Sunday, September 30, 2012

Psalm 19 - God's glory

The psalmist declares God’s glory in today's responsorial psalm. It is in this moment in which we find David. The speech of the sun and the message of the moon have struck him deep, and like the Law gives “light to the eyes” it has revealed a stark contrast between Creator and creation. The gaps, the faults and the inadequacies that we try to fill with everything else are put plainly on display and we see ourselves as we really are.

And it’s in moments like those that the real glory of God’s creation can be found. Through it God brings us to a place where we’re ready to receive the Gospel. Confronted by the glory of God, we’re ripe for an encounter with the Son of God, who stepped into creation and filled the gaps of our imperfect existence with the perfection of his. We’re ready to receive and able to appreciate the “firstborn of all creation,” whose death on a cross forgives our constant attempts to put ourselves on the world’s tallest pedestal. Yes, when we take the time to stare at the stars that hang over us; when we remove our nose from the grindstone long enough to notice the picture of God’s faithfulness that is the rising sun, we again encounter a Maker who creates from nothing and has redeemed our nothing, through the work of Christ.

Albert Einstein once said, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand in rapt awe, is as good as dead.” Strong words. When was the last time that you stood in jaw-dropped awe? How alive is your sense of wonder? Perhaps one of the best exercises we can do to refresh our perspective and revive our faith is simply to sit back and stare at the stuff we can’t comprehend and could never compete with.

David closes his song with a simple request. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. The work of God speaks. It tells us of his power. When we listen, it declares the depths of his love and the heights of his grace. David’s desire is that his words, that his work, might do the same.

Let us never lose our wonder for the One who has made the world and who has saved the world. After all, when we live humbled by what he’s done in our sight, we can be confident that all we do is pleasing in his.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Archangels

The feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael have been combined since the fifth century.

Saint Michael is one of the seven archangels that include Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Jehudiel, Beraquiel and Sealtiel. As an archangel, he was known as the protector of Israel and the Church and presents our prayers to the Most High. He is mentioned several times in the Sacred Scriptures . We also read in the Book of Revelation about the battle between the good angels and the devils which were led by Lucifer. So it was also Saint Michael who was at the head of the angels in the battle against the devils and the head of the Guardian Angels. The meaning of the name, Michael, in Hebrew is, ‘Who is like God.’

Saint Gabriel is one of the three archangels whom the Bible calls by name. He is called the messenger of redemption, six hundred years before the coming of Jesus, the time when Christ would be born. In the New Testament, he appeared to Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist, in order to give the news of the pregnancy of his wife, Saint Elizabeth. But when Zechariah doubted, St. Gabriel said: “I am Gabriel, who stand before God, I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled at their proper time."

Saint Gabriel also sent by God to the Blessed Virgin Mary to announce the Good News of the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He said: “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you…. Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favored with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you name him, Jesus…."

Saint Raphael which means “medicine of God” is one of the seven archangels who always stand before the Lord. His mission is connected with the story of Tobias that according to Scriptures, he was sent by God in order to help the family of Tobias. Tobias was healed of his blindness and took care of him on his journey, the one who owed him was asked to pay and he was given a young wife. He was considered as the patron saint of the blind, nurses, physicians and travellers.

Hence the name, ‘angel,’ has been appropriated to them. The angels are all pure spirits, that is, they are uncompounded immaterial substances which have no parts as bodies and matter, have. In them nothing is to be found of color, shape, extension or any other qualities of matter. They possess superior intelligence, enormous strength and surpassing holiness. They enjoy an intimate relationship with God. They are, by a property of their nature, immortal as every spirit is.

Anyone who needs special means of support should know whom to call upon. In times of temptation, have recourse to Saint Michael and let us pray these words: “Saint Michael, protect us from all temptations of the devil and wickedness.” Let us imitate the promptness of Saint Gabriel in fulfilling the will of God and in sickness or necessity, let us invoke the intercession of Saint Raphael.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Sunday Word

Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
"Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us."
Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where 'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"

Jesus uses exaggerated notions and actions to make his disciples face the gravity of what they have done. By rebuking the unknown man who offered healing and exorcism in Jesus' name, the disciples had stopped up a tributary of divine compassion from flowing to those in need. In response, Jesus offers his disciples some of his harshest, most demanding judgments on what believers should do in order to avoid committing such sins.

The Jesus of love and mercy now uses images of force and fury to illustrate how deep his emotions run on this subject. Those who willfully erect "stumbling blocks," whose actions hinder the progress of "little ones," are declared better off at the bottom of the sea. So great is Jesus' love for these "little ones."

