Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saints & Halloween

The Saint Anthony Messenger answers  questions about the origins of the next two days on the Christian calendar. The following are excerpts from the Saint Anthony Messenger report.

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. But do you know the Christian connection to the holiday?

The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, lord of the dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead, including ghosts, goblins and witches, returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider, traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints)from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallows' Even or holy evening. Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the "communion of saints," which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things" (CCC #1475).

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Sunday Word

Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Wis 11:22-12:2
2 Thes 1:11-2:2
Lk 19:1-10

There is no better way to prepare to celebrate Mass on the Lord's Day than to peruse and ponder the Scriptures we will hear on Sunday. Sunday's Gospel could easily be put this way: Zaccheus, Oh he's the guy that is not much bigger than a Smurf, but has more ego than one can imagine. He meets someone with zero ego, who’s going to ask him to hang up his ego, and get a life.

Notice that Jesus “entered Jericho and was passing through it.” He was just passing through it. The crowd that had gathered didn’t really interest Jesus. His itinerary only had Jericho as “passing through” town, not a stop-off point or a rest stop. It wasn’t like Jesus intended to stop for a salad and some olives in Jericho. He was just passing through. While Jesus loved individuals and lived in a group community, he avoided crowds. 

 Now as Jesus was walking through town, the crowds pressed around him, effectively blocking out Zacchaeus. The little Zaccheaus was bobbing around trying to shove in here and there, to make a wedge from the outside perimeter of people and reach the inner circle where this famous itinerant preacher would be visible.

Zacchaeus is the “chief tax collector” and he’s rich. And given that he’s not that tall, he has an ego the size of Texas. The point is that Zacchaeus thinks he is the last person Jesus is going to notice. So he does something: He climbs up and a tree to get a better view.
So there is this wee little man hanging in a tree. He gets Jesus’ attention and promptly invites himself over for dinner. So, Jesus comes to him. Jesus approached him. Jesus invited himself into Zacchaeus’ life.
The one who was a seeker, is now the one who is sought.And Jesus calls to Zacchaeus, “Come down out of that tree!”

Can you imagine how fantastic those words must have sounded to Zacchaeus? "Come down out of that tree! Stop embarrassing yourself! Don’t be afraid! No need to avoid your problems! Get down out of there before you hurt yourself and break something important!”

Then notice what happens. Zacchaeus experiences transformation. He responds to the invitation, and his subsequent conversation with Jesus shows that this is a repentant sinner.
WE call this humility.
WE call it repentance.
WE name it conversion.

No ego here. Just a life turned around for the glory of God and in the service of others.
So, let’s forget our egos, gather up our garments and climb a tree to see Jesus.

Friday, October 29, 2010

O Poor-rah

“O” God: A Dialogue on Truth and Oprah’s Spirituality, provides an in-depth look at one of the greatest media influences of all time: the Oprah Empire.

Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett approach the spirituality of Oprah by means of a fictional narrative featuring a conversation between two friends, while also revealing biblical truths and exposing the false teachings and misconceptions of Oprah.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

We are called to be Saints

What I regard as a really distinctive trait of our two orders, and what seems to me to be without a precedent in all the religious orders I know of, is the fact, as I have said, that we embrace the religious life in the name and for the glory of the Blessed Virgin, and for the sake of devoting ourselves to her, that is to say, our bodies and all that we possess, in order to make her known, loved and served.
Religious life is to Christianity what Christianity is to humanity. It is as imperishable in the Church as the church is imperishable in human society. For this reason, it would be futile to pretend to re-establish Christianity without the institutions which permit men to practice the evangelical counsels. However, it would be difficult and inopportune to try to revive these institutions today under the same forms they had before the Revolution. But no form is essential to the religious life. One can be a religious under a secular appearance. It will be less offensive to the misguided. It will be more difficult for them to be opposed. The world and the Church will be even further edified. Let us then form a religious association by pronouncing the three vows of religion, but without name or costume. Nova bella elegit Dominus (The Lord had chosen new wars); and let us put the entire plan under the protection of Mary Immaculate, to whom her Divine Son has reserved the final victories over hell.Let us be, my child,... let us be, in our humility the heel of the Woman.

