In the world today, many perhaps forget the unfeigned quintessence of our spirit. Power and possessions reign in the hearts of every person who longs for nothing but to live a life lacking for nothing, be it on material bits and pieces of which people seem to have the utmost need. What is now the value of a person in his/her life?
The Beatitudes that Jesus taught then now simply becomes a plan of a route – helpful instructions for our ascent to God. They are skewed as virtues in so much as a believer of Christ can achieve. “They guide. They point. They teach” declared one of the writers I encountered in one of my readings. What simple yet eloquent and insightful words to describe the beatitudes! They guide. They point. They teach.” Three links of passionate adjectives that express what the Beatitudes are:
- Guide – they give each soul the preeminent avenue into a direction of blissfulness, contentment and a spirit that sees beyond what the world can momentarily proffer.
- Point – they give an underlying essential idea conveyed to all that long to be in the kingdom.
- Teach – they give a grounding goal. They do not only impart simple instructions to us but spiritual directives that each one of us must eruditely learn about in the simplicity of our soul and in the uniqueness of our being.
The Beatitudes disclose the value of Christ and unto what He truly cares. And if these values are adhered to by many religiously they give one a state of peace and happiness and one can enjoy the inherent right to dwell in the Kingdom of God when the journey on this earth is over.
Principles of Christian teachings that lead to self-awakening, and any experiences here on earth are all refiners, purifiers of one’s soul. The Beatitudes hand over a pristine series of Christian paradigms that simply give an emphasis on humility and love. They point out that when one knows how to humble one’s spirit and learn the real language of fraternal love he/she may attain the happiness that his/her soul longs for. They endorse the essence of Christ’s teachings about mercy, compassion and even on spirituality. What matters most is that everyone may learn to value the uniqueness of each another, respecting each one’s limitations and pave the way to be people with a dignity of life in the spirit of equality. There shall be a lived-through spirit of hope that renders a positive outlook in life, ultimate joy that springs from the heart of each person. In hope and joy – the profound silhouette of happiness – abides Jesus, no matter what the consequences are.
It is henceforth a reminder that we are simply nothing and in our nothingness we cling to what is not worldly but of heaven. All of these are the simple teachings of Jesus. In his sermon on the mount, He gives us the Beatitudes that we might see beyond what our human nature craves for namely the inner values, the real treasure, the things for eternity. These are contradictory to what the world highly regards.
So that there will be a candid, unpretentious makeover of one’s inner person, all of these must be lived in the truest sense, taken not just as a choice, but rather with sincere and heartfelt sentiments in wanting to be drawn closer to God. These golden rules guarantee a salvific life and do not just insinuate a ‘way of life’ but clear-cut tenets that Jesus wants us to follow and to have a life that is simply blessed. We are in the world and the challenge of living all of these is upon us. God respects whatever choices we make and yet this does not require anything but faith. It takes a resolute discipline to observe a rule or teachings.
The Beatitudes need but a fecund heart. Our model is Jesus Christ himself leading all of us onto the road of sanctity.
Sr M Glenda D Galanido, fdz
Last year the Daughters of Divine Zeal, celebrating the 125th foundation of their congregation, spent their time giving gifts to poor children. On 26 January 2013 five teachers from the Padre Annibale School in the Philippines went to the province of Tanay, Jala-jala to give some goods to the children there. It was amazing because we enjoyed entertaining the children. They are good and smart kids. It was also surprising because they were attentive to the games and most of them were happy to get the goods from the Sisters. Even if they could not say what was on their mind, you could see deeply through their eyes what was in their heart. I can say that one can be happy in this world even without material things.
In my generation, I cannot think of parents who are not conscious of what is happening around the globe. Everyone is having a tough time at the moment trying to strike a balance between addressing financial situations and having quality time with their children. For me, being a good parent cannot simply be equated with being able to give all the material needs of my children, my family. There is more to life than just material things. The most important thing is that as a parent I can show my love concretely to my family and I can teach them about love.
Dear Lord, help me become aware of the needs of others; make me become generous to help children who are alone. May your Spirit guide me as I pray for these children.
Teacher Greg Cuntapay
Padre Annibale School, Marikina, Philippines
The Juniors’ meeting which was held last December in MND Laoag in the Philippines was a beautiful occasion given to us to deepen our relationship and knowledge of each other but even more than that, to deepen our being as consecrated persons to God. What was in that encounter?
True joy and peace do not come from things or possessions. They do not come from pleasure, popularity or power but rather start and are born from the gratuitous God at an encounter. It is with the continuous encounter with Christ, the Word made flesh, that helps us to live our being as ‘vowed’ persons, happily and faithfully. The activity at the Juniors’ meeting helped me to realize and value the importance of prayer; that the vows I have professed are fruits of the encounter with God, day by day, which need to be faithfully done. When we live our vows in the light of Faith, then our relationship with God builds up, we get closer to God and to others, we feel the acceptance, we experience being loved and that want to be loved in return. We experience being taken and chosen, being broken in order to be shared.
Living the vows in the light of Faith helps us to understand that vows are not merely rules or a burden but that they are a way to give us direction towards freedom. The encounter leads us to conversion and through conversion, transformation. Transformation happens in one’s life and it makes us embrace the mission which is entrusted to us by God, the God who continuously calls us to a life of holiness.
I thank Mother Elna, Sr Gladys and my co-Junior sisters who, in their own way, have contributed so much to my own growth, especially in embracing this life as a Religious.
Sr M Fransiska Erna Amodina, fdz
What does the consecrated life mean to you?
