Saturday, June 30, 2012

Acknowledge the voice of Christ

"Ask yourselves, young people, about the love of Christ. Acknowledge His voice resounding in the temple of your heart. Return His bright and penetrating glance which opens the paths of your life to the horizons of the Church’s mission. It is a taxing mission, today more than ever, to teach men the truth about themselves, about their end, their destiny, and to show faithful souls the unspeakable riches of the love of Christ. Do not be afraid of the radicalness of His demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give Himself to you, as well as asking of you. If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.”
                                                                                              ― Blessed John Paul II

Friday, June 29, 2012

Twenty seconds of courage

As part of one of our talks today we focused on a wonderful movie, We Bought a Zoo. It was about a man and two kids who searched for something to replace their grief from the loss of a wife and mother. They looked for something to unite them, excite them, to set them free from the heartache and sorrow.

The boy had a particularly difficult time with the dad’s decision to buy a dilapidated zoo and make it their mission to re-build the place and open it to the public. The boy was going through all sorts of changes while growing up, including trying to figure out girls. One day his dad told him, “Just give me twenty seconds of courage, and I guarantee you something great will happen.”
Amazingly, all of our Marianist high school students attending the Life Teen Conference were moved by this film clip. 

We all have had moments when we decided we couldn’t—we wouldn’t—do something. 

But there was one of our students who spoke about the experience to do something with his life. In particular, the student spoke about taking a mountain of boldness to do something of  monumental proportions. The courage and the conviction to do something can overwhelm us at times.

I’m sure there will be many more hurdles in this student's life.  

Twenty seconds of courage. Something great will happen. Maybe not on our terms. Maybe not even at the right time. Sometimes God calls us to do something great for him.

What about you? Have you given yourself twenty seconds of courage, repeatedly? I double-dog dare you to unleash your inner self. Something great will happen.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Catholic Experience

While our Marianist high school students conclude their Catholic Leadership Conference at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas there were other spiritual opportunities offered to our students in the Province of Meribah

For one week over 50 students participated in a Catholic summer camp entitled The Catholic Experience. While friendships were fostered and new friends established, the camp fostered the development of Catholic identity.

Catholic Experience Summer Program - Monday through Wednesday from Kellenberg Memorial Video Produc on Vimeo.

Consecrated Life

The Marianist high school students attending the Life Teen Conference at Benedictine College were filled with challenging thoughts today.

They were taught how to defend their faith, how to develop their prayer life, and what the Church teaches on many hot contemporary topics. The evening continued with a vocational talk from the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

We explored many ideas today and the following quote from Vita Consecrata was certainly the most thought provoking:

"The consecrated life thus becomes one of the tangible seals which the Trinity impresses upon history, so that people can sense with longing the attraction of divine beauty."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We are all Missionaries

Today's events of our LifeTeen Leadership Conference in Atchison, Kansas explored multiple themes. The themes were very familiar to our students from Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial high schools. While the themes stemmed mostly from Blessed John Paul II, they also reflected what Blessed William Joseph Chaminade encouraged while founding the Marianists.

In particular, 
In particular, our retreat focused on the following:

The "missionary activity has but one purpose: to serve man by revealing to him the love of God made manifest in Jesus Christ." (Redemptoris Missio)
"God is opening before the Church the horizons of a humanity more fully prepared for the sowing of the Gospel. I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes.

No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples." Redemptoris Missio

In order to accomplish Blessed John Paul's call to the "New Evangelization," we are called to follow Jesus into our own world through God's Word, sacraments, personal and communal prayer as a rhythm of life.

In addition, we invite others to join us as we proclaim and demonstrate the Gospel of God's love and salvation through all we do. Sounds just like what Blessed Chaminade exhorts us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Radiate Joy

The LifeTeen experience in Kansas this week continues to be one of great grace. 

Over 500 youth from around the USA convened at Benedictine College to begin a week-long Leadership Conference with a theme called: Radiate Joy.

The LifeTeen team encouraged all to dive "into the deep" from the very beginning of the week. Too many of us are cautious and hesitant in embracing what Christ wants of us. For some reason, each of us have been called to LTLC and we decide how we will respond to that specific calling.

In the midst of all the high school students we repeatedly heard that, Jesus is the one with the power to save us, and this fact should not remain an untold story. 

Jesus rescues us from sin through the gift of forgiveness. And by the evening hour, hundreds of teens were in prayer walks, meditating at the Grotto, or standing in Reconciliation lines at the Abbey Church.

Christ saves us from illness by working for healing in our bodies, minds and spirits. He breaks our social isolation by giving us a place in his community of faith. He rescues us from death through his promise of eternal life with God.

We do not have to fear, because Jesus saves. Let's believe, and tell the story.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Marianist Monday

Today nine students from our Marianist high schools traveled to Atchison, Kansas to attend the LifeTeen Leadership Conference.  Over 500 high school juniors will attend the conference this week.
We learned something new today when we arrived at Benedictine College. Everywhere the medal of St. Benedict is depicted and explained. For the early Christians, the cross was a favorite symbol and badge of their faith in Christ. From the writings of St. Gregory the Great, we know that St. Benedict had a deep faith in the Cross and worked miracles with the sign of the cross. This faith in, and special devotion to, the Cross was passed on to succeeding generations of Benedictines.

