Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Reflection on Consecrated Life November 2015


Pope Francis’ circular letter, REJOICE to men and women in Consecrated Life for the year of Consecrated Life.

Opening Hymn: God has Chosen Me         Bernadette Farrell
 Psalm 16
Ant. When I see your face, O Lord, I shall know the fullness of joy.
Keep me safe, O God; in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORDyou are my Lord, you are my only good.
As for the holy ones who are in the land, they are noble, in whom is all my delight.
They multiply their sorrows who court other gods. Blood libations to them I will not pour out nor will I take their names upon my lips.LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure. Pleasant places were measured out for me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.
I bless the LORD who counsels me; even at night my heart exhorts me.
I keep the LORD always before me; with him at my right hand,
I shall never be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure,
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit.
You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, 
the delights at your right hand forever.

(Personal Reflection)  Look at the Past with Gratitude


·        From our past, “What is your favorite story from Missionary Cenacle History?”
·        If I had to write a report on the condition of my spiritual and apostolic life from the past what would it be?  Why? 
Taken from the Ministry Inventory Pre- General Cenacle 2013
·        MSBTs minister to adults of all ages whose conversion to Christ is incomplete.
·        MSBTs have extensive experience with various programs aimed at welcoming inactive Catholics back to the Church or bringing about an experience of personal conversion and renewal.
·        MSBTs promote and support the MCA in several ways: as regional spiritual guides, by offering spiritual direction and retreats (including the MC Spiritual Exercises),
·        MSBTS carry on our long tradition of reaching out to people through missionary visiting to homes, public institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, college campuses, and juvenile and immigration detention centers.
·        Some MSBTs are involved in advocacy of various kinds, e.g., for victims of domestic violence and trafficking; for undocumented immigrants and immigrants isolated from their families; for the protection of children and the elderly from abuse, 
·        MSBTs also have educational ministries (apart from religious education), e.g., they provide leadership training, teach English as a Second Language, tutor youth, supervise student social workers, teach parenting skills, educate in an Adult Awareness and Safe Environment program, and so on.


“Yes,” he replied, “I have been there many times; I am acquainted with it and know all the roadsThen Tobias said to him,….. “Wait for me, young man, until I go in and tell my father; for I do need you to travel with me, … He replied, “All right, I will wait; but do not take too long.  Tobit 5: 6ff

Trusting  that the new is being  born and to allow oneself to be guided  by the Spirit requires courage and audacity to take the uncertainty and complexity of reality in constant transformation, recognizing that we do not have the last word, but we are one of the many voices and presences.

What are the actual signs that reveal to you new ways of living our charism?

Embrace the future with hope

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Consecrated Life May 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life
May 2015
Call to prayer:       Come, let us worship Christ, who shows his love for the Church.

Psalm 119: 33-40                 (Today’s English Version /ABS)

(A Prayer for Understanding)

Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your laws, and I will obey them at all times.
Explain you law to me, and I will obey it.  I will keep it with all my heart.
Keep me obedient to your commandments, because in them I find happiness.
Give me the desire to obey your laws rather than get rich.
Keeping me from paying attention to what is worthless; be good to me, as you promised.
Keep your promise to me your servant – the promise you make to those who obey you.
Save me from the insults I fear; how wonderful are your judgments!
I want to obey your commands; give me new life, for you are righteous.

Scripture:               Matthew 18:14

“…it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Or                               John 10: 14 – 16

“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.  When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.  The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd.  As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me.  And I am willing to die for them.  There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen.  I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

 Reflection:               “Sentire cum Ecclesia”

Fr. Lemoncelli* asks (…) Religious of the U.S.: Is Sentire cum Ecclesia a strong feature of our institute?  He also asks, do we seek the goals of the Church biblically, liturgically, dogmatically, and pastorally in missionary and social fields?   In our Rule of Life no.17 we read: “Our reading should include Missionary Cenacle writings and, in keeping with our maxim, sentire cum ecclesia, we are to reflect prayerfully on the documents of the Church.”   Are we personally faithful to this? 

