Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Marian Feast - The Visitation

Our feast of the Visitation of Mary invites us into a deeply personal moment with the Scriptures. The Precursor and the Lord are both hidden from each other. Yet even before the two women embrace, John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Both births are hailed by two beautiful canticles: the Benedictus sung by Zechariah and the Nunc Dimittis prayed by Simeon, the “righteous and devout” man in the temple.

There are two aspects of the Visitation to consider. The first aspect is that any element of personal agenda of Mary and Elizabeth is tossed aside. Both had good reason to be very preoccupied with their pregnancies and all that new life brings. Both women had a right to focus on themselves for a while as they made new and radical adjustments to their daily lives. Mary reaches out to her kinswoman to help her and also to be helped by her. These two biblical women consoled each another, shared their stories, and gave each other the gift of themselves in the midst of the new life that they must have experienced.

The second aspect of this moving story is Mary’s haste. Saint Luke tells us that she undertook in haste the long and perilous journey from Nazareth to a village in the hill country of Judea. She knew clearly what she wanted and did not allow anyone or anything to stop her.

St. Ambrose tells us this haste could mean: “the grace of the Holy Spirit does not know delayed efforts.” Mary’s free choice to move forward and outward is reflective of a decision taken deep within her heart followed by immediate action. The Spirit completely possessed the Virgin Daughter of Nazareth and compelled her to act. Such possession by God’s Spirit is the only possession worthwhile, life-giving, hopeful and joyful.

Monday, May 30, 2016

On Honoring the War Dead: Lincoln at the Graveside

His purpose on the battlefield was neither to crow nor to incite. It was to commemorate. -
In a modern culture that is adrift, it is good to be reminded of the True, the Good & the Beautiful. Each week it is my humble privilege to offer one selection from an indispensable Canon of essays, speeches & books which will light a candle in the darkness. It is a Canon I have assembled over many years that I hope will challenge & inspire each reader. But most importantly, I hope it will remind us of what is True in an age of untruth. And if we know what is True, we are more apt to do what is Right.

He was weary as he looked out at them. And the crowds were weary too. It had been nearly three years since it all began, and what a terrible three it had been. Theirs was a nation at war. But it was so much worse … because the nation was at war with itself. A family feud had devolved to fratricide. The blood of a brother cried out from the ground while the other asked, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Yes, Abraham Lincoln was weary. But by November 19, 1863, the day the President stood on the once-bloodied grounds of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Civil War had reached a turning point. Surely, in the wake of the hard-fought Union victory at Gettysburg, there was temptation. It was the victors’ creeping temptation to triumphalism and retribution. The slain brothers must be avenged. The spilled blood must be ruthlessly accounted for. “On this day, let our leader say so,” many felt.

Yes. Indeed.

But Lincoln felt otherwise. His purpose on the battlefield was neither to crow nor to incite. It was to dedicate a National Cemetery and honor the war-dead. It was to commemorate. And this is what he said:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate – we cannot hallow – this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

On Memorial Day, as we stand in the cemeteries and by the gravesides of the war dead, may we remember their struggle, may we commemorate their sacrifice, and may we honor the last full measure of their devotion.

It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Corpus Christi

“Jesus was broken; he is broken for us. And he asks us to give ourselves, to break ourselves, as it were, for others,” the Pope said, during his homily for the celebration of Corpus Christi, at St. John Lateran.

Today we celebrate the institution of the Holy Eucharist and is marked by special displays of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, most notably Eucharistic processions.

Pope Francis pointed to the many mothers and fathers who, “together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well!”

He also commented how many Christians “as responsible citizens have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated against!”
“Where do they find the strength to do this? It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”

The Pope called to mind the reading of St. Paul to the Corinthians recounting the institution of the Eucharist, He said, here is “the oldest testimony we have to the words of Christ at the Last Supper.”

By telling his disciples “do this,” Christ gives the command to repeat his own actions by which he gave us his own Body and Blood.

“Jesus gives the command to repeat this action by which he instituted the memorial of his own Pasch, and in so doing gives us his Body and his Blood. This action reaches us today: it is the 'doing' of the Eucharist which always has Jesus as its subject, but which is made real through our poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit.”

In the today's Gospel passage from John, which recounted the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, Christ tells his disciples to “give them something to eat yourselves.” Christ is the one who blesses and breaks the bread, providing enough to feed the entire hungry crowd, it is the disciples who offer the loaves and fish.

“Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had.”

“Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.”

Pope Francis said the breaking of the bread signifies another meaning of Christ's command to “do this in remembrance of me” – allowing ourselves to make sacrifices and to be broken for the good of others.

He commented how “breaking bread” became a sign for recognizing Christ and Christians, and pointed to several passages in scripture recounting how the disciples broke bread together.

“From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the center and pattern of the life of the Church.”

Pope Francis concluded his homily thoughts by saying that the Eucharistic procession after Mass would be a response to Christ's command: “an action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ’s love for this city and for the whole world.”

