Tuesday, November 30, 2010

St Andrew

Today's first reading for the Feast of St Andrew is an insightful outline of the role of preaching in God’s saving work. It states that faith comes from hearing but asks "how can they hear unless there is a preacher for them?" St. Andrew quickly came to the faith and then proclaimed to his brother, Peter - "we have found the Christ” – and he took Simon to Jesus. Later Andrew was involved in introducing the Greeks to Jesus.

Andrew’s example highlights things that are at the heart of preaching. Those that preach must realize how important their faith in Jesus can be to others. In preaching we are sharing the love, genuineness, and sensitivity of the Gospel with others. When we preach we are pointing the other person to Jesus and even usherin them gently into the presence of the living Christ. St Andrew certainly serves as a model for all these things that would assist in preaching the Gospel.

Saint Andrew, pray for the Marianists and for all those who preach the Gospel that we may have the zeal and love to speak appropriately of Jesus and the Gospel, as well as the expectant faith and prudent patience to trust Jesus to make himself real to people in God’s own timing and way, Amen.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hallelujah Chorus Flash Mob Style

So, how is your Advent going?

What have you done to begin preparing for the coming of the Savior?
Have you started anything new? Have you reformed any part of your life?

If we are conscious of preparing the way for the coming of the Savior, if we continue to ask, "what should we do?" Then coming of the Lord is not a threat, but a promise, and we should prepare with joy and gladness.

One of the best ways to prepare, from my point of view,"Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Advent Wait

Last night at the Vatican Vigil, Pope Benedict included a "Prayer for Life" relayed here below in a Holy See draft translation:

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you:

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of a mother's womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
make fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognise and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person,
and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Gift creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realise and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children

Console married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Love,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mark & Ike

Kellenberg Memorial & Chaminade Life Teen Leadership Conference
participants pose with Mark Hart and Ike Ndolo
 Everyday people venture into our lives leaving footsteps as they come and go, some treading deeply and others lightly. Some stay long, while others may continue on their journey. However, these are the people that help to shape who we are, or who we will eventually become later on in our life. We become like clay, bending and twisting as the outside world around us changes and people influence us. Our values, our thoughts, our perspectives can all be altered by the people with whom we surround ourselves. I find this statement to be true in my life as well. A mirror wouldn’t reveal the same person if it weren’t for the people that I’ve come in contact with over the course of my life. As a teenager, a time where emotional and physical development is at its peak, it is essential that an outside voice lend us a helping hand on the journey.

I have had a variety of people in my life that I could deem fit as this “helping hand.” My parents, family, grade school teachers, high school teachers, friends, and peers are all eligible for such a title. Yet, they have known me for an extensive period of time, and rightfully so have had plenty of time to “leave their mark in my clay personality”. However, no one has ever had such an impact on me, in such a short period of time, like Mark Hart and Ike Ndolo when they spoke on Friday, November 19, 2010, at Kellenberg Memorial High School. In simply an hour, these two men were capable of extending a captivating and religious message. Their message was so powerful that it was able to change how this 16 year-old views his religion. Ike, as a religious musical artist, had opened the assembly with the song “Here I am to Worship” which had called us all to a prayerful and solemn mood. He taught us how to pray through the use of music which in itself was a true emotional experience. He was able to use his musical talents to encourage prayer and reflection for over 2,500 students. This is a pretty good task considering St. Augustine’s adage that one who sings is as good as “Praying twice.”

Mark Hart addressed both Marianist schools.
Immediately following, author and speaker, Mark Hart, took over the crowd recounting stories and scripture. Mark Hart spoke most importantly to me on the importance of prayer. He recounted innocence children’s prayers nowadays. In particular, his explained his daughter’s simple and comical prayers. In great sincerity she prays: “My Kingdom Come, My Will Be Done”. We often give God a stipulation in our prayers regardless of our age. “Hey, can You do this for me? After all, I am a loyal and devout Christian, and You DO say that you have a power to provide for all.” Yet, when things don’t work out as we planned, we have a tendency to shake an angry fist at our God: “Hey! I prayed to you and everything, just like You told me to do, why didn’t I get what I wanted?!” What’s the point of this all if, “it doesn’t work” or simply because “I didn’t get what I asked for?” Understandably, our prayer isn’t a letter to Santa, or maybe God didn’t grant what you wanted because it’s not what HE had in mind for you. HE may not want it to be that way. God is the One who has already laid out your entire life for you and He alone knows what is right and wrong for you.

