Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Sunday Word


Hab 1:2-3;2:2-4
2 Tm 1:6-8,13-14
Lk 17:5-10

This Sunday we celebrate the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We are approaching the 34th and last Sunday of this liturgical season. 

There's no better way to prepare for Sunday Mass than to read, ponder and pray over the Scriptures that we will hear proclaimed there.

We are introduced to the prophet Habakkuk for the first reading. He writes a lament at a desperate time of faithlessness and political peril. He doesn't hold back on giving God his two cents on how he thinks the Lord is running things! The Lord also gives his response, promising that the vision of hope still has its time.

The connecting between first reading and the gospel isn't easy to discern here. The Gospel of Saint Luke offers us the parable of the mustard seed. In addition, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the service he demands and expects of those who follow him.

This is definitely a week when prior familiarity with the Scriptures will enhance your potential for understanding them on Sunday morning!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Honesty - Pass it on

Pope Benedict noted that at the end of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s life the theologian described his life’s work as a struggle against “the growing tendency to view religion as a purely private and subjective matter, a question of personal opinion.” This teaches that, although an intellectual and moral relativism threatens to undermine society, “we were created to know the truth, to find in that truth our ultimate freedom and the fulfillment of our deepest human aspirations.”

“In a word, we are meant to know Christ, who is himself ‘the way, and the truth, and the life’,” the Holy Father explained, citing the Gospel of John.

“Newman’s life also teaches us that passion for the truth, intellectual honesty and genuine conversion are costly,” Pope Benedict continued. He explained that liberating truth cannot be kept to oneself. He then referred to the martyrs of Tyburn, whose faithful witness was “ever more powerful than the inspired words that so many of them spoke.”

“In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied.”

Despite this, the Church cannot stop proclaiming Christ and the Gospel as “saving truth, the source of our ultimate happiness as individuals and as the foundation of a just and humane society.”

According to Pope Benedict, Newman also teaches that there cannot be a separation between one’s belief and the way one lives. He recognized that truth is not accepted in a purely intellectual act but is embraced in “a spiritual dynamic that penetrates to the core of our being.”

“Our every thought, word and action must be directed to the glory of God and the spread of his Kingdom,” Pope Benedict explained, saying that truth is passed on not only by formal teaching but by “the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Integrity - Pass it on

Pope John Paul II wrote that: “the parable of the rich man and Lazarus must always be present in our memory; it must form our conscience. We cannot stand idly by, enjoying our own riches and freedom if in any place, the Lazarus of this century is at our doors. In the light of the parable of Christ, riches and freedom means a special responsibility. Riches and freedom create a special obligation”, he concluded. We who are blessed in so many ways have a special obligation to be present to those in need. It is one way we respect life. And we will be held accountable the parable reminds us.

The beggar in the Gospel was given a name, Lazarus, which means God is my help. Perhaps he was named so we would see him as a real person like us. The rich man was not given a name, perhaps because he represents so many who are blessed in so many ways. We name ourselves as Christians. To live up to that name we are called to accept the responsibility to be the means through which God helps others.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Christian Friendship III

He was the other half of my soul.

Did we ever argue? Of course we did. It was always good arguing with him because at base there was a deep mutual respect. At one time when we were returning from Rome in the early 70's, we stopped to visit our Austrian Province in Vienna. The Provincial had asked us to visit him and let him know how we were doing. That evening he took us to an opera, "Bartered Bride" by Smetana, and we returned home to the Community at about 10 o'clock where we started to discuss what we were going to do next in  those tumultuous times. We argued from 10:30 at night until a quater to six in the morning; then we left our room and went to Morning Prayer and Mass!

From the Funeral Homily for Fr. Francis Keenan, S.M.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Christian Friendship II

(Above, Fr. Francis in St. Peter's Basilica in October, 2009)

"As with all true friendships, you always think that your friend is better than you are, and I certainly felt that way about Frank. He was a very great inspiration to me as a first year Seminarian and shared with me his wisdom and his affirmation. His sense of humor was infectious. He always said, "God has a sense of humor - just look at creation!" And in my melancholic moments, he was able to bring me out from my Germanic darkness."
Funeral homily for Fr. Francis Keenan, S.M.

Still a long way off

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.” St. Luke gives us these words in his narrative of Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. By taking the father’s perspective in this moment, I can imagine staring into the horizon, hoping and waiting for my son’s return. Then I see a small figure in the distance, struggling towards us, indecisive, lost. A while later I recognize my son; and, driven by fatherly love and mercy I start sprinting towards him to help him finish his journey home. When I meet him in his path, I hug him, take him by the arm, and together continue the journey home.

