Monthly Archives: October 2018

Blessed Isidore de Loor


Since their founding in the mid 1800s, the Passionists have given the church a variety of saints and blessed. St. Paul of the Cross, a preacher and mystic, St. Vincent Strambi, a holy bishop during the Napoleanic Wars, Blessed Dominic Barberi, a fervent missionary to England, St. Gabriel Possenti a young Italian saint who died in his early 20s, Blessed Eugene Bossilkov, a martyr bishop under the Communists in Bulgaria in the 1950s.

October 6th we honor Blessed Isidore de Loor 1881-1916, from the Flemish part of Belgium, who entered the Passionists as a lay brother at 26.

The opening prayer for a feast usually indicates why a saint or blessed is honored.

Lord God,

in Blessed Isidore’s spirit of humility and work

you have given us a life hidden in the shadow of the Cross.

Grant that our daily work be a praise to you

and a loving service to our brothers and sisters.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Isidore was a humble, hard worker. He spent the first 26 years of his life working the family farm in Vrasene, Belgium, with his parents, brother and sister. Farming was tough at the time, demanding long hours and offering little to show for it. The agricultural sector in Belgium was near collapse. Yet, Isidore praised God and served his brothers and sisters through hard continuing work.

Prayer was the hidden power motivating his life. Isidore taught catechism in his parish; prayed at local shrines and made the Stations of the Cross daily. He wanted to enter religious life, but delayed till his brother Franz was free from a call-up for military service and could keep up the family farm.

Entering the Passionists as a brother, he took on whatever responsibilities they gave him to do. At first, they told him to be the community cook. “Before I dug the earth, planted seed and harvested crops, now I cut vegetables, put them in pots on the stove and cook them till they’re ready,” he told his family. Whatever his work, he saw it as God’s will and a way to serve.

In 1911, cancer developed in Isidore’s eye and it had to be removed. He was not cancer free, the doctors said, cancer eventually would take his life. God’s will be done, he said.

As his strength declined, he became porter at the monastery door. World War 1 was beginning and German troops invaded Belgium. The frightened people who came to the monastery found support in the quiet faith of “Good Brother Isidore”.

In late summer 1916 Isidore’s health worsened. He died of cancer October 6, 1916, as German troops occupied the area and some were billeted in the monastery itself. He was buried quietly; his family and religious community were not allowed to attend. Yet, he would not be forgotten.

When the war ended, people came to the “Good Brother’s” grave. Cures from cancer and other illnesses occurred. They recognized a holy man who worked and prayed each day and served his brothers and sisters. A friend of God.

Like the Deer

Yesterday some visitors and I visited the baptistery of Saint John Lateran in Rome, one of the oldest and important in Christianity. A baby, Tomasso, was being baptized where generations before hm became Christians. Suddenly, the old building came alive as visitors, some his family, some like us, looked on.

There’s a statue in the baptistery of a deer drinking from a fount of water. Deer are portrayed drinking water flowing from the cross in the mosaic in the apse the church.

In this morning’s morning prayer Psalm 42 began, “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God.

Tomasso has a lifelong yearning for God and on a lifelong journey that will only be satisfied when he meets God:
“My soul is thirsting for you, my God,
When can I enter and see the face of God.”

His journey won’t be easy.”My tears have become my bread, by night and by day, as I hear it said all the day long, ‘Where is your God?’”

But “By day the Lord will send his loving kindness,
By night I will sing to him, the God of my life.”

So Tomasso and all of us:
”These things will I remember,
as I pour out my soul…
Why are you cast down, my soul,
Why groan within me?
Hope in God, I will praise him still,
My savior and my God.”

To Pray is to Hope

Prayer is more than looking for something, like a cure for sickness or getting a job., In prayer we search  for something we do not even understand. It’s a hope we have for something beyond anything we know, St.Augustine writes to Proba, a woman asking him about prayer.

“There is one thing I ask of the Lord. This I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. To gaze on the loveliness of the Lord…” The psalms express that hope..

We have an “instructed ignorance,” the saint says, and the Spirit of God helps us in our weakness.

“The Spirit pleads for the saints because he moves the saints to plead… to plead with sighs too deep for words by inspiring in them a desire for the great and as yet unknown reality that we look forward to with patience. How can words express what we desire when it remains unknown? If we were entirely ignorant of it we would not desire it; again, we would not desire it or seek it with sighs, if we were able to see it.”

Readings for the 30th Week of the Year: b

Jer 31:7-9/Heb 5:1-6/Mk 10:46-52 (149)

29 Monday
Eph 4:32—5:8/Lk 13:10-17 (479)

30 Tuesday
Eph 5:21-33 (480) or 5:2a, 25-32 (122)/Lk 13:18-21 (480)

31 Wednesday
Eph 6:1-9/Lk 13:22-30 (481)

November 1 Thursday ALL SAINTS
Solemnity [Holyday of Obligation]
Rv 7:2-4, 9-14/1 Jn 3:1-3/Mt 5:1-12a (667)

2 Friday The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day)
Wis 3:1-9/Rom 5:5-11 or Rom 6:3-9/Jn 6:37-40

3 Saturday
[Saint Martin de Porres, Religious; BVM]
Phil 1:18b-26/Lk 14:1, 7-11 (484)

The Call For Renewal

by Berta Hernandez

I am a Passionist Associate. I am part of the associates in Jamaica, New York. Yesterday my husband and I were at a Bible study class and on a break someone asked what an associate does. The immediate reaction to such a question is always one of confusion. What DOES an associate do?

Well, the usual answer is that we meet every month and share our spirituality with each other. We read about St. Paul of the Cross and his spirituality and discuss his charism, which we believe is also ours. But yesterday I didn’t want to give the usual answer. I replied the following to the young man that had asked the question: I am a Passionist. I try to live with Jesus at the CENTER of my life. Because Jesus is at the center of my life I am filled with love and compassion for my neighbors, who I believe are the crucified of today.

I try my best to see Jesus in everyone I meet although sometimes it is not an easy task. I realize that because I am a Christian as well as a Passionist I have to make sure to not only look for Jesus in others, but to also walk in His footsteps and try to reflect Him through my actions and what comes out of my mouth.

Right now in Rome the Passionist order is having their General Chapter. They reelected Fr. Joachim Rego,CP as their Superior General for the next six years. I have always been inspired by his writings and his demeanor. On the 19th of October he sent out a message to his Passionist family, in other words, to all of us.

This is what he said in that message that resonated through my whole being: “Our mission (as Passionists) is integrally connected with our life in community. Our community life and our mission cannot be separated; they are two sides of the one coin. Our life is our mission (by witness), and our mission is our life (by action). Together, they both shape us and give us our identity and authenticity as Passionists. Who we are and what we do are interconnected and interrelated.”

I realize that this was aimed at the professed Passionists, but doesn’t this talk directly to us lay people also! We are the Church of Jesus Christ! The world is our community! At this particular time in our lives we HAVE to do what Jesus would do! Fr. Joaquin went on to say that, “Who we are (our being/life) and what we do (our doing/mission) are interrelated; they are two sides of the one coin and cannot be separated . Each flow from and influences the other. We are not called to be ‘working for God’, but rather we are to do ‘God’s work’ – a subtle but important distinction made by Fr Thomas Green SJ in his book: Darkness in the Marketplace.”

Why did I call this short reflection “The Call for Renewal”? I did that because we are facing many trials in our world today. We have to be renewed by the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ! We are being called to action by the Holy Spirit of God! No longer to be quiet and shy! No longer to go past the hurt and the broken that we see in the streets, the hospitals, the nursing homes, next door. We truly have to pick ourselves up, shake ourselves out and start all over again. We have to pick up our cross and help whoever needs help in picking up theirs. We have to preach Christ crucified with words and actions. Let’s all join the Passionist Community in their renewal as of today, as of this hour, as of this minute!

And for those of you that are out there doing just that, thank you. You are the example . You are the servants. You are the light.

Berta Hernández

Don’t Look Back

We’re reading at Mass from the long portion of Luke’s gospel describing Jesus’ journey from Galilee to Jerusalem–chapters 9,51-18,14. One sentence dominates this part of Luke’s gospel. “Follow me,” Another sentence we hear repeatedly: “Don’t look back.”

Notice how Jesus’ miracles on this journey help people stuck in one place move on. So, he cures the ten lepers confined outside a village in Samaria and sets them free. “Stand up and go,” Jesus says to them. (Luke 17,11-19) The blind man begging beside the road outside Jericho seems doomed to sit there forever. Jesus immediately gives him his sight and getting up he “followed him, giving glory to God.” {Luke 18, 35-43)

“Follow me,” Jesus says on his way to glory, but not all hear. Leprosy and blindness aren’t the only things stopping them. In Luke’s journey narrative; lots of things get in the way..

In Lot’s day, Jesus says, “they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting , building on the day Lot left Sodom.” It was time to see beyond these things and get going, but Lot’s wife looked back instead of looking ahead. Fixed on life she knew, she’s frozen there, and she’s.not the only one.

Jesus gives other examples in Luke’s journey narrative. The rich fool building bigger barns, (Luke 12,16-21) the rich man absorbed in himself and his riches, (Luke 16, 19-31) the man absorbed in a lawsuit with his brother, (Luke 12,13-15) the disciples absorbed in maneuvering politically for first place.(Luke 18,15-17) How can they make the journey?

Jesus returns often to another theme that’s a remedy for our lack of faith. Pray constantly, he says. Never stop praying, for prayer opens your eyes and your mind and your heart. Prayer gives us the grace to take up our cross each day and follow him.

Laity and Mission

When our general chapter reconvened after visiting with Pope Francis on Monday we explored our mission with the laity. Our mission is “with” the laity. As a religious community our mission is incomplete without them.

“What’s your experience working with the laity?” That question yielded a rich response from members of my community from all parts of the world. Their life experience is different than ours, their holiness often deeper than ours, so we need to learn from them. We need to develop a mechanism to gather their wisdom and establish ways to work together.

During the chapter we had an excellent presentation on continuing formation by Fr Amedeo Cencini, who called “docility”, the willingness to be taught, the key to grow daily in life. Life in all its shapes and forms teaches us, day by day. I wonder if we need a mutual “docility” to create the best relationship between us and the laity.

If the present sexual abuse crisis in the church brings about anything good, it should lead to a greater docility in the future– a docility among church leaders and ministers to be taught and a docility among laypeople to offer their wisdom and experience to the church at all levels.

As I waited for the pope to enter the Clementine Hall in the Vatican on Monday, I took a picture of the large painting beside me of Jesus inviting his disciples, Peter, James and John and the others, to follow him to Jerusalem.(above) Mark’s gospel in recent Sundays says the disciples did not understand what that invitation meant. Neither do we.

But they learned, together, painfully, never completely. The gift of the Spirit made them docile.
Come, Holy Spirit, form us into a docile church.

A General Chapter

Every six years my community, the Passionists, has a general chapter. This is our 47th general chapter and delegates from all over the world are here in Rome to elect leaders– a superior general and his council– and to chart the course for the future.

What’s our mission in the church and in the world? What are the challenges we face? What practical decisions can we make together?

Charting the course for the future may be a good way to describe what we doing here. In the retreat chapel where we pray every day the altar has become a ship as well as a table, and nets promising a catch fall from the ceiling. A model of an old sailing ship stands on one side of the altar. We have a voyage to make.

An article in the news around October 12 described the map and the mapmaker Columbus followed on his way to America. The map and the mapmaker get little credit, but without them Columbus wouldn’t have gone on to the “New World.” The mapmakers didn’t get it all right; sometimes they put imaginary islands where there were none, but their work was enough that Columbus and the others set out and got there.

I think that’s what we are doing here at this chapter. Maps are being drawn–not perfect– but they’ll help the community, the global community, sail on its way and put down the nets.

October 19th we celebrated the feast of St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists. He gave us the first map. Still good, but we’re updating it now. We do what we can, and hope it’s God’s plan for the catch.

Signs of the Times

Today members of the Passionist general chapter here in Rome went to see Pope Francis at the Vatican. In the picture above I’m ten rows back, but all of us were able to meet him and shake his hand at the end of our meeting. He gave us each a rosary and his blessing.

The headline for the story on the Vatican website was “Passionists are Called to Read the Signs of the Times.
You can read the story here.

I hope we do.