Click on the links or scroll below for the text from the following articles from the September 2017 issue of The Catholic Islander:
Pictured on the cover:
The Seven Sorrows of the Virgin: the Flight into Egypt - Gemäldegalerie, Dresden
A Fruitful of Praying tke Rosary
OCT. 7 IS THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY THE JOYFUL MYSTERIES:
BY SISTER ANN SHIELDS
The rosary prayer, inspired by Mary, has 20 decades. Usually when we say we pray the rosary, we pray five of those decades each day — not all 20. However, you can, if you wish. There are five decades devoted to the joyful mysteries: the annunciation, the visitation, the birth of our Lord, the presentation of the Lord in the Temple, the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple. The five sorrowful mysteries are the agony in the garden, the scourging at the pillar, the crowning with thorns, the carrying of the cross and the crucifixion and death of the Lord. The glorious mysteries are: the resurrection of the Lord, the ascension of the Lord into heaven, the descent of the Holy Spirit, the assumption of Mary into heaven and the crowning of Mary as queen of heaven. Finally there are the luminous mysteries given to us by St. John Paul II in October 2002: the baptism of Jesus by John, the wedding feast at Cana, the proclamation of the Gospel, the transfiguration, the mystery of the Eucharist. These five are called luminous because they shed particular light on the divinity of Christ and the gifts he has bestowed on us.
THE ANNUNCIATION (LK 1:26-36):
Read this before you pray the first decade. This is the mystery describing the angel’s appearance to Mary, asking her to become the mother of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of the Father. Startled, she asks the appropriate question, but having heard the answer, she consents without hesitation. Before you pray this decade, reflect on Mary’s willingness
and obedience. I ask for God’s grace, as I pray this decade, that I would be more and more willing to do God’s will and I pray the same grace for those I love.
THE VISITATION (LK 1:39-56):
Mary has just learned something that turns her life upside down and inside out. Everything is changed — her present and her future. She needed to trust God. Then, on top of all the startling personal news, she is asked to go and visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who would be in need of womanly support and encouragement. Mary not only went; she went “with haste.” I want to be like Mary, desiring to do the Father’s will even when something doesn’t make sense or seems less important than my own personal need. Pray this decade for that intention and for those you love.
THE BIRTH OF THE LORD (LK 2:1-20):
How hard that must have been for Mary — to give birth away from family and friends, away from the help of other women; to give birth in such conditions of poverty and having experienced many refusals. How do I deal with trials and unexpected circumstances? Mary trusted God first and then what Joseph could provide. Do I trust God when circumstances are unexpected or difficult? Ask God to increase your faith and trust in him and in those for whom you pray.
The fourth and fifth joyful mysteries are the presentation of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:22-40) and the finding of the child Jesus in the Temple. (Lk 2:41-52)
From the Editor's Desk
By Father John Matthew Fewell
In His real presence
We quiet all unnecessary conversation, recognizing that we are in the presence of Almighty God -- whether visiting the church, at holy Mass, at Benediction or especially during the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
Cell phones should be ignored; the phone, silenced. Others can be greatly edified seeing how real is the presence of our God, and how he is so well adored by us.Entering and departing his real presence at any time when he is reserved in the tabernacle, we genuflect, unless it is physically impossible, harmful or painful. In those cases, you may bow or nod. A good guide is: if we are able to use the kneeler in the pew, we should genuflect — all the way to the floor — upon entering the pew or when exiting. And we should always bless ourselves by making the sign of the cross as we do so. This is evangelization that everyone can do — and is, in fact, called to do. It brings souls to Christ in the Eucharist.
By Sister Constance Veit, LSP
Let's encourage the elders in our Church
I recently participated in the Convocation of Catholic Leaders in Orlando, Fla. The purpose of this large, unprecedented encounter between U.S. bishops and laity was to study what Pope Francis has termed the “new peripheries” and to form missionary disciples. I was invited to the convocation to speak about the elderly. The 90-minute session would be the only moment when the unique needs and aspirations of seniors would be discussed.
I prayed that our panel would effectively represent the elderly as both agents and recipients of the Church’s charitable and evangelizing mission, but, as I heard more and more discussion about the “peripheries” — Pope Francis’ term for those on the margins of society — the Holy Spirit inspired me with a new and unexpected conviction.
Numerous speakers referred to immigrants and young adults as the future of the Church in the United States. As I reviewed the statistics I planned to present on the exponential aging of Western societies, I had a sudden realization. The most significant and rapidly growing demographic in the Church is not Hispanics, Asians or young adults; it is older persons!
