Items filtered by date: September 2022

Finding our Place

(29th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 17:8-13; 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Luke 18:1-8)

In 1876, the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette, not yet 25 years old, were faced with a decision. A proposal was made, to develop the Congregation in two branches: one contemplative and penitential, the other active in the apostolate. The former was to provide spiritual support to the latter.

The idea is similar to what we see in today’s reading from Exodus. As Joshua engaged Amalek in battle, Moses prayed from his vantage point on a hill. Thus, any time the soldiers looked up, they drew courage from seeing Moses in prayer.

We look to the Beautiful Lady often and say, “Our Lady of La Salette, Reconciler of Sinners, pray without ceasing for us who have recourse to you.” We know that she prays constantly for us. She told us so herself.

But we are not passive recipients. La Salette Laity, in particular, can assume various roles. The image of Aaron and Hur in the first reading is especially striking in this context. They are not with Joshua on the battlefield. They are not praying as Moses is. Instead, when Moses’ arms grow tired, they find a creative way to enable Moses to continue his ministry. They are supporting both him and Joshua.

This story from Exodus is sometimes used to interpret Mary’s words about the arm of her Son. She is seen then as acting like Aaron and Hur, holding up the arm of Jesus as he intercedes for us.

In the celebration of the Eucharist, the priest at the altar may be likened to Moses on the hill. As he looks out upon the congregation and prays for them, he is not alone, but is supported by the people through their faithful and active participation in a variety of liturgical and other ministries in the Church.

Are you a Moses? The world needs your prayer, your example. The world needs to see you on the hill with your hands held high in prayer, in order to draw strength from your example and be converted, that we may all be the people God desires us to be.

Or maybe you are a Joshua, or an Aaron or Hur, or some other scriptural figure? We can all find our place in the Church and in the La Salette world.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)

Gratitude for Healing

(28th Ordinary Sunday: 2 Kings 5:14-17; 2 Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19)

Since we are going to reflect on gratitude, we begin by thanking all of you, our faithful readers, and those among you who occasionally send helpful and encouraging comments.

We will also be discussing healing. In today’s first reading, one leper, Naaman, is healed, while in the gospel ten lepers are healed. Expressions of faith and gratitude follow these healings.

Our Lady of La Salette wept over the death of children and the famine that had already begun to ravage Europe. The cause was a sort of leprosy, not of persons but of the staple foods. Mary spoke of spoiled wheat and potatoes, rotting grapes and worm-eaten walnuts. The despair provoked by all this was not unlike that experienced by lepers, even in modern times.

In a prophetic vision of abundance, the Beautiful Lady promised healing for the earth, so to speak, and relief from famine for her people.

Naaman returned to Elisha, saying, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel. Please accept a gift from your servant." Note why, when, and how his gratitude is expressed. The why is self-evident. The when: as soon as possible. The how: by offering gifts to Elisha, yes, but at a deeper level by his conversion to the faith of Israel.

Naaman plunged into the Jordan seven times. The action makes us think of baptism; the number reminds us of the sacraments, perpetual memorials of our conversion to God’s love.

Pilgrims to La Salette often return home with water from the spring where Mary appeared. Naaman took two mule-loads of earth, to use as a sort of prayer mat, as a permanent reminder of God’s mercy.

In the gospel, ten lepers were cleansed. One “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Jesus then told him: “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

Cleansed, healed, saved. Such are the signs, fruits, and even sometimes the cause of conversion. The exact order is of little importance. What matters most is that, once we have first-hand knowledge of God’s mercy, we live grateful and faithful lives.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)

Increase our Faith

(27th Ordinary Sunday: Habakkuk 1:2-3, 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1: 6-14; Luke 17:5-10)

When the apostles asked Jesus, “Increase our faith,” they were implying two things: first, that they already had it; and second, that it was his responsibility to improve it.

Why would they expect him to do that? Surely they themselves were accountable. Jesus’ reply seems almost to say that their faith, if genuine, was perfectly adequate.

Still, there are some basic practices that can increase. or even restore, faith. At La Salette, Mary reminds us of simple morning and night prayers, keeping holy the Lord’s day, observing the discipline of Lent.

She says, “If they are converted,”—which might include, for example, receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation on a monthly basis. Our Weeping Mother suggests, as Jesus did with the mustard seed, that if our faith is genuine, we would see wonders: rocks turned into heaps of wheat, and potatoes self-sown in the fields. Conversion can always be deeper. Faith can always be stronger. Though the Lord looks kindly on our efforts, they are never good enough without his help.

In the second reading, St. Paul says much the same to Timothy when he writes, “Guard this rich trust [God’s gift] with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its very first paragraph, describes this gift: “God..., in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life.”

In the first reading, when Habakkuk seems to be on the verge of despair, the Lord promises him, “The just one, because of his faith, shall live.” Constancy, therefore, is essential to growth in our life of faith.

So, too, is humility. We see this in the second part of the gospel, a parable about servants.

In this passage, Jesus is telling us that we are called to do more; it is not enough for us to just be. “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'"

Jesus is not criticizing our efforts, but inviting us to be always willing to serve. When God asks for more, let us give more. Like Mary, let us give our all!

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)
Monday, 12 September 2022 18:16

Rosary - September 2022

Published in LAY ASSOCIATES (EN)

A Merciful Heart

(26th Ordinary Sunday: Amos 6:1-7; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31)

We enter into our reflection with today’s Entrance Antiphon: “All that you have done to us, O Lord, you have done with true judgment, for we have sinned against you and not obeyed your commandments. But give glory to your name and deal with us according to the bounty of your mercy.”

Without getting too technical about word origins, we can state that mercy means compassion or, in more poetic terms, a heart for the poor, the afflicted and the sinner. It is at the core of today’s readings, and of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette.

The first reading and the gospel are focused on a great evil: the failure to show mercy. Both describe persons who live complacently in their own world of pleasure, with no concern for the suffering of others. Their doom is therefore sealed.

In the second reading, Paul, acting as Timothy’s coach and spiritual director, calls him a man of God, and writes, “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” These must include mercy.

The Merciful Mother of La Salette had a heart for the afflicted sinner. Her people were suffering on account of their sins. She came to show that they could obtain mercy by returning to the Lord and his Church.

There is an image in the gospel that caught our attention in a particular way. The rich man, from his place of punishment, cries out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.”

It was too late for him, but it is not too late for us to offer a drop of La Salette water, figuratively speaking, through our ministry and prayer, to those who thirst for human and divine kindness.

This thought takes on a much deeper meaning when we apply it to God. A single drop of mercy from the finger of God brings coolness and a release from the suffering. A drop of Jesus’ blood, given to us in the Eucharist, can restore us to God’s favor. Let us never be complacent about our participation in the Mass.

And let us desire to have a heart for afflicted sinners, to be agents of God’s mercy where and as we can.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Published in MISSION (EN)
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