Monday, September 30, 2013

Marianist Monday

The op-ed, written by Michael Coren, was published in  New York Daily News the other day. .Just in case you missed it, here is an excerpt:

What Francis has urged, though, is a new painting. Black and white is vital, but the true picture can only be understood through a whole variety of colors. So this is a Pope of nuance and backstory, of delicacy and empathy of delivery. Truth needs to be sung rather than shouted, and he is telling the world — and particularly those who have left the Church and those who hide behind its rules instead of being liberated by them — that while we cannot compromise on truth, we must not compromise on love.

On the gay issue, for example, we are all so much more than our sexuality, and are all supremely and superbly loved by God who is our creator. Marriage is absolute, but to dislike or even hate someone because they are gay is not only wrong, it is anti-Catholic.

Francis is clearly explaining that no gay person will give any attention to a Church that appears to close doors rather than greet newcomers. They may reject the message, but at least encourage them to hear it.

That is the papal message, and while the details are indeed difficult, the overall plot is simple and clear.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - A One-Man Choir

Behold: singer Sam Robson who, in multiple takes, created this stunningly beautiful acapella rendition of the hymn “I Need Thee, O I Need Thee.” 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shhhh....It's a secret

I just finished over the summer the Oprah-driven book and DVD entited The Secret.

The Secret is a book, but it’s also a franchise, psychological and philosophical movement that has firmly grasped American spiritual consciousness during the last few years.

I watched the DVD and did not read the book. But the basic idea draws on the Law of Attraction — our feelings, thoughts and desires attract and create actual events in the world and in our lives. While hidden to most, the true secret to success and happiness has only been adopted by the cultural movers and shakers over the centuries who have realized that positive thinking invites positive experiences.

Initiated as a recent book and DVD movie campaign, The Secret is really just a new-agey and faddish repackaging of mind over matter or the name-it-claim-it health and wealth Gospel approach. With huge media exposure, thanks to culture-queen Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, the Today show and Larry King Live, the book is flying off the shelves.

The trailer to The Secret movie summarizes the worldview this way: “This Secret gives you everything you want: happiness, health, wealth. You can have, do, be anything you want.” The film itself encourages people to “Act on impulse … the universe likes to move quickly.”

Um … what?

The underlying message of The Secret is simple. In short, we are the creator of our universe. Your desires can determine your reality. In terms of your dreams, “If you build it, they will come.”

If in hearing or reading about this pop-culture spirituality, you have laughed, scoffed, sworn, shaken your head or sharpened your apologetic ax, you’re not alone. However, if you’ve not heard of The Secret or overlooked its cultural traction, then you may be missing the world people live in as well as a great opportunity to bring Scripture into conversation with culture.

Author and theology professor John Stackhouse ends his fantastic critique of The Secret with a corrective for the church: “Often we have failed to speak to the spiritual realities so skillfully addressed by proponents of The Secret .… People don’t embrace something new unless what they currently have is inadequate. I take it for granted that the gospel is not inadequate. So it must be our preaching, and our worship, and our churches, and our families, and our books, and our youth groups, and our marriage seminars that are failing to offer people the light they need.”

Saint Paul didn’t miss his opportunity to offer his own corrective to the happy, healthy, wealthy mentality. In fact, he advises Timothy, a young colleague and “son” in the faith, giving him the secret to being content as opposed to happy.

And in short, it’s no Secret.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Sunday Word

Looking ahead to the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we're faced with very strong Scripture texts that stand as judgment on our lives and our lifestyles.

The first reading, from the prophet Amos, gets right to the point: "Woe to you who are complacent, stretched out comfortably on your sofas, eating well, listening to music, having a few drinks and dousing yourself in expensive perfumes, lotions and after-shave! Your good times are about to end and after that..."


The Gospel, from Saint Luke, is the familiar and riveting story of the rich man and the beggar, Lazarus, who begged for scraps from the wealthy man's table. If that's not enough to stir your memory of this tale then either you are not familiar with the Gospels or you are in denial! What becomes of Lazarus and the rich man in eternity should be enough to make most of us squirm in discomfort.

The second reading is another passage from Saint Paul's first letter to Timothy. The tone is more positive here, as Paul instructs Timothy to "compete well for the faith, to keep the Lord's word without stain or reproach, to lay hold of the life to which we have been called." Strong language here but more challenging than judgmental.

There's really no wriggling out of the bare truth of these Scriptures.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's all starting to catch up with me, Lord:
all the things I said weren't getting to me
are knocking at my door!

(What a difference a day makes, Lord!)

So it's time I catch up with you
to find the strength and the endurance
I need to make it through a week
that's filled with work and needs,
others and my own,
to find the trust in you I need
to take it all just one day at a time...

I know I'll get from here to there
and beyond, Lord,
if I but travel at your side and lean on you
for what will help me make it through this week...

Be with me, Lord,
and give whatever it might be I need
to live, to love, to hear the cries
of those who call on me for help...

