Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I think it was just before Halloween that I saw my first Christmas decorations this year. This is way before the "official" start of the Christmas season. I can't even tell you how many times I heard on the radio that "the Christmas season has officially begun" just after Thanksgiving.

This is a clear indication that in the American culture, Christmas is intimately linked, even identified, with shopping for gifts and decorating homes, inside and out. The Thanksgiving turkey isn't even fully digested before some folks have begun to hit the stores and plug in the lights on the tree.

For those of us who haven't thought of the good Saint Nick even once yet, here's a refresher on a whole season that comes between Thanksgiving and Christmas: Advent

Here's a thumbnail sketch of how the season of Advent developed in the life and history of the Church.

In 490, Bishop Perpetuus of Tours officially declared Advent a penitential season in the Frankish Church of Western Europe, ordering a fast on three days of every week from November 11 (the feast of St. Martin of Tours) till Christmas. This forty days' fast, similar to Lent, was originally called Quadragesima Sancti Martini (Forty Days' Fast of Saint Martin's) - or - St. Martin's Lent. The readings for the Masses in this season were taken from the liturgies of Lent.

By contrast, the Advent season of the Roman liturgy, developing a century after that of the Frankish Church, was a non-penitential, festive and joyful time of preparation for Christmas. When the Church unified the liturgical season, the non-penitential nature of the Roman Advent conflicted with the longer and penitential Gallic Advent. By the thirteenth century a compromise was reached, which combined the fasting and penitential character of the Gallic observance with the Mass texts and shorter four-week cycle of the Roman Advent liturgy. The liturgy of Advent remained substantially unaltered until Vatican II mandated a few minor changes to more clearly delineate the spirit of the Lenten and Advent seasons.

- Jennifer Miller

Happy Advent!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Out with the old, in with the new!

Well,  we have moved to the new Roman Missal as of Sunday. We have left behind some of the prayers that we have used for a very long time. Some of us have listened to those prayers at our first Holy Communion. And there are some of us that have grown over the years that this change is one among many.

As we usher in a new translation, let's not forget the value of the old. After all, tradition is an important part of the Church, and we would be remiss if there was not an elegy for the old Sacramentary, the prayers of our youth: simple, clean, clear, direct, unadorned, beautiful.

The Bible Geek, Mark Hart, sheds some light on this topic with a clear and concise explanation from LifeTeen. Take a look at the entire video clip if you have some time. It is informative and engaging. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Marianist Monday

Yesterday, November 27,  marked the feast of the Miraculous Medal, otherwise known as the medal of the Immaculate Conception. Though the feast honors the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the memorial commemorates the anniversary of the apparition of the Mother of God to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1830, where Our Lady showed the nun the medal she wished to be made for those to wear seeking her aid and protection. The Blessed Virgin spoke to Catherine: “Have a medal struck upon this model. Those who wear it will receive great graces, especially if they wear it around the neck.” Countless miracles followed, hence the name, the Miraculous Medal.

Last summer the World Youth Day pilgrimage from our Marianist schools were able to visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. We prayed at the bodies of St. Catherine Laboure and St. Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent is buried in another church on the same stree. These are two very important saints of French Catholicism.

This chapel had a unique significance for us because initially we were unable to visit as Mass was in progress. But after a quick look and a little conversation, all were permitted to visit and pray by an English-speaking sister at the shrine. The chapel itself is where St. Catherine Laboure had a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the sanctuary. During this vision, Mary told St. Catherine to establish the devotion of the Miraculous Medal so that many who were not praying would come to pray through the grace offered by her Son. Today, there are more than a million people who keep this devotion worldwide. Ours was a graced-filled trip. 

"O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

In 12 days the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent come...we wait

Today we enter the season of Advent and a new Year of Grace.

With a Kyrie (Lord have mercy) and Dona nobis pacem (Grant us peace) soundtrack, this video draws us into the season of Advent as those who wait not only for Christmas on December 25 but, more importantly, for all the ways the Lord comes to us on every day of the year - and all the ways we wait for his coming...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Word on the Word

Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

If we were to summarize the last lecture of Randy Pausch in a phrase it could be, Keep awake.

