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Choose Wisdom (32nd Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13) The parable of the foolish and wise virgins is a cautionary tale. Having failed to welcome the bridegroom on his arrival, the foolish ones are themselves no longer... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - All Saints - See What Love!
See What Love! (All Saints: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1‑3; Matthew 5:1-12) There are two recurring themes in today’s readings: counting, and purity. In Revelation we see two groups among the saved: one hundred forty-four thousand from the tribes of... Czytaj więcej
La Salette and Emmaus
La Salette and Emmaus September 2020 An Educational and Spiritual Journey toward Proximity, Closeness, and Empathy  The Evangelist Luke writes around the year 85 C.E. for a Greek community in Asia Minor. The community, at that time, was struggling with... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 30th Ordinary Sunday -...
Reputation (30th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40) No one could ever accuse St. Paul of flattery. So, when he writes to the Thessalonians, “You became a model for all the believers,” he  must mean... Czytaj więcej
La Salette: what face of God?
La Salette: what face of God? October 2020 The Father-like face of God… The question that introduces this new section is, from the biblical point of view, paradoxical. Paradoxical because, on the one hand, the question expresses the intrinsic human... Czytaj więcej
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Items filtered by date: October 2020

Choose Wisdom

(32nd Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 6:12-16; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Matt. 25:1-13)

The parable of the foolish and wise virgins is a cautionary tale. Having failed to welcome the bridegroom on his arrival, the foolish ones are themselves no longer welcome at the feast. Their lack of wisdom has cost them dearly.

Jesus warns his disciples to be like the wise virgins, not only anticipating his return but also doing what is required to prepare for it. 

In the Bible, wisdom encompasses many ideas, such as practical skills, shrewdness, deep thoughts and, as in the parable, prudence. It also includes the study of the Scriptures, so as to learn how to use the knowledge obtained, in view of distinguishing right from wrong, in accordance with God’s will.

Thus we read today in Psalm 63, “I will remember you upon my couch, and through the night-watches I will meditate on you.” In another Psalm (119) we find the famous verse, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”

But unless this wisdom is desired, it will not be found. That is why, in 1846, a Beautiful Lady appeared to two ignorant children in the French Alps, in a globe of light. She meant her words to be a lamp for the feet and a light for the path of her people.

By her beauty and her gentleness, she draws us, like Mélanie and Maximin, into her light or, more precisely, into the light of her crucified Son. Wise Virgin that she is, there are things of which she, like St. Paul, does not want us to be unaware. So she lights the way between Jesus and her people, and shows the distance sin creates between him and us. 

Finally, by her compassion, she leads us to hope for the wisdom that comes with repentance, as well as the benefits promised to those who return to the Lord.

Mary speaks of prayer, the Lord’s Day, the Mass, and Lent. These, along with our personal commitment and devotion, are like the oil in the parable, symbolic of the ongoing renewal of our life in Christ.

May our lamp be ever lit as we pray with the Psalmist, “Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary to see your power and your glory... in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.”

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

Published in MISSION (EN)

See What Love!

(All Saints: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1‑3; Matthew 5:1-12)

There are two recurring themes in today’s readings: counting, and purity.

In Revelation we see two groups among the saved: one hundred forty-four thousand from the tribes of Israel, and then a multitude which no one could count. In 1 John, we are counted among (called) the children of God. And there is a list in the Gospel enumerating several beatitudes—a sort of manual of discipleship.

One of these reads, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” John writes, “Everyone who has this hope... makes himself pure.” And in the first reading, the uncounted multitudes “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

The Psalm unites the two themes in these words: “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? or who may stand in his holy place? One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.”

We desire to be counted among the “servants of God,” the term used in Revelation. If we are to be truly faithful in his service, we need to be clean of heart.

This notion is similar to that of pure gold; all impurities have been removed. In moral terms, it refers to the integrity of Christian life, the fullness of Christian love.

In our La Salette context, we can paraphrase St. John: See what love the Beautiful Lady has bestowed on us that she calls us her children, her people. In wearing the glowing image of her Son on her breast, she shows us God’s boundless mercy. Like all of today’s readings, she offers us a bright hope, which, however, is based upon one primary expectation: submission, which she also calls conversion.

This need not discourage us or, worse, lead to scrupulosity. Still, it calls for serious commitment to the person of Jesus Christ and the practice of our faith, humble acceptance of Church teaching, and honest examination of conscience.

St. John tells us that we shall see God as he really is. Let it be our prayer that, with a meek and humble heart, we may have the sure hope of being counted among those who seek God’s loving face.

