Friday, December 5, 2014

Saturday of the First Week of Advent - Cabrini, Guerin, Duchesne, and Cope

At the sight of the crowds,
Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them
Because they were troubled and abandoned…
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
So ask the master of the harvest
To send out laborers for the harvest.”
- Matthew 9:36-38
 
Compassion is not a uniquely Christian virtue, but it is a spirit of empathy for the suffering of others that is a fundamental part of how we Christians are to love. Ultimately, to have compassion isn’t just about being kind; rather, it means to share in the sufferings of another person. Pope Benedict XVI reflected that the mandate to love one another demands that we “acknowledge our responsibility towards those who, like ourselves, are creatures and children of God…If we cultivate this way of seeing others as our brothers and sisters, solidarity, justice, mercy and compassion will naturally well up in our hearts" (Message for Lent, 2011)

Women religious have always stood with those on the margins of society and Saints Frances Xavier Cabrini, Theodora Guerin, Rose Philippine Duchesne, and Marianne Cope - women religious who served in the American missions- were certainly no exceptions. These women left their homes and the security of their religious communities and worked as missionaries, seeking out and serving immigrants, the uneducated, the sick and dying, and the poor. They spread the Gospel through compassionate care of those God called them to serve, bringing the healing presence of Christ—without cost they had received, without cost they gave all they had (cf. Matthew 10:8).
 
St. Marianne Cope (in wheelchair) surrounded by other Franciscan Sisters
and women and girls with Hansen's Disease
at Bishop Home in Kalaupapa, Hawai'i, shortly before her death in 1918.
 
This Advent, watching for the presence of the Lord among us, we also recall that our compassion for others is a sign of God’s compassion, of the coming of the One who brings comfort and healing in his wings (cf. Malachi 4:2).

Prayer for Saturday of the First Week of Advent +
O God, who sent your Only Begotten Son into this world
to free the human race from its ancient enslavement,
bestow on those who devoutly await him
the grace of your compassion from on high,
that we may attain the prize of true freedom.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(From The Roman Missal)

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