Friday, September 30, 2011

Peter Kreeft: Twelve things to know about angels

Yesterday was the Feast of of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels.

Here is an excerpt from Angels (and Demons): What Do We Really About Them? (Ignatius Press; 2004, sixth printing) by Peter Kreeft:

The Twelve Most Important Things to Know About Them

1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture. They are as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity.

2. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you.

3. They’re not cute, cuddly, comfortable, chummy, or “cool”. They are fearsome and formidable. They are huge. They are warriors.

4. They are the real “extra-terrestrials”, the real “Super-men”, the ultimate aliens. Their powers are far beyond those of all fictional creatures.

5. They are more brilliant minds than Einstein.

6. They can literally move the heavens and the earth if God permits them.

7. There are also evil angels, fallen angels, demons, or devils. These too are not myths. Demon possessions, and exorcisms, are real.

8. Angels are aware of you, even though you can’t usually see or hear them. But you can communicate with them. You can talk to them without even speaking.

9. You really do have your very own “guardian angel”. Everybody does.

10. Angels often come disguised. “Do not neglect hospitality, for some have entertained angels unawares”—that’s a warning from life’s oldest and best instruction manual.

11. We are on a protected part of a great battlefield between angels and devils, extending to eternity.

12. Angels are sentinels standing at the crossroads where life meets death. They work especially at moments of crisis, at the brink of disaster—for bodies, for souls, and for nations.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Michael Raphael and Gabriel

Archangels —messengers from God—appear frequently in Scripture, but only Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are named.

Michael appears in Daniel's vision as "the great prince" who defends Israel against its enemies; in the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to final victory over the forces of evil. Devotion to Michael is the oldest angelic devotion, rising in the East in the fourth century. The Church in the West began to observe a feast honoring Michael and the angels in the fifth century.

Gabriel also makes an appearance in Daniel's visions, announcing Michael's role in God's plan. His best-known appearance is an encounter with a young Jewish girl named Mary, who consents to bear the Messiah.

Raphael's activity is confined to the Old Testament story of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit's son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah's marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit's blindness and the restoration of the family fortune.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I am in the midst of reading a couple of books on Blessed Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa in My Own Words is a book of her quotes on different subjects in the Christian faith.


”Holiness does not consist in doing extraordinary things. It consists in accepting, with a smile, what Jesus sends us. It consists in accepting and following the will of God.”

“Holiness is not the luxury of a few. It is everyone’s duty: yours and mine.”

“We should go out to meet people. Meet the people who live afar and those who live very close by. Meet the materially poor or the spiritually poor.”

“The fact of death should not sadden us. The only thing that should sadden us is to know that we are not saints.”

“He (Jesus) asked–”will you do this for me?” Everything was His–I had only to surrender myself to His plan–to His will–Today His work has grown because it is He not I that do it through me.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Blessed are those who do not see...

Believing and seeing is a lot of hard work. Believing isn't the same thing as wishing. Believing takes grit and guts, blood and sweat. It also requires enthusiasm, energy and zeal.

The Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis told about the monk who had long planned to go to Jerusalem to see the Holy Sepulchre.

He finally began with the money he had saved over 40 years. Soon after he left the monastery, he passed a field where a pale, emaciated man was digging roots out of the ground, and he said to the monk, "Good morning, Father. Where are you going?" The monk replied, "I am going to Jerusalem to see the Holy Sepulchre, where Christ was buried, and I am going to march around it three times and pray." The man in the field said, "That trip will cost much money." "Yes," said the monk, "all my life's savings." Then the man suggested, "Father, why not march around me three times and give me the money so that my wife and children might have food." And the monk did.

The monk never saw where Christ was buried. But he saw where Christ was alive and living -- in other people!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dare to be glowing saints

( It was another busy day for the pope. After meeting with former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, he met with representatives of Orthodox Churches. Later on, he greeted seminarians from Freiburg and finally he met with the Central Committee of German Catholics. But the day wasn't over yet. Benedict XVI held a prayer vigil with roughly 20,000 youths at the city's fair.

The pope told the crowd, they shouldn't be afraid to recognize the hardships that exists in their lives. He asked them to stay away from temptations like, laziness or hesitations that may come when they're thinking of doing a good deed.

“Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in your lives you stumble and fall, as in how often you pick yourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but He wants His light to shine in you.”

The young adults were encouraged to be true witnesses of faith, by sharing their energy and service with the Church.

“Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God's kingdom and to give yourselves-like candlewax-so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you.”

The pope then invited the youths to try and live a life of sainthood. He then added that there's no saint, who didn't sin.

“Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus brings light to the world. I am confident that you and many other young people here in Germany are lamps of hope that do not remain hidden. You are the light of the world.”

Benedict XVI will celebrated Sunday morning Mass in Freigburg's airport.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Word on the Word

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today's pericope, Jesus tells a story which reveals the traits of the heavenly parent who has hopes and dreams for the earthly children, and yet at the same time displays compassion and understanding. Jesus describes the father whose expectations are clear. "Go work in the field," Jesus says with authority. The first son refuses, yet after some thought, thinks better of his rebellion and goes out to the vineyard. Despite his initial refusal, he obeys his father.

The second son is somewhat more devious. He puts on a good face and immediately agrees with his father's request; however, his actions do not measure up to his words. He ignores his father's wishes and never appears in the vineyard. Jesus asks the critical question, "Which of the two did the will of his father?"

Jesus clearly has a forgiving heart and is able to see the bigger picture. It's not the first son's words that are important to Jesus, but his actions. Jesus allows room for complaining and verbal resistance. The first son, despite his original reluctance and outward show of rebellion, soon chooses obedience. He follows the will of his father and does the work to which he is called. The second son only talks a good game. He promises much and produces nothing of value.

One must walk the walk, even when it means backtracking from a poorly chosen path, and starting over down the narrow path toward eternal life.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dispositions for Discipleship 5

The GIFT of discipleship - The text says, Those hired first grumbled…we bore the heat of the day and burdens thereof.

Notice how the early workers think of their entrance into the vineyard and its labors as a “burden.” Of course the vineyard is really the Kingdom of God. And, it reamains true that many “cradle Catholics,” of a lukewarm nature, consider the faith to be a burden and think, somehow, that “sinners have all the fun.” Never mind that this is a completely perverted thinking, it is held anyway, consciously and unconsciously, by many.

But consider the laborers hired last. Were they having a picnic? Not exactly. Most were resigning themselves to the fact that they and their family will have little or nothing to eat tonight. Similarly, most sinners do not live the life of Reilly. Repeated and life-long sin brings many griefs: disease, dissipation of wealth, regrets, loss of family, addiction and so forth. Sinners do no have all the fun, no matter what they tell you.

Further, being a Christian is not a burden. If accepted, we receive a whole new life from Christ, a life of: freedom, purity, simplicity, victory over sin, joy, serenity, vision and destiny.

How do you view the Christian life? Is it a gift, a treasure beyond compare no matter its difficulties? Or is it a burden, a bearing of the labor in the heat of the day? Scripture says, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God. It goes on to describe our “works” not as burdens but as something God enables us to do: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dispositions for Discipleship 4

MAFA. The Late-arriving Workers, from Art in the Christian Tradition,
a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.
The PERSEVERANCE of Discipleship –
The text says, When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to foreman…summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.

Notice the wage is paid in the evening and in the order determined by the land owner (who is God). The lesson is simple, we’ve got to stay in the vineyard. Some start things, but do not finish them. But if you’re not there at six, no pay.

Scripture says that we must persevere. Jesus says, But he who perseveres to the end will be saved (Mat 24:13). We also read To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life (Rom 2:7). And again, You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. (Heb 10:36).

Yes, we must work till evening comes. Saying we had faith when we were young and that we got all our sacraments when we were young will not suffice. We have to work till evening. An old spiritual says, Some go to Church for to sing and shout. Before six months they’s all turned out. How about you?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Discipleship:Tears of the Saints

The text says, The vineyard owner came at Dawn, 9:00 am, Noon, 3:00 pm, 5:00pm

We may puzzle as to why God call some early, others late; none of our business. But he does call at different times. And even those he calls early, he does not always call us to do everything now. There is a timing to discipleship.

Moses thought he was ready at age 40, and in his haste, he murdered a man. God said, “Not now!” and made him wait until he was 80.

