Fr. René Butler MS - 32nd Ordinary Sunday - The...
The Last Full Measure (32nd Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 17:10-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44) “Here, my child, eat some bread while we still have it this year; because I don't know who will eat any next year if the wheat keeps up like that.” When the... Czytaj więcej
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USA – Provincial Chapter Provincial Chapter: October 11-14 2021 New Provincial Council Fr. William Kaliyadan, provincial superior (center) Fr. Roland S. Nadeau, provincial vicar (right) Fr. Ronald B. Foshage, second assistant (left) May the Holy Spirit... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 31st Ordinary Sunday -...
Great Commandments (31st Ordinary Sunday: Deuteronomy 6:2‑6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34) When we see images of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, they often show on one tablet our obligations to God and, on the other, our duties towards our neighbor. The... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 30th Ordinary Sunday -...
Joy-filled Prayer (30th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52) Today’s story of blind Bartimaeus is an eloquent reminder of the place for joy in the Christian life. As soon as he heard that Jesus was passing by, a joyful transformation... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 29th Ordinary Sunday -...
Redemptive Suffering (29th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45) Selfish people are usually willing to make certain sacrifices to achieve their goals. Along the way some may abandon relationships and values in their pursuit of personal... Czytaj więcej
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The Last Full Measure

(32nd Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 17:10-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

“Here, my child, eat some bread while we still have it this year; because I don't know who will eat any next year if the wheat keeps up like that.” When the Beautiful Lady reminded Maximin of these words spoken by his father, the boy admitted candidly, “Oh, yes, Madam, now I remember. Just then, I didn't remember it.”

Mary appeared to a people who were down to their last measure of wheat, potatoes, grapes and nuts, staring famine in the face. But their faith was weak, and they didn’t know where to turn.

Such was the situation of the widow in the first reading. But her trust in the prophet’s promise inspired her to let him have her last measure of food. In the Gospel, too, another widow, of whose history we know nothing, gave her last measure of personal means to the temple. Jesus drew his disciples’ attention to her, showing the value of true generosity animated by faith.

In the second reading the author writes of Christ: “Now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” This is Jesus as Mary shows him to us at La Salette: her Son, giving the last full measure of his love, the price of our redemption.

The crucifix calls us to do the same, to give not from our excess, but generously, of our resources, or time or talents. The more we recognize what we have received, the more we should be willing to share. In Luke 6:38, Jesus says, “The measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

It may be that we have none of those things to give. But we share in the priesthood of Christ, and in the Eucharist we offer what he offered.

There is always something we can do. Look at today’s Psalm. Among God’s merciful actions we find, “The Lord keeps faith forever... the Lord loves the just.” We can foster attitudes of trust, praying for those who serve others. We can forgive, and accept forgiveness.

The full measure may not be required of us. However, Mary pleads with us to submit to her Son, and to trust in her promise of abundant harvest and abundant mercy. What is that worth to us?

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

Great Commandments

(31st Ordinary Sunday: Deuteronomy 6:2‑6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34)

When we see images of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, they often show on one tablet our obligations to God and, on the other, our duties towards our neighbor.

The question of the scribe in today’s Gospel, and Jesus’ answer did not refer to these. However, there can be no controversy as to which of the ten came first. Rather, the debate concerned which of the 600-plus commandments and statutes of the Law was the most important.

Jesus’ response is so important that the Church gives us its source in the first reading, and the scribe repeats what Jesus says. We see here, also, an encouraging example of what it means to be in harmony with Christ’s teachings, when Jesus tells him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

At La Salette, the Blessed Virgin also mirrored the same message, though from a different perspective. She showed that, by failing to give the Lord the Day he had reserved to himself, and by abusing his Name, her people did not love God.

In her message, the Beautiful Lady touched explicitly on the commandments of the “first tablet.” It would be absurd, however, to think that our duties to our neighbor were of no importance to her. In her discourse, the “Field of Coin” episode recognizes at least the responsibility of parents toward their children.

Jesus was not asked about the “second” commandment. He added it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). First and second are so integrated and intertwined in the Christian vision that each leads to the other, each stems from the other.

It follows that when we accept Mary’s message and respond to her tears and words, we seek reconciliation with both God and neighbor. In this way, on our journey to becoming saints, we submit to the call and charism of La Salette.

