Friday, November 15, 2019

Dorothy Day: The Woman Who Loved Much


Rebecca Hamilton at Patheos has an interesting article about Dorothy Day:

Her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has loved much. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love. Luke 7:47

Dorothy Day sets off controversy, even after her death.

She followed Christ as He called her, often to the discomfort and dismay of other Christians who sought a less radical Way. Does that sound familiar? If you spend much time reading biographies of the saints, it should.

The saints weren’t often people’s people. They were too busy being God’s people. The saints are also often converted sinners who had fallen into the muck and mire of their times and taken a good bath there. It seems that God often makes His saints from the worst sinners. It’s as if He can do the most with these edgy people from the pits of life; people who know that evil is real and who see by contrast that God and His love are the only solution to the evil they have known.

Dorothy Day was a converted sinner. She took her turn at living life in the fast lane of the early 20th Century. She ran with the crowd and followed its ways up to and including having an abortion. Then, as people have been doing for 2,000 years, she found Jesus, or, I would imagine, she let Him find her. And that made all the difference.

Dorothy Day lived her life for Christ after that. She founded a ministry to the poor called Catholic Worker Houses. She published a great deal in support of this ministry and did not step back from the requirement of living alongside the people she was trying to help.

Her wary attitude towards government and stubborn pacifism did not always sit well with people in the depression-ridden, war-bound years of the 1930s and 40s. It found even less support during the Cold War years that followed. I suspect Dorothy Day seemed an embarrassment, an unrealistic fanatic, to a good many of the good, church-going people of her day.

It is only now that she begins to make sense. Corporatism is beginning to take a deep toll on the lives of Americans. We have morphed into a country that is continuously at war with an ever-changing cast of enemies. The over-weaning power of government has begun to focus on active legal persecution of the Church itself. These are our times. It appears that Dorothy Day, the uncomfortable convert, is beginning to seem less like a nutty fanatic and more like a prophet for our days.

It is in that prophetic role that she continues to set off controversy. Her life is a flashpoint of disagreement for a lot of people today, just as it was in the past. Some people try to cast Dorothy Day as “their” saint, as an apologist for their personal politics. Other people attempt to disregard her and disown her because they see her life as an attack on their personal politics.

But if Dorothy Day was a living saint, then neither of these reactions apply. Saints live their lives in the service of God, not partisan politics. They don’t try to be popular with people. They set their sights on the narrow way and they walk it all the way home.

The American bishops recently cast a unanimous vote in support of the cause of declaring Dorothy Day a saint. There are a lot of potholes in the road ahead of them in this cause. Most saints are undeclared and unofficial. That’s because, hard as it is to be one, it’s even harder to be officially declared one.

For myself, I have no doubt that Dorothy Day is in heaven. I have no doubt that she lived her life for Jesus and that she was a woman of great courage. Dorothy Day was one of God’s warriors in the battle for life and human dignity. Despite, or maybe because, of her rough beginning, she was one of His best works.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Is Dorothy a Saint?

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops enthusiastically endorsed the canonization of Dorothy Day in the past, the American-born co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement. Day’s “cause,” as it is known in church circles, was first introduced by John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York. Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the current archbishop, was required under the terms of a 2007 Vatican document to consult with the regional bishops conference (in this case the USCCB) on the advisability of pursuing the canonization of Day, whose ministry was based in New York City. The bishops approved the proposal by a voice vote, after a brief discussion in which bishops praised the woman who admirers refer to simply as Dorothy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

November - a month to remember

Reflection for All Souls Day

At the heart of all our worship as Catholic Christians,
we pause to remember…
We remember Christ, and all he did for us;
we remember how he suffered, died and rose for us;
and in word and sacrament,
we remember what he did at table with his friends
on the night before he died.
Every time we celebrate the Eucharist, then,
we remember someone who has died: our brother, Jesus.

And every time we celebrate the Eucharist
we remember others who have died, too.
You know the words as well as I do:
Remember our brothers and sisters
who have gone to their rest in the hope of rising again;
bring them and all the departed into the light of your presence…
We remember all our brothers and sisters in Christ
and not only them but all the departed
- everyone who has died -
and we pray that through the mercy and love of God
every one of them will enjoy the light and peace of God, forever.

Of course, when we pray for those who have died
we remember first those whom we loved the most,
those whom we miss the most.
When I pray the remembrance of the dead,
my heart seldom fails to remember my mother and father:
others, too – but always them.
I’m sure there are names that come to your heart, too.
And we pray for them…

But why do we pray for them?

