Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Rest in Peace

The Marianists of the Province of Meribah recommend to your prayers MR. PATRICK J. McAWARD Jr., the father of Brother Michael McAward, Secretary General. 

Mr. McAward died on April 29, 2013, in Somers, New York. He was 79 years old. 

May he rest in Peace!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Marianist Monday


Mary, God chose you as the mother of his Son 
and called all nations and generations to bless the gift of grace he gave you. 
In the company of those who have gone before us, 
with people of all races and languages, we call upon you in prayer.

Response for the following: Pray for us.

Holy Mary
Mother of God
Mother of our redemption
Mother of a lost child
Mother of comfort and understanding
Mother who shares our joys
Mother who endures our sorrows
Mother whose heart was pierced by a sword
Mother most merciful
Woman responsive to God's word
Woman willing to believe the impossible
Woman who rejoices in her lowliness
Woman with an undivided heart
Woman of perfect freedom
Woman wrapped in mystery
Woman moved by the Spirit
Woman champion of the poor and lowly
Woman graced by a husband's love
Woman widowed by a husband's death
Woman at the cross
Woman patient and waiting
Woman clothed with the sun
Queen of the fullness of times
Queen of beauty unalloyed
Queen of integrity
Queen of painful meetings
Queen of all our heart's treasure
Queen of our destiny
Queen of peace

Let us pray:

Mary, you are mother and virgin, wife and widow, peasant and queen--blessed for all time. We need the comfort of your prayers. Remember us always to our Father through your Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord for ever and ever. Amen.

Rev. Joseph H. Lackner, S.M.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Sunday Word 2

Our Sunday Gospel reading from St. John is action-packed. Jesus' new commandment to his disciples was precisely this: Show your love. Love one another. By your love, they will know more about you than by anything else you could do. Love each other as I have loved you. Jesus didn't love us by simply feeling loving toward us. Jesus lived a life that embodied love. He healed the sick. He fed the hungry. He comforted the confused. He taught the ignorant. He hugged the little children. Jesus' love was so great that he went to the cross, suffered torture and death as his greatest demonstration of action--packed love. The love Jesus wants his disciples to enter into -- not just to "feel" -- is action-packed. And love in action is sometimes embodied by the simplest of compassionate responses.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Sunday Word

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, 

wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away."

Sunday’s reading from Revelation is typical of such biblical thought. The day is coming, says the Lord, when there will be no more mourning or crying or pain, “for the old order has passed away.”

We most often hear about Christianity’s view of tomorrow when we are personally facing sorrow or pain that seems insolvable. “Don’t lose hope,” we say. “There is a better world coming.” “In the end, nothing can separate us from the love of God.” “Tomorrow — some distant tomorrow — you will see your loved one again.” “Tomorrow there will be war no more.” “Tomorrow all violence will cease, and people will live peaceably with their neighbors.” And so on.

But all of that is based on an ultimate tomorrow that’s so shrouded in mystery that it’s hard to get much out of it when we’re dealing with the complexities of the present. God’s tomorrow is the basis for Christianity’s long-term confidence, but the promise of someday seems so far off that it can feel like little more than wishful thinking. At times, the best we can make of the tomorrow factor is to deal with it in a less-than-ultimate way.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel


Holy Virgin, moved by the painful uncertainty we experience in seeking and acquiring the true and the good, we cast ourselves at your feet and invoke thee under the sweet title of Mother of Good Counsel. We beseech you: come to our aid at this moment in our worldly sojourn when the twin darknesses of error and of evil that plots our ruin by leading minds and hearts astray.

Seat of Wisdom and Star of the Sea, enlighten the victims of doubt and of error so that they may not be seduced by evil masquerading as good; strengthen them against the hostile and corrupting forces of passion and of sin.

Mother of Good Counsel, obtain for us from thy Divine Son the love of virtue and the strength to choose, in doubtful and difficult situations, the course agreeable to our salvation. Supported by thy hand we shall thus journey without harm along the paths taught us by the word and example of Jesus our Savior, following the Sun of Truth and Justice in freedom and safety across the battlefield of life under the guidance of thy maternal Star, until we come at length to the harbor of salvation to enjoy with thee unalloyed and everlasting peace. Amen.
(By Pope Pius XII, 23 January 1953)

The miraculous nature of the sacred image.

