Heart of Jesus, we thank you for this opportunity as a Cabrinian Family to prepare together for the feast of your missionary servant, Francesca Cabrini. We desire, during this time of preparation, to understand those aspects of her charism and mission that are part of your on-going plan for each one of us.
During these days, open our minds, stretch our hearts, fire our imagination and energize our will with the many faces that Francesca presents to the world today. Show us the way her charism can take root in our daily life so that we may arrive at her Feast, converted and empowered in heart, mind and will, ready to begin a year of Cabrinian greatness of heart on behalf of those with whom we live, work and meet.
We ask this in the name of the Father and in the power of the Spirit. AMEN.
Missionary of the Heart of Jesus
The source of Mother Cabrini’s energy, motivation, and inspiration was the fire burning in her heart for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Utterly confident that she was loved by God, her one thought was to return that love and to bring all to a personal relationship with Jesus. It was her grateful love for him that propelled her as a missionary to the ends of the earth. Her courage, energy, daring, compassion and persistence all were gifts from the Heart of Jesus.
Cabrinian Psalm Prayer
Spread wide, loving Jesus, the fibers of my soul and make me come to you. Make me work much for you; make me lead many souls to your divine heart. Thank you, Jesus, for all the help you have granted me until now, especially during this last year of mission in which you have made me see so clearly that you are the one at work!
You do everything—I’m not even, as others say, an instrument in your hands. You’re the One who does it all—I’m only the spectator of the great and wonderful works you perform. Jesus, if you were not God, but merely human, I would have to say you are one great missionary! As it is, I can’t praise you enough. I can only offer you this prayer:
Let me learn from you how to be a good missionary. This prayer I will renew with every beat of my heart. (Mother Cabrini, Journal, November, 1892)
Missionary of the New Evangelization
On the 50th anniversary of her canonization in 1996, Pope John Paul II referred to Mother Cabrini as a Missionary of the New Evangelization. When we look at her life, we see that she brought “new ardor, new methods and new expressions” in carrying the “good news” to immigrants and to all those she encountered. We are called to develop the same. Mother Cabrini longed to go to China, to Alaska, to distant regions of Latin America.
Today, the Cabrinian Family continues her missionary journeys “ad gentes” in countries that Mother Cabrini never reached in her lifetime: in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America. May her missionary spirit continue to inspire us to go beyond ourselves and our horizons to the ends of the earth.
Cabrinian Psalm Prayer
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news. (Isaiah 52:7)
Vast and fruitful is the harvest field God spreads before you!
Work in it with zeal–everyday gather abundant sheaves.
You are the fortunate guardians of the treasures of Jesus.
Safeguard the rights of his Realm!
Generously and willingly share its crosses and concerns in order to guide those entrusted to your care.
Keep in mind that their souls were redeemed by Jesus’ blood, so do all in your power to lead them to his Divine Heart. Labor with zeal; the power of your love will endow your actions with strength and courage. In all your actions, words, and sufferings, always seek God’s greater glory. Gather together all the forces of your spirit. Word, pray, offer your pains, sweat, sighs and be vigilant in the constant discipline of yourself! Always hold high the banner: “I can do all things in God who strengthens me.”
(Mother Cabrini, Travels, Sept, 1899)
Over a hundred years ago, Mother Cabrini was already a vigilant advocate for immigrants with a compassionate heart. For that reason, she was declared universal Patroness of Immigrants by Pope Pius XII. Today, the Cabrinian Family all over the world diligently seeks to be faithful to church and charism in caring for immigrants, those that are being traffic, the elderly and those most vulnerable in new and creative ways.
Cabrinian Canticle on Immigration
Sustained by undaunted courage, Mother Cabrini created from nothing schools, hospitals, and orphanages for the myriad of penniless immigrants who ventured into the new world in search of work. These desperate men and women did not know the language, could not integrate themselves with dignity into American society and were often victims of the unscrupulous…
Today you incarnate with creativity and generosity the spirit of Mother Cabrini in the unprecedented and complex shifts of migration. You have opened your houses to immigrant families and enrolled their children in your schools. You are actively involved in numerous hospitality centers, so needed today because the problems and challenges of immigration seem to be even more acute than during your Foundress’ time. You help them to acquire legal status, to learn the language, to become integrated into a new society and you aid the undocumented in detention centers. (Letter to the Cabrinian Family John Paul II, May 31, 2000)
Woman of the Word
All through her life, Cabrini was a woman who actively listened for God’s voice and word with a profoundly contemplative attitude.
One of her favorite phrases was “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” She had an enormous desire to hear His Word, His Voice. Thus her discerning heart matured over the years, but not only in transcendent contemplation but in the concrete practical dimensions of everyday life.
