Friday, October 10, 2014

Saint October 11 : Saint María Soledad Torres Acosta : Foundress and Mother of the Servants of Mary

Foundress and Mother of the Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick
(1826 – 1887)

Soledad Torres Acosta was a woman who was completely open to the action of the Holy Spirit. She knew how to see the hand of God in everything that happened around her. She let herself be seduced by His loving and irresistible call that invited her to follow Him. She welcomed Christ into her heart, and her life was transformed into a gift for others. In humility and with God as her sole support, she even dared to undertake a great work in the Church: The Institute of the Servants of Mary.
Saint María Soledad was born on December 2, 1826, in Madrid, Spain. She was the second child of Francisco Torres and Antonia Acosta. She was baptized two days later and was given the name Antonia Bibiana Manuela.
Her childhood and youth passed by in the simplicity of daily life like any other young girl of her time; however, her love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and for prayer already stood out in her. When she was 25 years old, she heard the Lord’s call and asked to be admitted into the new Institute of the Servants of Mary that Father Michael Martínez, the parish priest of the neighborhood of Chamberí, had set out to begin for the purpose of caring for the sick in their own homes. The foundation took place on August 15, 1851. Manuela, who from then on would be called Sister María Soledad, would be the seventh of the founding group.

This is how Mother Soledad began her long journey through inspirations and darkness as she placed herself at the service of the poorest of the poor–the sick- seeing in them Christ Himself. With the total gift of herself, she went about showering the most exquisite and diligent charity upon the sick and poor. With profound humility and her great capacity to love, she understood the richness that the poor and sick possessed: they were nothing less than Christ Himself, the Divine Patient. It was Him for whom she kept vigil at night. She would look at Him, talk to Him, love Him and cure His wounds and kiss them… and the encounter was transformed into trust, hope and salvation. In this way she collaborated in the building up of the Kingdom of God.
After five years of complete dedication to the care of the sick, she saw that it was necessary for her to accept the position of General Superior. When Father Michael departed for the missions, she took charge of the Congregation, trusting in Divine Providence, and became the Foundress and Mother of the Servants of Mary.
Day after day, Mother Soledad did everything possible to provide for her Daughters’ spiritual wellbeing; her entire person reflected the gratuitousness and goodness of God. Her meek and humble heart was empty of herself and open to all; there were no limits of any kind for she knew that she belonged exclusively to God, and she gave her life as a free gift without receiving anything in return.
Open and willing to carry out the divine will, she had a deep sense of God’s presence within her. She constantly lived in the presence of God in everything she did: her work, various circumstances, unexpected events, the most ordinary tasks. She discovered God in everything because her heart was immersed in Him.
She solved everything with the logic of love based on humility, charity and gratitude. Because she lived poverty to the extreme and because she was profoundly humble, she acquired the liberty of spirit to be equable and magnanimous toward all, making herself the smallest and least of all.
Her secret was simple: seek the will of God always and in everything: in her many hours of prayer, in her personal encounter with God’s providence, in her friendship with Christ in the Holy Spirit whose growing presence she perceived in her soul as it became more transparent and penetrating every day, impelling her to work in her preferred and beloved field: the sick.
