Saturday, October 31, 2015

All Hallows' Eve

Halloween reminds us that we are mortals, formed of the earth. None of us is God; none of us is immortal. We have limited time on Earth, as creatures of flesh and blood and bone, to take the path of service to God. Horror movies can be scary, but there's really nothing more terrifying than the path of evil.

Most important, Halloween points us to All Saints' Day. It is, after all, All Hallows' Eve. Halloween reminds us that "we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", a heavenly congregation of faithful servants of God who have gone before us. On Halloween, we should remember that the barrier between the physical and spiritual is really quite thin -- thin in the sense that we can easily see the examples of the graceful and loving relatives, friends, and colleagues who have entered everlasting life with God.

On All Hallows' Eve, let's not focus so much on the living dead -- zombies that pop up on movie screens. Instead, let's remember the dead who are still living as saints of God, and as inspirations to us.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Compassion & Mercy

The Pharisees in Jesus’s time numbered about 6,000 and were found all over Palestine. They taught in synagogues, saw themselves as religious paragons and were self-appointed guardians of the Law and its observance. Today's gospel from Luke tells the story of a growing camp of Pharisees who were antagonistic to Jesus.

One of their leaders invites them to his home for a meal. He also invites Jesus. Luke informs us that the guests had Jesus "under close scrutiny" or “hostile observation,” suggesting that He was invited in order to ambush Him. They had a fixed grudge against Him and were lying in wait to trap Him in what He said.

The circumstances are set with the appearance of a man suffering from “dropsy,” known today as “edema.” I like to imagine the man as he stood before the Pharisees and Jesus as suffering under the serious condition of “pulmonary edema,” described in a modern medical encyclopedia this way:
Pulmonary edema, a condition brought on be heart failure, is the excess collection of watery fluid in the lungs. The fluid collects in the many air sacs of the lung, making it difficult to breathe. When the heart is not able to pump blood to the body efficiently, the amount of blood staying in the veins that take blood through the lungs to the left side of the heart increases. As the pressure in these blood vessels increases, fluid is pushed into the air spaces (alveoli) in the lungs. This fluid reduces normal oxygen movement through the lungs, which can lead to shortness of breath, and if untreated can lead to death.
Imagine the poor man with dropsy to be suffering from the symptoms just described. Imagine the Lord gazing at him with compassion, and then turning to the Pharisees reclining at table. Here are the words Jesus speaks to them: “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” After the question, Luke writes this: “. . . they remained silent. He took the man, healed him, and dismissed him.”

Jesus, of course, answers His own question by healing the man. The silence of the Pharisees confirms that Jesus has communicated His position to them decisively: He concisely and pointedly states it in another context: "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” This marvelous turn of events reverses the situation, so that the Pharisees are now trapped, not Jesus. They are caught in a dilemma, silent because they are unable to answer the Lord’s question. If they said ‘Yes,’ they would seem to their followers to be lax in their strict interpretation of the law and to compromise their demand that others follow the letter of the law. If they said ‘No,’ they feared their followers would accuse them of being cruel to the man in contrast to Jesus who was moved by compassion to mercifully cure him. The Pharisees were frozen in legalism. In this incident, their small-mindedness is confronted with the large-hearted love of God.

The point of the story narrated in today’s gospel, I think, is to realize that compassion and mercy transcend the law and fulfill it. By His action, Jesus declares this to be the standard underlying the very purpose of the law. In contrast to the Pharisaic vision of subservience to it, Our Lord provides a vision entirely different, giving priority over the law to the compassion and mercy which He gave and asked others to give throughout His public ministry.

I believe a major part of our mission today as Christians is to ardently pray and, wherever we can, to assiduously work for those who suffer greatly in our world: for the victims of global inequality and poverty, for example, or the victims of human trafficking and drug trafficking, of the multi-billion pornography industry, of abuse to the earth and to the ecology of the human mind and heart, and of the victims of war.

Like the man with dropsy, we need to see them all with the compassionate eye of Jesus and to creatively develop ways to help them as much as we can with His merciful hand. Today’s gospel, finally, doesn’t ask whether something is legal or illegal. It speaks to us as obedient sons and daughters of God who is love, who want to follow in Our Lord’s footsteps, and so to be loving, caring, merciful, and forgiving: which is what God’s law in both the Old and New Testament is all about.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

God is for us

Faith is a bridge that stands strong in the storm. 
Saint Paul asks: “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”

The answer, of course, is a ton of stuff. Paul even lists some of them: “hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.”  All of these things were very real possibilities for the Christians in Rome of the first century. Self-identifying as a Christian often meant a loss of rights, the inability to conduct business in the marketplace, a loss of economic well-being, the possibility of being reduced to abject poverty, and even the possibility of losing one’s life, or watching loved ones lose theirs.

What’s at stake for us when we identify ourselves as Christians? We may gain the respect and admiration of others, but chances are we’ll be considered a bit odd, or off. We may be linked to fringe religious groups that we really don’t have any connection to. It’s not easy in our culture to proclaim our faith boldly.

But, even though “God be for us,” there are plenty of storms that come our way that serve to challenge, to weaken the bridge we’re crossing. We’re fearful of relationship problems, we’re concerned about health issues, we’re caught in battles of sobriety, sanity, depression and despair. We worry about terrorism, global warming, prices, crime rates and even road rage. This is a bridge that is critical to our well-being — even our salvation.

This bridge must be a bridge that can stand strong in the storm. And it is. Because God is for us. Many things may be against us, but the bottom line is: Nothing can prevail against us!

This is a bridge that is long enough. Walk this bridge and we’ll make it to the other side. Nothing, Paul writes, “will be able to separate us from the love of God.” 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Thank you

You've given me another day to live, Lord:
a day to shape and live for you and for others,
a day to give you thanks
- a day in the life you've given me...

How would you have me spend this day?
With whom would you have me share it?
Along what path will your Spirit draw me?
Close to whose heart will your heart lead me?

Show me the answers to my questions, Lord...

