Fr. René Butler MS - 22nd Ordinary Sunday -...
Humble Prayer (22nd Ordinary Sunday: Sirach 3:17-29; Hebrews 12:18-24; Luke 14: 1, 7-14) In today’s first reading we hear, “My child, conduct your affairs with humility.” In the gospel, Jesus says, “The one who humbles himself will be... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 21st Ordinary Sunday -...
Ingathering (21st Ordinary Sunday: Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-13; Luke 12:22-30) In recent weeks we have reflected on some challenging readings, and today seems to be no exception. In Hebrews we are told to accept trials as a form of discipline. In the gospel,... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 20th Ordinary Sunday -...
Radical Faith (20th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 38:4-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53) Jeremiah, committed to his prophetic ministry, was deeply disliked. His enemies, in the first reading, accused him of demoralizing the people. The message of La Salette has a... Czytaj więcej
Fr. René Butler MS - 19th Ordinary Sunday -...
Ready for the Pilgrimage? (19th Ordinary Sunday: Wisdom 18:6-9; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Luke 12:32-48) Brothers and sisters, are we ready? Have you ever planned to leave home at a certain time for a special event, only to have last-minute delays? These can be due to... Czytaj więcej
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La Salette, a Blessing

(Corpus Christi: Genesis 14:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-36; Luke 9:11-17)

“Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you.” These words are recited by the priest at the offertory of every Mass.

This is such an ancient prayer (as reflected also in Jewish practice), that one is tempted to think that when Jesus, in the Gospel, “said the blessing” over the loaves and fish, and over the bread and wine at the Last Supper, he may well have used words almost identical to those.

Melchizedek, in the first reading, prays in similar terms, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, the creator of heaven and earth,” and then adds, “Blessed be God Most High.” Who is blessing whom? We understand how God blesses us, but how can we bless God?

The Hebrew verb “to bless” is related to the Hebrew noun meaning “the knee.” When we bless God, we are bending our knee to him, a gesture of worship. But in that case, how does God bless us, since he cannot possibly worship us?

When he blesses us, God “bends the knee” in order to come down to us in our need, much as we might kneel by the side of a person who has fallen.

In today’s solemnity we give thanks for the Eucharist—which itself means thanksgiving—and for the priesthood which makes it possible for the Church to carry out Jesus’ command, “Do this in remembrance of me.”

Most of us are able to attend Mass daily if we wish. But in many parts of the world the faithful cannot receive the Eucharist daily or even weekly, but only when a priest makes the rounds. Then they flock to the Mass from miles away. (Please pray for priestly vocations.)

Those whom Our Lady of La Salette called “my people” had fallen so low that they did not recognize the gift of the Eucharist, even though it was easy to get to the local Church. So Mary, having so often bent the knee to her Son on our behalf, came down to us in the hope of raising her people to a life worthy of the name of Christian.

Through the Beautiful Lady, God has blessed us. There are many ways in which we may bless him in return.

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

Faith, Peace, Grace, Hope

(Trinity Sunday: Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15)

In his prayer the amazed psalmist asks God, “What is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man that you should care for him?” This is a very important question, which we might ask again as we read the last words of the first reading, where Wisdom, God’s collaborator in creation, declares, “I found delight in the human race.”

We might ask the same question of Our Lady of La Salette. Why should she care about us? Why does she still take such pains for us, when she herself tells us we can never repay her? And it was obvious in her apparition that she did not find delight in her people, but a source of tears.

What does this have to do with the Trinity? The Son of God, her Son, is visible on Mary’s breast. The Spirit who, as Jesus says in the Gospel, “will guide you to all truth,” may be perceived in her message and in the mission of the children. And it is, of course, the Father, not Mary, who sanctified the seventh day and kept it for himself.

Those connections are not necessarily the most important, however. The second reading may be even more relevant. Paul, inspired by the Spirit, writes: “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in hope of the glory of God.”

Mary came to revive our faith and hope, restore our peace, and renew our access to grace, by drawing us back to participation in the sacred mysteries and to a loving, prayerful relationship with God the Father, Son and Spirit. Should we not be grateful for his care, and find delight in the one who delights in us?

All of salvation history revolves around this reality. Of all creation, the human race is God’s favorite. It’s no wonder—and yet so wonderful!—that he reaches out to us in so many ways, even by revealing the Trinity.