Saturday, May 28, 2016


Jesus didn’t only tell us to remember him in the Eucharist.
He promised to be our Eucharist.
So when we bless, break and share the bread we offer in thanksgiving,
we believe him when he tells us, This bread is my Body.
And when we bless and share the cup we offer in thanksgiving,
we believe him when he tells us, This is the cup of my Blood.

In this sacrament we are not sprinkled, we drink the blood
Christ spilled for us on the Cross.
He is atonement for our sins and in his Blood we are washed clean
not just once a year but every time
we eat this bread and drink this cup
and proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

In him and in the sacrifice he offered once on the Cross
and again now at this table, we are delivered, forgiven and saved.
In Communion with him we are all made one
for we are all sharers in the one Bread broken for us,
in the one Cup we share.

So let us approach the Lord’s Table with thanksgiving
for what he offers us here is more than we can imagine.

Let us approach the Lord’s Table with humility
for none of us deserves what we receive here.

Let us approach the Lord’s Table with reverence
for on this altar is laid the very Body and Blood of Christ.

Let us approach the Lord’s Table with all our brokenness
for we are about to receive the Lord who heals and mends us.

Let us approach the Lord’s Table with a hunger for life
and a thirst for mercy
for that is the food the Lord sets before us.

Let us approach the Lord’s Table in a spirit of prayer,
for here is food for our souls,
here is the Bread of Angels and the Cup of Salvation,
here is the Risen Lord, Christ Jesus, whose Body and Blood
we take and consume with solemnity,
with thanks, and with joy.

Friday, May 27, 2016


And most important of all,
he is present in the sacramental supper of this table
where we are nourished by the sacrifice he offered
on the altar of the Cross.
Christ, present, truly, in the bread and cup of the Eucharist…

But what do we mean when we say that?

Back in the 4th century, people asked the same question
and St. Augustine gave them this answer:

What you see is the bread and the chalice;
that is what your own eyes report to you.
But what your faith obliges you to accept is that
the bread is the Body of Christ
and the chalice the Blood of Christ...
How is the bread his Body?
And that which is in the chalice - how is it his Blood?
Those elements, brothers and sisters, are called sacraments,
because in them one thing is seen,
but another is understood.
What is seen is the corporeal species
but what is understood is the spiritual fruit...
You yourselves are the Body of Christ and his members.
If you are the Body of Christ and his members,
it is your own mystery that is presented
at the table of the Lord,
you receive your mystery.
To that which you are -- you answer: "Amen..."
For you hear: "The Body of Christ!" and you answer: "Amen!"
You hear: "The Blood of Christ!" and you answer: "Amen!"
Be a member of Christ's Body, then,
so that your "Amen" may be the truth.

In St. Augustine’s effort to help us understand the comfort that is ours
in believing that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist,
there comes also a challenge,
to believe not only that the bread and wine become
the body and blood of Christ,
but to believe also that, indeed, we are to become
what we eat and drink:
we are to become the true presence of Christ
breaking ourselves like bread to nourish our neighbor;
pouring ourselves out like wine in outreach to those in need.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Sunday celebration

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
That’s a liturgical, theological mouthful.
Just to name the day and what we celebrate on Sunday
might put off-putting for some: too pious, too churchy.
And, of course, those words ARE pious and they are churchy
but if we cannot at least begin to understand them at their core,
then they’re lost on us.

So, let’s bear with one another and make as simple an effort as possible
to understand the complexity, the depth and the mystery
of the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

• Beginning centuries before Jesus was born, his people, the Jews,
celebrated Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement,
to atone for the sins they had committed in the previous year.

On Yom Kippur, the blood of a sacrificed animal
was sprinkled on the altar and on the people,
a sign that God was one with the people he had made his own
and he was reconciled with them.

The Jews still celebrate Yom Kippur,
but without the spilling and the splashing of blood.
Instead, they recount the story of the earlier sacrifice,
to remember it,
and they recite the prayers that accompanied that sacrifice.

• Centuries before Jesus was born, his people, the Jews,
at God’s command,
on the eve of their deliverance from slavery in Egypt,
celebrated the first Passover supper, a ritual meal,
which God charged them to celebrate then every year
to remember how the Lord had passed over the homes of the Jews
which had been sprinkled with the blood of a sacrificed lamb,
thus sparing those Jewish homes from the angel of death.

•Some 2,000 years ago - at Passover in Jerusalem,
Jesus gathered his friends for that same supper
on the night before he died.

That night, Jesus took the bread of Passover, gave thanks, broke it
and gave it to his friends saying,
Take and eat of this:
This bread is my body, broken for you, given up for you.

And taking the Passover cup filled with wine he gave thanks again
and gave it to his friends saying,
Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is the cup of my blood,
the blood of the new covenant, poured out for you,
for the forgiveness of sins.
When you do this: remember me.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Mary, Help of Christians

Pope Francis at the Basilica of St. Mary, Help of Christians.
The Blessed Virgin Mary 
is a beautiful, beloved, essential and pervasive figure in Christian life 
and in the Church’s calendar. 
She has been since the early days of the Church. 
Her feasts are as varied as the cultures of the world, 
with each having special traditions, customs, 
and habits of piety. 
For example, the Church honors Mary every Saturday, 
recalling both the one full day 
that Jesus spent in the tomb 
and the traditional belief that Mary 
was the disciple who best kept the faith on that day. 
The early Church took up the practice 
of keeping faith with her on that day each week.

