Wednesday, April 29, 2015

EASTER - relationship with the divine

Have you ever stopped to consider who commands the biggest salaries, the greatest compensation for just doing their "job" in our society? It's not CEO's of multinational corporations. It's not the politicians or other public servants who keep the machinery of government grinding. It's not the doctors or counselors with whom we trust our physical and mental health. It's certainly not educators, those we charge with nurturing minds. No, the highest paid people in our society are entertainers.

There is a good reason that the most popular and outrageously paid of these entertainers are called "idols." What should be a fun bit decorating our days has become the central focus of our lives. What should have remained pretty gold rings giving some adornment and enjoyment to life has instead become a philosophy of existence governing our relationships with others. 

Like the Hebrews we want to be entertained by idols that we create, instead of being engaged by a God who demands that we be in a committed relationship with the divine and the human.

EASTER - Catherine of Siena

8 things to know and share about St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena is a saint, mystic, and doctor of the Church. Here are 8 things about her to know and share.

April 29th is the memorial of St. Catherine of Siena.
She is a saint, a mystic, and a doctor of the Church, as well as a patroness of Italy and of Europe.
Who was she, and why is her life so significant?

Here are 8 things to know and share . . .

1. Who is St. Catherine of Siena?

In 2010, Pope Benedict gave an audience in which he discussed the basic facts of her life:
Born in Siena [Italy] in 1347, into a very large family, she died in Rome in 1380.
When Catherine was 16 years old, motivated by a vision of St Dominic, she entered the Third Order of the Dominicans, the female branch known as the Mantellate. While living at home, she confirmed her vow of virginity made privately when she was still an adolescent and dedicated herself to prayer, penance and works of charity, especially for the benefit of the sick. Note from her birth and death dates that she only lived to be 33 years old. Nevertheless, a lot happened during her life!

2. What happened after St. Catherine entered religious life?

Quite a number of things. St. Catherine was sought out as a spiritual director, and she played a role in ending the Avignon papacy (when the pope, though still the bishop of Rome, actually lived in Avignon, France). Pope Benedict explains:

When the fame of her holiness spread, she became the protagonist of an intense activity of spiritual guidance for people from every walk of life: nobles and politicians, artists and ordinary people, consecrated men and women and religious, including Pope Gregory XI who was living at Avignon in that period and whom she energetically and effectively urged to return to Rome.

She travelled widely to press for the internal reform of the Church and to foster peace among the States.

It was also for this reason that Venerable Pope John Paul II chose to declare her Co-Patroness of Europe: may the Old Continent never forget the Christian roots that are at the origin of its progress and continue to draw from the Gospel the fundamental values that assure justice and harmony.

3. Did she face opposition in her lifetime?

Pope Benedict explains:

Like many of the saints, Catherine knew great suffering. Some even thought that they should not trust her, to the point that in 1374, six years before her death, the General Chapter of the Dominicans summoned her to Florence to interrogate her.

They appointed Raymund of Capua, a learned and humble Friar and a future Master General of the Order, as her spiritual guide.

Having become her confessor and also her “spiritual son”, he wrote a first complete biography of the Saint.

4. How has her legacy developed over time?

Pope Benedict explains:

She was canonized in 1461.

The teaching of Catherine, who learned to read with difficulty and learned to write in adulthood, is contained in the Dialogue of Divine Providence or Libro della Divina Dottrina, a masterpiece of spiritual literature, in her Epistolario and in the collection of her Prayers.

Her teaching is endowed with such excellence that in 1970 the Servant of God Paul VI declared her a Doctor of the Church, a title that was added to those of Co-Patroness of the City of Rome — at the wish of Bl. Pius IX — and of Patroness of Italy — in accordance with the decision of Venerable Pius XII.

5. St. Catherine reported experiencing a "mystical marriage" with Jesus. What was this?

Pope Benedict explains:

In a vision that was ever present in Catherine's heart and mind Our Lady presented her to Jesus who gave her a splendid ring, saying to her:

“I, your Creator and Saviour, espouse you in the faith, that you will keep ever pure until you celebrate your eternal nuptials with me in Heaven” (Bl. Raimondo da Capua, S. Caterina da Siena, Legenda maior, n. 115, Siena 1998).

This ring was visible to her alone.

In this extraordinary episode we see the vital centre of Catherine’s religious sense, and of all authentic spirituality: Christocentrism.

