Tuesday, November 12, 2019

November - a month to remember

Reflection for All Souls Day

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

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

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

But why do we pray for them?

What do we pray for them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Leondard Foley, OFM

Monday, November 11, 2019

Marianist vocation = relationship with Christ


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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 10, 2019

St. Martin de Porres


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

Saint Martín de Porres was noted for tireless work on behalf of the poor, establishing an orphanage and a children's hospital. He maintained an austere lifestyle, which included fasting and abstaining from meat. His devotion to prayer was notable even by the pious standards of the age. Among the many miracles attributed to him were those of levitation, bilocation, miraculous knowledge, instantaneous cures and an ability to communicate with animals.

St. Martin de Porres became the patron saint of hairdressers because cutting hair was one of the duties he performed for his Brothers in the friary.

St. Martin de Porres was born at Lima, Peru, in 1579. His father was a Spanish gentleman and his mother a black freed-woman from Panama. At fifteen, he became a lay brother at the Dominican Friary at Lima and spent his whole life there - as a barber, farm laborer, and infirmarian among other things.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Fiat


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 8, 2019

A New Serenity Prayer



                     St. Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, Mass.

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

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

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

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

Amen

by James Martin S.J.


Thursday, November 7, 2019

Faith - a journey


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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Marianist Martyrs - a message of faith & love





TODAY we commemorate the the martyrdom of four Marianists: Miguel Léiber Garay, SM; Florencio Arániz Cejudo, SM; Joaquín Ochoa Salazar, SM; and Sabino Ayastuy Errasti, SM all martyred during the relgious persecution in Spain in 1936.

498 Spanish martyrs were proclaimed blessed and marked the largest number to be beatified simultaneously in the history of the Church. Some fifty thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square for the celebration of the martyrs.

From early on, these four Marianists felt the call of Jesus to follow Him in the Society of Mary. And they responded with generosity.

MIGUEL LÉIBAR GARAY

Born February 17, 1885 in Aozaraza-Arechavaleta. He’s a sharp kid, happy, a prankster, yet a good student and godly. Not far from his village in Escoriaza is the Marianist Postulate of Nuestra Señora del Pilar.

“Dad, I want to be like them.”

“No way, son! - a boy as mischievous as you could never be a religious. And what’s more, our village always needs many strong arms and you need to help out as well!”

“But I’ll help you out in another way...”

Miguel made his first vows on March 24,1903. He took his perpetual vows in 1907. Armed with a licentiate in philosophy from the Central University of Madrid, he went on to study theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland.

FLORENCIO ARNÁIZ CEJUDO
The youngest of four brothers. Born on May 10, 1909, in Espinosa de Cerrata. His parents are farmers. He’s a good child, docile, cheerful, quiet and pious. An excellent teacher in the town makes him his assistant; this way he can help teach the younger students. Florencio loves this. He also helps the pastor as server and he loves this too... One day, his friend Agapito Alonso tells him: “I’m going to Escoriaza to be a religious.”

And Florencio asks “and can’t I go along as well?”

Florencio takes first vows on September 5, 1926. He graduates in primary education and makes his perpetual vows in 1934.

JOAQUÍN OCHOA SALAZAR
His family lives in Berantevilla, but he is born on April 16, 1910, in the home of his maternal grandmother in Villanueva de Valdegovía. There are six children in the family: four girls and two boys. They are a very close family. The father works for the local government of the province of Álava and is stationed with his family in Peñacerrada. One fine day, Father Gregorio Lasagabáster passes through to talk about the Marianists. Three kids sign up: the two brothers Ochoa and a friend, Agustín Alonso.

Indeed, two of them would become excellent religious, good educators and school principals. Joaquín “has a fine disposition; he is good and responsible, conscientious, a hard worker and pious.”

He makes his first vows on September 5, 1928, and his perpetual vows in 1935. Having completed his bachelor’s degree in Segovia, he is studying for his licentiate in history.

SABINO AYASTUY ERRASTI
He is born on December 29, 1911, in Aozaraza, just like Miguel Léibar. He’s the sixth of seven children but soon his father dies. He is also set on entering the nearby Marianist community at Nuestra Señora del Pilar. He’s a young man with a rich and sensitive personality with deep feelings. One day he is sent out with the house donkey to do some errands. He doesn’t return and soon they find him on the way, like a Franciscan, urging his donkey forward:

“Eat, you little creature, eat, so you can continue to move on and carry me there!”

