Friday, May 31, 2013


As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ this weekend, perhaps you'll find this poem from the Concord Pastor helpful for your prayer.


Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You have to listen with all of you
to hear the white-green shoot
pushing, rubbing, scraping up through
cool, moist earth: wheat being born.

It's a comforting sound when, finally,
you hear it and you know the growing sound
isn't in the field
but in your fragile frailty,
in you...

Then fear comes over you:
you will be torn inside, again, until it hurts
and this may be the time
when growing leaves behind
the one you think you are,
harvesting the one you were made to be...

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

You don't have to listen so closely
to hear the wind shuffle its way
through fields of wheat
so you have to look very carefully
to see it's not the wind after all, but simply
wheat brushing against wheat,
wheat supporting wheat,
wheat enjoying wheat,
wheat embracing wheat.

The rustling becomes a symphony
of meeting, knowing, touching, growing:
wheat reaching out to wheat
not with fear, not with flushed face,
but only with the need to touch
and the sound of reaching
is strong, enveloping, alive!

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

Grinding grains of wheat: harsh,
breaking, crushing sounds,
a not soft noise - hard.
And now you don't want to hear
wheat being crushed:
it just doesn't look like wheat anymore
and maybe the explosion in you
wasn't a matter of life but...

water is cool
and now it is all around you:
bubbling and swirling
in flour ground of wheat
and now you're not surprised to know
you're listening to blood filling your veins,
flowing all through you: life.

And just before the fire consumed us, too,
we found bread: one beautiful brown loaf
of wheat, wind, water
all rising to life in bread.

Then came One
who broke himself like a loaf
and we heard
in the cracking and tearing of the crust
the Word of life grown, ground and given
for those who share
in the breaking of the bread.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat,
but if it dies, it bears much fruit...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


This past weekend Pope Francis visited a parish in Rome and at the end of Mass the First Communion children came forward, gathered around the altar, and with the accompaniment of a guitar sang a blessing on the pope who kept his head bowed through the whole piece.

Here's a translation of what they sang:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May He show His face to you and have mercy.
May He turn His countenance to you and give you peace.
May the Lord bless you.

Monday, May 27, 2013


And that is how Theology started. People already knew about God in a vague way. Then came a man who claimed to be God; and yet He was not the sort of man you could dismiss as a lunatic. He made them believe Him. They met Him again after they had seen Him killed. And then, after they had been formed into a little society or community, they found God somehow inside them as well: directing them, making them able to do things they could not do before. And when they worked it all out they found they had arrived at the Christian definition of the three-personal God.

Quotes from Mere Christianity, Part 64
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Open the doors!

Pope Francis commented on the tension in yesterday's Gospel as some disciples sought to intercept children brought to Jesus for his blessing. Instead of gratitude, the intervention receives a rebuke from Jesus.

Said the Pope:

Jesus embraces [the children], kisses them, touches them, all of them. It tires Jesus and his disciples "want it to stop.” Jesus is indignant ("Jesus got angry, sometimes.") And he says: "Let them come to me, do not hinder them. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

The faith of the People of God, said the pope, "is a simple faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it."

The people of God - continued the Pope - "are always asking for something closer to Jesus, they are sometimes a bit 'insistent in this. But it is the insistence of those who believe "

It is an insistence, he believes, which ought to be welcomed, not stiled at the parish door. He offered the example of the parish secretary, tasked with with intercepting a young couple who want to be married:

"'Good evening, good morning, the two of us—boyfriend and girlfriend—we want to get married'. And instead of saying, 'That's great!' They say, 'Oh, well, have a seat. If you want the Mass, it costs a lot ... '. This, instead of receiving a good welcome—It is a good thing to get married! ' But instead they get this response:' Do you have the certificate of baptism, all right ... '. And they find a closed door. When this Christian and that Christian has the ability to open a door, thanking God for this fact of a new marriage ... We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.
"Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: 'I want my child baptized.' And then this Christian, this Christian says: 'No, you cannot because you're not married!'

But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender, what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs!"

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The secret of Notre Dame

This is pretty wonderful: Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s 2013 commencement speech at Notre Dame:

Thank you, Notre Dame, for the joy of your company, the gracious invitation, the warm welcome, and the high honor of this degree.

It was so obvious I almost missed it . . .

See, ever since, almost a year ago, Father Jenkins, with characteristic thoughtfulness, invited me to deliver this commencement address, I’ve been mulling over just what to say to you, class of 2013.
Only Friday a week ago I still had not yet completed this talk, and I got on the train in New York City to travel to D.C. In Philadelphia, a distinguished looking man boarded the train and sat next to me.