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

Published in MISSION (EN)
Thursday, 08 October 2020 18:56

La Salette and Emmaus

La Salette and Emmaus

September 2020

An Educational and Spiritual Journey toward Proximity, Closeness, and Empathy 

The Evangelist Luke writes around the year 85 C.E. for a Greek community in Asia Minor. The community, at that time, was struggling with difficult circumstances, due to internal and external reasons. Internally, there were deep tensions and divisions: former Pharisees who wanted to follow the Law of Moses (cf. Acts 15:1); others who wanted to follow John the Baptist (cf. Acts 19:1-6), and still others who considered themselves to be disciples of Peter, Paul, Apollo, and Christ (cf. 1Cor 1:12). Externally, the persecution of the Roman Empire was increasing, and its ideology continued to exert an increasingly strong and penetrating influence.

In this context, Luke writes with a twofold purpose. On the one hand, he wants to guide and strengthen the faith of his recipients; on the other hand, he writes to encourage them to be in this world as disciples and ambassadors of Christ’s work of reconciliation (cf. 2Cor 5:20). In a similar way, The Beautiful Lady of La Salette, through the words addressed to Maximin and Melanie, aims to guide, encourage and form missionaries and ambassadors of her Son.

The Emmaus narrative is a story meant to inspire, guide and strengthen our faith; it is an account that functions as a metaphor for our faith and life journey. For this reason, Emmaus speaks to and of each of us.

The narrative of the disciples on their way to Emmaus enlightens La Salette, since the Risen Son hints to His mother. Indeed, like Mary at La Salette, the Risen Jesus appears to the two disciples as interpreter, educator and teacher. By turning to the sacred Scriptures, Jesus helps the disciples to interpret and understand the true meaning of the latest events that occurred in Jerusalem. Similarly, Our Lady of La Salette’s message invites us to read and interpret our human affairs as a receptacle for the divine.

Both the Risen Jesus on the way to Emmaus and His mother at La Salette promote a “culture of encounter”, because they are able to reach their addressees where they are. At La Salette Mary’s opening words overcome the fear of the two children. Moreover, Our Lady does not hesitate to shift from French to the local dialect when she realizes that the two children are not able to understand her words: a small detail that reveals her gentle empathy. Like the Mother, the Risen Son encounters the two disciples of Emmaus where they are: in their disappointment, discouragement, and resignation (cf. Lk 24:17), and He lets them experience a transforming encounter.

Like Mary at La Salette, Jesus modulates the rhythm of His journey to that of the two disciples. The Risen One is patient, like The Beautiful Lady of La Salette with Maximin and Melanie. Not by coincidence, Luke points out that “[...] beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (cf. Lk 24:27). In other words, the Risen One accompanies the two disciples in order to let them internalize a story that involves them directly, a story that will transform their hearts.

On the way to Emmaus, Jesus walks along with the two disciples, giving them the time and the opportunity to recognize Him. The geographical journey (Jerusalem-Emmaus) hints to a spiritual and life changing one. Indeed, Luke starts his narrative by stating that “Now, that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him” (cf. Lk 24:13-16). Then, just before the ending of the story, Luke makes us aware of the transforming moment experienced by the two disciples by writing: “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (cf. Lk 24:30-31). Interesting enough, Luke points out that once the two disciples learn how to recognize the Risen Jesus, He disappears from their sight, and they start to be apostles, or missionaries: “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There, they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon”. Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread” (cf. Luke 24:33-35).

The journey Jerusalem-Emmaus-Jerusalem is a journey toward both freedom and healing. The presence of the Risen Jesus heals because it sets us free. We just need to know how to recognize His presence, His “footprints” within our faith and life journey.

Luke 24:13-35 is an inspiring narrative for all of us called to be missionary-disciples of the Risen One: by looking at the pedagogy enacted by Jesus on the way to Emmaus, we can learn a lot about the “New Evangelization”. The same can be said in relation to Our Lady of La Salette: her words and actions, like those of her Son, inspire, guide and help us to live this earthly pilgrimage as new evangelizers and as ambassadors of the reconciliation offered to us by Jesus the Christ.

A Pedagogy of the Word: From Tears to Joy…

“Were not our hearts burning within us

while he talked with us on the road

and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32)

The focus of this reflection is the journey of the two disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-33) as well as the apparition of Our Lady to Maximin and Melanie on the mountain of La Salette. An unexpected message of joy comes from the French Alps, despite its warning and challenging truths. As the two disciples of Emmaus, the two children experience a profound joy after the encounter with The Beautiful Lady of La Salette. Indeed, in one of the children’s reports they state: “After (she passed away) we were very happy and we went back to took care of our cows”.

