Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tuesday Tunes

Through the eyes of men
It seems there's so much
We have lost
As we look down the road
Where all the prodigals
Have walked

And one by one
The enemy has whispered lies
And led them off as slaves
But we know that You are God
Yours is the victory
We know there is more to come
That we may not yet see
So with the faith You've given us
We'll step into the valley unafraid, yeah

As we call out to dry bones 
come alive, come alive 
And we call out to dead hearts 
Come alive, come alive 
Come up out of the ashes 
Let us see an army rise 
We call out to dry bones come alive 

Oh God of endless mercy
God of unrelenting love
Rescue every daughter
Bring us back the wayward son
By Your spirit breathe upon them show that
You alone can save
You alone can save

As we call out to dry bones 
come alive, come alive 
And we call out to dead hearts 
Come alive, come alive 
Come up out of the ashes 
Let us see an army rise 
We call out to dry bones come alive, Yeah 

So breathe, oh breath of God
Now breathe, breath of God
Breathe oh breath of God
Now breathe Oh breathe, breath of God
Now breathe, oh breath of God
Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe

As we call out to dry bones 
come alive, come alive 
And we call out to dead hearts 
Come alive, come alive 
Come up out of the ashes 
Let us see an army rise 
We call out to dry bones 
come alive, Yeah We call out to dry bones... come alive

Monday, September 22, 2014

Marianist Monday

Our Founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade writes about the Three O'Clock Prayer:

At three o'clock in the afternoon, all will go in spirit to Calvary, there to contemplate the Heart of Mary, their loving Mother, pierced by a sword of sorrow, and to recall the happy moment in which they were given birth. Mary conceived us at Nazareth, but it was on Calvary at the foot of the cross of Jesus dying that she gave us birth. This is the thought that should occupy all the children of this divine Mother during this reunion of heart and spirit on Calvary at three o'clock . . . the reunion ends with an Ave Maria. At this hour all will suspend or interrupt whatever they are doing, if they can do so without unbecomingness. Those who are alone will kneel down. On Good Friday they will take care to give themselves completely to this prayer and to be united with as many others as possible.

It is with the following prayer that we transport ourselves to Calvary and are united with Mary:

Lord Jesus,
we gather in spirit at the foot of the Cross
with your Mother and the disciple whom you loved.

We ask your pardon for our sins
which are the cause of your death.

We thank you for remembering us
in that hour of salvation
and for giving us Mary as our Mother.

Holy Virgin,
take us under your protection
and open us to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Saint John,
obtain for us the grace of taking Mary
into our life, as you did,
and of assisting her in her mission. Amen.

May the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit
be glorified in all places
through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Struggle as privilege

In prison in Rome, Paul wasn't merely concerned with where he was or where he should be. Rather, he also recognized something entirely foreign to most teenagers, young adults, and many of the rest of us: His life, Paul knew, was not his own. He could die at almost any moment, either at the hands of his captors or from the disease and other conditions in the Roman jails. Paul knew he had life at this moment, but he also knew it could be ended in an instant.

That's why Paul had a different sense of time than many to whom he was writing. Paul's view of the world was no longer seen through the earthly eyes of someone who aspired for mere worldly success and acclaim. Rather, his view was of an eternal prize, a "forever" home with Jesus.

It clearly changed Paul's focus from his wants to others' needs. The love of Christ for Paul made Paul love others more than he loved himself.

We see this repeated throughout Christian history. Martyrs in the church laid down their lives for the needs of those in their congregations. Maximilian Kolbe, a brave priest, substituted his life for another's at Auschwitz, and thereby gained freedom for another man.

It also changed Paul's view of what mattered in life. Before his Damascus road conversion, Paul was concerned with the approval of his peers in the Sanhedrin. Afterward, he wanted his life to reflect well on the cause of Christ.

What a recipe that would be for every church to follow.

Paul wanted to have a good report from this church not merely to assuage his conscience. His heart was at peace with God. Rather, he wanted the Philippians to live lives worthy of the gospel because such lives would be a powerful witness.

Paul saw a chance to see his struggle as a "privilege."

But Paul did, because his viewpoint was changed by an encounter with Christ. In seeing things with a new vision suffused with the Holy Spirit, he counted his trials a blessing. And he wanted the Philippians to do the same because they not only had the privilege of believing in Christ, but suffering for him as well.

Lance Rive is a name not very well-known in the Christian world, but his story should be told. Today he is a Salvation Army officer, an ordained minister of the gospel. A few years back, Rive was in a vehicle with his wife, being driven through the jungle roads in Africa. The car overturned, and he suffered a broken vertebra, leaving him a quadriplegic.

Here was a man in the prime of life, at the height of his career, reduced to utter helplessness. After months of therapy, he returned to his native New Zealand and a home specially built to accommodate his wheelchair and other needs. His wife works with him, as does a visiting nurse.

But instead of moping and complaining about this sad turn of events, Lance Rive took a different tack. With his wife's help, he logs on to a computer and answers, via e-mail, the confidential letters of thousands of people from around the world. Most don't know who is writing back to them, and almost no one knows the burden under which he works. Rive is able to turn that suffering into service, awaiting a day when his pain will end and the healing promised by Christ will become a reality.

Is it too much to suggest that Lance Rive is another Paul, someone who might be better off "with Christ" than lingering here and suffering the confines of a broken body? No, it is not too much to suggest.

In fact, that is what Christ Jesus expects of us today. It is what Paul encouraged the believers at Philippi to do. And it's why this Scripture comes to us, pointing us away from today's trials and conflicts, urging us to turn our eyes toward Jesus and toward the work he wants us to do.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Sunday Word

Time to sit down with the Scriptures and begin to prepare for celebrating the Lord's Day this here weekend, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Spend some spare time with the texts and background material on them and invite others to do the same.

This Sunday's familiar Gospel story challenges American sensitivities about justice: Hey - this story just isn't FAIR!

Some workers go out into the vineyard and at the end of the day they're all paid the same wage - hey there, what's up with that?

In this week's Gospel text, Jesus provides a wry glimpse at the difference between God's designs and human desires. Jesus' parable opens a tiny portal of light into the Divine as he incarnates the genuine kingdom of God (or "heaven") by engaging us in his story.

The landowner's generosity is bestowed on these last-hired laborers for a reason known only to him. He does not explain or apologize for the accounting system that lavishes the same wage on everyone hired, regardless of the amount of time logged on the job. The only response the landowner has to the disgruntled first-hired workers is "Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me?"

Is God not allowed to do what God chooses with what belongs to God?

God is God, and we are not.

When kids are uniquely themselves--that is when they do or say something that strikes us as completely off-the-wall--the nonjudgmental response an adult often makes is "You're a piece of work!" Although we don't always understand kids' ways, we shake our heads in acceptance when we say "You're a piece of work!"

So, too, when God exercises God's own unique way of doing things--ways we do not agree with or even comprehend. Once again, we are confined to saying in amazement, "What a piece of work!"

Friday, September 19, 2014

What’s the most I can do to love you, Lord Jesus?

We need to become more fully Catholic, but in the sense of personal conversion, not in the sense of purging the church of lukewarm believers. By that I mean helping people to become more fully Catholic, as Pope Francis has been trying to do. This challenge, to me, is what the Catholic blogosphere has most needed for a long time. I’m sure Francis is challenging some people on the left end of the blogosphere as well, but I don’t hang out there all that much.

Francis isn’t interested in purging the church for the same reason St. Paul isn’t interested in it. When St. Paul speaks to the Corinthians, he doesn’t tell this passel of screwed-up Christians who are sleeping with their stepmothers, getting drunk at Mass, taking each other to court, denying the Resurrection, and dissing him as a fake apostle that “you’re not real Catholics.” Instead, he insists that even the dopiest of the Corinthians are real Christians.

