Friday, August 30, 2013

Restless Hearts

St. Augustine said people's hearts are restless until they rest in God, but too many people, Pope Francis said, have allowed their hearts to be "anesthetized" and no longer search for God and for love.

Celebrating the saint's feast day Wednesday with members of the Order of St. Augustine, Pope Francis prayed they would always be restless in their search for God, their desire to share the Gospel and their drive to demonstrate their love for everyone they meet.

Although the Vatican described the liturgy as a "private" Mass with members of the Augustinian fathers' general chapter, hundreds of people gathered outside Rome's Basilica of St. Augustine to get a glimpse of the pope and shake his hand. The pope obliged before entering the church.

Ninety members of the order, founded in 1244, were gathered in the basilica to open their order's general chapter and elect a successor to U.S. Fr. Robert Prevost, who has completed two six-year terms and is ineligible to serve again.

In his homily, Pope Francis said St. Augustine's use of the term "restlessness" was striking and led him to think about three basic areas in which every Christian should be restless: in the spiritual life, in the search for God and in love for others.

Augustine lived a life like that of many young people today, the pope said.

"He was educated by his mother Monica in the Christian faith, although he was not baptized, but as he grew he moved away from it. He didn't find in it the answer to his questions, to the desires of his heart and he became attracted to other things."

He studied, he had fun, "he knew intense love" and began a brilliant career as a teacher of rhetoric, the pope said. "He had arrived in every way."

"But in his heart, there remained the restlessness of the search for the profound meaning of life," Pope Francis said. "His heart was not asleep, it was not anesthetized by success, by things, by power."

Augustine continued to seek God, the pope said, and "he discovered that God was waiting for him and, in fact, never stopped looking for him first."

Pope Francis said Christians must "look into your hearts and ask yourself if you have a heart that wants great things or a heart that is asleep. Has your heart maintained that restlessness or has it been suffocated by things?"

Every Christian, he said, must "let yourself be restless for God" and, like St. Augustine, never tire of sharing the good news of God's love and promise of salvation with others who are as lost as he was.

The pope, who as a cardinal would visit the basilica during trips to Rome to pray at the tomb of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine, said St. Augustine must have learned to love God and others from his mother.

"How many tears that holy woman shed for the conversion of her son. And how many mothers today shed tears that their children would return to Christ," Pope Francis said. "Don't lose hope in the grace of God."

Like St. Monica, he said, Christians are called to love others to the point of shedding tears for their well-being and salvation.

Too often in religious life, the Jesuit pope said, "community means comfort," and just as some people don't know their next-door neighbors, some religious don't know their confreres.

"The restlessness of love always pushes you forward to go out and encounter the other without waiting for the other to tell us what he needs," the pope said.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pass to Pope Francis



Philip Rivers is the quarterback for the San Diego Chargers. But you probably knew that. He’s also Catholic. You might have known about that. (It’s not a secret.) What you probably didn’t know about, unless you read the L.A. Times, is this charming little episode involving Pope Francis and the youngest of Rivers’ six kids.

The Times has the story:

SAN DIEGO — The most meaningful pass of Philip Rivers’ life wound up in the arms of the pope.

It happened in May, when the San Diego Chargers quarterback and his extended family visited the Vatican and were in a crowd of thousands for a Wednesday papal audience. Rivers, a devout Catholic, had a prime spot in the crowd and was holding the youngest of his six children, Pete, who will turn 2 in October.”

I was about 10 yards away, and the crowd kind of opened up,” Rivers said. “Pope Francis just kind of motioned like, ‘Bring him to me.’ Pete was like, ‘No! What are you doing?!” But we passed him to the pope. It was awesome. The pope kissed him, blessed him. We got great pictures of it.”

Not the most consequential story, I know. But given the alternatives in the news these days, I’ll take it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

St. Augustine

The fourth-century church father St. Augustine gives us one flavor of God's power when he tells of the  brutality of God’s call. Augustine says that God attacked him through his senses:

You called and shouted and burst my deafness. You flashed, shone, scattered my blindness. You breathed odors, and I drew in breath and panted for you. I tasted, and hungered and thirsted. You touched me and I burned for your peace.

For another flavor, consider how one 21st-century man describes his call into the ministry. He had been feeling the quiet tug of God for quite some time, but he wasn’t interested. Then, he says, “God started to shout at me.” It seemed that he could hardly get through a day without something in his usual routine suddenly taking on new confrontational meaning — and what had been a gentle “Please respond” became a provocative “Well, what are you going to do about this?” The man says that when he finally yielded, he was blessed with great peace and joy.

