Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My True Treasure

A well known legend about St. Lawrence of Rome has persisted since the third century. As deacon in Rome, Lawrence had the responsibility of distributing the Church's alms to the poor. Thinking that Christians had great riches, the prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, demanded that Lawrence hand over to him all of the Church’s treasure. Three days later Lawrence returned but instead of bearing with him piles of gold and silver, Lawrence led a great multitude of the blind, lame, leprous and poor of the city. He lined them in rows before the prefect and announced, “These are the treasures of the Church.” Holy Lawrence understood well that these people were the face of Christ, a reflection of God the Father’s love and as a result were worth more than anything else he could ever present to the Prefect. 
This prompted me to think about what I might do if I was asked to assemble the treasures in my life. I thought immediately of the members of the Pauline Family: consecrated men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving God and his people. Blessed James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family, at the first light of the twentieth century, “felt deeply obliged to prepare himself to do something for the Lord and for the men and women of the new century with whom he would spend his life” (Abundantes divitiae gratiae suae, #15). Furthermore, Alberione believed that in the new century generous people would experience what he was feeling and that together they could combat evil with good. In the years that followed, right up to the present day, thousands of generous souls including clergy, religious and laity have walked in his footsteps and brought the Gospel message to a world in need. Each new member that has taken up this mission has been a gift to the Church and, I can say without hesitation, a precious treasure in my life. 
The summer of 2014 has helped me to understand ever more deeply the value of this treasure. I have participated and will participate in a number of celebrations, such as silver and golden jubilee anniversaries of Paulines who have dedicated many years to the mission, as well as new professions that are a blessing for today and a promise for the future.
The summer began in early June with two Pauline celebrations in New York. The first marked the 100th anniversary of the official founding of the Pauline Family. Guests from various parishes joined with members of the Pauline institutes on this happy occasion. Everyone had reason to celebrate, as we all could attest to the countless ways that the Pauline Family has brought the presence of Christ into our lives. 

Fr. Edmund Lane and Fr. Ignatius Staniszewski
The second event commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of priestly ordination for Father Edmund Lane and Father Ignatius Staniszewski. These two priests of the Society of Saint Paul have faithfully served the Pauline mission in various roles. Fr. Edmund has been a longtime editor and publisher for St. Pauls and a pioneer in using personal computers for the apostolate. Fr. Ignatius has served in a number of capacities, from being a teacher and formator at the seminary to being a publisher and editor of books and magazines. The gems these men have offered over these past fifty years has been their wisdom and pastoral sensitivity in the dissemination of religious materials through various social media.
A few weeks later in early July, I led a day of retreat for members of the Pauline Holy Family Institute. This Institute is an organization of Catholic couples and those who are widowed who wish to live their lives in a more consistent, God-oriented way. The goal is the sanctification of family life. They commit themselves to allowing the love of Christ to reign in their hearts and in the hearts of their children. The retreat day included Holy Mass, Eucharistic adoration, spiritual talks, religious themed games, a family barbecue, and great fun. Two families that were central to its success were the Fedaks with their ten children and the Jakubs with their nine. By consecrating their own lives to Christ in the Holy Family Institute, Dave and Kate Fedak and Rob and Keisha Jakub place Christ at the center of their lives and teach their children to do the same. In this way, while raising their children to enjoy typical activities of kids in our society, such as sports, dance, music, and art, they become the first witnesses of faith to their children. They also have helped me as a priest become more dedicated to serving families, the domestic Church.
Fr. Michael Harrington with the Fedak and Jakub Families
As August began, I participated in another jubilee celebration. This time it was for the Daughters of Saint Paul. Sr. Mary Domenica Vitello, Sr. Sharon Anne Legere, and Sr. Barbara Gerace celebrated fifty years of religious profession, while Sr. Nancy Michael Usselmann and Sr. Maria Grace Dateno celebrated twenty-five years. These sisters have been instrumental in my own vocation. It was their energy and commitment that first attracted me to the Pauline life. They have served in countless ways: as book store and media center managers, local community superiors, vocation coordinators, media workshop presenters, and much more. However, even more importantly, they have been my friends, helping me to draw closer to Jesus, the Way, Truth, and Life. Each sister brings her unique gifts to the Pauline Family. They are pearls, emeralds, and rubies that fill up the Pauline treasure chest.
Sr. Mary Domenica Vitello, Sr. Barbara Gerace, Sr. Sharon Anne Legere, Sr. Nancy Michael Usselmann, Sr. Maria Grace Dateno with Bishop Richard Lennon
Finally, at the end of August, I will participate in one more Pauline celebration. Two young women, Sr. Cheryl Galema and Sr. Theresa Noble will make their first profession of vows. I have watched them grow as postulants and novices, along with Sr. Julia Karina, who will be making her first profession in September in Mexico.
Postulants, novices, and junior professed sisters with Sr. Rebecca Hoffart (director of postulants ), Sr. Carmen Pompei (director of novices ), and Sr. Donna Giaimo (director of junior professed )
I have witnessed how they have jumped in with both feet onto the Pauline path of discipleship. They remind me that Jesus keeps filling up the Pauline treasure chest. As much as we keep taking from it, it will never be empty.
St. Lawrence presented the poor and weak of the city of Rome as treasures, because he recognized that they were an antidote to the problem of corrupt and selfish leaders who saw worth only in material pleasures. I consider the Pauline family members, including the Cooperators, as treasures, because in their desire to live in a spirit of poverty, chastity, and obedience and in their commitment to apostolic zeal, they are illuminating the world with the presence of Christ and in their own way offering an antidote to our media driven society that seems to have largely forgotten God. They remind us that there are things far more precious than automobiles, houses, and electronic devices. Treasures in heaven: things we should value and want to have, because they come from God, bring us close to God, make us better people, and prepare us for our eternal reward.