The image as it is known in the West is traced to the year 1467 to Genazzano, Italy, a small town ca. thirty miles southeast of Rome. It is presently located in a side chapel, built between 1621 and 1629, in the church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, when the image derives its name. Measuring approximately 15-1/2 inches by 17-1/2 inches, the painting is a fresco executed on a thin layer of plaster or porcelain not much thicker than paper. One writer describes it as a fresco painted on a material resembling egg shell. It appears suspended in mid-air in its frame, with approximately an inch of space between it and the wall behind it. The only support is on the lower edge where it "rests on a small base on one of its sides, i.e. from the center to the extreme right." (Joao S. Cla Dias, p. 42)

The image received its papal coronation on November 17, 1682. A canon of Saint Peter's chapter was sent to represent Pope Innocent XI. A report was written five days later describing the image as touching the wall only at the upper edge and not supported by other means. It is from this date on that the existence of the painting as such was considered miraculous, not only because of its arrival at Genazzano, but because it is for the most part suspended in the air. Eyewitnesses also testify to extraordinary phenomena regarding changing features of the image. Since that time, there have been many privileges granted to the shrine, papal visits and honors.

I Believe

Before I lay me down to rest
I ask the Lord one small request I know
I have all I could need
But this prayer is not for me
Too many people on this day
Don't have a peaceful place to stay
Let all fighting cease that your children may see peace
Wipe their tears of sorrow away (Chorus)

To believe in a day
When hunger and war will pass away
To have the hope amidst despair
That every sparrow's counted
That you hear each cry and listen to each prayer

Let me try always to believe
That we can hear the hearts that grieve
Please help us not ignore
The anguished cries of the poor
Or their pain will never leave (Chorus )

Father, as you see, I'm just a child
And there's so much to understand
But if Your Grace should surround me
Then I'll do the best I can I promise,
I'll do the very best I can (Chorus plus)

Help us do Your will oh Father
In the name of all that's true
And we'll see in one another
The loving image of You

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

He is Risen, Alleluia!

The Church gives us seasons of celebration that last for weeks. Most people miss it at Christmas trashing the decorations just when things are getting started. Easter too. I'm sure most folks have their sights set on Memorial Day. But every morning when we say morning prayer, the antiphon celebrates Easter with a joyful, "Alleluia!" Every morning I feel a thrill as I think once again of Jesus risen. So here's a video to reflect on during this continuing Easter season. Rejoice and be glad for He is truly risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of God! Alleluia!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Do you know the Shepherd?

At a gathering of poets, writers, actors and artists as well as some prominent religious figures, the Master of Ceremonies invited a famous actor to read Psalm 23 from the podium. He was of course very dramatic in his interpretation..."The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He makes me walk in fertile pastures....."

Everyone was impressed by what they just heard and the actor returned to his place getting praises from those around him. Then the MC noticed an elderly priest in the crowd and invited him to read the same passage. The elderly priest walked to the podium with his cane and with a soft but emotional voice started: "The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. He makes me walk in fertile pastures, He refreshes my soul..."

When he had finished, there wasn’t one dry eye in the hall. He went back to his place while the Master of Ceremonies came up, himself with tears in his eyes. Then with a broken voice he told the crowd, "Ladies and gentlemen, we witnessed something very special today. We heard the actor and the priest read the same passage of Psalm 23. As you could see the actor knew drama, he knew acting, he knew performance...but the priest knew the Shepherd himself!"

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marianist Monday

Good Shepherd in the catacombs of Saint Priscilla, Rome
Good Shepherd Sunday

This Sunday, the Fourth Sunday after Easter, is a celebration of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd. The Gospel of John dedicates the entire chapter ten to this theme emphasizing the different roles of the Shepherd. Today, we look more at the relationship of the shepherd to the sheep and the sheep to the shepherd. We need to lay aside our
contemporary images and reluctances about this image given to us by the Fourth Gospel’s inspired author. Seeing it in the context of the entire chapter as well as surrounded by the Psalm Response and the First and Second Reading we can come to appreciate the image as having a very deep message for us.

