Saturday, February 24, 2018

LENT - repair

Image result for Repair house


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
(1801-1890)

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
by DANIEL GLAZE

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
book.

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

Conversion

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.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Travel lightly & Keep Moving








In our Gospel today, Jesus' mandate to his disciples is to travel lightly and keep moving. Nowhere do  we see him sitting down with the twelve and a map, or a store of provisions, or a feasibility study, or a specific set of "goals,""strategies" and "objectives." Jesus gives the disciples (at times as confused and uncomprehending a lot as ever there has been) only what they need most: a mission and the authority to carry it out. All he recommends they take in addition to this is a walking stick a personal goad to keep them moving when the terrain gets rough or when they get weary.

Strength and endurance is available to us through prayer. The disciples boldly setting out on their mission. They know the way in which they must walk and what they must do." Jesus has sent them on their mission and has entrusted them with his authority. Now it is their responsibility to get out on the road.