31 August to 3 September, we commemorate our Father Founder’s return to our heavenly Father, and the days of our prayerful vigil with his mortal remains among us. “Annually we commemorate our beloved Father Bishop’s going to our Father’s Home, 31 August, through a well-planned renewal programme of prayerful study and reflection to become well-grounded in his teachings. Through these we express our loyalty towards him and strive earnestly to be faithful to his founding charism for the enrichment of the Church and society” (DR, 64, §2).
N.B. Each community prepares its own program making the required adjustments

25 - Feast of St. Louis IX, King of France, Name’s Day of Father Bishop
Remembrance at Morning Prayer, Mass and Adoration in the evening
29 & 30 - Evening Prayer followed by Reading of Reflections on the Life of our Father Founder
31 - Morning Prayer and Meditation on the Teachings of Father Bishop
- Celebration of the Holy Eucharist - Garlanding the bust/photograph of Father Bishop
9.25- 9-40 a.m. - Silent reflection in community, on Father Bishop’s last moments on earth (9.35 a.m.). - Skits on Scripture, Father Bishop, Saints, etc., wherever possible, especially in formation houses, schools, boardings, … - Evening Prayer followed by Readings from the Teachings of Father Bishop

1st - Recollection Day - Morning Prayer, meditation, Holy Eucharist -- with reflections and prayers conducive to the occasion - Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament - Examination of Conscience - Listening to Father Bishop’s talk - Evening Prayer & Prayers for a Happy Death
2nd - Morning Prayer and Meditation - Holy Eucharist - Quiz on: The Bible, The Eucharist, Our Bl. Mother, Saints, and Father Bishop - Evening Prayer followed by Sharing on the life and teachings of Father Bishop based on the material circulated for study and reflection.
3rd - Morning Prayer and Meditation - Holy Eucharist - Evening Prayer followed by Rosary in community for our beloved Father.

Monthly Commemoration
Leader: Consecrated Life came into being through the creative prompting of the Spirit who moved founders along the Gospel path, giving rise to an admirable variety of charisms. They, open and docile to the Spirit’s guidance, followed Christ more closely, entered into intimacy with him and fully shared in his mission. Their experience of the Spirit must be preserved, deepened and developed by those who follow them (cf SAC 20). “The Spiritual life must therefore have first place in the programme of Families of consecrated life, in such a way that every institute and community will be a school of true evangelical spirituality” (VC 93). “With filial love and profound gratitude to our Father Founder, we observe the last day of every month as Father Bishop’s Day. We remember our beloved Father Founder during the Eucharistic celebration and prayers of the day in a fitting manner to keep his loving memory alive in us” (DR 64, §1). The best way to keep our Father’s loving memory alive in us is to be faithful to the teachings he gave us through our constitutions, his fatherly talks and conferences. For this we need to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (cf Rom 12:2) in the spirit of the Gospel and of the Founder.

The Holy Eucharist and the word of God in the Life of Father Bishop
January 30:
(31st of January being the feast of Don Bosco, we keep the 30th as Father Bishop’s Day)
Leader: Father Bishop teaches us that the constant spring of our strength is the daily offering of the Sacrifice of the Mass with Hoy Communion, which is the centre of our religious life (cf MFB). He was a lover of the Blessed Sacrament all through his life and lived in the Eucharistic atmosphere. “What can we do without our Eucharistic Lord!” he would exclaim (MFB).
As a Salesian aspirant, Father Bishop was very much influenced by St. Dominic Savio. He says, “When I was a boy of his age, I was told of this devotion. Since then, I started making a little visit to the Blessed Sacrament whenever we had a period of recreation, or whenever we went out… and when we came back” (DTFB, May 5). He found in Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament a true friend with whom he could speak everything, which later he passed on to us, his children as a legacy.
As a young cleric of 24, during the violent Mexican revolution (1914 - 1917), Father Bishop had some dreadful experiences. The City of Puebla was suddenly taken by the Government forces from the revolutionaries. All the foreign priests were exiled, and Brother Louis had to act as Director of the Salesian Seminary. Through his window he could see the dead bodies of those who were fighting in the street. The federal troops reoccupied the city; they commandeered the school building as a military camp, except the chapel. But soon the captain ordered Father Bishop to open the chapel as additional quarters for men and horses. He stood at the chapel door and refused to open it. The captain threatened to have him shot, giving just three hours to decide. Father Bishop quietly replied that the troops could enter the chapel “over my body”. The troops did not dare to move in, but kept him a prisoner in his school building. However, he was released shortly because of his American citizenship. Thus he gave sure proof of his ardent love and staunch faith in the Eucharistic Jesus. (cf TBK, p 23)
Father Bishop’s ordinations as priest and bishop were precious moments in his life. As we know our Father took meticulous care to offer the Holy Mass each day of his priestly life by his best interior and exterior preparation for a worthy celebration, be it in the disposition, prayers, readings, singing, vestments, sacred vessels, or the active participation of all concerned.
The chief emblem in his coat of arms was the Holy Eucharist, the source of the spiritual life of the Church. His greatest consolation as the Bishop of Krishnagar was, to know that Jesus would be corporally present in the tabernacle of his cathedral, and in every church and chapel in the diocese. He ardently desired to make Jesus openly and solemnly adored in the Blessed Sacrament. For this he built the beautiful Cathedral Shrine of the most Blessed Sacrament. In 1960, when the Franciscan Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament left Krishnagar, Father Bishop entrusted to us, his children, the great privilege of the care of this Shrine, and named it our Power House.
How happy we are that in the course of years, we have grown in our Eucharistic devotion and have increased the number of hours of adoration in our communities! Father Bishop tried to live in constant union with God all his life, and depended on him with childlike trust. He wrote in his Book of Resolutions: “Mass - it must be the most precious part of the day.” For him the happiest moment of each day was the time of his Holy Mass, the Number One Joy, as he would often exclaim! We, his children are trying to grow in this beautiful experience as we offer the daily Eucharist as intended by our Father, from the very first day he founded us: “ … the source of your strength to accomplish your sanctification, [will be] the Sacrifice of the Mass with Holy Communion” (MFB). Father Bishop meditated daily on the word of God and broke it for our spiritual nourishment with points for practical application of the same as we learn from his recorded homilies, and other fatherly talks. He gave each of us a personal copy of the Bible exhorting us, “we have the apostolate of spreading the Holy Bible, the word of God. … We must love the Bible, propagate it, and help others to love it! (Homily, Aug, 1979). After retirement, Father Bishop continued in his apostolate of the printed word, updating his books and distributing copies of the Holy Bible in English and Bengali.
Today we thank Abba, Father for the gift of St. John Bosco also, a great propagator of the devotion to the holy Eucharist and whose life and teachings was the foundation of Father Bishop’s religious life. Don Bosco became his model, and the Preventive System, the driving force of his dedicated ministry among the youth. He loved and lived the motto of Don Bosco: “Give me souls and take the rest,” and gave us the Preventive System in our life and activities. (Pause)