Already, senior citizens disproportionately fill the pews of our Catholic churches and serve in large numbers in every imaginable ministry. According to well-known Catholic journalist John L. Allen, Jr., by 2030, 6.8 million additional U.S. Catholics will enter their retirement years, the stage of life when people are most likely to pray and go to church; by 2050, elderly Americans will outnumber youth by more than 16 million. Older people are not a periphery, but the mainstay, the bulwark, of our Church!
During the panel, my co-presenters and I shared our practical expertise and our convictions about the dignity of every human life and the irreplaceable roleof elders as wisdom figures with many gifts to offer. I was inspired by the commitment and compassion of those who participated in our session, but what really amazed me was how God led me to numerous encounters with inspiring older people during the rest of the convocation.
I met a retired college professor who was there to assist her daughter, a vibrant, young disabled woman who had been selected to attend the convocation. A group of widows from Florida invited me to dine with them and enthusiastically shared how their lives had been transformed through the Cursillo movement. One older couple described their experiences training generations of altar servers in their parish, and another detailed their ministry preparing engaged couples for the sacrament of marriage.
I met with several women from the Long Island-based group Catholics for Freedom of Religion (CFFOR), an initiative launched in 2012 in response to the HHS contraceptive mandate. The purpose of CFFOR is “preserving America’s First Amendment freedom of religion for our times and for ages and millions yet unborn.” The nonpartisan group establishes parish groups to educate and advocate for religious liberty according to the original intent of the U.S. Constitution. CFFOR sponsors diocesan events during the annual Fortnight for Freedom, gives presentations in parishes and schools and develops and distributes educational resources on religious freedom for schoolchildren. With the full support of their local bishop, CFFOR has already spread to five states!
As I engaged with the women of CFFOR, I recalled a homily by Pope Francis when he compared the elderly to “fine vintage wine and good bread,” and of a very recent homily in which he told 3 cardinals in Rome that they are “grandfathers” called to share their wisdom and experience and to pass on their dreams to today’s youth.
With such great numbers and so much to share, the elderly can hardly be considered a periphery in the Church. They will only become a periphery if younger generations push them aside and refuse to accept the gifts they have to offer. So, let us welcome the new embrace between young and old that Pope Francis so ardently desires!
Father Al Bradley Mission Center Dedication
More than 200 parishioners attended the opening and dedication of the Father Al Bradley Mission Center, located next to St. Mary’s Catholic School in Christiansted. The celebration included a delicious potluck dinner with Spanish, Filipino and American dishes. For many in attendance, this was the first time they had ever been inside the former St. Ann’s Convent and former Donder’s Hall.
From 1929 to 1985, St. Ann’s Convent housed ICM sisters who taught at both St. Mary’s and St. Ann’s Catholic Schools. After the convent closed in 1985, the building was used by the offices of The Catholic Islander and then-Bishop Sean O’Malley’s St. Croix offices until 1990.
Renamed Donder’s Residence after Blessed Peter Donders, CSSR, following renovations completed between 2007-2011, the building saw periods of varied use, disuse, neglect and vacancy until 2015, when the current renovations, completed in 2017, began.
The team charged with the most recent renovation had its work cut out. Led by Project Manager Sue Diverio were several young helpers — Shelia Fabio, Dahlia Babio, Habeebas O’Neill, Maryan O’Neill, and Jordi Contreras — and many adult workers, including Sjef Keularts and St. Mary’s Supervisor of Maintenance Freddie Francis. Many other local hands lent their talent and energy for this complete restoration and renovation.
Mission volunteer groups from the states soon arrived to help. A large group from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish (from Media, Pa.) has come twice: relocating the old kitchen to the first floor, creating a dining area, building new bathrooms, painting and doing extensive electrical work. Catholic Heart Work Camp (from Orlando, Fla.) sent an enthusiastic group that built a casual eating area, added lights and much more.
To date, seven different groups of mission volunteers have stayed in the house since February 2017
The primary use of the renewed facility is to house visiting mission workers for any and all Catholic projects anywhere on St. Croix, but its first new project on the list was to house the mission restoration workers themselves. And better housed they could not have been, thanks to their efforts, in the newly dedicated, Father Al Bradley Mission Center!
The Seven Sorrows of Mary
The Seven Sorrows of Mary, like the joyful, sorrowful, luminous, and glorious mysteries of the holy rosary, recount events in the divine mysteries of our salvation. These seven from among the untold number of her sorrows, recall the life of sorrow led by the most holy Mother of God; and are kept in constant memory and prayer by the Church.
How many were the actual sorrows of Mary? Beyond number. Seven is a number significant of completeness, nothing lacking. It comes to our attention first in Genesis and the story of creation, in which God rested at the completion of his work on the seventh day. Whatever could be suffered in life, she who was without sin, must have suffered deeply, especially for poor sinners, in her intimate union with God.
