Monday, October 29, 2012

Marianist Monday

Compline is one of the eight canonical hours set forth by St. Benedict in the sixth century. Canonical hours – also called canonical offices – are the fixed cycle of prayer throughout the day. Just as Muslims have a fixed ritual of praying five times a day, Benedict organized Christian prayer for monks into eight hours or offices, with elaborate instructions on when and what to pray.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Have mercy on me!

In today's passage from Mark, it is only a sightless man who sees Jesus clearly. Only blind Bartimaeus correctly identifies Jesus as the long-awaited Son of David. The crowd is annoyed by his shouting, and they sternly order him to be quiet. It’s possible that they are bothered by his brashness, feeling that blind beggars ought to be seen and not heard — from their perspective, he is like a homeless person blocking the sidewalk, shaking a cup and asking for spare change. Or maybe they are nervous because of what he is saying, fearing that the long arm of the Roman military will bring the hammer down on anyone associated with a Jewish king.

In any case, Bartimaeus will not be silenced. He cries out even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!"  His faith in Jesus will not be crushed by the criticism of the crowd, or by the fear of what Rome might do to someone speaking in such a politically incorrect way. He shows a level of courage in his convictions that is so rare in first-century Judea, not to mention 21st century America. He doesn’t care that the people around him are telling him to shut up. And he’s not concerned about the punishment he might receive for speaking openly about his faith. He just does it.

And the result? Jesus stops in his tracks and says, “Call him here."

You get the feeling that the crowd goes silent at this point, surprised that a celebrity like Jesus would respond to the shrieks of a blind man sitting in the dirt. It’s as though a million-megawatt movie star is actually taking the time to talk to some nobody on the other side of the velvet rope. But the crowd passes the word to the blind man, and he responds by throwing off his cloak and springing up to meet Jesus.

Blind Bartimaeus knows that Jesus is the real deal. The true Son of David.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Sunday Word 2


This "priest forever" stuff sounds rather strange to our modern ears, as foreign as the tales of Zeus, Hades, Poseidon and Kronos. True, the story of Melchizedek is told only once in the Bible, in the book of Genesis. There, Abram wins a great military victory, and after returning from battle is greeted by King Melchizedek of Salem, who is not only a king but a "priest of God Most High."

Melchizedek brings bread and wine to Abram and says to him, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!" Then Abram gives Melchizedek one-tenth of everything he has gained in battle, a tithe of his goods.

Our Christian ears are bound to perk up when we hear this story because so much of it sounds oddly familiar. We think of Jesus Christ as a king and a priest, we partake of bread and wine in the Lord's Supper, and we know that we're supposed to give a tenth of our resources in support of God's work in the world. Strange how much New Testament theology is packed into these three Old Testament verses!

The readers of Hebrews knew this story even better than we do, which is why they'd be impressed by the description of Jesus as "a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." 

They would also know enough of the Hebrew language to pull apart the name "Melchizedek" into its component parts: melek, which means king; and sedaka, which means righteousness. New Testament professor Luke Timothy Johnson points out that the letter to the Hebrews also identifies Melchizedek as "king of Salem, that is 'king of peace,'" and the letter goes on to encourage us to pursue peace with everyone.

Priest. King. Righteousness. Peace. That's Melchizedek.

And Jesus as well.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Sunday Word

Jeremiah 31:7-9
Thus says the LORD:Shout with joy for Jacob,exult at the head of the nations;proclaim your praise and say:The LORD has delivered his people,the remnant of Israel.Behold, I will bring them backfrom the land of the north;I will gather them from the ends of the world,with the blind and the lame in their midst,the mothers and those with child;they shall return as an immense throng.They departed in tears,but I will console them and guide them;I will lead them to brooks of water,on a level road, so that none shall stumble.For I am a father to Israel,Ephraim is my first-born.
The prophet Jeremiah pushes possibilities for ourselves as he tells the story of God's plan for the people of Israel. The Lord will bring his people home after years of exile in Babylon, he promises -- "I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world." The prophet predicts that the things that truly matter are the goodness of the Lord, the joy and hope of God's people, and the peaceful home that God provides.