The Purpose of our Congregation
As we read in the Memoirs of Father Bishop, on the 12 December 1948, with the sanction of the Holy See our little congregation was born. Its purpose: evangelization. On several occasions Father Bishop has clearly stated his mind, also instructed us regarding the purpose for which the Spirit inspired him to found our congregation.
“Our main purpose from the very beginning was to have our sisters go to visit homes. It was so difficult to get sisters to go out into the villages at all times of the year to instruct and to take care of the women. … to improve their way of living … and help them to know the true religion. This is the main work of yours. … I repeat: this should be our main work. This is why we call it hard work. This is the real work of our Lord Jesus Christ. And this work should be your great inspiration, your great desire, and your greatest privilege! If it were not for this, we would not have the Sisters of Mary Immaculate. … We are not going to just wait there in our houses for the people to come to us, but we shall go to the people. We are going to them in their villages, into the towns and into their homes. … May our dear Mother Mary Immaculate inspire us and prepare us for this work.”
Father Bishop continues to explain to us his intention: “The chief aim of the institute is to impart religious education. The sisters must look upon the teaching of religion as the greatest possible privilege and to make use of every means within their power in order to become efficient instruments in performing the most important of all works.
“The grown up children are not in your hands. They have already formed their minds and character, whereas these little ones are given to you in order to care, to teach and to form their character. They are with you practically the whole day, playing, eating, sleeping, singing and so on. Like loving mothers you are with them everywhere attending to their needs. You must sow the love of God in these little ones. They just imitate you. They speak the words, which you teach them. They sing the rhymes you teach them. The love of God should enter into their little hearts before they pick up worldly ways. You teach them to love God, to love one another and to care for each other.
“You are moulding them into what you want them to be... We are forming their character... They go back to their parents and tell them all they learnt from you. These little ones love to be with you. They bring their parents to meet you.” Again, in his Goodnight talk of 8 November 1972, Father Bishop stresses: “Our main purpose from the very beginning was to have our sisters go to visit homes and help the women and children with advice and encouragement. But now we see that sometimes we need something else besides. However, we would like to have some other congregations do the other works. We should have classes for small children, for this would put us in contact with the mothers of the children.” “Nothing makes me happier than when I see you eager for pastoral work, happy to be about our Father’s business, in the villages and wherever you may be. Do keep in mind, always, constantly, that you are first of all, religious, Sisters of Mary Immaculate, bringing Christ to all!” (Letter to SMI, 15 Aug. 1974) In 1967 Father Bishop writes to one of the bishops who requested for the SMI to run an institution in his diocese: “The first and most important purpose of the congregation is to do pastoral work, going from village to village. This is specified clearly in their constitutions. … Once they are in charge of an institution, there is no time or opportunity for pastoral work.” Regarding the future of our apostolate Father Bishop assures us: “Your apostolate is already 2000 years old – given when Our Lord sent his apostles to preach. It still continues today and is still up to date. So I don’t think that it is going to be so easily outdated. I emphasize this point because of our being a congregation of the Catechist Sisters for bringing Christ to others…”
Let us thank God, our most loving Father, the source and origin of every family in heaven and on earth, for the gift of our beloved Father Bishop, and for the unique purpose for which he founded us. May we be inflamed by the Holy Spirit to understand well the charism of our Father and fulfil it, being vibrant Sister Apostles in the Church. (Pause)

31: Our Way of Life
In the Memoirs Father Bishop writes: “I consider this chapter [Our Way of Life] the most important of these Memoirs. “As members of a religious congregation approved by the Holy See, you are consecrated to God by your vows of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, and are subject to the laws of the Church as are all other religious congregations. … Now, besides the characteristics that are common to religious women of other congregations, you have your own; and these distinguish you from all other sisters. You call this complex of particular characteristic ways of yours, “Our Way of Life.”
I. Your Main Characteristic Your main characteristic is that you have adopted as the pattern of your religious perfection, that is, of becoming Christlike, the Little Way of Spiritual Childhood of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. … It is a state of awareness of God’s fatherhood and a consequent filial dependence on him. … It ‘consists in feeling and acting under the discipline of virtue as a child feels and acts by nature.’ Spiritual Childhood is, therefore, more than devotion or a simple pious practice. It is an attitude of spirit, the basis of relationship with God. It is deeply rooted in the true meaning and purpose of Christianity as intended by Christ. “God sent his Son… so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6).
Christ outlined the basis of our relationship with the Father:
a. Complete and loving confidence: - “Ask and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11:9). b. Entire abandonment to God’s fatherly care: - “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, … Consider the ravens…God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:22- 24) c. Love of God above every other love: - “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). d. A love that proves itself by obedience: - “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). e. And a concern for the Father’s glory: - “Father, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come” (Luke 11:2).
These are the elements of spiritual childhood. The Little Way is one of Christian maturity, which sees into the actual make up of the Christian personality: the child of God, who loves the Father, who trusts him, obeys him, and is always concerned about pleasing him alone in everything. Pope Benedict XV and Pope Pius XI have emphasized that if the faithful of every nation, no matter what be their age, sex, or state of life, would practise this way of spiritual childhood; it would bring about the reform of the whole society. (Pause)

30: Our Main Characteristic continued
Father Bishop writes: “My dearly beloved children, do read often Chapter II [Part Three] of your Directory of Rules (1954). Engrave in your minds, hearts and wills every word of it so that it will be yours and mine: “Our Way of Life.” I can assure you that they are from a heart that loves you in the Lord.”
A Summary of the Doctrine of the Spiritual Childhood with God, our Father “Let me quote the essential points, which are included in the following articles:
Art. 197. God is our Father. In teaching us how to pray, Jesus Christ, the Son of God himself, told us, to call God “Our Father.”
Art. 198. We are God’s children. He urges: “Unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:14-15). “…the least among all of you is the greatest” (Luke 9:48).
Art. 199. The characteristics of a little child are: (a) Littleness; (b) weakness; (c) poverty; (d) simplicity; and (e) absolute confidence in the father. The Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate will ever strive to give life to these characteristics in their own selves.
Art. 200. Littleness. Through the virtue of humility, we must make ourselves as small as we can, in our own eyes. This humility will make us glad to be hidden from the world, unknown. It will make us happy even if despised or humiliated, as our Lord was during his life.
Art. 201. Weakness. We shall realize our utter weakness, as a child, for doing anything without the help of God.
Art. 202. Poverty. We shall, like a child, possess nothing and be content with whatever is given us. We shall not worry about the future.
Art. 203. Simplicity. A Child is simplicity personified. We shall imitate him/her and waste no efforts at being extraordinary.
Art. 204. Confidence in God. Because of the qualities of littleness, weakness, poverty, and simplicity, a child places his/her confidence in the father. So shall we place our entire confidence in God our Father, abandoning ourselves completely to his mercy.
Art. 205. This love of God that results from the Little Way will move us to great zeal for the sanctification and salvation of souls. It is impossible to love God and at the same time be without a desire to save souls.
Art. 206. The sister following the Little Way will take advantage of every opportunity to offer little sacrifices to God, to do whatever she does for the love of God, in order to give him pleasure. Art. 207. The above articles are a summary of the doctrine of spiritual childhood with God. With the aid of approved writings on the Little Way of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, the Sisters will – first under the direction of the Mistress of Novices, and later by their own selves – advance through this Little Way towards religious perfection.
My dear sisters, this is “The Little Way of Spiritual Childhood”; this is what you love to call Our Way of Spiritual Life and Union with God. St. Therese herself found this way in the Holy Gospels, and called it a lift to holiness and perfect union with God.” The Little Way makes holiness possible for all. Its foundation is love, because God is love. We pray to the Holy Spirit for a deeper understanding and practice of the Little Way, our Abba- centered Spirituality as our way of sanctification as individuals, in our religious communities, and among those we evangelize and catechize, thus to live and share this precious charism with many more. (Pause)

31: Blessed Mother in the Life of Father Bishop
“Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’ And Mary sang her Song of Praise: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!” (Luke 1:46).
Today as we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of Mary, we reflect on the great role our heavenly Mother played in the life and mission of our beloved Father Bishop. He has told us that we have in her a most holy Mother, a heavenly Mother who suffered for us, and is good to us always. After the example of our Blessed Mother, he, not only visited us but remained with us in all humility and love of a tender father: teaching, instructing, correcting, suffering and calling us to high ideals in life. Father Bishop’s childlike love and devotion to our Blessed Mother began during his early years in Mexico. When he was sent to the boarding school he cried so much as he missed his beloved mamma especially her goodnight kiss. But then the priest who guided him was so good as to help him to turn to our Blessed Mother and to speak to her from his heart. To her Father Bishop attributed all his spiritual gifts.
Explaining his coat of arms Father Bishop says: “My chief emblem is the Holy Eucharist, which is the source of the spiritual life of the Church… A secondary emblem is that of Mary, our heavenly Mother, to whom I owe all that I am and have. I was born on the 24th of the month, the day dedicated monthly to Mary Help of Christians. I made my first Holy Communion on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, and on that day I prayed for the conversion of my mother, then still a Protestant. My mother was within the year converted to the Catholic Faith… I was ordained priest in May, the month of Mary, and said my first solemn Mass on May 24th, feast of Mary Help of Christians. The decree of my appointment as Bishop of Krishnagar was made in May. Can’t you see how all my spiritual gifts come through Mary? And in recognition I adopted my motto on the coat of arms: ‘Ad Jesum per Mariam’ – To Jesus through Mary. The background of my coat of arms is blue, the colour of Mary … That colour reminds me of our heavenly country, to which we must look forward in the work for the salvation of souls (MFB, p 25).
“You are sisters. Of whom are you sisters? Of Mary, our heavenly Mother. She is your Mother, because she is the source of inspiration of your life, and your mission work. Now, which virtue of Mary? Mary Immaculate, because you also must be immaculate in your childlike imitation of her purity, modesty and womanhood” (DTFB, 15 Aug.).
We pray that we become immaculate in our thoughts, in our words, in our manners, in our way of serving, always striving to imitate the purity, charity and holiness of our dear Mother Mary Immaculate, Help of Christians. (Pause)

June 30:
Other Characteristics: Apostolate of Smiling, Going in Twos
Father Bishop was known as a Smiling Bishop right from the day of his Episcopal ordination. His smile for one and all was ever aglow with his love of God, and was eager to share that joy and peace with everyone. He tells us, "From your love for each other, two other characteristics of yours derive; the one, that of always going about in twos; and the other, your apostolate of smiling. “Christ himself sent forth his disciples in twos. There is no doubt that at times it is inconvenient to be always arranging for a companion, but we must do our best to limit the exceptions as much as possible. You cannot show your love for another unless you have at least one sister companion. Going in twos, as is your practice, you are witnesses – a true symbol – of the unity of Christ.
“Also, this desire of yours of being witnesses of the unity of Christ is increased – and better expressed – by your eagerness to have sisters from all over the world. Nothing makes me happier than when I see your enthusiasm for going here and there to recruit vocations. You are periodically visiting your homes and parishes with the purpose of gaining vocations. You have gone many times to Bangalore, to Bihar, to Goa, to Kerala, to Madhya Pradesh, to Madras, to Mangalore and to Shillong, etc.
“I would love to see some of you going to Africa and to Mesopotamia and to the Fiji Islands, to the Holy Land; and even to the moon, with the astronauts, to get vocations! Because we wish to show the world that we are one body in Christ: all happy; smiling, cycling, erect, confident, loving children of one heavenly Father. “This manifestation of mutual love must be accompanied by a heartfelt smile. And conversely, you cannot go about smiling unless you are with a sister companion!
“My dearly beloved Sisters, … Your Apostolate of Smiling is the complement of Your Way of Life. We cannot imagine a Sister of Mary Immaculate who does not keep a cheerful countenance all the time, everyday of the year, with face smiling, modest, innocent and cheerful (MFB).
Your practice of being always two together is an open admission that you accept your status as women. By your very nature you need protection. Besides, being in twos spontaneously makes you better identified as women consecrated to God, protecting each other as you do” (MFB).
“Because this work of evangelization brings you in contact with all types and classes of people, it is essential also that you ‘Conduct yourselves with the greatest decorum and modesty. However, instead of walking with downcast eyes, the sisters should walk erect, with modest and winning smile, presenting an attractive rather than repellent appearance, to draw souls to Christ’ ” (MFB).
“You must keep a cheerful countenance all the time, every day of the year, with face smiling, modest. This is your Apostolate of Smiling, that I am here giving you” (IMFB).
“For us, the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate, smiling is an apostolate like mofussil work, teaching in the school, teaching catechism, taking care of the sick, etc., as a means of carrying the knowledge of our religion to others. … It is a real means, something essential, as it is in our Constitutions, and is approved by the Church” (RFF, p 177).
“At times, no doubt, you may think – and perhaps even may experience – that this Our Way of Life is beyond our strength… It is! Of ourselves we shall fail in this our ideal. But we have the source, the constant spring of our strength: the daily offering of the Mass with Holy Communion, which is the centre of our religious life” (MFB).
On the 7th of this month we observed the anniversary of our becoming a congregation of Papal Right in 1966. It is another instance of Father Bishop’s great concern for our future. We thank and praise Abba, Father for the wisdom, foresight, and hard work with which he obtained the Decree of Praise for us as we read in the Memoirs of Father Bishop, for widening the scope of our mission of evangelization and catechesis. (Pause)

July 31:
Mortification and Penance
“Mortification in religious life means the process of dying to self and to desires prompted by self” (DR 192, c of 1954). Little by little we are destroying our selfishness by the practice of interior and exterior mortification. We are dying to self so that “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Unless we do penance we shall not be saved. Don’t forget, our Lord wants us to do penance (cf Mt 16:24). (RFF p 98)
Father Bishop gives us the following instructions on the practice of our mortifications: Mortifying the body and its senses - “Remembering their vocation, the Sisters will always strive to mortify the body and its senses. They will accept as coming from the Hand of God all sufferings of body and soul, including whatever difficulties must inevitably come from their state of life and work” (Const 107, 1954). “Our sight: Sometimes we want to see everything. We must control our eyes. Many images enter our minds through our eyes. You know by experience how it is, like while watching a film or looking at pictures and so on, some images you keep remembering which are not good for you. So you have to mortify your eyes. “Our ears: We have a natural tendency to hear everything. We become curious. “Our tongue: Our sense of taste, and food preferences – the desire to speak always, to display our knowledge, lies deep in us, and results in dissipation. “Our sense of touch: For some, it is the strongest sense. We have to mortify our desire for sensual gratification of every kind. “Our posture: We must become conscious of our posture, and not give in to our nature, which craves positions of ease and comfort. … “We will accept as coming from God all sufferings, … misunderstandings and accusations that may come in spite of our best intentions and good will.
“The one official mortification of ours is to keep our body erect, whether sitting, standing, walking or kneeling. If we keep erect all the time, even when tired, we will have more merit than if we wear a hair shirt. To be erect promotes good health and a pleasing appearance” (RFF).
“We know that our way of living must be Christ’s way, the hard way! This is why you do not even wish to have your feet crossed while sitting or standing; you do not permit yourselves to lean against a wall, nor to sit, stand, kneel or walk in a careless, slack manner ” (MFB).
Acceptance of ill health: Slight indispositions such as headaches, weariness, bodily aches and pains of a passing nature, should be borne patiently and cheerfully, in a spirit of penance. The superiors and those who have the care of the sick should always manifest great concern for the infirm. However, when ill, we must not expect to be surrounded by special attention all the time. Instead we must show consideration for others (cf RFF p 102).
“You have your general principle of not taking a snack between meals unless courtesy to others may require it - of abstaining from sweets or delicacies on Fridays, and during Lent. You have your general principle of not indulging in any entertainment purely for your own pleasure: as journeys, picnics, cinemas, festivities, purposeless reading, etc. These you should regard as necessary instruction and relaxation for those entrusted to your care – always for the sake of charity. In this you find your joy. Your greatest relaxation is on the occasions of your own reunions with your sisters, your feast day programs, dramas, dances, games, sports, etc. among yourselves. You seem to be then the happiest people in the world! “We believe this was the attitude of our Lord and model during his earthly life; and we do wish to follow him, even when it is hard to do so. To carry our daily cross means to practise the austerity of Our Way of Life. (MFB)
Community life, our greatest penance: “The perfect observance of community life with regard to food, clothing, work and health, and the exact fulfilment of duties without seeking privileges – all these offer a wide field for the practice of true mortification, of a kind most pleasing to our Lord” (RFF, p 102). “The way of life in the Institute is common to all. Birth, family connections, personal merits, educational attainments, past offices, or present occupations will not in themselves bring preference to any member of the Institute. Bound by the chain of sisterly love and the religious vows, members form a single family, one in heart and soul, offering loving service to God …” (RFF, p 103). The constant practice of mutual charity is our most cherished mortification. It is not according to our spirit to perform external penances that call the attention because we follow the Little Way (cf RFF, p 100). Through mortifications and penance, we, the predilected children of God, are like angels imploring the pardon of God for our sins, and then for the sins of the world (cf RFF, p 98). (Pause)

August 25:
Name’s Day of Father Bishop
Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Louis IX, King of France, beloved Patron of Father Bishop. “O come, let us sing to the Lord; … Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving!” (Psalms 95: 1-2). During Father Bishop’s earthly presence among us, it was a day of immense joy, blessings, honour and entertainment for himself, his confreres, and the entire diocese of Krishnagar. Besides, we, his dearly beloved children had our own solemn and devout celebration of the Holy Eucharist at our Motherhouse, with representatives from all our communities. This was the leading item of the wonderful day. Our Father’s joyful presence among us, dressed in his Episcopal attire brought great delight to our hearts. The whole house was aglow with festal sentiments! In addition, we had our meals together and variety programmes, manifesting our talents, filial love, devotion and gratitude towards our beloved Father. He appreciated them all as opportunities for instruction, training for our growth in virtue, culture and skill, and as occasions for deepening our sisterly love and family spirit. It is interesting to trace the origin of Father Bishop’s name, ‘Louis'. His papa, Joseph LaRavoire, being French, insisted that his little son be named after the Saint, King Louis IX of France, although his American Mamma wanted to name him George, after the great national hero, George Washington. To compromise, their darling little son was baptized: George René Louis.
Let us now reflect for a while on the life of this great Saint: Upon his father’s death, Louis came to the throne when he was only 11, with his saintly mother as regent. For ten years he ruled under her wise guardianship, and became a pious, unselfish ruler. Indifferent to personal comforts, he excelled in doing penance, prayer and helping the poor. Each day he took time to attend two Masses, to recite the Divine Office and, unknown to his subjects, spent long hours in prayer. He led two crusades to the Holy Land. He died on 25 August 1270, near Carthage, Northern Africa, when a plague broke out in his army. He was an ideal ruler; even his enemies admired him for his fairness. As St. Louis was called to serve his people in one of the crucial moments in history, our Father Founder too was called to be the pastor of a diocese so poor and its Catholics very few in number and ignorant, too. He did fight a valiant battle against illiteracy and poverty bringing a civilization of love and culture. He loved the country as his own entering into the lives of the people regardless of caste and creed. His desire to live on in the soil among his people as a friend and shepherd is clear from his speech at Krishnagar Town Hall Maidan during the Independence Day celebration in 1947: “… I shall ever live among you. I choose India to be my homeland. ...In times of need whatever it may be, I will stand by you, and promise to do whatever I can. In return I ask nothing from you but a tiny 18-square-foot plot of land where I can have my eternal reward. …”
Father Bishop’s Vision for the Future of the SMI Father Bishop loved his little congregation dearly and had great concern for every one of his children and for the vital growth of our institute. He took infinite pains for our expansion in the diocese, and to other parts of the world, and to ensure that our training be effective in the Church. With the foresight of a sagacious father, he built several houses and provided for us the best education possible. He envisioned for us a future with infinite possibilities for the growth of the kingdom of God through our sisterly witness, evangelization and catechesis. The arrival of every new candidate thrilled our Father with great hope, and he himself gave them a warm welcome, and took a fatherly interest in seeing them grow in grace, virtue and wisdom. He was ever ready to make any sacrifice on our behalf and when we did well, he took great pride in us. When we failed to live up to our SMI ideal, it pained him immensely. Like a mother with endless love and patience, he taught us many little characteristics of ladylikeness and Marylikeness. Certainly, he also went through great spiritual and mental anguish on our behalf, in silence, and constant supplication before God as a proof of his genuine love for us. He said: “It is essential that you as catechist sisters, witnesses of Christ, be well-prepared” (RFF, p 21).
Today, more than ever may we listen to the gentle whispers of our Father to each one of us, “My dear child, you are here to become a saint.” We beg Jesus to give us more zeal to become real living saints in our communities by imitating our own patron saints, so that we may have little saints from among us for the growth and holiness of the Church. (Pause)

September 30:
Sisterly Love
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34, 35). This morning as God fills us with his faithful love, we remember with filial love our beloved Father Bishop who gave us his all. By considering us as his “Dearly beloved Children” our Father loved us with all the love of his heart and taught us to cling to God always. He has said, “My dearly beloved sisters, when I give you the Goodnight, I want to give you words of love as coming from the heart of a father. … I want to die as your father” (DTFB, 8 Oct.)
On another occasion Father Bishop expressed the depth of his unceasing love for us so movingly: “I could stop everything else, even the revision of our books, if God wanted it. But to stop loving you, I cannot.” (DTFB, 29 Aug.) Having loved us ever so much, our beloved Father exhorts us to love one another: “My dearly beloved children, this sisterly love for each other must always be so openly manifested that anyone and everyone who may see you will exclaim: ‘Look how they love each other!’ These words were traditionally spoken by Celsus, a Greek Philosopher, and an antagonist of Christianity. He lived in the second half of the 2nd century; and he saw how the spirit of love of the Christians for one another would attract more and more unbelievers to a Christian life of love. “Your love for each other is Christ’s own instrument for winning souls. Mutual love is the one great gift he has given you, and he asks you to show forth his love for all by means of that love. By it, everyone will see that he came on earth, sent by his Father, to love all humankind” (MFB). “ … Bound by the chain of sisterly love and the religious vows, we form a single family, one in heart and soul, offering loving service to God in the exercise of the virtues of poverty, chastity, and obedience and in the zealous performance of the duties of our state” (Const. 8, 1969). Everyone is called to love one’s neighbour, but for us SMI, sisterly love becomes more binding because of the Little Way. “This love of God, that results from the Little Way, will move us to great zeal for the sanctification of souls. This is a consequence of our Little Way” (SMIS, p 32). If God is our Father, we are his children. If we are children of God, we are sisters to each other. Emphasizing on sisterly love Father Bishop teaches us: “With sisterly love all members in a congregation bear mutual affection; everyone rejoices in another’s good, exactly as if that good were her own” (IMFB). “… In order that charity may be perfect, we will consider the convenience of others before our own, on every occasion helping and encouraging others by acts of friendship and kindness, always carefully avoiding everything that might grieve or offend others” (Const 109, 1969). Having reflected on our Father’s teachings on Sisterly Love, let us now firmly resolve to practise it among us (cf RFF, pp 131-152).
For this we shall:
1. Avoid fault-finding, especially against Superiors
2. Reconcile before night prayers, in a spirit of humility and charity
3. Avoid Tale-bearing: Tale-bearers never do any good especially in communities.
4. Observe the Golden Rule: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew. 7:12)
5. Avoid disputes, even about trifles
6. Be gentle in response towards an offender
7. Offer every kind of service to any sister in need
8. Bear with each other’s defects, for no one is perfect
9. Consider oneself as the least and last in the community
10. See Jesus in each other If we excel in the practice of sisterly love among us, our Father’s words will be fulfilled even in securing vocations: “My dear Children, if you want more vocations, love each other.”
He could assure us so, because of his own experience, as he was inspired to join the Salesians by the brotherly love he observed among the confreres. Let us pray that we be like the early Christians, who loved each other so much, that they seemed to have but one heart and soul. May we realize this goal by dying to our selfishness and cleansing ourselves daily in the Precious Blood of Jesus. (Pause)

October 31:
Virtues Proper to our Institute
“Hear, my child, your father’s instruction, … for they are a fair garland for your head, and pendants for your neck” (Proverb 1:8,9). We thank our loving Father for the way he guides and leads us as a congregation. Through our beloved Father Bishop he teaches us how to come closer to him and live a life of ‘constant union with him’ our Number One Virtue! We are most privileged to have our Father’s instructions on tapes, in print and in our lived experiences. “Each congregation has virtues proper to its religious spirit, which make them a special family. These are the virtues proper to our Institute, so we will have the religious spirit of the Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate. See, I don’t know how it works, but each little congregation forms a kind of special family spirit that they work together, pull together and help, and get that way of doing” (cf RFF, p 157).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Father Bishop urges us to practise the following five virtues proper to our institute earnestly and untiringly (cf DR 192, 1954): a. Constant union with God. We will strive unceasingly to keep aware of the presence of God, with wholehearted abandonment to his holy will. Through this awareness we cannot fail but perform our spiritual practices well. b. A perfect obedience of will and judgment. We give proof of this virtue when we humbly and willingly accept whatever work, instruction, and correction may be given us. c. A spirit of interior and exterior mortification. Mortification in religious life means the process of dying to self and to desires prompted by self. d. A candid simplicity and modesty, united with a holy gladness. God surely loves the happy giver. True sanctity is ever joyous. e. A zealous and patient charity towards the neighbour. This is to be exercised especially with regard to people of other religions, in order to do them the greatest good. Let us beg our most loving and tender Father to bestow on us, the great grace of cultivating earnestly and untiringly these virtues proper to our institute.
Father Bishop has set before us by his very life, the example of living in constant union with God, trusting and depending on his providential care, especially when faced with trials, sufferings and anxieties of life like migration from his infancy onwards, the Mexican Revolution, the two World Wars, poverty, Partition of his diocese, famine, flood, epidemic, misunderstandings, rejections, and many more. Prior to his Episcopal Ordination, there was the news of the World War II, nevertheless it did not disturb his serenity but he immersed himself in prayer and absolute trust in God. He writes: “I forgot completely all the horrors and anxieties of the war threat; and also the difficult work that was expected of me. I offered myself completely to the good Lord. My prayers, the Mass, all were for my little diocese, the people, priests, Brothers and Sisters” (MFB). This month of October reminds us of our Father’s Episcopal Ordination. How he treasured the pectoral cross Pope Pius XII gave him in Rome, saying to him: This cross is the least heavy. I am sending you to an extremely poor place. Be a Father to all! It turned out to be a prophetic message, which Father Bishop cherished as a mandate and fulfilled to the letter (cf KFF). Quite often he kissed his cross in deep veneration of Jesus alive in him, exclaiming,” He is my boss”. From such lived experience our Father tells us today, “Dear sisters, my beloved children, you must be sisters of prayer, sisters of union with God, contemplative sisters, in a way that there is no separation from each other, nor from the work. Our work must not be an impediment to our union with God”. (DTFB, June 22). We treasure our Father’s teaching on consecrated life, “We are consecrated to God and we belong to him completely. This is why every moment of the 24 hours of each day must be given to God.” Upon rising in the morning, we offer ourselves to God completely for the whole day. “Even while we are washing ourselves, we continue praying because we want to belong to God 100%. While putting on our habit we pray the little prayers with great devotion” (RFF, p 167). Father Bishop’s devotion to the guardian angels was very practical and childlike.
In his homily of 2nd October 1979, he tells us, “Today we have the feast of our guardian angel. We cannot see our angel. We cannot hear him; but we can feel his presence. … Have dialogue with your angel! It is Jesus who tells us to be with our angels. We beg them to give us more faith in this beautiful mystery - this gift that God has given to each one of us, a guardian angel.” (Pause)