For her, the Word of God was something both purifying and directive, both consoling and challenging. From the Word she learned how to interpret reality and how to bear fruit of justice and love in concrete deeds. For her, as for St. Paul:
The word of God is something alive and active: it cuts like any double-edged sword but more fine: it can slip through the place where the soul is divided from the spirit or joints from the marrow; it can judge the secret emotions and thoughts. (Hebrews 4:12)
Cabrinian Psalm Prayer
“My God, I have always loved your Word from the depths of my being” (Ps. 40:8)
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening and comes longing to faithfully follow your signals.
I desire to place myself before as the whitest canvas, that you may draw upon me your lovely features, so that I may truly be formed in your image.
Jesus, I love you so very much—I feel myself bursting with love for you,but I am too unworthy to stay united with you. Nevertheless, I cannot stand to be separated from you!
Make me worthy—something you alone can do – say but the word, give me one look and I shall be whole and beautiful, truly worthy of you. (Mother Cabrini, Journal, Sept, 1897)
Educator of the Heart
Mother Cabrini was an Educator of the Heart, with her own “pedagogy of the heart” as all Cabrinian teachers throughout the world know. Hers was not a sentimental view of education—but rather a way of life where the heart is the core of our identity, infusing our intellect, our memory and our will with meaning and passion. “Education of the heart” is not to be reserved for educational establishments. Everyone in the Cabrinian Family has a right to this “education of the heart” whether young or old, in health care or social work, in administration or field work, in institutions or in remote missions.
A Cabrinian Prayer for Education of the Heart Today
Fan into flame the gift I gave you: not a cowardly spirit, but one that makes you strong, loving and wise. (2 Tim 1:7)
We the Cabrinian Family desire to continue to promote “education of the heart” in all apostolic endeavors, at all levels, for all ages. Beginning with ourselves; we desire to:
Educate our hearts in the social teachings of the Church so that we may work for a more just and lasting peace, international solidarity and a globalization of solidarity;
Teach and be taught the transcendent values of communion, respect for diversity, pluralism and solidarity toward the poor;
Educate and be educated for leadership so that communities may be mobilized for the common good and people may become protagonists of their own future;
Educate our hearts to an international vision of solidarity, brotherhood and sisterhood by thinking globally and act locally;
Form and be formed as agents of transformation and critical thinkers, capable of having an impact on culture, politics and economics;
Grow in intelligent and creative love that seeks to contribute to a civilization of love with workable solutions and courageous persistence in implementing such solutions;
Convert our hearts so that money and capital are means toward the common good and a more equitable redistribution of this world’s riches rather than personal gain;
We believe that the living legacy of Mother Cabrini will empower us to do this and will guide us on the way. Amen. (Adapted from the 1999 Extended Council Conclusions)
Friend of the Poor
As a personal friend of Pope Leo XIII, whose encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 laid the foundation of the social teachings of the church and opened the way for the current emphasis in the church on making an “option for the poor,” Mother Cabrini’s sensitive heart and her experience in walking the streets of New York was in keeping with the Pope’s insistence on the rights of the poor and the dignity of the working person.
She would have understood, among other things, the right to work, the right to private property, the right to form unions, the right to a just wage and the right to decent living conditions, education and health care for the family. But Mother Cabrini was not content just to be sympathetic; her enterprising and practical nature demanded that she and her sisters do something about oppressive conditions of poverty. In this, as always, she was creative and original.
Mother Cabrini can be described as an entrepreneur of love. She was often described openly by the newspapers and commentators of the day as a great business woman—but what motivated, drove her activity was her zealous love and her loving zeal.
Her love—evidenced in her “business transactions” for the poor and whomever she met–was intelligent, enterprising, bold, creative, tireless, inventive and industrious. We are called to model our love on hers and find new ways of expressing this “intelligent and enterprising love” on behalf of the poor.
A Cabrinian Prayer to be in Solidarity with the Poor
Jesus Christ was rich but he became poor, to make you rich out of his poverty. (2 Cor. 8,9)
As the Cabrinian Family, called to follow Jesus and Mother Cabrini in being friends of the poor today, we affirm our solidarity with the US Catholic Bishops for a Catholic framework for economic life. Therefore we hold that:
The economy exists for the person, not the person for the economy.
All economic life should be shaped by moral principles. Economic choices and institutions must be judged by how they protect or undermine the life and dignity of the human person, support the family and serve the common good.
A fundamental moral measure of any economy is how the poor and vulnerable are faring.
All people have a right to life and to secure the basic necessities of life (eg., food, clothing, shelter, education, health care, safe environment, economic security.)
