Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. 

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. 

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.


In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.


Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.


By the President: Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Let Evening Come


Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.
Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

- Jane Kenyon

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Thanksgiving Quiz


Image result for turkey
Here is a little quiz for table talk on Thursday.
Just a little “stuffing” for those brain muscles!

1. What is the name of the ship the Pilgrims took on their 66 day journey?

2. What year did they land in Provincetown Harbor?

3. Where did the Pilgrims settle?

4. What drink did they have with dinner?

5. How Many Pilgrims arrived in the New World?

6. What woman’s letters convinced Congress to make Thanksgiving a National Holiday?

7. The first Department Store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was?

8. Which President is said to be the first to pardon a turkey and start the annual tradition?

9. What is the longest balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade?

10. When was the first Thanksgiving football game?

Answers:
1. The Mayflower
2. The year was 1620
3. Plymouth, Massachusetts
4. Beer
5. 120 Pilgrims
6. Sarah Hale - 1778
7. You may think it was Macy’s, however it was Gimbel’s
8. President Harry Truman
9. Superman at 100 ft. long
10. 1934 – Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears


Monday, November 19, 2018

Marianist Monday



Marianist Monday

Like the Word Incarnate,
the Marianists strive to be at one with the people of our time
and to share their joy and hope,
their grief and anguish.

However, we remember the Word's warning
to remain vigilant
so that the norms, customs,
and habits of the world
will not tarnish or weaken
the power of his word.

This concern to be faithful witnesses
is particularly needful for a community
which wishes to bring to the world
the liberation of Jesus Christ.

The more attentive our watchfulness,the greater our apostolic boldness.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November...the month of remembering


This is the month of All Souls where the foliage frames our remembering and the damp chill shivers through us, calling us to warm our souls in a love for these bare November days...





My November Guest

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.


- Robert Frost

Friday, November 16, 2018

Dorothy Day



By Mary DeTurris Poust

"Dorothy Day is one of the most significant women in the life of the Church in the United States." That's how Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York began a moving and inspiring talk about the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement on the anniversary of her birthday Nov. 9 at St. Joseph's Church in Greenwich Village. The video clip above is worth watching to the end. I had tears in my eyes by the time it was over, but I'll give you the synopsis of what Archbishop Dolan labeled the six "insights" we can take from Dorothy Day.

1. "She was quintessentially American." The archbishop went on to emphasize that Dorothy's faith was freely chosen. She was raised Protestant and converted to Catholicism. Her faith was "her free choice," something Archbishop Dolan said should resonate particularly well with Americans who more and more reject the faith of their births.

2. "Dorothy was from the beginning a social critic and activist in the best prophetic sense of American Christian spirituality, whether Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox." The archbishop said that Dorothys' vision and her intellectual contributions may well have "foreshadowed" what Pope John XXIII, Vatican II, and Pope John Paul II tried to advance "relative to the dignity of each person as a worker, as a human being created in the image and likeness of God."

3. "Dorothy's mission to the Church in every area -- social and legal reform, workers' rights, publications, her renowned pacifism, the ability to prophetically challenge even Church authority -- all of that found its taproot in prayer," something the archbishop said is too often reversed by reform-minded leaders. He stressed that Dorothy began and ended each day with prayer and rarely missed daily Mass, adding, "Her activism was the fruit of a profound prayer that I would say bordered on the mystic."

4. "Dorothy lived through two experiences of her day that are particularly enlightening for us today. Experience one: loneliness, alienation and disconnection to foundational institutions such as marriage and family. Secondly, the sexual revolution..." Archbishop Dolan called her life one of "upheaval," but said that her Augustinian model of faith reminds us that our sexuality cannot be cast aside as a weakness but is integral to our lives as an expression of our likeness to God. "She invites us to watch her grow in integrity in this most precious act of being human," he said.

