Friday, November 30, 2012

The Province of Meribah is pleased to announce 

An Evening of Spiritual Refreshment, 

hosted by Bro. Stephen Balletta from Chaminade High School 

and Fr. Thomas Cardone from Kellenberg Memorial High School 

Here are the details:

When? Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What?Mass 5:30 p.m. Our Lady’s Chapel, lower level of the University Church

Dinner 6:30 p.m. The Ignatius of Loyola Room, adjacent to Our Lady’s Chapel

Spiritual Sharing 7:00 p.m. The Ignatius of Loyola Room, adjacent to Our Lady’s Chapel

Praise & Worship 8:00 p.m. Our Lady’s Chapel, lower level of the University Church

Our Theme: “The People Who Walk in Darkness Have Seen a Great Light.”

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

If you can let us know in advance if you are planning to attend – and if you are bringing some others along – that would be great. Email Bro. Stephen at HYPERLINK "", or R.S.V.P. Bro Stephen Balletta on Facebook.

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

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dorothy Day: The Woman Who Loved Much

Rebecca Hamilton at Patheos has an interesting article about Dorothy Day:

Her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has loved much. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Luke 7:47

Dorothy Day sets off controversy, even after her death.

She followed Christ as He called her, often to the discomfort and dismay of other Christians who sought a less radical Way. Does that sound familiar? If you spend much time reading biographies of the saints, it should.

The saints weren’t often people’s people. They were too busy being God’s people. The saints are also often converted sinners who had fallen into the muck and mire of their times and taken a good bath there. It seems that God often makes His saints from the worst sinners. It’s as if He can do the most with these edgy people from the pits of life; people who know that evil is real and who see by contrast that God and His love are the only solution to the evil they have known.

Dorothy Day was a converted sinner. She took her turn at living life in the fast lane of the early 20th Century. She ran with the crowd and followed its ways up to and including having an abortion. Then, as people have been doing for 2,000 years, she found Jesus, or, I would imagine, she let Him find her. And that made all the difference.

Dorothy Day lived her life for Christ after that. She founded a ministry to the poor called Catholic Worker Houses. She published a great deal in support of this ministry and did not step back from the requirement of living alongside the people she was trying to help.

Her wary attitude towards government and stubborn pacifism did not always sit well with people in the depression-ridden, war-bound years of the 1930s and 40s. It found even less support during the Cold War years that followed. I suspect Dorothy Day seemed an embarrassment, an unrealistic fanatic, to a good many of the good, church-going people of her day.

It is only now that she begins to make sense. Corporatism is beginning to take a deep toll on the lives of Americans. We have morphed into a country that is continuously at war with an ever-changing cast of enemies. The over-weaning power of government has begun to focus on active legal persecution of the Church itself. These are our times. It appears that Dorothy Day, the uncomfortable convert, is beginning to seem less like a nutty fanatic and more like a prophet for our days.

It is in that prophetic role that she continues to set off controversy. Her life is a flashpoint of disagreement for a lot of people today, just as it was in the past. Some people try to cast Dorothy Day as “their” saint, as an apologist for their personal politics. Other people attempt to disregard her and disown her because they see her life as an attack on their personal politics.

But if Dorothy Day was a living saint, then neither of these reactions apply. Saints live their lives in the service of God, not partisan politics. They don’t try to be popular with people. They set their sights on the narrow way and they walk it all the way home.

The American bishops recently cast a unanimous vote in support of the cause of declaring Dorothy Day a saint. There are a lot of potholes in the road ahead of them in this cause. Most saints are undeclared and unofficial. That’s because, hard as it is to be one, it’s even harder to be officially declared one.

For myself, I have no doubt that Dorothy Day is in heaven. I have no doubt that she lived her life for Jesus and that she was a woman of great courage. Dorothy Day was one of God’s warriors in the battle for life and human dignity. Despite, or maybe because, of her rough beginning, she was one of His best works.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is Dorothy a Saint?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enthusiastically endorsed the canonization of Dorothy Day last week, the American-born co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Day’s “cause,” as it is known in church circles, was first introduced by John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the current archbishop, was required under the terms of a 2007 Vatican document to consult with the regional bishops conference (in this case the USCCB) on the advisability of pursuing the canonization of Day, whose ministry was based in New York City. The bishops approved the proposal by a voice vote, after a brief discussion in which bishops praised the woman who admirers refer to simply as Dorothy.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Evangelization - a way of life

Don’t underestimate the evangelical power of demonstrating your faith in public.