Be with me, Lord, for without you
I am weak and I will fail
but with you I am strong and I will walk
the path you give me
one step at a time,
one day at a time...

                                                                                                                          H/T A Concord Pastor

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Tunes

We come to the table of Jesus
with the simplest of gifts, bread and wine.
Those gifts were first God’s gifts to us and we give them back here,
along with our thanks and praise.
And in giving back what we’ve been given,
we ask God to give us Jesus,
in the bread and cup of the Eucharist.
To give us Jesus…

In the morning, when I rise… give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…

And when I am alone… give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…

Oh, and when I come to die… give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world,
Give me Jesus…

Monday, September 23, 2013

Marianist Monday

Join us for
Kellenberg Memorial High School

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, we will have AN EVENING WITH G. K. CHESTERTON. We are privileged to have Mr. Dale Ahlquist as our guest speaker. The evening will be open to all and will begin at 7:30 PM.
Mr. Ahlquist is President of the American Chesterton Society, creator, and host of the EWTN series “G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense”, and Publisher of Gilbert Magazine. He is the author of three books on Chesterton, including The Complete Thinker, published in the fall of 2012.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sunday Word

Luke 16:1-13 

Today's story appears to describe something that had really happened. A steward is accused by his employer of embezzling his property. The steward is sent for and fired.

The steward knows that a lot of people owe his former employer huge amounts. He calls in the debtors and asks the first, "How much do you owe my master?" "One hundred measures of olive oil," he answers. The steward tells him, "Here is your promisory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty." The debt has been reduced from 3650 litres of oil to about 1825 litres, the equivalent of a year's salary. He calls in a second man who owes his former employer a hundred measures of wheat (about 27 tons, the harvest from more than 42 hectares of good land). His debt is reduced to 80 measured (a good five tons less!).

The steward displays a certain shrewdness. Those debtors will never forget his generosity and will certainly welcome him into their homes. Jesus concludes the story by praising the steward for his cleverness.

Before going on let's say that to praise someone's shrewdness is not to approve what that person does. It seems rather unlikely that a man cheated out of so much oil and wheat would not try to recover it. If he praises his former steward, it probably means that he lost nothing. So it must have been the steward who had to give up part of what was owed to him and not his employer. He gave up some of his own property in order to find friends. This is the point.

The parable is followed by some sayings of Jesus, all about the use of riches and they complete the teaching of the parable. The first saying is, "The children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light."

After expressing his admiration for the steward, Jesus makes the comment that his disciples are not as astute as others in matters of money and business, who often resort to dishonesty. Unfortunately, we have quite a few Christians who could compete with anybody in this regard.

This is the most important verse in today's text. It summarises the whole teaching of the parable. "I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings."

Jesus calls wealth "dishonest," that is, acquired through deceitful means. Jesus is showing us how to turn dishonest wealth into good wealth.

The steward's cunning lay in his ability to use his "wealth" to make friends.

Jesus is trying to tell us that we are not the masters but the stewards of earthly goods, which belong to God.

How do we look after the goods of the Lord?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Call of St. Matthew

Perhaps the most revealing detail in Pope Francis’s lengthy interview, conducted by the Italian Jesuit Antonio Spadaro and published yesterday in English translation in the Jesuit journal America, is the pontiff’s reflection on one of his favorite Roman walks, prior to his election:

When I had to come to to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of the] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of “The Calling of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio. That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew. . . . This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze.

The Calling of St. Matthew is an extraordinary painting in many ways, including Caravaggio’s signature use of light and darkness to heighten the spiritual tension of a scene. In this case, though, the chiaroscuro setting is further intensified by a profoundly theological artistic device: The finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew, seems deliberately to invoke the finger of God as rendered by Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Thus Caravaggio, in depicting the summons of the tax collector, unites creation and redemption, God the Father and the incarnate Son, personal call and apostolic mission.

That is who Jorge Mario Bergoglio is: a radically converted Christian disciple who has felt the mercy of God in his own life and who describes himself, without intending any dramatic effect, as “a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” Having heard the call to conversion and responded to it, Bergoglio wants to facilitate others’ hearing of that call, which never ceases to come from God through Christ and the Church.

And that, Bergoglio insists, is what the Church is for: The Church is for evangelization and conversion. Those who have found the new pope’s criticism of a “self-referential Church” puzzling, and those who will find something shockingly new in his critical comments, in his recent interview, about a Church reduced “to a nest protecting our mediocrity,” haven’t been paying sufficient attention. Six years ago, when the Catholic bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean met at the Brazilian shrine of Aparecida to consider the future, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio, was one of the principal intellectual architects of the bishops’ call to put evangelization at the center of Catholic life, and to put Jesus Christ at the center of evangelization. The Latin American Church, long used to being “kept,” once by legal establishment and then by cultural tradition, had to rediscover missionary zeal by rediscovering the Lord Jesus Christ. And so the Latin American bishops, led by Bergoglio, made in their final report a dramatic proposal that amounted to a stinging challenge to decades, if not centuries, of ecclesiastical complacency:

The Church is called to a deep and profound rethinking of its mission. . . . It cannot retreat in response to those who see only confusion, dangers, and threats. . . . What is required is confirming, renewing, and revitalizing the newness of the Gospel . . . out of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ that raises up disciples and missionaries. . . .

A Catholic faith reduced to mere baggage, to a collection of rules and prohibitions, to fragmented devotional practices, to selective and partial adherence to the truths of faith, to occasional participation in some sacraments, to the repetition of doctrinal principles, to bland or nervous moralizing, that does not convert the life of the baptized would not withstand the trials of time. . . . We must all start again from Christ, recognizing [with Pope Benedict XVI] that “being Christian is . . . the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

The 21st-century proclamation of Christ must take place in a deeply wounded and not infrequently hostile world. In another revealing personal note, Francis spoke of his fondness for Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion, one of the most striking religious paintings of the 20th century. Chagall’s Jesus is unmistakably Jewish, the traditional blue and white tallis or prayer-shawl replacing the loincloth on the Crucified One. But Chagall’s Christ is also a very contemporary figure, for around the Cross swirl the death-dealing political madnesses and hatreds of the 20th century. And so the pope’s regard for Chagall’s work is of a piece with his description of the Catholic Church of the 21st century as a kind of field hospital on a battlefield strewn with the human wreckage caused by false ideas of the human person and false claims of what makes for happiness. Thus Francis in his interview on the nature of the Church:

I see clearly that the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the Church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds

Friday, September 20, 2013

Every day is a new canvas

Sometimes, Lord, my life seems just
the "same old-same old,"
day in, day out
and over and over again...
I easily get caught in this cycle,
going nowhere fast, losing sight of hope
and all that tomorrow might hold...

But every day's a new canvas, Lord,
if I pick up my paints and my brushes...

Every day's a blank sheet of paper
waiting for me to write a new chapter...

Every day's a fresh lump of clay
waiting for me to mold and to shape and sculpt...

Every day has 24 hours
waiting to show what you'd have me see,
to speak what you'd have me hear,
to lead where you'd have me go,
to open my heart to something new,
to the promise of what's yet to be...

Shake me free of the same old-same old
and waken me, Lord, to the day at hand,
the day you offer, the day you've made
for me to live anew...


Thursday, September 19, 2013

To be like Jesus; look at him!

Even when the crowds cheer him at his audiences, Francis reminds them, “cheer for Jesus, not for me”

Yesterday in the Washington Post, the world seems determined to make an idol of Pope Francis. That’s what the world does.

We think of pop stars as “idols” but an idol, more correctly, is the thing or person best capable of delivering an affirmation of ourselves to ourselves. “We are the ones we have been waiting for,” claimed Barack Obama in 2008 and the fainting, adoring crowds could not get enough of the man who once described himself as a “blank screen on which people…project their own views,” because they could not get enough of themselves.

It has only been six months since Jorge Mario Bergoglio came to the world with a new name, but already MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, channeling his inner tween has gushed, “is it too early to say Francis is the best pope ever?”

His effusion prompts a different question: Are we, like the ancient Jews at Mount Sinai, and Americans in 2008, molding Francis into an image and polishing him to a high gloss, that we might better see ourselves reflected in him? Are we treating him as we would a god?

If our nature is to create idols, it almost cannot be helped. As with Obama, the crowds adore Pope Francis, whose message is not so much “yes, we can,” but “yes, God does” — love us, forgive us, seek our trust; we are the ones God is waiting for, as the father awaits the prodigal.

Francis repeatedly returns to themes of compassion, mercy, tenderness and his words drop like healing dew upon people feeling increasingly isolated from each other, and distanced from God. Whether from a Jeep trundling around Saint Peter’s Square or from an open-sided vehicle on the Argentine streets, Francis reaches out to the people in complete freedom and fearlessness, and the crowd reaches back. The crowd wants to be like him —able to love and trust God, and the world, and finally themselves.

What saves this from becoming simple idolatry is Francis’s continual exhortation that we fix our attention, and our intentions, upon having an authentic and lifelong encounter with Jesus. He says, in essence, you want to be like me? I want to be like Jesus; look at him!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Ciudad Real

Today we want to remember in our prayers, three Marianist Brothers who were killed in Spain in 1936 for proclaiming their Catholic faith.

Brothers Carlos, Jesus, and Fidel were teachers who manifested their alliance with Mary and dedication to her mission to bring Jesus to the world through their ministry in education. 

We seek to imitate their bold and courageous faith in our lives. Brothers Carlos, Jesus, and Fidel were declared Blessed by the Catholic Church in 1995.

Lord, Our God,
to Blessed Carlos, Fidel, and Jesus,
who were inflamed with love for the Blessed Virgin Mary,
You gave the grace to suffer for Christ.
Grant that, through their intercession,
we may remain firm in our faith.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit.
May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
Be glorified in all places through the immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chesterton is Comin!

Join us for
Kellenberg Memorial High School

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013, we will have AN EVENING WITH G. K. CHESTERTON. We are privileged to have Mr. Dale Ahlquist as our guest speaker. The evening will be open to all and will begin at 7:30 PM.
Mr. Ahlquist is President of the American Chesterton Society, creator, and host of the EWTN series “G. K. Chesterton: The Apostle of Common Sense”, and Publisher of Gilbert Magazine. He is the author of three books on Chesterton, including The Complete Thinker, published in the fall of 2012.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Marianist Monday


I just finished reading, Marie Therèse de Lamourous, Firm of Hand, Loving of Heart. By Fr. Joe Stefanelli, SM. I highly recommend it. Why not take a break now; you can finish it in a half hour.

Something struck me very much.They say if you want to know what kind of teacher you are, ask one of the students to teach a part of your class. They will imitate you. But isn’t this the way we all learn. So if I want to know something about Fr. Chaminade’s style or methods, I should look at some of his disciples. Therèse was, perhaps, his most devoted follower. When she became the Directress of Mercy House, she applied all that she was previously doing in the Sodality of Bordeaux. Her methods were the same as Fr. Chaminade’s. Fr. Joe sums it up beautifully.

She (Therese) used an extensive yet simple network of committees and meetings to involve as many women as possible in the organization and running of the house, to make them more conscious of the needs of others, and to prepare them to manage a household, whether as parents or servants, when they left the Misericorde. Each was given tasks in keeping with her talent and her potential; each was encouraged and taught to assume ever-greater responsibility for her own life. (p.16)

This was precisely the pattern in which the Sodality of Bordeaux developed under Fr. Chaminade. He talked about “multiplication of Christians”. It was not just to share the Good News to individuals, but to help these individuals become apostles who would share with others who would continue the process. The Marianist Family was called to be a witness of a “nation of saints”. The Church wants it to be a Movement.

We pray through the intercession of Therèse for an end to human trafficking. She spent most of her life working against this.

If you do not have a copy of this short life of Therese, you can obtain a copy from NACMS.

Peace - Paul Landolfi, SM

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Sunday Word

Today we mark the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. We are just about 10 weeks from the end of Ordinary Time when there'll be Christmas carols in the stores and church choirs will be practicing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!

Today's first reading, from Exodus, finds God angry with Israel for their idolatry but Moses intercedes and pleads for the Lord's mercy - which is granted - and the Lord relents in the punishment he had threatened. The Gospel is also a message of mercy. The longer form offers includes three parables: the parable of the lost sheep; the parable of the lost coin; and the parable of the lost Son (more popularly known as the prodigal son). The shorter form of the Gospel includes the first two parables but omits the longer of the three, the story of the son which we heard apart from the two shorter parables this past Lent.

The second reading, from the first letter to Timothy and has Paul confessing his sinful past as a blasphemer, persecutor and arrogant son of a gun. Again, the mercy theme appears: Paul hymns Jesus as the one whose mercy reaches even and especially to those least deserving of it.

Much food for thought in all of these scriptures - so don't go hungry!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Sunday Word

If God can transform a Saul to a Paul, if God can "appoint to his service" a mean-spirited, blaspheming man of violence like Saul -- what are we waiting for? Why do we think that God probably has not "appointed" us to serve?

Paul freely says that he is a follower of Jesus not because of his upstanding behavior in the past but because of God's mercy and grace. God understands that Paul "acted ignorantly in unbelief" but is now ready to receive God's forgiveness. Ironically, it is Paul's experience with sin and turning away from God that makes him appreciate the gifts of God's mercy and kindness even more.

It was precisely Paul's shameful past behavior that made him an ideal candidate for a future in forgiveness and redemption.

So it is with Paul. He knows he's done some bad things for which he wants God's forgiveness. He knows what it means to "fall short of the glory of God." He has not led a life that has earned God's trust. He has not acted like a disciple, follower or believer of Jesus -- in fact, exactly the opposite is true. Yet Paul is called by God. This is mercy -- to be forgiven not because of any human action but because God chooses to. This is grace -- God's seeing more in Paul than Paul can see in himself. Paul is in a unique position to talk about the value of God's forgiveness and mercy. He has experienced these gifts himself and understands their value in a personal way.

Our past does not have to dictate our future. Because of God's mercy, we are not victims of our résumés. We, like Paul, may have done stuff that's totally contrary to what God wants. God reminds us that our past does not have the final word. The past is prologue.

God will give us the best job ever. The dream job. Not the bed tester, candy taster or island caretaker. God can create something new out of us.

And here's some even better news: Chances are, we won't be asked to travel by boat, donkey or on foot all over the world. We won't be invited to stay inside of prisons. Because, well, that was Paul's job.

But we have been appointed to serve, and it's our job to discover just what is the nature of that service.