He turned out to be a fanatical, in-your-face, obnoxious Notre Dame alumnus! You ever met one? Nice to meet you! Now I guess I am proudly one, after the privilege of this honorary degree which I so appreciate and cherish! He begins to speak with obviously radiant pride and gratitude about Notre Dame, telling me his faithful Jewish parents wanted him to attend a Catholic college – - because, in their words. “The Church founded the universities, and educate better than anybody else” – - and reporting to me that, even as a faithful Jew, he considers his four years here at this Catholic university a gift beyond measure. When I told him I’d be here for graduation, he beamed.

“Father,” he went on, holding my arm and looking me in the eye, “let me tell you the secret of Notre Dame. It’s not the library, as first-rate as it is; it’s not the professors and courses, as stellar as they are; it’s not the campus, as enchanting as it is, or even the football team, as legendary as it is. No, the secret of Notre Dame is really a person, whom we Jews call ‘Miriam,’ and you Christians call ‘Mary.’ She’s there … she looks down from the ‘golden dome’; and, if you really want to discover the secret of Notre Dame, visit that grotto you Catholics call “Lourdes.” There’s something there … no, there’s someone there … we call her Notre Dame, and she’s the secret of her university.”

Thank you, Howard. Hope you’re listening to me now, as you promised me on that train you would. Because with those words you solved the riddle about what I should say in these few moments. That was Mother’s Day weekend; it was May, the month dedicated to her; and I had just returned, with fifty sick and disabled people, from a pilgrimage to the “real” Lourdes in France. So obvious I had almost missed it … I’m going to speak of Notre Dame … Notre Dame … our Lady …. Mary, the mother of Jesus.
One can make the point that she’s perhaps the most important human person ever. Even history itself is divided “before” and “after” the birth she gave to her firstborn. She was there at Christmas at His birth; at Cana, His first miracle; at the foot of the cross; at Pentecost, the feast we celebrate today.
“But when the appointed time came, God sent His own Son, born of a woman …” St. Paul writes to the Galatians;

“And while there in Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to her firstborn …” records St. Luke;
“Mary said to the servants at Cana. ‘Do whatever He tells you …’’’ reports St. John;
“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother …” recalls the Beloved Disciple;
“The apostles were in continuous prayer, together with Mary, the mother of Jesus …” writes St. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles, in the account of Pentecost.
Notre Dame … Our Lady …
John Ruskin held that “every brightest and loftiest achievement of the arts, dreams, advancement, and progress of humanity has been but the fulfillment of that poor Israelite woman’s prayer, ‘He who is mighty has magnified me!’ …”
While Wordsworth extolled her as “our tainted nature’s solitary boast.”
“All things rising, all things sizing, Mary sees sympathizing …” … claims Gerard Manley Hopkins, as you, the class of 2013, have sensed her maternal presence “rising, sizing, and sympathizing” these blessed years on a campus wrapped in her mantle, and praise God that Father Sorin and that pioneer band of priests and brothers of the Congregation of the Holy Cross placed this most noble endeavor under her patronage from day one 171 years ago.

Might I propose to you, my new classmates, class of 2013, that she’s not just our patroness, but our model.
It all comes down to this: she — Miriam, Mary, Notre Dame, our Lady — humbly, selflessly, generously, with trust, placed her life in God’s hands, allowing her life to unfold according to His plan. She gave God’s son a human nature; she gave the Eternal Word — God the Son, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity – - flesh. That’s called the Incarnation. God became one of us.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Pope Francis: Christian originality

Pope Francis: “Christian originality is this, each as he is, with the gifts the Lord has given him”
Pope Francis shared the following at Mass Thursday morning in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae residence in the Vatican.

The Pope warned against the risk of becoming insipid, “Museum-piece Christians.”

In his homily, Pope Francis focused on the savour that Christians are called to give to their own lives and to others’. The Holy Father said that salt the Lord gives us is the salt of faith, hope and charity. But, he warned, we must be careful that this salt, which is given to us by the certainty that Jesus died and rose again to save us, “does not lose its flavour, does not lose its strength.” This salt, he continued, “is not for keeping, because if the salt is preserved in a bottle it does not do anything: it is good for nothing”:

“Salt makes sense when you [use] it in order to make things more tasty. I also consider that salt stored in the bottle, with moisture, loses strength and is rendered useless. The salt that we have received is to be given out, to be given away, [in order] to spice things up: otherwise, it becomes bland and useless. We must ask the Lord not to [let us] become Christians with flavour-less salt, with salt that stays closed in the bottle. Salt also has another special feature: when salt is used well, one does not notice the taste of salt. The savour of salt – it cannot be perceived! What one tastes is the flavour of the food: salt helps improve the flavor of the meal.”

