Saturday, February 23, 2019

Proclaim the Gospel


Pope Francis during one of his homilies at Mass at the Casa Santa Martha said that as Christians we are called to proclaim the Gospel with humility.

Taking his cue from the Gospel which recounts the tragic death of John the Baptist, the Pope said John was the man God had sent to prepare the way for his son.

He, Pope Francis continued, was a man in the court of Herod, filled with corruption and vices who urged everyone to convert.

The Holy Father recalled how this great Saint firstly, proclaimed Jesus Christ. John had the chance to say he was the Messiah, added the Pope, but he did not. Secondly, said Pope Francis, John the Baptist was “a man of Truth.”

The third thing John did, underlined the Holy Father was to imitate Jesus in his humility, in his suffering and humiliation.

The Pope also stressed that like other religious figures such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, John the Baptist had dark moments, moments of anguish and doubt sending his disciples to ask Jesus : ' But tell me, is it you, or am I wrong and there is another?

Pope Francis explained that John the “icon of a disciple” because he is "the man who proclaims Jesus Christ… and follows the way of Jesus Christ ."

Concluding his homily the Holy Father said we should not take advantage of our condition as Christians, as if it were a privilege. Instead we are called proclaim the Gospel message with humility without seizing on the prophecy.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Psalm 5


Psalm 5 is an open outcry: "Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray."


The psalmist is crying to God, asking for help. Facing the threat of violence, he begs God to destroy those who are telling lies. Perhaps he has been accused of wrongdoing himself, and is now pleading his case to God. The psalm can be used today by anyone being threatened by wicked, evil, boastful, bloodthirsty or deceitful people.

You know them: Friends who are really enemies -- "frenemies." High school gangs. Street thugs. Unfaithful spouses. Unethical co-workers. Substance-abusing relatives who lie to you. Put-down artists. Adversaries who try to undermine and destroy you. Sleazy salespeople and unscrupulous loan officers. Anyone who lies, cheats and steals, showing no regard for the welfare of others.

In short, the people who make you want to scream. All of us have them in our lives, every one of us. But yelling at such people face to face is not always an appropriate or productive thing to do.

That's why Psalm 5 encourages us to make an Open Outcry first to God.

"O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice," says the psalmist; "in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you."

Believe it or not, we can gain relief simply by speaking honestly about our troubles. "Talk therapy" is the technical term, and it can do a lot of good for people feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Professional therapists all agree that talking, articulating, voicing, speaking or otherwise expressing our ideas, thoughts and feelings is a good thing.

So why not talk about your feelings with God, who is the Ultimate Listener? In the morning, plead your case -- ask for help with frenemies, spouses, co-workers and relatives. Pray for strength to face the challenges of the day, knowing that the Lord is "not a God who delights in wickedness.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Trust in God's grace


I just finished talking to one of our students in the hallway. He mentioned how proud he was of his father. For years his father was focused outside the family. The focus led him to areas that was not helpful to the growth of the family or even his father's personal growth. But since that time, his father has had a complete conversion. He has reorganized his life. He takes his family members seriously. He has begun a relationship with his God.

Now before Jesus called his very first disciples, he was already calling people to faith. Faithfulness is actually the Christians' "thumbs-up" sign. We have no way of knowing if the course ahead of us carries smooth air or turbulence and storms. We have no special foreknowledge if the skies will be friendly or filled with hostility and danger.

What we all do have is faith--faith in the love of Christ, faith in the eternal closeness of God's presence and God's kingdom. Jesus proclaims that the correct response to the gospel news is faith. He gives us the "thumbs-up" signal first. It is then essential that we return a "thumbs-up" sign of trust in God's grace and faithfulness to us.

Can we let go and let God take us into the wild blue yonder? Can we let go and trust God enough to lift us into stratospheres of spirituality and service we never knew even existed? Can we get out of the way and let God be God in our lives?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

It's your call


It's your call. You are chosen material, though you might not know it.

