Some things we can all agree on! And therefore something worth repeating. The Sisters of Charity Federation said it well in 2016…
The Sisters of Charity Federation members at their recent meetings committed themselves to joining in prayer and fasting for wisdom and discernment as the U.S. moves toward national elections.
As women religious, prayer is at the very core of whom we are as servants of God, and prayer is part of every aspect of our lives, and that includes praying for our world, our country, all citizens, and those who govern.
We pray in thanksgiving for the privilege and responsibility of being able to organize as individuals politically.
We pray that each of us, as citizens, feel compelled to exercise our right and responsibility to vote.
We pray for all to make decisions and vote based on their conscience.
We pray for leaders who will make decisions for the good of all, especially the least among us.
We pray that God will protect all candidates and their families, and give them strength and wisdom.
We pray not just for the candidates but all leaders and for the nation.
We pray that the candidates who are voted into office will act as “servant-leaders.”
To make it easier they even offer the following prayer card.
Why not take the time spread the word about this campaign!
Before you answer let me refine the question. Who are the people who have influenced your lives? They are probably many even if you never thought of them under the title of hero. Just as you may never have thought of them under the title of saints.
Each time I reread Pope Francis spiritual testament “Rejoice and Be Glad” I find something new (yet old) and uplifting in an age in which we desperately need heros. As we prepare to celebrate the twin feasts of All Saints and All Souls I am drawn back to his phrase “the saints’ next door.”
“The Saints Next Door” and The “middle class” of holiness.
Of course, we can and should celebrate the giants of our faith, those who have been beatified and canonized. But Pope Francis reminds us very explicitly that we need to celebrate the ordinary heroes in our lives or those he calls “the saints next door.”
7. I like to contemplate the holiness present in the patience of God’s people:
in those parents who raise their children with immense love,
in those men and women who work hard to support their families,
in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.
In their daily perseverance I see the holiness of the Church militant. Very often it is a holiness found in our next-door neighbours, those who, living in our midst, reflect God’s presence. We might call them “the middle class of holiness”.
The “big picture” of their lives
He continues “Holiness is the most attractive face of the Church.” But what is this holiness?
“Each in his or her own way” the (Second Vatican) Council says. We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us. The important thing is that each believer discern his or her own path, that they bring out the very best of themselves, the most personal gifts that God has placed in their hearts (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), rather than hopelessly trying to imitate something not meant for them. We are all called to be witnesses, but there are many actual ways of bearing witness.
To recognize the word that the Lord wishes to speak to us through one of his saints, we do not need to get caught up in details, for there we might also encounter mistakes and failures. Not everything a saint says is completely faithful to the Gospel; not everything he or she does is authentic or perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.
What is your word to those you love … and to those who hurt you
23. This is a powerful summons to all of us. You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.
24. May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life. Let yourself be transformed. Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission. The Lord will bring it to fulfilment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens.
8. Let us be spurred on by the signs of holiness that the Lord shows us through the humblest members of that people which “shares also in Christ’s prophetic office, spreading abroad a living witness to him, especially by means of a life of faith and charity”.
This All Saints Day and All Souls Day let us pray in gratitude for the heroes and saints next door in our lives!
This extraordinary journey began as a followup to his confirmation catechesis in our parish, St. Joseph’s in Colon, Panama. Then on to two World Youth Days, a ministry as Executive Secretary for Youth Ministry for the Panama Bishops Conference, and most recently an opportunity to actually hug Pope Francis! A moment he never dreamed of… and will never forget!
Mr. Yithzak Gonzalez was formed by our Vincentian confreres Alcibiades Guerra and Juan Aviles in St. Joseph Parish. I am sure they did not expect such a journey when they asked him, as a followup to his Confirmation catechesis, to form a youth group. Such are the ways of Providence.
Yitzhak participated in the XV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, along with Bishop Ochogavia and Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, OAR, bishop Diocese of David. As an official Auditor, he was given the opportunity to address the synod. (We are attempting to get his text.)
Earlier, at the conclusion of the preparatory meeting for the Synod on Palm Sunday, he was privileged to hand the final document to Pope Francis. On this occasion, he not only took a ‘selfie’ with the Pope but even asked the Pope for permission to hug him. Pope Francis readily said yes.
Of the actual Synod he said, “In many countries of Latin America, the culture of discarding is lived, where young people are left aside and in some local churches the voices of young people are not taken into account, but here in the Synod it has resounded the voice of young people, and the Bishops have heard our voices.”
He was delighted when Superior General Fr. Tomaz Mavric CM extended an invitation to the Vincentian Film Festival.
Among the renovation projects in Colón expected to be finished for World Youth Day is the renovation of the Cathedral built in the 1930’s, gothic style. Yitzhak was also instrumental in the request of the bishop for a relic of Vincent de Paul for the Cathedral.
Yitzhak was named by the Episcopal Conference in January 2018 as Executive Secretary for Youth Ministry. Yitzhak has taken a year off from his regular employment in the Colón Free Zone to help organize World Youth Day. He and his fiancé still participate regularly at our parish.