Jeremiah is convinced that these are the things that are REALLY worth saving, in any place and time. They are the true hidden treasures of the people of God.

The goodness of the Lord is what makes the whole homecoming happen. God ransoms his faithless, sinful people and redeems them, says Jeremiah; he gathers them from distant lands and leads them to a place where he will keep them as a shepherd keeps a flock. But why? The question before us is not the ever-popular query: Why do bad things happen to good people? Surely we've heard that one enough -- it's so "20th century." Instead, the real question here is: Why do good things happen to bad people?

The answer, it seems, is because God is good, all the time! All the time, God is good!

God is full of grace and goodness. We are his treasure. We are worth it. And so he does.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Armor of God

"Attack comes with fatigue, distractions, temptations.

Morality and virtue are stressed and tested. This war is about how you defend yourself. No guns or bombs, but true armor."

 "You will be attacked. Your faith will be tested. Make no mistake, the enemy knows you and has tailored a war just for you.

The armor of God will defend your dignity, protect your soul, fight for truth." "Our God reigns! He has won the war over evil. Our victory is in Him!"

Monday, October 22, 2012


Thomas Merton once said that at the root of all war is fear - not so much the fear we have of one another but the fear we have of everything.

Fear makes all of God's creatures do strange things. Once adrenalin hits the bloodstream, who can predict the ways of fight or flight? For example, unlike other bears, grizzlies merit extreme caution from hikers because they have a highly unstable adrenal gland and are "high" on this fight-flight drug most of the time. Imagine having your insides - your nerves, stomach and heart - jangling, reeling and pounding all the time like you'd just seen the latest Halloween  movie. Poor bears! And poor anyone who gets in their way!

The disciples experienced that mouth-drying, heart-thumping, knee-buckling kind of fear many times.  The disciples could not fathom the magnificence of the divine presence. The mystery was far beyond their ken and kin.

No wonder the disciples often reacted by curling into defensive little fear-balls at Jesus' feet.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Aaron's Room

Here's a great video highlighting the value of life. Hang in there to the end. An inspirational and meaningful video for all.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Sunday Word

Sons of Thunder.

That's the nickname given by Jesus to James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They are two of the first disciples called by Jesus, a couple of guys in his inner circle.

Sons of Thunder: An awesome name for a motorcycle gang. Or a rock band.

But these two brothers think that it would be even better to be known as "the Great." So they walk up to Jesus and say, "Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you."

Are they being presumptuous? Yes.

Narcissistic? Probably.

Out of line? Absolutely.

Jesus doesn't shoot them down. Instead, he says, "The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized." He knows that they are walking the way of the cross, which will lead to suffering for all and to death for some.

We know James was later put to death by the sword.

As for John, he too suffered, but did not lose his life for the Christian faith. Tradition says that he lived a long time and died of natural causes in Ephesus. You might say that he gave his life to the faith, but did not have to give up his life for the faith.

James and John. Both suffered. One was martyred. They drank the cup and experienced the baptism.

But as for positions of honor, Jesus says: "to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant." Jesus can promise suffering, death and new life to all who follow him in faith, but the granting of special places in the kingdom of heaven? That's God's call, because God is in control.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Feast of the North American Martyrs

