Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lent: Draw close to Mary

During this season of Lent we contemplate the suffering and death of Jesus, let us draw closer to his Mother, Mary, whose own suffering and witness of her Son's passion was more than we can imagine.

Each day we recall how she stood by her Son in his suffering, so does she stand with us in our own hours of need...

A Marianist Litany to Mary

Holy Mary,
pray for us!
Mother of God,
Mother of our redemption,
Mother of a lost child,
Mother of comfort and understanding,
Mother who shares our joys,
Mother who endures our sorrows,
Mother whose heart was pierced by a sword,
Mother most merciful,

Woman responsive to God's word,
pray for us!
Woman willing to believe the impossible,
Woman who rejoices in her lowliness,
Woman with an undivided heart,
Woman of perfect freedom,
Woman wrapped in mystery,
Woman moved by the Spirit,
Woman champion of the poor and lowly,
Woman graced by a husband's love,
Woman widowed by a husband's death,
Woman at the cross,
Woman patient and waiting,
Woman clothed with the sun,

Queen of the fullness of times,
pray for us!
Queen of beauty unalloyed,
Queen of integrity,
Queen of painful meetings,
Queen of all our heart's treasure,
Queen of our destiny,
Queen of peace,

Mary, you are mother and virgin,
wife and widow,
peasant and queen,
blessed for all time.

We need the comfort of your prayers.
Remember us always to our Father through your Son, Jesus Christ,
who is our Lord for ever and ever.   Amen.

- Rev. Joseph H. Lackner, S.M.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marianist Monday

We can achieve quite a bit together as Marianists. We may not quite reproduce the Holy Family or the first Jerusalem community. But we can point in that direction.

We can offer much to provide the basic atmosphere of security, care and support – physical and spiritual – for one another.

We will surely be challenged to take some risks together for God’s people, very particularly in serving the poor and in working for peace and reconciliation in the conflicts around us.

Our community is a “school of the Lord’s service.” We can learn much from one another and grow together in holiness. In particular, our common prayer can help us deepen our sense of God, individually and collectively.

Our community is an “infirmary.” Each of us has his own weakness or sickness, and each of us has a capacity to cure and alleviate pain.

This year together we may have some disappointments and some failures. But the Spirit of Christ will be with us, to bond us together and help us pick up the pieces. The Spirit is especially evident where there is need for pardon and starting anew.

As we look ahead together, let us remember that we are a “permanent mission” and that we can attain great things by working together.

Let us pray for the grace of living and working together with one heart and one soul. Let us pray for our local community, that it may grow in creative fidelity, in authentic witness to the gospel, that it may really be “a permanent mission.”

Mary, who gave life and formed it, will help us discover the energy, peace and patience, the affirmative and healing presence that our community needs. It is her guidance and missionary dynamism that I wish for you and for each of our communities in concluding these reflections.

David Joseph Fleming, S.M. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Religious Life and the Oscars

If you watching the Oscars tonight you probably will hear of the Hollywood starlet who left the movies to become a cloistered Benedictine nun in the early 1960s. Her story has been made into an acclaimed documentary called “God Is Bigger Than Elvis,” which is up for an Oscar tonight. And Dolores Hart — now known as Mother Dolores — will be at the Academy Awards tonight, walking the red carpet in her habit.

A decade ago, “20/20″‘s Bob Brown did a wonderful piece on Mother Dolores.

Take a look below.

The Sunday Word

In today's Gospel, we encounter a Jesus who had to be hungry. Forty days wandering in the desert is a sure-fire way to get your stomach growling for almost anything edible. Sure, Jesus was sinless and perfect, but he was also fully human. That means when we find him, Jesus is seriously starving.

But there's a point and a purpose to it all. Jesus is on a mission. Actually, he's prepping himself for one. You see, Jesus is in the midst of a fast. He's been purposely abstaining from food and wandering in the desert to prepare himself for the three years of ministry and miracles as humanity's Messiah, or Savior, that stood before him.

Yet we must imagine that, at this point, had even the nastiest food crossed his path, even Jesus would have been tempted to call it all off and take a bite. In fact, that's kind of what happens here. In place of some stale and gross food, however, Jesus crosses paths with Satan himself. Knowing that Jesus is feeling weak and hungry, he nudges up next to Jesus, saying, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." In other words, "Hey, Jesus, if you're hungry and you're God, then whatcha waiting for? How bout a little snack? You make the bread, and I'll provide the butter." Tempting for sure.