Most of us spend quite a bit of time shopping around before we finally find, or fall into, a profession that seems to suit our personality. The most popular childhood careers of firefighter, football player, doctor and astronaut are not reflected in the numbers of adults actually involved in those pursuits. Instead we "settle" for jobs that need to be done or are the most available. When's the last time you heard a kid dreaming about growing up to be an office manager or a banker or an electrical line repairer. But all those jobs must be done and done well by someone, if we are to keep our businesses, our banks, our communities and our homes running smoothly.

One author put it this way: God often calls us when we are running errands, doing the mundane, thankless chores of life. When we least expect it, we are elected. Moses, hiding out on the back side of the Midian desert, was running an errand when a bush started burning that would not be consumed until he faced Pharaoh. Isaiah was somewhere in the temple, performing his regular priestly duties, when the heavens came down and the Holy commissioned him to go to the valley. Ezekiel, performing his pastoral tasks in the Exile, was transported by divine limousine service to a valley filled with dry bones. Amos was out herding sheep and keeping sycamore trees when the voice came and compelled him to go to the valley. And, Andrew and Peter were fishing out on the Sea of Galilee when the Master called them from fishing to the valley.

God is calling you right now. Are you going to respond?

Monday, February 18, 2019

Washington's Birthday or President's Day?

George Washington's Birthday or Presidents Day 2019?

Depending on where and when you grew up, you've probably heard the same February holiday called both George Washington's Birthday and Presidents Day. So which name is correct? While it may be hotly contested, the third Monday in February is officially called George Washington's Birthday.

The observance of Washington's Birthday goes back to the 1800s. It was initially a day of remembrance for George Washington, the first, and many believe the greatest, president of the United States. The holiday took place each February 22, the actual day of George Washington's birth in 1732. Washington's Birthday became an officially recognized holiday for all federal employees in 1885.

In 1971, the Uniform Monday Holiday Act changed the observance of Washington’s Birthday to the third Monday in February. About this time, advertisers began promoting the holiday as Presidents Day.

Celebrating Washington's Birthday on a different day than his actual birthday became an opportunity to remember all presidents, not just Washington. Though there are not many traditions associated with the holiday, it remains a patriotic celebration.

There have been many attempts to change the official name of the holiday, but George Washon's Birthday remains the official name. In 2019, we will celebrate Washington's Birthday on Monday, February 18.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is an open outcry: "Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray."

The psalmist is crying to God, asking for help. Facing the threat of violence, he begs God to destroy those who are telling lies. Perhaps he has been accused of wrongdoing himself, and is now pleading his case to God. The psalm can be used today by anyone being threatened by wicked, evil, boastful, bloodthirsty or deceitful people.

You know them: Friends who are really enemies -- "frenemies." High school gangs. Street thugs. Unfaithful spouses. Unethical co-workers. Substance-abusing relatives who lie to you. Put-down artists. Adversaries who try to undermine and destroy you. Sleazy salespeople and unscrupulous loan officers. Anyone who lies, cheats and steals, showing no regard for the welfare of others.

In short, the people who make you want to scream. All of us have them in our lives, every one of us. But yelling at such people face to face is not always an appropriate or productive thing to do.

That's why Psalm 5 encourages us to make an Open Outcry first to God.

"O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice," says the psalmist; "in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you."

Believe it or not, we can gain relief simply by speaking honestly about our troubles. "Talk therapy" is the technical term, and it can do a lot of good for people feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Professional therapists all agree that talking, articulating, voicing, speaking or otherwise expressing our ideas, thoughts and feelings is a good thing.

So why not talk about your feelings with God, who is the Ultimate Listener? In the morning, plead your case -- ask for help with frenemies, spouses, co-workers and relatives. Pray for strength to face the challenges of the day, knowing that the Lord is "not a God who delights in wickedness.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Master's Touch

Luke 5:12-5:16

Image result for Jesus' touch
JESUS TOUCHES
The key element in this story about Jesus and the leper is that Jesus reached out and touched the leper. By doing that, Jesus broke a multitude of social and religious mores. Lepers were outcasts. To touch a leper made one socially and religiously unclean. It was thought at that time that to touch a leper put your life at risk. Jesus went against the conventional wisdom of the day, and broke the rules. He reached out and touched the leper and when he did so, he communicated awareness, acceptance, love, and a power that produced health.