October 19 is the Feast of the North American Martyrs, sometime known as the Feast of St. Isaac Jogues and Companions.  
The eight Jesuits--Jean de Brébeuf,Noël Chabanel, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, René Goupil, Isaac Jogues,Jean de Lalande and Gabriel Lalemant--are some of the most heroic and noble men in the church’s calendar of saints.  They worked in the wilderness, among people with whom they had little in common other than their common humanity, far from their homelands, sometimes together, sometimes apart, always bound to the Lord, in “New France,” in the 17th century.  
His life, like the lives of all the North American Martyrs, has much to teach us about working and living among those who are different from us, the inevitability of difficulties even for the most devout of souls and the necessity of faith at all times.
When he returned to New France in 1635, he was cheerfully welcomed by his Huron friends. Immediately he and Antoine Daniel, another Jesuit, began their work in earnest. (They were one of several Jesuits working in the region at the time.) Near a town called Ihonotiria, near current-day Georgian Bay in Canada, Fathers Brébeuf and Daniel began teaching the people about Christianity. They were later joined by two other French Jesuits, Charles Garnier and Isaac Jogues.

With the arrival of their new companions, though, a smallpox epidemic broke out among the Jesuits, which spread to the Hurons, who had no immunity whatsoever from the illness. The missionaries cared for the sick and baptized thousands of Hurons. But because they had baptized those who were dying, the Hurons concluded that baptism brought death, and so many of the Hurons began to turn against the "Blackrobes." Brébeuf then moved to Sainte-Marie, a center for the Jesuits in the area.

Then a new danger arose. Rumors (false ones) circulated that Jean was in league with a sworn enemy of the Hurons, the Seneca clan of the Iroquois. So he prudently moved to another site, Saint Louis. On March 16, the Iroquois attacked the village and took the Hurons, who were mainly Christians, along with Jean and another Jesuit, Gabriel Lalement, prisoner. He knew that the possibility of martyrdom was imminent.

Jean de Brébeuf's torture was among the cruelest any Jesuit has had to endure. (You might want to avoid this next paragraph if you're squeamish.)

The Iroquois heated hatchets until they were glowing red and, tying them together, strung them across his shoulders, searing his flesh. They wrapped his torso with bark and set it afire. They cut off his nose, lips and forced a hot iron down his throat, and poured boiling water over his head in a gruesome imitation of baptism. They scalped him, and cut off his flesh while he was alive. Finally someone buried a hatchet in his jaw.

After 14 years as a missionary, Jean de Brébeuf died on March 16, 1639. He was 56. At his death his heart was eaten as a way for the Iroquois, who were stunned by his courage, to share in his bravery. Eight other Jesuits were martyred around this same time, and are now referred to as the North American Martyrs.  
May they pray for us and be our examples of patience, fortitude and faith.
Excerpt from James Martin, SJ

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Providence: what's that?

When I was growing up and got some "big idea," my mother would always say to me, "Have you asked God if it is what he wants?" The fallen part of me would resist doing this. But, without fail, whenever I did so I would discover that, "Yes, it is God's will—full speed ahead," or, "No, it's not what God wants, and aren't you happy you found out sooner than later." What my mother was teaching me was to honor and love divine providence.

What Is Divine Providence?

God has loved us into existence, and that love governs every instant and action of our life. This constant, all-encompassing care is what we call divine providence. The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to it as the dispositions by which God guides us, his creatures, with wisdom and love to our ultimate end—our perfection (see 302 and 321). It says that "the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history" (303).

Divine providence literally "fore-sees" every circumstance and concern of our existence. Saint Claude de la Columbière says that "it is one of the most firmly established and most consoling of the truths that have been revealed to us that (apart from sin) nothing happens to us in life unless God wills it so." For "whatever happens to us through God's will," observes Dominican Father Bede Jarrett, "is always the best possible thing for us. God is not only good, very good, supremely good, but the only good. Therefore his will is and must be always the best for us." Divine providence is God's inscrutable strategy to bring about our happiness. As Jesuit Father Jean-Pierre de Caussade writes in one of the greatest spiritual masterpieces of all time, Abandonment to Divine Providence, "Everything has a supernatural quality, something divine about it that can lead us onward to holiness. Everything is part of that completeness which is Jesus Christ."In the opening lines of the Liturgy of the Hours—known as the invitatory psalm—the Church professes of God, "He holds in his hands the depths of the earth." Which means God holds in his hands the depths of my life: all my worries, my troubles, my nagging concerns big and small, my challenges, my struggles, my phobias. Nothing is beyond the reach of his tender, infallible protectorship. God's loving providence shepherds the minutest details of our daily life. The high eternal Father says to Saint Catherine of Siena in theDialogue, "I am constantly providing for what you need at any given time. I am that supreme providence who never betrays my servants' hope in me in soul or body."