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Marianist Three O'Clock Prayer

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, encouraged his spiritual followers to interrupt at three o'clock all professional activities and to pause for contemplation. One of the earliest texts (Regulations for the Religious of Mary, 1819) defines this spiritual practice as follows: Every day at three o'clock in the afternoon each one makes a short prayer, each one remains standing wherever he may be; only on Friday does he kneel.

The classical form of the Three O'Clock Prayer was fashioned by Father Simler for the 1885 edition of the "Marianist Prayer Book". For practical reasons, the prayer was shortened and the exact time no longer strictly observed. A special invocation to St. John was added and spiritual identification with the apostle as patron and model was encouraged.

Beginning in 1857, efforts were made to acquaint Marianist students with the three o'clock devotion. This venture, although blessed with modest success, shows that Chaminade's followers were eager to share with others what was dear to their own hearts. The suggestion of the 1928 General Chapter of the Society of Mary, to print the Three O'Clock Prayer on the back of holy cards and to distribute them in classrooms and elsewhere, illustrates a long- standing tradition which until this day has not been interrupted.

The Three O'Clock Prayer first began as a daily spiritual reunion for the dispersed members of the Sodality, and, even today, it is still considered a spiritual reunion of all members of the Family of Mary. Marianists gather at three o'clock to express communion with Mary and the beloved disciple so closely united with Jesus on the Cross. They also gather with other members of the Family of Mary around the world. The Three O'Clock Prayer strengthens the solidarity of those who share in the Hour of Jesus and the Hour of the Woman, meaning in the glorification of Jesus Christ and the entrusting of his ongoing mission to Mary-Church. The Three O'Clock Prayer speaks to apostles and spirituals, to pragmatists and intellectuals.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Community life: supports & encourages

It is a good sign that consecrated religious speak often of God; for this indicates that their hearts are occupied with the very reason for their vocation.

When Saint Teresa of the Andes was discerning her vocation, this is one reason why she preferred the convent in the Andes over a different convent; "I noticed that the Sister at the turn asked me about all kinds of worldly things that I didn't like...On the other hand, at Los Andes, we spoke only about God and just mentioned a few people to recommend them to God in our prayers...Their presence and conversation has deepened my recollection and brought me great peace". 

Saint Alphonsus tells us that the mere "good examples of saintly companions" will help raise the religious to the heights of sanctity and "remind us continually of the transgressions into which we have fallen". Indeed, religious are meant to be set apart from the world; they are called to become saintly, not simply seculars living under the same roof who recite prayers together. 

Saint Bernard says that "a worldly spirit under the garb of the habit, is an apostasy of heart." 

As Saint Faustina once mentioned; "I tremble to think that I have to give an account of my tongue. There is life, but there is also death in the tongue." 

Indeed, just as edifying words can help sanctify one's companions in a community, so too can their bad example lead one another to ruin.

Blessed Pope John Paul II once said; "you end up resembling the company you keep". Why then, should we not seek out a community that will support and encourage each other through speech, prayer, and sacrifice? Is this not a prime advantage of community life?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's story

Beauty. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. But no matter what we see on the outside, we need to realize that on the inside...we’re all the same. Fragile people who want to be loved.

I showed a shortened version of Karen's story to my classes where she shared her experience of being different. All understood that Karen gets her comfort from knowing that God created her and loves her perfectly. There was not a dry eye in the class.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Marianist Monday

“I am more thoroughly immersed in the immensity of God than a fish is in the ocean, a bird in the wide expanse of the air. I am in God as my thoughts are in my mind, without occupying any space....If our faith be great, we shall soon feel ourselves dwelling in God, and we shall, as it were, feel God within us; we shall experience that in God ‘we live and move and have our being.’”
Blessed William Joseph Chaminade: “Prayer of Faith and the Presence of God,“Writings on Mental Prayer, par. 379ab

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Unlike Christ

When you do a search on Google, suggestions are shown based on popular searches by other users. It can give us an authentic look into the mind of our culture. This video is based on actual search results. It is a thought provoking and convicting challenge to all believers. Song "Oh" by Brent Bramer

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Sunday Word II

We still have time to prepare to hear the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed this weekend. Here is part of the pericope from the Gospel according to St. Mark:

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
"What were you arguing about on the way?"
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
"If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all."
Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
"Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me."

Jesus confronted his disciples about their argument over who among them was His favorite — er, the greatest. He made a statement and then gave an example.