We might say that differently. Some might even discuss this in terms of perspective. When we encounter God, we undergo a perspective change, an attitude adjustment. We could’ve said, “Well, I got whupped.” Or one could say, "I've changed and got a new name.”

But God is in the business of perspective change. We encounter God and we’re a different person, with a different name. We might have asked for this, but we got that. We might not have gained what we wanted, but we got what God wanted for us.

We might be sore losers in all of this. No struggle is pleasant. Our pride may be wounded, our bodies may be tired, our minds may be abuzz with new possibilities.

But we are bearers of a new name — “one who strives with God.”

Tuesday Tunes - The Same Love

“If you do something long enough you uncover life lessons along the way,” Paul Baloche says. “You aspire to be faithful to God’s calling in your life, pressing through even when you fall short. And when you hit a certain age, as you grow in your faith, you recognise the potential and the burden of being a leader, realising ‘I’ve got to step up and be more intentional toward the people God has put in my life.’ And your prayer becomes,‘Lord, give me grace to finish well.’”

After 25 years of marriage, 23 years leading worship at Community Christian Fellowship in Lindale, Texas, 12 albums recorded with the same label, and hundreds of teaching resources provided free for church leaders (via his web site, one might think Paul Baloche had already qualified for a great finish. But for this modern hymn writer, mentor and teacher who once aspired to be a priest, ministry is not a sprint, but a marathon, a long series of obedient steps in the same direction. A path where every aspect of life is forged in fires of passion for Jesus and His Church,and the result is almost always an honest prayer for the Church to sing.

The Same Love mirrors Paul’s love for the Church and gives new expression to the complete faithfulness and overwhelming mercy of a gracious God. The same love that set the captives free. The same love that opened eyes to see Is calling us all by name.

“One of the reasons I love the process to this day is that it’s a bit of a frontier, a mystery,” Paul says of the creative process behind The Same Love. “You can’t put your finger on it. Nobody can.

Paul says. “I can’t deny that I’ve witnessed His goodness and faithfulness over and over again. God is alive. The same God who created the world calls us by name.” The same God that spread the heavens wide

Monday, August 26, 2013

Marianist Monday

What is a Brother in the Marianist tradition?

1. The Brother is one who lives a life of total self-gift to God; nothing is ours and everything is meant to be given away, even our lives.

2. The Brother lives fraternal life in community with his fellow Brothers. Our Community becomes a visible manifestation of charity in the Church. Our Community is the source of our strength. Blessed Chaminade has told us that in living life as Brothers, the interior is the essential.

This means we are dedicated not only to personal prayer, mediation and the rosary but also the common prayer of the Church where we gather to pray three times each day in our Chapels, in addition to celebrating the Eucharist and in being present to the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration.

Sometimes people ask...Why are the schools so successful and different than other schools?...the answer lies not in administrative skills or academic degrees nor in teaching experience but in the prayer life and fraternity that flows from the Marianist Community.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Beer-brewing monks

From CNS: 

Even before retired Pope Benedict XVI set up a pontifical council for new evangelization and convoked a world Synod of Bishops on the theme, a new group of Benedictine monks was using Latin and liturgy to reach out to those whose faith was weak or nonexistent. Now they’ve added beer to the blend, and people are flocking to the monastery in Norcia, the birthplace of St. Benedict, about 70 miles northeast of Rome in the Umbrian countryside. But for the 18 members of St. Benedict’s monastery, life is still about prayer. “If the prayer doesn’t come first, the beer is going to suffer,” said Father Benedict Nivakoff, director of the Birra Nursia brewery and subprior of the monastery. The monks in Norcia initially were known for their liturgical ministry, particularly sharing their chanted prayers in Latin online– — with people around the world. But following the Rule of St. Benedict means both prayer and manual labor, with a strong emphasis on the monks earning their own keep. After just a year of brewing and selling their beer in the monastery gift shop and through restaurants in Norcia, financial self-sufficiency seems within reach, and the monks are talking expansion.

Check out the video below.  Cheers!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do we hear an "AMEN."

There's a new reality series about to debut on cable. Here's a write-up and the new trailer...