Her life revolved around the Lord’s presence in the Eucharist. Her nourishment was the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, from whom she received the strength necessary to endure life’s hardships with patience and serenity and to guide the Congregation with faith and unlimited trust in God whom she recognized as the ultimate guiding hand of the Institute. From the Eucharist Mother Soledad received the grace to give herself without reserve to her work as can be seen in her Letter 89: “May the Lord grant us His holy peace and patience so that with these two shields, we may carry the holy cross that Our Lord in His mercy has destined for us.
Her goal was clear: to be transformed into another Christ. From the very beginning, a clear sign of this transformation was her love for all, especially the most abandoned of society: those with contagious diseases. “The poor are my brothers”, she would say. She was so generous in sharing the little she had that all who came to her were surprised by this small woman with such a great soul. By her presence or her smile or by giving away a piece of bread, she revealed that God dwelled within her and that God is Love.
Mother Soledad showed us that the most wonderful gift from God is to be able to be fully identified with Christ who was obedient unto death on the cross. She experienced the emptiness, the loneliness and the abandonment of many, but never did she lack trust in Him who can do all things. She knew that the Cross of Christ is the source of strength and joy and that there are crosses that renew the life of the Church. She would exclaim, “May I know how to suffer”.  “Give me light and grace to be able to suffer and endure more for You”  (Letter 75). For her Daughters she prayed for “the grace to follow Him unto Calvary and to die crucified for love of Him” (Letter 75).
Mother Soledad took upon herself the suffering of the sick, of all of her Daughters, of the Church and of the entire world. She completed in her own body what was lacking in the passion of Christ, and her love and union with the Crucified Christ reached its fullness when she no longer desired anything else for herself or for her Daughters other than to “love the cross of Christ and not desire anything else” (Letter 63). This is the logic of love.
Mother Soledad relied on an exceptional woman for support and assistance who was her Mother on her journey: Our Lady, Health of the Sick. She was her model who she called her Mother, her consolation and her joy. Like Mary, she also gave her unconditional yes to the will of God and allowed herself to be molded in the forge of divine love. She was a bearer of Christ as she cared for the sick and proclaimed the Good News by her words and actions. She anticipated the needs of others in a motherly spirit of service to all. Like Mary she was at the foot of the Cross as she stayed at the bedside of suffering in an attitude of salvific offering. She was able to read history in the light of faith and hoped against all hope.
I have placed my confidence in Mary”, she would often repeat as she placed the “little boat” of the Congregation in her hands so she could lead it safely home. Full of gratitude and abandoned into the hands of the Father, she left this earthly life on October 11, 1887, a nine o’clock in the morning. She died like a grain of wheat as she reached the fullness of love. She left the “tree” of the Congregation flourishing with 46 foundations in Spain and overseas.
Today we can say that Mother Soledad let herself be led by the Holy Spirit who emptied her of herself so as to fill her with God. Flooded with His love, she caught a glimpse of new horizons in the Church, and impelled by this same Spirit from whom she received the precious gift of the new charism, she enriched and renewed the Church with the new Institute according to the Gospel: “Go and cure the sick”.  She revealed to us by her life the new and unique language of God: love. “The sick are the image of the suffering Christ and it is Him that we serve.” Mother Soledad taught us how to discover Christ in the poorest of the poor: the sick. “You did it to me.” Through her life she left us these finishing touches of her spiritual disposition:
Our own spirituality: Contemplatives in action, abandoned to Divine Providence, collaborators with Christ and Mary in the salvation of mankind.
Specific charism: the diligent and gratuitous care of the sick, preferably in their own home.
Her message: May you have peace and union and keep the Rule of Institute.
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Breaking News Malala Yousafzai wins Nobel Peace Prize at age 17

