Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Papal movements

Last month the Pope became an Italian parish priest, went door-to-door blessing homes in the Ostia neighborhood. He apologized for disturbing with knocking.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Marianist Monday

The Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, ordained five men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rockville Centre Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. 

Those ordained were: Rev. Mr. Michael Bissex, Rev. Mr. Liam McDonald, Rev. Mr. Michael Plona,
Rev. Mr. Christopher Sullivan and Rev. Mr. John Wachowicz.

Two were graduates of Marianist high schools. Fr. Michael Plona is a graduate of Kellenberg Memorial and Fr. Christopher Sullivan is a graduate of Chaminade.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Vocation: your deep gladness meets the world's deep hunger

From David Brooks, in the New York Times a little profundity —and a challenge to the world—

A human life is not just a means to produce outcomes, it is an end in itself. When we evaluate our friends, we don’t just measure the consequences of their lives. We measure who they intrinsically are. We don’t merely want to know if they have done good. We want to know if they are good.

That’s why when most people pick a vocation, they don’t only want one that will be externally useful. They want one that they will enjoy, and that will make them a better person. They want to find that place, as the novelist Frederick Buechner put it, “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

If you are smart, hard-working, careful and lucky you might even be able to find a job that is both productive and internally ennobling. Taking a job just to make money, on the other hand, is probably going to be corrosive, even if you use the money for charity rather than sports cars.

We live in a relentlessly commercial culture, so it’s natural that many people would organize their lives in utilitarian and consequentialist terms. But it’s possible to get carried away with this kind of thinking — to have logic but no wisdom, to become a specialist without spirit.

Making yourself is different than producing a product or an external outcome, requiring different logic and different means. I’d think you would be more likely to cultivate a deep soul if you put yourself in the middle of the things that engaged you most seriously. If your profoundest interest is dying children in Africa or Bangladesh, it’s probably best to go to Africa or Bangladesh, not to Wall Street.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity,
have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Your well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto You in the name of sinners; and in Your great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Your mercy, in the name of the same Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You, world without end. Amen.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We Live in Community

Here is a glimpse at a book that has been around for a while. It touches at the heart of our Marianist community life. Each and every day we attempt to build this Gospel community that is the essential core of our lives. Our vowed life in the Church focuses on the two tables; the table of the Eucharist and the table of community.

The book is described as follows:

Everyone these days seems to be searching for community in one way or another - whether in the form of committed, nourishing relationships at home and at work, support networks, small groups, house churches - even cyberspace. But mention "community" and many people literally go blank. They claim that they're not ready for the commitment such a term implies, or lack sufficient energy, gifts, or time. It's just not 'where they're at.' Or is it? This new translation of a time-honored manifesto adds a fresh, engaging voice to the vital discussion of what real community is all about: love, joy, unity, and the great "adventure of faith" shared with others along the way. Neither Arnold nor Merton describe (or prescribe) community here, but for the individual seeker, they do provide a vision to guide and inspire the search, and for those who may have already answered the call to community, they offer the disarming challenge of greater commitment and a continually deepened faith.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Marianist Monday

Aims of Marianist Religious Community

Community life is designed to be a support and stimulus for holiness. The grace of Jesus is concretely at work in each of us. When we share our living of that grace, we all become enriched. Our prayer, our living of the vows, our faith, hope and charity thus develop new dimensions. When we accept the challenges of community as occasions for grace and conversion, when we overcome hostility by sympathetic understanding and indifference by interest and concern, we all support one another in our common call to holiness.

Community prayer is a “source and summit”: it both expresses the life of the community and aims to deepen our sense of God and to enrich our practical charity for one another and for the world around us. A prayerful community immeasurably stimulates and deepens the spiritual experience of its members. We need to recognize that we can learn from one another in our spiritual lives, from the different ways in which others pray and experience God. A reasonable diversity of styles and modes of prayer, corresponding to the religious sensibilities of the different members, should be an enrichment for everyone.

Marianist community is also a permanent mission, not a cozy atmosphere closed in on itself. To share in the mission of Jesus is to join in the company of his disciples, companions whom he sends to preach the good news and to heal. We find ourselves together in communities, not by personal choice, but in function of a mission we share in the local Church. Our community is meant to be less a refuge from apostolic battles than a source of creativity and strength for mission.

We are not meant to be individual free-lancers in our ministries. Our whole history as a Society teaches us that. Great Marianist success-stories, great times and places of grace, have always involved a vital and unified community. The witness of a group of people – whether three or fifty – who truly work together in harmonious support is contagious, sometimes overpowering. It attracts followers.

Even if we may at times be called to work more individually, we need to consider our ministry as an outreach of our Marianist community, and ask for the support, guidance and evaluative discernment of the community (Rule of Life, 68).

