Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Saints & Halloween

The Saint Anthony Messenger answers questions about the origins of the next two days on the Christian calendar. The following are excerpts from the Saint Anthony Messenger report.

When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. But do you know the Christian connection to the holiday?

The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter. The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, lord of the dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead, including ghosts, goblins and witches, returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.

When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider, traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints)from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallows' Even or holy evening. Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.

The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the "communion of saints," which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things" (CCC #1475).

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The Call

God is great and He is calling each one of us by name.
Where is He calling you?
Is he calling you to consider a Marianist vocation?

Monday, October 29, 2018

We are called to be Saints - Marianist Monday

What I regard as a really distinctive trait of our two orders, and what seems to me to be without a precedent in all the religious orders I know of, is the fact, as I have said, that we embrace the religious life in the name and for the glory of the Blessed Virgin, and for the sake of devoting ourselves to her, that is to say, our bodies and all that we possess, in order to make her known, loved and served. Religious life is to Christianity what Christianity is to humanity. It is as imperishable in the Church as the church is imperishable in human society. For this reason, it would
be futile to pretend to re-establish Christianity without the institutions which permit men to practice the evangelical counsels. However, it would be difficult and inopportune to try to revive these institutions today under the same forms they had before the Revolution. But no form is essential to the religious life. One can be a religious under a secular appearance. It will be less offensive to the misguided. It will be more difficult for them to be opposed. The world and the Church will be even further edified. Let us then form a religious association by pronouncing the three vows of religion, but without name or costume. Nova bella elegit Dominus (The Lord had chosen new wars); and let us put the entire plan under the protection of Mary Immaculate, to whom her Divine Son has reserved the final victories over hell.Let us be, my child,... let us be, in our humility the heel of the Woman.

(From Blessed Chaminade's Letter of August 24, 1839 Letter to the Retreat Masters.)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

A word on the Word

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If we take a pause to look at the Sunday Gospel we find a leap of faith.

Our Gospel says that we qualify for help before we can ask for help. Bartimaeus believed that he was worthy of help, not because he was a great person, but because he was one of God's children -- a Jew who had been looking for the arrival of the Son of David, the Messiah.

So, when Jesus heard his cries, and said, "Call him here," Bartimaeus responded by throwing off his cloak and leaping up to meet the one who could help him. He puts himself in a position to receive help and risks further embarrassment in order to get close to Jesus. It's an act of faith.

Bartimaeus thinks to ask, and asking is the key to receiving most anything we need. Jesus, in fact, would tell his disciples, "Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Asking God for what we need in prayer and asking others for what we need in person opens the door to healing and wholeness.

Jesus' response to Bartimaeus is a question of invitation: "What do you want me to do for you?"

Bartimaeus is ready with a reply: "My teacher, let me see again."

"What do you want me to do for you?" Can you imagine Jesus asking you that question? What would be your response? What are your deepest needs that you haven't asked Jesus or anyone else to help you with? How might you take a leap of faith and ask, believing that you can receive all that you need and more?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Lord

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know my self,
and the fact that I think am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this,
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,and you will not leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton

Friday, October 26, 2018

October leaves us

In Hardwood Groves

The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.

Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is the way in ours.
- Robert Frost

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Look ma. No feet

Now get yourself ready for a great Irish dance takeover of the world. Suzanne Cleary and Peter Harding, alumni of the Broadway hit "Riverdance," decided to take to the interwebs to spread their joyous take on Irish dancing with their two-person troupe Up & amp; Over It.

Filmmaker Jonny Reed creates the playful films to promote the new take on the historical dance form. So far they've made seven films and plan to take their show on the road next year. It will be a combination of film and dance.

For their most recent Youtube video, the duo took the traditional leg workout of Irish dancing and made it a hands-only affair. Enjoy your day and share your joy today. Now watch the magic:

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Catholicism Project

Bishop Robert Barron, former professor of systematic theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois has spent the last several years working on the Catholicism Project.

The purpose of this project is to present the story of the Catholic Church on its own terms by bringing viewers to the places where the Catholic story has taken place over the last two millennia.