AsiaNews Report: (Images added) For Pakistani Christians and Muslims, Nobel Prize to Malala helps fight for human rights in the country
Malala Yousafzai, 17, from Pakistan, Kailash Satyarthi, a child advocate from India, are this year's recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Committee recognised their "struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education". For Paul Bhatti, they are a "symbol of hope and an example for everyone in the struggle against fundamentalism."

Oslo (AsiaNews) - Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani advocate for the education of girls and women, and her Indian counterpart Kailash Satyarthi, a children's rights activist, are the winners of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.
At 17, Malala is the youngest winner in history and already last year was considered among the candidates.
Chaired by Thorbjoern Jagland, the Norwegian committee in Olso recognised the two for their "struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education."

In particular, the committee members celebrated the Pakistani teenager's commitment to the education of girls and women, for which she was seriously wounded by the Taliban in October 2012.
Satyarthi, active since the 1990s against child labour, promoted the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and implemented various forms of peaceful protest, "focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain."
This year's record number of 278 nominees included Pope Francis and Edward Snowden, a former employee of the US National Security Agency who blew the whistle on the agency. 
A leading child rights advocate, Kailash Satyarthi led the fight in the 1990s against child labour.  His association rescued at least 80,000 children from human trafficking and slavery.
Born in 1953 in the small town of Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh, has a degree in electrical engineering with post-graduate studies in high-voltage engineering.
Married and father of two children, a boy and a girl, much of his motivation came from his experiences as a student, when he felt keenly the deprivation of less fortunate students. 
Malala Yousafzai, who won last year's Sakharov Prize, was the victim of a Taliban attack on 9 October 2012 in the Swat Valley, a mountainous area in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a stronghold for Islamic extremists on the border with Afghanistan. She was shot on a school bus on her way home, after morning class.
The girl, who was saved thanks to an international campaign, had become famous in 2009 at the age of 11, when she began writing a blog in her native language hosted on the BBC in which she slammed the attacks by Pakistani Islamists against female students and schools for girls and women.
Speaking to AsiaNews, former minister and Catholic activist Paul Bhatti, leader of the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), said that the prize awarded to Malala provides "great encouragement" not only to her but also to those who are fighting for rights in Pakistan.
She "had everything going for her to win and she deserves it," he explained. And now more than ever, she has become an "example and provides strength for those who live in the area."
She is a "symbol" for all those who are fighting "to give hope," he added. For those who "are oppressed", it is "nice to see that her efforts are appreciated all over the world."
For the Catholic political leader, Malala becomes "an example for our association because, as Christians, we wish to commit ourselves to fight violence and promote education."
"As I have often said in the past, violence and lack of education only generate more violence, ignorance and fanaticism," Bhatti said. "For this reason, it is essential for everyone to undergo educational experiences that can defeat fundamentalism".
Muslim activist Iftikhar Ahmed, coordinator of the South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP-PK), praised Malala's courage against Talibanisation and extremism. The award is a source of "pride" for the country. "She is a female role model against religious fanaticism," he said.
Aila Gill agrees. "Today," the Christian youth leader said, "Malala taught the Taliban a lesson: that peaceful efforts, a good reputation, and nonviolence can help people prosper".
For Pakistanis, "this is a moment of great pride because she is a daughter of our land" who put her life at risk "for girls' education," said Fr Iftikhar Moon, from the Holy Rosary Parish Church in Warispura (Faisalabad). 
The northwestern border region is considered a Taliban stronghold. In some areas, Islamic Courts enforce Sharia to settle disputes, as well as rules that govern behaviour and morality.
Hundreds of schools, including Christian schools, have been closed in the Swat Valley alone, jeopardising the education of tens of thousands of students and the work of about 8,000 female teachers.
As AsiaNews pointed out in a special series of articles dedicated to education, educating the new generations is a path Pakistan must follow to ensure the nation's development and overcome poverty.
A group of Sinhalese Carmelite nuns are among the few who offered an educational programme for women, which they had to give up after a year and a half due to threats from Islamic fundamentalists.
(Shafique Khokhar contributed to this article)