What word would you have me speak today?
What quiet time will I share with you?
What tears might bless my face today?
What gift of joy will touch my soul?

Show me the answers to my questions, Lord...

When I'm tired today, give me strength.
When I'm moving too fast, slow me down.
When I'm saying too much, let me know.
When I need to speak, give me words to say.

Give me patience with this day's routine
and open me to all that's new and fresh.
This day's your gift to me, Lord:
help me spend and share it wisely...


Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Sunday Word

Last week, as I was walking home from work, heading up Third Avenue, I saw something you see often in New York: a woman sitting on the sidewalk, with a cup, asking for money. 

She was young, I’d guess in her early 30s. She didn’t look like someone I’d think of as “homeless” or destitute. She was clean, well dressed, reading a newspaper. As I got closer, I noticed a cardboard sign in front of her.

Scrawled on the sign were three simple words.

Her sign said: “Need a miracle.”

I was running late, and it was getting dark, and I had to head home. So I moved on. But in the days after, the more I thought about it, the more those words kept coming back to me. I wanted to talk to the woman and hear her story. Every day, I passed the spot where she had been sitting and looked for her. But she was gone.

Maybe she ended up getting her miracle. I may never know.

But in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable autumn evening, I encountered someone I hadn’t expected to see that day.

I saw Bartimaeus.

I suspect you have seen him, too—and not just begging on a sidewalk. You may spot him regularly in Key Food, or in line at the bank, or in the cubicle next to you at work.

You may even have seen him this morning when you looked in the mirror.

The fact is: we are all, in some way, Bartimaeus.

We are all weak or wounded, begging for God’s mercy.

And so often we are, in one way or another, blind.

We may be blinded by sin. By pride. By ambition. By selfishness. We may not see clearly or think clearly because of a grudge. We may be lost in a fog of dependency, or addiction, or the relentless ache of a broken heart. We may have given in to darkness. People may have marginalized us, or pushed us aside, and we can only sit on the ground and look up at a world looking down as it hurries past.

And we sit there, our heads lowered and our hearts heavy, with just one thought on our minds:

“I need a miracle.”

Son of David, have pity on me.

What can we do?

We just celebrated the feast of Pope St. John Paul on Thursday. His consistent cry to the world was one we hear again and again in scripture: “Do not be afraid.” With that in mind, I think this gospel offers three important lessons that can lead all of us Bartimaeuses to a place of grace—and they are all connected to that very idea: “Do not be afraid.”

First, do not be afraid to trust in God’s mercy. Bartimaeus wasn’t. And he wasn’t afraid to cry out to Jesus in his need, even when others told him to be quiet. His persistence was rewarded. Jesus heard him, noticed him, responded to him. And Jesus responded by telling his followers, very simply: “Call him.”

Which leads us to the second point…

Do not be afraid of God’s call. Do not be afraid to answer it. And be ready to risk. Bartimaeus didn’t expect Christ to come to him. Instead, he went to Christ—and Bartimaeus went in his poverty, his frailty, his weakness, with all his handicaps and problems. It could not have been easy or comfortable for a man in Bartimaeus’s state to leave the security of what he knew, pleading on the ground, to get up and—literally groping in the dark—find his way to Christ.

But it’s not easy or comfortable for any of us. It entails risk. Vulnerability. Humility. It means getting on our feet, and making our way to where God wants us to be. It can mean leaving what we know and going to what we don’t know. But that is what the journey of faith is about.

However, Bartimaeus wasn’t alone. The gospel describes others who conveyed Christ’s message to him, and who probably helped bring him to Jesus. And that, too, is an important part of this episode: we don’t make the journey to Christ unaccompanied. The Christian community is a community. There are others around us who can help us stand, and help show us the way.

Thirdly, do not be afraid to answer the question Christ posed to Bartimaeus—the question our loving God asks all of us.

“What do you want me to do for you?”

If Christ asked us this question this morning, how would we answer? What would we say?

What do you want me to do for you?

Bartimaeus told Jesus plainly, “Master, I want to see.”

Think about the implications of that and you realize: at the end of the day, that is what it is about for all of us.

We want to see. We want clarity. We want light. We want hope.

And that, most assuredly, is the gift that Christ offered Bartimaeus, the gift that he holds out to each one of us.

I’m reminded of the familiar scripture we hear during Advent: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”

The light, as Bartimaeus discovered, is Christ.

The story of Bartimaeus is our story—the story of beggars seeking mercy, of a blind human race trapped in the dark, yearning to see.

It’s the story of people who need a miracle.

Christ is waiting to give us that miracle, if only we have faith.

Rise! Get up! The Lord is calling us.

To a world of despair…he offers hope.

To a world of confusion…he brings clarity.

To a world of darkness…of sin, and distraction, and pain…Christ is our light.

Deacon Greg Kandra

Saturday, October 24, 2015

A miracle of faith

In Sunday's gospel reading, the real miracle is the eruption from within the blind Bartimaeus of such a powerful faith that it will neither shut up nor hold still. Recall that in this healing story, Bartimaeus comes to Jesus. Jesus does not approach some sedentary, helpless figure. It is the miracle of faith, a divinely given gift, that makes possible the restoration of Bartimaeus' sight. In the life of the blind roadside beggar, God made a way when there seemed to be no way.

You might be caught up short and stuttering if someone asked you point-blank: "What miracles has God performed in your life?" We haven't been taught to think about events in our lives as "miracles" -- we have been trained to look for threads of logic and reason and fact to hold the fabric of our lives together. But what if you were asked, "Where has God made a way in your life when there seemed to be no way?"

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Sunday Word

Sunday's gospel gives us Bartimaeus who has two strikes against him — he is blind, and he is begging. In Jesus’ culture, that was a perfect prescription for being overlooked by society.

As Jesus passed by, Bartimaeus called out for mercy. But the crowd rebuked him — tried to put him back in his place on the socioeconomic sidelines. But his faith told him that this Light was his only chance at sight, so he yelled out even louder.

