Monday, November 27, 2017

The Sunday Word

The Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Year of Grace 2017. Next weekend will bring us to the First Sunday of Advent in 2017. (On the liturgical calendar, the First Sunday of Advent is a kind of New Year's Day!)

Our first scripture was from the Book of Daniel and included the title "Son of man" (which we often hear in the Gospels, though not in this week's Gospel passage). This vision in Daniel gives us an ancient reference for the kingship of Christ. The Gospel is from John and took us to the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, a text we hear every Good Friday. Here Jesus and Pilate debated their notions of kingship.

The second scripture of the day was from Revelation: the text echoed some of the imagery from the Daniel passage and made a fleeting reference to the Passion in the words, "those who pierced him."

Kingship, dominion, kingdom, the Almighty... these scriptures draw us to consider the power of God in our lives and God's sovereignty over us. These are categories somewhat foreign to our times and culture. The question comes, then, "Who and what reign over my heart and my life?"

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christ the King

A famous and traditional hymn is frequently used today. A hymn has strong theology, beautiful poetry, noble and moving sentiments and a simple, worshipful and singable tune. This is not a praise song or a devotional ditty or a song which, if you changed the word ‘Jesus’ to ‘my baby’ could make it into the pop charts. Read it and maybe sing it and ask yourself if you understand all the allusions, the symbols, the Biblical references–and if you do not why not?
Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.

Crown Him the virgin’s Son, the God incarnate born,
Whose arm those crimson trophies won which now His brow adorn;
Fruit of the mystic rose, as of that rose the stem;
The root whence mercy ever flows, the Babe of Bethlehem.

Crown Him the Son of God, before the worlds began,
And ye who tread where He hath trod, crown Him the Son of Man;
Who every grief hath known that wrings the human breast,
And takes and bears them for His own, that all in Him may rest.

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed over the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace, whose power a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease, and all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end, and round His piercèd feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love, behold His hands and side,
Those wounds, yet visible above, in beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his burning eye at mysteries so bright.

Crown Him the Lord of Heaven, enthroned in worlds above,
Crown Him the King to Whom is given the wondrous name of Love.
Crown Him with many crowns, as thrones before Him fall;
Crown Him, ye kings, with many crowns, for He is King of all.

Crown Him the Lord of lords, who over all doth reign,
Who once on earth, the incarnate Word, for ransomed sinners slain,
Now lives in realms of light, where saints with angels sing
Their songs before Him day and night, their God, Redeemer, King.

Crown Him the Lord of years, the Potentate of time,
Creator of the rolling spheres, ineffably sublime.
All hail, Redeemer, hail! For Thou has died for me;
Thy praise and glory shall not fail throughout eternity.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Meet God in the Poor

Meet God who lives with the Pope Francis: “It’s all about going out and meeting God who lives with the poor”

From La Stampa:

Francis was honest from the start: “I don’t want to give a formal speech, partly because I want to be spontaneous and partly because I haven’t had time to prepare any speeches other than those for Europe and Turkey.” The Pope said this during this morning’s audience with cardinals and bishops who attended the International Pastoral Congress on the World’s Big Cities held in Barcelona from 24 to 26 November. “I want to speak to you from my own personal experience.”

Francis focused on the challenges big cities present to individuals, the world as a whole and therefore the Church as well. Calling it a real “ecclesial transformation”, a change in mentality “from receiving to going out, from waiting for people to come to us, to going out and searching for them.” Francis spoke again of the mission of the Church which must always “go out”. He suggested an ecclesial transformation, with a missionary spirit. He also encouraged the Church to adapt to the city’s times. This means “rendering the Sacrament of Baptism accessible; making sure churches are open and administrative offices have opening hours that suit the needs of people who go to work;” and ensuring “that the Catechesis be suitable in content and accessibility to the time limitations of people who live in big cities.”

“It’s all about going out and meeting God who lives in cities with the poor,” Francis said. “Meeting, listening to, blessing, walking with the people; facilitating the encounter with the Lord are his rule of thumb.”

“We find it easier to help the faith grow than to help give birth to it. I think we need to continue looking into these changes which are necessary in our various catecheses. It is essentially pedagogical methods that need to change so that contents can be understood more easily. At the same time though, we need to learn to re-awaken our audience’s curiosity and interest in Jesus Christ, so that we can then invite them to follow Him.” In a spontaneous comment, he said that there is in fact a patron saint of curiosity: St. Zacchaeus: “We pray to St. Zacchaeus that he may help us … We must learn to inspire faith,” Francis added.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving Day story

Most of us know the story.