The Lord Jesus told his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. This call went out, not simply to the leaders of the Church then and now, but to all of us, the baptized.

There is a danger that too much talk about evangelization can reduce it to an idea rather than a way of life.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marianist Monday

Jesus is the "all-time, undisputed, undefeated Champion of Love." How are his followers doing as "Champions of Love"? Can others look at us and say, as they said about Jesus, "see how he loved him"? Can Jesus say that about you? About our schools?

Alas, none of us has Jesus' power to defeat death. But we can imitate Jesus' active, engaged style of ministry in our own attempts to embody Christ's love for the world. By reaching out to others in need - physically, emotionally, spiritually - we can help so many of our loved and society's "unloved" ones. Like Jesus we can find ourselves by losing ourselves in behalf of others.

Last week our Marianist high schools collected items for the elderly who are cared for by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Over eighty volunteers traveled with the donated items to Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, NY to assist in organizing thousands of items

Dan Gavin, Phil Bies, Katie Broshek and Christie Catterson
assist in the donation efforts for the elderly.
Mother Celine pauses with volunteers Matt Houlihan, Michelle Manning,
Rose Haslbauer and Kate DeMarco.
EJ Smith and Teresa Samson assist in the after school project.
Kyle Mooney and Michael Morena spend time before Thanksgiving helping the project.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

The feast of Christ -- the king…

What do kings do?

They rule their subjects.
They make law.
They hand down decisions.
They command an army.

That’s any king.

A truly good king loves his subjects,
even when they do not love him.
A good king calls his people to order,
especially when chaos threatens to disturb the peace.
A good king insures justice for his people
especially when some of his subjects take advantage of others.
A good king defends his people from harm,
especially those too weak to defend themselves.

But if we are to honor Jesus as King this day,
(a title he himself rejected),
we need to expand our notion of kingship.

If we look to Jesus as the model
we find that a king calls his subjects to defer
not only to him but also to one another -
as if each were the servant of the other.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to count wealth as a burden, not a boon,
unless that wealth is shared, freely, with those who have none.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to surrender their power and authority in service of others
just as he did for them, on the Cross,
laying down his life not just for his friends,
not just for the good, but for sinners.

In Jesus we find a king who calls his subjects
to keep their eyes on a kingdom other
than the realm that is theirs at the moment,
to keep their eyes on a reign of peace that is yet to come -
and to live, even now, the peace of what is yet to be.

Once, when the crowds tried to make Jesus a king,
he went into hiding.
At another time, hours before he was crucified,
Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you a king?” and Jesus answered,

For this I was born and for this I came into the world,
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.
We honor the rule of Jesus over our lives
when we listen to his voice
and attend to the truth of his word above any other.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives when, like him,
we surrender even our rightful power and authority
in service of those who are poor and treated unjustly.

We honor the rule of Jesus in our lives
when we count his love as our greatest wealth,
our most precious possession.

Many rulers compete to reign
over my mind, my heart and my life.

Sometimes my selfishness, my poor choices, my bad habits
rule my days and nights and rob me of true peace.

But even good things
(my work, my family, my dreams for my children)
can come between me and the One
who has the greatest claim on my loyalty and service.

Jesus turned down a crown the people offered him,
a crown of power,
but he willingly took upon himself another crown,
a thorny sign of his surrender, in love, for the sake of others.

And that is the truth to which he came to testify,
the truth he calls us to live.

We are citizens of a nation founded on the rejection of kingship.
But Jesus offers us another kind of rule.

If Jesus does not rule my heart, who does? what does?

If the surrender of Jesus in love, in service of others,
is not my model of success and achievement, what is?

If the Word of Jesus is not the truth by which I live,
by whose truth do I make my way in life?

It is not by accident that we worship, week after week,
in the shadow of the Cross,
and that we call the Supper we share
the sacrifice of the Eucharist.

