Monday, August 19, 2019

Marianist Monday

The Province of Meribah rejoices on the Ordination of one of our Brothers, Peter H. Heiskell, S.M.

The Lord has done great things of us!

Saturday, August 17, 2019

True faithfulness

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Abraham’s faith is also shown as true faithfulness.

In the face of adverse events he perseveres in his decision to follow God’s will. His faith rests on the word of God, and therefore it leads to deeply considered decisions that are not subject to a later “revision”or “re-thinking.” 

In our life there will always be moments that help us, with God’s grace, to strengthen and consolidate our faith. Abraham was subjected to a tremendous trial: having to sacrifice the person who was the fruit of the promise made to him. He did not just have to confront difficult situations, but to hope against all hope, because the situations invited him to “judge” the divine will, to doubt God himself and his faithfulness. 

Friday, August 16, 2019

Assumption of Our Lady

Assumption feast invites people to look to heaven with hope, pope says

At the Angelus on the Solemnity of the Assumption Pope Francis said, Mary’s assumption into heaven calls people to put aside all those insignificant, mundane and petty concerns competing for their attention and instead be drawn to God and his greatness.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Father of faith

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Abraham is a perfect example of faith. We see in him a faith that is present in his entire life, and that it comes to the fore especially in moments of darkness, when human evidence fails. Faith implies a certain obscurity, a living in mystery, knowing that we will never attain a perfect explanation, a perfect understanding, because then there would no longer be faith.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Feast of Marianist Martyr Jakob Gapp, S.M.

Marianist Martyr Jakob Gapp, S.M.

On Nov. 9, 1942, Jakob Gapp crossed into southern France from Spain in a car with two friends who a few months earlier had asked him, a Marianist priest from Austria, to instruct them in the Catholic faith. In a complex covert operation, he was arrested by the pro-Nazi Vichy government in France, interrogated briefly, and transferred to a prison in Berlin.

The Gestapo decided not to send him to Dachau, their camp of choice for arrested priests. He was a dangerous prisoner who needed “special protective custody.” Later, a People’s Court trial that lasted less than two hours sentenced him to death commenting: “He will forever be without honor.”

The evening of Aug. 13, 1943, 13 years to the day that Gapp had joined the Marianists, he wrote a letter to his superior, concluding, “today I hope to begin the life of eternal happiness.” Then, he went calmly to the execution shed of the Plötzensee prison and was beheaded, earning, not Nazi honor, but eternal honor.

The whole operation was eloquent testimony to the relentless surveillance and pursuit of troublesome Catholics by the Nazi regime. Father Gapp had reluctantly gone into exile. After an anti-Nazi sermon in his parish church at Wattens, Austria, he had managed to escape to the Church of La Madeleine, in Bordeaux, where William Joseph Chaminade had founded the Marianist Order in the early 19th century. Even there his activities were monitored. Before long, his order re-assigned him to Spain, where the Germans could reach him.

Ironically, the Nazis used a Jewish ploy to apprehend Gapp. The two “friends” with whom he traveled were, in fact, Nazi agents pretending to be German Jews. In the official minutes of his interrogation, Gapp admitted that after the 1938 Nazi annexation (Anschluss) of Austria he got into trouble for his public statements opposing government encouragement of hatred and murder of Czechs and Jews as contrary to the “Christian-Catholic position.”

One of Gapp’s students remembered him as teaching that, even more broadly, the law of Christ demanded that “one must selflessly assist anyone, even one’s ideological opponent, if he is in existential trouble or difficulty.” Father Gapp practiced what he preached. In addition to standing up for despised groups, he deprived himself of necessities like fuel for heating in winter in order to help the poor. Gapp knew that people who approached him for moral advice or formal instruction might be Nazi agents, but decided early on that his status as a priest demanded he tell the truth whatever the consequences. He was beatified in 1995.