5. "Dorothy neither hid from sin nor would allow any person, no matter their motives, to be simply equated with the sum of their sins. We are not ever or only the sum total of our sins, are we?" The archbishop said that Dorothy's life was "ever in process" and she was ever more converted to Jesus Christ every day. "Holiness of life, Dorothy would tell us, would have no chance without honesty at its base," he said, stressing that we cannot deny or lawyer up when it comes to our mistakes.

6. "Dorothy was a woman of the Church. She loved being a Catholic. She loved the Catholic Church. I'm not talking about some nebulous, generic Church. She loved the one, holy, catholic, apostolic, Roman church...She was proud to be Catholic."

Finally, Archbishop Dolan went on to say that our greatest pastoral challenge as Catholics today is to "respond to those who want Christ without his Church, and their name is legion." Saying that many people don't have a problem with Jesus but have "tons of problems" with his Church, he pointed out that Dorothy knew full well the flaws of her Church and loved it anyway:
"She loved the mystical body, but she new the mystical body had warts galore...Here's one of her saltier quotes, and there were many: 'Yes, the Church is the spotless bride of Christ, but at other times, she's the whore of Babylon.' Dorothy was well aware of the flaws, the wounds, the imperfections, the ugly side of the Church, but she loved it all the more."
Amen.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Marianist spirit

On Wednesday we had a vocations evening in the Kellenberg Memorial Community known as Operation Fiat. It is a chance for those pondering religious life to have a look at a Marianist community and chat with some of the Brothers about the Community, our life, and our mission. 

Image result for province of meribah marianists
There were over sixty young men who spent the evening in Adoration, Benediction, Evening Prayer, dinner, and conversation. 
I was struck over the course of the day by how often I was asked the question - each time expressed in a slightly different way - what is Marianist spirituality?  This can be something of a tricky question for Marianists to answer. For Marianists, a spiritual life is one that is guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit in all its aspects and dimensions. Blessed Chaminade passed to us a way of life and a mission. Yet if this tradition is to lead both those that hear us teach and the Brothers themselves to God, it must be founded on the one true God. That is, it must be founded on love. Hence a loving family spirit - that leads us to Jesus through Mary - the motto of the Marianists.
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The New Testament inspires the whole of our community life. We are guided by this new commandment of love. If we forget this commandment, our life together will be a source of ruin. If this commandment of love directs our actions, our community life will rekindle with joy, inspire love and esteem our vocation, attract others to share our life, and strengthen our apostolic work of education.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Papal Meetings


Monday, November 12, 2018

Prayer for Veterans Day



We ask for blessings on all those who have served their country in the armed forces.
We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded,
in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe.
We pray especially for the young men and women, in the thousands, 
who are coming home from Iraq with injured bodies and traumatized spirits.
Bring solace to them, O Lord; may we pray for them when they cannot pray.
We ask for an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace,
As a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.
Have mercy on all our veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq,
Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in.
Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative posts;
May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways.
Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting,
Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war.
Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer
Amen.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Marianist Martyrs of Madrid



TODAY we commemorate the the martyrdom of four Marianists: Miguel Léiber Garay, SM; Florencio Arániz Cejudo, SM; Joaquín Ochoa Salazar, SM; and Sabino Ayastuy Errasti, SM all martyred during the relgious persecution in Spain in 1936.

498 Spanish martyrs were proclaimed blessed and marked the largest number to be beatified simultaneously in the history of the Church. Some fifty thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the celebration of the martyrs.

From early on, these four Marianists felt the call of Jesus to follow Him in the Society of Mary. And they responded with generosity.

MIGUEL LÉIBAR GARAY
Born February 17, 1885 in Aozaraza-Arechavaleta. He’s a sharp kid, happy, a prankster, yet a good student and godly. Not far from his village in Escoriaza is the Marianist Postulate of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

“Dad, I want to be like them.”

“No way, son! - a boy as mischievous as you could never be a religious. And what’s more, our village always needs many strong arms and you need to help out as well!”

“But I’ll help you out in another way...”

