Skip Navigation

Saint / Virtue of the Month

December Saint: The Holy Family

Virtue: Joy

Parable: The Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:1-10)

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 (see Hebrews 12:1), 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 Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14; Luke 15:1-10), the virtue of Joy, and the Holy Family.

Jesus told them another parable:
What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray.
(Matthew 18:12-14, NRSV-CE translation)

Most of us spend much of our time with family, friends, and co-workers - it’s the nature of our lives and schedules. However, Jesus challenges us to always be on the lookout for the unwanted, the undesirable, the ones that others shun, the ones who are on the fringes of polite society. We are challenged to visit and serve the sick, those in prison, and especially those who are different from us (in culture, religion, philosophy, politics, etc.). And Jesus sends us forth to do this because, he tells us, that’s what the Father does. The Father constantly looks for the one who is different, who is set apart, who is outcast, who doesn't feel like they belong – and, Jesus tells us, when the Father finally breaks through to that person, all of heaven rejoices.

That joy felt in heaven is a mirror of the joy in our hearts this Advent month. That joy is different from happiness – happiness is an ephemeral feeling that is dictated by external circumstances; it can be triggered by a new item, a passing remark, the state of the weather, or any number of other external circumstances to our lives. Joy, on the other hand, is a deep-seated attitude towards life, regardless of the circumstances surrounding us. It’s a way of looking at life that accepts both good and bad, happy and sad, positive and negative. When we can walk through life in a state of acceptance, we are on our way to practicing joy.

The Holy Family (Jesus, Mary & Joseph) encapsulate both our parable and our virtue. When Mary gave her "yes" to be the Mother of Jesus, the profound joy it brought her (and eventually St. Joseph) helped them weather the gossip that their little village would have thrown in their faces. As Jesus grew in wisdom and grace, all three of them would have taken time to speak with anyone who would speak to them, pray with those who needed it, share a meal with those who were hungry, and serve the other people who no one wanted to help. The man Jesus grew into was partly a result of the overflowing generosity and joy he witnessed and experienced with his family.

This month then, as we prepare ourselves for the celebration of the Christmas season by journeying through the holy season of Advent, let us pray that we can strive to practice joy in our hearts, attitudes and actions, especially with those people who are part of our earthly family.

 

November Saint: Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

Virtue: Self-Control

Parable: The Weeds & the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30)

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 (see Hebrews 12:1), 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 Weeds & the Wheat (Matthew 13:24-30), the virtue of Self-Control, and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

Jesus told them another parable: God’s kingdom is like a farmer who planted good seeds of wheat in his field. One night, while his workers were asleep, his enemy planted weeds all through the wheat and snuck away before dawn. When the first tiny green stalks of wheat appeared and the grain began to form, the weeds showed up, too.

The farmhands came to the farmer and said, ‘Master, that was clean seed you planted, wasn't it? Where did these weeds come from?’

The farmer answered, ‘An enemy did this.’

The farmhands asked, ‘Should we pull out the weeds?’

The farmer said, ‘No, if you pull out the weeds, you’ll pull up the wheat, too. Let them grow together until harvest time.
Then I’ll instruct the harvesters to pull up the weeds and tie them in bundles for the fire, then gather the wheat and put it in the barn.’

(Matthew 13:24-30, adapted from The Message translation)

St. Frances was born in Lombardi, Italy in 1850, one of thirteen children. At eighteen, she desired to become a nun, but poor health stood in her way. She helped her parents until their death, and then worked on a farm with her brothers and sisters.

One day a priest asked her to teach in a girls' school and she stayed for six years. At the request of her Bishop, she founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart to care for poor children in schools and hospitals. Then at the urging of Pope Leo XIII she came to the United States with six nuns in 1889 to work among the Italian immigrants.

Filled with a deep trust in God and endowed with a wonderful administrative ability, this remarkable woman soon founded schools, hospitals, and orphanages in this strange land and saw them flourish in the aid of Italian immigrants and children. At the time of her death, at Chicago, Illinois on December 22, 1917, her institute numbered houses in England, France, Spain, the United States, and South America. In 1946, she became the first American citizen to be canonized when she was elevated to sainthood by Pope Pius XII. St. Frances is the patroness of immigrants. (Source: Catholic.org)

In the Gospel story, Jesus is teaching us two things: The first one, which he explains to his apostles, is that good will always win over evil in the end. Even if it seems like the weeds are taking over, God promises us that, either here on Earth or in heaven, good will always win, and evil will always lose (just like the wheat goes into the barn and is later made into delicious bread and cakes, while the weeds are thrown out with the trash).

But Jesus also reminds us that our own heart, mind and soul are sometimes full of both good things (like wheat seeds) and bad things (like weeds). Our choices help us become more like Jesus (like the good seeds that grow into wheat) or takes us farther away from Jesus (like the weeds that were thrown away). The virtue of self-control helps us to nourish those good thoughts and actions, while helping us to put aside selfish thoughts and sinful actions. In this way, the parable reminds us that our self-control will help us enjoy eternal life with God as well as help others by our example.

Mother Cabrini practiced self-control when she was asked to teach (she gave up her time and energy and focused on her responsibilities instead of her wants) and when she came to the United States with a few of her nuns (they were very poor to start off with, and had to make do with little food and money). She also put into practice the parable of the month by teaching everyone who wanted to be taught, and not turning anyone away. This month then, as we pray for the holy souls in purgatory and as we give thanks for the good things in our lives, let us also pray that our decisions will be inspired by Mother cabrini's example and that our choices always help us be more like Jesus.

Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III

 

October Saint: Saint Francis of Assisi

Virtue: Goodness

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

Virtue: Gentleness

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

Virtue:  Patience

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