TOUCH IN OUR LIVES
We appreciate and desire touch in our lives. We like to hold hands, to receive a hug at the appropriate time, or to have a pat on the back. There are times, however, when we avoid touch. We avoid touch when we hurt. There are times when we have the flu or other illness that we don’t want anyone touching us because it hurts. We also avoid touch of reality because we fear it would be too painful. · We don’t allow others to touch us as a defensive mechanism. We don’t want others to get too close to us, or they might discover some things about us that we don’t want them to. Even, we don’t even want to get to close to ourselves, because we don’t want to know the harsh reality of our condition. · We don’t allow others to touch us because we are angry at them. How often we have said, “Don’t touch me! I don’t like what you said, or what you did.”We avoid touch at the very time we need desperately to be touched. How comforting it is in the midst of our sickness to feel the gentle caress of a hand. As much as we don’t want to be known, we crave touch and to be known intimately. Even in our anger we desire the touch of reconciliation.

ASK FOR THE TOUCH
The text today invites us to follow the lead of the leper, and ask Jesus to touch our lives. Like the leper, when we ask God if God wills to heal us, God always replies in the affirmative. We are invited to enter into God’s presence and open ourselves up to a loving God. In God’s presence we are able to confess our hurt, lower our defenses, and release our anger. This passage of scripture invites us to open ourselves to God’s healing touch in our lives, wherever that healing touch is needed. So brothers, Jesus invites us to come to him now in prayer, and share with him our need to be healed. Like the leper whom Jesus healed, so Jesus will say “Yes,” to us, and we touch our lives in ways we have never been touched before.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine Day

You Don't Know Jack?

February 14th — why is it known as Valentine’s Day? Why do those in love send each other valentines? And what feast does the Catholic Church celebrate on this day? Think you know the answers? Think again, because the truth is a lot more surprising than you’d imagine. Watch friend of Busted Halo, Fr. Jack Collins, CSP, wander the streets of New York asking the city’s star-crossed lovers if they know why we celebrate Valentine’s Day.
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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Genesis

Genesis

We are tiny and God is great, all powerful, all sovereign and all good.

"the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Consecrated Person

Image result for benedict XVI
The Consecrated Person: A Bridge

Pope Benedict's homily for Vespers on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was a model of liturgical preaching. Below is shared a small excerpt of the Holy Father's message. Consecrated men and women, be they hidden in the cloister, or engaged in the Church's mission to the world, are associated to the Lord Jesus and called, at every moment, to remain close to Him, at "the throne of grace."
If Christ was not truly God, and was not, at the same time, fully man, the foundation of Christian life as such would come to naught, and in an altogether particular way, the foundation of every Christian consecration of man and woman would come to naught. Consecrated life, in fact, witnesses and expresses in a "powerful" way the reciprocal seeking of God and man, the love that attracts them to one another. The consecrated person, by the very fact of his or her being, represents something like a "bridge" to God for all those he or she meets -- a call, a return. And all this by virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Father's Consecrated One. He is the foundation! He who shared our frailty so that we could participate in his divine nature.

Our text insists on more than on faith, but rather on "trust" with which we can approach the "throne of grace," from the moment that our high priest was himself "put to the test in everything like us." We can approach to "receive mercy," "find grace," and "to be helped in the opportune moment." It seems to me that these words contain a great truth and also a great comfort for us who have received the gift and commitment of a special consecration in the Church.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Our Lady of Lourdes




O ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Sunday Word


In the fifth chapter of Luke, Jesus is standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd is pressing in on Him to hear the word of God. At the shore of the lake, he sees two boats — empty because the fishermen had left them to wash their nets. Jesus gets into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asks him to push the boat away from the shore. There Jesus keeps a safe distance from the smothering press of the crowd and is able to teach them.


When Jesus finishes, he decides to extend his lesson with a dramatic illustration. He challenges Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.

Put out into the deep water, says Jesus. Jesus doesn’t say, "Hey, it’s shallow over here, try this." He’s saying that the real possibilities exist where life gets deep and risky. He invites us to venture out, take a chance, be active and adventurous.

"Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing," laments Simon. He sounds like he wants to stay close to shore, safe and comfortable because his time on the water hasn’t yielded any fish. But Simon isn’t going to be stubborn about this. "Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets," he offers. And he does.

The result? Simon and his fellow fishermen catch so many fish that their nets are beginning to break. They call for their partners in the other boat to come and help, and they end up filling both boats to the point that they’re beginning to sink.

It’s an unexpected, amazing and overwhelmingly abundant catch. All because they’re willing to follow Jesus’ words and scout the deep water.

That’s the challenge for us today: to venture beyond our comfort zones and put out into the deep water in lives of discipleship. Too often we stay close to shore, safe and comfortable, when Jesus is calling us to be active, adventurous and willing to explore new territory. That’s where the fish are. That’s where the growth happens. That’s where we can make surprising discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Your vocation starts today

I feel like this year’s Super Bowl was just too soon.

I realize that there was a lot of excitement about brother-coaches, deer antler spray, and a quarterback covered in Biblical tattoos, but I just couldn’t get into it. Let’s face it: most decent people in America are still mourning the Steelers’ loss to the Packers in the Super Bowl two years ago.

I remember watching a post-game interview with Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, where he was asked about one of his touchdown passes. The reporter remarked that Rodgers’ accuracy that night was phenomenal and proceeded to ask him how he was able to make such a clutch play. Without any hesitation, Rodgers just explained that the pass was easy to throw because he and his receivers had practiced it hundreds of times throughout the season.

Though Aaron Rodgers and his teammates are the source of such a deep wound in my life, I’ve thought about his answer a lot since then.

As Catholics we believe that everyone has a vocation from God, a divine calling and a specific path to holiness that each of us is made for. Because God made our hearts, He calls each of us to the vocation that makes our hearts the most fully alive. All vocations will come with their own share of suffering and challenges, but we believe that embracing God’s call to holiness is also embracing God’s call to joy and peace.

You’ve probably heard this before. I remember hearing plenty of people talk about vocations when I was in high school, but I tuned most of them out. I knew that I wouldn’t be ready for any sort of long term commitment for awhile, so I thought I’d just figure it out later. I didn’t realize that my actions, my habits, and my choices would be preparing me for my vocation.

I was shocked to find out that my selfishness, my insensitivity, and a host of other shortcomings didn’t magically disappear once I got married.

When we hear the stories of the saints, the men and women who loved with all their hearts and responded to God’s call with everything they had, it’s like watching a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl. The heroic examples of the saints are not some random occurrences that just kind of happen; they are the products of lives spent learning to say “yes” to God’s call in a thousand small ways. Before Saint Agnes or Saint Maximilian Kolbe ultimately gave their lives as martyrs, they had been practicing sacrifice and learning to trust God in the small things of daily life.

How are you preparing for your vocation? No matter which vocation you’re called to, it’s going to require selflessness, sacrifice, and a strong prayer life.

What you do today actually matters because God is calling you to greatness. He’s not just going to call you to something years from now, He’s calling you today to practice and prepare so that you can be ready to respond with love when the pressure’s on. When we learn to say “yes” to God, we find that His grace really is enough and that He can do the impossible in our lives.

“For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope. When you call me, when you go to pray to me, I will listen to you. When you look for me, you will find me. Yes, when you seek me with all your heart, you will find me with you, says the Lord, and I will change your lot; I will gather you together from all the nations and all the places to which I have banished you, says the Lord, and bring you back to the place from which I have exiled you."
By Brian Kissinger
Lifeteen 

Friday, February 8, 2019

Nourish the Flame

'Nourish the flame' of consecrated life, Pope exhorts religious

“Do not fall in with the prophets of doom who proclaim the end or the non-sense of consecrated life in the Church in our days,” Pope Benedict XVI urged religious men and women in a past homily at a Mass in St. Peter’s basilica.

