Fr. René Butler MS - 4th Sunday of Advent -...
Elizabeth and Mary and Us (4th Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45) The opening lines of Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem, in today’s first reading, are best remembered as the text used by the scholars of Jerusalem to tell the... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 3rd Sunday of Advent -...
Mission of Joy (3rd Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18) Today is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, so we are not surprised to hear Zephaniah telling Jerusalem, and Paul the Philippians, to rejoice. Both are beyond enthusiastic! But someone... Czytaj więcej
Madagaskar - Chapter
Madagaskar – Provincial Chapter Provincial Chapter: November 10-14, 2021 New Provincial Council Fr. Bertrand Ranaivoarisoa, provincial superior (center) Fr. Gérard Ramaroson, provincial vicar (left) Fr. Hervé Martin Rafalimalalanirina, second... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 2nd Sunday of Advent - From...
From Misery to Glory (2nd Sunday of Advent: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6) The opening of today’s text from Baruch is wonderful: “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God... Czytaj więcej
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Elizabeth and Mary and Us

(4th Sunday of Advent: Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45)

The opening lines of Micah’s prophecy about Bethlehem, in today’s first reading, are best remembered as the text used by the scholars of Jerusalem to tell the Magi where to look for the Christ child. Bethlehem played a significant role in salvation history.

But the rest of the text is equally important. Two phrases stand out in particular: “she who is to give birth,” and “he shall be peace.” These, too, point to Bethlehem, but in today’s Gospel they can be heard, so to speak, at a town in the hill country. less than five miles from Jerusalem.

Mary and Elizabeth can both be identified as “she who is to give birth.” As for their children, Jesus “shall be peace,” while John will be, like Micah, a prophet to announce the Lord’s coming.

Elizabeth’s words, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” were incorporated (along with the greeting of the Angel Gabriel) into the Hail Mary in its earliest forms. We can imagine those scenes when we say this prayer.

The second part of the Hail Mary is clearly reflected at La Salette, when Our Lady tells us that she prays for us without ceasing—which is the same as when we say, “now and at the hour of our death.”

Her prayer is “for us sinners,” i.e. for our forgiveness, and that we may prepare to meet the Lord with clean hearts and converted souls, beginning now and until death.

We always call Our Lady of La Salette the Beautiful Lady, or the Weeping Mother, but today let us think of her as she who is to give birth or, as Elizabeth says, “the mother of my Lord.” Luke tells us Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit when she heard Mary’s greeting. She received a spiritual gift (charism) that prompted her to speak in a prophetic way.

Mary’s greeting at La Salette brought with it a peaceful spirit, calming the fears of Mélanie and Maximin. It drew them to her, opening them to hear her great news, empowering them to make it known.

In this same spirit, let us press forward eagerly on our Advent journey to Bethlehem, and invite others to join us and be introduced to our Savior.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Mission of Joy

(3rd Sunday of Advent: Zephaniah 3:14-18; Philippians 4:4-7; Luke 3:10-18)

Today is Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday, so we are not surprised to hear Zephaniah telling Jerusalem, and Paul the Philippians, to rejoice. Both are beyond enthusiastic!

But someone else is rejoicing, too. Look at the end of the first reading. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” Is there any image of God more likely than this to bring joy into our hearts?

Zephaniah gives the reason: “The Lord has removed the judgment against you... The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.”

God’s judgment was certainly just; his people were rightly punished. But mercy triumphed, and once again God was willing to make a fresh start. The tears of the Beautiful Lady of La Salette, falling on the crucifix over her heart, are a sign of mercy, Mary’s way of telling us that the Lord, whose judgment is just, has no desire to abandon us entirely. She is letting her people know that God wants to be close to us, to renew his love for us and restore his covenant with us.

The Lord Emmanuel is near. Therefore, we ought to rejoice always, and the expression of this joy should flow out of us into the world around us. That, however, is easier said than done. During Advent, in particular, some experience more stress than at other times, due either to the many preparations for Christmas, or to the painful loneliness that, strangely, the season can intensify.

In this context, let us remember John the Baptist. The Gospels do not depict him as especially joyful, but today’s Gospel Acclamation seems to apply to him the text from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.” His glad tidings take the form of a call to genuine conversion, but in view of the promise of another who is to come.