Latest Vatican Information News - Synod Congregations Summary - #Synod14

10-10-2014 - Year XXII - Num. 175 

Eighth General Congregation: Christian education in difficult family situations
- Ninth General Congregation: listen to the laity
- Message for families affected by conflicts
- “Useless slaughter”: believers and the Holy See during the First World War
- Other Pontifical Acts
Eighth General Congregation: Christian education in difficult family situations
Vatican City, 10 October 2014 (VIS) – During the eighth general Congregation, held yesterday afternoon, the general debate continued to follow the agenda of the Instrumentum Laboris, focusing on the theme “The Church and the Family in the Challenge of Upbringing (Part III, Chapter 2). The Challenge of Upbringing in General / Christian Education in Difficult Family Situations”.
Firstly, the vocation of life as a basic element of the family was emphasised; this led to an invitation to the faithful to deepen their knowledge of Paul VI’s Encyclical, Humanae Vitae, thus better understanding the meaning of the use of natural methods of fertility control and the non-acceptance of contraception. Union and procreation, it was said, are not separate from the conjugal act. The condemnation of genetic manipulation and cryopreservation of embryos was therefore reiterated forcefully.
From various quarters there emerged the tendency of several states and organisations based in the Western world to present, especially in the context of Africa, various concepts (including abortion and homosexual unions) as “human rights”, linked to economic aid and strong pressure campaigns for the promotion of such concepts. In this respect, it was highlighted that the expression “rights to sexual and reproductive health” does not have a precise definition in international law and ends up encompassing mutually contradictory principles such as the condemnation of forced abortion and the promotion of safe abortion, or the protection of maternity and the promotion of contraception. Also without any binding value, the promotion of such “rights” represents a risk, as it may influence the interpretation of other norms, especially in combating discrimination against women.
The Assembly reiterated the importance of adequate preparation for marriage, as its celebration seems to be increasingly reduced to the social and legal status, rather than a religious and spiritual bond. The preparatory course, it was noted, is often perceived by couples as an imposition, a task to complete without conviction, and as a result it is too brief. Since marriage is a vocation for life, preparation for it should be long and detailed, as in the case of preparation for religious life. It was also shown that, among couples, there is a frequent lack of awareness of the sacramental value of the marriage bond, so much so that the celebration of the marriage rite, it was said, is not automatically the celebration of the marriage sacrament.
With regard to the streamlining of procedures for the process of verifying matrimonial nullity, it was recalled that a special study Commission for the reform of the canonical marriage nullification process was instituted by the Holy Father Francis on 20 September 2014, and the hope was expressed that it will enable a simpler procedure to be put into effect, which must however be single and uniform for all the Church. Furthermore, with regard to the double confirming sentences consequent to mandatory appeal, it was asked whether the possibility had been raised of leaving the decision of recourse to appeal to the discretion of the bishop. At the same time, the hope was expressed that there would be a greater presence of suitably prepared lay judges, women in particular.
The Assembly went on to insist on the importance of good preparation for priests in relation to the pastoral care of marriage and the family, and remarked that homilies can be used as a special and effective moment for proclaiming the Gospel of the family to the faithful. It was commented that there is a need for formation and information, as the spiritual holiness of the priest, his creativity and his direct relationship with families are particularly appreciated by the faithful.
There were further reflections on the relationship between migration and family, in which it was reiterated that the family unit is a fundamental right to be accorded to every migrant, and the importance of protection for the right to family unity through international migratory policies was emphasised. It was said that the family is an essential element for the integration of migrants in host countries.
During the hour dedicated to free discussion – between 6 and 7 p.m. – three themes emerged in particular: with regard to divorced and remarried persons, the need for a penitential path was highlighted, to be accompanied by reflection on the case of divorced persons who remain alone and suffer in silence, at the margins of social life. Secondly, mention was made of the need to protect the children of divorced couples from suffering the psychological affects of their parents’ divorce. In this respect, it was recalled that adequate pastoral care of children often causes their parents to draw closer to the Church.
Thirdly, the importance of the relationship between the family and the education of children was affirmed, with particular reference to parents’ right to choose the most suitable educational plan for their children, so that they may receive a quality education.
Finally, the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, announced that during the eight general Congregations, there had been a total of 180 interventions from the Synod Fathers, with the addition of 80 more during the hours of open debate.
Ninth General Congregation: listen to the laity
Vatican City, 10 October 2014 (VIS) – During the ninth general Congregation, which took place this morning, 15 interventions were heard (6 from couples and 9 from single Auditors), almost all laypersons engaged in the fields of family pastoral care, bioethics and human ecology. From various countries throughout the world and representing almost all the continents, the Auditors brought to the Assembly their living testimony of family apostolate lived in everyday life.
Firstly, mention was made of the difficulties experienced by families living in the Middle East, especially in Iraq: these numerous conflicts have serious repercussions on families, divided by the death of their members, forced to migrate in search of a safe place to live, deprived of a future for the young who are removed from schools or for the elderly who are abandoned to their own devices. The unity of the Christian family in the Middle East is profoundly disrupted, with consequences also for the social and national unity of the countries in the region. Faced with such dramatic situations, the Church truly represents a safe haven, a “family of families” that offers comfort and hope. It is also necessary to prepare married couples to be “mediators” of peace and reconciliation.
Another point highlighted by the Auditors was the need for the Church to listen more to laypeople in the search for solutions to the problems of families, especially in relation to the sphere of intimacy in the life of couples. For this reason it is important for there to be synergy between the academic world and the pastoral world, so as to form not “technicians” but rather pastoral workers who know and understand how to promote the themes of family and life through a solid Catholic overall anthropological vision.