All people have the right to economic initiative, to productive work, to just wages and benefits, to decent working conditions, as well as to organize and join unions or other associations.
As the Cabrini Family, we recognize our responsibility to address the structural causes of poverty and to become friends of the poor, as Mother Cabrini was. We ask for her inspiration and guidance as we change our hearts and our behaviors for a more just economy and society. Amen.
Prophet of the World
Who is a prophet? Not someone who sees the future, so much as someone who sees how things could be, according to God’s plan, and asks “why not?” Mother Cabrini fulfilled a prophetic role in the church of her time in establishing a missionary congregation for women, in denouncing the evils which forced peoples to alienate themselves far from their homeland as well as the exploitation and deprivation they unjustly suffered in their land of exile. She announced a new kind of spirituality of the Sacred Heart—one that was missionary, creative, transforming. She called her sisters to be bearers of this love to the ends of the earth.
Because she spread this “good news” in love, Mother Cabrini was really an agent of transformation ahead of her time. She began this century seeking to transform certain realities—just as we finish this century striving to do the same. She sought to transform hearts—so that the actions and patterns which emerged from them—would also be transformed. We also are called to be prophetic and transforming as missionaries to the world.
Canticle of the Prophet: (Is 61: 1-3, 6, 8-9)
I have come to cast fire on the earth and how I wish it were already kindled.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the lowly,
to heal the broken hearted,
to proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners,
to announce a year of favor from the Lord
and a day of vindication by our God,
to comfort all who mourn;
to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem
instead of ashes,
to give them oil of gladness in place of mourning,
a glorious mantle instead of a listless spirit.
Compassionate Care Giver
Caring for others was fundamental to Mother Cabrini’s sense of mission. She might have arrived later at hospital ministry but she certainly began her mission with a profound sense of caring for orphans, for the poor, for immigrants. To her this would have been the highest expression of charity and a true imitation of Jesus who reached out to care for all: sinners, tax-collectors, prostitutes, lepers, the lame, the blind, the sick.
Mother Cabrini’s charity was not ethereal; rather it was practical, down-to-earth, concrete. She insisted that “Today, love cannot be hidden; it must become active, living and true.”
The Church challenges us to continue this tradition of care-giving today “to the poorest and most abandoned of the sick, such as the elderly, those who are handicapped, marginalized or terminally ill, and to the victims of drug abuse and the new contagious diseases (VC, 83).” May we continue to respond with compassionate care.
Canticle of the Works of Mercy (Mt. 25:34-40)
Know how to alleviate pain, dress wounds, console the troubled, strengthen the weak,
with the precious balm of the love of Jesus’ Heart. (Travels, 9/21/1894)
Then the King will say to those on his right hand:
“Come, you who my Father has blessed,
take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you
since the foundation of the world.”
“For I was hungry and you gave me food;
I was thirsty and you gave me drink;
I was a stranger and you made me welcome;
naked and you clothed me,
sick and you visited me,
in prison and you came to see me.”
Then they will say to him in reply:
“Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty
or naked or sick or imprisoned?”
And the King will answer:
“I tell you solemnly, in so far as you did this
to one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did it to me.”
Advocate for Women
What made Mother Cabrini a genuine advocate for women? First of all, her own genuine womanhood, her feminine genius that synthesized action and contemplation, humanity and spirituality. Francesca was a mature woman of integrity and sensitivity, of relationship and of organization, of imagination and of curiosity. She provided a model in her own person of what women, her sisters and others, could be: full of hospitality and warmth and, at the same time, full of courage and energy.
Cabrini was well-informed on a wide variety of cultural, social and political subjects and daily perused the newspapers wherever she was in the world. She knew how to approach and deal with the simplest person on the street and the most esteemed national leader. Mother Cabrini had an eye for feminine talents and encouraged their development in her sisters for their good and the good of the Realm. She was an expert in encouraging women to face difficulties without collapsing, to carry on despite difficulties and to build for a common future.
Cabrini Psalm Prayer
How grateful we should be to Christianity which has raised the dignity of women, re-establishing her rights unknown to the ancient nations. Until Mary, the Woman par excellence foretold by the prophets, had appeared on earth—what was woman?
But Mary appeared: this new Eve, Mother of the Living,
elected by God to be the co-redemptrix of the human race,
and a new era arose for woman.
She is no longer a slave, but equal to man,
no longer a servant, but mistress
no longer the object of disdain and contempt
but raised to the dignity of mother and educator.
If we wish to reach the full importance of our Mission,
let us banish vanity and shallowness. Remember, we shall only be true women when, by the discharge of the principal duties that are imposed upon us, we become the true educators of society, guardians of the family, and imitators of Mary.
(Mother Cabrini, Travels, May, 1904)