For her Christ was like the spouse with whom a relationship of intimacy, communion and faithfulness exists; he was the best beloved whom she loved above any other good.

This profound union with the Lord is illustrated by another episode in the life of this outstanding mystic: the exchange of hearts.

According to Raymond of Capua who passed on the confidences Catherine received, the Lord Jesus appeared to her “holding in his holy hands a human heart, bright red and shining”. He opened her side and put the heart within her saying:

“Dearest daughter, as I took your heart away from you the other day, now, you see, I am giving you mine, so that you can go on living with it for ever” (ibid.).

Catherine truly lived St. Paul’s words, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

6. What can we learn from this that we can apply in our own lives?

Pope Benedict explains:

Like the Sienese saint, every believer feels the need to be conformed with the sentiments of the heart of Christ to love God and his neighbour as Christ himself loves.

And we can all let our hearts be transformed and learn to love like Christ in a familiarity with him that is nourished by prayer, by meditation on the Word of God and by the sacraments, above all by receiving Holy Communion frequently and with devotion.

Catherine also belongs to the throng of Saints devoted to the Eucharist with which I concluded my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94).

Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is an extraordinary gift of love that God continually renews to nourish our journey of faith, to strengthen our hope and to inflame our charity, to make us more and more like him.

7. St. Catherine experienced a "gift of tears." What was this?

Pope Benedict explains:

Another trait of Catherine’s spirituality is linked to the gift of tears.

They express an exquisite, profound sensitivity, a capacity for being moved and for tenderness.

Many Saints have had the gift of tears, renewing the emotion of Jesus himself who did not hold back or hide his tears at the tomb of his friend Lazarus and at the grief of Mary and Martha or at the sight of Jerusalem during his last days on this earth.

According to Catherine, the tears of saints are mingled with the blood of Christ, of which she spoke in vibrant tones and with symbolic images that were very effective.

8. St. Catherine at one point uses a symbolic image of Christ as a bridge. What is the significance of this image?
Pope Benedict explains:

In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, she describes Christ, with an unusual image, as a bridge flung between Heaven and earth.

This bridge consists of three great stairways constituted by the feet, the side, and the mouth of Jesus.

Rising by these stairways the soul passes through the three stages of every path to sanctification: detachment from sin, the practice of the virtues, and of love, sweet and loving union with God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn from St Catherine to love Christ and the Church with courage, intensely and sincerely.

Therefore let us make our own St Catherine’s words that we read in the Dialogue of Divine Providence at the end of the chapter that speaks of Christ as a bridge:

“out of mercy you have washed us in his Blood, out of mercy you have wished to converse with creatures. O crazed with love! It did not suffice for you to take flesh, but you also wished to die!... O mercy! My heart drowns in thinking of you: for no matter where I turn to think, I find only mercy” (chapter 30, pp. 79-80).

BY JIMMY AKIN 04/27/2013 

Sunday, April 26, 2015



                Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, we thank you for 
calling men and women to serve in your 
Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, and 
consecrated persons. 
Send your Holy Spirit to help others to 
respond generously and courageously 
to your call. 

May our community of faith support 
vocations of sacrificial love in our youth 
and young adults. 

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who lives and reigns with you 
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, 
one God, forever and ever. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

EASTER - Papal Thoughts

Our faith is, in fact, “an encounter with Jesus”, and this is precisely “the foundation of faith: I encountered Jesus like Saul”, as offered in the passage from the day’s Reading from the Acts of the Apostles.

Therefore, Francis continued, if one says to himself, “I don’t remember” my encounter with the Lord, it is important to ask for this grace: “Lord, when did I consciously find you? When did you tell me something that changed my life or invite me to take that step forward in life?”. And, the Pope recommended, “this is a fine prayer, do it every day”. Then, when “you remember, rejoice in that recollection, which is a remembrance of love”.

Francis also proposed another fine assignment, which “would be to take up the Gospels” and read again the many accounts there are in order “to see how Jesus encounters the people, how He chooses the apostles”. And realize, perhaps, that some encounters “resemble mine”, for “each one has her own” encounter.

Thus, the Pope offered two practical and concrete suggestions “that will do us good”. First of all “pray and ask for the grace of memory”. Ask ourselves: “When, Lord, was that encounter, that love I had at first?”. In order “not to feel that rebuke that the Lord gives in Revelation: ‘I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first’”.

The Pope’s second suggestion was to “take up the Gospel and see Jesus’ many encounters with so many different people”. It is obvious, he explained, that “the Lord wants to encounter us, He wants the relationship with us to be face-to-face”. For certain, “in our life there was a strong encounter that led us to change our life somewhat and to be better”.

The Eucharist celebration, the Pontiff concluded, is indeed “another encounter with Jesus in order to carry out what we have heard” in the Gospel (Jn 6:52-59): “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him”. Yes, to so abide “in the Lord, let us now go toward this daily encounter”.

2015-04-24 L’Osservatore Romano

Friday, April 24, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

"Let it be known to all of you," he thundered, "and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead."

The power is in the name. Resuscitation, restoration, renewal and rebirth all come from nothing other than a surge of power from the risen Jesus. "There is salvation in no one else," Peter boldly concluded, "for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved."

Peter makes clear in this passage, Jesus is the jolt that is needed to revive us spiritually and to get the Church moving again. The heart of his emphasis is the "name" of Jesus, the moniker that contains Christ's very selfhood, identity and power. Names have always been important in the Judeo-Christian tradition, going back to the link that God made between his name and his actions at the burning bush, where he revealed his holy name to be: "I AM WHO I AM." 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

EASTER - Alongside Mary joy expands

Alongside Mary joy expands. The Son she carries in her womb is the God of joy, of contagious, engaging delight. Mary throws open the doors of her heart and runs to Elizabeth.

In Mary we see that the Church is all who journey together: in the love of those who go out to the most fragile; in the hope of those who know that they will be accompanied in their going out and in the faith of those who have a special gift to share. In Mary each one of us, driven by the wind of the Spirit, fulfils our own vocation to move out!

Star of the new evangelisation,
help us to bear radiant
witness to communion,
service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth,
illuminating even the fringes of the world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones,
Pray for us.
Amen. Alleluia!

From "Rejoice: A Letter to Consecrated Men and Women from the Teachings of Pope Francis"
Rome, 2 February 2014
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

EASTER - A Prayer to start the day!

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,

God in my speaking,
God in my thinking,
God in my choosing,
God in my doing,
God in my being,
God in my sleeping,
God in my dreaming,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my waiting,
God in my caring,
God in my hoping,
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.

Dwell in me, Lord,
and in all I do today:
in every breath
and in every step I take...

Remain in me, Lord:
let no step I take
lead me from you or draw me
away from your path...

Live in me, Lord,
make your home in heart,
deep in my soul, in the peace
only you can give...

- A variation on a Celtic Prayer

Sunday, April 19, 2015

EASTER - The Sunday Word

Third Sunday of Easter
"The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way,
and how Jesus was made known to them
in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish;
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

Now gathered together in Jerusalem, with the anxiety, grief and wonder of the last three days on their minds, all the disciples and friends of Jesus tried to sort out the evidence. But then, suddenly, there he was among them saying, “Peace be with you.”  The perplexed and astounded disciples thought they were seeing a “ghost.”  Death is a trip from which no one is supposed to return, so it’s little wonder that the disciples were “frightened” and that even “in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering.” Yet, Jesus had no problem with people grabbing on to him to see if he’s real. “Touch me and see,” he says to his incredulous friends, “for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” Saint Luke makes it clear that this was no projection of imagination or collective fantasy. The risen Jesus was touchable and even hungry, asking his friends for a little fish on the barby.

The resurrection reminds us that our faith is not simply a “philosophy.”

Friday, April 17, 2015

EASTER - Talk around a table

When people look to the Church, they are seeking to join with people whose lives are centered in a relationship with God. They’re not looking for a social club! So prayer needs to be an important part of the life of any person who wants to spread the message of Jesus.

Then, when you begin to develop relationships with people outside the Church, realize that they’re looking to have their lives changed, and even transformed. They want to feel welcomed and accepted. They want to learn about God and how to experience spiritual growth. They want the forgiveness and new life that comes through a relationship with Jesus. The Good News is that we can help people to experience this kind of transformation, because we have been shaped by the family values of Jesus and the disciples.

Prayer? We can do that. Providing a warm welcome? Shouldn't be a problem. Forgiveness and new life? We can talk about what Jesus has done for us, and in so doing help others with the spiritual growth they desire. This can happen around tables in our homes, or tables at church.