The statement was, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and servant of all.” And for the example, Jesus called over a child who lived in that house, took the child in his arms, and said, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me.”

We probably don’t have too much trouble understanding the statement, but without knowing something of those times, we may miss altogether the point of the example.

In that culture, children were essentially non-persons. They were left with the women, who themselves were considered subservient to the men, but children were even further down the social ladder. Only slaves were lower in social standing than children.

And as if to reinforce the insignificance of children, Mark doesn’t even identify the gender of the child. The Greek word he uses is paidion, which like the English word “child” into which it is translated, is neuter. Thus, the account says that Jesus “took a little child and put it among them."

You can’t get much more impersonal than “it.”

Thus, to say that the followers of Jesus could welcome him by welcoming a child was a mind-blowing suggestion. But Jesus wanted them to understand how God viewed greatness. It came not from being high on society’s status ladder, but by welcoming those on the bottom rungs or those who don’t have a place on the ladder at all.

“Greatness” is a word based on measurement. In our usual way of thinking, a person can be designated great only if he or she excels in some way beyond others, is more than others.

For us to be called great would mean that there are others who do not measure up to our status or achievement, and who are therefore less than we are. Jesus was not taking issue with the idea of measurement to determine greatness; he was simply saying that the disciples were measuring in the wrong direction. True greatness is not from how far we rise above others in status or fame or achievement, but in how far we are willing to go in including and caring for the least and the lowly in his name.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Matthew - Called by Christ

Today the Church remembers the witness of the apostle and evangelist Matthew, whose call by Christ is succinctly and dramatically portrayed for us in today’s Gospel.

Matthew identifies himself as a tax collector, which means that he was a collaborator with the regimes of Herod and Caesar who ruled the land of Israel. Tax collectors were not simply viewed as civil servants, but as traitors to not only the people of Israel, but God. This means that the call of Matthew comes to him as a total surprise.

Further, the call of Matthew further highlights the strange manner in which the Lord Jesus identifies himself as the Messiah of Israel. He is, oddly enough, a Messiah who will call Israel’s enemies into a relationship with himself, rather than destroy them- a move that confounded both his supporters and his opponents.

And this really is the mystery that is revealed in today’s Gospel- it is about the identity and mission of Christ as the Messiah, about the kind of Messiah he is and what he is going to do. The Lord is demonstrating just how he plans on dealing with the enemies of Israel; he would rather these enemies be drawn into communion with the God of Israel and share the benefits of that relationship than treat them as eternal outcasts and plot their demise.

It is the purpose of the Gospel to let us know that this is the kind of Messiah the Lord Jesus is- and we have a decision to make in regards to his identity and his mission. He is making it clear that he will not hesitate to call people like Matthew into his service, and he knows full well that some may not like this and will even reject him as a result.

The lesson for us might be a reminder that the purpose of the Church is to make saints out of sinners. This means that there are always going to be a lot of sinners in the Church, and we have to adjust our expectations as a result.

The Church as a perfect society exists in heaven, but on earth, saints and sinners are all jumbled together. For some, this is distressing, even repellent. For others, it is a relief- for if the Church can include sinners, it can also include folks like ourselves.

Movements to reform the Church will always be needed, but movements to purify the Church of sinners, outsiders, outcasts, ne’er do wells, and people we just don’t like need to be opposed. We also have to discriminate carefully between the call to conversion and reform, and the call to kick those bums out who don’t meet our ego driven expectations.

The words of Christ the Messiah are an affirmation of the former and a rejection of the latter.

And in regards to the latter, that desire to exclude from the Church the very people Christ intends the Church for: we would do well to attend to the word of the Lord himself: “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

                        Father Steve Grunow is the Assistant Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Sunday Word

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 2:12, 17-20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

The first reading from Sunday's worship offers us the opportunity to consider opposition. And there is still time to reflect on the Sunday readings before the weekend arrives.

Have you ever experienced a time when your own righteousness was "inconvenient" for someone? Have you ever come to a new venture full of enthusiasm and excitement, only to be opposed, not because your ideas were bad, but because others were too tired or pessimistic to share your enthusiasm? Have you ever gone out of your way to help someone, to be rewarded with abuse rather than thanks? In dealing with human beings, individually and collectively, in business or in the family, unpredictable opposition sometimes surfaces when you come forward with a new plan, an idea, an offer to help. The writer of Wisdom understands that opposition which does not always develop out of honest disagreement is more predictable and easier to cope with. We are seldom ready for the opposition that grows just because we have a better idea. Yet such is too often the case. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Pope in Lebanon

Pope Benedict has traveled to an area of the world that is stricken by troubles and images of which no child should ever be made aware. He came and did a most unprecedented thing: he encouraged those gathered for the youth rally to be children again! 

There was dancing and bright colors, oversized images (e.g., a large cross, a large catechism, and a large globe) and even fireworks! The world of the Middle East was, in short, transformed into a child’s world again, as we saw things the way children see things: big and bright and beautiful and loud. 

The Holy Father was intentionally encouraging those onlookers to do what children do: to forget about the troubles of this mortal life, and to rejoice in being happy and free and filled with hope. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Marianist Martyrs

Marianist Martyrs of Ciudad Real
Today we celebrate the martyrdom of three Marianists. Blessed Carlos was born in Spain on November 2, 1884. He and his two companions, Blessed Fidel and Blessed Jesus were imprisoned in hatred of the faith in 1936 in Cuidad Real.

All were devoted to teaching and to the Marianist charism of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade. The three met in Ciudad Real in the summer of 1936 and suffered separate martyrdom.

When his school, the prestigious "Collegio Nuestra SeƱora del Pilar", was requisitioned, he felt hunted in Madrid and made a dangerous journey to Ciudad Real to seek help from his former students. Sadly, he found the two schools there had already been requisitioned and the communities scattered. "It will be as God wishes", he would say, as he calmly visited his confreres, without concealing his religious status. He was executed at dawn on September 18, 1936. His companions, Fidel and Jesus were martyred shortly afterwards.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Marianist Monday

Chaminade - A Man of Faith & Vision

To the south of Bordeaux a road leads down across the Pyrenees into Spain. This was the road Father William Joseph Chaminade followed into exile in September of 1797.

He was a French priest in disguise, escaping the enemies of the Church in his native land. Close by lay the danger of arrest. Other priests had already died as martyrs.

But Father Chaminade was at peace. He was a man of faith.

The night before his journey into exile Father Chaminade wrote:

“What is a faithful man to do in the chaos Of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God .Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good.”

In Saragossa, Spain, near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.

So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."

Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:

The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!

May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Sunday Word

Today we hear in the Gospel "take up your cross." Many think this means bearing burdens and suffering hardships for the Lord. Surely such hardships will at times be required, but there is a fuller meaning if we consider the context.

What is a cross for? It was not just a burden to be borne. Far more than that, it was an instrument of death and total sacrifice. Jesus said take up our cross and follow Him. He bore a cross and we must bear our cross and follow Him. But where was He going with His cross? He had just said He was going to die. In the next verse Jesus said we must give our lives for Him. Then He asked what good our lives would be to us, if we are unacceptable at the judgment.

Hence, "taking up your cross" refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication of life. Our whole life is given to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life.

The determination to give our lives to God's service is called "repentance." In repenting we determine to turn away from our own will and live our lives to please God. We cannot be saved without this, and that is why repentance is so important in salvation.

The next verse then helps us understand Jesus' point and strengthens the application. If a person holds his life so dear to himself that he wants to use it to please himself, do his own will, and accomplish his own purposes, rather than denying self and serving God, that person will in the end loses his life eternally. But anyone who loses his life for Jesus' sake - gives it in service and sacrifice to God by denying himself, as described above - such a man will save his life by gaining eternal life.

There can be no greater or clearer teaching anywhere of the meaning of being a disciple. This is how our Master lived, so this is how His disciples must live. We must live lives of complete and total submission to the will of God.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Marianists Celebrate the Triumph of the Cross

Over 4500 Marianist students attended prayer services for the Exaltation of the Holy Cross yesterday. Kellenberg Memorial and Chaminade High Schools held outside prayer services under blue skies with St. Martin de Porres Marianist School attending as well. All focused their prayer on the power of the cross.

Spirit of the Living God, help us this day to focus on doors and windows and opportunities and thresholds. Let us cross and cross and cross--even when we are afraid, even when we don't know where we are going, even when there may be risk to us or those whom we love. Come with us. Show us the ways to love what often we are afraid to love. Show us the ways to enjoy what often we are afraid to enjoy. Let us be as canny about our comfort as we are about discomfort. Grant us eyes to see the openings that you provide at every turn, gateways from now time to your time, from here to there. Amen.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

This cross is found in Blessed William Joseph
Chaminade's Chapel in Bordeaux, France.
Early in the fourth century Saint Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ's life. She razed the Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior's tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus' head: Then "all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on."

