Moderator's Corner-Fr. Pawel Sass, M.A., S.T.L.
"Mary, Mother of the Holy Eucharist, pray for priests.
May she preserve their hearts wholly for Jesus."
Praise be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and His Most Blessed Mother Virgin Mary. I pray constantly to through the powerful intercession of Our Lady for lively faith, hope, and charity of all of us Sodalists. As we began a holy time of Lent, let us be renewed in spirit through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that we may worthily participate in the Paschal Mystery of Christ Our Lord. We give thanks to the Lord for his generous blessings as we look forward to the 100th Anniversary of the Sodality Union presence in the Archdiocese of Washington.
I am particularly grateful for the great and welcoming reception at Sacred Heart Church in La Plata. The Pastor of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Larry Swink, has inspired us how to effectively live our Lenten journey. I would like to single out some advices from Our Holy Father Pope Francis from his Lenten Message. Describing a world marked by signs of “the end of time,” including false prophets and cold hearts, Pope Francis urged Catholics to use Lent to counteract this “great tribulation” through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. In the opening statement Pope Francis quoted a line from Christ in the Gospel of Matthew: “Because of the increase of iniquity, the love of many will grow cold.” False prophets, Francis said, come either in the form of “snake charmers,” “who manipulate human emotions in order to enslave others and lead them where they would have them go,” or “charlatans,” “who offer easy and immediate solutions to suffering that soon prove utterly useless.” In either case, he said, the false prophets lead people to mistake false sources of happiness for real ones - which, he said, is a strategy typical of the devil. “How many of God’s children are mesmerized by momentary pleasures, mistaking them for true happiness!” he said. “How many men and women live entranced by the dream of wealth, which only makes them slaves to profit and petty interests!” “How many young people are taken in by the panacea of drugs, of disposable relationships, of easy but dishonest gains! How many more are ensnared in a thoroughly “virtual” existence, in which relationships appear quick and straightforward, only to prove meaningless!” the pope said. The pope said lust for wealth is the usual form a cold heart takes. In response, Francis extolled the merits of prayer, giving alms and fasting. “By devoting more time to prayer, we enable our hearts to root out our secret lies and forms of self-deception, and then to find the consolation God offers. He is our Father and he wants us to live life well.” “Almsgiving sets us free from greed and helps us to regard our neighbor as a brother or sister. What I possess is never mine alone. How I would like almsgiving to become a genuine style of life for each of us!” “Fasting wakes us up, it makes us more attentive to God and our neighbor. It revives our desire to obey God, who alone is capable of satisfying our hunger.”
To conclude I would like to quote the opening prayer of the Ash Wednesday: Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint. 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. Have a very fruitful and blessed Lent.
May the peace of our risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all, and may His blessed Mother Most Holy Virgin Mary intercede to God for us.
I pray that you had a blessed and fruitful Easter. I write this letter on two days before the Solemnity of Pentecost. This is a glorious day on which our Holy Catholic Church was born. It was in a cenacle in Jerusalem, where Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God while keeping vigil with the eleven Apostles of Christ received the gift of the Holy Spirit. When their hearts were filled with the Holy Spirit they began to speak in different tongues as the Spirit enable them to proclaim. They become witnesses to the risen and glorified Lord—Jesus Christ. The Apostles were not afraid anymore because the Spirit of Love cast out every fear. You see, we are a charismatic Church, each one of us has different charisms: one has a charism of service, another one a charism of hospitality, another one a charism of teaching, and the other one a charism of praise and worship, etc. But most of all we are a missionary Church. There is no excuse we have to go and to evangelize. The disciples were convinced that Jesus is alive! They were on fire to go out and to tell everyone—JESUS CHRIST IS LORD. The disciples experienced the forgiveness of their sins and they wanted to share with others that Jesus is a conqueror of sin and death, and He shares His power with those who believe. There are many people who wait for your message. As I write this message there is a crying mother who lost a son or daughter to drive by shooting. There is a despaired father who wants to provide for his family but cannot find a job. There is a young person who is so overwhelm with everyday dramas who contemplates to kill him/herself. These are our brothers and sisters they cry themselves to sleep not knowing God’s love and providence—they are waiting for you to come and pray with them and to be invited to our Church family and to be saved. If you received today the gift of the Holy Spirit, would you keep it to yourself?