Finally, Mark Hart developed some ideas on the difficulty of the art of relationship. In this day and age we play “word games” with one another. We know the best type of communication is honest communication, but so often we use word games. We can also play games in our own prayer as well. A genuine conversation with God, one without any masks, one that is honest and sincere is essential for true holiness.

The whole Kellenberg Memorial family expresses our gratitude for the witness of Mark Hart and Ike Ndolo. They arrived with a very simple message, yet they have given me a footprint on my personality that will not fade away. 
Contributed by a student from our Marianist high school.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving; A Heart Fully Alive

Thanksgiving: A Heart Fully Alive from Catholic Media House on Vimeo.
Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into God's presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God!

It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day 2010

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, all-good Lord,
All praise is Yours, all glory, honor and blessings.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong;
no mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your Name.

We praise You, Lord, for all Your creatures,
especially for Brother Sun,
who is the day through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
of You Most High, he bears your likeness.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Moon and the stars,
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and fair.
We praise You, Lord, for Brothers Wind and Air,
fair and stormy, all weather's moods,
by which You cherish all that You have made.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Water,
so useful, humble, precious and pure.

We praise You, Lord, for Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night.
He is beautiful, playful, robust, and strong.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Earth,
who sustains us
with her fruits, colored flowers, and herbs.
We praise You, Lord, for those who pardon,
for love of You bear sickness and trial.
Blessed are those who endure in peace,
by You Most High, they will be crowned.

We praise You, Lord, for Sister Death,
from whom no-one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in their sins!
Blessed are those that She finds doing Your Will.
No second death can do them harm.

We praise and bless You, Lord, and give You thanks,
and serve You in all humility.
-St. Francis of Assisi

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Viva Cristo Rey

On November 23 we remember Blessed Miguel Pro. Fr. Pro was a hero for the faith during the persecution of Mexican Catholics in the early 20th century. Yesterday I shared this story of Fr. Pro with my junior classes. You could hear a pin drop. Silence pervaded the room when they saw his short documentary. In this visual culture, young people become glued to the screen.

Padre Pro had to dress up in disguise to outfox those who were chasing him down. He secretly brought the sacraments to the Catholic people of Mexico while it was illegal to do so under the Anti-Catholic government.
He was born on January 13, 1891 in Guadalupe, Mexico. Miguelito was, from an early age, intensely spiritual and equally intense in his mischievousness, frequently exasperating his family with his humor and practical jokes. As a child, he had a daring precociousness that sometimes went too far, tossing him into near-death accidents and illnesses. 

Miguel was particularly close to his sister and after she entered a convent, he came to recognize his own vocation to the priesthood. Although he was popular and had plans to manage his father's business, Miguel renounced everything for Christ his King and entered the Jesuit novitiate in 1911.
He studied in Mexico until 1914, when anti-Catholicism crashed down upon Mexico.In 1915, Miguel was sent to a seminary, where he remained until his ordination to the priesthood in 1925. Miguel suffered from a severe stomach problem and after three operations, when his health did not improve, his superiors, in 1926, allowed him to return to Mexico in spite of the grave religious persecution in that country

The churches were closed and priests went into hiding. Miguel spent the rest of his life in a secret ministry to Mexican Catholics. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, he also carried out the works of mercy by assisting the poor. He adopted many interesting disguises in carrying out his secret mininstry. He would come in the middle of the night dressed as a beggar to baptize, bless marriages and celebrate Mass. He would appear in jail dressed as a police officer to bring Communion to Catholics. When going to fashionable neighborhoods to procure for the poor, he would show up at the doorstep dressed as a fashionable businessman with a fresh flower on his lapel. His many exploits could rival those of the most daring spies. In all that he did, however, Fr. Pro remained obedient to his superiors and was filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in the bombing attempt on a former Mexican president, Miguel became a wanted man. Betrayed to the police, he was sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.
On November 13, 1927, orders were given to have Pro executed under the pretext of the assassination, but in reality for defying the outlawing of Catholicism. The execution was carefully photographed to frighten the rebels who were fighting against his troops. However, they had the opposite effect.