Pausch delivered his final lecture in September 2007, after he had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He showed a love of life and an approach to death that many people have found inspiring, and his lecture has turned into a phenomenon, viewed by millions on television and on the Internet. He went on to write a best-selling book entitled The Last Lecture, a book about love, courage and saying goodbye.

On Friday, July 25, 2008, Pausch succumbed to cancer at the age of 47.

Keep awake. That's what Randy Pausch says to us, and what Jesus says as well.

We face the same challenge as we enter the season of Advent, and begin our march through the wild weeks of decorating, shopping, partying and concerts that lie ahead. Jesus is going to be coming to us soon maybe, not in an earth-shaking second coming, but in a personal arrival that's every bit as important to each one of us. He'll be coming to speak to us in words of Scripture that have eternal power. "Heaven and earth will pass away," says Jesus, "but my words will not pass away."  He'll be coming to gather his people into a community that knows his everlasting salvation, a community stretching "from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven." He'll be coming to see if we are alert and ready for his arrival, living in a way that is focused on his will and his way.

The challenge for us is to "keep awake," awake for the coming of the Lord during this Advent season.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Quiz

Just a little “stuffing” for those brain muscles!

1. What is the name of the ship the Pilgrims took on their 66 day journey?

2. What year did they land in Provincetown Harbor?

3. Where did the Pilgrims settle?

4. What drink did they have with dinner?

5. How Many Pilgrims arrived in the New World?

6. What woman’s letters convinced Congress to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday?

7. The first Department Store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was?

8. Which President is said to be the first to pardon a turkey and start the annual tradition?

9. What is the longest balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade?

10. When was the first Thanksgiving football game?

1. The Mayflower
2. The year was 1620
3. Plymouth, Massachusetts
4. Beer
5. 120 Pilgrims
6. Sarah Hale - 1778
7. You may think it was Macy’s, however it was Gimbel’s
8. President Harry Truman
9. Superman at 100 ft. long
10. 1934 – Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Thanksgiving is Filled with Turkeys

Everyone from your know-it-all neighbor to your more-processed-than-you-are therapist to your holier-than-thou pastor will tell you that the holidays can be stressful times.

Even though you roll your eyes after hearing this for the umpteenth time, you know they're right. Why? Oh, for about a billion reasons: the need to travel long distances frays nerves; the increasing pressure to buy, buy, buy more gifts strains wallets; simmering family conflicts that explode over the slightest slight lend an undertone of discord to gatherings; blotto coworkers bellowing insults at boozy parties means a tense office environment the next day; and frustrated expectations that Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah will be "just like it was when I was growing up" mean that many find the holidays a big fat letdown.

Need I go on?

I didn't think so.

While the holidays—loosely defined as the time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day—are filled with many graces, they can be stressful. So how can you survive them?

With some humor. Specifically, by laughing at three things:

1) Laugh about the craziness. Got a crazy family who always argues about the same thing every single time they get together? "I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU BROUGHT THAT UP AGAIN!" Don't get angry; get perspective. Unless you're the Messiah and can work miracles, you're probably not going to change them. So stop trying. You're driving yourself nuts. You can be open and loving, but you can also be realistic.

Instead, find a friend with whom you can laugh about the general craziness. Tell him some of the nuttier things and let off a little steam. Don't laugh at your family or people in the office; laugh about the situation. It will give you a break and allow you to approach the group with more patience and, yes, compassion.

Be compassionate to yourself, too. I once suggested to a friend that rather than berating himself for getting bothered by his family (he was bothered that he was bothered) he should say to himself, "I deserve a medal for putting up with this!" The next time I saw him he laughed and said how much that bit of humor helped. "By the time New Year's came around," he said, "I had awarded myself three medals—and a Purple Heart!"

2) Laugh at things that are supposed to be funny. There's plenty of funny holiday-themed humor out there. If you're not tickled by Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer (which I am not) there's always A Christmas Story, ("You'll shoot your eye out!"), which airs on TV 24/7 from Thanksgiving to Christmas, so you've got no excuse not to smile at least once in November and December.