Whether our La Salette mission is more like John’s or like Zephaniah’s and Paul’s, let us carry it out with all the joy we can.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

From Misery to Glory

(2nd Sunday of Advent: Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6)

The opening of today’s text from Baruch is wonderful: “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever.” In fact, the entire reading brims over with hope and consolation.

Depending on our circumstances, we might replace “Jerusalem” with our own name, or our family or some larger group. There are moments in every life when we need to throw off the robe of misery. God’s will for us is joy.

St. Paul writes to the Philippians, “I pray always with joy in my every prayer for all of you... And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.”

John the Baptist appears in the Gospel, “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mary came to La Salette in tears, but she too brought hope and left a message of reconciliation. She wanted, in the words of the Psalm, to “restore our fortunes like the torrents in the southern desert.”

In fact, consider how many words of today’s Psalm can easily be associated with the Beautiful Lady and her message: tears, seed, sowing, reaping, etc.

The same may be said of the first reading. Mary shows herself in both an attitude of mourning and the splendor of glory. She stands upon the heights, looking upon her children—the two innocents standing with her, as well as her wayward people whom she desires to gather “by the light of God’s glory, with his mercy and justice for company.” In our own way, as reconcilers, we must also stand upon the heights. As Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden... Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5: 14, 16).

May we all be cloaked in justice and mercy, bearing on our heads “the mitre that displays the glory of the eternal name.” In this way we may hope to attract others to Christ and, in the words of St. Paul, help them “to discern what is of value.”

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Teach me your Paths

(1st Sunday of Advent: Jeremiah 33:14-16; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-36)

Today we begin Year C in the Church’s three-year liturgical cycle. We have been this way before, and much will be familiar. Still, it is a new year, a new spiritual journey, for we have changed, as has the world around us.

Every journey has a starting point and a final destination. So let us make ours the words of today’s Psalm: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me.” We do not want to lose our way.

There will be a number of stops along the way. The first will be in Bethlehem, as we celebrate the coming of the promised Messiah.

We hear in the first reading, “The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made... I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land.” The One who is to come will teach by word and example.

At La Salette, the Weeping Mother appeared to two children to give a message of hope, that promises made would be fulfilled. She was offering guidance to a people that was not doing what was right and just. They were on a path that did not lead toward God but away from God.

Mary is also urging us to be faithful in prayer. We should want to pray worthily, that is, from the heart, asking the Lord to always direct our steps on the path toward him.

The second reading is from Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians, which is full of instruction intended to keep the young Christian community on the right path. Here, in the context of Christ’s return, we read: “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all.” This reminds us that we are connected to others, on the same path with us.

Jesus tells us to be vigilant. “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life.” We cannot afford to stray from the way he shows us as he guides us.

Most of the Gospel readings in Year C will come from Luke’s Gospel. Let us allow him to be our guide, leading us along a path toward God, who is the source of all we need and hope for.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

King Forever

(Christ the King: Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37)

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet; Omega is the last. In the New Testament (written in Greek), they appear only in Revelation, always together, four times, on the lips of Jesus who says, “I am Alpha and Omega.”

In each instance, they are accompanied by a phrase similar to what we find in today’s second reading: “the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.” Elsewhere in Revelation, Jesus is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All of these notions, taken together, express his absolute dominion.

Daniel, in the first reading, speaks prophetically of Christ, saying, “His kingship shall not be destroyed.” In the Creed we echo the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, “Of his Kingdom there will be no end.”

In most parts of the modern world, monarchies have been replaced by republics with various forms of democracy. Individual Christians, too, though they call Jesus Lord, are more likely to visualize him dressed in the typical garb of his day than in royal robes. Some relate to him more easily as brother, or friend, and might even rebel against the image of Christ the King.

The last French monarchy was on its way to extinction at the time of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. At that same time, religion was being ignored, if not attacked, in large swaths of the population. Anything that was perceived as domination was being rejected.

Mary did not come to restore a monarchy of any kind. She shows us her Son on the cross, stripped, wearing a crown of thorns. Submission to him is not simply submission to his authority, but to his boundless love and endless mercy.