Click on "Comments" below and tell me who or what your treasures are. 
 _____________
Fr. Michael Harrington is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and a member of the Pauline Institute of Jesus the Priest. An economics and political science major, he worked in finance for five years, before entering the seminary in 1994. He was ordained in 2000 and has since served the Church as parochial vicar, state chaplain to the Massachusetts Knights of Columbus, and for the past several years, assistant director of the Office of Vocations and director of the Office of Outreach and Cultural Diversity. Fr. Michael made his first profession of vows in the Institute of Jesus the Priest on November 22, 2009.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Remembrance of Father James Alberione

Chapter delegates. Br. Al pictured directly above 3rd kneeling figure at Pope's left.

One of my earliest up-close experiences of Father Alberione was at the first General Chapter of the Society of St Paul in the spring of 1957. The Chapter would mark a certain coming-of-age of his maturing religious family. It would decidedly take it from a rudimentary adolescent stage to grown-up apostolic adulthood—spurred by the founder’s vibrant Paul-like faith, form and fire.    

The Chapter’s deliberations would take him from Founder to “Superior General”. And his charismatic leadership would now be situated in the great tradition of consecrated ingenuity in transmitting the Gospel to the generations of our age.

From the care and effort he made each morning explaining the essential  fundamentals of being Pauline, to forging an intelligent and indispensable heart/mind/will relationship with the living Christ, we were caught up in exciting vocational discovery, purpose, and challenge. 

Motivated within by Christ as Master, we had first to understand a God-given mission and its practical  approaches to today’s  cross sections of humanity. Like Paul, we aimed to meet this milling modern humanity where it was: in the pulsing and often bewildering marketplaces of today’s world. Soldiered on by Jesus, with competency of means and members, it was for us to become faith-bearing samaritans of his Way, Truth, and Life to the multitude of today’s  unknowing, wandering, and weary—”out there”—on countless digital and side-of-the-road lonely impasses.

Br. Aloysius offers deference to the new Superior General.
“The harvest is great.” The reach of preaching was not. For this, Father Alberione presented himself disposed to the Spirit’s guidance in recasting methods and means for effectively allowing the wisdom and power of Jesus’ message to make contact with a distraught epoch, its distant and yearning  humanity—now all within reach—and everywhere so very much in samaritan need.

