Thursday, March 22, 2018

LENT- Forgiveness

The only path to peace is forgiveness. Forgiveness given and received enables a new kind of relationship among people, breaking the spiral of hatred and revenge and shattering the chains of evil which bind the hearts of those in conflict with one another. For nations in search of reconciliation and for those who hope for peaceful co-existence between individuals and peoples, there is no other way than this: forgiveness given and received.

How full of salutary lessons are the words of the Lord: "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust" (Mt 5:44-45)! To love those who have offended us is to disarm them and to turn even a battle-field into an arena of mutual support and cooperation.

From Pope John Paul II Lenten Message of 2001.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Marianist Monday - Community

Community was the theme of Brother Stephen's presentation today at the Lenten Communion Breakfast for Kellenberg Memorial. Over 600 people attended the Mass and breakfast that followed.

Our thoughts on community often go back to the words of Jean Vanier:

One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing.

I am struck by the absolute beauty of Vanier’s belief that even when we are in distress, community can help us “find self-confidence and inner healing.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

LENT - Jesus Christ came into the world

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The good news is this: Jesus Christ came into the world to redeem sinners. Hear it and believe -- in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

LENT - I came to know Jesus

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Through Mary, I came to know Jesus.
I am eternally grateful that she inspired me through the Rosary to come to Her Son.

Friday, March 16, 2018

LENT - Can God Heal Me?

Student Life

So Fix Me Already

Okay, you might be thinking, ‘Mary, I have prayed a million times for this same thing, and God hasn’t fixed it. It still hurts. It hasn’t gotten better. God isn’t healing me!’

But what I have learned in my own healing is that God doesn’t want to just ‘fix’ us. Our God is not a Santa Clause or a magician. He is a gentle healer and a loving surgeon. He wants intimacy with us – a relationship. It is in and through that relationship that His love has the power to heal our wounds. It’s a lifetime of walking with Him as our closest friend. He wants to hold us and walk through the pain with us, using the healing of the sacraments and bringing the resources and the people to guide us along the way.

Whatever your wound is – rejection from a failed relationship, separation of your parents, loss of a loved one, insecurities, abuse, shame from sin, feelings of abandonment, addiction, or a long list of small ways you hide your failures and inadequacies – God endured that very wound and carried it on the cross to so that you could be restored to new life. In our journey to wholeness we don’t need a “self-Help” book or a another formula. We have a savior. The wounded healer calls to you today . . . And by his wounds, you can take confidence that ‘you are healed.’

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)


Thursday, March 15, 2018

LENT - Can God Heal Me?

Gentle Healer

But God didn’t come into our humanity just to give us a band aid for our wounds or coping mechanisms to push through. He came to give us life and life to the fullness. (John: 10:10) He came to restore us and to make us whole. He came to bring healing.

A huge part of Christ’s ministry on earth was to heal. Throughout scripture we see the countless stories of him giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, raising the dead, and healing the lepers. The way He heals isn’t exactly the same today . . . It’s not like you wander through a colony of lepers on the way to Geometry class. (That would be scary.)

Today, it’s our souls that are wounded.

You can think if your leg isn’t broken or your arm isn’t severed off then God has nothing to heal. But to live in this fallen world is to know pain and the effects of sin in our hearts. We all carry pain from shame, rejection, or feelings of unworthiness. But just as Christ ministered healing to the lame and the lepers when He walked on the earth 2000 years ago, He wants to heal the wounds and blindness of our hearts today.

‘He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed.’ 1 Peter 2:24 (CEB)


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

LENT - Can God Heal Me?

Gentle Healer

But God didn’t come into our humanity just to give us a band aid for our wounds or coping mechanisms to push through. He came to give us life and life to the fullness. (John: 10:10) He came to restore us and to make us whole. He came to bring healing.

A huge part of Christ’s ministry on earth was to heal. Throughout scripture we see the countless stories of him giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, raising the dead, and healing the lepers. The way He heals isn’t exactly the same today . . . It’s not like you wander through a colony of lepers on the way to Geometry class. (That would be scary.)

Today, it’s our souls that are wounded.

You can think if your leg isn’t broken or your arm isn’t severed off then God has nothing to heal. But to live in this fallen world is to know pain and the effects of sin in our hearts. We all carry pain from shame, rejection, or feelings of unworthiness. But just as Christ ministered healing to the lame and the lepers when He walked on the earth 2000 years ago, He wants to heal the wounds and blindness of our hearts today.

‘He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed.’ 1 Peter 2:24 (CEB)


Monday, March 12, 2018

LENT - Fostering faith community


Blessed William Joseph Chaminade viewed his own ministry and that of the Marian Sodalities as a permanent mission directed towards formation in the faith, using new methods and working in close alliance with Mary.