In the 1928 Constitution of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. Judge stressed fidelity to the principle “Sentire cum Ecclesia”.  Since the Holy Spirit guides and inspires the Church, every Missionary Servant must be open to the workings of the Spirit.
In a letter to Mother Boniface, Fr. Judge explained that Cenacle missionaries must always be true to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.  No sacrifice should be too great to defend the Gospel and Church teachings.  (Dennis Berry, S.T., God’s Valiant Warrior, 270-271)
As stated in Ecclesial People,  (Joseph Miriam Blackwell, M.S.B.T  (1974),  l5. ) “Sentire cum Ecclesia” means to experience, endure, suffer, undergo and be affected by the needs, teachings and efforts of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, the People of God.  It is more than an intellectual concept. “…the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit.”  Documents of Vatican II, Guadium et Spes, no.3.  We carry this out by imitating the obedience of Jesus, acting in love, faith, generosity and forgetfulness of self.  Rule of Life, no. 31.

The Church understands herself as the sign of Christ and instrument for achieving union with God and unity of all humankind.  Today there is a sense of urgency to bring this awareness to everyone.  Documents of Vatican II,  Lumen Gentium, no. 1.   Since 1892, the Church has been raising our consciousness by issuing documents on social issues that affect people over the world and calls for our response.  In order to respond to these documents, we strive to be versed in them, converse together about them and plan how we can respond as Missionary Cenacle Family.

Another aspect of “sentire cum ecclesia” is discussed in Vita Consecrata, where we hear that “A great task also belongs to the consecrated life in the light of the teaching about the Church as communion…. Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and… (be) witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.”  This leads to mission.  Being in communion includes allegiance of mind and heart with the teachings of the Church and cooperating with the Bishops, VC, no. 46.  We have always been true to this.

We are reminded that “today’s world is expecting to see in consecrated men and women the concrete reflection of Jesus’ way of acting, of his love for every person without distinction or qualification.  ” Origins,  Starting Afresh From Christ: A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium (July 4, 2002), vol. 32: NO 8, 131.  The emphasis in the article is for people to be touched by the grace that comes from consecrated men and women living like Christ.

Pope Francis offers the same challenge and adds to it with missionary enthusiasm and joy. He calls all in the church to have a missionary spirituality, have personal contact with the people, see Jesus in each person and tolerate the nuisances of life with fraternal love.   (The Joy of the Gospel (2013) 40-47)

Perhaps we can take our temperature to see how true we live out Jesus’ basic message among those we encounter in the providence of our daily life.  If God’s unconditional love is deeply rooted in our hearts, how do we communicate Christ’s message of love and salvation to each person?  We are meant to impact society by our attitudes, actions and words.  “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:… he gave up all he had and took on the nature of a servant… he was humble and walked the path of obedience…” (6) Good News Bible, Philippians 2: 5-8    Can others see us as the sacrament of Christ?   

Today we are more aware of needs.  As Missionary Servants, we seek ways to best respond, both communally and personally, to the needs of the church today.  The Church wants us to welcome everyone and manifest God’s desire for all to experience God’s love, life, compassion and forgiveness.   In a world of violence there is an urgency to show respect, openness and understanding to those of other faiths and cultures.   We are called to work for justice and peace and defend the value of life and dignity of others. Then as church, we can respond as signs of hope to those enslaved, violated, persecuted, denied or oppressed.  

How are we, as church, affected by the needs, desires and teachings of the Church?  Those of us in Ministry of Prayer can touch the spiritual lives and social world through those who minister, serve or visit us and with whom we have any contact and interact, and in our daily prayer

Those in the “field or vineyard” take the needs of God’s people to prayer and liturgy, but also have the opportunity to minister to them by letting them know what is important to God’s Church and how to understand the Church today, especially in their culture.  There are great many challenges in pastoral ministry today in remaining true to the Church while truly being church to others, especially those who feel on the fringes (for whatever reason) and for those who have never known a reason for hope.  We can only do this with the wisdom and fortitude of the Holy Spirit. 

