Saturday, August 31, 2019

The Sunday Word

It's not too late to take some time and read through the Word for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time. 

Our Sunday's Gospel notices a lot of jockeying for position at the table as different people vied for the place of honor. Jesus responds with a parable. He tells a parable about a wedding banquet which, on the surface, seems to be a kind of Emily Post-style instruction on etiquette but, in reality, is much more.

That Jesus talked about a “wedding banquet” may indicate a larger agenda here. In different places in the Scriptures, the wedding banquet sometimes serves as a symbol for the coming kingdom of God. Jesus seemed to be warning his fellow dinner guests that their striving for a place of honor at God’s table was a projection of their airbrushed image of themselves.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Conversion of St. Augustine

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Consistent and continued pressure from Saint Monica assisted Augustine in converting t Christianity. But it was more than her prayers. His exposure to Saint Ambrose in Milan, some disappointing interactions with the leading Manichean intellectuals and perhaps some intervention by the Holy 
Ghost also assisted Augustine's becoming a Christian. He decided that he would not only be a Christian, but a priest, which meant celibacy; hence, his famous prayer, "Lord give me chastity and continence, but not yet."

And once fully converted, he returned to Africa, became Bishop of Hippo, and became the leading intellectual in Christendom, writing tirelessly, fighting the big heresies of Arianism, Pelagianism, Manichenism, and Donostianism.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Saint Augustine - pray for us!

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Saint Augustine of Hippo - what an interesting philosopher he turned out to be! 

He was certainly an interesting man, as well. Set aside his historical importance --- the fact that he above all others brought together the Greek and Hebrew aspects of Christianity, that his work against the heresies of Arianism, Pelagianism and Manicheanism was tireless.

He was a person with one great philosophical skill: he knows how to get puzzled by things, and then thinks hard about what to say about them.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

St. Monica's Gift to Us

Ellyn von Huben
Word on Fire

Years ago I found a marvelous prayer book at a second-hand store. “Mother Love” proved to be a useful resource. Published by the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers, it is still in print today. It leaves me a bit wistful to contemplate how this book made it to a second-hand shop. Lovingly inscribed by a mother to a daughter, I would wonder if the book’s purchaser had been a ‘St. Monica’ type – worried for her daughter’s spiritual well-being.

“St. Monica should have had such a resource,” I would think to myself, closing the book after begging the saint’s intercession for my children. But better than any book, faith was the resource the St. Monica had. Monica’s husband Patricius was not – to put it as sarcastically as possible – ‘a supportive husband.’ An adulterous, pagan husband with anger issues was the beginning of her troubles. He forbade baptism for their three children. Monica suffered and prayed. With hindsight it is a little too easy to smile when thinking in particular of her famous recalcitrant, reprobate, dissolute and plain ol’ lazy son. For we know him as St. Augustine, one of the Doctors of the Church. She simply knew him as her son for whom her heart ached. Though a bishop had proclaimed that “the child of those tears shall never perish,” one must marvel at the loving resolve that St. Monica had. The number of years that passed before Augustine converted to Christianity is not just an interesting Catholic statistic. For Monica, those years were lived one day at a faith filled time.

What came to mind when I had thought about St. Monica? Of course she shed many tears. But in the end her son was, after all that travail, a saint. Would she understand me? Would she understand the trauma of cleaning up after an imploded 8 Ball on a rainy vacation day? (that blue liquid is indelible!) Did she ever put her hand through a window, tapping to get her children’s attention? Did Augustine pilfer change when he heard the ice cream truck approaching? Did Monica have to nail the windows shut to keep a rebellious Perpetua from sneaking out during the night? Well, I think you understand the comparisons I make. Fortunately, the fruit of much prayer is the knowledge that motherhood is not a suffering competition. Not only not a suffering competition, also not a holiness competition. As I should not compare my number of tears to St. Monica’s – or any other mother’s – I should also not be comparing my children’s holiness to others. That is the sad path to frustration and likely more tears.

