Easter: O Charity Beyond All Telling!

On this Easter Sunday my mind and heart are resting on a paragraph from last nights’ Exsultet:

Our birth would have been no gain,
Had we not been redeemed.
O wonder of your humble care for us!
O Love, O charity beyond all telling,
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son!

 

 

God’s humble care and love brings us back to Holy Thursday, as Pope Francis’ homily at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper expressed so well. The passage of the Gospel that we heard on Holy Thursday “says a word that is precisely the center of what Jesus did for all of us: ‘He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.’ (Jn. 13,2). Jesus loved us. Jesus loves us. But without limits, always to the end. The love of Jesus for us has no limits, it is always more. He never tires of loving anyone. He loves all of us to the point of giving His life. Yes, He gives his life for all of us, He gives his life for each one of us. And each one of us can say: ‘He gave His life for me.’ He gave his life for you, for you, for you, for me for each one, with first and last name, because His love is like that: personal.”

“The love of Jesus never deceives because he never tires of loving, as He also never tires of forgiving, He never tires of embracing us. This is the first thing I wanted to tell you: Jesus loved each one of you ‘to the end.’”

“Jesus, has so much love that He made Himself a slave in order to serve us, to heal us, to clean us … In our heart, we must have the certainty, we must be sure that the Lord, when he washes our feet, He washes everything, He purifies us! He makes us feel once again His love.

In the Bible there is a sentence from the prophet Isaiah that is very beautiful. It says: ‘Can a mother forget her own child? Though a mother may forget her child, I will not forget you!’ (Is. 49:15) That is how the love of God is for us.”

 

 

This is charity beyond all telling, an expression of God’s humble care for us!

Alleluia! Let us rejoice in the love of Christ, our Good Shepherd and Risen Lord!

 

 

 

 

Make Our Hearts Like Yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If one member suffers, all suffer together

In our ongoing Lenten reflection we are considering Pope Francis’ theme of combatting indifference as it relates to end-of-life issues. This week let’s look at the first of three Biblical texts proposed by our Holy Father:

‘If one member suffers, all suffer together’ (1 Cor 12:26)

“The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn 13:8) and thus can serve others.”

 If one member suffers, all suffer together. This is what compassion is all about. Compassion means “to suffer with.” We cannot “suffer with” another if we are indifferent. The group behind the push for the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in our country goes by the name Compassion and Choices, but this is the same group formerly known as the Hemlock Society.

For these advocates of physician-assisted suicide, compassion does not mean “suffering with another” by accompanying the terminally ill and disabled in a holistic manner until the end, the natural end, the moment when God decides to take them to himself. No, for them compassion means eliminating suffering by eliminating the person him or herself. Ending pain and suffering by ending a life.

Quite different from this attitude, Saint John Paul II once wrote, “is the way of love and true mercy, which our common humanity calls for, and upon which faith in Christ the Redeemer, who died and rose again, sheds ever new light. The request which arises from the human heart in the supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when faced with the temptation to give up in utter desperation, is above all a request for companionship, sympathy and support in the time of trial. It is a plea for help to keep on hoping when all human hopes fail” (Evangelium Vitae).

 

 

This is authentic compassion — suffering and journeying with another. Our foundress, Saint Jeanne Jugan, never wrote about her experiences, but she lived out this compassion through her care of the elderly poor, and especially her practice of keeping constant vigil with the dying so that they were never alone. We continue this tradition today and it is truly moving to see how the room of a dying Resident becomes at the same time a sacred space of prayer and a place of intense interpersonal encounter. Family members, Little Sisters, staff members from all departments, volunteers, other Residents … all find profound meaning in “suffering with” the dying person until the moment when God calls them home. These are defining moments for our mission, and moments that bring out the best in each of us.

 

Suffering Unleashes Love

Obviously we don’t enjoy the suffering of others, but it does bring out something extraordinary and even beautiful in us as caregivers. In 1984 Saint John Paul II made the stunning claim that suffering is present in the world to unleash love in those who care for the sufferer. His words are no less stunning today than they were then:

“We could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one's ‘I’ on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. The person who is a ‘neighbor’ cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of neighbor. He must ‘stop,’ ‘sympathize,’ just like the Samaritan of the Gospel parable.”

 

Prayer

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
Make my heart like yours:
Free me from indifference
and give me mercy
and compassion for others.
Give me eyes to see their needs
And empathy to share in their suffering.
Unleash your love in me.

 

To read Pope Francis’ 2015 Lenten message click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis speaks of elderly again in his weekly audience

On March 11 the Pope spoke about the elderly for a second time in his weekly audience.

"In a society which overlooks and discards the elderly, may the Church acknowledge their contributions and gifts, and help them to foster a fruitful dialogue between the generations." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis' General Audience on Grandparents

March 4, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s catechesis and that of next Wednesday will be dedicated to the elderly who, in the realm of the family, are the grandparents. Today we will reflect on the present problematic condition of the elderly and, next time, more positively, on the vocation contained in this age of life.

Thanks to the progress in medicine, life has lengthened: society, however, has not “enlarged” to life! The number of elderly has multiplied, but our societies have not organized themselves sufficiently to give them a place, with just respect and concrete consideration for their fragility and dignity. While we are young, we are induced to ignore old age, as if it were a sickness to avoid. Then, when we become old, especially if we are poor, sick or alone, we experience the lacunae of a society planned for efficiency that, consequently, ignores the elderly. And the elderly are richness; they cannot be ignored.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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