Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Marianists teach to educate

When Blessed Chaminade returned to France from Saragossa, he immediately began recruiting. He asked two young men who were coming to Mass to see him and to bring two others; then the four recruited four more. In a year the number had increased from a few to one hundred. Recruitment in other words was constant and universal.

But his recruitment was more than gathering numbers. He looked for persons who had a basic desire to live the Christian life, who wanted to join the Sodality he was forming, and who wanted to live by the promises they would make as members. There had to exist a basic belief system in the candidates. The geometric progression of sodalists happened by a process of one on one. His premise, simply stated, was that people desirous of living good Christian lives will find support for these values within a community of faith.

What is more, Blessed Father Chaminade did not just gather people; he wished to form them. His was a work of education. Later when he opened schools, his cry was the following: We teach only in order to educate. Education, for Blessed Chaminade, included using all the means that would help others be transformed into Christ. Such was the thrust of the Sodality of Bordeaux.

The Sodality had structures, rules, traditions. Because the members were being formed in the aftermath of the French Revolution, there was need for much religious formation. A new twist in Father Chaminade’s process, however, was that those who received formation were then enlisted to help in the formation of new candidates. Chaminade remained at the center of things, bu t he involved many members in various positions to help, and they took direct responsibility for their office. For example, in addition to the director of the Sodality—Father Chaminade—there was a prefect and a vice prefect. Each of these had two officers of honor. Sometimes, if important persons were visiting or had business with the Sodality, they would be named honorary prefects and would have two officers of honor. Jobs and roles were created in order to involve as many people as possible.

Principles of Direction of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
by Paul Landolfi, SM

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A Labor Day Prayer

A prayer for Labor Day weekend

O God, creator of the world,
of sun and moon and stars,
you chose to fashion us as your own,
your handiwork of love...

Indeed, we are your hands’ own work
and yet into our hands
you give the care
of every living thing..

In more ways than we can count
our work builds up
- or tears apart- what came
as gift from you...

Keep us faithful in preserving
all you’ve given
lest we harm the smallest part
of all you’ve made...

Give us good and honest work to do
and rest at each day’s end.
Let a just and fair day’s wage be paid
for a good day’s work well done...

Give us work that nurtures and sustains
the ones who serve and those they serve.
Let those who labor work in peace,
in freedom, without fear...

Give those in need a job to do
and to the tired well earned rest.
Let all our toil and labor, Lord,
give glory to your name...


A Concord Pastor Comments

Good to Know Insights

It's good to know stuff before you hit the road
Jesus' words to his disciples in today's Gospel are packed full of "good to know" insights. They come at us -- no matter how many times we've studied them or heard them -- with a tone that can feel harsh when read and seems to lack context for the stark picture it paints. After all, prior to this moment the picture Matthew paints has been largely positive for Jesus and his followers. Yes, John the Baptist has been murdered, but for Jesus it's been miracles, healings, profound parables and victorious verbal battles with the religious elite. Plus, just a few verses earlier, Peter had the greatest "a-ha moment" of human history, clearly confessing that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Yet here comes Jesus with a list of stark, strange insights about following him that jar us out of our joy. Yet they're so laden with truth that we can't ignore them. We cannot help but sense they'll come in handy sometime soon. They're good to know. Let's examine a few:

Jesus is not surprised by his suffering, death and resurrection. He saved us with eyes wide open. Good to know. It's tempting to see Christ as a fortuitous Savior, thrust to the cross rather than one who embraced it and steadily pursued it on our behalf. Christ perceived the path of righteousness as one marked by suffering and how he understood his ultimate trial.  His death must shape how we see our own lives, following in his footsteps.

Jesus doesn't need us to protect him or defend him, but to follow him. We're his disciples, not members of his entourage. In an entourage, there's the star at the center, the one around whom all the others orbit and who live off of his or her awesomeness. Part of the job then is to protect the shine of the star, to help her or him perpetually look good and in doing so to protect the glow that you get to live in. But Jesus reminds us, that our task is not to protect Jesus, but to follow him. Good to know.

To "find" ourselves, we must be willing to "lose" ourselves. This is also very good to know. What Jesus tells us is counter-intuitive. In the same way that we don't protect Jesus from his path, we must not protect ourselves from it either. In this broken world, everything is backwards. We will only discover the greatness of God when we know and experience our very human limits. We fight against this truth in a thousand different ways. And yet, we must always temper ourselves with the truth that God's grace is located at the end of our rope, not the top of it.

It's all "good to know" -- essential to know -- but many don't yet know it. Or at the very least are in great need of being reminded of it.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Sunday Word

This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer! Labor Day is upon us and it's a holiday. But there is no holiday from worshiping the Lord so it's time to open up the Scriptures and begin to prepare to hear them on this 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

• Ever felt you've been duped by God? So did the prophet Jeremiah - and he says so in this Sunday's first reading.

• St. Paul, writing to the Romans and to us, urges us not to conform ourselves to the present age... tough words - and tougher to understand in each succeeding age.

• Do you find yourself carrying a cross? Jesus has something to say about that in the Gospel for this Sunday.

These are strong words: do a little Bible study on your own and get ready to hear them!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Passion of John the Baptist

John the Baptist was a man of joy precisely because he was a man of humility! The two are connected. He was a man who understood that life wasn't all about him. He emptied himself willingly and was thus able to reveal Jesus to others. He was the 'best man' at the wedding.

His humility opened a space within him for true joy to take root and set him free! John is a sign of contradiction for this present age, which, like Herod, is drunk on self worship and lost in narcissistic self absorption. He points to the path to true freedom, living a lifestyle of self emptying.'He must increase and I must decrease'. This way of living leads to becoming a new creation.

John is also a man to be imitated in both life and death. We learn from him how to live our lives as joyful penitents; ever aware of our utter dependency on God's grace. John still points to Jesus, in both his birth and his martyr's death. That is why we celebrate both.

Two millennia after his mission as the harbinger of Christ, we readily accept, as we should, his prophetic role in the revelation of God's plan of salvation and the advent of the Gospel. Yet, how might we have seen John if we had been his contemporaries? Would we have so readily accepted him, or might we have rejected him as a fanatic or extremist?

Let's face it: John was peculiar. He dressed like a cave man, ate insects and railed at politicians. He sequestered himself in the desert where he tirelessly initiated converts. He proclaimed the end if the people failed to repent and he used vivid and mystical imagery. In the popular "media" of the day, he was portrayed as a nut and dangerous fanatic.

John made himself terribly unpopular. At the end, he publicly and relentlessly criticized the personal behavior of the most powerful politician in Judea, Herod. As a result he was arrested and executed as a traitor.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back to School

Post image for Go Back to School in Solar StyleAlmost all the Marianist schools have begun their orientation days. So, you might think of praying the Student's Prayer below at home on the first day of school. You might slip a copy into backpacks - and of course, the refrigerator door makes a good home for this prayer.

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A Student's Prayer

Dear God,
Help me remember that you're always by my side
at school and all day long.
Help me be the best student I can be,
using all the gifts and talents you've given me.
Help me study well and often
– especially when I don't feel like studying at all!
Help me finish all my homework – on time.
Help me listen to my teachers and coaches.
Help me play fair and play safely,
Help me be honest when I’m tempted to cheat.
Help me always tell the truth.
Help me be kind to everyone at school
and to treat others as I’d want them to treat me.
Help me make good friends
and help me be a good friend to others.
Help me know how I can help others
and to ask for help when I need it myself.
Help me love and respect, trust and appreciate my parents
- and to be honest with them.
Help me remember that you’re with me always, Lord,
and that you’ll never leave my side.
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