Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Homily for Tuesday, Week 30 of Ordinary Time

Homily for Tuesday
30th Week of Ordinary Time

Oct. 26, 2021
Rom 8: 18-25
Christian Brothers, St. Joseph’s Residence, New Rochelle

By coincidence, St. Paul speaks today of creation’s “eager expectation” of the “revelation of the children of God” (8:19), of creation’s redemption “from slavery to corruption” (8:21), 5 days before a U.N. summit meeting on climate change in Glasgow.  Paul makes the point that even the created world has been corrupted by human sinfulness.  For nature suffers death and decay just as human beings do.

The politicians and scientists in Glasgow aren’t likely to talk about sin except in terms of what we do to destroy or to preserve the environment.

The Earthly Paradise (Bruegel the Younger)

Paul, of course, wasn’t thinking about environmentalism.  He had a biblical outlook.  According to Genesis, sin destroyed creation’s harmony.  Jesus Christ has begun its restoration.  When humanity is set free from the bondage of death because of faith in the resurrection, when we rise in Christ, creation too will be fully restored.

We don’t know what the new world of the resurrection will be like, the new Jerusalem.  Do we imagine an amazing, peaceful natural world, Eden restored, Isaiah’s vision of the wild beasts at peace with oxen, lambs, and little children (11:6-9)?  But we live in hope of humanity’s being saved after the travails of our suffering, and our enjoying the fullness of life God planned for us.  And why not with other created realities too?

FMAs' GC24 Concludes

FMAs’ GC24 Concludes

Rector Major Tells Sisters, “You are called to be life for many.”

(ANS – Rome- October 25, 2021)
 – On Sunday, October 24, the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians concluded its 24th General Chapter at its Generalate. The chapter began on September 11. In 44 days of listening, prayer, dialog, and discernment, the 172 FMA chapter members elected the new Mother General, Mother Chiara Cazzuola, and the other members of the general council. They reflected together on how to be “communities that generate life in the heart of contemporary life.”

The general chapter was lived an attitude of listening to the call of God, who prepares them to live the future with the young people of today. All of the work of GC 24 is now synthesized in the chapter document “With Mary, being a ‘presence’ that generates life.”

In the morning of the 24th, Mother General gave her concluding speech, in which she said among other things: “I feel the need to express my gratitude to the Lord for the abundance of grace to which we have been the recipients in this chapter time.... As a fruitful community enlightened by the presence of Mary, we have focused on three significant choices: to be in continuous formation, to walk in synodality, to network with a view to integral ecology. Three actions whose common thread is the quality of presence, that is, our ‘being there’ as a people and as a community in the heart of the contemporary world. Therefore, we are called to live life as a vocation and to rediscover the Salesian charism in all its apostolic, missionary dynamism.”

”GC 24,” she continued, “will be fruitful for the good of the whole Institute if we are effective mediations of communication and sharing of this profound experience that we have tasted and celebrated together. But now, it is time to go down from Cana to Capernaum, not alone, but with Jesus and Mary, to share life and mission together with the young people and the laity, to let God breathe in our existence, and courageously face the challenges that we will encounter. We entrust ourselves to Mary to help us to be women who know how to bring the new wine of hope to our history marked by so many sufferings and hardships, but blessed by the sweet Providence of the Father.”

At 11:00 a.m., Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime presided over GC24’s solemn concluding Eucharist. The introduction to Mass recalled, through symbols and choreography, the story of the wedding at Cana, an icon that had accompanied the chapter event since its preparation and which now continues to act as a guiding thread to the chapter document.

In his homily Don Bosco’s 10th Successor addressed the chapter members, saying: “You have lived an experience that is abundant in the Holy Spirit and grace, a personal enrichment of profound convictions which now becomes a commitment for all to share and witness. In fidelity to the Salesian charism, you are called to be life for many, a light in the mission among the poorest, a loving embrace of God for the most distant and those in need of humanity and closeness. The chapter begins now. We will continue to walk together collaborating with the creativity of the Holy Spirit in the Salesian educational mission.”

The Eucharist, Mother General’s concluding words, and the fulfilment of the tasks of the secretariat thus concluded the 24th General Chapter.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Pope Francis Addresses FMA General Chapter

Pope Francis to FMAs: “Do not forget the grace of your origins

“Mary Help of Christians will help you: You are her daughters!”