And St. Monica’s foremost gift to us, as a role model, is not the tears. It is faith, a faith well lived. Augustine’s mother could have cried a river over marital woes, motherly anxiety and plain disappointment. Anyone can cry when sufficiently provoked. Even the less lachrymose types, such as I. But what we hope to emulate is the sustained prayer, not necessarily the sustained tears.

One mother bites her tongue because her young child insists upon mismatched apparel for church as another mother bites her lip as her rebellious child sings along to cynical and hypnotic “Take Me to Church” with a convert’s fervor. One mother cries because her child makes her late for church, as another mother not far away cries because her child’s next trip to church will be a funeral.

A mother’s tears are a mother’s tears. The causes of the tears are not equal but those slings and arrows of the mother’s lot tear at us as they will. Motherhood is indeed a joyous privilege. But the love that binds us to our children will surely also bring anxieties and, of course, a fair share of tears. Yes, St. Monica understands. We can ask her intercession and, likewise, remember to rely on her most trusted resource, faith and prayer. Faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ and knowledge that prayer is the first and best tool at any mother’s disposal.

Monday, August 26, 2019

St. Bartholomew within the Duomo Cathedral of Milan.

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There is another depiction of St. Bartholomew within the Duomo Cathedral of Milan. This statue reveals the face and scalp slung behind him. It's quite an amazing statue -- one that repulsed and fascinated many during their travels. There's something perfectly inhuman about the depiction of his impossible body.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Bartholomew - Michelangelo style

One of the original Twelve Apostles of Jesus, Bartholomew allegedly met his martyred end in Albanopolis, Armenia during the first century. By some accounts, he was merely beheaded, but popular tradition holds that he was flayed alive and crucified upside-down.

You'll also spot his flayed skin in Michelangelo's The Last Judgment, pictured to the left. Interestingly enough, depictions of the saint often echo that of the Greek hero Hercules, who often holds the skin of the Nemean Lion.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Saint Bartholomew

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Saint Bartholomew the Apostle skinned alive for spreading his faith
By Corazon Damo-Santiago

HE was flayed alive—the skin of his body cut into strips, then pulled off, leaving his body open and bleeding for a long time, then beheaded, wrote Fr. Paolo O. Pirlo, SHML, in My First Book of Saints.

Why? Because he was to die the Persian way in the “most barbarous country of the East” in the ancient times; because he converted Polymius, the king of Armenia, to Christianity; because Astyages, the king’s brother, ordered his death; because spreading the Catholic faith is a great crime, noted John Francis Fenion in Saint Bartholomew, Volume 2 of Catholic Encyclopedia.

Then he was beheadead and crucified.

Bartholomew: True Israelite

BARTHOLOMEW is derived from Aramaic Bar Tolmay, which means “son of Tolmay,” also known as Nathanael. He was born in the 1st century in Cana, Judea.

One day his friend Philip from Bethsaida told Nathanael, “We have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the Book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus, son of Joseph from Nazareth” (John 1:45).

Bartholomew, characterized as frank and skeptic, was attracted by Philip’s enthusiasm remarked: “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (John 1:46).

Nevertheless, he went with Philip when he insisted that Bartholomew come and see Jesus.

Seeing him, Jesus announced that Bartholomew is a true Israelite incapable of deceit, that made him ask, “How do you know me?”

Jesus’ answer that he was under a fig tree before Philip called him convinced Bartholomew that Jesus, indeed, is the Son of God and King of Israel. Batholomew witnessed Jesus’ Ascencion to heaven.

To spread the word of God, the apostles were assigned to different countries. Reputed to have introduced Christianity to Armenia (Turkey) with Saint Jude Thaddeus, both are patron saints of Armenia Apostolic church. Saints and Angels by Catholic On-Line states that he also preached in Persia, Egypt and Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), which “cradled the most ancient civilization of human history.” A monastery named after the saint was built on the site of his martyrdom.