Furthermore, the Auditors remarked on the need for greater dialogue between Church and State, also through the efforts of lay faithful who, without motivations of personal ambition, know how to promote the protection of the rights of the family and the defence of life, working for a State with a human face. The laity, it was remarked, must be active and competent in the public defence of the values of life and the family.
The interventions focused on the need to adequately and permanently prepare priests in relation to themes regarding the family, especially in relation to openness to life, so that they are able to explain and speak naturally and clearly about conjugal love. It was also noted that if natural family planning is explained in depth, highlighting its positive worth, it can strengthen the life of the couple. In this respect, it was reiterated that homilies, if well prepared, may ensure that the faithful participate more fully in the celebration of Mass.
A further starting point for reflection shed light on the importance of testimony: the young do not need theory, it was said, but they clearly understand the centrality of the family if it is demonstrated by families themselves, credible witnesses and subjects of evangelisation. For this, the Assembly reflected on the need for couples to be accompanied by adequate pastoral care after marriage as well as before.
The Auditors then gave voice to the suffering of those who lose a family member: widows and widowers, orphans, or parents who lose a child. For these people, the accompaniment of the Church is fundamental, through support groups and sharing, so that they do not become lost in the profound anguish of loss, and the fear of a “desert” of emotions, but remain firm in their faith.
The Synod Fathers went on to speak about the importance of “human ecology”, which helps to combat the negative affects of economic globalisation, which often proposes models contrary to Catholic doctrine. They expressed their firm condemnation of all forms of domestic violence, especially in relation to women, showing that this is often perpetrated by young people.
Finally, the need for communication within families was emphasised, as sharing between couples, participation of both parents in the education of children, and above all prayer within domestic walls, all contribute to strengthening the family unit.
Message for families affected by conflicts
Vatican City, 10 October 2014 (VIS) – The full text of the message of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for families who suffer as a result of conflicts is published below:
“Gathered around the Successor of the Apostle Peter, we the Synod Fathers of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, along with all participants, share the paternal concern of the Holy Father, expressing our profound closeness to all the families who suffer as a consequence of the many conflicts in progress.
“In particular, we raise to the Lord our prayers for Iraqi and Syrian families, forced on account of their profession of the Christian faith or their belonging to other ethnic or religious communities, to abandon everything and flee towards a future without any form of certainty. We join with the Holy Father Francis in emphasising that no-one may use the name of God to commit violence, and that to kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. Offering thanks to International Organisations and Countries for their solidarity, we invite persons of good will to offer the necessary assistance and aid to the innocent victims of the current barbarism, and at the same time we implore the international community to act to re-establish peaceful co-existence in Iraq, in Syria, and in all the Middle East.
“Equally, our thoughts go to those families that are torn apart and suffering in other parts of the world, and who suffer persistent violence. We wish to assure them of our constant prayer that the Lord may convert hearts and bring peace and stability to those who are now in need.
“May the Holy Family of Nazareth, which suffered on the painful road of exile make every family a community of love and reconciliation a source of hope for the whole world”.
“Useless slaughter”: believers and the Holy See during the First World War
Vatican City, 10 October 2014 (VIS) – A press conference was held yesterday at 11 a.m. in the Holy Press Office to present the International Congress “Useless Slaughter: Catholics and the Holy See in the First World War”, organised by the Pontifical Council for Historical Sciences. The speakers were Fr. Bernard Ardura, O. Praem., president of the Pontifical Council for Historical Sciences and Professor Roberto Morozzo della Rocca of the “Roma Tre” University.
“The initiative of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences aims to bring together numerous specialists in the field, with the intention of offering a reinterpretation of the conflict not only seen but also experienced by believers, mostly Catholics but also Protestants and Orthodox – and more specifically for the Holy See that, at the time again without territory of its own, and therefore within the territory of Italy, involved in the conflict, sought as far as possible to safeguard its specific nature”.
The theme of the congress, “Useless Slaughter”, are two words that express the drama of the First World War. One hundred years after the outbreak of the first world war, the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, in collaboration with the Hungarian Academy in Rome and the Commission International d'Histoire et Etudes du Christianisme, have offered the opportunity to review the historiography with particular attention to the commitment of Catholics and the Holy See in the conflict.
Fr. Bernard Ardura explained that although the central theme of the meeting was Catholics and the Holy See in the First World War, the congress also includes interventions from various historians regarding States with predominantly Protestant or Orthodox citizens. It is hoped, he affirmed, that a second Congress will be held in 2018 on the consequences of the Treaty of Versailles which were, at least in part, at the origin of the Second World War and whose repercussions can still be felt at the dawn of the 21st century.
Other Pontifical Acts
Vatican City, 10 October 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed Rev. Jose Joao dos Santos Marcos of the clergy of Lisbon, Portugal, as coadjutor of the diocese of Beja (area 12,300, population 211,964, Catholics 175,946, priests 54, permanent deacons 10, religious 75), Portugal. The bishop-elect was born in Monte Perobolso, Portugal in 1949 and was ordained a priest in 1974. He studied at the Higher Institute of Theological Studies in Lisbon, and has served in a number of pastoral roles, including parish priest of the Church of “Sao Tiago” in Camarate and “Nossa Senhora da Encarnacao” in Apelacao. He is currently spiritual director of the Christ King major seminary (Olivais) of the patriarchate of Lisbon, spiritual director in the “Redemptoris Mater” seminary, Lisbon, member of the pastoral council of the patriarchate of Lisbon, and canon of the Cathedral Chapter of Lisbon.