Most people today associate the rise of Nazi Germany with the Jewish Holocaust. A few celebrated Protestant figures such as Martin Niemöller and Dietrich Bonhoeffer are credited with authentic Christian witness against the Nazis to the point of martyrdom. But this standard account overlooks the many Protestants and Catholics martyred for expressing Christian views that challenged the Third Reich.

Among German Catholic priests alone, the record is quite remarkable. In 1932, just prior to the Nazi rise to power, there were about 21,000 Catholic priests in Germany. Of these, more than a third (over 8,000) clashed with the Reich and several hundred have been documented as having perished at Nazi hands. No doubt others, who will forever remain unknown, were martyred as well.

We know, however, that Nazi camps contained at one point or another, 2,670 priests from Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and other countries. Of these, almost 600 died in the camps, another 325 died during so-called “transport of invalids” to other sites, a euphemism for secret execution. Two bishops — Michael Kozal of Poland (brutally tortured after being arrested merely as a potential anti-Nazi leader and since been beatified) and Gabriel Piguet of Clermont-Ferrand in France — also perished in Dachau.

The Nazis gave various reasons for imprisoning these clergymen: stirring up the masses, spying, aiding prisoners, suspicion of treason, behavior unfriendly to Germany, support of Jews, insulting the Fuhrer or National Socialism, or sometimes no reason at all. One was sentenced for telling schoolchildren: “Love your enemies.” Twelve were rounded up after reading the “Lion of Münster,” Bishop Clemens August von Galen’s condemnation of euthanasia, from the pulpit. Father Otto Neururer arrived in Dachau “for hindering an Aryan marriage” and died at Buchenwald for agreeing to instruct a fellow prisoner (really a spy) in the faith. According to some fellow prisoners, he had been crucified upside down for thirty-six hours.

Father Karl Lampert, the pro-vicar of Innsbruck, was picked up and shipped to Dachau for the mere fact of announcing Neururer’s death. The president of the court that heard his case shot himself in the head rather than be an accomplice in the trial. Put into isolation, Lampert was interrogated brutally. After that, he was never heard from again.

Many similar stories exist. Only deeper historical research in several nations may some day give us a sense of the true enormity of the crimes committed by the Nazis against Catholics.

Robert Royal

Monday, August 12, 2019

Obedience of Abraham

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"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go."

The obedience that results from faith goes far beyond simple discipline: it entails the free and personal acceptance of the word of God. This occurs also in many moments of our life when we are able to accept God’s word or reject it by letting our own ideas prevail over what he wants. The obedience of faith is the response to God’s invitation to walk alongside him, to live in friendship with him.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

By faith

Image result for father abraham listens to god
Today's reading from Hebrews gives us a bold declaration of faith. Here Abraham declares his faith principally by obeying God. Obedience requires listening, for we first need to be attentive, that is, to know the will of the other person in order to respond and fulfill it. Obedience is not just a matter of mechanically fulfilling a command; it implies an active attitude that brings into play our intelligence in responding to God who reveals himself, and that leads us to adhere to the divine will with all our strength and skill. 

Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Sunday Word

It's time to look ahead to the Scriptures for this coming weekend, the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Our Gospel for Sunday gives us an illustrated guide for real manliness. It is not in action alone, but in how to gird ip your loins. In ancient times, men would actually gird their loins when preparing for manual labor or battle. Here is what Matthew's Gospel tells us:

“Gird your loins and light your lamps...”

Ttry Slampyak’s guide out shown below and let us know how it goes!
gird your loins

Friday, August 9, 2019

Discernment — How can I learn God’s Will for me?

Discernment — How can I learn God’s Will for me?
H/T to Peter Kreeft for the following on discerning God's will:
Five general principles of discernment of God's will that apply to all questions about it, and therefore to our question too, are the following:

Always begin with data, with what we know for sure. Judge the unknown by the known, the uncertain by the certain. Adam and Eve neglected that principle in Eden and ignored God's clear command and warning for the devil's promised pig in a poke.

