Thursday, September 29, 2016

Celestial Intercession

Ss Gabriel, Michael & Raphael

The angels in their glorious celestial array are the servants and messengers of God, the “mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Ps 103:20, CCC 329). The spirits surround the throne of God and fill the heavenly courts with their unending song of praise. Sent forth, they carry out their missions of protecting, guiding, and strengthening His people.

Of all the myriads of angels in the service of the Lord, Scripture gives us the names of only three: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Each of these Archangels has a certain privileged place in ministering to the Church, and to each we can attribute a characteristic especially needed in our world today.

St. Michael: Peace

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people … [and] your people will be delivered.” (Dan 12:1)

There is no need to number this year’s terrors and tragedies. Our hearts are torn between bitter sorrow for those who suffer and righteous anger against the offenders. But the terrorists and criminals are not our true enemies, for our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities and powers, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

As God commissioned Michael to cast down the rebel angels, so too he can be sent to restore order wherever pride and hatred have threatened justice and truth. Let us beg the Lord to send his champion St. Michael to bring about peace in our world and to help us fight the good fightof the faith.

St. Gabriel: Hope

“I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news.” (Lk 1:19)

Although Gabriel appears to the prophet Daniel in the Old Testament, his greatest mission was to announce to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God. It was he who had the singular delight to kneel before the chosen vessel of the savior and to exclaim, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” He is the herald preceding the hope of the nations.

Fear and doubt can only be conquered by an ardent love of God, the radiance of a steadfast hope. Life’s various trials may test us, but the grace of God helps us to triumph. By the intercession of St. Gabriel, may a reliant hope and abundant faith give us all strength, courage, and joy in the Lord.

St. Raphael: Holiness

“It is good to guard the secret of a king, but gloriously to reveal the works of God. Do good, and evil will not overtake you.” (Tob 12:7)

In the Book of Tobit, the archangel Raphael neither appears in glory nor ministers to the noble. He is, rather, the answer to the prayers of two humble families. Raphael, under the guise of a relative, accompanies the young Tobias on a journey which results in many unexpected blessings, not least of which were his marriage to Sarah and the healing of his father’s blindness.

God does not hesitate to enter the nitty-gritty parts of our lives in order to make us holy in every moment. May St. Raphael come to our aid and guide us on our journey to heaven. We invoke his patronage in a particular way in these times for marriages, families, and children.

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us.

Papl Thoughts

Spiritual desolation is something everyone will experience at some point, says Pope Francis, and when we see a loved one going through this darkness, we need to offer comfort and support with our closeness, not our counsels.
Santa Marta
The Pope said this today during morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, reported Vatican Radio.

Drawing from the reading from Job, the Holy Father noted, “Spiritual desolation is something that happens to all of us: it can be stronger or weaker … but that feeling of spiritual darkness, of hopelessness, mistrust, lacking the desire to live, without seeing the end of the tunnel, with so much agitation in one’s heart and in one’s ideas… Spiritual desolation makes us feel as though our souls are crushed, we can’t succeed, we can’t succeed and we also don’t want to live: ‘Death is better!’ This was Job’s outburst. It was better to die than live like this. We need to understand that when our soul is in this state of generalized sadness we can barely breathe: This happens to all of us … whether strong or not … to all of us. (We need to) understand what goes on in our hearts.”

The solution to spiritual desolation is prayer, the Pontiff said.

“What should we do when we experience these dark moments, be it for a family tragedy, an illness, something that weighs us down?”

Noting that some people would think of taking a pill to sleep and remove them from their problems or drinking “one, two, three or four glasses” he warned that these methods “do not help.” Instead, today’s liturgy shows us how to cope with this spiritual desolation, “when we are lukewarm, depressed and without hope.”

The Pope said the way out from this situation is to pray, to pray loudly, just as Job did, day and night until God listens. “It is a prayer to knock at the door but with strength! ‘Lord, my soul is surfeited with troubles. My life draws near to Hell. I am numbered among those who go down into the pit; I am a man without strength.’ How many times have we felt like this, without strength? And here is the prayer. Our Lord himself taught us how to pray in these dreadful moments. ‘Lord, you have plunged me into the bottom of the pit. Upon me, your wrath lies heavy. Let my prayer come before you, Lord.’ This is the prayer and this is how we should pray in our darkest, most dreadful, bleakest and most crushed moments that are really crushing us. This is genuine prayer. And it’s also giving vent just like Job did with his sons. Like a son.”
Comfort the afflicted

For those close to the people who are suffering, the way to proceed is with closeness, silence and prayer, since words and speeches in these situations can do harm, the Pontiff suggested.

“First of all, we must recognize in ourselves these moments of spiritual desolation, when we are in the dark, without hope and asking ourselves why. Secondly, we must pray to the Lord like today’s reading from Psalm 87 teaches us to pray during our dark moments. ‘Let my prayer come before you, Lord.’ Thirdly, when I draw close to a person who is suffering, whether from illness, or whatever other type of suffering and who is experiencing a sense of desolation, we must be silent: but a silence with much love, closeness and caresses. And we must not make speeches that don’t help in the end and even can do harm.”

The Pope concluded his homily by asking the Lord to grant us these three graces: the grace to recognize spiritual desolation, the grace to pray when we are afflicted by this feeling of spiritual desolation and also the grace to know how to be close to people who are suffering terrible moments of sadness and spiritual desolation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Jubilee of Mercy Prayer

Prayer of Pope Francis for the Jubilee of Mercy 

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the heavenly Father,
and have told us that whoever sees you sees Him.
Show us your face and we will be saved.
Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew
from being enslaved by money;
the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things;
 made Peter weep after his betrayal,
and assured Paradise to the repentant thief.