Do you feel like Fr. Judge who “wished to be enveloped in the life of the church, to feel it, to have a love for it, to suffer with it, to have no life apart from it”?   (Blackwell, 15)

        *Fr. Hank Lemoncelli is an undersecretary from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

March 2015 Reflection for Year of Consecrated Life

Reflections for Year of Consecrated Life    March 9. 2015

“Praise the Lord, all nations!  Praise him, all peoples!  His love for us is strong, and his faithfulness is eternal.  Praise the Lord!”    (Psalm 117)

After writing THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis asked consecrated men and women to ponder some questions.   This reflection paper deals with: 
how can I break free from this “culture of the temporary”?   
Other questions akin to it: Do I allow spiritual worldliness to attract me?  Am I comfortable in my Christian life, in my priestly life, in my religious life, and also in my community life?  Do I retain the forces of restlessness for God, for his Word that make me “step out” of myself toward others?

Most of us in the northern hemisphere are bombarded with consumer values and an efficiency mentality.  Conversely, we are all called to solidarity with nature as well as with people.  Perhaps a daily examen could include how careful I am with the resources of the earth and realize the affect a consumer society has on me.   Our style of life calls us to be detached from earthly goods.    This includes leaving my comfort zone and sharing my “personal time” with others.   We can be a sign of contradiction to individualism.

Pope Francis echoes the sentiments of Paul VI and John Paul II when he reminds us that we can become distracted or carried away by temptations to gather or keep things beyond our real need.  When we become satisfied and comfortable, it can be difficult to be free enough to:  “love and be loved by all those given us in community and ministry.  Our chastity should find expression in warm and selfless love of others.” (1)   As Missionary Servants we follow in the footsteps of the apostles who imitate the poverty of Jesus.  We are inspired to be courageous in being “totally dependent upon the providence of God, to be subject to the common law of labor, to heed the cry of the poor and to live simply, holding all things in common in our respective institutes.” (2)  We are well advised.

Consecrated religious are to be signs to society by taking a stand against anti-gospel values.   We are to give a “radical gift of self for the love of God and, in him, of every member of the human family.” (3)   This exhortation also reminds us that we are to bear witness to God’s marvelous works in both words and ‘by the eloquent language of a transfigured life…” (4)  So, I ask myself, have I become transfigured in attitude, actions and words so that people are reminded of God’s beauty and goodness? 

Thirty years ago, the American Bishops suggested adopting fasting and abstinence on Fridays for peace or the conversion of hearts.   We can personally opt to fast or abstain from whatever would be most helpful in growing closer to God and our neighbor, and we can opt to do it on a periodic basis.  Fr. Judge reminds us that we need not be jealous of the saints who did great good because we have many opportunities in our own lives.  Just think of the “idle hours” we spend each week, he writes. We might need to pray for more of the spirit of sacrifice. (5)

During this Year of Consecrated Life, we can more intentionally continue our formation.  No longer is formation for those in the first few years in community.  Rather, it is on-going, and each religious needs to deepen in understanding and commitment in “sharing in the work of the Father who, through the Spirit, fashions in the heart the inner attitudes of the Son.”  (6)

(1)   RULE OF LIFE, no. 25
(2)   Ibid. no 28
(3)   Vita Consecrata, no. 3
(4)   Ibid. no. 20
(6)   Vita consecrate, no. 66

A prayerful ending:             Psalm 131

O Lord, my heart is not proud,                    
Nor are my eyes haughty                              
I busy not myself with great things              
Nor with things too sublime for me.             
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child,
so is my soul within me.   
O Israel, hope in the Lord,                                                                
Both now and forever.

Mark 8: 34-36
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.  What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

Prayerful thought:
God has created me to do for him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another.  I have my mission…I am a link in a chain, a connection between people.  God has not created me for nothing.  I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be a preacher of truth in my own place, which not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.

                                                                                              J. H. Newman

Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity
now and forever! Amen!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life April 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life
April 2015

Opening Song: Center of my Life Paul Inwood  

Opening Prayer:
O my God, infinitely amiable and adorable
My Creator, my Redeemer and my Sanctifier
My first beginning and my last end
I come now before you in prayer. Hear me, O Lord.

