Saturday, March 31, 2018

Holy Saturday

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"By a beautiful paradox of Divine love, God makes His Cross the very means of our salvation and our life. We have slain Him; we have nailed Him there and crucified Him; but the Love in His eternal heart could not be extinguished. He willed to give us the very life we slew; to give us the very Food we destroyed; to nourish us with the very Bread we buried, and the very Blood we poured forth. He made our very crime into a happy fault; He turned a Crucifixion into a Redemption; a Consecration into a Communion; a death into Life Everlasting."

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, This is the Mass

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Friday

Today in all of our Marianist Communities, as in many places around the world, people are walking in solemn procession behind large wooden crosses commemorating the crucifixion and death of our Lord.

Some of the processions will takes place in the context of the Stations of the Cross. There will be other processions that stop at churches or at places where lives have been lost or where neighbors are experiencing homelessness or other crisis. Together, we reflect on how this human suffering is reflected in that experience by our Lord and the hope Jesus offers in transforming the pain and misery of this world through his own Passion and death.

Together we will sing out loud today, “We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you.” To which we all reply, “Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.”

Those who walk in procession today share their faith with the world. Together with the Apostles and all believers who gaze on the cross we see much more than just the instrument of which Jesus hung until he died.

We see the sufferings of Jesus and the glory of his resurrection inseparably joined to the Paschal Mystery. It is for this reason that we say the Cross of Christ points toward and is fulfilled in the Resurrection.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Holy Thursday 2

This evening the Marianist Communities gathered to celebrate the Lord's Supper. The Gospel writer John presents us with Jesus the servant, washing the feet of his disciples and instructing them that just as he has done for them, so must they do for each other... And just has Christ did for them, so must we do for each other...

The Marianists who gathered at Founder's Hollow celebrated the rite called the Mandatum (from the Latin referring to the new command, the mandate Jesus gives his disciples that they should love one another.) In our community Fr. Albert washed the feet of 3 Brothers.

Following the Mandatum is the liturgy of the Eucharist. Enough bread was consecrated to provide communion for tomorrow's liturgy because the Eucharist is not celebrated on Good Friday.

Following communion, the Brothers processed with the Eucharist to the Kateri Lodge where the Eucharist is kept overnight. Here the Brothers will keep vigil in prayer.

After Christ's supper with his disciples on the night before he died, they went to the garden of Gethsemane where the Lord asked his friends to be with him in prayer.

Holy Thursday - 2018

2018 Holy Thursday
2018 Holy Thursday

The Last Supper

Holy Thursday

The Triduum Begins - Holy Thursday

The Brothers of the Province of Meribah gather together during these Holy days to spend time in prayer, contemplation and community. The communities of the Province celebrate these Holy days on retreat.

The Gospel of St. John recounts two exchanges between Jesus and Peter. Peter does not want to have his feet washed by Jesus. His resistance goes against the understanding of the relationship between the Master and his disciple. Christ must not lower himself or practice humility.

Over and over Jesus has to assist us in recognizing that God's power is different. The Messiah must pass through suffering into glory and must lead all of us along the same path.

The second exchange between Jesus and Peter comes after Judas' departure. Peter asks Christ, "Where are you going?" Peter understands that he is speaking of his approaching death and he wants to affirm his fidelity to Christ.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Pie Jesu

Pie Jesu

Now the feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was drawing near, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered into Judas, the one surnamed Iscariot, who was counted among the Twelve, and he went to the chief priests and temple guards to discuss a plan for handing him over to them. They were pleased and agreed to pay him money. He accepted their offer and sought a favorable opportunity to hand him over to them in the absence of a crowd. - Luke 22:1-6

Wednesday of Holy Week is often called Spy Wednesday because the Gospel for today's Mass relates how Judas conspired to betray Christ and hand him over to the authorities for just thirty pieces of silver.

Benedictine priest Aidan Kavanagh once wrote of the "night in which Jesus was betrayed by the worst in us all..." Judas, the betrayer, played the part for all of us who have betrayed the love of Christ in betraying one another.

Innocent and without sin, Jesus carried on his shoulders and suffered in his wounds the burden of our betrayal...

Here's a contemporary setting of "Pie Jesu" by Andrew. His comments about his past bullying combines the depths of our sinfulness and the mercy of God.

God's mercy meets us in our sinfulness. And that is where we need the Lord.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

What a wonderful world!

What a wonderful world The Painting from Dan Berglund on Vimeo.

Simple, clever and enjoyable!

Artist Dan Berglund takes a sheet of glass and paints pictures to accompany Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World.

That is all.

But what a joy to watch!

I wish you, with all my heart, all the joy to which this week beckons us...

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Marianist "Yes"

Like Mary, we also have said “yes,” first of all in our Baptism, then in our religious profession, capped by the vow of stability. I was struck recently by a letter I received from a member of the Province. He had been asked to do an important and challenging job within the Province. In accepting, he said, “this is how I understand my religious profession and the vow of stability.” This availability, this yes-saying, this freedom to give oneself away . . . much good food for thought and 

prayer during this retreat. I will leave a copy of a very fine article, dated now but excellent nonetheless, by Charles Davis. It is entitled “Empty and Poor for Christ.” Maybe you’ll find it helpful for your prayer today.

Perhaps no biblical image expresses most deeply the charism and gift of the Marianist life as the Calvary scene in the Gospel of John. The original sculpture at the General Administration in Rome has been reproduced in so many ways and has found its way into the iconography of most Marianist units. It represents what Father Johann Roten, SM, calls “our deep Marianist memory.” As you know, the mother of Jesus makes just two appearances in this Gospel: at Cana in chapter 2 and at the foot of the cross in chapter 19. The hour that was anticipated with the superabundance of wine at the wedding finds full and final expression as Jesus completes his mission from the throne of the cross.

[Editor’s Note: Father Martin Solma, SM, the Provincial for the Society of Mary’s Province of the United States, delivered the following talk as part of the 2011 summer retreat series for the Province.]

Saturday, March 24, 2018

LENT - Center our lives

Lent - God-centered life

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The responsorial psalm for the Fourth Sunday of Lent gives us a vision of a radically God-centered life. And, in this case, radical does not meet revolutionary or abrasive or extreme. No, the word radical comes from the Latin word radix, which means "root." To center our lives on the God who is our shepherd is to go back to the very root of life, to the one who gives us everything we need.

And we can be grateful that God repeats this pattern throughout all of creation. Green pastures are naturally going to be balanced by dark valleys, but, in both joy and sorrow, the Lord provides for us and walks beside us.

Friday, March 23, 2018

LENT- Spiritual Training

Hear, O Israel!The Lord our God is Lord alone!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul,
with all your mind,
and with all your strength.
The second is this:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these."
The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher.
You are right in saying,
He is One and there is no other than he.
And to love him with all your heart,
with all your understanding,
with all your strength,
and to love your neighbor as yourself
is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."

Today our Gospel from Saint Mark explains how we train ourselves in godliness?

He tells us what we need to do first.

Jesus recites the training mantra of the Shema. As an observant Jew, Jesus recited this combination of confession and prayer to God twice a day. Both during his morning and evening prayers. While sticking to this twice-daily ritual was itself a training regime, it is the message of the Shema that Jesus embodied so perfectly and which offers all of us a way toward complete and genuine godliness.

The Shema builds up the heart, soul, mind and strength. No element of human existence is excluded from this training in faith. The exercises of the Shema allow no parts of our being to remain flabby or unattended.

-- Does love of God overwhelm and overcome your heart, making every heartbeat keep pace with God's love for you?

-- Does love of God inform your mind, making love the mainspring of all your thoughts?

-- Does love of God penetrate your soul, making your every prayer a plea not for yourself and your own desires, but an offering formed and normed by love?

-- Does love of God flow through the strength of your body, making your every step a step toward love in action?

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

Image result for to see christ at the transfiguration

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

Image result for jesus at the transfiguration

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.