St. John’s University continues to foster the next generation Vincentian Family Leaders.
Three St. John’s University students who serve as members on the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Executive Board attended the Society’s 2018 National Assembly this past summer in San Diego, CA. They gathered with more than 700 Vincentians from across the country to commemorate the theme, “One Society Serving in Hope.”
“I welcomed the opportunity to meet people from all over the world who share my passion,” said Caitlin Capri Neier, Vice President of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on the Queens, NY, campus, and an Ozanam Scholar majoring in Adolescent Education in The School of Education. “I feel so blessed and excited to begin implementing what we learned at the assembly at our conference here at St. John’s. One of the greatest feelings is knowing that I’m never alone; I will always have my Vincentian family.”
They collaborated with other youth and young adult Vincentians who share their passion for serving those in need. At a variety of workshops, the group focused on brainstorming ways to increase membership and emphasize diversity among this population in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
This year, one of the goals of St. John’s University’s chapter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is to promote and incorporate the importance of diversity and inclusion within the student body. Members have been networking with other organizations on campus and promoting the Society of St. Vincent de Paul as an inclusive Society that serves and welcomes all.
Students listened to a keynote address from Rev. Aidan R. Rooney, C.M., Vice President for Mission Integration at Niagara University, on “Embracing the World: What would Frédéric Do (WWFD)?”. The group analyzed a letter written by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and were asked to connect what he said about doing for others to the society we live in today. Hosffman Ospino, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Hispanic Ministry and Religious Education at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, presented an informational session on “US Catholicism in the 21st Century,” in which he addressed the needs of the changing world.
All youth and young adults who attended the assembly participated in a day of service at PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) in San Diego, CA. They packed toiletry bags and bags of food, prepared sandwiches for lunch, sorted and organized clothes in the thrift store, and helped at an ice cream social. At PATH, clients can get support in employment, outreach, housing navigation, and interim housing.
Fr. Tom Mckenna of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission, in a post that originally appeared on FamVin, reflects on our obstacles to listening.
“On Listening” (Luke 11: 16, 29-31)
One of the most gratifying compliments is to hear that you listen well. It conveys another’s feeling that something of his or her inner self has gotten through, that not just the words but the deeper resonances of those words have registered. Shallow listening habits are many and include such things as claiming the other’s experience (“That happened to me too and I know all about it”), not tuning into the feeling under the person’s voice, concluding that you’ve heard it all before, being mentally elsewhere, and so on. Fuller listening takes practice, discipline, openness, and a willingness to drop preconceptions.
In Luke’s gospel especially, Jesus praises listening and is critical of its opposite. The Pharisees have been after him for a “sign,” some clear-as-day revelation of God’s power. And Jesus goes back at them for their tone-deafness to the sounds of God ringing through their ears right then and there. He cites Jonah whose preaching in the streets of Nineveh caught the hearts of the hard-hearted citizens of that town. He brings up this foreigner Queen who when she walked into Solomon’s court dropped her certainties and let herself be moved by the graciousness of his wisdom. But now this God-filled person in their midst, Jesus himself, speaks God’s Word directly to them — and it bounces off. How is it that people so close up to the human presence of God can miss the force of his words and actions?
It’s a question for anyone who would follow close behind the Lord Jesus. What preoccupations deaden our hearing to the words he speaks — and The Word he is?
There’s what we might call over-familiarity. Because we’ve heard these gospel stories countless times over, it’s a temptation to think there’s little newness left in them. But as carriers of God’s limitless word, they have a depth and scope that always reaches out beyond our full comprehension. New situations in person’s life can shake new meanings out of these texts. New conditions in society can unlock significance previously missed. Plain old growing older causes a listener to hear these proclamations from this different ledge in life. Listened to with care, Gospel words can peel back the filters familiarity pastes on them.
Another is insufficient preparation, not getting ready. It’s been age old Christian practice to do things like: slow down one’s breathing, put oneself in the presence of God, express thanksgiving, ask the Spirit for openness, visualize the gospel scene, etc. Heartfelt listening requires a shift of consciousness, a move away from what’s taking my immediate attention to attune to what is being said. The hectic, hyper-connected pace of modern living raises the ante here. Not to slow down before approaching the Word of God most often blunts its impact and deadens its saving sound.
A third is having too narrow an expectation of where the Word is being spoken. For sure that saving message comes in the Scriptures and through the sacraments and religious reading. But as the Creator’s very presence, it shows itself in many more places. Vincent for one could read God’s writing on the hearts of the neglected of his time. Thomas Aquinas could decipher it in the writings of people outside the pale of Christianity. Theresa of Avila caught its demands in her work of organizing and stabilizing. Pope Francis detects it not only in the riches of nature but also in the emergency rooms of this world. God’s Word plays in ten thousand places, says the poet, and the effort to listen with a wider hearing is the call Jesus issues all through his ministry.
It’s those two distraught people walking the Emmaus road who put a face on Luke’s lesson. Tempted to “know it all” even before the Stranger begins to explain, they hold back and strain to keep their ears open to what he says. Doing that, they are soon enough opening their hearts to Who He is.