It was the autumn of 1621. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, after a rich harvest, the men, women and children who had survived the first year in the New World gathered for a feast to offer thanks.

One of the pilgrims wrote at the time: “By the goodness of God, we are so far from want.”

What was it like? I did a little Googling and found that the menu for that first Thanksgiving had some surprises. It was not necessarily turkey and pumpkin pie. Historians think they probably ate fowl and venison – or deer. The pilgrims didn’t have forks, but used spoons. More likely, they ate with their hands. And the food was probably a lot more fatty than we are used to. Cholesterol was unheard of. They were more worried about plague and the pox.

They didn’t have much sugar, so sweets and deserts were probably not on the menu. So, you can forget the pumpkin pie.

Whatever it may have involved, that meal left us with an enduring tradition: a gathering around a table, giving thanks for surviving in an uncertain and difficult new place.

But a few years ago, the Unitarian minister Peter Fleck suggested we look at this differently.

Maybe, he wrote, the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they had survived.

But maybe they had survived…because they were thankful.

These were people who lived their lives in wonder and hope, grateful for everything: the hard winds and deep snows…the frightening evenings and hopeful mornings …the long journey that had taken them to a new place. They knew how to express gratitude.

Gratitude doesn’t always come easily. We all know that generosity – the giving of a gift – means thinking more about others than about yourself. It represents an act of love. But so does being thankful. To give thanks is to extend yourself. It is to remember where the gift came from.

It is to go out of your way to acknowledge that — like the one cured leper in the gospel, who changed the direction he was headed, and walked back to Jesus, all the way back from the temple, to thank him.

There is love in that. A love for the gift – and for the one who gave it.

Reverend Fleck suggested that maybe that is what enabled the pilgrims to thrive and prosper: a humble appreciation for whatever God gave them, trusting that He would give them what they would need. It’s an optimistic message, really — and gratitude, I think, carries a spirit of optimism. Maybe that spirit can teach us something, as we endure our own hard winds and deep snows – the storms of our own lives. Especially now.

Thanksgiving will be a time for family, and for celebration.

But I know it won’t be that way for everyone.

Thanksgiving isn’t about giving thanks for having a lot. It’s about giving thanks for just having. For being. For knowing that whatever we have, whether it is served on a china plate or a Styrofoam carton, it is all a gift. The prayers whispered over a Happy Meal are just as precious to God as the ones said over the turkey and stuffing.

And all of us, no matter where we find ourselves praying, will be bound together by one simple word: grace. At a few McDonald’s this Thanksgiving, I’m sure that grace will be said.

And, I am just as sure of this: that grace will be present.

The grace of gratitude. The grace of thanking God for whatever gift He gives. And in the giving, and in the receiving, and in the thanking, there is something that transcends time and place.

There is love.

Love for what we have, and love for what we have been given. And love for the God who gives it. Because no matter how fierce the winds, or how unforgiving the storm, at least on this day we all remember that God is near.

The pilgrims knew that. And so did the Samaritan. He lived a life of disfigurement and shame. But he trusted, and he listened, and he was healed — changed forever, made new.

He could have gone on his way. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. He had to thank The One who made his miracle possible.

Twenty centuries later, that anonymous figure left us a legacy, and a lesson: a beautiful example of what it means to have an “attitude of gratitude.”

It is an attitude we all need to nurture — not just today, but every day. Gratitude can open our hearts – and change our lives – if only we let it.

Or, as Reverend Fleck so beautifully put it: maybe the pilgrims weren’t thankful because they survived.

Maybe they survived…because they were thankful.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


The first Thanksgiving Proclamation, from the first president

Following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.” Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

Thanksgiving Proclamation
Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

According to tradition, the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated to God as a young child and was given by her holy parents, St. Anne and St. Joachim, to live in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. This special feast day honoring this event appeared in the East much earlier than it did in the West. Then, in the late Middle Ages it was promoted as a feast day for the universal Church.