Since the Middle Ages, 
the Church has devoted the month of May to Mary. 
Many parishes have “May Crownings” 
during this time in which a statue of the Blessed Mother 
is adorned with a diadem or a wreath of flowers. 
Many Christians also undertake pilgrimages 
during this month to shrines associated with the Blessed Virgin. 
In May, there are also three Marian feasts 
that are celebrated which help us to understand 
what Mary can teach us about being disciples.

Earlier this month, on May 13, 
we commemorated the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima 
which recalls the appearance of the Blessed Virgin 
to three young children in Portugal in 1917. 
Mary encouraged penance, conversion 
and praying the rosary, 
warning the world of a great war and suffering, 
but that, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

The Feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, 
which is celebrated today, May 25, 
is an older feast, dating back to the to the sixteenth century, 
which was not a peaceful time in Europe. 
In 1571, Catholics throughout the continent 
joined in praying the rosary 
in hopes of prevailing over Muslim military forces 
that had long sought to expand into Europe. 
These prayers were answered at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571, 
which is now the feast for Our Lady of the Rosary.

Both of these feasts highlight not only the strength 
we find in asking Mary’s intercession, 
joining our prayers to her intercession, 
but also the confidence that God continues 
to act in the world. 
God hears the cry of those who suffer and God responds.

The third Marian feast for May is 
the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin on May 31. 
We remember how Mary journeyed to the home 
of her kinswoman Elizabeth to care for her as the birth of her son, 
John the Baptist, drew near. In the greeting that is so beautifully 
recounted in the first chapter of Luke, 
Mary first announces the arrival of the Messiah 
to the people of Israel as she prays 
what is known as the Magnificat. 
“My soul magnifies the Lord 
and my Spirit rejoices in God, my Savior” (Luke 1:46). 
This is a prayer of joy and of confidence that, in staying close to Christ, we are never alone.

These celebrations, 
like all Marian feasts, are really celebrations of Jesus Christ, 
for she has no privilege that she has not received from God. 
In these days, we learn how to stay close to him in prayer 
and through the practice of charity, 
such as caring for a relative in a time of need, 
with confidence that our prayers will be answered.

To rejoice in Mary 
is to celebrate God’s greatest creation – 
the vessel he fashioned to be his own mother, 
the woman who would bear him into the world. 
In the life of the “handmaid of the Lord,
” we learn what it means to say “yes” 
to life in the Lord and to discover in him the meaning of life.

With maternal love for us, 
Mary wants what is best for us – 
she wants Jesus for us, so she urges us, 
“Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). 
Then she helps us as we lead others to know and love her Son too. 
Her feasts not only empower us to turn to her in prayer, 
but also to love Jesus and others with a greater love.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

“You are what you eat.”

“You are what you eat.”

At least that’s what people say.

In fact, they’ve been saying that since 1826 when a Frenchman,
Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, wrote,

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."
Dis-moi ce que tu manges et je te dirai ce que tu es.

(Everything always sounds better in French!)

The feast of the Body and Blood of Christ this Sunday
celebrates the sacramental reality of Christ’s presence
in the gifts of bread and wine we offer every time we celebrate Mass,
- what we eat and drink when we celebrate the Eucharist.

What does the spiritual food we share at Mass
tell us about who we are?

Christ is present at Mass in several ways in the liturgy.
He’s present in our very gathering, our coming together to pray.
He himself told us,
“Wherever two or three are gathered in my name,
there am I in the midst of them.”

(Matthew 18:20)

He is also “present in the Word,
since it is the Lord himself who speaks
when the scriptures are read in the Church.”

Monday, May 23, 2016


And God wants us to set aside some time every week
to remember some important things
-- precisely so that we don’t forget them.

And what are those things God doesn’t want us to forget?

• We need to remember, to be reminded,
of how much God loves each one of us.

• And we need to remember, we need to be reminded,
of how much God asks of us and expects of us, every day.
God has expectations of how we live our lives, every day.

• And we need to remember, we need to be reminded,
of how responsible each of us is for those who have
so much less than we do.
And especially when we get caught up in all that we have
can we be tempted to forget others – and to forget God.

• And we need to remember, we need to be reminded,
that there’s a truth in God’s Word here,
a truth wiser than any truth any one of us might come up with.

• And we need to remember, we need to be reminded,
that sometimes we easily forget the most important things
and let the least important things fascinate us
and shape our lives, our choices and our decisions.

• When we gather together for this
we need to remember precisely
what Jesus asked us to remember
when he was at table with his friends.
To remember how he took bread, blessed it, broke it
and gave it to his friends;
to remember how he took a cup of wine, blessed it
and shared it with his friends
and then said, “do this in MEMORY of me…”
It’s his way of saying,
“Please, don’t forget me!