Miguel made his first vows on March 24,1903. He took his perpetual vows in 1907. Armed with a licentiate in philosophy from the Central University of Madrid, he went on to study theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

FLORENCIO ARNÁIZ CEJUDO
The youngest of four brothers. Born on May 10, 1909, in Espinosa de Cerrata. His parents are farmers. He’s a good child, docile, cheerful, quiet and pious. An excellent teacher in the town makes him his assistant; this way he can help teach the younger students. Florencio loves this. He also helps the pastor as server and he loves this too... One day, his friend Agapito Alonso tells him: “I’m going to Escoriaza to be a religious.”

And Florencio asks “and can’t I go along as well?”

Florencio takes first vows on September 5, 1926. He graduates in primary education and makes his perpetual vows in 1934.

JOAQUÍN OCHOA SALAZAR
His family lives in Berantevilla, but he is born on April 16, 1910, in the home of his maternal grandmother in Villanueva de Valdegovía. There are six children in the family: four girls and two boys. They are a very close family. The father works for the local government of the province of Álava and is stationed with his family in Peñacerrada. One fine day, Father Gregorio Lasagabáster passes through to talk about the Marianists. Three kids sign up: the two brothers Ochoa and a friend, Agustín Alonso.

Indeed, two of them would become excellent religious, good educators and school principals. Joaquín “has a fine disposition; he is good and responsible, conscientious, a hard worker and pious.”

He makes his first vows on September 5, 1928, and his perpetual vows in 1935. Having completed his bachelor’s degree in Segovia, he is studying for his licentiate in history.

SABINO AYASTUY ERRASTI
He is born on December 29, 1911, in Aozaraza, just like Miguel Léibar. He’s the sixth of seven children but soon his father dies. He is also set on entering the nearby Marianist community at Nuestra Señora del Pilar. He’s a young man with a rich and sensitive personality with deep feelings. One day he is sent out with the house donkey to do some errands. He doesn’t return and soon they find him on the way, like a Franciscan, urging his donkey forward:

“Eat, you little creature, eat, so you can continue to move on and carry me there!”

He has another side though: difficult, rebellious, yet he is of immense good will. His tremendous bursts of anger are soon followed by a remarkably humble repentance. And, as is usual for him, God is all. He takes his first vows with Joaquín Ochoa on September 5, 1928.

Father Miguel Léibar begins his priestly ministry in Cádiz. Then he is made principal of the Colegio San Juan Bautista in Jerez for six years (1916-1922). He becomes chaplain in Vitoria, then, once again becomes principal - this time at the Colegio Católico de Santa María in San Sebastián (1925-1930). Director of the community, he is a true father to his fellow brothers, fostering their spiritual life and attending to them with tenderness, when they are ill. He is loved by all.

In 1930, he is sent as chaplain to the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Madrid, headed by the Servant of God Father Domingo Lázaro. They become close friends.

He is a first-rate educator – dynamic, enthusiastic and present to everyone and everything at the school. He knows how to reach his students, to be demand-ing and yet remain close to them. He is their spiritual director and confessor, and he would express his ideal in these words: “The great wish of my life is to guide souls on the path to heaven.”

A Marianist superior would say of him:

“The kids love him. He is an essentially dedicated soul, who knows how to bend to circumstances, to people and to the unforeseen situation. As a teacher he has a special knack of attracting students and dealing with them. He makes them like to work...”

Florencio Arnáiz flexes his first wings as an educator in September 1928 at the Colegio in Jerez. There he gives himself totally to the youngest students who came to worship him... not to mention being worshipped by their mothers as well. Always concerned with improving his teaching, he likes to keep up with the latest in pedagogy and pastoral ministry. In September 1933 he is sent to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid, where again he leaves his unique mark upon his little madrileños.

Sabino Ayastuy begins his education ministry in September 1931 with the young Marianist aspirants in his homeland of Escoriaza. He remains there until September 1935 with only one brief period away for course work in San Sebastián. For those whom he helps to discern their call, he leaves an unforgettable remembrance. One of them writes:

“I can still see him with his kind smile, his affectionate demeanor, how he used to enter through the back door of the study and walk toward us without the slightest noise, in order to help us with our course work. And he would whisper in our ear: ‘Filioli carissimi... [My dear children...]’ He truly liked us and we could see his attempts to reign in his anger and ill-tempered disposition... An intense interior life of faith shone through whatever he taught. He would so often repeat to us those words of St. Paul: "This is God’s will: that you become saints."