The story of Easter morning will always be at the heart of the Christian faith, because it proclaims that God has conquered death through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But equally important is the tale of Easter evening, which tells us how a mighty spiritual movement began with a talk around a table.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

EASTER - Table discipleship

We all know the story of Easter morning. A group of women. Two angels. One amazed apostle.

The women discover the empty tomb, and report to the apostles that two angels have told them that Jesus has risen. But the women are not believed — at least not initially. Peter runs to the tomb, looks in and then goes home, amazed at what has happened.

So that’s Easter morning, followed by Easter afternoon.

Two disciples — one named Cleopas — make the seven-mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, and along the way they encounter a mysterious stranger, who interprets the Scriptures for them. When he joins them for dinner, he breaks bread with them, and their eyes are opened and they recognize him — it’s Jesus!

Then poof — he vanishes from their sight.

Which brings us to Easter evening.

The two disciples race back to Jerusalem, and find the 11 and their companions in a dining room. Jesus appears, and scares them half to death — they think they’re seeing a ghost. But he says, “Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And then to prove that he’s no poltergeist, he asks them for some food. They give him a piece of broiled fish, and he eats it in their presence.

Then sitting around the table, Jesus tells them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you — that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” He opens their minds to understand the Scriptures, and says to them that what was written has come true — the Messiah has suffered and risen from the dead, and now “repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

The apostles are probably wondering who’s supposed to do this work of proclaiming repentance and forgiveness, so Jesus leans across the table and makes it clear. “You are witnesses of these things,” he says, probably pointing with his fork. “And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Notice what has happened here, on Easter evening. The mission of the apostles begins not with a visit to a tomb that’s empty, but to a table full of food — broiled fish — and conversation.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

EASTER - Christ the Redeemer

Vatican City, 6 February 2014 (VIS) Published below is part of the text of the message the Holy Father has sent to the young people preparing for the 29th World Youth Day 2014:

This month of April marks the thirtieth anniversary of the entrustment of the Jubilee Cross of the Redemption to the young. That symbolic act by John Paul II was the beginning of the great youth pilgrimage which has since crossed the five continents. 

The Pope’s words on that Easter Sunday in 1984 remain memorable: ‘My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found’. Dear friends, the Magnificat, the Canticle of Mary, poor in spirit, is also the song of everyone who lives by the Beatitudes. The joy of the Gospel arises from a heart which, in its poverty, rejoices and marvels at the works of God, like the heart of Our Lady, whom all generations call ‘blessed’. May Mary, Mother of the poor and Star of the new evangelisation help us to live the Gospel, to embody the Beatitudes in our lives, and to have the courage always to be happy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

EASTER - Tuesday Tunes

Living life as adopted sons and daughters of God doesn't "cramp our style" or transform us into sour-faced, nay-saying "party poopers."

When we live according to grace, we become like little children, squirming with joy at the "good pleasure" we find we can bring to God. What this "zero-morality" culture doesn't understand is that biblically based morality is the ultimate pleasure principle, for it is based on men and women living life as God intended it: a life filled with experiencing God's good pleasure.

"God ... richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1 Timothy 6:17).

"It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32).

Monday, April 13, 2015

EASTER - Marianist Monday

Easter TriumphApril, 2015

My dear friends in college . . . and beyond,

Have you ever suffered from heartburn? If you relish exotic foods, as I do, perhaps you know exactly what I am talking about. You’re at a festive meal, you overindulge in spicy food, and, in a couple of hours, your stomach is churning. Even your esophagus burns! I’ll spare you any further details. Let’s just leave it at that.

       What about a heart on fire for someone or something we love? We are smitten with a young woman of extraordinary beauty of body and soul – the girl of our dreams. In her presence, our hearts beat faster; our hearts leap up! Maybe our hearts have been on fire for a cause, or perhaps some masterpiece of art or music causes our heart to skip a beat. So many times I have watched a Shakespearean play (not infrequently, in my favorite venue for falling in love again with the Bard – the Delacorte Theater in Central Park), and I have been transported in mind and body, heart and soul, to another realm.

       And what about heartache? Sometimes, our dreams are dashed and our hearts broken by the harsher realities of life. Things don’t go quite as well as we had hoped with that magical girl of our dreams. A loved one is terribly ill, and we are sick at heart over it. We make some seemingly irrevocable mistake in our teenage or early-adult years, and our hearts ache at the grief that we have caused others – and ourselves.

       Some of you have been disarmingly honest with me about the difficulties and disappointments that have virtually torn your hearts apart. Your courageous and candid sharing with me has left me truly humbled.

       In all these matters of the heart, we are not alone. We are never alone. Whether our hearts are bursting with joy or breaking with pain, the Risen Lord is with us. He rose, so that our hearts might be healed, so that we “might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Take a look at this account of two disciples who meet the Risen Lord on the road to Emmaus:
Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them, but they were kept from recognizing Him.
He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” 
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked Him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 
“What things?” He asked. 
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed Him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified Him, but we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find His body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said He was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”  
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.  
As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So He went in to stay with them.  
When he was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together, and said, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when He broke the bread. (Luke 24: 13-35) 

       “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Friends, when our hearts burn, whether in grief or in joy, I think we really do know, in our heart of hearts, that our hearts are, in fact, burning for Jesus Christ. Only He can truly satisfy our hearts’ deepest longings. And when we have found those people and projects and good things of this earth that fill our hearts with true joy, know that He is at the heart of them all. As St. Augustine famously wrote, "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you."

       Our joys and our heartaches matter deeply to our Lord, and His heart is with us in all the promptings of our own hearts. Jesus knows the stirrings of our hearts, every one of them. Remember, we are never alone. What’s more, the Sacred Heart of the Risen Jesus longs for us with heartfelt love and affection. How his heart must have ached when he was betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, reviled by the crowds, and crucified on the Cross! And how his heart must have been brimming over with joy as He filled his followers with the hope of God’s mercy, God’s love, and eternal life with God in heaven!

       Indeed, Christ’s heart still burns with love for us. And this is why we can be so profoundly heartened by Easter joy. Give your heart to the Risen Christ!

       In Christ and His Blessed Mother,

       Bro. Steve

P.S. In keeping with this month’s “heart” theme, we offer you a heartfelt invitation to this spring’s retreat for college-age men. This one will be at Founder’s Hollow. We’ll leave from Chaminade on Tuesday, May 19, at 4:00 p.m., and we’ll return to Chaminade on Thursday, May 21 by 3:00 p.m.

Register by going to:

Sunday, April 12, 2015


We’ve all had those times that we either had a song stuck in our head for what felt like weeks or loved a song so much, we would put that song on repeat for hours, or even days on end. Either way, it would take a long time for that song to get out of our heads. Today’s verses all sound similar, but they echo a wonderful refrain: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever.” Mercy and love are used interchangeably because to God, they are one and the same. That declaration of God’s enduring mercy and love becomes like that song that gets stuck in our head, whether we like it or not.

Psalm 136 reads like a litany with every verse ending with “for his mercy endures forever.” The repetition transforms into resonations in our hearts. Which brings up a question: Why all the repetition? To be honest, it’s because we have a hard time believing it. We live in a world where nothing really lasts forever. The latest clothing fad is gone in a matter of weeks, the latest news disaster changes within the hour, and relationships end either with some kind of breakup, disinterest, or death. All of these things come and go, but God’s mercy is the one thing that never has an expiration date.

Psalm 89:28 to me reminds me of Jesus, who God made to rule. But think about John 3:16 for a second: God loves us so much that He sent his firstborn, the Son of the Most High, to save us and through Jesus’s death and resurrection, we became his brothers and sisters. We become kings and queens, princes and princesses, through His infinite and enduring mercy. Let that thought sink in for a second: in God’s eyes, you are worthy of being royalty. It’s not because of any accomplishes or liabilities you think you might have, but instead, it’s from His infinite love for you.

Keep this in mind: The mercy of the Lord endures forever. Meditate on Psalm 136 until you truly believe it in your heart. Let’s continue to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet as a way of building trust in God and in His infinite love and mercy and end the Chaplet with this prayer for today: “O my Creator and Father of great mercy, I trust in You, for You are Goodness Itself.” (Diary 908)

- Monique Ocampo

Friday, April 10, 2015

EASTER - Mercy


I think we too are the people who, on the one hand, want to listen to Jesus, but on the other hand, at times, like to find a stick to beat others with, to condemn others. And Jesus has this message for us: mercy. I think — and I say it with humility — that this is the Lord's most powerful message: mercy.

— Homily on March 17, 2013

It is not easy to entrust oneself to God's mercy, because it is an abyss beyond our comprehension. But we must! ... "Oh, I am a great sinner!" "All the better! Go to Jesus: He likes you to tell him these things!" He forgets, He has a very special capacity for forgetting. He forgets, He kisses you, He embraces you and He simply says to you: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more" (Jn 8:11).

— Homily on March 17, 2013

Jesus' attitude is striking: we do not hear the words of scorn, we do not hear words of condemnation, but only words of love, of mercy, which are an invitation to conversation. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." Ah! Brothers and Sisters, God's face is the face of a merciful father who is always patient. Have you thought about God's patience, the patience He has with each one of us? That is His mercy. He always has patience, patience with us, He understands us, He waits for us, He does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to Him with a contrite heart. "Great is God's mercy," says the Psalm.

— Angelus on March 17, 2013

In the past few days I have been reading a book by a Cardinal ... Cardinal Kasper said that feeling mercy, that this word changes everything. This is the best thing we can feel: it changes the world. A little mercy makes the world less cold and more just. We need to understand properly this mercy of God, this merciful Father who is so patient. ... Let us remember the Prophet Isaiah who says that even if our sins were scarlet, God's love would make them white as snow. This mercy is beautiful.

— Angelus on March 17, 2013

Thursday, April 9, 2015

EASTER - A glimpse of our own resurrection!

The tomb is empty.

That means that everything Jesus ever preached or promised is true -- which is Good News because Jesus has some amazing things to offer those of us who know the emptiness of this life. The empty tomb means that Jesus' death on the cross was, in fact, a work of forgiveness. It means that all of the mistakes we've made that leave us wondering whether or not God loves us have been punished and put aside. But that's not all.

According to Paul, Christ's resurrection is a glimpse of our own future resurrection. There will be a day when Jesus returns and gives to us the same experience he had on that first Easter. He will bring us back to life! These are the promises that Christ places in the hands of those who are willing to admit they are empty and that only Christ and his promises can truly fill them.

So what are we? Empty or full? It's an essential question because if we truly believe that our life is full, then we have no room for and no need for the great things Jesus can give. But if we're able to admit that we're broken, needy, and often empty, then the fulfilled promises of Easter are ready and waiting to fill us up.

If Jesus is risen from the dead, it means death is not the end! That's huge! It means a kingdom is coming that will bring an end to all war. It means poverty will someday cease, and everyone will have a seat at the table. That is also more than huge! Surely, you can get behind that?  It means that soon there will be a day when all those who can't walk, or hear, and those whose minds are slow or bodies are broken will rise from their chairs, step out of their beds, leave all assistance behind and be whole. That's totally amazing!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Holy Thursday Washing of Feet
Jesus knew well the illustrative power of an act as humbling as foot washing. When Jesus girded himself with a towel and washed the feet of his disciples, his action shockingly disrupted every normal expectation about the rabbi/master - disciple/servant relationship. The master washing the servant's feet completely inverts the established and expected paradigm of hierarchy and status.

Remember that Peter was so disturbed by Jesus' socially inappropriate offer to wash his feet that he strenuously resisted submitting. But Jesus insisted that he must accept this new way of thinking. Before Peter's eyes, Jesus deconstructed the old standards based on domination and modeled the new way of ordering life. Jesus physically enacted the truth that there is no longer a hierarchy of any kind to invert. Jesus is not a master "lowering" himself - the disciples are not servants being "elevated" by Jesus' action. Jesus rejected entirely those very notions of status.

When life and self are no longer defined by who is dominant, who is on "top," Christians become free to extend themselves and their gifts to others without fear.

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Paul declares. Have you ever really looked at feet? Feet are strange, flappy, ungainly looking appendages. It takes a lot of literary imagination to describe such bulbous buniony creations as "beautiful."

When feet are involved in the mission of bringing the Good News to all people, Jew and Greek, rich and poor, male and female, then they become beautiful feet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Easter 2015 - Founder's Hollow

The light of Christ surrounds us;
the love of Christ enfolds us;
the pow'r of Christ protects us;
the presence of Christ watches over us.

All the earth is ablaze
with the glory of God,
for the light has come
to burn away the darkness.

Let us fill every space
with the sound of our joy,
praising Christ who is
living now among us.

As this candle shines out
through the darkness of night,
may the love of Christ
burn ever in our hearts.

In the East, the Morning Star
rises bright upon you,
in its peaceful light
shines the glory of the Lord.

The light of Christ surrounds us;
the love of Christ enfolds us;
the pow'r of Christ protects us;
the presence of Christ watches over us.
- Marty Haugen

Monday, April 6, 2015

EASTER - Marianist Monday

At Saragossa, Blessed Chaminade experienced the reality of the Church of Jerusalem. Bishops, priests, religious, laypeople all together, helping one another in exile. It was a cross-section of the universal Church, the early Christian community. See how they loved one another. They tried to help each other because the Spanish government would not let them work. While the exiles eked out a living through charity and making figurines and paintings during the day, at night they held discussions together (serious questions about their concerns: their country, their cities, their parishes, their families).

From exile, Blessed Father Chaminade wrote to Marie Thérèse de Lamourous to help sustain her in her struggle during the Revolution. But in the writing he manifests his heart in exile. “What is a faithful soul to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow it up? Sustain itself calmly by that faith, which while making us adore the eternal plan of God, assures us that to those who love God all things work together for good. Yes, my dear daughter, the good Lord will not abandon you.”(3)

If they were to rebuild the Church in France, Blessed Chaminade knew something had to be done regarding the religious education of the young. He saw his mission as one of cooperating with Mary in making Jesus present in the world once again.

Education in faith became the operational virtue needed to be effective collaborators with the Mother of God. For him, Mary was the sign of something new, creative, dynamic, faith-filled. He knew he had to look at the challenges ahead in an entirely different way from the past. This is one reason why he turned toward starting schools, especially normal schools. He would train the teachers in the faith who would then influence an entire generation.

Fr. Paul Landolfi, S.M.

Sunday, April 5, 2015


Listen to these words from Mark's account of the Easter story. "And the angel said to them, 'Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.' And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid."

Did you catch the words like "alarmed," "fled," "trembling," "amazed" and "afraid"? Easter itself has its origin in the emptiness of heart that overwhelms disciples who've seen their Savior die, and the anxiety of mind that comes from expecting to see his body and instead hearing of a risen one.

The temptation is to look at such emptiness and see it as a bad thing. But let's not go there. The truth is that our emptiness is a great thing. Our realistic view of this fleetingly full world is an essential thing.

Since the tomb is empty, it means that everything Jesus ever preached or promised is true -- which is good news because Jesus has some amazing things to offer those of us who know the emptiness of this life. The empty tomb means that Jesus' death on the cross was, in fact, a work of forgiveness. But that's not all.

We believe because Christ is risen, all of that is guaranteed for us tomorrow and can be tasted today.

There are two types of people in this world -- empty and full. Which one are you? Empty isn't a bad thing. An empty tomb means Jesus is alive. Emptiness in your life simply means you're the one Jesus rose for, and that you're ready to receive all that he has to give.

Sure, full pantries, full gas tanks and full bank accounts are good. But when it comes to Easter, empty is great. Being empty is everything.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

EASTER VIGIL: We have been touched by Grace!

Published on Apr 20, 2014 

Pope Francis presided over the Great Easter Vigil Mass in the Vatican Basilica. In his homily, he spoke of the angel's invitation to the disciples to go to Galilee, because there the risen Christ has gone there ahead of them. The Pope noted that Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God's grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy


The strange celestial sight, which will be visible in the US, was predicted in the Bible and could hint at a world-changing event, such as the return of Christ, according to one pastor. This image shows the red moon over a church in LA during the last blood moon in October last year
For Jews and Christians alike, it's the moon that determines the dates of our greatest religious celebrations.

Determining the date for Passover:
The Jewish calendar year begins in late September or early October with the celebration of Rosh Hashana. Unlike our calendar which is based on the solar year, the Jewish calendar uses twelve lunar months, 29-30 days in length. The new moon marks the beginning of each month with the full moon occuring halfway through the month. The seventh month in a normal Jewish calendar year is the month of Nisan. Passover is celebrated on the 14th day of Nisan at the time of the full moon - this year on Friday, April 3.

Determining the date for Easter (Western Church):
Easter is observed on the first Sunday following the full moon that comes on or after the vernal equinox (March 21). Thus Easter can take place as early as March 22 but no later than April 25. This full moon is normally the full moon which takes place on the 14th day of Nisan. Thus in most years Easter is celebrated on the Sunday following Passover - this year on Sunday, April 5.

Determining the date for Easter (Eastern/Orthodox Church):
The Western Church (Catholic and Protestant) celebrates Easter based on the Gregorian Calendar, while the Eastern Church (Orthodox) follows the Julian Calendar. As a result, in most years the Orthodox Easter follows the Western Easter by one or more weeks, although in some years the dates coincide. The Eastern Churches will be celebrate Easter this year on Sunday, April 12.

Friday, April 3, 2015


Here, and now, we wait. We grieve. We mourn. We hope. And our eyes turn to the cross.

In Eden, a tree brought about our condemnation. Today, another tree brings about our redemption. Behold the wood of the cross, on which hung the salvation of the world. And when you think about it, the fruit from that tree —what it brought us, what it gives us—is incalculable. I would argue it is one reason why this Friday should not be called “Good.” It should be called “Great.”

Near the end of this gospel account, Christ utters his last words: “It is finished.”

All the suffering, the bloodshed, the sacrifice, the humiliation comes to an end.

But the story isn’t over.

H/T The Deacons Bench

Thursday, April 2, 2015


Tonight, God gets down on his knees for us.Tonight, He lowers himself. Tonight, He becomes a servant to the world — as humble as a slave, as meager and plain as a crumb of bread.
From this, we learn what it means to be like Christ.

The overwhelming impression is surprising, and challenging. It is God becoming less…so that we can become more.

One of his last acts on earth, the last communal moment with his friends, is spent taking care of them, purifying them, removing the dust of the day. Perhaps he is anticipating the roads they will travel in the hours ahead. Maybe he is somehow getting them ready for the long journey ahead — missions they will undertake after he has gone, traveling by foot to bring the gospel to the world.

I also think it is also a beautiful representation of the priesthood, and the sacrament of reconciliation. We all walk the earth carrying the debris of our lives – our failings, our sins, our weaknesses. They cling to us. But here, they are washed away. We are made new; we can begin again.

And this, too, is what it means to be like Christ.

H/T The Deacons Bench

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

HOLY WEEK - Spy Wednesday

Before Holy Thursday, there is Spy Wednesday

Today, the day before Holy Thursday, is traditionally known as “Spy Wednesday” — when Judas “spied” for an opportunity to betray Jesus. (The 13th century fresco above shows him being paid his 30 pieces of silver.)

This day comes complete with its own traditions and customs:
Wednesday is known as Spy Wednesday because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 silver pieces (Matt 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11; Luke 22:1-6). In Poland, the young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then it is dragged through the village amidst hurling sticks and stones. What remains of the effigy is drowned in a nearby stream or pond.
This is also the day that Jesus was anointed with an expensive jar of alabaster by the woman at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.

Wikipedia adds:
Although it is frequently celebrated on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, the Tenebrae is a liturgy that is often celebrated on this day. The word tenebrae comes from the Latin meaning darkness. In this service, all of the candles on the altar table are gradually extinguished until the sanctuary is in complete darkness. At the moment of darkness, a loud clash occurs symbolizing the death of Jesus.The ‘strepitus’, as it is known more probably symbolizes the earthquake that followed Jesus’ death: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” Matthew 27:51.
Some customs:

Czech Republic: the day is traditionally called Ugly Wednesday, Soot-Sweeping Wednesday or Black Wednesday, because chimneys used to be swept on this day, to be clean for Easter.
Malta: this day is known as L-Erbgħa tat-Tniebri” (Wednesday of Shadows) referring to the liturgical darkness (tenebrae). In the past children went to the parish church and drummed on the chairs to make the sound of thunderstorms, as their version of the “strepitus” sound at Tenebrae Wednesday.
Scandinavia: this day is known as Dymmelonsdagen. A dymbil is a piece of wood. Historically, the metal clapper of the church bells were replaced by these dymbils on Holy Wednesday, to make a duller sound. The day is sometimes confused with Ash Wednesday, and to the public, the days have started to apply to one another.

Image from Wikipedia

HOLY WEEK - Mercy, love and life

Holy Week is all about your mercy,
Lord: about how much I need it,
how my heart longs for your pardon
and the peace you make with all of us,
time and time again...

Holy Week is all about your love,
Lord: about how much I need it,
how I take it so for granted,
how your kindness mends
and heals us, time and time again...

Holy Week is all about new life,
Lord: about how much I need it,
how I thirst for new beginnings
and for you to rise in each of us,
time and time again...

Help me walk this holy week with you,
Lord: to your mercy, love and life,
to Easter's hope and joy,
to the promise of the peace you offer,
time and time again...

H/T A Concord Pastor Comments