The Beautiful Lady, too, has gone to great lengths for us. How could she ever forget the circumstances in which Jesus entrusted her “people” to her? We must never forget them either.

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

Suddenly, Quietly, Pentecost

(Pentecost: Acts 2:1-11; Romans 8:8-17; John 20:19-23. Other options possible.)

By way of encouragement, St. Paul wrote to the Christians of Rome: “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit.” He then compared them to non-believers. “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”

By way of admonishment, a Beautiful Lady spoke to Christians in and well beyond the village of La Salette: “If I want my Son not to abandon you, I am obliged to plead with him constantly.” She wept at the prospect of hearing him say, “I don’t know those people, they don’t belong to me.”

The Spirit of God can dwell only where he is welcome. Mary’s aim was to prepare hearts to receive him. This is essential to our charism. Mary gives us the example of compassion paired with forthrightness, warnings with promises, reproaches with tenderness, and tears throughout—whatever it takes to touch us.

This echoes much of what we find in today’s Sequence, a magnificent poetic text composed some eight hundred years ago. We invoke the Spirit as “the soul’s most welcome guest;” he is “grateful coolness in the heat,” but we also ask him to “melt the frozen, warm the chill.”

In this same context we pray: “Bend the stubborn heart and will;... Guide the steps that go astray.” The Spirit was surely empowering the Blessed Virgin to accomplish these things at La Salette.

Our need of the Spirit is forcefully expressed: “Where you are not, we have naught.” This aptly sums up the second reading.

In Acts the Spirit is described in wind and fire, evoking the creation of the universe in Genesis 1. John, on the other hand, tells how Jesus breathed on the Apostles, closer to the creation of man in Genesis 2, where God “formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

The first is more dynamic, the other more intimate (in keeping with Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you” and the experience some have had of “resting” in the Spirit). Both offer life. However the Spirit comes to us, let us welcome him and place ourselves at his service.

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

Ready, Willing, Able

(7th Sunday of Easter: Acts 7:55-60; Revelation 22:12-20; John 17:20-26)

The death of Steven is recorded in the first reading. The account includes this sentence: “The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul.” This is the same Saul who would be later known as Paul.

Steven is venerated as the first Christian martyr. So, it might surprise you to learn that the original Greek word for the witnesses in this passage is martyres. How can this be?

During the Easter season, we have often encountered the same word. The Apostles present themselves as witnesses of the Risen Christ, always martyres in the Greek. That’s what the word means. A martyr, in our modern sense, is first a witness to Jesus, but one who shed his blood for the sake of the Gospel.

Stephen witnessed by word and by imitation. His dying prayer was, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit... Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Jesus crucified prayed, “Father, forgive them” and, later, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:34, 46).

During his trial before the Sanhedrin, Jesus said, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mt 26:64). That is exactly the vision described by Stephen, which so enraged his audience.

Saul, too, would become a faithful and persecuted witness. Over the centuries, how many? How many more to come?

The La Salette Missionaries chose to remain in their mission, witnessing Christ to their people, during Angola’s civil war. Three of them died in the crossfire. Another accompanied the refugees to a camp in Zambia, where he nearly died of starvation. As we write, our Missionaries from Poland are continuing their mission in Ukraine in spite of the war with Russia.

Most of us, “ordinary” witnesses, have not had to make such sacrifices. But it is not enough just to admire their courage as we bring the Beautiful Lady’s great news to the world, by word and example.

Like them, we have to be ready, willing and able to accomplish the mission entrusted to us. If we have the necessary preparation and desire, we can count on Our Lord and Our Lady to give us the courage.

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

The Holy Spirit and Us

(6th Sunday of Easter: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29)

The letter sent to the Gentile Christians, in today’s first reading, is essential to our understanding of the Church. The resolution of the crisis is prefaced with the phrase, “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.”

It is not conceivable that the Apostles and elders might disagree with the Holy Spirit. Why then do they add their decision to that of the Holy Spirit? We will get back to this.

The other readings express similar ideas. Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” In the Apocalypse we read, “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.”

All of these texts reflect the intimate union of the human and the divine in the Church. We have rightly become accustomed to thinking of ourselves as the Church. Without Jesus and the Father and the Spirit, however, we are no different from any other organization. Without us, on the other hand, God lives in trinitarian glory, but there is no Church.