I want to be with you and I want you to be with me.”

And every time we come to this table to remember him,
he is present to us in his Word
and in the Bread and Cup of Communion.
There’s no better way to remember Jesus
than the way he himself gave us to remember him:
here at the altar, where the shadow of his Cross
reminds us of just how much God loves every one of us.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Have I forgotten God?

I wonder how many of us remember
what we were doing one year ago today.
Some of us might have a hard time remembering
what we were doing a month or a week ago today!
We get better at some things as we grow older
but when it comes to remembering,
most of us find that we get better at forgetfulness!

So we need help in remembering things,
especially in remembering important things.
That’s why we have calendars and date books
and apps on our cell phones: to help us remember.
And in case I forget to look at my calendar to remember
where I should be and what I should be doing --
my cell phone beeps to remind me!

It’s easy to forget things I need to remember – even some big things.
In fact, believe it or not, it’s easy to forget – GOD!
No one and nothing is greater, bigger, broader or deeper than God
but sometimes, even often, I’m so busy
with all the people and things on my calendar
that I forget that GOD wants to be on my calendar, too.
God who always was, who is and always will be:
God-eternal wants to be part of my life -- every day.
God wants to meet with me, every day, for prayer,
at a time I set apart for God and me to talk.
But it’s so easy for me to think that “I’m too busy to pray.”
Being too busy to pray is the beginning of forgetting God in my life.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

what‘s the demand of love?

As Jesus welcomes children he gives them status,
he notices them, 
he tells them the greatest honor of all – the Kingdom – is theirs. 

This is an extraordinary picture of a Kingdom where 
the last are first, where the least are given identity and value. 
What have we learned about what God’s Kingdom is like, 
who its for, and what its values are?

This is as challenging as anything in any of the great spiritual messages,
very easy to say,
but exceptionally hard to live.

Namely, every moment wherever you are, 
whatever you are doing,
what is the demand of love?

That’s all that matters.
Everything else is commentary.

So my career, my fame, my fortune,
all the things that we fuss about.
It is all extraneous
to the central thing
which is - what’s right in front of me?

Right now,
what‘s the demand of love?

That’s the little way.
little because it is little in the eyes of the world
but you see 
it is a paradox

It is great in the eyes of God.
That’s all God is concerned about.
When you go to the gates of heaven
what is the quality of your love?

Are you capable of love?

That’s what heaven is all about.

This is a spiritual clarity

And I think that’s what is being asked of us.

What’s the demand of love?

What’s right in front of me.

“Let the children come to me,
for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Then he embraced them
blessed them."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Changed by the SPIRIT!

When was the last time you felt the heat of God’s presence
burning within us, urging us
to choose wisely, to decide prudently, to act justly?
to do the next right thing?

We find so many ways to insulate ourselves from the Spirit -
as if the Spirit of God were something to be feared.

Am I afraid that the Spirit’s wind might knock me down?
That the Spirit’s flame might burn me?
Are we afraid that the Spirit might somehow change us?
Well, when we allow the Spirit to break through, to break in,
things do change.

WE change.

Those early Christians were changed by the Spirit
and God’s Spirit seeks to change you and me, too,
perhaps not as dramatically as in the scripture here
but there’s not a moment of any day or night
when God’s Spirit isn’t seeking to change us, to help us grow.

And perhaps that’s what frightens us.
We want what is life-giving
but we fear what we might need to let go
if the Spirit’s life is to flourish within us.
Perhaps we fear what we might become
if the wind and fire of the Spirit
enveloped our minds and our hearts - and changed us.

And what would we become?
We’d become nothing more and nothing less
than the persons God created each of us to be.

In fact, we might even become the person
each of us would like to be!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Come, Holy Spirit

Pray with me for the Spirit to come into our lives
-- and to change us...
and especially to change what we know in our heart of hearts
most needs changing.

• Come, Holy Spirit, once more fill my heart
with the fire and power of your gifts.

• Come, Holy Spirit, fill up wisdom's lamp,
to enlighten my mind, my thoughts and my will.

• Come, Holy Spirit, light the way:
help me see and embrace all that God is revealing.

• Come, Holy Spirit, with knowledge and truth,
brand my mind and my heart with the Word of the Lord.

• Come, Holy Spirit, my beacon of counsel
for judgments both prudent and pure.

• Come, Holy Spirit and kindle my courage
to do what is right, to do what is fair, to do what is just.

• Come, Holy Spirit and stoke my desire
to humble myself before God.

• Come, Holy Spirit, light the flame of your presence
and draw me to reverence and prayer.

• Come, Holy Spirit, flood my heart with your gifts
and my soul with the breath of your peace.

• Come, Holy Spirit, to the Father's love draw me,
through my, Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Holy Spirit - Wind

Wind and fire are images often found in the scriptures
as symbols of how God’s Spirit moves in our lives.
But wind and fire are ambiguous images:
each can be life-giving and each can be death-dealing.

• Wind is air on the move, the air we breathe.
But that same wind can twist itself
into a column of destruction and death.

