Before delving into the depths of our “Rogationist” calling, it is good to start by talking about the originator, the discovered, the explorer of the Rogate. He is none other than our beloved St Annibale Maria Di Francia. I realise its importance upon knowing and understanding his life; everything for him had its starting and its ending from the Rogate, the life-motive of his existence.
Saint Pope John Paul II, in his homily during our Father Founder’s beatification said: “God in every period of history raised in the Church particular persons to be as models to the people of God”.
St Annibale was one of them for our times… he was gifted with the understanding of that message of Jesus: “Rogate – Pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:35-37). It is simply enough to glance upon St Annibale’s life and see how it was fully lived in view of the Rogate, for the Rogate and in the Rogate. It was described as “the reason of his life, the prevalent motive of his writings, the light of his ways, the star of this thought, the sun of his life… he was born for the ROGATE!”
We ask: what made him so? The answer we find: it was a pure gift of God and surely because of his cooperation, as we know, grace works in nature. Because of his openness, God gave St Annibale eyes to see the way Jesus saw the crowd of His time, with the same compassion He had, when He was treading along the streets of Palestine… St Annibale heard the anguish of souls crying and thirsting for God’s love and salvation, because he was able to enter into the Heart of Jesus and felt the same… therefore his entire life was strongly affected.
For St Annibale, there was only one infallible means to the crisis of humanity: ROGATE! Pray for vocations according to the Heart of Jesus, filled with compassion/mercy for His kingdom. Furthermore, St Annibale created all means to let his concern for vocations be known. Even popes had seen him begging to make his prayer universal. His neverending enthusiasm for the increasing of holy vocations was expressed in all his writings addressed to bishops, priests, religious congregations and even to civil leaders – only let Rogate be known by all. He never spared any moment to speak of the Rogate, never spared a single energy to spread the Rogate.
Why did he feel the urgent need to pray for holy vocations? St Annibale was made able to see the abandoned and dejected crowd, “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36) and found that the only remedy to save them was to obey the Lord’s command: “pray the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers…” St Annibale understood also that Rogate is not complete without charity. He expressed his charity by sparing the little ones from ruin: giving them proper care, education and basic needs. He, for them, “lost everything” and chose to live the life of a poor person and a servant. So doing, he expressed concretely how prayer is completed with the works of charity – that it is by holy and many labourers that salvation is made possible for all and consequently God’s kingdom is realised here on earth.
Vocations are felt as a need not only during the time of St Annibale but especially in our world today. The harvest is getting larger and larger with the growing of wealth, loss of values, increasing confusion, lack of religious formation, etc. We need apostles, pastors, good educators, honest workers, professionals. We all need to have the same spirit of our Father Founder to carry on the mission of Rogate with the zeal that was his – to pray untiringly, begging the Lord throughout our whole lives to send many and holy vocations into the Church.
As our knowledge of St Annibale’s life, charism, and spirituality grows, we feel very much affected and we cannot remain insensible to the realities of our world today. We hope and pray to grow in our desire to be imbued with the same spirit of our Spiritual Father so that our lives as Daughters of Divine Zeal will be filled with burning love and enthusiasm for the interests of the Heart of Jesus, carrying on the heritage that our Father Founder handed down to us.
We are made aware of this tremendous urgency in our different formative experiences. Each event is a challenge to widen our horizons and be one with the suffering of the people we meet. Rogate! Rogate! echoes in our hearts Limited as we are, we can give the best in whatever we do by listening, speaking an encouraging word, and simply being there for another – letting them feel our presence. This is to live Rogate, to let it firstly penetrate into our being, change our hearts with a more sensitive one, see all the events of each day as opportunities to be his labourers, begging for new holy vocations, for the perseverance of those who are living their consecration, for families grounded in God’s love and for all those who need our prayers.
Our total self-giving to God through the religious congregation of the Daughters of Divine Zeal is to model our lives on the life of our Father Founder, totally dedicated to God and our neighbour, especially the poor, the children, the abandoned, through the living of the ROGATE!
Sr Elvira fdz and Sr Cielo fdz