Pope Francis...the examination of conscience is a grace, because to guard our heart is to guard the Holy Spirit, Who is within us..." Homily

Pope Francis delivers the homily at Friday morning Mass

(Vatican Radio) To prevent evil from entering into our hearts, there is an ancient, but very good, practice: the examination of conscience. That was Pope Francis’ message during the morning homily Friday at Santa Marta.The Gospel of the day reminds us that the devil always comes back to us; he never stops tempting man. “The devil has patience,” Pope Francis said. “He never leaves that which he wants for himself,” that is, our souls:
“After the temptations, in the desert, when Jesus was tempted by the devil, in Luke’s version it says that the devil left Him for a time, but during the life of Jesus he returned again and again: when they put Him to the test, when they tried to trap Him, in the Passion, finally on the Cross. ‘But if you are the Son of God… but you come, you come from us, so we cannot believe.’ And we all know that these words touch the heart: ‘But can you do it? Let me see! No, you can’t.’ That’s how the devil even to the end [dealt] with Jesus… and likewise with us.”
We need to guard our hearts, where the Holy Spirit dwells, the Pope said, “so that other spirits do not enter. To guard the heart, as a house is guarded, with a key.” And then to watch the heart, like a sentinel: “How often,” he asked, “do wicked thoughts, wicked intentions, jealousy, envy enter in? So many things that enter in. But who has opened that door? Where do they enter from? If I do not realize [how much] enters into my heart, my heart becomes a piazza, where everything comes and goes. A heart without intimacy, a heart where the Lord cannot speak and cannot even be heard.”
“And Jesus says something else here – doesn’t He? – that sounds a little strange: ‘He who does not gather with me scatters.’ He uses the word ‘to gather.’ To have a gathering heart, a heart in which we know what happens, and here and there you can perform a practice as old as the Church, but good: the examination of conscience. Who of us, at night, at the end of the day, remains by himself, by herself, and asks the question: what happened today in my heart? What happened? What things have passed through my heart? If we don’t do this, we have truly failed to know how to watch and guard [our hearts] well.”
The examination of conscience “is a grace, because to guard our heart is to guard the Holy Spirit, Who is within us”:
“We know – Jesus says clearly – that the devil always returns. Even at the end of life, He, Jesus, gives us an example of this. And to guard, to watch, so that the demons don’t enter in, we must be able to gather ourselves, that is, to stand in silence before ourselves and before God, and at the end of the day ask ourselves: ‘What happened today in my heart? Did anyone I don’t know enter? Is the key in its place?’ And this will help us to defend ourselves from so much wickedness, even from that which we could do if these demons, who are very clever and at the end would cheat all of us, even if they enter.” 

Vocation Story of Deacon Daniel Dauvin - A Little Miracle....