The Psalm speaks of the “keystone” rejected by the builders becomes the chief living stone for the believers. A keystone is the one that holds the other stones together whether it be the foundational stone at right angles to a corner of a building or the top central stone within an arch. The image comes from a psalm that is a national
celebration psalm. This was taken up by the early Christians as one of the most cited of psalms in the New Testament as well as one that is frequently recalled during this Easter Season. We see Jesus as the keystone and the exemplary pastor in the readings from John and from this excellent psalm 118. It is especially the final ten verses of it that are heard often during this time of joy, peace, and exultation at the event of Jesus’ rising from the dead.

Our Evangelist does not give us a parable in relating this story and image of who Christ is for the community of John, the Beloved Disciple. Rather than the translation of Good alone with Shepherd, we
must see it as an example story thus Jesus is the exemplary model for being a pastor, a shepherd, for those who follow him. We transfer the image from the world of sentient animals to that of rational
beings—humans like we are. We are called to be shepherds ,that is, leaders who help those who are in need of being led and educated to listen carefully to the one who brings them to a resting place of
peace and nourishment.

We learn that like Jesus we are to be in control of our lives so as to lay them down for the good of others. As Shepherd he did this for the universal mission he had—he has other sheep that are not of the one fold that he is now watching. These too must be led to join the flock through his care, concern, and love for all of us. His heart is always ready to protect those who are being educated to hear the voice of
Jesus—especially children and orphans and the poor. These are often fragile and weak. They need excellent leaders and teachers and that is our mission to be pastors in this world. The word is universal not only for “pastoral ministers” of a structural church. We are to be exemplary models of who Jesus is as shepherd. He speaks of his being this while sharing his relationship with the Father. This relationship
is then extended to others seen in the image of the sheep. All are called to be other Christs, other exemplary shepherds. We grow into this call from being sheep to becoming shepherds. It is a maturing
process in the life of a Christian dedicated to bringing about the kingdom of God.

The second part of the chapter is dedicated to this more personal relationship dimension in the life of the exemplary shepherd to his sheep. Listening, recognizing the living voice of Jesus is brought about by our following him wherever he goes and leads us. Verdant pastures lie ahead for us as we are not only following this exemplary shepherd but actually participating in his very life through the sacraments of Easter—Baptsim and the Eucharist. We follow, we listen, we are attentive, we feel his concern and care for us. We come to realize he is the exemplary model for leadership and mission.

Peace, joy, and exultation are ours when we become like him. Amen.
Alleluia. Alleluia.

                                                                                                            Marianist Fr.Bert

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Sunday Word 2

In a culture like ours, where rugged individualism is a high value, the idea of “flocking” or being “herded” isn’t too appealing. We’d prefer to see ourselves as individuals of worth, but not necessarily valued because of our connection to a community. It is closer to the truth to understand that, like sheep, we are social animals who need each other, need to belong, and we herd instinctively.

We can’t make it on our own — or at least not as well as we can make it when we’re aligned with a flock of others to provide comfort and security and a Shepherd to watch over our well-being. We need others and we need Christ. That’s the whole reason for a community — a real expression of what it means to be connected and protected in Christ.

Consider this important fact that shepherds know:

Sheep are intelligent. This is so contrary to what we’ve been taught about sheep. And, in some respects, they are quite dumb. They eat too much, right down to the root. They’ll drink contaminated water. When they fall, they often can’t get up without some assistance. And the herding thing — they tend to follow aimlessly and blindly and with no apparent destination in mind.

But this is only part of the story. Contrary to conventional wisdom that sheep are stupid animals, a study showed that sheep have remarkable memories, being able to pick out a particular face in a line of pictures, if that face is associated with a food reward. Some of the sheep in the study could remember up to 50 images for as long as two years.

Sheep also have keen hearing, which makes it possible for them to discern the voice of their shepherd from among others, and they will always move toward the person they perceive to be a friend, particularly if that friend feeds the sheep.