(From Blessed Chaminade's Letter of August 24, 1839 Letter to the Retreat Masters.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Call

God is great and He is calling each one of us by name.
Where is He calling you?
Is he calling you to consider a Marianist vocation?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God. Joy blossoms from a compassionate heart. The 15th century mystic named Julian of Norwich said, "The greatest honor that you can give to Almighty God, greater than all your penances and sacrifices and mortifications, is to live joyfully because of the knowledge of his love." When you understand that God is love, not only that He is love but unchanging love, that He is constant in his love for us, and that it is possible to trust Him in all circumstances, there is a certain relief that comes; a relief from needless anxiety and worry and fear and guilt and shame because the mercy of God comes upon all those who ask for it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

B.C. - A.D.

We all have a story - a story of where we've been and where we are now. As the band performs You Found Me by The Fray, individuals share their stories, via cardboard, of life before and after Christ.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Sunday Word

October 24, 2010
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Tm 4:6-8,16-18
Lk 18:9-14

When you trust God, you get God. But when you trust only yourself, you get … only yourself.

WE know that we make a millions mistakes without even knowing it. Come on, admit it!

And it's time to finally admit that we make those mistakes. It's time to confess our faults, and say to God, "My bad."

WE make so many mistakes in our day-to-day living. One mistake that can really bite us is our failure to see the  image of God in the students around us. Step into our school hallways, and you tend to see differences. Some of these differences repel us and we step back, just like the Pharisee moved away from the crowd, not wanting to associate with unclean people. But these differences are all superficial, and most don’t reflect the true nature of a person. The really deep truth about a crowd of students in our hallways is that they are children of God, created in the image and likeness of God. That is what we ought to be looking at.

Another mistake is to judge others more harshly than we judge ourselves. Think of the times we have felt our temperature rising as the line at Pathmark moves at a glacial pace, and then, when you get to the counter, the clerk screws up the purchase. WE want to lash out, saying, “Pay attention and get it right!” We’re quick to judge others, but slow to judge ourselves — in our own daily work, we go easy on ourselves because we know how hard it is to focus when we are ill or tired or distracted by a personal problem. Like the Pharisee in the parable, we see sin in thieves, rogues, and adulterers, but not in ourselves. And this leads others to see us as judgmental and hypocritical — which is not always far from the truth.

Finally, we certainly make mistakes when we are not honest with God — or honest with ourselves — about our need for forgiveness. The tax collector saw himself clearly, and he confessed his sinfulness, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

All of this begs the question: HOW do I get to a place where I see the image of God in others, show mercy instead of judgment, recognize my own need for forgiveness?

WE have a ready answer for that question. But we could suggest that the answer lies in this simple prayer, i.e., we should pray it — regularly. How can we fail to see God in others around us when we have started our day by praying to God: “God, please show your mercy and grace to us today because we realize we are needy and must rely on your help”?

Pray that prayer every morning and we’ll be less critical of others, we'lll look at ourself more honestly and at others with more compassion.

And, let’s face it, this is a prayer that each of us can say, because each of us has an ongoing relationship with at least one of the seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Each of us needs to be forgiven, whether we acknowledge it or not, just as the Pharisee needed to be cleansed of the sin of pride when he said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people” It’s time to get honest — honest with God, and honest with ourselves. We cannot go home justified, restored to right relationship with God and one another, unless we admit that we need to be forgiven.

The opportunity comes to us here, just as it came to the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple — the opportunity to see our mistakes, confess our hidden faults, and ask for the gift of forgiveness.

It all begins with two words, honestly spoken: “My bad.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Saints!

