Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Sunday Word

The Gospel set for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time is a familiar story: the feeding of the 5,000 or "the multiplication of the loaves and fishes." The day's first Scripture, from Isaiah, invites all who are thirsty and hungry to come and be fed, thus setting the stage for the scene we'll encounter in Matthew. The second reading, comes this week, again, from Romans and reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.

There's no better way to prepare for Sunday Mass than to take a look at the readings beforehand. Then, after looking at the Scriptures, ask yourself the questions a preacher might ask in preparing a homily:

Which particular words or phrases in the Scriptures hold my attention?

What in the past week's news comes to mind as I read these Scriptures?
Who invites the hungry, today, to come and eat and drink at no cost?
What threatens to separate us from the love of Christ today?
How do I understand miracles?
How do my listeners understand miracles?
What might be a contemporary version of "5 loaves and 2 fish?"
What do I suppose the disciples did with the 12 wicker baskets of left-overs?
What do I do with my left-overs?
Jesus feeds his people: for what are his people hungry today?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Heroic Masculinity

“Man up.”

“Be a man.”

“You are the man.”

I’ve heard all these things, starting in elementary school. They didn’t stop in middle school, increased as I began to play football and joined the wrestling team, and continue to be spoken in various ways to me as a young adult. Every time I hear them I wonder, “What exactly do you mean?”

Our world has given us many examples of what they define masculinity to be – and most of them are competing and contradicting one another. What it means to “be a man” to one person may look completely different to another person. Whenever I hear another person give me a definition of what a man is supposed to look like I can’t help but think – “wow, that completely contradicts the last definition of manhood I heard today.”

What if there was a way to find authentic manhood – to realize our masculine identity and reclaim it? When we know who we are as men and what we were created to do – everything changes.

If we want to understand masculinity, we have to understand God’s original purpose for it. When God created the first man, Adam, He gave him three very important tasks: Adam needed to cultivate life in the garden, he was charged by God to help create new life, and he was the garden’s protector.

When Adam and Eve sin, Adam fails at all of three of his responsibilities. Instead of protecting, Adam is apathetic and weak as the serpent tempts Eve (Genesis 3:1-6). Instead of helping to create life and cultivate it, Adam, through his sin, destroys life and sows death into the world. Adam fails at his responsibility.

As men, we still have those three tasks to fulfill – but we don’t have an example of how to fulfill them if we look to Adam. Instead, we need to look to the one that St. Paul calls Christ the new Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45); this is Jesus Christ. Jesus restores what it means to be a man and to reclaim our identity – and we do that through cultivating, creating, and protecting.

There is a challenge, though, because as men we are presented with alternatives in our world that distort these three duties, and the battle for a true masculine identity rages between them. We must make the choice of the example we are going to follow: Do we go the path of Adam or do we follow Christ? We must make a choice between cultivating weeds or cultivating fruit; creating or destroying, and protecting or giving in to apathy.


Cultivating is the act of nurturing soil and preparing it to grow something. It is an intentional act. Adam was put into the garden to prepare the soil to bring forth life. Cultivating is a daily activity – and we cultivate our hearts by the actions we take or do not take.

Think of someone that has done something really heroic; think of the last story you heard of a person running into a burning building to save someone, stepping in front of a gunman, or rushing to the scene of an accident to perform CPR. How did those people get the courage to do something like that? The answer is simple: They practiced courage daily.

We want to believe that, when put to the test, we will choose the right thing and stand up for the weak and oppressed. We want to believe we can be heroes, but if we do not practice heroic virtue every day then we are foolish. To say that I can be a hero without ever practicing is as ridiculous as saying I can play major league baseball tomorrow. I would fail.

We cultivate virtue in our lives and it will bear fruit in the heroic actions we engage in when called upon. But we also can cultivate weeds; just like no person suddenly engages in a hugely heroic action, no person suddenly commits a big sin. A man that commits adultery doesn’t one day just decide to cheat on his wife; he commits tiny sins ahead of time – a lustful gaze, online pornography, having an emotional affair. A man doesn’t suddenly decide to commit murder; he starts by cultivating violence in his speech and in his thoughts; he begins by viewing others as inferior to himself and not worthy of his respect.