Even better than the movie are the original stories on which the film is based, written by the humorist Jean Shepherd. Pick up one of his books for a laugh: one of my favorites is In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash, which includes the Christmas tale at the heart of the movie: "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid."
James Martin, SJ

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Evening of Spiritual Refreshment

The Province of Meribah is pleased to announce

An Evening of
Spiritual Refreshment at Fordham University

hosted by Bro. Stephen Balletta and Bro. Peter Heiskell from Chaminade High School and Bro. Timothy Driscoll from Kellenberg Memorial High School

Here are the details:

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5:30 p.m. Dealy Hall Chapel

6:30 p.m. Student Social Lounge of the McGinley Center

Spiritual Sharing
8:00 p.m. Student Social Lounge of the McGinley Center

Praise and Worship
9:00 p.m. Our Lady’s Chapel in the basement of the University Church

All graduates of Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial are welcome, as well as anyone else interested in some spiritual refreshment. Bring a friend! Better yet, bring several friends!!!!

If you can let us know in advance if you are planning to attend – and if you are bringing some others along – that would be great. Email Bro. Stephen at

But if you just show up, that’s great too. And feel free to come for any part of the program that matches your schedule.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christ gives you strength

So, how many kings can you find out there?

There's Carole King,
an B.B. King,
what about "The Lion King,"
and Don King,
Sacramento Kings,
King Kullen,
Nat King Cole...Unforgettable,
King Lear...Shakespeare,
King of Club's,
King of Spades,
King of Hearts,
King of Diamonds,
and there's Elvis Presley,
The Lord of the Rings...The Return  of the Kings,
Burger King,
Martin Luther King,
King Kong,
Stephen King,
The King of Queens,
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
All the king's horses and all the king's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again,
That Humpty Dumpty is an egg is not
actually stated in the rhyme.
King Tut,
Larry King,
The King and I,
Congressman Peter King.

Yesterday, the Holy Father considered the reign of Christ the King with the following:
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you, therefore, to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, to be authentically converted to him. He alone gives us the true life and can liberate us for all our fears and sluggishness, from all our anguish. Rediscover the roots of your existence in the baptism which you received and which makes you children of God! May Jesus Christ give you strength to live as Christians and to find ways to transmit generously to new generations what you have received from your fathers in faith!

On this feast day, we rejoice together in the reign of Christ the King over the whole world. He is the one who removes all that hinders reconciliation, justice and peace. We are reminded that true royalty does not consist in a show of power, but in the humility of service; not in the oppression of the weak, but in the ability to protect them and to lead them to life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Christ reigns from the Cross and, with his arms open wide, he embraces all the peoples of the world and draws them into unity. Through the Cross, he breaks down the walls of division, he reconciles us with each other and with the Father. We pray today for the people of Africa, that all may be able to live in justice, peace and the joy of the Kingdom of God (cf. Rom 14:17). With these sentiments I affectionately greet all the English-speaking faithful who have come from Ghana and Nigeria and neighbouring countries. May God bless all of you!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Radical following

Here, from  Benedict 16's text:

Dear men and women religious, either active or contemplative, the consecrated life is a radical following of Jesus. May your unconditional choice for Christ lead you to an unlimited love for your neighbour. Poverty and chastity make you truly free to obey unconditionally the one Love which, when it takes hold of you, impels you to proclaim it everywhere. May poverty, obedience and chastity increase your thirst for God and your hunger for his Word, who, by increasing, transforms hunger and thirst into service of those who are deprived of justice, peace and reconciliation. Faithfully lived, the evangelical counsels transform you into a universal brother or sister of all, and they will help you to walk resolutely on the way of holiness. You will arrive there, if you are convinced that, for you, to live is Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), you will make of your communities reflections of the glory of God and places where you have no debts to anyone, except that of mutual love (cf. Rom 13:8). By means of your proper charisms lived with a spirit of openness to the catholicity of the Church, you can contribute to a harmonious expression of the immensity of the divine gifts at the service of all humanity!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Word on the Word

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King

The Church year ends this Sunday with a vision of the end of time.
The Son of Man is enthroned over all nations and peoples of every language. The nations have been gathered to see His glory and receive His judgment. The King is the divine shepherd Ezekiel foresees in today’s first reading, judging as a shepherd separates sheep from goats.

Each of us will be judged upon our performance of the simple works of mercy we hear in the Gospel today.