Just like Jesus, you and I know what it's like to be tempted. We know what it's like to have a hunger for something we want, something that others might say we need, but that we know will serve only to distract or derail us.

Spend that extra dollar. Talk trash behind the someone's back. Sleep in on Sunday. Eat the doughnut. Ignore a friend. The list is endless. Temptation is everywhere. And, like the smell of some nasty nachos when your stomach is empty, its pull is strong. The truth is that Jesus isn't the only one who has Satan whispering in his ear.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent: Come back to me

Lent is a season of being invited by God in a deeply personal way. “Come back to me, with all of your heart,” our Lord beckons. "We will," we respond, but we aren’t quite ready yet, our hearts are not prepared. We want to squirm, evade, avoid. Our souls not yet perfect. We are not ready for God to love us.

Yes, of course we want to have a deeper relationship with God, we tell ourselves earnestly. And we will....Soon. God calls to us again: Come back to me, with all of your heart.

Ok, ok, I really will. Just a few more things to do.  Let me spend a little more time in prayer first. Let me get to Reconciliation. Let me clean my room, get my life in order. Sell my yoke of oxen. Check a field I have purchased....

Come back to me, with all of your heart.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent - self examination

Lent is a time for self-examination. We need to look at ourselves very carefully. The ashes on our forehead remind us of the human condition: Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

However, sometimes, you we will have to go real deep and discover inner attitudes that may be the root of our sinful behavior. Sometimes we will need a spiritual colonoscopy. Lent is a Catholic colonoscopy. We need to go deep into ourselves and look at ourselves very closely.

We have an annual physical, an annual eye exam and we should go to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned. Preventative health will keep us in great shape and could be the way that serious health issues are detected.

Lent is a time for self-examination. We need to look at ourselves very carefully.

However, there is a pervasive and characteristic weakness within our modern culture - we don't want to examine and resolve our problems. We fail to see many things about ourselves.

Usually our sins, tendencies, attitudes and weaknesses will be easy to detect. We know who we are and we know what we need to do.

Here is a list of questions that may help us:

Do we take our spiritual life seriously?
Do we attend Mass every Sunday unless sick?
Do we do unnecessary work on Sunday?

Do we practice the virtue of charity? 
Are we patient and kind? 
Are we generous with our time? 

Do we serve others? 
Do we help the sick and the poor? 
Do we need to forgive someone?

Are we lazy? 
Are we active in the life of the Church? 
Do we study the Faith?

Do you go to Confession on a regular basis? 
Do you receive Communion with a good conscience?

Let this Lent be an outstanding time of conversion and spiritual growth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Entering Lent

Entering Lent

Sometimes the etymology of a word can be helpful. Linguistically, lent is derived from an old English word meaning springtime. In Latin, lente means slowly. Etymologically, then, lent points to the coming of spring and it invites us to slow down our lives so as to be able to take stock of ourselves.

That does capture some of the traditional meaning, though the popular mindset. It understands lent mostly as a season within which we are asked to fast from certain normal, healthy pleasures so as to better ready ourselves for the feast of Easter.

One of the images for this is the biblical idea of the Desert. Jesus, we are told, in order to prepare for his public ministry, went into the desert for forty days and forty nights during which time he fasted and, as the Gospel of Mark tells us, was put to the test by Satan, was with the wild animals, and was looked after by the angels.

Lent has always been understood as a time of us to imitate this, to metaphorically spend forty days in the desert like Jesus, unprotected by normal nourishment so as to have to face "Satan" and the "wild animals" and see whether the "angels" will indeed come and look after us when we reach that point where we can no longer look after ourselves.

For us, "Satan" and "wild animals" refer particularly to the chaos inside of us that normally we either deny or simply refuse to face - our paranoia, our anger, our jealousies, our distance from others, our fantasies, our grandiosity, our addictions, our unresolved hurts, our sexual complexity, our incapacity to really pray, our faith doubts, and our moral secrets. The normal food that we eat, distracted ordinary life, works to shield us from the deeper chaos that lurks beneath the surface of our lives.