Much like the Old Testament story of Hannah and her son Samuel, tradition holds that Mary, as a little girl of three years old, was given to God to be educated and raised in the temple as a result of a promise made between God and St. Anne while St. Anne suffered from a long period of infertility.
The Child Mary's Presentation in the Jerusalem Temple
Excerpts from The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
by Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich

“Joachim went first to the Temple with Zechariah and the other men. Afterwards Mary was taken there by her mother Anna in a festal procession. First came Anna and her elder daughter Mary Heli, with the latter’s little daughter Mary Cleophas; then the holy child Mary followed in her sky-blue dress and robe, with wreaths round her arms and neck; in her hand she held a candle or torch entwined with flowers. Decorated candles like this were also carried by three maidens who walked on each side of her, wearing white dresses embroidered with gold. They, too, wore pale-blue robes; they were wreathed round with garlands of flowers, and wore little wreaths round their necks and arms as well. Next came the other maidens and little girls, all in festal dress but each different. They all wore little robes. The other women came at the end of the procession.”
. . . . .
“When Joachim’s sacrifice started to burn, Anna went, with the child Mary in her ceremonial dress and with her companions, into the outer court of the women, which is the place in the Temple set apart for women.”
. . . .

“Zechariah and Joachim came out of the court of sacrifice and went up to this altar with a priest, in front of whom stood another priest and two Levites with scrolls and writing materials. Anna led the child Mary up to them; the maidens who had accompanied Mary stood a little behind. Mary knelt on the steps, and Joachim and Anna laid their hands on her head. The priest cut off a few of her hairs and burnt them in a brazier. Her parents also said a few words, offering up their child; these were written down by two Levites. Meanwhile the maidens sang the 44th Psalm (Eructavit cor meum verbum bonum) and the priests the 49th Psalm ( Deus, deorum Dominus, locutus est ) accompanied by the boys with their instruments.

I then saw Mary being led by the hand by two priests up many steps to a raised place in the wall dividing the outer court of the Holy Place from the other court. They placed the child in a sort of niche in the middle of this wall, so that she could see into the Temple, where there were many men standing in ranks; they seemed to me to be also dedicated to the Temple. Two priests stood beside her, and still others on the steps below, singing and reading aloud from their scrolls. On the other side of the dividing wall there was an old high priest standing at an altar of incense, so high up that one could see half of his figure. I saw him offering incense and the smoke from it enveloping the child Mary. . ."\\\

Monday, November 20, 2017

In Memoriam: Rev. Paul J. Landolfi, S.M.

In Memoriam: Rev. Paul J. Landolfi, S.M.

November 16, 2017

The Marianist Community and the entire Chaminade Family mourn the passing of Rev. Paul J. Landolfi, S.M., 90. Fr. Paul died peacefully at the Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village Thursday. He was praying the Memorare with several of the brothers when he returned to the Lord.

A wake will be held in the Chapel of Our Lady's Assumption at Chaminade from 3-8 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. A Funeral Mass will take place in Chaminade's Darby Auditorium on Monday, Nov. 20 at 10:30 a.m., followed by burial at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury.

Fr. Paul came to Chaminade during the 2012-2013 school year. In 2015, he celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. In essence, he was a Marianist his whole life. Fr. Paul was raised at the St. John's Residence for Boys in Rockaway Park – an orphanage operated by the Society of Mary. His priestly ministry would bring him back to St. John's in later years; he was also a member of the St. John's board.

When the Marianists left St. John's in 2012, Fr. Paul thanked the many people he met for collaborating with the brothers to make a difference for orphans. "For all this," Fr. Paul said in a homily, "we thank our God, for this was the way we Marianists at St. John's were able to glorify our God and be of real service to our boys. This was our calling. Ask the Alumni what St. John's means to them! Don't overlook the tears of more than a few as they left the Home and you will realize the good God enabled us to do for them. And you helped us do this."

That sensitivity to the spirituality of young people was instantly apparent when Fr. Paul came to Chaminade. Students got to know Fr. Paul as a Sodality and retreat moderator. Fr. Paul's compassionate and understanding nature was particularly evident to anyone who received the sacrament of reconciliation. He was a holy man in the purest sense.

Chaminade's brothers came to view Fr. Paul as a "father figure" in his years with the Marianist Community. He had many friends who would look to Fr. Paul for spiritual direction and guidance. In fact, Fr. Paul organized an evening of recollection on the 100thanniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. Devoted to Mary, he was inspired to gather as many people as he could for an event centered on the rosary.