Yet the real issue is not that we, the sheep of His pasture, do not recognize the voice of our Shepherd. Rather, we recognize it and refuse to listen. Or we listen selectively. Sound familiar.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Sunday Word 1

There is a vision that John of Patmos had of the eternal age to come, where a multitude of people — so great it cannot be counted — with representatives from every nation, tribe, peoples and language group, stand worshiping before the throne of the Lamb of God. And they cry out Good News: "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!" When John seeks to know who these people of this multitude are, he is told, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

In the context of John’s time, the "great ordeal" likely referred to the bitter experiences — the bad news — that befell the followers of Jesus at the onset of the Jerusalem war in 66 A.D. But we can read it in our own context and apply it to the bad-news ordeals of our own time. In contrast to the pessimism that first-century ordeal might have engendered, however, this Revelation passage sees the brightness, the good news, beyond it. These people, who have come through that great ordeal faithfully, "will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life .... "  They are the ones who were numbed by the battering of bad news in their day, but in the realm to come, they are "un-numbed." In fact, they have no need for defensive numbing, because "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Regina Coeli

The Regina Coeli is one of the four seasonal antiphons of the Blessed Virgin Mary
prescribed to be sung or recited in the Liturgy of the Hours after
night prayer (compline or vespers) from Holy Saturday to the Saturday after Pentecost.

The Latin text of the sung Regina Coeli (sometimes written Caeli) follows:

Regina coeli laetare, Alleluia,
Quia quem meruisti portare. Alleluia,
Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum. Alleluia.

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia:
For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen, as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Our Mission is Mary

“The Spirit of the Society is the spirit of Mary.”

 (Rule of Life, The Society of Mary, Book I, Article 114)

Marianist Brothers and priests are men dedicated in a particular way to a woman: Mary the mother of Jesus. We believe Mary’s mission—bringing Christ into the world—is ongoing and that we take part in it today. Our relationship with Mary, then, is apostolic. Her role as mother and disciple of Jesus is an abiding mystery for us, and it shapes our way of living and ministering in the Church.

Each day Marianist brothers and priests say a prayer of dedication, linked to our vow of stability. It’s an expressed dedication to Mary as a woman of faith and bearer of Christ. It’s a commitment to a relationship with her that first inspired our Marianist founders, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, Venerable Adele de Batz de Trenquelleon, and Venerable Marie-Therese de Lamourous. Reflecting the unity and collaboration characteristic of our foundation, Marianist brothers and priests participate in Mary’s mission with the wider Marianist Family that includes religious sisters and committed lay people.

Bearing her name, we find in Mary an abundance of mysteries that become central to our lives. Scriptural passages involving Mary—the Annunciation, the Magnificat, the Presentation of Jesus, the finding of Jesus in the Temple, the Wedding Feast at Cana, Mary and John at Calvary, Mary with the disciples at Pentecost—shape our vision of embodying a discipleship of equals and our way of building communities of faith wherever we are.

We believe Mary helps us follow Jesus, grow in His likeness, and bear his transforming grace to the world today. As Marianist brothers, priests, and sisters, we are bound by love—and by our religious vows—to her mission, her way, and to Mary herself as the mother of Christ and our mother.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marianist spirituality

Our Lady of Cana at Founder's Hollow, Marianist Residence - Province of Meribah
When Blessed William Joseph Chaminade returned to Bordeaux after he was exiled, his sense of urgency led him to form a diversity of apostolic communities inspired by Mary: first, lay communities, then two religious congregations -- the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary -- and finally, schools, teacher formation and other educational institutions. This work took many years. It was guided by and at the same time helped to shape a deepening, distinctively Marianist spirituality. All subsequent Marianist educational work has been inspired by this spirituality with its three characteristic dimensions: a spirit of Marian faith, the building of communities of faith, and a deep sense of mission.

Marian faith, for Blessed Chaminade, was a faith of the heart as well as an intellectual assent, a faith so deep that, like Mary's, it could conceive and give birth to Jesus. Mary in her assent embodies the openness and cooperation with the action of the Holy Spirit that is at the center of Christian faith. Inspired by the Spirit, Mary brings Jesus into the world, dramatically showing us that with God all things are possible.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mary in our Life

By the gift of faith, 
the Virgin Mary totally opened herself 
to the mission the Father gave her in his plan of salvation.