“When we preach faith, with this salt,” said Pope Francis, “those who receive the proclamation, receive it each according to his peculiarity, as [happens when salt is used judiciously] on food.” So, “Each with his own peculiarities receives the salt and becomes better [for it].” The Holy Father went on to explain that the “originality” that Christian faith brings is therefore not something uniform:

“The Christian originality is not a uniformity! It takes each one as he is, with his own personality, with his own characteristics, his culture – and leaves him with that, because it is a treasure. However, it gives one something more: it gives flavour! This Christian originality is so beautiful, because when we want to make a uniformity – all salted in the same way – things will be like when the woman throws in too much salt and one tastes only salt and not the meal. The Christian originality is this: each is as he is, with the gifts the Lord has given him.”

“This,” the Pope continued, “is the salt that we have to give.” A salt that is “not to be kept, but to be given,” – and this, he said, “means a little [bit] of transcendence”: “To get out there with the message, to get out there with this richness that we have in salt, and give it to others.” On the other hand, he pointed out, there are two “ways out” for the salt to take, so that it does not spoil. First: to give the salt “in the service of meals, service to others, to serve the people.” Second: “transcendence toward the author of the salt, the creator.” The salt, he reiterated, “in order to keep its flavour, has need not only of being given through preaching,” but, “also needs the other transcendence, of prayer, of adoration”:

“In this way is the salt conserved, [in this way it keeps] its flavor. With the worship of the Lord I go beyond myself to the Lord, and with the proclamation of the Gospel I go out of myself to give the message. If we do not do this, however – these two things, these two transcendences, to give the salt – the salt will remain in the bottle, and we will become ‘museum-piece Christians’. We can show the salt: this is my salt – and how lovely it is! This is the salt that I received in Baptism, this is what I received in Confirmation, this is what I received in catechesis – But look: museum-piece Christians! A salt without flavor, a salt that does nothing.”

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reflections on the Trinity

Frederick Buechner, in his book, This is from Wishful Thinking, points out: “The much-maligned doctrine of the Trinity is an assertion that, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there is only one God. Father, Son and Holy Spirit mean that the mystery beyond us, the mystery among us and the mystery within us are all the same mystery ...

“If the idea of God as both Three and One seems farfetched and obfuscating, look in the mirror someday.

There is (a) the interior life known only to yourself and those you choose to communicate it to (the Father). There is (b) the visible face, which in some measure ” reflects that inner life (the Son). And there is (c) the invisible power you have which enables you to communicate that interior life in such a way that others do not merely know about it, but know it in the sense of its becoming part of who they are (the Holy Spirit). Yet what you are looking at in the mirror is clearly and indivisibly the one and only you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Batter my heart

In preparation for this coming weekend's celebration of Trinity Sunday, this well known verse from John Donne:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

And here's a powerful choral setting of the same poem:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Operation Fiat

The Marianists of the Province of Meribah hosted their Spring Operation Fiat last evening at the Chaminade-Mineola Community. The Chapel was filled to capacity with Marianists and students from our high schools interested in learning and exploring a Marianist Religious vocation.

After Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Evening Prayer a theme for the evening was explored by Brother Stephen.  He spoke how we must be utterly possessed by Christ, utterly impassioned by His love and grace, utterly ablaze with His power and glory. Every earthly part of our being must glow with God's fire divine. As at Pentecost, the apostles were set ablaze. So we too, ask the Holy Spirit to descend upon us anew! Set us ablaze, Lord, set us on fire!

And we prayed:

Come, O Creator Spirit, come,
and make within out heart thy home;
to us thy grace celestial give,
who of thy breathing move and live.

O Comforter, that name is thine,
of God most high the gift divine;
the well of life, the fire of love,
our souls' anointing from above.

Our senses with thy light inflame,
our hearts to heavenly love reclaim;
our bodies' poor infirmity
with strength perpetual fortify.

Our mortal foes afar repel,
grant us henceforth in peace to dwell;
and so to us, with thee for guide,
no ill shall come, no harm betide.

