Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dependence on God

Yesterday during the Marianist Community liturgy we reflected on the abundance of the Beatitudes. While we see the beatitudes leaving people powerless and dependent on God, not everyone feels that they have to depend on God. 
During our refection, we remembered our childhood days when we often would gather with our families on Sundays. One Brother recalled the regular family sing-a-longs at the end of the meal. Cousin Joe would often entertain us on the piano and we would all join around the keyboard. One of our favorites was Frank Sinatra's signature tune. Together we would sing, "I planned each chartered course, each careful step along the way, but more, much more than this, I did it my way." This is not the theme that is reflected in the beatitudes in Sunday's liturgy. It just does not seem to resonate poverty of spirit. Rather it shouts of personal autonomy and self sufficiency.

We recall the emergence of the Superman and the other superheroes to put things in perspective. When these superheroes appeared on the planet we saw a new approach. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man all carried with them an alter ego. The proud superhero's alter ego was humble. Superman was mild-mannerd Clark Kent, Batman was Bruce Wayne, Wonder Woman was a prim secretary, Spider-Man was insecure Peter Parker. Interestingly, we actually hold that deep down inside us there is a superhero. But there needs to be a sense of humility and poverty of spirit.

The Beatitudes we explore happen to us when we realize that we are helpless and hopeless without God.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Marianist Monday - Your Call

It's your call. You are chosen material, though you might not know it.

Most of us spend quite a bit of time shopping around before we finally find, or fall into, a profession that seems to suit our personality. The most popular childhood careers of firefighter, football player, doctor and astronaut are not reflected in the numbers of adults actually involved in those pursuits. Instead we "settle" for jobs that need to be done or are the most available. When's the last time you heard a kid dreaming about growing up to be an office manager or a banker or an electrical line repairer. But all those jobs must be done and done well by someone, if we are to keep our businesses, our banks, our communities and our homes running smoothly.

One author put it this way: God often calls us when we are running errands, doing the mundane, thankless chores of life. When we least expect it, we are elected. Moses, hiding out on the back side of the Midian desert, was running an errand when a bush started burning that would not be consumed until he faced Pharaoh. Isaiah was somewhere in the temple, performing his regular priestly duties, when the heavens came down and the Holy commissioned him to go to the valley. Ezekiel, performing his pastoral tasks in the Exile, was transported by divine limousine service to a valley filled with dry bones. Amos was out herding sheep and keeping sycamore trees when the voice came and compelled him to go to the valley. And, Andrew and Peter were fishing out on the Sea of Galilee when the Master called them from fishing to the valley.

God is calling you right now. Are you going to respond?

It's your call whether or not to accept your "call."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

REJOICE! - Marianist Diaconate Ordination

The Province of Meribah of the Society of Mary rejoices
at the diaconate ordination of
Our Brother Daniel Griffin, S.M.

Yesterday,  January 13, four Marianist Brothers were ordained as Deacons. This is the final step before being ordained as a priest. As Deacons, they are called to be servants - particularly to be servants of the Word of God, to be servants at the Eucharistic Table, and to be servants to the poor.

The following is offered from the beautiful celebration in Our Lady of the Pillar Chapel at the Marianist Generalate in Rome. Of course, afterwards, there was a Festa! Ciao!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Come, follow me

Viktor Frankl has written that peace means freedom in the face of three things: our instincts or "lower nature," our inherited traits or disposition and our surroundings .... Few of us, Dr. Frankl goes on, make important life choices with any degree of decisiveness. Backtracking here and compromising  here, we often lack the backbone to stand by our own decisions. Because of this, we remain in a continual state of angst. At times we hold a planless, day-to-day attitude toward whatever comes our way. At others we are fatalistic, defeatist. 

One day we exhibit spinelessness and have no clearly defined opinion at all; the next we cling so strongly and stubbornly to an idea we become fanatical. Ultimately, Frankl says, all these symptoms can be traced back to our fear of responsibility, and the indecision which is its fruit. 

