Father Silvano Marisa, our Superior General, went to Portugal to visit our confreres of the Province of Angola who are working in this country. He was accompanied by Father Paulo Banga during this trip. They left Rome on Tuesday January 21. In addition to the visit to our missionaries, Father Silvano Marisa also met with the Archbishop of Porto, Mgr. Manuel Linda. And of course, they went for a pilgrimage in Fatima.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the presence of the Missionaries of La Salette from Angola in Portugal. Currently there are eight of them serving in two parishes in Porto and Peniche (Lisbon).
The La Salette Missionary - A Prophet
Do we have the courage today to call ourselves prophets? Mary comes to La Salette precisely in a prophetic spirit. Mary, like other prophets, loves her people and suffers when they turn away from God. Like the prophets, the Beautiful Lady comes to deliver a "great news", of which, after all, God is the first author. Like almost all the prophets, Our Lady calls everyone to conversion.
Mary said: "Then, my children, make this known to all my people!", Mary invites us to commit ourselves to this mission of being prophets in the world that she herself realized in her life. Yes, we must be prophets. If we want to revise our vocation, if we want to somehow renew our vocation, if we seek our deepest religious identity, we must obviously rediscover the prophetic character of our vocation. Who, then, is a religious-prophet?
A prophet, before he utters a word, always listens. The prophet who does not listen ultimately has nothing to say. He fails to give a meaningful answer, a divine answer to the questions that the world poses. It can only feed the world with its own ambiguous wisdom, but he is unable to give the world anything more than what each person can find alone in a public library. He may be educated, but he is not a prophet. His prophecy is devoid of content. If we want to renew, revive our vocation, we must start from listening.
The La Salette Missionary - Prophet, when he heard or when he heard the Word of God, is a sign of the Kingdom of God in the world. But is it necessary to ask a question, is this sign, which we are today, is well defined, clear, and a visible sign? Or to serve the world, do we have to be identified with the world? And because of this only a few can recognize us as religious. By bringing gospel values into our lives, we become "the salt of the earth" but what is the taste of this salt? Maybe, it no longer tastes? Or maybe we have already deprived of the lifestyle of its evangelical flavor?
The La Salette Missionary - Prophet, who has already listened to the Word and who has become a sign for the world, is also called concretely to carry out the mission entrusted to him. We can generally describe this mission with a sentence: "Awaken the world". Each sign has meaning only then when it is needed by someone. We cannot, therefore, close ourselves inside our homes, separate ourselves from the world. We must bring the Word to others. We must become the hands of Divine Mercy. We must, like Mary and the prophets, with all the love of which we are capable, awaken the world, give hope and invite for conversion.
Dear Confreres. Our concern for religious vocations must start from the recognition of our prophetic religious identity. When Elisha recognized Elijah as a prophet, he immediately followed him, learning from him the relationship with God. He was not attracted by the fact that he "felt good" with the master, but the greatness of the mission and the grace of God that accompanied. We too, when in our vocation we discover its prophetic dimension, will make our life and our vocation beautiful. And only then the beauty of the mission entrusted to us by God become attractive to many young people. Let us, therefore, become prophets!
Fr. Marcin Sitek MS
Weakness and Power
(5th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16)
In many cultures, people prefer to shed tears in private than where others can see them. Perhaps this is because tears are sometimes seen as a sign of weakness. From that point of view, Our Lady could say, with St. Paul, “I came to you in weakness.”
In fact, much of what St. Paul says in today’s second reading could be said of Mary at La Salette. This is especially true of her wearing the crucifix: “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
We have often noted that, according to Maximin and Mélanie, the light of the Apparition emanated from that crucifix. In John 8:12 Jesus says of himself, “I am the light of the world.”
In this week’s Gospel, he reminds us that we, too, are the light of the world. He also describes us as salt of the earth.
It is hard for us to imagine tasteless salt. The Beautiful Lady talks about blighted wheat, literally, but the image could apply figuratively to her people. When put to the test, what was their faith? It crumbled, like the ears of wheat.
