Video about the Carmelite Sisters in Kazakhstan
Highlights from Superior General’s Reflections
A Time for PRAYER:
After visiting in the monastery with the Carmelites, I reflected on the need for prayer in my own life. Our charism invites us to pray as contemplatives in action, to step out of the busy world of work and other distractions, and focus on the presence of Jesus in Word and Eucharist. In my dialogue with these Sisters, I was so impressed with their simple, joyful witness in sharing their faith. As active contemplatives, we must also come aside to rest and reflect with the Lord.
As St. Vincent told his first companions: “The apostolic life does not exclude contemplation, but encompasses it and profits by it to know better the eternal truths it must proclaim.” (CCD, Vol. 3, Letter 1054) This Advent let us find some time in our busy lives to pray before the Lord.
A Time of PEACE:
At the altar of the Star of Kazakhstan, I reflected on the current state of the world, with its lack of peace on earth. Whether it is Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, and many other places, we see constant acts of violence, terrorism, border and tribal disputes, threatening the peace we seek. Today, there is an urgent need for people to learn how live in peace. After visiting this shrine, I realized the quest for peace begins with me.
I thought of St. Vincent as an example of one who sought peace and shared it with others. He told St. Louise, “The kingdom of God is peace in the Holy Spirit. He will reign in you if your heart is at peace. So, be at peace, Mademoiselle, and you will honor in a sovereign way the God of peace and love.” (CCD Vol. 1 Letter 71) Vincent lived in an era where violence, wars, and skirmishes plagued France. As it happens, the poor often suffered the most from these conflicts.
Yet, St. Vincent was a peacemaker who did so by defending the poor. He made Church and Crown aware of what these conflicts did to “our lords and masters, the poor.” We, as the Vincentian Family must be champions and instruments of God’s peace. This Advent, let us seek peace within to be one with the Prince of Peace of whom the prophet Micah said, “He shall take his place as shepherd by the strength of the LORD… he shall be peace. (Mi. 5:4-5)
Joyful Service to the POOR:
After an intense experience of prayer in the shrine, and profound peace with the Sisters in the monastery, I had the good fortune to share in Mass and a meal at the shelter […] I saw the embattled, but unbroken Body of Christ in these recovering addicts. In praying with them and sharing a meal, I was given the grace to see that we are all part of the mystical Body of Christ.
Jesus was born into poverty and lived in humble surroundings. This reality- the poverty of Our Lord in his earthly life – is not a sentimental Christmas story, but salvation history. God is revealed in the anawim, a Hebrew word literally means “the poor who depend on the Lord for deliverance.” In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ first major teaching is the Beatitudes to remind us that both Jesus and the Father identify with the least among us. At the end of each liturgical year, we hear Matthew’s Parable of the Last Judgment as our challenge: “I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Mt.25:40)
St. Vincent reminded us of the intrinsic link between our salvation and that of caring for the poor: “We cannot better assure our eternal happiness than by living and dying in the service of the poor, in the arms of Providence, and with genuine renouncement of ourselves in order to follow Jesus Christ.”(CCD Vol. 3 Letter 1078) Let this Advent be one in which, having prayed and sought the Lord’s peace, we go forth in renewed service to God’s poor.