Devotion to the Cross of Christ also gave rise to the striking of medals that bore the image of St. Benedict holding a cross aloft in his right hand and his Rule for Monasteries in the other hand. Thus, the Cross has always been closely associated with the Medal of St. Benedict, which is often referred to as the Medal-Cross of St. Benedict.

In the course of time, other additions were made, such as the Latin petition on the margin of the medal, asking that by St. Benedict's presence we may be strengthened in the hour of death, as will be explained later.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Happy Birthday John the Baptist

Father, all-powerful and ever-living God,
we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We praise your greatness as we honor the prophet
who prepared the way before your Son.

You set him apart from others, marking him out with special favor.

His birth brought great rejoicing:
even in the womb he leapt for joy, so near was our salvation.

You chose John the Baptist from all the prophets
to show the world its redeemer, the lamb of sacrifice.

He baptized Christ, the giver of baptism,
in waters made holy by the one who was baptized.

You found John worthy of a martyr’s death,
his last and greatest act of witness to your Son.

In our unending joy we echo on earth
the song of the angels in heaven as they praise your glory for ever:

Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts,
heaven and earth are full of your glory,
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

- Preface for the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Bring the faith to the World

So what is the Year of Faith?

One of my students asked the unexpected question: Isn't every year a year of faith in the eyes of the Catholic Church?

Perhaps it's better to use Pope Benedict's words from his recent Motu Proprio Porta Fidei - a personal statement that announced the Year of Faith. He said we should look at faith as a "lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world."

So why now? It's no coincidence that the Year of Faith starts on October 11 - the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. The word renewal comes to mind. In a sense, the Holy Father is inviting Catholics to take their faith and encounter with Christ to another level - to deepen and develop it. Baptism and Confirmation set us on the path but it's a long journey with downs as well as ups, doubts and challenges as well as revelation and joy. One thing's certain - Christ is the lifelong companion Pope Benedict refers to and this is a 12-month opportunity to get closer to Him.

Three months after the announcement and a full nine months before the Year of Faith itself, what is the Church doing to encourage the faithful and help us prepare? In Rome, on January 6th, Cardinal William Levada, President of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith released a number of pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith.

The guidance advocates meetings and gatherings, promotes pilgrimages to the Holy Land, encourages a deeper devotion to Mary and asks Catholics to engage closely with the teachings, homilies and addresses of the Holy Father. More specifically, the Congregation provides dioceses and parishes with ideas to get the most out of what is sure to be a grace-filled Year.

Cardinal Levada also notes that World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, falls during the year - July 2013 - and will offer the opportunity for young Catholic pilgrims "to experience the joy which comes from faith in the Lord Jesus and communion with the Holy Father, in the greater family of the Church."

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summer vacation

Summer vacation is the biggest break of them all. That’s partly because of the lore that’s been built up around it over time. Ever since school started being a thing, kids couldn’t wait for those three months a year when it’s not. It’s a time of year to do all that stuff that feels better knowing you don’t have to wake up for class the next day, which is to say all stuff. It was also a constant — something kids everywhere (from kinder to college) use to inject themselves with motivation during the school year. Motivation which, unfortunately for teachers everywhere (from kinder to college), completely runs out a full month before the last day of school.

I never had the adventure-filled, picturesque summer breaks that Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn had, nor did I break into hotel swimming pools or hang out at truck stops just to pass the time, as The Ataris did. But it was always a time of respite for me, where I could fully enjoy a responsibility-less state. That’s a hard platform to stand on when your parents are suggesting you get a job, but I stood strong. I loved the freedom of summer break, when sleeping in or sitting around wasn’t something to be guilty about, and doing something fun wasn’t tainted by the knowledge that time is limited.

Appreciation for summer evolves with age. Like many, I was a stupid kid, so I didn’t fully realize what I had until my mom was taking me to shop for new uniforms, by far the worst trip of the entire year. In high school, with The Ataris’ help, I realized that summers were sacred. Then college came, and summers started filling up — with trips, jobs and tasks. Those were great, but it was often hard to find time for respite among the busyness, which would only get crazier when the semester began.

And now here I am, writing an article, as my editor so eloquently/knife-in-the-heart-ingly put it, “mourning summer vacation.” I’ve started to feel it, too — the weather’s getting prettier, graduation season is nearing its end, and my beach body has been ready for months, but still, I’m expected to go in to work. (Every day!) Still, the rent must be paid. Still, the music on the radio transitions to the inevitable summer jams, with their light, airy and unmistakably happy feel, because how can you not be happy when it’s summer?

Except I’m listening to those songs in my car, on the way to work. And God smirks.

But hey, me and summer vacation had a good run. I also can’t overemphasize how much more awesome weekends become when school ends and real work starts. At one point, I caught myself considering marking the weekend on my calendar as “The Weekend,” just in case it slips my mind somehow, which it most certainly never will. (I think that’s a normal recent-college-grad-transitioning-to-adulthood thing.)

And because a lot of questions would be asked and a lot of paychecks cut off if I decided to go ahead and celebrate summer vacation anyway, I’ve got to create my own, so to speak. So not only do weekends become sacred, but so do evenings and mornings and any time I’m not at work, really. It’s not that I don’t like work; I do. It’s just that there’s a sacredness to respite just like there’s a sacredness to work, and I don’t want to lose either. Honoring one is what allows me to fully appreciate the other, and even though that balance still eludes me sometime, and even though I’ve got a 9-to-5 that sometimes starts earlier and sometimes ends later than that, I still think I can use the words of The Ataris’ Kristopher Roe in “In This Diary” as a sort of guiding principle:

The only thing that matters / is following your heart / and eventually you’ll finally get it right.
So laugh it up, high schoolers. You may get three months off, but I’m going to take advantage of this weekend in ways you can’t even fathom.

But first I’m sleeping in.
In Memoriam: Summer Vacation
by José Martinez

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Patron of Youth

Patron of Catholic youth
So who is this saint we celebrate today?

Who was St. Aloysius Gonzaga? He is an Italian Jesuit saint of the 16th century.

Aloysius is the Latin form of Gonzaga's given name, Luigi. In English, the equivalent form would be Louis. The Gonzaga name is well known in Italy. Aloysius Gonzaga was born near Mantua, Italy, in 1568 to a celebrated family of wealth and prestige. As the first born son of his father, Ferrante, his mother, Marta, he was in line to inherit his father's title of Marquis. He grew up amid the violence and brutality of the Renaissance Italy and witnessed the murder of two of his brothers. In 1576, Aloysius' parents sent him to attend the court of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Francesco de'Medici, in Florence. Later, accompanied by his parents, he traveled to Spain to join the court of Philip II in Madrid.

In Spain, Aloysius decided he wanted to join the newly founded religious order, The Society of Jesus. His father resisted his decision and there followed a struggle of wills that continued after his return to Castiglione in 1584. But Aloysius eventually prevailed. Renouncing his right to the title to the vast wealth he was destined to inherit, he entered the Society of Jesus in Rome. During his early studies in Rome, he would regularly go out into the streets of the city to care for victims of the plague. He himself contracted the disease as a result of his efforts for the suffering and died on June 21, 1591, at the age of twenty-three, six years short of his ordination as a Jesuit priest.

Even before his time as a Jesuit, Aloysius was known for his love of prayer and fasting. He received his First Communion from St. Charles Borromeo. As a Jesuit at the Roman College, he continued to devote his time to prayer and practices of austerity.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Graduation 2012

Saint Louis University welcomed Fr. James Martin, S.J. as the commencement speaker for the spring graduating Class of 2012. He received a standing ovation for his speech, in which he urged graduates to see the important role humor plays in religion and in life.  Here is the final portion of his Commencement address:

In short, the great spiritual masters from every tradition knew the value of humor and laughter. Let me give you just three quick reasons why.

First, humor is a tool for humility. We can tell jokes about ourselves to deflate our egos, which is a good thing for everyone. Look, you're about to graduate from a Jesuit school, one the best in the country! It's easy to get a stuck up. It's just as easy in religious circles.

For example, that Catholic joke I told at the beginning is fun to tell. But it reminds me that Catholics need to be careful about assuming they have all the answers. Self- deprecatory jokes remind us not to take ourselves so seriously. They remind us of our basic humanity, what Jesus called our "poverty of spirit." Our essential limitations, our basic humanity, our shared reliance on God. As a SLU grad you'll go on to positions of
prominence, and may be tempted to think you're better than everyone else: Don't.

We are all limited, finite, imperfect human beings, from the guy who cleans up the dorms on Sunday mornings to president of the university. We're all beloved children of God; none of us better than the others. Laughing at ourselves helps to remember that.

A second reason for humor is this: Humor speaks truth to power. A witty remark is a time-honored way to challenge the pompous and the powerful. Jesus deployed humor in this way, challenging some of the authorities of his time. Humor is a weapon against the arrogance and pride that infects all human beings, and infects religious institutions, because they are made up of human beings.

The mother of a friend of mine, for example, was once in the hospital at the same time a local bishop, who was recovering from some minor surgery. The bishop took it on himself to go from room to room and visit all the patients. He came into my friend's mother's room and said to her, "Well, dear I know just how you feel?" And she said, "Really? When was your hysterectomy?" Later they became friends and, years later, he presided at her funeral Mass, where he told that joke on himself. He learned not to take himself with deadly seriousness.

Finally, joy is an important part of our relationship with God. One of the best ways of thinking about our relationship to God is as a friendship. And any healthy friendship is leavened with some joy, some humor and a lot of laughter. The same goes for our relationship with God. Ever thought about incorporating joy into your spiritual life?

After all, the Book of Isaiah, says, "The Lord takes delight in his people." So can you imagine God delighting in you? If that doesn't work, how about this: How many times have you heard "God loves you"? You think, "Yeah, whatever. That's just what God does." It's like wallpaper. But how about this: God likes you. That has a different energy to it, doesn't it? Can you imagine God liking you?

So, if you're a religious person, or a spiritual-but-not-religious person, or if you're a seeker or a doubter or an agnostic or an atheist, here's some commencement advice: Don't take yourself so seriously. Laugh at yourself. Use some humor to speak truth to power, especially on behalf of the poor. See what happens when you incorporate joy into your spiritual life, and try to locate God's delight. Overall: be joyful; cultivate a sense of
humor and laugh-for God's sakes.

To that end, I'll close with, what else, a joke? Why? Well, the better question is Why not? So a Jesuit priest and Dominican priest are en route to a theology conference at SLU and they get into this long discussion about whose job is harder, and they swerve off the road and hit a telephone pole and go straight to heaven. So they find themselves standing there in front of the gates of heaven.

So the Jesuit and the Dominican priest wait outside for some time, until finally the golden gates open up. Just then a huge choir of angels starts singing and a long red carpet rolls out, all the way up to the foot of the...priest. And the rabbi stands back.

Suddenly there's a big trumpet blast and out come all these saints: St. Ignatius, St. Francis Xavier, St Louis, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Rose Philippine Duchesne, and on and on. They all greet the Jesuit and say, "Welcome to heaven! Thanks for being such a good Jesuit!" Then a long blue carpet rolls out and out comes Mary. The Jesuit can't believe his eyes! Mary strides up to the priest, and says, "Welcome to heaven. Thank
you for being such a good Catholic." Finally, a long white carpet rolls out and Jesus Christ himself comes out. Jesus comes up to the priest, hugs him and says, "Welcome to heaven! Thanks for being a good Christian!"

Then the whole group hugs the priest and claps him on the back. They all go back into heaven, laughing and singing St. Louis Jesuits songs, which is what they sing in heaven. The gates close and Dominican is left standing there, just agog.

So now the Dominican is wondering who's going to welcome him. Maybe St. Dominic. Maybe St. Thomas Aquinas. After a half-hour passes, she starts to get antsy. An hour passes. Two hours pass and he starts to get annoyed. Finally, a little side door opens and a little Dominican saint, who he doesn't even recognize, calls out, "Hey you!"

The Dominican looks around for the carpets, or St. Dominic, or St. Thomas Aquinas, or Jesus or Mary, and he walks up to the little saint. The saint says, "Oh yeah, so welcome to heaven." And the Dominican says, "Is that it?" And the little saint says, "What do you mean?" And the Dominican says, "Oh come on! Is that the welcome I get? After working so hard on earth? I mean, the Jesuit priest gets the carpets and the angels and the saints and Mary and Jesus, and all I get is this?"

And the little saint says, "Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you have to remember something. We get Dominicans up here every day. We haven't had a Jesuit priest in years."

Thank you very much. And: Go Billikens!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Marianist Graduations - 2012

Over the last few weeks all of our schools have celebrated their graduation exercises.

We live in a world that is focused on graduating.

Success and achievement is measured by graduation – not just from school but from events and experiences and relationships. We are very often focused on the goal line, the end result. 

We press on through events and life to get to the completion of whatever task is before us. We live to graduate.

When each of our students enter their respective schools we encourage them "to step into the boat." Step into the school environment with your whole body, heart and soul. 

Don't just put one foot in because the boat will wobble. Put your whole self in the boat for the years you are in our Marianist school.

Jesus wants to get into your boat.

He wants to be invited to come into our boats and teach us new things. But there needs to be an openness, a vulnerabilty, a faith that believes that God will never harm us. 

He will never throw you into the deep end without making sure you can stay afloat.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marianist Monday

Schools in the Marianist tradition strive to practice the virtues of Jesus and Mary so that they might educate as would Jesus and Mary. In the words of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, "We teach in order to educate."

Teaching develops skill and transferred knowledge. Marianist education cultivates habits of mind, heart and spirit — all informed, animated, and permeated by the Christian spirit. Member schools find their anchor in the Characteristics of Marianist Education. These characteristics aim to:
Educate for formation in faith;
Provide an integral, quality education;
Educate in family spirit;
Educate for service, justice, and peace;
Educate for adaptation and change.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Sunday Word

In today’s Gospel, Jesus told two parables about what the kingdom of God is like.

The two parables used seeds to illustrate the growth of the kingdom of God. We may be able to understand that the seeds sown in the ground will begin to germinate and grow to produce a harvest, or grow into a tree that gives shade and shelter.  Yes, we may be able to understand that. Yet, we may not fully comprehend the mystery of growth and change.

It is not just about growth and change in seeds. It is also about growth and change in the kingdom of God.

Since the day we were born, the seeds of the kingdom of God were sown in us. These are the seeds of love that help us grow into the image and likeness of God in whom we are created. But along with these seeds of love are also weeds of sin that are sown by the evil one. These weeds will try to choke the seeds of love, so that there is not only no growth, but also to cause the seeds of love to wither and die.

So every choice and every decision we make will determine whether we grow or we choke.

And every choice and every decision is one small step towards developing a habit that is either growing or choking. We can’t deny that one strong influence in our lives, besides our mothers, is our fathers. Yes, our fathers are indeed a strong influence and they sow tough seeds in us.

And today, we also celebrate Father’s Day, so let me share with you two stories.

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top up his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese bombers and fighters was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

All the American fighters were gone on mission, and the fleet was totally defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dived into the formation of the Japanese planes.

So he charged in with guns blazing, attacking the surprised enemy planes. Butch weaved in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. In desperation he even dived at the enemy planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly.

Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft.

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

And today, the O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

The next story happened many years ago when Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for corrupting the city in everything from drug-trafficking and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was Capone's lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends.

For instance, he and his family occupied a large fenced-in mansion with live-in servants and all of the luxuries.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him.

Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son whom he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had everything, and also a good education. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.

Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn't give his son; he couldn't pass on a good name, or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. The seed of God’s love was beginning to germinate in him.

He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and show his son the meaning of integrity. But to do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. He would lose everything. So, he testified. Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But for him, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay.

So, what do these two stories have to do with each other?

Well, Butch O'Hare, the heroic fighter pilot was "Easy Eddie's" son.

Indeed, a moving father-and-son story. Yet it is also a story of how a father felt the seed of God’s love growing in him. He had to kick an evil habit and change to grow in goodness so that he in turn can sow seeds of goodness in his son. And the seeds of goodness grew in his son and that gave him the courage to put his life on the line for others.

Yes, we will reap what we sow. Not just in others but also in ourselves.

God has already planted the seeds of love in us. We need to water it with prayer and let the seeds grow in us and bear fruit. May we in turn sow seeds of love in others so that they too will bear fruits of love for the Kingdom of God.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Immaculate Heart of Mary

The heart is one of the most important parts of the human body. It is the source from which and through which our life's blood flows through our veins, and is distributed to the various parts of our bodies. It is the first organ to function when we begin our existence as human beings, and the last to cease to operate when death comes. Many deaths are attributed to failure of the heart, and this might well be given as the cause of all deaths. Of all the organs of the human body the heart seems to be the most vital. With it life begins and ends. It is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, of our physical existence. When the heart fails, death follows.

The importance of the heart, however, does not consist so much in its physical qualities and operations as in that it is the seat of the affections. This is due chiefly to the close union that exists between the soul and the body. Through this union the heart responds promptly to the affections of the soul; it expands with joy, contracts with grief, melts as it were with compassion, quickens its pace with hope, and little by little succumbs to sorrow and sadness which finally devour it.

The nature and subject of the devotion to the heart of Mary is what we celebrate today. And it is to the Immaculate Heart of Mary that we consecrate ourselves on this day with this prayer:

O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners; we consecrate ourselves to thy Immaculate Heart. We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life: all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts, and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, and our country. We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly blessing. And that this act of consecration may be truly fruitful and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our First Holy Communion.

We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics, who are submissive to all directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him. We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and of His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord’s Day. We pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an important part of our lives, in so far as we are able to do.

Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves wholeheartedly to the spreading of devotion to thy Immaculate Heart, in order to hasten and assure, through thy queenly rule, the coming of the Kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son Jesus Christ, in our own country, and in all the world; as in Heaven, so on earth. Amen.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Friday, June 15th, is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated 19 days after Pentecost Sunday.

This year the Gospel for the feast of the Sacred Heart flows from St. John:

But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true;
he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

Christ's heart may be pierced but it is strong and deep enough to hold within its chambers the burdens of all...
All are invited to come to the heart of Jesus to find rest and light...
What burdens, what weariness do you bring to Jesus' heart this day?
Let us pray...

Litany of the Sacred Heart

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
So loving
So humble
So gentle
So compassionate
So faithful
So wise
So patient
So steadfast
So tender
So spacious
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
God’s joy
God’s shalom
Harp of the Trinity
Wingbeat of the Spirit
Breath of God
Five-petaled rose
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Womb of justice
Birthplace of peace
Our dearest hope
Longing of our lives
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Freely flowing fountain
Spring of grace
Freshet of forgiveness
Merciful river
Mystical dew
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Warmth of our hearts
Transforming fire
Cosmic furnace
Enflamer of hearts
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Heart of evolution
Beginning and ending
Center of all
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Garden of virtues
Mystical dew
Table and food
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Our refuge
Our shelter
Our comfort
Our rest
Our welcoming breast
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Wounded by love
Pierced by our cruelty
Broken by our hardness
Mystic winepress
Poured out as gift
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Have mercy, gracious heart,
Give us gratefulness
Teach us tenderness
Let us learn to love.
Hear our prayer!
                                    (Litany by Wendy Wright)

Let us pray...
we rejoice in the gifts of love
we have received from the heart of Jesus your Son.
Open our hearts to share his life
and continue to bless us with his love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
                                     (Opening Prayer of today's Mass)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


CNS reports that the Vatican is in line to control the new Internet address extension ".catholic" and decide who is allowed to use it.

Msgr. Tighe
The corporation is overseeing a huge expansion in the number of Internet extensions beyond the standard .com, .org., .edu and .gov. The extensions formally are known as generic top-level domains. The assignment of country-code top-level domains, like the Vatican's own .va, will not be affected by the change.

Msgr. Tighe said that the Vatican's application to control the top-level domain .catholic "is a recognition of how important the digital space is for the church."

Controlling the top-level domain "will be a way to authenticate the Catholic presence online," Msgr. Tighe said. The Vatican plans to allow "institutions and communities that have canonical recognition" to use the extension, "so people online -- Catholics and non-Catholics -- will know a site is authentically Catholic."

The Vatican does not plan to allow individual bloggers or private Catholics to use ".catholic," Msgr. Tighe said. Use of the domain would be limited to those with a formal canonical recognition: dioceses, parishes and other territorial church jurisdictions; religious orders and other canonically recognized communities; and Catholic institutions such as universities, schools and hospitals.

Controlling the domain name will promote "a more cohesive and organized presence" of the church online, "so the recognized structure of the church can be mirrored in the digital space."

When the corporation discussed the idea of expanding the number of generic top-level domains in 2009, the Vatican representative to the corporation's governmental advisory committee, Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, expressed concern about "the possible perils" connected with religious domain names, including the risk of "competing claims" and "bitter disputes" between individuals or institutions claiming to represent, for example, Catholics or Muslims or Buddhists.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"I'm yours"

Garcia was carrying a 12-foot cross along Interstate-30 in Fort Worth and Arlington on Thursday afternoon. He was hard to miss. “This is my way of showing them Jesus Christ wants a personal relationship with every single one of them,” Garcia said. The idea came to him last July, when he was attending youth group at the Oasis Church in Saginaw. He said that he realized his Christian walk wasn’t what it should be. “Oh, man, I was going through so much in my life and really searching to see what God had for me, His call on my life,” Garcia said. “I just felt that separation from Him and felt like it was just time to get rid of worldly desires and focus on Him,” Garcia added. Garcia remembers the day that it all happened for him. “July 24, 2011. I remember looking up to heaven saying, ‘I’m yours,’” he said. “That day, I decided to take up my cross. And I felt so strong in my heart. And I felt Him tell me where to go and how to go. And that’s where we’re going — Washington, D.C.” Garcia will have to walk 1,369 miles to get there. With breaks, he hopes to arrive in front of the White House for prayer on July 13.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!

Litany of the Sacred Heart

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!

So loving
So humble
So gentle
So compassionate
So faithful
So wise
So patient
So steadfast
So tender
So spacious

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
God’s joy
God’s shalom
Harp of the Trinity
Wingbeat of the Spirit
Breath of God
Five-petaled rose

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!Womb of justice
Birthplace of peace
Our dearest hope
Longing of our lives

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Freely flowing fountain
Spring of grace
Freshet of forgiveness
Merciful river
Mystical dew
Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Warmth of our hearts
Transforming fire
Cosmic furnace
Enflamer of hearts

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Heart of evolution
Beginning and ending
Center of all

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Garden of virtues
Mystical dew
Table and food

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Our refuge
Our shelter
Our comfort
Our rest
Our welcoming breast

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Wounded by love
Pierced by our cruelty
Broken by our hardness
Mystic winepress
Poured out as gift

Heart of Jesus, hear our prayer!
Have mercy, gracious heart,
Give us gratefulness
Teach us tenderness
Let us learn to love.

Hear our prayer!

- Wendy Wright

Let us pray...
God of all our hearts,
open your heart that we might see in yours
the beauty of each and every one created in your image.
As a a mother holds her child to her breast,
hold us close to you and one another
that our hearts might beat as one with yours
and the breath of the Spirit be the joy of our lives.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Marianist Monday

The life and mission of our community find their source and summit in the liturgy.

Made a priestly people through Baptism, we celebrate the mysteries of Christ in the course of the liturgical year.

Present in word and sacrament,
Christ unites us with his perfect praise of the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit,
to bring the human race to holiness.

The celebration of the Eucharist,
which renews our share in the paschal mystery,
is central in our daily life.
Each time we take part in the Eucharist,
we give thanks to the Father
in union with Christ.
Sharing together the bread of life
and the cup of salvation,
we form a single body.
Thus our work and rest, our trials and joys - everything in our lives -
becomes a spiritual sacrifice, pleasing to God.

Every morning and evening
in the Liturgy of the Hours
we join the Church in its unending rhythm of praise and supplication.

Praying in the words of Scriptires,
we enter into the longing and searchingof God's people throughout all ages.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Body of Christ

What you see is the bread and the chalice; that is what your own eyes report to you. But what your faith obliges you to accept is that the bread is the Body of Christ and the chalice the Blood of Christ. ... How is the bread His Body? And the chalice, or what is in the chalice, how is it His Blood? Those elements, brothers and sisters, are called sacraments, because in them one thing is seen, but another is understood. What is seen is the corporeal species, but what is understood is the spiritual fruit. ... `You, however,are the Body of Christ and his members.' If, therefore, you are the Body of Christ and his members, your mystery is presentedat the table of the Lord, you receive your mystery. To that which you are, you answer: `Amen...' For you hear: `The Body of Christ!' and you answer: `Amen!' Be a member of Christ's Body, so that your `Amen' may be the truth.
St. Augustine

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Corpus Christi

Vatican Radio
Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass on the steps of Rome’s Cathedral Basilica of St John Lateran Thursday evening, and then led the faithful in Eucharistic adoration before a public procession through the streets of Rome to the Basilica of St Mary Major, to mark the Solemn Feast of the Most Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord, Jesus Christ – the Feast of Corpus Domini or Corpus Christi.

In his Homily, the Holy Father spoke of the need to find the right balance between Eucharistic celebration – in the Mass – and Eucharistic adoration, saying they are complementary and equally necessary for a healthy and balanced spiritual life, for individuals and believing communities alike.“In fact,” said Pope Benedict, “it is wrong to oppose [Eucharistic] celebration and adoration, as if they were in competition with each other.” In fact, he said, “It's just the opposite: the cult of the Blessed Sacrament is like the spiritual 'environment' within which the community can well and truly celebrate the Eucharist.”

The Pope went on to say, “Only if it is preceded, accompanied and followed by this inner attitude of faith and worship, can the liturgical action express its full meaning and value.”

Pope Benedict also spoke of the public importance of ritual, saying:
If, for example, this city's Corpus Domini procession was abolished in the name of a secularized faith no longer in need of sacred signs, the spiritual profile of Rome would be "flattened", and our personal and community consciousness it would be weakened. Or think of a mother and a father who, in the name of a desacralized faith, deprived their children of all religious rituals: in reality they would end up leaving the field open to many surrogates in the consumer society, with other rites and other signs that could more easily become idols. God our Father, has not done so with humanity: he sent His Son into the world, not to abolish the sacred, but to complete even this.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Sunday Word

I am so happy that my name is on the list.

He “offered himself without blemish to God,” says Sunday's selection from the letter to the Hebrews, in a sacrifice designed to “purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God!"

Jesus’ death on the cross gives us a place on the list. It offers us an opportunity to join the roll call of the redeemed, the sanctuary of the saints — all the saints, those who are forgiven, purified, renewed and restored.

When you’re on this list, you can never be lost.

We all know that the thing about lists is that they are just about impossible to get onto. Consider the list of the 40 richest people: In order to knock off anyone from their perch at number one, you’d have to come up with about 17 billion dollars. Not an easy task.

Such a list is tough to crack, and so are the high-octane rosters of Most Powerful, All-Stars and Most Admired.

The list we are on is not like those lists.

The list we are on is for everyone. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,” says Jesus to Nicodemus, “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." This gift is for everyone who believes — not just the elite.

The list lasts forever. Christ “entered once for all into the Holy Place,” says the letter to the Hebrews, “not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption." Jesus gave his life, and the result is eternal redemption — his list is never going to change or diminish or disappear.

Jesus has suffered once, for all, so that we might make his “list of life.” And we can respond, as so many have before us, with faith and with gratitude, with wonder and with worship.

With our names on this list, we’ll never be lost.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Prayer for a Frustrated Catholic

Many thanks to Fr. James Martin, S.J. for this Prayer for a Frustrated Catholic below.

Dear God, sometimes I get so frustrated with your church.

I know that I’m not alone. So many people who love your church feel frustrated with the Body of Christ on earth. I know that laypeople feel frustrated. Priests and deacons, and brothers and sisters, can feel frustrated, too. And I’ll bet that even bishops and popes feel frustrated. We grow worried and concerned and bothered and angry and sometimes scandalized because your divine institution, our home, is filled with human beings who are sinful. Just like me.

But I get frustrated most of all when I feel that there are things that need to be changed and I don’t have the power to change them.

So I need your help, God.

Help me to remember that Jesus promised that he would be with us until the end of time, and that your church is always guided by the Holy Spirit, even if it’s hard for me to see. Sometimes change happens suddenly, and the Spirit astonishes us, but often in the church, it happens slowly. In your time, not mine. Help me know that the seeds that I plant with love in the ground of your church will one day bloom. So give me patience.

Help me to understand that there was never a time when there were not arguments or disputes within your church. Arguments go all the way back to Peter and Paul debating one another. And there was never a time when there wasn’t sin among the members of your church. That kind of sin goes back to Peter denying Jesus during his Passion. Why would today’s church be any different than it was for people who knew Jesus on earth? Give me wisdom.

Help me to trust in the Resurrection. The Risen Christ reminds us that there is always the hope of something new. Death is never the last word for us. Neither is despair. And help me remember that when the Risen Christ appeared to his disciples, he bore the wounds of his Crucifixion. Like Christ, the church is always wounded, but always a carrier of grace. Give me hope.