St. Paul also states, “I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom,” and “My message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of Spirit and power.” At La Salette, Mary went so far as to speak the patois, the local dialect, typically associated with uneducated rural classes, in contrast with the French that she used at the beginning. And she spoke of things that her people could understand.
Coming in weakness is not the same as being powerless. It means that the power that we might show is not ours, but comes from God. Mary’s simple words had power, which she communicated to the children, empowering them to make her message known.
How bright our light could shine, quoting Isaiah now, “If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted.”
All this and more we may be empowered to do, but, always remember, the glory is God’s.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse
On September 19, 2019,
on the 173th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Blessed Mother at La Salette,
the Congregation of Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette
inaugurated the celebration of the Vocation Year,
which will last until September 19, 2020.
(Presentation of Jesus: Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40)
The author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes that Jesus “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.” There is a text in Galatians 4:4-5 that points in the same direction: Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law.”
The Gospel account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple refers twice to the Law, at the beginning and near the end. The legal requirement Joseph and Mary were fulfilling is found in Exodus 13: “Consecrate to me every firstborn; whatever opens the womb among the Israelites, whether of human being or beast, belongs to me.” In the case of smaller animals, the firstborn was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice; a donkey could be ransomed with a sheep.
The text adds: “Every human firstborn of your sons you must ransom.” Remember that Moses was leading God’s people to Canaan, a land where child sacrifice was not unheard of. Here God expressly forbids that practice.
There is a delicate irony here. Jesus, who came to ransom us, first had to be ransomed himself! The Redeemer had to be redeemed—bought and paid for, so to speak— “to ransom those under the law,” as quoted above.
This has consequences in our life of faith. La Salette can help us understand them.
We have to recognize the gift of redemption that has been won for us. The Beautiful Lady indicates means for achieving that goal: prayer, the Eucharist, penance, respect for the Lord’s Name and the Lord’s Day.
Then we need to recognize our own need of redemption. Mary uses the term “submit.” This will involve purification, a sometimes painful process. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read: “Jesus himself was tested through what he suffered.” And old Simeon told Mary in the temple, “you yourself a sword will pierce.” (“How long a time I have suffered for you,” she said at La Salette.)
Finally, like Mary, we must welcome the Redeemer into our life. We can make ours the words of today’s Psalm, expressing the desire “that the king of glory may come in!”
(3rd Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 8:23—9:3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; Matthew 4:12-23)
In the face of the confusion and even rivalry that we find reflected in our second reading, Paul goes to the heart of the matter: “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
As we can see in this and various other texts of the New Testament, disunity among believers was an ongoing concern. As it happens, we have just concluded the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25). The fact that this is an annual event is a sign that the problem, unfortunately, still exists.
Separation, of course, is natural. People who have been joined by bonds of affection may move to different cities or countries; couples vow to be faithful “until death do us part,” and so on. Peter, Andrew, James and John left their families to follow Jesus. Separation is part of every human life.
Division is different. It implies a kind of separation that has a different kind of cause, usually conflict, the sources of which seem virtually endless.
Our Lady of La Salette addresses one sort of division in particular, occasioned by the indifference of those whom she calls “my people” toward the one she calls “my Son.” As La Salette Religious and Laity, whenever we see division, we feel a desire to draw people back together again and, if necessary, back to God.
Some divisions are of a specifically religious character. Just as the Beautiful Lady could not stand by and simply allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins, just as St. Paul could not be indifferent to the divisions among the Corinthians, so also we feel the need to respond to the divisions and suffering in our Church. But there are many situations in our world as well and, probably, much closer to home, in need of our charism of reconciliation.
Matthew sees the move of Jesus to Capernaum as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” In responding to his call, and to Mary’s desire that we make her message known, we can do our part to bring light into the darkness.
How? That depends on the uniqueness of our individual call, personality and gifts. Be creative!