Friday, February 28, 2014

The Sunday Word

Good for the earth and good for our souls

In Sunday's passage from Matthew, sustainability is a good thing in the spiritual life.

At first glance, Jesus’ words in this passage aren’t about sustainability. Rather, they seem to be an admonition against worrying and an instruction about trust and getting one’s priorities straight, seeking first the kingdom of God.

But when we hear Jesus say life is more than food and body, more than clothing, we realize He’s talking about something larger than how we function in the immediate moment. He’s talking about seeing beyond the present moment and its anxieties. We should live in such a way that we can face tomorrow confident that God will sustain us as much then as he does now.

To say it a different way, the spiritual life is about sustainability in that it allows us to function today without using up all the resources God provides.

It’s good for us to hear that. Many of us started our spiritual lives on a high point.

But as we’ve gone on, perhaps we’ve found that even the feet-firmly-on-the-ground sort of Christianity also seems unsustainable. Although we may continue to show up in church on Sunday morning, it may be more out of routine than anticipation. And if pushed about it, we might even confess that the faith we once experienced as fire we now experience as dust. That’s not an uncommon state of being for Christians who’ve been on the way for a while.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

God's selfie

Is there anyone -- anyone, who has a smartphone, or a cool little digital camera, who has NOT at some point engaged in self-digitization?

Even God has taken a selfie. The selfie is called Jesus Christ. It happened in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ is God's self-portrait. Jesus Christ is God's selfie -- an Instagram shot of what God is like; a visual representation that answers the question: "If God were to be visible and active on earth, what would that look like?" It would look like Jesus Christ.

But then, Jesus Christ took a selfie, too. It's called the church. What would it look like if Jesus were alive today and active in the world? It would -- or should -- look like the church. The church is Jesus' selfie. There's a mirror-in-the-mirror thing going on. We in the church are Jesus' selfie, i.e. we show the world what Jesus looks like. At the same time, Jesus is God's selfie, i.e. he shows the world what God "looks" like. The apostle Paul tries to explain this in 2 Corinthians: "That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself ... and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God".

So, really, we -- the church -- are the self-image of Jesus and God, on display for the world to see.
Get the picture?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Marianist Monday

O Lord, you are constantly at work in your Church and, through individuals and communities, you manifest your Spirit for the good of your people. In a special way you bestowed your spirit on your Servant, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade so that he might live fully according to the Gospel and with love devote himself to your saving work. You have inspired communities of men and women to follow his example by consecrating themselves to you to serve the Church under the leadership of Mary. We now pray to you to give us visible signs of your grace and holiness in his life by granting us the special favors we ask through his intercession. May the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

It's your call

It's your call. You are chosen material, though you might not know it.

Most of us spend quite a bit of time shopping around before we finally find, or fall into, a profession that seems to suit our personality. The most popular childhood careers of firefighter, football player, doctor and astronaut are not reflected in the numbers of adults actually involved in those pursuits. Instead we "settle" for jobs that need to be done or are the most available. When's the last time you heard a kid dreaming about growing up to be an office manager or a banker or an electrical line repairer. But all those jobs must be done and done well by someone, if we are to keep our businesses, our banks, our communities and our homes running smoothly.

One author put it this way: God often calls us when we are running errands, doing the mundane, thankless chores of life. When we least expect it, we are elected. Moses, hiding out on the back side of the Midian desert, was running an errand when a bush started burning that would not be consumed until he faced Pharaoh. Isaiah was somewhere in the temple, performing his regular priestly duties, when the heavens came down and the Holy commissioned him to go to the valley. Ezekiel, performing his pastoral tasks in the Exile, was transported by divine limousine service to a valley filled with dry bones. Amos was out herding sheep and keeping sycamore trees when the voice came and compelled him to go to the valley. And, Andrew and Peter were fishing out on the Sea of Galilee when the Master called them from fishing to the valley.

God is calling you right now. Are you going to respond?

It's your call whether or not to accept your "call."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Outcry - Psalm 5

Give ear to my words, O Lord; 
give heed to my sighing. 
Listen to the sound of my cry, 
my King and my God, 
for to you I pray. 

O Lord, in the morning 
you hear my voice; 
in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. 

For you are not a God 
who delights in wickedness; 
evil will not sojourn with you. 

The boastful will not stand 
before your eyes; 
you hate all evildoers. 
You destroy those who speak lies; 
the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. 