Lent invites us to stop eating whatever protects us from having to face the desert that is inside of us. It invites us to feel our smallness, to feel our vulnerability, to feel our fears, and to open ourselves up the chaos of the desert so that we can finally give the angels a chance to feed us. That's the Christian ideal of lent, to face one's chaos.

To supplement this, I would like to offer three rich mythical images, each of which helps explain one aspect of lent and fasting:

In every culture, there are ancient stories, myths, which teach that all of us, at times, have to sit in the ashes. We all know, for example, the story of Cinderella. The name itself literally means, the little girl (puella) who sits in the ashes (cinders). The moral of the story is clear: Before you get to be beautiful, before you get to marry the prince or princess, before you get to go to the great feast, you must first spend some lonely time in the ashes, humbled, smudged, tending to duty and the unglamorous, waiting. Lent is that season, a time to sit in the ashes. It is not incidental that we begin lent by marking our foreheads with ashes.

The second mythical image is that of sitting under Saturn, of being a child of Saturn. The ancients believed that Saturn was the star of sadness, of heaviness, of melancholy. Accordingly they weren't always taken aback when someone fell under its spell, namely, when someone felt sad or depressed. Indeed they believed that everyone had to spend certain seasons of his or her life being a child of Saturn, that is, sitting in heaviness, sitting in sadness, waiting patiently while some important inner thing worked itself out inside the soul. Sometimes elders or saints would put themselves voluntarily under Saturn, namely, like Jesus going into the desert, they would sit in a self-induced heaviness, in the hope that this melancholy would be means to reach some new depth of soul. That too is the function of lent.

Finally there is the rich image, found in some ancient mythologies, of letting our tears reconnect us with the flow of the water of life, of letting our tears reconnect us to the origins of life. Tears, as we know, are salt-water. That is not without deep significance. The oceans too are salt water and, as we know too, all life takes its origins there. Hence, we get the mystic and poetic idea that tears reconnect us to the origins of life, that tears regenerate us, that tears cleanse us in a life-giving way, and that tears deepen the soul by letting it literally taste the origins of life. Given the truth of that, and we have all experienced its truth, tears too are a desert to be entered into as a Lenten practice, a vehicle to reach new depths of soul.

The need for lent is experienced everywhere: Without sublimation we can never attain what is sublime. To truly enter a feast there must first be a fast. To come properly to Easter there must first be a time of desert, ashes, heaviness, and tears.

By Ron Rolheiser

New Evangelization - I'm still a sinner.

Check out the New York Post which put the following on the front page:
Most people have heard the famous story of Christ washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper. Jesus said to these 12, his closest friends and followers, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:14-15)

With God’s help, it is this model of love and service that I have tried to carry out, however clumsily and imperfectly, during my nearly 36 years as priest, bishop and archbishop. Please God, I will continue to grow in my ability to love and serve the faithful of the Archdiocese of New York.

In the Gospel reading heard at Sunday Mass yesterday, Jesus heals a paralyzed man whose friends lower him through an opening in the roof of a crowded house. It was this faith of the paralyzed man and his friends that moved our Lord to heal him.

It is the same kind of faith I see being carried out each day back home in New York, whether it be in one of our Catholic Charities food pantries that are helping the poor and needy, or in one of our splendid Catholic schools providing new generations with the finest in academic and faith formation, or when I meet with young men and women who want to serve God and His people as priests, sisters or brothers, or visit our elders in an archdiocesan nursing home.

I remain very much aware that the honor of being named a cardinal belongs not only to me, but in a very real way to the Catholic faithful and the entire community of New York, who carry out these acts of faith every day.

While in Rome, I’m staying at the North American College, where I arrived as a 22-year-old seminarian 40 years ago. One of the older workers hugged me when I arrived back here Sunday, and said, “Sorry, but to me you’ll always be a simple young man who arrived here homesick, a friend and a ‘nice guy.’ ” To me, that’s better than being a cardinal!

I return to New York tomorrow, and the next day is Ash Wednesday, when the church marks the beginning of the season of more fervent prayer, self-sacrifice and charity known as Lent.

My first appointment Wednesday morning, my first full day back as your new cardinal, will be to give out breakfast to the daily food line at St. Francis Church on 31st Street; my second appointment is to be marked with ashes at St. Patrick’s, a sign that I’m a big sinner.

