YOU DID IT TO ME
International Lay Missionaries of Charity
Volume 6 Number 1 Jan/Feb 2007
L S F (Laudetur Sacra Familia)
17 January 2007, St. Anthony Abbot
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
For the LMCs, the year two-thousand and nine is the jubilee year, as on 16 April 2009 the LMCs complete 25 years of its existence. It is Thursday within the octave of Easter. The preparations for the jubilee year will begin on 16 April 2008, which is Wednesday in the fourth week of Easter. It is necessary for us to plan the jubilee year properly and much in advance. In fact we may start to reflect on it and may begin to bring forward valuable suggestions: the theme for the jubilee year, the way of celebrating the jubilee, etc. The celebrations can be in the local, national and international levels.
In the first place it has to be a year of thanksgiving to God for the gift of the LMC movement, for Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, for her fidelity, generosity and thirst for souls until her last breath, for all the LMCs in the world, for those who have been with the Movement from the beginning.
It is also a time to ask pardon for all our sins, negligence, tepidity, indifference, coldness, pride and other sins committed against our vows of chastity, poverty, obedience and wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor, including the members of our families and the LMC movement. There is so much to be sorry for, and so much more to be grateful to God.
It is absolutely necessary for us to plan and prepare properly for this great event for the LMCs of the world, so that with one heart, soul, mind and strength, we can thank the Almighty God for the ineffable gift of our LMC vocation and our Movement as a whole.
LMC MOVEMENT IS A GIFT:
In this preparation it is necessary that all LMCs of whatever stage, age, place or nationality be involved as it must be a year of renewal, of reconciliation, reparation, restoration and of resolution (see the Fr. Sebastian’s letter on Epiphany 2006). This renewal must take place on all levels: individual, group, national and international.
Since its renewal is so vital in all levels of the lives of the LMCs in order to grow in holiness, to persevere in their vocation, to help others to do the same by words and by example, the movement is in need of holy, generous, dedicated and convinced LMC animators, who are not only to preach and teach by their words but by their example, by the catching force, by the sympathetic influence of what they do, by the evident fullness of the love their hearts bear to Jesus.
There are two kinds of preparations: remote and proximate. We now begin with the former.
REMOTE PREPARATION begins with the forming of an International Committee consisting of all National Links, National Spiritual Directors, and various International linguistic Links: Italian, English and Spanish.
The Committee will meet in Rome from Wednesday 30th May to Sunday 3rd June 2007. Those who require a visa to come to Rome for this meeting must soon contact us in Rome to send you the necessary Letters of invitation duly signed by the Vatican Secretary of State. Please make every effort to be present for this meeting. We have so much to plan and prepare and see together how to organize, where and when. In the meantime let us pray very fervently and assiduously.
This Committee meeting is the first step in the remote preparation, during which we can speak and plan the entire year of preparation. This is the reason why we must hold this meeting at our earliest opportunity.
Place: "Casa Serena", Via S. Agapito, 8 – 00177 ROMA, Italy.
Persons represented: International Links, International Secretary, National Links, National Spiritual Directors, special consulters,…etc.
The Theme: How to prepare the Jubilee Year 16th April 2008 to 16th April 2009.
Let us pray much. Love and prayers.
God bless you.
Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.
25 January 2007, Conversion of St Paul
Yearning for God, Yearning for Holiness
On a Friday morning in a small Chapel in Sao Paolo, Brazil, I was in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. The word "holy" began to flash my mind for a long time and I did not know why it was happening and what to do with it, although the Lord had put into me the desire to become holy ever since I can remember through my beloved mother who too wanted to be holy. I also know that I have still miles to go; it is like someone who wants to reach the top of MountEverest and is still at its bottom. However, I could not ignore the reality and so I took the word "holy" and began to see what those letters could stand for.
H - Humility. The word "holy" has four letters. The first letter is "H". I began to reflect on this letter and what it could stand for. I realized that if I have to be holy I must start with humility. I went through the lives of the saints I knew, but I could not find that any of the saints I knew were proud. Precisely what made them saints was that they firmly believed and were convinced that without God they could not become holy, could not do the work of God, and could not live a life of holiness.
What is humility? The word "humus" in Latin means ground, earth. Here St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation on humility is important. He says humility is to believe that whatever is good in me comes from God. This includes even the place of birth, as I have not chosen it, but the good God gave me the place of birth. I did not choose my parents, but they are God’s gift to me. I should therefore thank God for them and pray for them more fervently and assiduously, especially if I did not have a good relationship with my parents. Little by little I come to realize that everything and everyone is a gift of God and I must become more and more grateful to Him.
Besides, the many gifts and talents that one may have, the education one has received, all are to be recognized as God’s gifts and are to be used and shared with others. Humility does not mean that we should deny the truth, but make clear the holiness of God through our gifts.
