St. John Paul II
God our Father, to you we entrust ourselves and all the youth of the world; together with our problems, aspirations and hopes. Look upon us with love and make us workers for peace and builders of a loving civilization. Call us to follow Jesus, your Son. Make us understand that to give one whole life for you and humanity is worthwhile. Grant us the generosity and readiness to reply “YES”. Listen, Lord to our praise and prayer for the young people who, after the example of Mary, Mother of the Church have believed in your word and are preparing Holy Orders, profession of the evangelical counsels or missionary work. Help them to understand that their call is ever real and urgent. Amen.
St. John Paul II
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
"Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven. So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”.
Service, real service makes people grow because it gets that last drop of love from them, love which they never knew they could give.
Service is the first action of that movement from oneself to another. It’s where everything starts to change. All the more strange, since in this world, so politically correct, it’s what you can get for yourself which is considered important.
Service turns everything upside down. Those who engage in service harness their skills, their gifts, the best of themselves, and put them at the disposal of their neighbor who in turn gets caught up in this service and begins to get more out of life.
To serve or not to serve?
It’s an agonizing decision which wears out body and spirit more surely than rocks on a desert path, since it has to do with leaving oneself in order to find oneself, with no chance to turn back on a journey towards God and neighbor.
To serve means to go beyond appearances so as to recognize, to wipe and to venerate the face of God in whatever guise of disfigurement it presents itself.
To serve means to be patient, because there is no short cut to learning the skills and habits of the One who is our Servant.
Serving needs open arms. Isn’t that how welcoming is done?
Open arms to welcome whichever neighbor will come our way, thinking only of their needs.
Serving means loss of grandeur since that’s the only way to put oneself on the same level as God’s little ones, so that sharing brings one face to face in genuine equality.
Serving demands that you give of yourself like bread that is shared, broken and passed around to everyone at table.
Serving requires Passion, that love which dares to pay the price for the ultimate gift of self.
Service is about a resolution which has the remarkable power to force even death to open the gates of life!
That is why service is the first act in the renewal of humanity.
And for the disciples of Christ there is nothing else to do except to follow the example of the Servant of Servants, who passionately served those entrusted to Him to the very limits of His love (Lenten Journey 1998).
The life of Montfort, a life of service
“The General Hospital, in the time of Montfort, was the place where all the miserable people of a town were gathered together: the sick, the poor, the homeless, the disabled, etc. At the suggestion of Madame de Montespan, a friend of the Bishop of Poitiers, Montfort presented himself at the General Hospital of this town to offer his services. Before even meeting with the Bishop, he was noticed by the poor, who asked that he might be their director. He had hardly taken up his role that he undertook an urgent task of “reanimation”. There was so much to be given back life and order in what he himself called “a poor Babylon”. He began by placing himself in their situation, refusing any stipend and choosing for himself the most miserable room. He re-established the daily begging around the town:
He went with some of his new friends to collect the left-overs of the bourgeois families and load them onto a donkey. Then he re-organized the meals in the refectory, where he himself would serve at table, sharing the menu of the inmates when he did not content himself with their left-overs. He rearranged the daily rule, with a precise timetable for getting up, for prayer, meals and going to bed. He himself slept on straw, just like his flock, swept the rooms, showed a predilection for the most miserable, and gave up his own blankets to keep them warm. No, the poor “outcasts” of Poitiers had never seen a chaplain who was so close to them. He shared their life, their sentiments and their resentments, as is witnessed by one of his hymns—The Cries of the Poor—whose inspiration dates from this period: “You rich wake up and hear!” (In The Footsteps of Montfort, Animation Tool 2015-2016)
If the earth becomes parched under injustice and poverty, and if it is disfigured by conflicts and hateful invasions, isn’t this because due to pressure for profitable economies and out of national egoism it forgets to apply itself to equitable and unpartisan sharing?
Refusing to share amounts to rejecting the humanity within us and denying the divine aspect with which God has marked us from the dawn of the universe.
But who among us dares to embark on sharing without fear of being wounded?
Sharing consists of taking some of what’s ours, some of what’s due to us, some of what’s reserved for us for our happiness and contentment, so we can fragment it, diminish it and divide it, reduce it and separate it into several parts to be given out to those who have not received a share from anyone.
In this way we only keep for ourselves a share that’s been carved out of the same size as that owned by those who have nothing!