What do we pray for them?

Our knowledge of human frailty and our faith in God’s mercy
teach us that when we die, God might not be quite yet finished
with fashioning us, making us ready for eternal life.

Our whole life on earth is a journey to the dwelling place
Christ has prepared and reserved for us in his Father’s house.
Sometimes we stay right on the path that leads us home
and sometimes we take short cuts or make detours
or even turn around and walk in the other direction!

We need the Lord to shepherd us from death into life...

So it might be, it might even be likely,
that at the end of our life our rough edges
might need some buffing and polishing.

The Church has long taught that after death,
those not quite ready for heaven
may need some further purification.
This has sometimes been called purgatory.
But we might have a false picture of purgatory.
It’s not some “flaming concentration camp on the outskirts of hell.”*
It’s not God’s last chance to make us suffer!

St. Catherine spoke beautifully of the fire of purgatory
as “God’s love burning the soul until it was wholly aflame
-- with the love of God.”
It’s like the fire mentioned in the book of Wisdom:
“As gold in the furnace, God will prove us, purify us,
and take us to himself… we shall shine…
and we shall abide forever with God in love…”
If there is pain in purgatory,
it is the pain of longing to be with God,
to be worthy of the heaven Jesus won for us.

And so we pray for those who have gone before us
that God bring to completion the good work begun in their lives
while they were still with us.
We cannot know how or even if time is measured in this purification.
Perhaps one day, one hour, one minute on our clocks
of finally and fully realizing the greatness of God’s love for us
and how unloving in return we often were,
perhaps one second will be all it takes to purify us
of the sins of taking God’s love and the love of others for granted.

When we remember those who have died
some of us might recall those who hurt and harmed in this life.
Nothing is impossible for God.
We can pray for these, too, entrusting them to God
who knows how to make even the hardest of hearts
ready for his mercy.

Of course, many of those whom we remember on All Souls Day
were long ago perfected by God’s mercy
and welcomed to their places in heaven
We remember and pray for them, too.

Today, and through this month of November,
we remember those who have gone to their rest
in the hope of rising again and all the departed...

And we remember Jesus, our brother, who died for us and rose
and opened the door to his Father’s house
and prepared for each of us a dwelling place in his peace.



Leondard Foley, OFM

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marianist vocation = relationship with Christ


God has a specific plan for your life. He created you for a specific purpose. Your job is to figure out what exactly it is. The prophet Isaiah writes, "A voice shall sound in your ears: This is the way; walk in it."

But the question is how do you hear His voice and discover His will?

It's all about being in a relationship with Jesus Christ and listening and hearing His voice as He speaks to you.

It is very important that you are in this relationship, that you are a disciple, before you can discover God's will for your life.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

St. Martin de Porres


For our Province St. Martin whose feast we celebrated this month plays an important role. Our grade school bears the name of St. Martin de Porres and is the patron. On this day the festivities at the school have been curtailed due to Hurricane Sandy. The memory of St. Martin lives on in so many ways.

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 cutting hair was one of the duties he performed for his Brothers in the friary.

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.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fiat


Mary’s fiat, as it is called (fiat being not a cute little car but Latin for “let it be done”), was a yes to the Unknown. These are the only yeses that really count.

Is the Lord, perhaps, calling you to the religious life?

There are many great and wonderful gifts God has given us in this world. There are the gifts of life, of family, of friends; of our education, of our talents and opportunities. For all these we own immense thanks to the Lord who arranges all things for those who love Him. But there are far greater gifts than these. Among these many and exceedingly wonderful gifts of grace, one stands in a principle place. It is the grace of a vocation.

Just how important is the grace of vocation? The grace of a vocation is one of the gifts God gives us under a special Providence and care for our salvation. This kind of vocation is the vocation we received in baptism. It is the vocation all Catholics have. And to remain faithful to our baptismal vows is at once both the most prudent course and the most glorious.

There is a special grace of vocation, however, which we call a vocation. It is the vocation to the religious life. This kind of vocation is a calling, a stirring one might say of the the soul, to undertake a special state of life which is ordained to the supernatural good of others. Unlike the "vocation" of marriage, the vocation of religious life is essentially supernatural in origin and purpose.
How can a vocation be so important? The grace of a vocation is the source of many graces. It is an occasion for doing many good works, for having more time to pray, to learn about God, to serve Him by love and sacrifice and fidelity. It is the source of graces for ourselves, for God apportions to each of us grace in the measure to our needs. The greater the vocation, the greater the graces. The greater good we can do for the Church, the greater the graces to help and encourage us to do so. And how great indeed is the good that religious do for God and His Church and for each of us.