The joy of the two disciples of Emmaus is the result of their attentive listening to the words spoken by the Risen Jesus. This joy deeply transforms their lives. By the end of the story Luke portrays the two disciples as apostles proclaiming Jesus’ Resurrection. 

Their joy echoes that of Mary when, at the moment of the Annunciation in Nazareth, she says, “Yes” to Gabriel’s words. The evangelist Luke clearly highlights this joy in the Magnificat, a text that reveals what it means to submit our heart to the Word of God. In continuity with the Annunciation story and with the Emmaus narrative, Our Lady of La Salette stresses the importance of an attentive listening: “If my people do not want to submit ... if they convert”.

Both the Emmaus story and the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette remind us that, if we desire to be fruitful followers of Jesus Christ, we need to listen with attention and openness of heart to His words and to apply them to our lives. It is not an easy task, but we are helped by Mary’s presence who reminds us to do whatever he tells us (see John 2:5).

Both Emmaus and La Salette exemplify a spirituality that is deeply centered around the Word of God. Moreover, both Emmaus and La Salette teach us how to walk along with our brothers and sisters like the Risen Jesus and Our Lady of La Salette; both of them remind us of the importance of being able to reread or interpret our own faith and life journey in the light of the Word of God in order to be, more and more, Christ-centered missionary-disciples.

A Pedagogy Leading to Heaven…

Mary’s Apparition at La Salette happened in three phases: the first, in a sitting position with her face hidden in her hands; the second, standing and talking to the children; and, the third, moving toward the top of the hill while communicating her last words to Maximin and Melanie.

It is interesting to notice that, before disappearing, Our Lady of La Salette does not advise the two children how to behave after this transforming encounter; Mary doesn’t even tell them to go back to the small village of La Salette, or to go to the pastor of the Parish or to the Bishop of the Diocese of Grenoble to report their encounter with her. No; Mary has only one request, and she repeats it twice: “Let all my people know.”  Mary’s last words bear a twofold meaning. On the one hand, they call us to be her ambassadors by sharing her message among our brothers and sisters, and, on the other hand, they invite us to follow her example, i.e. to see and to travel the ‘uphill’ path as she did, being aware that our identity and dignity in Christ make us heirs and inhabitants of Heaven. At La Salette, Mary reminds us that this is the ultimate goal of our earthly pilgrimage. True, the road ‘to Heaven’ may be ‘uphill’ and ‘winding’ because of sin, but we are not left alone: there is the Son who reveals to us the ‘road to Heaven’ through His life, words, and, especially, through His Death and Resurrection.

Let us follow, therefore, with confidence and trust, the one who, at La Salette, walked the ‘uphill’ and ‘winding’ path bearing the cross of the Son on her chest, and we will receive the graces we need to go through such a journey. Let us keep in our hearts and minds the words we proclaim during every Eucharist celebrated here on earth, “[…] awaiting Your [second] coming” so that, at His Parousia, we will be justified by and in Him for Life Eternal. Yes, because Jesus’ followers never stop on the road of their earthly pilgrimage; they always follow the ‘uphill’ and ‘winding’ path leading to Heaven.

Published in MISSION (EN)

Reputation

(30th Ordinary Sunday: Exodus 22:20-26; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40)

No one could ever accuse St. Paul of flattery. So, when he writes to the Thessalonians, “You became a model for all the believers,” he  must mean what he says.

How different from the words of the Beautiful Lady! Her people, far from being held up as a model, have earned a completely opposite reputation, which might be called spiritual laziness. After her Apparition, however, a certain number of people, Maximin’s father among them, resolved to restore her good opinion, so to speak.

Reputation is important. None of us likes to be ridiculed, insulted or made to look less than what we think we ought to be. We all would prefer to be known for the good we do than for our faults. 

Paul tells the Thessalonians that other Christian communities have heard “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” Thus they observed the Greatest Commandment. 

But they observed the Command to love their neighbor as well. They were known for their missionary zeal: “For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth.” 

La Salette Missionaries, Sisters and Laity have a reputation, among other things, for a welcoming spirit and a desire to promote reconciliation. As individuals we sometimes fall short, but we can hope that it might be said of us that our love for God spills out into love of our neighbor.

We must maintain a certain balance, especially when our faith might be unwelcome in the foreign land that is our modern secular society. It is then that the witness of our Christian way of life most matters.

This includes Paul’s famous list of fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” We might also add the witness of Mary at La Salette: her tears and unceasing prayer, in response to sin and suffering.

In this way we hope to live in peace with all. May our reputation at least arouse curiosity in others, and draw them to the One who draws us. 

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

Published in MISSION (EN)
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