If I change my focus and stand in the son’s place, the scene changes dramatically. I can imagine myself being hungry, cold, angry, frustrated, and most of all lost. I have decided to return to my father’s house, but I doubt he will welcome me, and my wounded pride keeps urging me to save whatever little dignity I have and turn back. I keep on going, and off in the distance I see my home. The memories of my storming off in rebellion come back into my head, and I stop. I cannot bring myself to walk back, enduring the pain and humiliation that I would have to endure. Then, in this moment of hesitation, I see my father’s figure running towards me, arms extended, with a smile and tears in his face. I am stunned, I tell him that I do not deserve his love or his forgiveness; I try to pay him back by offering to work as a servant. However, he dismisses my claims and expresses his love for me. Lastly, my father puts his arm around me and guides me to my home.

This mental picture illustrates God’s love for us in a very powerful and emotional way. It shows us our Father’s willingness to go out of his way to meet us wherever we are in this life. Despite that our pride creates obstacles, despite that we sometimes doubt that we’ll be welcome, and despite that we are unworthy sinners, God is always reaching out, hoping and waiting for our return. What’s most beautiful is that when we realize and accept these facts, we will find that God will come and lead us to our home in heaven.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Christian friendship

What a revelation to us are Jesus' words to his disciples at the Last Supper.

"You are my friends, I call you friends, not servants because I have shared with you all that the Father has given me."

Another classical phrase demonstrates these words of Jesus - friendship finds equals or makes equals. Jesus raises, as it were, the Apostles to His level. He makes them(and us) one with HIm sharing His relationship with God the Father, initiating us into God's own life and spirit. Jesus enables us, makes us heirs of His kingdom, - one heart, one mind.

Our human friendships lead us to Christ's friendship and from there to God's circle of friends.

True Christian friendship is sacramental. It reveals to us un human terms the mystery of God's love.

And for me, the friendship of Father Francis revealed the face of the Father, the God of love and kindness, not the God of fear and anxiety. He taught me the opposite of love is fear. He taught me this on a daily basis over many decades.
Portion of homily at Funeral of Fr. Francis

Friday, September 24, 2010


"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him would not perish, but have everlasting life". - John 3:16

Thursday, September 23, 2010

To the House of the Lord

Last night we gathered to express to God, a spirit of gratitude for the life and example of our brother, Father Francis. Now in his 60th year of religious life,we have seen him grow in our Community "in wisdom, age and grace." As we conduct him by our prayers to the house of the Lord, we are grateful for his presence in our lives and in our religious Community.

"Like, St. John, the beloved disciple, Fr. Francis and his Brothers accept Mary as a precious gift of God. Moved by Jesus' love for His mother Fr. Francis dedicated himself to her so that the Holy Spirit in whose action she cooperates with a mother's love, would form him more fully to the image of Jesus."

We recall the communion that Fr. Francis had with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Like Mary, he led a life of meditation and contemplation. At his Perpetual Profession, Fr. Francis took the vow of stability "to make Mary known, loved and served." As we conduct him by our prayers to the house of the Lord, may we imitate his devotion to her and continue to seek Jesus through Mary.

Today we celebrate the many years that Fr. Francis was of service to the Society of Mary and the Church. In addition  to being Provincial he also served as our novice master for over 30 years. Fr. Francis was responsible for introducing many of us to the spiritual life and helped us grow as Marianist religious. As we conduct him by our prayers to the house of the Lord, may we all understand the importance of servant leadership as Fr. Francis did.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sunday Word

Am 6:1a, 4-7
1 Tm 6:11-16
Lk 16:19-31

This Sunday's Gospel will certainly cause our imaginations to ask many questions. Where did the rich man’s wealth come from? Did he inherit it? Did he work hard for it; go to night school for years to get a good career? Did he invest wisely and now was enjoying the fruits of his investments?

It's funny because the parable never really answers any of those questions. It only tells us that he "received what was good" in his lifetime.

It doesn’t say that God was the source of his wealth; that God blessed him with many riches. Some say the rich man was evil; that he was an inside trader and his money came from making shrewd investments while ordinary folk lost theirs; that he owned sweatshops and payed his employees less than a living wage, while he got rich. What did he do to justify his final condition? Nothing. He simply ignored the desperate man at his doorstep. How many times did he go out for business or pleasure and return home to ignore the miserable creature and those dogs at his doorstep? The rich man didn’t do anything evil, at least we are not told that. He simply ignored the poor man and that put him on the other side into the next life.