The writer of the psalm is crying to God, asking for help. Facing the threat of violence, he begs God to destroy those who are telling lies. Perhaps he has been accused of wrongdoing himself, and is now pleading his case to God. The psalm can be used today by anyone being threatened by wicked, evil, boastful, bloodthirsty or deceitful people.

You know them: Friends who are really enemies -- "frenemies." High school gangs. Street thugs. Unfaithful spouses. Unethical co-workers. Substance-abusing relatives who lie to you. Put-down artists. Adversaries who try to undermine and destroy you. Sleazy salespeople and unscrupulous loan officers. Anyone who lies, cheats and steals, showing no regard for the welfare of others.

In short, the people who make you want to scream. All of us have them in our lives, every one of us. But yelling at such people face to face is not always an appropriate or productive thing to do.

That's why Psalm 5 encourages us to make an open outcry first to God.

"O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice," says the psalmist; "in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you."

Believe it or not, we can gain relief simply by speaking honestly about our troubles. "Talk therapy" is the technical term, and it can do a lot of good for people feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Professional therapists all agree that talking, articulating, voicing, speaking or otherwise expressing our ideas, thoughts and feelings is a good thing.

So why not talk about your feelings with God, who is the Ultimate Listener? In the morning, plead your case -- ask for help with friends, enemies, spouses, co-workers and relatives. Pray for strength to face the challenges of the day.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trust in God's grace

I just finished talking to one of our students in the hallway. He mentioned how proud he was of his father. For years his father was focused outside the family. The focus led him to areas that was not helpful to the growth of the family or even his father's personal growth. But since that time, his father has had a complete conversion. He has reorganized his life. He takes his family members seriously. He has begun a relationship with his God.

Now before Jesus called his very first disciples, he was already calling people to faith. Faithfulness is actually the Christians' "thumbs-up" sign. We have no way of knowing if the course ahead of us carries smooth air or turbulence and storms. We have no special foreknowledge if the skies will be friendly or filled with hostility and danger.

What we all do have is faith--faith in the love of Christ, faith in the eternal closeness of God's presence and God's kingdom. Jesus proclaims that the correct response to the gospel news is faith. He gives us the "thumbs-up" signal first. It is then essential that we return a "thumbs-up" sign of trust in God's grace and faithfulness to us.

Can we let go and let God take us into the wild blue yonder? Can we let go and trust God enough to lift us into stratospheres of spirituality and service we never knew even existed? Can we get out of the way and let God be God in our lives?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Proclaim the Gospel

Pope Francis during his Homily at Mass on Friday at the Casa Santa Martha said that as Christians we are called to proclaim the Gospel with humility.

Taking his cue from Friday’s Gospel which recounts the tragic death of John the Baptist, the Pope said John was the man God had sent to prepare the way for his son.

He, Pope Francis continued, was a man in the court of Herod, filled with corruption and vices who urged everyone to convert.

The Holy Father recalled how this great Saint firstly, proclaimed Jesus Christ. John had the chance to say he was the Messiah, added the Pope, but he did not. Secondly, said Pope Francis,  John the Baptist was “a man of Truth.”

The third thing John did, underlined the Holy Father was to imitate Jesus in his humility, in his suffering and humiliation.

The Pope also stressed that like other religious figures such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, John the Baptist had dark moments, moments of anguish and doubt sending his disciples to ask Jesus : ' But tell me, is it you, or am I wrong and there is another?

Pope Francis explained that John the “icon of a disciple” because he is "the man who proclaims Jesus Christ… and follows the way of Jesus Christ ."

Concluding his homily the Holy Father said we should not take advantage of our condition as Christians, as if it were a privilege. Instead we are called proclaim the Gospel message with humility without seizing on the prophecy.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marianist Monday

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, explained during a Friday news conference, "Consecrated men and women are aware that besides recounting the great stories they have written in the past, they are called to write a no-less-beautiful and great story in the future."

The Cardinal explained that 2015 would be the Year for Consecrated Life, which Pope Francis originally announced in November, but few people have heard. The year will begin on November 21, which is a special day of prayer dedicated for those living the religious life.

The Cardinal spoke about the 49-year-old Vatican Council decree "Perfectae Caritatis" which has to do with religious life.

"We are convinced that the council represented the breath of the Holy Spirit not only for the entire church, but in a particular way for consecrated life," the Cardinal told reporters.

"We are also convinced that in these 50 years, consecrated life has followed a fruitful path of renewal - certainly not without difficulties and struggles. In this year, we want to recognize and confess our weaknesses, but we also want to show the world with strength and joy the holiness and vitality that are present in consecrated life."

It is a curious fact that those who lived the religious life, particularly monks and nuns, are among the happiest people on the planet. Psychological studies have proven that they have a greater measure of life satisfaction and overall happiness when compared to the mainstream population at large.

Perhaps it bears out the old wisdom: it is better to acquire moments than things.

According to Vatican statistics, there are nearly one million people living religious, consecrated life within the church. The Catholic faith is unique when compared to other Christian denominations because it invites people to live as monks, nuns, and priests, under vows of celibacy, chastity, poverty, and obedience. No other Christian denomination asks such lifetime devotion.

A minority of those living the religious life, as well as many laypersons may also take the same vows on a temporary basis.

The purpose of these vows are to help people to grow in Christ and to eliminate distractions from a life of prayer and service to God. We, the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, are particularly reliant on these individuals for day-to-day assistance, spiritual guidance, provision of the sacraments, and various other needs. Many are reliant on those living religious vocations for food, shelter, medicine, education, and other basic needs.

The Church performs an absolutely vital role in the world today. Pope Francis for example, is seen as a peacemaker and the mediator. Recently, Syrian dictator Bashir al-Assad petitioned Pope Francis to help broker a peace in his troubled nation -- such is the integrity and respect that the Catholic Church commands around the globe.

Is important that we pray for those who live religious lives, and that we meditate and listen so that we too may hear if the Holy Spirit is calling us to join them.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

29th World Youth Day 2014

Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) – We publish below the full text of the message the Holy Father has sent to the young people preparing for the 29th World Youth Day 2014, which will take as its theme: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.

Dear Young Friends,

How vividly I recall the remarkable meeting we had in Rio de Janeiro for the Twenty-eighth World Youth Day. It was a great celebration of faith and fellowship! The wonderful people of Brazil welcomed us with open arms, like the statue of Christ the Redeemer which looks down from the hill of Corcovado over the magnificent expanse of Copacabana beach. There, on the seashore, Jesus renewed his call to each one of us to become his missionary disciples. May we perceive this call as the most important thing in our lives and share this gift with others, those near and far, even to the distant geographical and existential peripheries of our world.

The next stop on our intercontinental youth pilgrimage will be in Krakow in 2016. As a way of accompanying our journey together, for the next three years I would like to reflect with you on the Beatitudes found in the Gospel of Saint Matthew. This year we will begin by reflecting on the first Beatitude: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. For 2015 I suggest: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’. Then, in 2016, our theme will be: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’.

1. The revolutionary power of the Beatitudes

It is always a joyful experience for us to read and reflect on the Beatitudes! Jesus proclaimed them in his first great sermon, preached on the shore of the sea of Galilee. There was a very large crowd, so Jesus went up on the mountain to teach his disciples. That is why it is known as ‘the Sermon on the Mount’. In the Bible, the mountain is regarded as a place where God reveals himself. Jesus, by preaching on the mount, reveals himself to be a divine teacher, a new Moses. What does he tell us? He shows us the way to life, the way that he himself has taken. Jesus himself is the way, and he proposes this way as the path to true happiness. Throughout his life, from his birth in the stable in Bethlehem until his death on the cross and his resurrection, Jesus embodied the Beatitudes. All the promises of God’s Kingdom were fulfilled in him.

In proclaiming the Beatitudes, Jesus asks us to follow him and to travel with him along the path of love, the path that alone leads to eternal life. It is not an easy journey, yet the Lord promises us his grace and he never abandons us. We face so many challenges in life: poverty, distress, humiliation, the struggle for justice, persecutions, the difficulty of daily conversion, the effort to remain faithful to our call to holiness, and many others. But if we open the door to Jesus and allow him to be part of our lives, if we share our joys and sorrows with him, then we will experience the peace and joy that only God, who is infinite love, can give.

The Beatitudes of Jesus are new and revolutionary. They present a model of happiness contrary to what is usually communicated by the media and by the prevailing wisdom. A worldly way of thinking finds it scandalous that God became one of us and died on a cross! According to the logic of this world, those whom Jesus proclaimed blessed are regarded as useless, ‘losers’. What is glorified is success at any cost, affluence, the arrogance of power and self-affirmation at the expense of others.