Let your heart educate your mind. Let your love of God educate your reason in discerning his will. Jesus teaches this principle in John 7:17 to the Pharisees. (Would that certain Scripture scholars today would heed it!) They were asking how they could interpret his words, and he gave them the first principle of hermeneutics (the science of interpretation): "If your will were to do the will of my Father, you would understand my teaching." The saints understand the Bible better than the theologians, because they understand its primary author, God, by loving him with their whole heart and their whole mind.

Have a soft heart but a hard head. We should be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves," sharp as a fox in thought but loyal as a dog in will and deed. Soft-heartedness does not excuse soft-headedness, and hard-headedness does not excuse hard-heartedness. In our hearts we should be "bleeding-heart liberals" and in our heads "stuck-in-the-mud conservatives."

All God's signs should line up, by a kind of trigonometry. There are at least seven such signs: (1) Scripture, (2) church teaching, (3) human reason (which God created), (4) the appropriate situation, or circumstances (which he controls by his providence), (5) conscience, our innate sense of right and wrong, (6) our individual personal bent or desire or instincts, and (7) prayer. Test your choice by holding it up before God's face. If one of these seven voices says no, don't do it. If none say no, do it.

Look for the fruits of the spirit, especially the first three: love, joy, and peace. If we are angry and anxious and worried, loveless and joyless and peaceless, we have no right to say we are sure of being securely in God's will. Discernment itself should not be a stiff, brittle, anxious thing, but—since it too is part of God's will for our lives—loving and joyful and peace-filled, more like a game than a war, more like writing love letters than taking final exams.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

St. Dominic

In the twelfth canto of the Paradiso, when Dante begins to speak of St. Dominic and of his passion to proclaim the word of truth, he speaks of him not only as an educated man and preacher of the gospel but almost as a force of nature: ‘Then with both learning and zeal (con dottrina e con volere) and with the apostolic office, he went forth like a torrent driven from a high spring.’ Dominic’s own contemporaries were themselves well aware of the preacher’s utter dedication to his task. One witness at the canonization process remarked that Dominic was ‘so enthusiastic as a preacher that by  ay and by night, in churches, houses, fields, on the road, everywhere, he wanted to preach the word of the Lord and he encouraged the brethren to do the same and not to talk about anything except God.’ His compassion extended, we are told, ‘not only to the faithful, but also to pagans and unbelievers and even the damned in hell, and he wept a great deal for them.’

Dominic, it is clear, possessed a strong instinct for adventure. He was daring both by nature and by grace. Dante calls him ‘il santo atleta,’ the holy athlete. No matter how difficult or unforeseen the challenge of the hour, he was not afraid to take enormous risks for the sake of the Gospel. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that within a few years it could be said of the young friars who followed in his wake, and whom he himself had dispersed far and wide to preach the gospel, that they had made the ocean their cloister. But was this spirit of risk and adventure reflected in the intellectual life of the first Dominicans? Study, we know, was given a place that was unheard of before in the history of religious life. It was no longer simply one exercise among others. It was now a central and sacred task. But, in terms of actual content and imaginative range, how striking and original were the studies of those first friars? The principal point to be made in answer to this question is that the early Dominicans were not attempting to be ‘striking and original’. Their studies were shaped by the needs of others, and given the nature of the crisis at that time, what was most urgently required for the task of preaching and the cura animarum was straightforward moral and doctrinal catechesis. Dominicans were, of course, subsequently to be and the forefront of ‘the new learning’ in most of the great universities in Europe. But that was a development which came slowly, and far more so, perhaps, than most scholars realized until recently.

Fr. Paul Murray, O.P.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

You got the time?