Blessed Mother Teresa used to say that it is easy to understand the greatness of God, but it is more difficult to understand the humility of God. How could a God, who is so inscrutable, become man, born of a woman, born under the law of nature and accept all the vicissitudes of this earthly life and existence? He even went so far as to tell us to learn humility from him, as he is meek and humble of heart. (cf. Mt. 11: 30)
St. Thomas of Aquinas says that humility is built on two pillars: truth and justice. The truth, he says, is that whatever is good in us comes from God; and justice means to give, therefore, all honour and glory to God. This means to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and give to God what is God’s. In other words all glory and honour belong to God. Blessed Teresa of Kolkata is an example for us here. She received so many awards and honorary doctorates, which amount to seven hundred. But nothing made her feel that they were due to her cleverness or intelligence or capacity or power. She received them. She was very aware that it was He and not she; it was His and not hers. So, all honour and glory went directly to God, including the prestigious Nobel Prize for peace on 10 December 1979. Besides, she accepted all awards and honours in the name of the poor for the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
Humility is very vital in the life of anyone who aspires to holiness, which, of course, is not a luxury of the few anymore but the simple duty of each one of us. "Be holy, for the Lord, your God, is holy." (Lv 19: 2)
St. Augustine is a master in explaining the virtue of humility. Consider the testimony of the following text: "…there is no coming to unity without humility; there is no love without the openness of humble patience. Where humility reigns, there is love."
For St. Augustine humility is not just one virtue among others; it is, in the full sense of the word, a basic virtue. In this way humility is the fertile soil for Charity.
St. Augustine writes: "I would wish that you place yourself with all your love under Christ, and that you pave no other way in order to reach and to attain the truth that has already been paved by him who, as God, knows the weakness of our steps. This way is, in the first place, humility; in the second place, humility; in the third place humility…As often as you ask me about the Christian religion’s norms of conduct, I choose to give no other answer than: humility." (Letter 118, 3, 22)
It is very clear that pride is the great enemy, great adversary, of humility. All the positive qualities of humility are mirrored negatively in pride. St. Augustine writes again: "To the extent that we are freed from the malignant swelling, which is called pride, we are filled with love."
St. Augustine even dares to assert that "God’s hatred for pride is so strong that he would rather see humility in evil deeds than pride in good deeds." (Sermon on Psalm 93, 15)
In religious life, love and humility are decisive, and without them the religious life is worthless. St. Augustine declared that it is better to possess a fortune outside the religious community than to go through life as a proud religious! Speaking of the celibate state of life, he says: "It is much better to be married and humble than celibate and proud." (On Holy Virginity, 51, 52)
When I joined the seminary, for sixty continual days we had to meditate on the necessity and importance of the virtue of humility…the reasons why we should be humble. At the end of two long months of meditation on humility, I then knew how to be humble…and I became proud of my humility. We can never be humble enough to think or say: "I am really a humble person". The humbler we are, the holier we become, and without it none of us will ever become holy.
O – Obedience. The next letter in the word "holy" is "O". This letter stands for obedience. Like for the word humility, here too I went through the lives of many of the canonized saints I knew, and I couldn’t find one disobedient saint being canonized. I have come to know St.Pio of Pietrelcina, one of the saints of our times. He was forbidden to celebrate the holy Mass in public for the people for two years, and he was not allowed to hear confessions, especially of women, for four years. And what did St. Pio of Pietralcina do? He did not open his mouth against the Superiors, but simply obeyed his Superiors. He knew that his Superiors could make a mistake in commanding, but he could not make a mistake in obeying, even though Jesus granted him the gift of his five sacred wounds, which were a privilege and a burden for him. The devil tried to use them against doing God’s will and thus they were going to become stumbling blocks; but instead he became all the more humble and obedient and saw in his Superiors the designs of God…like Jesus who saw the will of his Father in Pilate, when Pilate condemned him to death.
In the autobiography of St. Margaret Mary, we see Jesus telling her to obey her Superiors when her Superior did not easily accept what Jesus had been telling St. Margaret. He told her: "Listen, my child, satan is furiously trying to destroy you, but as long as you obey your Superior he is powerless over you."
Imagine, if our Lady refused to listen to the Angel Gabriel, what would have happened to the Incarnation? But she, without knowing what could happen to her, said in sheer faith: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me as you say." (Lk 1: 38) See, St. Joseph, how disturbed he was and how he wanted to divorce Mary in secret when he found out that she was with child. He could have exposed Mary to public shame, and our Lady could have been stoned to death. But Joseph, a just and upright man, unwilling to put her to shame, finally accepted the will of God revealed to him through a dream. (cf. Mt 1: 19) In both cases, it was the Angel who came to Joseph and also to Mary. The Gospel says: "Joseph awoke from sleep and did as the Angel of the Lord had told him. He took Mary as his wife." (Mt 1: 24)
Jesus' own words and example are very clear as well. For he says: "My food is to do the will of my Father who sent me." (Jn 4: 34) "In the days when he was in the flesh, Jesus offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learnt obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him in and through his obedience." (Heb 5: 7-9) Without obedience to God’s will and his plan no one is going to be saved. Holiness demands the obedience of Jesus: prompt, cheerful, without any questions. Jesus told Blessed Mother Teresa: "Fear not,…only obey, obey Me very cheerfully and promptly and without any questions – just only obey. I shall never leave you – if you obey." (MFG, 18)
What then is obedience? "Obedience is the wholehearted free submission of our will to God’s will and plan through a serious of intermediaries, persons, events, institutions, human authorities, written rules, customs and practices. To obey is to say "yes" to the sacred order of existence established by God in this world." (MCC Brothers’ Constitutions, R. 76)
Based on this motive there can be two ways of obeying our legitimate Superiors:
L – Love. The third letter of the word "holy" is "L". This letter has two lines: the vertical and the horizontal. Reflecting on this letter I realized that this letter with its two lines stands for the twofold commandments of the Love of God and the love of one’s neighbour. We are commanded to love God undeservedly and unconditionally and our neighbour as we love ourselves.
"Listen Israel…you MUST love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength…" (Dt 6: 4-5). Jesus joins it with the equally important commandment of loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself, which is a verse from the book of Leviticus that says: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." (Lv 19: 18b) This twofold love is not only central to human beings but also natural for them.
What makes us different from other creatures is our capacity to love and to be loved. There is no substitute for this twofold love. And this capacity is common to all human beings, may they be healthy or sick, rich or poor, Christians or non Christians, white, black or brown. Irrespective of colour, culture, religion or nationality; even those who still lead a very primitive life or very highly cultured, the essential element in all is this twofold love. A person is measured by his or her capacity to love and to be loved. The highest form of culture and the greatest degree of civilization are the culture of love and the civilization of love.
Our life on earth from the time of our conception and birth to our rebirth into heaven and our life thereafter depend upon this one reality: this twofold love of God and neighbour. They are like two sides of the same coin, inseparable from one another. No bird can fly with one wing alone, no matter how strong its one wing is. Every bird has to have two wings strong and balancing to fly. The wing of the commandment of the love of God with all one’s heart, mind, soul and strength and the equally important commandment of loving one’s neighbour as one loves oneself should balance harmoniously in our everyday life, no matter how busy we may be.
Blessed Teresa prayed various hours of the day, participated in the celebration of the Eucharist and received holy Communion every day, and then with Jesus went in haste to serve the Lord in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, the sick and the dying. "The saints – consider the example of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata", writes the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in his first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" "constantly renewed their capacity for love of neighbour from their encounter with the Eucharistic Lord, and conversely this encounter acquired its realism and depth in their service to others. Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form one single commandment, but both from the love of God who loved us first…Love grows through love. Love is "divine", because it comes from God and unites us to God; through this unifying process it makes us a "we", which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is all in all. (1 Cor 15: 18)" (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18)
Love never gets old; love is eternal. Love never gives up loving; love is never tired of loving, humanly speaking, even the unlovable, the ones I don’t like and even do not know. Love reaches out to all, embraces all, trusts all, and forgives all. Love does not brood over past injuries, but remembers the past with gratitude and with purified memories.
Love is a school where we learn to love through love. Love travels across the oceans, climbs mountains, without lamentation, without prejudices, barriers and boundaries. Love does not wait. In the school of love we learn to transcend superficial emotions; love breaks man-made walls of separation like the Berlin wall and removes the division, uniting one another. In the school of love one learns to transcend from affective love to effective love; from human love to Jesus’ love.
This happens in and through prayer, sacrifice and works of mercy. Love enters into our being through prayer and comes out of us as Charity.
Love necessarily leads us to suffering. The twofold love with its vertical and horizontal lines makes the cross. God’s love for me and my love for him is the vertical beam, and my love for my neighbour is the horizontal beam. If no cross, there is no love, and vice versa. It is impossible to love God and love one’s neighbour without suffering, some pain, some sacrifice of time, personal interest, likes and dislikes, superficial feelings and emotions.
Love necessarily leads to suffering. Suffering then is the natural, necessary and spontaneous expression of love. Take the example of a good mother. How much she has to suffer from conception to birth and until the child becomes more or less independent; but the mother does not count the cost nor goes on telling everybody of her inconveniences and hardships of bringing a child into the world, educating him to stand on his feet. We all have wonderful experiences of our mother’s love and tender care. If we genuinely love a person, then we do not calculate the difficulties and hardships in mathematical terms.
"God loved the world so much that he gave his only begotten Son without counting the cost, so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life." (Jn 3: 16) Jesus in turn loved us to the very end. (cf. Jn 13: 1) "Greater love than this no man has that a man lay down his life for his friends." (Jn 15: 13) This is love without limits and without counting the cost.
I can go on speaking about the love, which makes us become what we are and what we are meant to be. In this context it may be very helpful for us to really study the first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI on love, "Deus Caritas Est", "God is Love". This means, with God and in God I can continue to love and live in love, grow in love, and become God’s love for others, his presence and compassion to all. This is what the saints did. They became God’s love for the poor, the sick, the lepers, the dying. The invisible God becomes visible today through works of love and Charity. "Where Charity and love prevail, there God is ever found." "If you see Charity, you see Trinity." (St. Augustine)
I also realize that it is easier to write about love and Charity than to live a life of love and to practice Charity. Let us prayerfully read the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians (ch. 13: 1-13).
Y – Yearning. Now we come to the fourth and last letter in the word "holy". Here I could not easily find the proper word that would fit to complete the word "holy" and make sense in the context. After I prayed hard and begged the Holy Spirit to illumine me to find the right word, I was shown the right word and that word Yearning. This yearning is very vital for anyone who aspires to the heights of holiness. This word can be equivalent to the word "Thirst" or "Longing" or "Desire". It matters very little here which word we use to express the same reality, as long as one has the real yearning for God, thirst for holiness, etc. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for holiness…" (Mt 5: 6)
The word "yearning" can be used to express two essential elements on the path of holiness:
Prayer as yearning of the human heart for God.
Yearning for holiness.
Prayer as yearning. There is more than one psalm that expresses this reality of the human heart for God. Psalm 42 is an example of how the psalmist expressed his deep desire for God in prayer. He prays, and together with him the Church wants us to pray:
"Like the deer that yearns for running streams,
So my soul is yearning for you, my God." (Ps 42: 1)
Psalm 63 is another example. Who can really quench the insatiable thirst for God? Not only our soul but our whole being pines for God:
O God, you are my God, for you I long:
For you my soul is thirsting,
My body pines for you,
Like a dry, weary land without water." (Ps 63: 1)
No wonder then that Psalm 63 is the first psalm for Morning Prayer on every solemnity and feast. Every saint during his life on earth longed for God with all his heart, mind, soul and strength, even when his soul went through thick darkness, experienced terrible loneliness and rejection. Blessed Teresa writes: "I have been on the verge of saying "No". It has been so very hard – that terrible longing keeps growing and I feel as if something will break in me one day – and then that darkness, that loneliness, that feeling of terrible aloneness. Heaven from every side is closed…gone is the love for anything and anybody – and yet – I long for God. I long to love him with every drop of life in me…My mind and heart is habitually with God." (Blessed Teresa’s letter to Cardinal Picachy S.J., 20 October 1960)
The saints live always with God; they walk with him, travel with him, work with him and for him; they speak with him. Their mind and heart are habitually with God. Isaiah writes: "My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you." (Is 26: 9) Their souls yearn for God in the night and as morning breaks they watch for his coming.
According to St. Augustine, the yearning of the human heart for God, the insatiable nostalgia is the heart of all true prayer. Without deep yearning, there is no true prayer, even when one can be in the Chapel for many hours and praying a lot of formal prayers. "Longing is always at prayer, even though the tongue is silent. If your yearning is constant, then you are always praying. When does our prayer sleep? Only when our desire cools." (St. Augustine, Sermon 80, 7)
Even though prayer of the heart is the most important, this does not make verbal prayer superfluous. "In faith, hope and love we are always praying with uninterrupted longing. But at particular hours and times we entreat God also with words so that, through these verbal signs of the reality we may impel ourselves to greater effort, help ourselves become aware of how much progress we have made in this desire, and rouse ourselves to grow in it with greater vitality…Therefore at certain times, we call our spirit back to prayer from the other cares and activities, which in some way cloud our yearning.". (St. Augustine, Letter 130: 9, 18) There should be real harmony of word and heart in every form of prayer.
This yearning of the human heart, which St. Augustine calls "desiderium naturale" – "natural desire", is common to all saints and must be a common denominator for everyone who aspires to greater holiness. How can I be perfect or merciful or holy as our heavenly Father is perfect, merciful and holy if I do not yearn for it like the saints did? God’s friends become the saints’ friends and they love and take care of all those God loves and wants to take care of. They know that their inner dynamism, the driving force, does not come from them, but from the Lord, whom they want to proclaim by their words and example. Without this deep yearning no one can become a saint. In the words of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata: "I want, I will, with God’s help, be holy."
Yearning for holiness. Without this strong desire and deep yearning one cannot become holy. Even though all are called to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, no one is going to become automatically holy or perfect. This inner longing for holiness is at the same time the strong desire to resemble God in his holiness. God wants us to make clear his holiness by the life we live and the work we do.
The real yearning is found in the heart of God who yearns for each individual soul created in his own image and likeness. He creates in each person a corresponding thirst or yearning for him. To express it graphically, let us take the example of the magnet and a piece of iron. The magnet has the power to attract the piece of iron and the iron has the capacity to be attracted by the magnet. God is the powerful magnet who draws us to him; and we are like pieces of iron drawn to him. Our capacity to be drawn to God is our thirst, our yearning or longing for God. This capacity to be attracted is not something passive but dynamic. As God is thirsty, he is in love with every human being; he creates the same thirst in each one of us for him and for souls, as long as we are in contact with Jesus. Jesus wants to suffer in us for souls, as he can no longer suffer alone without us. "I am longing with painful longing to be all for God", writes Blessed Teresa, "to be holy in such a way that Jesus can live his life to the full in me…I want to love him as he has never been loved…I did not know that love could make one suffer so much."
Conclusion – In this short itinerary we made we come to realize that the word "holy" can be explained and understood much more deeply. The more we understand the sublime beauty of the reality of this holiness, which is a participation in the holiness of God, the more we appreciate and try to live it as best as we can. No wonder Jesus speaks of the parable of the pearl the merchant bought: "The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When he found one really valuable pearl, he went back and put up for a sale all that he had and bought it." (Mt 13: 45-46)
Among God’s creation, human beings alone can become better and holier. Even the angels remain what they are. As long as we live in the world, we can grow in holiness and can resemble our Creator more closely and more perfectly. "Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy."(Lv. 19: 2)
God bless you.
Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala M.C.
MISSIONARIES OF CHARITY
54/A A.J.C. Bose road
Calcutta 700016 W.B.
Our dear Lay Missionaries of Charity of India,
With this letter I send you warm greetings and a promise to be with you in spirit through prayer as you gather in Pune for your National Convention. May these days of prayer and meetings be a source of grace for each of you.
The presence of our dear Father Sebastian M.C. and that of the Spiritual Directors of various groups of LMC will bring you new hope and courage to live your vocation of LMC with greater love and dedication.
Here are some of our dearest Mother’s words to you, her beloved children – the Lay Missionaries of Charity:
"Thank God for all you are to Jesus through the Lay Missionaries of Charity. Fidelity to growing into a soul of prayer is the beginning of great holiness. If we remember that what we do to Jesus is what we do to each other, we would be real contemplatives in the heart of the world. Let us learn to pray andwork as Jesus did for 30 years in Nazareth…That peace, joy and unity that joined the Holy Family together to pray and work is such a wonderful living example to us. They grow in holiness together .Let us learn from Mary to pray and ask her to pray that your home will be another Nazareth."
May I also take this opportunity to thank each of you for all the help and support you are to us. Our<gratitude is our prayer for you and your families.
Let us also thank God for the gift of our charism to our Mother and through Mother to each one of us – that as a family we are united to quench the infinite Thirst of Jesus on the Cross for love and for souls.
God bless you.
Sr. Nirmala M.C.
+ LSF (Laudetur Sacra Familia)
Dearest LMC brothers and sisters:
On behalf of our beloved founder, Fr. Sebastian, M.C., LMC Secretary General, Gianna Tommasi in Rome, and all the LMC family around the world, this brings you loving greetings and wishes for health, happiness and every grace and blessing in the NewYear.
In reviewing the events of this past year it becomes clear that a lot has happened that we can be thankful for and so much is being planned for this and the next few years leading up to the LMC 25th Jubilee in 2009.
Fr. Sebastian has urged us to: "Remember the Past with Gratitude, Look to the Future with Confidence, and Live the Present with Enthusiasm!" Let us strive do just that and remember with gratitude all that is past and all that is to come! Let us be especially thankful for all Fr. Sebastian has done for us and is continuing to do for us. This past year alone, in addition to sending us numerous letters of spiritual guidance, he was also present in person with so many of the LMC/MC family as he led Retreats around the world: in Canada, Italy, Australia, Spain, India, Israel, Albania and other places.
"Look to the Future with Confidence..."
+ An LMC Retreat with Fr. Sebastian is planned for May 9th to 12th, 2007, at "Our Lady of the
Snows Shrine" in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.. (Further details elsewhere in this Newsletter.)
+ A Jubilee Planning Committee meeting is scheduled for May 30th to June 3rd, 2007 in Rome.
(For National Links and International Secretary and Coordinators. See Fr. Sebastian’s letter.)
+ The 25th LMC Jubilee Year will be from April 16th, 2008 until April 16th, 2009, concluding with
a Jubilee week of Retreat and General Chapter April 14th – 22nd, 2009 in Rome.
"Live the Present with Enthusiasm!"
Then there are so many other local Retreats and ongoing events happening in various LMC groups around the world. I want to encourage the Links, once again, to send your news and information on upcoming events to our Newsletter editor, Bob Dirgo. E-mailBobdirgo@hotmail.com
In the last few Newsletters Adolfo Costa, LMC (Parma, Italy) reported at length on his project of preparing LMC Formation booklets and asked for our help. He needs our personal stories illustrating our experiences of serving Jesus in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor that answer the question: "When did you do it to Me? When I was thirsty, did you give Me to drink? Hungry, did you give Me to eat? Sick or in prison did you come to visit Me? In other words, please send Adolfo a brief example of some occasions of when and how you practiced Charity. You can remain anonymous if you prefer and send it in English or any other language. Adolfo’s E-mail address is:Adolfo.Costa@yahoo.com
In France, Fabienne and Jean-Claude Bastide, LMCs (International Links for a number of years) have started a ‘blog’ translating some of the LMC materials into French for the benefit of the French-speaking LMC family in Canada as well as in Africa and other places. To access it please key in the following:http://famillebastide.un-seul-coeur.com/useful
Now let me share some news from our dearest Msgr. Joseph Flusk, (LMC National Spiritual Director for the U.S. and Canada for many years). Many of us have been praying for him, as he’s been very ill. He is now home from hospital and I reached him by phone a few days ago. It was a real joy to hear his voice. His heart may be weak but his voice was surprisingly strong! He told me that the latest news from his Doctors was good and that he is feeling a bit better and was happy to be home again. He thanked everyone for their prayers and said he had been quite overwhelmed with all the letters and phone calls from the LMC family.
Msgr. Flusk has been a real blessing to us over the years. While still the Pastor of a large and busy parish, he used to encourage us in our LMC journey with frequent spiritual direction letters. He also wrote a series of commentaries on the LMC Statutes. Then there were the many LMC Retreats he led or participated in both nationally and internationally: in Rome, in Lourdes, in Vancouver and other places, all the while being Spiritual Director for the LMCs in New Jersey.
I often remember something that happened at the Retreat with Msgr. Flusk in Vancouver about ten years ago. We got into a long-winded discussion about ‘prayer’ versus ‘work’. Some insisted that we should be only "contemplatives" as the LMC movement grew out of the M.C.Contemplative Brothers branch of the Missionaries of Charity family. Others insisted that "faith without works is dead..." and so the work should take precendence. Round and round and back and forth we went while Msgr. Flusk listened very patiently. Finally he said: "Look, don’t be preoccupied with the work; don’t even be preoccupied with the prayer, but BE PRAYER!"
Please continue to pray for Msgr. Flusk and all our Spiritual Directors around the world especially those who are suffering in some way. If you would like to send a message to Msgr. Flusk, his address is:
P.O. Box 66, Beachwood, N.J., U.S.A. 08722
These days we are also being reminded to pray for Christian Unity. Unity not only in ‘the Body of Christ, the Church’ but in every area of our lives. First of all unity in our own family, our extended family, our parish family and in a special way our LMC/MC family. If we are honest we will admit that it is not always easy. It is so easy to be uncharitable, (as Blessed Mother Teresa often used to say) to sow discord and disunity, to go our own way, ‘do our own thing’, as the saying goes. Fr. Sebastian has told us more than a few times "We are all potential apostates..." To be united and stay united requires prayer, perseverance, charity, humility, in short: magnanimity!
In the most beautiful, sublime prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of St. John.Ch.17: 21 he beseeched His Father, "That they may all be one as You are in Me and I in You, that they may also be one in Us..."
Through God’s providence the MCs and LMCs have spread to all the continents and LMCs are active in more than 40 countries, comprising many cultures and languages. And yet we all profess the same Holy Catholic Faith, the four MC vows and strive to live the MC Charism according to our LMC Statutes. May God grant us the desire to be and stay united: to choose not what is easy but what is GOOD. And may Blessed Mother Teresa pray for us and help us to follow in her footsteps.
With much love and prayers, in union with the Holy Family, each other and all the Holy Saints and Angels,
Your sister in Christ, Ann Burridge, lmc - for the LMC family
Dear LMC family-
Thank you for sharing in this beautiful and graced life.
I hold each of you in my heart and in my prayers, and join with you in your joys and in your sorrows, as we are truly, a family.
A family friend was in conversation with me on the life of tge Lay Missionaries of Charity. She listened deeply to who we are , and what we do, and why we exist in the life of the Church. She shared her response to our life by noting these keystones, as she percieved in listening of who we are, and they principally are of the life of the Holy Family . Perhaps some facet of these thoughts will be a point of reflection, or an echo in your soul:
How we live our lives, who we are, our very being, our joy, is "a net to catch souls". May our joy increase, for the sake of others.
May we live our lives in contemplation, patience, trust, gratitude, and the outward flow of service ,
putting the other first in our hearts and in our actions.
We are like stones in a river, a united river, each strengthing the course of of the flow of grace to many people.
Our prayer is that in our harmony, in our unity, in our union with Christ, we bear much fruit.
"An invisible link binds us all in the heart of God."
with love and prayers and a smile,
your sister in Christ,
Laurie Dwyer lmc Connecticut USA
December 6, 2006 St. Nicholas
Greetings in the Holy Family of Nazareth, to the LMC’s in Canada and around the world! May the blessings of the Advent Season fill our hearts with light and make us holy, to love and serve Jesus in our families and in the poor. We have had a wonderful year 2006 in Canada, being blessed with two retreats with Fr. Sebastian, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto in June. They were both well attended and people mentioned that they were very touched by the spiritual atmosphere in the days together. Thank you to Fr. Sebastian and Gianna for coming to us. In Canada, we now have 18 professed LMC’s, 6 in formation, and 9 come and sees, one of which has just asked to enter formation in Toronto. The new come and sees seem to be blessed with a generous spirit and enthusiasm for learning the MC charism, and it is a joy to work with them. We welcome them to the family and look forward to growing together with them. Anne and Vincent Carroll left in October to Rome to help in the Casa Serena. They are living in our Motherhouse, there. We keep them in our prayers and wish them a holy and Happy Christmas Season with our beloved Fr. Sebastian and the Brothers. Let us pray and work diligently for the safety and protection of the family unit in Canada, and indeed in the whole world, in the society today. Let us each make a deep commitment to our own families and to helping those near us to come to know and love Jesus as he comes to us in his wonderful birth in Bethlehem and in his visitation to each of us in our hearts, perpetually. I pray for each of you that the Holy Family will touch the hearts of all your loved ones and show you God’s "new creation" unfolding as we all grow towards him this Christmas Season.
God bless you always.
Imelda Buckley, LMC National Link for Canada
Greetings of peace and joy to all of you in this holy season of Advent, from the LMC group of Paris (France).
This year we renewed our vows on Saturday 7th of October at the soup kitchen of the MC Sisters in Paris in presence of Fr. Pignel our Spiritual Director.On Friday 6th some of us had praid the hour of the Divine Mercy in one of our parish and after Mass at 9PM had our monthly night of adoration, as every 1st Friday of the month ( you can be in union of prayer with us and also send us intentions by mail :famille bastide @free.f). On Saturday Fr.Pignel preached us a retreat on the theme: « Come be my light. »before the vows.
It comes to our memory that in 1993 we had proposed to meet in the prayer at 3o'clock PM local time (doesn't matter the difference of time ), even a few minutes and especially on Friday and the 1st Friday of the month: hour of « I thirst, MC hour, hour of the Divine Mercy. We propose it again to become: » One Heart full of Love in the Sacred Heart of Jesus through the immaculate heart of Mary », as blessed Mother Teresa asked us to be.
Happy and Holy Christmas
with all our love and prayer
Fabienne, Jean-Claude, Hélène, Karine, Michèle, Jacqueline, Marguerite et Benoîte
P.S.Jean-Claude and Fabienne Bastide informed the LMC's of French language that they opened a blog called: famillebastide.un-seul-coeur.com/index.php/c in which they insert little by little translations in French of the documents about LMC's written by Fr. Sebastian
Retreat and Pilgrimage
Lay Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snow
May 9-12, 2007
"Great holiness is simple if we belong completely to Mary. Let us go to Her with great love and trust. We will ask Jesus to deepen our love for His mother and to make it more personal and intimate, so as to love Her as He loved Her." Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
The aim of this retreatis to ask Jesus to help you to personalize your love for Mary.
Retreat Master: Father Sebastian Vazhakala, MC, Founder & Spiritual Director
For 30 years Fr. Sebastian Vazhakala worked closely with Blessed Teresa co-founding with her the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative and founding the Lay Missionaries of Charity. He is the superior general of the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative. "She has always been a mother to me," he has said, "we always remained very close."
The Missionary Image of Our Lady Of Guadalupe blessed and touched to the original tilma at the Shrine in Mexico City with the papal blessing of Pope John Paul II in Rome will be with us that weekend.
Where: The National Shrine Arrival: Wednesday Registration 3:00pm
Of Our Lady of the Snow Wednesday Dinner 6:00pm
451 South De Mazenod Drive Mass 8:00pm
Belleville, IL 62223-1022 Departure: Saturday 2:00pm
Phone: (618) 397-6700 or 1-800-682-2879 www.snows.org
Cost: Room & Meals (Wednesday-Saturday)
Each room will be furnished with 2 queen size beds and bath.
One person (single rooms are limited) $270
Two people per room $190 per person
Three people per room $170 per person
Four people per room $150 per person
A $50 registration fee is required. Please return your non-refundable deposit of $50 per person by April 2nd.
Donations will be accepted to defray Father’s travel expenses.
Ada Cross’ phone: 314-481-5789 or 314-662-4272
REGISTRATION FORM (please print)
Please make check payable to: Ada Cross and return this registration form and check to: Ada Cross, LMC, 6229 Kinsey Place, Saint Louis, MO 63109
MAP/DIRECTIONS TO THE NATIONAL SHRINE
Our airport name is Lambert International Airport (STL) in St. Louis, Missouri. For those of you who are flying in for this retreat, please let us know the details of your flights.
If your flight comes in before 2:30pm on Wednesday, we will be glad to pick you up. After 2:30pm, you need to have your own transportation to the retreat. You can call
H & G Transportation at 1-800-294-4427 for a pick up at the airport after 2:30pm.
Give yourself at least 45 minutes from the airport to the retreat center depending on the traffic.
On Saturday we will all be glad to take you back to the airport after the retreat is over.
I-70 east to I-55 N/ I-64 E / I-70 E / US-40 E toward Illinois (Eads Bridge crossing into Illinois)
I-64 E to I-255 S to I-15 S (Exit 17-A)
Turn right onto S De Mazenod Drive
From I-55 and I-44 from the south:
I-55 N or I-44 E toward I-70 E / Illinois
(Eads Bridge crossing into Illinois)
I-64 E to I-255 S to I-15 S (Exit 17-A)
Turn right onto S De Mazenod Drive
From I-55 from the north:
I-55 S to I-255 S to I-15 S (Exit 17-A)
Turn right onto S De Mazenod Drive
Announcement – LMC Retreats - Worldwide
These are the dates of the LMC National Retreats we have been informed for the year 2007:
APRIL: SPAIN (Barcelona) - 12 to 15 April
MAY: INDIA (Darjeeling) - 2 to 6 May
U.S.A.+CANADA (St. Louis) - 9 to 13 May
MAY-JUNE: ROME, International Jubilee Committee Meeting - 30 to 3 June 2007
JULY: ITALY (La Verna) - 5 to 8 July
POLAND (Chestokowa) - 13 to 15 July
Announcement – LMC Retreat in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Msgr. John Esseff is the Retreatmaster
September 29 - October 1, 2007.
It will be in Dalton, Pennsylvania.
For more information contact:
28 Revere Road
New Milford, CT 06776
Announcement – LMC Retreat in Louisiana, U.S.A.
February 23-25, 2007
Father Michael Champagne - Retreatmaster
For more information contact: Barbara Angelle
YOU DID IT TO ME
International Lay Missionaries of Charity
Volume 6 Number 1 Jan / Feb 2007
Dear fellow LMC's:
Greetings from Akron, Ohio U.S.A. . We hope that all is well with our brother and sister LMC's and we pray the Lord's blessings upon you.
If you haven't already visited the Lay Missionaries of Charity website, it's address ishttp://www.laymc.com
There have been over fifty-five thousand visitors already who have accessed information about the LMC's. Some of the information on the site includes an explanation of "who we are" by Fr. Sebastian, the statutes, the international LMC links, letters and recorded talks from Fr. Sebastian and much more. If you've already visited the website, check back soon to see it's new look.
Discussion Forum!If you'd like to start a discussion forum but need help with the website, contact Bob Dirgo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If anyone has some additions for the website, please send them email@example.com We will add your requests to the site upon receiving approval from Fr. Sebastian.
Newsletter Submissions: LMC's everywhere. - we'd like to hear from you and include a message from your local LMC family in the newsletter. It's such a blessing to hear how the Lord is working with each and every LMC group around the world and it serves to bring us all closer together. Please submit an article for the next newsletter. The next newsletter will be distributed in May. Please send your letters and articles for the newsletter by May 1st to:
Mail to: Bob and Mary Dirgo
1093 Foxglove Circle. Email to:firstname.lastname@example.org OR
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio 44223 U.S.A. email@example.com
***National and International Links: Could you please copy this newsletter and send it to everyone in your group. Thanks.
***ALL LMC's: If you have an e-mail address, please send it to Fr. Sebastian/Gianna atMCCbrothers@libero.it
Also please send to Bob & Mary Dirgo firstname.lastname@example.org so that you can receive future newsletters by email.