Sharing involves an attitude of respect for the other person is considered a brother or sister of equal humanity.
Sharing is a choice to give rather to keep, to bring relief rather pass by.
Sharing is an act of love since only love is able to serve others as much as it does self and to hand itself over to compassion.
Sharing means a presence since surely the vital thing is to stand by the side of those who can no longer go on and to lighten the burdens that crush them into the dust?
Sharing implies enlargement since giving and consoling go beyond all frontiers and are not reserved for the privileged few.
Sharing is a life-transfusion since in outstretched hands there to offer and heal, the life force is communicated as it relieves its neighbor, and the sign of a humanity raised into fraternity is made clear (Lenten Journey 2007 Year C It’s Time to Share)
The Life of Marie-Louise, a Life of Sharing
“Which religious house should Marie-Louise enter to realize her religious vocation? Challenged one day by Marie-Louise, Father de Montfort gazes for a long time at this young woman who does not wish to postpone her gift to God. Smiling and in an offhand manner, he says the words in such a way as to put no constraint on her nor violate her liberty: “Well, then, go and live in the hospital.” At that point, Marie Louise does not attach much importance to the remark, for it seems unthinkable.
But when she goes home, the real meaning of the words dawns on her and takes hold of her. She understands all that Montfort has intended by this invitation. The more she thinks about it, the more she is persuaded that God has made known his will to her, and a great peace descends on her spirit regarding her vocation. Without delay, she goes off to find Father de Montfort at the hospital:
“I have thought for several days about what you said to me. I want to come to live among the poor.” But the response of the hospital administrators that the Bishop passes on to her is negative: they already have too many governesses, and do not want one more! Without turning a hair, she answers the Bishop: “Monsignor, these gentlemen are not prepared to accept me as a governess; perhaps they will not refuse to admit me as one of the poor.” Now this answer gives the Bishop a clear indication of the stature of the young woman before him. So without further objection, he writes a letter requesting the administrators of the hospital to accept her. Their surprise is extreme. So they try to disguise the entrance of Marie Louise as a matter of convenience: they create a prestigious post especially for her—a sort of sub-superiorship.
But Father de Montfort has other plans for her: he demands that she come to live in his small community of Wisdom, and when the head of the hospital asks that she be made at least the superior of the group, he replies with firmness and to her astonishment.
“Oh, no, Madame, first she must learn to obey.” So Marie-Louise enters tranquilly into the little group of the “Daughters of Wisdom”, and follows the rule, point by point, exactly as they do. Having refused the oft-repeated requests of the Superior to eat with the governesses, she eats willingly and with all the hearty appetite of a nineteen year-old the black bread and soup of the poor.
Every morning, with the permission of Father de Montfort, she receives the Eucharist; her face shining with serenity, for all the uncertainty of the past long months has now been resolved.” (In The Footsteps of Montfort, Animation Tool 2015-2016)
On that day I woke up early morning and went to 6:00 o ‘clock Mass in our Parish. That day was Ash Wednesday! With the ashes on my head, ‘’the mark has been traced’’. A 40 days trip to start taking a new map! I am invited in these 40 days to ‘receive my own share of His life that triumphed’ over 18 years in my religious life. I am called to ‘’enter the open garden of His overflowing fullness!’’ I take a look at the map and imagine a beautiful journey ahead of me; I am assured that even if it leads me along rough roads I have nothing to fear!
Wisdom is my Guide
Psalm 23 (adapted)
Wisdom is my guide, I lack nothing
In green pasture,
She lets me lie down
By gentle rain,
She lets my spirit be refreshed
I grow under her rays.
Wisdom guides me in the path of justice;
Her kindness is my strength,
Her tenderness leads me to salvation;
Even I walk in the dark valley
I fear no danger,
For Wisdom is with me.
Her faithfulness pursues me to love her more;
Her beauty delights me every day of my life
For Wisdom is my treasure,
I lack nothing more.
This prayer was composed last December 26, 2014
DW Sisters Retreat on Continuous Prayer
Sacred Heart Retreat House, Philippines
“Lord, let everything I do in this season of Lent come from you,
and be inspired by you: I long to be closer to you.
Help me to remember that nothing is important in my life
unless it glorifies you in some way.”
May I have the same faith like Mary,
Our perfect companion, during the holy season of Lent
to commit myself fully in this journey
and give myself completely to You for God Alone. Amen!