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica's dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome's authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine's edict of toleration.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Road Trip

When people take a “road trip,” they usually mean that instead of taking the quick and easy way by hopping on a plane, they instead pack the car or bike and head off on a meandering, lingering adventure that might help them enjoy the journey, not just get to a destination.

Jesus’ journey is to Jerusalem — through its gates, into the city and, ultimately, to the cross.

The greater journey, and no doubt the longest journey in time and space, was the journey of  Christ from a region far, far away — outside of time itself — into time and space, and more, into corporeality, into human form and as a human into servant-form, and then as a criminal to where it — for all intents and purposes — ends on the cross. That’s the longest journey.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Most Holy Name of Mary

The Most Holy Name of Mary
Patronal Feast of the Society of Mary

The feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary began in Spain in 1513 and in 1671 was extended to all of Spain and the Kingdom of Naples. In 1683, John Sobieski, king of Poland, brought an army to the outskirts of Vienna to stop the advance of Muslim armies loyal to Mohammed IV in Constantinople. After Sobieski entrusted himself to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he and his soldiers thoroughly defeated the Muslims. Pope Innocent XI extended this feast to the entire Church.

Mary always points us to God, reminding us of God's infinite goodness. She helps us to open our hearts to God's ways, wherever those may lead us. Honored under the title “Queen of Peace,” Mary encourages us to cooperate with Jesus in building a peace based on justice, a peace that respects the fundamental human rights of all peoples.

“Lord our God, when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross, he gave us as our mother the one he had chosen to be his own mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary; grant that we who call upon the holy name of Mary, our mother, with confidence in her protection may receive strength and comfort in all our needs”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Prayer for September 11

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved as to love with all my soul.
For it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in giving that we receive,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

(Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi)

Let us pray...
For all who died;
for the loved ones they left behind;
for those who serve and protect us;
for those in harm's way;
for an end to war;
and for our enemies:
let us pray to the Lord...

Lord, hear our prayer!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Marianist Monday

How can completely ordinary events, things, circumstances get raised to a higher power? How do they become sacred? In fact, what is a sacrament, really? Isn't it when you "confer the highest significance upon the ordinary things of this world -- bread, wine, water, touch, breath, words," as Walker Percy argues. The more ordinary an object or being, the more faith is required to perceive its sacred potential and miraculous qualities.

Mary was "ordinarily sacred." Who was more ordinary than Mary, a simple, unassuming peasant lady from nowhere-Nazareth? But it is her very ordinariness that provides such a perfect foil for the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit in her life. It was in her quiet, unremarkable, day-to-day life that Mary "found favor with God."

It speaks to our lack of faith in the possibility of ordinary sacredness and ordinary miracles that we feel compelled to depict Mary on her knees worshiping the newborn Jesus as though he were some tiny deity that had magically materialized in her face. What we need to envision is an ordinary Mary looking pale and wan, disheveled and exhausted, but with her face transformed by joy and love as she snuggles the tiny baby Jesus tightly against her. Mary didn't gaze in respectful reverence at her newborn child. She cuddled him, counted all his fingers and toes, chuckled at the hair he did or didn't have, and wondered over the softness of his skin.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Sunday Word

Jesus was wonderfully adaptable and flexible -- even while the central core of his teaching and preaching remained unchanged. Jesus could tell what people were desperately needing to hear, what kind of healing their bodies and their souls cried out for, and he addressed those needs with respect and sensitivity. In the midst of the scholarly synagogue community he demonstrated his profound knowledge of Scripture and tradition. When preaching to a bunch of country folk, he talked about "sheep" and "shepherds." His easy accepting manner made him an invited dinner guest to the homes of tax collectors and other well-known "sinners." He obviously made both women and little children feel comfortable in his presence and free to approach him. Whatever situation Jesus found himself in, Jesus could do well.

Jesus' varied healing techniques also reflect this ability to personalize and contextualize his ministry to the needs of others. Jesus did not use one standard method of healing.

In today's texts, Jesus heals in a way that communicated his healing intentions with such "hands-on" force that even a man who could neither hear nor speak knew exactly what was happening, and he heals in a way that doesn't even require the presence of the one he is healing.

Are we as willing to do the extraordinary, the uncommon or the uncomfortable in order to do well for the sake of the Gospel? Are we able to put the goal of communicating the Good News of Jesus Christ above our own personal likes and dislikes, interests and concerns? Are you even willing to accept different styles and spirits in your own community?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Nativity of Mary

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. If you count nine months back from this date you find yourself at December 8 on the calendar, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. If you keep those two dates in mind, you'll always remember correctly that the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in the womb of her mother, Anne -- not the conception of Jesus in Mary's womb.