Many have been the saints and right-minded men and women who have suffered and protested the awful human consequences of wrongdoing paraded as good: love and life squandered, a perishing sense of the sacred, the depreciated qualities of human worth and dignity, and, pitied most of all, the surrendered capacity of praising the Creator and intuiting Truth, Goodness, the Beautiful.

As Father Alberione himself summarized:
“a)  How much is Christian life practiced today in conformity with the Gospel? In what way is this life lived in the world today?  In what is it lacking?  What means are to be adopted for a valid purification and elevation in Jesus Christ, the Master? ‘Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’. ‘Learn of me’.  ‘I AM THE WAY.’  
“b)  How far has the doctrine of Jesus Christ been spread? With what acceptance and understanding? How has it been preserved in its wholeness and purity in the world? What are the means by which it can win all minds, mindful of the mandate of Jesus Christ, the Master, to the Church: ‘Teach all people’. ‘This is eternal life, that they may know the one, true God, and him alone whom he has sent, Jesus Christ’.  ‘I AM THE TRUTH’.
“c)   How and in what way do we pray in Christ and in the Church ‘in spirit and truth’? How and in what way are we fruitful in life and in grace as true children of God, as co-heirs of Jesus Christ? How can we better apply the words: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done’? What are the difficulties and application in actual practice? ‘Prayer must be made without ceasing’. ‘Whatever you ask the Father in my name, it will be given you’. ‘I AM THE LIFE’.”
On Christmas Eve 1947, Father Alberione issued a booklet of thirty brief meditations and prayers called “The Way of Humanity.” He proposed a review of the destiny of human beings—their “Way,” beginning with creation, then touching on revelation, Jesus’ life and ministry, the Church, eternal life, etc. Following are samples of these meditations in which the Founder proposes a theological expression (Truth), an invocation to assimilate the expression (Way), and a prayer (Life).

[1]
The Most Holy Trinity gathered in council, and issued the decree: “Let us make man in our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26).  In the plan of God, Mary is seen as the masterpiece of creation, the prime and final goal of all creation.
   My Lord, I am entirely the work of your omnipotent love.
   I adore you, my God, one in nature and triune in Persons.
   I thank you, because you have made me for the happiness which lies in you and for your eternal glory.
   Save me with your omnipotence!
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.   

[2]
After Jesus Christ finished teaching by example at Nazareth, he began the school  of the spoken word. On the Mount of the Beatitudes he outlined the way of peace and salvation, and revealed God to men and women, announcing the new law of love (cf. Lk: 4:14-30; 6:20-38).
   I adore and thank you, Divine Master, who declared yourself to be the Way and Truth and Life.
   I recognize you as the Way I must follow, the Truth I must believe, the Life which I must eagerly long for.   
   You are my all; and I want to be totally yours: mind, will, heart.
Glory to God in the highest and peace to humanity!
Jesus Master, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
Mary, Queen of Apostles, have mercy on us.

                                                                             ****
Administrator’s note: One hundred years ago today the Pauline Family was founded. We join together in prayer, giving thanks to God for the good he has done through us and for his mercy in the face of our limitations. We ask for wisdom, courage, zeal, and joyful witness to Jesus Master  for ourselves and for every Pauline in the world, remembering in prayerful affection every Pauline, known and unknown to us, who has gone before us.
____
Brother Aloysius Milella entered the Society of St. Paul as a candidate for the Brotherhood on the feast of St. Paul, June 30, 1946, and pronounced first vows in September 1948. Following his perpetual profession in 1953, he was assigned to the staff of the SSP family monthly, Catholic Home Messenger, published in Canfield, OH, where he would be engaged in its editorial and production sectors for 14 years. He worked briefly as the province’s vocation director, before serving as a member of the congregation’s governing body in Rome for the next 17 years.  After returning to the States in 1986, he was involved in book center ministry and then in administration, guiding its day-to-day apostolic fortunes in various communities. After a period in Dearborn, MI, he returned to Staten Island in 2012.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

In two short days the Church will celebrate Mary’s Assumption into heaven, that marvelous event when “Mary was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory” (CCC 966). Mary’s assumption was a special gift from God. She had this unique privilege of bypassing the corruption of death, and going directly to heaven because she was sinless.