• Fire gives us warmth, light and protection, it cooks our food.
But fire can rage, engulf, burn and consume whatever’s in its path.

In the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit comes like a strong driving wind -
not to destroy the dwelling where the disciples were gathered
but to fill it with the presence of God.
The Spirit comes and settles on the believers’ heads as tongues of fire -
but they aren’t burned – not even singed.

Rather, their hearts are inflamed with faith.
How about us?

When was the last time the wind of God’s Spirit,
the breath of the Spirit,
even a whisper of the Holy Spirit
moved in your heart or mine, in our thoughts, in our consciences,
urging us to respond, to speak, to move, to do, to act
- or perhaps urging us to sit still and keep our mouths shut?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Prayerful thoughts

Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Calm our restless hearts
with true, deep peace
that's only yours to give...

When we're troubled
soothe and comfort us:
with serenity that lasts...

Heal our fragile, broken hearts,
make strong our faith
when we're in doubt...

In our confusion
give us wisdom
and the counsel of your word...

In our weakness
give us courage
to do what must be done...

When we stumble
in the darkness
be the light upon our path...

Make us hungry
for your holy word
and thirsty for your truth...

Give us joy
in every sorrow,
gently wipe each tear away...

Holy Spirit, fill our hearts
and kindle
fire and light within us...

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Come here, come now
and don't delay!

Come, Holy Spirit, come...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Pentecost: the birthday of the Church

After the roaring wind and the tongues of fire, everything's different. The disciples have become apostles. Their story belongs to the world. It has entered the public domain. And we all know what happens next.

What about us? We have our own faith stories, based on our own spiritual experiences. For many of us, the subject of our relationship with God seems intensely private.

We may continue to imagine it is, but after Pentecost, it can never be that way. The work of the Holy Spirit is to loose God's people on the world to witness to the good news. We aren't meant to hum our hymns under our breath. The resounding strains of Christian praise are meant to echo off the walls of cities and towns large and small, on six continents.

In 1955, famed TV newsman Edward R. Murrow interviewed Jonas Salk, inventor of the first vaccine for infantile paralysis, or polio. Until that time, polio had been a dreaded scourge, striking down teenagers and young adults at the prime of their lives. Some survivors spent the rest of their lives lying on their backs in "iron lungs" -- crude respiratory machines that did their breathing for them. Others, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt, lost forever the ability to walk.

But then came Dr. Salk with his miraculous vaccine. Cheap, easy to produce and so effective, it promised to rid the world of polio (which it soon did).

It was during the first rush of enthusiasm for the new treatment that Murrow interviewed Salk. "Who owns the patent on this vaccine?" the reporter asked.

"Well, the people, I would say," replied Dr. Salk. "There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?"

Dr. Salk could have been a very rich man, had he successfully applied for a patent on his vaccine. But he decided not to. Some claim such an application would have been inadmissible on legal grounds, but even so, Salk never attempted it. A patent would have slowed down production. It would have hiked the medicine's price out of reach of some of the poorest people. It would have meant more young people would have died of the disease, or been permanently paralyzed.

"Could you patent the sun?" No more than we can confine the good news of Jesus Christ. The apostles realized this in a powerful way on the day of Pentecost. The question is: do we still believe it?

"Happy Birthday" to you, church!

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Sunday Word

It's time to prepare for Pentecost Sunday!

Sunday's readings recount the unforgettable events of Pentecost. Language is our primary mode of communication. How wonderful, therefore, that the principle gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost is tongues - speech, language - enabling the first disciples to establish heart-to-heart communication with the peoples of the world. The Holy Spirit himself is nothing but communication for the Spirit is nothing other than the love that connects the Father and the Son. When the disciples, filled with Holy Spirit, go out to communicate on Pentecost, they effectively unite the world by gathering what sin has scattered.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Getting from here to there, Lord -
that's how I need your help today:
getting from here to there...

Here is, well, you know, Lord:
here is now,
this day, this hour, this moment;
my present circumstances,
my current problems, worries and concerns;
here is this day's burdens and fears,
this hour's anxious waiting,
this moment's aching loneliness...

And there?
You know where there is, too, Lord:
there's that place that seems so far away,
a week's, a month's, a lifetime's journey
down the road,
yet there's as near
as my accepting the reality of
with all its troubles,
right where I am...

If only I'd begin to live,
not in all my yesterdays
or some imagined future,
but in the present moment:
where I am,
where you're with me
and where, with you,
I've all I need
to get from here to there
for here and there
are now in you
and in you, Lord,
is all my peace

In you, O Lord,
here and now,
is all my peace,


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Jesus was the last word on their lips

The story of the death of Stephen, the first martyr,
may at first seem out of place in the Easter season
until we remember that this took place around 36. A.D.,
only 2-3 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

That quickly, that soon, that early in the history of Christianity
do we find believers being persecuted for their faith
and in many instances,
being put to death for preaching the gospel.

Such a story might put us in mind of those epic movies
where Christians are tortured in the Roman arena
and thrown to the lions to be devoured by them.