Jesus didn’t suddenly show up and give his life up for us. He served others and loved others long before He gave himself in the ultimate act of love. Jesus lived virtue every day and in every opportunity. Jesus, the Son, was rooted in prayer with the Father – He shows us that following Him is not a one time act but a daily requirement.

With every daily act of virtue – standing up against gossip, respecting others, choosing to pray – we prepare our hearts for courageous virtue when it is needed most. Or we can choose to sin – but be warned, those tiny sins can turn into big problems when we cultivate them.

Habits are important because they will bear fruit or weeds. Fruit gives life, but weeds choke it out and destroy it.

We were created to bring life into the world. One of the unique ways that many of us are called to create life is through fatherhood in marriage. We share in the act of creating human life with God – our sexuality reveals that we are made to create.

But not all of us are called to create life that way. Some of us are called to the priesthood and to help bring God’s divine life, AKA, grace, into the world through the sacraments.

Men are creative beings – look at the way a child builds with blocks, or the way a young man writes a poem or song, look through art in a museum. We are at our best when we can be creating things that glorify God and bring life into the world.

Our creative power can also be abused, though, and become destructive. Pornography, masturbation, sex outside of marriage all distort our innate desire to create. Instead, those things destroy our dignity and the dignity of the men and women that they are used against.

Jesus was a carpenter – a creator. What other career could there be for the one that created the world? Jesus’ life was given to create life, not destroy it.

Some men create houses for the homeless; others create atom bombs. A tension exists in us to create, but a temptation to also destroy. When we choose to destroy we bring some of the worst evils into the world. We must respect the great gift God has given us of creativity and use it to glorify God.

Adam didn’t give Eve the fruit to eat, but his sin is worse than the serpent. Adam was apathetic to the struggle going on in front of his face. He just let it happen. Unfortunately, this same scenario plays out time and time again – men that stand idly by as the world around them goes to hell.

Jesus protected his own and, ultimately, gave everything for us. He was so set against death and sin that he gave his own life to defeat them. Jesus Christ stands in front of the devil and protects us.

The devil does not want you to become a bad person; the devil simply wants you to become apathetic. The devil does not want a generation of young men that are dictators or murders, but a generation of men that has forgotten their identity and play video games all day, drink too much in college, destroy their sexuality, and when they see evil say to themselves, “someone else will take care of that.”

Apathy is the greatest challenge of this generation of men, and we must overcome it. The time for “someone else to do it” is over. We need to step up – when we see someone’s dignity being insulted, when we see women objectified, when our friends are being hurt, and when our enemies need prayer.

We have a choice to make – who will you reflect? Will it be the fall of Adam, or the victory of Christ? You were made to be holy and to reflect true masculinity – it is by your design. Accept no substitutes for what God has given; cultivate virtue, create rather than destroy, and put apathy aside. The choice is yours.
Lifeteen - Joel Stepanak

Monday, July 28, 2014

Marianist Monday

As Marianists, consecration to Mary consists in offering ourself entirely to Mary in order, through her, to belong totally to Jesus. All consecrations therefore are ultimately through and with Mary to Jesus. This is in imitation of the Son of God who offered Himself entirely to Mary not only in her womb but as a Son to a Mother so as to come to earth and become one with all humanity. The Son of God's giving of Himself to Mary therefore did not end at His birth but continues forever as the bond between a Mother and a Son is eternal.

Following the entrustment of John to the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross, Pope John Paul II teaches that by entrusting oneself to Mary, each Christian, like John the Apostle, welcomes the Mother of Christ into his own home and heart. He continues by saying, As Mary gave birth to Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, she also had to have given birth to all of the members of that same body.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Our Lady of Good Counsel
Consecration to the Virgin Mary began at the foot of the Cross, whereby Our Lord entrusted John and, symbolically through him, all Christians to the Virgin Mary.