For the past five years I taught Six Grade Religion. One of the major topics of the course is the Universal Call to Holiness and the Process of Canonization. I love the Saints and was always happy to share this with my students!

This past Sunday October 17th, I was privileged to attend my first Canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square. It was truly a beautiful Eucharist and celebration of the lives of the six Saints: Stanislaw Kazimierczyk Soltys, Andre Bessette, Candida Maria De Jesus Cipitria Y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano, and Battista Camilla Da Varano. At the Eucharist you can not help but feel a part of Church History and to be proud of our Church! Pilgrims gathered from all over the world and we all gathered together to pray as one. We sat among the pilgrims from Australia who were overcome with Joy (Mary MacKillop, Australia’s First Saint!) This experience brought back many fond memories of World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney.

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke about each Saint and how they lived their call to holiness. I was struck by the Holy Fathers prayer at the time of the Angelus, "Now let us turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, who God placed at the center of the great assembly of saints. We entrust to her [and all the other saints] the entire Church, so that, enlightened by her example and sustained by their intercession, the faithful will go forward with an ever new spirit toward the homeland of heaven." This is why we have Beatifications, Canonizations, and Saints! In this crazy and sometimes dark world, we need shinning stars! These six new stars can lead us closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us continue to pray for each other as we journey toward the homeland of Heaven.

Saint Stanislaw Kazimierczyk Soltys, pray for us.
Saint Andre Bessette, pray for us.
Saint Candida Maria De Jesus Cipitria Y Barriola, pray for us.
Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, pray for us.
Saint Giulia Salzano, pray for us.
Saint Battista Camilla Da Varano, pray for us.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saint Robert Southwell

British Jesuit and poet Saint Robert Southwell lived from 1561 to 1595, when he was executed during the English Reformation. He was one of many priests who secretly ministered to the Catholics in England during this time and, like many of the others, was arrested, accused of treason, imprisoned and eventually executed. Despite his young age and the circumstances under which he lived, he did manage to publish a couple of volumes of poetry during his lifetime.

The pop singer Sting does a very interesting interpretation of Southwell’s poem, "The Burning Babe."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quench your thirst

Most of us have a drinking problem. So often, we try to satisfy our thirst with something that was only designed to point us toward God, not to replace Him.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Saint Andre

"Brother André Bessette, originally from Quebec in Canada and a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, experienced suffering and poverty starting very young. This led him to pay recourse to God in prayer and an intense interior life. As porter of the College of Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed limitless charity and made every effort to relieve the sufferings of those who went to entrust themselves to him.

Though a man of little education, he nevertheless understood where to find the essential of his faith. For him, to believe meant to freely submit himself out of love to the divine will. Abiding everything in the mystery of Jesus, he lived the beatitude of the pure hearts, of personal uprightness. This simplicity has enabled many to see God.

He was responsible for building the Oratory of St. Joseph in Mont Royal, where he would stay as a faithful guardian until his death in 1937.

'Do not try to have your struggles taken away,' he said, 'rather ask for the grace to carry them well.' For him, everything spoke of God and his presence. May we, following him, seek God with simplicity to find him always present in the midst of our lives!"

-- Pope Benedict, October 17, 2010, homily at the canonization mass

Monday, October 18, 2010

Miracle Brother Canonized!

Friend to the poor and sick, founder of Montreal's St. Joseph's Oratory, and a man once dubbed the Miracle Man of Montreal, Bessette officially joined the sainthood along with five others during an elaborate ceremony yesterday in St Peter's Square.

Brother Andre Bessette "knew suffering and poverty very early in life," Pope Benedict said in a homily before an estimated 50,000 pilgrims from around the world, gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Born to an extremely poor family in St. Gregoire, southeast of Montreal, Bessette was orphaned at age 12 and drifted for years as an illiterate, unskilled worker. In 1870, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross, which reluctantly accepted him and assigned him to a lowly job at the reception area of College Notre Dame in Cote des Neiges.

