Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Sunday Word

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Our Gospel is from the 15th chapter of St. Luke today. Here,  Jesus tells a story about a young person who moves far from home. 

One day, a young man receives a startling opportunity. He boldly and insultingly had asked his father for his share of his future inheritance. When the dad complies -- dividing his assets and meting out what will one day belong to his younger son -- the boy leaves.

This young man travels far from home. But he doesn't attend the finest schools, find a good job or in any other way use this opportunity to improve himself. Instead, he squanders the money in "extravagant living," as Jesus so delicately puts it.

After some time in his new home, this son, saw how his life had hit rock bottom.

Jesus says it was then that this young man came to himself. He had turned his dad's treasure into trash, and it was time to turn his life around. He devised a plan for going home, and rehearsed an apology. In humility, he would ask his dad for a job.

Thankfully, this is not the end of this young man's story, because, the father sees value where others don't.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Mercy is offered

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Our Sunday parable ends without us knowing if the additional year of growth and the enriched soil succeed in bringing fruit to the fig tree's branches that next year. 

The gardener had agreed that if there were no results forthcoming after this special attention, the tree should indeed be cut down. The intervening mercy of both the gardener and the landowner is a great gift, but it is not intended to last forever. Mercy is offered with the understanding that repentance must follow. The Day of the Lord may be mercifully delayed, but it is surely coming.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Grace of time & goodness

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Sunday's Gospel landowner is justifiably perturbed at the fruitless condition he discovers, the man does not simply fly into a rage. 

First, he presents his observations; then he expresses his disappointment; and finally he proposes his solution to the gardener, his servant. The landowner argues that he has given this recalcitrant fig three years to produce fruit, and it has failed. The significance of this three-year hiatus is probably based on the mandate given in Leviticus 19:23, which forbids gathering fruit from newly-planted trees for the first three years. Having given this fig tree its bare minimum allotment in which to prove its worth, the landowner decides enough is enough. "Cut it down," he orders, and then further justifies the logic and rightness of his decision by rhetorically posing to the gardener, "Why should it be wasting the soil?"

But instead of letting the land-owner's question go unanswered, this gardener offers another possible solution. His tone is respectful, but this servant is obviously on the side of the fig tree. The gardener's solution is to offer the fig tree both the grace of more time and the goodness of a richer environment.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Incredible Patience

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Waiting is not an easy aspect of discipleship to live out in this day and age, the Good News is that God's word is packed with insights and encouragement on how one can faithfully wait on God's work.

First, we must wait with the golden rule in mind. Jesus tells us this: "Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." We must constantly keep in mind not simply the level of patience God's requiring us to have with others as he does his work, but first and foremost the level of patience God has had with us as he's done his work. We're each beneficiaries of God's incredible patience and are quick to ask for more as we slip and stumble in this world. When we're tempted to rail that God is taking too long to fix others, let us remember how long he has worked on us and aim to afford them the same luxury.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The lost art of waiting

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Sunday's focus on the vinedresser says, "Let it alone for one more year." 

There seems to be a third component to life change. It doesn't only take truth. It doesn't only take love. It takes time. Truth, love, and time. A lot of time. Think about it; tilling soil around a single tree doesn't take forever. Adding fertilizer could be done in a day. Yet the vinedresser asks for an entire year for new growth to occur. Clearly this is an essential, irreplaceable part of the process.

This means that as true members of God's family, we must not only learn how to wield his truth and comfort with the Gospel, but we must be among the few who practice and perfect the lost art of waiting. We must wait so that the trees -- the people we love -- do not get cut down too soon or abandoned early. We must learn to wait so that this world can be as fruitful and as beautiful with the work of our good God as possible.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Marianist Monday

A Holy Dynamism by Antonio de Oteiza
The Annunciation of the Lord
March 25

The Annunciation is the beginning of God’s plan of salvation. Thus, the Incarnation achieves its full meaning only in Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Nazareth and Calvary, Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation and at the foot of the cross, are intimately linked. At the moment Mary responded, “let it be done to me according to your word,” she became engaged in the whole of God’s design to recreate creation in his Son.

The Annunciation is the beginning of a holy dynamism which makes of Mary the first disciple of her Son, and the mother of His brothers and sisters. Mary’s posture in the sculpture is erect, confident, and full of holy dynamism. The people in the lower left corner are the sons and daughters she will lead to her Son.

Marianist Vision and Spirit:
University of Dayton

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Sunday Word

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Jesus is in the middle of a riff on repentance in today's Sunday Gospel.