May we by thee the Father learn,
and know the Son, and thee discern,
who art of both; and thus adore
in perfect faith for evermore.

These four questions of Blessed John Paul II were suggested that all reflect on after our Operation Fiat:

What will you do with your life?
What are your plans?
Have you ever thought of committing your existence totally to Christ?
Do you think that there can be anything greater than to bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus?

Monday, May 20, 2013


By Chris Ackerman 

I love our Church! I really and sincerely do. I love everything about our Church. I love the sights of the buildings and the Liturgy, the sounds of the old Gregorian Chant music, the smells of the incense, the physicality (touch) of the priesthood, the taste of the Body and Blood of Jesus. I love it all!

I think a lot of people agree with me about the beauty of our Church, but I think where our Church gets so much scrutiny is the “rules” or teachings that the Church “imposes” on the faithful. I often hear complaints about how there are so many rules to follow. “The Church is too authoritarian. Why can’t I just do what I want to do?” or “I love Jesus, why do I have to do what the Church says?”

All of these are fair questions, to which I would respond and paraphrase St. Paul in Eph. 5:25 “Love the Church as Christ loved the Church.” If Christ loved the Church so much that He died for Her, who are we to spurn what She proclaims as meaningless or inconsequential? If we truly love Christ, then we must love the Church, meaning that we must follow what She teaches, without trying to change it into our idea of Christianity. Was it me that Christ entrusted the Keys to the Kingdom or was it Peter (Mt. 16:16-18) that Christ entrusted? Did He give me authority or did He entrust it to the leaders of the Church? The Church! Jesus entrusted Himself to the Church.

Does that mean that I follow or believe everything blindly?

Absolutely not. Some of the teachings of the Church are extremely hard, like the reality of Jesus’ True Presence in the Eucharist. The disciples in chapter 6 of John’s Gospel in the Bread of Life Discourse are evident of this: ‘Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it. [60] As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. [66]“‘

Our response must be like the Apostles. ‘Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. [67-68]“‘

Many of the teachings and guidelines of the Church are hard, but if we reject the hard ones and only accept the ones that fit our idea of Christianity, then we totally miss the Beauty of our Church. When we do this, when we try to boil down all the teachings and guidelines of the Church and Christ into what we think it should be and reject the authority that Christ gave the Church, then it is no longer Christ’s Church or the Catholic Church but, rather, Chris’s Church or the Church of Me. It’s okay to question and struggle with the teachings of the Church. It’s okay to say I don’t know what this means. Not every part of our faith is a point to be solved and dissected under a microscope. If our God could be “solved” or “figured out,” then He wouldn’t be a very great God, would He?

Only too often do we try to do it on our own, and we completely miss the Beauty of the mystery of our faith and the Beauty of obedience to whom Christ entrusted the Church. Loving Christ means to love the Church, and that means loving all parts of Her.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Shine for Christ

The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost lit the fire of the Church. God’s Spirit is still and must always be the main source of light for Christians. Individually and as the Church, we should do what is necessary to keep ourselves good places for the Spirit’s flames to burn hotly and the Spirit’s light to shine brightly. It’s not our job to extinguish lesser lights that shine for the benefit of humankind so that we’re the only light in town; indeed, sometimes we should help their light be seen.

At the same time, however, we should never be so dazzled by other lights that we no longer shine for Christ or no longer “reproduce” and bring forth new generations of Christians.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Holy Spirit holes

Pentecost has been one of the most unique and creatively celebrated days on the church's calendar. In 10th-century Rome, for example, the church really knew how to throw its own birthday party. In order to make the coming of the Holy Spirit a dramatic, dynamic event for their congregations, leaders of Pentecost services involved architecture, not just anthems.

The custom of painting heavenly scenes on the great domed and vaulted ceilings of cathedrals served not only to inspire the devout with blessed visions. It also disguised some discreet trap doors. These small openings were drilled through the cathedral ceiling to the rooftop. During the Pentecost service, some hapless servants would be drafted to clamber up on the roof. At the appropriate moment during the liturgy, they would release live doves through these holes. From out of the painted skies and clouds on the cathedral ceiling, swooping, diving symbols of a vitally present Holy Spirit would descend toward the people below.

At the same moment, the choirboys would break into the whooshing and drumming sound of a holy windstorm. Finally, as the doves were flying and the winds were rushing, the ceiling holes would once again be utilized -- as bushels upon bushels of rose petals were showered down upon the congregation. These red, flickering bits of flowers symbolized tongues of flame falling upon all who waited below in faith.