Pray with me
that the Word, the truth, the surrender, the love of Jesus
rule our hearts and lives
and draw us to the reign of his peace
promised in the banquet we are about to share.
A Concord Pastor

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Sunday Word

Solemnity of the Jesus Christ the King

Our first reading for Mass this Sunday is taken from the opening chapter of Paul's letter to the Colossians. There is no stronger statement of the absolute primacy, centrality, and importance of Jesus Christ in the entire New Testament. Jesus, Paul tells us, is the beginning and the end, the icon of the invisible God, the one in whom all things exist and for whom they are destined. And then the Gospel shows us this cosmic King nailed to the cross. This wonderful irony is at the heart of the Christian proclamation: the King of the Universe is a crucified criminal, who utterly spends himself in love.

Thanks and praise

The ultimate note which one sounds in worship is the note of thanksgiving and praise. This is how we are to relate to the Creator. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name."

The only truly proper response to the self-giving of the Lord is one of gratitude and joyful praise, because we are a community blessed by the presence of One who mightily rules, but also kindly reaches down to us. He creates a world beyond the reach of us, but also cares for each creature on earth. He shows faithfulness to all from the very beginning of time, but also extends steadfast love to us.

Our Lord is both a cosmic king and a simple shepherd, a mighty monarch and a caring creator, a God who is all-powerful and all-loving in an amazing mix of complementary characteristics. Is it any mystery that a soul in tune with this God will make a joyful noise of praise, thanksgiving and gratitude? No, not at all. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

For most families, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on everything you’ve been given, and be grateful for all that you have.

This year may be tough for many of us. But no matter how bad things are looking for you this year, there’s always someone who has it worse. So this year, take the time to give thanks for all that’s good in your own life—and to give to others who may not share the same luxuries. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

GIve Thanks

Thankfulness is more than a gesture; it’s an expression of our character.

Our perspective must be bigger than ourselves, we must know our history, and acknowledge our dependence on God. 

With quotes from literary, theological, and historical icons, this video inspires us to our greatest virtue.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Marianist Monday

This is the classic picture of a graciously robed Jesus, standing in a garden, gently reaching out to knock on a closed wooden door. It is getting dark. Jesus carries a lantern, while stars start to twinkle in the sky. The message seems to be clear: Jesus wants to come into our hearts. But the larger message, as we shall see, is that Jesus wants in so that he can bring us out.

Notice the door. Jesus is standing before a door partially covered with creeping ivy. Notice the hinges. The door's iron hardware and nails are rusty, suggesting that this door has not been opened in some time. What Hunt portrays so successfully is "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me."

What Holman Hunt's portrait of a door-knocking Jesus reminds us of is that the message and mission of Jesus Christ is not accomplished solely through interior introspection. Faith is not an inward-directed, contemplative life. Faith is action. Faith goes outdoors to live and play, to love and work.

While it may appear that Jesus is knocking on the door of the human heart to get in, Jesus is actually knocking on our door to invite us out -- out to be a part of God's mission in the world. 

Perhaps we do well to realize that as Jesus is portrayed in Hunt's famous picture, there is no handle on the outside of the door. The point is that it is clearly up to each individual as to whether or not we will take the initiative to open the door from within to Christ. Only then, will he meet us face to face -- and in the process equip us to do the same toward others. This, indeed, is Jesus knocking on the door of life to invite us out to become a part of God's mission in the world. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Say "yes" to His plan

From the very beginning of creation, God had a plan for you just as God had a plan for me. You have to believe that. You have to believe that your life is not a bunch of chaos that you try to make the best of with what you have been given. Your life is a product of the plan of God, but for it to make sense, you have to say "yes" to His plan.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Sunday Word

The Gospel text this Sunday reminds us that, we are just about to enter Advent -- the Season of Surprise -- and we had better be on our toes. Our God is a surprising God, who has acted in surprising, unpredictable ways since the creation of Adam. Advent is a time to prepare for the miraculous birth of Christ into our world -- but from year to year we can never really predict just when that event will occur for us in our own lives.

Christ does not enter the world at the stroke of midnight on December 25. If you think you have a sure handle on the "day" and "hour" of Christ's arrival, you can pretty much count on the fact that you are wrong.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marianist vocation = relationship with Christ

God has a specific plan for your life. He created you for a specific purpose. Your job is to figure out what exactly it is. The prophet Isaiah writes, "A voice shall sound in your ears: This is the way; walk in it."

But the question is how do you hear His voice and discover His will?

It's all about being in a relationship with Jesus Christ and listening and hearing His voice as He speaks to you.