Friday, September 13, 2013


From Vatican Insider:

“Empty convents are not for the Church to transform into hotels and make money from them. Empty convents are not ours, they are for the flesh of Christ: refugees,” the Pope said lifting his eyes from his script during his visit to Centro Astalli, a refugee centre in the heart of Rome, which offers shelter, food and assistance to undocumented migrants. The centre has been assisting refugees who come to Italy fleeing wars, violence and torture for over thirty years.

This visit was important for Francis as it sort of follows on from his trip to the southern Italian island of Lampedusa: it is traditional for the Bishop of Rome to show special attention to the poor and persecuted. Francis arrived at the refugee centre at 15:25, in a blue Ford Focus, with no escorts and no secretary. He greeted many refugees outside Centro Astalli as they waited for their meals. He then approached those who were already in the refectory eating and stopped to talk to a group of about 20 refugees. He listened to some heartbreaking stories. One of the people he spoke to was Carol, from Syria. After listening to her story, the Pope picked up on what she had said and affirmed that integration was indeed “a right”.

After a brief moment of prayer in the Centro Astalli chapel and after greeting all the members of staff – Francis was even offered some mate – the Pope moved on to the nearby Church of the Gesù , where he met with 250 volunteers who worked in four shelters run by the Jesuit Refugee Service.

“What does it mean to serve? Service means welcoming a person who arrives and showing them attention; it means stretching a helping hand out to those who need it, without hesitations, without fear, but showing tenderness and understanding, just as Jesus bent down to wash the feet of the apostles.”

“Serving means working alongside the needy, establishing human relationships and close ties of solidarity with them,” the Pope said. Solidarity “is a word that scares the developed world.” People try not to use it. It’s as if it were a swear word to them. But it is our Word! Serving means recognising and embracing justice and hope and looking for concrete roads and paths to freedom.”

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Marianist Patronal Feast Day

Luke tells us in his Annunciation narrative, "And the Virgin's name was Mary (Mariam, Luke 1:27c). This is the beautiful way Mary is welcomed into the pages of the most artistic and literary of the Evangelists. She is according to the Jesuit exegete and Marian scholar, Fr. Ignatius de la Potterie, S.J., given a new name by the address Gabriel announces as he calls her attention by saying "KECHARITOMENE" that is, You who have been highly favored and graced. This new name points our Mary's holy call to be the mother of the Savior precisely because she has already been favored and graced by God for this role. The expression is a perfect passive particple which shows us the beginning of her graced life and the mission that this will bring about, namely, the giving of Jesus as Savior to the world.The Annunciation is both a heavenly proclamation and a vocation story about Mary, the Mother of Jesus.

For us Marianists, this is our patronal feast day and the center of our charism, or as Fr. Paul Marshall calls it, the lens which helps us see the other charisms of the Society of Mary clearly. For Blessed Chaminade this definitely was central to his spirituality which influenced all of his writings and his foundations. It is for the honor and glory of Mary that we Marianists do pronounce our vows to God and take on the mission of Mary of bringing Jesus to today's world. Our Blessed Founder loved this passage and always encouraged his followers to reflect upon this call of Mary. I personally take great delight in Luke's account and it is one of the most motivational parts of Scripture for me as a Marianist; the other, which comes at the end of John's Gospel is the scene at the foot of the Cross where the Beloved Disciple is entrusted to Mary and becomes her spiritual son.

In the "Collection of Masses of the Blessed Virgin" the song of Mary is used for the response between the initial reading from Genesis. This great psalm or hymn expresses our joy on this Feast of the Holy Name of Mary and it comes to us from her very lips. St. Luke may have composed it, but it expresses the sentiments and praises of Mary to God that inspired him to give the Magnificat to his readers in a community that was dedicated to the person of Mary because of the role she played in the conception, birth, and education of Jesus.

Here is a reflection from Blessed William Joseph Chaminade on the Annunciation: "God, in the wisdom of his counsels, predestined Mary from all eternity to be the Mother of the Savior of the world, to be the instrument of the Incarnation, which is the universal principle of grace. This choice is a gift of God and infinitely glorious for Mary. But the gifts of God are irrevocable (Romans 11:29), hence this choice will remain forever. All the graces received by us are merely applications or outcomes of the grace of the Incarnation." (Marian Writings of William Joseph Chaminade, Vol 1, p.51, J.-B. Armbruster, S.M., Marianist Press, 1980).
May all the members of the Marianist Family rejoice and celebrate as we honor Mary our spiritual Mother and learn from her who to say "Yes"-- "Let it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38). Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum." Amen.

-Fr. Bert Buby, S.M.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Value of Silence

Today we remember the tragedy of a clear September morning, 12 years ago...

God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Thus we do not fear,
though the earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
The Lord of hosts is with us... - Psalm 46

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tuesday Tunes

On September 17, Sara Groves will release The Collection, celebrating her career thus far and culling the best and brightest from her 10 studio albums. The Collection weaves together Sara’s catalog of career successes from her debut record, Past the Wishing to her latest project, the critically praised release of Invisible Empires. In addition to the 23 songs from her repertoire, the September two-disc release will also include four brand new songs.