At Sunday's Eucharistic celebration we pray, "Anoint my hands and eyes to see the ones you want me to help." Then we should keep an eye out for those "Lazarus people," the ones God sends to us for help. It is in the hungry, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned, that we will meet Jesus, as surely as we meet him again at this Eucharist.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Give Generously

The Holy Father has left Great Britain and us with a great opportunity.

In his homily, he drew three lessons from Cardinal Newman's life and work. The first was that "in our day, when an intellectual and moral relativism threatens to sap the very foundations of our society, Newman reminds us that, as men and women made in the likeness of God, we were created to know the truth, to find in that truth our ultimate freedom and the fulfilment of our deepest human aspirations."

Second, he said Cardinal Newman's life showed how a passion for the truth and intellectual honesty are costly, and called for testimony. "In our own time the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged, drawn and quartered but it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied," he said, adding that the Church "cannot withdraw from the task of proclaiming Christ and His gospel as saving truth".
And finally, he said, Cardinal Newman teaches that "there can be no separation between what we believe and the way we live our lives". By praying and through the sacraments, the Pope said, "we draw people one step closer to Christ and His truth".

Pope Benedict then used Newman's mediation that "God has called me to some definite service. He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another". Only Jesus knows what that "definite service" is, he went on; and he urged young people to "be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart."

"Ask Our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say 'yes!' Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus."

Please continue to pray for the repose of the soul of Father Francis.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unite with Christ

"We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us." (Romans 5: 3-5)

In his apostolic letter on suffering, Pope John Paul the Great points out that Jesus Christ, by His own suffering and death as our Redeemer, has conquered suffering in our lives. His own love -- the love of God for us -- has given an answer to the question "Why?" that no one could ever have imagined on his own. Christ's victory over suffering, indeed over death itself, gives us hope, it lights a fire in the midst of darkness, it promises eternal life. Perhaps this promise John Paul makes seems like a platitude to some. But Jesus not only suffered, He suffered in innocence. He, in His own Body, answered the often repeated "Why?" about the good suffering when they don't deserve it.

There is no platitude here. Jesus deserves to be believed because He has gone through suffering in a way more profound than we could ever know. And Jesus has gone so far as to invite us to join Him in suffering on behalf of others. Remember how He said, "Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me," or "Take up your cross and follow in my footsteps." It is true, as the spiritual masters point out, that suffering with courage, in faith, holds within it a power to unite us interiorly with Christ in a most intimate manner. I am convinced this is why so often we come upon people who hunger for the eucharistic Christ so intensely, or even for some simple sacramental as a reminder of the Lord.

This is the art of suffering well -- with faith in Christ and with courage that embraces God's will and His love for us. God himself is the Artist of this grace in the life of the believer. When suffering lurks just out of sight, when fear presses hard upon us, when the heart is weighed down with burdens that no one should have to bear, then there is no one who can answer the question "Why?" except Jesus Christ himself, the Suffering One, the Risen One.

Please pray for Father Francis. Let us continue to call upon the name of Mary to watch over her faithful son!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Cross: a symbol of life & glory

Last week we celebrated the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Our Lady of Sorrows. The Church often picks moments of grief and sorrow and suffering and turns it into a celebration. 

Our hearts were brought back to the foot of the Cross to enter into the grief and sorrow of our Lady.

Maybe there are certain things in life that can be understood through sorrow and suffering.The cross, a symbol of shame and death is turned by Christ into a symbol of life and glory.

As Mary stood by the cross in sorrow and pain, she was also changed and transformed. In that moment of her greatest sorrow, Christ proclaimed Mary to be the Mother of the Church.  By dying on the cross, Christ gave life to us and gave Mary to be our Mother.

So when sorrow and suffering are put into the hands of God, something beautiful happens, something glorious happens.

When we meet with troubles or distress, or sorrow and suffering, let us go to Mary and stand with her at the foot of the cross.

Even when we sink into the depths of sorrow and suffering, God assures us this: a beautiful moment is about to happen, a glorious moment is about to begin.

Let us stay close to Mary and we will share in the glory of the cross.

Please pray for Father Francis. Let us continue to call upon the name of Mary to watch over her faithful son!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Sunday Word

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Am 8:4-7
1 Tm 2:1-8
Lk 16:1-13 or 16:10-13

We are half-way through September and that finds us at the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Once again this weekend offers us a longer and a shorter form of the Gospel. The longer form includes the parable of the "unjust" or "shrewd" steward who cuts deals with his master's debtors to secure his own position. The parable is followed by a short collection of sayings on how one serves one's rightful master. The shorter form of the Gospel includes only the collection of sayings and omits the longer parable.