Or perhaps it will put us in mind of the 21 young Christian men
put to death on a beach, in Libya – just last year -
in a manner too gruesome to mention with youngsters present.

They were put to death for what they believed
and what they believed
is what you and I will profess that we believe
in just a few minutes when we recite the Creed.
These men died
for the faith, for the Creed we profess every Sunday.

Like Stephen, their last words were words of faith.
As the executioners began their work,
the 21 men cried out, in unison,
“Ya Rabbi Yasou!’” (O My Lord Jesus!)
Jesus was the last word on their lips,
the last thought in their minds,
the last breath in their lungs,
the last beat of their hearts.

And they were not alone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

O My Lord Jesus!

In the gospel on Sunday, at the Last Supper,
Jesus prays not only for his friends
but also for those who will believe in him
through their word…

The question for us is this:
Who will come to know Jesus
through our words? through our lives?
Who will come to believe in Jesus
through our faith, our fidelity, our loyalty to Christ?
Who will come to believe on the strength of our faith?

As he gave his life on the Cross,
so does Jesus share his life with us here,
at the table of his Supper, in his Body and Blood
given to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist.

May the food he offers us nurture a deeper faith in us
that we might surrender in faith to the message of the gospel
and to the name of our Savior: “Ya Rabbi Yasou!’” (O My Lord Jesus!)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Marianist Monday

Our Lady of Good Counsel
Meribah Retreat House
Muttontown NY
Mary, God chose you as the mother of his Son and called all nations and generations to bless the gift of grace he gave you. In the company of those who have gone before us, with people of all races and languages, we call upon you in prayer.


Response for the following: Pray for us.

Holy Mary
Mother of God
Mother of our redemption
Mother of a lost child
Mother of comfort and understanding
Mother who shares our joys
Mother who endures our sorrows
Mother whose heart was pierced by a sword
Mother most merciful
Woman responsive to God's word
Woman willing to believe the impossible
Woman who rejoices in her lowliness
Woman with an undivided heart
Woman of perfect freedom
Woman wrapped in mystery
Woman moved by the Spirit
Woman champion of the poor and lowly
Woman graced by a husband's love
Woman widowed by a husband's death
Woman at the cross
Woman patient and waiting
Woman clothed with the sun
Queen of the fullness of times
Queen of beauty unalloyed
Queen of integrity
Queen of painful meetings
Queen of all our heart's treasure
Queen of our destiny
Queen of peace

Let us pray:

Mary, you are mother and virgin, wife and widow, peasant and queen—blessed for all time. We need the comfort of your prayers. Remember us always to our Father through your Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord for ever and ever.Amen.

Sunday, May 8, 2016


Mothers will be celebrated by their families this weekend in special ways. There will be flowers and sweets; phone calls from children who live too far away for a visit; cards and gifts; breakfast in bed or brunch or dinner at a nice restaurant. Keep a place in your prayer this day for all the mothers who will rejoice with their families this weekend...

Some women will spend this Mothers' Day in anticipation of the birth of a child they're carrying - perhaps their first child - a child whose ultrasound image has already won the hearts of mom and dad. Other expectant mothers are making their way through the long process of adoption - or perhaps the arrival of their adopted love is just around the corner! Keep a place in your prayer this Mothers' Day for those who are expecting the arrival of a child - and pray that both mother and child will be healthy...

Many have lost their mothers. They still love and miss them. Open a place in your heart to pray for those who miss the wonderful mother God gave them...

Some mothers have and raise children with no spouse to help and support them. Some mothers have chosen this path but others have not. Let's keep a place in our prayer for those who know the burdens of single-parent mothering and, when able, open ourselves and our homes to offer what company and help we might give...

My heart goes out to women who want very much to be mothers but who, for any number of reasons, are unable to bear a child... I know this day can be difficult for them, even as they celebrate their own mothers with love and devotion. Let's keep a place in our prayer for women who long for a child with all their heart and soul...

Part of our ministry is to serve the bereaved... Let's keep a place in our prayer this weekend for those whose grief over losing their mother is fresh in their minds and hearts...

We live in world where children are born to families able and ready to care for them and we live in a world where millions of children will be hungry this Mother's Day. We live in a world where some nations limit the number of children a couple may legally have. And we live in a world where many champion the "right" to end the life of a child already conceived. For the mothers of all these children, and for their children, let us keep a place in our prayer this weekend...

Some children have mothers who failed to care for them. Their sons and daughters understand deeply the lyrics of that old song, "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child." And some mothers will be burdened today with memories of how they missed the signs of harm being done to their own by others. Let's keep a place of prayer in our hearts for those whose hearts are heavy today...

Some mothers today will be forgotten by their children: no visit, no card, no call, no candy or flowers. Some mothers this day don't know where a son or daughter has gone or what has become of them. A mother's heart aches on this day for the child of her womb who has forgotten her or who has disappeared. Pray with me on this Mother's Day for women who wait for a call that will not come...