NEW YORK, NY – August 14, 2013 - Oxygen Media goes behind the pulpit in an authentic new docu-series, "Preachers of L.A." premiering on Wednesday, October 9 at 10 PM ET/PT. From Lemuel Plummer, the executive producer of “Vindicated” and producer of “The Sheards,” and Holly Carter, executive producer of “106 & Gospel” and executive producer of “The Sheards,” comes a series that gives viewers a candid and revealing look at six boldly different, world-renowned mega-pastors in Southern California— Bishop Noel Jones, Minister Deitrick Haddon, Bishop Clarence McClendon, Pastor Jay Haizlip, Pastor Wayne Chaney and Bishop Ron Gibson.

These men of God will share diverse aspects of their dynamic lives, from their work in the community and with their parishioners to the very large and captivating lives they lead away from the pulpit. While “Preachers of L.A.” documents these pastors’ lifestyles, the series also focuses on the daily struggles and triumphs they face as men, husbands, fathers, brothers and friends. Viewers will also get to know the strong women who stand behind these church leaders, and often work just as hard to balance their lives in the spotlight with their commitment to family. “As pastors’ kids ourselves who have spent most of our lives in and around the faith community, we recognize and appreciate the unique role that pastors play in the lives of their congregations, as well as the pressures that are regularly placed on them and their families,” said executive producers Lemuel Plummer and Holly Carter. “We think the fascinating personal stories of these powerful, dynamic and very public men of God are truly compelling and deserve to be told, and are very pleased to be working with Oxygen to do so.”

Oxygen and the “Preachers of L.A.,” in conjunction with 360i, the network’s social agency of record, are bringing church to Twitter on Tuesday, September 3. The preachers will deliver a digital sermon, sharing anecdotes, quotables, advice, and scripture with fans of the show. The Twitter Sermon will focus on the preachers’ religious and personal lives. Fans can follow @PreachersofLA for more info on the Twitter Sermon. Beginning on Tuesday, September 10, fans of the series can access exclusive content available on Video On Demand including bonus footage and interviews with the cast. Viewers can watch the premiere episode in advance starting on Wednesday, October 2 across multiple platforms including, Mobile, Hulu and VOD, where fans will also be able to catch up on new episodes the day after they premiere.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Sunday Word

The coming weekend brings us to the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The Gospel of the day, from Luke, has Jesus answering the question, "Lord, will only a few people be saved?" Jesus offers several responses including the image of the "narrow gate" and a parable about the master of the house who responds to those knocking on his door, seeking entrance. Finally, the Lord speaks of all those who will come to enter the kingdom and those who will be cast out because "some who are last will be first and some who are first will be last."

This Gospel text prompts all of us to ask a few questions:

"Will we make it through the narrow gate?

Will the Master of the house hear us when we come a-knockin'?

Will we be among the first or among the last?"

The first reading, from Isaiah sets us up for the Gospel with an image of those who will come from distant coastlands to know and enjoy the glory of the Lord.

Between these two texts is a passage from the Letter to the Hebrews regarding the "discipline" endured by those who are truly children of the Father. This somber reading ends on a high note, promising those who are weak (many of us!) a path to healing and strength.

These scriptures include hard sayings for a summer's day (above the equator) and are deserving of our serious attention. Take a look now lest the Lord's word take you by surprise this weekend.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Marianist Monday

What does it mean for a Marianist Brother to be on fire with Christ?

Our life is unassuming and is one of witness, less by words and more by actions. A life of being in relationship with each other and young people for the sake of the Gospel. Those who know us well can identify who we are even when we are not wearing our suits or vestments.

For we(as well as all Marianists throughout the world) wear the gold ring not on our left hand as men do in marriage, but on the right hand as a threefold sign representing:

1. our total self gift to God.

2. our alliance to each Brother in Community.

3. and our pledge to be Sons of Mary like Jesus for the salvation of the world.

In a way, a single Marianist is like a small burning coal, but when we join together as a Community for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, for the honor of Mary and to follow Christ more closely in His saving mission, we set the world on fire and encourage others to be on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marianist Jubilarians Celebrate

The Province of Meribah celebrated yesterday the anniversary of two Brothers who celebrated 50 years of religious consecration in the Society of Mary. Brother Donald and Father Garrett consecrated themselves in the Society of Mary with poverty, chastity, obedience and stability 50 years ago.

The Sunday Word

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!