Jesus was formed in her by the Holy Spirit. 
He willed her to be the promised Woman,
sharing in all his mysteries. 

When his hour had come,
he proclaimed her our Mother. 

Like the beloved disciple, we accept Mary as a precious gift of God.

Moved by Jesus' love for his Mother, 
we dedicate ourselves to her so that the Holy Spirit, 
in whose action she cooperates with a mother's love,
may form us more fully to the image of her Son. 

By our alliance with Mary,
we seek to assist her in her mission 
of forming in faith a multitude of brothers for her first-born Son.

In Mary is summed up the longing and searching 
of the whole human race for God: 
she is the first among those who believe in Jesus Christ
and the first to be saved from evil and death.

The Rule of Life
Society of Mary

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marianist Monday

“The multiplication of Christians is brought about less by the use of certain pedagogic procedures than by the presence of a religious atmosphere in the school.

Religion is not taught; it is communicated. Religion is instilled more deeply in the spirits and in the hearts of the students more through the atmosphere that permeates the school than through teaching.”

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Sunday Word

Nowadays, we’re at the Sea of Tiberias. Simon Peter and his fishing buddies are out on the lake trying to put their lives back together after witnessing the events of Holy Week. They fish all night and catch nothing, an experience that leaves them feeling fried, funky and frustrated.

Then a stranger appears on the beach at dawn. He calls out that they should "Cast the net to the right side of the boat." As if that will make any difference.

So they cast the net to the right, and the rest, as they say, is history. The net is so full of fish that they can’t haul it in. The apostle John now shouts that the stranger is the Lord. Simon does a double take, and he, too, sees that it is Jesus.

Within minutes, all of the disciples are on the shore with Jesus, and he directs them to give him some of the fish they had just caught. Peter leaps back in the boat and grabs the net of fish and hauls it to shore himself. A hundred and fifty-three fish in that net to be exact.

Meanwhile, a charcoal fire is lit, and the smoke is wafting through the cool morning air. and the fish is frying over the fire. Together they eat the fish and the bread.

When they finish eating, Jesus turns and says to Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" Peter says to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." And Jesus says to him, "Feed my lambs."

Without missing a beat, Jesus asks again if Peter loves him, and after Peter says that he does love him, Jesus says, "Tend my sheep."

Then again, as though the question had not been asked, Jesus inquires about Peter’s love. Peter is hurt by this persistent questioning, and he blurts out, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you."

Jesus commands him, once again, "Feed my sheep."

Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. What is Jesus driving home in this dialogue with Simon Peter? On one level, he is giving Peter the opportunity to cancel out the three cowardly denials he made during Holy Week. Although Peter had insisted three times that he was not a disciple of Jesus, now he affirms three times that he loves his Lord. Three denials, three affirmations. The slate is now wiped clean.

But there is something more significant going on here, and it has to do with the work of tending Christ’s sheep. Jesus is laying out a sort of job description for disciple wannabes, people who will be involved in the day-to-day work of caring for the people of God.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Marianist Three O'Clock Prayer

Lord Jesus,
we gather in spirit at the foot of the Cross
with your Mother and the disciple whom you loved.
We ask your pardon for our sins
which are the cause of your death.
We thank you for remembering us
in that hour of salvation
and for having given us Mary as our Mother .

Holy Virgin, take us under your protection
and open us to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Saint .John, obtain for us
the grace of taking Mary into our lives, as you did,
and of assisting her in her mission. Amen.

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

Friday, April 12, 2013

Marianist Three O'Clock Prayer 3

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 rendezvous at three o'clock to express communion with Mary and the beloved disciple so closely united with Jesus on the Cross. They also rendezvous 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. It creates solidarity between those who are in a hurry and those who take their time, between those who speak English and those who speak Titumbuka (Malawi).

