Sunday, November 30, 2014


Lighting the First Candle on the Advent Wreath

If you have an Advent Wreath at home,
pray for peace this week as you light the first candle each day. 
If you don't have an Advent Wreath - 
light any candle and pray for peace. 
If you have no candle, 
simply stay right here with candle above and pray for peace...

Pray for an end to war and its violence and bloodshed...
Pray for the safe return of those who are in harm's way,
who are far away from home and family and friends...
Pray for those who have died in the war
and for their loved ones who grieve their loss...
Pray for the poor who suffer war's hardships...
Pray for peace...
Pray for the peace the world cannot give or make for itself...
Pray for our enemies...

Pray, too, for an end to the little (and larger) wars
waged in our own lives, in our families, our neighborhoods,
at work and in the Church...
Pray for those who have been harmed by our belligerence...
Pray for those we make our personal enemies...
Pray for those who make enemies of us...
Pray for an end to the wars we fight within ourselves...
Pray for peace...
Pray for the peace we cannot give or make for ourselves...

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Meet God who lives with the poor

Pope Francis: “It’s all about going out and meeting God who lives with the poor”

From La Stampa:

Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want to give a formal speech, partly because I want to be spontaneous and partly because I haven’t had time to prepare any speeches other than those for Europe and Turkey.” The Pope said this during this morning’s audience with cardinals and bishops who attended the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities held in Barcelona from 24 to 26 November. “I want to speak to you from my own personal experience.”

Francis focused on the challenges big cities present to individuals, the world as a whole and therefore the Church as well. Calling it a real “ecclesial transformation”, a change in mentality “from receiving to going out, from waiting for people to come to us, to going out and searching for them.” Francis spoke again of the mission of the Church which must always “go out”. He suggested an ecclesial transformation, with a missionary spirit. He also encouraged the Church to adapt to the city’s times. This means “rendering the Sacrament of Baptism accessible; making sure churches are open and administrative offices have opening hours that suit the needs of people who go to work;” and ensuring “that the Catechesis be suitable in content and accessibility to the time limitations of people who live in big cities.”

“It’s all about going out and meeting God who lives in cities with the poor,” Francis said. “Meeting, listening to, blessing, walking with the people; facilitating the encounter with the Lord are his rule of thumb.”

“We find it easier to help the faith grow than to help give birth to it. I think we need to continue looking into these changes which are necessary in our various catecheses. It is essentially pedagogical methods that need to change so that contents can be understood more easily. At the same time though, we need to learn to re-awaken our audience’s curiosity and interest in Jesus Christ, so that we can then invite them to follow Him.” In a spontaneous comment, he said that there is in fact a patron saint of curiosity: St. Zacchaeus: “We pray to St. Zacchaeus that he may help us … We must learn to inspire faith,” Francis added.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation, from the first president

Following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

Thanksgiving Proclamation
Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Most of us know the story.

It was the autumn of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks.

One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

What was it like? I did a little Googling and found that the menu for that first Thanksgiving had some surprises. It was not necessarily turkey and pumpkin pie. Historians think they probably ate fowl and venison – or deer. The pilgrims didn’t have forks, but used spoons. More likely, they ate with their hands. And the food was probably a lot more fatty than we are used to. Cholesterol was unheard of. They were more worried about plague and the pox.

They didn’t have much sugar, so sweets and deserts were probably not on the menu. So, you can forget the pumpkin pie.

Whatever it may have involved, that meal left us with an enduring tradition: a gathering around a table, giving thanks for surviving in an uncertain and difficult new place.

But a few years ago, the Unitarian minister Peter Fleck suggested we look at this differently.

Maybe, he wrote, the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they had survived.

But maybe they had survived…because they were thankful.

These were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winds and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.

Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. It represents an act of love. But so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself. It is to remember where the gift came from.

It is to go out of your way to acknowledge that — like the one cured leper in the gospel, who changed the direction he was headed, and walked back to Jesus, all the way back from the temple, to thank him.

There is love in that. A love for the gift – and for the one who gave it.

Reverend Fleck suggested that maybe that is what enabled the pilgrims to thrive and prosper: a humble appreciation for whatever God gave them, trusting that He would give them what they would need. It’s an optimistic message, really — and gratitude, I think, carries a spirit of optimism. Maybe that spirit can teach us something, as we endure our own hard winds and deep snows – the storms of our own lives. Especially now.

Thanksgiving will be a time for family, and for celebration.

But I know it won’t be that way for everyone.

Thanksgiving isn’t about giving thanks for having a lot. It’s about giving thanks for just having. For being. For knowing that whatever we have, whether it is served on a china plate or a Styrofoam carton, it is all a gift. The prayers whispered over a Happy Meal are just as precious to God as the ones said over the turkey and stuffing.