If we believe this, the only logical response is to surrender ourselves to it. The Father says through Saint Catherine of Siena, "Whatever I do to provide for the body is done for the good of the soul, to make her grow in the light of faith, to make her trust in me and give up trusting in herself, and to make her see and know that I am who I am and that I can and will and know how to assist her in her need and save her." De Caussade comments in his wisdom, "You are seeking for secret ways of belonging to God, but there is only one: making use of whatever he offers you. Everything leads you to this union with him. For those who have surrendered themselves completely to God, all they are and do has power."

The Grace of the Present Moment

De Caussade speaks famously of "the sacrament of the present moment:"

What God arranges for us to experience at each moment is the best and holiest thing that could happen to us. . . . Every moment we live through is like an ambassador who declares the will of God, and our hearts always utter their acceptance. We can find all that is necessary in the present moment. . . . At every moment God's will produces what is needful for the task at hand, and the simple soul, instructed by faith, finds everything as it should be and wants neither more nor less than what it has.

The Father implores us through Saint Catherine, "Fall in love with my providence!" Let us do so with the confidence and certainty expressed in the prayer of Saint Teresa of Avila: "Lord, you know all things, can do all things, and you love me."

By Peter John Cameron, O.P.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New York Saints to Come

From the In My Backyard Desk…an observation, from Lawrence Downes in the New York Times:

When Pope Benedict XVI canonizes seven Catholic saints in Rome next Sunday, two Americans will be among them, bringing the total of American saints to an even dozen. That may seem surprisingly few after 500 years of Christianity in the New World, but the United States is still a relative newcomer in the Catholic Church, and these things take time.

What’s more remarkable, even astounding, is that seven of the 12 are New Yorkers — either native-born or with some other strong connection to the state, including the two newest, Kateri Tekakwitha and Marianne Cope.

Pennsylvania and Hawaii have two saints each. Indiana has one. For whatever reason — whether it’s something in the water or blowing down from French Canada, or welling up in the alluvial soil — New York is on its way to an All-Saints baseball team. It’s even more impressive when you add the players in the pipeline, like Dorothy Day, Pierre Toussaint, Cardinal Terence Cooke and Archbishop Fulton Sheen. You could even add Thomas Merton, who is not on the saint track yet but is thought by many to be on deck. (Yes, his monastery was in Kentucky, but he’s a son of Queens, Greenwich Village and Columbia University.)

…New York’s first three saints, Jesuit missionaries in the 1640s, did it the hard way. Isaac Jogues’s flesh was torn from his body by Mohawks. Jean de la Lande was tomahawked. So was René Goupil, with a blow to the head; today he is the patron saint of anesthetists. (Catholic worship can be literal like that; my namesake saint, roasted on a griddle, is the patron of short-order cooks).

The more recent saints led more sedate but no less accomplished lives. Elizabeth Ann Seton was born in New York City in 1774 and founded the Sisters of Charity, the first American order of religious sisters. Frances Cabrini worked with sick, hungry and orphaned Italian immigrants in New York in the 1890s.

Kateri Tekakwitha was a Mohawk from Auriesville, N.Y., who converted to Catholicism in 1676 and led a life of piety. Marianne Cope was a Catholic sister and hospital administrator. She worked with leprosy patients in Molokai, Hawaii, where she died in 1918. Hawaii claims her, but I’m counting her a New Yorker because she was raised in Utica and her order, the Sisters of St. Francis, is based in Syracuse, where her shrine is. The sisters pushed hard for Marianne’s cause, to the point of having her remains dug up on Molokai and taken back to Syracuse. This broke hearts in Hawaii, but the sisters’ New Yorky attitude was: you gotta do what you gotta do.