These will certainly be good reminders to me of the sacrifice and service of Jesus, who came to suffer and die for our sins.

I will return home as a cardinal, but I’m still a sinner, one only trying to love as God loves us."

Monday, February 20, 2012

New Evangelization - Speak about God in a new way! WITNESS

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
“To the praise of God, and the honor of the Apostolic See receive the red biretta, the sign of the cardinal’s dignity; and know that you must be willing to conduct yourselves with fortitude even to the shedding of your blood: for the growth of the Christian faith, the peace and tranquility of the People of God, and the freedom and spread of the Holy Roman Church.”

Holy Father, can you omit “to the shedding of your blood” when you present me with the biretta? Of course not! We are but “scarlet audio- visual aids” for all of our brothers and sisters also called to be ready to suffer and die for Jesus.

It was Pope Paul VI who noted wisely that people today learn more from “witness than from words,” and the supreme witness is martyrdom. Sadly, today we have martyrs in abundance. Thank you, Holy Father, for so often reminding us of those today suffering persecution for their faith throughout the world...

While we cry for today’s martyrs; while we love them, pray with and for them; while we vigorously advocate on their behalf; we are also very proud of them, brag about them,  and trumpet their supreme witness to the world.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Sunday, February 19, 2012

New Evangelization - Speak about God in a new way - SMILE

Cardinal Edwin O'Brien and Cardinal Timothy Dolan 
When I was a new seminarian at theNorth American College here in Rome, all the first-year men from all the Roman theological universities were invited to a Mass at St. Peter’s with the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal John Wright, as celebrant and homilist. We thought he would give us a cerebral homily. But he began by asking, “Seminarians: do me and the Church a big favor. When you walk the streets of Rome, smile!” So...: the missionary, the evangelist, must be a person of joy. “Joy is the infallible sign of God’s presence,” claims Leon Bloy.

When I became Archbishop of New York, a priest old me, “You better stop smiling when you walk the streets of Manhattan, or you’ll be arrested!” A man dying of AIDS at the Gift of Peace Hospice, administered by the Missionaries of Charity in Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s Archdiocese of Washington, asked for baptism. When the priest asked for an expression of faith, the dying man whispered, “All I know is that I’m unhappy, and these sisters are very happy, even when I curse them and spit on them. Yesterday I finally asked them why they were so happy. They replied ‘Jesus.’ I want this Jesus so I can finally be happy. A genuine act of faith, right? The New Evangelization is accomplished with a smile, not a frown.

The missio ad gentes is all about a yes to everything decent, good, true, beautiful and noble in the human person. The Church is about a yes!, not a no.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Sunday Word

In the readings tomorrow, Saint Mark describes an incident, where some friends go to extraordinary lengths to get help for a friend, risking embarrassment and even a possible lawsuit.

The passage opens with Jesus “at home” in Capernaum in a house that the context suggests was either his or that of a close friend. Word gets out that he’s back in town and the neighbors begin to bang on the door, wanting to get close to him. Suddenly, the house is full of uninvited guests wanting to hear a word — so many that “there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door."

Standing on the fringes of the crowd were some men who had brought with them a “paralyzed man," carrying him on a mat or stretcher. We don’t know anything else about these men, other than their objective was to get their disabled friend in front of Jesus in what may have been a last-ditch rescue mission to save him from a life of begging in the streets or worse.

The crowd being too thick, the rescuers move immediately to Plan B. They dig a hole through the flat roof of the house and go deep in order to help, lowering their comrade right in front of Jesus regardless of embarrassment, cost or the perception of the others around them.

Here’s the point: From the perspective of the helpless chap on the mat. He is not too proud to ask for help, he accepts help, and if he had refused their help, he would have made it impossible for his friends to use their spiritual gifts.

When we are unwilling to ask for help, when we are unwilling to accept help, not only is the outcome bad for us, we also compound the tragedy by destroying a divine and sacred moment in which others have an opportunity to exercise their gifts and ministry in the Body of Christ. And that’s not a good thing.