But what does this mystery of our faith say to us? What can we learn from it and try to incorporate into our lives? I believe that the Assumption of Mary has two particular lessons:

1)      That we have a mother and intercessor in heaven who prays for us!
2)       She gives us hope in eternal life, reminding us of our own goal, for she has already made it to the finish line!

Photo Credit: Margery Ketz/ Wikimedia Commons
      Mary as Our Mother and Intercessor
Most of us have either experienced the power and unconditional quality of a mother’s love ourselves or have witnessed it in another’s life. If we multiply this by a 100 or even 1000 times, I believe we can get a glimpse of Mary’s motherly love towards each one of us. For she is our heavenly Mother who awaits our prayers and requests. Did she not tell Juan Diego in 1531 on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City, “Do not let anything afflict you, and do not be afraid of any illness, or accident or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Do you need anything else?”

And in 1830 at Rue de Bac in Paris Mary explained to Catherine Laboure, a young novice with the Daughters of Charity, the meaning of her image on the Miraculous Medal, the medal that she wanted Catherine to have made: The words, “O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee” would be printed around the medal’s edge, honoring her Immaculate Conception; rays coming from her hands would symbolize the grace that comes through her motherly intercession and prayers. And when Catherine asked Mary about the stones on her fingers that had no rays of grace coming forth, Mary explained, “that’s all the grace I want to obtain for people, but no one asks me.” All we have to do for our Mother to help us, to intercede for us is to ask her! And so we pray, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!”

Blessed Alberione shows us the power of Mary's intercession when he cites St. Anselm in his book, "Mary, Hope of the World," "St Anselm presents Mary as a merciful Mother" writes Alberione "who helps everyone who approaches her." ( p 15). She is our Mother who loves us all and notices our needs, just as she did at the wedding feast of Cana. So let us remember to ask for her help.

Mary Gives Us Hope in Eternal Life
Mary’s bodily presence in heaven near her Son also gives us great hope, hope in the gift of eternal life, hope in our own resurrection at the end of time. She goes before us to “save us a seat,” if you will. She points out to us our eternal destiny as her children who were bought at a great price: the price of her own Son’s death and resurrection. Let us believe in and accept him as our Lord and Savior, our Way, Truth, and Life (Jn. 14:6).

And so when life is difficult, even at times overwhelming, we can turn to Mary knowing that she listens, that she cares for us with immense love, and that she will obtain for us the grace that we need, if we but ask.

On this Feast of the Assumption we thank our Queen and Mother for her powerful prayers and for the hope that she brings to our lives: “Mary, assumed into heaven, pray for us! Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us!”

____________

Sr. Laura R. Brown has been a Daughter of St. Paul since 1985 and has been assigned to many FSP communities. Her current assignments in St. Louis, MO, include parish evangelization and outreach, as well as assistance with Pauline Book & Media Center events. She has an MA in theology and participated in the Pauline Charism Course in Rome from 2008 to 2009.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Setting Off Fireworks

With this article, we relaunch the blog of the Pauline Cooperators in North America! One of sixteen writers from six branches of the Pauline Family, including Cooperators themselves, will contribute a weekly article of formation and information to assist Cooperators in living their apostolic discipleship within their world, in imitation of St. Paul the Apostle.

In Redwood City the Daughters were really avant-garde. We had to be. After all, this was California! In 2007 our media techie, Sr. Domenica, scraped together some funds to buy a screen for our Pauline Books & Media Center, so we could show promo videos we made locally about our titles. They weren’t spit and polish, but they were attention grabbing. And people responded. 

So, when Michael Waldstein completed a new translation of the Wednesday General Audiences that Pope John Paul had delivered on his Theology of the Body, on-screen promotion was a given. Author George Weigel had once called the Pope’s series a “theological time bomb.” We knew we had published a monumental work in Man and Woman He Created Them, and we wanted to set off fireworks.

Perched atop a stool next to an instore display of the book, I told the camera that this was a must-have—challenging, but well worth the effort. Spontaneously, enthusiastically, to the camera’s utter delight, I described the features and read a passage or two. This was John Paul’s masterpiece: his Christian approach to anthropology, with unique insights into relationships and human sexuality, especially in connection with marriage. Since the presentation was unscripted, I hesitated at times, looking for the words that could do it justice. It didn’t take long, though, for me to hit my stride, and the finished product was presentable, if not professional. The camera, of course, agreed.

Soon after, our provincial superior and another sister were visiting from Boston. As they looked around the new PBM Center, they became engrossed in shelving, layout, and lighting. Sr. Margaret’s papal eloquence was soon ignored as white noise.

“And, if you’re like me and you’re not married, don’t despair!” Startled by my intensity, our two visitors spun around to face the screen. What on earth is Margaret saying now? Is she starting a dating service?

“It’s not that this doesn’t have anything to do with us,” I continued. “It does. There are at least fifty pages on what John Paul II calls ‘Continence for the Kingdom of Heaven.’” If you know what I mean.

If you don’t, allow me: It means that not even celibates miss out on the Theology of the Body. To live a healthy, integrated, and holy life, we’d better not! True, Man and Woman He Created Them is mostly about sexuality in marriage. One of its benefits, though, is its invitation also to those of us vowed to celibate chastity to understand the physical, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of our sexuality in the light of God’s Word. As we do, we can esteem even more how it weaves into our relationships with God, our communities, our families and friends, and the people we serve…here and hereafter. This consecrated chastity then becomes the gift that not only God gives us, but that we give back to him and to the world in which we live. It’s a world that, even without realizing it, is waiting for just such a message.
 

This past July 9-11, seven hundred laity, clergy, and religious turned out to share that message at the annual Theology of the Body Congress in Philadelphia. Go to www.tobcongress.com for photos and news. Ascension Press is now selling CDs of the talks online. Paulines also lent a hand at the Congress, especially through the publications that first helped detonate such a “theological time bomb” over three decades ago.

Though a great event in its own right, the gathering served as a kind of dry run for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia in September 2015. Archbishop Chaput has invited Pope Francis. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

Whether you’re a Pauline Cooperator or a consecrated member of the Pauline Family, John Paul’s Theology of the Body can spark something new in the way you see yourself and your relationships. Set off a Roman candle of your own from Pauline Books & Media


OK, here it is—the nine-minute video now on YouTube. What ideas do you think John Paul might have for you or someone you know? 




Margaret J. Obrovac, FSP, originally from San Francisco, has been a Pauline evangelizer since 1973 and has worked in various phases of the mission of the Daughters of St. Paul. Since attending the nine-month Charism Course in Rome in 2012-2013, she is now based in Boston, where she serves on the provincial Cooperator Team in the area of ongoing formation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pauline Cooperators Preparing for a Retreat with Brother Who Knew Blessed James Alberione

Annual Pauline Cooperator Retreat

     Across the USA and Canada the Pauline Cooperators, and others interested in seeing what the Association is all about, are welcome to the annual retreat. It will be held in various locations, especially where there is a Pauline center. Brother Aloysius Millela is our director this year. Some locations will receive a pre-recorded DVD of his presentations. click on the brochure to find out more about Brother Al. He will be "live" in Boston at the retreat house.
     St. Thecla's retreat house is reserved for September 19, 20 and 21st for the East Coast retreatants. Anyone is welcome from across the States and Canada. If you are coming to the East Coast retreat contact Sr. Mary Lea, as found on this brochure. If you desire to attend at another location contact the Pauline Center in your area. Blessings!
Please note: email is Lhill not Mhill

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Paulines Sponsor Film Festival, Pauline Cooperator Directs

Cana Film Festival members, with
Winifred Loh, festival director, seated in the center.
Credit: Cana Film Festival.
Paulines sponsored a Catholic Film Festival in Singapore. Winifred Loh, a Pauline Cooperator, was the festival director. The Cana Film Festival  was a first time gathering of filmmakers and viewers  reflecting together on the Church's social mission through the medium of film.