In short, instead of kicking people out, Paul cries “become what you are!” One of the mythic expectations inexplicably attending gentle and sweet Pope Benedict was the notion of a “Coming Benedictine Purge” where many Catholics on the right dreamed he was going to start kicking people out of the church. But that was never going to happen. And now, under this Pope, that has been confirmed beyond all doubt. What Francis wants is for all of us to accept each other with the all-embracing love of God—which is certainly a challenge for me, because the people he wants me to love and forgive are not people I would normally be eager to embrace.

For me, he’s challenged me to think and live in new ways, to ask myself new kinds of questions about how I spend my money and what I’m doing about the poor, weak and vulnerable around me. To be sure, that includes the very old and very young our culture of death wants to kill. But it increasingly includes others to whom I have been blinded in the past by the reduction of the five non-negotiables to the Only Five Things That Matter. How am I responding to Iraq? How am I responding to what’s happening at the border? What about families being destroyed by gross income inequality? Those are questions that would not have occurred to me 10 years ago because I considered everything other than the five non-negotiables to be matters of prudential judgment—and I took prudential judgment to mean “feel free to ignore the church if it threatens your political ideology in some way.” But I’ve learned in the past 10 years that prudential judgment doesn’t mean I can just blow off anything from the church that isn’t prefaced by “Simon Peter says.” We’re called to be docile to the church so that unless we can give a really good reason why the church’s guidance is absolutely immoral, we should try to do what the church asks even on things which aren’t absolutely essential. We should try to obey the church and the mind of Christ as much as we possibly can. That’s the point of the story of the rich young man in the gospel. Marriage is another example. If a married person asks “what’s the least I can do for my spouse and still call it a valid marriage,” that marriage is already in trouble. Real love never asks “what’s the least I can get away with doing?” It always asks “what’s the most I can do?” That’s what Francis is asking us to consider. What’s the most I can do to love you, Lord Jesus? It’s not about doing the minimum daily requirement to live as selfishly as I can and still squeak into heaven.

                                                                                                                                         Mark Shea

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marianist Martyrs

Marianist Martyrs of Ciudad Real

Blessed Carlos was born in Spain, on November 2, 1884. He and his two companions, Blessed Fidel and Blessed Jesus, were imprisoned in hatred of the faith in 1936 in Ciudad Real.

All were devoted to teaching and to the Marianist charism of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. The three met in Ciudad Real in the summer of 1936 and suffered separate martyrdom.

When his school, the prestigious "Collegio Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar", was requisitioned, he felt hunted in Madrid and made a dangerous journey to Ciudad Real to seek help from his former students. Sadly, he found the two schools there had already been requisitioned and the communities scattered. "It will be as God wishes", he would say, as he calmly visited his confreres, without concealing his religious status. He was executed at dawn on September 18, 1936. His companions, Fidel and Jesus were martyred shortly afterwards.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Papal thoughts

Pope Francis emphasised that living together is “an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey … which can be summarised in three words: please, thank you and sorry. 'Please' is a kind request to be able to enter into the life of someone else with respect and care. … True love does not impose itself with hardness and aggression. … St. Francis said that 'courtesy is the sister of charity, it extinguishes hatred and kindles love'. And today, in our families, in our world, often violent and arrogant, there is a need for far more courtesy. 'Thank you': gratitude is an important sentiment. Do we know how to say thank you? In your relationship, and in your future as married couples, it is important to keep alive your awareness that the other person is a gift from God, and we should always give thanks for gifts from God. … It is not merely a kind word to use with strangers, in order to be polite. It is necessary to know how to say thank you, to journey ahead together”.“'Sorry'. In our lives we make many errors, many mistakes. We all do. … And this is why we need to be able to use this simple word, 'sorry'. In general we are all ready to accuse other sand to justify ourselves. It is an instinct that lies at the origins of many disasters. Let us learn to recognise our mistakes and to apologise. … Also in this way, the Christian family grows. We are all aware that the perfect family does not exist, nor does the perfect husband, nor the perfect wife. We exist, and we are sinners. Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: never let a day go by without asking forgiveness, or without restoring peace to your home. …