The first reading from the prophet Amos, addresses some unjust merchants whose business dealings cheat the very poor. The prophet Amos warns that the Lord will not forget their shameless abuse of those in need.

And the second reading is from Timothy and includes some guidelines for Church ministry and the liturgical activities of the Christian assembly. Keep your eyes open because you will see some of the roots of our own intercessions at Sunday Mass. The passage concludes with testimony to Christ and an admonition that we pray without anger or argument between us.

There is no better time to begin perusing and praying over these texts than today.

Please pray for Father Francis. Let us continue to call upon the name of Mary to watch over her faithful son!

Friday, September 17, 2010

To Love and Serve

The first full week of classes after returning from summer break was mentally demanding and physically exhausting in our Marianist schools!

Towards the end of the week, our chapel windows had been left open to bring in some crisp, refreshing, autumn air. We had a late afternoon storm that brought gusty winds and torrential rain. When the Brothers began to arrive for Evening Prayer, the rain had stopped but the last two rows of seats were soaked! By the time I walked in, one of the Brothers had already gone back to the residence, acquired a towel, and was wiping down all the wet seats. It would have been sufficient and completely understandable, after another tiring day, to have simply wiped off his own seat and left the towel for others to use. But no; he sacrificed a bit more time, mustered up some more energy, and dried every seat before settling down in his own.

I couldn't help but smile as the rest of the Brothers eventually gathered and sat down in their dry seats. This small act of service was completely unknown to those who benefitted from it! What an awesome expression of selfless love in community life!

Please pray for Father Francis. Let us continue to call upon the name of Mary to watch over her faithful son!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Father Francis

Father Francis suffered a serious brain hemorrhage yesterday morning.

He is in Intensive Care under observation at Nassau Medical Center. His condition is critical at this time.

Please keep Father Francis in your prayers.

Lord Jesus Christ, You chose to share our human nature, to redeem all people, and to heal the sick. With this in mind I beg You to look with compassion on Your humble servant Father Francis., support him with Your power, comfort him with Your protection, and give him the strength needed to fight against evil. Since You have given Fr. Francis, a share in Your own passion, help him to find hope in suffering for You, Jesus.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows

The Church commemorates Mary as Our Lady of Sorrows today. For many centuries, Christians have meditated upon the Seven Sorrows of Mary described in the Gospels.

Mary's first Sorrow was when she and Joseph brought the infant Jesus to the Temple at Jerusalem for His circumcision. For the Jews circumcision is a sign of their covenant with God, and the spilling of Jesus' blood in this Temple foreshadowed His eventual death sentence. This sealed the New Covenant in His blood.

At the Temple, Mary was met by the prophet Simeon. He told her that Jesus would be the promised light to both the Israelites and the Gentiles. Also, that Christ would also be rejected and that Mary herself would be pierced by a sword of sorrow. This is why in Christian art, Mary's heart is often shown wounded by a sword or swords.

Mary's second Sorrow came when an angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with Mary and Jesus. King Herod wished to destroy the child, and was willing to slaughter thousands of children in order to do so. For a man who was supposed to protect the people to show such hatred for innocent human life must have broken Mary's heart. This sorrow reminds us that it is the duty we have to protect innocent human life.

Her third Sorrow came when she and Joseph lost Jesus in the Temple. Years later, Mary would again lose Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem during the Feast of the Passover. There, the religious leaders would once again question him, this time condemning him to die.

Mary's experienced a fourth great Sorrow years later, when she followed her Son out of Jerusalem as He carried His cross to the hill of Calvary.

Mary's greatest Sorrow, the fifth, was seeing her Son die. His hands had healed so many, even raising the dead back to life. Now His healing hands were held back by nails. The face that she once washed clean was covered in blood, the hair that she once combed now tangled in a crown of thorns.

Mary's sixth Sorrow was when Her son's lifeless body was taken down and given to her. Along with the other disciples, it was Mary's duty to clean the body and prepare it for burial. She suffered to bring Him into our world, to raise him, and now He dies to pay for our sins.

Mary's last Sorrow came when she buried her son. Jesus is now buried in a cavern carved into a rocky hill.  Now He lies in a borrowed tomb. Buried in a simple white shroud.