(ANS – Rome – October 25, 2021)
 – Pope Francis once again manifested his special attention to the Salesian Family through a surprise visit to the Generalate of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians in Rome on Friday, October 22. He went to meet the participants of the FMAs’ 24th General Chapter. The Holy Father exhorted the sisters to be on guard against spiritual worldliness, always to draw on the richness of their Salesian charism, to cultivate the family spirit, and to be generative communities at the service of the young and the poorest.

Thunderous applause from the chapter members welcomed the Pontiff as he entered the chapter hall. Newly-elected Mother General Chiara Cazzuola welcomed the Pope, thanking him for his presence and expressing the joy of feeling “at home” in his presence!

“We are almost at the end of our 24th General Chapter in which we reflected on the theme ‘Do whatever He tells you (Jn 2:5): Communities that generate life in the heart of contemporary life.’ It has been a very demanding process, and we are certain that the presence of Mary, our mother, teacher, and powerful intercessor, guides us, as she did in these 150 years of the history of the FMA Institute, and calls us to a regeneration in the Holy Spirit, who makes our educational communities generative of new life. As FMAs we feel the desire for a profound vocational renewal, to enhance the joy and beauty of God’s call. The encounter with you today, Holy Father, is for us, for our chapter, an invitation to have more vital strength, more enthusiasm, more evangelical courage in living the mandate that the Church entrusts to us.”

Subsequently, Pope Francis, with his simple and familiar style, appreciated the centrality of Mary in the chapter reflection and invited the sisters to do as she did. He reminded the chapter members, “Our Lady never retains anything for herself, but always points to Jesus.”

Then he lauded the service carried out by the FMAs throughout the world, especially in the current multicultural and multireligious social context of today, which is even more marked due to the pandemic.

Focusing on the objective of the chapter – to reawaken the original freshness of the vocational fruitfulness of the Institute – Pope Francis illustrated the challenges and the beauty of the consecrated life, without denying “the fragilities and struggles present in the communities,” but at the same time stressing the possibility of experiencing within them “a kairos, a favorable time to go to the charismatic roots.”

He recalled the dangers of “spiritual worldliness,” that subtle and pernicious attitude which, without creating obvious scandals, ends up closing horizons and taking away peace. He indicated as a way out the return and renewal of the charism, which, he continued, “is a living reality, not a stuffed relic.... It is creativity that gives fidelity to the charism. This is the way of the Church that the holy Popes of the [Vatican] Council and of the post-Council have shown us.”

He also emphasized the need to nurture communities interwoven with intergenerational, intercultural, sisterly, and cordial relationships. “For this you can draw on your family spirit, which characterized the first community at Mornese.” He noted the example of the “first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians” and the first Salesians working in the peripheries of the metropolises in Latin America. “When they arrived in Buenos Aires – this is the beauty of the first Salesians – they did not go to the middle-class neighborhoods, no, they went to look for frontiers…. What attracts a vocation? Holiness, zeal.”

Finally, inviting the sisters again to cultivate tenderness and closeness to young people, he spoke of the opportunity for renewal constituted by the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the Institute, and concluded: “Do not forget the grace of your origins, the humility and smallness of the beginnings which made God’s action clear in the lives and in the message of those who, filled with wonder, began this journey. Mary Help of Christians will guide you: you are her daughters!”

11 Young SDB Priests Meet for Quinquennium Workshop

11 Young SDB Priests Meet for Quinquennium Workshop

(ANS - Chicago - October 22, 2021)
– Eleven Salesian priests participated in an ongoing formation event for their first 5 years (quinquennium) of priesthood from October 7 to 10. Fr. Joseph Nguyen, novice master and delegate for formation of the United States Western Province, and Fr. Dominic Tran, vi e provincial and delegate for formation of the Eastern United States and Canada Province, animated the group. The participants, ordained from months (since June) up to five years, reflected and shared experiences and their ministries, focusing on their life of prayer as Salesian priests.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Homily for Mission Sunday

Homily for the
30th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Mission Sunday

Oct. 24, 2021
Ps 126: 1-6
Mark 10: 46-52
St. Joseph Church, New Rochelle, N.Y.
Our Lady of the Assumption, Bronx
Holy Name of Jesus, New Rochelle                    

“Then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them’” (Ps 126: 2).