His early-life difficulties "led him to turn to God for prayer and an intense interior life," Pope Benedict said. "Doorman at College Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed boundless charity and did everything possible to soothe the despair of those who confided in him."

The diminutive lay brother "was the witness of many healings and conversions. 'Do not try to have your trials taken away from you,' he said, 'rather, ask for the grace to endure them,' " Pope Benedict added. "For him, everything spoke of God and His presence.

"May we, following his example, search for God with simplicity to discover Him always present in the core of our lives. May the example of Brother Andre inspire Canadian Chrisltian life."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Everything is Yours

Psalm 89
The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;
the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.
The north and the south—you created them;
Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.

You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
who walk, O LORD, in the light of your countenance;
they exult in your name all day long,
and extol your righteousness.

For you are the glory of their strength,
by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the LORD,
our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 89 is a prayer that focuses on an experience that is common to all people: human frailty and the passing of time. Our existence is fragile like the grass that sprouts in the morning and withers in the evening. We are called, therefore, to recognize the shortness of our lives so that we may gain wisdom of heart.

It is the grace of God which alone gives meaning and continuity to our actions; through grace eternity enters into our lives and transforms us. In fact, it is the resurrection of Christ that makes this possible: Christ's Passion is the source of our life after death. In him we have been redeemed and our lives are filled with joy and praise. - - Pope John Paul II

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Sunday Word

Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ex 17:8-13
2 Tm 3:14-4:
Lk 18:1-8

Prepare to hear the Word this coming Sunday! Ponder, pray and be persistent in your preparation.

In this Sunday's readings, Jesus tells the story of a widow who refuses to give up. She approaches a judge again and again, asking him to grant her justice against her opponent. The judge refuses at first but finally decides to give her what she wants, since he fears that she will wear him out with her persistence. In the same manner, like the judge, God will "grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night," and He encourages his followers to be like the widow, praying persistently and faithfully.

We can gather two lessons from this Sunday parable:

1. Persistent prayer is the way to be. Jesus does not want us to be casual about prayer, but serious, intentional, determined and disciplined. While it is doubtful that Jesus wants us to pester God, he most certainly wants us to be diligent in our lifting of requests to the Lord. It is in our prayers that we grow closer to the One who is the source of every good and perfect gift.

2. Persistent prayer is faith-inspired prayer. Those who pray persistently to God are people who have faith that God will answer them. They trust that the Lord will help them quickly, granting them justice and mercy, fullness of life and everlasting salvation.

Persistent prayer is not a sign of the "galloping greedy gimmies"; it is a sign of our desire for God's presence, God's power and God's peace. And if we act like difficult children in this behavior, we are in good company. The Lord we worship is nothing less than a persistent God: eternal, everlasting, the Rock of Ages, a Mighty Fortress, the source of steadfast love.

The challenge is to keep a focus on God and the abundant life he offers, and not fall victim to the galloping greedy gimmies.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Are you spiritually in Shape?

“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way…No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself, should be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24-25,27

St. Paul offers us a great image to reflect upon. We are all runners in a spiritual race, a race for the prize of heaven. Our destination and goal is to achieve heaven. But the question is: are we in shape?

Getting is shape is a pre-occupation for some many Americans. We stress eating healthy, exercising, working out and so on. So much time is spent on the body: being fit and looking good. We place our bodies under such physical workouts in order to develop a lean and mean fighting machine, big guns, being in top shape. But what about our spiritual bodies, our soul. Are we spiritually in shape? Can we endure the spiritual race?

St. Paul’s image of the body being fit to run parallels our spiritual condition. His letter asks us to take the opportunity for us to get in spiritual shape, to take a good long look at our spiritual selves. Some of us are not exactly the poster child for a fitness center. Are we a poster child for a spiritual fitness?