Jesus challenges us, young friends, to take seriously his approach to life and to decide which path is right for us and leads to true joy. This is the great challenge of faith. Jesus was not afraid to ask his disciples if they truly wanted to follow him or if they preferred to take another path. Simon Peter had the courage to reply: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’. If you too are able to say ‘yes’ to Jesus, your lives will become both meaningful and fruitful.

2. The courage to be happy

What does it mean to be ‘blessed’ (makarioi in Greek)? To be blessed means to be happy. Tell me: Do you really want to be happy? In an age when we are constantly being enticed by vain and empty illusions of happiness, we risk settling for less and ‘thinking small’ when it come to the meaning of life. Think big instead! Open your hearts! As Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati once said, ‘To live without faith, to have no heritage to uphold, to fail to struggle constantly to defend the truth: this is not living. It is scraping by. We should never just scrape by, but really live’ (Letter to I. Bonini, 27 February 1925). In his homily on the day of Piergiorgio Frassati’s beatification (20 May 1990), John Paul II called him ‘a man of the Beatitudes’ (AAS 82 [1990], 1518).

If you are really open to the deepest aspirations of your hearts, you will realize that you possess an unquenchable thirst for happiness, and this will allow you to expose and reject the ‘low cost’ offers and approaches all around you. When we look only for success, pleasure and possessions, and we turn these into idols, we may well have moments of exhilaration, an illusory sense of satisfaction, but ultimately we become enslaved, never satisfied, always looking for more. It is a tragic thing to see a young person who ‘has everything’, but is weary and weak.

Saint John, writing to young people, told them: ‘You are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one’. oung people who choose Christ are strong: they are fed by his word and they do not need to ‘stuff themselves’ with other things! Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be truly happy! Say no to an ephemeral, superficial and throwaway culture, a culture that assumes that you are incapable of taking on responsibility and facing the great challenges of life!

3. Blessed are the poor in spirit…

The first Beatitude, our theme for the next World Youth Day, says that the poor in spirit are blessed for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. At a time when so many people are suffering as a result of the financial crisis, it might seem strange to link poverty and happiness. How can we consider poverty a blessing?

First of all, let us try to understand what it means to be ‘poor in spirit’. When the Son of God became man, he chose the path of poverty and self-emptying. As Saint Paul said in his letter to the Philippians: ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human likeness’. Jesus is God who strips himself of his glory. Here we see God’s choice to be poor: he was rich and yet he became poor in order to enrich us through his poverty. His is the mystery we contemplate in the crib when we see the Son of God lying in a manger, and later on the cross, where his self-emptying reaches its culmination.

The Greek adjective ptochos (poor) does not have a purely material meaning. It means ‘a beggar’, and it should be seen as linked to the Jewish notion of the anawim, ‘God’s poor’. It suggests lowliness, a sense of one’s limitations and existential poverty. The anawim trust in the Lord, and they know that they can count on him.

As Saint Therese of the Child Jesus clearly saw, by his incarnation Jesus came among us as a poor beggar, asking for our love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that ‘man is a beggar before God’ and that prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst and our own thirst.

Saint Francis of Assisi understood perfectly the secret of the Beatitude of the poor in spirit. Indeed, when Jesus spoke to him through the leper and from the crucifix, Francis recognized both God’s grandeur and his own lowliness. In his prayer, the Poor Man of Assisi would spend hours asking the Lord: ‘Who are you?’ ‘Who am I?’ He renounced an affluent and carefree life in order to marry ‘Lady Poverty’, to imitate Jesus and to follow the Gospel to the letter. Francis lived in imitation of Christ in his poverty and in love for the poor – for him the two were inextricably linked – like two sides of one coin.

You might ask me, then: What can we do, specifically, to make poverty in spirit a way of life, a real part of our own lives? I will reply by saying three things.

First of all, try to be free with regard to material things. The Lord calls us to a Gospel lifestyle marked by sobriety, by a refusal to yield to the culture of consumerism. This means being concerned with the essentials and learning to do without all those unneeded extras which hem us in. Let us learn to be detached from possessiveness and from the idolatry of money and lavish spending. Let us put Jesus first. He can free us from the kinds of idol-worship which enslave us. Put your trust in God, dear young friends! He knows and loves us, and he never forgets us. Just as he provides for the lilies of the field, so he will make sure that we lack nothing. If we are to come through the financial crisis, we must be also ready to change our lifestyle and avoid so much wastefulness. Just as we need the courage to be happy, we also need the courage to live simply.

Second, if we are to live by this Beatitude, all of us need to experience a conversion in the way we see the poor. We have to care for them and be sensitive to their spiritual and material needs. To you young people I especially entrust the task of restoring solidarity to the heart of human culture. Faced with old and new forms of poverty – unemployment, migration and addictions of various kinds – we have the duty to be alert and thoughtful, avoiding the temptation to remain indifferent. We have to remember all those who feel unloved, who have no hope for the future and who have given up on life out of discouragement, disappointment or fear. We have to learn to be on the side of the poor, and not just indulge in rhetoric about the poor! Let us go out to meet them, look into their eyes and listen to them. The poor provide us with a concrete opportunity to encounter Christ himself, and to touch his suffering flesh.

However – and this is my third point – the poor are not just people to whom we can give something. They have much to offer us and to teach us. How much we have to learn from the wisdom of the poor! Think about it: several hundred years ago a saint, Benedict Joseph Labre, who lived on the streets of Rome from the alms he received, became a spiritual guide to all sorts of people, including nobles and prelates. In a very real way, the poor are our teachers. They show us that people’s value is not measured by their possessions or how much money they have in the bank. A poor person, a person lacking material possessions, always maintains his or her dignity. The poor can teach us much about humility and trust in God. In the parable of the pharisee and the tax-collector, Jesus holds the tax-collector up as a model because of his humility and his acknowledgement that he is a sinner. The widow who gave her last two coins to the temple treasury is an example of the generosity of all those who have next to nothing and yet give away everything they have.

4. … for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

The central theme of the Gospel is the kingdom of God. Jesus is the kingdom of God in person; he is Immanuel, God-with-us. And it is in the human heart that the kingdom, God’s sovereignty, takes root and grows. The kingdom is at once both gift and promise. It has already been given to us in Jesus, but it has yet to be realised in its fullness. That is why we pray to the Father each day: ‘Thy kingdom come’.

There is a close connection between poverty and evangelisation, between the theme of the last World Youth Day – ‘Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations!’ – and the theme for this year: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’. The Lord wants a poor Church which evangelises the poor. When Jesus sent the Twelve out on mission, he said to them: ‘Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the labourers deserve their food’. Evangelical poverty is a basic condition for spreading the kingdom of God. The most beautiful and spontaneous expressions of joy which I have seen during my life were by poor people who had little to hold onto. Evangelisation in our time will only take place as the result of contagious joy.

We have seen, then, that the Beatitude of the poor in spirit shapes our relationship with God, with material goods and with the poor. With the example and words of Jesus before us, we realize how much we need to be converted, so that the logic of being more will prevail over that of having more! The saints can best help us to understand the profound meaning of the Beatitudes. So the canonization of John Paul II, to be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Easter, will be an event marked by immense joy. He will be the great patron of the World Youth Days which he inaugurated and always supported. In the communion of saints he will continue to be a father and friend to all of you.

This month of April marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee Cross of the Redemption to the young. That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents. The Pope’s words on that Easter Sunday in 1984 remain memorable: ‘My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found’.

Dear friends, the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, poor in spirit, is also the song of everyone who lives by the Beatitudes. The joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God, like the heart of Our Lady, whom all generations call ‘blessed’. May Mary, Mother of the poor and Star of the new evangelisation help us to live the Gospel, to embody the Beatitudes in our lives, and to have the courage always to be happy.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is an open outcry: "Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray."

The psalmist is crying to God, asking for help. Facing the threat of violence, he begs God to destroy those who are telling lies. Perhaps he has been accused of wrongdoing himself, and is now pleading his case to God. The psalm can be used today by anyone being threatened by wicked, evil, boastful, bloodthirsty or deceitful people.

You know them: Friends who are really enemies -- "frenemies." High school gangs. Street thugs. Unfaithful spouses. Unethical co-workers. Substance-abusing relatives who lie to you. Put-down artists. Adversaries who try to undermine and destroy you. Sleazy salespeople and unscrupulous loan officers. Anyone who lies, cheats and steals, showing no regard for the welfare of others.

In short, the people who make you want to scream. All of us have them in our lives, every one of us. But yelling at such people face to face is not always an appropriate or productive thing to do.

That's why Psalm 5 encourages us to make an Open Outcry first to God.

"O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice," says the psalmist; "in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you."