It is very important that you are in this relationship, that you are a disciple, before you can discover God's will for your life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Imagine the psalmist looking to the night sky in the sheepfields:

"When I consider your heavens, 
the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, 
which you have arranged, 
what is man that you are mindful of him, 
the son of man that you care for him? 
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings 
and crowned him with glory and honor." (Psalm 8:3-5) 

Have you ever driven somewhere and just had to pull over and look at the brilliant stars above. This smallness is that to which David alludes. We are so infinitesimal compared to the vastness of God's creation. How can he even be bothered to know about or care for a mere human being? The majesty and wonder of God is that he does care about us! 

Now the psalmist recounts the responsibility that God gave to Adam and Eve over his creation: 

"Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. 
Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air 
and over every living creature that moves on the ground." 
(Genesis 1:28) 

David puts it poetically: 

"You made him ruler over the works of your hands; 
you put everything under his feet: 
all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 
the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, 
all that swim the paths of the seas." (Psalm 8:6-8) 

Now he closes the psalm as he began it: 

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (8:9) 

His majesty is in the greatness of creation, on earth and extending to the farthest heavens. And yet he wants to know us and include us in his plan. The glory of his infinite creation is seen in his particular care for lowly man. Oh, yes, Lord, how majestic you are!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Just for fun...

Looking for something to do to pass the time? Try these and pick your favorite.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Marianist Monday

Year of Faith: Thanksgiving Prayer

Lord of hosts, great God, creator of Heaven and Earth, we rejoice in you! We thank you for abundant life. We thank you for guiding us through paths that can sometimes seem overgrown with thorns.

Like your son, Jesus, we seek good for others. We come before you to ask your help in strengthening us to do your will, to help the poor, to feed the hungry, to comfort the afflicted and to encourage the distraught. Help us bring more grateful servants to your banquet table.

Inspire us all in this Year of Faith to renew our commitment to you and to strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ, your son. Help us recognize the distractions that keep us from our goal to love you more.

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

+ Amen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A New Serenity Prayer

St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Mass.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.


by James Martin S.J.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Sunday Word 2

The comparisons among the three key figures in Sunday's pericope are striking. The religious leaders and rich givers look great on the outside -- they possess the cultural appearance of importance and standing. But their heart conditions show their true appearance to be thin and wanting.

On the other hand, a widow was a cultural outcast in those first century days. Widows shared a marginalized standing with lepers, the poor, tax collectors and prostitutes. Yet with a heart devoted fully to God, the widow has a lot to teach us. This nameless, penny-less woman without a family has become an historical metaphor for generosity, dependence, sacrifice and priority.

We may look acceptable to society or even to the Christian world, but our attitudes are the reality. Our inner motivations. What we feel. What we think but don't dare say. These all trump the outward gestures that people may observe.

Fundamentally, we Christians are not called to hoard pennies, but to give them away.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Sunday Word

The widow's mite is the might of love.

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was born Agnes Boyaxhiu to Albanian parents. She went to India in 1929 as a member of the Loreto Order of nuns. There she taught for many years and became headmistress of a school. In 1946, she received her "call within a call" to work with the poorest of the poor. By 1948, she had received permission to leave the Loreto order and trained in the nursing skills needed to carry out her calling. She prayed, "Oh God, if I cannot help these people in their poverty and their suffering, let me at least die with them, close to them, so that I can show them your love"

Wasted time and energy?

Wasted might?

From this simple beginning, the Missionaries of Charity have grown to include over 4,000 sisters and Brothers, 755 homes and 1,369 medical clinics that serve 120,000 worldwide.

Mother Teresa's mite has might, and it's the might of love.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Heart full of faith

C.S. Lewis asks this question, "Where is God?"

When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, so happy that you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be — or so it feels — welcomed with open arms.

But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become. There are no lights in the windows. It might be an empty house. Was it ever inhabited? It seemed so once. And that seeming was as strong as this. What can this mean? Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?

I really think this song captures some of the thoughts and feelings C.S. Lewis is expressing here.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Faith - a journey

It’s easy to talk about faith and a lot harder to embrace it. We want to give ourselves over to God, but we’d like to be able to know the destination details in advance. We’d love it if God would simply give us the floor plan and schedule for where our lives will end up — hence the oft-cited obsession with “finding God’s will for my life” as though there were some magic bullet or formula to tell us precisely how our lives will play out. We’d also like to have the option of getting off a floor or two early just in case things get to be too uncomfortable or if circumstances warrant. Buttons like work, friendships, college, and future stand lit up before us, easy for us to punch as an excuse to keep us from focusing on the destiny to which God is calling us.