Today, in many places and various ways, there is an effort to thrust Christian faith out of public life. In a sense, Jesus stands before a new Pilate, insisting once again, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.” His dominion is not domination.

He adds, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” This is where we come in. With our charism of reconciliation, and In our La Salette tradition of penance, prayer and zeal, let us testify to his truth. As we come to the end of this liturgical year, let us pray that he will reign forever in our hearts.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Gathered in Hope

(33rd Ordinary Sunday: Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 10:11-18; Mark 13:24-32)

Today, Daniel prophesies “a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began.” Jesus describes alarming signs preceding the end-time. We may be tempted to draw a correlation between these readings and our own time.

If so, we wouldn’t be the first. In fact, there has hardly been a time in the history of the Church when persecutions, natural disasters, epidemics, etc., were not seen as signs of the Second Coming of Christ.

This is not a bad thing. It reminds every generation to remain steadfast in the faith, as we joyfully anticipate the return of our Savior, who offered the necessary blood sacrifice to redeem us from sin.

The opening prayer of today’s Liturgy asks God to give us “the constant gladness of being devoted to you.” How many of us have found this? At La Salette, Mary noted that very few people attended Mass. In 1846, France was not known for its religious fervor. On the contrary, it was suffering from what we might call “faith deficit disorder (FDD).”

The Beautiful Lady proposes a kind of FDD therapy: prayer, Lenten penance, respect for the day and name of the Lord. Ever attentive to her people’s need, she not only speaks of frightful events, but offers hope as well.

Daniel writes of “everyone who is found written in the book.” Jesus says, “The Son of Man... will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” Mary uses simple words to express the same reality: “My children.. my people.”

She knows the wonderful truth that we find early in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (no. 27).

The psalmist rejoices to call the Lord “my allotted portion and my cup.” All the readings today point to the God who created us in his image and who wishes to gather us to himself. Steadfast in faith, we do not fear his coming.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

The Last Full Measure

(32nd Ordinary Sunday: 1 Kings 17:10-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44)

“Here, my child, eat some bread while we still have it this year; because I don't know who will eat any next year if the wheat keeps up like that.” When the Beautiful Lady reminded Maximin of these words spoken by his father, the boy admitted candidly, “Oh, yes, Madam, now I remember. Just then, I didn't remember it.”

Mary appeared to a people who were down to their last measure of wheat, potatoes, grapes and nuts, staring famine in the face. But their faith was weak, and they didn’t know where to turn.

Such was the situation of the widow in the first reading. But her trust in the prophet’s promise inspired her to let him have her last measure of food. In the Gospel, too, another widow, of whose history we know nothing, gave her last measure of personal means to the temple. Jesus drew his disciples’ attention to her, showing the value of true generosity animated by faith.

In the second reading the author writes of Christ: “Now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice.” This is Jesus as Mary shows him to us at La Salette: her Son, giving the last full measure of his love, the price of our redemption.

The crucifix calls us to do the same, to give not from our excess, but generously, of our resources, or time or talents. The more we recognize what we have received, the more we should be willing to share. In Luke 6:38, Jesus says, “The measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”

It may be that we have none of those things to give. But we share in the priesthood of Christ, and in the Eucharist we offer what he offered.

There is always something we can do. Look at today’s Psalm. Among God’s merciful actions we find, “The Lord keeps faith forever... the Lord loves the just.” We can foster attitudes of trust, praying for those who serve others. We can forgive, and accept forgiveness.

The full measure may not be required of us. However, Mary pleads with us to submit to her Son, and to trust in her promise of abundant harvest and abundant mercy. What is that worth to us?

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Great Commandments

(31st Ordinary Sunday: Deuteronomy 6:2‑6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34)

When we see images of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, they often show on one tablet our obligations to God and, on the other, our duties towards our neighbor.

The question of the scribe in today’s Gospel, and Jesus’ answer did not refer to these. However, there can be no controversy as to which of the ten came first. Rather, the debate concerned which of the 600-plus commandments and statutes of the Law was the most important.

Jesus’ response is so important that the Church gives us its source in the first reading, and the scribe repeats what Jesus says. We see here, also, an encouraging example of what it means to be in harmony with Christ’s teachings, when Jesus tells him: “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

At La Salette, the Blessed Virgin also mirrored the same message, though from a different perspective. She showed that, by failing to give the Lord the Day he had reserved to himself, and by abusing his Name, her people did not love God.