On this day commemorating the seven sorrows of Mary we are called to imitate her, bravely accepting suffering, showing kindness to others who suffer. In a certain way, we can find joy and hope in knowing that Jesus has conquered suffering and death. His victory is our peace.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Exaltation of the Holy Crosss

Today our Scriptures invite us to “lift high the cross” that its healing light might illumine our need for the mercy it offers and give us the strength and courage we need to name and face our demons.

At this table, prepared in the shadow of the cross, we share in the meal Christ prepared for us first by offering his body and blood on the cross, his innocent life for the forgiveness of our sins.

May the sacrifice of his body and blood, broken and poured out for us in the eucharist, remind us of the sacrifice he offered for us and in his name.

May the cross of Christ, lifted in glory, be our hope, our life and our peace.

Preface for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.
You decreed that we should be saved through the wood of the cross.
The tree of our defeat became our tree of victory;
where life was lost, there life has been restored
through Christ our Lord...

God of Glory,
the Cross shines as a sign
of obedience to your will
and a symbol of your love
for the world.

Bless us who find salvation
in the cross of Christ;
may we always recognize his glory
in the weak, suffering and condemned of the world.
We ask this through Christ, crucified and exalted,
who is Lord forever and ever.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Saint Song

Today we celebrate the Feast of St. John Chyrsostom

Accordingly, dearly beloved, let us do everything for the purpose of giving glory to our Lord, and let us not be an occasion of scandal to anybody. This after all, is the unfailing lesson given us by the whole world’s teacher, blessed Paul, as for example when he says, “If food is a source of scandal to my brother, let me never till the end of time touch meat again;” and again, “By sinning against your brothers in this way through bruising your tender conscience, you sin against Christ.” A stern admonition that, entailing a heavy condemnation. In other words, he is saying, don’t think the harm will be inflicted solely on one person: it passes on to Christ himself, who for that person was crucified. So if the Lord was not swayed from being crucified for him, would you not make every effort to avoid giving him any occasion for scandal? You will find Paul giving this advice everywhere to his disciples; it is, after all, the factor that keeps our life together. Hence he uses these words in writing in another letter: “Let each of you consider not your own concerns but the concerns of others;” and again in another place: “Everything is lawful for me, but not everything edifies others.” Do you see the apostolic attitude? Even repercussion for myself on that account, yet to avoid interfering with my neighbor’s spiritual progress I would not presume to behave like that. Do you see the soul full of loving concern- how he has no eye at all for his own interests, but shows us in every way that the greatest virtue consists in taking great care for our neighbor’s spiritual progress.
Taken from the Book: Daily Reading from the Writings of St. John Chyrsostom

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Patronal Feast of the Marianists

The Most Holy Name of Mary
The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God's infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God's ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights of all peoples.

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11: Let us pray.

Almighty God,
bless our nation
and make it true
to the ideas of freedom and justice
and brotherhood for all who make it great.

Guard us from war,
from fire and wind,
from compromise, fear, confusion.

Be close to our president and our statesmen;
give them vision and courage,
as they ponder decisions affecting peace
and the future of the world.

Make me more deeply aware of my heritage;
realizing not only my rights
but also my duties
and responsibilities as a citizen.

Make this great land
and all its people
know clearly Your will,
that they may fulfill
the destiny ordained for us
in the salvation of the nations,
and the restoring of all things in Christ.


Friday, September 10, 2010

The Sunday Word

This weekend we mark the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Sunday's first reading is from the Book of Exodus. God is angry with Israel for their idolatry. And Moses intercedes and pleads for the Lord's mercy and it is given. The Gospel is also a message of mercy. We are introduced to three parables: the parable of the lost sheep; the parable of the lost coin; and the parable of the lost Son (more popularly known as the prodigal son).

The second reading is from the first letter to Timothy and has Saint Paul confessing his past. He is a real pain in  the "neck." Once again, this mercy theme appears in the reading

This is such a contrast with our own attitudes about justice and vengeance. Most of us regard justice as letting the “bad guys” get theirs. But the parable regards reconciliation as far more important. The older son never learned in all his years of serving and never once disobeying an order, what the younger one learned through his own sinning. That lesson is simple. One is not called to be a slave, but a true child, in relation to God. Or as Paul puts it: “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: ‘Christ Jesus save sinners’.”There is a lot going on in these readings for Sunday. If your are hungry these words are very satisfying.

+ + +
Pray for the Canonization of Blsessed William Joseph Chaminade
" Since God delights in giving his graces during prayer, we must profit by these sweet moments to ask for help in all our spiritual and temporal needs; we ought especially to ask for a lively faith, for it is faith which raises us to the throne of God."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Put on the Armor of Love

The readings from Saint Paul this week focused on the response one has to the Gospel. The community of Jewish and pagan converts at Colossae were struggling to maintain the purity of their faith and are told to set their hearts on Jesus. They are reminded that Christ is everything to all of us.