The truth is that God’s will for us isn’t bound up in the final destination, be it heaven, a career choice or even a particular vocation. God’s will is for us to be in relationship with God, to trust God with everything in our lives and to live each day in God’s presence. When it comes to God, the journey really is the destination.

Faithfulness isn’t about “what’s in it for me” in the future, but rather what’s possible for God and me to accomplish together in the present, realizing that everything we do for God is part of God’s larger purpose for the world.

You want to learn faith? Skip the buttons and step aboard.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marianist Martyrs - a message of faith & love

TODAY we commemorate the the martyrdom of four Marianists: Miguel Léiber Garay, SM; Florencio Arániz Cejudo, SM; Joaquín Ochoa Salazar, SM; and Sabino Ayastuy Errasti, SM all martyred during the relgious persecution in Spain in 1936.

498 Spanish martyrs were proclaimed blessed and marked the largest number to be beatified simultaneously in the history of the Church. Some fifty thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the celebration of the martyrs.

From early on, these four Marianists felt the call of Jesus to follow Him in the Society of Mary. And they responded with generosity.

Born February 17, 1885 in Aozaraza-Arechavaleta. He’s a sharp kid, happy, a prankster, yet a good student and godly. Not far from his village in Escoriaza is the Marianist Postulate of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

“Dad, I want to be like them.”

“No way, son! - a boy as mischievous as you could never be a religious. And what’s more, our village always needs many strong arms and you need to help out as well!”

“But I’ll help you out in another way...”

Miguel made his first vows on March 24,1903. He took his perpetual vows in 1907. Armed with a licentiate in philosophy from the Central University of Madrid, he went on to study theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

The youngest of four brothers. Born on May 10, 1909, in Espinosa de Cerrata. His parents are farmers. He’s a good child, docile, cheerful, quiet and pious. An excellent teacher in the town makes him his assistant; this way he can help teach the younger students. Florencio loves this. He also helps the pastor as server and he loves this too... One day, his friend Agapito Alonso tells him: “I’m going to Escoriaza to be a religious.”

And Florencio asks “and can’t I go along as well?”

Florencio takes first vows on September 5, 1926. He graduates in primary education and makes his perpetual vows in 1934.

His family lives in Berantevilla, but he is born on April 16, 1910, in the home of his maternal grandmother in Villanueva de Valdegovía. There are six children in the family: four girls and two boys. They are a very close family. The father works for the local government of the province of Álava and is stationed with his family in Peñacerrada. One fine day, Father Gregorio Lasagabáster passes through to talk about the Marianists. Three kids sign up: the two brothers Ochoa and a friend, Agustín Alonso.

Indeed, two of them would become excellent religious, good educators and school principals. Joaquín “has a fine disposition; he is good and responsible, conscientious, a hard worker and pious.”

He makes his first vows on September 5, 1928, and his perpetual vows in 1935. Having completed his bachelor’s degree in Segovia, he is studying for his licentiate in history.


He is born on December 29, 1911, in Aozaraza, just like Miguel Léibar. He’s the sixth of seven children but soon his father dies. He is also set on entering the nearby Marianist community at Nuestra Señora del Pilar. He’s a young man with a rich and sensitive personality with deep feelings. One day he is sent out with the house donkey to do some errands. He doesn’t return and soon they find him on the way, like a Franciscan, urging his donkey forward:

“Eat, you little creature, eat, so you can continue to move on and carry me there!”

He has another side though: difficult, rebellious, yet he is of immense good will. His tremendous bursts of anger are soon followed by a remarkably humble repentance. And, as is usual for him, God is all. He takes his first vows with Joaquín Ochoa on September 5, 1928.

Father Miguel Léibar begins his priestly ministry in Cádiz. Then he is made principal of the Colegio San Juan Bautista in Jerez for six years (1916-1922). He becomes chaplain in Vitoria, then, once again becomes principal - this time at the Colegio Católico de Santa María in San Sebastián (1925-1930). Director of the community, he is a true father to his fellow brothers, fostering their spiritual life and attending to them with tenderness, when they are ill. He is loved by all.