Pope Francis has named 2015 the Year of Consecrated Life. As part of the preparation for this year of renewal and appreciation for the witness and work of nuns, sisters, brothers, order priests, and others in consecrated life, the VISION Vocation Network is conducting a survey to capture contemporary thoughts on consecrated life from all corners of Catholicism and beyond. Share your thoughts by completing the VISION 2015 Year of Consecrated Life Survey
For the Daughters of Divine Zeal 19 March is a special day as on this day in 1907, Madre Maria Nazarena Majone made her perpetual profession.
Madre Nazarena was born in Graniti, a small village in Messina, Italy on 21 June 1869. She was the youngest of six brothers and sisters. At the age of 20, she became a religious in the newly-founded mission of Saint Annibale Maria Di Francia. On her religious profession, the name Nazarena was added to her baptismal name and she became Sr Maria Nazarena Majone.
Madre Nazarena was a great help to the Congregation, she was a strong woman, so sweet and firm in suffering. What motivated her to become a religious was her profound love for God and her willingness to serve others. She had given all of herself, her life, her joy and her warmth, offering them for the good and salvation of the people in great need.
Since she joined the religious institution founded by Saint Annibale, Madre Nazarena had been working with the orphans and the poor people of Avignone, Messina. She had to work hard with Saint Annibale in order to provide for the needs of the orphans and the poor. After she took her vows, Madre Nazarena was nominated directress of the orphanage. She worked intensely in close collaboration with Saint Annibale and she faithfully performed every activity in this apostolate. She did enormous charitable works for the benefit of the youth and the poor. She was a woman of great zeal.
Madre Nazarena’s wisdom, dedication and zeal guided the Congregation after the death of Saint Annibale Maria Di Francia. Faith was her sole weapon.
This is just a small part of what Madre Nazarena achieved in her life. Madre Nazarena Student’s House in Richmond, Victoria, Australia is named in her honour.
See Also: Madre Maria Nazarena Majone
Before the acceptance to the postulancy, we were given the time to reflect and to discern well through a one-week retreat. I spent this time reflecting on how, after several years of journey in the stage of aspirancy, with the help of the Lord, our Blessed Mother, the Guardian angels, all the saints and of course all my formators (for I had several of them), I was able to discover many things which were of great help to me in my spiritual journey.
After all these years, there is still doubt within myself whether or not this life is for me, because when I look back at my vocation journey, I feel there is no pure intention because I just like the sisters and I want to become like them. Scriptures say “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn.15:15). Upon reflecting on this verse I sometimes ask myself “am I chosen by God or am I the one who wanted it?” While meditating upon it again, I remember the familiar words that strengthen me – Jesus said “courage, don’t be afraid, it is I”. I now realize that it is not me who wanted this but that it is He, who is the light and the truth, who leads me because he has plans for my life. Therefore, with my faith and trust in Him, I decided to continue to the next step of formation which is postulancy.
Last December four of us – Hao, Flor, Linh and myself – were accepted to the postulancy in Navotas, Philippines. I was so happy and thankful for the Lord’s guiding love. Likewise I ask the Lord to continue to lead me and to grant me the grace so that I may be able to faithfully go on with my journey.
Thanks to the initiative of Mother Elna and her Council, the FDZ Junior Sisters gathered once again last December in MND, Laoag City, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. For many years already, our Delegation has this event when Juniors under its Circumscription can convene to be enriched spiritually and fraternally through prayer activities, sharing and camaraderie. On this occasion, the excitement intensified because Sr Marsiana Mbola (from the community of Maumere, Indonesia) joined us and our 3 neo-professed Sisters aflamed our zeal with their attendance – Sr Kresentia, Sr Leni and Sr Mary, our first professed sister from Vietnam. We were 12 Juniors in all.
Sr Gladys had the first day session with us on “Vows in the Light of Faith”. Faith in general was discussed until something concrete and specific was outlined. I could not forget the fact that faith involves ‘desire’, ‘decision’ and ‘action’. St James actually wrote about this: “…to profess faith without works? Such faith has no power to save…” for indeed, a person, when tested in tribulation cannot but manifest how he/she practices his faith or that his/her approach to it reveals how faith penetrates him/her, by heart and willpower. I concur with Sr Gladys that faith is but a personal adherence and practice for no one can do it for us or oblige us on it. Sr Gladys linked it to the life of a Religious. That is why, for a person to enter or embrace Religious life, a certain faith must be necessary. Without it, pronouncing the Vows would be fruitless and meaningless. I came to realize that some religious brothers, sisters and priests go out not because they lose their vocations but maybe because secularism and the lures of this world have blurred their real purpose in life, clouded their faith in God who is the source and goal of their life. I want to quote here, “It is in trials and sufferings that one can grow in faith and self-confidence.”
On the second day Mother Elna talked about the “Vows in the Light of the Word”. It was an opportune time for us to be updated on Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation on Evangelii Gaudium – the Joy of the Gospel – which Mother Elna had deepened. Yes, this is true. One can be so acquainted with the Word, but, and I quote here, that there are three reasons how this Word can affect us, namely:
- Transformation and
This is a fact that centered me on, because I admit my own lack of it and the need to improve it. For we cannot, after knowing and praying with the ‘Word’, remain passive and lazy. Why then are we called “pray-ers” for Good labourers? I believe it is because of this. In our own little way in our ministries and apostolate, we can spark a little of it everyday.
It was such a short moment to know all but the chance to hear from each one’s varying perspectives and encounters, struggles and progresses – certainly enriched us personally. I gain courage and consolation that I am not alone in the trials of life, in the ministry. It is a joy to know that my sisters (in this Delegation or in this Congregation but of the world) are in solidarity with me, only that I sometimes forget about that. I ponder and am so grateful for this concern from our sisters to form and mould us today, the younger generation, for we too, are going to share it to the future generations too. May the Lord of the Harvest continually grasp us through this lifetime offering for His Harvest.
Sr M Jeanette Barsanas, fdz