National Novena: Oct 30-Nov 7

In preparation for Election Day, the Knights of Columbus is calling its members and all the faithful to join together in a novena to the Holy Trinity through the maternal intercession of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States.

Join your brother Knights around the nation for this novena, beginning on Sunday, Oct. 30, and concluding on Monday, Nov. 7. The prayer for the novena can be found HERE.

Our country is in desperate need of prayer. Please ask all your brother Knights and their families, as well as your pastor and fellow parishioners, to pray this national novena for the protection, well-being and freedom of our country.

St. Teresa of Kolkata — November Saint of Mercy

November

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born August 16, 1910, into a Roman Catholic Albanian family in the city of Skopje, now the capital of Macedonia. As a child she was captivated by the stories of missionaries, especially those serving in India. At the age of eighteen Gonxha joined the Sisters of Loreto, an Irish missionary order that served in West Bengal, India, taking the name Mary Teresa after St. Thérese of Lisieux. Sister Teresa taught at a girls school in Calcutta, eventually becoming headmistress in 1944.

Her life took a dramatic turn on September 10, 1946, when, while on the train to Darjeeling for her annual retreat, she received a vision of Jesus asking her to “come be my light” to the poor, to seek them out and serve them in a radical way. Teresa referred to this experience as receiving a “call within a call.” After she was granted permission to leave the Sisters of Loreto and found a new order, she began her ministry by going into Calcutta’s largest Christian slum and teaching children, writing in the dirt with a stick. She was soon joined by several of her former students and the Missionaries of Charity began to grow. Sister Teresa was now Mother Teresa.

Mother Teresa began her ministry in the midst of a troubled time in India’s history. After India gained independence in 1947, there was intense fighting between Hindus and Muslims sending a flood of refugees into Calcutta. While walking through the streets one day she encountered a severely malnourished man, lying in the gutter, dying alone. Moved by this encounter, Mother Teresa created a Home for the Dying where the sisters welcomed and cared for those who would otherwise die alone in the streets. Her ministry continued to expand in Calcutta as she opened homes for orphaned children and later for those suffering from leprosy. In 1965, the Missionaries of Charity opened a mission house in Venezuela, the first outside of India.

An undated file picture shows Blessed Teresa of Kolkata holding a child during a visit to Warsaw, Poland. Mother Teresa will be canonized by Pope Francis Sept. 4 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Tomasz Gzell, EPA)

(CNS photo/Tomasz Gzell, EPA)

Within her lifetime, Mother Teresa’s sisters would increase to over 4,000 members serving in 123 countries. Her selfless service to the poor began to attract international attention, earning her several prestigious prizes culminating in her being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

While she joked about feeling uncomfortable with her publicity, (once telling journalists that a soul must be released from Purgatory every time her picture is taken), she used her international platform to speak out against abortion, contraception and the spiritual poverty she found in the wealthy nations of the West. She also reminded people that they did not need to travel to distant lands to serve the poor. Speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., in 1994, Mother Teresa said: “I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.”

Mother Teresa’s work was not that of a philanthropist, rather she considered herself a contemplative, contemplating the face of Jesus in the “distressing disguise” of the poorest of the poor. She would often repeat the words, “you did it to me,” enumerating them on her fingers, recalling the words of Christ from the end of Matthew’s Gospel, convinced that in touching the suffering bodies of the poor she was touching the body of Christ. Her zeal for serving the poor found its source in her experience on the train on September 10, known as Inspiration Day by the Missionaries of Charity. That day God allowed her to experience his thirst for her personally. Through Jesus’ revelation she came to understand that when he said, “I thirst” upon the cross, He spoke not only of physical thirst but of his thirst for souls — our love. In a letter to her sisters she explains, “‘I thirst’ is something much deeper than just Jesus saying ‘I love you.’” At her beatification, Pope John Paul II underlined the power of “I thirst” for Mother Teresa: “Satiating Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls in union with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had become the sole aim of Mother Teresa’s existence and the inner force that drew her out of herself and made her ‘run in haste’ across the globe to labor for the salvation and the sanctification of the poorest of the poor.”

After the intense light and love she experienced on the train, Mother Teresa soon found herself shrouded in an inner darkness, a darkness that would last fifty years. With the help of trusted spiritual directors she came to understand and embrace this interior darkness as a participation in the darkness of Christ’s passion as well as sharing in the darkness of the poor. Far from undermining her faith, Mother Teresa’s experience of darkness illuminates the strength and depth of her faith that trusted in God’s love for her in the absence of any sense of his presence. While she lived in the midst of darkness, she radiated Christ’s light to the poor and to the world.

At the age of 87, Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997. She was beatified by St. Pope John Paul II in 2003 and was canonized by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

Prayer to St. Teresa of Kolkata

St. Teresa of Kolkata, you allowed the thirsting love of Jesus on the cross to become a living flame within you, and so became the light of his love to all.

Teach me to allow Jesus to penetrate and possess my whole being so completely that my life, too, may radiate his light and love to others.

 

Hillenbrand accepts CSS Founder’s Award

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Ray Hillenbrand, Rapid City, was honored by Catholic Social Services with the 2016 Founder’s Award, October 11. The keynote speaker was Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Philadelphia, and the award was presented by CSS Board Vice President Susan Raposa. (WRC photo by Becky Berreth)

 

By Laurie Hallstrom

Anecdotes of youthful hijinks, fishing tale “whoppers,” and sincere admiration were used by speakers to pay homage to a local businessman and philanthropist. October 11, Ray Hillenbrand, Rapid City, was awarded Catholic Social Services 2016 Founder’s Award for his contributions to Catholic Social Services, the Diocese of Rapid City and the greater community.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pa., a long time friend, was the keynote speaker. Archbishop Chaput served as Bishop of Rapid City, 1988-97.

“The nine years I spent as the Bishop of Rapid City are truly among the best and happiest in my life. One reason for that happiness was you, the people I served. Dakotans have a character that comes from a closeness to a very beautiful, but also a very hard land. The other reason was the friendships I made with many of you, but first and best among them is my friendship with Raymond Hillenbrand,” said Archbishop Chaput.

“My first memory of Ray was meeting him when he was caring for his wife, Rita, as she was struggling with terminal cancer. Ray’s composure and affection for Rita, at a time of great anxiety, pain and stress, were a lesson to me and to others in Christian dignity.

“We are honoring Ray tonight for his generosity to Catholic Social Services, and that honor is well earned. Ray is able to make clear decisions and take decisive action in almost any situation. I have never seen a more generous and capable volunteer when it comes to Catholic projects. His engagement with community goes very far beyond the church. He brings his energy and enthusiasm to every task.

“He has done extraordinary things for Rapid City. He has a special love for the Native American community that shows itself in a very consistent way. His Prairie Edge Store in Rapid City is remarkable for its quality and beauty.

“Ray is also a leader and major philanthropist in the Rapid City Collective Impact Program — efforts to improve the quality of life for all the city’s residents in areas like housing, jobs, vacation, hunger, family services and health. What a wonderful task that is,” he said.

Then Archbishop Chaput chided Hillenbrand for telling Moby Dick sized fishing stories. “He does have one alarming flaw, all of us who fish tell tales, little white lies, modest little exaggerations that we invent to help other people enjoy the sport. Ray has told some whoppers.”

The archbishop explained the mission of CSS is to live out the great theological virtue of charity. “The English word charity comes from the Latin word caritas. Which simply means love. More specifically an unselfish Christian love for others, especially the suffering and the poor.

“Government programs can help solve social problems, and sometimes we need them, but they are not the same and they can never replace the role of charity. Real charity is always personal, it can’t be delegated, it’s an expression at the human-to- human level of our dependance on each other and the recognition we can never really know God until we acknowledge and support the dignity of human life that we find in other people and that we all share as children of God. When we help the poor, the disabled, the homeless, the unborn child, they also help us draw closer to heaven,” he said.

The archbishop said, what he admires most about Hillenbrand is the love in his heart that has led him to help people generously for a long time.