In 1930, he is sent as chaplain to the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Madrid, headed by the Servant of God Father Domingo Lázaro. They become close friends.

He is a first-rate educator – dynamic, enthusiastic and present to everyone and everything at the school. He knows how to reach his students, to be demand-ing and yet remain close to them. He is their spiritual director and confessor, and he would express his ideal in these words: “The great wish of my life is to guide souls on the path to heaven.”

A Marianist superior would say of him:

“The kids love him. He is an essentially dedicated soul, who knows how to bend to circumstances, to people and to the unforeseen situation. As a teacher he has a special knack of attracting students and dealing with them. He makes them like to work...”

Florencio Arnáiz flexes his first wings as an educator in September 1928 at the Colegio in Jerez. There he gives himself totally to the youngest students who came to worship him... not to mention being worshipped by their mothers as well. Always concerned with improving his teaching, he likes to keep up with the latest in pedagogy and pastoral ministry. In September 1933 he is sent to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid, where again he leaves his unique mark upon his little madrileños.

Sabino Ayastuy begins his education ministry in September 1931 with the young Marianist aspirants in his homeland of Escoriaza. He remains there until September 1935 with only one brief period away for course work in San Sebastián. For those whom he helps to discern their call, he leaves an unforgettable remembrance. One of them writes:

“I can still see him with his kind smile, his affectionate demeanor, how he used to enter through the back door of the study and walk toward us without the slightest noise, in order to help us with our course work. And he would whisper in our ear: ‘Filioli carissimi... [My dear children...]’ He truly liked us and we could see his attempts to reign in his anger and ill-tempered disposition... An intense interior life of faith shone through whatever he taught. He would so often repeat to us those words of St. Paul: "This is God’s will: that you become saints."

Joaquín Ochoa, who had begun his education ministry with Sabino in Escoriaza, is sent the next year to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid. There, from 1932- 1936, he is put in charge of the 8 to 10 year olds. He dedicates himself wholeheartedly to them. So note his superiors:

“Excellent religious. Fulfills all his duties faithfully. Upright judgment, prudent, responsible, very tractable. Very dedicated. Wholly in love with his profession as a religious and educator.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

Marianist Monday

Mary’s fiat, as it is called (fiat being not a cute little car but Latin for “let it be done”), was a yes to the Unknown. These are the only yeses that really count.

Is the Lord, perhaps, calling you to the religious life?

There are many great and wonderful gifts God has given us in this world. There are the gifts of life, of family, of friends; of our education, of our talents and opportunities. For all these we own immense thanks to the Lord who arranges all things for those who love Him. But there are far greater gifts than these. Among these many and exceedingly wonderful gifts of grace, one stands in a principle place. It is the grace of a vocation.

Just how important is the grace of vocation? The grace of a vocation is one of the gifts God gives us under a special Providence and care for our salvation. This kind of vocation is the vocation we received in baptism. It is the vocation all Catholics have. And to remain faithful to our baptismal vows is at once both the most prudent course and the most glorious.

There is a special grace of vocation, however, which we call a vocation. It is the vocation to the religious life. This kind of vocation is a calling, a stirring one might say of the the soul, to undertake a special state of life which is ordained to the supernatural good of others. Unlike the "vocation" of marriage, the vocation of religious life is essentially supernatural in origin and purpose.

How can a vocation be so important? The grace of a vocation is the source of many graces. It is an occasion for doing many good works, for having more time to pray, to learn about God, to serve Him by love and sacrifice and fidelity. It is the source of graces for ourselves, for God apportions to each of us grace in the measure to our needs. The greater the vocation, the greater the graces. The greater good we can do for the Church, the greater the graces to help and encourage us to do so. And how great indeed is the good that religious do for God and His Church and for each of us.

St. Bernard tells us that religious live more purely, fall more rarely, rise more easily, live more peacefully, are more plentifully endowed with grace, die more securely, and are more abundantly rewarded. A religious vocation is a magnificent grace from God, but it is only the beginning of a long chain of graces they must cooperate with by serving Him with love and fervor. By fidelity to one’s vocation, a religious is able to a degree to change the world — to win the world for Christ, to restore all things in Christ.

