Dear friends in college . . . and beyond,
I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits!
Are you enjoying the splendor of autumn? I know I am. Fall is a beautiful time of the year and brings with it a spirit of renewal and refreshment, felt in the cool, crisp, fresh autumn air.
Two great beauties of the autumn season, in my opinion, are the Church’s celebration of Christ the King and our country’s celebration of Thanksgiving. In a certain sense, we celebrate these feasts differently, but in another sense, we celebrate them in similar ways.
The Church’s Feast of Christ the King – Sunday, Novemeber 23 – is centered on a chief and foundational truth of our faith, namely, that Christ is the King of Heaven and Earth. Pope Pius XI declared this truth in his encyclical Quas Primas, as he saw a deep permeation of secularism throughout many national governments during his pontificate. Saint Josemaría Escrivá spoke of Christ as King so beautifully;
He is our king. He desires ardently to rule our hearts, because we are children of God. But we should not try to imagine a human sort of rule – Christ does not dominate or seek to impose Himself, because He “has not come to be served, but to serve.”
How grateful I am for this feast day!
As Thanksgiving draws near, I find myself reflecting on a couple of things. I am grateful for my life as a Marianist Brother. It is a life filled with many blessings. I am grateful for my vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and stability, all of which have allowed me to draw closer to Christ Our Lord and strengthen my ministry as a teacher and guide for young people. I am grateful for my Brothers in the Marianist Community. I am privileged to pray with them daily; they are a continual source of hope and support. I am grateful for all the wonderful young men and women I have had the opportunity to teach and get to know over the years at Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial. To share in the lives of these young men, to journey with them in their joys and struggles, has been a grace in and of itself.
We live in a world that is often hostile to our faith and looks upon the way in which you and I seek to live our lives as something outdated, irrational, and oppressive. If our skeptics and detractors only knew the beauty of a life in Christ, then they could truly share in the gratitude I express.
Never lose sight of the hope we have in Christ, King of Heaven and Earth, and be grateful for the life God has given you.
A blessed Thanksgiving and Feast Day of Christ the King to all of you. On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, be assured of our continued prayers for you, and never hesitate to call in time of need.
And know that we are all looking forward to seeing you at the annual day-before-Thanksgiving Mass and luncheon.
Yours in Christ,
Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M.