It turns out Bartimaeus was the only person in the crowd who could truly see Jesus that day.

When the Rabbi asks what he wants from him, Bartimaeus simply says, “My teacher, let me see again.”  He knows enough about Jesus to call him teacher and has enough personal belief to say “my.”

Healing him, Jesus connects Bartimaeus’ receipt of sight to his faith. The blind beggar knew the message that we need to hear:  Light sharpens our focus on the world.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Eucharist “the source and summit of our faith.”

We see these milestones in the lives of our children and sometimes they go by in a blur. Sometimes it becomes a list of to-dos. “I have to take the kids to Mass.” “I have to find their baptismal certificates.” “I have to plan a party.” We become caught up in everything around the sacrament, from the guest list to the menu to the dress, and we miss what it’s all about. I see it all the time with weddings, with baptisms, with First Communions.

For a few moments, though, I’d like to press the pause button. Because what these kids are preparing for demands that.

We call the Eucharist “the source and summit of our faith.”

And this is what it is all about.

In the early 1970’s, during the Vietnam War, the Archbishop of Saigon was a man named Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. The Communists saw him as a threat. And on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1975, he was arrested and sent to prison. Without ever being tried, or even sentenced, he was shipped off to a prison in North Vietnam. He stayed there for 13 years, nine of them in solitary confinement.

During his imprisonment, he couldn’t celebrate mass, or receive the Eucharist.

What he managed to do, though, was phenomenal—and reminds us, powerfully, just how vital the Eucharist is.

The archbishop was allowed one luxury: to write letters to friends outside prison. When he did, he often asked them to send him what he called “his medicine.” They knew what he meant. They sent him cough medicine bottles, filled with wine, and small bits of bread. Sympathetic guards smuggled him some wood and wire, and from that he made a small cross, which he hid in a bar of soap.

He kept all this in a cardboard box. That box became his own private altar. Every day, at 3 pm, the hour of Christ’s death, he would place drops of wine in the palm of his hand, mingled with water, to celebrate mass.

And the greatest ongoing miracle in history was able to take place. That cramped prison cell became as beautiful and as blessed as any cathedral, a sanctuary for the glory of God.

He did this for 13 years. He was finally freed in 1988. During the Jubilee Year, in 2000, he was invited to preach at the Vatican, and Pope John Paul presented him with a chalice – an immeasurable gift for a man whose only chalice, for so many years, had been the palm of his hand. That same year, he was named a cardinal. Two years later, he died. The Vatican is now pursuing his cause for sainthood.

This is a man who understood with every fiber of his being how precious Holy Communion is.

And this is what I think we need to pass on to our children, as they prepare to receive this sacrament for the first time. The Holy Eucharist is something precious. And it is beautiful. It is a gift of overwhelming love.

Deacon Greg Kandra

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Nun


10 Things You Should Never Say to a Nun
Lots of people do say some annoying things to us...

I recently read a popular piece over at Epic Pew by Shaun McAfee called 13 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Priest. After reading it, I thought there needs to be a post like this for religious sisters or “nuns” as we are known in popular culture.

To preface this list, I have to say that most people I meet are very kind and excited to speak to a religious sister.

Atheists. Muslims. Bikers. Former Catholics. Punks.

People from all kinds of backgrounds and views love nuns.

It makes sense.

Kids know that they can come home and tell their mother the most disappointing, shocking and scandalous thing and their mom will still love them.

I think this is why most people feel comfortable around nuns. They can sense that we are like that. We are mothers. We love first, questions come later.

That being said, lots of people do say some annoying things to us. So, here are some of the things many of us have heard over and over again and wish we’d never hear again!

1. “You’re so lucky, all you do is pray all day!”

Actually no. Most of us have jobs, just like you. We just pray an extra several hours a day in addition to our jobs.

2. “Can you do ____________ for me; you have lots of time right?”

See answer to #1.

3. “Wow, you’re so pretty.”

Why are people so bowled over that attractive young women want to marry the Creator of the Universe? Please people: The. Creator. Of. The. Universe. That’s not a proposal that any sane women should turn down.

Besides, haven’t you ever heard of these ladies?

4. “But you’re SO young”

By young, do you mean naïve and completely unaware that we are giving up sex for the rest of our lives? If so, see answer to #3. We are dedicating our lives to the creator of sex, and the ingredients of Reese’s Pieces, fall leaves, octopuses, and shooting stars.

Believe me. We aren’t missing out.

5. “Are you twelve?”

One thing you need to know about nuns is that most of us look way younger than our age. People have been searching for the fountain of youth since the beginning of time and it’s been right under our noses.

We pray. A lot. Forget anti-aging creams and facelifts. Pray.

6. “You’re one of those awesome woman-priest nuns right?”

Women-priest nuns? What is that even? Being a nun isn’t just “good enough” for us, we’re actually happy to be who we are! Because we may be young nuns doesn’t mean we’re hip and rebellious. Ok, yes it does mean we’re hip and rebellious, just not that kind of rebellious.

7. “You were raised in a cave, homeschooled your entire life, and never saw the opposite sex before you made this decision right?”

Ok, people don’t exactly say this, but I often encounter the “Oh, you must be a sheltered Catholic goody two-shoes” attitude. Not that there is anything wrong with being homeschooled (I was for three years) or coming from a wholesome Catholic family.

It’s just wrong to assume everyone in religious life comes from this background. And it’s patronizing to assume that young, talented women make this decision because they just don’t get it.

We get it.

Perhaps you are the one who doesn’t get it?

8. You’re so cute!?!

One of our sisters once walked into a dollar store to find her picture emblazoned on a row of mugs that were for sale.

I kid you not.

We nuns don’t appreciate hearing how cute we are, like we are some kind of doll or odd animal at the zoo. And we definitely don’t appreciate it when people use our pictures for calendars, mugs, etc. (without asking permission!) as if we are simply objects to be used for the sale of kitschy merchandise.

9. “You’ve never heard of (insert random, esoteric Catholic thing or person)?! Are you a Catholic nun?!”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this from people. And the person is always scandalized by a lack of knowledge as if we should be walking encyclopedias of everything ever related to Catholicism.

Mary of the (insert unusual apparition or devotion here). Father so-and-so. Latin phrase for such-and-such. Religious order with other nuns (you all know each other right?!).

10. What a waste…

I can understand this comment coming from atheists, but I don’t get it when a person who says they believe in God makes this comment. Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Christian. Whatever. If you believe in God, then what else in life matters except to live for him?!? And, if the invitation is to live for him totally, how could anyone refuse?

Am I right?!

Any additions to my list?

I’d love to hear them.

Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble, fsp, is the author of The Prodigal You Love: Inviting Loved Ones Back to the Church. She recently pronounced her first vows with the Daughters of Saint Paul. She blogs at Pursued by Truth

Monday, October 19, 2015

The North American Martyrs

North American Martyrs
Saint Isaac Jogues wrote the following to a friend before returning to the New World one last time, “My heart tells me that if I am the one to be sent on this mission I shall go but I shall not return. But I would be glad if our Lord wished to complete the sacrifice where He began it. Farewell, dear Father. Pray that God unite me to Himself inseparably.”

These words were to prove prophetic. In 1646, Saint Isaac Jogues received the martyr’s crown when murdered by a young Indian to whom he had been teaching the Catholic faith. What makes this story even more remarkable is that the following year, this same young Indian asked to be baptized taking the name Isaac Jogues because of the mercy shown to him by the other Jesuit missionaries. Shortly thereafter, he was murdered by members of his own tribe because he had accepted baptism.

In the three hundred and sixty-nine years since the deaths of Saints Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, the Catholic Church has flourished on the North American Continent. Thanks be to God that for many of those who followed in the footsteps of those early missionary martyrs, they did not have to literally give their life by the shedding of their blood. I can imagine that the thought of physical martyrdom never crossed the minds of Fathers Columba, Timothy, or Luke as they made their voyage to the American Continent.  Fortunately, they – like us – could take comfort in the scriptures, the word of God. As they did their lectio one can only conceive what they felt in their hearts as their eyes came across these words from our first reading from Saint Paul to the Romans, “it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification..”

Image result for north american martyrs ravine
No doubt these very words of Saint Paul were familiar to those eight Jesuit missionaries who gave of themselves by the shedding of their blood in seventeenth century North America. No doubt it was due to their knowledge of having being chosen by Christ that they were able, by the gift of faith received in baptism, to accomplish the will of God. Each one of us has been called and chosen by God to some specific good work.

Listen to these words from Blessed John Henry Newman, the great nineteenth-century English thinker. Though not a missionary himself, this convert from the Church of England to the Roman Catholic Church speaks words that could easily have come from the lips of the North American Martyrs or our own founders of our Community. “God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission – I never may know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes. I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do His work; I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep His commandments and serve Him in my calling.Therefore I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain; He may prolong my life, He may shorten it; He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends, He may throw me among strangers, He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide the future from me – still He knows what He is about.”

Today we recall the lives of the martyrs memorialized today in the context of these words. We focus on the amazing and deep faith of Father Isaac Jogues. He had, through the grace and guidance of God, left France and journeyed to “New France” to bring the gospel and, hopefully, a better life to the indigenous people. He learned the language of the native people, their customs, and preached. Many were won over by his dedication and his energy. He clearly believed that his vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience would help him to live and preach the word of God. Although Isaac had many successes, he was eventually captured by enemies, enslaved, and tortured. His hands were so mutilated through burning, biting, and cutting his fingers, that he could no longer say Mass. He was freed after a Dutch trader was able to ransom him, and he returned to France. The Pope gave him a dispensation from the rule that the Eucharist could only be held in the right hand between the index finger and thumb; Isaac again could celebrate the Mass.

Isaac returned to “New France” after only a short stay in his native country. Even though his once strong hands that had built shelters, helped to propel canoes up rivers, and marked new converts with the sign of the cross, they were now nearly useless; he felt that he could be of use in the wilderness. He was again captured. He was tortured, and dismembered. His life and his actions were the living gospel. He steadfastly believed in “the one who raised Jesus, our Lord, from the dead; our Lord who died for our transgressions.” Fr. Jogues clearly believed in the words of Jesus in Luke’s gospel for today. “One’s life does not consist of possessions”, but rather, that one’s riches are “actions that matter to God.” When Isaac’s life was demanded of him, he had no significant possessions; he only had the knowledge that his actions were for the greater glory of God.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pope makes surprise visit

From Vatican Radio:

On Thursday, Pope Francis made a surprise visit to the new Jesuit homeless shelter, ‘Gift of Mercy’, just around the corner from the Vatican.

All 30 guests at ‘Gift of Mercy’ (Dono di Misericordia), most of whom are Italian, were overjoyed to see the Holy Father and were eager to tell him their life stories and ask for his blessing. In his inimitably personal way, the Pope spoke to the men one by one and then asked to be given a tour of the shelter itself.

The Pope was welcomed by mons. Konrad Krajewski, Jesuit Superior General Fr Adolfo Nicolás and by several nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, who run the shelter with the help of volunteers.

On 7th October, the homeless shelter was opened by the Society of Jesus, in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Jesuits founded the shelter in response to the Pope’s recent call for religious institutions to offer more buildings to be used for the care of those in need.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Papal Points

From Vatican Radio:

Pope Francis on Saturday morning marked the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops as a permanent body. Gathered with the Fathers of the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops – who are currently meeting in Rome to discuss the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in contemporary society – Pope Francis spoke of both the process and the substance of the Synod as constitutive and expressive of the Church’s own nature and mission.

“Journeying together,” said Pope Francis in an enlargement on the Greek words from which the English word ‘synod’ is derived, “laity, pastors, and the Bishop of Rome, is an easy concept to put into words, but not so easy to put into practice.”

