This Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, take some time to reflect on these quotes from Saints who have lived exemplary lives of Christian joy. Which one is your favorite? Do you have others to add?
-Fr. John Roche, SDB
It has been quite some time since I have stopped to offer some reflections in this column and it has been humbling to discover that many people have kept an eye out for it! I am grateful to all the readers who have encouraged this effort and grateful for the opportunity to share faith and hope with so many.
I must say that a change has taken place within me. I used to have very little tolerance for people who, in my estimation, seemed to long for a different Church or to hang on with a fierce nostalgia to a Church of long ago.
Particularly difficult for me were those persons and groups bent on finding what is wrong with the Church, with young people or with society, and who would renounce quite easily anyone in disagreement with their experience or opinion.
In fact, I encountered a man some years ago who would picket in front of a parish where one of my brothers was pastor. Anything this man found uncomfortable became the stuff of public rants in newspapers and public protest at the parish. As the director of this community entrusted with the parish, I decided to talk directly with this passionate parishioner. When we finally met in the parish office one day, I politely began my remarks with a qualifying statement.
I said, “I find it hard to speak with you today because no matter what your issues may be, you have resorted to bully tactics and public denunciations and I find that behavior to be contrary to the Gospel.” Befuddled, this man looked intensely at me but did not know where to start. He explained that there were many things he felt were going wrong with the Church in general and he was determined to not sit back and allow the degeneration to continue. I listened as carefully and as openly as I could. I found it possible to empathize with some of his discomfort, but I continued to insist that his chosen way of handling his disappointment was completely uncharitable and, therefore, both scandalous and divisive. Neither reflected a prayerful connection with Jesus.
The man went away disappointed that I was not riding in on a white horse ready to slay the dragons eating away at his experience of Church.
But, I must admit, I am changing. I still believe that charity comes first. I still believe our defense of faith or whatever issue we hold strongly must always be couched by the non-violence and non-judgment of the Gospel. We must be led by love in every confrontation in which we choose to become involved.
Where I have changed, though, is in coming to understand some of the alienation some people across generations have experienced for a myriad of personal and public reasons. And it seems to me that much of the hue and cry I have heard — and quite often quickly dismissed — is deeply connected to a profound longing for something that many have found wanting in their experience of Church, faith and community worship.
Many are longing — deeply longing — for a sense of the sacred. This longing has, in many cases, led to polarizations in the faith community and this is always very sad.
It is not long ago that some youth movements marked their degree of success on the number of young people who would participate in Eucharistic Adoration, for example. And while I would prefer that young people are carefully raised to understand the celebration of the Eucharist and the power of the community gathered at the altar, there is inside of this behavior that same longing. This is, actually, good news.
For some, the deep longing for the sacred invites a retreat to the past. For some it is satisfied with Latin hymns, liturgies celebrated in Latin, the wearing of traditional and formal attire as appropriate signs of reverence or perhaps the return to incense and chimes.
For others, it may represent a longing for deeper involvement in the faith community. It may surface as a longing to be educated in scripture, in liturgy or in a deeper understanding of the history of Church.
And for some, the longing is a response to a deeper sense that the world is running quickly away from all that is spiritual and holy. Buried in an explosion of technologies and information, it seems that there are no rules or guidelines through this chaotic experience of life.
I used to think that the camps were clearly and cleanly divided much the way our culture divides the conservatives and the liberals, the red and the blue states. But I don’t think that way anymore. Again — I am changing. I am changing and beginning to believe that we all hunger for a profound connection to the sacred where there is, we hope, an anchor that will never move.
We long for God in the deepest part of our being. All of us. Every generation. In fact, St. Augustine was right: our hearts are restless until we rest in God.
So how do we open up the dialogue in this shared experience of longing? I believe it must begin by a radical return to charity and trust. Instead of labeling either side or drawing lines for our position, we must discover the common ground we all share: our longing for the holy and the sacred.
We betray that hunger if it becomes the stuff of division. The greatest defense is emptying ourselves of our own opinions and sincerely seeking to understand the other. The longing is not a longing to be right but a longing to know and meet the living God. And God may remain hidden among the very people against whom we have drawn our safe boundaries.
There is good news in all of this. It is precisely this: that it is God who has planted this longing within us because God also longs to be one with each one of us.
Let us resolve to put no stumbling block in anyone’s path by holding onto what we believe as the only way to pray, to worship or to be “Catholic.” Let us resolve to find the longing in those around us and seek ways to connect that longing to the One who longs for us.
And that path is always — without exception — paved in love, openness and forgiveness. Let us all “seek the Lord while he may be found!”
It is with great joy that we welcome the 10th successor of Don Bosco, Ángel Fernández Artime.
The following is a repost from ANS:
(ANS – Rome) - The 27th General Chapter has elected Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, Provincial of Southern Argentina, as new Rector Major and Tenth Successor of Don Bosco.
The election took place at 10.20 a.m., on the first ballot, and was welcomed with long applause. Fr Pascual Chávez, President of the Assembly, invited Fr Angel to come beside him, and said: “Dear Fr Ángel, through your confreres God has called you today to be the successor of Don Bosco. You are not called to be like the Rector Major, nor Don Vecchi nor Don Viganó. You are the successor of Don Bosco, not of Don Chavez. So, on behalf of the Chapter, I ask you if you accept.”
