Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies

(Missale Romanum 1970) 

For this week's meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect for the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini (“Mother Cabrini”) in the MR’70. The following is the ICEL translation of this prayer as found in the third typical edition of the Roman Missal (2010):

God our Father, who called Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini from Italy to serve the immigrants of America, by her example, teach us to have concern for the stranger, the sick, and all those in need, and by her prayers help us to see Christ in all the men and women we meet. Through our Lord, etc. Amen.”

As you read this column, you may have already read about the prejudicial move by Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York to exclude Mother Cabrini from a group of historically notable women who are set to be memorialized in statues in the city on account of their significant social contributions to the people of New York. Fortunately, there was significant pushback to this move (especially since the woman who received the most votes from the populace was Mother Cabrini!) and so, the mayor was pressured to relent and include her in the group being memorialized. As we consider our divisive political climate, we might look to Mother Cabrini to provide a luminous peaceableness regarding the contentious issues of the day. 

As Fr. Higgins has been preaching and writing about last month (October is “Respect for Life” month), we do well to reflect again on the truth that Catholicism is comprehensively pro-life. We are certainly not “oneissue” people, as we are commonly (and falsely) accused of being. In forming our consciences with the saving and joy-filled truths of Christ’s Gospel, we are to care deeply about all life issues, even as there exist varying levels of gravity among them. One such issue that touches upon the life and dignity of the human person is immigration. While complex, it is not impossible for us to tease out some basic faith principles where this issue is concerned.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, immigration is a “natural right,” and so, the plight of poor and oppressed immigrants must be taken seriously by governments and citizens. At the same time, compassionate concern and efforts of concrete aid does not mean that we fail to confront the practical and prudential matters related to such a crisis at the local and federal level (cf. Catechism no. 2241). The Church does indeed support the authority of the State, but it does not consider such civil authority to be absolute, especially if human rights or “the dignity of persons and the natural law” are being infringed upon (cf. Catechism nos 2235-37).

This means, then, that Catholics cannot ignore, despise, or trivialize the plight of migrants anywhere in our country or around the world. The Church is very clear: the direct and intentional continuation or worsening of the ongoing plight of oppressed immigrants ranks among the gravest of sins, “sins that cry to heaven” (cf. Catechism no. 1857, 67-8).

Thus, the challenge for us as Catholics is to recognize and hold these various elements in balance, in a healthy tension. Care for the immigrant poor is not intrinsically incompatible with measured prudence in immigration reform. Mother Cabrini’s example of sincere love and care for immigrants should challenge many professing Christians to reevaluate some of their political assumptions, and more importantly, to pray more sincerely and earnestly for those most in need who are beyond the immediate reach of our charitable activity.

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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