And all of us, no matter where we find ourselves praying, will be bound together by one simple word: grace. At a few McDonald’s this Thanksgiving, I’m sure that grace will be said.

And, I am just as sure of this: that grace will be present.

The grace of gratitude. The grace of thanking God for whatever gift He gives. And in the giving, and in the receiving, and in the thanking, there is something that transcends time and place.

There is love.

Love for what we have, and love for what we have been given. And love for the God who gives it. Because no matter how fierce the winds, or how unforgiving the storm, at least on this day we all remember that God is near.

The pilgrims knew that. And so did the Samaritan. He lived a life of disfigurement and shame. But he trusted, and he listened, and he was healed — changed forever, made new.

He could have gone on his way. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. He had to thank The One who made his miracle possible.

Twenty centuries later, that anonymous figure left us a legacy, and a lesson: a beautiful example of what it means to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

It is an attitude we all need to nurture — not just today, but every day. Gratitude can open our hearts – and change our lives – if only we let it.

Or, as Reverend Fleck so beautifully put it: maybe the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they survived.

Maybe they survived…because they were thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Pre-Thanksgiving Prayer

Tomorrow, Lord,
we'll overeat and drink too much,
we'll stuff ourselves like turkeys
and joke about how much we've had
and how there's no room left for more...

And then for several days - the turkey sandwiches:
what we call left-overs
some would think a feast...

Tomorrow, Lord,
we'll eat all day and night
while others go for days and weeks,
their cupboards bare and empty...

Let this week not pass until
I find or fund a way to feed the ones
whose tables never groan as mine
beneath the weight of too much food and drink...

For those who hunger all year 'round
help me do more this week than pray, Lord:
may I give thanks for all I have
by finding ways to share it with the poor...

Open my heart as wide as my mouth
and let my charity flow as wine is poured:
freely, gladly, to the brim
to share with others, Lord, the best
of all that I've been given...


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Tunes

"God's dream for you is not based on what you can do, what you have done, what you haven't done, or where you have been. It is all based on Him. There is a higher story going on. God is bringing the world to Himself through His Son and He is allowing you to be a part of that. Everything else in life is about that, and if you will allow Him to bring your dreams toward Him, you will see some big things in your life."

Monday, November 24, 2014

Marianist Monday

”The honor of Mary is so intimately connected with the honor and glory of Jesus that to deny the one is at the same time a denial of the other.”
                                                                                                  --Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Mary was the instrument of Christ's first miracle, or sign, that He was what He claimed to be, the Son of God. In the temple when Christ was presented to God and in the Jordan when He was baptized, Our Lord received His Father's blessing and sanction to begin His work of Redemption. At Cana, He received the assent of His human parent.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, noticed the dwindling supply of wine before anyone else. Without a second thought, she turned to the one person she knew could help: Her Son. She said to Him, "They have no wine left." 

It was not a personal request; she was already a mediatrix for all who were seeking the fullness of joy. She has never been just a spectator, but a full participant willingly involving herself in the needs of others. Mary used a power generated by mutual love. Christ answered his mother's request with what almost seems like a rebuke on the surface.

Woman, what is that to Me and to you?
My Hour is not yet come.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Praying for those who pray for us…

Praying for those who pray for us…

As our friends in Summit are reminding us, Pope Francis says today, November 21, is a day to thank God for cloistered religious: At the end of today’s general audience, Pope Francis noted that this Friday, Nov. 21, is the liturgical Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Noting the Church will celebrate the Day pro Orantibus, dedicated to cloistered religious communities, he said, “It is an opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many persons that, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and in onerous silence, acknowledging in Him that primacy that belongs only to Him.”

I particularly like what Father Roger Landry has written about the concept of praying for our monastic prayer warriors. Recounting a speaking engagement before which everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong, he says:

The priests gave me warm applause at the end and then launched into a vigorous question-and-answer period in which they seemed to have actually gotten something out of the talk.

After it was all over, the Archbishop told me that he was stunned that I could speak for so long with no notes, no ahs, and so much poise and clarity. When I told him what had happened prior to the talk and stated that the fact that it wasn't a complete cataclysm had to be miraculous, he said with a smile, “Well, someone must have been praying for you!”

When I recounted the story to my Dominican friend, she interjected, “You know, the Archbishop was right.” She told me that the nuns of her cloistered monastery in Summit, New Jersey, had all been praying for me with perpetual adoration and perpetual Rosary leading up to and throughout the time of the clergy days.

She then said that, as nuns of the Order of Preachers, they regularly pray for me whenever they know I’m traveling to preach and teach. They place written notices on a prayer board outside their chapel so that all of them can pray for the intentions confided to them, she continued, and stressed that they take this responsibility quite seriously.