These works, as Jesus explains today, are reflections or measures of our love for Him, our faithfulness to His commandment that we love God with all our might and our neighbor as ourselves.

‘Whatever you did . . . you did for me’

Many saints and Church leaders have seen a connection between Christ’s words in the Gospel for the Solemnity of Christ the King and His promise to be present in the Eucharist.

For example, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to say of her work with the poor: “In Holy Communion we have Christ under the appearance of bread. In our work we find Him under the appearance of flesh and blood. It is the same Christ. ‘I was hungry, I was naked, I was sick, I was homeless.’”

And St. John Chrysostom, said the same thing in the fourth century: “Do you wish to honor the body of Christ? Do not ignore Him when He is naked. Do not pay Him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect Him outside where He suffers cold and nakedness. He who said: ‘This is my body’ is the same One who said: ‘You saw me hungry and you gave me no food’, and ‘Whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did also to me’ . . . What good is it if the Eucharistic table is overloaded with golden chalices, when He is dying of hunger? Start by satisfying His hunger, and then with what is left you may adorn the altar as well.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Let Evening Come

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

- Jane Kenyon

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Meribah gathers with other US Marianists

The Annunciation Garden
This past weekend the Marianists in formation from the Province of the United States and the Province of Meribah gathered together in St. Louis to share the founding vision of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. Marianists from Ohio, Texas, Missouri, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and New York joined together at the 200 acre property of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Illinois for prayer.

There at The Annunciation Garden we saw the larger-than-life sculptures of the Blessed Virgin and the Angel Gabriel mounted on a stone wall. "Behold the hand maid of the Lord be it done to me according to thy word." How appropriate to start off the weekend with the Annunciation, especially after our successful gathering at Operation Fiat of many young men interested in exploring the Marianists with an evening at the Kellenberg Community.

National Shrine of Our Lady of Snows, Illinois

The Marianists had the opportunity to visit two Marianist schools in St. Louis, Chaminade College Prep and St. John Vianney.

 The weekend was a great experience of learning and fellowship for all the Marianists who particpated.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Who do people say that I am?

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn't decide or didn't care. But Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don't understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They're content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That's why they tried to stone Him to death and eventually had Him crucified.

C.S. Lewis observed, "You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot...

Have you visited the stores recently and noticed the creeping Christmas trend, that is, the ever increasing tendency for Christmas to begin earlier each year? Well, a British department store has come up with a sweet commercial for the Christmas season (and, in fact, Advent) that will resonate with anyone who has ever been 8 years old.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Marianist Monday

Like the Word Incarnate,
the Marianists strive to be at one with the people of our time
and to share their joy and hope,
their grief and anguish.

However, we remember the Word's warning
to remain vigilant
so that the norms, customs,
and habits of the world
will not tarnish or weaken
the power of his word.

This concern to be faithful witnesses
is particularly needful for a community
which wishes to bring to the world
the liberation of Jesus Christ.

The more attentive our watchfulness,
the greater our apostolic boldness.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Operation Fiat

Operation Fiat, named for the meeting of the angel Gabriel with the Virgin Mary, has become a popular vocation-related event for those considering a Marianist vocation. While the format varies from fall to spring, the idea is to have young men “come and see” by spending an evening with the Marianists, sharing a meal, discussion, and prayer.

The evenings encourage young men to actively seek out what God wants of them and then challenge them to be heroically generous in embracing and living out this vocation. In that sense, it’s about discernment, not recruitment. Last night the Province of Meribah hosted its first Operation Fiat in the Kellenberg Memorial Community. Over 40 courageous young men took advantage of the invitation and attended this year's first Operation Fiat.
Brother Benjamin Knapp, S.M.
The vocational talk was presented by Brother Benjamin Knapp from the Chaminade-Mineola Community. Brother Benjamin spoke about his own vocational journey towards religious life. He explored the many service opportunities that led to his discernment of religious life such as visits to Queen of Peace Residence with the Little Sisters of the Poor, hanging up hallway posters in the school  and manual labor. Brother Ben also spent time encouraging us to PRAY, SHARE and LISTEN while we discern. Each young man was asked to spend some time praying about their interest in a religious vocation on a regular basis. Sharing your journey with a Marianist is part of the discernment. And finally, listening is an essential aspect for those called. Listening to God in pray and in the Scriptures.

Pope Benedict encouraged the same when he wrote:

It is not by accident that consecrated life is ‘born from hearing the word of God and embracing the Gospel as its rule of life. A life devoted to following Christ in his chastity, poverty, and obedience becomes a living exegesis of God’s word. . . . Every charism and every rule springs from it and seeks to be an expression of it, thus opening up new pathways of Christian living marked by the radicalism of the Gospel’” (Verbum Domini, 83).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pope Benedict on Consecrated Life

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in Zaragossa
Consecrated persons are called in a particular way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord, in which man finds his salvation. They have the vivid experience of God's forgiveness, because they have the awareness of being saved persons, of being great when they recognize themselves to be small, of feeling renewed and enveloped by the holiness of God when they recognize their own sin. Because of this, also for the man of today, consecrated life remains a privileged school of "compunction of heart," of the humble recognition of one's misery but, likewise, it remains a school of trust in the mercy of God, in His love that never abandons. In reality, the closer we come to God, and the closer one is to Him, the more useful one is to others. Consecrated persons experience the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God not only for themselves, but also for their brothers, being called to carry in their heart and prayer the anxieties and expectations of men, especially of those who are far from God.

Finally, dear friends, we wish to raise to the Lord a hymn of thanksgiving and praise for consecrated life itself. If it did not exist, how much poorer the world would be! Beyond the superficial valuations of functionality, consecrated life is important precisely for its being a sign of gratuitousness and of love, and this all the more so in a society that risks being suffocated in the vortex of the ephemeral and the useful (cf Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Consecrated Life, 105). Consecrated life, instead, witnesses to the superabundance of the Lord's love, who first "lost" His life for us. At this moment I am thinking of the consecrated persons who feel the weight of the daily effort lacking in human gratification, I am thinking of elderly men and women religious, the sick, of all those who feel difficulties in their apostolate. Not one of these is futile, because the Lord associates them to the "throne of grace." Instead, they are a precious gift for the Church and the world, thirsty for God and His Word.

Full of trust and gratitude, let us then also renew the gesture of the total offering of ourselves, presenting ourselves in the Temple.

We approach the thrice Holy to offer our life and our mission, personal and community, of men and women consecrated to the Kingdom of God. Let us carry out this interior gesture in profound spiritual communion with the Virgin Mary: while contemplating her in the act of presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple, we venerate her as the first and perfect consecrated one, carried by that God she carries in her arms; Virgin, poor and obedient, totally dedicated to us because totally of God. In her school, and with her maternal help, we renew our "here I am" and our "fiat." Amen.
- Pope Benedict XVI

Please keep in your prayers the young men who will gather with the Marianists at Operation Fiat this evening  from 6 pm to 8 pm. at the Kellenberg Memorial Community with evening prayer and dinner. This is an opportunity to learn, explore, consider and deepen a religious vocation. May God grace these young men with the courage to follow Christ more closely.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Serve God in a Radical Way

So why do young men and women choose to serve God in a radical way through monastic lives? How do their prayers and penance affect the world on an extremely profound level.?

Fulton Sheen answers these questions in the following selection from “Peace of Soul.”

Why are there monasteries and convents? Why do so many young souls leave the lights and glamour of the world for the shades and shadows of the Cross where saints are made? The modern world so little understands their mission that, as soon as a newspaperman hears of a handsome young woman entering a cloister, he telephones the parents to ask, "Was she disappointed in love?" The answer, of course, is, "Yes, with the love of the world. She has fallen in love with God." These hidden dynamos of prayer, the cloistered men and women, are doing more for our country than all its politicians, its labor leaders, its army and navy put together; they are atoning for sins of us all. They are averting the just wrath of God, repairing the broken fences of those who sin and pray not, rebel and atone not. As ten just men would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah, so ten just saints can save a nation now. But so long as a citizenry is more impressed by what its cabinet does than by its chosen souls who are doing penance, the rebirth of the nation has not yet begun. The cloistered are the purest of patriots. They have not become less interested in the world since leaving it; indeed they have become more interested in the world than ever before. But they are not concerned with whether it will buy and sell more; they care-and desperately care-whether it will be more virtuous and love God more.

Please keep in your prayers the young men who will gather with the Marianists at Operation Fiat on Wednesday, November 9 from 6 pm to 8 pm. at the Kellenberg Memorial Community with evening prayer and dinner. This is an opportunity to learn, explore, consider and deepen a religious vocation. May God grace these young men with the courage to follow Christ more closely.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Marianist Monday

Marianists seek to live
like the first community of Jerusalem,
having but one heart and one soul.
Thus we hope to bear witness
to the presence of Christ
and to show that still today
the gospel can be lived
in all the force of its letter and spirit.
We find inspiration in Mary's words
to the servants at Cana:
"Do whatev er He tells you."
We remain open as a Society
to all means of evangelization
as we dedicate ourselves
to the apostolic activities
to which Providence calls us,
according to the needs of time and place.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Did you turn clocks back?...

Does God speak in this day and age? Does God speak in 'ordinary time?' Oh yes, God does! But we may have to listen just a little harder in a time when visions are rare. In 'ordinary time' God often speaks in ways that seem so ordinary.

God may speak in ways we don't recognize as God. When things are ordinary, as they are a good bit of the time, we need to listen harder for God's Word to us. We may need to listen harder for God's Word through what seems nothing more than some ordinary voice we've heard so often.

Author Richard Foster suggests that we both hear God speak and speak back to God through our work. "The artist, the novelist, the surgeon, the plumber, the secretary, the lawyer, the homemaker, the farmer, the teacher — all are praying by offering their work up to God."  Foster quotes Saint Ignatius Loyola: "Everything that one turns in the direction of God is prayer."

So, make sure you have turned in the direction of God in prayer. And finally, I hope you have turned your clocks back.

If you haven't turned your clocks back, you've missed out on an extra hour of deserved sleep.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Word on the Word

Wis 6:12-161
Thes 4:13-18
Mt 25:1-13

It's not too early to be thinking and reflecting on Sunday's Scriptures that we'll hear proclaimed. God has called each of us to "show up" and "be present" because God has need of the gifts and strengths each one of us has to offer to this place and time.

God wants you to be just like you. God wants you to be who you are. An old cowboy once said: "You can put a boot in the oven, but it won't come out a biscuit." Each of us must make our own biscuit from scratch--using the energy, talents, skills, guts and gifts God has given us.

To "be yourself" requires that you first know who you are--and that takes a lifetime of work. You don't "just grow." No one "just grows." We all grow in certain ways that God intends or doesn't intend. Into whose image will you "grow"? Will you grow into God's image and God's image for you, or will you grow into God's image for someone else and someone else's image?

Anglican Bishop Rowan Williams states that "the vocation of creatures is to exist as themselves, to be bearers of their names, answering to the Word that gives each its distinctive identity. The act of creation can be seen as quite simply this--the vocation of things to be themselves, distinctive, spare and strange. God does not first create and then differentiate a great multitude of roles within creation: In one act he creates a multiple, noisy jostling and diverse reality

It's time for disciples of Christ Jesus to boldly claim their gifts. To live life by imitation, can result only in failure.

Let Go. In Sunday's parable of the ten bridesmaids, the whole point of their anxious waiting for the bridegroom, the vigilance and careful preparation of the wise maidens, is so that they can be a part of the wedding party. The tragedy of the foolish maidens is that they miss out on the big party--on the joy and exuberance that comes from being in the presence of the bridegroom.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November...the month of remembering

This is the month of All Souls where the foliage frames our remembering and the damp chill shivers through us, calling us to warm our souls in a love for these bare November days...

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

- Robert Frost

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us.

Saint Martin de Porres was a Dominican Brother, he worked with the poor and the downtrodden. He knew that he was favored with many spiritual blessings, but he did not speak of them, he just did what the Lord called him to do.