Tuesday Tunes

God has given us our life and our faith; He has given us Christ and the Bread of Life in the Eucharist; and He will also give us the Spirit whenever we ask, seek and knock.

The Year of Faith must be a time of renewal of our life of prayer, so that we might grow in our trust in God’s love, and so that we might ask for the Spirit to enlighten us and guide us during this year. We want to deepen our own faith through prayer and the sacraments and the participation in the community of faith.

We also want to learn more about our faith in the Vatican Council documents, the Catechism, and the new Apologetics. We also want to share the treasure with others through the New Evangelization, witnessing to our faith in Christ and inviting others to walk the path of discipleship with us.

May Mary, the first disciple and woman of faith, help us to live our faith with joy and courage, confident that the Father will give the Spirit to those who ask Him. God bless you.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Marianist Monday

The Venerable Faustino Pérez-Manglano Of Valencia
(Spain), (1946-1963)

“My Mother, help me, you who succeed at everything. Christ, my ideal is going to be to live always united with you so that each day is closer to the goal of my vocation: to be a religious at the service of people for the love of Christ.

Mother, help me to attain my ideal” 
(Diary, June 22, 1961)
Marianist Sodalist

Born in Valencia (Spain) on August 4,1946, he was a student at "Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar" from the time he was six until he died on March 3,1963, of Hodgkin's disease, while he was studying pre-university courses.

Joyful and congenial, he was enthusiastic about sports, camping, and everything good. Few could have suspected the greatness of soul hidden in the small body of this boy who was everybody's friend: his fidelity in every trial,his iron will, his intense love of Christ, his filial affection for the Virgin. He was a member of the Sodality-State of Mary Immaculate from 1962, and on February 9,1963, after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, he made his definitive consecration.

From 1960, feeling the call of the Lord, his great ideal was to consecrate his life to the salvation of souls as a Marianist religious. Before he died, he promised to concern himself with vocations in Heaven.

Through his diary, one can see the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul, totally dedicated to the Lord.

On January 14th, 2011, Pope Benedict XVI declared Faustino as Venerable.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Sunday Word

"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

"Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

How would you respond if called upon to give up your material possessions? You'd whine, as any of us would - and for good reason. After all, is it wrong to have money to feed and shelter our families, to save our money to go to college, to give to the poor and to the Church? Don't think so. Having resources doesn't necessarily mean that our possessions are our masters or that we suffer from a consumerist addiction affliction.

So it's hard to pinpoint money as a necessarily dangerous addictive substance. But if it isn't money, what is it? Clearly, there's something here that has the rich man hooked.

In this case, Jesus finds the hot button. The call is clear: Give up what defines your life, and follow me. In this case, it clearly was the man's toys and playthings, the possessions he had managed to scrape together. Jesus challenges the man to make an exchange: drop what limits him in exchange for what frees him - opens him up to a wider and more meaningful life.

The rich guy can't do that.

And that's precisely the danger of addictions. They're so enjoyable. It's a struggle to be rid of them.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mary conceived the Society

Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of Our  Lady of the Pillar 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!"

" A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus.

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

October is Rosary Month

H/T to The Deacon's Bench
Patheos is launching a special project for the Year of Faith - details to come - and I'm  helping to get the ball rolling with a short reflection on the rosary:

I still have my first set. Do you?
It was given to me as a first communion gift: simple black beads with a plain cross. They're small, child-sized, but I carried them in May processions when I was in grade school. They served to teach me the rudiments of one of our faith's most popular - but often misunderstood - forms of prayer.

The Rosary.