Believe it or not, we can gain relief simply by speaking honestly about our troubles. "Talk therapy" is the technical term, and it can do a lot of good for people feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Professional therapists all agree that talking, articulating, voicing, speaking or otherwise expressing our ideas, thoughts and feelings is a good thing.

So why not talk about your feelings with God, who is the Ultimate Listener? In the morning, plead your case -- ask for help with frenemies, spouses, co-workers and relatives. Pray for strength to face the challenges of the day, knowing that the Lord is "not a God who delights in wickedness.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Touch of the Master

The Touch of the Master
Luke 5:12-5:16

The key element in this story about Jesus and the leper is that Jesus reached out and touched the leper. By doing that, Jesus broke a multitude of social and religious mores. Lepers were outcasts. To touch a leper made one socially and religiously unclean. It was thought at that time that to touch a leper put your life at risk. Jesus went against the conventional wisdom of the day, and broke the rules. He reached out and touched the leper and when he did so, he communicated awareness, acceptance, love, and a power that produced health.

We appreciate and desire touch in our lives. We like to hold hands, to receive a hug at the appropriate time, or to have a pat on the back. There are times, however, when we avoid touch. We avoid touch when we hurt. There are times when we have the flu or other illness that we don’t want anyone touching us because it hurts. We also avoid touch of reality because we fear it would be too painful. · We don’t allow others to touch us as a defensive mechanism. We don’t want others to get too close to us, or they might discover some things about us that we don’t want them to. Even, we don’t even want to get to close to ourselves, because we don’t want to know the harsh reality of our condition. · We don’t allow others to touch us because we are angry at them. How often we have said, “Don’t touch me! I don’t like what you said, or what you did.”We avoid touch at the very time we need desperately to be touched. How comforting it is in the midst of our sickness to feel the gentle caress of a hand. As much as we don’t want to be known, we crave touch and to be known intimately. Even in our anger we desire the touch of reconciliation.

The text today invites us to follow the lead of the leper, and ask Jesus to touch our lives. Like the leper, when we ask God if God wills to heal us, God always replies in the affirmative. We are invited to enter into God’s presence and open ourselves up to a loving God. In God’s presence we are able to confess our hurt, lower our defenses, and release our anger. This passage of scripture invites us to open ourselves to God’s healing touch in our lives, wherever that healing touch is needed. So brothers, Jesus invites us to come to him now in prayer, and share with him our need to be healed. Like the leper whom Jesus healed, so Jesus will say “Yes,” to us, and we touch our lives in ways we have never been touched before.

Today's blog is a reflection given by one of our Marianist Brothers.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


We are tiny and God is great, all powerful, all sovereign and all good.

"the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Consecrated Person

The Consecrated Person: A Bridge

Pope Benedict's homily for Vespers on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was a model of liturgical preaching. Below is shared a small excerpt of the Holy Father's message. Consecrated men and women, be they hidden in the cloister, or engaged in the Church's mission to the world, are associated to the Lord Jesus and called, at every moment, to remain close to Him, at "the throne of grace."

If Christ was not truly God, and was not, at the same time, fully man, the foundation of Christian life as such would come to naught, and in an altogether particular way, the foundation of every Christian consecration of man and woman would come to naught. Consecrated life, in fact, witnesses and expresses in a "powerful" way the reciprocal seeking of God and man, the love that attracts them to one another. The consecrated person, by the very fact of his or her being, represents something like a "bridge" to God for all those he or she meets -- a call, a return. And all this by virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Father's Consecrated One. He is the foundation! He who shared our frailty so that we could participate in his divine nature.

Our text insists on more than on faith, but rather on "trust" with which we can approach the "throne of grace," from the moment that our high priest was himself "put to the test in everything like us." We can approach to "receive mercy," "find grace," and "to be helped in the opportune moment." It seems to me that these words contain a great truth and also a great comfort for us who have received the gift and commitment of a special consecration in the Church.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Our Lady of Lourdes

O ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday Tunes

Monday, February 10, 2014

Marianist Monday

Tomb of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
Dear Friends,

Imagine our joy when Pope Francis announced that the Church would celebrate “the Year of Consecrated Life” in 2015! We look forward to the Year of Consecrated Life as a way of renewing our commitment to the charism of our Founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, and as a grace-filled opportunity to nurture the seeds of a religious vocation among young men who have expressed an interest in our Province and in our Marianist way of life.