The Sodality of Bordeaux spread to other cities of the region and throughout France through groups that asked for affiliation because they wished to follow Fr Chaminade's inspiration and methods. He fostered some groups of young men and women who, desiring greater dedication, made private vows and dedicated themselves to the apostolate of the Sodality without leaving their secular work.

Today all of our schools reserve one day a week to continuing Blessed Chaminade's work under the auspices of the Sodality of Our Lady of the Pillar.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

LENT - Matt Maher

Matt Maher on communicating faith, creating a clean heart, and bridge-building among Christians

Catholic singer-songwriter Matt Maher is the dad of three kids under the age of six, and he realizes that they learned to talk by echoing what they heard him and his wife say.

With that in mind, Maher came to see that Christianity is similarly spread through the echoes of other Christians’ words and actions. Therefore, he named his latest album “Echoes,” because it shares songs that reflect the life-affirming truths of the faith, both in times of national divisiveness and personal struggle.

During an interview on “Christopher Closeup,” Maher explained that he was a cradle Catholic, but didn’t take his faith seriously until he turned 20. Looking back at the years he spent working for the Church in Phoenix, he said, “So much of my faith was formed by listening to the people around me and the things they said and emphasized. And I turned around and did the same thing.”

While affirming the importance of catechesis, Maher believes we have to develop a more personal approach to passing on our faith in everyday life. But the modern world often makes that difficult and even distorts it.

He said, “Most people, now, are communicating ideas by sharing something someone else said. They call it confirmation bias. You have a belief – whether it’s religious, political, economic, or social – and you read something online and it appeals to you on an emotional level…We turn around and share things that other people say and we create an echo…without even thinking, ‘Wait, do I actually completely line up with this? Do I agree with this in one aspect but this other aspect is not consistent with what my faith teaches?'”

Maher encourages us to listen for the authentic call of Jesus instead: “He’s the one whispering in your ear the desire to improve yourselves, making your life more fraternal to improve society…telling you to dream the big dreams, to live life abundantly. What [Anglican theologian] N.T. Wright said was, ‘All of humanity hears the echo of a voice who calls for the wrong things to be made right.'”

Making things right is something that starts with each of us individually, a message Maher shares in his timely and relevant song “Clean Heart."

[Verse 1]
Woke up this morning
The whole world was yelling
I wish I was dreaming
Of all that we’ve been through
My soul has been searching
For some deeper meaning
I know there’s a kindness
That leads me to the truth

[Chorus 1]
When everybody’s looking for another fight
When trouble’s on the rise, no end in sight
Oh Savior, won’t You come and make the wrong things right
Let me be the place You start
Give me a clean heart

That song originated with Maher’s wife telling him she felt like he should write a song based on Psalm 51. He related it to “this age of divisiveness” and our uncertainty about how to respond, coming to realize that “you can’t change anyone else. You can only change yourself. And even that you can’t do without the grace of God. There’s a reason why Mass, after the opening song, begins with the Confiteor. Those are the words in Latin: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximum culpa – through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. That’s everybody’s starting point. It’s not just the starting point for the pagan [or] the atheist [or] the marginal Christian. It’s the starting point for everybody.”

Though it’s the starting point, Maher explains, the humility of admitting our faults should lead us to repentance and mercy: “The second verse of [Clean Heart] talks about mercy. I think there’s a reason why Jesus said to Saint Faustina that mercy is an ocean. He didn’t say ‘lake,’ he didn’t say ‘river,’ he didn’t say ‘symbol.’ He said ‘ocean.’ Like, the thing that covers 90% of the Earth. That was in me when the song was written. And the bridge talks about, from the cross, Jesus blessed His persecutors. He blessed those who were mocking Him, and so that’s the mandate on the life of every Christian.”

Another hallmark of Christianity is the call to be joyful, but it’s not a call to which all Christians respond. Maher notes that the things to be stressed out about are never-ending for him and for everyone else in the world, but that his kids remind him of the need for joy every single day. And his song “What a Friend” takes inspiration from the relationship that we can have with Jesus, in whom we can find our joy.

So why can joy be so hard to find among fellow believers? Maher says, “One of my old priest friends, when he was in seminary, their theology professor was giving a lecture on joy. He gave this whole textbook thing and at the end of it he said, ‘And men, remember this. Joy is no laughing matter!’ …I think that’s in some ways the problem. We just take ourselves too seriously. There was this great quote by C.S. Lewis. It literally describes western society right now. He said, ‘We must picture hell as the state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance and resentment.’ I think the self-importance part is really [vital], particularly for people in ministry, because I think when you have a platform, it can feed your narcissism. All of a sudden, you think that you’re really integral to the mission of Jesus – and that’s not the point. God doesn’t need us to advance the kingdom, but He loves us.”

That ties into Maher’s disagreement with the idea that we should let God “use” us to do His will. He cites Pope John Paul II’s statement that “the opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s use.”

