem unending; by terrorism without borders, which sows poverty and death everywhere.
Faced with this sad reality, we could be tempted to surrender to an accommodating pessimism, thereby pulling our oars into the boat because we are unable to mount an adequate response or make sense of all this. This danger is real, but we must not let ourselves give in to the resignation that is a pagan way of thinking and acting; on the contrary, we must react as Christians in the certain knowledge that goodness and life will have the final word - and not evil and death (see the Book of Revelation).
Our Lady of La Salette accused her people of being insensitive and not heeding the unfolding of events which, whether good or evil, are signposts for them along the way of their own history and that of the world. “I gave you warning,…but you paid no heed.”
A question arises spontaneously: why is all this happening, and what message is God trying to give to the women and men of our time - and, in particular, to us La Salettes ?
The mission of every La Salette is to consider attentively the reality that surrounds him as a “sign of the times” and as a letter which God is writing to humankind…to be read in the light of a faith seeking to locate and discern the traces of God’s presence and of his passing. And so we must make every effort to be a beacon which sends forth its light and hope to the heart of the people who, tested, discouraged and often times wounded by life, meet a priest or religious along their way. In all this we find great encouragement in the words written by Pope Saint John Paul II in his letter to Monsignor Dufaux, Bishop of Grenoble, for the 150th anniversary of the Apparition: “La Salette is a message of hope, in which our hope is supported by the intercession of the One who is the Mother of humankind." (May 6, 1996.)
It is with feelings of great joy and gratitude to God and the the Beautiful Lady that I communicate to the Congregation, on the occasion of this 171st anniversary, the opening this December of a La Salette mission in the diocese of Pemba, Mozambique, recommended at the Council of the Congregation in India, 2017, (Decision 2); thanks to the availability of three confreres who speak Portuguese, two from Brazil and one from Angola. The official decision of the General Council will be taken shortly.
At this point, I sincerely thank, in the name of the whole Congregation, the two provinces who have responded positively to the invitation that Monsignor Luiz Fernando Lisboa, CP, Bishop of Pemba, extended to the General Council with his letter of December 29, 2014.
I invite all to pray that this new presence on the African continent will unfold in a spirit of sincere service to the local Church and in complete accord with the missionary perspective which our Congregation has adopted in these past few years, following upon Pope Francis’s invitation drawing our attention to the peripheries of the world.
The General Chapter is already on our doorstep…. My hope is that the entire Congregation has been preparing, up to this point, to celebrate this great event through the active participation of each member and by praying daily to the Holy Spirit that the upcoming Chapter be a grace for us La Salettes, for the Church and for the world.
Together with the General Council, I want to extend to all the confreres - novices, students, and Missionaries of whatever age; in particular to the sick and those in difficulty - best wishes for a happy and holy patronal feast, not forgetting the Sisters and the host of La Salette Laity who, under various titles, share with us the joys and the hopes, as well as the anxieties and difficulties connected with the mission and with announcing the Gospel in today’s world.
May the Beautiful Lady of La Salette protect and bless us all and every one of you individually.
Father Silvano Marisa, MS
This is the universal "International Lay Salettinian Day." It is also the first time that this special day coincides with the day of our first monthly meeting. We have been keeping a schedule of two meetings per month for slightly more than 4 years. We are few, we are a core and today we decided to ask ourselves the hard question,
"Why am I here? Why am I still here?"
The answer to the first part seems almost too simple to lead to the answer of the second, but as we listened to each other, the connection was unmistakable. As you read this you'll understand.
I am here because ...
"I was invited out of the blue, one day."
"I was in the Bible study and I needed something more."
"I was hearing some of my friends talking about doing Something else in church."
"The La Salette Missionaries are so kind and so dedicated."
"I was looking for more than just Mass. I got invited here, so I came."
Over the years it is quite certain that the people who have come and gone had similar responses to the same question. Those who have come and stayed answered the second part of the question, thusly:
I am still here because ...
"It is a deep spiritual experience to be here. The shared meditation on the Sunday readings is an exalting community experience, like Mass really, but more interactive"
"This is the La Salette foundation of my ministry. I go back a long way with the La Salettes."
"This supports me spiritually in what I do for others."
The little community of Lay Salettinians in Southern California is composed of those who have been working side by side with the priests for years without a supporting group. Others with the priests in a supporting group, like the Rosary Group that has been active and persevering for over 10 years. There are those who maintain a set prayer pattern in the chapel of adoration and at home. One is a leader of a group of people from a 3rd world country who raise funds for the inner city school from which they all graduated. One is an active influence in local politics, and a long time catechist. They are all parishioners who have committed themselves to the spirituality of La Salette call to Reconciliation and "making it known to all my people."
The common thread holding the community together is the grace that is found in the reconciliation between the acts of mercy and the charism of La Salette. The La Salette Laity of California is a spiritual reality that grows from the mission of the religious who serve the parish and attracts the laity who experience it and devote themselves to live it. In the lay La Salette community they learn that the charism of La Salette informs the virtuous work that they do according to their own talents and creativity in the name of God. They admit that their persevering dedication to the Message and the Mission of La Salette enriches their lives and the lives of those to whom they offer their efforts.
That's what we did today to celebrate the International Day of La Salette Laity.
Not Destined for Wrath
(Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Sirach 27:30—28:7; Romans 14:7-9; Matthew 18:21-35)
Anyone wishing to interpret La Salette as an expression of God’s wrath is much mistaken. And yet, Mary’s words about the arm of her Son seem to lend themselves and, historically, have lent themselves to just such an interpretation.
It would be futile to try to deny the concept of God’s wrath. We find it in the Old and New Testaments. Still, it is invariably a passing phenomenon. According to our responsorial Psalm: ‘God does not keep his wrath forever.” Ultimately, as we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “God did not destine us for wrath, but to gain salvation through Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Sirach presents wrath and anger as the typical attitude of a sinner. How can we expect forgiveness when we are unwilling to forgive? Today’s Gospel make the same point.
Our Lady told the children to say at least an Our Father and a Hail Mary, as their evening and morning prayer. Every time we say the Lord’s prayer, we ask God to forgive us as we forgive others. We thus become the norm by which we will be judged!
Forgiveness is utterly unselfish. St. Paul reminds us today that Christians do not live for themselves but for the Lord. Is it possible to live for the Lord while harboring wrath?
Jesus tells Peter not to set limits to forgiveness. Still, no one claims that forgiveness is always easy. Here is a little prayer I teach to persons who are finding it especially hard to forgive: “God, you forgive them (or him, or her), because I can’t, yet.” This ’yet’ is essential; it means that if the time comes when you know you are able to forgive, you won’t refuse to do so.
What we find in today’s readings is not God’s wrath but God’s justice. I am reminded of the prayer that we call the Memorare to Our Lady of La Salette. In today’s version we say: “Remember, Our Lady of La Salette… the care you have always taken to keep me faithful to your Son.” The original version reads, “Be mindful of the unceasing care which thou dost exercise to shield me from the justice of God.”
These are not so different, really. If we are faithful to Christ, we have nothing to fear from God’s justice.
(Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)
Today’s Gospel is troubling. It seems far removed from “love your enemies” (the Sermon on the Mount), and “forgive one another from your heart” (next week’s Gospel!)—both of which are found in Matthew.
If we read the Gospel more closely, however, we find that the difference is not so great. If the guilty party admits the wrong he has done, reconciliation can be achieved. The process Jesus describes sees exclusion only as a last resort. Even then, reconciliation is the goal.
Ezekiel was not told to condemn the sinner, but to warn him of the consequences of his sinful ways. If the prophet held back, he was guilty of not doing his part to save the sinner’s life.
I often point out the prophetic nature of the message of Our Lady of La Salette. Combine that with her natural maternal instinct, and you have an intensity of concern that is reflected beautifully in the words of the Vatican II document, Lumen gentium: “Taken up to heaven, [the Virgin Mary], by her constant intercession continued to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she cares for the brethren of her Son, who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into the happiness of their true home. Therefore the Blessed Virgin is invoked by the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adjutrix, and Mediatrix. This, however, is to be so understood that it neither takes away from nor adds anything to the dignity and efficaciousness of Christ the one Mediator.”
In this same vein, when we call Our Lady of La Salette ‘Reconciler of Sinners,’ this in no way diminishes the Reconciliation accomplished by Jesus alone, but reflects her participation in his mission.
Citing the commandments that concern our relationship with our neighbor, St. Paul insists on the primacy of love.
At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady does the same thing, but she alludes to the commandments that govern our relationship with God. Can we love our neighbor perfectly without truly loving God?