St. Bernard tells us that religious live more purely, fall more rarely, rise more easily, live more peacefully, are more plentifully endowed with grace, die more securely, and are more abundantly rewarded. A religious vocation is a magnificent grace from God, but it is only the beginning of a long chain of graces they must cooperate with by serving Him with love and fervor. By fidelity to one’s vocation, a religious is able to a degree to change the world — to win the world for Christ, to restore all things in Christ.

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

A New Serenity Prayer



                     St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Mass.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I’m clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.

And while you’re at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I’m not you, which means I’m not perfect.
It’s better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you’ll no doubt remember me saying,
I can’t change anyway.

Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I’m clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they’re talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.

Basically, God,
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I’m
not you.

Amen

by James Martin S.J.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Faith - a journey


It’s easy to talk about faith and a lot harder to embrace it. We want to give ourselves over to God, but we’d like to be able to know the destination details in advance. We’d love it if God would simply give us the floor plan and schedule for where our lives will end up — hence the oft-cited obsession with “finding God’s will for my life” as though there were some magic bullet or formula to tell us precisely how our lives will play out. We’d also like to have the option of getting off a floor or two early just in case things get to be too uncomfortable or if circumstances warrant. Buttons like work, friendships, college, and future stand lit up before us, easy for us to punch as an excuse to keep us from focusing on the destiny to which God is calling us.

The truth is that God’s will for us isn’t bound up in the final destination, be it heaven, a career choice or even a particular vocation. God’s will is for us to be in relationship with God, to trust God with everything in our lives and to live each day in God’s presence. When it comes to God, the journey really is the destination.

Faithfulness isn’t about “what’s in it for me” in the future, but rather what’s possible for God and me to accomplish together in the present, realizing that everything we do for God is part of God’s larger purpose for the world.

You want to learn faith? Skip the buttons and step aboard.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Marianist Martyrs - a message of faith & love





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.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Our identity: the Beatitudes

From the Catacombs of S. Priscilla, 

The identity of the Christian is this: the Beatitudes. There is not another one. If you do this, if you live like this, you are a Christian. “No, but look, I belong to that association, to that other …, I belong to this movement …”. Yes, yes, all good things; but these are fantasy in front of this reality. Your identity card is this [indicates the Gospel], and if you do not have this, movements or other belongings are of no use. Either you live like this, or you’re not a Christian. Simply. The Lord said it. “Yes, but it’s not easy, I don’t know how to live like this …”. There is another passage from the Gospel that helps us better understand this, and that passage of the Gospel will also be the “great protocol” according to which we will be judged. It is Matthew 25. With these two passages of the Gospel, the Beatitudes, and the great protocol, we will show, by living this, our identity as Christians. Without this, there is no identity. There is the fiction of being Christian, but not identity.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Prayer for Discerning a Vocation



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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sainted Religious Lay Brother


Sainted Religious Lay Brother

Today we celebrate our Feast Day, and recall how our brother St. Martin de Porres lived his life filled with the Holy Spirit, in union with the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, let us reflect a moment on his death.

As we think about our own life of ministry, a part of our active life that we sometimes engage in with a mixture of motives, let us remind ourselves of something that we can surmise about Martin, from what we actually know. I think we can surmise that whatever he was doing, from the moment he woke up each morning, the reality of the "end for which he was created" was never far from his conscious thoughts. I would venture to say that this contributed significantly to the peacefulness of his death.

It was about nine o'clock at night, November 3, 1639, when without a tremor, without a sound, Martin's soul left the body which had been such a docile and heroic instrument of virtue, and entered the kingdom of eternal happiness. . . . There was a moment of silence, while Archbishop Felician de Vega traced the sign of the cross over his friend. Then Father Saldaña (Prior) began the prayers which are recited when the soul has just left the body. . . When the last "Amen" had been said, the archbishop tried to say a word of consolation to the community, but emotion choked him. All he could say was, "Brethren, let us learn from Brother Martin how to die. This is the most difficult and important lesson" (St. de Porres: Apostle of Charity by Giuliana Cavallini, pp. 195-96).

St. Martin DePorres pray for us!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

All Souls Day!



