October Saint: Saint Francis of Assisi
Parable: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 - 37)
Each month at Our Lady of Sorrows we explore a particular parable of Jesus, a saint from the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, and a virtue (generally taken from the fruits of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 5:9, & 2 Peter 1:5-7] or the cardinal & theological virtues). The parable, saint and virtue are incorporated into our morning prayer, religion bulletin boards and religion classes. This focus on one parable, one saint and one virtue complements our Words of Wisdom program and serves as a supplement to our religion curriculum. This month we focus on the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25 - 37), the virtue of Goodness, and St. Francis of Assisi.
St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, but there is much more to Brother Francis then an ecological concern for our planet. One of his largest contributions to Catholicism was his desire to live his life as close to Jesus’ as possible.
He fell in love with Lady Poverty early on in life, so much so that even when he was living surrounded by his family’s wealth he had times in his life when he would go off alone to pray, or take everything he had on him and give it to someone who needed it more. He tried to radically live Jesus’ prohibition against putting our trust in stuff and trusting to God (through the kindness of strangers and benefactors) to provide anything and everything he needed.
He was so patient with and good to others that people marveled at him, and his humility, gentleness and goodness shone through to everyone he met, from beggar to world leader. He made his peace with life and death, so much so that he could talk about Sister Death gently and lovingly coming to lead him (and everyone else) into God’s presence.
This month’s virtue of Goodness mirrors the way St. Francis lived his life. Practicing the virtue of goodness means remembering that God created us in goodness (like all of creation) and challenges us to live a life of virtue (heroic sacrifice for others), patience (St. Francis can still teach us a thing or two about this!), peace and kindness. Finally, just like St. Francis, the virtue of Goodness challenges us to choose the good, even if it means that we might suffer or lose our lives for choosing the good. It is a virtue that leads some to martyrdom – making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for the good of another person or for the integrity of the Faith.
The parable for this month tells the story of one such person who chose to do good. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) tells us this story:
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.”
But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took out two denari, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, ‘Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.’ Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”
Samaritans were people from Samaria, North of Jerusalem and Judea. Many years before the time of Jesus Jewish people had moved there and married the pagans (worshipped other gods) who lived there. Many of them practiced a mixture of both Jewish and pagan religion, and they were looked down upon by other Jews. So for Jesus to tell a story where a Samaritan is the one who is good was a shock to his audience. But Jesus was trying to make the point that anyone who practices loving kindness – who chooses to do good – is the one who is showing love of God and neighbor.
May we pray this month for the grace to show goodness, love and mercy to all people in our lives, especially those who are different from us in creed, nationality, socioeconomic status, or political party.
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III
September Saint: Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Parable: The Mustard Seed (Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18-19)
Each month at Our Lady of Sorrows we explore a particular parable of Jesus, a saint from the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, and a virtue (generally taken from the fruits of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 5:9, & 2 Peter 1:5-7] or the cardinal & theological virtues). The parable, saint and virtue are incorporated into our morning prayer, religion bulletin boards and religion classes. This focus on one parable, one saint and one virtue complements our Words of Wisdom program and serves as a supplement to our religion curriculum. This month we focus on the parable of the Mustard Seed (Matthew 3:31-32), the virtue of Gentleness, and St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
When Jesus originally shared the parable of the mustard seed, he was most probably referring to the growth of the Kingdom (Reign) of God from very, small humble beginnings (Jesus and a few followers) to a growing worldwide phenomena. The “birds of the sky” that all three gospels refer to might have symbolized people from all over the world eventually coming and being a part of God’s kingdom.
The virtue for the month, gentleness, is a mirror to the parable. Gentleness is the fruit of the Spirit that shows calmness, personal care, tenderness and the Love of Christ in meeting the needs of others. In Jesus’ time, mustard plants grew in the wild, with no need of people to plant, fertilize or trim them. Yet they were beneficial to people, both as medicinal herbs and for cooking. Our virtue of gentleness can grow quietly in each and every person, then be used to help others see the love and mercy of God through our actions. Eventually, if we practice this virtue enough, people will be attracted to our way of life, and we can begin to share the Gospel message of salvation. Without force or coercion, the virtue of gentleness can help us spread God’s message of mercy, love, forgiveness and change of heart (metanoia), until the whole world can rest in the shade of God’s presence.