Invoked by various skilled workers

HIS body was washed in the waters, and a large part of the skins and the bones were deposited in Lipari, Sicily. Many miracles had been attributed to him in the place.

Foremost of which was when his silver statue was melted on the orders of fascist officials who raised funds to finance World War II.

When the melted silver was weighed, it registered only a few grams so the silver was returned to Lipari. In reality, however, it weighed many kilograms.

On his feast day, the saint’s gold-and-silver statue was carried through town. While men were carrying it downhill, the statue suddenly became so heavy that they decided to put it down to rest.

When they continued the journey the statue became heavier, so the men stopped to gain their momentum. On the third time they rested with the statue, the walls collapsed downhill. Had they carried the image, many would have been killed.

The miracles seemingly involved weight, so he was made the saint of tanners. However, he was also invoked by people to be the saint of butlers, salt merchants, leather industries, shoemakers, bookbinders, Florentine cheesemakers, and people suffering from neurological diseases. Saint Bartholomew’s relics had been deposited in churches named to honor him: his arm in Canterbury, England; skull in Frankfurt, Germany; and body in Lipari.

In 983 some skin and bones were brought to Tiber Church of Saint Bartholomew in Rome.

The Coptic church commemorates his martyrdom on the first day of the Coptic calendar, August 29. Eastern Christianity honors him on June 11, and the Roman Catholic Chrurch on August 24.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Laughing at God?

Another great opportunity to take a look and listen to Fr. Mike's insight into humor and God. Thanks to Ascension Press for making these videos available. Enjoy the video!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Queenship of Mary

Reflection: The Queenship of Mary (Memorial)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Pope Piux XII established this feast in 1954, explaining that Mary is deserving of the title as “Queen” because of her special roles as Mother of God and the New Eve of Jesus’ mission as well as for her sinless state and intercessory power.

As members of a religious order that bears her name, we, as Marianists, share in a unique and special relationship with her that distinguishes us from any other group in the Church.

The theme of our Province retreats this past summer focused on Mary, allowing for opportunities to walk and pray with her during significant moments in her life: the Annunciation, Cana, the foot of the cross and Pentecost.

When reflecting on Mary’s own vocational call and how her faith journey unfolded, it is easy to realize the weight of challenges that God placed on her. Depite being born without sin, she remained faithful after making the initial commitment without knowing much about what it will entail or where it will lead (Kathleen Norris, Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith, 1998, p. 77).

Mary had to deal with the following: having a child out of wedlock; being a parent to God; watching her child become a political enemy and being executed in the most humiliating way in public despite his innocence. Through it all, she remained a model of faith and perseverance not only for us, but for the entire Church.

The opportunities of that retreat have helped me develop a stronger relationship with Mary. During these busy and hectic days, I’ve felt overwhelmed, tired and challenged. I’ve found myself calling on Mary to help me stay focused on my own relationship with God.

I would agree with Pope Pius the XII that Mary is most deserving of the title because of her exceptional qualities. As in Chess, the Queen is the most powerful character in the entire game; likewise, Mary is the most powerful intercessor we could have in our life, particularly as Marianists.

As we gather around the altar, let us reflect on what Chaminade once said: if we allow Mary to take possession of our hearts, we are able to reflect her tenderness and love to share with others. After all, Mary chose each one of us first and it is through the grace of providence that we chose the Society of Mary to live our religious vocation (Retreat of 1817. Notes of M. Lalanne, The Founders Thought V, 20.7-8).

Casa Maria Marianists

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Scripture and Tradition

Ascension Press offers FR. Mike's videos in Forming Intentional Disciples with The Joy of the Gospel. Even just sharing the videos with others is one of the easiest and most fun ways to evangelize.

Fr. Mike helps us aspiring missionary disciples to engage the culture, answer objections, grow deeper in prayer, and make the most out of things! Enjoy this video.

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

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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).