For Jesus, that help was not merely a quick fix but rather a basic approach to the human crisis. For Jesus, the real enemy was the systemic disease of sin. In a culture where there was a deep belief in the connection between body and spirit, Jesus sought to rescue and repair the whole person — the basic rescue technique being the application of forgiveness, a lifeline of grace tossed to those drowning in a sea of sin and self-centeredness. It is real help freely offered.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mother Dolores & Hollywood

It was not too long ago that I tried to travel to see the Abbey of Regina Laudis while staying in Bethlehem, Conn. I was greeted with a sign that forbid any entrance to even the driveway.

I had heard that one of the cloistered nuns lived behind the giant sign. I also knew that she was the celebrated former movie star.

That and cloistered nun will be returning to the Oscars later this month — and walking the red carpet in her habit.

Details, from USA TODAY:

If you spot a nun roaming the red carpet during the Oscar telecast Feb. 26, don’t adjust your set.

Mother Dolores is not flying or singing, but the real deal — and the focus of God Is the Bigger Elvis, which is nominated in the best documentary short category and premieres April 5 on HBO.

“It will be so nice to be back at the Oscars,” says Mother Dolores, 73, the Benedictine nun who stars in the 37-minute visit to the Abbey of Regina Laudis, appropriately located in Bethlehem, Conn. “It’s such a fun night.”

Did she say back to the Oscars?

The last time I was there was in 1959, when I was a presenter,” says Mother Dolores, who is spiritual counselor to 38 other cloistered sisters. “This will be different.”

Different defines the life of a young woman named Dolores Hart. Rewind to 1963. Hart is a wholesome 25-year-old starlet whose leading men have included Elvis Presley (Loving You, 1957), Montgomery Clift (Lonelyhearts, 1958) and George Hamilton (Where the Boys Are, 1960). She is about to sign a seven-figure contract with producer Hal Wallis. She is happily engaged to Los Angeles businessman Don Robinson.

And she walks away from it all to head behind the walls of Regina Laudis.

Crazy? No, just quietly confident.

“I adored Hollywood. I didn’t leave because it was a place of sin,” she says in a measured but upbeat tone that animates God Is the Bigger Elvis (a title taken from her simple explanation for her defection from the high life).

“I left Hollywood at the urging of a mysterious thing called vocation. It’s a call that comes from another place that we call God because we don’t have any other way to say it. It’s a call of love. Why do you climb a mountain?”

What makes the documentary unique is that Regina Laudis is a profoundly private place. Visitors must remain outside the compound. Daily life is laced with prayer, song and a lot of hard work tending to gardens, livestock and crumbling infrastructure for which the sisters are trying to raise money through the New Horizons Renovation Project (abbeyofreginalaudis.com).

Mother Dolores says she allowed access to cameras not to help with fundraising but rather to assist with soul searching.

“We wanted to invite the world into another order of life that might give some hope,” she says.

God director Rebecca Cammisa (her fellow Oscar nominee is producer Julie Anderson) felt an instant connection to the topic. Cammisa’s mother was a nun for 10 years before changing course.

“The question I had was, what makes someone with Dolores Hart’s level of success choose this way of life?” says Cammisa, a 2010 Oscar nominee for her documentary about Mexican migrant children, Which Way Home.

“It’s a countercultural choice, but this film will show people that these are highly educated, attractive women who had boyfriends and lovers but were living in a world that didn’t have enough for them,” she says.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Audrey Assad's Album - brilliant!

Just a few days ago a new album was born. The album is absolutely brilliant!

So much of Audrey’s Assad's first album is completed by it — the questions asked in The House You’re Building are answered in Heart. The lyrics are just as probing and provoking:

Don’t lie to yourself
O my Soul
Love your God


Far off hymns and funeral marches
sound the same again
my ears are worn and weary strangers
in a strange land…

and all I am is breath and vapor
and shadow
and all I have is what I need
this I know
that I need a new song.

Her album is spectacular and maintains a Catholic spirit.  She’s one of the very few “Christian artists” striving after beauty.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Often we look for teaching opportunities from which our students would learn outside of the classroom. Tuesday evening proved a very worthwhile experience where we had the experience of a lifetime traveling to Adelphi University in Garden City, NY with 40 high school freshmen to attend the Josh Blakesley concert.

During that time we saw the power of God at work in the lives of teens as they were transformed into believers and lovers of Jesus Christ.