He focuses on the importance of Israel, God's people, recognizing their need for a savior lest they experience the judgment of God. In doing so he relays a parable about an unfruitful fig tree, a tree that in the estimation of its owner has been given more than enough time. But rather than cut it down, Jesus tells us of a gracious vinedresser who intercedes for the tree saying, "Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it."

It may seem insignificant but this one sentence from Jesus is an essential reminder to how God does his most important, yet often painfully slow, work of changing lives. When examining these words, most people immediately jump to the verbs, to the action. The vinedresser, Jesus, wants to dig and fertilize. In relational terms we could think of this as the essential components of truth and love. To bring about change, God tills the soil of our hearts and minds with his truth -- ripping out the weeds of lies and the old roots of sin and making way for good things to be planted. He then adds in the fertilizer, or in real terms love, the truth of the Gospel and the promise of his unrelenting compassion in Christ, which serves to enrich our soil, begins to take root and spurs on new growth. Life change takes truth and love.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

St. Joseph: Like wife, like husband

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Marianist brothers in Cincinnati in 1876. This is among the oldest photos of U.S. Marianists.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph comprise the Holy Family, the basic unit of God’s strategy for the Incarnation and Redemption. They belong together in the history of salvation. The three are inseparable and should be seen and understood together theologically, pastorally and in sacred art.

We must not forget St. Joseph. What he did for Jesus and Mary, he will do for us personally and for the universal Church.

In this third millennium of Christianity, Jesus and Mary will bring us closer to Joseph as we realize more clearly and deeply the mission of the Holy Family in salvation history. Veneration of St. Joseph will increase in proportion to the intensity of our devotion to Jesus and Mary. Like wife, like husband.

St. Joseph’s feast day is March 19. St. Joseph the Worker feast day is May 1.

Like Wife, Like Husband: Why should we honor St. Joseph? 


Friday, March 22, 2019

St. Joseph: Fountain of holiness

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The Gospel says that Joseph was “a righteous man” (Mt 1:19). Some people ask: What more can be said?
Plenty! In 1989, Pope John Paul II offered us a masterful explanation and reflection of the unique vocation of St. Joseph in God’s plan of salvation with the pastoral exhortation Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer”). This inspirational document, marking the centenary of Pope Leo’s landmark encyclical, treats “the person and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church.” It recalls what makes him special, not only for us personally but for the universal Church.

Some note that Joseph’s role must not have been so important because it is not treated in any great detail in holy Scripture. Yet neither is the vocation of Mary. What little is said, however, is highly significant.

Theologians have reasoned from the scriptural basics to explore many of the functions and privileges grant ed Mary. The same process has taken place in regard to Joseph. Once the divinity of Jesus and the virginal motherhood of Mary were firmly established in Catholic doctrine and in popular understanding, teaching about Joseph could emerge without concern that his unique position in the Holy Family would be misunderstood.

The better we know Mary, the better we know her Son, from whom she derives all her dignity and whom she reflects so faith-fully. In a similar way, contemplating more deeply the mission of Joseph helps us to know more deeply the greatness of Mary.

Pope Benedict XV summed it up this way: “By St. Joseph we are led directly to Mary, and by Mary to the fountain of all holiness, Jesus Christ, who sanctified the domestic virtues by his obedience to St. Joseph and Mary.”

Like Wife, Like Husband: Why should we honor St. Joseph? 


Thursday, March 21, 2019

Saint Joseph, pray for us!

St. Joseph & Jesus, Bro. Joseph Aspell - Dayton

This week we celebrated the Feast of Saint Joseph. Joseph was a member of the Holy Family along with Mary and Jesus. Saint Joseph has always been considered to be a patron of all members of the Marianist Family.

Let us pray:

Joseph, it was to you that the Father entrusted his Son
and the Blessed Virgin Mary. Continue to be for us a sign of God’s love in the Church, Mary’s family today. By the inspiration of your faith and love, draw our community closer to Mary, our Mother, and to Christ, our Brother. Share with us your love of Mary. Give us the joy of growing in our devotion to Mary and to her family.

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

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Saint Joseph & the Marianists

From its very beginnings Saint Joseph served as the patron protector of the Marianists:

Father Leo Meyer, S.M., and Brother Charles Schultz, S.M., set sail for the United States on May 28, 1849. Their boat landed in New York on July 4, 1849, and on July 16 they arrived in Cincinnati,  hio. Because of the cholera epidemic then taking its toll on the inhabitants of Cincinnati, Meyer and Schultz traveled to Dayton, Ohio, where they worked at Emmanuel Parish and cared for people suffering the effects of the epidemic. (Members of the Society of Mary still serve the needs of the parish community today).

At the end of July 1849, Father Meyer met John Stuart who owned 125 acres of land close to Emmanuel Parish. Stuart was eager to sell his proper- ty and return to France. He informed Father Meyer that he would sell him the property for $12,000. Though he had no money, Father Meyer agreed to buy the property. His first payment was a medal of Saint Joseph which was accepted by Stuart. Father Meyer was able to pay off the debt in 1861. The newly acquired property was called Nazareth

Marianist Province of the United States

Monday, March 18, 2019

Marianist Monday

page1image3029814032Rev. Thomas Cardone
Chaplain, Kellenberg Memorial High School, Uniondale

On the Second Sunday of Lent we also commemorate St. Patrick. This day is often associated with soda bread, shamrocks and spirits; however, there is also a spirituality that flows from this outstanding missionary that can be seen in a prayer that is attributed to him called the “Breastplate of Saint Patrick.” In this prayer, we first learn about the power of the Trinity in our lives: “I bind unto myself today / The strong Name of the Trinity ...” When we call upon the Trinity — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — we are confident in God’s protection to guide us every step of the way.

Secondly, St. Patrick reminds us to be missionaries confident that God serves as our teacher who touches our minds and hearts: “I bind unto myself today / The power of God to hold and lead ... / His hand to guide, His shield to ward, / The word of God to give me speech, / His heavenly host to be my guard.”

St. Patrick teaches us that God works with, through and in us. And, finally, we see through St. Patrick how Christ is ever present, around us, within us and in our brothers and sisters: “Christ be with me, Christ within me, / Christ behind me, Christ before me ... / Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, / Christ in hearts of all that love me, / Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

May we remember this Lent to be like St. Patrick, to be open to a spirit of conversion and to grow in greater awareness of the loving God in our lives. St. Patrick, pray for us!

Asking the Clergy
March 17, 2019

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Operation Fiat

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The Province of Meribah is hosting their Spring OPERATION FIAT at the Chaminade High School - Mineola Community on Thursday, March 21st from 6:00 p.m. - 8:30 pm.

Come and explore the Marianists through Evening Prayer, Adoration, Talk, and Dinner.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Liberate the heart

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“Lent is a time of grace that liberates the heart from vanity” Pope Francis said on Ash Wednesday, “It is a time of healing from addictions that seduce us. It is a time to fix our gaze on what abides”.

The Pope concluded his lenten homily inviting Christians to fix their gaze upon the Crucified one saying “Jesus on the cross is life’s compass, which directs us to heaven”.

“From the cross, Jesus teaches us the great courage involved in renunciation” he said, urging us to “free ourselves from the clutches of consumerism and the snares of selfishness, from always wanting more, from never being satisfied, and from a heart closed to the needs of the poor”.

It is difficult to live as He asks, the Pope said, but it leads us to our goal and “if we take the path of love, then we will embrace the life that never ends. And we will be full of joy”.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Restoring beauty

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Speaking to the Roman clergy Pope Francis had words of hope and encouragement for the clergy saying “Let us not be discouraged, the Lord is purifying his Bride”. He said He is converting us all to Himself, He is putting us to the test and making us understand that without Him we are dust. He is saving us from hypocrisy, from the spirituality of appearances. He is blowing his Spirit “to restore beauty to his Bride”.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

The Cross

Related imageThere is one image on which we should look: “Let us look at a crucifix and go before the Holy One. That image is the remedy for all the poison we have ingested so that we may with Jesus “pass from this world to the Father” (Jn. 13:1).

Fr.  Cantalamessa

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Battleground we call faith

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“Faith is the primary battleground between the Christian and the world. It is through faith that the Christian is no longer ‘of’ the world,” Fr Cantalamessa says. Morally speaking, the world can be defined as “those who refuse to believe.” The world can put people to sleep and suck out “all their  piritual energy.” The remedy is that someone shout “Wake up!” which is “what the Word of God does on so many occasions and which the liturgy of the Church makes us hear again precisely at the beginning of Lent: ‘Awake, O sleeper’ (Eph 5:14); ‘it is full time now for you to wake from sleep’ (Rom 13:11).
Fr. Cantalamessa

Monday, March 11, 2019

True fasting

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“When you share your bread with someone who is hungry, invite into your home someone who doesn’t have one or is a migrant, when you look for clothing for someone who is without - when you focus on that, you are truly fasting.”

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Go forward with humility

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“Ask the Lord for strength and go forward with humility, doing what you can. But don't put make-up on your soul, because the Lord won't recognize you. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be consistent, not to be vain, not to want to appear more worthy than we are. Let us ask for this grace, during this Lent: the coherence between formality and the reality, between who we are and how we want to appear”.

Pope Francis 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Lent = spring training

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Cardinal Timothy Dolan has compared the Lenten season that began Wednesday to baseball's "spring training."

"Lent is spiritual spring training — we get the flab out, we get the sins out," he said Wednesday after the rite at St. Patrick's Cathedral. "Our fight is not against the Red Sox or the Cardinals; it's against Satan and sin and selfishness."

On Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Lenten season, thousands packed the cathedral for the noontime Mass or to have their forehead marked with Lenten ashes — some by the cardinal himself.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Refocus this lent

Our Lent journey has begun. It is a season for refocusing on the suffering and death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, so that we will be ready to embrace the good news of the Resurrection.

Why such an emphasis on suffering? Because Christ saved us through an act of suffering. He bore in his own person the weight of our sin and died for us on the cross, where suffering and love coincided.

And the Church is the Body of Christ, which participates in Christ. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that we will be called upon to suffer out of love. In the economy of grace, God may use our suffering to bear the burden of another member of the Body of Christ, just as one system can take up the work of another, or one organ can support another.

So as we begin our Lent together, let us resolve to focus on Christ’s suffering, and to unite our own suffering–through fasting, prayer, almsgiving, and reflection on the Stations of the Cross–with the suffering members of the Church. It is not the destination but the journey that will ultimately transform us.

Thursday, March 7, 2019


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The late C.S. Lewis wrote about this matter of God bringing us to perfection. He said that when we seek Christ’s help in being the person God wants us to be, Christ doesn’t settle for giving us just a little.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Marianist Monday

March, 2019

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

I know that, by the time you are reading this, it is already March. Lent is around the corner, or, if postal service to your mailing address is particularly slow, Lent just begun. But I composed my thoughts just before Valentine’s Day, so bear with me if the first part of my letter seems like a more fitting reflection for February than for March.

While I was wondering what to write about, the question “What is love?” popped into my head, and I proceeded to ignore it with a “Baby, don’t hurt me . . . ,” thus pushing the question aside. The question kept surfacing, however, and I realized that an inquiry into the nature of love was not only something that popped into my head during the early days of February, but was also good question to meditate on during Lent as well. So I ask you, “What is love?”

I have been rather impressed recently with how some modern movies and TV shows have been tackling the question of love. ​A Quiet Place​ and ​Bird Box​, for example,​ ​both incorporate intense displays of parental love in the form of self-sacrifice. ​*spoiler alert*​ When John Krasinski’s character sacrifices himself to save his children, screaming so they they might live, and Sandra Bullock risks her safety by choosing to see the river for the sake of the children, most people can point to those actions and clearly identify them as examples of love.

True love means total self-giving, and parents are well equipped to sacrifice for their children. St. Paul explained to us in 1st Corinthians the many observable aspects of love. In that iconic nuptial Mass reading, Paul describes love as patient and kind; it is neither envious, nor boastful, nor self-seeking. ​Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

All the various aspects of love cited in 1st Corinthians take root in the willingness to sacrifice oneself for the good of another. In the previous examples from the movies, the Krasinski and Bullock characters face life-threatening, supernatural dangers that calls for for heroic virtue. Both characters demonstrate self-sacrificial love on a grand scale.

But what about love and self-sacrifice in the routines of our everyday lives? Where can we turn for a good example of self-sacrificing love as it occurs in everyday, ordinary lives.

I thought of NBC’s ​The Good Place. B​ anished to Hell, several characters undergo real, authentic transformation as they work to become better people. Revolving around Kristen Bell’s character, who desires to improve herself by becoming less selfish, the cast all face their personal flaws and setbacks and work to spread love and become better, more loving people.

Little acts of self-sacrifice done for the good of another person, as seen in ​The Good Place,show that same fundamental self-giving as portrayed in ​Bird Box ​or​ A Quiet Place, a​ lthough on a less epic scale. But whether we give of ourselves in everyday matters or in epic circumstances, embracing love is hard, since it requires a death to self. And who of us really wants to die to ourselves?

Now you might be saying, “I get it: you watch Netflix, Bro Peter. But how does this relate to Lent at all?” And you’re right; maybe I do spent too much time absorbed in Netflix. Still, it strikes me that self-sacrificial love is actually what Lent is all about.

Traditionally, the Church has recommended three penitential practices for the season of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Prayer is an act of love, since prayer is a willing offering of one’s heart to be in conversation and union with God. In prayer, we sacrifice time -- time on our own terms -- to spend time with the Lord, and, in return, reap the reward of closer communion with Him.

Fasting asks us to recall Jesus’ sacrifice for us. He gave His very life for the for us and for our good! When we fast, we participate in the self-sacrificial love of Christ, although admittedly on a smaller scale. That ​physical​ sacrifice that fasting entails is an act of love which, hopefully, helps us to open our hearts up to God.

Lastly, almsgiving is charity, which by definition is lovingly helping another person, often incorporating some sort of willing sacrifice on our part. Jesus is our model of sacrificial love, performing the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross for our salvation.

During Lent, especially as we draw closer to Holy Week and the Triduum, we are blessed with the opportunity to reflect deeply on this sacrifice and feel the love of the Saving Victim poured out for us. All the movies and TV shows depicting sacrificial love pale in comparison to the great love of Christ on the Cross.

Let us look for examples of love -- real, godly love -- wherever we might find them. And may we be grounded in the act of love that is the Passion and Death of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God Bless you all, and may Mary protect you under her mantle. On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Peter Sennert

Sunday, March 3, 2019

By it I see everything else

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C.S. Lewis once famously commented that he believed in Christianity just like he believed in the sun: “Not only because I see it,” he said, “but because by it I see everything else.” 

Remarking on Lewis’ comment, Brandon Ambrosino, who covers culture and religion for, wrote, “That’s how I see Jesus’ resurrection; not so much an event I look at, as an event I look through. For me, it remains the interpretive key to the entire universe. And though it might seem improbable and primitive, we’re all aware that the idea is writ large across both our imaginations and even the cosmos. Each morning, the sun is reborn; each spring, harvests come back to life; after each disappointment, our dashed hopes are reanimated, and soar to even newer heights. For all the death and evil and greed and ugliness of our world, I can’t shake the fact that every last atom of this place is pulsing in time with the rhythm of resurrection”

Saturday, March 2, 2019

How does God work?

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C.S. Lewis’ account of his conversion from atheism to Christianity is called, Surprised by Joy. Joy is the term he used to describe an intense but fleeting sensation he experienced sometime in his youth, and which he spent a lot of time and energy seeking again in his young adult years. But along the way in his search, he incidentally found something else: a relationship with Christ.

He wrote the following at the end of the book: “But what ... of Joy? for that, after all, is what the [account in the book] has mainly been about. To tell the truth, the subject has lost nearly all interest for me since I became a Christian. ... now I know that the experience [of Joy] ... never had the kind of importance I once gave it. It was valuable only as pointer to something other and outer. While that other was in doubt, the pointer naturally loomed large in my thoughts. When we are lost in the woods that sight of a signpost is a great matter. ... But when we have found the road and are passing signposts every few miles, we shall not stop and stare.”

Is there something you believe critical to your inner well-being that you’re looking for but can’t quite find? Don’t give up the search. But also, don’t be surprised if, while looking for an answer, you find something that turns your search on its head and sends you in a new direction.

God sometimes works with us that way.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Lay Down Your Life

Jesus ends up revealing to us a beautiful mystery when it comes to our suffering, especially in the Gospel of John where he says to his disciples:

“Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13

The most significant aspect of this verse is that Jesus doesn’t just say this to his disciples, but he lived it out by choosing to die for us on the cross. His sacrifice, His willingness to go through all of that humiliation, torture, and sorrow for you and for me, shows us that, out of suffering comes authentic love. In a season where we wholeheartedly place Christ in the center of our lives, we’re called to reflect on His unconditional love for us. During this time of Lent, through the personal sacrifices we choose to make, Christ invites us to enter into His unconditional love, through what the church calls “redemptive suffering.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes redemptive suffering as the uniting of personal sacrifices with the sacrifice of the cross of Jesus Christ. This unification carries significant merit for the reparation of the physical and spiritual health of others (CCC 1502, 1505, 1521).

Noah Salas