Our hearts have a deep desire to cry out with the Psalmist, “I love you, Lord, my strength!” But we have to mean it, and live it. Jesus is “able to save those who approach God through him” (second reading). When we love him and our neighbor, we hope to hear him say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

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

Joy-filled Prayer

(30th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

Today’s story of blind Bartimaeus is an eloquent reminder of the place for joy in the Christian life. As soon as he heard that Jesus was passing by, a joyful transformation took place within him, caused by faith and hope. He prayed well, at the top of his voice!

It can be difficult to keep a strong positive and happy disposition during prayer. Of course, we should not pretend to be happy when we are not. But in prayer we can make an effort to set aside momentarily our fears and anxieties—like Bartimaeus throwing aside his cloak—so as to find the wellspring of joy in our faith and bring it to our worship.

Our Lady of La Salette came and appeared to the two children at a place where there was not much in the way of joy. Her people had not turned to the Lord in their need, but left it to “a few elderly women” to pray and go to Mass. Although Mary showed herself as the Weeping Mother, her purpose was to point the way out of sadness and despair.

Today’s Psalm is filled with expressions of joy. It reflects the return from exile. We find the same in the first reading: “Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.”

We are not an exile people, but at times we feel lost. In those moments, the worst thing we can do is to isolate ourselves from our faith and the worshipping community, where Jesus is our great High Priest and gives himself to us as our Bread of Life.

The psalmist says, “Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing... They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” Our Lady’s tears at La Salette hopefully lead us to this place of rejoicing as we reap the harvest of the promises she made.

And again, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.” We could all say the same, if only we would stop to reflect. We can compose our own Psalm of thankful praise, and should recite it often.

And if the opportunity presents itself, what is to prevent us from sharing it with those around us? Joy is infectious. Let us spread it where we can.

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

Redemptive Suffering

(29th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

Selfish people are usually willing to make certain sacrifices to achieve their goals. Along the way some may abandon relationships and values in their pursuit of personal advantage.

If you could distill all your prayer requests down to one, what would it be?

We know that our prayer, even when we ask for what we need, must not be purely self-centered. In today’s Gospel, we understand the reaction of the other Apostles when James and John made their not-so-virtuous request to Jesus. He in turn, criticized the ten for their jealousy. Then he taught all of them the lessons of service and redemptive suffering.

The Beautiful Lady, who shared in her Son’s work of salvation on Calvary, described the painful situation in which she found herself. “How long a time I have suffered for you!” She was caught, as it were, between her beloved but offended Son and her beloved but offending people.

We have all read the account of her words and manner at La Salette. What about her interaction with Jesus before the Apparition? Hers was no ordinary prayer. In Joel 2:17 we read, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep, and say, ‘Spare, O Lord, your people.’” Mary’s prayer was surely even more intense. Try to imagine the scene.

We can join her in that prayer, as we cry, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!” We recite this at every Mass, as part of the ritual; but the more aware we are of our need for forgiveness, for God’s help in troubled times, the deeper will be the meaning that we give to those words, as we implore the Lord never to abandon us.

We can also offer to do our part, uniting all of our daily aches and pains, whether physical, psychological or spiritual, to the redemptive suffering of Jesus. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes in today’s second reading, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”

Jesus has already paid the price of our redemption. What Mary asks of us at La Salette seems a small price to pay if we want to share in the great mercy that is waiting for us.

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

More Thoughts on Prayer

(28th Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30)

Very often in these reflections we allude to Mary’s question, “Do you say your prayers well, my children?” She concluded this part of her discourse with, “When you have time, say more.” But prayer is not just words.

We all know how important communication is. Human relationships cannot long survive without it. It includes speech and body language. It contains information, concern, questions, requests, etc. All of these are part of the La Salette event.

Communication with God is essential to the Christian life. It allows us to ask for what we need, and to open ourselves to the gifts he wishes to give us. “Do you say your prayers well?” is another way of asking, “Are you willing to let God transform your heart?” Reciting prayers is a good thing, of course; they bring us into the Lord’s presence and set the stage for his action.

The author of the Book of Wisdom understood this. “I prayed, and prudence was given me.” Prudence, according to Catechism of the Catholic Church, is more than being careful. It is “the virtue that disposes practical reason to discern our true good in every circumstance and to choose the right means of achieving it.”

So, we cannot exercise prudence without wanting to know God’s will, and to obey it. We ought to prefer it over gold, precious gems, health and or beauty.