Cardinal Wuerl asked us to pray in a very special ways for the institution of the family. The family unit was targeted by the devil since the foundation of the world (the sin of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, et al.) The modern attack on the family life is gender ideology. God gave as an image of the family depicted in the Holy Family—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Let us continue to pray for Christian families that united in mutual love and support may give testimony to the World of the goodness of the Lord.
Lord sent forth your Spirit to renew the face of the World.
Praise be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and His Most Blessed Mother Virgin Mary. Happy Easter! The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!
This is the day that the Lord has made let us be glad and rejoice in it. The fact of Jesus’ resurrection and his victory over death should fill our hearts with an enormous joy and gratitude. God raised Jesus from the dead and constituted him as Lord. Jesus Christ reigns over death, sickness, fear, and despair. There is a power in the name of Jesus to break every chain. Saint Paul clearly says that: “everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” Moreover, “if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” However, do not look at this Scripture passage as protestants do. To proclaim that Jesus is the Lord means to abandon oneself totally into his kingship—to trust him in everything. Jesus is Lord, therefore I can enter into situation of death because he will save me. I can face tribulations, persecutions, and discriminations because Jesus is alive in me and I am one with him. In conclusion, to have the spirit of Jesus Christ living and acting in us is to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us.
First Sunday after Easter we celebrate the feast of the Divine Mercy. Jesus Christ clearly said to Saint Faustina: “The Feast of Mercy emerged from My very depths of tenderness. It is My desire that it be solemnly celebrated on the first Sunday after Easter. Mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of My Mercy.” Jesus also mentioned that before he will come back as a just judge he will open wide the doors of mercy, if someone will not enter through the door of God’s mercy—one must pass through the door of His justice. Well, I leave the election to each one of you.
May is the month of the Most Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God. I will urge you to spend more time on practicing different devotions to Her: rosary, litanies, total consecration, and many other different prayers and devotions that you can easily find in your prayer books or on the internet. This year we will celebrate in a very special way the feast of Our Lady of Fatima (May 13). The date of the first recorded apparition of the Blessed Mother to the poor children in Fatima Portugal was May 13, 1917, that is why this year we will celebrate 100th Anniversary. The general Message of Fatima is not complicated. Its requests are for prayer, reparation, repentance, and sacrifice, and the abandonment of sin. In addition, Blessed Virgin Mary requested a special devotion to her Immaculate Heart on every first Saturday of the month.
In conclusion, following Our Lady’s wishes let us practice the spirit of prayer, reparation, repentance, and sacrifice. O Mary conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to thee. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. I impart my priestly blessing on you and your families: May Almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Praise be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and His Most Blessed Mother Virgin Mary. I hope that this Lenten season finds you well.
First of all, I am very grateful to the Lord for a spirit-filled retreat we have lived together few weeks ago. Every retreat is a spiritual warfare. The devil does not want us to convert, to repent, and to change our thinking. What is this combat I am talking about? It is precisely the same one, our Lord Jesus Christ, underwent for forty days in the desert. The devil wanted to convince our Lord that his mission to save men does not have any sense. He used three common temptations. In first temptation, Satan uses the fact that Jesus is extremely exhausted after 40 days of fasting. The devil says to Jesus: “if you are the Son of God tell these stones to change into bread.” Jesus promptly answers: “Men does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus Christ’s spirit was satisfied since he spent 40 days praying to His Father and meditating on His Father’s holy will. How many times we fall into the temptation to secure our daily life with our own strength and not trusting in the power of God? In the second temptation, the devil takes Jesus to the temple of Jerusalem. He tries to convince Jesus that no one will believe in him being the Son of God, “you are just a Galilean, a son of the carpenter–people will not accept you as the Messiah.” He continues: “Now we are at the pinnacle of the temple, look at all these people–jump! The angels will come to your assistance, because the Scripture says: “they will not allow your foot to dash against a stone.” Jesus simply answers: “you shall not put your God to the test.” How many times in our lives we test our Lord? How difficult it is to accept our reality of weakness and sin and how easy is to fake a strong person that does not need anybody’s help. Finally, the third temptation. The devil shows to Jesus the illusion of easy life without suffering. “I will give you all these kingdoms, and power,” he says, “if only you worship me and make me homage.” Jesus says with strength and conviction: “you will worship only God and to him alone you will serve.” How many times in our life we did succumb to the empty promises of false gods who promised us life in comfort, peace, and security without any pain and stress? Jesus Christ accepted the cross and everything that it entitles: rejection, pain, fear, and death. In fact, Jesus Christ did not promise us an easy life (“in the world you will find tribulations”). Jesus promised us the cross to die on (“whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.”) and eternal life (“so that everyone who believes in Jesus may have eternal life.”)