The Holy Father went on to say that each and everyone has a place in the Church, and that the key to journeying well together is listening. “A synodal Church is a Church of listening,” said Pope Francis. “It is a mutual listening in which everyone has something to learn: the faithful, the College of Bishops, [and the] Bishop of Rome; each listening to the others; and all listening to the Holy Spirit, the ‘Spirit of truth’ (Jn 14, 17), to know what he ‘says to the Churches’ (Rev 2: 7).”

“The Synod of Bishops,” continued Pope Francis, “is the convergence point of this dynamism – this listening conducted at all levels of Church life,” starting with the people, who “also participate in Christ’s prophetic office” and who have a right and a duty to be heard on topics that touch the common life of the Church. Then come the Synod Fathers, through whom, “[T]he bishops act as true stewards, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church, which [they] must be able carefully to distinguish from often shifting public opinion.” In all this, the Successor to Peter is fundamental. “Finally,” explained Pope Francis, “the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, called upon to speak authoritatively [It. pronunciare] as ‘Shepherd and Teacher of all Christians’: not on the basis of his personal beliefs, but as the supreme witness of the Faith of the whole Church, the guarantor of the Church’s conformity with and obedience to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and the Tradition of the Church.”

The Holy Father went on to explain that the Synod always always acts cum Petro et sub Petro – with Peter and under Peter – a fact that does not constitute a restriction of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. “In fact,” he said, “the Pope is, by the will of the Lord, ‘the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful’.”

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Sunday Word

So James and John say to Jesus, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory." 

They want a couple of prime cabinet posts in the messianic administration of Jesus, sitting in the seats closest to the very regent of God. Nothing would make them happier than having people look up at Jesus and his Dream Team, marveling at how great they are.

But there are a couple of problems with being great. The first is a life of illusion, and the second is a state of confusion.

The illusion is that you are more invincible, powerful and righteous than you really are.

The confusion is that you do not know the true meaning of greatness.

History teaches that greatness is often linked to a life of illusion, one which causes people to believe that they are more invincible, powerful and righteous than they really are. 

Jesus addresses in the gospel of Mark. "You do not know what you are asking," says Jesus to the aspiring great ones, James and John. "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Jesus senses that they are confused about what they are getting into, and he makes clear that the path to glory goes straight through the wilderness of suffering.

Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, asks Jesus -- the cup of my blood, shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sin? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with -- the baptism of dying and rising, one in which suffering and death always precede joy and new life?

John and James reply, "We are able." The two come across as supremely confident, but you have to suspect that they don't know what they're talking about. They're still confused about the path that lies ahead.

Jesus doesn't shoot them down. Instead, he nods in agreement. "The cup that I drink you will drink," he promises; "and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized." He knows that they are walking the way of the cross, which will lead to suffering for all and to death for some. 

James and John. Both suffered. One was martyred. They drank the cup and experienced the baptism.

But as for positions of honor, Jesus says: "to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant." Jesus can promise suffering, death and new life to all who follow him in faith, but the granting of special places in the kingdom of heaven? That's God's call, because God is in control.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"Rejoice in the Lord always"

There's nothing wrong with being happy. The pursuit of happiness can even be a godly activity. But to know happiness in its fullness, we need to keep God in the equation. 

Look at it this way: When the Good Samaritan helped the injured man by the road, God certainly evaluated his work as good and upright, and the Samaritan also reflected God. But chances are, the Samaritan felt good about what he had done as well. He likely experienced pleasure that he had really helped someone in need and had pleased God. He may have been inconvenienced by the help he gave, but that doesn't mean he was being self-sacrificial. He loved his neighbor as he loved himself, and self-love is part of happiness. Thus, the Samaritan was happy in all three senses that Wesley identified.

Here's something else: Almost certainly the Levite and priest who passed by the injured man without helping didn't arrive at their destination as happy men. They had no doubt come up with some sort of justification for their decision to pass by on the other side, but such justifications don't yield self-love. They support selfishness (which is different from self-love), but they don't result in a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.

As we learn to enact the kind of self-love the Good Samaritan showed, our happiness deepens. And, in effect, we are rejoicing in the Lord, as Paul recommends in today's text. When Paul told the Philippians to "Rejoice in the Lord always," he wasn't recommending a worshipful ritual, but urging his readers to feel the genuine delight that comes from living and acting God's way.

Happiness, the Bible teaches us, is a feeling that comes from doing what pleases God.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Papal Thoughts

The priority of consecrated (religious) life is] prophecy of the Kingdom, which is non-negotiable. The emphasis should be on being prophets… To be prophets, in particular, by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the Kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophesying. Prophecy makes a noise, uproar, a mess… Prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.

The witness [of religious life] that can really attract is that associated with attitudes which are uncommon - generosity, detachment, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness – in order to care for others. This is the witness, the martyrdom of religious life.

Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.

The above excerpted from “Wake Up the World! Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Christianity is about relationship

Our theme for the junior retreat has been Community. While it is a relatively short retreat I was somewhat amazed at how quickly the junior retreatants are able to articulate the theme. Certainly they understand what we have been trying to instill on a day-to-day basis in school. And while they are on retreat, they articulate our philosophy very well.

Yesterday they shared during their discussions and the homily some of these one-liners :

There are two important tables for us on retreat. The Eucharistic and dining table. Both are important.

Our lives are about relationships.
We have come as strangers and now we are friends.
Communication is never easy, but it is very important.
Community is not an easy thing to create.
It is easier to be a part of a group, than to stand alone.

We prayed, cooked, ate and had a long diner celebration in a night filled with laughing and stories. They talked about their relationships, their friends and their families.

Whatever the configuration of families or community, it is central to our lives. In today’s brief, two-line gospel we listen as a woman calls to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus’ responds, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

What struck me about the Gospel today is that Jesus is surprising us with a change of focus. He is not discounting his own mother and their close relationship, but he is telling us that our own relationship with him can be blessed to the degree we let it be a relationship of hearing and keeping his word. Our fidelity to him blesses us with a family relationship with him.

