Friday, March 11, 2011

+Vigil of the Canonization of Ignatius & Xavier

Tomorrow, the Church and the Society of Jesus celebrate the 389th anniversary of the canonization of Saints Ignatius Loyola and Francis Xavier. Ignatius was beatified by Pope Paul V on July 27, 1609 and canonized with Francis Xavier and others by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622. The Catholic Church only canonizes or beatifies those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue; and does so only after this virtue has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.

The prayerful devotion to any saint can lend a powerful assistance to living a Catholic life in our troubled world, (war, poverty strife, etc.). Our Catholic belief in the “Communion of Saints,” points us to our God in Heaven by the holiness they exhibited here on earth. These men and women have experienced God and are now permanently recognized by the faithful for offering that glimpse of God at work in and through God’s people.

As we recognize with the Church the heritage of our Founding Father Ignatius and his friend, Francis Xavier, and as we strive to live in the spiritual charism they left us, may we first imitate their humble faith, and have the conviction to inspire it in others.

St. Ignatius Loyola & St. Francis Xavier, Pray For Us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the Feast of St. Claude la Colombière

Today the Church and the Society of Jesus celebrate the feast of St. Claude La Colombière, the spiritual guide who recognized in St. Margaret Mary Alacoque the Heart of Jesus. He served in faith, hope and love, attempting to help Margaret know and see God through her prayer experience. Claude’s humility and listening heart gave him the insight to know grace in his midst.

My friends, listening can be hard to do in our culture; listening with heart can be even harder. The listening heart requires a selfless setting aside in order to hear Jesus at the heart of the matter. Our Ignatian tradition richly calls us to that composition of place necessary to hear Christ in others and around us. I encourage you today to imitate St. Claude; place yourself into the Heart of Jesus; hear, see, feel, and know His all-encompassing immense love that offers us the window into the Divine. Then in awe, act on behalf of that blazing heart in the world around you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ordinary Time!

Tempus per annum –literally "time through the year" translates for us Roman Catholics on the Liturgical Calendar into Ordinary Time. Yesterday completed the full grandeur and magnificence of the Christmas Season. And so now that the tree lights are boxed, the decorations all wrapped up and back in the attic, and the manger scene put away after the extensive celebration commemorating Jesus’ Birth, we now return to the tempo of "Ordinary Time." The Church asks of us that from today through Mardi Gras, or the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, to focus on the life of Jesus, on his daily routine, his teachings, his friendships, his challenges, his struggles, and the living out of His call as “Son of God.”

Ignatian Spirituality very much implores a retreatant during the Second Week of the Spiritual Exercises to come to know, to love, and to serve the person of Jesus. My friends, what more can one ask than to be loved by Jesus? What more can one ask than to come to know “love” in its greatest expression? Take this “Ordinary Time” to bolster that love. See, feel, experience Jesus in your daily routine, you won’t be disappointed. You will know your truest self when you know Jesus in the Ordinary. How will you respond to that?

Friday, November 19, 2010

+On the Feast of Bl. Miguel Pro

“Let us give thanks to the Lord our God; for it is right to give God thanks and praise.”

These very expressions above, we, as Church, use to enter into the summit and center of our entire celebration at Mass. These expressions are dependent upon our own prayerful notion of thanksgiving. We unite as one in a community of prayer and faith asking our God to sanctify our humble celebration. For centuries Christians have gathered for Eucharist in this same spirit of thanksgiving, in hope, in trust, and in love.

This week our country celebrates Thanksgiving – and although not a religious holiday, it was from its foundation, a Christian expression of gratitude for the produce of the land – a bountiful harvest; but also, Thanksgiving was an expression of gratitude for friends, family, health, safety, and the ever-present love of Jesus Christ. Let us find in our hearts an expression of gratitude for all that we have, all that we are, all that we can be – because of God. In this month of memorial, let us remember in gratitude those souls who have gone before us in death to new life. And in gratitude, let us remember the life of Blessed Miguel Austin Pro; his life stands as a testimony to the fact that God is with us even when no one else seemingly is. As a martyr for Christ in the Church of Mexico, Bl. Miguel cried out in gratitude and faith “Viva Cristo Rey – Live Christ the King!” He has continued to intercede for people by his witness to the faith.