Let us hear, as if addressed to each one of us,
the words that you spoke to the Samaritan woman:
 “If you knew the gift of God!”
You are the visible face of the invisible Father,
of the God who manifests his power above all
by forgiveness and mercy:
let the Church be your visible face in the world,
its Lord risen and glorified.
You willed that your ministers
would also be clothed in weakness
in order that they may feel compassion
for those in ignorance and error:
let everyone who approaches them feel sought after, loved, and forgiven by God.

Bridget Gunn
Gerard DeAngelis
Katelyn Toscano
Jacqueline Ortiz

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pope Francis' Jubilee of Mercy Message to Youth - Merciful Like the Father

Yours is a time of life which is full of amazing changes. Everything seems possible and impossible all at once. I repeat what I said to some of your friends: “Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey! He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! … With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals” (Homily at the Conferral of the Sacrament of Confirmation, 2013).

Here I cannot forget those of you who are living in situations of war, extreme poverty, daily troubles and loneliness. Don’t ever lose hope! The Lord has a great dream which, with your help, he wants to come true! Your friends, young people your age living in less trying conditions than your own, have not forgotten you; they are working for peace and justice for everyone everywhere. Don’t be taken in by the messages of hatred or terror all around us. Instead, make new friends. Give of your time and always show concern for those who ask your help. Be brave and go against the tide; be friends of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace (cf. Is 9:6). “Everything in him speaks of mercy. Nothing in him is devoid of compassion” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8).

Monday, September 26, 2016

Bask in His mercy

When we talk about the year of mercy, when Pope Francis asks us to “gaze even more attentively on mercy,” we are not meant to look first to God’s mercy for others, because God’s mercy is meant first and foremost for us. Until I am willing to let my brokenness, my garbage, my hurt and my pain come front and center before the Lord, where I am able to sit and simply bask in His mercy, I have not truly grasped this year of mercy, and I have missed what the Lord’s mercy is truly all about.

When Jesus comes to save, He comes as the Good Shepherd who, in His immense mercy, puts me on His shoulders and carries me home. The time of mercy is now, and that doesn't mean mercy for everyone else, it means mercy for me and mercy for you, mercy which looks at each of us right here and right now.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pilgrimage of Mercy - Diocese of Rockville Centre

In this Jubilee Year, the experience of pilgrimage becomes a tangible sign of the choice of an individual to journey toward Christ, through sacrifice, penance, and prayer. In the course of this Jubilee Year of Mercy, our Marianist high schools made prayerful pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC.

 Over 100 Marianist high school students attended. And our Brother Joseph Fox Latin School were also well represented. 4,000 pilgrims descended on the Basilica for a day of prayer, song and Sacraments.

Opportunities for Adoration, Sacrament of Reconciliation, Rosary, private prayer and the Eucharist filled the day. Pope Francis has said he wants the church to live this holy year “in the light” of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Luke: “Be merciful, just as your father is merciful. (Lk 6:36)”

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Sunday Word

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On this 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we are summoned to close the gap between Us and Them, between our own comfortable lives, and those who need us – the ones we don’t always see in pain on our own doorstep.

The prophet Amos warns us not to be too satisfied with ourselves about our place in the world – especially if we forget to notice other people around us. 

And Luke tells of a nameless Rich Man who lived a life of excess. He didn’t just eat well, he “dined sumptuously each day.” Yet literally at his doorstep was Lazarus, a starving man who longed for the scraps that fell from the Rich Man’s table. But as the Rich Man walked past him every day coming and going to his house, it never occurred to him to help the fellow human sprawled in front of him.

The readings invite all to look at the chasms we create in my own life, the false boundaries between Us and Them. Where do I fail to reach out to those who need me because of my own protectiveness of my time, my money or simply my own fears? Are there people in my own life or maybe beyond my daily life that I am being asked to tend to, to feed or to forgive?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Mary's life as 21st-century religious

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Living the pattern of Mary's life as 21st-century religious
by Laura M. Leming

Aug. 23, 2016

As a vowed religious with nearly 40 years of profession, I cannot speak for the newest generation of religious in apostolic congregations. But I feel impelled as one called (and privileged) to accompany novices to share some reflections on the next coming age of religious life.

My context is Marianist, one of the plethora of religious institutes born out of the challenging times of the French Revolution. Our mission is to continue Mary's mission of bringing Christ into our own day and time and to challenge religious indifference by creating, living in and fostering communities where faith is lived with the daring of the apostles. So it is natural for me to look at the pattern of Mary's life as a model for the new forms of religious life needed in our world today. Looking back 50 years on, I suspect we will see this as a Joshua moment, similar to when the Moses passed the mantle of leadership to the next generation. My hope is that we recognize this as a time when young religious carried the flame into a new time and new places.

Walking with our youngest Marianists is an extended reflection on the specific ways that the challenges Mary faced can enspirit and enliven us to face our own. But I start in the middle of Mary's faith story — with her standing at the cross. If there is one thing I've been sensitized to by my Marianist sisters and brothers embarking on this and their peers in the intercommunity programs we've been part of — it's their distaste for the focus on diminishment. I call this a "narrative of decline" which often is mentioned in discussions of religious life and the future of our educational institutions. And yet, this is a particular cross at which young religious stand. They attend more funerals than professions and they are just as likely, if not more so, to close or leave institutional ministries as to open new ones. They truly, with Mary at their side, are standing witness to a kind of death of religious life as it was lived and institutionalized in the 20th century.