Following the award presentation, Hillenbrand was given a few minutes to speak.

“The thing that impresses me most about getting an award like this is the people who got it before me. I am in awe to be in their company. Three of them were friends of mine in many ways, Msgr. O’Connell probably touched the majority of lives in this room; Fr. Bill Pauly was a really special friend of mine and the other one is one of my best friends, Archbishop Charles. What Archbishop Charles has meant to me as a best friend is unbelievable because it’s not only who he is and how he operates, but it’s the way he communicates with people.”

Others were recognized at the banquet with Catholic Social Services Order of St. Benedict Awards — named for St. Martin Benedictine community, Rapid City. Those included the Hettick Family, for fostering a special needs child, Megan, who is now 34 years old; Audrey Kirkpatrick who worked at CSS for 25 years; and Rene Parker, former United Way Chair.

 

 

 

As Catholics we focus on what protects human life

In last month’s column, I raised the question: What happens in a race where Christians are faced with two morally problematic choices like we are faced with this year? When both candidates are not good, then who should I vote for?

The question hasn’t changed as we get closer to November 8. In fact, it seems that as each day brings us closer to Election Day, additional negative material on both candidates surfaces in the media. I can’t help but think, “How much worse can it get?” It is hard to believe that our country has reached this point where the two choices we have as presidential candidates are so deeply flawed. Certainly God is the only one who can judge the human heart, and I am sure they both are personally well intentioned, but each in their own way, seriously put forth defective ideas and policies when it comes to Catholic Social teaching.

Written in the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” are these words: “As Catholics, our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”

The month of October is Respect Life Month with the theme “Moved By Mercy.” There are many life issues to consider for reflection which speak clearly of the dignity of human life in its many stages. Some of these issues are written into the platforms of the two major political parties and are major concerns in this election year. Human life issues, religious freedom issues, immigration issues and education issues are some of those which are at the heart of the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms. These platforms are presented in this issue of the West River Catholic, on pages 3-4. Please take the time to view them before you vote.

Even though there are many issues in which to consider in any election, Catholics should view them within the context of the hierarchy of truths in Catholic Social teaching which begins with defending innocent human life. There is a vast difference on life issues between the Republican and Democratic Party Platforms — one of life and one of death.

This year’s Democratic Party platform calls for the overturning of the Hyde Amendment, a provision that both parties have voted to include in the federal budget and on other spending bills for many, many years. The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal taxpayer money from being used for abortion. The platform is aggressively pro-abortion, not only in funding matters, but in the appointment of judges who support abortion. It also supports the repealing of the Helms Amendment, which states that “no (U.S.) foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” Conversely, the Republican Party platform is supportive of the Hyde Amendment and has strengthened its support for life by calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, banning dismemberment abortion and opposing assisted suicide.

People may say that the life issue isn’t the only issue to consider. That is true. The Catholic Church proclaims that human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. Therefore, I believe the life issue is the first issue to consider. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights. Without life, none of the other rights matter.

Many of the other issues can legitimately be debated by Christians, such as the best and most effective policies in caring for the poor, the immigrants, taxes, etc. In voting, it is not an either/or scenario. All issues need to be considered. But all issues are not equal. The direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed always by every follower of Jesus Christ.

The health and holiness of our country and our world depends on a deep respect for human life at all its stages from the moment of conception until natural death. The future of our society depends on how we protect that right.

In this Year of Mercy, we are called to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful to us. How will we be moved by mercy if we are not first moved by mercy for the unborn?

 

Spiritual mothers support priests, seminarians

Spiritual mothers support priests, seminariaIn the middle of September, I was at St. Joseph Parish, Faith, for our annual gathering of “Spiritual Mothers.” They pray for the priests and seminarians in our diocese. The ministry of spiritual motherhood in our diocese is still relatively unknown even though spiritual mothers have been gathering in our diocese since the fall of 2008. The past eight years there have been about 60 women in our diocese responding to an invitation from the Congregation for the Clergy to offer Eucharistic Adoration in parishes for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Maternity.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI summed it up the best when he said: “The vocation to be a spiritual mother for a priest is largely unknown, scarcely understood and, consequently, rarely lived, notwithstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life.”

Several years ago I experienced a profound conversion in my own priestly life. I was pretty lukewarm and tepid in my priesthood, living a life of maintenance rather than missionary zeal. I did not really know personally and intimately the person of Jesus Christ and the power and the fire of the Holy Spirit in my life.

Through a series of events, moving from Our Lady of the Black Hills, Piedmont, to St. John the Evangelist, Fort Pierre, an eight-day silent retreat and a åpilgrimage to Medjugorje that changed and transformed my priesthood in so many ways — particularly in the way I embraced and took to heart the words of Jesus to Mary and the beloved disciple, John, at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:26-27).

I have come to understand more deeply the power of spiritual motherhood in my own life as priest. I firmly believe my conversion and continual growth and renewal of my priesthood has come partly through the prayer, the sacrifices, fasting and the penances offered on my behalf by spiritual mothers in our diocese — unbeknownst to me. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said “the vocation of spiritual motherhood is meant to transmit spiritual life” of the priests, seminarians and those discerning God’s call to priesthood.

Cardinal Claudio Hummes, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, proposed fighting the spiritual crisis within priesthood with a spiritual endeavor. He suggested forming the vocation of spiritual motherhood for priests — spiritually mature women willing to offer their lives and pray at the cross for priests and the priesthood.

Cardinal Hummes highlighted the importance of feminine souls who follow the typology of the Blessed Virgin Mary to spiritually support priests in order to help them with their self-offering, prayer and penance. Again, we can see this clearly at the foot of the Cross in the Gospel of John when Jesus says “Woman, this is your son; son, this is your mother” (Jn 19:26-27).

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, in one of her essays reflecting on the spiritual maternity of women, wrote: “For an understanding of our unique feminine nature, let us look to the pure love and spiritual maternity of Mary. This spiritual maternity is the core of a woman’s soul. Wherever a woman functions authentically in this spirit of maternal pure love, Mary collaborates with her.

“This holds true whether the woman is married or single, professional or domestic or both, a Religious in the world or in the convent. Through this love, a woman is God’s special weapon in his fight against evil. Her intrinsic value is that she is able to do so because she has a special susceptibility for the works of God in souls — her own and others. She relates to others in his spirit of love.”

A spiritual mother is one who commits to offering prayers, good works, sufferings, fasting and penances on behalf of priests, seminarians and those discerning God’s call to priesthood in our diocese, whose names are known to God.

Kit Schmidt from St. John the Evangelist, Fort Pierre, says, “To be a spiritual mother, one need not be the biological mother of a son who became a priest — in fact, one need not have given birth at all, because spiritual motherhood, as the name implies, is not a matter of biology, but of the heart.”

There are incredible women who have been praying for priests and their sanctification throughout the history of the church. St. Therese of Lisieux, in one of her letters to her sister Celine, wrote: “Let us live for souls, let us be apostles, let us save especially the souls of priests. … Let us pray, let us suffer for them, and, on the last day, Jesus will be grateful.”

There are incredible stories of spiritual mothers who, through their lives of prayer, suffering and penance, have truly transmitted life and borne fruit in the lives of priests and the church in so many ways. Women such Eliza Vaughan, Blessed Maria Deluil Martiny, Blessed Alexandrina Da Costa, Servant of God Consolata Betrone, Berthe Petit, Anna Stang and the women of the small village in Lu, Italy.

You can read these and more stories about spiritual mothers in the booklet titled “Eucharistic Adoration in parishes for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual
Maternity” from Roman Catholic Books or down load in pdf at http://www. clerus.org/clerus/dati/2008-01/25-13/Ado ration.pdf.

Our hope in the Office of Vocations is to continue to increase the number of spiritual mothers in our diocese. If you are interested in becoming a spiritual mother or organizing a spiritual mother group in your parish please contact the Office of Vocations at www.gods-call.com.