I invite all of us to take seriously this holy time of Lent and to renew ourselves in our thinking in order to think like Christ who “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
Finally, may our Blessed Mother, Most Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our mother, help us to live our Christian life in simplicity, humility and praise–loving God and our neighbor. Let us learn from our loving Mother who stood by the cross watching her Son dying yet trusting that God’s plan is the best. In fact, Holy Mary was not disappointed since her trust and faith were rewarded by Jesus Christ’s glorious resurrection. “Fac, ut ardeat cor meum in amando Christum Deum ut sibi complaceam.” Amen.
First of all, I beg your pardon for not being consistent with my written messages. I hope that the Lord has blessed you with many spiritual and corporal goods as we enter into 2017 year of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am so pleased to see more and more of you, my dear Sodalists, attending our monthly general meetings. These meetings are very important for our entire body. We can learn from each other how to be more effective in the field of the New Evangelization, and reach out to the new potential members (especially the youth).
We are living in very challenging times (I am not speaking of the political situation) dominated by dictatorship of moral relativism. Moral relativism is the position that moral or ethical propositions do not reflect objective and/or universal moral truths, but instead make claims relative to social, cultural, historical or personal circumstances. Making it simpler, whatever I say must be good even if long-established social, moral, religious, and ethical truth state differently. As you see, the fight is serious. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against an ancient, astute, and clever foe of humanity--Satan.
If we look around our congregations, one can easily notice our young people are not overwhelmingly present at our Sunday Masses. Why is it? Because modern culture seeks spirituality and since our young people are not finding it in the Church, they turn to yoga, New Age, Protestantism, politics, etc. I was looking in many books for the origins of the Marian Sodality. Here's what I found: "The Sodality of Our Lady, an association formed by the Society of Jesus and approved by the Holy See, is a religious body which aims at fostering in its members an ardent devotion, reverence and filial love towards the Blessed Virgin Mary, and through this devotion and protection of so good a Mother, it seeks to make the faithful, gathered together under her name, good Catholics sincerely bent on sanctifying themselves each in his own state of life, and zealous, as far as their condition in life permits, to save and sanctify their neighbor and to defend the Church of Jesus Christ against attacks of the wicked."
We are called to evangelize and to give an example to our youth of our deep and sincere spirituality. I know what I am writing about because I myself am very young. I want to be challenged to enter deeper into the relationship with Christ by following his commandments and saying no to the lies of the world that rejects God, and everything that is Holy. Saint John Paul II spoke clearly to the youth: "You must demand of yourselves, even if others would not demand of you." John Paul II also said, "God's love does not impose burdens upon us that we cannot carry, nor make demands of us that we cannot fulfill. For whatever He asks of us, He provides the help that is needed." Dear Sodalists, I call on each of you to make the Bible your favorite Book and the Holy Rosary, your weapon. Let's ignite the fire of revival! Through Mary to Jesus, Love you and Pray for you always.
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Praise be Jesus Christ and his Immaculate Mother Most Holy Virgin Mary. We just celebrated Thanksgiving Day that is why I would like to give thanks to all of you for your fruitful service for the greater glory of God and his Blessed Mother. I am personally thankful for my priestly vocation and a gift of my Parish community.
Now we are living the season of Advent. We contemplate the intervention of God in our human history. In the fullness of time God chose to reveal himself as a man. We walk with Mary as she carries in her womb the Savior of the World. Advent is a school of contemplation. While people of the world are preoccupying themselves with the external things of shopping, partying and losing their head over the “Season” we Catholics are preparing ourselves for the Christmas celebrations (from December 25 Nativity of the Lord to January 8 Epiphany of the Lord). During the time of Advent we are urged by Saint John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord. Blessed Virgin Mary was pondering in her heart all things the Lord has done in her life. The humble girl from Nazareth was chosen by God to be the Mother of his Son. Blessed Mary did not keep this Good News to herself but in haste went to minister to her cousin Saint Elizabeth. Just when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting she was filled with the Holy Spirit. I invite all of us to contemplate this great mystery of our faith. We need to celebrate this Advent as if it was our last Advent here on Earth. Saint Paul instructs us: “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer to us than when we first believed. Therefore, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” (Rom 13:11.14)
Finally, when on the Silent Night you will look on the crib in the Nativity scene adore the Holy Infant contemplating the mystery of the Almighty God manifested in poverty and weakness of a child. May this image teach us humility. We have to decrease so that Jesus may increase. Let us learn from Our Blessed Mother to say: “The Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is his Name.”