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But they are here, and they are standing up! At the summer meeting of LCWR, it was reported that there were 1,200 women in initial formation programs in U.S. congregations in 2015-2016. These candidates are not deterred by what they see but stand hopeful about what religious life can be in today's world. They are ready in faith to trust that God's promise will indeed be fulfilled in their lives as it was in Mary's. Though hard to see and feel while standing at a cross, the call and promise that God is still making things right in the world is real to them and must be to us all. They hold to a Magnificat spirituality that sees God's saving action, even in situation that cry for justice. Which brings me back to the beginning of Mary's story.

Mary was invited by God to be open so the Spirit that God could take root in her flesh and the Christ could be born into our world. Her "yes" was God's permission to be present in a new way to the world God created. The newest generation of vowed religious faces the same challenge. They are called, like her, to give flesh to God's Spirit in a world both blessed and broken by globalization. Blessed to be able to communicate and partner with people from all parts of the globe. Broken by economics and politics that exclude and oppress many by virtue of race, class, ethnicity, geography and religion, and a whole host of other identities.

Christ still needs doorways into the world God loves — to have flesh and blood still given for the life of the world. To say "yes" to giving Christ flesh in our own day and time and to set in motion a lifetime of pondering the meaning of life's events is a daily challenge. Intergenerational groups of religious men and women ponder together what the future of religious life can and must be.

Surely, it will not look like it has in the most recent past with individual congregations living and working largely as silos in large institutions. Perhaps it will resemble some earlier forms with novices mentored and apprenticed rather than programmatically socialized, and with ministries adapted more spontaneously based on immediate needs of the culture, place and time. Collaborations among groups with different charisms will be the norm rather than the exception with brothers and sisters sharing the strengths of their charisms in co-sponsored ministries.

Discernment as a skill and deeply engrained practice is something we must all learn, cultivate and teach to others. We need to know when to speak up as Mary did at Cana, in order to set things in motion for Jesus to act in our world again. And we need to know when silent presence standing in the face of suffering is being witness to God's great action when everything points to the contrary.

What we know about Mary's life is that she was present at the great moments of the Spirit breaking in. She carried Christ in her person to the silent Zechariah's house where Elizabeth and John recognized and acclaimed it. She facilitated the disciples' first belief at Cana and was united with them in prayer at Pentecost.

Young religious at the beginning of this century must be free to use their energy, insight and knowledge of their world to meet and respond to their Canas and their crosses. As elders, like the apostles in the early church community, we need not place unnecessary burdens on the shoulders of those whom God has also called (Acts 15).

Many of the structures of earlier forms of religious life which are culturally bound need not be seen as intrinsic to religious life. As Religious of the Sacred Heart Sister Juliet Mousseau noted in her address to the International Union of Superiors General in 2016, younger religious are graced with the capacity to let go of some structures in order to be more responsive, as the Spirit will prompt.

This is my second go-round as novice director. I was a young religious myself the first time and then my focus was how to offer rootedness in Marianist life. This time, almost 30 years later, I am keenly aware that the task has evolved. We are "forming" young religious for a life whose future shape remains unknown.

Taking the Gospel out to the edges, as Pope Francis has charged us, will re-shape our institutions and communities and our very selves. So a life that is rooted, yes, but a life on the road with Jesus and the apostles also. Meeting up with Samaritans and lepers and tax collectors of our day, giving people food from our own stores, blessed and broken open, has to be our daily engagement. Jesus learned to offer his own flesh for the life of the world from his Jewish mother, Miriam, who first offered hers. Discerning how best to do that, in this time and place, is the task of vowed religious of any age.

Being faithful to this task and walking with our young religious on new roads with unfailing trust, if we follow the pattern of Mary's life, will bring us to our own Pentecost moments. On a windy day, she recognized that in all those years of holding on to an angel's promise, God was drawing near, and now was bursting forth. We can see the Spirit moving in the amazing men and women who are being drawn to religious life today. I pray that we make sure we do our best to fan the flames.

[Dr. Laura M. Leming, F.M.I. (Marianist / Daughters of Mary Immaculate) is an associate professor of sociology at the University of Dayton and serves on the Board of Trustees of St. Mary's University.]

Thursday, September 22, 2016


On Sept. 18, we honored three Marianists, Bros. Carlos Eraña, Jesús Hita, and Fidel Fuidio, who were executed in 1936 as part of a brutal anti-Church campaign during the Spanish Civil War.

Bro. Carlos, 52, was a principal of a Catholic primary school in Madrid, but had fled to Ciudad Real in 1933 when the turmoil began.

He was arrested on Sept. 18, 1936, along with seven laymen, and executed by firing squad.

Bro. Jesús, 36, and Bro. Fidel, 56, both educators, met the same fate shortly thereafter. They were shot near a cemetery wall on the outskirts of Ciudad Real. Their bodies were later discovered in an abandoned well.
These three Marianists were beatified in 1995 byPope St. John Paul II.

A total of 15 Marianists were executed in Spain in 1936, all of them because of their devotion to Christ and loyalty to the Church.