Joaquín Ochoa, who had begun his education ministry with Sabino in Escoriaza, is sent the next year to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid. There, from 1932- 1936, he is put in charge of the 8 to 10 year olds. He dedicates himself wholeheartedly to them. So note his superiors:

“Excellent religious. Fulfills all his duties faithfully. Upright judgment, prudent, responsible, very tractable. Very dedicated. Wholly in love with his profession as a religious and educator.”

Monday, November 5, 2018

Marianist Monday

November, 2018

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

Yesterday, I had occasion to remember some immortal lines from Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales:

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licóur
Of which vertú engendred is the flour; . . .
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages,
And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes,
To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;
And specially, from every shires ende
Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
The hooly blisful martir for to seke,
That hem hath holpen whan that they were seeke.

Well, it wasn’t exactly a warm, breezy day in spring – more like an uncharacteristically cold, windy Sunday in October. The skies were cobalt blue, and temperatures hovered in the low 40s. And on this Sunday in mid-October – October 21, to be exact – several Brothers and lay teachers escorted a group of sodalists on a pilgrimage of sorts, from Mineola to Lower Manhattan. We gathered at 8:30 a.m.,

Image result for pilgrimagewalked to the Mineola Train Station, rode the Long Island Railroad to the Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn, and from there pounded the pavement northwest on Flatbush Avenue and over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Church of St. Andrew, right next to One Police Plaza. Fr. Garrett said Mass for us at St. Andrew’s, a church established in 1842 and recently acquired by the Sisters of Life to become the downtown headquarters for their outreach programs to unwed, pregnant women.

All told, we walked three or four miles, for about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, at best. So, the distance and the strain paled in comparison to what those hardy pilgrims of the Middle Ages endured, or even many of our contemporaries who have hiked the Camino de Santiago.

Still, for me, making this “pilgrimage” was a major accomplishment, because it was the longest walk I have taken since my hip surgery back in June. I was a little nervous before our departure, wondering if I would be able to make the trip without slowing down the group. For better or for worse, I don’t get much exercise, so I was certainly not in the same shape as our younger teachers and our even younger students. But I made it! I kept up with the group and sometimes was even in the lead, despite one replaced hip, another hip that will need replacing a few years down the line, some 62 years of age, and more extra pounds than I care to admit.

I was reminded of a lot of lessons that day, so I am particularly grateful that I did not let my fears dissuade me from taking this next major step of my full recovery.

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And what exactly was I reminded of? Of the many parallels between life and a pilgrimage, of course. Life is a journey, a pilgrimage, and we complete it by putting one foot in front of another, in spite of all the temptations to take it easy, to stay at rest, and to stagnate. You set out, you put one foot in front of another, with faith that somehow, someway, you will make it to your destination. Without that faith, all is lost. With that faith, what is daunting becomes doable, and what seems impossible becomes possible.

There will always be challenges and difficulties along the road. But there will also be great rewards. The view of the New York City skyline, the sun glinting off the glass-sheathed One World Trade Center, the sturdy arches and the graceful cables of the Brooklyn Bridge all took my breath away, as they do every time I see them (these days, usually by car). And then, of course, was the satisfaction of reaching our destination, much less worse for the wear than I had imagined.

To reach your destination, it’s not a bad idea to have a guidebook, a subway map, GPS on your phone, a Bible and a Lives of the Saints in your backpack.

