Solemnity of All Saints
To All Vocationist Fathers, Brothers and Candidates
My Dear Confrere,
May God the Holy Spirit unite us always more with the Son to the Father.
From my youth I have been attracted and fascinated by our emblem. With its rich symbolism and its rather complicated concatenation of 3 circles (triumphant, militant and suffering Church), enriched by the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus on the cross, by the rose and the lily (Jesus, Mary, Joseph) intertwined with the triangle (Blessed Trinity), it reminds me of our ultimate goal, divine union, and of the consoling truth of the communion of the saints, that helps and sustains us on our ascensional journey toward divine union. The outer big circle with the inscription Society of Divine Vocations, which in itself might present some theological difficulty, expresses that our Congregation wants to be "the tabernacle of the Trinity in the militant Church and throne of the Trinity in the triumphant Church" (Dev H, page 825).
The Seven Spirit Assisting at the throne of God, around the outer circle, give a gothic shape to our emblem, and are an integral part of it; they remind us that we want to live constantly in God's presence, enjoying our perennial divine union with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in communion with the Holy Family, and the angels. Soon after my father's death, my mother called us, brothers and sisters, and with unfathomable faith said: "The Lord has called your father to heaven... contain your sorrow... without carrying on and making a spectacle of yourselves... we believe that his soul is still in our midst, he can be closer to us now than while on earth... pray for him, and when you need special graces do not hesitate to implore them through his intercession.:' This was for me the most realistic and meaningful lesson on the communion of the saints!
Our emblem and the Solemnity of All saints, followed y the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, invite us to meditate on the communion of the saints reflecting on its theological and ascetical meaning and value, on Fr. Justin's teachings and its practical application in the Vocationist life. Theological meaning of the Communion of the Saints "0 my God and my All! 0 my Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I believe in the communion of the saints, as an image and likeness of your divine unity, in your works! In your divine unity and Trinity, I adore the circulation of your very divine life from one person to the other, the circuminsession of one person in the other, 0 Father Son and Holy Spirit! All souls in the triumphant, militant and suffering Church are part of one spiritual family, are members of the one and only mystical body, alive in the supernatural life in the communion of the saints" (Fr. Justin, Devotional. Second Semester, page 1526).
This circulation of life of love in God goes from one person to the other-
Ascension, art. 943). The article of faith on the communion of the saints makes its appearance in the creed around the IV century. The meaning of this article of faith depends on the interpretation one gives to the word "sanctorum-
St. Thomas Aquinus adds a meaningful theological contribution with the idea of commumo bonorum (the sharing of goods). According to St. Thomas in the Church there are goods that may be considered common possession of all people: Christ as the "primary good' and the goods that belong to each baptized person. Participation to these goods implies also participation to the merits of the saints that are still pilgrims on earth and of those who have already received the reward of their faith in heaven.
An effective synthesis of the doctrine on the communion of the saints is found in Lumen Gentium: "all... even though in differing levels and ways, share the very same love of God and neighbour and sing to our God the same hymn of glory. All those who belong to Christ, having the same Spirit form one Church and are in him united among themselves (Cfr Ef4,16). The union of those who are on earth with the brothers who have died in the peace of Christ is totally intact, and, according to the perennial faith of the Church, it is strengthened by the communion of spiritual goods" (LG 49).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church presents the communion of the saints as the practical doctrine of the mystical body: " After having professed the faith in "the Catholic Church", the Apostles' Creed adds "the communion of the saints". Somehow this article is an explanation of the preceding one: "What is the Church but the assembly of all saints?
Communion of the saints is precisely the Church (art. 496).
"Since all the believers constitute one body, the good of one is communicated to the others... likewise we believe in a communion of goods within the Church. The most important member is Christ, since he is the head... so the good of Christ is communicated to all the members; this happens through the sacrament of the Church. Whatever the Church possesses becomes possession of all its members; the unity of the Spirit, that animates and sustains the Church, makes this possible" (Art. 947).
Communion of the saints and the ascetical life of the Christian The "communion in the holy things" and the "communion among holy people" is the basis of Christian life, and finds its expression in the liturgy of the Church, in community prayer, in the reception of the sacraments and in the application of the indulgences. Devotion or veneration of the saints, prayers for the dead, prayer of intercession and reparation would be totally useless and meaningless without the communion of the saints. Our belief in the angels as well as our devotion to the angels, especially to the Guardian Angels are another practical way of living and expressing our faith in the communion of the saints.
From the doctrine of the communion of the saints we receive the certainty that we are not alone or isolated, the willingness and determination to open ourselves to helping and sacrificing for others; the understanding of the importance and extension of our actions and the strength to fight against the discouragement caused by our failures and limitations.
Fr. Justin expresses this reality in a convincing and experienced manner: "I am not alone, I do not feel lonely, because we carry each other one in the heart of the other, one in the arms of the other, all souls that through your grace live in the communion of the saints"(Spiritus Orationis. page 170 # 2).
One adverts the desire and the certainty of God's presence and assistance, as well as the desire of giving of oneself, of offering oneself as holocaust for himself and for others: "I want to place something in your presence that might represent me, on your altars, in the souls in which you live, so that it may give you glory of love in my name and in place of me" (Ibid. page 172, # 2). In the communion of the saints we give and receive, we benefit others and are benefited by others! The saints of heaven, purgatory and earth inspire, encourage and help us in our ascension toward the mountains of the divine perfections. The Vocationist and the communion of the saints
The Vocationist lives his life totally immersed in the communion of the saints and becomes a visible expression of it. We begin our prayers by inviting all angels and saints, we prepare ourselves to receive holy communion by first inviting angels and saints to come to us, so that together we may welcome him in us. We live our life of recollection exactly collecting together the Blessed Trinity, the Virgin Mary, all angels and saints, enjoying their company and benefiting from all their good.