They called these openings to the sky in medieval churches "Holy Spirit holes."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

O Lord give thy Holy Spirit

“In these days of waiting for the feast of the Holy Spirit, we ask: Come, Holy Spirit, come and give me this big heart, this heart capable of loving with humility, with meekness, an open heart that is capable of loving. And let's ask this grace of the Holy Spirit. And may He free us always from the other path, the path of selfishness, which eventually ends badly. Let us ask for this grace.”
–Pope Francis
Homily at Morning Mass
Chapel of the Holy Spirit
Vatican City
14 May 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Evangelical Counsels

To the participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Pope Francis spoke on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 about the Evangelical Counsels.

He insisted that each of the communities must learn to engage in this “exodus” primarily through the evangelical counsels which are the foundation of their existence. Usually the evangelical counsels are listed with obedience last. On this occasion, the Pope put obedience first:
“Obedience as listening to the will of God in the interior motion of the Holy Spirit, authenticated by the Church, accepting that obedience passes also through human mediations. Remember that the authority-obedience relation is placed in the wider context of the mystery of the Church and constitutes a particular accomplishment of her mediating function.”

“Poverty as an indication to the whole Church that we are not the ones who build the Kingdom of God; it is not human means that make it grow, but primarily the power, the grace of the Lord, who works through our weakness…. Poverty that teaches…to be on guard against material idols that obfuscate the authentic meaning of life…. Theoretical poverty is of no use to us.”

“And then chastity as a precious charism, which widens the freedom of the gift to God and to others, with the tenderness, the mercy, the closeness of Christ…. But, please, a ‘fecund’ chastity, a chastity that generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated woman is mother, she must be a mother and not a ‘spinster’!... Be mothers, as the figure of Mother Mary and of the Mother Church. Mary cannot be understood without her maternity; the Church cannot be understood without her maternity; and you are icons of Mary and the Church.”

Monday, May 13, 2013

What is Love?

Take three minutes out of your day and be moved beyond words.

This beautiful video looks at two people who are living the answer to that question—”What is love?”— every moment of their lives.

God bless ‘em.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

From the Catholic Star Herald in Camden:
Pure Jerzy Kidz, a choir that includes children from five South Jersey schools, was formed to sing “Mom,” a song with lyrics by Father Edward Namiotka, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Somers Point. It is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and other digital music stores. It is also available as a CD single, and a music video recently premiered on YouTube. Father Edward Namiotka, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Somers Point, wrote the lyrics to “Mom” last year, when visiting his mother during one of his monthly visits to her Jersey shore residence. His sister, Cathy, was visiting as well, with her youngest son, and inspiration struck. Cathy’s son was “cranky after just getting up from a nap and I watched as Cathy held him, tried to cheer him up and simply gave him her time and attention,” he wrote on his blog, “The moment was priceless as I looked at the young mom (my sister Cathy) take care of her 2-year-old and the slightly older mom spend her time with her 52-year-old son.” Driving back to the rectory, Father Namiotka wanted to capture this experience, and his thoughts also drifted to the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, with the Mother of God holding the Divine Child in her arms. Soon, a melody and lyrics came to mind. Father Namiotka recruited Julie Linn, a friend and music/choir director and vocalist from his former parish, and Scott Armato, who provided the piano accompaniment and harmonies, and children from five different schools in South Jersey, Edgarton Christian Academy, Newfield; Cleary Elementary, Buena; Main Road, Franklinville; St. Joseph Regional School, Somers Point; and Joy D. Miller School, Egg Harbor Township . The combined choir, Pure Jerzy Kidz, recorded his tune at CAS studios in Vineland. 
Watch the video below. Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

To adore and to serve

To the participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Pope Francis spoke the following on Wednesday, May 8, 2013:

In the Last Supper, Jesus addressed these words to the Apostles: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16), which reminds all, not just us priests, that a vocation is always an initiative of God. It is Christ who has called you to follow him in the consecrated life and this means to continually engage in an “exodus” from yourselves to center your existence on Christ and on his Gospel, on the will of God, divesting yourselves of your plans, to be able to say with Saint Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). This “exodus” from oneself is to put oneself on a path of adoration and service. An exodus that leads us to a path of adoration of the Lord and of service to Him in our brothers and sisters. To adore and to serve: two attitudes that cannot be separated, but which must always go together. To adore the Lord and to serve others, not holding anything for oneself: this is the “divestment” of one who exercises authority. Live and recall always the centrality of Christ, the evangelical identity of consecrated life. Help your communities to live the “exodus” from themselves on a path of adoration and service, first of all, through the three foundations of your existence.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Experiencing the Ascension