A key element of our apostolic mission as Marianists is the discovering, building and maintaining of close community among us and the extension of such an experience of community to those around us. This is a deep way of understanding our ministry as religious within the entire Marianist Family – even within the whole Church.

The emphasis on prayer with and for one another, on trying to understand one another, on affirmation, on team work, on dialogue and a strongly felt community life is not navel-gazing or “nesting” in a warm, supportive atmosphere. It is an essential mark of our Marianist mission.

Rev. David Joseph Fleming, S.M.
Superior General of the Society of Mary
Missionary Apostolic
Rome, September 12, 2004
Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Corpus Christi

Today the Pope leads a global hour of Eucharistic adoration in the Vatican basilica for the following intentions written by him....

First: “For the Church spread throughout the world and united today in the adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist as a sign of unity. May the Lord make her ever more obedient to hearing his Word in order to stand before the world ‘ever more beautiful, without stain or blemish, but holy and blameless.’ That through her faithful announcement, the Word that saves may still resonate as the bearer of mercy and may increase love to give full meaning to pain and suffering, giving back joy and serenity.”

Second: “For those around the world who still suffer slavery and who are victims of war, human trafficking, drug running, and slave labour. For the children and women who are suffering from every type of violence. May their silent scream for help be heard by a vigilant Church so that, gazing upon the crucified Christ, she may not forget the many brothers and sisters who are left at the mercy of violence. Also, for all those who find themselves in economically precarious situations, above all for the unemployed, the elderly, migrants, the homeless, prisoners, and those who experience marginalization. That the Church’s prayer and its active nearness give them comfort and assistance in hope and strength and courage in defending human dignity.”

Happy Father's Day!

Celebrate Dad!

From the great Grassroots Films comes this short video that sums it all up beautifully.

Happy Father’s Day, dads.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Image result for soul
So what does the word "soul" mean to you?

What does it do for us? What are we supposed to do for it? 

We talk about "soul music" and "soul food," about "having soul" and "soulfulness," as though we know what we mean. But can we define it? 

If the soul is not simply the divine spark, the spirit that animates each human being, and if it is more than just a well-developed and balanced sense of ego and superego, what is it?

Perhaps the best comparison we might try to look at is the Hebrew concept of "heart" - a reference that includes within it both the tumult of human emotions and urges the workings of the human mind. The "heart" was the center of the human person, the common residence for all we think and feel. Likewise the "soul" has come to represent the seedbed of all those facets of our being that make us both uniquely, and yet typically, human.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Psalm 111

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I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.

Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.

The works of his hands are faithful and just;
sure are all his precepts,
Reliable forever and ever,
wrought in truth and equity.

Psalm 111 is an explosion of praise for God's wonderful works. In fact, you might say that it is radically centered completely on God. "I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart," says the psalmist. "Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them. Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever."

Psalm 111 delivers a shock to us, because we live in an increasingly human centered world. Today, we expect farmers to feed us, judges to offer us justice and teachers to give us wisdom.

But in the world of Psalm 111, God "provides food for those who fear him ... the works of his hands are faithful and just ... the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Such a shift is becoming tougher all the time.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Our Father

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Pope Francis spoke of the Lord's Prayer last year when he said,

"The ‘Our Father’ prayer is the cornerstone of our prayer life. If we are not able to begin our prayer with this word, our prayer will go nowhere.”

“Father.” It’s about feeling our Father looking at me, feeling that this word ‘Father’ is not a waste of time like the words in the prayers of pagans: it’s a call to Him who gave me my identity as his child. This is the dimension of Christian prayer – ‘Father’ and we can pray to all the Saints, the Angels, we can go on processions, pilgrimages … all of this is wonderful but we must always begin (our prayers) with ‘Father’ and be aware that we are his children and that we have a Father who loves us and who knows all our needs. This is that dimension.”

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Papal Thoughts

ROME - Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed 45 news members to the Pontifical Academy for Life, long regarded as the Vatican’s primary beachhead for the most robustly pro-life voices in the Church, signaling that while he doesn’t intend to muzzle the pro-life argument, he wants a body less inclined to be pugnacious or rambunctious. 

The new members named by Francis include a mix of clergy and laity, and also feature a number of non-Catholics, including other Christians, followers of other religions, and non-believers. 

All previous members of the academy had been removed from their posts in November under the terms of new statutes developed under Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the current president, leaving Pope Francis free to completely overhaul the body’s membership. 

Often pontifical academies are somewhat low-profile operations, essentially think tanks without much decision-making authority. Because of the intensity of pro-life debates in many parts of the world and the key role the Church often plays in them, however, vicissitudes at the Academy for Life are closely scrutinized by Vatican-watchers. 

In recent years, academy members have shown a willingness to push back when they believe the Church’s pro-life witness is being compromised. 