By extension, that also means that we are invited to be family with those beyond our immediate family relationships. We include others because we have been included by Jesus.

As we saw in Pope Francis’ recent trip to the US, we find Jesus in the faces and lives of those in our world. Echoing Jesus, Francis asks us to open our hearts to the hungry, the poor and the marginalized. The outcasts we meet might be hidden most obviously within our own families:

Both inside and outside our families, we are called to reach out to others who need us as a way to really unite to Jesus and his mission on earth. What does Jesus want from us? A deeply personal relationship. Jesus isn’t looking for us to read more about him or discuss the theology of his ministry. Jesus longs for a close and personal family relationship with us as we speak to him about our lives and lean on him for support in times of need. Blessed by his love, we hear the call from this love to keep his word by loving as he has loved us.

Our personal prayer and friendship with Jesus will bring us the happiness that is promised in the vision from the first reading from Joel: we are no longer strangers, the mountains shall drip new wine, the hills flow with milk and the channels of Judah fill with water. “Then shall you know that I, the LORD, am your God.”

Today’s invitation from Jesus is to leave that family table and reach out to those who need us as we join with Jesus in his mission. Pope Francis has called us to be families of inclusion, dialog and service for all.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

We are called to be Saints

What I regard as a really distinctive trait of our two orders, and what seems to me to be without a precedent in all the religious orders I know of, is the fact, as I have said, that we embrace the religious life in the name and for the glory of the Blessed Virgin, and for the sake of devoting ourselves to her, that is to say, our bodies and all that we possess, in order to make her 
known, loved and served.Religious life is to Christianity what Christianity is to humanity. It is as imperishable in the Church as the church is imperishable in human society. For this reason, it would be futile to pretend to re-establish Christianity without the institutions which permit men to practice the evangelical counsels. However, it would be difficult and inopportune to try to revive these institutions today under the same forms they had before the Revolution. But no form is essential to the religious life. One can be a religious under a secular appearance. It will be less offensive to the misguided. It will be more difficult for them to be opposed. The world and the Church will be even further edified. Let us then form a religious association by pronouncing the three vows of religion, but without name or costume. Nova bella elegit Dominus (The Lord had chosen new wars); and let us put the entire plan under the protection of Mary Immaculate, to whom her Divine Son has reserved the final victories over hell.Let us be, my child,... let us be, in our humility the heel of the Woman. 

(From Blessed Chaminade's Letter of August 24, 1839 Letter to the Retreat Masters.)

Friday, October 9, 2015

The Sunday Word

This week’s gospel is a familiar and wonderful short story filled with lots of tensions and emotions. It begins with a man approaching Jesus and asking him the important question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus seems to rebuke the man a couple of times, yet he ignores the rebukes and continues to ask his burning question. Saying that he has been faithful to the commandments all his life; what more must he do to be complete? This is clearly a good person who awaits further instructions from Jesus.

Jesus responds out of love for him and offers the challenge: “go sell what you have and give it to the poor . . . then come follow me.” At this point the man backs off: “his face fell and he went away sad because he had many possessions”.

Jesus was asking the young man to be his disciple. Sadly, he said no to Jesus’ offer. He chose holding on to his possessions over following Jesus. The issue for him was that he could not part from his possessions which were extensive. I have often wondered what happened to him afterwards: did he rethink his position and turn to Jesus? Did he continue to trust and covet his riches? We will never know since this is the only time we encounter him in his encounter with Jesus. The call to be a disciple is indeed a profound decision to follow Jesus. How might this man have stacked up against the twelve that Jesus called to be disciples? My inclination is to think would have been equal to the challenge of disciple-ship.

This is where we fit into the gospel story. We are all (rich and poor alike) called to be followers of Jesus, to serve at his side in a word, to be disciples We, too, need to assess what it is I need to “sell” so that we can more faithfully be with Christ? What is it that might hinder us from responding to Jesus’ call? What might we do about it?

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the rich young man asked to follow the Lord. We too come to the encounter with Jesus as good persons looking to add spiritual depth in using our God-given talents. Are we perfect? Clearly not! But the twelve Jesus called to be followers during his public ministry were hardly perfect themselves. As they journeyed with Jesus on the plains and hills of Galilee and in the streets of Jerusalem we discover one who totally sold out on Jesus for a wad of silver, another who denied that he even knew Jesus, and a pair of brothers who seemed interested only in their being on the right and left hand of Jesus in the kingdom.

The story of the rich young man might also be called “following Jesus: the ups and downs of being a disciple”; or “Here is the beginning of a long journey down the road with Jesus”; or “following Jesus a call to love as he loved”. To be a disciple means everyday faithfulness, not success as perfection and the pursuit of perfection implies. We’re called to trust the good God.

“Only God is good,” Jesus says in the beginning of his dialogue with the man: to be a disciple, then, is to set one’s eyes on God and not on possessions (read here one’s gifts and accomplishments). The man was sad because he valued his possessions over the call of Jesus. With God’s help we can and will be disciples.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Christ at the center

Pope Benedict XVI on the Rosary

When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God.

~ Recitation of the Holy Rosary, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Saturday, May 3, 2008.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Teachers Make a Difference

“Education is a participation in the work of Mary. She is the great teacher of (all people). Her mission has been, and still is, to give birth to Jesus Christ . . . . In calling us to the work of education, Mary has constituted us her collaborators in this mission. Our pupils are her children . . . and it is in her name that we ought to try to form Jesus in them.” (Emil Neubert, S.M.)

The definition of teaching for Marianist educators is all encompassing. “Every word, action, and gesture” are considered to be components of teaching.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Are you spiritually in Shape?

“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way…No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself, should be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24-25,27

St. Paul offers us a great image to reflect upon. We are all runners in a spiritual race, a race for the prize of heaven. Our destination and goal is to achieve heaven. But the question is: are we in shape?