The Three O'Clock Prayer makes a difference in our daily routine and educates our spiritual sense. It is a bold prayer; for it is neither directly related to the overall Marianist prayer structure nor is it an integral part of our work schedule. It affirms, in a practical and active way, the living memory of what constitutes the single most important event in human history, the Calvary event. In the midst of a secular occupation and world, the Three O'Clock Prayer witnesses the presence and the critical difference of spiritual reality in human life. The prayerful halt at three o'clock constitutes a clear break from business as usual, and sheds critical light on how we deal with secular reality. Members of the Family of Mary are urged to be both bold and watchful. In the Three O'Clock Prayer we say: "Holy Virgin take us under your protection." Is not this what watchfulness is all about? To be under the protection of Mary, who kept all things in her heart, wasting nothing, pondering everything, critically and prayerfully? The prayer goes on: "Holy Virgin open us to the action of the Holy Spirit." The Spirit is the ultimate reason and source of apostolic boldness.

This passage was taken from Deep Memories: A Marianist Icon by the Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Marianist Three O'Clock Prayer 2

Fr. William Joseph Chaminade, founder of the Marianists, encouraged his spiritual followers to interrupt at three o'clock all professional endeavor 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 ejaculatory 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.

This passage was taken from Deep Memories: A Marianist Icon by the Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M.
"Our hope as Christians is strong, secure, solid in this land, where God has called us to walk, and is open to eternity, because it is founded on God, who is always faithful. We must not forget: God is faithful."

                                                                                                                                   - Pope Francis

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Marianist Three O'Clock Prayer 1

Icons are not necessarily images painted on wood, sometimes they correspond to a strong mental picture or interior representation. One way or the other, icons are like portable altars. They can be erected almost anytime and anywhere. Pilgrims -- such is our condition -- must travel lightly; icons do not weigh down the pilgrim's baggage. Icons are also like "moveable feasts." There is joy in worshipping God with icons, a joy to be shared and passed around.

There exists one such icon of the crucifixion scene. It has a strong built-in theology, reflecting all the important aspects of the Calvary event per John 19:25-27. This icon is the spiritual property of the Family of Mary, a family of Marianist religious and lay people, men and women. This treasure was handed down to them as a precious piece of family heirloom; it represents one of those foundational memories people cast in living hearts and minds. Such a memory helps create a collective identity: as people go along they enrich it and pass it on. This icon, this foundational memory or collective identity, is in fact a prayer called the Three O'Clock Prayer. Simple and unassuming as it may be, it captures not only the deepest memories of Christian faith, but it also conveys the particular spirit which continues to inspire the members of the Family of Mary.

This passage was taken from Deep Memories: A Marianist Icon by the Rev. Johann G. Roten, S.M.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Marianist Monday

Consider the predicament of a young woman, excited at the prospect of her upcoming marriage, looking forward to creating a home of her own, when suddenly all her plans, all her expectations are shattered.

When Luke's Gospel reports the Annunciation of Jesus' birth to Mary, we proclaim her blessed and "favored." But Mary may not have felt "blessed" or "favored." She had to accept first that all her life plans were about to be changed forever. She would bear a child, under truly unusual circumstances, and be transformed by that process in ways she could not ever imagine. Surely her relationship with Joseph was also now altered for all time. How would he react to her news? What could he say?

But despite the tumult that welled up inside her heart, Mary's response to the angel Gabriel's message is straightforward: "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

In these words, Mary discovered the "secret" of living. It is giving! Mary offered up herself, all of her, to God's mysterious will and way.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Sunday Word

Some of us stumble in our life of faith, as did Thomas, because the empirical evidence is somewhat lacking. There is no proof for the existence of God, and there’s a lot that happens in this world that would seem to argue against a loving and powerful God. Thomas said he would remain an unbeliever. What do you say?

Others grab the pacifier of cultural respectability. Any faith journey that calls for a life of radical discipleship, a life that pits us against the world, that risks the ridicule of the chattering classes is not a life for us. We want our faith to be neat, clean, tidy, respectable and non-confrontational.