Psalm 27 (7-14)
When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not abandon me nor forsake me, O God of my salvation!
For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
But the LORD will take me up.
Teach me Your way, O LORD,
And lead me in a level path because of my foes.
Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries,
For false witnesses have risen against me,
And such as breathe out violence.
I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the LORD Glory be to the Father…
Set me as a seal on your heart, as a seal on your arm; For stern as death is love,
relentless as the nether world is devotion; its flames are a blazing fire.
Deep waters cannot quench love, nor floods sweep it away.
Were one to offer all he owns to purchase love, he would be roundly mocked. Song of Songs 8: 6-7

Starting afresh from Christ:
A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third June 14, 2002
#8 Consecrated women and men have received a call to a “new and special consecration”, for the good of the Church, which impels them to live a life in imitation of Christ, the Virgin, and the Apostles with impassioned love. In our world this lifestyle stresses the urgency of a prophetic witness which entails “the affirmation of the primacy of God and of eternal life, as evidenced in the following and imitation of the chaste, poor and obedient Christ, who was completely consecrated to the glory of God and to the love of his brethren”.
Consecrated persons extend a persuasive invitation to reflect upon the primacy of grace and to respond to it through a generous spiritual commitment. Despite widespread secularization, there is a widespread demand for spirituality which is often expressed as a renewed need for prayer. Life’s events, even in their ordinariness, present themselves as challenges which should be seen in light of conversation. The dedication of consecrated persons to the service of an evangelical quality of life contributes to the keeping alive in many ways the spiritual practices among the Christian people. Religious communities increasingly seek to be places for hearing and sharing the Word, for liturgical celebration, for the teaching of prayer, and for accompaniment through spiritual direction. Thus, even without realizing it, this help given to others offers mutual advantages.

Rule of Life #23
Christ calls us to follow him with liberty of spirit and to share in his emptying of self for others (Phil 2:7). He was celibate and poor (Mt. 8:20; Lk 9:58) and obedient unto death (Phil 2:8). We freely vow chastity, poverty and obedience as a personal response in faith to God whose love the Holy Spirit has poured out in our hearts (Rom. 5:5).

Letter to Missionary Servants – March 22, 1923-MF 5329. Fr. Thomas Judge
Poverty, Chastity and Obedience!
What golden beads they are linking our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We meet our dear Lord as the Church presented Him to us last Sunday (Palm Sunday), the center of an acrimonious, contentious, irreverent crowd. My thoughts these days are much given over to pondering this: upon what did the eyes of Jesus gaze? “Behold the Man,” the Sacred Scripture says (Jn. 19:5). As they beheld, He too beheld. As they gazed, He gazed. Again: what did He see? Surely there is need of reparation for those sins of long ago and for the sins of those who today gaze so coldly and indifferently and irreverently upon Him. How consoling must be your gaze of love! What a comfort to the agonizing Heart of Jesus, on that dreadful first Good Friday. When He knew that your heart would be His.
(In pledging vows again), make your consecration through love, yes, but especially the love of a soul that sorrows and is pained because of Him and His sorrows. Let it be reparation of love. Let Him Who is so outraged today realize that you wish to make up and to love for yourself and for all those who refuse Him love. Let Him even see this generous love find expression in good works ad in the good will ever to make reparation. Unite all with His love and sorrows, with the love and sorrows of His compassionate Mother, with Saint Joseph and all the saints. May the Mother of our Lord, because of the word made Flesh, obtain for you many graces and blessings and above all that you may ever be generous, loyal and sacrificing (in the service of Jesus).

Questions posed by Pope Francis
Message for the Year of Consecrated Life, November 29, 2014
#2 The question we have to ask ourselves during this Year is if and how we too are open to being challenged by the Gospel; whether the Gospel is truly the “manual” for our daily living and the decisions we are called to make. The Gospel is demanding: it demands to be lived radically and sincerely. It is not enough to read (even though the reading and study of Scripture is essential), nor is it enough to meditate on it (which we do joyfully each day). Jesus asks us to practice it, to put his words into effect in our lives. Once again, we have to ask ourselves: Is Jesus really our first and only love, as we promised he would be when we professed our vows? Only if He is, will we be empowered to love, in truth and mercy, every person who crosses our path. For we will have learned from Jesus the meaning and practice of love. We will be able to love because we have his own heart.
Time for personal reflection & Faith Sharing

Closing: Blessed be God the Father who has created us,
Blessed be God the Son, who has redeemed us,
Blessed be God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us.

Blessed be the Holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever. Amen

Friday, February 13, 2015

February 2015 Reflection on Consecrated Life

February 2015                                                   Reflection on Consecrated Life

OPENING HYMN:  Sing a New Church ~Dolores Dufner, OSB

Leader: O God,Creator of all things, welcome us into your presence..                                      

All: Where we will sing your praise here and forever!
Leader:  Send you Spirit to free our hearts,                                                                                  
All: to take away all hesitation and fear in following your call.
Leader: Help us recognize the hunger you have created in us,                                                    
All: to be faithful to your call to mission and justice.

Antiphon:  My Soul is thirsting for you my God.

Psalm 63:

O God, you are my God; at dawn I seek you;
for you my soul is thirsting.
For you my flesh is pining,
like a dry, weary land without water.

 I have come before you in the sanctuary,
to behold your strength and your 
Your loving mercy is better than life;
my lips will speak your praise.

I will bless you all my life;                            
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet;
with joyful lips, my mouth shall praise you.

When I remember you upon my bed,
I muse on you through the watches of the night.                                                         
For you have been my strength; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice.
your right hand upholds me.

My soul clings fast to you;
Glory to the Father...

SCRIPTURE READING:  Mt 9: 35-38 The harvest is rich but the laborers are few
35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Hymn:  Come with me into the Fields  Dan Shutte

REJOICE! A letter to consecrated men and women; A message from the teachings of Pope Francis
5. Consecrated life is in fact a continuous call to follow Christ, and to be made like him. “Jesus’s whole life, his way of dealing with the poor, his actions, his integrity, his simple daily generosity, and finally his complete self-giving, all this is precious and relates to our personal lives.”

36. Many traditional and new foundations bring consecrated men and women to places where others usually cannot go. In recent years consecrated persons were able to leave the security of the known to thrust themselves into unknown places and works. Thanks to their total consecration they are in fact free to step in wherever there are critical needs. This has been witnessed in the recent foundations in new countries which present unique challenges, involving many provinces at the same time and creating international communities. With discerning eyes and generous hearts121 they have responded to the call of many who suffer in a concrete service of charity. Wherever they are, they have constituted a link between the Church and marginal groups and those not reached by ordinary pastoral ministry.  

104. Many people today are puzzled and ask: What is the point of the consecrated life? Why embrace this kind of life, when there are so many urgent needs in the areas of charity and of evangelization itself, to which one can respond even without assuming the particular commitments of the consecrated life?
These questions are asked more frequently in our day, as a consequence of a utilitarian and technocratic culture which is inclined to assess the importance of things and even of people in relation to their immediate "usefulness". But such questions have always existed, as is eloquently demonstrated by the Gospel episode of the anointing at Bethany: "Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment" (Jn 12:3). When Judas, using the needs of the poor as an excuse, complained about such waste, Jesus replied: "Let her alone!" (Jn 12:7).This is the perennially valid response to the question which many people, even in good faith, are asking about the relevance of the consecrated life: Could one not invest one's life in a more efficient and reasonable way for the betterment of society? This is how Jesus replies: "Let her alone!"
Those who have been given the priceless gift of following the Lord Jesus more closely consider it obvious that he can and must be loved with an undivided heart, that one can devote to him one's whole life, and not merely certain actions or occasional moments or activities. The precious ointment poured out as a pure act of love, and thus transcending all "utilitarian" considerations, is a sign of unbounded generosity, as expressed in a life spent in loving and serving the Lord, in order to devote oneself to his person and his Mystical Body. From such a life "poured out" without reserve there spreads a fragrance which fills the whole house. The house of God, the Church, today no less than in the past, is adorned and enriched by the presence of the consecrated life.

Article 1:  Our Lord had very much at heart the creating of a spirit, a missionary spirit, an
Evangelical burning that would sweep over the whole world. He came to cast a fire on the earth, and he willed that it would be enkindled (Lk 12:49). The Holy Spirit has enkindled this fire in our hearts. This is our heritage: an apostolic spirit, a Gospel spirit, a Catholic spirit. The Missionary Cenacle Spirit is charity, charity aflame.

You must determine to do some big thing for Him. And that big thing must mean that more and more you are going to put on Christ; more and more you are going to show forth His spirit which will effect that your brothers will recognize in you more generosity, more devotion to your Missionary Cenacle and its duties, more forgetfulness of self, more detachment from worldly things, worldly ways; more self‑sacrifice P. 29
I wish that during this (meditation) you would, as it were, take your own temperature. How is that fire within me? Is it at white heat, is it intense, or is it a dull glow; or is it next to being extinguished? When the smith plunges the metal into the fire, if his fire be at its proper temperature, there is a fusion; but he might plunge that iron many times into the fire and it would be futile unless the fire was at white heat. P 183

Question posed by Pope Francis to consecrated men and women
“ Look into the depths of your heart, look into your own inner depths and ask yourself: do you have a heart that desires something great, or a heart that has been lulled to sleep by things? Has your heart preserved the restlessness of seeking or have you let it be suffocated by things that end by hardening it? God awaits you, he seeks you; how do you respond to him? Are you aware of the situation of your soul? Or have you nodded off? Do you believe God is waiting for you or does this truth consist only of “words”?

Faith Sharing: 
Gather the fruits of your reflection ….
Cenacle Doxology:   Blessed be God the Father who has created us,         Blessed be God the Son, who has redeemed us,                                            Blessed be God the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us.  Blessed be the Holy and undivided Trinity, now and forever. Amen

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Year of Consecrated Life Prayer Service



“How would they have us live this Advent?...   This is the time for generous promising.”                 Fr. Thomas A. Judge p. 5 MCM

LEADER:  This Advent as we begin a year dedicated to Consecrated Life we offer prayerful thanks for the call we received to the Missionary Cenacle Family.  We ask God to help us to continue to grow in our vocation.
OPENING HYMN: Wake the World with Dawning Joy (Steven Warner)+ (see note at end)

1.      Wake the world with dawning Joy!  Wake it with your gladness! Work for Justice, live in peace, Claim the Word Courageous!  Let us sing to God this new day, see the world in a different way.   Let us wake the world, wake the world, with abiding words of faith.
2.      Though the world is locked in sleep,  Let us rise rejoicing!   One in Christ his light to keep,           Called to human kindness.  Let us sing to God this new day, walk the world in a holy way,          Let us wake the world, wake the world  with uplifting words of hope.
3.      Love the world with different eyes.  God’s own love incarnate! Leaving all to follow Christ:  Sweet and endless mercy!  Let us sing to God this new day, reach the world in miraculous ways,  Let us wake the world, wake the world, with prophetic words of love.
4.      Thunder now God’s song of praise, wake to harp and dancing.  Song to lift us all our days.  Song of love and triumph!  For the Bridegroom now awaits us, in the faces of all we meet.    Now awake the world! Wake the world with unending words of joy.                                                                  (Text of Hymn is based on Pope Francis’ words to Consecrated Religious of the World.)
OPENING PRAYERO God, your promise to come in glory will be a reality when our hearts are one, our hands extend to one another in peace and our earth is renewed. Be with us in this Advent moment as we come together to celebrate this season of waiting. We ask this in the name of Jesus who draws near, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.
ANTIPHON:       By our lives,  we seek first to glorify the Triune God. 
I will bless the Lord at all times;
    God’s praise shall be always in my mouth.
 My soul will glory in the Lord;
    let the poor hear and be glad.
 Magnify the Lord with me;
    and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
    delivered me from all my fears.
 Look to him and be radiant,
    and your faces may not blush for shame.
This poor one cried out and the Lord heard,
    and from all his distress he saved him.
 The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and he saves them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.
 Fear the Lord, you his holy ones;
    nothing is lacking to those who fear him.
The rich grow poor and go hungry,
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.                                                                                         
Come, children,  listen to me;
    I will teach you fear of the Lord.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted,
    saves those whose spirit is crushed.
 Many are the troubles of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him from them all.
The Lord is the redeemer of the souls of his servants;
    and none are condemned who take refuge in him.
Glory to the  Father……
    Antiphon:       By our lives,  we seek first to glorify the Triune God. 
PRAYER:  O God,  may the news of the dawn of your coming pierce our hearts.  Open our hearts to prepare for the coming of Christ. Guide us in your ways of compassion so that we may extend your love and mercy to all people.