Sometimes we’ve got something we want to do but the Lord says, “Not yet.” And we think, “But Lord! This is a great project and many will benefit!” But the Lord says, “Not yet.” And we say, “But Lord I’m ready to do it now!” And the Lord says, “Not yet.”

Sometimes we think we’re ready, but we’re not. An old gospel song says, God is preparing me. He’s preparing me for something I cannot handle right now. He’s making me ready, just because he cares. He’s providing me with what I’ll need to carry out the next matter in my life. God is preparing me. Just because he cares for me. He’s: maturing me. arranging me, realigning my attitude. He’s training me, teaching me, tuning me, purging me, pruning me, He’s preparing me.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Go and make disciples...

This Pope is proclaimed not to be “charismatic.” Well, of course, he’s charismatic: he’s a proven "people magnet." In his quiet and kindly way, he is a human dynamo. He’s going to address the German parliament, meet Jewish and Muslim groups, hold a prayer vigil with young people and celebrate Mass in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Among very much else: that’s just the headlines. And we’ve seen here how visits by this supposedly frail old man go: they begin well, and then build up from there. He’s hardly had time to recover from Madrid: and already he’s off again. I’m not going to say anything more, just give you his schedule. Read it: even better, pray for it as it unfolds. A man 30 years younger would find this exhausting: my only comment is that nobody of his age could do it (as he triumphantly will) without the constant comfort and support of almighty God, for whose existence this Pope is almost a one-man proof. Just look at this, then ponder and marvel:
Thursday, Sept. 22 (Rome, Berlin)
- 8:15 am, Departure from Rome’s Ciampino airport for Berlin.
- 10:30 am, Arrival at Berlin Tegel Airport. Official welcome.
- 11:15 pm, Welcoming ceremony at Bellevue Palace in Berlin. Speech by the pope.
Courtesy visit with German President Christian Wulff in Bellevue Palace.
- 12:50 pm, Official meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the headquarters of the German bishops’ conference in Berlin, next to the Catholic Academy.
- 1:30 pm, Lunch with papal entourage at the Catholic Academy.
- 4:15 pm, Visit to the federal Parliament in the Reichstag Building in Berlin. Speech by the pope.
- 5:15 pm, Meeting with representatives of the Jewish community in a room of the Reichstag Building. Speech by the pope.
- 6:30 pm, Mass in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. Homily by the pope.

Friday, Sept. 23 (Berlin, Erfurt, Etzelsbach)
- 7:15 am, Private Mass in chapel of apostolic nunciature in Berlin.
- 9 am, Meeting with representatives of the Muslim community in reception room of the apostolic nunciature. Speech by the pope.
- 10 am, Departure by plane from Berlin Tegel Airport for Erfurt.
- 10:45 am, Arrival at Erfurt airport.
- 11:15 am, Visit to St Mary’s Cathedral in Erfurt.
- 11:45 am, Meeting with representatives of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, in the Chapter Room of the Monastery of St. Augustine in Erfurt. Speech by the pope.
- 12:20 pm, Ecumenical service in the Church of St. Augustine. Talk by the pope.
- 1:20 pm, Lunch with papal entourage in Erfurt seminary.
- 4:45 pm, Departure in helicopter from Erfurt airport for Etzelsbach.
- 5:30 pm, Arrival at Etzelsbach heliport.
- 5:45 pm, Marian evening prayer service at the Wallfahrtskapelle in Etzelsbach. Talk by the pope.
- 7 pm, Departure in helicopter from Etzelsbach for Erfurt.
- 7:40 pm, Arrival at Erfurt airport.

Saturday, Sept. 24 (Erfurt, Freiburg im Breisgau)
- 9 am, Mass at the Domplatz market square in Erfurt. Homily by the pope.
- 11:50 am, Departure by plane from Erfurt airport for Lahr.
- 12:50 pm, Arrival at Lahr airport.
- 2 pm, Visit to the cathedral of Freiburg im Breisgau.
- 2:15 pm, Encounter with townspeople in Cathedral Square of Freiburg im Breisgau. Greeting by the pope.
- 4:50 pm, Meeting with ex-Chancellor Helmut Kohl in seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau.
- 5:15 pm, Meeting with representatives of Orthodox churches in the auditorium of the seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau. Greeting by the pope.
- 5:45 pm, Meeting with seminarians in the Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo in seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau. Greeting by the pope.
- 6:15 pm, Meeting with the council of the Central Committee of German Catholics in the auditorium of the seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau. Speech by the pope.
- 7 pm, Prayer vigil with young people at the trade fair grounds of Freiburg im Breisgau. Speech by the pope.