We’re fortunate to be living in the time of this new evangelization that Blessed John Paul II spoke of, where the power of new media can help Christians spread the message of Christ to greater audiences than ever before. We are thankful for the tireless work Bishop Barron is doing and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check his work out too.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Tuesday Tunes


Savior I come
quiet my soul remember
redemptions hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I
Tempted and trialed
You are the word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now you're risen

To your heart
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Sunday Word

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Today's Gospel has Jesus telling his disciples that following him means thinking of themselves as people who:

• deny themselves for Jesus’ sake and for the sake of the Gospel, this may include risking and accepting worldly shame;

• are focused on Jesus and his words above all others;

• remain humbly dependent on God’s power to do God’s work;

• do not play the games of competitiveness, one-upmanship or glory grasping but choose the role of least of all and slave to all;

• relinquish control for who does what and how they do it in the kingdom;

• keep children at the center of their work, even when it appears distracting; and

• do not become overburdened by possessions but receive the gift of the hundredfold promise.

And after all that, James and John ask for places of special recognition! Unbelievable!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Good Teacher

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Mark tells us that a man runs up to Jesus and kneels before him, asking him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Although Saint Mark does not reveal his age, Saint Matthew says that he is a "young man." We might call him a Millennial, a person today in their 20s or early 30s.

Jesus lays out the commandments for him, ranging from "You shall not murder" through "Honor your father and mother." And the young man says, "Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth."

Clearly, this young man has a set of values, and is trying to craft a life of quality and authenticity.

Jesus looks at him, loves him, and says, "You lack one thing: go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."

The young man is shocked and goes away grieving, because he has many possessions. He is unwilling to abandon his luxury lifestyle. We can assume that he had a lot of money.

Mark tells us that Jesus loves this young man -- yes, Jesus loves his adherence to the commandments, his values and his desire for quality. But Jesus sees one thing getting in the way of a life of integrity: the man's materialism. "Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor," says Jesus. Jesus knows that if his earthly treasure is replaced with heavenly treasure, this young man will be ready to be a disciple.

Friday, October 19, 2018

FOCUS/SEEK Conference - Fr. Mike Schmitz

Fr. Mike Schmitz sits down with the Franciscan Friars of the Eternal Word during the 2018 FOCUS/SEEK Conference

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Open House - an annual event

Both of our Marianist high schools opened their doors on Saturday, October 13 for prospective students. Thousands of visitors followed self-guided tours and were greeted by enthusiastic students and faculty. Throughout the day faculty and students answered questions about the school's academic, activity and athletic programs. Visitors were able to experience the rich Marianist tradition in both Catholic schools.

Prospective Students Tour Chaminade

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary

We have a couple of “firsts” to deal with here. Saint James the Greater was the first Apostle of Jesus Christ to have been martyred. Also, the church that James and his disciples built around pillar and the wooden statue was the first Christian church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Further, the vision of the Blessed Virgin was the first Marian Apparition in history.

The apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar is also unique in another way. The Virgin Mary was still alive and living in either Ephesus or Jerusalem when the apparition happened. Because of this, it’s apparent that Mary showed an ability that many Christian saints have exhibited over the ages … She was able to bilocate. Yup, She was in two places at the same time.

The apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar has been accepted as sacred tradition since the dawn of Christianity.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Our Lady of the Pillar

Today, October 12, is the celebration of Our Lady of the Pillar. For those who have never heard this title of Mary, it's what it sounds like - it is a shrine in Zaragoza, Spain, with...well...Mary atop a Pillar.

As the apostle James was in Spain preaching the Gospel and things weren't going well. Mary appeared to him (on top of a pillar) to encourage him in his endeavors. Of course, Spain was eventually converted and the Spaniards continue to honor St. James. Mary was still alive when she appeared to James. Mary, as Our Lady of the Pillar, is venerated in Spain and many parts of Latin America.