In 2009, roughly half the members of the academy protested against the body’s president at the time, Italian Archbishop Salvatore “Rino” Fisichella, after Fisichella published an article appearing to criticize a Brazilian bishop who had said the doctors responsible for an abortion on a nine-year-old girl raped by her stepfather were excommunicated. 

Twenty-seven of 46 members of the academy at the time signed a letter asking Fisichella to correct what they regarded as a “mistaken” impression about the Church’s position on abortion created by the article. 

In 2012, some of the same members of the academy objected to a conference on infertility in which some speakers argued in favor of in-vitro fertilization, which the Church officially opposed. 

More recently, some academy members have objected to a decision by Paglia to eliminate a requirement for new members to sign a statement promising to defend life in conformity with the Church’s magisterium from the body’s statutes. 

Noticeably absent in the appointments announced on Tuesday were some of the leaders of those uprisings, such as Christine de Marcellus Vollmer, a Venezuelan living in the United States, president of the Alliance for Family and of the Latin American Alliance for Family; Monsignor Michel Schooyans, a Belgian and professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Louvain; and Luke Gormally, a former research professor at Ave Maria School of Law. 

Those omissions may suggest that Francis wanted to send a message that academy members are not to engage in public protest against its leadership, and that in general he wants a less combative tone from the group. 

On the other hand, among the figures who were appointed on Tuesday are several that have long been regarded as champions of the pro-life cause, including Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus; Cardinal Willem Eijk, Archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands; Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney in Australia; and John Haas, President of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in the United States. 

Anderson said on Tuesday, “I look forward to working with Pope Francis and the Pontifical Academy for Life in supporting an authentic human ecology and building a culture of life based on a proper understanding of the right to life and the dignity of each person.” 

(The Knights of Columbus are a principal sponsor of Crux.) 

Francis also named as “members for life” five former leaders of the academy, including retired Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna in Italy, long known as one of the most forceful pro-life voices at the senior levels of the Catholic hierarchy. 

Those nominations are likely to be applauded in most pro-life circles. Despite them, however, it seems probable that some former members of the Academy for Life are unlikely to be reassured by its present course. In a recent interview with Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register, Vollmer complained that under Paglia’s leadership, the vision of St. John Paul II for the academy, to resist “neutralizing” respect for life in the contemporary world, is moving towards “elimination.” 

Paglia, however, said in a statement on Tuesday that the appointments offer the church and the world a “deep and wise vision in the service of human life, especially life that is weakest and most defenseless.”

Monday, June 12, 2017

Marianist Monday

Image result for holy spirit
June, 2017

My dear friends in college . . . and beyond,

What did Jesus leave behind?

The answer is a community, a Church, a group of disciples.

And He also left us the Holy Spirit.

The Church . . . and the Holy Spirit. These two sacred realities have occupied my thoughts these past few weeks as we consider two important post-Resurrection milestones: the Ascension and Pentecost.

All of you studied Church History, so I don’t have to tell you that Jesus did not leave us a document to be read. Eventually, Jesus’ followers would indeed compose a set of Scriptures – four Gospels; a history of the early Church (the Acts of the Apostles); twenty-one letters; and a book of Revelation about the end times, about the persecutions that the Church would face, and about the ultimate triumph of Christ and His followers. But notice that each of these Scriptures came from the followers of Christ, from the community of believers who were “of one heart and one mind” (Acts 4:32).

If we recall our freshman Scripture studies, we will remember that, as the very first act of His public ministry, right after He was baptized in the Jordan by John the Baptist, Christ gathered twelve Apostles to Himself. “Come, follow me” (Mt. 4:19, Mk. 1:17). And from that point onward, the Apostles played an integral role in every aspect of Christ’s earthly life and post-Resurrection appearances.

What did Christ leave us? A Church . . . and the Holy Spirit.

Why are my thoughts centering on the Church today, and the Holy Spirit?

Because we need them both. We need them badly. We need them now more than ever in an age that prizes individualism. And in a quarter century that has seen remarkable advances in social media and instant communication, we may, quite ironically, find ourselves more isolated and more alone than ever before.

Let me explain. In early February of this year, I attended the wake and funeral of a graduate who died of a drug overdose. Afterwards, I was deeply troubled. I had attended too many wakes and funerals of young men who had died from a drug overdose. I have been reading too many newspaper reports of similar deaths. Further, from speaking with a number of you on a very personal level, I know that you sometimes face difficulties – even spiritual demons – that threaten to overwhelm you.

Thankfully, some of you have reached out for help. Sadly, too many have not.

Christ didn’t establish a community of believers for nothing! He did so precisely because these believers are a channel of His love, His peace, His strength, and His support. I am firmly convinced that the Holy Spirit – God’s abiding presence among us – acts through the community, through our friends, through our mentors and trusted elders. In a word, through the Church.