From the foot of the Cross to the earliest known prayer to Mary, the Sub Tuum Praesidium (c.300), to St. John Damascene (d.750) to St. Louis de Monfort (d.1716),  to Blessed William Joseph Chaminade(d. 1850), devotion to Mary and consecration to her has been part of the Christian tradition and faith. Marian consecration therefore is not an "old fashioned" devotion, but a historical, theological, and spiritual act whereby one grows in the holiness of one's Baptism and becomes a more perfect disciple of Christ. Consecration to the Virgin Mary therefore should not be undertaken lightly, for it is a life changing, faith building act.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


 I read today of the death of Fr. Pat Malone, S.J.—a man my own age, lost to leukemia.

His obituary tells of a life well-lived, one that touched so many, especially workers at Ground Zero in the weeks after 9/11.

He maintained a blog. Shortly after Easter, probably knowing that his life was drawing to a close, he had this to say:
Here’s one: nothing seems to stop the force of compassion. In a world long drenched in inequity and soreness, it stays. It stays with a ferocious resiliency. Nothing is able to keep it down. There is no weariness or bloodshed or sorrow that can come close to destroy it. The reverse is true: the more ridiculous it is to show acts of compassion, the more it endures. It is abundantly wasteful, being thrown about sometimes in futile or harsh settings. It refuses to fade away even when brutality and greed get their way in the world. They have not and can not extinguish the force of compassion. 
Another tenacious grace: hope. It is far more than wishing for better tomorrows. It is having gracious awareness of what is going on right now. It is seeing this life as a bewildering tapestry of miracles, and not doubting that this is the way it will continue. This sort of hope breeds patience. We do not expect a particular outcome. We find it more reasonable and easy to to know that whatever is ahead is completely unknown. But what is next will be sparkled with hints of the extraordinary gift just be a part of God’s fabric.
This sort of hope allows us greater permission to acknowledge when the present has darkness or awkwardness. Having this deep hope allows us to better settle into the messiness and frayed parts of our lives, remembering it has all, and will be all, weaved into a sacred journey. It does not remove from us any torment or confusion. It helps us know what to do: surrender the troubles of our lives to this God who seeks closeness. 
These graces that abide hover about as I move forward with rehab. I continue to mend in a place that makes it obvious I am in good hands. There is the slow work that comes with any recovery, yet simple joy is never too far. It happens, after five weeks inside, of getting outside and feeling a gentle breeze for the first time. Or holding a fork again. Or walking (wobbly) about in this strengthening place. Like your ongoing prayers, each of these small signs gives me a to chance to offer a hearty “alleluia”. 
May we be open to these abiding graces. May the one who gives us passage–the gate–guide us tenaciously to base our lives on the things that cannot die.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Sunday Word

There are more images of the kingdom in this Sunday's Gospel where Jesus offers three parables on images of God's reign coming among us. Those three images: a wheat field in which an enemy has sown weeds; as a mustard seed (the "smallest of all") that grows into a bush large enough for birds to nest in; and as the leaven, the yeast, a baker mixes with her flour to bake bread.

To help you understand these images, you might spend a little time "translating" the three Jesus offers into contemporary circumstances... what will you come up with?

The first reading of the day, from Wisdom, seems to have been chosen to complement the Gospel to reinforce the notion of God’s forbearance: "For your might is the source of justice, your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all." Just the thought that "God is lenient to all" is something all of us might spend some time pondering.

This week offers still another reading from Romans 8 and speaks boldly, if briefly, of the Spirit's role in our prayer and in interceding for us with God.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Boring Mass?

Boring Mass?

“Mass is so boring!”

How often have you parents heard that from your kids on Sunday morning? How often have our teachers and catechists heard it as they prepare our children for Mass? And, let’s admit it, how often have we said it to ourselves?

What do we say to that unfortunate and almost sacrilegious statement?

Well, for one, we simply reply, No, it’s not! You may find the Mass boring, but, that’s more your problem than the fault of the Mass.

We may find a lot of very important activities in life “boring”: visits to the dentist can be that way; kidney patients tell me dialysis three times a week is hardly a thrill; voting is no barrel of laughs. But, all three of them are very significant to our wellbeing, and their value hardly depends on us being ecstatic while doing them. The Mass is even more important for the health of our soul than those examples.