Help me to believe that your Spirit can do anything: raise up saints when we need them most, soften hearts when they seem hardened, open minds when they seem closed, inspire confidence when all seems lost, help us do what had seemed impossible until it was done. This is the same Spirit that converted Paul, inspired Augustine, called Francis of Assisi, emboldened Catherine of Siena, consoled Ignatius of Loyola, comforted Thérèse of Lisieux, enlivened John XXIII, accompanied Teresa of Calcutta, strengthened Dorothy Day and encouraged John Paul II. It is the same Spirit that it with us today, and your Spirit has lost none of its power. Give me faith.

Help me to remember all your saints. Most of them had it a lot worse than I do. They were frustrated with your church at times, struggled with it, and were occasionally persecuted by it. St. Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by church authorities. St. Ignatius Loyola was thrown into jail by the Inquisition. St. Mary MacKillop was excommunicated. If they can trust in your church in the midst of those difficulties, so can I. Give me courage.

Help me to be peaceful when people tell me that I don’t belong in the church, that I’m a heretic for trying to make things better, or that I’m not a good Catholic. I know that I was baptized. You called me by name to be in your church, God. As long as I draw breath, help me remember how the holy waters of baptism welcomed me into your holy family of sinners and saints. Let the voice that called me into your church be what I hear when other voices tell me that I’m not welcome in the church. Give me peace.

Most of all, help me to place all of my hope in your Son. My faith is in Jesus Christ. Give me only his love and his grace. That’s enough for me.

Help me God, and help your church.    Amen.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Every decade American society develops new language trends. Old words that have never been used much, suddenly become the new buzz word, or their meaning becomes something different. New sayings, expressions, and idioms are created and suddenly everyone is saying them AD NAUSEUM.

Some mean different things to different people.

A new one popped into our culture recently with a very distinct meaning. Take a look and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

10 odd gifts

Top ten lists are a lot like fast food in many respects - they're cheap, the taste is overrated and they do nothing for your waistline, but we quite happily munch through them anyway.

There's no real thought required to read a top ten list - if you're that disinterested, you can even ignore the body text and just read the headings - you'll still pick up the gist of it. It is this ease-of-digestion that allows people to quickly browse and gratify their surfing needs - the top ten list serves as an extremely efficient way to absorb information.

So we offer today the top ten list of the Vatican. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Any given Sunday

H/T to Brother Timothy for drawing our attention to the video below from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

This video is certainly one of the many efforts I've seen for opening our doors to all who are on the other side.

The video is part of an effort titled, Any Given Sunday -- an outreach to young people but one I believe will benefit folks of any age.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Batter my heart, thee-person'd God

This well known icon simply shows us how the Trinity is a communion of persons. Rublev does not try to solve the mystery, rather his image draws us more deeply into the mystery of who God is.

What better way to prepare for this Sunday's celebration than the following words of John Dunne:

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.

I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labour to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.

Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Friday, June 1, 2012

St. Justin the Martyr

So, who was this man whose feast we celebrate today?

What we know about St. Justin mainly comes from his own writings. He was born in about 103 AD to pagan parents in Flavia Neapolis. He had a great love of philosophy and studied various philosophical systems:

“…I surrendered myself to a Stoic Philosopher…but when I had not acquired any further knowledge of God (for he did not know himself, and said such instruction was unnecessary)…I left him…

A Peripatetic Philosopher… asked me for money. For this reason I left him, believing him to be no philosopher at all….

I came to a Pythagorean Philosopher, very celebrated – a man who thought much of his own wisdom… He said, ‘What then? Are you acquainted with music, astronomy, and geometry?’ Having commended many of these branches of learning, and telling me that they were necessary, he dismissed me.

In my helpless condition it occurred to me to have a meeting with the Platonists, for their fame was great. I thereupon spent as much of my time as possible with one who had lately settled in our city…and I progressed, and made the greatest improvements daily. And the perception of immaterial things quite overpowered me, and the contemplation of ideas furnished my mind with wings, so that in a little while I supposed that I had become wise; and such was my stupidity, I expected forthwith to look upon God, for this is the end of Plato’s philosophy. – Dialogue With Trypho, Chapter 2

It was at this point that  St. Justin met an old man when he was walking in a field close to the sea. They engaged in conversation and this man witnessed to him Jesus Christ. This encounter had a profound impact upon Justin:

“When he had spoken these and many other things…he went away, bidding me attend to them; and I have not seen him since. But straightway a flame was kindled in my soul; and a love of the prophets, and of those men who are friends of Christ, possessed me; and whilst revolving his words in my mind, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and profitable. Thus, and for this reason, I am a philosopher.” – Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 8

Justin never saw this man again, yet this chance encounter gave rise to one of the greatest Christian apologists of the Early Church and a prolific martyr! I often wonder about that unnamed stranger. I wonder if the old man ever found out about what happened to that philosopher with whom he once took a stroll. I guess this just goes to show that you may never know what seeds you sow…

Unfortunately, most of St. Justin’s works are lost.

St. Justin Martyr, pray for us!