Sunday, Sept. 25 (Freiburg im Breisgau, Rome)
- 10 am, Mass at tourist airport of Freiburg im Breisgau. Homily by the pope.
-Recital of the Angelus. Talk by the pope.
- 12:45 pm, Lunch with members of the German bishops’ conference and papal entourage at seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau.
- 4:20 pm, Meeting with judges of the Federal Constitutional Court in auditorium of the seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau.
- 5 pm, Meeting with Catholics involved in the church and in society in the Concert Hall of Freiburg im Breisgau. Speech by the pope.
- 6:45 pm, Departure ceremony at Lahr airport. Speech by the pope.
- 7:15 pm, Departure in plane from Lahr airport for Rome.
- 8:45 pm, Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.

Then, I assume, back to Castel Gandolfo. But there will be no let up: He’s then, off to Benin in November and Iraq in January. This is a man who repeatedly asked his predecessor for permission to retire, who longed for a peaceful retirement in his beloved Regensburg home: and now…

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dispositions for Discipleship 2

The CALL of Discipleship – The text says, The Land OWNER said, “Go into my vineyard”….HE sent them into HIS vineyard.

So notice that it is the land owner who calls the shots. Too many, who call themselves the Lord’s disciples, rush into his vineyard with great ideas and biggie-wow projects that they have never really asked God about. But this passage teaches us that entrance into the vineyard requires the owners permission. If we expect to see fruits (wages for the work) at the end of the day, we have to be on the list of approved workers.

Fruitful discipleship is based on a call from the Lord. Scripture says, Unless the Lord builds the House, they that labor to build it labor in vain (Ps 127:1). Too many people run off and get married, take new jobs, accept promotions, start projects, etc., without ever asking God.

But true discipleship requires the Lord’s call first: “Go into my vineyard.” Got a bright idea? Ask God first. Discern his call with the Church, and a good spiritual director, guide, or pastor.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dispositions for Discipleship 1

In Sunday's Gospel there are various dispositions of discipleship that are taught as the parable unfolds. Let's look at them each in turn:

I. The AVAILABILITY of discipleship – the text says, A landowner went at dawn to hire laborers to work in his field….He went later and found others standing idle….Why do you stand idle here all day?

Now it is clear that what we have described here are “day workers.” These were men, much like the Latino men of our day, who stood in public places hoping to be hired for the day. It was a tough life for, if you worked, you ate, if you didn’t you’d have little or nothing to eat. They were (are) called day laborers because they were hired only on a day to day basis, as needed. This is a terrible form of poverty for its vicissitude and men like these were (are) the poorest of the poor.

But note how their poverty, their hunger, makes them available. Each morning they show up and are ready, are available to be hired. Their poverty also motivates them to seek out the land owner and indicate that they are ready and willing to work. The well fed, and otherwise employed, do not show up, are not available. There’s something about poverty that makes these men available. Because their glass is empty, it is able to be filled.

But these men are us. We are the poor who depend on God for everything. Sometimes we don’t want to admit that, but we are. And every now and then it is made plain to us how poor, vulnerable and needy we really are. And this tends to make us seek God. In our emptiness, poverty and powerlessness, suddenly, there is room for God. Suddenly our glass, too often filled with the world, is now empty enough for God to find room. And in our pain we stand ready for God to usher us into the vineyard of his kingdom. An old gospel song says, Lord, I’m available to you, my storage is empty and I am available to you. It is our troubles that make us get up and go out with the poor to seek the Lord and be available to him. When things are going too well, Lord knows where we are to be found! Another gospel song says, Lord don’t move my mountain but give me the strength to climb it. Don’t take away my stumbling block but lead me all around. Cause Lord when my get a little too easy you know I tend to stray from thee.