Here’s another important point: I made the mid-October pilgrimage in the company of many fellow pilgrims. We would do well in life to travel in groups, to rely on our fellow travelers for support and encouragement. Are our fellow pilgrims perfect? By no means. I found myself getting annoyed from time as our more athletic pilgrims bolted way out front, sometimes as much as a football field’s length ahead of the group. And exasperated when other pilgrims would dawdle and stand stock still, staring at the sights, as if they had never seen a skyscraper before! Irritated, when one or the other particularly garrulous pilgrim would rattle on and on about some trivial pursuit of his. And then, as should come as no surprise, frustrated with myself for growing impatient with my fellow pilgrims in the first place.

For all their foibles (and mine too!), these were the pilgrims that God had given me that day. Without them, I never would have made the pilgrimage in the first place. Besides that, when all was said and done, their foibles were just that – foibles, minor weaknesses and nothing more. Far more important was the youth and enthusiasm of my companions, their good cheer and their lively curiosity, and their willingness to go on a religious pilgrimage when they could have been doing scores of other things on a sunny, autumn Sunday.

The journey of life is not always easy. We can’t always choose our fellow travelers. But, by God, we have fellow travelers in the first place, and we have the strength to put one foot in front of another. Further, if we cultivate the right attitude, we can discover the joy of the journey and, one day, taste the unfathomable rewards of our destination.

Let’s get going!

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Vocation Awareness Week

The Vocation of a Brother

Here is an excerpt from Fr. James Martin, S.J. who writes for America Magazine on St. Alphonsus and the vocation of the Brother:

Earlier in the week I posted a link to a story about a wonderful Christian Brother who began a school in New York for the poor. Just a few days ago, another Catholic brother, André Bessette, became the first member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross to be canonized. Catholic brothers, like Catholic sisters, are the unsung heroes of the church, laboring in schools, hospitals, parishes and other ministries with somewhat less public acclaim than their priestly counterparts.

The vocation of the Catholic brother is often misunderstood. Frequently they are asked, even by members of their own religious order, "Why don't you get ordained?" Is is often an insensitive question. You might as well ask a married man why he didn’t join a religious order. Or you might ask a young married woman: “Why aren't you in a convent?” It is simply a different vocation. Early on in my Jesuit life, a Jesuit brother memorably explained his vocation to me this way: "I just don't relate to people as a father. I relate to them as a brother.”

In the 1990s, when I worked in Kenya with the Jesuit Refugee Service, the refugees took to calling me Brother Jim. I was not ordained yet, so “Father Jim” was out, and they felt uncomfortable calling me simply “Jim,” so therefore: Brother Jim. It was an honorific that I treasured. And my friend's words about relating to people as a brother helped me to accompany the refugees more easily. And, 
truth to tell, on the day I was ordained a priest several years later, on perhaps the happiest day of my life, I felt nonetheless that while I was receiving an incredibe gift from God, I was also losing something: being seen publicly as a brother.

Sunday (Oct. 31) is the feast of another remarkable Catholic brother, St. Alphonsus Rodríguez, the humble Jesuit porter of Majorca. Here is a brief excerpt from my book The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, which I offer as a tribute to this remarkable man, and to all the Catholic brothers. 

Alphonsus had come to the Society of Jesus by a circuitous route. Born in 1533, he was the second son of a prosperous cloth merchant in Segovia. When Peter Favre, one of the original Jesuits, visited the city to preach, the Rodríguez family provided hospitality to the Jesuit. Favre, in fact, prepared the young Alphonsus for his First Communion, an important rite of passage in the church.

At 12, Alphonsus was sent to the Jesuit college at Alcalá, but his father's death put an end to his studies: he was forced to return home to take over the family business. At 27, Alphonsus married. He and his wife Maria had three children, but, tragically, his wife and children all died, one after the other. Heavy taxes and expenses led Alphonsus to the brink of financial ruin; many biographers depict him as feeling like a failure in life. In desperation he called on the Jesuits for guidance. The lonely widower prayed for many years to understand God's desires for him.