--Johann Arnold, Seeking Peace 
(Pennsylvania: The Plough Publishing 
House, 1998), 140.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Last ditch effort

Mark today describes an incident where some friends go to extraordinary lengths to get help for a friend. They were even willing to risk embarrassment and (if this were America) a possible lawsuit.

The passage opens with Jesus “at home” in Capernaum in a house that suggests was either his or that of a close friend. Word gets out that he’s back in town and the neighbors begin to bang on the door, wanting to get close to him. Suddenly, the house is full of uninvited guests wanting to hear a word — so many that “there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door.” 

Standing on the fringes of the crowd were some men who had brought with them a “paralyzed man,” carrying him on some mat or stretcher. We don’t know anything else about these men, other than their objective was to get their disabled friend in front of Jesus in what may have been a last-ditch rescue mission to save him from a life of begging in the streets or worse.

The crowd being too thick, the rescuers move immediately to Plan B. They dig a hole through the flat roof of the house and go deep in order to help, lowering their comrade right in front of Jesus regardless of embarrassment, cost or the perception of the others around them.

Here’s the main point: The helpless man on the mat is not too proud to ask for help, he accepts help, and if he had refused their help, he would have made it impossible for his friends to use their gifts.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Significant turning

Today’s reading from Mark gives us an opportunity to think about conversion. Call it the Divine Touch. It is 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.
Nothing stopped this man from broadcasting what Jesus had done for him. He “proclaimed it freely” and “spread the word,” the Scripture says.

The Scripture reading does not say that this man experienced conversion in the religious sense of the word, which is how we often use it. 

But in some ways, that makes this a good text from which to think about religious conversion, for it has more in common with other types of conversion than we might at first think. 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 this man 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. And that’s exactly what happened to this man. He stepped off the “woe is me” path and onto the “Jesus is great” road.

The conversions we usually hear about, whether of a religious nature or of some other type, are often accompanied, at least initially, by excitement, zest, intensity, an eagerness to tell others about it and efforts to make significant changes in one’s life. And often, the converted person looks back at the time of the conversion as a significant turning point.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

It's Back

We have returned to Ordinary Time since we have completed Christmastide.

Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered what is ordinary. 
- C. S. Lewis

While we have put away all the decorations and have put an end to the countless Christmas carols, 
we now focus on Ordinary Time.

Our music for this season is wide and varied. There is an almost endless variety of songs to choose for the liturgy.

Our songs can be celebratory or even more somber.

Lent is a time of inner reflection. Easter is a time for rejoicing in the Resurrection of Our Lord and the promises He brings. Advent is anticipation. Christmas we rejoice in the birth of Our Lord.

It is in Ordinary Time that we celebrate the seemingly mundane and the ho-hum of every day life.

Jesus shows us the inestimable value of ordinary time. As the Jesuit theologian John Haughey comments, during Jesus’s time in Nazareth God fashioned him into “the instrument God needed for the salvation of the world.” In Nazareth, Jesus speaks to the meaning and worth of our ordinary lives. 
- James Martin, S.J. from his book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Home By Another Way

Check out the video above to hear James Taylor's Home By Another Way. A great Epiphany song. The lyrics are posted below.

Those magic men the Magi
Some people call them wise
Or Oriental, even kings
Well anyway, those guys
They visited with Jesus
They sure enjoyed their stay
Then warned in a dream of King Herod's scheme
They went home by another way

Yes they went home by another way
Home by another way
Maybe me and you can be wise guys too
And go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way

Steer clear of royal welcomes
Avoid a big to-do
A king who would slaughter the innocents
Will not cut a deal for you
He really, really wants those presents
He'll comb your camel's fur
Until his boys announce they've found trace amounts
Of your frankincense, gold and myrrh

Time to go home by another way
Home by another way
You have to figure the Gods saying play the odds
and go home by another way
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high

And go home another way
Home is where they want you now
You can more or less assume that you'll be welcome in the end
Mustn't let King Herod haunt you so
Or fantasize his features when you're looking at a friend