May the Newborn King of the Universe bless you and your families with peace and joy. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Eternal Word, you became flesh and dwelt among us, because of your great love for mankind. Though you were God, you humbled yourself out of love for your creation, being born in a lowly dwelling, to a meek and chaste Virgin. Give us your grace, to practice humility, following your example, and the example of your servant and Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Amen.
United in prayer.
Praise be Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and His Most Blessed Mother Holy Virgin Mary. I hope that this message finds you well in body and in spirit. The month of October is marked with a very special and powerful devotion to Our Blessed Mother – the Holy Rosary. In fact, on October 7th we have celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V instituted this feast in thanksgiving for the great naval victory over the Turks at the battle of Lepanto on this day in the year 1570, a favor due to the recitation of the Rosary. This victory saved Europe from being overrun by the forces of Islam. Lepanto, perhaps the most complete victory ever gained over the Ottoman Empire, on October 7, 1571, is commemorated by the invocation "Help of Christians," inserted in the Litany of Loreto. At Belgrade the Turks were defeated on the Feast of Our Lady ad Nives in 1716. A second victory gained that year on the Octave of the Assumption determined Pope Clement XI to command the Feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church. Leo XIII added the invocation "Queen of the most Holy Rosary, pray for us," to the Litany of Loreto. The Feast is in reality a great festival of thanksgiving for the signal and countless benefits bestowed on Christendom through the Rosary of Our Blessed Queen.
In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer, which is centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.
I invite all of you in this difficult time in the World’s history to storm Heavens with this powerful prayer. Who would better understand our struggle than Our Beloved Mother Mary? As a Sodalist we must make our priority to pray and to foster devotion to Most Holy Mother of God anywhere and anytime.
Finally, I would like to share with you the latest message of Our Lady in Medjugorje: “Dear children, to come to you and to make myself known to you is a great joy for my motherly heart. It is a gift from my Son for you and for others who are coming. As a mother I am calling you: love my Son above everything. In order to love Him with all your heart, you need to come to know Him. You will come to know Him through prayer. Pray with the heart and with your feelings. To pray means to think of His love and sacrifice. To pray means to love, to give, to suffer and to offer. I am calling you, my children, to be apostles of prayer and love. My children, it is a time of vigilance. In this vigil I am calling you to prayer, love and trust. As my Son will be looking in your hearts, my motherly heart desires for Him to see unconditional trust and love in them. The united love of my apostles will live, will conquer and will expose evil. My children, I was a chalice of the God-man; I was God’s instrument. That is why I am calling you, my apostles, to be a chalice of the true and pure love of my Son. I am calling you to be an instrument through which all those who have not come to know the love of God—who has never loved—may comprehend accept and be saved. Thank you, my children.”
In conclusion, I extend my heartfelt invitation to all Sodalists of the Archdiocese of Washington to participate in our Sodality Union events. This will help us to know each other better and to help each other to walk in holiness of life.
Praise be Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Mother Most Blessed Virgin Mary. I am very grateful to the Lord for his call to serve as the moderator of the Sodality Union of the Archdiocese of Washington. I would like to express our gratitude to Fr. Michael Briese for his faithful service to the Sodality Union with great love and dedication. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Virgin Mary is the perfect example of love, dedication, and obedience. She perfectly fulfilled the will of God.
Since my childhood I was inspired by the example of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. I was born in Poland the country whose devotion to the Mother of God is well known in Europe. The parish church I attended as a child was named: Most Holy Virgin Mary Queen of Poland Roman Catholic Church. Polish people in a particular way show their love to the Virgin Mary. Each diocese in Poland has at least one Shrine dedicated to Our Beloved and Blessed Mother.
There are two particular months in which we honor Mary in a special way – May and October. In the month of May prior to the celebration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of Mass (every day) we gather for the Holy Hour singing the Litany of Loreto.
In the month of October each day we pray the rosary as a Parish. (My parish in Poland consist of 20.000 active parishioners.) Moreover, every Thursday of the week we pray the Novena to Our Lady Help of Christians.