Getting is shape is a pre-occupation for some many Americans. We stress eating healthy, exercising, working out and so on. So much time is spent on the body: being fit and looking good. We place our bodies under such physical workouts in order to develop a lean and mean fighting machine, big guns, being in top shape. But what about our spiritual bodies, our soul. Are we spiritually in shape? Can we endure the spiritual race?

St. Paul’s image of the body being fit to run parallels our spiritual condition. His letter asks us to take the opportunity for us to get in spiritual shape, to take a good long look at our spiritual selves. Some of us are not exactly the poster child for a fitness center. Are we a poster child for a spiritual fitness?

Most of the time, if you are out of shape, you dread looking in the mirror. A mirror will reflect the way we are. How much more so will I avoid looking into a spiritual mirror. When I look into my soul is there a lot of fat and waste? When it comes to spiritual exercises (prayer, Mass, meditation, spiritual reading, etc.), how faithful am I? A mirror reminds us, all too painfully sometimes, that we are “out of shape.” Maybe we feel guilty or feel like a failure.

Many of us have attempted to go on a diet, a physical exercise regime. We make promises, plans and even join a club. But how long does that last? Inevitably, we go back to eating, break away from exercise and are back to “out of shape.”

Our lives can be so hectic that is so easy to neglect our spiritual lives like we neglect our physical bodies and we are no longer “in shape” to run. We are tired, out of breath and exhausted, physically and spiritually. We have a thousand excuses for not following through on our plans, our regimes. It’s not like we consciously say “I don’t want to pray” or “I too tired for God.” Like most diets and exercise programs, we just gradually fall away. Today, St. Paul reminds us that we are in a race and must remain “in shape.”

What are some things I can do to maintain a spiritual diet, a spiritual regime of exercises? Maybe we can start small by picking up a prayer book, stopping in church, saying a quick prayer. Maybe we can practice paying someone a compliment or not saying something so critical or so harsh. Maybe we need to just get out of our spiritual easy chair and work against being a spiritual couch potato. Maybe we first need to look into a spiritual mirror and ask for God’s help. Anyone in AA knows the need to admit our problem and seek another’s help. Maybe today we can admit we are spiritual fatboys and ask someone to go for a run with us. Maybe we just need to stop, reflect on St. Paul’s letter and ask ourselves: “Am I spiritually in shape?”

Contributed by one of the Marianists from the Province

Monday, October 5, 2015

Happy Anniversary Meribah!

Meribah - Happy Anniversary!

Meribah - the Chaminade Retreat House celebrates its 45th anniversary today. Over the years it has been a great resource for helping souls.

Meribah has assisted the young and old in a quest and struggle for God.

Those who visited Meribah have found a rich spirituality, a way of looking at God, and opportunities that have enriched countless people and undertakings over the last forty years. 

Image result for Meribah Muttontown

Marianist Monday

October, 2015

My dear friends in college . . . and beyond,

On the cover of the October Magnificat, we find a classic portrait of St. Teresa of Ávila (1515 – 1582), the humble Carmelite nun who was canonized in 1622 and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Her landmark writings, The Way of Perfection and The Interior Castle, have nourished thousands of seekers in pursuit of a deeper prayer life and a more intimate relationship with the Lord. The portrait’s painter, Bro. Juan de la Miseria, O.C.D., captures the gaze of love between Teresa and the Holy Spirit. That gaze of love echoes what Teresa herself said regarding the source of her divinely inspired writings: “Most of the things I write do not come from my own head, but from the Heavenly Master who inspires them within me.”

The Interior Castle lays the foundation for what Teresa felt should be the ideal journey of faith, comparing the contemplative soul to a castle with seven successive interior courts, or chambers, analogous to seven mansions. As we draw closer and closer to the center of the castle, we in turn draw closer and closer to God. Further, the God who dwells at the center of the “interior castle” is much more than a celestial dispenser of favors; He is a lover, luring us to fall in love with Him in a way that changes our lives and gives us an entirely new perspective on the world around us. It is in this innermost chamber of the “interior castle” that we become contemplatives – men and women who gaze on God in love and draw their strength and their happiness from that loving gaze.

In many ways, St. Teresa’s Interior Castle reminds me of a key insight from our Founder, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade: “The essential is the interior.” I am reminded as well of a sentence I read recently in a recent book penned by one of my favorite contemporary spiritual authors, Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, O.M.I. In Prayer: Our Deepest Longing, Fr. Rolheiser writes, “In the end, no matter its particular form, and even when it is done publicly or in a large group, all private and devotional prayer can be defined in this way: it is prayer that tries, in myriad ways, to open us up in such a way that we can hear God say to us, ‘I love you!’ ”

Surely, when we hear God say “I love you,” and when we are confident in that love – and transformed by that love – we have indeed arrived at that innermost chamber of our “interior castle.”

Now, that all sounds wonderful, but it may be quite a far cry from the reality we live and feel most days of our lives. I can’t speak for others, but I know that my own spiritual house is often not in order. I see layers of dust accumulating from months of spiritual neglect. Creaking hinges remind me that some areas of life have been crying out for attention but have gone unattended. Cobwebs in the corners remind me of the stubborn selfishness and negative attitudes that still haunt me after all these years. Sometimes the lights in my spiritual house flicker and dim. The carpet could use a vacuuming, and unwashed dishes pile up in the sink. It seems as though I’m just too busy to ever get around to cleaning them. Interior Castle? Interior Castle???? I’m afraid that my spiritual life is more like a haunted house!

But even when we’ve not kept our spiritual house in order, God’s still at work, knocking – maybe even pounding – on the door to let Him in. And once we open the door, even if just a tiny crack, He makes it quite clear that He does not intend to be a temporary guest, but a permanent resident, indeed, the master of the house.

In Mere Christianity, the famed 20th century Christian apologist C.S. Lewis (1898 – 1963) put it this way:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

Isn’t it time we stop trying to put our own spiritual house in order, according to our own plans, our own blueprints? Isn’t it time we take up the offer of the Divine Architect and surrender ourselves to His plans? The result may just very well be an “interior castle” beyond compare.

But I gotta run. There’s this guy who just showed up at my door, and he’s knocking kind of insistently. Looks a little strange – long beard, swarthy complexion, gnarled hands. What’s more, he’s carrying a crowbar and a sledgehammer and a whole slew of other tools as well.

And outside, a flatbed truck laden with two-by-fours and sheetrock just pulled up in front of the house.

It just might be the Master Carpenter!

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Come to me

"Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them."
From the time I was a child, I always liked the Gospel readings that talked about Jesus welcoming little children. Of course, that imagery spoke to me when I was little. I think it made sense even then that things seemed a lot less complicated to children. It seemed easy to be good.

Though I know not every child has a simple, uncomplicated life, I hope all children can experience the wonder and joy that is a part of growing up. Children live in the moment. They experience joy in running down a hill or jumping in a puddle. The world is new every day and holds a surprise around every corner. Have you ever taken a toddler on a walk around the block? Who knew everything could be so interesting? A flower here. A little wall to climb up there. A stick that can be waved around. An ant scurrying across the pavement that needs close inspection. And there, across the street … it’s a dog. What a walk!

God wants us to experience that sense of joy and wonder in our lives, to be in the present, to find surprises around every corner. He offers us unconditional love and acceptance and that can help us, in turn, find God in all things. As a child, I felt sure Jesus loved me. Sometimes now, I’m not so sure as life can be so complicated. I feel I can lose my way. I have to open my heart to God’s love and acceptance and then offer love and acceptance to others.

I need to embrace the child in me and accept God’s blessings. Maybe I just need a walk around the block.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

3 leadership lessons from Pope Francis

Image result for pope in fiat
From Forbes magazine:

Last week the Pope visited the United States for the first time in his life, and showed off many of his wonderful leadership attributes. Here are three lessons from this extraordinary leader:
Stay Focused: the Pope’s message, over and over again, to multiple audiences is the same: Show mercy to the poor and disadvantaged. And whether he was speaking to Congress or the United Nations or anyone else, the Pope urged the United States to be more open to immigrants. He urged both America and the UN to work on the refugee crisis. And he pushed his show mercy message by endorsing the protection of the environment. He also, at one point or another, talked about slavery, the global sex trade, the sexual abuse of children by priests, and international arms deal in pursuit of profit. What do these topics have in common?
Mercy is the answer to dealing with all of these ills.
Model the Behavior: Unlike many corporate CEOs and national leaders, Pope Francis doesn’t spend any time or energy worrying about the perks of his job. He doesn’t have a corporation-paid golf club membership or a private jet. He doesn’t live in the Papal Apartment in Vatican City instead living in community with other priests at Casa Santa Marta. When he’s not on the road or meeting with foreign dignitaries, he easts his meals in the casa’s cafeteria. When he meets strangers, he immediately introduces himself, offering his hand to shake and saying, “Sono Papa Francesco,” which is Italian for “I am Pope Francis.”
Francis is leading by modeling the behavior he hopes to see all the Catholic faithful adopt: be humble. It’s much easier to be merciful when you’re humble than when you’re worrying about your limo (as America saw, the Pope rides in a Fiat).

Friday, October 2, 2015

199th Anniversary of the Society of Mary

199 Years Strong

For members of the Society of Mary, October 2, 1817 is a day of celebration. It was on this day that Jean Baptiste Lalanne and several other men met with Blessed William Joseph Chaminade to discuss the possibility of forming a group of vowed men who through prayer and living in community would be actively involved in the ministry of the Church. After the initial meeting, several additional men, clerics, manual workers, and merchants, joined with Lalanne and Blessed Chaminade to found the Society of Mary (Marianists). On December 8, 1817, several men made private vows and on September 5, 1818, seven men made public vows as members of the Society of Mary.

Today, October 2, Foundation Day for the Society of Mary, is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

Remembering the Guardian Angels has been important to members of the Society of Mary. Guardian Angels were seen as guardians of the students in Marianist schools. To help students behave appropriately, members of the Society of Mary were encouraged to “invoke the Guardian Angels of their pupils at the beginning of class and surveillance periods.” (Resch, p. 174). Hopefully, the angels would guarantee that students behaved in a proper manner so as to be receptive to the classroom instruction of the Brothers and priests.

The Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary were not founded for a specific ministry within the Church. Blessed Chaminade was open to the possibilities that would come before him and his disciples. It soon became evident that education would become the primary ministry of the Society of Mary. Blessed Chaminade wanted each of the members of the Society of Mary and the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, “to show by their good example, that Christianity is not an obsolete institution and that the Gospel is as practicable today as it was 1800 years ago. (The men and women religious) would wage battle against a thousand and one forms of propaganda, precisely in the field of schools, by opening classes at every level and of every kind, and particularly classes for the common people, who are the most numerous and the most abandoned.” (1838 letter to Gregory XVI)

Pray with us:
God of everlasting love,
Your Son gave us his Mother to be our mother.
Taught by him and united with thousands of students
throughout the world in Marianist schools, we pray:
Mary, do for us what you did for Jesus, our brother.
Guide us so we grow strong in wisdom and grace.
Give us sight to see the talents God has given us,
the will to develop them, and the generosity to share
these talents with others. Instill in us the desire to constantly learn,
the goodness to serve generously, and the courage to follow where Jesus calls.
We pray for these blessings for ourselves, for all students at this school,
and for members of the faculty and staff. May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pause for Prayer

Heal my rough edges, Lord:
my self-centered snarl,
my hair-trigger growl,
my defenses aprowl
protecting my way of seeing things,
my way of doing whatever's next to be done...

With your Spirit's power,
tame my temper
and temper my rash response...

Let your Spirit stand as a guard at my lips,
the gatekeeper at the door of my heart,
keeping watch
on my words and my ways...

With your Spirit's patience, Lord,
grace my soul:
tame me, heal me, shape and mold me
to be the person
you created me to be...

H/T A Country Pastor Comments