I Am the Resurrection and the Life


Please pray for the repose of all souls 

Go forth, O Christian soul, ouf of this world, in the Name of God the Father Almighty, Who created you; in the Name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, Who suffered for you; in the Name of the Holy Spirit, Who sanctified you, in the name of the holy and glorious Mary, Virgin and Mother of God; in the name of the angels, archangels, thrones and dominions, cherubim and seraphim; in the name of the patriarchs and prophets, of the holy apostles and evangelists, of the holy martyrs, confessors, monks and hermits, of the holy virgins, and of all the saints of God; may your place be this day in peace, and your abode in Holy Sion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Friday, November 1, 2019

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!

Happy All Saints


Shortly after Thomas Merton converted to Catholicism in the late 1930s, he was walking the streets of New York with his friend, Robert Lax. Lax was Jewish, and he asked Merton what he wanted to be, now that he was Catholic.

“I don’t know,” Merton replied, adding simply that he wanted to be a good Catholic.

Lax stopped him in his tracks.
A friend of Thomas Merton told say,” he told him, “is that you want to be a saint!”

Merton was dumbfounded.

“How do you expect me to become a saint?,” Merton asked him. Lax said: “All that is necessary to be a saint is to want to be one. Don’t you believe that God will make you what He created you to be, if you will consent to let him do it? All you have to do is desire it.”...

Thomas Merton knew his friend was right. Merton, of course, would go on to become one of the great spiritual thinkers and writers of the last century. His friend Bob Lax would later convert to Catholicism himself -- and begin his own journey to try and be a saint.

But the words Lax spoke ring down through the decades to all of us today. Because they speak so simply and profoundly to our calling as Catholic Christians.

You should want to be a saint. And to be one, all you need is to want to be one.

Of course, if you only want to be a run-of-the-mill, average Christian, that’s probably all you’ll ever be. Every one can do just enough to get by. It’s not hard.

But the message Christ sends to all of us is an invitation to be something more. In the words of the old Army recruiting ad: be all that you can be...

Most of us are familiar with the phenomenal saintly stories of the Church. We grew up hearing of how John was beheaded, and Stephen was stoned; how Francis got the stigmata, or how Therese suffered humiliations and disease to die an early death. You hear stories like that and you can’t blame Thomas Merton for not really being eager to be a saint. It’s not only hard work, it often doesn’t have a happy ending.
But those are the stories we hear about. There are countless stories – millions, throughout the centuries – that we don’t. They are the anonymous saints who go about their daily lives quietly, peacefully, joyfully, finally entering into the fullness of grace without doing anything more dramatic than merely living the beatitudes.

They are the unsung saints.

In the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, you’ll see magnificent tapestries lining the walls. And they really are magnificent, designed and executed by the artist John Nava.
In the tapestries, you can see all the familiar saints whose names we know, in a row, facing toward the altar, as if in line for communion. It is – literally and figuratively – the communion of the saints. There is St. Nicholas, St. Gregory, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis, St. Clare…and on and on, with their names over their heads.

But scattered among those saints are people without names – people you won’t find in Butler’s “Lives of the Saints.” A teenage girl. A young man from the barrio. Children in contemporary clothes. They are the saints whose names are known only to God. It is a beautiful and eloquent depiction of the day we celebrate today: All Saints.

And the message of those tapestries is the message of this feast day: these unknown saints are just as worthy as they ones who are known. They look like us. They look like people we might pass on the street. If they can be holy, can’t we all?

What does it take to join them?

As Robert Lax explained, to a man whom some people today consider a saint:

All you really need… is to want to.

And God will do all the rest.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Great Pumpkin


The Great Pumpkin

I am sure we all have watched a little bit of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Any praying person has to identify a little with poor Linus, as his primitive belief in the Great Pumpkin, though doomed and ultimately inadequate, has some elements of theological sophistication.

First, he knows that the Great Pumpkin will not appear if he is dismissed or disbelieved. He requires sincerity and faith, just like the God for Whom believing is seeing. And one only has to peruse the Gospel according to John lightly to see that this is indeed the case; to believe and to see God are ultimately the same thing. Meister Eckhart knew this when he famously said, "the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me."

Second, Linus knows that the Great Pumpkin is not just a fulfiller of selfish human wishes. Unlike Santa Claus, he does not take requests. He brings you something, yes, but you can't choose it and are only called to be grateful.