Most of the time, if you are out of shape, you dread looking in the mirror. A mirror will reflect the way we are. How much more so will I avoid looking into a spiritual mirror. When I look into my soul is there a lot of fat and waste? When it comes to spiritual exercises (prayer, Mass, meditation, spiritual reading, etc.), how faithful am I? A mirror reminds us, all too painfully sometimes, that we are “out of shape.” Maybe we feel guilty or feel like a failure.

Many of us have attempted to go on a diet, a physical exercise regime. We make promises, plans and even join a club. But how long does that last? Inevitably, we go back to eating, break away from exercise and are back to “out of shape.”

Our lives can be so hectic that is so easy to neglect our spiritual lives like we neglect our physical bodies and we are no longer “in shape” to run. We are tired, out of breath and exhausted, physically and spiritually. We have a thousand excuses for not following through on our plans, our regimes. It’s not like we consciously say “I don’t want to pray” or “I too tired for God.” Like most diets and exercise programs, we just gradually fall away. Today, St. Paul reminds us that we are in a race and must remain “in shape.”

What are some things I can do to maintain a spiritual diet, a spiritual regime of exercises? Maybe we can start small by picking up a prayer book, stopping in church, saying a quick prayer. Maybe we can practice paying someone a compliment or not saying something so critical or so harsh. Maybe we need to just get out of our spiritual easy chair and work against being a spiritual couch potato. Maybe we first need to look into a spiritual mirror and ask for God’s help. Anyone in AA knows the need to admit our problem and seek another’s help. Maybe today we can admit we are spiritual fatboys and ask someone to go for a run with us. Maybe we just need to stop, reflect on St. Paul’s letter and ask ourselves: “Am I spiritually in shape?”
Contributed by one of the Marianists from the Province

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Lady of the Pillar II

Throughout the world Marianists celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar yesterday. On ths day we remember how Blessed William Joseph Chaminade spent part of the French Revolution in exile in Saragossa, Spain. There he passed many hours in prayer and contemplation at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar.

Our Marianist scholastics and aspirants in India paused to celebrated Our Lady as well.  A special shrine was placed in the chapel in honor of the feast. The main celebrant was Fr. José Sebastián de Erice, S.M. Present at the celebration were Fr. Hans Eidenberger, SM, Superior of the Österreich-Deutschland Region and Br. Josef Grünstäudl, SM, superior of Haus Chaminade, Greisinghof, Tragwein, Austria. Fr. Hans and Br. Josef represented the Österreich-Deutschland Region at the dedication of the Jacob Gapp School (K-12) in Andra Pradesh. The school is sponsored by the Österreich-Deutschland Region.

The pictures below were sent to us by Brother Mark of the Meribah Province who works with the Marianist scholastics and apsirants.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Our Lady of the Pillar

This is a feast celebrated in memory of the graces received by Father Chaminade at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain. Near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:

"The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!"

" A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus."
+ + +
May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Last shall be First

SAN JOSE MINE, Chile—After more than two months trapped deep in a Chilean mine, 33 miners were so filled with confidence, officials said, they were arguing over who would be the last to take a twisting 20-minute ride to daylight and the embrace of those they love.

Officials have drawn up a tentative list of the order in which the 33 miners should be rescued, and the Health Minister said the otherwise cooperative miners were squabbling about it -- so sure of the exit plan that they are asking to let their comrades be first to reach the surface, probably on Wednesday.

"They were fighting with us yesterday because everyone wanted to be at the end of the line, not the

"I would like to illustrate what they are going through today with a conversation we had yesterday," the Health Minister told a press conference near the San Jose mine.

"I questioned them and mentioned we were working on an order in which they would be brought out. I said the order would be determined by technical factors.

"And what was their reaction? 'Mr. Minister, that's fine but I want to go last please.' And then another guy said, 'No, my friend, I said that I was going to be the last one up.' 'No, no, really -- I want to go last, please,' another guy started saying."

By being able to put aside their needs and wanting their colleagues to have a chance at freedom and fresh air first, "they have had a really commendable spirit, of solidarity and commitment to their friends." 

Jesus summoned them and said, "The last will be first, and the first will be last... You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank God

Something is going on here, something wonderful and mysterious and tingling with the healing power of God. As the lepers make their way toward the priests, they are miraculously cleansed, and one of them, Leper # 10, turns on his heels and races back to Jesus, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrates himself at Jesus’ feet and thanks him profusely.

Only one gives thanks. One out of 10. “Were not ten made clean?” asks Jesus, sounding miffed. “But the other nine, where are they?" Only one takes the time to count his blessings. Only one bothers to come back to Jesus and say thanks.

A 10 % return. That’s pretty pathetic. But are we doing any better today?

Gratitude and thanksgiving move us beyond the standard, the acceptable, the ordinary. A gracious attitude and lifestyle make one extraordinary, unusual, blessed, a cut above the rest.

You may be a leper on your last leg, but you are going to benefit from counting your blessings.

Being thankful is good for your physical, mental and moral health. It doesn’t seem to matter what you are grateful for, as long as you count your blessings. You can be appreciative of green grass, or generous friends, or loving family members, or pleasant elevator conversations. You can even thank God for your new puppy.

And that, according to Jesus, makes all the difference. It showed Jesus that while the others had experienced the healing of their bodies, this fellow had found healing in his soul.

Leper #10 wanted some soul-healing, and it’s no doubt what most of us need today, and we’re not going to find it until we’re able to count our blessings.

So, what have you forgotten to say “thank-you” for today?

Thank God for the riches that roll our way.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Feastday - Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman

Today the Church celebrates, for the first time, the feast day of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman. The date is not casual, being the date of his conversion in 1845.

It is true that in many cases the day of death is the chosen one as feast day. But in most cases the beatified person is a cradle Catholic. In Newman’s case it cannot be put into doubt that the main event of his life, the decision which defined Newman’s entire existence and so decisively colored all his achievements was neither his birth nor his death, but his conversion. This would be the case by every convert, but it is even more relevant in Newman’s case, the case of a man of vast prestige and theological reputation whose conversion helped to define an entire era. The choice of the October 9 as his feast day is therefore not only entirely fitting, but the only reasonable one.

By his conversion, Newman expressed the exact contrary of what the sensitive Anglicans complain about. The message that he sent is that there can be no meeting in the middle, no mixing of Truth and Heresy, no compromise whatsoever between the right and the wrong shop. One either belongs to the right shop or he belongs to the wrong one. Newman was so great because he had the courage to see this clearly, and to act upon it. To demand that Newman’s conversion be relegated into second place – as if it has been an accident of sort; a detail of his life not precluding his mutual admiration from Anglicans and Catholic alike – is tantamount to willingly ignore the essence itself of Newman’s teaching and work of a lifetime. To demand this is to want to take refuge in the usual, fuzzy and in the end perfectly insignificant “let us celebrate our similarities”-mentality. Such a mentality might be conducive to pleasant afternoon teas, but it doesn’t help in the least to discern truth from error.

Newman converted. He converted because he saw that the Church was the truth and Anglicanism was the error. He showed this in the most spectacular of ways, clearly renouncing in to every “meeting in the middle”. If you admire the man, you must draw the consequences from his conversion or at least understand its huge significance.

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Pope Benedict XVI on the Rosary

When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God."

~ Recitation of the Holy Rosary, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Saturday, May 3, 2008.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary - pray for us!

The vast majority of you know that today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. And many of you know the history of this Feast. It commemorates not just the Rosary but especially the efficacy of the Rosary in obtaining a great naval victory over an Islamic fleet in 1571, the Battle of Lepanto.

The Catholic Encyclopedia has a summary of the history of the Feast:

It is believed that Heaven has on many occasions rewarded the faith of those who had recourse to [the Rosary] in times of special danger. More particularly, the naval victory of Lepanto gained by Don John of Austria over the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October in 1571 responded wonderfully to the processions made at Rome on that same day by the members of the Rosary confraternity. St. Pius V thereupon ordered that a commemoration of the Rosary should be made upon that day, and at the request of the Dominican Order, Gregory XIII in 1573 allowed this feast to be kept in all churches which possessed an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary. In 1671 the observance of this festival was extended by Clement X to the whole of Spain, and somewhat later Clement XI after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on 6 August, 1716 (the feast of our Lady of the Snows), at Peterwardein in Hungary, commanded the feast of the Rosary to be celebrated by the universal Church.

Under St. Pius V, it was called “Our Lady of Victory.”

Later, the Feast was renamed as “Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.”

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Sunday Word

There is still no better way to prepare to celebrate Mass on Sunday than by reading, pondering and praying over the Scriptures we'll hear proclaimed at the liturgy. 

This Sunday is the 28th in Ordinary Time which brings us a familiar story from Saint Luke's Gospel. The cure of the 10 lepers and only one comes back to thank Jesus for his healing.

The first reading of the day is from the Second Book of Kings and it gives us the story of the prophet Elisha healing Naaman of his leprosy - and Naaman's request for "two mule-loads of earth." The second reading is from prison to Timothy. Paul speaks his faith with and eloquence enhanced by his incarceration.

As we read about the one who came back to fall at Jesus’ feet, don't you wonder what happened to the other nine. Surely, they were just as healed as this one.
Jesus said, “Go show yourselves to the priests,” as the law required them to do. As they went, they were healed. We are to assume that the nine went on to see the priests and be rejoined to the community that had exiled them in keeping with the law.

Should we fault them for that?

It is a story about gratitude more than healing isn’t it?
Lastly, they cry out to Jesus from a distance in the first meeting. They know they are not supposed to draw near to anyone because of their unclean condition. So they call out. And when Jesus sees them he gives them his direction. This is not healing at long distance. The power of God’s healing grace can reach over the space that divides people from us.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Meribah - Happy Anniversary!

 Meribah - the Chaminade Retreat House celebrates its 40th anniversary today. Over the years it has been a great resource for helping souls.

Meribah has assisted the young and old in a quest and struggle for God.

Those who visited Meribah have found a rich spirituality, a way of looking at God, and opportunites that have enriched countless people and undertakings over the last forty years.

Monday, October 4, 2010

St. Francis of Assisi

St. Francis is a saint beloved by many.

Many of the stories that surround the life of St Francis deal with his love for animals. Perhaps the most memorable are a collection of legends and folk-lore that sprang up after his death.

Here is one worthy of repeating, once while Francis was traveling with some companions they happened upon a place in the road where birds filled the trees on either side. Francis said to “wait for me while I go to preach to my sisters the birds.” The birds surrounded him, drawn by the power of his voice, and not one of them flew away. Francis spoke to them: "My sister birds, you owe much to God, and you must always and in everyplace give praise to Him; for He has given you freedom to wing through the sky and He has clothed you… for the Creator loves you greatly and He blesses you abundantly. Therefore… always seek to praise God."

Another legend tells us that in the city of Gubbio, where Saint Francis lived for some time, there was a wolf “terrifying and ferocious, who devoured men as well as animals.” Francis had compassion upon the townsfolk, and went up into the hills to find the wolf. Soon fear of the animal had caused all his companions to flee, but the saint pressed on and when he found the wolf he made the sign of the cross and commanded the wolf to come to him and hurt no one...Then St. Francis led the wolf into the town, and surrounded by startled citizens he made a pact between them and the wolf... In this manner Gubbio was freed from the menace of the predator...

These legends exemplify the saint's love of the natural world. In honor of St. Francis we usually have the Blessing of Animals. However, do to inclement weather the blessing of animals was only held at St. Martinb DePorres marianist School in the morning.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Teach - Make a difference

“Education is a participation in the work of Mary. She is the great teacher of (all people). Her mission has been, and still is, to give birth to Jesus Christ . . . . In calling us to the work of education, Mary has constituted us her collaborators in this mission. Our pupils are her children . . . and it is in her name that we ought to try to form Jesus in them.” (Emil Neubert, S.M.)

The definition of teaching for Marianist educators is all encompassing. “Every word, action, and gesture” are considered to be components of teaching.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

For members of the Society of Mary, October 2, 1817 is a day of celebration. It was on this day that Jean Baptiste Lalanne and several other men met with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade to discuss the possibility of forming a group of vowed men who through prayer and living in community would be actively involved in the ministry of the Church. After the initial meeting, several additional men, clerics, manual workers, and merchants, joined with Lalanne and Blessed Chaminade to found the Society of Mary (Marianists). On December 8, 1817, several men made private vows and on September 5, 1818, seven men made public vows as members of the Society of Mary.

October 2, Foundation Day for the Society of Mary, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels. Remembering the Guardian Angels has been important to members of the Society of Mary. Guardian Angels were seen as guardians of the students in Marianist schools. To help students behave appropriately, members of the Society of Mary were encouraged to “invoke the Guardian Angels of their pupils at the beginning of class and surveillance periods.” (Resch, p. 174). Hopefully, the angels would guarantee that students behaved in a proper manner so as to be receptive to the classroom instruction of the Brothers and priests.

The Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary were not founded for a specific ministry within the Church. Blessed Chaminade was open to the possibilities that would come before him and his disciples. It soon became evident that education would become the primary ministry of the Society of Mary. Blessed Chaminade wanted each of the members of the Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, “to show by their good example, that Christianity is not an obsolete institution and that the Gospel is as practicable today as it was 1800 years ago. (The men and women religious) would wage battle against a thousand and one forms of propaganda, precisely in the field of schools, by opening classes at every level and of every kind, and particularly classes for the common people, who are the most numerous and the most abandoned.” (1838 letter to Gregory XVI)

Let us pray:
God of everlasting love,
Your Son gave us his Mother to be our mother.
Taught by him and united with thousands of students
throughout the world in Marianist schools, we pray:
Mary, do for us what you did for Jesus, our brother.
Guide us so we grow strong in wisdom and grace.
Give us sight to see the talents God has given us,
the will to develop them, and the generosity to share
these talents with others. Instill in us the desire to constantly learn,
the goodness to serve generously, and the courage to follow where Jesus calls.
We pray for these blessings for ourselves, for all students at this school,
and for members of the faculty and staff. May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Therese of the Child Jesus - pray for us!

We have grown used to the idea that just as there are people with talents for sport or scholarship, and the rest of us can only admire them without trying to keep up, so there are people with a talent for holiness and heroic virtue, and the rest of us can only bumble along as best we can. We can’t do better because we’re not designed to do better, so there’s no point in trying. We sink into a consoling mediocrity.

Thérèse wrecks this. She was physically weak and psychologically vulnerable. For her the great saints were giants, they were inaccessible mountains, and she was only an “obscure grain of sand;” but she was not discouraged. St John of the Cross taught her that God can never inspire desires that cannot be fulfilled. The Book of Proverbs told her, “If anyone is a very little one, let him come to me.” If you only look, Scripture is permeated with images of our littleness and weakness with respect to God, and of his care for us in our insignificance.

Thérèse’s “Little Way” means taking God at his word and letting his love  for us wash away our sins and imperfections. When a priest told her that her falling asleep during prayer was due to a want of fervour and fidelity and she should be desolate over it, she wrote “I am not desolate. I remember that little children are just as pleasing to their parents when they are  asleep as when they are awake.”

We can’t all hug lepers or go off and become missionaries and martyrs. But we all do have daily opportunities of grace. Some of them may be too small to see, but the more we love God, the more we will see them. If we can’t advance to Heaven in giant strides, we can do it in tiny little steps. Our weakness is no excuse for mediocrity.

What is that?