It's time to look at the Scriptures for this weekend, the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In the first reading we find the prophet Jeremiah sinking in the depths of a muddy cistern: his punishment for having faithfully and effectively preached the message God entrusted to him.

In similar manner, Jesus speaks in Luke's Gospel of how his word will bring division everywhere, down to the members of individual households and families.

Preacher and people alike will find these heavy texts to work with and absorb in the dog days of August!

Some respite comes in the second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews encouraging us to let go those burdens that weigh us down in running the race that lies before us. It invites us to consider how Jesus carried the burden of our sins, enduring the Cross - something not yet asked of any of us.

These Scriptures are probably not among those most familiar to us and so they deserve a reading and a pondering ahead of time. Be prepared to hear the Word proclaimed and to be nourished by it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Faith of a Rio Pilgrim

World Youth Day pilgrim Mark Campmier talks a
walking tour during a break in Sao Paulo.
The Province of Meribah travelled to World Youth Day Rio 2013 with 120 pilgrims. While stories have been told, pictures have been shared and great graces received we can never stop doing what Pope Francis has asked us to do. In the theme of World Youth Day the Holy Father asked each of us to "Go and make disciples." He asked us to join in the Church's New Evangelization when we return home.

And that new evangelization is about living our faith at home. It’s harder to grow in faith for us than for those hearing the Gospel for the first time. So in our homes, our schools, our workplaces it is the best place to spread the Gospel.

One of our pilgrims shared his World Youth Day experience with his pastor and his parishioners in a short video which is a marvelous example of what our Holy Father has asked us to do when we return home. Take a look at the link below today and enjoy the faith of a Meribah pilgrim.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus last year with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo at noon on the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In remarks ahead of the Angelus, the Holy Father explained that Mary's assumption, body and soul, into heaven at the end of the course of her earthly life -- though only dogmatically defined in 1950 by Pope Pius XII -- is something that Christians throughout the world have always believed, confessed and celebrated. The Pope called on all the faithful to ask Mary be the star that guides us on our way to meet her Divine Son.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Feast of Marianist Martyr Jakob Gapp, S.M.

Marianist Martyr Jakob Gapp, S.M.
On Nov. 9, 1942, Jakob Gapp crossed into southern France from Spain in a car with two friends who a few months earlier had asked him, a Marianist priest from Austria, to instruct them in the Catholic faith. In a complex covert operation, he was arrested by the pro-Nazi Vichy government in France, interrogated briefly, and transferred to a prison in Berlin.

The Gestapo decided not to send him to Dachau, their camp of choice for arrested priests. He was a dangerous prisoner who needed “special protective custody.” Later, a People’s Court trial that lasted less than two hours sentenced him to death commenting: “He will forever be without honor.”

The evening of Aug. 13, 1943, 13 years to the day that Gapp had joined the Marianists, he wrote a letter to his superior, concluding, “today I hope to begin the life of eternal happiness.” Then, he went calmly to the execution shed of the Plötzensee prison and was beheaded, earning, not Nazi honor, but eternal honor.

The whole operation was eloquent testimony to the relentless surveillance and pursuit of troublesome Catholics by the Nazi regime. Father Gapp had reluctantly gone into exile. After an anti-Nazi sermon in his parish church at Wattens, Austria, he had managed to escape to the Church of La Madeleine, in Bordeaux, where William Joseph Chaminade had founded the Marianist Order in the early 19th century. Even there his activities were monitored. Before long, his order re-assigned him to Spain, where the Germans could reach him.

Ironically, the Nazis used a Jewish ploy to apprehend Gapp. The two “friends” with whom he traveled were, in fact, Nazi agents pretending to be German Jews. In the official minutes of his interrogation, Gapp admitted that after the 1938 Nazi annexation (Anschluss) of Austria he got into trouble for his public statements opposing government encouragement of hatred and murder of Czechs and Jews as contrary to the “Christian-Catholic position.”

One of Gapp’s students remembered him as teaching that, even more broadly, the law of Christ demanded that “one must selflessly assist anyone, even one’s ideological opponent, if he is in existential trouble or difficulty.” Father Gapp practiced what he preached. In addition to standing up for despised groups, he deprived himself of necessities like fuel for heating in winter in order to help the poor. Gapp knew that people who approached him for moral advice or formal instruction might be Nazi agents, but decided early on that his status as a priest demanded he tell the truth whatever the consequences. He was beatified in 1995.