Yes, we might wish for a trouble free life, but then, where would we be? Would we seek the Lord, would we make ourselves available to God, would we ever call on him at all?
H/T to Msgr. Charles Pope

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Opening of the 25th Year

Yesterday the Meribah Province celebrated the 25th Anniversary Opening Mass for Kellenberg Memorial High School.

Twenty-five years ago the Province sent Brothers Richard, David, Robert Anthony, Mark, and Fathers Albert and Garrett to staff the newest educational work, Kellenberg Memorial High School. Named in honor of the first bishop of the Diocese, the Marianists have transformed the spirit of the school.

Our founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade named our educational work, "a magnificent work." And magnificent it has been to see the growth and graces of this Marianist school.

In his homily yesterday, Father Philip quoted Dag Hammarskjold: "For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes. "

May God continue to bless the works of our Meribah Province.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Word on the Word

Time to begin to prepare for celebrating the Lord's Day this weekend, the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Spend some time with the texts before you make your way to Church for the last summer weekend.
The kingdom of heaven, says Jesus, is like a landowner who goes out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. He rounds up a group, agrees to pay them the usual daily wage and then puts them into action.

At nine o'clock, he rounds up another group. At noon, he recruits a third team, and then at three o'clock, a fourth. Finally, at five o'clock, he finds still more laborers who are willing and able to work. He sends them into the vineyard to do what they can before sundown.

As the day ends, the landowner instructs his manager to pay the workers, beginning with those who started at five in the afternoon. Their pay: one denarius, the usual daily wage. Then the three o'clock team is paid - one denarius. The nooners, one denarius. The nine o'clock crowd, one denarius.

Finally, the all-day workers get their pay, and it is the same: one denarius. This final group of coworkers are mad, believing that they deserve more than the workers who began their work at the end of day. "These last worked only one hour," the sunrise crowd grumbles, "and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat."

But these people are thinking like Kinko's, not Kingdom coworkers. "Friend, I am doing you no wrong," explains the landowner to one of the all-day workers; "did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?"

"Well, ah  yea, in fact I did," admits the laborer.

"Take what belongs to you and go," advises the owner; "I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you."  As unfair as it may seem to pay a one-hour worker the same wage as a 12-hour worker, we have to admit that the landowner is perfectly free to do what he chooses with what belongs to him. If he wants to be generous, he is certainly entitled to be generous.

In the economy of the kingdom of God, God's grace is unmerited. God pays a full day's wages - regardless.

In one penetrating parable, Jesus leaves us with a lot to think about.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Marianist schools celebrate together

Yesterday all three Marianist schools gathered on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross (or Triumph of the Cross) where we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world.  
 The Cross — because of what it represents — is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith.
We remembered Our Lord’s words, “He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it” (Mt 10:38,39). Meditating on these words we unite ourselves — our souls and bodies — with His obedience and His sacrifice; and we rejoice in this inestimable gift through which we have the hope of salvation and the glory of everlasting life.
Dying, you destroyed our death; rising you restored our life. Save us by your cross, Christ our Redeemer.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Triumph of the Cross

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Preface for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks.

You decreed that we should be saved through the wood of the cross.
The tree of our defeat became our tree of victory;
where life was lost, there life has been restored
through Christ our Lord...
God of Glory,
the Cross shines as a sign
of obedience to your will
and a symbol of your love
for the world.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gifts come in strange packages!

Some of God’s greatest blessings come in strange packages.

This video has been out for a while, but I never cease to be amazed by it. When I saw it I didn’t expect to be too impressed. It was just supposed to be a kid playing an accordion. I didn’t expect much. Frankly I don’t think of an accordion as a lofty instrument. And seeing a rather young man, I expected the usual “recital” scenario, where the skills would be less than virtuoso. I had no idea what I was about to see. I NEVER knew an accordion could be made to sound like this nor did I expect to see such virtuosity. This young man has extraordinary talent. One of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the Presto from “Summer” on accordion! yes, an accordion! Sometimes gifts come in strange packages!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Holy Name of Mary - Patronal Feast


Instituted by Pope Innocent XI in the 17th century. God the Father is gloriļ¬ed by the exalted role in salvation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thus her name is one of honor, a holy name, a maternal name, and a name responsive to the needs of the Church.