Since October is dedicated to this devotion, and since the Holy Father specifically recommended rediscovering the rosary during this Year of Faith, I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves how meaningful it is, and to appreciate even more the part it plays in our Catholic culture.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Celebrate the Year of Faith

Oct. 11, 2012 marks the beginning of the Year of Faith, a universal celebration marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Take a look at the video below from the Bismarck Diocese that does a great job introducing the Year of Faith.

Year of Faith.
Year of Faith: Diocese of Bismarck from Bismarck Diocese on Vimeo.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Marianist Monday

Blessed Father Chaminade understood Christ to be the mystery of the Son of God, become Son of Mary for the salvation of all. For Fr. Chaminade, the best way for Christians to come to an intimate relationship with Jesus was through his Mother Mary.

Between Jesus and Mary, Father Chamiande taught, existed an unsurpassed intimacy and spiritual union that inseparably united Mary to all his mysteries.

Just as Mary is Mother of God, she too, is the mother the Church, the mystical body of Christ. Thus Mary becomes our mother.

Finally for Blessed Chaminade, in order to assist in Mary's mission of bringing her children to her son, Mary must be known in order to be loved and served.

May we always love and serve our Mother Mary, that we may know, love and serve her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Sunday Word 2

 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 10:2-16

Saint Mark's journeying Jesus moves beyond the Jordan as he approaches his final entry into Jerusalem. But although he has moved into new territory, Jesus continues to confront the same establishment adversaries and to battle the same obstinate ignorance of his disciples.

The issue specifically designed to "test" him now is the question posed by the authorities about the legality of divorce. 

Supposedly, the formulation of this issue was intended to put Jesus on the spot before two different groups - the body of religious authority represented by the Pharisees, and the common, unsophisticated people represented by the listening crowd.

Saint Mark makes Jesus' reaction explicit -- "he was indignant" at the way the disciples treated the parents and children gathering around their home. In verse 14 Jesus proclaims that "it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belong." Welcoming the little child was part of Jesus' message to the disciples in 9:37; now that same childlikeness is touted as the key to entering into the kingdom of God.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jesus - identifies with our suffering

There is a monk in the mountains that is concerned about something most people swat and try to eliminate. Our story today is about a monk and bees. Honeybees.

They're capricious little critters. But cross them just once, and they'll zing you and sting you.

So you've got to wonder why a monk named Remy Rougeau spends so much time with them.

On days like today, when heavy snowfall blankets the upper Midwest, Remy puts on his snowshoes and walks two miles over prairie hills with a shovel. He passes antelope, snowy owls and jackrabbits. Mule and whitetail deer are everywhere. One year, a porcupine was hanging around the bee yard. His reason for making this trek is to clear the snow off the honeybee hives, because if hive entrances are covered, the bees can suffocate.

But Remy does more than simple snow-clearing. Throughout the year, he keeps some bees at the abbey so that he can sting himself.

Sting himself. On purpose. Each week he takes a bee in the knee. A local allergy specialist suggested this. "Years ago," he recalls, "when I was first assigned the apiary, I nearly choked to death when a bee got into my suit and stung me in the neck. I was far from help and not breathing well. Fortunately, I had an anaphylactic kit ... and after three injections of epinephrine my throat began to relax. Later, after the allergist thoroughly tested me, he suggested regular exposure to venom. And nowadays, I have no reaction to bee stings at all. They hurt for 10 seconds and it's over."

Exposure to venom. It's not a deadly thing for Remy Rougeau. In fact, it's the poison that enables him to maintain his passion for the honeybees.

In a certain way we should open our eyes and see that God loves us in the same way that this monk loves his honeybees. God adores us despite the fact that we are unpredictable little buzzers, responsibly making honey one second, and then aiming our stingers and shooting venom the next.