Bro. Fidel expressed what many of them fervently believed: “If it would be necessary that I sacrifice my life for the cause of religion and my country, I offer my head gladly.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Scripture Today

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Our readings spur us on to be wholesome people who live in the presence of God through prayer and good works. Such people are called “just ones, or people of integrity and even holiness which mean the same in the long run. The wordrighteous is applied to St. Joseph in the first chapter of Matthew. He is a “dikaios” a just and righteous man. The book of Proverbs helps us to understand this through divine practical wisdom given to us in the 31 chapters of this book of wisdom. Its short statements are down to earth and even funny, for example, when it describes the state of drunkenness in the middle of its scroll. It is worthwhile to read Proverbs just for plain enjoyment of its riddles, comparisons, and witty sayings.

Psalm 15 speaks of the righteous on a higher level by emphasizing its importance in prayer and helping us to live out its application to our daily lives. Wholesomeness is again brought to our attention. Positive thinking is always a part of human wisdom. Psalm 15 helps us in our personal and communitarian spirituality, for it puts us into the presence of God as were the people who prayed it while approaching the Temple in the holy city of Jerusalem. The Talmud states that the 613 commandments of the Torah are summarized in this Psalm. It fulfills Leviticus 19:18: “O Adonai (Lord), teach us how to love our neighbor as ourselves.” It is said that David restricted the 613 commandments of the Torah to eleven, and Amos and Habakkuk to one. Our psalm has the same spirit.

Jesus tells us to be lights for the world and not to hide that light under a bushel or table. We follow this advice of Jesus who is the Light and Life of the world. If we do not listen to his words of wisdom we are apt to lose eschatological joy. Jesus prompts us often to listen but this is difficult in a noisy atmosphere or even moreso in our own distractions when appearing to listen to others. We are often too busy with the noise surrounding us while wasting time that could be used for study, prayer, and fulfilling the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

The Scriptures are similar to the wise friends we have in our lives who help us to learn how to listen to God’s voice, our neighbors’, and those in our more intimate circle of family and friends. We can develop our talents by our listening and our silence. Let us seize this day by listening to the Scriptures and to those who treasure them in their hearts. Carpe Diem: Seize the opportunities of this day. Amen.

The Marianists
USA Province

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Papal Thoughts

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In the midst of spiritual turbulence and feeling abandoned by the world, faithful always have a refuge: their mother, Mary.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pontiff gave this advice during his daily morning Mass, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, at Casa Santa Marta, as he stressed that in a “world that suffers the crisis of a great orphanhood,” we have a Mother that accompanies and defends us.
Today’s Gospel, the Jesuit Pope stressed, brings us to Calvary, when all the Lord’s disciples fled, except for St. John and a few women.

As Mary, Mother of Jesus, is at the foot of the Cross, Francis observes, “Everyone is looking at her, saying, ‘That’s the mother of this delinquent! That is the mother of this subversive!’”

Never Denies

“And Mary heard these things. She suffered terrible humiliation. And she also heard the dignitaries, even some priests, whom she respected, because they were priests, saying “You who are so good, come down! Come down!” With her Son, naked, there on the Cross. And Mary had such great suffering, but she didn’t go away. She didn’t deny her Son! He was her flesh.”

The Argentine Pontiff recalled the poor women, who waited in Buenos Aires, to visit prisoners in the jails.

“They were moms. But they were not ashamed: their flesh was there inside. And these women suffered not only the shame of being there – “Look at her! What did her son do?” — but they also suffer the ugly humiliation of the searches they had to undergo before entering. But they were mothers, and they went to find their own flesh. And so it was with Mary: she was there, with her Son, with that very great suffering.”

Not to Be Left Orphans

Jesus, the Pope said, has promised not to leave us orphans, and on the Cross he gives us His Mother as our Mother, who cares for and defends us.

“We Christians have a Mother, Jesus’ [Mother]; we have a Father, Jesus’ [Father]. We are not orphans! And she gives birth to us in that moment with such great sorrow: She is truly a martyr. With a pierced heart, she accepts giving birth to all of us in that moment of sorrow. And from that moment she becomes our Mother, from that moment she is our Mother, the one who takes care of us and is not ashamed of us: she defends us.”

Francis recalled how the mystics of the early centuries counsel us to take refuge under the mantle of the Mother of God in moments of spiritual turbulence: “The devil can’t enter there.” Under her protection, we are safe, he underscored.

“In a world we could call an orphan, in this world that suffers the crisis” of a great experience of being orphaned,” Francis said, “perhaps our help lies in saying ‘Look to your Mother!’”

“We have a mother “who defends us, teaches us, accompanies us; who is not ashamed of our sins. She is not ashamed, because she is our Mother,” Pope Francis concluded, praying, “May the Holy Spirit, this friend, this companion along the way, this Paraclete or advocate Whom the Lord has sent, make us understand this very great mystery of the maternity of Mary.”

Monday, September 19, 2016

Marianist Monday

September, 2016

My dear young friends,

What an exciting summer we in the Marianist Province of Meribah have just wrapped up!

One of the highlights of our summer, no doubt, was our trip to Poland to participate in World Youth Day. Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial each brought about sixty students to this international gathering of pilgrims, all assembled together to celebrate our Catholic faith with the Vicar of Christ himself, Pope Francis. We flew into Warsaw; spent two days there; and then traveled to this year’s WYD host city, Kraków. We followed in the footsteps of Pope Saint John Paul II, visiting Wadowice, the place of his birth and baptism, and Wawel Cathedral, where Cardinal Karol Wojtyla served as Archbishop from 1964 until his election to the papacy in 1978.

We even spent a day in the southern mountain town of Zakopane, where our own Bro. Ryszard Decowski was born, baptized, and raised until immigrating to the United States in 1965, when he was six-and-a-half years old!