By Amanda Grassi

Last week at bible study, we had Lectio Divina and discussed this Thursday’s gospel (the Feast of the Ascension: Luke 24:46-53). As I was listening, verses 51 through 53 struck a chord with me. “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy…” Let me try to walk you through my thought process with these verses. The first time I heard it, I was thinking, “man, that would be so sweet to have Jesus bless me! I wish I had been there!” I think that standing in front of Jesus fully man and fully God and then, on top of simply being in his presence, receiving his blessing, I would be left speechless. Then all of a sudden the huge gift of the priestly blessing that we receive at Mass clicked with me. If that wasn’t enough, then I was struck by the thought of the blessing that we are honored with by Jesus himself at Benediction. Its really kind of mind-blowing when you think about it.

The second and third time we went through the readings, a much different thought took hold of me. I was picturing myself there, among the apostles who were “seeing Jesus off” and I asked myself, “how would I react in that moment?” The gospel tells us that the apostles were filled with joy; I imagine I would feel something a little different though—I would feel sadness, I would be upset that Jesus was leaving. I pictured myself with the same feelings that a little girl has who is upset as her parents get ready to leave her with a babysitter for the evening. I could just hear myself crying, “But, Jesus, I don’t want you to go. Can’t you just stay here?”

Oddly enough, I think this was a kind of break-through for me. Other times, when I’ve read scripture and found the disciples react in the “wrong” way, for example, when Peter protests to Jesus’ having to be crucified, I would think, “Peter, don’t be dumb, he’s gotta do it.” Of course, hind-sight is 20/20. It was really beautiful though, because all of a sudden, I found myself having that same “wrong” reaction, but then realized that its not wrong at all—its personal, its authentic, its me. Pretending that I would have felt something different wouldn’t have been real. When I’m real with God, then he can meet me where I am. I could picture Jesus putting his cloud into neutral and hanging back to smile down at me and say what he had told the disciples before, “Amanda, you know that I love you, ‘[b]ut I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you’“ (John 16:7).

His response, full of grace and love, showed me that my reaction wasn’t “wrong,” but was actually a necessary step in revealing an area that I need to grow in. I need to trust more. I need to believe that the Father loves me and therefore that he wouldn’t do anything without my best interest at heart. I have to believe that God sometimes does things that I don’t understand and that may fill my heart with grief (see John 16:6), but it is not because he has forsaken me, but because he loves me.

The disciples had that faith that I want, but they had to learn it. Throughout their time with Jesus, they feared, doubted, and were grieved many times, but they grew to trust as they came to know him in a deeper way and repeatedly saw him fulfill all that he promised. By the time of Jesus’ ascension, they were free to rejoice in his going away because they knew he would do all that he said: he would send the advocate and he would come back. If I know Jesus, then I can trust him. And if I trust his word, I’ll be able to endure even in the midst of sorrow or confusion because I know it will one day be turned to joy. Lord, please grant all of us the grace to know and to trust you! Amen.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


To understand the Ascension event, our task is two-fold. First, we must realize that the Ascension represents an attempt to do the impossible - use the language of space and time to describe a reality that intentionally transcends both. As a literary tradition, the Ascension "worked" to explain Christ's departure from the physical world no better for first-century Christians than it does for 21st century, scientifically sophisticated Christians.

Thus the second task for us is to discern what message the Ascension communicates beyond space and time. By lifting Jesus out of first century Judea, the risen Christ of faith becomes personally knowable to every new generation of believers in every place on this earth. The Ascension makes every person a contemporary of Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit there are no second-hand disciples. An old saying puts it best when it asserts that "God wants no grandchildren, only children."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Papal reflections

A Christian who constantly complains, fails to be a good Christian: they become whiners. Christians should endure their difficulties in silence, in patience to bear witness to the joy of Christ. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily Tuesday morning, during Mass with staff from the Fabric of St. Peter.