The legend is that Anne and her husband Joachim were getting old and were childless. An angel appeared to Anne to announce that she would have a child who would be the mother of all mercies.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you!
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners, 
now and at the hour of our death.


Friday, September 7, 2012

The lame can leap

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Isaiah proclaims in our weekend readings "Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense. He comes to save you."  Isaiah captures so beautifully the dual purpose of God's coming, the dual nature of his involvement in human life. God is both a truth-teller and a healer, a righteous judge and a loving Savior.

Then comes the good part: The work of healing and salvation. "Then will the eyes of the blind be opened," promises the prophet,  "the ears of the deaf cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing." Once we have opened ourselves fully to God, and laid our lives before him in complete candor and honesty, then we find that the unexpected and life-giving healing comes. Our eyes are opened and our ears unstopped; suddenly, the lame can leap and the speechless can sing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mary, Queen of Apostles

Today as Marianists we remember Mary as Queen of Apostles. On this day in 1818 the first Marianists, Brothers and priests, publically professed vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.
Blessed Chaminade wrote, "Among the many congregations that sprang into existence in succeeding ages and in various parts of the world, some were called to one particular form of work, some to another. And last of all, we believe that we too have been called by Mary herself, to assist her with all our might in the struggle against the great heresy of our times. To this end, we have taken for our mottos, as declared our Constitutions, these words of the Blessed Virgin to the attendant at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). We are convinced that our particular mission, despite our weakness, is to perform all the works of zeal and of mercy for the welfare of our neighbor. It is for this reason that, under the general title of teaching Christian morals, we employ all the means at our disposal for preserving our neighbors from the contagion of evil, and of restoring those who have fallen under its sway.
Also, Pope Benedict XV, on the occasion of the first centenary of the Society of Mary, wrote to Very Rev. Father Hiss, Superior General of the Society, a letter which is a kind of approbation of Father Chaminade’s views on the Marian apostolate:
It is not without divine guidance that the Reverend Chaminade went into exile to Saragossa. There, visiting the shrine of our august Sovereign, he understood the plan of divine mercy to lead his country back to Jesus through Mary. Sensing, without a shadow of doubt, that an important role had been reserved for him in this apostolate, he prepared himself for that mission by meditation and prayer at the feet of the august image. It is, in fact, not an empty praise that we give to Mary by this title of Queen of Apostles. Just as she helped the apostles, educators of the nascent church, by her support and counsels, so we must also affirm that she assists at all times the heirs of the apostolic office who seek to either prepare victories or to repair disasters in the adult Church.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Marianist Monday

Our Marianist founder, Blessed Chaminade, said: "The essential is in the interior. To strengthen the interior life, we provide time for nurturing habits of silence and reflection." (Characteristics of Marianist Education)
There is an old adage that says if you really want to know about a person's character, watch how that person treats the waiter at a restaurant.

Does he treat this person as a person, or merely as a servant? Kind words aren't meant only for friends. We're to offer them to everyone because they, like us, are made in God's image. You can't bless God and curse his image at the same time.

If we're going to be the kind of people who use words wisely, then we've got to first cultivate an inner life that sees everyone as a friend created in God's image.

We need a vision of life that doesn't put us at the center of the universe, but rather centers on God and God's purposes. The God who spoke the word of creation and sent the Word to become flesh in his own Son, urges us to choose the kind of words that reflect his character, life and love.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

A Prayer for Labor Day 

Loving Father,
on this weekend,
when we rest from our usual labors,
we pray for all who shoulder the tasks of human labor—
in the marketplace, in factories and offices,
in the professions, and in family living.
We thank you, Lord, for the gift and opportunity of work;
may our efforts always be pure of heart,
for the good of others and the glory of your name.
We lift up to you all who long for just employment
and those who work to defend the rights
and needs of workers everywhere.
May those of us who are now retired always remember
the valuable contribution we make to our Church
and our world by our prayers and deeds of charity.
May our working and our resting give you praise until the day
we share together in eternal rest with all our departed in your kingdom
as you live and reign Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

- Archdiocese of Detroit

Sunday, September 2, 2012


The 2008 version took 14 months, visited 42 countries, and had a cast of thousands. The 2012 version has  something very similar to that 2008 version. What is the similarity? JOY! Take a look and enJOY!