In her message, the Beautiful Lady touched explicitly on the commandments of the “first tablet.” It would be absurd, however, to think that our duties to our neighbor were of no importance to her. In her discourse, the “Field of Coin” episode recognizes at least the responsibility of parents toward their children.

Jesus was not asked about the “second” commandment. He added it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18). First and second are so integrated and intertwined in the Christian vision that each leads to the other, each stems from the other.

It follows that when we accept Mary’s message and respond to her tears and words, we seek reconciliation with both God and neighbor. In this way, on our journey to becoming saints, we submit to the call and charism of La Salette.

Our hearts have a deep desire to cry out with the Psalmist, “I love you, Lord, my strength!” But we have to mean it, and live it. Jesus is “able to save those who approach God through him” (second reading). When we love him and our neighbor, we hope to hear him say, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Joy-filled Prayer

(30th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52)

Today’s story of blind Bartimaeus is an eloquent reminder of the place for joy in the Christian life. As soon as he heard that Jesus was passing by, a joyful transformation took place within him, caused by faith and hope. He prayed well, at the top of his voice!

It can be difficult to keep a strong positive and happy disposition during prayer. Of course, we should not pretend to be happy when we are not. But in prayer we can make an effort to set aside momentarily our fears and anxieties—like Bartimaeus throwing aside his cloak—so as to find the wellspring of joy in our faith and bring it to our worship.

Our Lady of La Salette came and appeared to the two children at a place where there was not much in the way of joy. Her people had not turned to the Lord in their need, but left it to “a few elderly women” to pray and go to Mass. Although Mary showed herself as the Weeping Mother, her purpose was to point the way out of sadness and despair.

Today’s Psalm is filled with expressions of joy. It reflects the return from exile. We find the same in the first reading: “Shout with joy for Jacob, exult at the head of the nations; proclaim your praise and say: The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel.”

We are not an exile people, but at times we feel lost. In those moments, the worst thing we can do is to isolate ourselves from our faith and the worshipping community, where Jesus is our great High Priest and gives himself to us as our Bread of Life.

The psalmist says, “Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing... They shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves.” Our Lady’s tears at La Salette hopefully lead us to this place of rejoicing as we reap the harvest of the promises she made.

And again, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad indeed.” We could all say the same, if only we would stop to reflect. We can compose our own Psalm of thankful praise, and should recite it often.

And if the opportunity presents itself, what is to prevent us from sharing it with those around us? Joy is infectious. Let us spread it where we can.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

Redemptive Suffering

(29th Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45)

Selfish people are usually willing to make certain sacrifices to achieve their goals. Along the way some may abandon relationships and values in their pursuit of personal advantage.

If you could distill all your prayer requests down to one, what would it be?

We know that our prayer, even when we ask for what we need, must not be purely self-centered. In today’s Gospel, we understand the reaction of the other Apostles when James and John made their not-so-virtuous request to Jesus. He in turn, criticized the ten for their jealousy. Then he taught all of them the lessons of service and redemptive suffering.

The Beautiful Lady, who shared in her Son’s work of salvation on Calvary, described the painful situation in which she found herself. “How long a time I have suffered for you!” She was caught, as it were, between her beloved but offended Son and her beloved but offending people.

We have all read the account of her words and manner at La Salette. What about her interaction with Jesus before the Apparition? Hers was no ordinary prayer. In Joel 2:17 we read, “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep, and say, ‘Spare, O Lord, your people.’” Mary’s prayer was surely even more intense. Try to imagine the scene.

We can join her in that prayer, as we cry, “Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!” We recite this at every Mass, as part of the ritual; but the more aware we are of our need for forgiveness, for God’s help in troubled times, the deeper will be the meaning that we give to those words, as we implore the Lord never to abandon us.

We can also offer to do our part, uniting all of our daily aches and pains, whether physical, psychological or spiritual, to the redemptive suffering of Jesus. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes in today’s second reading, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.”

Jesus has already paid the price of our redemption. What Mary asks of us at La Salette seems a small price to pay if we want to share in the great mercy that is waiting for us.

Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.

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