Commenting on the first reading of the day, Acts chapter 16, Pope Francis said even in troubling times, Christians are full of joy and never sad, like Paul and Silas who were persecuted and imprisoned for witnessing to the Gospel. They were joyful, he said, because they followed Jesus in on the path of his passion. A path the Lord travelled with patience:
“Being patient: that is the path that Jesus also teaches us Christians. Being patient … This does not mean being sad. No, no, it’s another thing! This means bearing, carrying the weight of difficulties, the weight of contradictions, the weight of tribulations on our shoulders. This Christian attitude of bearing up: of being patient. That which is described in the Bible by a Greek word, that is so complete, Hypomoné, in life bearing ever day tasks; contradictions; tribulations, all of this. These – Paul and Silas – bear their tribulations, endure the humiliation: Jesus bore them, he was patience. This is a process – allow me this word ‘process’ – a process of Christian maturity, through the path of patience. A process that takes some time, that you cannot undergo from one day to another: it evolves over a lifetime arriving at Christian maturity. It is like a good wine. ”
The Pope recalled that so many martyrs were joyful, such as the martyrs of Nagasaki who helped each other, as they “waited for the moment of death.” Pope Francis recalled it was of some martyrs that “they went to martyrdom” as if they were going to a “wedding party”. This attitude of endurance, he added, is a Christian’s normal attitude, but it is not a masochistic attitude. It is an attitude that leads them “along the path of Jesus”:
“When the difficulties arrive, so do temptations. For example, the complaint: ‘Look what I have to deal with … a complaint. And a Christian who constantly complains, fails to be a good Christian: they become Mr. or Mrs. Whiner, no? Because they always complain about everything, right? Silence in endurance, silence in patience. That silence of Jesus: Jesus in His Passion did not speak much, only two or three necessary words … But it is not a sad silence: the silence of bearing the Cross is not a sad silence. It is painful, often very painful, but it is not sad. The heart is at peace. Paul and Silas were praying in peace. They were in pain, because then it is said that the jailer washed their wounds while they were in prison – they had wounds – but endured in peace. This journey of endurance helps us deepen Christian peace, it makes us stronger in Jesus. ”
Thus, concluded Pope Francis, a Christian is called to endure their troubles just like Jesus, “without complaint, endure in peace.” This patience, “renews our youth and makes us younger”.

“The patient is the one that, in the long run, is younger! Just think of those elderly people in the hospices, those who have endured so much in life: Look at their eyes, young eyes, they have a youthful spirit and a renewed youth. And the Lord invites us to this: to be rejuvenated Easter people on a journey of love, patience, enduring our tribulations and also – I would say – putting up with one another. We must also do this with charity and love, because if I have to put up with you, I’m sure you will put up with me and in this way we will move forward on our journey on the path of Jesus. Let us ask the Lord for the grace of Christian endurance that gives us peace, this bearing things with a good heart, this joyful bearing to become younger and younger, like good wine: younger with this renewed Easter youth of the spirit. So be it. “

Monday, May 6, 2013

Marianist Monday - College-Age Men Retreat


MAY 21-23, 2013

For more information contact:

Bro. Michael:
Bro. Stephen:

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Time to open the Scriptures and begin to prepare to hear the Word to be proclaimed this Sixth Sunday of Easter.

The first reading this weekend tackles the issue of whether or not Gentile converts to Christianity needed first to become Jews.

The second reading offers another awesome vision from Revelation. The temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed - John offers here an image of a new Jerusalem descending from heaven - for John that's the Church of Christ, standing on the foundation of the 12 apostles. And what glorious imagery for the Lamb of God!

Today's Gospel takes us back to Jesus' farewell discourse at the Last Supper in which the Lord promises to send an Advocate, the Spirit, and to leave with his friends the gift of his peace - a peace beyond any the world might offer.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Sunday Word 2

Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of St. John invites us to think about something else that shouldn’t be stuck on: love for Jesus and for one another. In our reading from John’s Gospel, Jesus tells his followers that those who love him will keep his word — follow him faithfully. That means we need not make a fake commitment but a real one.

In calling us to follow him, Jesus wasn’t necessarily calling for feelings but rather for actions. Jesus talks about “keeping” — keeping his commandments, keeping his word, keeping his words . “Keeping” is a verb, an action word.

In this context, Jesus’ commandments, Jesus’ word and Jesus’ words are all synonyms that refer to the totality of what Jesus says and reveals about God and about himself. If we love Jesus, we aren’t necessarily feeling an ocean of emotion, but we’re working to apply his example and his teachings about God to all our daily lives. As one commentary puts it, “To love Jesus is to keep his commandments. To keep his commandments is to love Jesus.”