Many mothers will remember today a child they've lost to sickness, an accident, war or other violence, miscarriage or abortion. A parent's grief for a child can be unfathomable - and a mother's grief is deeper than any. We Christians pray and believe that one day we shall see those who have gone before us and enjoy their love again. Keep a place in your heart for mothers who need the consolation of such faith and pray they'll trust that the Lord will indeed keep his word...

Some mothers today will not know or recognize their children when they come to visit. Time has robbed them of their memory of even those they love the most. Keep a place in your prayer today for mothers who may know their children in their heart of hearts but are unable to remember or speak their names. And pray for those sons and daughters who tell their mothers of their love, hoping that a mother's heart will hear what her mind no longer holds...

This Mothers' Day, we turn our hearts to Mary, the Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all: Christ's sisters and brothers. With a mother's care she raised her Son and lived the joys and the grief that only a mother's heart can know. Whatever our spirits on this Mothers' Day weekend, the Mother of Jesus embraces us all, so let us pray...

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Listen and Pray!

It's Mothers Day weekend so today leads us to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of us all, his brothers and sisters. For your prayer I share with you Franz Biebl's exquisite Ave Maria, flawlessly performed by Chanticleer. 

The music matches the delicate beauty of the iris in the photo: I hope you'll take the time to listen and to pray... 

Composed in 1964, Biebl intersperses chant verses with the familiar text of the Ave. Scroll down for the lyrics in Latin and English.

Angelus Domini, nuntiavit Mariae,
et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
and she conceived of the Holy Spirit.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesus.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Maria dixit, ecce ancilla Domini,
fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Mary said: behold the servant of the Lord,
let it be done to me according to your word.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesu.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.

Et verbum caro factum est,
et habitavit in nobis.
And the word became flesh
and dwelled among us.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
benedicta tu in mulieribus
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesu.
Sancta Maria, mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus
nunc et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
pray for us, sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

A dwelling in our hearts

If we would find and have and keep such peace
then we need to keep the word of Jesus
and he will make his home in our hearts
to be our peace when our hearts are troubled or afraid.

If we keep the Lord’s word,
the Lord’s word will keep us…

In our prayer today
he has spoken and invited us to keep his word.
In the sacrament of this table he will come to dwell in us
when we receive his presence and peace
in his body and blood in the Eucharist.

May we keep the word we hear.
may that word find a dwelling place in our hearts.
and may that same word bring us his peace…

Friday, May 6, 2016

His peace dwells in our hearts

Peace he leaves with us, his peace he gives to us...
the peace he gives to those who keep his word.

And the peace he promises is not the world’s peace.
His peace is not simply the absence of conflict,
rather, his peace is the fullness of his presence:
a presence of trust, strength, vision and hope so great
that no conflict or fear can overwhelm it.

His peace dwells in the hearts of those
who hear and keep his word…

Is this not the kind of peace we all long for
in the conflicts, troubles, problems and worries
that burden and crowd our hearts?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hearts that are a joy to hold

And Jesus seeks just the same kind of hearts in each of us.
I might ask myself then, you might ask yourself:
what word of mine
have I entrusted to the heart of Jesus for safe-keeping
and what word of his heart has he asked me to keep?

One word he asks all of us to keep, is love,
a word calling us to put him and others and their needs
ahead of ourselves and our own needs.

The word Jesus asks us to keep in our hearts
is as demanding as it is precious, as stern as it is gentle,
and often it’s as hard to keep as it is a joy to hold.

And those who keep Jesus’ word
are assured their hearts will become a home,
a dwelling place of God’s presence.
And where God is present, in that place there is peace.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hearts that keep the Lord's Word

To keep another’s word
is to listen and respond to it faithfully;
to be faithful to the one who gave my heart a word to keep.

When I keep a word entrusted to my heart,
there is joy for me and for the one who trusts me…
When I fail in keeping another’s word
I weaken the spirit of the sharing
and damage the bond we had created…

When you keep someone’s word in your heart
(and certainly when you keep the Lord’s word
in your heart)
you don’t know how or when it will call on you,
what it will ask of you, where it will lead you
or how it will change you…

Hearts that keep the word of others,
(hearts that keep the Lord’s word)
are hearts doing what hearts were made to do…
Such are the hearts we all seek
for the safekeeping of a word we want to share,
a word we hope another will keep for us…

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Jesus is looking for hearts

We all seek hearts willing to receive and keep our word
because the giving and receiving of one’s word
creates bonds of friendship, love and intimacy…

And Jesus is looking for hearts
that will receive and keep his word…
Keeping someone’s word in my heart is not always easy,
certainly not something to be taken lightly.

Keeping another’s word requires:
attentiveness, care, vigilance, loyalty,
and a strength that is gentle
and a gentleness that is robust.

To keep someone’s word in my heart
is to be attuned, even to be obedient to its presence there.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Marianist Monday

May, 2016

My dear friends in college . . . and beyond,

Spring is upon us. Everything is blooming and coming alive. After the dead of winter, it is very uplifting to see new life springing up all around us.