One of those new songs is “Blessed Be The Tie.” Check it out in the performance video below

Monday, September 9, 2013

Marianist Monday


Blessed Fr. Chaminade:

To Fr. Rothea – How much I wish you to be a saint! Let us make synonymous the words “saint” and “son of Mary.”

To Fr. Noialles – The main spirit of the Society (Marianist Family) is to present to the world the spectacle of a people of saints, and prove in this way that, today, as in the primitive Church, the Gospel may be practiced in all the vigor of its spirit and letter.

To Adele de Trenquelléon – With saints we will achieve everything. With ordinary or imperfect religious we will do almost nothing.

The great need in the world today is holiness. We are called to be saints. The saint is the bright light in his or her century. St. Bernard of Clairvaux was that in his century. Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Theresa of Calcutta have been that in our past century. Holiness was never meant to be the exception, but rather the norm. Jesus told us we must be holy as His Father is holy.

This is why we rejoice to know that some in the Marianist Family have been named Blessed and others are being considered. I would like to review some points that Fr. Enrique Torres gave the Marianist World when he was Procurator General. They are very important points for us and will help us as we pray for the various intentions presented to us.

1. Waiting for Canonization For a Blessed the only requirement is the approval of a miracle. This is true for Blessed Fr. Chaminade and Blessed Jakob Gapp.

For the Spanish Martyrs (Ciudad Real), i.e., Blessed Carlos Erana, Blessed Jesus Hita, Blessed Blessed Fidel Fuidio – One miracle is sufficient if all three have been invoked together.

The same would be true for the Madrid Martyrs: Blessed Miguel Leibar, Blessed Florencio Arnaiz, Blessed Sabino Ayastuy, and Blessed Joaquin Ochoa. One miracle is sufficient if all four have been invoked together. However, Fr Enrique adds in an email, “It is much harder to prove when the prayer is to a group.”2. Waiting for Beatification

Venerable Adèle de Batz de Trenquelléon, Venerable Therèse-Charlotte de Lamourous, and now Venerable Faustino Perez-Manglano. The only requirement is the approval of a miracle attributed to the Blessed.

3. There are other Causes in the early preparation stages. More will be shared when they become more definitive.

4. The progress of Causes depends on us, not on Rome or the Vatican. Neither does it depend on this Pope or his successor. It is said that Rome is eternal. This is true if it is modified in this way: Rome is eternal, above all for the one who doesn’t work.

I was privileged this past 9th week of the summer program to act as chaplain for the Marianist Family Retreat program at Cape May Point, New Jersey. The theme was Family Life: Unplugged. This is a program totally geared to making the family a domestic Church, therefore a family of saints. I was able to witness how the Holy Spirit works in individuals and families to transform them. At Mary’s House the Spirit brings joy, love, and change.

The family Retreat House rocked with ever increasing joy. Persons who had never met gradually became friends. Pre-teens played with each other like they lived on the same block. There were many teens and the same thing happened to them. Husbands and wives shared with other husbands and wives. The families prayed and discussed their reciprocal life with regard to their communication with each other, whether there was a need to be reconciled with each other. They also affirmed each other’s gifts, something especially meaningful to the children. On the last full day, they spent much time in committing themselves to each other and together to the particular needs each family faced. As they ended their joy-filled week, they were commissioned to go and share what God had done for them. They were called to “multiply Christians”, to build communities of faith in their particular area.

The Spirit of Jesus animated the group. Yes this was holy ground as families made use of the Sacraments, truly participated in the Eucharist, and were faithful to the duties assigned them. It is in the ordinary duties of daily family life that holiness is found. Each day the question was posed: “Where did you see or meet God today, sense His

presence? I couldn’t help but think of Faustino and his reflections in the booklet, Maybe God will speak to me. Holiness is so ordinary that we fail to recognize God acting.

May our “Marianist Saints” pray for all the members of the Marianist Family as we begin another academic year. May they be a strong support to our schools, our lay communities, our parishes, our various retreat centers, and all that the Marianist Family is accomplishing as it assists Mary, who tells us: “Do whatever He tells you.”

We have also been asked in a special way to pray for healing through the intercession of our “Saints”.

Bill and Richard........through the intercession of Blessed Fr. Chaminade W and S........through the intercession of Blessed Fr. Chaminade Joanne........through the intercession of Blessed Fr. Chaminade Megan.......through the intercession of Venerable Therese de Lamourous

Please get into the habit of praying to our Marianist Saints. There are so many needs out there.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Pray & Fast for Syria

Pope Francis has called for Saturday, September 7, to be a day of prayer and fasting for Peace in Syria. Let's not let this day pass without each of us responding to this call.

To help, you'll find below: two prayers, the Prayer of St. Francis and a prayer from Steven Charleston; and a reminder about fasting...

Prayer of St. Francis

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.

Make me a channel of your peace
Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there's sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
In giving of ourselves that we receive
And in dying that we're born to eternal life.