Most people today associate the rise of Nazi Germany with the Jewish Holocaust. A few celebrated Protestant figures such as Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are credited with authentic Christian witness against the Nazis to the point of martyrdom. But this standard account overlooks the many Protestants and Catholics martyred for expressing Christian views that challenged the Third Reich.

Among German Catholic priests alone, the record is quite remarkable. In 1932, just prior to the Nazi rise to power, there were about 21,000 Catholic priests in Germany. Of these, more than a third (over 8,000) clashed with the Reich and several hundred have been documented as having perished at Nazi hands. No doubt others, who will forever remain unknown, were martyred as well.

We know, however, that Nazi camps contained at one point or another, 2,670 priests from Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and other countries. Of these, almost 600 died in the camps, another 325 died during so-called “transport of invalids” to other sites, a euphemism for secret execution. Two bishops — Michael Kozal of Poland (brutally tortured after being arrested merely as a potential anti-Nazi leader and since been beatified) and Gabriel Piguet of Clermont-Ferrand in France — also perished in Dachau.

The Nazis gave various reasons for imprisoning these clergymen: stirring up the masses, spying, aiding prisoners, suspicion of treason, behavior unfriendly to Germany, support of Jews, insulting the Fuhrer or National Socialism, or sometimes no reason at all. One was sentenced for telling schoolchildren: “Love your enemies.” Twelve were rounded up after reading the “Lion of Münster,” Bishop Clemens August von Galen’s condemnation of euthanasia, from the pulpit. Father Otto Neururer arrived in Dachau “for hindering an Aryan marriage” and died at Buchenwald for agreeing to instruct a fellow prisoner (really a spy) in the faith. According to some fellow prisoners, he had been crucified upside down for thirty-six hours.

Father Karl Lampert, the pro-vicar of Innsbruck, was picked up and shipped to Dachau for the mere fact of announcing Neururer’s death. The president of the court that heard his case shot himself in the head rather than be an accomplice in the trial. Put into isolation, Lampert was interrogated brutally. After that, he was never heard from again.

Many similar stories exist. Only deeper historical research in several nations may some day give us a sense of the true enormity of the crimes committed by the Nazis against Catholics.
Robert Royal

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marianist Monday

Marianist spirituality celebrates the relationship between Jesus and his mother, Mary. Mary’s acceptance of God’s call to become the Mother of God is the foundational moment of Christianity. Through Mary’s “yes,” the Word became human and dwells among us. Mary’s “yes” made this possible!

Mary stands with Jesus through his life and ministry. She is mother (Luke 2:17); woman of courageous faith (John 2:1-11; 19:25-28); disciple of the Lord (Luke 11:27-28); prophetess of radical freedom (Luke 1:46-56).

This woman of radical obedience and freedom calls Marianists to be a people of hospitality who gratefully share their faith and their community. It is through our participation in her mission that we educate youth, serve the poor, and promote peace, social justice, and the integrity of creation in our communities and institutions. All members of the Marianist Family listen with their hearts to Mary’s words at Cana: Do whatever He tells you.

Our founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, believed Christian communities needed to bring the story of Jesus and the Good News to life through their daily activities and ministries. Mary, the Mother of God, was the model for his renewed faith formation. In Mary, he saw Christian discipleship, simplicity and hospitality. Father Chaminade thought an “alliance with Mary” would transform the Church.

Marianists strive to be like Mary—and those Marianists who are professed religious take the vow of stability, which grounds their special devotion to Mary and their desire to make her mission, to bring Christ to the world, ever more known.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Sunday Word

Today's parable tells of servants (us) waiting for their master (Christ) to return from a wedding banquet. Because “the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour,” the servants are supposed to be prepared for his arrival at all times.

What does this kind of readiness look like in other areas of our life?

There are two types of people: those who keep a less-than-tidy home and clean just before guests come over, and those who generally keep the home clean all the time. The first group does a lot of picking up at the last minute or gets caught with a messy house when unexpected visitors drop in. The second group does a little bit of tidying all the time to maintain a neat home that’s always inviting to visitors.

Are we doing Christianity at certain times, or are we being Christians always? What makes us believe that?

Do we have areas of needed growth that we’ve been putting off?

What does our lifestyle more clearly tell others: “This is all there is” or “I’m living for something more”?

Like the servants, are we eager for Christ’s return? If not, why? Does that point to anything we’re cherishing more than the life of Christ?

So to reduce this practical eschatology to a Twitter feed, here’s what we have: Jesus is coming; this life is not all there is; don’t be afraid; adopt the perspective of eternity; get ready for action. (100 characters)

Pretty much says it all.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Trappist Monk's Life To Feature In Upcoming Film

Orange County Register | By Cathleen FalsaniPosted: 08/09/2013 7:06 am EDT

Don’t sing love songs, you’ll wake my mother
She’s sleeping here right by my side
And in her right hand a silver dagger,
She says that I can’t be your bride.

— from “Silver Dagger” by Joan Baez

(RNS) It was their song — the young, winsome brunette and her silver-pated lover with the sparkly eyes.

“All the love and all the death in me are at the moment wound up in Joan Baez’s ‘Silver Dagger,’” the man wrote to his lady love in 1966. “I can’t get it out of my head, day or night. I am obsessed with it. My whole being is saturated with it. The song is myself — and yourself for me, in a way.”

It’s a chapter of the thoroughly modern mystic’s life that is no secret to his legions of fans, detractors, and scholars of his prolific work, including the best-selling autobiography, “The Seven-Storey Mountain.”

Now Merton’s complex love life is the subject of a forthcoming feature film, “The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton.”

Not long before his death in 1968 at the age of 53, the thoroughly modern mystic fell in love with a nursing student half his age. She is referred to, simply, as “M” in his memoir and letters collected in the volume “A Midsummer Diary for M,” published posthumously in 1997.

“I will never really understand on earth what relation this love has to my solitude,” Merton wrote to M in a letter dated June 21, 1966. “I cannot help placing it at the very heart of my aloneness, and not just on the periphery somewhere.”

The screenplay for “The Divine Comedy of Thomas Merton” was written by Ben Eisner and Kevin Miller, the filmmakers behind last year’s feature-length documentary “Hellbound?” The duo’s Merton film, while factually based, is not a documentary. Rather, it is an epic tale of spiritual, emotional and cultural transformation in the 1960s.

And, yes, it is a love story.

“I chose to build this film around Merton’s love affair in 1966 for every reason other than the fact that sex sells,” Eisner said.

“A lot of Merton fans are revolting against what I am doing because they want to hold on to him and sanitize him. Merton doesn’t fit into any mold, and that’s why I love the man.”

Merton was “a fully spiritual person and fully human person who openly shared his deepest fears and failures with anyone who cared to listen,” Eisner added.

“He tosses formulas out the window. We all want something spelled out for us to follow so we know we are safe, secure, and on the right path. But Merton doesn’t let us off the hook that easy.”

The middle-aged monk’s love for M was an “agonizing, and at other times liberating, crucible he has been forged in,” that “crystallized his vocational vision and cemented him more firmly in his message for the world. And oh how relevant that message is for us today amid the clamor of social media and the ‘me, me, me’ mentality we pretend doesn’t exist,” Eisner said.

Merton’s voice was unique in the way he lived in the awkward no man’s land between holiness and humanity. He was a man’s man, handsome and strapping, like a rugged Spencer Tracy with a tonsure and cassock. He had been around the block a few times, both before he moved behind Gethsemani’s cloistered walls and after. Which makes him more accessible and authentic than many other giants of the faith.

Merton was saintly and serious. He also was sexy and a little bit dangerous.

“He is so human, real and relatable to me,” Eisner said. “I am convinced that what he so eloquently and vulnerably wrote about is perhaps more relevant today than it was in his own day. … I just can’t wait to introduce this beautiful person to a whole new mass of people who have yet to be smitten by his wit and wisdom.”

The way Eisner and Miller have written the romance between Merton and his M isn’t tawdry or voyeuristic, and it leaves to the audience the (highly debated) question of whether their relationship was ever fully consummated. The details of what happened between the sheets are the least compelling part of their unlikely coupling.

“Dear, I have a terrible desire for fidelity to what has been far greater than either of us,” Merton wrote to M in the “Midsummer” collection. “And not a choice of fidelities to this or that, love or vows. But a fidelity beyond and above that to both of them in one, to God; to the Christ who is absolutely alone and not apart from us, but is the dreadful deep hole in the midst of us, waiting for no explanation.”

Eisner and Miller are in the midst of development and fundraising, with principal shooting set to begin next March and a (hopeful) 2015 release date to coincide with what would have been Merton’s 100th birthday.

Of course, the million-dollar question remains: Who will portray Merton on the big screen?

When I posed the question online via Twitter and Facebook, people responded with definite (and passionate) ideas including Patrick Stewart (probably a little too old), Sir Anthony Hopkins (ditto), Paul Giamatti (hmm…), Daniel Day-Lewis (too skinny), Campbell Scott (the eyes are close and he’s 52), and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I’d like to see Jeremy Sisto — whose middle name is Merton and whose jazz musician father knew Merton personally — cast in the lead role.

Sisto already has played Jesus in a film, and he’s got a glimmer in his eyes and brooding energy that’s reminiscent of Merton. But if Eisner has his way, he knows exactly who the lead roles will go to: “I wrote the script with Stanley Tucci and Zooey Deschanel in mind.”

Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Love God & all works for good

Marianist Brother Peter Heiskell greets Timothy Cardinal Dolan
at World Youth Day - Rio 2013

The Marianist of the Province of Meribah are on its annual retreat.

Pray for us as we Relax, Renew and Rekindle.

We will keep you in our daily intentions at the Community prayers and at Mass.

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

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
Founder of the Marianist Family

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Joyous and affable demeanor

Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Marianists at Copacabana beach during
World Youth Day - Rio 2013

The Marianist of the Province of Meribah are on its annual retreat.

Pray for us as we Relax, Renew and Rekindle.

We will keep you in our daily intentions at the Community prayers and at Mass.

“Teaching is only a means that we employ in the fulfillment of our mission which is to disseminate everywhere the spirit of faith and of religion and to multiply Christians.”

“No angry wrinkle should mar the brow, a joyous and affable demeanor attracts youth, but a cold and solemn one repels it.”

“A teacher can not succeed with a pupil whose esteem and friendship he/she has not gained.” 

(Blessed William Joseph Chaminade)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Spirit of Mary

The Marianist of the Province of Meribah are on its annual retreat.

Pray for us as we Relax, Renew and Rekindle.

We will keep you in our daily intentions at Community prayers and at Mass.

“The spirit of the Marianists is the spirit of Mary.”

“Those who are dedicated directly to teaching make a mistake, if they limit their efforts to instructing in the human disciplines, if they only worry about producing scholars or gaining fame. Do not forget that you are Mary’s missionaries. Do not reduce yourselves to running learning factories.”

 (Blessed William Joseph Chaminade)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


The Province of Meribah 
is on its annual retreat this week.

Pray for us as we gather together to Relax, Renew, Rekindle. 

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


Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Sunday Word

Luke 12:13-21

We all know that Christianity is not a "one-size-fits-all" spirituality. Among the tremendous diversities and freedoms we enjoy in our faith, there is even a diversity about how many "possessions" each of us can handle.

Clement of Alexandria explored this truth when he somewhat tongue-in-cheek observed that there is a certain similarity between our eternal "souls" and the "soles" of our feet. Each soul has a different size. Just as everyone gets a different "sole size," so everyone gets a unique "soul size." Possessions must fit the person -- they will be cumbersome and uncomfortable if too large; painful if pinched. One soul might require large amounts of space, but very little music. One soul might need symphonies, but have only a slight require- ment for fine food. One soul might long to taste every gourmet "goody" that comes his/her way, but need only a humble abode.

That is why, as the Parable of the Talents teaches us, inequality does not spell injustice. We all share as equals, but we are not all given equal shares. It is not inherently wrong for one person to possess more than another person because each person has many different needs, some of them more costly than others. The soul can be an expensive thing to grow. It may need books, music, art, travel and beauty. Jesus made all these things a part of daily bread.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

WYD Rio 2013 - Fun Facts

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL, August 01, 2013 ( - The archbishop of Rio de Janeiro is giving a positive evaluation of last week's visit from Pope Francis, saying "we managed to make a beautiful World Youth Day."
Archbishop Orani João Tempesta gave a press conference Tuesday to offer a review of World Youth Day.

"It is God who makes things," he said. "We had changes since the announcement that WYD would be held in Rio de Janeiro. Even the Pope changed, but we managed to make a beautiful World Youth Day and serve all youth."

The 63-year-old prelate said that Brazil's famous Copacabana beach had never witnessed "so many people at peace, happy and committed to building a better world."

He added that these "positive signs we saw in the youth must endure."

"We want these young people, driven by the World Youth Day, to remain players in a new world," he said.

More than 3.5 million people participated in World Youth Day Rio2013, which included events in Copacabana, the Quinta da Boa Vista, Rio Centro and various parishes in the city.


Papal audiences:
July 23: 600,000 people attended;

July 25: 1.2 million people attended;

July 26: 2 million attended;

July 27: 3.5 million people attended;

July 28: 3.7 million people attended.

427,000 pilgrims registered, from 175 countries.

Countries with the highest number of entries: Brazil, Argentina, USA, Chile, Italy, Venezuela, France, Paraguay, Peru and Mexico.

55% of those registered were women, 45% men.

60% of the public registered were between 19 and 34 years.

There were 60,000 volunteers.

6,500 accredited journalists from 57 countries.

264 catechesis sites, in 25 languages.

100 confessionals placed in the Vocational Fair and Largo da Carioca.

4 million hosts produced

644 bishops registered, of whom 28 were cardinals.

7,814 priests registered.

632 deacons.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

WYD: Reflections

Rome, July 31, 2013 ( Ann Schneible

Now that World Youth Day in Brazil has come and gone, some of those who were there are looking back and reflecting on their favorite moments.

For an entire week, Rio de Janeiro was filled with pilgrims who had journeyed to the South American city from across the globe for an encounter with Pope Francis, as well as with the millions of other young people who share their faith.

The celebration culminated with Sunday's concluding Mass, presided over by Pope Francis on Copacabana beach, which was attended by an estimated 3 million people. As is customary, the pope announced the location of the next WYD during his Sunday Angelus address: Krakow, Poland.

"Everyone seems to be very happy about the fact that WYD is returning to the land of the founder, John Paul II," said Salt and Light producer Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann, in an interview with ZENIT. Deacon Guevara-Mann, who has just wrapped up his time in Rio covering the week-long festivities, said WYD 2016 is also significant because it will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first official WYD in 1986.

One of the characteristics of this year's WYD was the nearly constant rain. Rather than dampening the spirits of the pilgrims, however, Deacon Guevara-Mann said that, in reality, "no one seems to mind."

"People just got wet," he said. "At the Papal Welcome Ceremony the Holy Father, referring to 'cariocos' or people from Rio de Janeiro, he said that he 'had always heard that the Cariocas do not like the cold and the rain but you are proving that their faith is stronger than the cold and the rain.'"

The event which set the tone for the week, said Deacon Guevara-Mann, was the Papal welcome ceremony. He noted how the musical presentation, entitled "Rio of Faith," demonstrated how Brazil is deeply rooted in the Faith. "I'll always remember when Pope Francis called for an applause to Benedict XVI. He assured us that Pope Benedict was watching on TV."

Another highlight for Deacon Guevara-Mann's was Friday's Way of the Cross, which has become one of the highlights of the WYD tradition. The Stations, he said, were not "dramatic representations: instead, they were non-literal expressions set in Carioca settings. Each was linked to a particular issue that young people face today."

"All stations were very moving," he continued: "very simple and touching, and I believe they spoke to young people in a way that the Church does not always speak to them."

On Saturday, some 3 million people filled Copacabana beach to attend a prayer vigil with Pope Francis. "The vigil was one of the most powerful ones that I've ever seen," Deacon Guevara-Mann said. "The music was perfect and prayerful; everything was just right: music, symbols, witnessing, worship, the Holy Father's message. It was truly a night when God was worshipped on Copacabana Beach."

"I'll never forget [the pope] telling the young people that in order to train we have to pray, go to the Sacraments and be loving to others. He made us all repeat those three and then added, 'you're not going to forget, are you? Tomorrow, will you still remember?'"

Throughout the week, and culminating with the Mass, Deacon Guevara-Mann noted how "there was much intellectual growth, but also emotional and spiritual growth. There were many emotional moments, such as the family with the little girl born without a brain, who were invited to bring her up during the Offertory at Mass and also during the Vigil when the man who'd suffered an accident and was left in a wheelchair asked us all to take out the cross from our backpacks and hold it up: 'pick up your cross.' It is that Cross that gives us strength."

"At some point, sometimes during the WYD experience, Christ calls us to stop being merely disciples and sends us as apostles. That was exactly the theme of this WYD, 'go make disciples of all nations.' Pope Francis reminded us over and over again to be disciples and also be missionaries. That's what it's all about."