"0 my God and my All, grant that I, as a living, sane and precious member of the communion of the saints, may ever more open up in love and purify myself in the truth to fully receive and give all its good" (Fr. Justin, Ibid.)! The Lord wants me a fully alive,
healthy and precious member of the communion of the saints to enrich me with all its good and to ever more open me up in flaming love. We believe in a quasi omnipresence of the Virgin Mary, of the angels and saints because we believe that God can never be without his celestial court. God can never be alone! Where God's presence is more alive and intense, as in the Eucharist, also the presence of his court of love is more intense and alive; it is for this very reason that we believe in a special presence of Mary near every tabernacle (Cfr. Ascension, art. 968 -
The "sacramentalization" of all things, even the most ordinary, like the name of the days of the week, our greeting "Jesus, Mary, Joseph", the greeting-
The very idea of the "Servant of the Saints", as well as our harisma of service and promotion of vocations for all dioceses and religious orders, stems from the communion of the saints. "Inspire, Lord, many holy men and women, good servants of all, who may search for and cultivate vocations for every place, where a battle goes on, for every field of apostolate" (Fr. Justin, Smritus Orationis. page 353, #4).
Living the communion of the saints, the Vocationist makes his the attitude and the desire of the Founder: "Let no one tell me that these things cannot be desired or implored, since you have made them known as being very good; you have made them for me, and you allow me to ^sire them, certainly not in order to torture me and make me miserable with a desire that can never be fulfilled" (Ibid. page 177, #6.).
In our "Devotional" as part of the morning prayer for every month of the year, there is a special prayer "Intentions of love"; everyone of these 12 prayers is a real immersion in, and elevation to the communion of the saints; they are a sequence of gratitude, appreciation an thanksgiving for all the graces, blessings, gifts, charisma, relationships and love granted to the saints and an intense longing for the same.
One of the ascetical practices strongly inculcated by our Founder is the reading of the lives of the saints. Chapter LXVII of Ascension lists the reasons for this reading. Article 568 explicitly states that reading of the lives of the saints serves "to cultivate in our mind and heart, the dogma of the communion of the saints, and to enable our entrance in the enjoyment of the treasure of the Church while also enabling us to add our own contribution to it."
"Holiness is the only living and true heroism. Divine heroism is needed! The most authentic and the highest formation to holiness is the formation of Jesus in us, is the continuation of his work through us; this should be done most intensely and abundantly, so that the very divine good may be instilled into others, within the limits consented to human beings" (Fr. Justin, La Pieta del Seminario. page 49)
The communion of the saints is like an alarm bell calling us to assist needy people and making us sensitive to their needs. Let us listen to Fr. Justin: "When we feel a sense of withdrawal, or experience a sudden sadness, and, examining ourselves, we do not find a cause in us or around us, we may well think that some soul is suffering or agonizing, especially one of those more closely related to us" (Ascension, art. 649). "Maybe at that moment, a soul has betrayed or is about to betray Jesus; some soul has been stolen or is about to be stolen from Jesus; a soul has fallen or is about to fall, and, maybe at the moment of death is under the power of the enemy, and somehow the angels are warning us" (Ibid. art 650). "When a sinister apprehension darkens our spirit, when a sad anxiety freezes us, we may think that a decisive battle is going on between good and evil, a battle in which not'one but many souls are at stake, and we must help with prayers, because the victory may depend on our charitable intervention" (Ibid. art. 651).
"When we experience a certain dizziness, sleepiness and paralysis in our mental faculties, when we are unable to pray, so that praying seems an useless effort, and costs serious sacrifices, we think that while the enemy is attacking some souls entrusted to us, other enemies come to us in order to keep us busy and prevent our helpful intervention" (Ibid. art.652).
And when some waves of spiritual joy flood us with serenity, confidence fervor and examining ourselves, we do not find in or around us the sparkling fountainhead, let us think-
Yours in J.M.J. Fr. Louis Caputo, S.D.V.
I take advantage of the Solemnity of All Saints to invite you to study our emblem, to use it and propagate it as a practical and useful tool to propagate our spirituality. Use it as an authentic distinctive".
To reproduce our complete emblem it is not an easy task; this difficulty of reproduction, and maybe the desire to simplify things has caused -
I also inform you that next year we will be celebrating a general assembly, possibly in Siculiana Marina from September 10 to September 18 (6 days of yearly retreat and 3 days of assembly work). Every community consisting of 1 to 3 members will send one delegate those of 4 to 6 members will send 2 delegates and the communities with 7 or more professed religious will send 3 delegates. These delegates will be elected within the Family Council meeting of each community (provincial or delegation meeting) no later than Nov. 30 2001 The superior of the community, province or delegation will notify in writing the names and availability of the delegates to the secretary general. The delegates to the assembly must also participate to the retreat that immediately precedes it. Since the assembly will deal mostly with the financial situation of the Congregation in Italy the participation of the religious living outside of Italy is desired and recommended but not compulsory The Superior General reserves the right to invite some confreres to participate to the assembly.