So many strong impressions from our World Youth Day pilgrimage this summer remain with me. One of them is the systematic and often maniacal attempt by the Nazis and then the Communists to obliterate any trace of religious faith from Europe in general and from Poland in particular. This was made clear to me from the photos we saw of post-World War II Warsaw, much of it left in rubble after the Nazi occupation. Our tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, where over a million prisoners died, provided a sobering lesson on the consequences of a godless, hateful ideology that threatened to eclipse basic human rights, the Judeo-Christian tradition, and the civilization to which it gave rise.

Even stronger than the forces of nihilism and destruction, however, are the forces of resistance, resilience, and resurgence, and the history of Poland from 1939 to the present day proves that. At Auschwitz, for example, we prayed at the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who volunteered to die in the place of a stranger at the Auschwitz death camp. (Two days later, Pope Francis would pray at the very same spot.) In Warsaw, we attended Mass at the parish church where Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko, a martyr for his faith, preached powerful sermons, weaving together spiritual exhortations with staunch criticisms of Communism.

Everywhere we went, we saw indisputable evidence of a Polish Catholic Church very much alive, despite the Nazis’ and the Communists’ relentless – and, ultimately, failed – efforts to suppress it. Kraków boasts the second largest concentration of Catholic churches of any city in the world besides Rome. And further, these churches are not museums to a long-gone age of faith; they are filled with families and young people whose faith is very much alive. And I’m not talking about World Youth Day pilgrims; I’m talking about the Polish people themselves, whose Catholic faith is an inextricable part of their lives, despite fifty years of ruthless attempts to suppress it.

As we exchanged high-fives and chants with over a million World Youth Day pilgrims from all over the world flooding the streets and squares of Warsaw and Kraków, I kept thinking to myself, “I bet those Communists are turning over in their graves!” You can’t help coming away from World Youth Day on a spiritual high. You can’t help coming to the powerful conclusion that Jesus Christ lives, that the Church is alive and well, and that faith matters. It matters very much!

Pope Francis inspired World Youth Day audiences with many thought-provoking and moving talks. He delivered one of his most memorable addresses during the prayer vigil with young people at Campus Miseridordiae (Mercy Field) on Saturday, July 30. In that talk, Pope Francis spoke of yet another force that threatens the faith today – not repression, but indifference. In his own inimitable style, the Pope put it this way:

But in life, there is another, even more dangerous kind of paralysis. It is not easy to put our finger on it. I like to describe it as the paralysis that comes from confusing happiness with a sofa. In other words, to think that, in order to be happy, all we need is a good sofa. A sofa that makes us feel comfortable, calm, safe. A sofa that promises us hours of comfort so that we can escape to the world of videogamesand spend all kinds of time in front to a computer screen. . . . “Sofa happiness”! That is probably the most harmful and insidious form of paralysis, which can cause
the greatest harm to young people. . . . little by little, without even realizing it, we start to nod off, to grow drowsy and dull.

The times we live in do not call for young “couch potatoes,” but for young people with shoes, or better, boots laced. The times we live in require only active players on the field, and there is no room for those who sit on the bench.

That is the secret, dear friends, and all of us are called to share in it. God expects something from you. Have you understood this? God expects something from you; God wants something from you. God hopes in you. God comes to breakdown all our fences. He comes to open the doors of our lives, our dreams, ourways of seeing things. God comes to break open everything that keeps you closed in. He is encouraging you to dream. He wants you to see that, with you, the world can be different. For the fact is, unless you offer the best of yourselves, the world will never be different. This is the challenge.

Now, while I suspect that many of your college dorms have a couch or two exactly like the one the Pope describes, I also know that so many of you have taken up the Pope’s challenge: You have dreamed big. You have laced up your boots, gone out into the world, and made a difference!

I think of our World Youth Day pilgrims. Many of them spoke candidly of the fears and apprehensions they harbored before leaving for Poland. What would the trip entail? Would I be able to keep up with all the hiking? Would I be ok in the midst of the enormous crowds of total strangers? What about the threat of terrorism?

Well, I am happy to report that every one of our pilgrims embraced the World Youth Day experience with energy, enthusiasm, fervor, and deep faith. Towards the end or our pilgrimage, we had a faith-sharing session back in our hotel. Scores of pilgrims from Chaminade and Kellenberg shared their experiences of the ten days of our trip, of their fears and anxieties before we departed, and the countless ways they had grown in their self-confidence and their faith in God. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this faith-sharing session went for about two hours, and many of the moderators were moved to tears by the candor and sincerity of the testimonies we heard.

I think as well of all the mission trips that many of you reading this letter have made. This summer, I know, one of you spent nine weeks with fellow students from the University of Dayton performing volunteer work among the poor in Appalachia. Others spent time on similar service projects in Mexico and Brazil, and your stories, too, moved me profoundly. I know that some of you have quite literally laced up your hiking boots to walk “the Camino” across northern Spain to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela. Since I have been working with vocations, I have learned of so many marvelous and truly courageous things that so many of you have done to make a difference in the world, to leave a mark, to put your faith into action. I am inspired and humbled by your deep faith and boundless enthusiasm.

I began this letter by noting that we Marianists are wrapping up an exciting summer. I said that for good reason. In mid-July, just before joining us on our World Youth Day pilgrimage, three graduates made their Promises of the Novitiate in the Society of Mary, taking the first step towards a life of prayer and service as Marianists. Bro. Andrew Santoriello CHS ’07, Bro. Peter Sennert CHS ’11, and Bro. Patrick Cahill CHS ’11 have all dared to dream big, to leave their mark on life, to make a difference, to offer the best of themselves. I’m sure you can imagine the joy that their act of faith and courage brings to all of us in the Province of Meribah.