This past week we reflected on this fundamental question, "How do you stay positive and preach hope in the midst of opposition, misunderstanding, hostility and hatred?"

We used a reflection from Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI to assist us in this meditation. For Rolheiser, what Jesus did as a way of life constitutes the greatest personal and moral challenge to all of us who try to follow Him. How do you remain calm and loving in the face of hatred? How do you remain empathetic in the face of misunderstanding? How do you continue to be warm and gracious in the face of hostility? How do you love your enemies when they really want to kill you?

Sometimes we get so intimidated by opposition, misunderstanding and hatred, we retreat and go underground. We hold our ideals but never practise them in the presence of those who oppose us. We continue to speak love and understanding, but never to our enemies.

But sometimes our response is the exact opposite. In the face of opposition we develop a skin so thick we don't even care about what others think of us. 

But how did Jesus treat his enemies? Jesus was never intimidated, nor did he become thick-skinned or condescending. But what did he do? He rooted himself more deeply in his own deepest identity and, inside of that, found the power to continue to be warmed-hearted, loving and forgiving in the face of hatred and murder.
+ + +
Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"Take courage, the crown is promised to victors only: tear out the very last fiber of self-love and peace will be yours. Let the interior man in you be renewed and gather strength enough to combat the old man, to hold him in continual subjection, until you succeed in crucifying him; in a word, may you become a man of faith."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

Happy Birthday, Mother Mary!

O Queen of heaven, all say;
The grace that filled your heart, aye,
Gave us and world, a mighty day.
O Maria Bambina!

Daughter of Joachim and Anne;
You acceded to God’s request
Through angel Gabriel.
You grew up in great piety;

God chose you from amongst women –
A virgin to mother a child,
A baby boy, Immanuel!
By pow’r of Spirit Holy,

You bore the sacred baby,
In your womb of sanctity,
O Mother Virgin Mary.

Hail Mary, Mother of Jesus;
Heavenly mother of mankind;
Look down with mercy upon us,
Ask God to cleanse our sin-stained souls!

O New Eve of the world of men!
The Word became flesh in your womb,
And born was the Lord, ‘King of Kings’:
You trounced Satan forever then.

Conceived without Original Sin,
Becoming Mother of God;
You set aside all Natural laws,
And gave birth to the Lord.

You brought Salvation to mankind
Through Jesus Christ your son,
Who came as Savior, Messiah,
And suffered a death on cross!

O Lady of great chastity!
You obeyed Almighty’s one wish;
Exalted more than angels, saints,
Heaven is now your true abode.

O perfect vessel made by God!
Afilled by grace up to the brim;
The most blessed among women,
Our Intercessor, Pure of heart.

O Mary most immaculate,
Assumed into heaven by God;
Do pray for us sinners on earth
And protect souls from fire of hell
+ + +
Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"Let us then, whoever we may be, bless forever the divine goodness which gave us Mary as our Mother, our spiritual nurse, and our mediatrix."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Vocation Story

There are some who might try to tell you that the story of my vocation is really a lesson in ancient history. It just goes to show you how wrong some people can be. Actually the story is rather simple. I was never struck from a horse by a bolt of lightning. Maybe because I’ve never really ridden on a horse. So the story is at one and the same time not very spectacular, and very spectacular – because I am convinced that it has been a marvelous experience of the grace of Our Lady in my life.

I attended grade school in the days when every Catholic parish school was run almost completely by sisters. So from the very beginning we had this wonderful example of religious life day in and day out. During most of those years my family lived upstate outside of Buffalo and we were blessed to have two really great priests in our parish. And so between the example of the sisters and the priests it was almost inevitable that I would consider studying for the priesthood; I had no experience of men religious during those years.

We moved back to Long Island when I was going into the seventh grade and I finished elementary school in St. Brigid’s in Westbury. The co-ops had not yet begun at that time and each high school would give their own entrance exam. So in the eighth grade I took three of them. First, because I was interested in the priesthood I took the exam for Cathedral Prep which was way down in the heart of Brooklyn, then Chaminade’s test, and finally a new school that was going to open the following year in Flushing – Holy Cross. I really wanted to go to Cathedral, and my friend’s father drove three of us there for the exam. I believe that one of the graces of my life was the fact that the weather that day was terrible. It was an ugly, dismal, gray, rainy Saturday that helped to make both the neighborhood around the school as well as the restaurant where we ate lunch look about ten times worse than they really were – and they really were pretty bad – so much so that I went home that day convinced that there was no way that I was going to take the LIRR and two subways every day to go into that neighborhood. I was accepted by all three schools and I decided I was going to Chaminade.