On the day of his execution, Fr. Pro forgave his executioners, prayed, bravely refused the blindfold and died proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey", "Long live Christ the King!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Springtime in Eucharistic Devotion

"Pope Benedict said that the Church is witnessing a “springtime in Eucharistic devotion”, particularly among young people who are finding time to “ stop in silence before the tabernacle to spend time with Him”. The Pope described this as a “wonderful development” and specifically mentioned the Eucharistic Adoration he led in Hyde Park London during his recent apostolic visit there. He said he hoped that this “springtime of the Eucharist” would spread to other parishes, particularly in Belgium, the birthplace of St Juliana of Liège, a 13th century Augustinian nun, whose devotion to the Eucharist gave rise to the universal feast of Corpus Christi, and to whom he dedicated his catechesis:

“Intelligent and cultured, she was drawn to contemplative prayer and devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the result of a recurring vision, Juliana worked to promote a liturgical feast in honour of the Eucharist. The feast of Corpus Christi was first celebrated in the Diocese of Liège, and began to spread from there. Pope Urban IV, who had known Juliana in Liège, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Christi for the universal Church and charged Saint Thomas Aquinas with composing the texts of the liturgical office. The Pope himself celebrated the solemnity in Orvieto, then the seat of the papal court, where the relic of a celebrated Eucharistic miracle, which had occurred the previous year, was kept. As we recall Saint Juliana of Cornillon, let us renew our faith in Christ’s true presence in the Eucharist and pray that the “springtime of the Eucharist” which we are witnessing in the Church today may bear fruit in an ever greater devotion to the Sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood”.
You are invited
to pray from
3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
in both of our high school chapels on Mondays
during Eucharistic Adoration

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christ the King

We are approaching the end of the liturgical year, the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King:

God did not intend Israel to have a kingdom . . . The law was to be Israel’s king, and through the law, God himself . . . God yielded to Israel’s obstinacy and so devised a new kidn of kingship for them. The King is Jesus; in him God entered humanity and espoused it to himself. This is the usual form of the divine activity in relation to mankind. God does not have a fixed plan that he must carry out; on the contrary, he has many different ways of finding man and even of turning his wrong ways into right ways . . . the feast of Christ the King is therefore not a feast of those who are subjugated, but a feast of those who know that they are in the hands of one who writes straight on crooked lines.
 Pope Benedict XVI

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Picking up Butch

Here's an inspiring and heart-warming video featured on ESPN about a week ago. What a wonderful story about a fifty-year love affair between a fan and a school community. An inspiring story about the community serving Butch, and, in return, Butch serving the community … teaching college students a life lesson, as one student says, ”that they can’t learn in a classroom.” Nope, Butch is in a league all his own when it comes to teaching.

Watch, enjoy, and be inspired friends.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Sunday Word

Christ the King

2 Sm 5:1-3
Col 1:12-20
Lk 23:35-43
On this final Sunday of the Church's Year, we celebrate with great joy the Feast of Christ the King. And as always, we look to the future; the ultimate future when Jesus will return in glory for the final judgment. On this feast we celebrate God’s Kingdom – God’s Rule.

Pope Pius XI established this Feast in 1925 at a time when fascism was on the rise and the world was about to experience Hitler and Mussolini. How different Christ’s rule is from the ruthless governance of these men. Although these tyrants were not Kings, they reigned in ruthlessness and cruelty. And, even in death, still have the power to make the world shudder in fear. Will it happen again – to us, we hear ourselves asking?

Listen to what Jesus said regarding his Kingdom::

“My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over…but as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Then Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” And the truth that Jesus came to testify to was God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness, and God’s call to repentance.

Jesus’ Kingdom is not about ruthless power, or royal attendants, or all those things we think of when thinking of kings. Lumen Gentium describes Christ’s Kingship in these few words, “to reign is to serve.” Matthew's Gospel sums it up best, when it says: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, to give his life as a ransom for the many."
So what kind of king do we have anyway? The one who thinks of the other first even as He draws his final breaths. The one who dies for the other. The one to whom the criminal on the right asks, “Jesus remember me.”

That same king hears us today as we plead with Him. When we are facing a long illness. When someone close to us dies. When cancer returns after being in remission for years. When we regret the way we have lived our life and don’t know where to turn for forgiveness. “Jesus remember me.” He who mercifully extended forgiveness in the last moments of his life . . . remembers us.

This is our king and we are his subjects. So how will we serve him? I am the hungry person in the street weary and underfed; I am the waiting and the anxious friend; I am the resident in the nursing home, wheelchair-bound and alone; I am the confused and abused freshman; I am the teenager whose parents just divorced; I am the convicted man isolated in a prison cell. I am the least significant human person in need. These are the faces we are to serve . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Sometimes the Sound of Music is just joyful!