On Sunday, February 2, Pope Francis capitalized on the Church’s Annual World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life to emphasize the importance of religious priests, brothers, and sisters. “Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey,” the Pope told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus message. “There is much need of their presence, that strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer; the commitment to a human and spiritual formation of young people, of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family.”

“The Church and the world have need of this testimony of the love and mercy of God,” he added. Yes, all Christians are consecrated to God in baptism and are called to make “a generous gift of our lives, in the family, at work, in the service of the Church, (and) in works of mercy,” but those in religious life experience this consecration “in a particular way. Totally consecrated to God, they are totally given over to their brethren, to carry the light of Christ where the darkness is thickest and to spread His hope to hearts that are discouraged.”

“We must pray,” the Pope concluded, “so that many young people respond ‘yes’ to the Lord who calls them to consecrate themselves wholly for disinterested service to their brethren.”

We ask you to join us in prayer, that young people would respond joyfully and generously to the call of a religious vocation. We ask you in particular to pray for those young men who are discerning a call to the Society of Mary and the Province of Meribah. This past summer, seven young men lived, prayed, studied, and worked with us in a three-week discernment community. Many of these same young men will join us again this summer in our discernment community, along with several newcomers to the program.

Pope Francis has said that those who live a religious life in imitation of Christ’s own poverty, chastity, and obedience offer “a special witness to the gospel of the Kingdom of God.” In his oft-quoted summation of Marianist religious life, Blessed Chaminade focused as well on the imitation of Jesus Christ as the heart and soul of our calling: “It is for us an infinite honor to be like Him.”

Please pray for us as we strive to “be like Him” and lead others to do so as well.

In Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother,

Bro. Thomas J. Cleary. S.M.
Province of Meribah

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Sunday Word

Just as the First Adam was called to be a gardener, so too was Jesus, the Second Adam. Jesus constantly used agricultural images. He talked more like a gardener than a rabbi. There is a definite "earthiness" to all of His sayings. When Jesus called his disciples to be "the salt of the earth," he was comparing their role in the world to the role the dungheap played in the agricultural practices of his day. Salt, like manure, was not of any use when clumped together by itself. Salt and manure were meant to be worked into the soil - enriching the productivity of the whole field with their presence.

Christians are called to stimulate the growth of truth and righteousness - to increase the production of goodness in the world. The church, the body of Christ, is the salt - the dungheap, the compost pile, the manure that must find its way into and fertilize the barren soil of lonely, hopeless souls.

Like a pinch of leaven in the dough; like a sprinkle of salt or a shovelful of manure in the flowerbed; or even like a single simple construction worker's son wandering within a tiny, primitive country, God has always had a way of making a little go a long way.

Salt is a doubly descriptive image of this principle at work. As well as being a kind of soul-enriching fertilizer, salt also makes us thirsty. Airplanes and bars know that by putting out free snacks like salty peanuts and pretzels they will increase patrons' thirst and thus their drink sales. In the same way the church as salt should stimulate the thirst of others for the good things of God, for the amazing things of the Spirit.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pope Francis speaks

From CNS:

Pope Francis said contemporary ideas of marriage as an arrangement defined by personal needs promote a mentality of divorce, and he called for better preparation of engaged couples as well as ministry to Catholics whose marriages have failed.

The pope’s remarks appeared in a message distributed Feb. 7 to Polish bishops making “ad limina” visits to Rome to report on the state of their dioceses. Pope Francis met with the group but, as he frequently does, dispensed with reading out his prepared text.

In his message, the pope warned the bishops of some of the “new challenges” the church faces in their society, including the “idea of liberty without limits, tolerance hostile to or wary of the truth, or resentment of the church’s justified opposition to the prevailing relativism.”

“Marriage today is often considered a form of emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will,” he said. “Unfortunately this vision also influences the mentality of Christians, causing them to resort easily to divorce or de facto separation.”

Pope Francis said pastors should search for ways to minister to divorced and separated Catholics, “so that they do not feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians and the church’s solicitude for their salvation,” and help such persons keep the “faith and raise their children in the fullness of the Christian experience.”

The pope has said church law regarding marriage, divorce and separation is a topic that exemplifies a general need for mercy in the church today, and that it will be a subject of discussion at this October’s extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the “pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

Friday, February 7, 2014

As we approach Lent...

The newest Benedictine album has been published on Jan 2, 2014. And it is out February 11, 2014.