Later on that same year my cousin who was in the eighth grade at St. Boniface in Elmont asked me to go with him on a weekend retreat in Haverstraw, NY, conducted by the Salesian fathers and brothers. I had never been on a retreat before, but I enjoyed everything about it – the place, the prayer time, the spiritual experience, the brothers and priests, the recreation. My cousin, on the other hand, hated everything about it except the recreation, and he especially hated the food. My mother and my aunt thought we had actually split up and gone to different places because our responses were so different. I was so impressed with this first experience of religious men that I really began thinking about entering the Salesians.

That was the frame of mind that I came into Chaminade with, but then my second experience of brothers and priests in community began – the Marianists. In my freshman year all of my teachers were brothers; I was impressed with them as well as the other brothers that I could see around the school, impressed by their family spirit, their devotion to our Lady, their commitment to each other and their commitment to us. So much so that by the end of my freshman year I had decided that I wanted to share that same experience.

Early in my sophomore year I decided that I would like to enter the following year. At that time we had a boarding school upstate in Beacon, NY, for students in high school who wanted to enter the Marianists. As is turned out, though, my parents wanted no part of that plan and insisted that I graduate from Chaminade first before I entered. So that is exactly what I did. Our formation program in those days was very different from today. Young brothers from the eastern third of the country first spent our novitiate year outside of Utica in a small town called Marcy, NY. It was a wonderful year that I really loved and that ended with our first profession of vows in August of 1960. After that we went to our Marianist University of Dayton where I then spent four great years.

During my last semester there I had the opportunity to teach one sophomore religion class at Chaminade High School in Dayton, and then right after graduating from UD I taught summer school at Chaminade Dayton. Now at that point I could have been sent to any of about ten schools on the eastern seaboard and Puerto Rico. But as it turned out, Chaminade High School in Mineola needed a German teacher and – although neither I nor my family would ever have expected it when I first entered – my first assignment was right back here at CHS. I made final vows one year later and from there the rest is all history. It’s been my privilege, by the grace of Our Lady, to have taught here at Chaminade for the past 46 years. It has been an absolutely unique experience that I would not trade for anything. I thank God and Our Lady for the brothers with whom I have shared community, the hundreds, maybe thousands of students whom I have taught, and the many people whose lives I have had the grace to touch. May every one of you be so blessed.

Brother Richard Harold celebrates 50 years of religious consecration this year.

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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"The more you know yourself, the less you will trust in your own strength, and if divine light should become bright enough to allow you to penetrate into the double abyss of your nothingness and your miseries, your trust in God will be your only stay. How strong then will you be! God communicates his strength to us in proportion to the interior convictions of our own weaknesses. This conviction is a great grace."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day

The Labor Day Quiz
Test Your Knowledge about the Workman's favorite holiday!

#1. Where was the first Labor Day Parade celebrated?
a)New York City b)Pullman, Illinois  c)Detroit, Michigan

#2. Which state first granted Labor Day legal status as a holiday?
a)New York  b)Texas  c)Oregon

3. What year did Labor Day pass legislation as a national holiday?
a)1887  b)1894  c)1849

4. In 1898, who was the head of the American Federation of Labor?
a)Samuel Gompers  b)George Pullman  c)Eugene V. Debs

5. Other than worker's appreciation, what other significance does Labor Day have?
a)everyone gets to BBQ  b)the new school hyear begins  c)last long weekend of summer

6. What major event ultimately resulted in Prseident Grover Cleveland's reluctantly approving Labor Day as a national holiday?
a)The Woodward March  b)The Pullman Strike  c)The 1937 sit down strikes

7. What day of the week was the first Labor Day celebrated?
a)Friday  b)Monday  c)Tuesday

8. Who formallyintroduced the idea of Labor Dayat a meeting of the Central Labor Union on May 18, 1882 saying: "Let us have a festive day during which a parade through the streets of the city would permit public tribute to American Industry"?
a)Peter J. McGuire  b)Walter Reutner  c)Jacob X. Coxey

9. In what decades was most of the federal laws protecting workers passed?
a)1890s  b)1930s  c)1950s

10. What other country besides the United States celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September?
a)France   b)Great Britain  c)Canada

