Holiness: A Path Travelled Together
As Founder of the Union of Catholic Apostolate, St. Vincent Pallotti received the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to invite EVERYONE “who has zeal for the glory of God and has love and compassion for the spiritual salvation of his neighbour.”
It is with deep gratitude to Pope St. John XXIII that religious congregations and other institutes of consecrated life were called to return to their original charism, and therefore to the inspiration of their founders, to renew within themselves the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been given to them through their founders. For me, Vincent Pallotti became alive with a message that moved into the very heart of humanity as it restored the spirit of the first Christians, all of whom were called to make Jesus known by the very fact that they accepted him as Lord and Saviour.
Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10
Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Today’s gospel reading is from a decisive place in the structure of St. Mark’s gospel. It is from the middle of the gospel. What precedes it is the ministry of Jesus in Galilee; there he gathered disciples around him, preached the Kingdom of God and healed those in pain. And for the most part he was heard and accepted by all, the crowds as well as the disciples. His ministry and its acceptance seemed clearly on the ascendancy.
Sr. Malgorzata Lech, a Polish missionary from the Cameroons, is happy to take part in the International and Inter-congregational Formation training Program for Formators which is organized by UISG in Rome. Thirty-three religious Sisters from 25 countries representing 23 different congregations will follow the program.
At the end of January, the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), organized a special program on Interculturality. The 2-week Workshop was held at the UISG Headquarters in Rome. The purpose of this program was to assist religious congregations in engaging in their cultural/ ethnic/national diversity and moving closer to a fuller expression and experience of mutually-enriching interculturality both within the congregation and in their ministry/mission activities.
Out of the Depths
By the time of the encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees described in today’s gospel, Jesus had performed various miracles and works of power. The Pharisees were not satisfied, but seemed to want something more, something on a grander scale perhaps. Mark’s gospel, the shortest of the four, presents the deeds and words of Jesus in a succinct manner, but not to the exclusion of details. Today, we are given Jesus’ verbal response to the Pharisees, but not before we are given a clue as to Jesus’ inner reaction to their request.
Elisabetta Sanna was born in 1788 in Sardinia, she died with a reputation of sanctity in Rome on February 17th 1857 and was buried in the Church of SS. Salvatore in Onda. Very soon after her death her reputation of sanctity became very evident, so much so that just four months later, on June 15th 1857, her cause for beatification was initiated. She was proclaimed Blessed on September 17th 2016.
1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20
Luke 6:17, 20-26
Today’s First Reading is an interruption of Jeremiah’s prophetic denouncement of how the people have been doing false worship. They have let go of the temple worship of their tradition. They have forsaken the God of their history. Jeremiah says that he is writing this with an iron pen and a diamond tip. The prophesy will continue after the verses we hear in this liturgy.
Greetings from Rome.
Elisabetta Sanna was born in Codrongianos (Sassari) on April 23rd, 1788. At the age of three months, she lost the ability to raise her arms. She married and raised five children. In 1825, she was widowed and made a vow of chastity; she was spiritual mother to the girls and women of her area. In 1831, having embarked on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, she ended up in Rome, and was unable return due to grave physical ailments. She dedicated herself totally to prayer and to service of the poor and sick. She was among the first members of the Union of Catholic Apostolate of Saint Vincent Pallotti, her spiritual director. Her dwelling became a shrine of faith and of burning love. She died in Rome on February 17th, 1857 and was buried in the church of SS. Salvatore in Onda.
Reading the first reading and the gospel together hit me in a new way. The Genesis story of the aftermath of the first sin of Adam and Eve, followed by Mark's first version of the feeding of the 4,000, touched me. The first story reminds us that there is a rebellious part in each of us, which lets ourselves be seduced by an evil desire to be like God. The result is that God has to ask us the question, "Where are you?" [Pope Francis focused on this question in a number of his homilies. See references below.]
In today’s gospel the crowd brings to Jesus a deaf man with a speech impediment and begs Jesus to lay his hand on him. Note how Jesus deals with the man, one on one, sensitively, carefully and compassionately.
“He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is ‘Be opened!)”
A celebration of saints is always a chance to understand oneself because every saint is a witness to Truth and a role model to follow. From the many gifts and founders' activities of Saints Cyril and Methodius I have chosen five we should consider.
1) The Glagolitic alphabet, our first Slavic script, has been often spoken about. For our country the important fact is that they allowed us to record our history, even though now we have been using the Latin alphabet for more than a thousand of years already. Constantine's famous statement saying that naked are nations without books and as if ready to become a prey - which talks about the importance of the Bible in the struggle with evil - we can apply also to other cases and to understand it in such a way that a nation, which has not recorded its history and does not remember anything from its history and cannot learn from the experience of ancestors, is seriously threatened. This is exactly our case. History does not repeat itself but mistakes do. Gottwald and Husák will not come back. K. H. Frank with Moravec and Otta Braniborský will not return but there are again some people among us who act in such a way that they can bring to power a new dictator. So far, it is not necessary to point a finger at anybody and attack anybody but it is important to take a firm stand against lies, slander, envy, greed and the like. They could enslave us.