Once again, I am reminded of the Pope’s words during the Saturday-evening prayer vigil at Campus Misericordiae:

You might say to me: Father, I have my limits. I am a sinner. What can I do?When the Lord calls us, He doesn’t worry about what we are, what we have been,or what we have done or not done. Quite the opposite. When He calls, He is thinking about everything we have to give, all the love we are capable of spreading.His bets are on the future, on tomorrow. Jesus is pointing you to the future, not
to the museum.

Concluding his prayer-vigil address, Pope Francis challenged the over one-million pilgrims who had gathered to pray with him and listen to his words:

Today, Jesus, who is the way, the truth, and the life, is calling you, and you, and you to leave your mark on history. He, who is life, is asking each of you to leave a mark that brings life to your own history and that of many others. . . .

Are you up to this?

From what I have witnessed, you are all answering Pope Francis with a resounding “Yes.” God bless you for that!

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Sunday Word II

Image result for lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity,"Don't forget today to take a closer look at the second reading for today. St. Paul urges us to pray for everyone, since God "desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." We can talk with others about what we have discovered, following in the footsteps of Paul, who saw himself as "a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth." And we can "lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity," much as Jesus did when he lived with people in Nazareth. 

Never underestimate the value of simply living with people and sharing their struggles.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Sunday Word

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It is not too late to start your preparations for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Scripture readings are particularly rich this week with the first reading of the prophet Amos and the Gospel according to Luke.

Hebrew scriptures insist on the centrality love of neighbor over all other obligations. The Book of Amos is an eloquent condemnation of those who privilege fastidious observance of covenant obligations over loving service of neighbor. Amos announces ruin for those who "trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land” — “Never will I forget a thing they have done.”

Sunday’s Gospel of the “unjust steward” has always been challenging for interpreters, but perhaps it too could be construed to reinforce Jesus’ identifying love of God with love of neighbor. The unjust steward reduced the amounts the debtors owed to the master in order gain favor with the debtors. The parable exhorts the hearers to be as shrewd in gaining favor with God as the unjust steward was in gaining favor with the master’s debtors. The reading concludes simply: "You cannot serve both God and mammon." Since Jesus equates service of neighbor with service to God perhaps we can hear Jesus exhorting hearers to serve God in our neighbor rather simply serve mammon (self and material prosperity).

Friday, September 16, 2016

Celebrating Archbishop Chris in Honiara

Brother Timothy, Archbishop Chris and Tom McTiernan enjoy the festivities after the celebration in the cathedral.
Archbishop Chris is escorted to the Cathedral in the procession.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Marianist Missionaries in Honiara

Marianist Brother Timothy enjoys a moment after the ceremonies with the crosier bearer.
Archbishop Chris Cardone after Mass of Thanksgiving
Archbishop Chris with his father Nuzio.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Installation Homily

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Installation Homily 
Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross 
Archbishop Christopher Cardone, O.P. 
September 10, 2016 

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ and all people of good will throughout the Solomon Islands, today the Church celebrates and we anticipate liturgically, the Feast of the Exultation of the Cross, September 14th on the liturgical calendar. It is an ancient feast that goes back to the year 326 when the mother of Emperor Constantine: St. Helen- my late mother’s name was Helen, discovered the Holy Cross of Jesus. Nine years later a large church was built in Jerusalem: The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. 

For the past 1,690 years, the Church Western or Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Catholics have celebrated this important feast. For our Solomon Islands, the cross is an important God-centered and historical sign, too. In the year 1568, the Spanish explorer Alvaro de Mendana arrived in our islands. The official log or diary of the ship says that the Catholic Franciscan fathers who were chaplains on Mendana’s expedition, planted a cross on this very spot. At almost every new place the Spanish discovered, they would plant a large wooden cross and claim that place for Christ! 

In Solomon Islands we have more than 70 local languages. Spanish, the first European language that arrived on our shores, is remembered in places like Point Cruz- Place of the Cross, Santa Cruz Province which means Holy Cross and even Makira- San Christobal which is my actual name, St. Christopher. 

The very name of Guadalcanal is the name of a Spanish town which was the home place of Mendana’s navigator. Holy Cross isn't just a Catholic name. But it reminds us of the very roots of all Christian churches in Solomon Islands that go back to the planting of the cross here 448 years ago! 

Today’s feast is called the Exaltation of the Cross. The gospel writer Luke tells us clearly in the words of Jesus the conditions of discipleship: “If anyone would come after me, they must deny themselves and take up the cross every day & follow me…” (LK 9:23) St. Paul, one of the greatest disciples who was both preacher & missionary, tells us more about the cross and our salvation through Jesus Christ. 

In pagan Roman times the cross was the means of execution for criminals. But St. Paul tells the Corinthians and Romans and all of us too: “We proclaim Christ on the cross, a message that is offensive to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles but for those for whom God has called, CHRIST IS THE POWER OF GOD AND WISDOM OF GOD!… We are afflicted in every way, but in all these things we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us.” 

The gospel for today from St. John Chapter says the Son of Man- Jesus Christ, must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life! 