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

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Sunday Word

Our selection from St. Mark drops a few hints on what makes a saint. Someone asks Jesus what is the greatest commandment, and he responds by citing the Shema -- "Hear, O Israel ... you shall love the Lord your God" -- and adding "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." When the questioner affirms Jesus' response, Jesus says, "You are not far from the kingdom." Even though this curious questioner is not a bona fide, official, one-of-the-twelve disciples, he is able to grasp and accept the truth of Jesus' teaching.

Sounds like God is on a saint search, looking for people headed for the kingdom. Qualifications seem to be acknowledging that God is the one true God, and then showing love that flows in two directions, to God and to our neighbor. A saint is not necessarily a scholarly superstar or even a supernatural steeplechaser ... instead, a saint is simply a person who lives out an intense devotion to both God and neighbor.

But wait a second ... not everyone's a saint. In fact, most are far from it. What about those who are a long way from the kingdom, or at least on a significant detour? How did they lose their way? And how can they find their way back?

Some get lost because they haven't received good directions or haven't learned how to listen for guidance from God. Others stray because their judgment is clouded. Others race after big thrills and big money, and risk losing their hearts, souls and minds in the process.

But there is always hope because God is always saint-searching.

God is on a saint search, and it is not only perfect people who are going to be found. Sure, there may be some who are born with the natural ability to love the Lord with the totality of heart, soul, mind and strength -- but for most of us, this passion and power comes only after we discover that God has always loved us, and that his love precedes our own.

Fact is, most of us find the Lord only after we have been found by the Lord.

And all he asks is that we respond with that same level of passion ... loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength ... and showing a willingness to love our neighbors as ourselves.

If we do, we'll be God's holy ones, set apart for his service.

Friday, November 2, 2012

St. Martin de Porres

For our Province St. Martin whose feast we celebrate today plays an important role. Our grade school bears the name of St. Martin de Porres and is the patron. On this day the festivities at the school have been curtailed due to Hurricane Sandy. The memory of St. Martin lives on in so many ways.

Saint Martín de Porres was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

St. Martin de Porres became the patron saint of hairdressers because cutting hair was one of the duties he performed for his Brothers in the friary.

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a black freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there - as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

All Soul's Day

Reflection for All Souls Day

At the heart of all our worship as Catholic Christians,
we pause to remember…
We remember Christ, and all he did for us;
we remember how he suffered, died and rose for us;
and in word and sacrament,
we remember what he did at table with his friends
on the night before he died.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, then,
we remember someone who has died: our brother, Jesus.

And every time we celebrate the Eucharist
we remember others who have died, too.
You know the words as well as I do:
Remember our brothers and sisters
who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence…
We remember all our brothers and sisters in Christ
and not only them but all the departed
- everyone who has died -
and we pray that through the mercy and love of God
every one of them will enjoy the light and peace of God, forever.

Of course, when we pray for those who have died
we remember first those whom we loved the most,
those whom we miss the most.
When I pray the remembrance of the dead,
my heart seldom fails to remember my mother and father:
others, too – but always them.
I’m sure there are names that come to your heart, too.
And we pray for them…

But why do we pray for them?

What do we pray for them?

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

Our whole life on earth is a journey to the dwelling place
Christ has prepared and reserved for us in his Father’s house.
Sometimes we stay right on the path that leads us home
and sometimes we take short cuts or make detours
or even turn around and walk in the other direction!

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

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

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

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

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

When we remember those who have died
some of us might recall those who hurt and harmed in this life.
Nothing is impossible for God.
We can pray for these, too, entrusting them to God
who knows how to make even the hardest of hearts
ready for his mercy.

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

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

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

Leondard Foley, OFM

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Prayer in the Storm

James Martin, SJ offers this prayer at In All Things, the blog at America.

A Prayer in the Storm
God of the Universe, at the dawn of creation,
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.

You created the oceans and rivers,
and all that dwell within them,
and at your word the wind and the waves were born.

The seasons follow your plan,
and the tides rise and fall on your command.

In both calm and storm, you are with us.
On the Sea of Galilee,
even when the disciples began to fear,
Jesus showed that he was Lord
over the waters by rebuking the storms,
so that all would know that even the wind and the waves obey him.

Creator God,
we ask you to calm the wind and the waves
of the approaching hurricane,
and spare those in its path from harm.

Help those who are in its way to reach safety.

Open our hearts in generosity to all who need help in the coming days.
In all things and in all times, help us to remember
that even when life seems dark and stormy,
you are in the boat with us, guiding us to safety.