Monday, February 27, 2017

Lent - Love again

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When we fast from this indifference, we can began to feast on love. In fact, Lent is the perfect time to learn how to love again. Jesus—the great protagonist of this holy season—certainly showed us the way. In him, God descends all the way down to bring everyone up. In his life and his ministry, no one is excluded.

"So, what are you giving up for Lent?" It's a question a lot of people will get these next few days. If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed. This narrow road is gritty, but it isn't sterile. It will make room in ourselves to experience a love that can make us whole and set us free.

Now that's something worth fasting for.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Seek first the Kingdom

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"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?'
or 'What are we to drink?'or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

Today is the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time and we are asked in the Gospel to put aside all worry. Jesus calls us today "to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."

That’s a significant focus for us since our concerns are all about us. Sometimes our concerns shift us to worry and pessimism. So, Jesus links God’s kingdom as the ultimate reason for optimism and hope. The very meaning of the kingdom is that God and those who stand with him win.

In the end, good triumphs over evil. If you’re a citizen of God’s kingdom — and all who follow Jesus faithfully are — it’s still possible that you might be pessimistic about human activity in the short term, but you’ve got every reason to be optimistic about God’s activity in the long term.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lent - Share Jesus

Blessed Chaminade - Mary

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“It is impossible to make mental prayer without Mary … Let us unite ourselves to Mary in mental prayer and beg her to make her Son known to us. Mary is present. She is watching over us with maternal solicitude, making herself all to all and apportioning her help according to our needs … She enriches the poor, protects the timid, disarms the one who is angry, touches the hearts of the ungrateful, and never abandons anyone.”

--Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Happy Are We

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But why does the world pity, rather than celebrating, those who model the four counter-intuitive traits? “Thomas Aquinas,” Fr. Barron tells us, “said that the four typical substitutes for God are wealth, pleasure, power and honor.”

And so we see that the four “counter-intuitive” Beatitudes directly contradict these four false values. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” says Jesus, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. And blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” In each case, Jesus explains the puzzling attribute by describing the heavenly reward which awaits the man who embraces that biblical value.

* * * * *
But beyond the Beatitudes, Jesus is a storyteller—teaching important faith lessons through parables. Father Barron cites the parable of the Prodigal Son, which inverts our ordinary perception of the nature of God. In the story of the father with two sons, we see that God is a Father who doesn’t know how to do anything but love.

Another highlighted parable is drawn from Matthew 25, where Jesus talks about the separation of the sheep and the goats. Here Christ draws those on his right toward him: those who will inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the beginning of the world. And who are those just men? Those who, Jesus teaches, saw that he was hungry and gave him food, thirsty and they gave him a drink, naked and they clothed him…. In essence, what they did for the least of the brothers of Christ, they did for him. We learn that in helping those in need, we are truly helping God himself.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is one saint who embodied the gospel values of Matthew 25. So, says Father Barron, did Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day, co-founders of the Catholic Worker Movement.

And so must we. We must come to see that God is love, and we must gladly resolve to give our lives away as a gift of love. The teaching of Jesus is a call to embrace this vision of God, and to willingly conform our lives to His will.

Happy Are We: Father Robert Barron Unpacks the Teachings of Jesus
April 1, 2014

Monday, February 20, 2017

Pope Francis & the elderly

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The Church regards the elderly with affection, gratitude, and high esteem. They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people. You are an important presence, because your experience is a precious treasure, which is essential if we would look to the future with hope and
responsibility. Your maturity and wisdom, accumulated over the years, can help younger people in search of their own way, supporting them on the path of growth and openness to the future. The elderly, in fact, show that, even in the most difficult trials, we must never lose confidence in God and in a better future. They are like trees that continue to bear fruit: even under the weight of years, they can give their original contribution for a society rich in values ​​and for the affirmation of the culture of life.