The preface of today’s Mass, that’s the prayer before the Holy, Holy preaches so clearly: “For you planted the salvation of the human race on the wood of the cross so that where death arose, life might again spring forth and the evil one, who conquered on a tree, might likewise on a tree be conquered, … through Christ, Our Lord.” For the Catholic Church, we understand that belief and faith come from the power of the Holy Spirit working through people since the time of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church which occurs on Sunday the 1st day of the week. Since that time, God works through people who become His hands and heart, His feet and His mouth. Who were the hands and feet and mouth of the Holy Spirit? 

The first Catholic missionaries were the Marist fathers, brothers and sisters. Bishop John Baptist Epalle led the first Marists to Solomon Islands in 1845. They brought the Good News of the Gospel to places which we now call Makira, Guadalcanal & Santa Isabel. But in Santa Isabel, our first bishop was martyred. The early Marists sacrificed greatly, struggled valiantly, but eventually departed from Solomon Islands after less than ten years. Fortythree years later, French Marist Prefect Apostolic Julian Vidal, young Marists and catechists from Fiji returned with renewed apostolic enthusiasm to plant again the cross, the tree of life in Solomon Islands. 

Pope John Paul II- now canonized St. John Paul the Great- visited this cathedral on May 9, 1984. During his apostolic pastoral visitations, he visited 4 more than 100 countries around the world. He kissed the ground of Solomon Islands at the airport, visited Central Hospital, Rove Prison and celebrated Mass outdoors on Town Ground. Sixteen years later, at the end of the great Jubilee of the Year 2000, he told us to reflect on Luke, Chapter 5 verse 6. “Go out into the deep.” He told us to listen to Christ, to go out with courage and to remember that God is always with us. He gave us a roadmap or a guide for this, the 21st century. St. John Paul told us to remember the past with gratitude, live in the present with enthusiasm and look forward to the future with HOPE! In remembering the past with gratitude, which means having a thankful heart, we prayerfully thank God for our fist missionaries, Marists fathers, brothers, sisters, catechists and lay missionaries. 

We must always than God for our ancestors who through the power of the Holy Spirit RECEIVED THE FAITH AND PASSED THE FAITH TO THEIR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. We thank the benefactors of the Church who helped to bring and establish the Gospel in Solomon Islands. Small donations, even the widow’s mite were collected and so many sacrificed that we might have the Good News preached in our islands. 

We thank God for the Marist missionary sisters- the SMSM’s who helped begin our first local congregation of sisters, the Daughters of Mary Immaculate, in 1946. Ten years later, in 1956 the Dominicans came to the western Solomon Islands. OP friars, sisters, brothers and lay missionaries with the late beloved, Bishop Eusebius Crawford established the Catholic community in what we now call Gizo Diocese. 

Dominicans were followed by the Vincentians, the Salesian fathers and the sisters, the FMA who we call the Daughters of Our Lady Help of Christians. Next came the MA- Missionaries of Assumption, Pieta Sisters, and Sisters of Charity from Croatia. We thank God for our local diocesan priests. In 1966, our first local priest was ordained: Fr. Michael Aike here on this spot in the old Holy Cross Cathedral. 

We are richly blessed for vocations to the priesthood & to consecrated life. We remember with gratitude the difficult period during the Second World War. When many of the Church missionaries left the Solomon Islands, our Marist Bishop Jean-Marie Aubin remained with the people. Two Marist priests Fr. Oenbrink and Fr. Duhamel and two sisters, Sr. Odilia & Sr. Sylvia were killed by the Japanese in Ruavatu right here in Guadalcanal. Their graves to this day on the Ruavatu Mission Station give a profound witness to the faith and the cross being carried by so many people- faith filled people who have gone before us! 

In our local Solomon Island languages, we have no words for “thank you” and many times our culture does not say the actual word “thank you.” But the actions and attitudes of thanks are clearly present. In remembering the past with gratitude our Dominican brother, St. Thomas Aquinas says that when we are thankful for all God gives us, more blessings will be bestowed upon us! Next, St. John Paul II tells us to live in the present with enthusiasm. 

Pope Francis, too, reminds us in this special Jubilee of Mercy Year, we are to be joyful in all areas of Christian life. Solomon Islands is blessed with physical 6 natural beauty: the bush, the sea, the mountains and lagoons make for Godgiven beauty which gives an environment for joyfulness and enthusiasm to flourish. The Melanesian culture exudes generosity, joyfulness and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit! Our prayer and our liturgies and especially all big days & feast days are dominated by cooperation, collaboration, commitment and active participation. Our Masses and services can be long but the Spirit is definitely leading and guiding us as a community of faith to be joyful. This joy radiates to our attitude of being welcoming. Our churches are open, our feast days feed hundreds and thousands at the table of the Word and Sacraments. Then multitudes are fed physically with all the gifts of the land and sea. Our feasting and celebrations are always joyful events. In the spirit of being open and welcoming, our predecessor Archbishop Daniel Stuvenberg made this cathedral building welcoming and open. When many churches and institutions lock and fence their buildings, know that Holy Cross is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week- open for prayer and adoration. Our cathedral is open for being with the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament and open for all our ministries to serve & share the Gospel. We welcome all people of good will to be with the Lord and His community at all of our Church mission stations throughout the Archdiocese of Honiara! Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Laudato Si reminded us to remember that all creatures and all things come from God’s all-powerful hand. God’s creation is full of His presence and His love and we are to treat all things and 7 all people with love and respect. In reflecting on those teachings, I am mindful of the marriage encounter movement founded by our late and beloved bishop of Auki Diocese, Gerald Francis Loft, SM. It taught me and many others that the word “beloved” is a special and holy word. Spouses call each other beloved and beloved becomes a prefix or a title to address all God’s people. Marriage encounter taught us to call our priests beloved: Beloved Fr. Moses Ou’ou, beloved Fr. Jacob Qeto and beloved Fr. Peter Hou-hou. St. John was called the beloved apostle by Jesus. St. Paul calls his companion and former slave Onenisimus beloved brother. Wouldn’t it be wonderful that with enthusiasm and joy we call our spouses, friends & family beloved… love, respect and joy come from the Lord. Let us share it. Let us truly live it! 