Boredom is our problem, and social commentators tell us we today, so used to thirty-second sound bites, or flipping the channel when we yawn at a program, are susceptible to it.

Thank God, a person’s or an event’s value does not depend on its tendency to sometimes “bore” us. People and significant events exist not to thrill us, unless we are the most narcissistic and spoiled of brats!

This is especially true of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We believe that every Mass is the renewal of the most important, critical event that ever occurred: the eternal, infinite sacrifice of praise of God the Son, Jesus, to God the Father, on a cross on Calvary on a Friday called “good.”

Come to think of it, the Roman soldiers were “bored” there, too, as they mocked Jesus and rolled dice for his tunic, the only property He had.

Two, we hardly go to Mass to be entertained, but to pray. If the flowers on the altar are pretty; if the music is good; if the air conditioning is working; if the sermon is short and meaningful; if the folks are friendly . . . all that sure helps.

But, the Mass works even when all of the above may be missing – - and, sadly, they often are!

Because, the Mass is not about us, but about God. And the value of the Mass comes from our simple yet profound conviction, based on faith, that , for an hour on Sunday, we’re part of the beyond, lifted up to the eternal, a participant in a mystery, as we unite with Jesus in the thanks, love, atonement, and sacrifice He eternally offers His Father. What Jesus does always works, and is never boring. The Mass is not some tedious chore we do for God, but a miracle Jesus does with and for us.

A gentleman was just telling me about his family Sunday dinner, the heart of the week when he was growing up. The food was so good because his mom cooked it so well, and the table so happy because his dad was always there!

Even after he got married and had his own kids, they’d all go to his mom and dad’s for that Sunday dinner. When his kids got a bit older they asked if they “had to go,” because, yes, at times they found it “boring.” Yes, you, do, he would reply, because we don’t just go for the food, but because of love, because mom and dad are there!

He teared-up as he recalled that, as mom and dad got old, the food wasn’t as good and the company not as sparkling, but he’d never miss, because that Sunday event had a depth of meaning even when mom burned the lasagna and dad nodded off.

And now, he concluded, he’d give anything to be there again, because mom’s gone, and dad’s in a home.

So now he and his wife host it, and he hopes his three kids will one day bring their spouses and children to their Sunday table.

See, the value of that Sunday dinner doesn’t depend on how good the food is; how expensive the wine; how interesting the conversation. All that sure helps, but it’s the event that has the real value.

Same with the Sunday dinner of our spiritual family: Mass.

Some folks think a game at Yankee Stadium is boring; some consider country music the same; some people tell me that values such as friendship, volunteer work, family, loyalty, generosity, and patriotism are “passe,” no longer “exciting.”

I’d say they got a problem!

And some tell me “Mass is so boring…

- Timothy Cardinal Dolan

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A place to meet the Lord

Help me a find a place to meet you, Lord:
a shady place, a grove of grace,
where you and I might meet and sit
together in the silence, in the shade, away
from all the noise that fills my mind...

Help me find a summer refuge at the shore
or in the fields or on some mountain top:
a grotto of your presence, Lord, a haven
where I'll find with you the peace
my heart desires...

This summer, Lord,
help find a place to meet you
down the road or out of town
or even close to home:
a place where we might meet and sit
together in the silence, in the shade
and in the prayer that makes us one...

You need not travel far to find a summer place
to meet the Lord and spend some time with him:
tt might be your back yard, your porch or deck
or just a favorite chair close by an open window...

Wherever you are, he's with you;
wherever you travel, he's by your side;
wherever you go, he'll be there to meet you
whenever you arrive...

H/T A Concord Pastor

Monday, July 21, 2014

Marianist Monday

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

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

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

1. our total self gift to God.

2. our alliance to each Brother in Community.

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

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

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Sunday Word

This summer is like no other in the production of weeds. Recently I’ve been spending a lot of time pulling weeds and thinking about ways to prevent new weeds from taking over the landscape. Weeds are prominently featured in a parable Jesus shares with the crowd in Matthew’s Gospel today. I have always appreciated the parables Jesus shares and although I believe the intent is to help an abstract concept be more concrete, the parables do not necessarily make concepts simpler for me. The farmer in the parable is clear that the weeds will be gathered and burned while the wheat will be taken into the barn. At first glance this is so straightforward that sinners burn in hell and true believers go to heaven. Yet I know that the delineation is not so clear.

The other readings today speak to me of the paradox of justice. In Romans we are reminded that we are not alone and the Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness. And the book of Wisdom describes God’s loving engagement of power “but though you are the master of might, you judge with clemency and with much lenience you govern us.” My prayer around the phrase “those who are just must be kind” brings me to reflect upon restorative justice which engages the paradox of accountability and compassion.

My prayer leads me to ask: When do I judge another person harshly? How do I demonize another person? When do I show compassion? How can I strive to ask what are the needs of members of my community? Committing to the principles of restorative justice helps me live my Catholic faith in the image of our loving and forgiving God.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Scriptures can only be interpreted through the lives of the saints.”

There is a profound mystery here. The Scriptures are somehow fulfilled and brought to life through the whole communion of saints’ lives.

In the Old Testament stories of men finding their brides there is the hint of the bride-bridegroom symbolism. Then the OT prophets declare that God himself will be the bridegroom of his people Israel. Then Jesus speak repeatedly in parables about the bride and the bridegroom and speaks about the virgin bride being ready for the arrival of the bridegroom and he refers to himself repeatedly as the bridegroom. The liturgy for the day of resurrection refers back to the psalms and pictures the Lord rising from the tomb being like the sun which is like a “bridegroom emerging from his chamber.”

Then Saint Paul refers to the church as “the bride of Christ” and says the Church “is presented one day to the Lord as a glorious Church without spot or wrinkle, as a bride adorned for her husband” Then in the Book of Revelation the life of heaven is likened to the “marriage supper of the Lamb.” In heaven the bride, the Church is at last one with the bridegroom in the consummation of the feast.

This is therefore why the Church honors female virgins as she does: because they picture the whole Church as the bride of Christ. They indicate a present and future reality and the reality that applies to each one of us as individuals and to the whole Church: that we are called to be finally made pure and spotless and ready for the bridegroom.

How can this be when so many of us are so wrapped up in sin, anger, violence and weakness?

This is the mysterious miracle: that through the working of grace and our cooperation with grace we are actually called to achieve this perfection. The destiny of each one of us is to be finally purified and made just as pure and clean and sparkling again as the virgin saints were in their mortal lives.

By being who they are they show us what we shall be.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Sunday Word

Sunday's Gospel parable goes like this: a householder sows good seed in his field, and then an enemy comes and sows weeds among the wheat. It’s a nasty little case of agricultural terrorism.

When the plants come up and bear grain, the weeds appear as well. And the slaves of the householder come to him and say, “Master, we’ve got a problem. Weeds among the wheat. Do you want us to go out and pull up the weeds?”

This seems like a logical response, but the householder gives them a very different command. “No,” he says; “for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest.” The master senses that a full-scale attack on the weeds would disturb and possibly even destroy the good wheat, so he instructs his slaves to do nothing about the bad seeds now. At harvest time the householder plans to tell the reapers, “Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Jesus takes a totally non-aggressive approach to rooting out evil.  Jesus is committed to preserving the weeds until the wheat is fully developed. He doesn’t have any desire to rush to judgment, preferring instead for nature to just take its course.

The point of this parable is not that Jesus is going to go easy on the weeds. No, he fully intends to put evildoers into the furnace of fire, “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Leave the weeds to me, says Jesus. You just worry about growing up as wheat. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Prayer

Too easily and much too often, Lord,
I take you for granted...

I take for granted your Spirit,
always moving in my mind and heart
and stirring me to do what's right and true...

And when I do what's wrong and fail the truth
I take for granted the mercy you so freely offer
when from my faults and sins I turn away
and seek your pardon...

I take for granted how you're always with me,
that not a moment of the day or night would find you
anywhere except right by my side...

I take for granted all the ways
your wisdom whispers in my thoughts
and how your counsel echoes in my conscience,
always moving me to live as your word calls me...

I take for granted that you've heard me say a thousand times,
"I will! I pledge! I promise!"
and yet you offer me another chance when once again,
I fail to follow through...

I take for granted all the people in my life,
each one a gift from you:
those who hold me up when I'm bowed down,
who are my strength when I am weak,
who give me hope when times are hard...

I take for granted how you're always there
to hear my mumbled, stumbling prayer,
to listen to my problems, to wipe away my tears,
to take away my fear and to share my every joy...

I take for granted how you love me as I am
and how patiently you wait for my becoming
all you created me to be...

I take for granted how faithful and abiding
is your gracious love for me
and how there is no end to your compassion,
your understanding and your kindness...

I take for granted, Lord,
how you never take me for granted...

Help me take to heart what I have prayed here, Lord,
and not for a moment take for granted the grace
of being in your presence,
of knowing that you listen to my prayer,
of trusting that you hear what my heart speaks...
H/T A Concord Pastor Comments

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marianist Monday

If the light of faith is the Word of God, if because of it the adorable Word comes to live within us, then we understand that faith, the conviction resulting from the impression of this light, is precisely the union of Jesus Christ with us; a union which goes so far as to transform us into Jesus Christ. By faith we think as Jesus Christ thinks, it is Jesus Christ who unites himself to our heart. By faith our guided will acts only as Jesus Christ acts, it is Jesus Christ who unites himself to our will. Thus the new self is formed within us.

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
Writings on Mental Prayer

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hi God

Hi, God.
I am just a mess.
It is all hopeless.
What else is new?
I would be sick of me, if I were You,
but miraculously You are not.
I know I have no control over other people’s lives,
and I hate this.
Yet I believe that if I accept this and surrender,
You will meet me wherever I am.
Wow. Can this be true?
If so, how is this afternoon--say, two-ish?

Thank You in advance for Your company
and blessings.

You have never once let me down.

(from Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Sunday Word

We'll be celebrating the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time this weekend.

Are you in a spiritual drought? Need a little nod from the Lord? This week's first reading, from Isaiah, contains a beautiful image of how God's word "rains and snows" upon us. For many, the snow will be out of season but the rainy image should work.

 Got some problems? Writing to the Romans, St. Paul treats of the "suffering and groaning" of our present time (in every age) and how the Spirit promises us freedom. How is God's Word growing in your life? The Gospel comes in a short and a long version of the parable of the sower and the seed. Which version would you like the preacher to proclaim? Small, large - or something in between?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ora et Labora

Saint Benedict of Nursia (480 - 547) was a saint from Italy, and a rule-giver for cenobitic monks. His purpose may be gleaned from his Rule, namely that "Christ ... may bring us all together to life eternal."

Benedict founded twelve communities for monks, the best known of which is at Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. There is no evidence that he intended to found a religious order. The Order of St Benedict is of modern origin and, moreover, not an "order" as commonly understood but merely a confederation of autonomous congregations, most of which are made up of autonomous monasteries.

Benedict's main achievement is his "Rule", containing precepts for his monks. It is heavily influenced by the writings of John Cassian, and shows strong affinity with the Rule of the Master. But it also has a unique spirit of balance, moderation and reasonableness, and this persuaded most religious communities founded throughout the Middle Ages to adopt it. As a result, the Rule of Benedict became one of the most influential religious rules in Western Christendom. For this reason Benedict is often called the founder of western Christian monasticism.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Be transformed

Yesterday one of the Brothers shared some reflections on the Gospel from St. Matthew. I offer you just the introductory ideas:

In our text today, we see the Apostles listed by name. But these men were more than names, they were real people. They got on one another’s nerves, they had great strengths and great weaknesses. One of them, Judas, was insincere.

The other 11 were sometimes dense, stubborn, blinded by their preconceived ideas, and wavered in thier faith and commitment.

These Apostles were men being transformed; we see them in the process of transformation. Christ would take these diamonds in the rough, this raw material, modify their personalities, and develop their spiritual depth.

From Christ’s intense ministry with the Apostles, we can see that God looks beyond what we are to what we can become. He wants us to enter the process of transformation and to continue on in that process.

Let’s look at just two of these flesh and blood, far from perfect Apostles, men not unlike ourselves.

Peter: The Bold Initiator

No other disciple was so praised and blessed by Jesus, and yet no other did He call Satan.

Peter was vacillating and unstable, but Christ would work with Him to develop Him into a Rock who would open up the church to the Jews at Pentecost and later to the Gentiles when he baptized Cornelius.

Before His crucifixion, Christ tells Peter that he would deny Him, and Peter did--3 TIMES

Bust in John's Gospel, Peter is asked to affirm His love for Christ 3 TIMES!

Peter went on the serve Christ faithfully, fully backing Paul as the spotlight turned to him....

Eventually, Peter was crucifed upside down in Rome....

Are you an unstable, vacillating person? Are you never content for long? Do you speak first and think later? Do you boast of great feats and dumb mistakes? Enter into the discipleship process with Jesus, and He’ll work with you. You’ll always be you, but you’ll be a better you, like Peter was.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Distraction as the inability to concentrate

The classic "Transformation in Christ" by Dietrich Von Hildebrand is a regular read during the summer  months for me. Originally it was a  series of conferences given by Von Hildebrand after he fled Nazi Germany where he was under sentence of death.

It certainly makes one look into their own heart and brings about that transformation in Christ.

It is a 20th century spiritual classic that made Pope Pius XII call Von Hildebrand a 20th century Doctor of the Church. 

I share with you the selection which was my meditation for today:

In recollection and contemplation - kindred but not identical attitudes - we encounter two more basic constituents of religious life. Recollection is a condition of all truly wakeful and deep modes of living, and hence indispensable for our transformation in Christ. Contemplation, again, is the source that feeds all life in Christ, and at the same time, the end in which that life finds its fulfillment.

What, then, is recollection? It is primarily an antithesis to distraction. We say sometimes we are not able to recollect ourselves in prayer: we are distracted. We then mean that we are unable to concentrate our attention on one point; we are controlled by the automatism of our associations; our mind is flying from one object to another; the images of our fantasy fitfully displace one another. This state of mind, in which we do not attend fully to any object and fail to penetrate the logos of any part of being but are at the mercy of our mechanism of associations, is properly termed distraction - a state of being dragged along from one object to another, never touching any of them but superficially. That distraction is the exact antithesis to recollection.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Marianist Monday


"The question whether I feel worthy to be called is beside the point; that God has called me is the one thing that matters."

We know that the Christian life consists in a transformation in Christ. Only to the extent that we are united to him do we enter into communion with the living God, the source of all charity, and become able to love others with the same love. To become humble as Christ was, means serving everyone, dying to the old man within us, overcoming tendencies in our nature that original sin has unleashed.

Thus a Christian understands that "humiliations, borne with love, become sweet and savory; they are a blessing from God."

When we accept humiliations in this way, we open ourselves up to all the riches of the supernatural life and can exclaim with St. Paul: For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Sunday Word

On Sunday, July 6 we find ourselves on the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time.

This weekend's Gospel:

Come to me, 
all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you 
and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, 
and my burden light.

A few questions for reflection:

When I'm tired and burdened, where do I find rest?
To what, to whom am I yoked in my life?
What difference would it make in my life
were I to take Jesus' yoke upon me?

Saturday, July 5, 2014


Did you have a hard time trying to sing the Star Spangled Banner?

So, listen below to the National Anthem in its original 1814 version. you guessed right, it is the 200th anniversary of Francis Scott Keyes putting his words to an already familiar tune, To Anacreon in Heaven.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Birthday!

America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for heroes prov'd
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov'd,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
God mend thine ev'ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

Thursday, July 3, 2014


Saint Thomas - Apostle
July 3

The story of "doubting" Thomas is one of the more famous ones in all of the Gospels because it speaks to a deep human condition. In the face of confusion, conflicting evidence and a world that requires empirical evidence before making a decision, doubt seems to be the norm for many people. Sometimes that doubt can be useful. For example, had architects  been skeptical enough to not get dazzled by their own designs, they might have discovered some flaws in their plans. But other times, doubt can lead to atrophy and emptiness, especially when it causes us to neglect the hope of faith in the risen Christ.

When the Gospel story opens, we find the other disciples (minus Thomas) cowering in a house "for fear of the Jews." If Thomas is the one who often gets branded as the doubter, we must remember that the other disciples were equally guilty of doubt after they heard Mary Magdalene's announcement, "I have seen the Lord!"; otherwise they would not have been huddled together like a firm of architects trying to figure out how things went wrong with the project they had been working on for the last three years. It's not until the risen Jesus actually shows up that they believe and understand. Thomas isn't any different than his colleagues. It's just that he's behind in assessing the situation.

Doubt permeates the whole situation after Jesus' crucifixion and the discovery of the empty tomb. It's doubt that leads the disciples to temporarily be as useless as a skyscraper with no elevator. How could this happen?What did Thomas and the others forget that led them to hole up with their doubt?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Papal Ponderings

Pope Francis focused his homily for the feast of the First Roman Martyrs on the witness of martyrdom, and prayed for all who continue to be persecuted for their faith, particularly in the Middle East.

“The Church grows thanks to the blood of the martyrs. This is the beauty of martyrdom,” the Pope observed in his June 30 Mass.

“It begins with witness, day after day, and it can end like Jesus, the first martyr, the first witness, the faithful witness: with blood.”

Centering his reflections on the death of the first Christians during the persecution of Nero in the year 64, Pope Francis emphasized to those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse what he has said many times before: that there are more martyrs now than in the early Church.

Drawing attention to the prayer said at the beginning of Mass, the Holy Father noted how it reads, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

Making an analogy, he said that when hearing this we can think of the growth of a plant, as well as the words of Jesus that “the kingdom of heaven is like a seed. Someone took the seed and planted it in the ground and then went home – and whether he slept or was awake – the seed grew and blossomed.”

Observing how this seed represents the Word of God that eventually grows and becomes the Kingdom of heaven, the Pope stated that it becomes the Church only with the strength of the Holy Spirit and the witness of Christians.

“We know that there is no growth without the Spirit: it is He who is Church, it is He who makes the Church grow; it is He who convokes the Church’s community,” he noted, “But the witness of Christians is necessary too.”

“And when historical situations require a strong witness, there are martyrs, the greatest witnesses.”

However there is one condition in order for a witness to be true, he explained, which is that “there must be no conditions.”

“In the Gospel reading of the day, one of Jesus’s disciples said that he would follow Him, but only after having buried his father… and the Lord replied: ‘No! Follow me without conditions,’” the Bishop of Rome recalled, explaining that “Your witness must be firm.”

“You must use the same strong language that Jesus used: ‘Your words must be yes, yes or no, no.’ This is the language of testimony.”

Bringing to mind the contemporary Church in Rome which grows because it is “fed by the blood of martyrs,” Pope Francis stated that “it is right that our thoughts turn to the many martyrs of today, the many martyrs who give their lives for faith.”

“It is true that during the times of Nero many Christians were persecuted,” he continued, “and today there are just as many.”

Noting how there are “many martyrs today in the Church, many persecuted Christians,” the Pope encouraged attendees to think “of the Middle East where Christians must flee persecution, where Christians are killed.”

“Even those Christians who are forced away in an ‘elegant’ way, with ‘white gloves:’ that too is persecution,” he observed, recognizing that “there are more witnesses, more martyrs in the Church today than there were in the first centuries.”

Concluding his reflections, the Roman Pontiff encouraged Mass participants to remember “our glorious ancestors.”

“Let us think also to our brothers who are persecuted, who suffer and who, with their blood are nurturing the seed of so many little Churches that are born. Let us pray for them and for us.”

This feast marks Pope Francis' last daily Mass until the end of the summer. His daily homilies will continue in September.