And so it is that we, my friends, say, Deo Gratia, thank you, Lord. May we continue to empty our hearts in gratitude and be further inspired for the service of Your Greater Glory via our authentic vocation!

A Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to All from the Vocation Office!

+Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam,

Fr. Charles A. Frederico, SJ
Director of Vocations
Maryland, New England & New York Provinces

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Joseph: A Model of Faithfulness

Joseph. He is the man on the outskirts, standing in the shadows, silently waiting, there when wanted and always ready to help. He is the man in whose life God is constantly intervening with warnings and visions. Without complaint he allows his own plans to be set aside. His life is a succession of prophecies and dream-messages, of packing up and moving on. He is the man who dreams of setting up a quiet household, simply leading a decent home life and going about his everyday affairs, attending to his business and worshiping God and who, instead, is condemned to a life of wandering. Beset with doubts, heavy hearted and uneasy in his mind, his whole life disrupted, lie has to take to the open road, to make his way through an unfriendly country, finding no shelter but a miserable stable for those he holds most dear. He is the man who sets aside all thought of self and shoul¬ders his responsibilities bravely — and obeys.

His message is willing obedience. He is the man who serves. It never enters his head to question God's commands; he makes all the necessary preparations and is ready when God's call comes. Willing, unquestioning service is the secret of his life. It is his message for us and his judgment of us. How proud and presumptuous and self-sufficient we are. We have crabbed and confined God within the pitiable limits of our obstinacy, our complacency, our opportunism, our mania for “self-expression.” We have given God — and with him everything that is noble and spiritual and holy — only the minimum of recognition, just as much as would serve to flatter our self-esteem and further our self-will. Just how wrong this is life itself has shown us since in consequence of our attitude we have come to abject bondage dominated by ruthless states which force the individual to sink his identity in the common mass and give his service whether he wishes or not. The prayer of Saint Paul — do with me what you will — the quiet and willing readiness to serve of the man Joseph, could lead us to a truer and more genuine freedom.

—Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.

Father Delp (d. 1945) was condemned to death in Germany during World War II.

Click here to read more about the extraordinary life of Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Contemplation for Ash Wednesday

Imagine a city affected by a tsunami, where droves of poor people live on the streets near the beach amidst garbage and stench, where young mothers hold their babies begging for food, digging through garbage and struggling to survive. Both babies and their mothers are undernourished and emaciated. Fear and vulnerability, as well as the incapacity to change anything, capture the onlooker. Questions like “What can I do for these people?” or “How could God let this happen?” fill one’s mind. Suddenly, one is confronted with the eyes of an elderly woman, walking along the road. The woman is dirty, raggedly dressed and carrying a water jug down the street. Imagine she looks at you as if to say, I am Mary “the sorrowful mother!” Her suffering contributes to the darkness—with black marks of desperation, sadness, and hurt on her face. Her eyes beg the question: “Why are you here? Can you enter into my sorrow? Can you allow compassion to transform you? Transform the world?” This woman does not wear a simple black cross of ashes on her forehead. Instead, she is a living reminder to the true message of Ash Wednesday. She challenges the question, “Do we believe in the Good News?” God speaks to us directly through this woman: “Here I am. I am right here, in the midst of my poorest of the poor. How blessed are they, for they shall inherit my kingdom of love.”

As we recall the ashes placed on our foreheads this day, let us see this woman and feel God stir deep inside of us. Live the Ash Wednesday message understanding God’s communion with this “woman.” Wear your ashes and experience the human struggle to survive; hear the Call for help.

The ashes we receive—and this Lenten Season we observe—are about connection, about compassion, about kindness, and about mercy. Examine how to live the Gospel message in your own life these days and reconnect yourself with Christ's Call for you!

—Fr. Chuck Frederico, SJ