November 30:
Preparation for our Going Home to Abba, Father
Our whole life is a preparation for a happy death. Soon, sooner than we expect, the day will come when we shall go to our beloved Father, to be eternally happy with him. “I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. All of creation waits with eager longing for the transformation of the children of God” (Rom 8:18 -19). Instructing us on the importance of preparing for a happy death by the faithful practice of our Monthly Recollection Day, Father Bishop says: “I have told you several times of this practice that will help us very much. Don Bosco used to say, ‘If we are faithful to our recollection day, to our exercise of a happy death, we surely will remain good religious.’ So let us be really faithful to this practice. … Our Constitutions describe that we will not be good Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate, if we did not make our recollection day.’ ” (RFF p 169). “How beautiful it is that we can do everything in our power to have a happy death!” (DTFB, Nov. 3).
Father Bishop suggests three spiritual practices for our daily sanctification: Morning offering by which we offer the whole day to God; sanctification of the day and the week; and the observance of the recollection day ending with an exercise for a happy death. “Are we afraid to go with our heavenly Father, to whom we have devoted our life?” he asks. “We should be singing, ‘Oh, at last, hurrah! I am going to my Father, and from there I will be sending you blessings! I will ask the Little Flower to drop a few more roses for you!’ ” “How happy we will be, on that big feast day, my dear children, the greatest feast day of our life, when our Father calls us. When he wants us to go to him, only then will we go! We will say, ‘Oh, how happy I am! Now the hopes of all my life are coming true – that I die a little poor Sister of Mary Immaculate, to go to my most loving and tender Father!” (CVVP, p 138) “Laying aside all her temporal affairs, … each sister will make the exercise for a happy death.” This is very important….
Every month we must make our exercise, how we are going to die. “In making the monthly Recollection Day, we stress the following:
1. We put our things in order, clothes, books, papers, etc
2. We have a half-hour conference on a relevant topic
3. Examination of conscience
4. Confession
5. Reading of the Constitutions
6. Drawing a Resolution
7. Choosing a saint as guardian of the resolution
Daily let us pray more earnestly to our dear Mother Mary Immaculate to help us to be converted and become like little children, learning from Jesus to be meek and humble of heart and to spend our lives like him doing good to all, so that when Abba Father calls us, our beloved Mother will find us ready and happy to take us to our Father’s Home. How happy we shall be there singing praises to God, joining all the angels and saints for ever! (Pause)

December 30:
A Life of Total Surrender, Praise and Thanks
(The 31st of Dec. being a Thanksgiving Day in general, we keep the 30th as Father Bishop’s Day).
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever (Ps 107:1). We thank Abba, Father for all the blessings we have received from his loving hands during this year, especially during this month of December. This month announces three beautiful birthdays: the one of our beloved Jesus on the 25th, the birthday of Father Bishop on the 24th, and the birthday of our congregation on the 12th. All these are events for which we can never thank God enough. The birth of Jesus brought salvation itself because he is our Immanuel, God-with-us. The birth of Father Bishop brought relief to many as he, like John the Baptist, prepared the way for Jesus in the hearts of countless people, especially in Mexico as a cleric, in the Philippines as a priest, and in India as a bishop and our Father Founder. The birth of our congregation made religious life possible for each of us and brought grace to all those who come in contact with us. We want to thank Abba, Father, in a special way for the very person, the life, example and teachings and all that our Father Founder has bequeathed to us.
Father Bishop took to heart the words of St. Therese, “Only self-surrender can place me in the arms of my Father”, and sustained a childlike trust and confidence in the love and tenderness of God our Father all through his life. It was especially visible during his three-and-a-quarter years of confinement to the bed due to the fall and fracture of his left femur. With serenity, and total surrender, our Father endured all discomforts by the strength he derived from his resolution: “Never to forget that I am a religious, that I must be constantly tending towards perfection, amend my defects and acquire virtues of which I am in great need, and above all to save my own soul; for this purpose I became a religious” It was so natural for him to turn to the Eucharistic Jesus especially before taking major decisions like when he had to give a definite answer to important matters or while working on his publications. On such occasions he would leave his desk and go to the chapel and dialogue with Jesus in childlike trust and deep intimacy until he got the direction. Then he would return radiantly and complete his work empowered by the Spirit. Father Bishop was so intimate and spontaneous in his colloquy with Jesus especially during the Eucharistic adoration. Today let us speak to our dear Jesus through the same words silently. (Pause)


Const Constitutions
CVVP Conferences on the Vow and Virtue of Poverty
DR Directory of Rules
DTFB Daily Thoughts from Father Bishop
IMFB Introductory Message of Father Bishop
KFF Know our Father Founder
MFB Memoirs of Father Bishop
RFF A Retreat with our Father Founder
SMIS SMI Spirituality
TBK Texas Bishop of Krishnagar
SAC Starting Afresh from Christ: A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the 3rd Millennium, 2002
VC Vita Consecrata: Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II on the Consecrated Life, 1996

St. Louis IX, King of France
© 2010 Catechist Sisters of Mary Immaculate Help of Christians
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