He has another side though: difficult, rebellious, yet he is of immense good will. His tremendous bursts of anger are soon followed by a remarkably humble repentance. And, as is usual for him, God is all. He takes his first vows with Joaquín Ochoa on September 5, 1928.

Father Miguel Léibar begins his priestly ministry in Cádiz. Then he is made principal of the Colegio San Juan Bautista in Jerez for six years (1916-1922). He becomes chaplain in Vitoria, then, once again becomes principal - this time at the Colegio Católico de Santa María in San Sebastián (1925-1930). Director of the community, he is a true father to his fellow brothers, fostering their spiritual life and attending to them with tenderness, when they are ill. He is loved by all.

In 1930, he is sent as chaplain to the Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar in Madrid, headed by the Servant of God Father Domingo Lázaro. They become close friends.

He is a first-rate educator – dynamic, enthusiastic and present to everyone and everything at the school. He knows how to reach his students, to be demand-ing and yet remain close to them. He is their spiritual director and confessor, and he would express his ideal in these words: “The great wish of my life is to guide souls on the path to heaven.”

A Marianist superior would say of him:

“The kids love him. He is an essentially dedicated soul, who knows how to bend to circumstances, to people and to the unforeseen situation. As a teacher he has a special knack of attracting students and dealing with them. He makes them like to work...”


Florencio Arnáiz flexes his first wings as an educator in September 1928 at the Colegio in Jerez. There he gives himself totally to the youngest students who came to worship him... not to mention being worshipped by their mothers as well. Always concerned with improving his teaching, he likes to keep up with the latest in pedagogy and pastoral ministry. In September 1933 he is sent to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid, where again he leaves his unique mark upon his little madrileños.

Sabino Ayastuy begins his education ministry in September 1931 with the young Marianist aspirants in his homeland of Escoriaza. He remains there until September 1935 with only one brief period away for course work in San Sebastián. For those whom he helps to discern their call, he leaves an unforgettable remembrance. One of them writes:

“I can still see him with his kind smile, his affectionate demeanor, how he used to enter through the back door of the study and walk toward us without the slightest noise, in order to help us with our course work. And he would whisper in our ear: ‘Filioli carissimi... [My dear children...]’ He truly liked us and we could see his attempts to reign in his anger and ill-tempered disposition... An intense interior life of faith shone through whatever he taught. He would so often repeat to us those words of St. Paul: "This is God’s will: that you become saints."

Joaquín Ochoa, who had begun his education ministry with Sabino in Escoriaza, is sent the next year to the Colegio del Pilar in Madrid. There, from 1932- 1936, he is put in charge of the 8 to 10 year olds. He dedicates himself wholeheartedly to them. So note his superiors:

“Excellent religious. Fulfills all his duties faithfully. Upright judgment, prudent, responsible, very tractable. Very dedicated. Wholly in love with his profession as a religious and educator.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Our identity: the Beatitudes

From the Catacombs of S. Priscilla, 

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

Monday, November 4, 2019

Prayer for Discerning a Vocation



My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know my self,
and the fact that I think am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that, if I do this,you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore I will trust you always
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will not leave me to face my perils alone.
-Thomas Merton

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Sainted Religious Lay Brother


Sainted Religious Lay Brother

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

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

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

St. Martin DePorres pray for us!

Saturday, November 2, 2019

All Souls Day!



I Am the Resurrection and the Life


Please pray for the repose of all souls 

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

Friday, November 1, 2019

Saints among us


The prayers of All Saints Day highlight our belief that we continue to be in relationship with those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith. It is not only a matter of our honoring the holy lives these brothers and sisters led but also of acknowledging that

they who are already with the Lord continue to be concerned for us and our welfare. That the very work of God can be manifest in our lives calls us to the responsibility of living in a way that the love of God be transparent in our deeds and relationships. Finally, our prayer on All Saints Day reminds us that when we share at the altar of the Lord's table we have a foretaste of the banquet the saints share forever in the reign of God.

The church calendar sets aside many days to honor the most famous of saints. November 1 is the day for us to remember and honor those saints whose lives made headlines not in the daily papers but in the hearts of those they served and touched. All of us know such saints in our own lives - some who have gone home to the Lord and some who are still with us.

Happy All Saints Day to all!

Happy All Saints


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

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

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

Merton was dumbfounded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are the unsung saints.

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

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

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

What does it take to join them?

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

All you really need… is to want to.

And God will do all the rest.