Speaking in Spanish, Fr Angel said with an emotional heart: “I abandon myself to the Lord. We ask Don Bosco and Mary Help of Christians to accompany us and to accompany me, with my brother Salesians and with the Congregation, and I accept with faith.”
The new Rector Major began right away to receive the embrace of all the Chapter members.
A video is available on the ANSchannel.
It is also with sincere appreciation that we thank Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva for his amazing 12 years of service as the ninth successor of Don Bosco!
In honor of Don Bosco’s Feast day, and in line with this years study theme in preparation for the celebration of the bicentenary of Don Bosco’s Birth (16 August 2015), we have put together this collection of articles from the Journal of Salesian Studies.
We invite you, then, to take a few moments in the coming weeks to read, reflect and pray with an article or two, in order to take to heart Fr. Pascual Chavez‘s invitation:
In honor of Saint Francis de Sales, our patron whose feast we celebrate on 24 January, the Journal of Salesian Studies has made available a selection of articles for your study, enjoyment, and spiritual growth. A few are directly related to the Gentle Saint, and a few show his influence in the Bosconian branch of the Salesian family. Pass them along
- Francis de Sales and the Bases for Salesian Prayer –Joseph Boenzi, SDB
- Unwrapping the Gifts: Francis de Sales, Jane de Chantal and the Salesian Vision of Women –Dr. Nancy J. Bowden
- Salesian Mysticism: Towards the Ectasy of Action –Mary Greenan, FMA
- Early Salesian Regulations: Formation in the Preventive System –John Rasor, SDB Continue reading
-Fr. John Roche, SDB
I will admit that I do not like January. I can’t complain about the bitter cold, ice or snow since we are spoiled out here in California, but nonetheless, January is the take-Christmas-down period of the year.
It’s true that the liturgical season of Christmas extends nearly two weeks into the month, but it does not feel like it. The radio stations halted their Christmas music by midnight on Christmas Day, store decorations have already shifted to Valentine’s Day and many curbs are cluttered with ousted Christmas trees.
The emotional build-up is jolted by this shut-down. And no matter how much I prepare for this shift, I feel it more and more each year. I suppose there is something of the half-empty or half-full debate going on inside my head. Certainly God’s gift of his Son is something that extends beyond decorations, parties, gifts and music stations. But it is harder to embrace in the hum-drum of everyday life.
So what is to be done with the Januaries of our lives? Continue reading
The first 25 issues of the Journal of Salesian Studies are in the process of digital republication, but we cannot do this without your support!
- Pray Please pray for the success of this project, your prayers do make a difference!
- Pledge Visit our kickstarter page & pledge your financial support
- Promote Tell you friends about this project, and post the kickstarter link on your facebook page
Find out more on our kickstarter.com project page.
To digitally republish past issues of the Journal of Salesian Studies (in both searchable PDF format, and online academic journal format) in order to make the Salesian spirit and charism more readily available to the Church, to academia, and to the world.
Phase 1 funding goal as been reached, let’s go for phase 2!
There are two funding goals. The first phase of the project required $2,200 in pledges. This threshold has been reached thanks you the generosity of our kickstarter backers! We can now begin the work-study program and publish the past issues in a searchable PDF format.
The second phase will make the Journal available in an online academic journal format. Continue reading
As the semester and year come to a close, we say our farewells to the community members who will be traveling back to their communities after their stay here at Don Bosco Hall: Fathers Francois, Gustavo, Mario, Michal, and Sisters Nancy and Paulina! May God bless you all on the journey and mission ahead of you.
See the pictures here.
A blog post by Fr. John Roche, SDB Director:
My grandmother died when I was nine years old. I was very close to her. She was, in many ways, like a second mother for me and for my siblings. She lived in our house and I slept in the double bed with her. She was always so interested in everything happening in our lives and would listen with such pleasure to our daily adventures each time we came home from school. For the key moments in my life, she was there: first communion, summer-time fireworks and watermelon, back-to-school uniforms, Hallowe’en, Thanksgiving, and the Christmas holidays. On that March day when she felt weak and dizzy and went to bed in the middle of the day, none of us realized it would be her last moments with us. A heart attack took her from our home and family that late afternoon before my father, her son, could get home from work. The house was never the same after that.
In those innocent days, I had many dreams about my grandmother and for some reason I never shared those dreams until I was much older. Something in me intuited that they were almost secret messages sent to bring me hope. From one dream to the next, her messages seemed clearer and clearer that she was very happy and at peace and that she continued to be a part of our lives. For me, then, it was not hard to understand the communion of saints nor to believe in their intercession in our lives. The familiarity and intimacy I felt for my grandmother remained and still remains to this day. Along the journey of my own life, I have felt her presence and her prayers. To that company, I have added my father, many aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. It has always remained with me that we have friends in heaven. They are not merely fond memories, but active and living members in the House of God interceding for each one of us.
The Feast of All Saints is a special feast that stands at the head of a month in which we pray for the deceased among our family and friends. Continue reading
Fr. J.B. Francesia speaks of Fr. Rua as of a man or deep prayer. Always first at his place in church for the community meditation, he would kneel motionless throughout, with his face resting on the palms of his hands, holding a white handkerchief.
On February 23, 1887 early in the morning, an earthquake struck that was felt throughout northwestern Italy, in Turin and beyond. Father Francesia goes on the relate Fr. Alexander Lucchelli’s eyewitness account of the earthquake. Continue reading