According to the letter to the Hebrews, God made Jesus - the pioneer of our salvation - "perfect through sufferings." Jesus exposed himself to our venom so that he could identify completely with our suffering and death, and so that he could have a full understanding of the human condition. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Sunday Word I

Sunday's first reading from the prophet Isaiah calls us to think of a servant or a slave. We also think of something messy--calloused knees, dirty hands, bowed shoulders. Jesus himself stands as the bloodiest example. He was born in blood when he as God became flesh. We recall the humble service he performed in washing the dirty feet of his apostles. There was blood which came from his body when he was whipped, and there were the bowed shoulders when he carried the cross.

We can think of followers of his whose bodies have been wracked with pain as they seek to free the captive, feed the hungry, give shelter to the homeless. As servants, they follow the example of him who came not to be served, but to serve.

But the servanthood of leadership may not always be physically messy as these images. It can still serve. It can still lead.

I think of the knees of a young woman whom Thomas Merton describes during his first visit to Corpus Christi. Merton entered the church on an August Sunday when he was a graduate student at Columbia in 1938. He had just begun thinking of faith and God. In The Seven Storey Mountain, he writes:

I found a place that I hoped would be obscure, over on one side, in the back, and went to it without genuflecting, and knelt down. As I knelt, the first thing I noticed was a young girl, very pretty too, perhaps fifteen or sixteen, kneeling straight up and praying quite seriously. I was very much impressed to see that someone who was young and beautiful could with such simplicity make prayer the real and serious and principal reason for going to church. She was clearly kneeling that way because she meant it, not in order to show off, and she was praying with an absorption which, though not the deep recollection of a saint, was serious enough to show that she was not thinking at all about the other people who were there. What a revelation it was, to discover so many ordinary people in a place together, more conscious of God than of one another . . .

St. Francis pray for us!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


For members of the Society of Mary, October 2, 1817 is a day of celebration. It was on this day that Jean Baptiste Lalanne and several other men met with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade to discuss the possibility of forming a group of vowed men who through prayer and living in community would be actively involved in the ministry of the Church. After the initial meeting, several additional men—clerics, manual workers, and merchants—joined with Lalanne and Chaminade to found the Society of Mary (Marianists).

On December 8, 1817, several men made private vows and on September 5, 1818, seven men made public vows as members of the Society of Mary.

October 2, Foundation Day for the Society of Mary, is the feast of the Guardian Angels. Remembering the Guardian Angels has been important to members of the Society of Mary. Guardian Angels were seen as guardians of the students in Marianist schools. To help students behave appropriately, members of the Society of Mary were encouraged to “invoke the Guardian Angels of their pupils at the beginning of class and surveillance periods."  Hopefully, the angels would guarantee that students behaved in a proper manner so as to be receptive to the classroom instruction of the Brothers and priests.

"Education is a participation in the work of Mary. She is the great teacher of mankind. Her mission has been, and still is, to give birth to Jesus Christ and to rear Him….In calling us to the work of education, Mary has constituted us Her collaborators in this mission. Our pupils are Her children more than ours…and it is Her name that we ought to try to form Jesus in them. "
Emil Neubert, S.M., (1954)

Tuesday Tunes

Monday, October 1, 2012

Marianist Monday

To the Church has been given the mission of spreading the Gospel. 'Go teach all nations' is the sanction inscribed on the standard of the missionary, but the religious teaching orders are the reserves of the missionary army, subject to call, and for them the word is rather 'come and teach.' 
Such has been the experience of every body of religious teachers, and such is particularly the experience of the Society of Mary. It is a very simple method of expansion and a sure one as well.  There is no pretense of a world outlook, no vast planning to spread afar the Kingdom of God, but only the pious uplook to heaven and a simple devotion to the work at hand, doing the present duty faithfully, fervently, skillfully; until, by little and little their success becomes more generally known and requests for new foundations comes in. 
The good work spreads by its own devotedness and skill; by apostleship of duty done, rather than of intentions proclaimed; by a kind of auto-porpaganda.

John Garvin, S.M.
The Centenary of the Society of Mary