Its is the patronal feast of the Society of Mary.

"We can preach Mary in our conversations, our correspondence, our classrooms, often by mere allusions. Father Chaminade said, 'I need not tell you that the holy name of Mary must be found naturally, as it were, everywhere. Whether you pray alone or in common, whether you encourage, instruct, or conduct a sodality meeting -- do not be content unless the holy name of Mary is mentioned.' The closing words of the former text of the rule on stability come to mind: 'To propagate the knowledge of Mary and to perpetuate love and devotion to whatever circumstance of life it might be.' Commenting on this passage Father Simler adds, 'Piety is ingenious and strong enough to fit into this plan all the actions and all the decisions of our lives."
-- Emil Neubert, S.M.

Happy Feast Day to the Marianist Family

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Praying on 9/11

When the Vicar of Christ visited the United States he made a special visit to "Ground Zero", a truly American site of prayer and reflection and he prayed. The words of that beautiful prayer are as stirring today as they were on April 20, 2008. In memory of all those who died, those who still suffer, those who still grieve their loss and for a Nation which today reflects on the event and what it means for the future,we offer the Pope's Prayer:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and
Port Authority personnel, along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in
Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.

Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.

Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.

Pope Benedict XI--Prayer at Ground Zero
New York, 20 April 2008

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Word on the Word

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sir 27:30-28:7
Rom 14:7-9
Mt 18:21-35

Jesus is calling us to roll up our sleeves and do some very demanding work. In our justice-oriented world, we expect that insults are going to be followed by apologies and crimes are going to be followed by punishments, but Jesus turns this system upside down by saying, “Just forgive!” Notice that Jesus doesn’t even expect the sinner to repent or make amends. Forgive them, orders Jesus — “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.” Maybe 490 times. Point is, your forgiveness should be beyond calculation.

Now some will object to this open-ended approach to forgiveness, saying that it turns Christians into doormats, fails to hold sinners accountable, and invites abusers to continue their abuse. They’ve got a point, and it’s hard to imagine that Jesus wants us to throw justice completely out the window. But still he says, “Forgive.” Not just seven times, but dozens or even hundreds of times. Jesus is saying that forgiveness is at the heart of life in the church — it creates a distinctively merciful community.

Why is this?

So this man is more than knee-deep in debt. He’s over his head, drowning in red ink, sinking like a rock. Makes the sub-prime mortgage crisis look like a problem with petty cash.

The king orders the slave to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, so that a payment can be made. With nothing left to lose, the slave falls on his knees before the king and says, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” Surprisingly, the king shows pity and releases the slave, forgiving him the entire debt .

That’s the kind of God we have, says Jesus — a king who has mercy on us, and who forgives us our debts. It’s a dirty job, but we’ve got a God who will do it!

Now that’s a pleasant parable, but we haven’t reached the end. That freshly forgiven slave races out of the palace and comes upon a second slave who owes him a hundred denarii — 100 coins, each one equal to the daily wage for a laborer. This amount is a significant sum, for sure, but it’s positively microscopic compared to what the first slave owed the king. The first slave seizes the second slave by the throat and demands that he pay him what he owes. The second slave falls down and pleads with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you."

No way, says the first slave. No way. Not gonna happen. He throws the second slave in prison until the whole debt is paid.

Here, the plot thickens. When his fellow slaves see what has happened, they go ballistic — they run and give the king a full report. The king summons the first slave and says, “You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. You think that was easy for me? Why didn’t you show mercy to your fellow slave, as I did to you?”

Our Lord is a merciful God who is willing to do the dirty work of blotting out our transgressions, washing us from our iniquity, and cleansing us from our sin.  God is betting that we have been transformed by his forgiveness into the kind of people who can do the hard work of forgiving others. God knows that his mercy can have a surprising and wonderful effect — it can create a community of merciful people.

God is willing to do the most disgusting of dirty jobs — the removal of our sin through his gift of forgiveness. All he asks is that we turn and do the same for others. Seven times. Seventy-seven times. Maybe even 490 times.

There’s deep satisfaction in tackling and finishing a tough job.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Birth of Mary

The Church has celebrated Mary’s birth since at least the sixth century. A September birth was chosen because the Eastern Church begins its Church year with September. The September 8th  date helped determine the date for the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 (nine months earlier).

Scripture does not give an account of Mary’s birth. However, the apocryphal Protoevangelium of James fills in the gap. This work has no historical value, but it does reflect the development of Christian piety. According to this account, Anna and Joachim are infertile but pray for a child. They receive the promise of a child that will advance God’s plan of salvation for the world. Such a story (like many biblical counterparts) stresses the special presence of God in Mary’s life from the beginning.

St. Augustine connects Mary’s birth with Jesus’ saving work. He tells the earth to rejoice and shine forth in the light of her birth. “She is the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley. Through her birth the nature inherited from our first parents is changed.” The opening prayer at Mass speaks of the birth of Mary’s Son as the dawn of our salvation and asks for an increase of peace.

We can see every human birth as a call for new hope in the world. The love of two human beings has joined with God in his creative work. The loving parents have shown hope in a world filled with struggles. The new child has the potential to be a channel of God’s love and peace to the world.
This is all true in a magnificent way in Mary. If Jesus is the perfect expression of God’s love, Mary is the foreshadowing of that love. If Jesus has brought the fullness of salvation, Mary is its dawning.

Birthday celebrations bring happiness to family and friends. Next to the birth of Jesus, Mary’s birth offers the greatest possible happiness to the world. Each time we celebrate her birth we can confidently hope for an increase of peace in our hearts and in the world at large.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mary, Queen of Apostles

Yesterday we celebrated Mary as Queen of Apostles in the Marianist Community. It is one of the oldest devotions in the Church. After Christ and with Christ, Mary is the Apostle. God continues to give all graces through Mary, just as He willed that Christ should come to us through Mary: "born of a woman."

Every apostolate and every true apostle has life and action from Mary. Christ began his apostolate through Mary at Cana; the mission of the apostles was begun through Mary in the cenacle. Likewise, through the centuries all apostolates have received their origin and strength through Mary. Without God, nothing exists; without Mary, nothing in Christ and in the Church.

Mary is Queen of Apostles because she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ and to give him to the world; she was made the apostles' Mother and our own by our Savior on the cross. She was with the apostles while awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, obtaining for them the abundance of supernatural graces they received on Pentecost. The most holy Virgin was and always will be the wellspring for every apostolate.

She exercised a universal apostolate, one so vast that it embraced all others. The apostolate of prayer, the apostolate of good example, the apostolate of suffering--Mary fulfilled them all. Other people have practiced certain teachings of the Gospel; Mary lived them all. Mary is full of grace, and we draw from her abundance.

Mary attracts the zealous to the various apostolates, then protects and defends all these works. She sheds on each the warmth of her love and the light of her countenance. She presented Jesus in a manner unparalleled throughout the ages. Her apostolate is of the highest degree--never to be equaled, much less surpassed.

Mary gave Jesus to the world and with Jesus came every other blessing. Thus, because of Mary we have the Church: "Mary is the Mother of the Church not only because she is the Mother of Christ and His most intimate associate in 'the new economy when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that He might in the mysteries of His flesh free man from sin', but also because 'she shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues'. (Lumen Gentium. 55, 65)

Because the Blessed Mother occupies a most important position in God's plan of salvation, all humanity should pay homage to her. Whoever spreads devotion to the Queen of Apostles is an apostolic benefactor of the human race, because devotion to Mary is a treasure. Blessed is the person who possesses this treasure! Mary's devotees will never be without grace; in any danger, in every circumstance they will always have the means to obtain every grace from God.

Several religious congregations practice devotion to Mary under the title of Queen of Apostles, including the the Marianists.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

“We have reminded Christians of the wonderful words of Genesis which tell us that God created man so that he might work, and we have concentrated on the example of Christ, who spent most of His life on earth working as a craftsman in a village. We love human work which He chose as His state in life, which He cultivated and sanctified. We see in work, in men’s noble creative toil, not only one of the highest human values, an indispensable means to social progress and to greater justice in the relations between men, but also a sign of God’s Love for His creatures, and of men’s love for each other and for God: we see in work a means of perfection, a way to sanctity.”

– St. Josemaria Escriva.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor Day

 In the seventh century, a great saint, St. Benedict of Nursia, founded the Benedictines. Benedict, in whose honor our current Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, has chosen his name, wanted his monks, even though they lived in a monastery praising God, to also work in order to earn their livelihood. They would worship God not only through prayer, but also through their work. In this way, the Benedictine monks helped improve society in Europe. Their monasteries expanded throughout Europe, giving it spiritual unity. They also taught agricultural techniques to the people and preserved the classical culture through their work copying the great Greek and Roman philosophical and artistic works.
This cultural and spiritual revolution was founded in a simple motto: “ora et labora,” pray and work. Since its beginnings then, the church and the Marianists have intimately linked these two activities: prayer and work.

For us Catholics, prayer is essential. St. Alphonsus Liguori used to say sharply: “He who doesn’t pray, won’t be saved.” With this phrase, the saint wanted to emphasize how important prayer is for our life. In the same way that work guarantees bodily food, prayer is the nourishment for the spirit. Without prayer, the soul dies, just like the body does when it is deprived of food and water.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Word on the Word

Rom 13:8-10
Mt 18:15-20

Just about that time to reflect on this Sunday's Word, unless you have done it already.
Better yet, sit down with the Word and begin to read, study and pray over it!

The texts are quite strong this weekend with strong sayings.

Find some time to read the texts and background materials to prepare for Mass this Sunday.

The first reading from the prophet Ezekiel gives us fair warning on the rules of the game of life. Do we read the rules? Do we play by them? Whose rules do we follow?

And then Saint Paul lists some of those rules but reminds us that every law finds its ultimate source and meaning in the command that we love one another. It's too easy to say that Jesus and Paul said these simple things in simpler times and so they no longer are to be taken at face value. It's taking what's simple at face value that is the scripture's, and the Lord's, challenge to us.

Friday, September 2, 2011

We are Catholic.

"In a today’s world we live in an age of instant everything. We live in a world of now—a world of immediate satisfaction,” Audrey Kasenge told her fellow graduates during the Commencement Exercises of Christendom College’s Graduate School held on the college’s Front Royal, Va., campus on July 30, 2011. Twenty-one students—a record number—received their Master of Arts in Theological Studies while three of them also received the Advanced Apostolic Catechetical Diploma.

“Instant messaging, fast food, movies on demand, Twitter, Facebook—and yet with all these means of immediate satisfaction to our desires, when you look around, it still seems like something is missing,” Kasenge said. “Technology can never satisfy the deepest desires of the human heart—the desire for intimate union with God.” …

“As Catholics we have the answers,” she said. “We must share this knowledge with those who are searching. We have studied the faith and now our mission is to proclaim it within our particular state in life. Whether it’s in schools, in our churches, at work, and—most importantly—in our families.” …

“Christendom delivered. They gave me knowledge of God and then some,” she said. “I would like to thank the absolutely phenomenal faculty and staff of the Graduate School. They are the reason this program is so amazing, so challenging, and so orthodox.”

Concluding, Kasenge said, “We are Catholic. Embrace it. Own it. Live it. Be proud of it. We belong to the one true Church founded by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. What a gift. What a blessing.” …

Thursday, September 1, 2011

An Inspirational Catholic

On May 20 this year, New Jersey’s Jeff Grabosky became the 18th person to run across the United States.

Jeff, 28, is unashamedly Catholic and began his run on the west coast of America on January 20thof St Sebastian, the patron saint of athletes. He woke at 4 am each morning, and over the course of 121 days ran up to 65 miles a day until he reached the east coast of America, in total covering 2,300 miles on foot, the equivalent of more than 141 marathons.

Jeff, a graduate of Notre Dame University and a great believer in the power of prayer, decided that he would not do this epic run for any particular charity, but for prayer. Jeff’s beloved mother passed away in October 2006, and he did the run in her memory.

Jeff’s run was an arduous pilgrimage. Each day he prayed continually. At all times Jeff carried a rosary ring and invited people to leave prayer requests on his website. He promised at least a decade for each intention. Many of the prayer intentions concerned sick children, which motivated Jeff to pray all the harder and he offered up the physical pain of the run for them.

This September Jeff will start work as a teaching assistant in a Catholic primary school in Phoenix, Arizona.