Well it pleasures me to be here
And to sing this song tonight
They tell me that life is a miracle
And I figured that they're right
But Herod's always out there
He's got our cards on file
It's a lead pipe cinch, if we give an inch
Old Herod likes to take a mile

It's best to go home by another way
Home by another way
We got this far to a lucky star
But tomorrow is another day
We can make it another way
Safe home as they used to say
Keep a weather eye to the chart on high
And go home another way

Pray for those on the Collegiate Retreat at Founder's Hollow.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Marianist Monday

January, 2018

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

Emmanuel certainly ranks way up there as one of my favorite Christmastide words – and a favorite Advent word as well. Emmanuel. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” Emmanuel. Originally a Hebrew name, it translates “God is with us.” As St. Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, “If God is with us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Every so often, we are privileged to encounter people who remind us that God is indeed with us. Typically, they do so more by their deeds than by their words. By the holiness of their lives, they become a kind of human stained-glass window, through which the light of Christ, in all its radiance, shines. Pope Francis serves as such a reminder to me. In his welcoming smile and compassionate attitude towards others, I see a living embodiment of Christ among us. Emmanuel. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is another such reminder of God with us. Her prayerful connection to God and her tireless outreach to the poor show us all the face of God. Emmanuel. We are grateful that she lived among us.

We Marianists were privileged to have one such Emanuel figure living among us as well. His name was Father Paul Landolfi, S.M. He entered eternal life exactly one week before Thanksgiving, and all of us in the Province of Meribah are profoundly thankful for having him in our lives. His time living in the Chaminade-Mineola Community was brief – only five years – but in those five years, Fr. Paul made an enormous impact on everyone he met.

Paul Joseph Landolfi was born on December 17, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York. The young Paul Landolfi’s mother died when he was only five years old. Six years later, his dad passed away. For the better part of his early life, Paul Landolfi lived at St. John’s Home in Rockaway, an orphanage for boys run by the Marianists. Later, Fr. Paul became a Marianist himself, teaching in Covington, Kentucky; Hamilton, Ohio; and San Juan, Puerto Rico. Twice he returned to his boyhood residence of St. John’s Home, serving as chaplain, counselor, member of the Board of Trustees, and director of the Marianist Community at the facility there. Fr. Paul spent the last five years of his life at Chaminade High School, where he said Mass, heard confessions, served as a spiritual director to many faculty members and students, and held classes in Marianist history and spirituality for our three Novices and our Aspirant.

To know Fr. Paul was to experience a little bit of God with us. He was widely known, for example, as a kind and compassionate confessor. Hearing the news of Fr. Paul’s passing, one faculty member wrote to me that he had “never had a better confession” than when he first went to confession with Fr. Paul. A Marianist now studying for the priesthood in Rome emailed to recount that it was after going to confession with Fr. Paul that he finally had the courage, confidence, and the clarity of vision to request entrance into the Society of Mary. Once this young Marianist is ordained, he plans on wearing the confessional stole that Fr. Paul used during the Sacrament of Penance.

Despite his age and his medical history (He had a total of twelve stents!), Fr. Paul was forever young. He delighted in playing poker with the younger members of the Community – and beating them. If a movie were being shown after dinner, Fr. Paul would join us in the rec room to watch the film – whether it was a lighthearted comedy or a rather serious drama that touched the human soul. Fr. Paul was born one year before the world’s first electronic television was created by a 21-year-old inventor named Philo Taylor Farnsworth, and since that time, he stayed on top of all the latest technology. In recent years, he had an Apple computer in his bedroom, a laptop in the office across from the Chaminade chapel, two iPads, and an iPhone 6. He was a master with Google drive, storing hundreds of homilies he composed and articles that he wrote about Marianist spirituality. Fr. Paul never stopped learning.

Fr. Paul saved everything. Everything. He saved used batteries; cards and letters that had been sent to him; and file cabinets upon file cabinets of Marianist notes, booklets, worship aids, and mementos. At his computer, Fr. Paul composed a script for a Fatima 100th Anniversary Prayer Service that he conducted this past October 12. It was based on the old manual-typewriter, mimeographed script that he had composed – and saved – for the 50th Anniversary. As I said, Fr. Paul kept everything – four separate rooms of storage – because he knew that, eventually, it would all came in handy.

Fr. Paul lived to make the Blessed Virgin Mary known, loved, and served. After he was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (a rare form of leukemia that prevents the bone marrow from manufacturing sufficient platelets, red blood cells, and white blood cells) this past August, Fr. Paul sent me his proposal for that prayer service to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima. When I suggested to Fr. Paul that he might be too weak to conduct such a prayer service, he replied simply, “Well, if it is Our Lady’s will, then I know it will be done.” Needless to say, we had the prayer service. Over 100 people attended the evening event. Fr. Paul’s voice was loud, clear, and strong for the prayer service. Fr. Paul mustered every bit of his strength to be present at that prayer service. At true Marianist and a devoted son on Mary, he never tired of drawing everyone he met closer to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Fr. Paul also lived to pray, and he communed about as deeply with God as anyone I have ever met. Except for the last two days of his days at Chaminade, Fr. Paul

would have made his way to chapel long before most of us arrived. Even when his body was wracked with pain and his mobility severely limited, Fr. Paul would set his alarm for 4:30 a.m. so that he could arrive in chapel with plenty of time to spare before the beginning of Morning Prayer and Mass at 6:00 a.m. And when it became impossible for him to get to chapel, even in a wheelchair, Fr. Paul asked several of us to come to his bedroom and pray the Liturgy of the Hours with him, and, of course, to bring him Holy Communion.

Because he cared so deeply about the Lord, Fr. Paul cared immensely for God’s people. He compiled a list of birthdays for every adult who works at Chaminade – teachers; coaches; secretaries; the cafeteria, maintenance, and custodial staffs. On the occasion of each person’s birthday, he would pray for them during the Prayer of the Faithful at our Community Mass. He would also write each faculty and staff member a personalized email, wishing each a happy birthday. At Queen of Peace Residence, the health-care facility where he spent the last three-and-a half days of his life, he was already making it one of his priorities to learn the names of every Sister, every nurse, and every auxiliary staff member on the premises. After only three-and-a-half days, he already had a many names down pat – a point of personal pride for him.

Fr. Paul delighted in young people. Whenever he was physically able, he came over to school to attend our monthly Faustino Club (i.e. Vocation Club) meeting. He had a special love for our young Brothers, and they for him! Even when he was admitted to Queen of Peace, Fr. Paul was busy formulating plans to continue teaching the Novices and our Aspirant. He explained to me the next couple of lessons that he planned to conduct, and he inquired about having a table set up in his room at Queen of Peace so that he could hold class there. Fr. Paul had Bro. Peter Francis, n.S.M., bring over his binder of notes so that he could continue his class in Marianist history and spirituality. It was one of the items I found when we collected Fr. Paul’s belongings after his passing at Queen of Peace.

From your days at Kellenberg Memorial or at Chaminade, you may remember the book and the film Tuesdays with Morrie. At one point, Morrie Schwartz, author Mitch Albom’s old sociology professor who is now dying of ALS, remarks to Mitch, “The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” Fr. Paul knew well that his death was imminent. He didn’t feel sorry for himself, he didn’t dwell on that fact, and he certainly didn’t let his mortality intimidate him or stop him from living. Fr. Paul was reconciled to the fact that he was going to die, and in Christian hope he looked forward to meeting his maker. In the interim, he lived his life to the full, right down to his very last days!

As I mentioned, for the final three-and-a-half days of his life, Fr. Paul was under the care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, NY. Several of the Marianists and the Little Sisters of the Poor were at Fr. Paul’s bedside when he passed away. One of the priests of our Community administered the Last Rites. We prayed the Rosary, sang the Salve Regina, and the recited the Memorare. Moments after the Memorare, Fr. Paul passed away peacefully and entered eternal life.

“The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.” And what a life Fr. Paul lived! As one alumni parent put it, “Fr. Paul never missed a step, or a moment to share with those he encountered. His bursting-with-life attitude was infectious, engaging people into action, thought, and prayer. He was a most gentle, genuine, generous, God-loving, Marianist holy soul.”

Yes, some people do indeed remind us what it means to have God with us. Father Paul Joseph Landolfi, S.M. was one such embodiment of holiness and Godliness. We are forever grateful for his presence among us, for everything that he taught us, and for all that he inspires us to be.

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

P.S. We look forward to seeing you at Midnight Mass. Also, we hope you will consider attending our annual College-Age Retreat at Meribah. This year’s theme is “It’s Not How You Planned It,” and it will take place on Tuesday, January 2 and Wednesday, January 3, 2018. Arrive 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday; the retreat concludes at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday. You can register for the retreat by visiting www.provinceofmeribah.com/register, or by emailing Brother Stephen Balletta at SBalletta@chaminade-hs.org.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Epiphany - May Christ bless the house

It is traditional to bless your house for the Epiphany.

Over the doorway to the home would be written the Epiphany Inscription:
20 + C + M + B + 10

The letters have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the Three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat. May Christ bless the house.

The letters recall the day on which the inscription is made, as well as the purpose of blessing.
The crosses represent the protection of the Blood of Christ, whose Name we invoke, and also the holiness of the Three Magi sanctified by their adoration of the Infant Christ.

The inscription is made above the front door, so that all who enter and depart this year may enjoy God's blessing.

The inscription is made of chalk, a product of clay, which recalls the human nature taken by the Word of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Marianist Founder's Vision

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

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

. . . the development of community life in the spirit of the Gospel

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

Prayer of Dedication to Mary

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

we embrace the religious life in your name.
All that we have, all that we are,
we dedicate to continuing your mission
of bringing Jesus into our world.
Holy Mother,
stay with us this day
and teach us to
“Do whatever he tells us.” Amen.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Live more purely

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"They [religious] live more purely, they fall more rarely, they rise more speedily, they are aided more powerfully, they live more peacefully, they die more securely, and they are rewarded more abundantly."
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Lord Jesus,
please grant to me the grace to know my true vocation.
In Baptism I was signed in your name
and have grown to share in the work of bringing the Father's love to our world.
May I respond to the special life's work to which You are calling me.

I ask that many will hear the particular call to serve in the Church
as priests, religious and consecrated lay people.
To whatever You ask of me,
may I freely, courageously and lovingly respond.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

To Know One's Vocation

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Lord, my God and my loving Father,
You have made me to know You, to love You, to serve You,
and thereby to find and to fulfill myself.
I know that You are in all things,
and that every path can lead me to You.
But of them all, there is one especially
by which You want me to come to You.
Since I will do what You want of me,
I pray You, send your Holy Spirit to me: into my mind,
to show me what You want of me; into my heart,
to give me the determination to do it,
and to do it with all my love, with all my mind,
and with all my strength right to the end.

Pray for vocations!

I wish heartily to encourage this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. The People of God need to be guided by pastors whose lives are spent in service to the Gospel. I ask parish communities, associations and the many prayer groups present in the Church, not to yield to discouragement but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to his harvest. May he give us priests enamored of the Gospel, close to all their brothers and sisters, living signs of God’s merciful love.

Pope Francis

Monday, January 1, 2018


Tuesday, January 2 - Wednesday, January 3, 2018
Arrive at 2 pm. Tuesday; retreat concludes 4 pm Wednesday

College age alumni of Chaminade High School and Kellenberg Memorial High School are invited to a men's retreat at Mariah from 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2 until 4:00 P.M. on Wednesday, January 3.

Mary, Mother of God

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Mary, the Mother of God.

When did Mary begin to recognize and understand who her son was?
When did she begin to understand the angel's message to her?
How did Mary come to understand that she was the Mother of the Son of God?

Perhaps she began to see more clearly the relationship she shared with Jesus at Cana.

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." Jesus said to her, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servers, "Do whatever he tells you."

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us...