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 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 Brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

O Saint Martin, teach us to be generous with the gifts that God has given us. Make us sympathetic towards those who are suffering and afflicted. Pray to Our Redeemer and to Our Lady of Mercy that our hearts may not be hardened by sin and selfishness, but that we may always be kind and generous to our neighbors because they are the children of Our Heavenly Father. Amen.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

All Souls Day by Aladar Korosfoi-Kriesch; this Hungarian painting depicts
the custom in some cultures of visiting cemeteries on November 2
and lighting candles at the graves of loved ones

Reflection for All Souls Day

At the heart of all our worship as Catholic Christians,
we pause to remember…

We remember Christ, and all he did for us;
we remember how he suffered, died and rose for us;
and in word and sacrament,
we remember what he did at table with his friends
on the night before he died.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, then,
we remember someone who has died: our brother, Jesus.
And every time we celebrate the Eucharist
we remember others who have died, too.
You know the words as well as I do:
Remember our brothers and sisters
who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence…

We remember all our brothers and sisters in Christ
and not only them but all the departed
- everyone who has died -
and we pray that through the mercy and love of God
every one of them will enjoy the light and peace of God, forever.

Of course, when we pray for those who have died
we remember first those whom we loved the most,
those whom we miss the most.

When I pray the remembrance of the dead,
my heart seldom fails to remember my mother and father:
others, too – but always them.
I’m sure there are names that come to your heart, too.
And we pray for them…

But why do we pray for them?
What do we pray for them?

Our knowledge of human frailty and our faith in God’s mercy
teach us that when we die, God might not be quite yet finished
with fashioning us, making us ready for eternal life.

Our whole life on earth is a journey to the dwelling place
Christ has prepared and reserved for us in his Father’s house.

Sometimes we stay right on the path that leads us home
and sometimes we take short cuts or make detours
or even turn around and walk in the other direction!

We need the Lord to shepherd us from death into life...

So it might be, it might even be likely,
that at the end of our life our rough edges
might need some buffing and polishing.

The Church has long taught that after death,
those not quite ready for heaven
may need some further purification.
This has sometimes been called purgatory.
But we might have a false picture of purgatory.
It’s not some “flaming concentration camp on the outskirts of hell.”*
It’s not God’s last chance to make us suffer!

St. Catherine spoke beautifully of the fire of purgatory
as “God’s love burning the soul until it was wholly aflame
-- with the love of God.”
It’s like the fire mentioned in the book of Wisdom:
“As gold in the furnace, God will prove us, purify us,
and take us to himself… we shall shine…
and we shall abide forever with God in love…”
If there is pain in purgatory,
it is the pain of longing to be with God,
to be worthy of the heaven Jesus won for us.

And so we pray for those who have gone before us
that God bring to completion the good work begun in their lives
while they were still with us.
We cannot know how or even if time is measured in this purification.
Perhaps one day, one hour, one minute on our clocks
of finally and fully realizing the greatness of God’s love for us
and how unloving in return we often were,
perhaps one second will be all it takes to purify us
of the sins of taking God’s love and the love of others for granted.

When we remember those who have died
some of us might recall those who hurt and harmed in this life.
Nothing is impossible for God.

We can pray for these, too, entrusting them to God
who knows how to make even the hardest of hearts
ready for his mercy.

Of course, many of those whom we remember on All Souls Day
were long ago perfected by God’s mercy
and welcomed to their places in heaven
We remember and pray for them, too.

Today, and through this month of November,
we remember those who have gone to their rest
in the hope of rising again and all the departed...

And we remember Jesus, our brother, who died for us and rose
and opened the door to his Father’s house
and prepared for each of us a dwelling place in his peace.

*See Leondard Foley, OFM
from A Concord Pastor Comments

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Great Pumpkin

I am sure we all have watched a little bit of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Any praying person has to identify a little with poor Linus, as his primitive belief in the Great Pumpkin, though doomed and ultimately inadequate, has some elements of theological sophistication.

First, he knows that the Great Pumpkin will not appear if he is dismissed or disbelieved. He requires sincerity and faith, just like the God for Whom believing is seeing. And one only has to peruse the Gospel according to John lightly to see that this is indeed the case; to believe and to see God are ultimately the same thing. Meister Eckhart knew this when he famously said, "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."

Second, Linus knows that the Great Pumpkin is not just a fulfiller of selfish human wishes. Unlike Santa Claus, he does not take requests. He brings you something, yes, but you can't choose it and are only called to be grateful.

Third, Linus knows that, despite the failure of the Great Pumpkin to appear, or better, our failure to allow him to appear, Linus must remain faithful.