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in a gathering of senior citizens and their caregivers on Saturday, in the context of Italy’s national Grandparents’ Day celebrations. Grandparents’ Day in Italy – the Festa dei nonni – is marked each year on October 2nd, with events continuing throughout the month.
Junk Mail from Voyager on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Holy Sepulchre

EXCLUSIVE: A Closer Look Inside Christ's Unsealed Tomb 

By Kristin Romey

JERUSALEMFor the first time in centuries, scientists have exposed the original surface of what is traditionally considered the tomb of Jesus Christ. Located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, the tomb has been covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 A.D., and most likely centuries earlier.

"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it,” said Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, a partner in the restoration project. “It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid."

According to Christian tradition, the body of Jesus Christ was laid on a shelf or “burial bed” hewn from the side of a limestone cave following his crucifixion by the Romans in A.D. 30 or possibly 33. Christian belief says Christ was resurrected after death, and women who came to anoint his body three days after the burial reported that no remains were present.

The shrine that houses the traditional burial place of Jesus Christ is undergoing restoration inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

This burial shelf is now enclosed by a small structure known as the Edicule (from the Latin aedicule, or "little house"), which was last reconstructed in 1808-1810 after being destroyed in a fire. The Edicule and the interior tomb are currently undergoing restoration by a team of scientists from the National Technical University of Athens, under the direction of Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou.

The exposure of the burial bed is giving researchers an unprecedented opportunity to study the original surface of what is considered the most sacred site in Christianity. An analysis of the original rock may enable them to better understand not only the original form of the tomb chamber, but also how it evolved as the focal point of veneration since it was first identified by Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, in A.D. 326.

"We are at the critical moment for rehabilitating the Edicule," Moropoulou said. "The techniques we're using to document this unique monument will enable the world to study our findings as if they themselves were in the tomb of Christ."


The doors to the church were shut early—hours before normal closing time, leaving a bewildered crowd of pilgrims and tourists standing in front of the towering wooden doors. Inside, a scrum of conservators in yellow hard hats, Franciscans in simple brown robes, Greek orthodox priests in tall black hats, and Copts in embroidered hoods surrounded the entrance to the Edicule, peering into its reaches. Rising above all of them was the façade of the early 19th-century shrine, its elaborate carvings obscured by iron beams and orange safety tape.

Inside the tomb, which usually glows with a faint constellation of wax candles, bright construction lighting filled the small cell, revealing tiny details that are usually overlooked. The marble slab that covers the holy bench—roughly 3 by 5 feet and carved from creamy marble—had been pulled away from the wall. Beneath it was a grey-beige stone surface. What is it? a conservator was asked. "We don’t know yet," she replied. "It's time to bring in the scientific monitoring tools."

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (also known as the Church of the Resurrection) is currently under the custody of six Christian sects. Three major groups—the Greek Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Armenian Orthodox Church—maintain primary control over the site, and the Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syriac communities also have a presence there. Parts of the church that are considered common areas of worship for all of the sects, including the tomb, are regulated by a Status Quo agreement that requires the consent of all of the custodial churches.

Outside the Edicule, Thephilos III, the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, stood watching the events with a serene smile. "I'm glad that the atmosphere is special, there is a hidden joy," said the patriarch. "Here we have Franciscans, Armenians, Greeks, Muslim guards, and Jewish police officers. We hope and we pray that this will be a real message that the impossible can become the possible. We all need peace and mutual respect."


The structural integrity of the early 19th-century Edicule has been a concern for decades. It suffered damage during a 1927 earthquake, and British authorities were forced to shore up the building in 1947 with unsightly exterior girders that remain to this day. Difficulties among the Status Quo representatives and a lack of financial resources have hindered its repair.

In 2015, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with the agreement of the other two major communities, invited the National Technical University of Athens (which had previously led restoration projects on the Athenian Acropolis and the Hagia Sophia) to study the Edicule. The communities of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre agreed to restore the structure in March 2016, with work to be completed by the spring of 2017. Major donors to the $4-million-plus project include a royal benefaction from Jordan's King Abdullah II, and $1.3-million gift from Mica Ertegun to the World Monuments Fund in support of the project.