The Beautiful Lady of La Salette spoke to Christians who were Church in name only. Many, by cutting themselves off from the sources of faith provided by the Holy Spirit in the sacraments, were no longer God’s dwelling place or temple.

Two expressions in today’s readings are heard at every celebration of the Eucharist, close together in the Communion rite. They are, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you,” and “the Lamb.” Mary came to restore us to a state of peace with the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Now we return to the question raised above. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus calls “the Advocate,” is the teacher sent by the Father. We the Church cannot go astray when we teach what the Spirit teaches, through our institutions and structures, and in our individual lives. Thus the decision of the Holy Spirit is ours as well.

The very existence of La Salette Laity is a fairly recent manifestation of this reality. Let the new holy temple be within each of us as we allow the Advocate to work within us to the glory of God and the Lamb.

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

All Things New

(5th Sunday of Easter: Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-35)

The closing words of today’s reading from the Apocalypse, “Behold, I make all things new,” seem to radiate through all of today’s liturgy. The word “new” occurs at least eight times: three times in antiphons and prayers, once in the Gospel, and four times in the second reading.

We have been celebrating Easter already for four full weeks. Three more lie ahead. Hopefully we are still filled with the joy and newness of the resurrection.

Jesus gives his disciples a new commandment, and goes so far as to say, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Faithful observance of this law of love is certainly a challenge, but it ought to make it more natural for us to keep the rest of the commandments. It creates the new heart promised by the prophet Ezekiel (26:36).

No one can doubt that it was love that moved Our Lady to appear at La Salette. Like the light of the apparition, her love, too, is a reflection of the love radiating from the image of her crucified Son, who died and rose for our sake. She is telling us, “I love you as much as my Son loves you.” She promises a new manifestation of God’s tenderness and power.

By urging her people to turn away from sin and turn back to the practices by which they would be recognized as Catholic Christians, she was, like Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, “exhorting them to persevere in the faith.”

We can do the same. Some of you reading this are missionaries, bringing the Gospel to peoples of other lands. Most of us need only step outside the door of our homes and hearts to meet people and, by word or action, “strengthen their spirits.” Either way, it is a challenge as we fulfill the new commandment.

We want to contribute to the manifestation of the new heaven and the new earth, here and now. The psalm expresses our hope: “O Lord, let your faithful ones bless you. Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might.”

“The old order has passed away,” says the Lord, as he offers us a new heaven, a new earth, new hearts, new courage.

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

The New Evangelization

(4th Sunday of Easter: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Revelation 7: 9, 14-17; John 10:27-30)

In our second reading, from Revelation, John describes “a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue... who have survived the time of great distress.”

This cannot mean only those who escaped death during persecution. It is their faith that survived. Once evangelized, they remained faithful to the Lord Jesus. They are, if you will, the descendants of the new Christians described in the first reading: “The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region.”

As we know from much of Church history, enthusiasm for the Gospel needs to be renewed from time to time. In this context today we speak of the New Evangelization, which “calls each of us to deepen our faith, believe in the Gospel message and go forth to proclaim the Gospel” (USCCB website).

Pope Benedict XVI put it this way: “There are regions of the world... in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving rise to a true Christian tradition but in which... the secularization process has produced a serious crisis of the meaning of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church” (June 28, 2010). That was the situation addressed by the Beautiful Lady at La Salette, and about which all La Salette Laity, Missionaries and Sisters, are spontaneously concerned. We share her tears.

In today’s Gospel Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Our call as evangelizers is to enable others to hear his voice, and help remove the noise that distracts the listener or distorts the message.

Mary asked: “Do you say your prayers well, my children?” Isn’t that the beginning of our evangelization? When we open ourselves to the word of God speaking to our hearts and souls, our faith is deepened, and we are better prepared and motivated to share it.

At the same time we can hear the Gospel message “re‑proposed” to us. That is always a good thing.

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

Love and Witness

(3rd Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:27-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19)

There are countries where it is a crime to try to win converts to Christianity. But in other parts of the world, maybe even close to home, we may hear echoes of the high priest’s words in the first reading: “We gave you strict orders to stop teaching in that name!”

Such was the case in large areas of France at the time of the Apparition of Our Lady of La Salette. In fact, the situation deteriorated to the point that religious orders, including the Missionaries of La Salette, were obliged around the year 1900 to relocate to other countries in order to survive.