Born free from sin and redeemed from its curse from the moment of her creation, our holy mother was filled with Grace. Her soul, infused with such perfection, yet knowing of the unspeakable horror of sin and how it offends the good and holy God, must have suffered grievously beyond telling throughout her life on earth.
For the joy that was her life with the Word Incarnate, and the salvation that in him had come into the world; how much more, even than she endured for sinful humanity, would the queen of heaven and earth have willingly suffered!
When Our Lady of Fatima, the centennial of whose appearance to the three little shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta, we celebrate in this month, showed them how many poor sinners fall daily into hell, she asked through them, for all of humanity to pray unceasingly, to save souls from eternal loss.
The sinner who falls, unprayed for, unrepentant, into the fires of hell prefers and chooses the opposite of what Our Lady chose, in her willing and sacrificial suffering for sinners. The damned soul, rather than return the infinite love of the God who made it, would willingly suffer the most horrific ignominy and pain in the sulphurous fires of hell for all eternity.
The first sorrow of Mary was the ominous foretelling, by Simeon, the prophet of the temple in Jerusalem, of the future piercing of her immaculate heart, which would come with the suffering and death of her divine son, Jesus.
The second sorrow of Mary, was from the raging of a wicked ruler, whose public hunting down of her precious newbornbaby Jesus, and the subsequent exile it forced upon her holy family into Egypt. How the news of the holy innocents’ martyrdom at the hands of the murderous and evil king Herod must have again wounded her already wounded heart!
The third sorrow of Mary was when Jesus, a growing young man of about twelve, stayed behind listening and teaching the elders and priests in the temple, with Mary and Joseph unaware, as they returned home from the census taking that year. How those three terrible days during which holy mother and holy father searched for him, were a sign of the three days to come, during which Jesus would lay hidden in the tomb.
The fourth sorrow of Mary brought her tender and immaculate heart to breaking, over meeting her only son and savior, abused and bleeding as he dragged his heavy wooden cross along the via dolorosa, to Calvary.
At the foot of his cross, Holy Mary, Mother of God, watched him; she, weeping, yet stoic, as he died for the sins of his beloved, and her, beloved, humanity. This fifth sorrow, in ancient salvation history, was foretold in the fifth commandment of God (Ex 20:13), which forbids the murder of human life; which first and foremost forbade the murderous harm which sinful humanity perpetrated upon his only begotten son!
The sixth sorrow of Mary. When the lifeless body of Jesus came down from the cross and rested in the grieving arms of his sorrowing mother, before taking the final steps of his sacred passion borne by his grief-stricken disciples, to the tomb, Mary’s heart, torn and rent, unless sustained by divine succor, surely could not have sustained her life.
The seventh sorrow of Mary. Now completed, the number of the sorrows of Mary, as, closed and sealed, and containing the lifeless body of the son of man, the sacred body once enclosed in her spotless womb, the rock-hewn tomb lay quiet and still.
Saint of the Month
Pope St. Gregory the Great
Feast Day: September 3
“They are not Angles, but angels. They are rightly named, for their faces are angelic; and such should be the co-heirs of the angels in heaven.” These famous words from Pope St. Gregory the Great around 590 A.D., at the beginning of his papacy, were in response to hearing about the origins of some boys from Britain who had been captured and sent to Rome to be sold as slaves. He learned then that the island of Britain had not heard the Good News of the Gospel, and he vowed to change that.
From that point on, Pope St. Gregory was focused on reigniting the Church’s mission of evangelizing non-Christian people in northern Europe. The most famous mission he authorized involved a fellow Benedictine monk, St. Augustine of Canterbury, in 597 to Britain, known as the Gregorian Mission.
Although Pope St. Gregory was born into a wealthy family in 540 and his education was of the highest quality,
St. Gregory was drawn to the monastic life early on. When his father died, he converted his family’s villa to a monastery. The monastery and its church, San Gregorio Magno al Celio, are still active in Rome today, with the monastery belonging to a branch of Benedictine monks.
St. Gregory did not wish to be pope, but when his predecessor died, he reluctantly accepted the honor. As pontiff, he missed the austerity and discipline, but also the beauty and prayer life, of the monastery which he had grown to cherish.
In addition to sending out people to evangelize during his papacy, St. Gregory was known for his concern for and almsgiving to the poor. When Rome experienced a famine in the 590s, the vast expanse of papal landholdings, which were traditionally used to generate income, were instead shipped to Rome and distributed for free to those who needed food. It is said that the papal treasury was nearly empty when he died because he gave so much away to the poor.
Pope St. Gregory the Great also is considered a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion and some Lutheran churches.
By Doug Culp
What do you say when... a friend has tries praying and listening to God, but hears nothing?
In 2017, Theology 101 is focusing on the topic of evangelization. Specifically, the task is to offer some ways of approaching various questions Catholics may encounter from co-workers, family and friends regarding the practice of the faith. Of course, we must remember that nothing can replace the power of witnessing to the Good News through our own actions and words, combined with our willingness to accompany others on their faith journey.
A friend of mine said he’s tried praying and listening to God the way people have told him to do, but he hears nothing. What can I say?
A natural first step in responding to the friend’s statement would be to explore the friend’s expectations. In other words, what does he want from prayer and how does he expect God to respond? In addition, where does he expectto discover God’s response? The answers to these types of questions can help inform a fuller and more helpful response.
It is always important to honestly examine our expectations from prayer. In this case, is the friend turning to prayer because he expects God will make him rich, famous, influential or powerful? Is he hoping God will affirm his desire to escape from relationships and/or situations that are painful or difficult — that he deems no longer desirable and beneficial to his self-fulfillment? Does he want God to ratify his decision to pursue a relationship with someone other than his spouse? To escape the demands and responsibilities of family life because they stand in the way of his dreams? Or to leave a job over boredom and dissatisfaction though it might be irresponsible to do so?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
Consider prayerfully reading the following Old Testament passage:
During the time young Samuel was minister to the Lord under Eli, the word of the Lord was scarce and vision infrequent. One day Eli was asleep in his usual place. His eyes had lately grown so weak that he could not see. The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, "Here i am.' He ran to EH and said, "Here / am. You called me.” "I did not call you," Eli answered. "Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. "Here / am,” he said. "You called me.” But he answered, 7 did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
Samuel did not yet recognize the Lord, since the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here / am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went tosleep in his place, the Lord came and stood there, calling out as before: Samuel, Samuel! Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening.” The Lord said to Samuel: / am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring. On that day / will carry out against Eli everything / have said about his house, beginning to end. / announce to him that / am condemning his house once and for all, because of this crime: though he knew his sons were blaspheming God, he did not reprove them. Therefore, / swear to Eli’s house: No sacrifice or offering will ever expiate its crime. Samuel then slept until morning, when he got up early and opened the doors of the temple of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called to him, “Samuel, my son!” He replied, "Here / am." Then EH asked, "What did he say to you? Hide nothing from me! May God do thus to you, and more, if you hide from me a single thing he told you.” So Samuel told him everything, and held nothing back. EH answered, "It is the Lord. What is pleasing in the Lord's sight, the Lord will do.” (1 Sm 3:1-18)
1. What lessons are contained in this passage about hearing and recognizing the voice of God?
2. How might this passage help you respond to the friend’s plight?
3. What can this passage teach us about the importance of spiritual direction in discerning the voice of God?
Who said the following? To know the will of God three things are required -- prayer, waiting, taking counsel. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for the correct answer.)
A. St. John of the Cross
B. St. John Bosco
C. St. Teresa of Avila
D. Pope Saint Gregory the Great
SILENCE IS GOLDEN
The point is that when we enter into prayer with such expectations, we can make it more difficult to hear God’s voice because we wait to hear only what we want to hear. St. Teresa of Calcutta explains that we cannot really listen if our hearts are full of other things. If our minds are preoccupied, we will not have the silence needed to actually listen.
St. Teresa encourages us to practice the following in order to attain that true inner silence which enables us to hear the voice of God:
“Silence of the eyes, by seeking always the beauty and goodness of God everywhere ...
Silence of the ears, by listening always to the voice of God and to the cry of the poor and the needy ...
Silence of the tongue, by praising God and speaking the life-giving Word of God that is the truth, that enlightens and inspires, brings peace, hope and joy ...
Silence of the mind, by opening it to the truth and knowledge of God in prayer and contemplation, like Mary who pondered the marvels of the Lord in her heart ...
Silence of the heart, by loving God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength; loving one another as God loves ...”
“Hearing” the voice of God calls for an attentiveness and openness to the unpredictable, to the uncertain. To approach prayer with the sincere intention to discern God’s voice opens up creation to us in a way that is impossible to describe. Every relationship, every activity, every thought, every spoken word is brought into an awareness centered on God and on what God is trying to communicate to us.You might suggest to the friend that he place his prayer into conversation with the Word of God when seeking an answer. One way of doing this is through a process of theological reflection. For example, the friend could reflect on the heart of his prayer. What is it that he is really seeking? Once identified, he could explore what Scripture and tradition have to say regarding this heart in order to discern what God might have to say about it.
Correct Answer to the Evangelization Quiz
B. St. John Bosco