This weekend the Church around the world celebrates Mission Sunday.  This annual observance reminds us that the Church is fundamentally missionary.  The Church was created by our Lord Jesus to carry on his mission until the end of time, his mission of announcing God’s love to people everywhere.  Our Lord Jesus wants the whole world to exclaim, as the psalmist did, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

The prophet Jeremiah preached in the name of the Lord, “Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say:  The Lord has delivered his people” (31:7).  The psalmist sang of Israel’s deliverance from bondage, testifying of God’s work to the whole world.  St. Mark wrote about Jesus’ public ministry, passion, and resurrection so that generation after generation of believers would know that they might be saved by faith in Jesus, like the blind beggar who appealed to Jesus at Jericho (Mark 10:46-52).

The 2d Vatican Council reminded all Christians that the Church is missionary, charged to proclaim salvation thru Jesus Christ.  Pope Francis tells us all that we are to be missionary disciples.

In the gospel story today there are 2 kinds of disciples.  The 1st kind is the one who shouts out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me” (10:47).  He wants Jesus and everyone else to hear him.  He calls Jesus his “master” (10:51), and he follows Jesus on his way to Jerusalem, to his passion, death, and resurrection for the redemption of the world.  The 2d type of disciple is the type that tries to shush the blind man, “telling him to be silent” (10:48).  They don’t want any public disruption.

Missionary disciples not only follow Jesus and carry their crosses with him in hope of rising with him; but they also proclaim who Jesus is.  They want the world to know that he’s the son of David, the messiah, the Savior.  They are Jesus’ real disciples, those who have learned from him—which is what “disciple” means.

How are we to be missionary disciples?  How are we to say among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for” us?  Certainly we don’t have to wade into crowds like Bartimaeus and shout out, “Jesus is the son of David” and he saves us.  No, we don’t have to make a scene, as it were.

Neither can we be silent.  The Chinese government wants Christians to be silent and just follow the Communist Party rules.  There are elements in American society who want to shush us:  they’ll let us pray as we wish in church, but not bring our beliefs or our consciences into public practice, e.g., by proclaiming that unborn human beings have a right to life, that people of any race, nationality, or religion have God-given dignity, that homosexual activity is unnatural and immoral, that transgenderism is a lie, that people fleeing hunger, persecution, and violence deserve refuge, that making money doesn’t justify the destruction of the environment.

For parents, speaking up begins with evangelizing your children:  teaching them to pray and teaching them what we believe as Catholic Christians and how we are to act as disciples of Jesus.  If your children are in public school, pay attention to what they’re being taught in school.  In many places, our children are being indoctrinated to approve of LGBTQ policies, abortion rights, and sexual activity without responsibility or consequences.  Parents have the right to object and to insist that they, and not school boards or teachers, will teach their children what’s right and wrong.

Most of us can’t go out to the nations of the world as missionaries.  But some of us may be called by Jesus to do that.  For example, the Jesuits and the Franciscans, among others, offer opportunities for missionary experiences for one or two years on Indian reservations or in Appalachia as well as overseas.  The Salesians have a thriving lay missionary program that allows volunteers to serve in such places as Bolivia, Cambodia, South Sudan, Papua New Guinea, and Vietnam.

The one thing all of us can do is pray for missionaries and the people to whom they bring the Good News of Jesus.  I commend to you, particularly, the 5 Salesian lay missioners who were commissioned and sent out as missionary disciples this summer:  Hannah Mercado from California, Grace Mosher from Connecticut, and Olivia Wyles from Ohio, who’ve gone to care for orphan girls in Bolivia; John Funk from California, who’s gone to Sierra Leone; and Theresa Hoang from Virginia, who’s gone to South Sudan.

May God bless you and enable you at all times to call upon Jesus as your master, to have active faith in him so that he will save you.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Homily for Thursday, Week 29 of Ordinary Time

Homily for Thursday
Week 29 of Ordinary Time

Oct. 21, 2021
Rom 6: 19-23                                                 
Christian Brothers, St. Joseph’s Residence, New Rochelle, N.Y.