What about our spiritual life? How often do we give ourselves the time and space to appreciate the wonders of nature? For me, at least, nature is a gateway to heaven. To contemplate nature brings me to awe and wonder. Awe and wonder bring me closer to God. As Hildegard of Bingen said, “The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator.” How true! Or as Gerard Manley Hopkins stated in one of his poems, “The world is charged with the grandeur of God.”

I love nature. I love the outdoors. My love of nature has greatly influenced my vocation as a Brother. It influences my prayer life, as well as my relationship with God. My love of nature comes from growing up in Zakopane, a beautiful town in the Tatry Mountains in southern Poland. This is the same area where the late St. John Paul II did much of his hiking and skiing in his youth and as a young priest in Communist Poland.

On a day off, I cannot think of anything better to do than to go hiking, to be out in nature. To walk along a beach, to be emerged in a forest, or to climb a mountain is so exhilarating and inspiring. It energizes the mind, the body, and, most importantly, the spirit.

For me, hiking and being out in nature is not just a physical thrill and challenge but also a time for quiet, reflection, and prayer. I call it my “God time.” What better place than out in nature, a park, a garden, or the beach to disconnect from the business of our lives and just “be” with God?

I love to collect stories and quotations on nature and how the great outdoors influences some of my personal heroes. The quote that inspires me most and that I use as the motto for the Hiking Club comes from none other than St. John Paul II:

“Every time I go to the mountains, . . . I thank God for the majestic beauty of creation. . . . A mountain, in particular, is not only a magnificent vista to contemplate but is, as it were, a school of life. In this school, we learn to strive to reach a goal, and to help one another in difficult moments, to enjoy silence together, and to recognize our own littleness in a solemn and majestic setting.”

Spring is in full bloom. We are in the midst of the Easter Season. New life, growth, and the Resurrection are all around us. What better time than this for us to renew our prayer life, our relationship with God? And what better place to do this than in the midst of God's creation, nature? Nature provides us with that quiet and solitude needed to disconnect from all the busyness and worries of our everyday lives. On our pilgrimage of life, nature can teach us so much about ourselves, God, and His creation. The peace and quiet can lead us to a certain awe and wonder. That awe and wonder bring us to a greater love of God. Awe and wonder make us humble.

Meeting God in nature is as old as humanity. The Bible is full of stories of people meeting God in nature: Adam and Eve in the garden; Noah in the rainbow; Abraham in the fire; Moses in the burning bush; and the prophet Elijah, who found God in a gentle breeze – just to name a few. In the Book of Job (37:14), we are counseled to "stop and consider the wonders of God." Indeed, the references to nature in the Bible are numerous.

“O Lord, how great are your works! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your works.”
( Psalm 104:24)

Jesus loved the natural world. Jesus preached on the shore of the sea, in the field, on a mountaintop. When Jesus wanted to think deeply and pray earnestly, He went into the desert or up a high mountain. Jesus showed us the need for the peace and quiet that nature can provide. The beauty of nature reflects the order of God's creation.

St. Paul recognized that influence also when he wrote in Romans 1:20, “God 's invisible qualities, His invisible power and divine nature have been seen, being understood from what has been made.”

Many saints as well as other writers and naturalists have been brought to awe and wonder and have encountered God in nature. Allow me to share just to share a few of these people and the inspirational quotes they have provided for us.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from the masters.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: “God has given us two books of revelation. One is nature. The other is Scripture. We need to learn to read them both to understand the greatness of God.”

Ansel Adams: “The clear realities of nature, seen with the inner eye of the spirit, reveal the ultimate echo of God.”

John Muir: “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul.”

And who cannot be moved by St. Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun, in which the great saint praises and gives thanks to God for the beauty of all His creation, from fire and snow to cattle and man?

As we continue in springtime and head into summer, let us renew ourselves, our prayer life, and our relationship with the Lord. Perhaps we can look to nature as an aid to that renewal.

I would like to end with another quote from St. John Paul II: “Meeting with nature, with mountains, with the sea, and with forests, man in wise contact recovers his inner quiet and calm.”

May God bless you,

Bro. Ryszard Decowski, S.M.

P.S. By the way, I’ll be attending our upcoming May retreat for college-age men, as will Fr. Garrett, Bro. Stephen, Mr. Dan McQuillan, and Mr. Pat Cahill. We’re holding it at Founder’s Hollow (my home away from home and one of my favorite places on earth!), and it runs from Monday afternoon, May 23 to Wednesday afternoon, May 25. We’ll be providing transportation, or you can drive up to Founder’s on your own. For more information and to register online, follow this link: http://goo.gl/forms/WT7xGcjkx6

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Sunday Word

Whoever loves me will keep my word…
Jesus is looking for hearts that will keep his word.

Of course, he’s not the only one!
Many people give us their word to keep:
friends, spouses, colleagues...
They give us their word of friendship, their word of love,
their word of trust, their word of pledge and promise…

These are people looking for hearts
where they can speak, share and entrust their word
without fear of ridicule or rejection…
They’re looking for hearts in which their word
will be respected, reverenced and treasured…