From the people who brought you that delightful dance in a Liverpool train station comes this exuberant and joyful medley at Heathrow airport.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Opus Prize Winner

Father James Martin shares great news from The National Jesuit News:
Jesuit Father John Halligan, founder of the Working Boys’ Center (WBC) in Quito, Ecuador, was co-recipient of this year’s Opus Prize, one of the largest humanitarian awards that is designed to provide a single infusion of resources to advance humanitarians’ work and bring greater visibility to their causes.

Fr. Halligan will split the $1.1 million award with Sr. Beatrice Chipeta, director of the Lusubilo Orphan Care Project in Malawi, Africa. They were named co-recipients of the million-dollar annual prize on November 11 in a ceremony at Fordham University.\

Fr. Halligan, 80, began the WBC in 1964 in the attic of the centuries-old La Compania Church in the center of Quito, Ecuador. His aim was to provide lunch and spiritual inspiration to a few dozen “shoeshine boys” who worked in the streets to support their families.

Forty-six years later, the WBC operates out of three buildings spread throughout Quito and serves more than 2,000 members annually, including whole families. The center offers daycare, primary education, vocational training, special needs services and adult literacy programs to help families be self-sustaining.

WBC is run by a team of directors, some of whom are former shoeshine boys, and enlists approximately 200 employees and 1,000 volunteers annually. It has twice been named the best technical school in the nation for its classes in carpentry, metal crafts and other trades.
At the ceremony, Fr. Halligan thanked the Jesuits for always keeping the “door open for the lower classes” and said that helped shape the path of his own life. He also encouraged students to become volunteers.

“The young volunteers make all the difference in our work, and they return from a life-changing experience in the process,” he said.

In the video above, Halligan discusses the purpose of the Working Boys’ Center and how it has help shape the lives of the poor in Quito.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dorothy Day

By Mary DeTurris Poust

"Dorothy Day is one of the most significant women in the life of the Church in the United States." That's how Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York began a moving and inspiring talk about the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement on the anniversary of her birthday Nov. 9 at St. Joseph's Church in Greenwich Village. The video clip above is worth watching to the end. I had tears in my eyes by the time it was over, but I'll give you the synopsis of what Archbishop Dolan labeled the six "insights" we can take from Dorothy Day.

1. "She was quintessentially American." The archbishop went on to emphasize that Dorothy's faith was freely chosen. She was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism. Her faith was "her free choice," something Archbishop Dolan said should resonate particularly well with Americans who more and more reject the faith of their births.

2. "Dorothy was from the beginning a social critic and activist in the best prophetic sense of American Christian spirituality, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox." The archbishop said that Dorothys' vision and her intellectual contributions may well have "foreshadowed" what Pope John XXIII, Vatican II, and Pope John Paul II tried to advance "relative to the dignity of each person as a worker, as a human being created in the image and likeness of God."

3. "Dorothy's mission to the Church in every area -- social and legal reform, workers' rights, publications, her renowned pacifism, the ability to prophetically challenge even Church authority -- all of that found its taproot in prayer," something the archbishop said is too often reversed by reform-minded leaders. He stressed that Dorothy began and ended each day with prayer and rarely missed daily Mass, adding, "Her activism was the fruit of a profound prayer that I would say bordered on the mystic."

4. "Dorothy lived through two experiences of her day that are particularly enlightening for us today. Experience one: loneliness, alienation and disconnection to foundational institutions such as marriage and family. Secondly, the sexual revolution..." Archbishop Dolan called her life one of "upheaval," but said that her Augustinian model of faith reminds us that our sexuality cannot be cast aside as a weakness but is integral to our lives as an expression of our likeness to God. "She invites us to watch her grow in integrity in this most precious act of being human," he said.

5. "Dorothy neither hid from sin nor would allow any person, no matter their motives, to be simply equated with the sum of their sins. We are not ever or only the sum total of our sins, are we?" The archbishop said that Dorothy's life was "ever in process" and she was ever more converted to Jesus Christ every day. "Holiness of life, Dorothy would tell us, would have no chance without honesty at its base," he said, stressing that we cannot deny or lawyer up when it comes to our mistakes.

6. "Dorothy was a woman of the Church. She loved being a Catholic. She loved the Catholic Church. I'm not talking about some nebulous, generic Church. She loved the one, holy, catholic, apostolic, Roman church...She was proud to be Catholic."

Finally, Archbishop Dolan went on to say that our greatest pastoral challenge as Catholics today is to "respond to those who want Christ without his Church, and their name is legion." Saying that many people don't have a problem with Jesus but have "tons of problems" with his Church, he pointed out that Dorothy knew full well the flaws of her Church and loved it anyway:
"She loved the mystical body, but she new the mystical body had warts galore...Here's one of her saltier quotes, and there were many: 'Yes, the Church is the spotless bride of Christ, but at other times, she's the whore of Babylon.' Dorothy was well aware of the flaws, the wounds, the imperfections, the ugly side of the Church, but she loved it all the more."