Third, Linus knows that, despite the failure of the Great Pumpkin to appear, or better, our failure to allow him to appear, Linus must remain faithful.

October ends

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

"God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

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"God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Let’s face it, this is a prayer that each of us can say, because each of us has an ongoing relationship with at least one of the seven deadly sins — lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. Each of us needs to be forgiven, whether we acknowledge it or not, just as the Pharisee needed to be cleansed of the sin of pride when he said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people.”

It’s time to get honest — honest with God, and honest with ourselves. We cannot go home justified, restored to right relationship with God and one another, unless we admit that we need to be forgiven.

The opportunity comes to us here, just as it came to the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple — the opportunity to see our mistakes, confess our hidden faults, and ask for the gift of forgiveness.

It all begins with two words, honestly spoken: “My bad.”

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The humble heart

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Pray every morning that we will be less critical of others, that we will look at yourself more honestly and at others with more compassion.

Monday, October 28, 2019

“God, be merciful!"

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We err when we are not honest with God — or honest with ourselves — about our need for forgiveness. The tax collector saw himself clearly, and he confessed his sinfulness, saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Trust

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The  Pharisee’s fasting and tithing seemed noble at first, and his pride in his good behavior seemed to be a minor mistake, but together these factors created a disaster. Without humility, there was no way for him to be right with God! 
 

When you trust God, you get God. But when you trust only yourself, you get … only yourself.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Surprising twist

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In a surprising reversal, Jesus concludes the parable by saying, “I tell you, this tax collector went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The tax collector restores his relationship with God by asking for forgiveness, while the Pharisee moves farther away from God by boasting of his righteousness.

This isn’t what the hearers of the parable expect. They’ve been taught that good behavior draws you closer to God, while bad behavior drives you away. But Jesus is insisting that unless we are aware of our secret faults, and humble enough to know that we need forgiveness, we’re going to discover that our minor mistakes can get out of control and destroy us.

It’s always better to say “My bad” than to boast “My good.”

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Sunday Word

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Jesus says that two men go up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and one a tax collector. The natural assumption made by anyone hearing this story is that the Pharisee is the devout person. The tax collector, on the other hand, is the sinner. 

Sure enough, the Pharisee steps away from the crowd in order to maintain his purity before God, and launches into a list of all his religious accomplishments: “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.”  He does everything right, according to the standards of the day, obeying all the religious rules of the road. In terms of keeping God’s commandments, he is way above average.

Then the tax collector bows his head, beats his breast, and says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” He’s feeling so ashamed that he cannot even raise his hands and look up to heaven, which is the standard position for first-century prayer. The tax collector doesn’t make any boasts or excuses — he simply asks for God’s mercy.

There’s no reason to assume that this tax collector is a particularly spectacular sinner. If he were a thief, a rogue or an adulterer, Jesus would say so. It’s much more likely that he is confessing a set of secret, hidden faults — a collection of oversights, errors and miscalculations that only he would know.

So the above-average Pharisee boasts, while the sin-sick tax collector says, “My bad.”

Thursday, October 24, 2019

A New Saint for the Age of Loneliness

A New Saint for the Age of Loneliness
Cardinal John Henry Newman’s writings on friendship are more relevant than ever.

By
John Garvey Oct. 10, 2019

On Sunday Pope Francis will officially recognize as a saint the British clergyman and Oxford academic John Henry Newman (1801-90). Nearly 130 years after his death, Newman’s writings still offer readers incisive theological analysis—and practical wisdom.

A theologian, poet and priest of the Church of England, Newman found his way to Catholicism later in life and was ordained a Catholic priest in his 40s. Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal in 1879.

I feel a special kinship with Newman. He founded the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854. More than 150 years later, I became president of the Catholic University of America and looked to his writing for wisdom. “The Idea of a University,” a series of lectures he delivered on taking the job in Dublin, was the inspiration for my inaugural address. But it’s the cardinal’s writings about loneliness and friendship that feel most salient today.

Cigna, a global health service company, surveys feelings of social isolation across the U.S. using the UCLA Loneliness Scale. Last year Cigna released the results of a study of 20,000 Americans. It found that adults 18 to 22 are the loneliest segment of the population. Nearly half report a chronic sense of loneliness. People 72 and older are the least lonely.

I spend a lot of time with young adults in my job, and the results don’t surprise me. I often observe young couples out on dates, looking at their cellphones rather than each other. I see students walking while wearing earbuds, oblivious to passersby. Others spend hours alone watching movies on Netflix or playing videogames. The digital culture in which young people live pushes them toward a kind of solipsism that must contribute to their loneliness.