(The following readings may be read in silence or in common, as you chose.  The readings are from Scripture, our Rule of Life, Missionary Cenacle Meditations, and various documents on Religious Life, which can be found on the Vatican website.  See the references below.)

1 THES 4:1  “we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants…”
REJOICE: …..Consecrated life is a call to incarnate the Good News, to follow Christ, the crucified and risen one, to take on “Jesus’s way of living and acting as the Incarnate Word in relation to the Father and in relation to the brothers and sisters”.(23) In practical terms, it is a call to take up his way of life, to adopt his interior attitude, to allow oneself to be invaded by his Spirit, to absorb his surprising logic and his scale of values, to share in his risks and his hopes. “Be guided by the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed”.  Paragraph 5  Rejoice: Circular Letter to Consecrated Men and Women: a Message from the Teachings of Pope Francis
CONSECRATED LIFE VITA CONSECRATA… In every age there have been men and women who, obedient to the Father's call and to the prompting of the Spirit, have chosen this special way of following Christ, in order to devote themselves to him with an "undivided" heart (cf. 1 Cor 7:34). Like the Apostles, they too have left everything behind in order to be with Christ and to put themselves, as he did, at the service of God and their brothers and sisters. In this way, through the many charisms of spiritual and apostolic life bestowed on them by the Holy Spirit, they have helped to make the mystery and mission of the Church shine forth, and in doing so have contributed to the renewal of society. Paragraph 1 POST-SYNODAL  APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION  VITA CONSECRATA (1996)

STARTING AFRESH FROM CHRIST: . The call to follow Christ with a special consecration is a gift of the Trinity for God’s Chosen People. Paragraph 8 …….In imitation of Jesus, those whom God calls to follow him are consecrated and invited to continue his mission in the world. Indeed, consecrated life itself, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, becomes a mission. The more consecrated persons allow themselves to be conformed to Christ, the more Christ is made present and active in history for the salvation of all.32    ( Paragraph 9) STARTING AFRESH FROM CHRIST:A RENEWED COMMITMENT TO CONSECRATED LIFE IN THE THIRD MILLENNIUM (2002)

            MSBT RULE of LIFE 3.  By our lives as Missionary Servants we seek first to glorify the Triune God. 
We follow in the footsteps of the apostles who, filled with the Holy Spirit, went forth from
the Cenacle to spread everywhere the knowledge and love of Jesus.  We live and work that
God's name may be hallowed, that his kingdom come, that his holy will be done
(Mt 6:9-10).

READING: “We have heard all through the Advent season that the valleys shall be filled and the mountains and hills shall be brought low and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough ways plain. What is there in us to tear down? What is there to fill up? What crooked thing is to be made straight? What rough thing to be made plain?”  Fr. Thomas A. Judge, S.M. MCM p/ 25

What attracted or inspired me in these readings?  What challenged me? What is my response to Father Judge’s questions?  What is there in us to tear down? What is there to fill up?, What crooked thing is to be made straight? What rough thing to be made plain? What is God calling me to in my Vocation as a Consecrated person during this coming year?

FAITH SHARING, if possible.
HYMN:  LET THE VALLEYS BE RAISED by Dan Schutte (or hymn of your choosing)
READING: Is 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.
 Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
 that her service has ended, that her guilt is expiated,
That she has received from the hand of the Lord  double for all her sins.
A voice proclaims: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be lifted up,
every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain, the rough country, a broad valley.                                                        Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Go up onto a high mountain,   Zion, herald of good news![
Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Cry out, do not fear! Say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!
 Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him, his recompense before him.
 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom, leading the ewes with care.

Response:  Bringing God’s embrace (Rejoice, Circular Letter to Consecrated Men and Women Paragraph 8)
1.      “People today certainly need words, but most of all they need us to bear witness to the mercy and tenderness of the Lord which warms the heart, rekindles hope, and attracts people towards the good. What a joy it is to bring God’s consolation to others!”(45)

2.     Pope Francis entrusts this mission to consecrated men and women: to discover the Lord who comforts us like a mother, and to comfort the people of God.

1.     “Service in the Church arises out of the joy of meeting the Lord and from his call. This mission is to bring to the men and women of our time the consolation of God, to bear witness to his mercy”.

2.     “In Jesus’s view, consolation is a gift of the Spirit, the Paraclete, the Consoler who comforts us in our trials and awakes a hope that does not disappoint. ”
1.     Thus Christian consolation becomes comfort, encouragement, hope. It is the active presence of the Spirit (cf. Jn 14:16-17), the fruit of the Spirit. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22).

2.     “In a world of distrust, discouragement and depression, in a culture in which men and women are enveloped by fragility and weakness, individualism and self-interest, we are asked to introduce belief in the possibility of true happiness, in the feasibility of hope that does not depend solely on talent, superiority or knowledge, but on God.”      
1.   “All are given the possibility of encountering him, if they only seek him with sincere heart. The men and women of our time are waiting for words of consolation, the availability of forgiveness and true joy.”
2.  “We are called to bring to everyone the embrace of God, who bends with a mother’s tenderness over us – consecrated women and men, signs of the fullness of humanity, facilitators and not controllers of grace, stooped down in a gesture of consolation.”
(CONGREGATION FOR INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE  AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE, YEAR OF CONSECRATED LIFE REJOICE! A letter to consecrated men and women A message from the teachings of Pope Francis ) (Paragraph 8)

LEADER:  O Lord, as you draw near to us, we present our prayers to you who always hear us.
May the Advent season inspire us to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Christ, let us pray to the Lord.

May the season of Advent be an occasion for a growing solidarity in our families, in our parishes, and in our communities, let us pray to the Lord.

May the message of Advent, that God’s grace is at work in the world, move us to be reflect God’s love in the activities of our everyday lives, let us pray to the Lord.
May our expectation of the coming of the Son who called us to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and visit the lonely strengthen our will to actively bring comfort and seek justice to those who are in need, let us pray to the Lord.
May those who are consecrated to God by the vows of chastity,  poverty and obedience, always reveal the love of Christ to those they encounter and continue to enrich our world by their dedicated lives of prayer and service. . Let us pray to the Lord..
May all those who are discerning their vocation in life, particularly those whom the Lord is calling to consecrated life be given the wisdom to hear God's call and the courage to respond generously. Let us pray to the Lord. 
May the dominant note ringing through the Cenacle, Inner and Outer, throughout the Advent season, be to please God in shadow as well as in sunshine, in irksome duty as well as in the hour of consolation. Let us cause charity to reign supreme and engender a great love of God and a greater spirit of forbearance with our neighbor. Go on! Go higher! Let us  pray to the Lord

CLOSING PRAYER:  Prayer for the Year of Consecrated Life
 O God, throughout the ages you have called women and men to pursue lives of perfect charity through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience.  During this Year of Consecrated Life, we give you thanks for these courageous witnesses of faith and models of inspiration.  Their pursuit of holy lives teaches us to make a more perfect offering of ourselves to you.  Continue to enrich your Church by calling forth sons and daughters who, having found the pearl of great price, treasure the Kingdom of Heaven above all things.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.                                                             (USCCB)
CLOSING HYMN:  CHRIST BE OUR LIGHT (FARRELL) or a Hymn of your choosing.
Hymn Suggestions:  (chose from these or others)
Christ, Be our Light (Farrell)                                                                                                        
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (VENI, VENI, EMMANUEL)    
The Coming of Our God (OPTATUS VOTIS OMNIUM)                                                                          
+Wake the World with Dawning Joy (Warner)
 We Long for you O Lord
+Wake the World with Dawning Joy (for sheet music and audio)       (based on the words of Pope Francis to the Consecrated Religious of the world….Commissioned by the National Religious Vocation Conference and Vision Vocation Guide in honor of the year for Consecrated Life)

Websites for Documents on Consecrated Life on Vatican Website

Rejoice: Circular Letter to Consecrated Men and Women: a Message from the Teachings of Pope Francis