Which brings us to the Gospel and the rich man who came to Jesus with a prayer in the form of a question, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered with a question of his own, and was so pleased with the man’s response that Mark tells us, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking in one thing.’”

Putting ourselves in the man’s place, what one thing is lacking? When we enter into prayer and learn to pray well, God is indeed there and can penetrate our hearts with his “living and effective” word (second reading). The man “went away sad, for he had many possessions.” Will we do the same, for other reasons?

In prayer we are not alone. Our Weeping Mother intercedes powerfully for us. Let us be thankful, too, that Jesus looks at us and loves us and directs us as to what we need to do to follow him.

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

Never Alone

(27th Ordinary Sunday: Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16)

God created man in his own image and likeness. In today’s reading from Genesis, the man’s words, “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” carry the same meaning. A deep inner connection is the foundation of healthy intimacy.

God lives in the mysterious union we call Trinity. In the Prologue to John’s Gospel, we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Therefore he knew, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” and created the best possible companion for him.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that the Law allowed divorce “because of the hardness of your hearts.” It was not at all what God had in mind in Genesis.

The Beautiful Lady at La Salette came weeping, because her people had hardened their hearts. By their words and actions they had created such a separation between themselves and Jesus, that we may call it a divorce! And yet, as we see in the second reading, he wants a relationship with us, so much so that he was willing to lower himself and even die for our sake.

It is not good for us to separate ourselves from the love of God. This truth is at the core of the La Salette message. And as La Salette we might add, “If we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us” (Gospel Acclamation). With Mary as our guide, we can have loving relationships with everyone around us, as we live out our Catholic faith and try to be an example of the message of conversion and reconciliation.

In the first reading, the man gave names to all the creatures that God made as possible companions for him. This implies a certain power over them. When we name a child, or even a pet, we acknowledge it as ours. At the same time, however, we establish a relationship with it, and accept responsibility for it. So, too, with all of God’s creation.

At the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus welcomed the children. “He embraced them and blessed them,
placing his hands on them.” May we always experience his loving touch and allow him to place his nail-pierced hands on us as we seek to perfect a loving relationship with him, never to be separated.

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

Prophets All

(26th Ordinary Sunday: Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-48)

In the rite of baptism we are anointed with chrism, a perfumed oil which symbolizes that we are one with Christ who was anointed Priest, Prophet and King.

The priesthood of the faithful means that we have been made worthy to offer true worship. But how are we prophets? Can you see yourself as a prophet today? Are you eager, like Isaiah, or, like Jonah, will you run away?

In the first reading we are told, “Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the Lord bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.” What exactly did they do? We do not know; but whatever it was, it was the work of the same spirit that God had given to Moses.

If they spoke, it was surely a message for the benefit of others, proclaiming God’s will or his wonders. Mary, full of grace from the moment of her conception, was present with the Apostles at Pentecost. Who could have been more open than she to the indwelling of the Spirit?

She was prompted by the Spirit—can we doubt it?—to come to La Salette in a prophetic role. She gave a share of her spirit to two children unsuited to the mission she entrusted to them, so that they could make known her challenging and encouraging message of reconciliation and conversion, and all her people could turn back to her Crucified Son.

In the Gospel, Jesus does not claim an exclusive patent on his powers. His attitude, “Whoever is not against us is for us,” is similar to that of Moses in the first reading: “Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

The Psalmist prays, “From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant; let it not rule over me.” In baptism we renounced Satan and all his works. But, for a prophet, it is not enough to be blameless. We have to live the message we proclaim. We must be faithful to the share of the spirit that is given to us.

As La Salette Laity, Sisters and Missionaries, we have received the spirit of the Beautiful Lady. We prophesy in a great variety of ways. May we be so bold as to suggest that the writing of these humble weekly reflections might have a share in that mission?

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

Where Blessings Flow

(Feast of La Salette: Genesis 9:8-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; John 19:25-27)

Dear La Salette sisters and brothers, you are reading this on or about September 19, 2021, the 175th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. Unfortunately, the space we have is too small for us to say all that is in our hearts, but we do wish you an abundant share in the blessings flowing down from that Holy Mountain.

Those blessings find their source at Mount Calvary, the scene of the Gospel. There, Mary surely wept at the finger-pointing vindictiveness of Jesus’ enemies, whereas at La Salette her tears were caused by the abuse of his Name and the mockery of his Sacrament by her people. Which was worse?