“No one, man nor woman, can stand alone; we are so constituted by nature,” Newman writes, noting our need to cultivate genuine relations of friendship. Social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter connect people, but it’s a different sort of connection than friendship. The self one presents on Facebook is inauthentic, someone living an idealized life unlike one’s daily reality. Interaction online is more akin to Kabuki theater than genuine human relations.

When young people do connect face to face, it’s often superficial, thanks in part to dating and hookup apps like Tinder and Bumble. Cigna’s study found that 43% of participants feel their relationships are not meaningful. Little wonder, if relationships are formed when two people decide to swipe right on their phones.

Cardinal Newman never married, but warm, sincere, and lasting friendships—the kind that we so seldom form through digital interactions—gave his life richness. He cultivated them with his neighbors in Oxford and, after his conversion to Catholicism, at the Birmingham Oratory. He sustained them in his correspondence, some 20,000 letters filling 32 volumes.

In one of his sermons, delivered on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, Newman reflects on the Gospel’s observation that St. John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” It is a remarkable thing, Newman says, that the Son of God Most High should have loved one man more than another. It shows how entirely human Jesus was in his wants and his feelings, because friendship is a deep human desire. And it suggests a pattern we would do well to follow in our own lives if we would be happy: “to cultivate an intimate friendship and affection towards those who are immediately about us.”

On the other hand, Newman observes that “nothing is more likely to engender selfish habits” than independence. People “who can move about as they please, and indulge the love of variety” are unlikely to obtain that heavenly gift the liturgy describes as “the very bond of peace and of all virtues.” He could well have been describing the isolation that can result from an addiction to digital entertainment.

When Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, he chose as his motto Cor ad cor loquitur. He found the phrase in a letter to St. Jane Frances de Chantal from St. Francis de Sales, her spiritual adviser: “I want to speak to you heart to heart,” he said. Don’t hold back any inward thoughts.

That is a habit of conversation I hope we can revive among our sons and daughters. Real friendship is the cure for the loneliness so many young people feel. Not the self-referential stimulation of a cellphone or iPad; not the inauthentic “friending” of Facebook; not the superficial hooking up of Tinder, but the honest, intimate, lasting bond of true friendship.


Mr. Garvey is president of the Catholic University of America.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Lead me to the Cross




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

Monday, October 21, 2019

Marianist Monday


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MARIANIST MONDAY WITH BLESSED CHAMINADE

“Ours is a work, a magnificent work. If it is universal, it is because we are missionaries of Mary, who has said to us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 


Each one of us has received from the Blessed Virgin a commission to work at the salvation of our brothers and sisters in the world.”

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Perseverance


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Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do ... Where there's love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong. (Ella Fitzgerald)


The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is, that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't. (Henry Ward Beecher)

Never, never, never, never give up. (Winston Churchill)

-House of Quotes, www.houseofquotes.com.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Persistance

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I have a 7-year-old granddaughter by marriage named Madeline. She is blond, skinny and tall for her age. ...

What I want Madeline to know is that the best thing about prayer is the relationship itself. Whether or not she gets what she asks for, I want her to keep asking. I want her to pester God the same way she pesters her mother, thinking of 12 different ways to plead her case. I want her to long for God the same way she longs for her father, holding fast to him even when his chair is empty.


When she complains that none of this does any good, I am going to ask her to tell me the difference between how she feels while she is praying versus how she feels when she thinks about giving up. If I am lucky, she is going to tell me that she feels more alive when she is praying, and that is when I will tell her the story about the persistent widow ... .

-Barbara Brown Taylor, "Bothering God," Christian Century, March 24-31, 1999, 356.

Friday, October 18, 2019

The Lord's Prayer


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Arthur Boers, in his book, Lord, Teach Us to Pray, A New Look at the Lord's Prayer offers some insight into the importance of learning the Lord's prayer and continuing to pray it into adulthood. He writes:

As I tell my children I love them, I also come to understand more and more what it means to have my parents love me. I find myself increasingly appreciating and loving my parents. Thus the meaning of saying "I love you" becomes deeper and richer all the time. 

When we teach our children to say, "I love you" we cannot expect them to understand what they say. Yet it is not wrong to teach them the words. The words are true, even when not understood. 