Mother Teresa was born in Southeastern Europe as the youngest of three children. At the age of 18 she joined the Order of the Sisters of Our Lady of Loreto in Ireland. She chose the name of Sister Teresa, in memory of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. In December 1928 she traveled to the base of the Himalayan mountains in India; there she continued her training towards her religious vows. Soon after, on January 6, 1929, she arrived in Calcutta, the capital of Bengal, India to teach at a school for girls. While in Calcutta, her heart was moved by the presence of the sick and dying on the city's streets.
On September 10, 1946, on a long train ride to go on a retreat, something happened: she had a life-changing encounter with God. Mother Teresa said: "I realized that I had the call to take care of the sick and the dying, the hungry, the naked, the homeless - to be God's Love in action to the poorest of the poor. That was the beginning of the Missionaries of Charity."
She didn't hesitate, she didn't question. She asked permission to leave her congregation and to establish a new order of sisters. She received that permission from Pope Pius XII.
In 1952 Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity began the work for which they became famous. She and her fellow nuns gathered dying people off the streets of Calcutta and brought them to their home to care for them during the days before they died.
Since that time more that 45,000 people, many of them children and teens, have been taken from the streets of Calcutta and given a peaceful place to live and to die. Since so many of the people being helped were young, Mother Teresa also started her first orphanage in 1953; her homes and orphanages are now established in hundreds of locations around the world.
Looking at Mother Teresa’s life, it’s easy to see she really practiced the virtue of gentleness and exemplified the story of the mustard seed, growing a worldwide organization. Our pastor Msgr. Barrera constantly extols our kids to “be kind, be kind, be kind.” And Jesus himself told us that the way we treat others is exactly the way we treat him—hopefully with kindness & gentleness! Mother Theresa said it this way: Each person is Jesus in disguise. Treating others with gentleness in both words and deeds is one of the best ways of bringing a little bit of heaven here to earth, and a concrete way of showing Jesus that we love him.
May we take the message of this parable to heart, and practice the virtue of gentleness this month.
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III
August Saint of the Month: Saint Claire of Assisi
Parable: The Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29)
Each month at Our Lady of Sorrows we explore a particular parable of Jesus, a saint from the great cloud of witnesses that surround us, and a virtue (generally taken from the fruits of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Corinthians 6:6, Ephesians 5:9, & 2 Peter 1:5-7] or the cardinal & theological virtues). The parable, saint and virtue are incorporated into our morning prayer, religion bulletin boards and religion classes. This focus on one parable, one saint and one virtue complements our Words of Wisdom program and serves as a supplement to our religion curriculum. This month we focus on the parable of the Growing Seed (Mark 4:26-29), the virtue of Patience, and St. Claire of Assisi.
With the parable of the growing seed, Jesus introduces us to two mysteries of life (in this context, a mystery is not something to be solved [like a murder mystery] but something which calls us to continual and constant reflection): the mystery of patience and the mystery of trust. He challenges us to trust in God by reminding us that the process of a seed turning into a tree or plant can work without any human interaction at all. In another part of the Gospel, Jesus asks us to trust in the Father who nourishes and cares for the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. This parable reminds us that if God so cares for his creation, God will of course care for us as well, even if we can’t see God working in the background.
A virtue is something that strengthens our soul and spirit (coming from the Latin “virtus” which means “strength”). Patience, then, is that virtue that helps us convert the suffering, trials and tribulations in our lives into a form of prayer. It helps us to bear difficult circumstances, discipline our selfish impulses, and do what is right even when it’s difficult or time consuming. Patience challenges us to be counter cultural and not demand that everything and everyone cater to our whims at each moment; it challenges us to allow God to work in his time, and not on our schedule.
St. Claire of Assisi lived a life of total trust in God, giving everything she had for the betterment of others. This led, naturally, to living a life of poverty. When asked what it was like to be poor, she answered, “They say that we are too poor, but can a heart which possesses the infinite God be truly called poor?" Even though others sometimes ridiculed their radical practice of the Faith, St. Claire and her sisters were patient with their neighbors, continually praying for them and serving them, even when the people around them were less than kind.
Their faith challenges us to practice our faith. Our prayer this month, then, is that, just like St. Claire and her sisters, we can trust in God and work on our patience, so that we can more and more shine forth the image and likeness of Jesus Christ hidden in our bodies, minds, hearts, souls and spirits.
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III