. ... To lose a sense of Sunday as the Lord's Day, a day to be sanctified, is symptomatic of the loss of an authentic sense of Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. Here some observations made by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini continue to have great value. Speaking of the various dimensions of the Christian celebration of Sunday, he said that it is Dies Domini with regard to the work of creation, Dies Christi as the day of the new creation and the Risen Lord's gift of the Holy Spirit, Dies Ecclesiae as the day on which the Christian community gathers for the celebration, and Dies hominis as the day of joy, rest and fraternal charity.

Sunday thus appears as the primordial holy day, when all believers, wherever they are found, can become heralds and guardians of the true meaning of time. ...

Finally, it is particularly urgent nowadays to remember that the day of the Lord is also a day of rest from work. It is greatly to be hoped that this fact will also be recognized by civil society, so that individuals can be permitted to refrain from work without being penalized. Christians, not without reference to the meaning of the Sabbath in the Jewish tradition, have seen in the Lord's Day a day of rest from their daily exertions.

— Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, February 22, 2007.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Bishop Barron: All sinners are welcome!

Flannery O'Connor would surely have been delighted with this Georgia sign.

While I was in central Georgia, filming the Flannery O’Connor episode of my Pivotal Players series, I saw a sign on the outside of a church, which would have delighted the famously prickly Catholic author: “All Sinners Are Welcome!”

I thought it was a wonderfully Christian spin on the etiquette of welcome that is so pervasive in our culture today. In a time of almost complete ethical relativism, the one value that everyone seems to accept is inclusivity, and the only disvalue that everyone seems to abhor is exclusivity. “Who am I to tell you what to do?” and, of course, everyone gets inside the circle. What I especially liked about the sign in Georgia was that it compels us to make some distinctions and think a bit more precisely about this contemporary moral consensus.

Is it true to say “everyone is welcome”? Well, yes, if we mean welcome into the circle of the human family, welcome as a subject of infinite dignity and deserving love and respect. Christians—and indeed all decent people—stand against the view, pervasive enough in the supposed culture of inclusion, that the unborn, the aged, the unproductive are not particularly welcome. If by “all are welcome,” one means that all forms of racism, sexism, and elitism are morally repugnant, then yes, the slogan is quite correct.

But let’s consider some other scenarios. Would we claim that everyone is welcome to become a member of the college baseball team? Everyone is welcome to try out, I suppose, but the coach will assess each candidate and will then make a judgment that some are worthy of being on the team and others aren’t. Like it or not, he will include some and exclude others.

Would we claim that everyone is welcome to play in a symphony orchestra? Again, in principle, anyone is invited to give it a go, but the conductor will make a fairly ruthless determination as to who has what it takes to make music at the highest level and who doesn’t, and he will include and exclude accordingly.

Would we argue that everyone is welcome to be a free member of our civil society? Well, yes, if we consider the matter in abstraction; but we also acknowledge that certain forms of behavior are incompatible with full participation in the public space. And if misbehavior is sufficiently egregious, we set severe limits to the culprit, restricting his movement, bringing him to trial, perhaps even imprisoning him.

With this basic distinction in mind, let us consider membership in the Church of Jesus Christ. Are all people welcome to the Church? Yes of course! Everyone and his brother cites James Joyce to the effect that the Catholic Church’s motto is “here comes everybody,” and this is fundamentally right. Jesus means to bring everyone to union with the Triune God, or to state the same thing, to become a member of his Mystical Body the Church. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares, “When the Son of Man is lifted up, he will draw all people to himself.” Bernini’s colonnade, reaching out like great in-gathering arms from St. Peter’s Basilica, is meant to symbolize this universally inclusive welcome offered by Christ.

Is the Church, as Pope Francis says, a field hospital where even the most gravely wounded are invited for treatment? Is the Lord’s mercy available to everyone, even to the most hardened of sinners? Yes! And does the Church even go out from itself to care for those who are not explicitly joined to Christ? Yes! In fact, this was one of the reasons the Church was so attractive in the ancient world: When Roman society left the sick to fend for themselves and often cast away the newly-born who were deemed unworthy, the Church included these victims of the “throwaway culture” of that time and place.
However, does this mean that the Church makes no judgments, no discriminations, no demands? Does the Church’s welcome imply that everyone is fine just as he or she is? Here we have to answer with a rather resounding no. And that Georgia sign helps us to understand why. The Greek word that we translate as “church” is “ekklesia,” which carries the sense of “called out from.”