Maher continues, “I don’t want God to use me. To use somebody implies that you don’t care about them. You’re treating them like an object. To me, I want to be in a relationship with God and with the church. The process of living that out is messy and difficult – and we need grace to do it. And if there’s not evidence of joy in my life, then that’s something I need to talk about with someone and with the Lord.”

Having a reposit of joy to fall back on was crucial to Maher during this past year when his father fell ill, was put into a medically-induced coma due to renal failure, and died about a week later. Maher’s cousin was visiting his dad during the last moment he was still lucid, when he said, “Get Matt, I need to get right with God. I need God to forgive me.”

Maher didn’t make it to the hospital in time to hear what his dad wanted to say, but he spent a week at his bedside while he was in a coma, simply praying with him and for him. “It was a profound, holy experience, and it’s forever changed me,” he said.

Moments of suffering are woven into the fabric of “Echoes,” even in songs that are fun and joyful, such as “What a Friend.” Maher notes that many faith-affirming hymns of year’s past were inspired by periods of pain and doubt. And his version of the hymn, “Just As I Am,” was originally written by Charlotte Elliot during “a time of existential crisis about her faith.”

Maher wrote his version shortly before his father entered the hospital, but came to see how it relates to his dad’s appeal for God’s mercy:
[Verse 1]
In shackles and chains, I came to Your door
And fell on the floor of mercy
Guilty I stood, guilty I was
I couldn’t hide my shame

[Chorus 1]
Just as I am, just as I am
Jesus, You welcomed me, You took me in
I’ll never be the same again
My life held in Your hands
Just as I am

Maher says, “One of the things I love about being Catholic is our understanding of mercy and God’s capacity to forgive people. It goes beyond our human understanding, so that song has become permanently linked to those moments in my father’s life, which I don’t know anything about this side of heaven.”

Beyond music, Maher is involved with the John 17 movement, which recently met with Pope Francis. It seeks “relational reconciliation” between Protestants and Catholics.

This issue is important to Maher because he’s one of the few Catholics working in the Contemporary Christian Music world. Grounded in Jesus’s plea, “Father, may all who believe in Me be one so the world will know You sent Me,” it began with Bishop Olmsted from Phoenix and several evangelical pastors taking a slightly different approach to ecumenism.

Maher explains, “Ecumenism, for the past 100 years, has been largely academic in its endeavor, and it’s mostly been people coming together, publishing joint papers, having high-brow conversations about important, substantive differences. Please note: I don’t think ecumenism is about not discussing those substantive differences, because they’re big and they have big implications.”

But prior to the second Vatican Council, there was this idea that “if you’re not Catholic, you are anathema. The Council Fathers got together and prayed through [the issue]. What the Holy Spirit helped illuminate to them is that we’re all Christians … following Jesus on a journey towards Jerusalem. And on the way, God wants to bring us to a closer and closer state of full communion with each other. Now, that isn’t going to happen by the universal Church compromising the teachings of the Magisterium because that’s not what ecumenism is. However, what can happen is that the foundational truths that Christians of all denominations share can be the basis for a friendship to form. Essentially, it’s saying, ‘Listen, we’re headed in the same direction and we’re both trying to love Jesus. We should stop beating up on each other and get to know one another.’ Practically speaking, if Christians can be unified publicly in their proclamation of Christ, it shows a divided world that it’s possible to have areas of agreement in the midst of so much disagreement.”

That hopeful approach is also what Maher wants to leave listeners with when they hear “Echoes.” He concludes, “My hope is that it helps them reframe how they’re looking at life in the current age. And from a worldview and a lens that’s more optimistic, it’s more focused on declaring God’s faithfulness, rather than just being fixated on how broken the world is. I think it empowers them to be able to do that, even in the midst of suffering. Many of the songs really are sort of a response to different aspects of suffering, and so my hope is that would inspire people in their response to whatever hardships they find themselves or their families going through, or their communities going through.”

Aletetia - Tony Rossi | Oct 31, 2017

Friday, March 9, 2018

LENT - The Cross

"Every other person who ever came into this world came into it to live. [Christ] came into it to die. Death was a stumbling block to Socrates — it interrupted his teaching. But to Christ, death was the goal and fulfillment of His life, the gold that He was seeking. Few of His words or actions are intelligible without reference to His Cross. …. The story of every human life begins with birth and ends with death. In the Person of Christ, however, it was His death that was first and His life that was last. …. It was not so much that His birth cast a shadow on His life and thus led to His death; it was rather that the Cross was first, and cast its shadow back to His birth. His has been the only life in the world that was ever lived backward."
                                                                                        — Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Prayer to Christ Crucified

Jesus, my God, I adore You, present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, where You wait day and night to be our comfort while we await Your unveiled presence in Heaven. Jesus Christ, who for my sake has deigned to subject Yourself to the humiliation of temptation, to the perfidy and defection of friends, to the scorn of Your enemies, I adore You. Jesus, my God, who for us endured Your Passion, the scourging, the crowning with thorns, and the weight of the cross, I adore You.

Jesus, my God, who, for my salvation and that of mankind, was cruelly nailed to the cross and hung there for three long hours in bitter agony, I am Yours. Amen.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Christ wants to spend time with you! 

All you have to do is respond to the call. All of our Marianist schools are blessed to have adoration throughout the school year. This evening at Kellenberg Memorial we invite you to stop in and spend time with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament at our XLT.

Maybe God is calling you to come and worship Him tonight.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Marianist Monday

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March, 2018

My dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School,

On Thursday, February 15, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both featured the same gut-wrenching, heart-breaking photograph on their front pages. The scene was Parkland, Florida, on the grounds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as two anguished parents awaited information about their children in the wake of a school shooting that claimed the lives of seventeen innocent victims. The sun glints off their hair – a woman with blonde hair and a woman with red hair, both looking to be in their late thirties or early forties, both wearing floral-print blouses, in what would have been a picture-perfect South Florida day.

But this was hardly a picture-perfect day. The taller of the two women fights back tears, her face contorted with dread. The second woman collapses in the arms of the first, sobbing uncontrollably, or, to use the words of the prophet Isaiah, “crying out full-throated and unsparingly.” (Isaiah 58: 1)

And on the forehead of the taller woman, in plain sight for all to see, is the Cross of Christ, traced in Lenten Ashes, a powerful reminder of the sufferings that Our Lord endured at the crucifixion and of the agony of Our Blessed Mother, an agony that only a parent – dare I say, only a mother – can know.

The photograph is a powerful reminder that the Cross of Christ – the crucified and suffering Christ – stands in the midst of the most profound human suffering and grief. As we bear our crosses, as those poor parents and family members bear their crosses – frankly, unimaginable, unfathomable crosses – Christ stands beside us, carrying His Cross.

The question that keeps haunting me, however, is “Will we?” Will we Christians – we who call ourselves followers of Christ – stand beside Christ as he stands beside those who suffer? Or will we keep at a safe distance?

America stands at a crossroads. So does American Christianity. Too many of us, for far too long, have said far too little about matters that cry out, “full-throated and unsparingly” to the Lord. Tragedies that cry out for compassion. Injustices that cry out for courage, for a courageous voice. Crises – like gun violence and mental health – that cry out to be addressed but that are instead mired in partisan politics.
For close to fifty years now, we Christians, and, in particular, we Catholics, have cried out against the injustice of abortion and, in more recent years, against the encroachment upon religious liberty. And well we should. It is estimated that 58 million innocent children have been killed by abortion since the procedure was legalized by the Roe v. Wade decision in January of 1973.

I would submit to you, however, that we have done less, said less, and been considerably less unified in our response to gun violence in this country. After Sandy Hook, 400 people have been shot in over 200 school shootings, according to a February 15th article in The New York Times. By purely mathematical metrics, that number pales in comparison to the 58 million who have been killed by abortion. But by the metrics of mercy and compassion, neither number is acceptable. It is not acceptable that innocent lives are snuffed out as they are killed in their mothers’ wombs. And it is not acceptable that innocent lives are gunned down in classrooms, in hallways, and in school libraries. All these lives cry out, full-throated and unsparingly, that this gaping wound on the American soul be healed.
We are often dismayed when Catholic legislators support measures that protect abortion “rights,” even in the third trimester, even in the ninth month, of pregnancy. And well we should be. I am equally disheartened when Catholic and Christian public officials will not yield any ground whatsoever to reasonable gun-control efforts – mandatory background checks, bans on assault weapons and semi-automatic firearms, and bump-stock bans.
Regrettably, it’s a rare public official who opposes abortion and favors some restriction of gun-ownership. Or, who makes impassioned pleas for gun control and stands up courageously for the rights of unborn children. Regrettably, too few of us are willing to hold our public officials to that standard of consistency – consistency on all pro-life issues. Regrettably, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s vision of a “seamless garment,” of a consistent ethic of life, still seems quite far off.

A consistent ethic of life. Beyond the Gates, the film that we are showing to our seniors on their day-retreat program, asks audiences to consider what lies beyond our own gates – beyond the comfortable confines of our homes, our neighborhoods, and our schools. Specifically, the film casts light on the unspeakable crimes of the Rwandan genocide of 1994, but it directs our gaze as well to hunger and starvation; to poverty and illiteracy; to the plight of the homeless, migrants, and refugees.

So does the well-known Lenten reading from the prophet Isaiah: “This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall be quickly healed; your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry for help, and He will say: Here I am.” (Isaiah 58: 6 – 9)
Will our own Lenten fasting, our voluntary deprivations, open our hearts to the sufferings of others – those who suffer in far-off Rwanda or in our own inner cities, which, psychically, are often a world away from us as well? Will our Lenten prayer fine-tune our hearts to the unvoiced suffering – to the yoke – of our family and friends? Will our Lenten practices draw us closer to Christ and to the people He loves – not just people like us, but also people quite unlike us, whom we might find difficult to tolerate, let alone love, but who are loved by Christ with all the love He showed the lame and the lepers, Samaritans and sinners, the woman caught in adultery and the Prodigal son, the repentant thief, and even those who crucified Him?

Seventeenth-century English poet and Anglican minister John Donne wrote in his often quoted “Meditation 17,” “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. Every man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind; and therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Think, once more, about that photograph of the two mothers, gripped in grief and fear, awaiting news about their children.
The crucified and suffering Christ stands in the midst of the most profound human suffering and grief. The question is “Will we?”

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen                          

Saturday, March 3, 2018

LENT - He is the one true God

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The Transfiguration experience exists to remind us of who Jesus really is and who we need him to be.

Jesus is not just a great teacher. He is greater than the great teacher Moses and the great prophet Elijah. They bow to him.

Jesus is not just an enlightened man. He's God in flesh and his glory shines brighter than clothes could ever be bleached.

He's not your card to be played in arguments; he's the Father's "beloved Son." We listen to him. He rules over us.

Every once in a while we need him to bust out of whatever box we've placed him into, transform into his glorious self, and remind us that he is the one true God.

Friday, March 2, 2018

LENT - be transformed

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Great transformation takes place at the Transfiguration.

Transformation happens when we enter deeply into God's own life. 

We become more compassionate, loving, forgiving and truthful. 

Our actions serve others instead of ourselves, and our decisions are driven more by what is right than by what is profitable. 

Wherever we are, the people around us begin to see evidence that we are trying to follow the guidance of Jesus, and to live in the light of his glory.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

LENT - Journey to the Cross

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The face of Moses and the the face of Elijah have come to see Jesus on this Transfiguration Mountain. 

All three are right there to see the face of the Good News.

We understand that here the law and the prophets have been fulfilled in Christ who calls us to a new life in Him. 

Our Lenten journey continues toward the cross. 

Perhaps Jesus' conversation with Moses and Elijah was about this very journey to the Cross.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

LENT - God has agreed

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On the Mount of the Transfiguration we have a perfect response to the law and the prophets. The response is called Jesus Christ, and that response is called: Good news! Gospel!

Moses, the face of the law, is on the mountain with Jesus. So is Elijah, the face of the prophets. They are there with Jesus, the face of the Gospel.

We've met Moses.

We've met Elijah.

That is, we know the law. We know we fail miserably to keep it.

We've heard the prophet. We know we're called to holiness. We know we've failed miserably to live righteously as we should.

Now meet Jesus.

He kept the law of God -- perfectly.

He lived a life of holiness -- perfectly.

And -- wait for it -- the good part, is that God has agreed to accept his perfection on our behalf.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

LENT - We are set free

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The Church gives us the Transfiguration story on the Second Sunday of Lent.

Here on Transfiguration mountain we see three figures. These three figures are iconic figures. The three figures are Moses, Elijah and Jesus.

In this story of the Transfiguration, the face of the law and the face of the prophets meet the one who is the face of the good news. 

The face of the law, Moses, and the face of the prophets, Elijah, -- the two who have come closest to seeing God -- are right here on "Transfiguration Mountain" talking to Jesus, the face of the Good News. And it is all recorded in today's gospel lesson.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Marianist Monday

Brendan Connelly

Kevin Glaittli
Brother Andrew
Brother Patrick

Gillian Blackwood
Graduate Andrea Goonman

Our Marianist high schools continued to offer some needed assistance to homes who suffered from Super storm Sandy. For the past 13 years our schools have offered their skills.

This year's Winter Recess work was at a home in Carnasie, Brooklyn.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

LENT - repair

The psalms continue to remind us that God does not throw us away. God knows we need a transformation.

The psalmist reminds us, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. … He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." That's why the psalmist can say, "Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me."

God will not cast us away from the divine presence. When we feel far from God, it is not because God has moved.

We're the ones who have moved. It could be because we have had a "throwaway God," a God to whom we listen when it's convenient, a God to whom we pray only when in distress, a God who has become largely irrelevant because we really don't apply the knowledge of God to our day-to-day lives.

God does not cast us away. God repairs and redeems. "For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD."

"I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten."

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool."

The big fix is mediated from God to us by Jesus Christ: "In whom we have redemption ... the forgiveness of sins."

So this lent we need repair. This is what God does. We should take our sorry souls to God's Big Repair House because God knows how to make things new!

Friday, February 23, 2018

LENT - A new heart

God wants a new heart from us this Lent.

The old heart, the old engine, the old nature -- whatever you call it -- is beyond repair. The psalmist asks for a replacement. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me."

Well, God can do this. Saint Paul writes, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."

If there is a cost, this is it: acknowledging that we need help, and accepting the help that is offered. "The sacrifice [or cost] acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise."

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To be like Him

O most tender and gentle Lord Jesus, teach me so to contemplate you that I may become like you and love you sincerely and simply as you have loved me. Amen.
--John Henry Newman

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Sunday Word

Our Gospel from St. Mark gives a swift and brief look at the temptations of Christ. He doesn’t expound much on the temptations that Jesus faced out in the wilderness, but Matthew and Luke certainly do. 
Satan takes the moment to taunt. Just like a bullying kid standing at the base of a plywood ramp, Satan double-dog dares Jesus to do something risky. Using Scripture, Jesus doesn’t take the leap:

Satan says, “Satisfy your hunger and turn these stones to bread.” Jesus puts on the shell of self-denial, recognizing that everything comes from God and that God provides.

They go to the pinnacle of the temple. “Jump off,” says the bully, “and land unharmed. If you’re so great, God’ll protect you.” Jesus uses a little common sense and says that people who have real power don’t need to show it off or use it to suit their own ends.

Then there’s the big one — “All the kingdoms of the world can be yours,” says Satan, “if you’ll only worship me.” Jesus humbly says that God is the only one worth serving.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

3 Simple Steps for Continual Conversion

3 Simple Steps for Continual Conversion

To me, conversion is like a never ending Slip ‘N Slide. The long strip of plastic is your life, the soapy water being God’s mercy and the giant pool at the end being Heaven. While sliding on this 9,698,378 mile long Slip ‘N Slide you might sometimes veer off the soapy-water-lathered plastic and hurt yourself – this represents sin. Getting up, wiping off the blood and running back onto the Slip ‘N Slide is your conversion – turning away from sin and and running toward God.

If you are a sinner like me, you sin all the time. This calls for continuous conversion or continually turning your heart away from sin and toward God. St. John Paul The Great says “We ourselves are to be converted anew every day.” So here are three simple steps to help your continual growth and conversion toward Christ.

1. Be Curious

Curiosity never killed a dog. That’s it! Sniff around curiously like a dog!

Ask questions. If you don’t know something – seek out the answer. It is okay – in fact you’re encouraged – to question your faith. The key is to research and find answers. Feed your curiosity with seeking answers.

2. Be Knowledgeable.

Jesus is always the answer. Even on Math tests. A) Jesus B) Jesus C) Jesus D) Jesus. Jesus is always the answer.

Clergy: My favorite Charism of the Spirit is Knowledge. We have these fountains of knowledge, in the Church, known as clergy (Priest, Deacons, Sisters, Youth Ministers – who aren’t clergy but are a great resource, etc) – gain counsel from them. Ask them questions.

Internet: We have this amazing technology known as the internet – look it up. New Advent. Vatican Website. USCCB. Just to name a few.

Books: There are also these ancient texts known as books – look up your question. (Catechism of the Catholic Church = Best friend)

Remember! Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t get discouraged – we have 2,000+ years of knowledge to soak up. Only bite off as much as you can chew. Just ensure you wait 30 minutes before you go swimming.

3. Be Faithful.

‘Cause you gotta have faith…

Pray: Praying is conversation with God. We have COUNTLESS ways to pray and COUNTLESS people to pray for/with us. Don’t forget: Mass is THE highest form of prayer. #dailyMassrocksmysocks

The Bible: Soak yourself in Scripture. Christ is The Word made flesh. This should also piggy back on prayer. Try Lectio Divina or an Ignatian Contemplation with your favorite biblical verse, parable or

Sacraments: Root your continuous conversion in the Sacraments. The Eucharist (Jesus) and Reconciliation are two that we can partake in every day, if we wanted. Find your nearest Catholic Church and GO!

Believe: I know this step seems simple, but the longest journey you will take is from your head to your heart. The Church has the truth, even if people don’t believe She does. Don’t allow yourself to be persuaded by the false world. Stay steadfast in the Church’s infinite wisdom.

When all else fails, just be Pope Francis.

I mean check out this guy! #PapaFrankyistheman

Pretty simple, right?
Don’t worry, trust in His will and everything will work out.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Marianist Monday

Marianist Schools Sponsor Junior-Senior Prom - February 4, 2018

The Marianist high schools of the Province of Meribah sponsored the annual Junior-Senior Prom at Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village last week.

28 years ago Little Sister of the Poor, Sr.Marie Antoinette, approached us to sponsor a dance with their elderly poor. Our first dance was a joyous occasion for the young and old. Decorations and corsages were sponsored by the Little Sisters and the music was provided by a one-man accordion player. No one left that evening without a energetic and positive response.

Twenty-eight years later the two high schools continue the tradition entertaining the elderly poor at Queen of Peace. Now the young provide the decorations, corsages and music. But the enthusiasm and joy continues as Sr. Marie Antoinette envisioned.

Thank you Sr. Marie Antoinette, the elderly poor of Queen of Peace, the Little Sisters and all the hundreds of Marianist high school students that have assisted in the Junior-Senior Prom.

Friday, February 9, 2018


In the Bible, the Hebrew word for conversion is shub, which means “to turn” or “to return,” and the Greek word is metanoia, which means “to turn around.” 

In the case of the leper Jesus healed, there was clearly a return, in that he could now go back to his family and community, but there was also a turning around. 

To be converted means to have the direction of one’s life shifted, so that it no longer points toward self, but points toward God. 

Interestingly,  that’s exactly what happened to this man. He stepped off the “woe is me” path and onto the “Jesus is great” road.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Sunday Word

It is not too late to delve into the readings for this Sunday. 

The reading from Saint Mark gives us an opportunity to think about the turning-point moment when Jesus touched a man with leprosy and everything in that man’s life changed. He who had been separated from his family, community, temple and friends by disease, who was considered unclean and made an outcast because of the wasting away of his flesh, now was made whole and enabled to join the mainstream again. He went from outcast to cast in, from sickness to health, from unclean to clean, from brokenness to wholeness.

He “proclaimed it freely” and “spread the word,” the Scripture says.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Papal thoughts

Pope Francis last week encouraged us to spend time reflecting on our own death. He said it can be a freeing experience, and one that can even help us to become better people.

Death “is a fact that affects everyone,” the Pope said Feb. 1. For some people it may come sooner and for some later, but regardless, “it comes.”

Because we are all men and women on a journey in finite time, he commented, it is a good idea to pray to God asking for a good sense of time, so that we are not “imprisoned” by the present moment. He also recommended repeating to yourself the phrase: “I am not the master of time.”

Remembering that we are all on the path to death “will make us treat everyone well.”

The Pope’s homily was inspired by the day’s first reading, which was taken from the first Book of Kings, and is on the death of David.

In the reading, King David knows the hour of his death is approaching and gives instructions to his son, Solomon, to prepare him for taking over the throne.

David first explains to Solomon that he is “going the way of all flesh” and tells him, in the face of this fact, to “take courage and be a man.”

“Keep the mandate of the Lord, your God, following his ways and observing his statutes, commands, ordinances, and decrees as they are written in the law of Moses, that you may succeed in whatever you do, wherever you turn,” David tells Solomon.

Continuing on this theme, Francis said that another question we should ask ourselves is: “What would be my legacy if God were to call me today? What legacy would I leave as a testimony of my life?”

“It is a good question to ask ourselves. And thus, we can prepare ourselves, because each one of us… none of us will remain ‘as a relic.’ We must all go down this path,” he said.

Remembering that we will inevitably die can help us live the present moment better, he noted, “illuminating with the fact of death the decisions that I must make every day.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

Marianist Monday

February, 2018

My dear graduates of Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School,

            Just what is going on? 

            Can you believe that Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day fall on the same exact date this year – February 14?  And can you believe that Easter Sunday is April Fool’s Day?  Just whose sick sense of timing is responsible for these calendar conundrums?  Not just one day of religious observation running head on into a collision with a “big day” in the secular culture, but two?  What’s a good Catholic to do?

Well, first of all, no one is responsible for these regrettable or humorous (depending on your point of view) coincidences.  The overlaps are just that – coincidences.
  And, what is a good Catholic to do?  That’s a good question, especially if he or she is married or has a serious romantic interest.  A St. Valentine’s Eve/Mardi Gras dinner at a cozy little spot on February 13 might be fun!  A bouquet of roses and a fast-day dinner could be another novel way of observing both St. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday at the same time.  Whatever the solution you come up with, I’m sure that Valentine’s Day 2018 is one that you will not soon forget.

But let’s return to Ash Wednesday and Lent for a moment. So many of us associate Lent with deprivation, and rightfully so. We “give up” something. And why? Do we do so for the sake of self-improvement? Are our Lenten resolutions a part of some ambitious program of Christian behavior modification? Not really, although we are often tempted to think so. If Lenten resolutions were simply about self-improvement and behavior modification, then how would they differ from New Year’s resolutions? In fact, they really wouldn’t.

No, our Lenten resolutions are far less about improving ourselves than they are about being transformed in Christ – and by Christ. They’re all about falling in love with Christ and then being transformed in the process. We’re not pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, by our own Herculean effort. What is actually happening is that we are falling in love with Jesus, who makes the unendurable endurable and the impossible possible. Think of how human loves transforms us. We make sacrifices for our loved ones that we would probably never make on our own. How much more so, then, can it be when we fall in love with Christ?

I am reminded of a favorite line from a favorite movie of mine, As Good As It Gets. In this 1997 romantic comedy, Jack Nicholson portrays writer Melvin Udall, an obsessive-compulsive, antisocial curmudgeon who manages to insult everyone he meets. Despite his misanthropic temperament, however, Melvin begrudgingly falls in love with local waitress Carol Connelly, portrayed by Helen Hunt. At what he hopes will be a memorable romantic dinner, Melvin, true to form, ends up insulting Carol and the “cheap house dress” that she is wearing. Predictably, the whole evening is about to go wrong. Carol is about to walk out on Melvin, who begs her for another chance. Carol relents, but only if Melvin pays her a compliment. At the moment of truth, Melvin’s better angels come through. “You make me want to be a better man,” Melvin tells Carol, who is stunned that Melvin is able to pay what is “probably the nicest compliment I’ve ever had.”

“You make me want to be a better man.” If we are in love with Christ, couldn’t we say the same to Him? Like Melvin, we don’t always get it right. Like Melvin, we can fall pretty far off the mark. But, at the end of the day, Christ makes me want to be a better man. That’s what Lent is really all about.

Now, becoming a better man (or woman) isn’t always easy. That’s why Lent involves some sacrifice, some deprivation, some “giving up.” But one thing’s for sure: unless we have fallen in love with Christ, our Lenten “resolutions,” like most New Year’s resolutions, will soon fall by the wayside. Lent is all about falling in love with Christ. It’s all about being transformed in Christ and being transformed by Christ. The transformation does not happen because of our own power, but because of the power of Christ, “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

In April of 1543, St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote the following to one of the young men under his spiritual direction:

There are very few men who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves entirely into His hands, and let themselves be formed by His grace. A thick and shapeless tree would never believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture . . . and would never consent to submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor who, as St. Augustine says, sees by his genius what he can make of it. Many people who, we see, now scarcely live as Christians, do not understand that they could become saints, if they would let themselves be formed by the grace of God, if they did not ruin His plans by resisting the work which He wants to do . . . ”
All of this reminds me a great deal of this passage from Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis, that I have quoted before in these monthly reflections:

Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.

To a non-believer, or even to a lukewarm believer, talk like this must seem like folly, even madness. But for those who have fallen in love with Christ, it all makes perfect sense. “For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”

And if this hope, this belief, makes us “fools for Christ,” so be it. We wear that badge with honor! After all, love makes fools of us all.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Fall in love with Christ. Happy Ash Wednesday! Let yourself be transformed by the love of Christ. Happy April Fool’s Day! We are fools for Christ. And Happy Easter! The risen Christ is indeed “the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Friday, February 2, 2018

Martyrdom recognized

Pope recognizes martyrdom of Trappists in Algeria, clearing path to beatificationROME – It’s official: A bishop, seven Trappist monks and 11 other religious men and women killed by extremists in Algeria between 1994 and 1996 have been recognized as martyrs by Pope Francis on Saturday.

The decree signed by the pontiff was released on Saturday morning Rome time, confirming that the Servant of God, Pierre Lucien Claverie, bishop of Oran, together with 18 companions have been acknowledged as dying in odium fidei, meaning in “hatred of the faith.”

The monks of Tibhirine knew that they were in danger and would likely be killed if they remained in Algeria, at the time divided by a war between extremist rebels and the Algerian government forces. Their story was depicted in a 2010 French drama “Of Gods and Men,” recipient of the Grand Prix, the second most prestigious award of the Cannes Film Festival.

The conflict began in 1992 when the Algerian army canceled the general election, as it seemed the Islamic Salvation Front, a fundamentalist political movement, was about to win. It was the eventual triumph by the Salvation Front in Algeria that gave rise to a rueful saying about efforts to transition to democracy in many Islamic societies: “One man, one vote, one time.”

An estimated 44,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed amid the fighting.

French Father Christian de Cherge, the slain prior of the monastery, had written in a letter nearly three years before his death that he and the other monks would willingly offer themselves as a sacrifice for the people of Algeria.

The prior wrote, “When the time comes, I would like to be able to have that stroke of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving wholeheartedly, at the same time, whoever my killer might be.”

“May we meet each other again, happy thieves, in paradise, should it please God,” he added.

Seven of the Trappist monks were kidnapped from their Atlas convent soon after midnight on the night of March 27, 1996, after some 20 armed men stormed the place. Two monks, who were hidden in separate rooms, were left behind. The phone lines had been cut off, so they couldn’t call the police, and a curfew meant they couldn’t drive to a police station either.

The seven monks- all of them French- were beheaded two months later. Their deaths were announced on May 23 in a statement from the Armed Islamic Group. Their heads were recovered on May 30, and buried in the Tibhirine convent. Their bodies were never found, and the mystery of their death was never clarified either.

Claverie, the bishop, was killed with his driver by a remote-controlled bomb left by the bishop’s residence. He was praised for his personal courage and long-standing efforts to promote dialogue between Muslims and Christians in the North African country.

In early January, the postulator of their cause, French Trappist monk Thomas Georgeon, gave an interview to the online monthly Mondo e Missionne, of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions.

“Each one of them has been a genuine witness of the love of Christ, of dialogue, of openness to others, of friendship and loyalty to the Algerian people,” he said.