Only one of Jesus’s disciples stood by her side. The rest fled in fear or, perhaps, disappointment. What ambitions of theirs were dashed that day? And yet it was he who had told them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). The Blessed Virgin, who at the dawn of our salvation had called herself the handmaid of the Lord, now spoke of the pains she was taking on our behalf.

In the second reading, St. Paul writes, “We implore you, in Christ's name: be reconciled to God!” There is perhaps no other Scripture that echoes so powerfully at La Salette. Mary speaks of certain sins committed by her people, but these are examples. It was the evil inclination of the human heart that moved God first to destroy all mortals, but then to take pity and make a covenant of peace with them, in the first reading.

We all struggle at one time or another against pride, wrath, greed, and the rest of the deadly sins. If we are responsible for children, we try to form them, while they are still innocent, in the virtues of humility, patience, generosity, etc.; but we also know how important—and hard—it is to teach by example.

Reconciliation has a starting point in our life but it does not end there. Many times it needs to be renewed, by praying well and through the sacraments. We need never be discouraged, for there is a Beautiful Lady who joins her tears to her Son’s blood flowing down from Calvary, bringing the blessings of hope and mercy into the midst of our sinfulness.

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

Think Again

(24th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 50:5-9; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35)

If you have already seen today’s readings, we have a quiz question for you. How many parts of the body can you remember that are mentioned in the first reading and the Psalm? We will return to this later.

In the Gospel, after listening to the rumors circulating about him, Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers for all, “You are the Christ,” i.e., the Anointed One, the Messiah. This is a pivotal moment in their life. Jesus now has to prepare them for what lies ahead. He is about to begin his final journey to Jerusalem, and he tells them to rethink their messianic ideas.

Peter is shocked! His reaction, misguided though it is, is understandable. Words like “suffer... be rejected... be killed” do not belong in the same sentence with “Messiah.” Jesus might as well have added: “I will give my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pluck my beard; my face I will not shield from buffets and spitting,” to paraphrase Isaiah.

Mary at La Salette provides her tearful answer to Jesus’ question. He is her Son, who is the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. Her large crucifix, however, accompanied by hammer and pincers, shows him not in the majesty of power but in the beaten, bruised image of redeeming love.

Today’s text from Isaiah invites us to revise our understanding of suffering and humiliation. No matter what we face as Christians, we too can say, “The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced.”

Returning to the quiz question that opened this reflection, the answer is six: ear, back, cheeks, face, eyes and feet. In the Bible, parts of the body are often a poetic way of saying “I,” e.g., “my eyes have seen.”

St. James tells his readers to take a new look at the meaning of faith. It is internal and external. “I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works,” he writes. A poem attributed to St. Teresa of Avila puts it this way: “Christ has no body but yours... Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.” Let us use them with courageous faith, that through our works others may come to know Christ and rejoice in his boundless mercy.

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

Be Opened!

(23rd Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37)

The texts the Church puts before us today might at first appear somewhat less challenging or stimulating than usual. On the other hand the La Salette connections to these readings are abundant and fertile.

In Isaiah: “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! ... Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe.” We hear the Beautiful Lady’s first words to Mélanie and Maximin. We see the miraculous fountain.

In the Psalm: “The God of Jacob... gives food to the hungry...; the way of the wicked he thwarts.” We recall Mary’s promise of abundance if her people take her words to heart... and her fear of further calamities if they do not.

In James: “Show no partiality... Did not God choose those who are poor in the world?” Maximin’s family was far from rich; and Mélanie’s was desperately poor.

In the Gospel, the opening of the deaf man’s ears may be seen in Mary’s speaking to the children in their own dialect when she observed that they did not understand French; and the loosening of the man’s tongue is reflected in the surprising responses these uneducated children gave under interrogation.

In fact, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” is central to the La Salette message. The Blessed Virgin came to open people’s eyes to the reality of sin and suffering, their ears to the Word of God, their minds and imagination to new possibilities.

Above all, she wanted to open their hearts to the love of God manifested in the crucified Christ and the Eucharist. This reflects the first line of the Responsorial Psalm: “The God of Jacob keeps faith forever.”

La Salette is an invitation to keep faith with the Lord who “comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.” We respond with prayer and respect. Inevitably this will also mean keeping faith with others, whether through reconciliation as needed, or by reaching out to others in their need, whether physical or spiritual.

Mary’s message about keeping faith is timeless and relevant to all ages, groups, and to all her people..

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

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