That was in October – just one month ago, and just two months after Fr. Paul was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. While the disease began to affect his body, his spirit showed no signs of frailty. When the brothers made the difficult decision to bring Fr. Paul to Queen of Peace Monday, Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M., director of the Marianist Community at Chaminade, told faculty and staff, "He is a beloved member of our Community – an elder statesman, an expert on all things Marian and Marianist, a kind and compassionate soul, and a true son of Mary."

His final moment reaffirmed that.

Fr. Paul shared a message with the St. John's community that may be especially poignant on this day: "The Marianists came here representing Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to whom they dedicated their lives. Our mission was to educate our boys, to help them grow up to be mature young men, just as Mary had done for Jesus . . . She will always keep us focused on her Son, Jesus, who keeps reminding us of the promise: I am with you always, even to the end of the world. It is in His power, His Name, and His Mercy that we trust for the future."

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Radical following

Here, from Benedict XVI's text:

Dear men and women religious, either active or contemplative, the consecrated life is a radical following of Jesus. May your unconditional choice for Christ lead you to an unlimited love for your neighbor. Poverty and chastity make you truly free to obey unconditionally the one Love which, when it takes hold of you, impels you to proclaim it everywhere. May poverty, obedience and chastity increase your thirst for God and your hunger for his Word, who, by increasing, transforms hunger and thirst into service of those who are deprived of justice, peace and reconciliation. Faithfully lived, the evangelical counsels transform you into a universal brother or sister of all, and they will help you to walk resolutely on the way of holiness. You will arrive there, if you are convinced that, for you, to live is Christ (cf. Phil 1:21), you will make of your communities reflections of the glory of God and places where you have no debts to anyone, except that of mutual love (cf. Rom 13:8). By means of your proper charisms lived with a spirit of openness to the catholicity of the Church, you can contribute to a harmonious expression of the immensity of the divine gifts at the service of all humanity!

Friday, November 17, 2017

It's beginning to look a lot...

It's beginning to look a lot...

Have you visited the stores recently and noticed the creeping Christmas trend, that is, the ever increasing tendency for Christmas to begin earlier each year? Well, a British department store has come up with a sweet commercial for the Christmas season (and, in fact, Advent) that will resonate with anyone who has ever been 8 years old.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Apostolic boldness

Like the Word Incarnate,
the Marianists strive to be at one with the people of our time
and to share their joy and hope,
their grief and anguish.

However, we remember the Word's warning
to remain vigilant
so that the norms, customs,
and habits of the world
will not tarnish or weaken
the power of his word.

This concern to be faithful witnesses
is particularly needful for a community
which wishes to bring to the world
the liberation of Jesus Christ.

The more attentive our watchfulness, the greater                                                                                       our apostolic boldness.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Pope Benedict on Consecrated Life

Consecrated persons are called in a particular way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord, in which man finds his salvation. They have the vivid experience of God's forgiveness, because they have the awareness of being saved persons, of being great when they recognize themselves to be small, of feeling renewed and enveloped by the holiness of God when they recognize their own sin. Because of this, also for the man of today, consecrated life remains a privileged school of "compunction of heart," of the humble recognition of one's misery but, likewise, it remains a school of trust in the mercy of God, in His love that never abandons. In reality, the closer we come to God, and the closer one is to Him, the more useful one is to others. Consecrated persons experience the grace, mercy and forgiveness of God not only for themselves, but also for their brothers, being called to carry in their heart and prayer the anxieties and expectations of men, especially of those who are far from God.

Finally, dear friends, we wish to raise to the Lord a hymn of thanksgiving and praise for consecrated life itself. If it did not exist, how much poorer the world would be! Beyond the superficial valuations of functionality, consecrated life is important precisely for its being a sign of gratuitousness and of love, and this all the more so in a society that risks being suffocated in the vortex of the ephemeral and the useful (cf Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. Consecrated Life, 105). Consecrated life, instead, witnesses to the superabundance of the Lord's love, who first "lost" His life for us. At this moment I am thinking of the consecrated persons who feel the weight of the daily effort lacking in human gratification, I am thinking of elderly men and women religious, the sick, of all those who feel difficulties in their apostolate. Not one of these is futile, because the Lord associates them to the "throne of grace." Instead, they are a precious gift for the Church and the world, thirsty for God and His Word.

Full of trust and gratitude, let us then also renew the gesture of the total offering of ourselves, presenting ourselves in the Temple.