In a world where well-produced secular music is dominant, we took the opportunity to expose our students to quality contemporary Catholic music. We also realized that Josh Blakesley was truly committed to spreading the Gospel through dynamic speaking and personal testimony.

His music focuses on a true communion with the living God while stressing that blessings really do come to those who wait on the Lord. He does so through an innovative blend of pop and rock tracks that are truly inspired. Enjoy one of his songs today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Treat

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
The three little words that mean so much on this day...by a dog.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Marianist Monday

Pope Benedict wrote last year,

"A fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation ... is friendship with Christ. Jesus lived in constant union with the Father and this is what made the disciples eager to have the same experience; from him they learned to live in communion and unceasing dialogue with God. Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so too anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have “seen” him personally, come to know him, and learned to love him and to abide with him."
The Little Sisters of the Poor gather during the 23rd Annual Junior-Senior Prom in Queens Village last week.
Mother Mary Richard, lsp enjoyed the festivities where over 90 Marianist high school students hosted the annual dance.
Mother Margaret Charles and Sister Alice pause during the Fiesta.
First time attending the prom was not a disappointment to Mother Celine.
The Littles Sisters of the Poor, Marianists, faculty and students.
Brother Patrick join in the festivities.
 Brother Peter and Father James.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Sunday Word

Today’s reading from the Gospel of Saint Mark gives us an opportunity to think about a type of conversion. Call it the Divine Touch, the turning-point moment when Jesus touched a man with leprosy and everything in that man’s life changed. He who had been separated from his family, community, temple and friends by disease, who was considered unclean and made an outcast because of the wasting away of his flesh, now was made whole and enabled to join the mainstream crowd again. He went from outcast to cast in, from sickness to health, from unclean to clean, from brokenness to wholeness.

There was no technology in that day, but that didn’t stop this man from broadcasting what Jesus had done for him. He “proclaimed it freely” and “spread the word,” the Scripture says.

The Scripture reading does not say that this man experienced conversion in the religious sense of the word, which is how we often use it today. But in some ways, that makes this a good text from which to think about religious conversion, for it has more in common with other types of conversion than we might at first think. In the Bible, the Hebrew word for conversion is shub, which means “to turn” or “to return,” and the Greek word is metanoia, which means “to turn around.” In the case of this man Jesus healed, there was clearly a return, in that he could now go back to his family and community, but there was also a turning around.

To be converted means to have the direction of one’s life shifted, so that it no longer points toward self, but points outward to God. And that’s exactly what happened to this leper. He stepped off the “woe is me” path and onto the “Jesus is great” road.

The conversions we usually hear about, whether of a religious nature or of some other type, are often accompanied, at least initially, by excitement, zest, intensity, an eagerness to tell others about it and efforts to make significant changes in one’s life. And often, the converted person looks back at the time of the conversion as a significant turning point.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Our Lady of Lourdes

The Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world -- principally because of the apparent healing properties of the waters of the spring that appeared during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a poor, fourteen-year-old girl, Bernadette Soubiroux.

The first apparition occurred February 11, 1858. There were eighteen in all; the last took place July 16, of the same year. Bernadette often fell into an ecstasy during these apparitions, as was witnessed by the hundreds who attended the later visions, though no one except Bernadette ever saw or heard the apparition.

The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of  Massabielle, where she and friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young and beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white, with a blue ribbon sash and a Rosary hanging from her right arm. Now and then the apparition spoke to Bernadette.

One day, the Lady told the girl to drink of a mysterious fountain within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown, and of which there was no sign. But Bernadette scratched at the ground, and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth. On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions to be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest said he would not believe it unless the apparition gave Bernadette her name. After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the Lady told her, "I am the Immaculate Conception". Though the girl was unfamiliar with the term, the Pope had declared the doctrine of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary in 1854.

Four years after Bernadette's visions, in 1862, the bishop of the diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition" of Our Lady. A basilica was built upon the rock of Massabielle by M. Peyramale, the parish priest. In 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and a Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church to February 11.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Five Best Pieces of Jesuit Wisdom

Father James Martin, SJ offers for our consideration the Five Best Pieces of Jesuit Wisdom he's ever heard. Each of them is annotated and worth the read at The Jesuit Post.

There's great consoling truth in these five simple statements listed here:

1.) Allow yourself to be human.