For us Marianists, this is a big day, too. On October 11, 1797 (the day before the feast), Marianist Founder Blessed William Joseph Chaminade arrived in Zaragoza. He had just been exiled from his native France because of the ongoing persecutions of the French Revolution. He would spend the next three years in Zaragoza, spending a great deal of time praying before the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. And during those three years, something happened. Fr. Chaminade wrote practically nothing about his time in Spain, and only mentioned it in passing. However, he received some sort of inspiration or mission before Our Lady of the Pillar 
The Basilica
to return to France and "re-Christianize" the country devastated by the Revolution.

It was in Zaragoza that Fr. Chaminade began to develop a plan of bringing all types of people together into Sodalities as a means of evangelization. Of course, this led to the foundation of Marianist Lay Communities, The Daughters of Mary Immaculate (Marianist Sisters) and the Society of Mary (Marianist Brothers and Priests.)

Our Lady of the Pillar

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Santiago de Compostela

The Spanish legend tells us that on January 2, 40 AD, Saint James was near the newly-built Roman town of Caesaraugusta in the Roman province of Hispania. James was disheartened by the apparent failure of his evangelizing mission, so he stopped to pray on the bank of the Ebro River. While James and his few disciples were deep in prayer, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them.

In the apparition, Mary stood on top of a marble pillar and she was accompanied by several angels. Mary assured James that he would soon have many converts to Christianity and that their faith would be as strong as the pillar upon which She was standing.

Further, Mary gave both the pillar and a small wooden statue of herself to James. Then, she instructed James to build a church on the spot where she appeared. Mary’s words were “This place is to be my house and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build.”

Local tradition tells us that it took James and his disciples about one year to build the first simple chapel over the pillar and the wooden statue. James happened upon a “planned community” that was established for retired Roman Army soldiers and their dependents. Soon, the chapel was filled to overflowing at every Holy Mass.

James the Greater left for Jerusalem at some time during the year 41 AD and he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa in 44 AD. His body was returned to the area of what would one day be known as Santiago de Compostela in North-Central Spain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar

Image result for our lady of the pillar

The Apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar was approved as a miracle by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on August 7, 1723.

"According to ancient and pious tradition, St. James the Greater, led by Providence into Spain, spent some time at Saragossa. He there received a signal favor from the Blessed Virgin. As he was praying with his disciples one night, upon the banks of the Ebro, as the same tradition informs us, the Mother of God, who still lived, appeared to him, and commanded him to erect an oratory in that place. The apostle delayed not to obey this injunction, and with the assistance of his disciples soon constructed a small chapel.”

The original chapel was eventually destroyed, but the pillar and the statue remained intact. Constantine ordered a Romanesque cathedral to be built over the site in the 4th century.
The most recent church, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, is Baroque in style and construction work on it began in 1681. The original building was finished in 1711, but there were additions as late as 1872.

Catholics who have prayed before the Altar of Our Lady of the Pillar include Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and Saint John Paul II.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Our Lady of the Rosary

Pope Benedict XVI on the Rosary

When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God.

~ Recitation of the Holy Rosary, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Saturday, May 3, 2008.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How to know Christ

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Jesus tells his disciples that anyone who fails to care for those in need will be guilty of not caring for Jesus himself . 

The most effective mission experiences are those that cause us to look deeply at the needs of others and to stop and ask where we can participate with God in the work of the kingdom in every place. If we want people to know Christ, the best way to start is by acting like him!

Friday, October 5, 2018

It's not about us

The first great tenet of mission work that everyone who participates should repeat over and over again is this: it's not about us. Instead, it's all about asking and finding out what people really need rather than what we're expecting to give them. We're not heading out in order to justify ourselves, but rather to love our neighbors in the way that Jesus loves us: unconditionally, generously and humbly.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Invest yourself

Image result for samaritan
The hero of the Samaritan story is the Samaritan.

