Free In Christ
by Father Charles M. Mangan
Great Catholic spiritual authors attest that following the all-wise will of Christ brings something that we are desperately in search of: freedom. We want to be free. We want to be liberated from that which oppresses and shackles us.
Jesus came to redeem and save us. In a word, He wanted (and still does) to make us free--free to serve Him in joy and gratitude. He knows well the arduous road that leads to Everlasting Life. Freedom in Christ on earth translates to unending, complete union with Him in Heaven.
I am especially thankful for those faithful disciples of Christ throughout the years who have challenged me to allow Him to make me freer. By their words and actions, these companions of the Lord have taught me a vital lesson: when I open myself to Jesus, I become more liberated and, therefore, more able to do whatever it is He requires of me.
There is an inspiring group of women who live near Los Angeles who celebrate the freedom they possess in Christ and encourage me--and others--to find that same liberation. The Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata is a secular institute founded in 1954 during the Marian Year by the saintly Franciscan Conventual Father Luigi M. Faccenda in Bologna, Italy.
A secular institute is composed of laypersons who have professed the three evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. Secular institutes help their members to answer the critical summons of the Messiah to Christian holiness.
The Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata promote the Holy Gospel of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ by adhering to the spirituality of total consecration to Mary Immaculate as advocated by another heroic Franciscan Conventual priest, Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941), Priest and Martyr, whose liturgical Memorial is commemorated annually on August 14, the vigil of the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary body and soul into Heaven.
In the words of the Missionaries themselves, they embrace "living a total consecration to the Immaculata so as to attain, after Her example, a more perfect union with Christ and in order to collaborate with Her for the spreading of Christ's Kingdom in the world."
On the Solemnity of the Annunciation, March 25, 1992, the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata were given the canonical status of "Pontifical Right," meaning that this secular institute enjoys a special direct relationship with the Holy Father.
These Missionaries, who also have a branch called the Father Kolbe Volunteers of the Immaculata for those lay persons who have not professed the three vows but who desire to participate in the charism of the Institute, are currently present in seven countries: Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, the United States of America, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil, where there is also the men's institute of the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata.
The six missionaries in West Covina, California--Rumela, Anna, Rossella, Ada, Maria del Rosario and Maria Carmela--seek to love Jesus and share His love with others. They tire themselves out in teaching classes, writing articles, giving discourses particularly about Our Blessed Lady and reaching out to the poor. They interact in their local parish and strive to give good example to all.
Aflame with charity and compassion, these six women are approachable but proper. Their dress is simple, modest but feminine. The Missionaries take very seriously their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. They practice mortification in speech, eating and drinking.
But even more, the Missionaries of West Covina are rooted in the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They spend hours in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. They go to Confession regularly, prayerfully read Sacred Scripture often and, of course, pray daily--including the Liturgy of the Hours and the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
If you were to quiz one of the Missionaries, perhaps she would tell you that she has yet to find the real, abiding freedom that the Lord intends for her. That may be. But the direction that the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata point to is the right one. And the Missionaries of West Covina, as well as their fellow members scattered in Europe, North and South America provide us with an edifying model for our emulation.
How do we become free? The total consecration to Mary Immaculate propagated by Saint Maximilian is a model for all Christians. Whether priest, brother, sister, member of a secular institute or society of apostolic life, or seemingly just an "ordinary Catholic in the pew," it is possible to give ourselves to the Risen Lord Jesus through His Holy Mother. Such surrender to Jesus and Mary leads to interior liberation from sin.
For more information about the Father Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, please see their Website (www.kolbemission.org).
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
Christ, Jesus, Father Kolbe
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