Gradually Alphonsus found within himself the desire to become a Jesuit. At 35, he was deemed too old to begin the long training required for the priesthood and he was rejected for entrance. But his holiness was evident to the local provincial, who accepted Alphonsus into the novitiate as a brother two years later. The provincial is supposed to have said that if Alphonsus wasn’t qualified to become a brother or a priest, he could enter to become a saint. He stayed for only six months before being sent to the Jesuit school in Majorca, Spain in 1571, where he assumed the job of porter, or doorkeeper.

Each time he opened the door, as I had mentioned, Brother Alphonsus said to himself, "I'm coming, Lord!" The practice reminded him to treat each person with as much respect as if it were Jesus himself.

In 1605 Peter Claver, a 25-year-old Jesuit seminarian, met the humble, 72-year-old Alphonsus at the college. The two met almost daily for spiritual conversations, and in time Alphonsus would encouraged Peter to think about working overseas in "the missions.” The prospect thrilled Peter, who wrote to his provincial for permission, and was sent to Cartagena, in what is now Colombia, to work with the West African slaves who had been captured by traders and shipped to South America. For his tireless efforts to feed, counsel and comfort the slaves, who had endured horrifying conditions, Peter would earn the sobriquet el esclavo de los esclavos, the slave of the slaves.

Peter Claver, the great missionary, would be canonized for his heroic efforts. Alphonsus Rodríguez would be canonized for his own brand of heroism: a lifelong humility.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Patron Saint of Hairdressers

Saint Martín de Porres was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

St. Martin de Porres became the patron saint of hairdressers because hairdressing was one of the duties he performed for his brothers in the friary.

Check him out, doesn't he look like the guy who played Jesus in Madonna’s Like A Pray music video?

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a black freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there-as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

I wonder what I have to do to get canonized as a modern day saint?

Friday, November 2, 2018

November 2: All Souls Day


“Since I have the chance now, there is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century.

What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness.

Perhaps some of you have never thought about this before. Perhaps some of you think being a saint is not for you. Let me explain what I mean. When we are young, we can usually think of people that we look up to, people we admire, people we want to be like. It could be someone we meet in our daily lives that we hold in great esteem. Or it could be someone famous. We live in a celebrity culture, and young people are often encouraged to model themselves on figures from the world of sport or entertainment. My question for you is this: what are the qualities you see in others that you would most like to have yourselves? What kind of person would you really like to be?

When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts.

Not only does God love us with a depth and an intensity that we can scarcely begin to comprehend, but he invites us to respond to that love. You all know what it is like when you meet someone interesting and attractive, and you want to be that person’s friend. You always hope they will find you interesting and attractive, and want to be your friend.

 God wants your friendship. And once you enter into friendship with God, everything in your life begins to change. As you come to know him better, you find you want to reflect something of his infinite goodness in your own life. You are attracted to the practice of virtue. You begin to see greed and selfishness and all the other sins for what they really are, destructive and dangerous tendencies that cause deep suffering and do great damage, and you want to avoid falling into that trap yourselves. You begin to feel compassion for people in difficulties and you are eager to do something to help them. You want to come to the aid of the poor and the hungry, you want to comfort the sorrowful, you want to be kind and generous. And once these things begin to matter to you, you are well on the way to becoming saints.”
--Pope Benedict XVI
Greeting to Catholic Pupils of the United Kingdom
St Mary's College, Twickenham
17 September 2010

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Saints among us


The prayers of All Saints Day highlight our belief that we continue to be in relationship with those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. It is not only a matter of our honoring the holy lives these brothers and sisters led but also of acknowledging that they who are already with the Lord continue to be concerned for us and our welfare. That the very work of God can be manifest in our lives calls us to the responsibility of living in a way that the love of God be transparent in our deeds and relationships. Finally, our prayer on All Saints Day reminds us that when we share at the altar of the Lord's table we have a foretaste of the banquet the saints share forever in the reign of God. 

The Church calendar sets aside many days to honor the most famous of saints. November 1 is the day for us to remember and honor those saints whose lives made headlines not in the daily papers but in the hearts of those they served and touched. All of us know such saints in our own lives - some who have gone home to the Lord and some who are still with us.

Happy All Saints Day to all!