The Samaritan doesn't observe the right religion, like the priest and the Levite, but shows compassion to the stranger by actually stopping to care for him. The Samaritan didn't just drop off a few supplies, build the stranger a cinder block hospital, or snap a few pictures; instead, he poured expensive oil and wine on the victim's wounds, put him on his own animal, and took care of him at a roadside inn. He went out of his way to know what was needed and, once he assessed the situation, he stayed. Even when he had to leave, he left money for the local innkeeper to care for the man and promised to return. The Samaritan invested in the life of the stranger. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Foundation Day

On Tuesday, the Marianists of the Province of Meribah gave thanks to God as we celebrated Foundation Day! Our Province began in 1976 with our founding fathers, Fr. Francis Keenan, S.M. and Fr. Philip Eichner, S.M.

The Brothers' motto, Servire Quam Sentire, captures well the spirit which animates the members of the Province. We seek to put our own fears and reservations aside, and to serve the Lord with gladness and with joy.

The works of the Province have expanded since its initial foundation. Under the Meribah banner are: Chaminade High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School (including the Bro. Joseph C. Fox Latin School Division, for sixth, seventh and eight-graders); and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School (pre-k though eighth grade).

The Province also runs three retreat houses which are: Meribah, Emmanuel, and Founder's Hollow.

Since the Province of Meribah was created, it has maintained the common life of prayer, the common dress of the religious habit, and the common apostolates of education.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Foundation Day is Guardian Angel Day

Today we celebrate the foundation date for the Society of Mary (Marianists). 

On this date the Marianists commemorate the occasion when the first meeting of those who had decided to embrace religious life in a new Institute gathered at Blessed Chaminade’s residence in Villa St. Laurent in 1817.

And the author, Peter Kreeft, offers the following for our Feast of the Guardian Angels:

The Twelve Most Important Things to Know About Angels

1. They really exist. Not just in our minds, or our myths, or our symbols, or our culture. They are as real as your dog, or your sister, or electricity.

2. They’re present, right here, right now, right next to you, reading these words with you.

3. They’re not cute, cuddly, comfortable, chummy, or “cool”. They are fearsome and formidable. They are huge. They are warriors.

4. They are the real “extra-terrestrials”, the real “Super-men”, the ultimate aliens. Their powers are far beyond those of all fictional creatures.

5. They are more brilliant minds than Einstein.

6. They can literally move the heavens and the earth if God permits them.

7. There are also evil angels, fallen angels, demons, or devils. These too are not myths. Demon possessions, and exorcisms, are real.

8. Angels are aware of you, even though you can’t usually see or hear them. But you can communicate with them. You can talk to them without even speaking.

9. You really do have your very own “guardian angel”. Everybody does.

10. Angels often come disguised. “Do not neglect hospitality, for some have entertained angels unawares”—that’s a warning from life’s oldest and best instruction manual.

11. We are on a protected part of a great battlefield between angels and devils, extending to eternity.

12. Angels are sentinels standing at the crossroads where life meets death. They work especially at moments of crisis, at the brink of disaster—for bodies, for souls, and for nations.Why do people think it's stupid to believe in angels?

May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

Pray for those considering a Marianist vocation!

Monday, October 1, 2018

St. Therese of the Child Jesus

St. Therese

Today we celebrate St Therese and are thus reminded that it takes all types of saints to make up the Body of Christ. She is a virgin and mystic.

Therese in her cell in Carmel rejected the world for the love of Christ. She loved and studied nothing but Scripture in the end. She endured great hardships of the ascetical life and she endured both great darkness and great radiance in the love of Christ.

This is the lesson to all who would follow Christ, that as we walk that golden path our individual lives begin to transcend the times and cultures in which we live. We begin to grow into something deeper, wider and more magnificent than the spirit of the age or our own circumstances, family background and personality. We are caught up. We participate in a greater glory and a greater truth. Our little lives are magnified and we mature into something and someone greater than we ever imagined.

As we grow into saints–grow into the person God created us to be–grow into the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ. As this process takes place we also grow out of ourselves and yet into our true selves. The little person we were dies and the greater person God created us to be begins to take shape. As this happens we find a fulfillment and completion in all the saints.

The innocence and child like character of Therese blossoms in our lives. All we need to do is stay on the path and keep our eyes on Jesus–who is the author and finisher of our faith.

Marianist Monday

October, 2018

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

Just last evening, a graduate from the Class of 2018 emailed to recount some of the skepticism he was encountering in one of his college courses because of his Judeo-Christian values and his Catholic faith. Luckily, he’s a very bright guy and had done some rather extensive research to challenge the assertions of not only his classmates, but of his professor as well.

In my response to my former student, I reminded him of the “formula” that I always recommend to all my young Christian apologists: “clarity and charity.” In fact, “charity and clarity” is a guideline that should inform all Christian apologists, be they eighteen, twenty-eight, forty-eight, sixty-eight, or seventy-eight – and even older. Strategically, it makes perfect sense. If we lose our cool, we are likely to lose the argument. If we veer from a reasoned defense of our values and of our faith and devolve into invective and name-calling, then we are likely to alienate many of the people who are listening to us.

More important than the strategic value of maintaining our cool is the moral obligation to do so. Morally speaking, we can never lose respect for our opponents, even when they voice the most outlandish of opinions, even when they attack us. We must never lose sight of the fact that they are people, fellow human beings, and fellow children of God (even if they do not like to think of themselves in those terms). To treat our ideological opponents with anything less than respect would be to dishonor the God whom we seek to defend.

To deal charitably with our opponents and detractors does not mean that we cannot speak and write passionately about what we believe. Indeed, if we believe in Christ and His saving message, then we should expectto be passionate. He is the driving force in our lives, the foundation of all that we are and all that we do. He is the source and summit of our existence. So, of course we are passionate about Christ and the core beliefs that derive from who He is.

Passion, however, is not tantamount to anger, or mean-spiritedness, or being insensitive and insulting. Our passion for Christ impels us to be compassionate towards even our “enemies,” following Christ’s injunction to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

In the last quarter century, the American Church has been blessed with a group of women who epitomize “clarity and charity.” They are the Sisters of Life. Founded in 1991 by the late John Cardinal O’Connor of New York and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., the current superior general, the Sisters of Life already number close to 100 religious who come from across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia and Spain. They are a visible reminder of the sanctity of life. By everything they say and do, they provide a clear, unwavering, unmistakable witness to “the culture of life.”

In addition to the clarity of their convictions, the Sisters of Life are the embodiment of charity. They run counseling services for unmarried pregnant women. The provide room and board and counseling services for women who opt to have their children rather than have an abortion. They run retreats and give witness talks promoting “the culture of life.” And in everything they do, they radiate joy. I have never visited the Sisters or helped out at one of their institutions when they have not been smiling and laughing, kind and gentle – a true reflection of the love of Christ.

The Marianists have been blessed to know the Sisters of Life for over ten years now. Our own “master carpenter,” Fr. Garrett Long, has spearheaded numerous renovation and construction projects for the Sisters. Fr. Garrett; members of the Woodworking Club; several Brothers of the Marianist Community; and, in recent months, volunteers from the Alumni Association have built furniture for the sisters, put up sheetrock, painted walls, and even done some gardening. The Sisters have reciprocated by speaking at Communion breakfasts and young alumni retreats, giving conferences to our men in religious formation, and, of course, praying for us. There’s something particularly effective, I’ve always thought, about the prayers of the Sisters of Life. If anyone has God’s ear, they do.

The Sisters are the real deal. They pray daily for the protection of human life, particularly unborn human life. They have helped hundreds of unwed mothers in a manner that is so kind and caring that, on more than one occasion, I have been brought to tears. They are a living expression of the message of the Gospel. They are a template of faith in action. They are unabashed in their beliefs, yet as kind and as gentle as anyone I have ever met.

I couldn’t think of a better example of “clarity and charity” than the Sister of Life. As all of us wonder how we can live our faith in a world that, in many cases, is indifferent or even hostile to our beliefs, we would do well to remember the Sisters of Life. They are a model of “apologetics in action.” They embody the “clarity and charity” incumbent upon everyone who takes Christ and His Gospel seriously. They are an inspiration to all of us.

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen