I am the light of the world… (John 8:12) These words summarized the spiritual exercises attended by the Missionary Fathers of St Vincent de Paul as CM’s of the Province of Sts. Cyril and Methodius are referred to in this part of the world.
The spiritual exercises took place in Obukhiv town at a house of the Oblate Fathers.
Fr. Waldemar Rakocy,PhD, C.M. of the Polish Province focused on St Catherine Labouré and on the Miraculous Medal that Blessed Virgin Mary had ordered to have engraved when she had appeared to the saint.
Probably every one of us present there could experience these events to some extent, but not only that… First and foremost, we, who nowadays live in the times mundane enough, could re-experience and reevaluate our spirituality and our message. Moreover, what was the most important was that Mary as well urged us to do it.
We were faithful to St John Paul’s II appeal concerning the new evangelization. The new evangelization means nothing new, but above all it stands for a deeper or total discovery of what had taken place. In the similar way, we, who attended the spiritual exercises and listened to the story of the event that had allegedly happened and of which we allegedly knew everything, could reach a new understanding and reevaluate that tremendous gift our Congregation possessed. However, not only could we listen, but also those spiritual exercises surely became a challenge for us to ponder how we served with our charisma and how we reached out to all the people, to whom we had been sent, with the grace our Vincentian Family had received.
A Ukrainian thinker once said that the person unaware of his or her past was not worthy of future either… This statement surely holds true nowadays, especially when the Church celebrates the Year of Consecrated Life. Every religious institution came to being at some point in time, according to the Divine Providence, in order to give response to calls of the time and to current events. Sometimes it is good to go back to our beginnings, to the manifestations of great graces that occurred throughout our Congregation history. It is what we did during our spiritual exercises.
To conclude, I would like to add that following the spiritual exercises, which were also concentrated on the symbolic meaning of the Miraculous Medal, we could come to understand our Founder, who used to often say the main rule of our life in communities was Christ Himself. And Mary corroborated this idea during Her apparitions. Christ’s unity with the Church, in which Mary enjoys Her special position and role of being the Mother of the Redeemer and our Mediator, comes first.
So let us be grateful to God that we can participate in His deed of redeeming the humankind as well as for His Mothers’ care and protection.
Fr. Serhii Pavlish, CM