The National Geographic Society, with the blessing of the Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem and the other religious communities, formed a strategic alliance with the National Technical University of Athens for cultural heritage preservation. For an exclusive look at the restoration project, watch Explorer on National Geographic Channel, coming in November.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

God's abundance

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Walter Brueggemann writes extensively about abundance:

"We who are now the richest nation are today's main coveters. We never feel that we have enough; we have to have more and more, and this insatiable desire destroys us. Whether we are liberal or conservative Christians, we must confess that the central problem of our lives is that we are torn apart by the conflict between our attraction to the good news of God's abundance and the power of our belief in scarcity -- a belief that makes us greedy, mean and unneighborly. We spend our lives trying to sort out that ambiguity."

--Walter Brueggemann, "The liturgy of abundance, the myth of scarcity"

Friday, February 17, 2017

What you see is what you get."

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In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard has just finished telling her readers about a childhood game of hers in which she would hide pennies for other people to find -- emblematic of her later work as a writer -- when she moves on to reflect on the significance of seeing (or failing to see) discarded pennies on the ground:

"It is still the first week in January and I've got great plans. I've been thinking about seeing. There are lots of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand. But -- and this is the point -- who gets excited by a mere penny? If you follow one arrow, if you crouch motionless on a bank to watch a tremulous ripple thrill on the water and are rewarded with the site of a muskrat kit paddling from its den, will you count that sight a chip of copper only, and go your rueful way? It is dire poverty indeed when a man is so malnourished and fatigued he won't stoop to pick up a penny. But if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your day, then, since the world is in fact planted in pennies, you have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get."

--Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Harper Collins, 2007), 17.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Chaminade - Socrates of Bordeuax

William Joseph Chaminade
“Chaminade understood that the Church of the nineteenth century would not move forward on the same foundations as before the Revolution,” comments Bernard Payrous, a priest of Bordeaux. “Very innovative in the area of the apostolate of the laity, Chaminade wanted to create ‘a man who does not die.’ In an era fraught with crisis of thought, this man of immense courage leads me to think of a Socrates of Bordeaux, a man of enormous influence. He helped large numbers of young people become men, and he was a great educator.” Less known than a contemporary like [Félicité Robert] Lamennais, Chaminade will perhaps leave an imprint that will be more profound.”

His devotion to Mary, which takes up anew the ongoing theme of the “donation to Mary” stemming from the great [Pierre de] Berulle, is wedded to the convictions of the author of the “Treatise on True Devotion,” [Louis Marie] Grignon de Montfort, canonized in 1996 by John Paul II. “It is in alliance with the Virgin and under her protective standard that the Brothers of Mary will be able to collaborate with her work of salvation, especially in the field of education,” comments Bernard Peyrous. “A spiritual guide, never a detached mystic, fundamentally confident of the action of God among men, Chaminade was convinced that the education to this effect is possible.”

In an era when the demise of the Church is yet again proclaimed by so many people, the confidence in the future is perhaps the most precious legacy bequeathed by Father Chaminade to the Marianists of the twenty-first century.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Christ fulfills the commandments' substance

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus address, June 15, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, Feb 12, 2017 / 09:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christ's Sermon on the Mount shows that he wanted to fulfil the law of Moses, not abolish it, Pope Francis said Sunday during his Angelus address.

He “wants to help his listeners to achieve a reinterpretation of the Mosaic law. What was said in the Old Covenant was true, but it was not all: Jesus came to fulfill and to enact definitively the law of God, down to the last iota,” the Pope said Feb. 12 in St. Peter's Square.

“He manifests the Law’s original purposes and He fulfils its authentic aspects – and He does all this by His preaching and even more by offering Himself on the Cross.”