The Miracle That Could Not Be Told
by Deacon Daniel Dauvin, TOSF

After our wedding in San Francisco on December 21, 1970, my wife, Mary, and I decided to go on retreat to study Scripture, to learn more about our Catholic faith and to pray more deeply to find out God’s will for our lives. We simply did not wish to jump into the cycle of modern day life that is : get married, have children, buy a house, get a car, and continue keeping up with the Jones’ and the rat race we call civilization. We wanted to stop, look at our lives, speak to God and to listen to His Spirit while communing with His wonderful creation.
I was born near Leoville, Saskatchewan and Mary is from Hilbert, Wisconsin. After a fruitless search to find a place of retreat, I jokingly suggested to Mary the possibility of making our retreat in a cabin my brother and I had built in northern Canada. It was situated  across the lake from the Chipewyan village of Turnor Lake. This was in the wilderness of northern Saskatchewan where the weather gets very, very cold compared to Wisconsin winter weather. 
Mary’s response to my suggestion was, “If it is God’s will, I’ll go. Let’s try it.” I admired her courage and desire to do God’s will whatever the cost. It was indeed a step in faith for her, though less so for me because I was born in this kind of country. However, God richly blessed this decision.
In the winter of 1971, we were living in our isolated cabin when on December 18, some people from the native village of Turnor Lake came to our cabin. They were wondering if we were still alive since we hadn’t come to town in a long while. Because of the weather few of the villagers had venture out to trap, hunt or fish that winter, and  none had come out for a visit. According to the Oblate priest, it was the coldest winter in forty years. 
They finally sent someone out to our cabin to check on us using, as their transportation, an old yellow beetle-shaped bombardiers with skis and tracts, common in the North before the coming of the skidoo or snowmobile. When they arrived in our bay and saw no tracks on the lake, they feared we were in trouble or perhaps dead. 
Hearing the vehicle come in the bay I ran down the hill from the cabin and waved them in. Satisfied that we seemed in good health, they agreed to come back a few days later to take us to town for Christmas. We were able to attend the Midnight Mass in La Loche a neighbouring town, about an hour away by road. The next day we returned to Turnor Lake Village by car. Fr. Bertrand  Mathieu OMI celebrated another mass for the people there of Turnor Lake. We counted ourselves fortunate in having the opportunity to be present at two masses at Christmas. Our spiritual cup was overflowing as we eagerly walked back to our solitary cabin across the lake .
However , on December 27, Mary was really sick. She was aching all over and could barely get out of bed to go to the bathroom. We concluded that she had probably caught some bug during our visit to civilization. Since her father had warned me that his daughter had weak lungs I was very concerned for her health. Ordinarily, down south, for this kind of illness, she would need to see a doctor and be given antibiotics. Unfortunately, our only form of transportation was walking and Mary couldn’t leave the cabin. This was a moment I dreaded but had shoved in the back of my mind and given it to the Lord. I suggested calling her father on the Ham radio. He could then phoned someone in Saskatoon who could call the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to send for help, get her medicine or transport her to the nearest doctor in Ile la Crosse some 120 miles away. 
It was precisely for emergencies like this that Mary’s father, Mr. Greve  had come all the way from Wisconsin by airline to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and by car from Saskatoon to Buffalo Narrows, then by bush plane with skis to our cabin, in order to install a transceiver Ham radio and aerial at the cabin. He wanted to make certain that Mary had access to the outside world. Unfortunately, when we needed help the most, nobody was there to answer our call. Mr. and Mrs. Greve had gone on their Christmas holidays to Las Vegas and were also visiting family.
I looked across the big lake towards the tiny village of Turnor Lake but couldn’t see it. It was cold and a wind was blowing. There was about a foot of snow on the lake and more snow seemed to be coming. The weather was unpredictable. I was reluctant to leave Mary practically helpless and alone in the cabin while I walked for help. What if something happened to me or to her? What if a stranger with bad intentions would visit while I was gone? It was very cold! Would she be able to keep the fire going? What if she got much worse while I was gone?  Had I brought my wife out into the wilderness to die? All these questions ran through my mind. With an anguished heart I turned to God, .“Lord, we came out here to get to know you and to do your will. It was for you that we came. Please, you’ve got to help us now, Lord. What should I do? I also wondered why we had not been able to contact anyone by Ham radio to ask for help. Was God calling us to a greater step in faith or in greater suffering?
Since I couldn’t bring myself to leaving Mary by herself I made the decision to stay. I would care for her myself as best I could. I went back to the cabin and said, “I am staying here, Mary. Let’s pray for  warmer weather.” That night we both slept in peace. 
The next day something had happened. The sun was shining outside. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I looked at the thermometer. It had jumped by some 50 and 60 degree Fahrenheit overnight. Grateful tears flowed. The weather remained that way for several more days. At one point, it went up to a phenomenal 25 above zero. Unheard of this far north, especially in month of January. During this time Mary somehow recovered and there was no need of medicine or doctors. We saw this sudden change in the weather and Mary’s healing as a sign of God’s providential love for us. God had actually answered our prayer. We were ecstatic. It changed everything, especially the way we read Scripture.
Stories like the Crossing of the Red Sea by Moses and other such miracles in the Bible had appeared  to us as simply pious exaggerations, but now they seemed more believable. We had experienced how God had actually changed the weather for a couple of insignificant human beings or rather nincompoops like us. Could he not do much more for the whole Jewish nation in the desert. From that time on we began to pray with more faith once we realized that anything is possible with God.  There is no limit to His power. After this experience had sunk in we realized, we were reading Sacred Scripture with a greater reverence, with a deeper humility and with a childlike simplicity and devotion.
To bring home the greatness of this miraculous event, the weather turned cold again. Bitter cold. Less than two weeks later, on January 14, 1971, the temperature plummeted to -65 Fahrenheit. The villagers were able to verify this. To us it seemed clear that God wanted us to trust in Him and in Him alone. He was taking care of us. 
Something else happened during Mary’s sickness. A great gift was given to us, the gift of working together as heralds of God. He had shown us the direction for our life as a couple. Seeing Mary was so sick, I wanted to console her by singing a song I had composed shortly before our wedding in San Francisco. It was a song entitled  “Little Children”. In this song Christ is speaking to us.