And I can hear a lot of you objecting right now to yourselves: “Well, my Church doesn’t look anything like that! It’s ‘come in for Sunday Mass, and then get out as fast as you can.’ The priests are cold fish; the parishioners aren’t interested in one another in the least.”

Then find a parish that’s different. Find a Catholic community that is welcoming and caring and supportive. Or, better yet, be the agent of change in your parish that makes your local Church look just like the Church that Jesus had in mind when He said, “I call you my friends” (John 15:15).

Please, I beg of you, do one of the two. Why? Because we were not meant to go it alone. And, as life becomes increasingly complex, so too it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle life’s hurdles on our own. We need a community of godly people who will be there to support us, guide us, silently stand beside us, welcome us home, cry with us, rejoice with us, and pray for us – in good times and in bad.

Guys famously think that they can handle every situation on their own. But there will come a time – several times – in all of our lives when we won’t be able to handle things on our own. We will inevitably face times when we will need help, when we will desperately need help.

And we’ve got to reach out and get that help.

Hopefully, your Chaminade Family, your Kellenberg Family, and the broader Marianist Family will always be the kinds of communities that will be there for you not only when things are going great, but when things are going poorly too. To be anything less would be to fall far short of what Christ had in mind when He called His Apostles, formed the first Christian community, and established His Church.

We are not meant to go it alone. So, you gotta reach out, you gotta pick up the phone and call, or take out your iPhone and email someone. Because sometimes we need help. We all need help.

I think that’s what Jesus had in mind when He established the Church and gave us His Holy Spirit.
Image result for “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18)
That’s why no matter the trouble, no matter cause of the difficulty, in good times and in bad – in both, not just the good times – you are always part of the Marianist Family. You are always welcome back home.

So please, always reach out, always come home, always remember that there is someone who wants to help you – probably because he or she has been in the same situation you have been. Whether it’s trouble in school, or trouble at home, struggling with alcohol or drugs, or dealing with sexual issues, no one is alone. Believe me. No one is alone.

Jesus promised, “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18)

Neither will we. Neither will any Church worthy of the name.

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Pentecost - St. Augustine

Medieval illustration of Pentecost from the 12th-century Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (details)

Medieval illustration of Pentecost from the 12th-century Hortus deliciarum of Herrad of Landsberg (details)

From Saint Augustine:

And so, where the Apostle speaks of it as a body, let us not think of it as a dead body without life. One body, he says. But, I ask you, is this a living body? It is living. By what does it live? By one spirit. And one Spirit. Be watchful therefore, brethren, within our own body; and grieve for those who are cut off from the Church. As long as we live, while we are in our senses, let all members fulfil their duties among our own members. Should one member suffer anything, let all the members suffer with it (I Cor. xii. 26). Yet, though it may suffer, because it is in the body, it cannot die. For what does to die mean but to lose the spirit? Now if a member be cut off from the body, does the soul follow it? It can still be seen what member it is: it is a finger, a hand, an arm, an ear; besides substance, it has form; but it has no life. So is it with a man separated from the Church. Seek if he has the sacrament. You learn he has. Look for baptism. You find it. The creed? You find it. This is the outward form; but unless inwardly you live by the Spirit, in vain do you glory in the outward form.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Pentecost is ours alone

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This past Sunday we celebrated Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the day the church of Jesus Christ entered the public domain, and it's "OK"  to say to the church, "Happy birthday to you!" 

Until Jesus' little band of disciples experienced the descending dove, the tongues of fire and the babble of ecstatic voices, they really weren't ready for prime time. Their faith was proprietary and private. After those remarkable events, though, their old song suddenly became new.

Pentecost is the third biggest celebration of the Christian year, but it runs far behind Christmas and Easter in popularity. In the case of the other two holidays, secular culture has embraced the religious feast, manufacturing its own cheap knock-offs. There's secular Christmas, with its blatant consumerism and vague ethic of doing something nice for someone you already love. As for secular Easter, it's nothing more than a rite of spring.

No one has trouble finding decorations and greeting cards for secular Christmas or secular Easter. Many of them feature the familiar mascots of the holidays, Santa and the Easter Bunny. Those symbolic figures have high name-recognition, even among people who've never darkened a church door.

Image result for Pentecost birthdayCertain things you never, ever see in relation to Pentecost. Have you ever seen a rack of Pentecost cards in a drugstore? Have you ever savored a special candy that commemorates the holiday? Have you ever baked Pentecost cookies?

Will the church ever issue a call to "Keep the Holy Spirit in Pentecost"?

Not likely. It's not a problem. Nobody's trying to hijack the rights to this holiday. Pentecost is ours alone.