Fifteen years ago when I was appointed Auxiliary Bishop in Gizo Diocese, under Bishop Bernard O’Grady here present, I chose a motto from the scriptures to guide my new ministry. I chose from Psalm 100, “Serve the Lord with Gladness .” I hoped that with serving the Lord with joy and gladness, it would help me to serve All Others with gladness too. May we in the Church echo Pope Francis’ plea that live in the world joyfully as the merciful face of Christ to all people of the world. And finally we are called to look forward to the future with hope! Christians are called to be hopeful people, not fearful or confused people. 

The same loving God who has guided the Church since the early days of Pentecost to the colonial days of Mendana and Bishop Epalle, will continue to guide and bless us. In the spirit of hope I will try to be an archbishop in the model of Pope Francis, our servant leader. Our beloved Marist bishops who have preceded me have shown loving and long and deeply faithful commitment to the Church. Archbishop Adrian Smith- our very beloved archbishop for the past 31 years, has led the way in being a prayerful and prominent preacher. He has led the way in the ecumenical movement as bridge building and Christ-like peacemaker. He has led the way to open our Holy Name of Mary Seminary, to welcome six new religious orders to the archdiocese: Dominican friars & sisters, Salesian fathers and sisters, Missionary of the Assumption, Vincentian fathers and Pieta sisters. 

We have opened Bishop Epalle School, three Salesian schools, San Isidor for the Handicapped in Arilegio and Good Samaritan Hospital in Teterere. The growth and the development of the Church depends on us responding hopefully to the power and to the presence of the Holy Spirit. I will prioritize the collaboration of our beloved diocesan and religious priests in the mission of pastoral care and evangelization. I will continue to empower our beloved lay faithful to assist me in assisting the Church. 

We will continue to be the merciful face of Christ in the fields of formal and non-formal education, healthcare, ministry to youth, Sunday school and men and women groups. We hope to encourage modern methods of communication and we will begin the ministry of child protection. I pray that we have a pastoral plan that reflects the continuing love and service of all by the Lord. 

I am richly blessed. I am a spiritual millionaire because my family is here with me today. My beloved Dad- age 87 and beloved step-mother Ann have 9 travelled 9,000 miles from New York to be with us today. My brother Marianist priest Fr. Thomas, my two sisters Nancy & Donna, Marianist Provincial Bro. Tim, and family friends Fr. Benedict, Sue Ellen and Jim McTiernan are here with us today too. My beloved natural family has joined my religious family- priests, bishops, bothers and sisters and my Solomon family which includes the Anglican Church of Melanesia, United Church, South Seas Evangelical Church, Seventh Day Adventists, Bahai Faith and all faith-based communities in Solomon Islands to be part of God’s family. 

The Catholic Church will continue to promote all stages of human life- from conception to natural death- we will be a beloved family of grace and peace. What will bring us together, what will bind us as one, it is the Holy Cross of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. May God through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of the Church and our beloved Blessed Mother, bless our Solomon Islands today & always, forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, September 12, 2016


Congratulations to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Honiara

Most Reverend Christopher Cardone, O.P., was installed as Metropolitan Archbishop of Honiara in the Solomon Islands.

Honiara, located on the island of Guadalcanal, is the capital of the Solomon Islands. 

The Archbishop of Honiara is the major prelate for the entire country.

Marianists Father Thomas and Brother Timothy participated in the program on Saturday, September 10, 2016.

We wish him our prayers as he embraces this new mission and ministry!

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Archbishop Chris Cardone with his father Nunzio and wife Ann.
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Sunday, September 11, 2016

filling the pockets of our pants.

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Today's parable of the prodigal son can easily pass us by. We have heard it so frequently we easily can "tune it out" and say, "Oh, I know the rest of the story." Without a doubt, it is one of the richest parables in the scriptures.

Surely the Prodigal Son is one of Jesus’ greatest parables. Here it is, slightly updated:

There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, “Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.” So the father divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and stuffed it into the pockets of his cargo pants. He then traveled to a distant country where the weight in his pockets kept dragging his pants down, and tripping him up, until finally, he was left in just his underwear, with his money all gone.

After trying unsuccessfully in that condition to earn enough to buy food, he was desperately hungry and felt totally abandoned.

Well, isn’t that typical? Isn’t that like the problems we have and then — grabbing for the gusto, we walk away from anyplace where we’ve been truly loved and which we now want to leave behind? Somehow, it is impossible to leave such a place without the weight of guilt and bad choices filling the pockets of our pants. The farther away we go, the heavier those ill-informed choices become, and the greater the consequences, and soon our drawers droop and drop us before we can make good our escape.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Sunday Word

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It is not too late to prepare for tomorrow when we celebrate the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Gospel pericope is the rich story of the Prodigal Son. Here are the final verses that could be used to prepare for tomorrow's liturgy.

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a fresh pair of pants — the best ones — and put them on him; put a ring on his finger and Nikes on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!” And they began to celebrate.