LITTLE CHILDREN   (A song for the healing of hearts.)
Little children, come to me,    Give me all and then be free.
For the gift that I give, Is a life for you to live.
O weary ones, go to sleep, Though your pains do look deep,
For the reason that I came, Was to cure the sick and lame.

O the hope of your heart is not in vain, 
Though the depth of your love will cause you pain.   
Lift your hearts, little ones: My sweet daughters, My dear sons.
For the burning that you feel Is My love in you that heals.
Son of God, Son of Man, I came down to lend a hand.
And My voice within your soul Will lead you onward to your goal.

Refrain O the hope of your heart...

Little children, come to Me, Give Me all and then be free.
For the gift that I give Is a life for you to live.

Mary loved the song and wondered where I had gotten it. She didn’t know I wrote songs. After she had recovered completely, she put chords to it and sang it with the guitar. We began doing music together. Soon many other songs came.  A little tape recorder and microphone on the ceiling log was our recording studio. Music was to become an important part of our work in the missions.
Because Mary’s parents would have been too worried about us if we told them exactly what happened, we agreed not to include in the next letter the desperate straits we had been in. Instead we emphasized the warm weather and play down Mary’s condition, otherwise they would have insisted that we leave the cabin and come back to civilization. This we did not want to do because we treasured each day of solitude in our little log cabin on a lonely bay, as we sang the praises of God through song and while studying the Gospels and communing with God and the harmony of His creation.
Nevertheless, in order not to tempt God or push our luck, as some would say, I made certain we wouldn’t be caught in a situation like this again. We needed to have reliable transportation to town, so I got a dog team and toboggan. Now the one who was injured or sick could ride the toboggan while the other mushed the four dogs.
This extraordinary change in the weather was always a reminder to us that God loves us and He is to be trusted no matter what the circumstances may be. All things are possible with God and no prayer is too big or too small for Him.
Little did we realize at the time that our family of six (two boys and two girls) would become heralds of God as a Franciscan musical, missionary family, singing His praises wherever we went under the patronage of His Holy Mother, Our Lady of Guadalupe. To Him alone belongs the glory. 

Note: Mary and I spent our 32 years of marriage trusting in God and working in the Canadian missions  She died of cancer in 2002. I dedicated this story to her. May God bless her soul.
+God bless you all.
by Deacon Daniel Dauvin, TOSF

Today's Mass Readings : Friday October 10, 2014

Friday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 465

Reading 1GAL 3:7-14

Brothers and sisters:
Realize that it is those who have faith
who are children of Abraham.
Scripture, which saw in advance that God
would justify the Gentiles by faith,
foretold the good news to Abraham, saying,
Through you shall all the nations be blessed.
Consequently, those who have faith are blessed
along with Abraham who had faith.
For all who depend on works of the law are under a curse;
for it is written, Cursed be everyone
who does not persevere in doing all the things
written in the book of the law
And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear,
for the one who is righteous by faith will live.
But the law does not depend on faith;
rather, the one who does these things will live by them.
Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us,
for it is written, Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,
that the blessing of Abraham might be extended
to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus,
so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Responsorial Psalm PS 111:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6

R. (5) The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.
He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
R. The Lord will remember his covenant for ever.

Gospel LK 11:15-26

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said:
“By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons,
he drives out demons.”
Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven.
But he knew their thoughts and said to them,
“Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste
and house will fall against house.
And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?
For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons.
If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul,
by whom do your own people drive them out?
Therefore they will be your judges.
But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons,
then the Kingdom of God has come upon you.
When a strong man fully armed guards his palace,
his possessions are safe.
But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him,
he takes away the armor on which he relied
and distributes the spoils.
Whoever is not with me is against me,
and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone,
it roams through arid regions searching for rest
but, finding none, it says,
‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’
But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order.
Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits
more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there,
and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”