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I came across the story of Carl and Ellie and was overwhelmed by its simplicity.Without speaking a single word, they exude their love for one another, their commitment to one another, their absolute willingness to give anything for each other. This is a beautiful depiction of the real love of a good marriage.

The joys of starting a life together, the effort they put into their home and their work, shows the blessings of marriage in the friendship of husband and wife. Even in the midst hardship and disappointment, their marital love is completely apparent. Right to the last moment of Ellie's life, that "love never fails."

This is what a vocation is all about - and not just the married vocation. The call to follow God as the person He has created you to be is the greatest blessing we receive and the greatest gift that we can give. A person joyfully and faithfully living their vocation is a sign to others of the reality of God's love for them and of God's love for the world. It is meant to be lived - and lived out loud.

When others see us, they should see someone who wishes to know and do what God is asking of them. They should see someone who, in following their call, has found the true Source of our happiness. They should see God's love made real in the way we live our lives.

Ellie and Carl knew that gift, and they lived it out loud and clear.
And not a word was spoken.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Marianist spirit

On Tuesday we had a vocations evening in the Kellenberg Memorial Community known as Operation Fiat. It is a chance for those pondering religious life to have a look at a Marianist community and chat with some of the Brothers about the Community, our life, and our mission. There were over sixty young men who spent the evening in Adoration, Benediction, Evening Prayer, dinner, and conversation. I was struck over the course of the day by how often I was asked the question - each time expressed in a slightly different way - what is Marianist spirituality?

This can be something of a tricky question for Marianists to answer. For Marianists, a spiritual life is one that is guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit in all its aspects and dimensions. Blessed Chaminade bequeathed us a way of life and a mission. Yet if this tradition is to lead both those that hear us teach and the Brothers themselves to God, it must be founded on the one true God. That is, it must be founded on love. Hence a loving family spirit - that leads us to Jesus through Mary - the motto of the Marianists.

The New Testament inspires the whole of our community life. We are guided by this new commandment of love. If we forget this commandment, our life together will be a source of ruin. If this commandment of love directs our actions, our community life will rekindle with joy, inspire love and esteem our vocation, attract others to share our life, and strengthen our apostolic work of education.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tap Buglers at Arlington National Cemetery

Prayer for Veterans Day

We ask for blessings on all those who have served their country in the armed forces.
We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded, in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe.
We pray especially for the young men and women, in the thousands, who are coming home from Iraq with injured bodies and traumatized spirits.
Bring solace to them, O Lord; may we pray for them when they cannot pray.
We ask for an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace,
As a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.
Have mercy on all our veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,
Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in.
Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative posts;
May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways.
Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting,
Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Holy Smoke!

I shared this video with my classes yesterday. It made the Pope's visit to Spain all the more real.

But Holy Smoke... and there was lots of it.
In one of the great spectacles of Christendom, the PopeStop at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela saw the unleashing of the botafumeiro -- the Spanish shrine's famous 5-foot-tall mega-thurible, suspended from its ceiling and said to reach top speeds approaching 70 kilometers an hour (42mph) as it swings across the sanctuary, peaking at an arc of some 200 feet....

Here, the moment in full:

While the tradition of a large swinging censer at Santiago dates to the 11th century, the botafumeiro took flight in 1851.

Centuries earlier, in one of the device's many mid-swing accidents, a prior model flew out a window of the cathedral, which was dedicated in 1128.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our God Reigns

Each day the Marianists celebrate the Liturgy of the Hours in common: Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer and Night Prayer.

Psalm 19 begins, "The heavens tell the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork . . . . "
Throughout this psalm, God extols for us the absolutely unimaginable value of his Word. The law of God, the Scripture, is a treasure, a glorious, life-changing, soul-reviving treasure. The disciple can't 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 the soul is a means of spiritual survival. We need God's Word to feed our souls 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. It 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 on stale rye bread; no, God’s words are sweet as honey.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Today's beauty

Can we become so consumed with the past that we can't see the beauty of today?

How much time and energy do we spend wishing things were how they used to be? We often think about times in our past when things were different and want our lives to be like that again. Some of us have even come to believe that our best days may actually be behind us. But if we're in some way hung up on the past, what does that mean for our lives now? How are we and those around us affected if we're not fully present? If we're longing for the way things used to be, what does that really say about our understanding and appreciation of our lives today? Maybe we need to learn to embrace our past for what it is, in order to live our lives to the fullest, right here, right now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Shortening Days

Phil Fox Rose from BUSTED HALO offers the following on the SAD That DST is Ending:

So I want to talk to you about two things: SAD and DST.

First, let’s clear up one thing about “seasonal affective disorder,” or SAD. Everyone is affected by the seasons. That’s not a disorder. That’s being human.

Unless you live near the equator, the length of days changes drastically during the year. In my hometown of New York, they peak at around 15 hours in June and shorten to 9+ hours in December. (In LA, it only ranges from 14-1/2 to 10, while in northern Scotland, the source of my genetic stock, the swing is from 18 to 6-1/2.)

Some people, without question, are debilitated by seasonal affective disorder; the reduced sunlight triggers their predisposition to depression in an extreme way and they suffer. For them, it’s entirely appropriate to look to mitigate the issue with light therapy and other focused treatments.

Dealing with the end of DST

For each of the three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, set your sleep routine back 20 minutes, so that when you wake up on Sunday morning after the time shift it will be at your normal time.

Make an extra effort those days to eat healthy food that won’t affect your sleep

Attend to any other health routines you have so that you are as fit as possible to absorb the impact of the change

Dealing with the shorter days of winter

Get outdoors for lunch, at least to go get it and bring it back, so you see at least some sunlight. I suggested going out for lunch in my column on getting outdoors in the summer; it’s all the more important now.

Leave window coverings open if practical to let in as much light as possible.

Embrace the season. Plan for more contemplative time; enjoy the slower pace instead of fighting it or feeling guilty for wanting to do less.

Take advantage of Advent, a traditional way of entering the winter season with reflection and contemplation.

Read a quiet spiritual book such as Thérèse of Lisieux’s The Story of a Soul or Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk.

Take a hike in the woods.

Consider a silent retreat.

A time for introspection

For the rest of us, when the days are shorter, the sunlight is less direct and the air is cold, you are supposed to want to do less, sleep more, gain a little weight. A friend in Maine, where they know a few things about dealing with winter, says, “Maybe winter is a time for introspection. Fighting that, we can feel depressed.” It is by expecting our usual level of energy and productivity that we get down on ourselves and feed into a slothful negative spiral. It’s just common sense that when there’s less sunlight people tend to have less energy and adopt a quieter, slower pace. Don’t fight that. Work with it.

Nevertheless, there are things you can do to make the best of the season. Most of the advice for dealing with SAD that Therese Borchard offers over at Beliefnet is good for everyone in wintertime. For example, she recommends getting outdoors in what sun there is whenever possible. (I actually prefer the winter for hiking in the woods — the air is crisp and fresh, you don’t sweat and as you quiet down with your surroundings you realize nature’s much more active than you first thought.) Go outside for lunch, at least to get it and bring it back, so you see at least a little sunlight. I suggested going out for lunch in my column on getting outdoors in the summer; it’s all the more important now. Or at least go for a brisk 10-minute walk each day. I just encourage you to see these things as taking care of yourself, rather than as fixing a disorder.

If you didn’t take my suggestion to use the summer months to go on a retreat, maybe this winter is the time. Or just build more reflective time into the day at home. Curl up and read a good book, perhaps a quiet spiritual one you’ve always meant to read: say, Thérèse of Lisieux’s classic The Story of a Soul (Histoire d’une Ame), or the Kathleen Norris memoir, The Cloister Walk. Respect the slower rhythms. And really explore Advent this year! When I converted to Catholicism, I was fascinated and delighted by Advent. I’ll write more about it soon, but it is a traditional way of entering the winter season with reflection and contemplation; shifting gears, as we should.

Saving daylight

Now just a few thoughts about daylight-saving time. The real problem DST is designed to correct is the rigidity of the modern world’s scheduling. Before the 19th century, most people simply measured their day by the sunrise and sunset. Working and eating and sleeping times adjusted naturally to the changing seasons. This fit well with the high cost of nighttime lighting, and with the fact that in an agrarian culture, there was a lot of work to do in the summer, and not much to do in the winter.

Today, most people’s jobs are disconnected from nature; nearly everyone works indoors on the same schedule year-round. Daylight-saving time adds more daylight after work to shop and play, and reduces energy consumed by artificial lights at night.

But on the other end, setting the clocks back an hour when DST ends for the year means that (literally) overnight, most of us will start getting off work to find it already dark. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t get up by 6:30 in the morning, so setting the clock back means I simply lose an hour of daily sunlight. If you’re indoors working all day, you may see virtually no natural sunlight until the days have lengthened enough again next year.

Personally, I guess I’d like to see DST stay in effect all year. Stealing an hour of sunlight from the wee hours and adding it to the evening works for me year-round.

The other big problem with daylight-saving time is that the shift of a full hour happens all at once, so your body can’t absorb it easily. It’s a mini-case of jet lag twice a year. The time change confuses the circadian rhythms of your body just when it’s trying to adapt naturally to the changing season. At least in the fall, you’re “gaining” an hour (that is, the day of the change has 25 hours in it, so in theory you can sleep an extra hour), but it still messes up your internal clock.

Standard advice for dealing with jet lag applies equally well to the coming time change. Shift your sleeping routine by 20 minutes each day for the three days prior to November 7, so, when the clock is moved back, you’ll wake up comfortably that Sunday morning at your usual time. This doesn’t erase the problem, but it softens the blow. Also, eat a healthy diet, and attend to any of your other routines, so you’re as fit as possible heading into the change.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Sunday Word

Thirty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Mc 7:1-2, 9-14
2 Thes 2:16-3:5
Lk 20:27-38
We are coming so much closer to the end of the liturgical season. And this Sunday we hear about preparing for the end of time. “In the same way, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the gates.” It is the Good News that we can stay alert and will be ready when it is our time to recognize the Lord’s coming in our own life’s challenges today.

In the gospel from Saint Luke, the Sadducees pose a riddle to Jesus. Jesus answers and disarms his questioners. He spends the time teaching not only about the resurrection but also something about marriage.

We also have the seven Maccabean brothers in the first scripture this weekend - but their's is a different story. The brothers are unwilling to compromise when faced with eating pork. So, in the midst of suffering and death for their faithfulness to their God, they give an early testimony to their belief in life after death.

And somewhat connected to the first and third readings today we have the passage from the second letter to the Thessalonians. As a part of the trilogy of readings we find Saint Paul encouraging his readers not to worry about the time of the Second Coming but rather to stand firm in their faith in the moment. The moment is what Paul is all about for today! Be in the NOW!

TODAY we celebrate we commemorate the the martyrdom of our four Marianists: Miguel Léiber Garay, SM; Florencio Arániz Cejudo, SM; Joaquín Ochoa Salazar, SM; and Sabino Ayastuy Errasti, SM all martyred during the relgious persecution in Spain in 1936.

498 Spanish martyrs were proclaimed blessed and marked the largest number to be beatified simultaneously in the history of the Church. Some fifty thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the celebration of the martyrs.

"The message of the martyrs is a message of faith and love," affirmed Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Saints' Causes. Beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on October 28, 2007

Friday, November 5, 2010

Halloween Memories

It has been a tradition each year to travel to our friends at Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, N.Y. This year we made our annual Halloween pilgrimage in all types of costumes. While the costumes were important and the treats even more enjoyable, the experience each year always brings a joy to the residents and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

This year we were greeted upon our arrival with something unsual and ghoolish. As we approached the front gate we spotted a large crowd jumping and screaming. The residents and sisters greeted us at the main entrance. Our arrival usually did not merit a crowd of greeters, except one year to be sprayed with silly string. The culprit who organzied that caper was none other than Mother Superior.

This year our greeters waited at the doors with masks and cheers. We carried pumpkins, gourds, leaves and festive hand-made cards. But the flurry of activity was unmerited until we came much closer. There, amidst the frenzied activitiy, were masks and faces that were unusual for the Sisters and Residents. Those faces emblazed on the masks were the Marianist Brothers. Through the wizardry of modern technology one of the computer savy sisters had prepared masks made with the faces of the Marianists.

Laughter and explanations filled the first moments of our arrival. But our visit to the residents and sisters enabled us to engage in some soemthing far greater that a scare of a trick. We gathered at Queen of Peace for something more meaningful than a costume or a pumpkin. We gathered to share a relationship that we have developed for many years. We gathered to engage in dialogue with those who are often without their families. We gathered to shares stories and experience peace and joy.