Some of us move on steadily in a life of faith, while for others faith is a lifelong struggle with doubt. Our neighbors may speak of an access to faith that seems unassailable, but we find ourself unconvinced, skeptical, saying the words but doubting their truth. Our academic training, professional expertise and life experience conspire to demand something solid to counter the doubt that refuses to go away.

The fact is, if we care enough to wonder, to question, to struggle for an authentic profession of faith, we may well be on the path to a life grounded in honest reliance upon God alone. Because for many, doubt may be the necessary step on the road to faith. Take Dorothy Day, for example.

Dorothy Day, the late founder of the Catholic Worker, described her inability to pray as she was coming to faith. Whenever she knelt, she would be overcome by doubt and shame — “Do I really believe? Whom am I praying to?” “Is prayer for the lonely and religion for the weak?”

But once while walking to the village to get her mail, she found herself praying again, this time out of a deep sense of thankfulness. Encouraged, she continued on, against her doubts. No matter how dull the day, how long the walk seemed or how sluggish she felt at the beginning, the words of thanksgiving that she prayed began slowly to move into her heart and shape her conscience in faith. She came to faith through doubt and eventually gave up her doubts as freely as a child drops her pacifier.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Thursday

Two thousand years have come and gone, and the very same is true today. The resurrection is still being reported by people who have caught a glimpse of the risen Jesus in the middle of human life. Such sightings aren’t face to face, and they don’t include Easter morning foot-grabbing. But eyewitnesses still report that Jesus is alive and active, in the lives of both individuals and communities.

The risen Jesus works through individuals in surprising and life-changing ways.

Think about who, in your life, has been a bow for the flight of others. Such people reveal the risen Christ, alive and active in the world today.

In our Christian faith, the very same is true: Look at the findings that have been around for a while, enduring the test of time. Jesus is alive and well, in people who share the Gospel and act as a bow for the flight of others. He is active and effective, in communities that love God and neighbor while working to build up the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Christ is risen, just as the women and the guards reported. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Easter Wednesday

Through the resurrection, God fills the empty places in our lives. He does it for the initial followers of Jesus, for Paul, for the Christians of Corinth … and for us.

The Good News is that we don’t have to earn or deserve this gift of new life. What we have to do is believe and be willing to follow Jesus into the future He is preparing for us. Although the apostle Paul was the least of the apostles, “unfit to be called an apostle,” he believed in the resurrection. The result was that God’s grace toward him was not in vain, and he was able to spread the Gospel. Mary and her companions felt a disorienting mixture of amazement and fear on Easter morning, but they responded when the young man gave the command, "Go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you."

Believe in the resurrection. Follow Jesus into the future. These are responses we can make, responses that can fill our massive voids.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Shroud of Turin

Pope Francis dispatched a message for the new display of the Shroud in which he referred to the shroud as an “icon of a man scourged and crucified.” The use of the term “icon” rather than “relic” amounts to the usual Vatican caution, given that the Holy See has never officially pronounced on the shroud’s authenticity, though since Pope Julius II in 1506 it has encouraged devotion to the crucified Christ aroused by the cloth.

Benedict XVI also used the term “icon” in his message for a display of the shroud in May 2010, calling it an “icon written with the blood of a whipped man, crowned with thorns, crucified and pierced on his right side.” In that sense, Francis did not stake out any new position, and he didn’t go as far as some of his predecessors.

On Easter Sunday the Italian paper La Stampa carried an interview with Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of the semi-official Vatican journal Civiltà Cattolica, insisting that Pope Francis did not intend to “enter into the dispute over dating,” and that he meant instead to make a spiritual point by saying that the man of the shroud “speaks to the heart.” In his written message, Francis said that the face in the shroud “invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. This image … speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.” “By means of the Holy Shroud, the unique and supreme Word of God comes to us: Love made man, incarnate in our history; the merciful love of God who has taken upon himself all the evil of the world to free us from its power,” Francis said.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Monday

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. 

V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia. 
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia. 

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. 

R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia. 

"Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do."                                                                                                  -Pope Francis 
Father Todd prepares the Paschal Candle at the Easter Vigil.                             
Brother Nigel lights his candle during the Liturgy of the Light.
Brother Timothy proclaims the Word.