“Present your bodies as slaves to righteousness for sanctification” (Rom 6: 19).

Paul reminds those who will read his letter at Rome that, in their weak human nature, they were once slaves to all kinds of lawlessness—meaning wrongdoing against God’s laws.  That’s true of all of us in one way or another.

When Paul refers to “parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity,” he means not only their physical bodies and sins of impurity, but also their mental and emotional capacities and other sins that degrade them, e.g., arrogance, greed, drunkenness, gluttony, lies—anything that enslaves them (or us).

“What profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed?” he asks (6:21).  He reminds us that such attitudes and behaviors end in death.  Our bodies pay the penalty of sin, and there’s always the danger of eternal death.

Eternal life, on the other hand, comes from “becoming slaves of God” (6:22).  So the Roman Christians and we have surrendered our bodies and all their capacities to God’s righteousness, i.e., to living as people who’ve been sanctified by the grace of Christ and who walk with him.

When we surrender to God, we offer him our bodies with their infirmities; our minds with their focus on humility, patience, purity, and temperance; our hearts with their focus on our Lord Jesus and on kindly treatment of the people around us.  In that righteousness we find not slavery but freedom.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Former Child Soldiers Wear Don Bosco's Uniform

Former Child Soldiers Wear
Don Bosco’s Uniform

(ANS – Cali, Colombia – October 20, 2021)
– Colombia’s guerrilla warfare began in 1952 and has caused over 300,000 deaths, while at the same time fueling the growth of powerful drug cartels. At the Don Bosco Center in Cali, however, young people who have known nothing but guerrillas and guerrilla warfare are welcomed and accompanied on their path toward rehabilitation.

Upon their arrival at the Salesian house in Cali, the young ex-guerrillas are given the uniform and tools that correspond to the profession they have chosen to learn. This is because they always wore uniforms when they belonged to one of the armed groups which are still blocking the peace process in Colombia. Already from the age of 7-8, they were torn from their families and enrolled in the various guerrilla factions: forced to shoot, to throw bombs, to become servants of “officers” or, worse still, sexual slaves.

The Salesians have been running a specific facility to accommodate these young people for about 20 years now. Youngsters who arrive are those who have been practically deprived of their own identity and self-esteem and have lost their trust in others.

At the Salesian center, however, together with the clothes for the workshops and schoolbooks, they also receive the recognition of their personal identity and pass from slavery to freedom. Educators insist on their future, to free their memory and give them back their soul. How to restore the faith lost during the years spent in the bush without making them feel guilty? How to bring them closer to God without denying the trauma left by the crimes, when they had to trample their conscience in order not to go mad? The decisive challenge is: to forgive what has been done to them, and to forgive themselves. It is something that can be done  through the experience of loving-kindness, the one that Don Bosco always wanted to transmit to young people.

The young people of Cali find a team of professionals who help them to establish a plan of studies and to choose a profession. Five Salesians are very concretely involved in supporting 30 teenagers. The workshops serve as the cornerstone of youth development – for learning safety regulations, for handling machines and products, and for learning concrete skills for their future. The specializations offered are paths to their career as electrician, industrial mechanic, automobile repair technician, cook, tailor, beautician, welder, computer operator, accountant, librarian, commercial secretary, etc., And all of these are accompanied also by their inner search for their personal qualities and the integral development of each individual.

For security reasons, the lives of these young people are lived almost exclusively within the center. Their names have not been deleted from the lists held by the guerrilla leaders, who are always ready to absorb them into service or to take revenge. Young people leave only accompanied by their educators and according to a program compatible with the processes developed internally.

It is necessary to have them to re-adapt, to get used to free relations again, to sharing meals and free time, and gradually to regain the sense and the rules of coexistence.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, they had to give up even small and limited movements into the city. But they made themselves useful by converting part of their activities to the production of masks: a way to rehabilitate themselves as citizens.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Turin's New Mayor Thanks Salesians for Imprint on His Life

Turin’s New Mayor Thanks the Salesians for their Imprint on His Life

Photo: Stefano Lo Russo’s Facebook Profile

(ANS – Turin – October 20, 2021) - “I dedicate this victory to a person who for me was a teacher, a father, a guide: Fr. Aldo Rabino. I wish he were here, but I’m sure he’s watching us from up there.” These were the first words of the new mayor of Turin, Stefano Lo Russo, 46, elected to lead the Piedmontese capital after the elections to local bodies on Sunday and Monday. Turin’s First Citizen, a geologist, wanted to claim and present to the citizenry his Salesian formation, which played a decisive role in his life and his political career.