Like the Apostles, who “left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name,” we too can rejoice in that persecution, which led to the growth of the Congregation and the dissemination of the La Salette message and charism.

Peter and the others were witnesses, called to share what they had seen and heard, regardless of opposition. Ideally, the same should be said of all believers today. But where do we get the strength?

The answer is in today’s Gospel. Look at Peter’s reaction when the other disciple said, “It is the Lord!” His heart was so full of love for Jesus that he couldn’t even wait for the boat to get to shore.

Shortly after that, the Lord asked him three times, “Do you love me?” Each time he answered, “You know that I love you” and Jesus commanded him to feed his flock. Never again would Peter hesitate to acknowledge or proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Apply that scene to yourself. When you profess your love for Jesus, how does he reply? What does he expect of you? In one way or another it will involve some kind of witness, if only by full and faithful participation in the life of the Church. This is the minimum the Beautiful Lady asks of us.

The second reading describes a sort of liturgy, different in form from ours, but expressing the same desire: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.”

In our worship and in our life, let that be our aim.

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

The One who Lives

(2nd Sunday of Easter: Acts 5:12-16; Revelation 1:9-19; John 20:19-31)

Scholars generally agree that John, the author of the fourth Gospel, also wrote Revelation. In both, Jesus often uses the phrase “I am” in a way that is reminiscent of God’s words to Moses, which we read not long ago: “I AM WHO AM.”

We have an example in today’s reading from Revelation: “I am the first and the last, the one who lives.” Jesus gives himself important names, describing who he is in his very being. He goes on to say that he is “alive forever and ever”—an even more emphatic version of his words at the Last Supper, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”

Then we read a mysterious saying, “I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.” It seems to combine the notions of power and judgment, such as we find at La Salette when Mary speaks of “the arm of my Son.”

The Beautiful Lady’s words are subject to various interpretations, but taken in the context of other parts of her discourse, such as: “If I want my Son not to abandon you,” and “I warned you last year with the potatoes,” it is hard not to accept the traditional reading.

But today is Divine Mercy Sunday. You have seen the image, with rays emanating from Jesus’ heart. In our La Salette context we have often noted that the light of the Apparition came from the crucifix which Mary bore on her breast. The great news she came to deliver comes from that cross. La Salette is a merciful apparition.

Jesus, the one who lives, breathes on us as he did on the Apostles in today’s Gospel. To them and their successors he gave special power and judgment to forgive or retain sins. To us he gives our charism of reconciliation, which shines forth with special brilliance on this day.

Forgiveness is the goal, freely offered to all who will choose to submit to the divine will and change their lives accordingly. It was among the “signs and wonders” mentioned in the first reading.

We haven’t forgotten the doubting Thomas. Let us stand with him and the other Apostles as we gratefully and lovingly accept Jesus’ greeting: “Peace be with you.”

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

He Had to Rise

(Easter: Acts 10:34-43; Colossians 3:1-4 ; John 20:1-9)

At the end of today’s Gospel, John states clearly, “They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” In fact, as the readings during the Easter season will often show, most of the disciples did not believe Jesus had risen until he revealed himself.

Let us put ourselves in Peter’s place in the empty tomb. What are we to make of what we see? Nothing here makes sense. For example, if Jesus’ body was stolen, why would a thief fold the burial cloths?

Then let us join Peter as he appears in the first reading. By this time in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter has been boldly proclaiming the risen Christ to the Jewish people, and many have believed. But here he is preaching to a devout God-fearing Roman centurion, along with his family and friends. Now Peter is a witness, not of an empty place of death, but of the fullness of life, for everyone.

St. Paul, writing to the Colossians, reminds them, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” As a witness, he certainly practiced what he preached.

At La Salette, the Beautiful Lady made witnesses of Maximin and Mélanie. We follow in their footsteps, reminding people of the transforming power of the crucified and risen Jesus. What Peter says of himself and his companions applies also to us: “He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

John writes that Jesus had to rise. This goes beyond announcing the historical event. For without his resurrection there is no victory over death. There is no victory over sin. There is no salvation. There is no restoring of the covenant relationship with God.

If modern social media had existed at the time of today’s Gospel, imagine what theories would have circulated concerning the empty tomb! If the burning faith of Peter and the others existed today, imagine what prophets we might become in this present age!

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

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