All my life I told my parents I loved them. It was always true, even though it becomes an increasingly complex reality. It was true when I was an accepting child. It was true when I was a rebellious adolescent. It is still true (only more so) now that I am an adult and myself a parent. 

They are words that are always true and words that we can always grow into. As the years go by, we understand them better and better. As parents, we are in the best position to give to our children the words they need in our relationship. 

The given prayers such as the Lord's Prayer, are much like the love formula taught to us by our parents. The Lord's Prayer is a gift. Its words help us when we are immature in our faith, and they are words that we can always grow into. Martin Luther said: "To this day I am still nursing myself on the Lord's Prayer like a child and am still eating and drinking of it like an old man without getting bored with it."

-Ruth Preston Schilk, "Persistence in prayer," www.telusplanet.net.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pray always

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Last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against student-initiated, student-conducted prayer at public high school football games, it seemed like yet another setback for Christian believers.
In one sense, it is quite discouraging, although some have wondered whether a football game is an appropriate place for something as sacred as prayer. But a [Campus Journal] devotional is not the place to discuss issues of constitutional law. Instead, let's focus on all the places we can pray, rather than complain about the situations where we can't.

When we start to develop that list, we see that we have lots of opportunities to pray - in school (e.g., before that chemistry final), at home, at church, outside, inside, with friends, alone. The Supreme Court did take away that 30 seconds of prayer before a football game, but that still leaves a lot of time.

-"Where can you pray?" 
Campus Journal, January 30, 2001.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Change


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Jesus essentially told the chief priests and elders:If you think you have it figured out, think again. Take another look at what you think is important.

You can change your minds—and change your hearts.

“Change,” in fact, is a significant word in this gospel. It pops up twice: describing the son who does change, and describing the chief priests and elders who don’t.

Some commentators have compared this passage in Matthew to the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke; both stories revolve around two sons, and a choice, and change.

It is clearly a theme that Jesus wanted to drive home again and again to his listeners. It is one that has echoed down through history as the Christian faith has been passed on: the notion that there is another way, a better way.

The Father’s way. The Father’s will. He is calling. Are we listening?

The fact is, he has something in mind for each of us.

Saint John Henry Newman put it beautifully:

“God has created me to do Him some definite service,” he wrote. “He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another…I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.”

It isn’t always easy. But if we listen to what God is trying to tell us, follow the direction he’s trying to take us and trust in his will for our lives, we may be amazed at where he leads us.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Tuesday Tunes



Like the runner in a marathon, keep your eyes on the prize...on Jesus, your only hope, your only goal, your only God.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Not on where you've been or what’s around you, not on what somebody’s saying or doing, not on the gossipers and the doomsayers. No. Keep your eyes fixed firmly on Jesus, your hope and your prize.

For only then can we win the race. That’s the lesson of today’s tune for each of us who seek the truth. Don’t let the darkness distract you, or the politics gets you down: keep your eyes on the prize...on Jesus.

Don’t let the temporary triumphs of the Culture of death distract you from the race: keep your eyes on the prize...on Jesus. Don’t let media struggles and ideological battles frighten you or slow you down: keep your eyes on the prize...on Jesus. For he is the only way, the only truth, and the source life. He is the light which no darkness can overcome, the truth no lie can destroy, and the life which defeats even death itself!

For, in the end, this is really not our battle. It is the latest chapter in the primordial struggle between light and darkness, goodness and hate, life and death. And each of us, unworthy servants that we are, but play our role. And the victory of the Gospel of Life, when it comes (and it surely will) will not be ours. It will be his.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The faith walk

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Although Tom Dempsey was a place-kicker for five teams and played in several playoff games, his NFL career can be reduced to one moment. On November 8, 1970, Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal on the game's last play to give New Orleans a victory over Detroit. The record-breaking kick nearly overshadowed a more impressive fact: Dempsey was born with only half his right foot (his kicking foot) and no right hand. 


The 6-foot, 2-inch Dempsey played for New Orleans (1969-70), Philadelphia (1971-74), Los Angeles (1975-76), Houston (1977), and Buffalo (1978-79). In his rookie year Dempsey kicked a 55-yard field goal, 1-yard shy of the then-record 56 yards. He played in the Pro Bowl following the 1969 season. 

-Ed Maloney, "Legends tell all," National Football League, CBS.SportsLine.com.