Christ “teaches how to do the will of God fully – and He uses this expression: with a 'justice superior' to that of the scribes and Pharisees – a justice animated by love, charity, mercy, and therefore capable of realizing the substance of the commandments, avoiding the risk of formalism,” he said, calling us to “more”.

The Gospel passage the Pope considered included Christ's words on homicide, adultery, and oath swearing.

Christ explained that the commandment against murder “is violated not only by actual homicide, but also by those behaviors which offend the dignity of the human person, including insulting words. Certainly, these injurious words do not have the same gravity and sinfulness of killing, but they are placed on the same line, because they are the premises of the more serious acts and they reveal the same malevolence.”

We are invited “not to establish a gradation of offenses, but to consider them all harmful, insofar as they are all moved by the intention to do harm to one’s neighbor,” he said, urging: “Please, do not insult! We earn nothing by doing so.”

“Another fulfilment is made to marriage law,” Pope Francis said. “Adultery had been considered a violation of a man’s property right to his wife. Jesus, however, goes to the root of the evil. Just as one comes to murder through injuries, offenses, and insults, so one comes to adultery through intentions of possession with respect to a woman other than one’s wife.”

“Adultery, like theft, corruption and all other sins, are first conceived in our hearts and, once the wrong choice is made in the heart, they are actuated in concrete behavior. And Jesus says: He who looks with a possessing spirit at a woman who is not his own is an adulterer in his heart, he has begun to go down the road to adultery. Let us think a little on this: on the bad thoughts that are in this line.”

The Pope then turned to Christ's words on swearing oaths, noting that Christ advised against it because “the oath is a sign of insecurity and duplicity with which human relations are conducted. Oath-swearing exploits the authority of God to give assurance to our human affairs. Rather we are called to establish among ourselves, in our families and in our communities, a climate of clarity and mutual trust, so that we can be considered honest without resorting to higher interventions in order to be believed. Mistrust and mutual suspicion always threaten serenity!”

Pope Francis concluded by turning to Mary, “a woman of docile listening and joyous obedience, might help us to approach the Gospel, to be Christians not in name, but in substance! And this is possible with the grace of the Holy Spirit, who permits us to do everything with love, and so to fulfil the will of God.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Welcome Bishop Barres

The St. Martin de Porres Marianist School family is happy to congratulate Bishop John Barres on his installation as Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre! May God bless him in the work he will do throughout our Diocese

Monday, February 13, 2017

Church needs religious orders’ courage, witness, pope tells superiors

World News
Church needs religious orders’ courage, witness, pope tells superiors

Marianist Brother Stephen Balletta, left, prays during a Mass marking World Day for Consecrated Life Feb. 5 at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, N.Y. Catholic religious orders must have the courage to start new forms of outreach, knowing that the only people who "never make mistakes are those who never do anything," Pope Francis said during a Feb. 9 meeting with 140 superiors general of men's religious orders. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic)

By Cindy Wooden • Catholic News Service • Posted February 9, 2017

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Catholic religious orders must have the courage to start new forms of outreach, knowing that the only people who “never make mistakes are those who never do anything,” Pope Francis said.

“We will get things wrong sometimes, yes, but there is always the mercy of God on our side,” Pope Francis told 140 superiors general of men’s religious orders.

A transcript of questions and answers from the pope’s three-hour meeting with members of the Union of Superiors General last November was published Feb. 9 by the Jesuit-run journal, La Civilta Cattolica.

Running through Pope Francis’ responses to the questions on youth ministry, religious life, his personal approach to the papacy and evangelization was an emphasis on prayer, courage and, especially, discernment.

A lack of expertise in discernment, he said, “is one of the greatest problems that we have in priestly formation,” which focuses too much on “black and white” answers rather than on “the gray areas of life.”

“You look for the will of God following the true doctrine of the Gospel and not in the fixations of an abstract doctrine,” the pope told the superiors.

By choosing “Young people, faith and vocational discernment” as the theme for the Synod of Bishops in 2018, the pope said he hopes to draw universal attention to the importance of helping young people discover God’s call.

The decreasing number of priests and religious in the West, he said, is worrying, but some of the newer religious communities that are attracting many youths are also a concern.

Some small, new religious orders “are really good and do things seriously,” usually with close support and guidance from a bishop, he said. “But there are others that are born not from a charism of the Holy Spirt, but human charisma, from charismatic people who attract others by their alluring human skills.

“Some are, I could say, ‘restorationists’: they seem to provide safety and instead they offer only rigidity,” the pope continued. “When I am told that there is a congregation that attracts many vocations, I confess, I am worried. The Spirit does not work with the logic of human success.”

In the end, the life of the community members will prove whether or not it is the Lord at work, he said. Unfortunately, some already have ended with scandal, he said, although he did not name particular orders.

One of the tasks of religious orders in the church, he said, is to provide the charismatic and prophetic impulse that can keep the church, a diocese or parish from being totally absorbed with worldly concerns and keep its ministers from thinking they are “little princes.”

“You don’t need to become a cardinal to think of yourself as a prince,” Pope Francis said.

Clericalism is a danger to the church, as is the gulf sometimes existing between religious orders in a diocese and the local bishop and clergy, he said. “From a position of isolation, you cannot help one another.”

The task of the church is not to shore up its institutions, but to set out to help those who are materially or spiritually poor, the pope said.

One of the superiors present asked Pope Francis why he chose a series of Marian themes for the local celebrations of World Youth Day in 2017 and 2018, as well as for the international gathering in Panama in 2019.

“I did not choose them,” he said; the bishops of Latin America did, “and it seemed a very good thing.”

The focus, the pope said, will be on the Mary of Catholic faith, “not the postmistress who sends out a letter every day saying, ‘My child, do this and then the next day do that.'”

The true Mary “is the one who generates Jesus in our hearts,” he said. “The trend of the Madonna superstar, who puts herself at the center as a protagonist, is not Catholic.”

When he opened the session to questions, Pope Francis told the superiors they even could offer criticisms because “misunderstandings and tensions are part of life. And when they are criticisms that make us grow, I accept them, I respond.”

Asked later about how he maintains his serenity, the pope assured the superiors, “I do not take tranquilizers.” He said the Italians may be on the right track when they suggest that to be at peace, “you need a healthy dose” of “couldn’t care less.”

But, Pope Francis said, he was “more anxious,” tense and worried as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina. From the moment he was elected pope in March 2013, he said, he has had an experience of peace “and it has not left me.”

When a problem arises, he said, he writes it on a piece of paper and slips it under a statue of a sleeping St. Joseph and lets the saint sleep on it. At this point, he said, the saint is sleeping on “a mattress of notes!”

Six hours of sleep every night and prayer are the daily routine, the pope said. “The breviary is very dear to me and I never leave it. Mass every day. The rosary. When I pray, I always take the Bible. And peace grows. I do not know if this is the secret. My peace is a gift from the Lord. Let it not be taken away!”

Sunday, February 12, 2017


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Today is the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

We recall our childhood days when we were given simple and fundamental rules to follow by our parents. "Do this," and "Don't do that." We are also given some real consequences to our actions. "That's not nice," or "you'll get sick."

As we grow older and think more, we tend to bend their meaning and question the authority, Through trial and effort, we may gain wisdom and recognize the Commandments as something other than rules that control us

God establishes the Law out of love for us. He knows how helpless we are. He sends His Son to fulfill the Law for us.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


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It does not matter how much we expend ourselves for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ and in the service of our neighbors, there will always be enough water to go around. We and those we serve will be renewed and refreshed. 
Spiritually, however, we do not need his bottle because the source of the living water that leads to life eternal lives inside of each of us. We take it with us. We simply need to continually draw from it.

When we exercise our bodies, we expel water through sweat. Once the water leaves the body it needs to be replaced. So when we exercise, we bring water with us.

When we exercise our faith, the waters of our baptism flow from us to those we love and serve. We have been blessed to be a blessing, to share the love of Jesus with all whom we meet.

The good news is that the waters of our baptism never run out or lose their effectiveness.

We are baptized only once because Jesus is living water, growing inside of us into a fountain. Once we have had a taste of that water, we will never thirst again.

Friday, February 10, 2017


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We live out our baptism by serving Christ through our service to others.

In faith, we raise preach the Gospel to those so desperately in need.

In faith, we help supply guidance to those who are lost and need direction.

In faith, we enter the lives of other to share our love of Jesus Christ.

We are called to exercise our faith, and when we do, the waters of our baptism flow from our pores to encourage and bless the least, the last and the lost.

The good news is that we don't need to carry a water bottle, a hydration backpack, or even a self-filling fountain because the  source of the water lives inside of us. 

As Jesus told the woman at the well, anyone who drinks his water will never be thirsty again. With him, we have within us the source of living water. We know the forgiveness of God that makes us clean, and we have the hydration we need to keep our spirits renewed and refreshed.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


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Jesus and the religious leaders often had disputes over ritual cleanliness. Jesus and his disciples didn't always seem to follow the rules about how to wash their hands before they ate. They didn't necessarily observe religious customs regarding the storage of food. Nor did they avoid people who had been deemed "unclean" by law, culture or religion.

One of the rituals to regain spiritual cleanliness was to be immersed in water. Individuals enter the waters aware of their separation from the holiness of God due to the sin in their lives, and emerge renewed, refreshed and spiritually clean.

The water truly serves as a reminder of how God is always ready to forgive when we repent of our sins.

In this tradition, but in a new way and with a new message, John immersed people in the Jordan River for the forgiveness of their sins.

He was calling the people to repentance, asking them to prepare for the kingdom of God that was coming in the person of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


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We all know that water is the most valuable resource on the planet. All living things -- fish, animals, plants and humans -- need water to survive. 

In just the same way, we need to stay connected to Christ, the source of spiritual, living water that nourishes our souls.

Our ancestors in the faith completely understood the value of water for both our physical and spiritual lives. Images of water abound throughout Scripture. Genesis begins with waters covering the face of the earth. And Revelation ends with the vision of a river that flows from the throne of God.

In the Exodus story, we read of Moses floating down a river as a baby, and later leading the children of Israel through the divided waters of the Red Sea and tapping a rock in the desert from which water flowed.

Jesus and his disciples, several of whom were fishermen, also spent a good bit of their time around water. Jesus walked on water, calmed a storm while they were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee and talked about living water with a Samaritan woman who had come to a well in the middle of the day to get water for her house. When Jesus healed a man born blind by putting mud on his eyes, he told the man to wash in a pool to complete the miracle. And at the very outset of his ministry, Jesus went out to the waters of the Jordan River to meet his relative John for baptism.

Papal Thoughts

Monday, February 6, 2017

Marianist Monday

February, 2017

My dear young friends,

The month of February usually contains two feasts that have always meant a great deal to me. They are the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and Ash Wednesday. The major reason for my delight in the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is that on February 11, 1961, I made my first vows as a Marianist Brother. February 11 is the day on which the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes occurs. Despite the fact that Ash Wednesday falls on March 1 this year, we can say that the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is always celebrated on the threshold of Lent every year. There are two virtues that I would put forth for your consideration this February of 2017. The two virtues are simplicity and obedience to God’s will.

In 1858, a young girl of fourteen named Bernadette Soubirous was gathering wood for the stove in her home. She came from a very poor family who lived in what was, at that time, an extremely poor village – Lourdes, France. Lourdes was unattractive and uninspiring. Over the course of three months, Mary appeared to this poor, simple girl eighteen times. At one point, Mary told Bernadette to drink and wash in a spring. But there was no spring to be seen. Bernadette scratched at the ground, and a flow of water began that has reached the volume of 20,000 gallons per day in our time.