It is significant that Jesus’ statement about keeping his words has a future tense cast to it. It isn’t stated as an order — “If you love me, keep my words” — but — “If you love me, you will keep my words.” That distinction is important, for it means that applying Jesus’ teachings will flow naturally out of our commitment for him. It is much like saying if you love your spouse, you’ll think of good ways to show it. It will happen naturally.

The actions we take in Jesus’ name flow out of our inner nature. Not our unredeemed inner nature, not the nature we were born with, but the nature we were reborn with. In other words, the action flows out of our commitment to keep Jesus’ words.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rest in Peace

The Marianists of the Province of Meribah recommend to your prayers MR. JAMES CONWAY, the father of Brother James Conway, S.M..

Mr. Conway died on May 2, 2013, in Mineola, N.Y.
May he rest in Peace!

De Profundis
Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let Your ears be attentive to my voice in supplication.
If You, O Lord, mark iniquities, Lord, who would survive?
But with You is forgiveness, that You may be revered.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in His word.
My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the dawn.
More than watchmen wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord,
For with the Lord is kindness and with Him is plenteous redemption;
And He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Sunday Word 1

This Sunday's reading is so helpful. It gives us an expanded picture of heaven that is wonderfully earthy. It's tangible. Concrete. We can wrap our minds around it. It's not a vision of angels and harps -- it's what we see when we walk out the doors of our homes. It's a city!

John has a vision of the arrival of the New Heavens. Like the long-awaited bride who enters the aisle in first view of her husband-to-be, the New Jerusalem emerges from the sky in beauty and splendor. This breathtaking city would make New York, London and Shanghai blush:

- 1,500 miles long, wide and tall,

- great perimeter walls made of jasper,

- foundations encrusted with countless precious jewels,

- the city itself and its streets made of pure gold.

Despite how literally or symbolically you read Revelation, we can all agree that this city is intended to blow away any concept of structure we could ever imagine.

But the wonder of this city isn't in what it's made of -- it's what it represents. God could have created anything as eternity -- God is God! But in choosing this New City as our eternity in the New Heavens, God sent some clear messages about life then and now.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Marianist Brother killed in Haiti

Marianist brother killed in Haiti had a true missionary heart
Archbishop Emeritus Raymond Roussin, SM, Brother Bill Bolts and Brother Richard Joyal. 
Isabella R. Moyer | Apr. 29, 2013  NCR Today

There are two sides to hospitality. The one we are most familiar with is our call to open wide our arms and doors to others, to welcome both friends and strangers. The other side is to freely receive hospitality, to allow ourselves to be welcomed by another. Sometimes, this latter form of hospitality is the more difficult.

When we give hospitality, we are on our own turf. When we receive hospitality, we are called to embrace new surroundings, new people and new ways of doing things. It is an ungracious guest who complains that "this is not how we do it at home," constantly craving and whining for the comforts of the well-known while unwilling to try the new.

A person with a true missionary heart knows this. We can no longer cling to the old colonial mentality of "saving" our sisters and brothers by forming them into persons and cultures in our own image. If we travel to other countries, we do so as guests. We must have willing minds and hearts to embrace the new and unknown. We must allow ourselves to be formed by another culture. And we must have a deep love and respect for the people and country that have welcomed us.

Marianist Brother Richard Joyal had such a heart. In 1983, he left his community in Winnipeg, Canada, and went to work in the newly founded Society of Mary foundation in India. He relished his work in India, which included projects with street children and novice formation. In the midst of the poverty, he saw the beauty in simplicity. He shared with us his newfound passion for growing orchids, transforming our own Western images of India as a land of slums to a land with incredible natural beauty.

In 2004, he moved to the Philippines to begin a new Marianist mission. Again, he fell in love with the people, the land and the culture. He recently returned to Canada and was living with the Marianist community in Québec. He became the director of Le Centre Marianiste d'Éducation de la Foi, injecting the same enthusiasm and passion into this work.

A few months ago, he agreed to travel to Haiti to assist with the closure of the Society of Mary mission in that troubled land. Where others saw only poverty and despair, he spoke enthusiastically of the deep faith and liturgical celebrations of her people. In an Easter message to a friend, he wrote, "I knew all along that Jesus was Indian. I also discovered that he was also Filipino. Now, I am discovering that he's Haitian. "

On Thursday, Brother Richard was killed on the streets of Port-au-Prince just days before he was to travel back home to Québec.

Sr. Laura Leming, a Marianist sister in Dayton, shared this simple comment on Facebook: "Rest in peace Richard, and leave us a portion of your missionary spirit!"