The faith walk of the Christian is strenuous and demanding. We need strong legs, and healthy feet for the journey.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Life is worth preserving

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Viktor Frankl, the eminent psychologist and founder of the so-called Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy (Logotherapy), provides a revealing example of what it means to express gratitude for wholeness and wellness. Frankl, who died last year at the age of 91, was a prisoner in the concentration camps during World War II. Dr. Gordon Allport, in his preface to Frankl's significant work, Man's Search for Meaning (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984), says that "there he found himself stripped to a literally naked existence. His father, mother, brother and his wife died in the camps or were sent to the gas ovens, so that except for his sister, his entire family perished in these camps. How could he -- every possession lost, every value destroyed, suffering from hunger, cold and brutality, hourly expecting extermination -- how could he find life worth preserving? A psychiatrist 
who personally has faced such extremity is a psychiatrist worth listening to."

Frankl answers Allport's question when he recounts his experience immediately following his liberation from the camps:

"One day, a few days after the liberation, I walked through the country, past flowering meadows, for miles and miles, toward the market town near the camp. Larks rose to the sky and I could hear their joyous song. There was no one to be seen for miles around; there was nothing but the wide earth and sky and the larks' jubilation and the freedom of space. I stopped, looked around and up to the sky -- and then I went down on my knees. At that moment there was very little I knew of myself or of the world -- I had but one sentence in mind -- always the same: "I called to the Lord from my narrow prison and he answered me in the freedom of space."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Vision

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In our Sunday Gospel Saint Luke uses the word "saw." When Luke uses the word “saw,” he’s talking about the single man who, observing that his illness had disappeared, turned back and praised God in a loud voice and then prostrated himself before Jesus in deep thankfulness. Certainly the other nine also noticed that their diseased skin was healed, but they failed to see that praise belonged to God and that thanks belonged to Jesus because of it.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Sunday Word



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There is no better time to prepare for our Sunday readings than today. Sunday's Gospel occurs near the end pf Jesus' journey to Jerusalem. It is similar to a travel segment which allows Luke to incorporate various teachings and healings in a long narrative setting.

This particular healing account has two main points. One point is the miraculous healing of the lepers
and the other point is the gratitude of the Samaritan.

The ability to see is an important part of this story. Saint Luke reports that Jesus was moved to heal all 10 after he saw them, which suggests something more than just physical sight. Jesus’ vision enabled him not only to be aware of their presence, but also to grasp their predicament and to empathize with their sufferings to the point that he acted to help them.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Divine Adoption

By Br. Francis Mary Day, O.P.


What does it mean that we have been saved? What happened to us when we became Christian? There are many ways to speak about this, many important distinctions can be made, and many consequences can be fleshed out—but my favorite model or “image” of what happens is that of adoption. As St. John tells us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 Jn 3:1).” What is adoption but a completely gratuitous gift of love, a “becoming part of the family?” This family is nothing less than the Mystical Body of Christ, which is a participation in the Holy Trinity.

Our membership in this family is not natural, not something owed to us, but it is nonetheless real and given to us in baptism by sanctifying grace. The Father sent his Son into the world that we might be sons “in the Son.” “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12).

When a child enters a family, it does so on terms that are not its own, hoping to receive a love and care that it cannot fully reciprocate. This sense of trust, born in wonder, has often been made a model of Christian life. It is rooted in the realization that we cannot provide for ourselves, our own needs, or own own protection. It can only come from the truth, lived out in our daily lives, that we have a Father in heaven who knows every hair on our head.

It doesn’t make sense by worldly standards, although there have been Christians who have tried to transpose worldly notions of self-sufficiency onto Christianity. The desire to grow in the spiritual life, to be “perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48), can only come out of this childlike sense of dependency. Looking at Jesus, the Son of God, we see someone whose whole existence is caught up in a tender love for his Father, and whose only desire is to do the Father’s will. Our life in Christ, sharing in his sonship, cannot develop without this kind of love. Without its being rooted in filial love, any moral goal can quickly become a list of rules that leads nowhere. Family life has its rules and obligations but these are all accidental to a family’s center: love. We are adopted sons and daughters of the Father and we are called to act as his beloved sons and daughters.

The Christian moral life is really rooted in the dignity of being a part of God’s family. It is not so much a checklist as it is a new sense of honor and value. It is not so much a company code of conduct as a life lived like a son or daughter of God. All our talk about holiness can only come from a profound appreciation of what has been given to us in Christ, and our response to it. This is what it means to say that we have been saved: that we are now sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ, and that we share in the life and grace of Jesus Christ.





Photo by Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P (used with permission)