Along with several other Brothers and many students from CHS and KMHS, I have been to the baths at Lourdes. The experience is deeply spiritual. Although some cures in the famous waters of Lourdes have been recognized by the Church, these miracles are few compared to the millions of people who visit Lourdes every year. I have always been impressed by the fact that Bernadette was a simple, illiterate peasant girl who was chosen to meet Mary and to convey her wishes to the local bishop. This fact is true about many of the apparitions of Mary. Recall the three peasant children of Fatima or St. Juan Diego of Guadalupe.

I am not saying that we have to be poor peasants to meet God. NO! What is needed is a simple and uncomplicated faith. After all, according to all the great theologians of the Church, simplicity is an attribute of God. God is simplicity.

As I mentioned earlier, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes is always on the threshold of Lent and includes a number of Lenten themes. The Gospel for Ash Wednesday opens with a call to repentance: “Repent and believe the Good News.” This is the symbolism of the Lenten ashes, and it was echoed at Lourdes when the Blessed Virgin ask for prayer and penance. Lourdes is a place of repentance in the sense of turning around, being converted anew, taking one’s baptismal promises seriously. Repentance means relying on God and not on oneself, accepting that heaven is all around us. The doors are wide open, and the Father is waiting if only we turn and look at Him. In Bernadette’s call to repentance, in which she was repeating the words of the Blessed Mother, there was always a note of freedom and joy. The Father and Our Heavenly Mother Mary are always ready to welcome us.

The second theme linking Lourdes to Lent is that of forgiveness. Lent is a time when we prepare once more to renew baptismal promises and be immersed in the font, dying and rising with Christ to new life. Many come to the waters of Lourdes not just for physical cures, but for the grace and strength to bear pain. This is the most common result of a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Anytime I have been to Lourdes with students and/or teachers, every person there has made this observation: “These people did not come to be cured, did they?” To those who have faith in the power of God and the powerful intercession of our Blessed Mother, the authenticated cases of healing are indeed marvels. But, in the long run, all those miraculous healings of bodies do not astound us as much as the changes that take place in the hearts and minds of all the people. This resignation can only come from a simple and steadfast life of prayer and obedience.

We all long for wholeness, for the old wounds and sores of sin to be healed, and for life to flow through us anew. One of the lessons of Lourdes is that it is in giving to others, those who are less fortunate than ourselves, that we come to wholeness. It is by generously reaching out, not by looking at our own sickness, that we discover life and hope once more. Mary at Lourdes is mother to the sick and the needy, mother to each one of us who looks to her with confidence. We have to trust that love is truly stronger than all our physical or spiritual evil. It is never too late to turn to Mary’s Son and repent.

May you be blessed in all of your efforts to come close to Mary and Jesus this February, 2017.

Ad Jesum per Mariam! – To Jesus through Mary!

Bro. David Bruner, S.M.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Marianist Bicentenial

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Bicentennial Prayer

Gracious and loving God,
God of our founders,
you have blessed us with 200 years
of mission and mercy.
Lead us on, Lord.
Make us good stewards
and attentive listeners,
ready to do whatever you tell us
to accomplish Mary’s mission
in our world today.
With great thanksgiving
and loving praise,
we say Amen.
May the Father, and the Son
and the Holy Spirit, 

be glorified in all places
through the
Immaculate Virgin Mary.
Prayer by
Sr. Laura Leming, FMI

Friday, February 3, 2017

Blessed Chaminade Vision

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Our founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade (1761-1850) lived during the years of the French Revolution. In his ministry following the upheavals of the revolution, he encountered an ignorance of religious faith, indifference, abandonment of Christian life, and the structural ruin of the Church. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he realized that new institutions and new methods were necessary to revive the religious spirit of his native France.