“You’ll never know until heaven,” she told me, “how much of the fruit you bear is due to our prayers for you.”

Since that conversation I’ve become much more aware that all of my priestly work, including writing columns like this, is assisted by the prayers of the nuns and so many contemplatives who in this world I may never meet.

I think I know that nun! And I completely concur with his conclusion:

We’ll never know until heaven how many of the graces we’ve received — and disasters we’ve averted — have taken place on account of their incessant prayers.

It is true. Let us today thank God for the monastics who prayerfully intercede for all of us, and do so gladly.

Today seems like a good time, too, for a some Nun News from some cloisters!

The Norbertine Canonesses (that’s them at the top of the post) have just welcomed their 32nd sister — obviously they need a new picture! And, by the way, if you want to order their incredibly fresh and full Christmas wreaths, time has almost run out to do so! Their last shipping date is November 28th, so email your order!

Two new Benedictine novices were clothed at St. Walburga’s Abbey, in Colorado. And the Benedictines of Mary, in Missouri clothed another novice while receiving three for first profession

The Summit Dominicans have welcomed two new postulants, and having just celebrated the solemn profession of one young nun, they are preparing for another one on January 1.

The Dominican Nuns of Menlo Park also have a new postulant, who has gone from “the bar to the grille”. Great line.

The Poor Clares of Bethlehem Monastery in Virginia appears to be bursting with new vocations.

Just yesterday, the Byzantine nuns at Christ the Bridegroom Monastery welcomed a second postulant to their community. A third hopes to enter but needs help with student debt before that can happen.

The busy novitiate at the Abbey of Regina Laudis, has clothed another postulant.

Let us remember, today, to pray for those who pray for us!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Vocation to holiness

From his General Audience:

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning.

A great gift of the Second Vatican Council was to have retrieved a vision of the Church founded on communion, and to have also embodied the principle of authority and hierarchy in this context. This has helped us to better understand that all Christians, as baptized, are equal in dignity before God and are united by vocation, which is to holiness (cf. Const. Lumen Gentium, 39-42). Now we ask: what does this universal call to holiness consist of? And how can we achieve it?

1. First, we must bear in mind that holiness is not something that we can procure for ourselves or obtain with our quality and our skills. Holiness is gifted to us by the Lord Jesus, when He takes us up with Him and clothes us in Himself, making us like Him. In the Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says that “Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy”(Eph 5.25 to 26). There, holiness truly is the most beautiful face of the Church, the most beautiful face: it is rediscovering ourselves in communion with God, in the fullness of His life and His love. It is understandable, then, that holiness is not the prerogative of only a few: holiness is a gift that is offered to all, without exception, so that it constitutes the distinctive character of every Christian.

2. All of this helps us to realize that the call to holiness is not just for bishops, priests or religious … No. We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who have the opportunity to break away from the ordinary tasks, to devote themselves to prayer. But it is not so! Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face… No! That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us. Indeed, it is by living with love and offering Christian witness in our daily tasks that we are called to become saints. And everyone in the particular condition and state of life in which they find themselves. Are you consecrated? Be holy living your gift and your ministry with joy. Are you married? Be holy loving and taking care of your husband or your wife, as Christ did with the Church. Are you a baptized person who is not married? Be holy performing your work with honesty and competence and giving time to the service of others. “But, father, I work in a factory … I work as an accountant, always with the numbers, I cannot be a saint there…” – “Yes, you can! There, where you work you can become a saint. God gives you the grace to become a saint. God communicates with you.” Always and everywhere you can become a saint, that is, by being receptive to the grace that is working in us and leads us to holiness. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by passionately teaching your children or grandchildren to know and follow Jesus. And this takes a lot of patience, to be a good parent, a good grandfather, a good mother, a good grandmother, it takes a lot of patience and this patience is the holiness exercising patience. Are you a catechist, educator or volunteer? Be holy by becoming a visible sign of God’s love and His presence beside us. This is it: every state of life leads to holiness, always! At home, on the streets, at work, at church, in the moment and with the state of life that you have, a door is opened on the road to sainthood. Do not be discouraged to travel this road. God gives you the grace to do so. And this is all that the Lord asks, is that we are in communion with Him and serve others. If lived in communion with the Lord and in the service of others.

3. At this point, each of us can examine our conscience, we can do it now, everyone answering for himself, inside, in silence: So far how have we responded to God’s call to holiness? But do I want to improve, to be a better Christian? This is the path to holiness. When the Lord calls us to be saints, he does not call us to something hard or sad… Not at all! It is an invitation to share His joy, to live and offer every moment of our lives with joy, at the same time making it a gift of love for the people around us. If we understand this, everything changes and takes on a new meaning, a beautiful meaning, to begin with the little everyday things.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Sunday Word

Sunday's readings  give us a glimpse of the real purpose of Jesus, the one who shepherds the flock with both gentle love and stand-alone power. Ezekiel depicts Yahweh as a shepherd concerned for the flock and Matthew reveals Jesus as a divine shepherd who cares for the sheep. In both cases the "shepherd" is willing to make the hard choice of separation and judgment in order to keep the flock safe, secure and thriving.

We know the image of God as a shepherd permeates the whole Old Testament, most famously in our responsorial Psalm 23, where the gentle shepherd Lord "makes me lie down in green pastures; he 
leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul." A similar image is found in the prophet Isaiah, where the prophet proclaims that God will "feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs into his arms, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep." Gentle care is certainly one of the soft focus images that we get of Jesus in Scripture. 

But we always have to balance that image with the shepherd image of Ezekiel, who sees the shepherd God also as a judge who righteously culls the herd to keep it pure. Referring to the "sheep" of Judah who had been scattered by the Babylonian exile, Ezekiel proclaims that God will "search for his sheep, and will seek them out .... I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

On your knees

Homily for Seminarians, Novices, and Those Discerning Their Vocations, July 7, 2013

Dear seminarians, dear novices, dear young people discerning your vocations. One of you, one of your formators, said to me the other day, “evangeliser, on le fait à genoux” “evangelization is done on one’s knees.” Listen well: “evangelization is done on one’s knees.” Without a constant relationship with God, the mission becomes a job. But for what do you work? As a tailor, a cook a priest, is your job being a priest, being a sister? No. It is not a job, but rather something else. The risk of activism, of relying too much on structures, is an ever-present danger. If we look towards Jesus, we see that prior to any important decision or event he recollected himself in intense and prolonged prayer. Let us cultivate the contemplative dimension, even amid the whirlwind of more urgent and heavy duties. And the more the mission calls you to go out to the margins of existence, let your heart be the more closely united to Christ’s heart, full of mercy and love. Herein lies the secret of pastoral fruitfulness, of the fruitfulness of a disciple of the Lord!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Vocations are born in prayer

Regina Caeli Message, Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 21, 2013
Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or to the consecrated life there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community…. This is why Jesus said: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest,” that is, God the Father, “to send out laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38). Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I am pleased to stress this today, which is the “World Day of Prayer for Vocations.”

Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the Woman of the “yes”. Mary said “yes” throughout her life! She learned to recognize Jesus’ voice from the time when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to know Jesus’ voice better and better and to follow it, so as to walk on the path of life!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tunes

Now known as a worship leader, Casey Darnell's first career ambition was to play basketball. God, it seems, had other plans. His not-quite-NBA-height-5'9" frame led him in another direction: his love for students led to working with camps, and at one, he got his start singing("to impress a girl," he says).

Early performances were to accompaniment tapes of Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. He later helped his former youth pastor start a church and there met his wife, Anisa, who first exposed him to modern worship music.

Now ten years later, between leading worship at North Point's campuses across Atlanta and traveling the country to sing or lead worship for events, Darnell makes time to work with Lighthouse Family Retreat, a weeklong retreat for families of kids who have cancer. The organization hosts the retreats through the spring, summer, and fall on the Florida coast. "My job is hosting and singing and being a goofball, if necessary, to help these families laugh again,reconnect, and find hope in God," he says.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Marianist Monday

Marianist spirit

On Thursday we had a vocations evening in the Kellenberg Memorial Community known as Operation Fiat. It is a chance for those pondering religious life to have a look at a Marianist community and chat with some of the Brothers about the Community, our life, and our mission. There were over eighty young men who spent the evening in Adoration, Benediction, Evening  and conversation. I was struck over the course of the day by how often I was asked the question - each time expressed in a slightly different way - what is Marianist spirituality? This can be something of a tricky question for Marianists to answer. For Marianists, a spiritual life is one that is guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit in all its aspects and dimensions. Blessed Chaminade bequeathed us a way of life and a mission. Yet if this tradition is to lead both those that hear us teach and the Brothers themselves to God, it must be founded on the one true God. That is, it must be founded on love. Hence a loving family spirit - that leads us to Jesus through Mary - the motto of the Marianists.

The New Testament inspires the whole of our community life. We are guided by this new commandment of love. If we forget this commandment, our life together will be a source of ruin. If this commandment of love directs our actions, our community life will rekindle with joy, inspire love and esteem our vocation, attract others to share our life, and strengthen our apostolic work of education.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Forbes on Pope Francis

“When it comes to innovation this guy is pretty epic”

Forbes magazine  makes note of two awards the pontiff received last spring, including the “Adam Smith Prize” from the Harvard Business Review and “Book of the Year” from Forbes for his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel).

When was the last time a religious book took top honors from an American business magazine?

In Forbes current edition, two authors explain the pope’s strengths as an innovator and CEO.

Every CEO is an evangelizer. So those struggling with how to deal with the pressures of disruption would do well to closely follow Pope Francis. His first bit of sage advice for every CEO is: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who has just come back from a funeral!”

Last April, Pope Francis received two awards at the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards (TDIA). He was honored in absentia with the Adam Smith Prize, presented by the Harvard Business Review and with our Book of the Year for his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel). Pope Francis? Adam Smith? Disruptive Innovator? Really?

At first blush this might seem like a bit of stretch but our guiding light, Clay Christensen, and HBR editor-in-chief Adi Ignatius felt the Pope was an inspired choice and agreed to sign our letter to the Pope informing him of these recognitions. The recently concluded synod on non-traditional families and the Church simply has reinforced our earlier view that when it comes to innovation this guy is pretty epic.

Think about what the Pope has done to transform a 2,000 year old brand—a really BIG business with issues. Like any incumbent CEO the Pope has had to confront a raft of challenges such as embattled business models, shrinking margins, loss of market share, attracting and retaining personnel and the crush of legacy systems.

In the first six months of his Papacy, Francis squarely addressed the first critical question any CEO needs to ask about her company: What are the “jobs to get done?” He decisively articulated the job of the Church–serving society’s most vulnerable. In an unusually candid self-critique the Pope shifted the Church’s culture from, in his words one of “institutional self-preservation” back to its core mission. In the parlance of disruptive innovation theory Francis focused on the products and services not only from the point of view of the decreasing number of existing consumers of Catholicism, particularly in the West, but also the much larger market of non-consumers—the non-practicing Catholics and non-Catholics. Predictably this disruption has created both excitement and energy as well as anxiety and resistance from incumbent management and conservative laity.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

To follow God

Here is a great story about Carl and Ellie.Without speaking a single word, they exude their love for one another, their commitment to one another, their absolute willingness to give anything for each other. This is a beautiful depiction of the real love of a good marriage.

The joys of starting a life together, the effort they put into their home and their work, shows the blessings of marriage in the friendship of husband and wife. Even in the midst hardship and disappointment, their marital love is completely apparent. Right to the last moment of Ellie's life, that "love never fails."

This is what a vocation is all about - and not just the married vocation. The call to follow God as the person He has created you to be is the greatest blessing we receive and the greatest gift that we can give. A person joyfully and faithfully living their vocation is a sign to others of the reality of God's love for them and of God's love for the world. It is meant to be lived - and lived out loud.

When others see us, they should see someone who wishes to know and do what God is asking of them. They should see someone who, in following their call, has found the true Source of our happiness. They should see God's love made real in the way we live our lives.

Ellie and Carl knew that gift, and they lived it out loud and clear.
And not a word was spoken.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Kingdom of God

Pope Francis: “The Kingdom of God is close to us everyday”

From his homily this yesterday morning:

In the silence of a home, where there may only be 50 cents left until the end of the month, but where there is always prayer, care for children and grandparents, there is the Kingdom of God. Far from the noise of the crowd, because the Kingdom of God “does not attract attention” in the same way a seed that grows underground does not attract [attention].

Pope Francis based his homily on the Gospel of the Day from St. Luke, where asked by the Pharisees ‘when the Kingdom of God would come’, Jesus replies: a day will come when they will say to you “there he is”, or ‘here he is’; do not go, do not follow them”. Pope Francis said : “The Kingdom of God is not a spectacle. The spectacle is often a caricature of the Kingdom of God “:

“A spectacle! The Lord never says that the Kingdom of God is a spectacle. It is a celebration! But that is different. Certainly it is a beautiful celebration. A great celebration. And Heaven will be a celebration, but not a spectacle. However, our human weakness prefers the spectacle”.

Pope Francis continued noting that celebrations are often transformed into spectacles – weddings for example – where people seem more intent on putting on a “fashion show, being seen, vanity” rather than receiving the Sacrament. Instead “the Kingdom of God is silent, it grows inside. The Holy Spirit nourishes it through our willingness, in our land, which we have to prepare”. Then, quoting the words of Jesus, the Pope said the day will come when the Kingdom will be manifest in all its power, but it will only be the end of time:

“The day when he will make noise, he will flash like lightening, lighting up the sky from one side to the other. So shall the Son of man be on his day, the day that he will make noise. And when one thinks of the perseverance of many Christians, who struggle to raise their family – men, women – who care for children, care for grandparents and arrive at the end of the month with only half a euro, but who pray. There is the Kingdom of God, hidden, in the holiness of daily life, every day holiness. Because the Kingdom of God is not far from us, it is near! This is one of its features: it is close to us everyday”.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Serve God in a Radical Way

So why do young men and women choose to serve God in a radical way through monastic lives? How do their prayers and penance affect the world on an extremely profound level.?

Fulton Sheen answers these questions in the following selection from “Peace of Soul.”

Why are there monasteries and convents? Why do so many young souls leave the lights and glamour of the world for the shades and shadows of the Cross where saints are made? The modern world so little understands their mission that, as soon as a newspaperman hears of a handsome young woman 
entering a cloister, he telephones the parents to ask, "Was she disappointed in love?" The answer, of course, is, "Yes, with the love of the world. She has fallen in love with God." These hidden dynamos of prayer, the cloistered men and women, are doing more for our country than all its politicians, its labor leaders, its army and navy put together; they are atoning for sins of us all. They are averting the just wrath of God, repairing the broken fences of those who sin and pray not, rebel and atone not. As ten just men would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah, so ten just saints can save a nation now. But so long as a citizenry is more impressed by what its cabinet does than by its chosen souls who are doing penance, the rebirth of the nation has not yet begun. The cloistered are the purest of patriots. They have not become less interested in the world since leaving it; indeed they have become more interested in the world than ever before. But they are not concerned with whether it will buy and sell more; they care-and desperately care-whether it will be more virtuous and love God more.
Please keep in your prayers the young men who will gather with the Marianists at Operation Fiat on today, November 13 from 6 pm to 8 pm. at the Kellenberg Memorial Community with evening prayer and dinner. This is an opportunity to learn, explore, consider and deepen a religious vocation. 

May God grace these young men with the courage to follow Christ more closely

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marianist Monday

Marianist Monday

What distinguishes the Marianists from other Catholic religious orders?

The Marianists are distinguished by their particular charism—the particular gift or collection of gifts given by God to a congregation for the benefit of the Christian community. As men dedicated to Mary as a model of faith, members of the Society of Mary seek to witness to the Gospel by living in and building communities of faith wherever they are. A unique feature of the Marianist charism is its embodiment of a discipleship of equals: brothers and priests share equal status within the congregation, and more broadly, they play their part in the wider Marianist Family, which includes sisters and lay men and women who share in the same charism and work collaboratively. Like Mary, Marianist Brothers strive to bring Christ to the world and work for the coming of His kingdom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Prayer for Veterans Day

God Bless Our Veterans!

Prayer for Veterans Day

God of peace,
we pray for those who have served our nation
and who laid down their lives
to protect and defend our freedom.

We pray for those who have fought,
whose spirits and bodies are scarred by war,
whose nights are haunted by memories
too painful for the light of day.

We pray for those who serve us now,
especially for those in harm's way:
shield them from danger
and bring them home.

Turn the hearts and minds
of our leaders and our enemies
to the work of justice and a harvest of peace.

Spare the poor, Lord, spare the poor!

May the peace you left us,
the peace you gave us,
be the peace that sustains,
the peace that saves us.

Christ Jesus, hear us!
Lord Jesus, hear our prayer!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Marianist Monday

Every Monday our Marianist high schools have Eucharistic Adoration from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

There is close connection between the Eucharist and the Marianist life.

It is impossible to exaggerate the close relation between the Holy Eucharist and vocations to the religious life.

This is only to be expected once we realize that every vocation is a special grace from God, and the greatest source of grace we have is the Eucharist as Presence, Sacrifice, and Communion.

Faith tells us that Christ is really present on our altars, that He really offers Himself in the Mass, and that we really receive Him in Holy Communion. In each case, the Living Christ is now inspiring men and women to give themselves to Him with all their hearts and follow Him in the extension of His Kingdom.

The Eucharist, therefore, is the best way to foster vocations. This means that persons who attend Mass, receive Communion and invoke Christ in the Blessed Sacrament obtain light and strength that no one else has a claim to.

The Eucharist is also the best way to recognize vocations. Show me a man or woman devoted to the Eucharist and I will show you a person who is an apt subject for the religious life.

The Eucharist is finally the infallible way of preserving one's vocation. This is especially true of devotion to the Real Presence. Is it any wonder that saintly priests and religious over the centuries have been uncommonly devoted to the Blessed Sacrament? They know where to obtain the help they need to remain faithful to their vocations. It is from the same Christ Who called them and Who continues to sustain them in His consecrated service.

Vocations begin with the Eucharist; they are developed through the Eucharist; and they are preserved by the Eucharist. All of this is true because the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, still on earth, working through men and women whom He calls to share His Plan for salvation.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Consecrated persons are signs of God

Pope Francis has spoken about the importance of religious life:

Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey. 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,

“consecrated persons are signs of God in diverse environments of life, they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, prophecy of sharing with the little and the poor. As such understanding and experience, the consecrated life appears to us just as it really is: a gift of God!”

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.”

Although all Christians are consecrated to God in baptism and all are called to make “a generous gift of our lives, in the family, at work, in service to the Church, (and) in works of mercy,” 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 there where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope to hearts who are discouraged,”

“It is necessary to value with gratitude the experience of consecrated life and deepen the knowledge of different charisms and spiritualities. We must pray, so that many young people respond ‘yes’ to the Lord who calls them to consecrate themselves wholly to Him for disinterested service to their brethren.”

Saturday, November 8, 2014


“Do or not do. There is no try.” Or is there?

In the article “How to Discern Elements of Your Personal Vocation” by Fr. Peter Ryan, he says:

“With respect to future possibilities, we cannot discern whether we should do something, but only whether we should try to do it…The real possibility that we could die before we carry something out or that other things could intervene and make something impossible should warn us not to conclude that we are definitely called to do something in the future, but only that we are called to try to do it. Often enough, all God wants is the effort; and if we make the effort, we produce the results he desires.”

Takes a lot of the pressure off, doesn’t it!

Brian doesn’t have to discern whether he will marry Leslie; he only has to try to date her. Cheryl doesn’t have to discern whether she will be a religious sister; she only has to try to live in the community for a time. Tim doesn’t have to discern whether he will be a priest; he only has to apply to the seminary and see if he is accepted. Where these people end up on the other side of their decision to try is in God’s hands.

Young adults are at a point in their lives where they are discerning many things including personal vocations. Personally, I’m often frustrated with the fact that I can’t see the future, and even more frustrated when what I think will happen doesn’t end up happening. (What can I say, I’m a planner.) But as Fr. Ryan says, our effort to try is often what God desires as it shows faith and hope. God wants us to say to him, “I don’t know where this path will lead, but Yes Lord, I’m going to follow you anyway.” We can act within these uncertainties saying and believing, Thy Will be done.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Prayer for Discerning a Vocation

Prayer for Discerning a Vocation

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know my self,
and the fact that I think am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this,you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will not leave me to face my perils alone.
                                                     -Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Yes that counts!

Mary’s fiat, as it is called (fiat being not a cute little car but Latin for “let it be done”), was a yes to the Unknown. These are the only yeses that really count.

Is the Lord, perhaps, calling you to the religious life? That is the topic of the Operation Fiat that the Province of Meribah will host at Kellenberg Memorial next Thursday evening. Young men interested in exploring religious life will begin with Adoration and Evening Prayer. The evening will be filled with grace.

There are many great and wonderful gifts God has given us in this world. There are the gifts of life, of family, of friends; of our education, of our talents and opportunities. For all these we own immense thanks to the Lord who arranges all things for those who love Him. But there are far greater gifts than these. Among these many and exceedingly wonderful gifts of grace, one stands in a principle place. It is the grace of a vocation.

Just how important is the grace of vocation? The grace of a vocation is one of the gifts God gives us under a special Providence and care for our salvation. This kind of vocation is the vocation we received in baptism. It is the vocation all Catholics have. And to remain faithful to our baptismal vows is at once both the most prudent course and the most glorious.

There is a special grace of vocation, however, which we call a vocation. It is the vocation to the religious life. This kind of vocation is a calling, a stirring one might say of the the soul, to undertake a special state of life which is ordained to the supernatural good of others. Unlike the "vocation" of marriage, the vocation of religious life is essentially supernatural in origin and purpose.

How can a vocation be so important? The grace of a vocation is the source of many graces. It is an occasion for doing many good works, for having more time to pray, to learn about God, to serve Him by love and sacrifice and fidelity. It is the source of graces for ourselves, for God apportions to each of us grace in the measure to our needs. The greater the vocation, the greater the graces. The greater good we can do for the Church, the greater the graces to help and encourage us to do so. And how great indeed is the good that religious do for God and His Church and for each of us.

St. Bernard tells us that religious live more purely, fall more rarely, rise more easily, live more peacefully, are more plentifully endowed with grace, die more securely, and are more abundantly rewarded. A religious vocation is a magnificent grace from God, but it is only the beginning of a long chain of graces they must cooperate with by serving Him with love and fervor. By fidelity to one’s vocation, a religious is able to a degree to change the world — to win the world for Christ, to restore all things in Christ.

May the Father and the Son be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vocation Joy

When discerning your religious vocation it helps to ask, “What gives me hope?”

Remember Mary running to Elizabeth sharing her great hope and rejoicing.

So what brings you joy?

Pay attention to what pulls at your heartstrings.

Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God. The vocation that the Lord calls you to is meant for your good and should draw you into joy and a fullness of life. As you consider your call, pay attention to what brings you joy and life. This joy that you are looking for is not just happiness or ease; often our vocations can be quite challenging. The joy that you are looking for will involve a deep sense of peace and fulfillment. 
A calling, a vocation, is an invitation to a particular path of nurturing and loving Jesus supernaturally conceived inside you. Think about joy!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Sainted Religious Lay Brother

Sainted Religious Lay Brother

Today we celebrate our Feast Day, and recall how our brother St. Martin de Porres lived his life filled with the Holy Spirit, in union with the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, let us reflect a moment on his death.

As we think about our own life of ministry, a part of our active life that we sometimes engage in with a mixture of motives, let us remind ourselves of something that we can surmise about Martin, from what we actually know. I think we can surmise that whatever he was doing, from the moment he woke up each morning, the reality of the "end for which he was created" was never far from his conscious thoughts. I would venture to say that this contributed significantly to the peacefulness of his death.

It was about nine o'clock at night, November 3, 1639, when without a tremor, without a sound, Martin's soul left the body which had been such a docile and heroic instrument of virtue, and entered the kingdom of eternal happiness. . . . There was a moment of silence, while Archbishop Felician de Vega traced the sign of the cross over his friend. Then Father Saldaña (Prior) began the prayers which are recited when the soul has just left the body. . . When the last "Amen" had been said, the archbishop tried to say a word of consolation to the community, but emotion choked him. All he could say was, "Brethren, let us learn from Brother Martin how to die. This is the most difficult and important lesson" (St. de Porres: Apostle of Charity by Giuliana Cavallini, pp. 195-96).

St. Martin DePorres pray for us!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

At the heart of all our worship 
as Catholic Christians,
we pause to remember…
We remember Christ, 
and all he did for us;
we remember how he suffered, 
died and rose for us;
and in word and sacrament,
we remember what he did at table with his disciples
on the night before he died.

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, then,
we remember someone who has died: our brother, Jesus.
And every time we celebrate the Eucharist
we remember others who have died, too.
You know the words:
"Remember our brothers and sisters
who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence…"

We remember all our brothers and sisters in Christ
and not only them but all the departed-everyone who has died -
and we pray that through the mercy and love of God
every one of them will enjoy the light and peace of God, forever.

Of course, when we pray for those who have died
we remember first those whom we loved the most,
those whom we miss the most.

When I pray the remembrance of the dead,
my heart seldom fails to remember my father:
others, too – but always him.
I’m sure there are names that come to your heart, too.
And we pray for them…

But why do we pray for them?
What do we pray for them?

Our knowledge of human frailty and our faith in God’s mercy
teach us that when we die, God might not be quite yet finished
with fashioning us, making us ready for eternal life.

Our whole life on earth is a journey to the dwelling place
Christ has prepared and reserved for us in his Father’s house.
Sometimes we stay right on the path that leads us home
and sometimes we take short cuts or make detours
or even turn around and walk in the other direction!

We need the Lord to direct us from death into life...
So it might be, it might even be likely,
that at the end of our life our rough edges
might need some buffing and polishing.

And so we pray for those who have gone before us
that God bring to completion the good work begun in their lives
while they were still with us.

Of course, many of those whom we remember on All Souls Day
were long ago perfected by God’s mercy
and welcomed to their places in heaven.
We remember and pray for them, too.

Today, and through November,
we remember those who have gone to their rest
in the hope of rising again and all the departed...

And we remember Jesus, our brother, who died for us and rose
and opened the door to his Father’s house
and prepared for each of us a dwelling place in his peace.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saints among us

The prayers of All Saints Day highlight our belief that we continue to be in relationship with those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. It is not only a matter of our honoring the holy lives these brothers and sisters led but also of acknowledging that
they who are already with the Lord continue to be concerned for us and our welfare. That the very work of God can be manifest in our lives calls us to the responsibility of living in a way that the love of God be transparent in our deeds and relationships. Finally, our prayer on All Saints Day reminds us that when we share at the altar of the Lord's table we have a foretaste of the banquet the saints share forever in the reign of God. 

The church calendar sets aside many days to honor the most famous of saints. November 1 is the day for us to remember and honor those saints whose lives made headlines not in the daily papers but in the hearts of those they served and touched. All of us know such saints in our own lives - some who have gone home to the Lord and some who are still with us.

Happy All Saints Day to all!