A Prayer for Peace in Syria
O Prince of Peace, we come before you sinful and sorrowful.
We know that we are all guilty of hatred and contempt,
and yet we ask for your mercy and forgiveness.

In Syria, millions of our brothers and sisters are suffering greatly.
And it seems that their suffering may be increased by people
who themselves wish to bring peace to this land.

We know that it is you who turn our hearts to peace,
and so we ask you to turn your eyes to Syria,
so near the towns and villages where you grew up and ministered,
to look upon that Holy Land, and bring an end to violence.

Help us do all that we can, physically, morally, legally,
to support dialogue, foster reconciliation and promote justice.
End the terrible violence directed against so many Syrians
from so many places,
and turn their hearts to forgiveness, compassion and love.

Open our own hearts to the needs of the millions of refugees.
Help us to see that they are our brothers and sisters in crisis,
for you were a refugee yourself once,
along with Mary and Joseph.

Most of all, let us not bring more violence and suffering
upon a people who have already suffered immensely.
Bring them peace, O Prince of Peace.

                                          - Steven Charleston


It's said that some things are gained only
through prayer and fasting...
What will I go without today?
What might I give up to remind me in my body
of the prayer for peace I'm making in my heart?

Mary, Queen of Peace

By now everyone knows that the Holy Father has asked for prayers and fasting today, Saturday, September 7, the vigil of Our Lady's birthday.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. - 

I've been preparing for Our Lady's Birthday, offering my rosary for Syria. I look forward to the vigil fast.

At Fatima, Our Lady requested at each visit that the children pray the rosary every day, for peace, for an end to the war.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Sunday Word

The lesson for this week is from the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Jesus tells two quick parables to make the point that only a fool will start a project he cannot finish. A man won’t begin a tower without the money to finish it, and a king won’t commence a war unless he has the soldiers to fight it successfully. Without the proper resources, they will end up embarrassed, defeated — or both.

“So therefore,” says Jesus, “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  The tower of generosity must be built by everyone who wants to follow Jesus, constructed by gifts of time and talent and money and effort, offered in the service of something much bigger and more lasting than ourselves. Like members of the early church, we are to share our goods and possessions so no one in the community is forced to live in need.

Of course, the irony of generosity is that it enriches rather than depletes us. When we give to a Christian cause, we make the world better for ourselves and people around us. When we share our time and talents, we build up the kingdom of God in ways that never would have happened if we had kept to ourselves. Feeding a hungry child, sponsoring a refugee family, building a beautiful church — all these acts of generosity leave us feeling richer, not poorer, with a sense that we’re leaving the world better than we found it.

Because none of us can exit life with any of our possessions, we might as well be generous as we build for the generations that will follow.

Together, these are the three towers of Jesus: commitment, sacrifice and generosity. Yes, they take years to construct, but they last for centuries and benefit communities yet unborn. In a world of instant gratification, these towers are long-term acts of faith, entirely consistent with a life of discipleship.

Nothing bizarre about them.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mary, Queen of Apostles

Today as Marianists we remember Mary as Queen of Apostles. On this day in 1818 the first Marianists, Brothers and priests, publically professed vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

Our Founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade wrote:

Among the many congregations that sprang into existence in succeeding ages and in various parts of the world, some were called to one particular form of work, some to another. And last of all, we believe that we too have been called by Mary herself, to assist her with all our might in the struggle against the great heresy of our times. To this end, we have taken for our mottos, as declared our Constitutions, these words of the Blessed Virgin to the attendant at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). We are convinced that our particular mission, despite our weakness, is to perform all the works of zeal and of mercy for the welfare of our neighbor. It is for this reason that, under the general title of teaching Christian morals, we employ all the means at our disposal for preserving our neighbors from the contagion of evil, and of restoring those who have fallen under its sway.

Benedict XV, on the occasion of the first centenary of the Society of Mary, wrote to Very Rev. Father Hiss, Superior General of the Society, a letter which is a kind of approbation of Father Chaminade’s views on the Marian apostolate:

It is not without divine guidance that the Reverend Chaminade went into exile to Saragossa. There, visiting the shrine of our august Sovereign, he understood the plan of divine mercy to lead his country back to Jesus through Mary. Sensing, without a shadow of doubt, that an important role had been reserved for him in this apostolate, he prepared himself for that mission by meditation and prayer at the feet of the august image. It is, in fact, not an empty praise that we give to Mary by this title of Queen of Apostles. Just as she helped the apostles, educators of the nascent church, by her support and counsels, so we must also affirm that she assists at all times the heirs of the apostolic office who seek to either prepare victories or to repair disasters in the adult Church.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Teach by every word, look and gesture

So, school has started. And teachers are preparing their lessons. They have decorated their classrooms.

One of the many questions teachers ask is: How can I keep my student's attention after I start speaking in class? How can I keep them from falling asleep? What must I do to make it virtually impossible for my student's not to listen and keep listening?

It’s complicated.

But some help comes from a recent study that sheds new light on why people listen when they listen, while confirming what people have believed for a long time.