Mayor Lo Russo, hitherto a fulltime professor at the Polytechnic of Turin, and who has been the member of the city council since 2006, ascended in the academic world starting with technical school education. His family had modest resources and chose that path for him so that he could circumvent the costly regular academic school system and begin qualifying toward a job.

It was precisely then, when young Stefano was about to take his diploma at the Salesian technical school, that the intervention of Salesian Fr. Rabino introduced him to the world of volunteering. He involved him in Operation Mato Grosso in Latin America.

Then, a few years later, Fr. Rabino asked him, “Why don’t you get involved in politics?” Not surprisingly, in the blog in which he introduces himself, Lo Russo states, “The passion for politics and commitment to my community was undoubtedly born in those years.”

The bond with Fr. Rabino, who passed away in 2015 and whom Lo Russo defined as his spiritual guide, was also sealed thanks to the national sport, soccer, as both were ardent lovers of the sport. It certainly went beyond “faith in a sports team” as well. The new mayor is as much a Juventus fan as was his Salesian formator, who in fact was the chaplain of that soccer team for over 40 years and had been also passionate about Torino Calcio.

Thus, in the city of Don Bosco, the First Citizen is indeed a fruit of Salesian education.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Homily for Tuesday, Week 29 of Ordinary Time

Homily for Tuesday
Week 29 of Ordinary Time

Oct. 19, 2018
Rom 5: 12, 15, 17-21
Ps 40
Christian Brothers, St. Joseph’s Residence, New Rochelle, N.Y.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul has been discussing our justification by Christ.  Justification means our being made just or righteous or sanctified in God’s eyes.  That’s the redemption that Christ won for us.

In today’s passage, Paul points to Adam’s transgression thru which sin entered the world, afflicting not only Adam but the entire human race, afflicting us all with the penalty of death.

Adam’s sin was disobedience, obviously.  But according to Genesis, it was also a rebellion, an ambitious attempt to overthrow God.  For the Devil told Eve, and she must have repeated the lie to Adam, that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would become like gods (Gen 3:5).

Paul contrasts that choice which led to humanity’s condemnation with “the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ,” “the gift of justification” (Rom 5:15,17).  The obedience of Christ counteracted Adam’s disobedience.  The humility of Christ undid the consequences of Adam’s ambition.  “Thru one righteous act acquittal and life came to all” (5:18).

Jesus Christ offers us life.  Believing in him, following him, and obeying his law of love for God and our brothers and sisters cleanses us of our sins.  “Grace overflows all the more” (5:20), so that, as Psalm 40 says, we may “exult and be glad” (v. 17).  That’s what we do whenever we celebrate the Eucharist, thru which we our Lord Jesus joins us to his own humble, obedient sacrifice to the Father, and with Jesus we exclaim, “To do your will, O my God, is my delight” (40:9).

Pilgrimage in Footsteps of Karol Wojtyla the Worker

Pilgrimage in the Footsteps 
of Karol Wojtyla the Worker

(ANS – Krakow, Poland – October 15, 2021)
- The 17th Pilgrimage in the Footsteps of Karol Wojtyla the Worker took place on October 9, attended by the faithful from the Salesian parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka in the Dębniki district of Krakow, and other pilgrims. During World War II, young Karol Wojtyla went from Dębniki to the Solvay factory where he worked (1940-1944): first in the Zakrzowek stone quarry, and then as a worker at the water filtration plant. The pilgrims, starting from the Salesian parish church, retraced several roads to Zakrzowek. Then, once they reached the John Paul II Center, they participated in Mass, presided over by Fr. Marek Dąbek, SDB, provincial coordinator of altar servers. At the end of the celebration, Fr. Andrzej Krol, SDB, provincial delegate for youth ministry, presented scholarships to 30 young people from the province, as a sign of appreciation for their commitment to spiritual and intellectual development.