1. September 5, 1882 some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City.
2. Oregan became the first state to grant legal status as a holiday in 1887.
3.  In 1894, Congress passed legislation marking Labor Day as a legal holiday in the USA.
4. Samuel Gompers. He said, "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward when the rights and their wrongs would be discussed. That the workers in our day may not lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."
5. It is more synonymous with BBQ's, congested highways and last long weekend of summer.
6. The Pullman Strike in Chicago. The American Railway Union, led by young Eugene V. Debs, came to the cause of the striking workers, and railway workers across the nation boycotted trains carrying Pullman cars.
7. Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Peter J. McGuire had suggested a September date in order to provide a break during the long stretch between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
8. Peter J. McGuire, an Irish-American cabinet maker and pioneer unionist who proposed a day dedicated to all who labor.
9. The 1930s. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935, which strengthened union rights to organize and negotiate with employers, was key legislation.
10. Canadian trade unionists have celebrated this day set aside to honor those who labor from the 1870s on. The first Labor Day parade in Winnipeg, in 1894, was two miles long.

So you do know a bit about hard work!
Have a Great Labor Day
Teach us to count our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Relent, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Fill us at daybreak with your love,
that all our days we may sing for joy.
Make us glad as many days as you humbled us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
Show your deeds to your servants,
your glory to their children.
May the favor of the Lord our God be ours.
Prosper the work of our hands!
Prosper the work of our hands!
- Psalm 90
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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
"How is it possible to find Jesus without Mary, since Jesus himself did not come to us except with the consent of Mary! . . . We reach Jesus but through Mary, as Jesus came to us but through Mary."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Words of Wisdom

Words of St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina:

"Keep your eyes fixed on Him who is your guide to the Heavenly country, where He is leading you. What does is matter to you whether Jesus wishes to guide you to Heaven by way of the desert or by the meadow, so long as He is always with you and you arrive at the possession of a blessed eternity?"
~St. Padre Pio

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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"The more you know yourself, the less you will trust in your own strength, and if divine light should become bright enough to allow you to penetrate into the double abyss of your nothingness and your miseries, your trust in God will be your only stay. How strong then will you be! God communicates his strength to us in proportion to the interior convictions of our own weaknesses. This conviction is a great grace."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Saturday, September 4, 2010

As the deer longs for running streams

Psalm 42
As the deer longs for streams of water,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My being thirsts for God, the living God.
When can I go and see the face of God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
as they ask daily,"Where is your God?"
Those times I recall as I pour out my soul,
When I went in procession with the crowd,

I went with them to the house of God,
Amid loud cries of thanksgiving,
with the multitude keeping festival.
Why are you downcast, my soul;
why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again,
my savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you

From the land of the Jordan and Hermon,
from the land of Mount Mizar.

Here deep calls to deep in the roar of your torrents.
All your waves and breakers sweep over me.
At dawn may the LORD bestow faithful love
that I may sing praise through the night,
praise to the God of my life.

I say to God, "My rock, why do you forget me?
Why must I go about mourning with the enemy oppressing me?"
It shatters my bones, when my adversaries reproach me.
They say to me daily: "Where is your God?"
Why are you downcast, my soul, why do you groan within me?

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again,
my savior and my God.
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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
"Providence ordinarily uses the initiative and activity of men to realize its designs. It follows that the Immaculate Virgin stood in need of soldiers ready to fight the battles of the Lord under her auspices. Providence must call forth such apostles; it must inspire them from on high; it must enroll them under her banner as her ministers and soldiers ."
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our God is...

Psalm 19
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;

yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy,
and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them;
and nothing is hid from its heat.
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; t
he commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19 explains how God extols for us the absolutely unimaginable value of his holy Word. The law of God, the Scripture, is a treasure, a glorious, life-changing, soul-reviving treasure! The disciple cannot live without it. And God, by his choice, compares the Word to good food.

How is the Word like food? In one sense, there is a functional similarity. To the believer, reading the Word of God and taking it deep into our soul is a means of spiritual survival. We need to feed our souls with the Word, or our souls will shrivel up and get sick and weak. If you don’t feed your soul with the Word of God, it is unquestionable that your Christian life will be unhealthy and lacking growth.

But there is more than mere functional survival in the Word of God. The Bible is not just general food. There are lots of foods that are just general food, but not the Word. The words that David chooses to describe the Word of God are sweet words. The Word of God is not a roast beef sandwich on rye; no, God’s Words are sweet as honey.
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Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"We have embraced the cross of Jesus—to disengage ourselves from it by a thousand and one exemptions, indiscreetly asked of those in authority, is to deny the cross of Jesus and not oneself ."

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade