Ecclesiastical Assistant of the UAC and Rector General of the Society, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, S.A.C. meets with UAC parish group in Banaswadi, Bangalore, India
Ecclesiastical Assistant of the UAC and Rector General of the Society, Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, S.A.C. meets with UAC group of St. Vincent Pallotti Parish in Banaswadi, Bangalore, India.
Dear friends, Christmas is a time to celebrate new life, and hence a time of rejoicing. New life gives rise to a renewed hope, regardless of the many signs of death and destruction around us. The reason for our celebration, for our rejoicing and our hoping is the birth of Jesus, “Immanuel: God-with-us”….
Christmas is also a time to express gratitude to God for the gift of His Son. Likewise it is also the moment to think of each other lovingly and with gratitude because each person is indeed a gift of God….
Wishing you a merry Christmas and a New Year 2017 filled with God’s blessings,
Jacob Nampudakam SAC – Rome – Christmas 2016
Rector General and Ecclesiastical Assistant of the Union
“My God, I ask you now to grant me the grace, through the intercession of Mary and of all the angels and saints, lay and religious saints, to give me the light to know myself ” (OOCC X, 264)
A Blessed Advent to you!
One year ago, reading the Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy (which is very beautiful), I was very struck by the expression which the Pope used to finish his thoughts in announcing the opening of the Holy Year on the day of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8th, 2015. Here is how he spoke about Mary: “[God] turned his gaze to Mary, holy and immaculate in love” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, n.3).
… Mary, holy and immaculate in love …
These words continue to have a profound echo in my life. It sometimes happens that I repeat them like a kind of litany, in my prayers and in my activities, in tiredness and when making quick progress.
And now one year later, reading the Apostolic Letter closing the Jubilee Year (which is also very beautiful!), another phrase of the Pope resounded in my heart just as deeply: “We have to remember each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history; this is what makes us different from everyone else. Our life, with its joys and sorrows, is something unique and unrepeatable that takes place under the merciful gaze of God.” (Pope Francis, Misericordia et Misera, n. 14).
… each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history …
With amazement I realize that my story, our story is within the mercy of God. All of me, of us – joys and sorrows – is to be sung because His merciful gaze is in everything and in every fragment of everything.
… Mary, holy and immaculate in love …
… each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history … :
they are two realities which call out to each other and unite themselves to each other. Mary, the All Beautiful One, and we, all less than beautiful, can look at each other, continually loved by the mercy of God.
And there is even more: with faith we can dare to desire and with children’s hearts ask Mary to intercede for us with her mother’s heart before God so that we too may be made holy and immaculate in love.
… Mary, holy and immaculate in love …
… each of us carries the richness and the burdens of our personal history … :
are given to us by the Church, which teaches us to go to the heart of our charism and to take on the mission of our Pallottine Family with responsibility. In this year and a half I have also had the grace of visiting Brazil, Poland, Ireland, Germany, London, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and India.
… go to the heart of our charism … :
in all of those places I saw that the Union is an authentic presence of the Church. And the Church is a communion because, as for the action of the three divine Persons, it is “a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Lumen Gentium, 4).
I have always felt, in fact, and for me this is our gift to the Church, that the life of the Union, that is, of our entire Family, is a fabric of relationships through which we learn that communion must be made flow through relationships, and that the charism of St. Vincent Pallotti still now reveals the newness of its content in this life of relationships. Because in the face of each one of us there is always the face of someone else who, in this life of relationships, first encountered, attracted and formed me, and so forth right back through history until arriving at the origin: the life of relationship between St. Vincent Pallotti and God, the Most Blessed Trinity.
… and take on the mission
of our Pallottine Family with responsibility …:
in each country I encountered people (among the priests, brothers, sisters, lay people, seminarians, candidates, young people, older people, the sick) who live deeply their conviction and their commitment to follow Jesus Christ and attract yet others to Him, calling all and uniting the efforts of all in service of the Church.
This is what Saint Vincent intended by the expression “co-founders” of his work. I recognise with gratitude that the gift of the Holy Spirit to Pallotti is still working here and now in his sons and daughters for the good of the Church and of humanity.
“The pious Union campaigns under the most effective protection of the Immaculate Mother of God, Queen of Apostles, for two most holy ends: the first to obtain through the merits and intercession of the great Immaculate Mother of God all of the graces and gifts in order that the pious Union, in the moral body and in the present and future individuals, may always exist in the Church of God with the fullness of fruit and may be propagated quickly in proportion to the needs of souls in whatever part of the world; the second end is that all, lay people and secular and religious clergy of whatever order, state and condition may have in Mary Most Holy, after Jesus Christ, the most perfect model of true zeal and perfect charity” (cfr. OOCC I, p. 7).
For personal and communal reflection:
We are already near to Christmas. We gaze at Jesus who is born and recollect ourselves, united together, meditating on these words of the Founder as if we ourselves had said them:
“My God, who are You and who am I? Who am I before You? What did you desire me to be before You?” (cf. OOCC X, 482);
“Come Lord, do not delay, because I cannot be without You for a moment” (cf. OOCC X, 277);
“And when I have nothing else to use for this end, I will never cease to pray that there be one fold, and one Shepherd, and thus I hope to arrive in Paradise to enjoy the fruits of the Apostolate of Jesus Christ for all eternity” (cf. OOCC I, 129-130);
“The pious Union does not have a new objective, but the eternal law of charity” (OOCC IV, 317).
To the entire Union of Catholic Apostolate in every part of the world, a Blessed Christmas!
Segretariato Generale, Unione dell’Apostolato Cattolico
Piazza San Vincenzo Pallotti 204, 00187 Roma, Italia email@example.com
The UAC in Poland collected money for victims of the recent earthquakes in San Giorgio di Cascia (Umbria), Italy which was presented to Pallottine familes there by Fr. Joseph Łasak, SAC, Vice General of the Society.
An account by Fr. Joseph Łasak SAC of the expedition:
On Tuesday morning, along with Fr. Adam Golec, as emissaries of the Pallottine Family in Poland, we set out on a mission to San Giorgio di Cascia (Umbria), which has experienced the recent earthquakes. We took the gifts of our compatriots and prayers of all members of the Union. Along the way we saw the tragic consequences of this disaster. Many people are now staying in makeshift homes. It is worth noting that in this mountainous region, last night was -9 ° C! We experienced great kindness from firefighters who pointed in the right directio. Many roads have been destroyed and we had to look for detours to reach the city after the devastation of the earthquake.
A very pleasant surprise was the meeting with the Pallottine community, of which many had gathered to greet us. They waited with dinner for over an hour! During the meeting, we presented the gifts from Poland, with some additions from the General Administration and some Polish gingerbread I received from Polish friends at the Christmas meeting. We tasted them.
Pallotti family was touched by the initiative to help, and expressed that it is important too for spiritual and prayerful support. Fortunately, in San Giorgio di Cascia you can not see great damage, but the church suffered: still closed, Mass is celebrated in a tent. There is much damage in the area, and especially in Norcia, where the Pallottine family members live.
In the evening we returned to Rome. We entrusted all matters to St. Vincent Pallotti, thanking each of you: donors, and all members of the Union in Poland. Any such initiative builds community and is a beautiful form of apostolate.
From Rome to the UAC in Poland - Fr. Joseph Łasak SAC
From the December 2013 issue of Apostles for Today:
Advent is a time of preparation. It has various interrelated dimensions. It is a season of joyous expectation in the light of the feast of Christmas. It also invites us to give meaning and direction to our lives, both by looking back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem and by looking forward to his final coming at the end of time. It is a time of preparation in which we are invited to renew our Christian faith, to attend more fully to the meaning and implications for our life of believing in the person of Christ, to become more grateful for this extraordinary gift of infinite love and to try to learn to live it more coherently and generously each day. Advent directs our gaze towards the living and unfailing sign of God’s love and faithfulness: Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God-with-us, sent into the world by the Father as the everlasting symbol and living source of His infinite love.
In this reflection, we will briefly examine St. Vincent's understanding of the Incarnation and draw from it some simple implications for the New Evangelization.
Saint Vincent Pallotti's understanding of the Incarnation
Pallotti’s understanding of the Incarnation is closely linked with his understanding of creation and redemption. He repeatedly states that it was God’s infinite love and mercy that moved Him in all things. “It was because God was moved by his infinite mercy towards us that he undertook the Divine Work of creating all his creatures and conserving them in being” (cf. OOCC XIII, 27-28). It also moved Him to create human beings in his own image and likeness. And when those whom He created in love used their freedom to sin, to turn from the path of love to the path of selfishness, He did not abandon them but, moved by the same infinite love and mercy, offered them another chance: “God as if moved with love of man, who is so ungrateful and miserable (…) promises a Saviour. This Saviour is God’s divine Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who became man for us in the womb of Blessed Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit… Oh, what an infinite, immense gift” (OOCC XIII, 121-123).
Pallotti speaks of two complimentary aspects of the Incarnation. From one perspective, it is an act of sending on the part of God the Father. God sends Jesus to reveal his love and mercy, in order to teach human beings how His image can be perfected in them: “God moved by his infinite love and mercy became man to teach us in his blessed humanity how we should live in order to perfect our souls as living images of God" (OOCC XIII, 127). He is the "perfect exemplar of the heavenly Father" (OOCC XIII, 697). "He is the divine model of the whole human race" (OOCC II, 541). Thus, the Incarnation manifests God’s sending of Jesus, impelled by love, while at the same time revealing His love and mercy.
From another perspective, the Incarnation is an act of kenosis, of self-emptying, on the part of the Son, made visible in Jesus’ testimony of obedience to the Father. Pallotti speaks of how Jesus empties himself by becoming man and by being born in the poverty and discomfort of the manger (cf. OOCC II, pp. 18-19). This kenosis of Jesus is further demonstrated throughout his life, both hidden and public, by his way of living, and finds its deepest expression in his death on the cross: “through the mystery of the Incarnation, our Lord Jesus Christ entered into this world in the spirit of sacrifice, lived and died on the cross in that same spirit” (OOCC VII, 9-10).
The Imitation of Christ
St. Vincent made the hidden and public life of Christ the fundamental rule of the Pallottine family (cf OOCC III, 35-36). In his own life, he reflected deeply on the inner attitudes of Christ at the different points in his life and tried to make them his own. He tried to discern what attitudes Christ would have had in the situations which he, St. Vincent, was facing and to embody these attitudes in his own response to the challenges of life. We too are called to do the same. And this is a fundamental prerequisite for the New Evangelisation: we cannot evangelise effectively if we are not ourselves continuously evangelised, and what does it mean to be evangelised if not to put on Christ, to be transformed more and more each day in Him, to become progressively and ever more profoundly Christ-like in all of our attitudes and in every aspect of our being and relating and doing.
In this period of Advent and Christmas, are there some aspects of Christ's Incarnation from which we might try to draw inspiration with a view to the New Evangelisation?
Renewed in the Wonder of Love
Advent and Christmas are times when we are invited to open our hearts again to wonder. The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh began his poem 'Advent' with the striking line, "We have tested and tasted too much, lover - through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder". Advent and Christmas invite us to a simplicity which is once more able to find wonder in the ordinary and extraordinary things in life. And there is nothing more extraordinary than the Incarnation itself. Adapting a phrase sometimes wrongly attributed to St. Augustine, we too could say: I have read sayings that are wise and very beautiful in great thinkers of other faiths and of no faith, but I have never read in any of them that "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." (Jn 3:16). We are invited at this time of year to hear this truth again as if for the first time, to rekindle a sense of wonder and awe at the mystery of God becoming one of us, of infinite love coming to us in the form of a tiny, helpless baby. Are we able to embrace this truth deeply and let it renew in our hearts a profound and tender love for God? If we do not nourish such a sense of wonder at the Incarnation, how can we hope to move the hearts of others to be filled with wonder at all that God has done in order to share the fullness of His life with us, offering us a new beginning each day.
The Incarnation also speaks to us of the extraordinary value of every human life, of the infinite dignity of each person made in God's image and likeness, and of God's particularly tender love for the poor and the vulnerable, with whom He has identified even to the point of sharing their condition in his own human existence. In Christ, infinite love has gone out from itself, to share the life of those in need and bring them comfort and relief. This is what St. Vincent did, inspired by the example of Christ, and this is what we too are called to do as members and collaborators of the Union of Catholic Apostolate. This is what Pope Francis is inviting the whole Church to do, to move out from her sometimes narrow confines and concerns, to go to the 'existential peripheries', in order to share the lives of those who are suffering in so many different ways, to become a more faithful image of Christ and of his compassion in a way that people can experience firsthand very concretely.
We are all called to live the Gospel more radically, to imitate Christ more closely in his deep relationship, his constant living contact with the Father, the wellspring of all of his life and activity. We are called to follow him on his path of kenosis: of obedience, of simplicity, of poverty, of humility, of generosity of spirit, of compassion, of justice, of mercy.
We are called not as isolated individuals, but as members of God's family, united in that very love which is God himself. At the beginning of Advent, Pope Francis described how we are beginning “a new journey of the people of God with Jesus Christ, our shepherd, who guides us in history towards the completion of the Kingdom of God” (Angelus, Dec 1st 2013). We are accompanied very specially on this journey by Mary, our Mother. Let us ask her powerful help, that our hearts may be touched deeply this Advent and Christmas, that we may become more joyful and authentic witnesses of Christ in our daily lives - in our families, our communities, our workplaces, wherever we are and in all that we say and do and are:
Mary, Virgin and Mother, you who, moved by the Holy Spirit, welcomed the word of life in the depths of your humble faith: as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One, help us to say our own “yes” to the urgent call, as pressing as ever, to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Filled with Christ’s presence, you brought joy to John the Baptist, making him exult in the womb of his mother. Brimming over with joy, you sang of the great things done by God. Standing at the foot of the cross with unyielding faith, you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection, and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit so that the evangelizing Church might be born. Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection, that we may bring to all the Gospel of life which triumphs over death. Give us a holy courage to seek new paths, that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman. Virgin of listening and contemplation, Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast, pray for the Church, whose pure icon you are, that she may never be closed in on herself or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom. Star of the new evangelization, help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith, justice and love of the poor, that the joy of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world. Mother of the living Gospel, wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us. Amen (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 288).
The General Secretariat of the Union, Rome
The beatification process of the Servant of God Josef Engling, a student of the Minor Seminary of the Pallottines in Germany, has taken another important step forward. On December 13, 2016, the historical experts, as Consultors of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, recognised that the Positio super vita, virtutibus et fama sanctitatis, a book of 660 pages on the life, virtues and reputation for holiness of the Servant of God Josef Engling, contains documentation which can constitute a sound basis for the judgment of the theologians.
The Positio will subsequently be judged by the Congress of Theological Consultors and by the Ordinary Session of Cardinals and Bishop Members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Following these judgments, if they are positive, the Holy Father will issue the decree of heroic virtues.
We remember that Josef Engling (1898-1918) entered the Minor Seminary of the Pallottines at Vallendar Schönstatt in 1912. He was distinguished by a great commitment to growth in the virtues and especially in Marian devotion. He wanted to become a Pallottine priest and serve the Church as a missionary in Cameroon. He was drafted into the army during World War I and, with a reputation for holiness, was killed in action in France on October 4, 1918.