Celebrating the Day of Consecrated Life, which coincides with the feast of the Presentation, the Pope remarked that the day’s traditional candlelight procession in the Vatican basilica, led by superiors of religious orders, was a reminder of “the beauty and the value of consecrated life as the reflection of Christ's light.” The Pope went on to say that the theme of light in the evening ceremony “recalls Mary’s entrance into the Temple: the Virgin Mary, consecrated woman par excellence, carried Light itself in her arms, the incarnate Word who had come to dispel the darkness of the world with God's love."

Pope Benedict encouraged the religious in attendance to “nourish the flame” of their “first love” for Christ. He also suggested that they appreciate the “wisdom of weakness” that is a part of their vocation. The Pope explained that the silence of consecrated life, “by its empathy with those who have no voice, becomes an evangelic sign of contradiction.”

Thursday, February 7, 2019

New Evangelization

Take a look at the trailer of the series of Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicism: The New Evangelization.

It is worth the view!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

St Paul Miki and his companions


St. Paul Miki (1562-1597) was converted to Christianity by St. Francis Xavier and, feeling a call to religious life, became a Jesuit.

Miki preached the Gospel throughout Japan and for that he was condemned to death. He and his companions were marched 600 miles so they could be abused along the way. His preaching lead to many converts to Christianity; his last sermon, from the Cross on which he was crucified, is described in this account of his martyrdom:

The crosses were set in place. Father Pasio and Father Rodriguez took turns encouraging the victims. Their steadfast behaviour was wonderful to see. The Father Bursar stood motionless, his eyes turned heavenward. Brother Martin gave thanks to God’s goodness by singing psalms. Again and again he repeated: “Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my life”. Brother Francis Branco also thanked God in a loud voice. Brother Gonsalvo in a very loud voice kept saying the Our Father and Hail Mary.

Our brother, Paul Miki, saw himself standing now in the noblest pulpit he had ever filled. To his "congregation" he began by proclaiming himself a Japanese and a Jesuit. He was dying for the Gospel he preached. He gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing and he ended his “sermon” with these words: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves."

Then he looked at his comrades and began to encourage them in their final struggle. Joy glowed in all their faces. When a Christian in the crowd cried out to him that he would soon be in heaven, his hands, his whole body strained upward with such joy that every eye was fixed on him.

Anthony, hanging at Louis’ side, looked toward heaven and called upon the holy names – “Jesus, Mary!” He began to sing a psalm: “Praise the Lord, you children!” (He learned it in catechism class in Nagasaki. They take care there to teach the children some psalms to help them learn their catechism).

Others kept repeating “Jesus, Mary!” Their faces were serene. Some of them even took to urging the people standing by to live worthy Christian lives. In these and other ways they showed their readiness to die.

Then, according to Japanese custom, the four executioners began to unsheathe their spears. At this dreadful sight, all the Christians cried out, “Jesus, Mary!” And the storm of anguished weeping then rose to batter the very skies. The executioners killed them one by one. One thrust of the spear, then a second blow. It was over in a very short time.

"The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ. I thank God it is for this reason that I die. I believe that I am telling the truth before I die. I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you become happy. I obey Christ. After Christ's example, I forgive my persecutors. I do not hate them. I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain." - Saint Paul Miki

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Into the Deep

In the fifth chapter of Luke, Jesus is standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd is pressing in on Him to hear the word of God. At the shore of the lake, he sees two boats — empty because the fishermen had left them to wash their nets. Jesus gets into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asks him to push the boat away from the shore. There Jesus keeps a safe distance from the smothering press of the crowd and is able to teach them.

When Jesus finishes, he decides to extend his lesson with a dramatic illustration. He challenges Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."

Put out into the deep water, says Jesus. Jesus doesn’t say, "Hey, it’s shallow over here, try this." He’s saying that the real possibilities exist where life gets deep and risky. He invites us to venture out, take a chance, be active and adventurous.

"Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing," laments Simon. He sounds like he wants to stay close to shore, safe and comfortable because his time on the water hasn’t yielded any fish. But Simon isn’t going to be stubborn about this. "Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets," he offers. And he does.

The result? Simon and his fellow fishermen catch so many fish that their nets are beginning to break. They call for their partners in the other boat to come and help, and they end up filling both boats to the point that they’re beginning to sink.

It’s an unexpected, amazing and overwhelmingly abundant catch. All because they’re willing to follow Jesus’ words and scout the deep water.

That’s the challenge for us today: to venture beyond our comfort zones and put out into the deep water in lives of discipleship. Too often we stay close to shore, safe and comfortable, when Jesus is calling us to be active, adventurous and willing to explore new territory. That’s where the fish are. That’s where the growth happens. That’s where we can make surprising discoveries about ourselves and the world around us.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Marianist Monday

Image result for the presentation of the lord
February 2019

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

The month of February, with its cold temperatures and diminished sunlight, can sometimes be seen as a month to simply endure, as we anticipate warmer and brighter days ahead. In my family, though, it was a month of many celebrations. Not only did we celebrate the birth of some of our greatest presidents, Valentine’s Day, as well as the “winter recess” (a phenomenon that was introduced as I neared the end of grammar school), but also, both of my parents were born, eleven days apart, during this month! Later in my life, when I entered the religious life, I was introduced to another February celebration that seemed to embrace, in different ways, all of the others. This celebration occurs every year, right at the beginning of the month, and for me, it sets a tone for the entire month. I refer to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2.

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is the commemoration of Mary and Joseph’s bringing the new-born Jesus into the Temple in Jerusalem, as was Jewish custom, and presenting him, consecrating him to God. Of course, Jesus was God (even if that was not yet clear to his parents and the others), and you might say he had no need to be consecrated! True, but we do. Effectively, Jesus’ presentation and consecration is for our benefit, not his.

It is a wonderful story, most likely familiar to you already (if not, perhaps it would be good to read the Gospel for February 2 now, before continuing). It is a very human story, for a babe who is God! There is a whole lot of emotion as the proud parents present their firstborn and he is welcomed by an elderly couple who have waited for this moment their whole lives. There is also a whole lot of irony as the feeble hand of the old man gently grasps the tiny hands of Jesus, the very hands which had fashioned the stars and the whole universe!

In the Christian East, this feast is call the Feast of Encounter. It marks the encounter between God, who became a child to bring newness to our world, and an expectant humanity, represented by the elderly couple in the Temple. In fact, there are many encounters in this story, and it is in these encounters that we can discover the richness of our Faith; the loving faithfulness of God; the motivation and a roadmap for our own life’s journey.

There is the encounter between the young Mary and Joseph, and the elderly Simeon and Anna, when the old receive from the young, and the young draw upon the old. This is important because God’s promise does not come to fulfillment merely in individuals, once and for all, but within a community, and over time. Mary and Joseph learn from the experience of their elders, while at the same time these elders are consoled and fulfilled in the encounter with this young couple and their long-awaited son. The two young people, in meeting the two older people, discover themselves. The two older people, at the end of their lives, receive Jesus, who is, in fact, the meaning of their lives!

Somewhere along the way, each of us has had an encounter with Jesus. I would venture to guess that simply by the fact that you are reading this letter, you have taken that encounter seriously, and it is an important part of who you are, and who you hope to become. Yet, I would also assert that rarely is this encounter with Jesus just between the individual and the Lord. With reflection on the encounters we have experienced, we realize that, in these encounters, we were not alone with Jesus; there was also the people of God, the Church, young and old, just as in the Presentation story. Indeed, we usually encounter the Lord while in relation with others. This story particularly highlights the importance of inter-generational encounter – between the old and the young. Both need to find Jesus, both need each other. Pope Francis has said: “There is no growth without roots and no flowering without new buds!”

Today’s world places many obstacles to finding true and life-giving encounters. With eyes fixed on our many “screens” we often fail to look each other in the eye. We make many connections, but don’t often connect at the levels of the heart and soul. Many of us experience emptiness, even when our days and nights are packed with things to do and things to have! What can we do? I think we can start by learning from Anna and Simeon: at the sunset of their lives, after years of anticipation and hope, they held the Lord in their arms and overwhelming joy in their hearts, because they sought this encounter with their whole being. Again, Pope Francis tells us: “How good it is for us to hold the Lord ‘in our arms,’ like Simeon. Not only in our heads and in our hearts, but also ‘in our hands,’ in all that we do: in prayer, at work, at the table, on the telephone, at school, with the poor, everywhere.” Having the Lord ‘in our hands’ in an antidote to the self-preoccupation and frenetic character of today’s world. Savoring the encounter with Jesus is also a good remedy for the monotony or paralysis of routine, since it opens us up to being surprised by grace.