2.) You don’t have to be someone else to be holy.

3.) You’re not married to everyone.

4.) Don’t let anyone prevent you from becoming the person you want to be.

5.) You’re not Jesus.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Deer's Cry

"The Deer's Cry", attributed to St Patrick, is known by several names: "The Breastplate of St Patrick" and "Lorica" to mention two. It is a beautiful prayer celebrating a God who lives with his children, guiding them, sheltering them, strengthening them. A God who is with us and in us through his Creation.

 In 1994 Irish composer Shaun Davey put a section of the Breastplate to some wonderful music in his CD "The Pilgrim." 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Spiritual Refreshment in DC

Attention all College-age Chaminade and Kellenberg graduates in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area!!!!
The Province of Meribah is pleased to announce:

Sunday Mass, Social, and Spiritual Refreshment

hosted by Bro. Stephen Balletta, Chaminade High School ‘74
and Bro. Daniel Griffin, Kellenberg Memorial High School ‘02

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Avenue NE
Washington, D.C. 20017

Sunday, February 12, 2012
Meet at 11:45 a.m. in the vestibule of the Upper Church for a 12 noon Mass

Mass in the Basilica, followed by . . . .

Social/Brunch (bagels, doughnuts, juice, coffee) and, afterwards, spiritual sharing for those who wish to stay later – in the Dominican House of Studies, directly across from the Basilica (487 Michigan Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20017)

All graduates of Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial in the Washington/Delaware area, 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 HYPERLINK "mailto:sballetta@chaminade-hs.org" sballetta@chaminade-hs.org.
Email Bro. Dan at HYPERLINK "mailto:brodaniel@kellenberg.org" brodaniel@kellenberg.org.

Or, call or text Bro. Stephen at (516) 589-0165.

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.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Praying Pope

"One should therefore deplore certain attitudes of mind which are sometimes found even among Christians because of a failure to recognize the legitimate autonomy of science. These mental attitudes have given rise to conflict and controversy and led many to assume that faith and science are mutually opposed.

If, on the other hand, the autonomy of the temporal order is understood to mean that created things do no depend on God, and that man may use them without reference to the Creator, all who believe in God will realize how false is this teaching. For creation without the Creator fades into nothingness."

– From the pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world of the Second Vatican Council, “Man and His Activity”

Monday, February 6, 2012

Marianist Monday

World Youth Day pilgrims from the Province of Meribah
visit and pray at the grave of
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
When we are overwhelmed
by some insight or perception
we often resort to images and even superlatives
in order to express what we see.

Such was the case with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade in regard to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Blessed Chaminade was deeply moved,
in a sense beyond himself,
by the way God had taken Mary into His love.

We believe in the effectiveness of Mary's presence.

We believe that we are called to bring the influence of her presence everywhere.

We believe in the power of her presence.

We dedicate ourselves to communicate Mary's presence in everything we do.

Blessed Chaminade says,'

"Our work is far reaching;
It is magnificient.
If it is universal, 
the reason is that we are missionaries of Mary,
who said to us:
"Do whatever he tells you."
Indeed. everyone of you is a missionary."

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Sunday Word

"Rising very early before dawn, he left
and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed."

The example of Jesus at prayer is nestled in this power-passage for a very clear reason. We can, like our Savior, throw ourselves before our God who is the source of power and the source of change.

The leper had this theology down pat in today's Gospel passage: “If you choose, you can make me clean." What an amazing statement of simple faith recognizing limitless ability! And Jesus was affected by it; he was filled with compassion.

Jesus has life-over-death power. And he uses it with compassion to make hope and healing and restoration and redemption all hallmarks of his kingdom.

That is why we worship this Jesus. That is why we read about and listen to this Jesus. That is why we alter our entire lifestyles according to the will of this Jesus. That is why we call this Jesus our Good Shepherd, our Daily Bread, our Hope, our Savior, our Lord.

This is our Jesus. This is our theology. This is our hope. This is our prayer.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl - 2012

It's comin'. We are in the midst of a semi-“religious” event: the Super Bowl.

People have begun donning their sacred attire and are shouting praises. Two of my students took off last weekend to purchase special Super Bowl outfits. I am sure they purchased attire befitting of such a sacred event.