Polyphony/Chant/Original Compositions all geared towards the Lenten Season.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The best days...

Some days, Lord,
in the simplest of ways,
are the best days of all...

The best days are those
when I make some time
to be with you
and to stop and pray...

The best days come
when those around me bring a smile
to my heart and to my face
and I'm ready to receive the joy...

The best days are those
when I learn something new
(and wonderful)
about those who are around me
all the time...

The best days are those
when I see, clearly,
how you've used my words and work
to touch the lives of others...

The best days are those
when I have good advice
to share with one I call my friend...

The best days are those, Lord,
when I know I'm in the right place
at the right time
and you are by my side...

The best days are those
when I can trust, without a doubt,
that I live in your grace and I'm held
in the palm of your hand...

The best days are those, Lord,
when I'm at peace with you,
with those around me
and even with myself...

Yesterday was a "best day" for me Lord,
but for those who had a hard day,
a sad day, a lonely day,
I pray today will be a better day,
even a best day, in your love, in your grace,
in the palm of your strong and gentle hand...


H/T A Concord Pastor Commenst

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fearfully & wonderfully made

The image of God is everything. We were created in God's image for a purpose. Each of us is chosen for a purpose that has nothing to do with fame, fortune or face time on TV.

Our purpose is to reflect the image of God in us and no other, and to live as people who authentically love and are loved. God defines our true identity as his created and loved image, and then calls us to live out that identity in community for the whole world.

Indeed, Scripture tells us over and over again that God does his best work through those whom the rest of the world wouldn't give 15 seconds of attention, let alone 15 minutes of fame: people like this poetic little shepherd, a bunch of working class fishermen and a host of sinners like us. It's through the weakest and least likely that God's glory is able to shine brightest. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians, "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God."

Appearances can be deceiving. God looks at the heart. The only image that matters is God's image in us.

Few, if any, of us will ever be famous to the rest of the world, but we are all famous to God. It's God's picture of us that is the most clearly focused and long-lasting. May we be people who skip the bling and, instead, strive to be the picture he created us to be.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Saint Blaise

SAINT BLAISE - Bishop and Martyr(†316)

Saint Blaise devoted the earlier years of his life to the study of philosophy, and later became a physician. In the practice of his profession he saw so much of the miseries of life and the shallowness of worldly pleasures, that he resolved to spend the rest of his days in the service of God. From being a healer of bodily ailments he became a physician of souls.

When appointed bishop, Saint Blaise, began to instruct his people by example. From all parts, the people came flocking to him for the cure of bodily and spiritual ills.

When the governor began a persecution by order of the Emperor, Saint Blaise was seized. After interrogation and a severe scourging, he was hurried off to prison. While he was under custody, a distraught mother, whose only child was dying of a throat disease, threw herself at his feet and implored his intercession. Touched at her grief, he offered up his prayers, and the child was cured.

Prayer to Saint Blaise
Dear bishop and lover of souls,
you willingly bore heavy crosses in faithful imitation of Jesus.
Similarly, with Christlike compassion you cured many sufferers.
Than after undergoing horrible torture,
you died as a martyr for Christ. Obtain a cure for these ills if this is agreeable to God. Amen.

Blaise is the patron saint of wild animals because of his care for them.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

World Day of Consecrated Life

Forty days after Christ's birth the Law of Moses required Mary to go to the temple and take part in the ritual for purification. This was also the day Mary and Joseph formally introduced Jesus to the House of God.

In 1997 Pope John Paul the Great also made February 2nd the World Day for Consecrated Life. This day focuses on members of secular institutes, movements and personal prelatures, as well as members of Societies of Apostolic life.

These people have taken vows and effectively set themselves apart for God, that He may use them to do His will in the world and in the Church.

Every year the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord with the members of Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life to remind us that just as Mary and Joseph presented Jesus to the Lord, those who are consecrated have also presented themselves to the Lord. This day serves as a day for them to once again re-affirm their response to God’s call to set themselves apart for His will.

The Marianists of the Province of Meribah celebrate today their witness of Christ. With great joy the Brothers express that the Lord is the Love who is able to fill the heart of the human person.

We consider today the words of John Paul II: "Truly there is great urgency that the consecrated life show itself ever more "full of joy and of the Holy Spirit," that it forge ahead dynamically in the paths of mission, that it be backed up by the strength of lived witness, because "modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."

Saturday, February 1, 2014


Let the waters... And God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.