The most common of the devotion to the Blessed Mother is a pilgrimage. Many people walk for many days to arrive to Czestochowa, the most important place in Poland where Our Lady Queen of Poland (the Black Madonna) listens through the ages to the cries of her children. When I look into the eyes of the Virgin Mary depicted in her icon in Czestochowa, I am always moved by her closeness to me. I experience her maternal love and compassion. I could spend hours just simply looking at Her not saying a word. In this look I find a great consolation for my soul, the peace that words cannot describe. I know that she understands me and knows what I need before I even ask.
I recall my own mother who just looking at my face knew that something is wrong with me. I always had a great confidence with my mother, and I think this greatly influence my Marian spirituality.
In my last year of high school I was very rebellious. I frequently went to the parties drinking and smoking pot. I recall one particular instance when I came back home totally drunk. My mother led me to my room and helped me to undress, then she made a sign of the cross on my forehead and left. Few hours later I made my way to kitchen, since I was very thirsty, and saw my mother kneeling down in front of the Black Madonna icon crying and praying for me. Who could better understand the suffering heart of the mother than the Mother of Jesus Christ? I could only imagine some words she was whispering through her tears and am convinced that thanks to these weeping prayers my brother and I became priests.
I had many dramas in my life and not knowing how to cope with them, I turned to the world. My fiends introduced me to many bad things. I would not have even graduated from high school were not for Divine intervention. My parents wanted to help me. They sent me to France in order to snatch me from the bad influences of my friends. My aunt drove me to Lourdes. We spent hours praying and asking Jesus for help through the powerful intercession of His Blessed Mother. The Lord started the long-term process of healing of my soul while I was bathed in the miraculous water of Lourdes.
Most Blessed Virgin Mary took me under her special protection. I had the grace to follow Saint John Paul II on his pilgrimages to Poland. I recall his unique devotion to the Blessed Mother Mary. He prayed to her often and he spoke of her often. It was the influence of Saint John Paul II that make me more and more devoted to the Most Holy Virgin Mary Mother of God.
I would like to share with you one of Saint John Paul II’s Marian prayer: “Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother, live in me, act in me, speak in me and through me, think your thoughts in my mind, love through my heart, give me your dispositions and feelings, teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus, correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior, possess my soul, take over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself, incline me to constant adoration, pray in me and through me, let me live in you and keep me in this union always. Amen.”
Finally, I want to stress that my role as a moderator of the Sodality Union is to serve, pray, and to foster a deeper spiritual life. I look forward to praying with you, to celebrating with you, to fellowship with you, to being a pilgrim with you, and certainly to be a saint with you.
Totus Tuus Maria – I am all yours Mary.
by Fr. Michael Briese (Immediate Past Moderator)
On that ancient Pentecost the Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles and early Christians and ignited them with that vibrant faith! They were granted great spiritual renewal, gifts and wisdom. They could speak in tongues, heal, preach and even raise from the dead. The Spirit granted unto them a great sense of God’s presence. Today, you and me, all Christians of faith possess a share in the countless gifts which God grants unto His peoples.
As people baptized into the Church, as Catholics who have received the great sacrament of Confirmation, and as Catholics who strive to put our faith into action, to live out the Gospel message and as Catholics attentive to God’s ways, all of us share in the modern calling to bring the presence of our Lord into the lives of others. Pentecost reminds us that we were granted this gift of life by God and that your life, my life, all human life is sacred and holy and precious.
This very day Pentecost reminds us that God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son to preach, teach, heal and to die and rise and to ascend into heaven; and our Risen Lord Jesus Christ is now seated at the right hand of our Father and will come again to welcome us into the eternal kingdom. Pentecost assures us that the many gifts of the Holy Spirit permeate the very fiber of our being. As faithful Catholics we are blessed with much grace and are blessed to share in the Holy Word and also the Holy Eucharist which Jesus instituted at the Last Supper. This Pentecost may we take time to be still and in that stillness, to be quiet and pray by listening to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost is a feast we ought to recall throughout the passing year. It is a great event which reminds you and me that the Lord is with us, now and until the hour of our death. Our Lord guides us through the spiritual counsel and divine wisdom which the Holy Spirit whispers within the silence of the human heart. The Holy Spirit finds shelter within the temple of our heart. Go off to a quiet place and give ear to our Lord. Listen as the Spirit groans the divine wisdom only God can give. Pentecost reminds us that our Lord journeys in our company. Pentecost calls us to go forth to love and serve our Lord and one another!
PRAY THE ROSARY!
Sodality Union Archdiocese of Washington
Mary, Our Mother, intercede with Jesus to help us do whatever He tells us.