Members of the Church have been called out of a certain way of life and into another one, out of conformity with the world and into conformity with Christ. Every ecclesiastical person, therefore, is a welcomed sinner who has been summoned to conversion. She is someone who is, by definition, not satisfied with who she is. To return to the pope’s famous image, a field hospital receives not those who are doing just great but those who are deeply, even gravely, wounded.

The problem is that anytime the Church sets a limit or makes a demand or summons to conversion, she is accused of being “exclusive” or insufficiently “welcoming.” But this cannot be right. As Cardinal George once put it, commenting upon the famous liturgical song “All Are Welcome,” all are indeed welcome, but on Christ’s terms, not their own.

Bishop Robert Barron

Monday, August 5, 2019

Summer talk

In preparation for the Reagan Great Communicator Debate Tournament at the Reagan Library, Bro. John, Bro. Stephen, and Miles Ventura ‘19 visit the Reagan Ranch.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Do Whatever He Tells You

On Saturday, July 13, six members of our Marianist high School, Chaminade High School(Mineola), Daniel Cantanno, Flynn Gray, Davis Luchner, Kevin Malloy, Vincent Randazzo, and Douglas Stern, traveled with Bro. Peter Sennert and Bro. Patrick Sarsfield to Nazareth Farm in Salem, West Virginia  or a week-long service retreat. Nazareth Farm is a lay-run Catholic apostolate that is committed to doing home repairs for the people of Appalachia with the aid of volunteer groups from across the country.

In addition to working on roofing, painting, siding, and other construction projects, volunteers at Naz Farm spend time with the people of Appalachia, giving them an understanding of the region’s history, culture, and struggles. People leave at the end of the week with a greater insight into the different causes and faces of poverty in America.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

This is the Favorable Time

“This is the proper time to obtain mercy, for we are going to recall the passion and death of our divine Savior”. Adele de Batz

My dear friend, does not the God whom we serve deserve our whole heart? Why have we so many reservations in what concerns him? God does not act so toward us, for he showers us abundantly with the most excellent gifts. He leaves his Tabernacle to enter our hearts as often as we wish. What abuse we make of God’s goodness! Some day he will grow weary, and we shall seek him in vain. “You will seek me, and you will not find me.” Let us search for him now, for this is the favorable time, these are  he days of salvation. How God loves the offering of a young and tender heart! Let us offer ours to him, my dear Agathe, these hearts that beat for none other but him. Let us consecrate to him all our affections. We shall preserve the purity of our hearts only by directing them toward him. (44.2).

This is the proper time to obtain mercy, for we are going to recall the passion and death of our divine Savior. May his Blood not have been spilt in vain for us. During these days of salvation, during this favorable season, we must redouble our devotion, our hatred for sin, and our love of God. (71.4).

Because of the success with which the Lord has blessed your work, your salvation would have been in jeopardy if you had not been humbled. “Now is the favorable time, now is the day of salvation.” (566.3)

How glad I am, my very dear daughter, to know that your cold has finally left you, but your sufferings grieve me very much. However, dear sister, recall that almost all holy men and women have had poor health; this thought consoles me when I see my dear daughters suffering. Come, now, this illness will be for the glory of God and your salvation. It will have taught you how to die to self, to renounce yourself, to know how to obey . . . not an inconsiderable advantage! Courage, I see in this the will of God; you needed this for your advancement and your perfection. Profit fully from it, dear sister, and lose none of the harvest. Fill your barns with meritorious acts of renouncement. This is the favorable time, these are the days of salvation. (571.2).