It did not take too long for our students to get acquainted with the residents. Good cheer and entertainment filled the over 50 student volunteers. And memories became the lasting effect of this year's Halloween.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Vocation of a Brother

Here is an excerpt from Fr. James Martin, S.J. who writes for America Magazine on St. Alphonsus and the vocation of the Brother:

Earlier in the week I posted a link to a story about a wonderful Christian Brother who began a school in New York for the poor. Just a few days ago, another Catholic brother, André Bessette, became the first member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross to be canonized. Catholic brothers, like Catholic sisters, are the unsung heroes of the church, laboring in schools, hospitals, parishes and other ministries with somewhat less public acclaim than their priestly counterparts.

The vocation of the Catholic brother is often misunderstood. Frequently they are asked, even by members of their own religious order, "Why don't you get ordained?" Is is often an insensitive question. You might as well ask a married man why he didn’t join a religious order. Or you might ask a young married woman: “Why aren't you in a convent?” It is simply a different vocation. Early on in my Jesuit life, a Jesuit brother memorably explained his vocation to me this way: "I just don't relate to people as a father. I relate to them as a brother.”

In the 1990s, when I worked in Kenya with the Jesuit Refugee Service, the refugees took to calling me Brother Jim. I was not ordained yet, so “Father Jim” was out, and they felt uncomfortable calling me simply “Jim,” so therefore: Brother Jim. It was an honorific that I treasured. And my friend's words about relating to people as a brother helped me to accompany the refugees more easily. And, truth to tell, on the day I was ordained a priest several years later, on perhaps the happiest day of my life, I felt nonetheless that while I was receiving an incredibe gift from God, I was also losing something: being seen publicly as a brother.

Sunday (Oct. 31) is the feast of another remarkable Catholic brother, St. Alphonsus Rodríguez, the humble Jesuit porter of Majorca. Here is a brief excerpt from my book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, which I offer as a tribute to this remarkable man, and to all the Catholic brothers.

Alphonsus had come to the Society of Jesus by a circuitous route. Born in 1533, he was the second son of a prosperous cloth merchant in Segovia. When Peter Favre, one of the original Jesuits, visited the city to preach, the Rodríguez family provided hospitality to the Jesuit. Favre, in fact, prepared the young Alphonsus for his First Communion, an important rite of passage in the church.

At 12, Alphonsus was sent to the Jesuit college at Alcalá, but his father's death put an end to his studies: he was forced to return home to take over the family business. At 27, Alphonsus married. He and his wife Maria had three children, but, tragically, his wife and children all died, one after the other. Heavy taxes and expenses led Alphonsus to the brink of financial ruin; many biographers depict him as feeling like a failure in life. In desperation he called on the Jesuits for guidance. The lonely widower prayed for many years to understand God's desires for him.

Gradually Alphonsus found within himself the desire to become a Jesuit. At 35, he was deemed too old to begin the long training required for the priesthood and he was rejected for entrance. But his holiness was evident to the local provincial, who accepted Alphonsus into the novitiate as a brother two years later. The provincial is supposed to have said that if Alphonsus wasn’t qualified to become a brother or a priest, he could enter to become a saint. He stayed for only six months before being sent to the Jesuit school in Majorca, Spain in 1571, where he assumed the job of porter, or doorkeeper.

Each time he opened the door, as I had mentioned, Brother Alphonsus said to himself, "I'm coming, Lord!" The practice reminded him to treat each person with as much respect as if it were Jesus himself.

In 1605 Peter Claver, a 25-year-old Jesuit seminarian, met the humble, 72-year-old Alphonsus at the college. The two met almost daily for spiritual conversations, and in time Alphonsus would encouraged Peter to think about working overseas in "the missions.” The prospect thrilled Peter, who wrote to his provincial for permission, and was sent to Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, to work with the West African slaves who had been captured by traders and shipped to South America. For his tireless efforts to feed, counsel and comfort the slaves, who had endured horrifying conditions, Peter would earn the sobriquet el esclavo de los esclavos, the slave of the slaves.

Peter Claver, the great missionary, would be canonized for his heroic efforts. Alphonsus Rodríguez would be canonized for his own brand of heroism: a lifelong humility.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Patron Saint of Hairdressers

Saint Martín de Porres was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

St. Martin de Porres became the patron saint of hairdressers because hairdressing was one of the duties he performed for his brothers in the friary.

Check him out, doesn't he look like the guy who played Jesus in Madonna’s Like A Pray music video?

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a black freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

I wonder what I have to do to get canonized as a modern day saint?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November 2: All Souls Day

 Here is a great quote of the day as we strive in holiness:

“Since I have the chance now, there is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century.

What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.

Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?

When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend.

 God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.”
--Pope Benedict XVI
Greeting to Catholic Pupils of the United Kingdom
St Mary's College, Twickenham
17 September 2010