Blessed Chaminade always sought inspiration in Mary, at whose sanctuary of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain, he prayed while in exile during the Revolution. He saw Mary as the one who received the word of the Lord and pondered it in her heart, the woman who gave Christ to the world, the Mother who cooperates with the Holy Spirit in the formation of believers. Mary embodied all the attitudes of the Gospel. Chaminade committed himself to assisting Mary in the mission of bringing persons to become more like her son Jesus. With this vision of Mary’s role, he sought to re-Christianize France.

Central to Chaminade’s means was the development of community life in the spirit of the Gospel and the practice of the early Church. Such a community could be a witness of a people of saints, showing that the Gospel still could be lived in all times and places. A Christian community could attract others to follow Christ. Thus, Chaminade founded communities of lay men and women as a means of re-Christianizing France.

Prayer of Dedication to Mary

Together with our Blessed Founder
and the many holy Marianists who have gone before us,
let us renew our dedication to Mary and her Mission.

we embrace the religious life in your name.
All that we have, all that we are,
dedicate to continuing your mission
of bringing Jesus into our world.

Holy Mother,
stay with us this day
and teach us to
“Do whatever he tells us.” Amen.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

St. Thomas - JOY

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Bishop Robert Barron in a very effective way explains the necessity of joy for all of us who profess to be Christians through the eyes of Saint Thomas Aquinas, 

"In the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, we hear about two young men who, at the prompting of the Lord, come and stay with Jesus. So thrilled are they by this encounter that they immediately begin to announce to anyone who would listen that they had “found the Messiah.” In that little episode, we see the fundamental rhythm of effective evangelization: they meet Jesus, they find the experience life-enhancing, they want to tell everyone about it. The very best bearers of the Gospel are those whose joy in Christ is contagious. 

The second part of Thomas Aquinas’s masterpiece the Summa Theologiae deals with ethics, the question of how precisely we ought to live. It is most instructive to note that this massive treatment of Christian morality begins with joy, what Thomas called beatitudo. Ethics is all about what makes us happy. After determining that wealth, pleasure, power, and honor, though good, are not the source of true joy, Thomas argues that only the infinite good of God satisfies the deepest longing of the human heart. Next, Aquinas analyzes the habits and virtues that inculcate in us the moves that properly order us to our ultimate good. And finally, in question number ninety (!), Thomas broaches for the first time the issue of the law—and thereupon hangs a tale. Laws, he argues, are those prescriptions and prohibitions that place in us the habits that produce the virtues that in turn give rise to joy. The relegation to question ninety shows clearly that moral laws are not the heart of the matter, nor are they the starting-point for ethical deliberation. They are utterly subordinate to and ordered around happiness."

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

St. Brigid of Ireland -- February 1

A few years after St. Patrick arrived in Ireland, a little girl named Brigid was born. Her father was an Irish lord. As Brigid grew up, she deepened her love for Jesus. She looked for him in the poor and often brought food and clothing to them. It has been said that one day she gave away a whole pail of milk. Then she began to worry about what her mother would say. She prayed to the Lord to make up for what she had given away. When she got home, her pail was full again. 

Brigid was beautiful. Her father thought that it was time for her to marry. However, she had decided in her heart to give herself entirely to God. She did not want to marry anyone. When she learned that her beauty was the reason young men were attracted to her, she made an unusual request to God. She asked that her beauty be taken from her. God granted her request. 

Seeing that his daughter was no longer pretty, Brigid's father gladly agreed when Brigid asked to become a nun. The girl did follow her call to religious life. She even started a convent so that other young women could become nuns, too. It seems that after she consecrated her life to God in the convent, a miracle happened. Brigid became beautiful again! 

She reminded people of the Blessed Mother because she was so gentle. Some called her the "Mary of the Irish." St. Brigid died in 525. J
She reminds us not to waste our time worrying about looks. Each of us is special to God.