Perhaps, as a personal project this February, you might try to “fan the flame” of your spiritual life, cultivate a willingness to allow yourself to encounter Jesus, and to be encountered by him. Each of us can begin by encountering one another in Jesus as brothers and sisters, young and old, of all shapes, sizes and walks of life! Pope Francis urges us: “If we encounter Jesus and our brothers and sisters in the everyday events of our life, our hearts will no longer be set on the past, or the future, but will experience the ‘today of God’ in peace with everyone.”

Now that’s worth celebrating!

Bro. Michael John McAward

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Our image of Jesus


From as early on as I can remember, in my childhood, I had an illustrated children’s Bible. The pages were filled with colorful images depicting the most famous Bible stories — Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, Jesus in the manger. I remember especially the images of Jesus as an adult. He wore and white robe with a red stole across His chest; He had dark brown hair and olive-colored skin; and His face always shone with bright eyes and a warm, welcoming smile. This was a Jesus my young self was interested in and excited to know. I wanted His eyes and His smile to point to me, radiating with the love that spilled over from His heart.


I was fortunate enough while growing up to have an image of Jesus that was actually pretty accurate — warm, gentle, even Middle Eastern — and this image helped me to grow in my faith in and love for the Lord. However, I also encountered a lot of images of Jesus while growing up that were less accurate, less helpful for prayer and worship, and sometimes straight up phony. I

LIFETEEN
MY FAITH
NICK BERNARD

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Common Misconceptions About Jesus

From as early on as I can remember, in my childhood, I had an illustrated children’s Bible. The pages were filled with colorful images depicting the most famous Bible stories — Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, Jesus in the manger. I remember especially the images of Jesus as an adult. He wore and white robe with a red stole across His chest; He had dark brown hair and olive-colored skin; and His face always shone with bright eyes and a warm, welcoming smile. This was a Jesus my young self was interested in and excited to know. I wanted His eyes and His smile to point to me, radiating with the love that spilled over from His heart. 

I was fortunate enough while growing up to have an image of Jesus that was actually pretty accurate — warm, gentle, even Middle Eastern — and this image helped me to grow in my faith in and love for the Lord. However, I also encountered a lot of images of Jesus while growing up that were less accurate, less helpful for prayer and worship, and sometimes straight up phony. 

LIFETEEN
MY FAITH
NICK BERNARD

Friday, February 1, 2019

U vs. I

Teachers are always on the move to make spelling lessons interesting and engaging. One recent piece of advice is to stop teaching the “i before e except after c” convention because it’s confusing. In short, there are so many exceptions that it isn’t really a rule. While other spelling conventions are useful, this rule has to go.

Not everyone agrees with the advice. Some people point out that the phrase does enable teachers to start a discussion about the peculiarities of the English language. But many others think the rule needs to be ditched.

Spelling conventions are a useful way to approach today's second reading. In fact, that chapter could be thought of as the answer to the question “How do you spell love?” The apostle Paul gives several rules for spelling it:

• Love is patient.

• Love is kind.

• Love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.

• Love does not insist on its own way.

• Love is not irritable or resentful.

• Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth.

• Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Paul’s rules are far more poetic than the sing-songy chant of “i before e except after c,” but clearly, in spelling love, I doesn’t come before anything. When you love someone, U always comes before I.

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Marianist educators define success distinctively—rejoicing when their students are faithful to the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ, exemplify joy and courage in witnessing to that gospel, form communities of faith resonant with the vibrancy of early Christianity, and use their knowledge and competence to serve and transform society. In countries where Marianist educators serve in a predominantly non-Christian context, we present the same ideal though in an appropriate manner that respects and promotes faith and truth wherever they are found, rejoicing when they are lived courageously and in a spirit of service.