In an article, “How to Get — and Keep — Someone’s Attention, Annie Murphy Paul, author of the forthcoming Brilliant: The Science of Smart, points to some recent studies by several educational research organizations funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. One study involved the use of galvanic skin response sensors in the classroom. Some critics call them “mood bracelets” and “educational pedometers.” They are devices worn around the wrist that gauge the user’s physiological arousal by measuring the amount of sweat on the skin. “The idea,” Paul writes, “is that a teacher instructing a roomful of students wearing the devices would instantly know who was engaged and who was bored or distracted.” There are problems of course. The student might be sweating because there’s an exam coming up next period.

At Kennesaw State University in Georgia, a physics professor recently reported the results of an experiment in which students wore special glasses that could plot or track where and how long wearers direct their gaze. Undergrads were students while attending lectures, and what emerged from the data was that “it was not the case, as many teachers believe, that students were most engaged for the first 15 minutes or so of class, after which their attention gradually slacked off.” Instead, a student’s attention ebbed and flowed through the course of the 70 minute lecture.

Imagine the possibilities! Teachers being able to teach for 70 minutes!

What actually happened is that a student’s attention would spike whenever the professor used “humor, stood close to the student, or talked about material that was not included in the Power Point presentation projected on a screen at the front of the room.”

It was also found that cell phones and the web — especially Facebook — were the greatest obstacles to maintaining students’ engagement in the classroom.

From these studies, Paul moves forward in her article to suggest some strategies for keeping students engaged.

Stimulate curiosity. Dan Willingham, a cognitive scientist at the University of Virginia, says that sometimes teachers “are so eager to get to the answers that [they] do not devote sufficient time to developing the question … but it’s the question that piques people’s interest. Being told an answer doesn’t do anything for you.”

Introduce change and surprise.   It’s axiomatic that the attention span of the post-modern Western homo sapiens has shrunk considerably over past 20 years. We get bored—easily. Therefore, the teacher needs to mix it up, and to do so often, perhaps every seven minutes or so. So shake things up. Surprise your audience. When that happens, your audience will not be able to ignore what’s being said.

Stress relevance and concreteness. Paul writes: “The human mind can’t handle too much abstraction. Bring your ideas down to earth by explaining how they connect to your listeners’ lives, and by embedding sensory details — what things look, sound, feel and taste like — into your account.”

Tell stories. Again, Paul says: “Researchers who study human cognition say that stories are 'psychologically privileged' — that is, our minds treat them differently than other kinds of information. We understand them better, remember them more accurately, and we find them more engaging to listen to in the first place.

Fiddle with some of these ideas and you’ll find they will improve the teaching experience.

Other factors need to be considered, such as vocal issues, body language, use of notes, and so on, but that gets us into some different aspects. For now, stimulate curiosity, introduce change and surprise, stress relevance and tell stories.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Schools Open

Our Marianist schools begin their school year today. Almost 5,000 students will be educated on Long Island by the Marianists this year. May Christ and His Mother watch over those students as their faith grows this year.

Prayer for students
by Saint Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Marianist Monday

What is a Brother?

A consecrated religious who offers his total self to God in community and expresses his commitment through the mission of education and the work of our hands.

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.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Labor Day Prayer

O God, creator of the world,
of sun and moon and stars,
you chose to fashion us as your own,
your handiwork of love...

Indeed, we are your hands’ own work
and yet into our hands
you give the care
of every living thing..

In more ways than we can count 
our work builds up
- or tears apart- what came
as gift from you...

Keep us faithful in preserving
all you’ve given
lest we harm the smallest part
of all you’ve made...

Give us good and honest work to do
and rest at each day’s end.
Let a just and fair day’s wage be paid
for a good day’s work well done...

Give us work that nurtures and sustains
the ones who serve and those they serve.
Let those who labor work in peace,
in freedom, without fear...

Give those in need a job to do
and to the tired well earned rest.
Let all our toil and labor, Lord,
give glory to your name...

A Concord Pastor Comments

The Sunday Word

Our Gospel lesson today shows that Jesus certainly has concern for feeding the hungry, especially those who have no way to repay our generosity. He says, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment."

That hits way too close to home, doesn't it? Most of us give luncheons or dinners for precisely the groups that Jesus mentions: Friends, family members, relatives, neighbors. We enjoy feeding them and then being fed by them.

But Jesus says to go a different direction. Think of hungry children, whether they are two or 22 million. "When you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Feed those who cannot repay you, commands Jesus. The poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind who are often stuck at home because travel is so difficult.

Make lunch or dinner for these people, suggests Jesus. Not for the folks who easily pay you back with a lunch or dinner of their own. And don't just make it a meal -- make it a banquet, a celebration. Maybe even an excessive celebration!

Being a follower of Jesus Christ is a countercultural game to play, one that is based on the belief that "all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted."

Anything we do to serve others without expectation of a payback will be seen as a success in the eyes of Jesus, and will move us closer to the Humility Hall of Fame.