Seeds watered in hope and love

This week’s edition of The Anchor features stories about elderly people living their faith and stories of vocations — some of which overlap, since we each have a vocation (a calling) from God, Who expects that we keep on answering that Divine call until the end of our lives.

Genevieve Kineke on page 10 discusses one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, magnanimity, which she defines as “when someone recognizes in himself a God-given power and uses it for the greatest good.” So many of the people profiled in this edition show magnanimity. What a blessing for our diocese and our world!

Speaking to a lay group on June 23, 2013, Pope Francis urged them, “Get to know [Jesus] better and better, through prayer, retreat days, meditation on the Word and study of “The Catechism,” so as to love Him more and more and to serve Him with a generous and great heart, with magnanimity. This is a marvelous Christian virtue: magnanimity, being great-hearted, ceaselessly dilating the heart, patiently, loving everyone; and none of that pettiness that does us so much harm, but with magnanimity.”

A few weeks earlier, on June 7, 2013, the Holy Father told students from Jesuit schools in Italy and Albania, “In following what St. Ignatius teaches us, the main element at school is to learn to be magnanimous. What does being magnanimous mean? It means having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to respond to what God asks of us. Hence also, for this very reason, to do well the routine things of every day and all the daily actions, tasks, meetings with people; doing the little everyday things with a great heart open to God and to others.”

Our Lady of Fatima, as the spouse of the Holy Spirit, calls upon us to live this gift of the Spirit. As Father Landry writes on the facing page, SS. Francisco and Jacinta used their God-given power as Christian children to offer up much prayer and sacrifices for the Salvation of souls, even the souls of people yet to be born. Then on page 16 we read about how the prayers of a grandmother, Olga, planted seeds which came to fruition long after her death, when her granddaughter was baptized as an adult.

In a number of stories in this issue we read about how clergy and laity have planted seeds of faith into the hearts of people locally (be it in the own homes or out in the community), throughout our country and throughout our world. 

As Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., said in his recent pastoral letter, “Rebuilding in Faith and Hope,” “We embrace a ‘theology of abundance’ which reminds us that God has given us everything we need to cultivate, water and plant the seeds of growth in our Diocese.”

These seeds are watered by the prayers of so many elderly people throughout the diocese, many of whom cannot leave their homes or even their rooms anymore, but who continue to support the younger generations with their prayers (especially the Rosary) and sacrifices.

Speaking to the Sant’Egidio Community in Rome on June 15, 2014, Pope Francis said, “I see among you many elderly as well. The care given to the elderly, like that of children, is an indicator of the quality of a community. When the elderly are tossed aside, when the elderly are isolated and sometimes fade away due to a lack of care, it’s an awful sign. The elderly and their prayers are a treasure for Sant’Egidio. A people who don’t protect their elderly, who don’t take care of their young, is a people without a future, a people without hope.”

Part of the hope that we need in rebuilding our diocese comes from imitating this trust in the Lord that our elderly brothers and sisters exemplify. We are called to imitate them and to not ignore them.

Our elderly Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, shared with us his reflection on the theology of abundance back on New Year’s Day 2011. “In giving us Jesus, God has given us everything: His love, His life, the light of truth, the forgiveness of sins; He has given us peace. Yes, Jesus Christ is our peace (cf. Eph 2:14). He brought into the world the seed of love and peace, that is stronger than the seed of hatred and violence; stronger, because the Name of Jesus is superior to any other name, it contains the whole Lordship of God, as the prophet Micah announced: ‘But you, O Bethlehem, from you shall come forth for Me One who is to be ruler. He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the Name of the Lord His God. And this shall be peace’” (5:1-4).

The seeds planted in prayer are nurtured by the peace of Christ, Who protects us interiorly, even when everything outside of us (or even in our own bodies and minds) is going haywire. 

On the Vatican website is the testimony of a 74-year-old person with cerebral palsy who did not have the blessings that Collette Fortin shares with us on page two (http://www.vatican.va/jubilee_2000/jubilevents/jub_disabled_20001203_scheda3_en.htm). This person shared, “Although there is progress in every sector, [society] excludes more and more those who do not ‘produce’ and therefore: the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and this is something which causes deep suffering to people in these conditions.” He lamented being ignored by people from the Church, when “these persons (the disabled) could support [the Church through their prayers], doing them a lot of good. It is time to revive parish communities’ faith in [Divine] Providence through the most precious gift the community possesses, in other words the daily offering of the suffering of these ‘beloved children of God.’ The parish would benefit enormously from this offering. It is not enough to remove architectonic barriers, there are other barriers much are more difficult to break: we need to feel loved in order to feel we are ‘normal.’”

May God help us to open our hearts as much as His Sacred Heart was pierced for us, so that we can respond with magnanimity in every situation.


© 2017 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing  †  Fall River, Massachusetts