I enjoy football, but see little since I  tend to be busy on Sundays! Yet, I remain quite fascinated at how passionate and dedicated many Americans are to the game and their team. Here's a sneak preview at Sunday's events.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

New Evangelization - Speak about God in a new way!

February 1, 2012. (Romereports.com) Born 33 years ago in Valencia, Spain, Daniel Pajuelo is a computer engineer, a member of the Society of Mary(Marianists), and a rapper. He says he found God when he was 17. After, he joined the Society of Mary where he was encouraged to develop his talents, which included his rap.

He works as a teacher and his dedication to young people encouraged him to get a microphone and start rhyming. In his concerts he found a warm welcome from the audience but also some surprise.

“It's easy for young people to learn by memory. They find it easy to learn phrases that have a message behind it. Nowadays, they don't learn the Creed, but they can learn a rap song that length wise, is basically the Creed six times over.”

Daniel, known as SMDANI, gives away what was given to him for free. In 2009, he released his first album 'Giving life 3^N' which can be downloaded on his website. He says he's not looking for fame, but only hopes to continue helping people through his lyrics.

“I hope there is a restlessness in my heart to explore this concern because you can't only do rap. You need something to talk about and that something, in one way or another is always Jesus.”

His responsibilities as a religious have not allowed him to give many concerts. Although during World Youth Day in Madrid, he welcomed Benedict XVI and the Spanish Nuncio with a concert alongside other rappers. His song 'Come to me' is also on the official CD for the event.

He says he doesn't want to commit his life to just rapping, but thinks many young people can find their calling through this art form.

“The big problem is that a person deserves to make a living from their work. And at least in Spain, it's difficult for a Catholic author to do this.”

SMDANI now lives in Rome. He's a seminarian who spends a big part of his time, studying theology. In his spare time he writes.

“1,2,3 yeah. Esta vez para Romereports. Esto no es pop, esto es hip hop. Yeah”

For this religious rapper, the New Evangelization means to speak about God in new and different way-and that includes rapping to the beat of music.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Open wide the doors to Christ!

In response to the over 100,000 visitors expected to pour into Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, located in downtown Indianapolis, will be taking literally Blessed John Paul II’s invitation to “open wide the doors to Christ” by opening its own doors.

Among other things, the church is planning a special devotion the Friday before the Super Bowl.

The evening will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with Father Nagel, followed by a testimonial from former NFL player and Super Bowl champion, Chris Godfrey entitled “Catholic Touchdowns for Life Eternal.” The evening will conclude with the rest of the holy hour, praise and worship music, and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Criterion, the paper for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, adds more:

St. John the Evangelist Parish, which was founded 175 years ago when Indianapolis was a small town on the edge of the American frontier, will be in the middle of the Super Bowl Village that will host many events at the Indiana Convention Center across the street from the parish and on the streets surrounding it.

Tens of thousands of pedestrians will walk by the church on the streets that will largely be closed to vehicular traffic during the 10 days leading up to the Super Bowl.

There will even be a zip line on which riders can zoom for 800 feet from a starting height of 95 feet. The line ends in front of St. John Church.

When the riders put their feet back down on solid ground, they will see a sign in front of the parish’s 140-year-old church that reads, “If you thought the zip line was a thrill, … come in and spend some time with Jesus!”

Such a sign shows that Father Rick Nagel, St. John’s administrator, and his parishioners see the Super Bowl as a tremendous opportunity to evangelize.

“You can run and hide or you can just jump in,” said Father Nagel, who plans to ride the zip line. “We’ve decided to jump in and do some outreach.

“Our biggest goal is to give people a great sense of the Catholic Church. … If we can be welcoming and let people know that there is so much good and many good young people engaged in the Church, we’ll have had a good 10 days.”

To do that outreach, approximately 70 tour guides called “St. John evangelists” have been trained not only to explain the history, beautiful architecture and other aspects of the church, but also to explain how they embody the Catholic faith.

They have already been put to work in large events in recent months, such as the Future Farmers of America Convention, the 2011 Big 10 Football Championship and the National Catholic Youth Conference.

Several priests will also hear confessions in the church for 28 hours during the 10 days. An “Ask a Catholic” booth will be set up in the church’s narthex in which visitors can get answers to their questions about the Catholic faith.