We approach the thrice Holy to offer our life and our mission, personal and community, of men and women consecrated to the Kingdom of God. Let us carry out this interior gesture in profound spiritual communion with the Virgin Mary: while contemplating her in the act of presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple, we venerate her as the first and perfect consecrated one, carried by that God she carries in her arms; Virgin, poor and obedient, totally dedicated to us because totally of God. In her school, and with her maternal help, we renew our "here I am" and our "fiat." Amen.

- Pope Benedict XVI

Please keep in your prayers the young men who gathered with the Marianists at Operation Fiat last week on November 7th at the Kellenberg Memorial Community with evening prayer and dinner. There they had an opportunity to learn, explore, consider and deepen a religious vocation. May God grace these young men with the courage to follow Christ more closely.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Serve God in a Radical Way

Image result for bro. timothy driscollSo why do young men and women choose to serve God in a radical way through monastic lives? How do their prayers and penance affect the world on an extremely profound level.?

Fulton Sheen answers these questions in the following selection from “Peace of Soul.”

Why are there monasteries and convents? Why do so many young souls leave the lights and glamour of the world for the shades and shadows of the Cross where saints are made? The modern world so little understands their mission that, as soon as a newspaperman hears of a handsome young woman entering a cloister, he telephones the parents to ask, "Was she disappointed in love?" The answer, of course, is, "Yes, with the love of the world. She has fallen in love with God." These hidden dynamos of prayer, the cloistered men and women, are doing more for our country than all its politicians, its labor leaders, its army and navy put together; they are atoning for sins of us all. They are averting the just wrath of God, repairing the broken fences of those who sin and pray not, rebel and atone not. As ten just men would have saved Sodom and Gomorrah, so ten just saints can save a nation now. But so long as a citizenry is more impressed by what its cabinet does than by its chosen souls who are doing penance, the rebirth of the nation has not yet begun. The cloistered are the purest of patriots. They have not become less interested in the world since leaving it; indeed they have become more interested in the world than ever before. But they are not concerned with whether it will buy and sell more; they care-and desperately care-whether it will be more virtuous and love God more.

Please keep in your prayers those young men who gathered with the Marianists at Operation Fiat on Tuesday, November 7 at the Kellenberg Memorial Community with evening prayer and dinner. The evening gave them the opportunity to learn, explore, consider and deepen a religious vocation. May God grace these young men with the courage to follow Christ more closely.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Marianist Monday

Marianists seek to live
like the first community of Jerusalem,
having but one heart and one soul.

Thus we hope to bear witness
to the presence of Christ
and to show that still today
the gospel can be lived
in all the force of its letter and spirit.

We find inspiration in Mary's words
to the servants at Cana:
"Do whatev er He tells you."

We remain open as a Society
to all means of evangelization
as we dedicate ourselves
to the apostolic activities
to which Providence calls us,according to the needs of time and place.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

November...the month of remembering

This is the month of All Souls where the foliage frames our remembering and the damp chill shivers through us, calling us to warm our souls in a love for these bare November days...

My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.

- Robert Frost

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Prayer for Veterans Day

Prayer for Veterans Day

We ask for blessings on all those who have served their country in the armed forces.
We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded, in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe.
We pray especially for the young men and women, in the thousands, who are coming home from Iraq with injured bodies and traumatized spirits.
Bring solace to them, O Lord; may we pray for them when they cannot pray.
We ask for an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace,
As a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.
Have mercy on all our veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,
Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in.
Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative posts;
May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways.
Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting,
Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Marianist Monday

November, 2017 

Image result for st. martin de porres marianist schoolMy dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School, 

"My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you.” (Ezra 9:6) These words of the priest-scribe Ezra resonate with me, and I think they probably resonate with everyone at some point in his life. I don’t think there is one person among us who hasn’t said something in a moment of passion that he immediately regretted . . . or done something, whether thoughtlessly or with intent, that has left him racked with guilt. As we all know, guilt or shame in their proper place serve a purpose, have value. They push us to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. 

The kind of shame that Ezra describes, however, goes beyond that which is healthy, whether we mean psychologically healthy or spiritually. He’s describing the shame that is soul killing, the shame that drives us away from God. I find myself wondering how many people have fallen away from the Church, not because they doubt the truth of her message, but because they suffer from this kind of shame. 

I am talking about people who have committed adultery or had an abortion or are living in a relationship that can’t truly be called marriage. They have been told, correctly, that they have committed actions that are gravely wrong. This is something that people are really good at – pointing out the faults of others. That is a message that gets out loud and clear. The deeper truth that God still loves the sinner and that He is willing to forgive the sinner if he or she will just come back to Him – in other words the message that should be shouted from the housetops – that is the message that we seem to mumble our way through. 

Image result for st. martin de porres marianist schoolWhen we used to teach Fr. William O’Malley’s Meeting the Living God, somewhere in it, he said that “‘The tree comes to me’ is the most important sentence we will hear this year.” Aside from the fact that no one knew what on earth he was talking about, (Well to be fair, the sentence is kind of enigmatic, but O’Malley was making a valid point about reality.); anyway – it’s not true. Somewhere along the way, I realized that the most important sentence that we can teach to our students is not something about a hypothetical tree. The sentence is “God loves you.” That’s it. Just – “God loves you.” If you want to get more theological about it, the sentence could be expanded to “God loves you, and nothing is going to change that.” It’s basically saying the same thing, but maybe it’s clearing up some confusion. I hope you weren’t expecting something with Greek words in it. 

If our students don’t leave our schools after four years (or seven years, or maybe even twelve years) of religion classes, dozens of student Masses, prayer services, retreats, evenings of recollection, and God only knows how many prayer videos, knowing these three words – “God loves you” – then we have failed them. We can’t make them believe it – that’s a question of faith, and we have to leave that in the hands of God – but we can make sure they have heard it and that they have seen and heard ample evidence from us so that believing it is a rational act. 

I think one of the greatest things that Pope Francis has done for us is to keep driving home this fact: nothing we do – nothing anyone does – makes us unlovable to God. To phrase this awkwardly, God can’t not love us. It goes against God’s nature not to love His creation. 

We’ve heard again and again, Pope Francis saying that God never grows tired of forgiving us; we are the ones who grow tired of seeking forgiveness. Maybe this is the thing that we can’t wrap our minds around. Maybe we find it easier to think of a God who puts limits on His love because it helps us to justify the limits we place on our love. 
Image result for st. martin de porres marianist school
Maybe we would rather think of a God who is willing to forgive only after the sinner has wallowed in shame and self-loathing than the God who adopts the posture of the Prodigal’s father, who ran to his son and wouldn’t even listen to his carefully rehearsed self-debasement. Maybe we’d like the people who’ve hurt or offended us to wallow at least for a little bit. 
Later in the same chapter, Ezra talks about how mercy came from the Lord. He doesn’t say how; he doesn’t say why. He doesn’t imply that it was because of something that the Israelites had done. It was just something that God did because He chose to do it. Because it is in His nature to be this way. 

We needn’t be ashamed to raise our eyes to the face of God, because when we do, we will see the eyes of the One who has loved us and continues to love us, no matter what we’ve done – loves us and is immeasurably fond of us. 

If only we could get that through our thick skulls. 

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, 

Bro. Patrick Sarsfield

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Vocation of a Brother

Here is an excerpt from Fr. James Martin, S.J. who writes for America Magazine on St. Alphonsus and the vocation of the Brother:

Earlier in the week I posted a link to a story about a wonderful Christian Brother who began a school in New York for the poor. Just a few days ago, another Catholic brother, André Bessette, became the first member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross to be canonized. Catholic brothers, like Catholic sisters, are the unsung heroes of the church, laboring in schools, hospitals, parishes and other ministries with somewhat less public acclaim than their priestly counterparts.

The vocation of the Catholic brother is often misunderstood. Frequently they are asked, even by members of their own religious order, "Why don't you get ordained?" Is is often an insensitive question. You might as well ask a married man why he didn’t join a religious order. Or you might ask a young married woman: “Why aren't you in a convent?” It is simply a different vocation. Early on in my Jesuit life, a Jesuit brother memorably explained his vocation to me this way: "I just don't relate to people as a father. I relate to them as a brother.”

In the 1990s, when I worked in Kenya with the Jesuit Refugee Service, the refugees took to calling me Brother Jim. I was not ordained yet, so “Father Jim” was out, and they felt uncomfortable calling me simply “Jim,” so therefore: Brother Jim. It was an honorific that I treasured. And my friend's words about relating to people as a brother helped me to accompany the refugees more easily. And, truth to tell, on the day I was ordained a priest several years later, on perhaps the happiest day of my life, I felt nonetheless that while I was receiving an incredibe gift from God, I was also losing something: being seen publicly as a brother.

Sunday (Oct. 31) is the feast of another remarkable Catholic brother, St. Alphonsus Rodríguez, the humble Jesuit porter of Majorca. Here is a brief excerpt from my book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, which I offer as a tribute to this remarkable man, and to all the Catholic brothers.
Alphonsus had come to the Society of Jesus by a circuitous route. Born in 1533, he was the second son of a prosperous cloth merchant in Segovia. When Peter Favre, one of the original Jesuits, visited the city to preach, the Rodríguez family provided hospitality to the Jesuit. Favre, in fact, prepared the young Alphonsus for his First Communion, an important rite of passage in the church.

At 12, Alphonsus was sent to the Jesuit college at Alcalá, but his father's death put an end to his studies: he was forced to return home to take over the family business. At 27, Alphonsus married. He and his wife Maria had three children, but, tragically, his wife and children all died, one after the other. Heavy taxes and expenses led Alphonsus to the brink of financial ruin; many biographers depict him as feeling like a failure in life. In desperation he called on the Jesuits for guidance. The lonely widower prayed for many years to understand God's desires for him.

Gradually Alphonsus found within himself the desire to become a Jesuit. At 35, he was deemed too old to begin the long training required for the priesthood and he was rejected for entrance. But his holiness was evident to the local provincial, who accepted Alphonsus into the novitiate as a brother two years later. The provincial is supposed to have said that if Alphonsus wasn’t qualified to become a brother or a priest, he could enter to become a saint. He stayed for only six months before being sent to the Jesuit school in Majorca, Spain in 1571, where he assumed the job of porter, or doorkeeper.

Each time he opened the door, as I had mentioned, Brother Alphonsus said to himself, "I'm coming, Lord!" The practice reminded him to treat each person with as much respect as if it were Jesus himself.

In 1605 Peter Claver, a 25-year-old Jesuit seminarian, met the humble, 72-year-old Alphonsus at the college. The two met almost daily for spiritual conversations, and in time Alphonsus would encouraged Peter to think about working overseas in "the missions.” The prospect thrilled Peter, who wrote to his provincial for permission, and was sent to Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, to work with the West African slaves who had been captured by traders and shipped to South America. For his tireless efforts to feed, counsel and comfort the slaves, who had endured horrifying conditions, Peter would earn the sobriquet el esclavo de los esclavos, the slave of the slaves.

Peter Claver, the great missionary, would be canonized for his heroic efforts. Alphonsus Rodríguez would be canonized for his own brand of heroism: a lifelong humility.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Call

God is great and He is calling each one of us by name.

Where is He calling you?

Is he calling you to consider a Marianist vocation?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Patron Saint of Hairdressers

Saint Martín de Porres was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

St. Martin de Porres became the patron saint of hairdressers because hairdressing was one of the duties he performed for his brothers in the friary.

Check him out, doesn't he look like the guy who played Jesus in Madonna’s Like A Pray music video?

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a black freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

I wonder what I have to do to get canonized as a modern day saint?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November 2: All Souls Day

Here is a great quote of the day as we strive in holiness:

“Since I have the chance now, there is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century.

What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.

Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?

When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend.

 God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.”
--Pope Benedict XVI
Greeting to Catholic Pupils of the United Kingdom
St Mary's College, Twickenham
17 September 2010

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Saints among us

The prayers of All Saints Day highlight our belief that we continue to be in relationship with those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. It is not only a matter of our honoring the holy lives these brothers and sisters led but also of acknowledging that they who are already with the Lord continue to be concerned for us and our welfare. 

That the very work of God can be manifest in our lives calls us to the responsibility of living in a way that the love of God be transparent in our deeds and relationships. Finally, our prayer on All Saints Day reminds us that when we share at the altar of the Lord's table we have a foretaste of the banquet the saints share forever in the reign of God. 

The church calendar sets aside many days to honor the most famous of saints. November 1 is the day for us to remember and honor those saints whose lives made headlines not in the daily papers but in the hearts of those they served and touched. All of us know such saints in our own lives - some who have gone home to the Lord and some who are still with us.

Happy All Saints Day to all!