Thursday, July 9, 2020

St. Benedict - The Rule

St. Benedict of Nursia | EWTN

Listen carefully, my son, to the master’s instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is the advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. 

The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. 

This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

“Lord, who art Thou, and who am I?”

Saint Augustine of Hippo - Diocese of Westminster Youth Ministry
In one of the meditations in his famous Introduction to the Devout Life, Saint Francis de Sales encourages his readers to pray with Saint Augustine’s humble request

“O Lord, make me to know Thee and to know myself”  and Saint Francis of Assisi’s question “Lord, who art Thou, and who am I?” 

We would do well to do the same.

Monday, July 6, 2020

First vows in the Society of Mary

On Saturday 27th June, concluding two years of preparation at the novitiate in Abadjin-Doumé, Ivory Coast, two brothers pronounced their first vows in the Society of Mary. The newest Marianist religious are Ghislain ATANDELE SIMANABATO, from the Congo Sector and Eric KOUAME Kouassi, from the District of Ivory Coast. In the context created by the pandemic, the ceremony took place in the novitiate itself, in the presence of the brothers of the neighboring communities and members of the Marianist Family.

The ceremony was presided over by Fr. François Nanan, SM. The District Superior, Fr. Georges Gbeze, SM, received the vows by delegation from the Provincial of France. We wish the two new brothers a wonderful beginning to their Marianist life. May it be an opportunity for them to be rooted ever more in their vocation and their commitment to the service of the mission that has been entrusted to us in the service of the People of God.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to weigh on our world, we remain in union of prayer and hope with all those who suffer from this evil, the sick and those who care for them, their families and all collateral victims, especially among the poorest and most deprived populations. We are praying with the areas most affected at the moment, especially on the American continent or in India. Let us also ask the Lord for the knowledge how to act as he calls us to, according to our vocation and our means.

When "The globalization of indifference ... continue to threaten and tempt us in our journey... May we find within us the necessary antibodies of justice, charity and solidarity. We must not be afraid to live the alternative – the civilization of love. This is «a civilization of hope: against anguish and fear, sadness and discouragement, passivity and tiredness. The civilization of love is built daily, uninterruptedly. It requires a committed effort by all. For this reason it requires a committed community of brothers and sisters»". (Interview of Pope Francis in Vida Nueva, April 17, 2020; the quotation made by the Pope is from the Argentinean Cardinal Eduardo Pironio).

Friday, July 3, 2020

“Who am I?” and “Where have I come from and where am I going?”

Thalamus Center - Early Childhood Psychological Development ...
Pope Saint John Paul II suggests that “Who am I?” and “Where have I come from and where am I going?” are among “the fundamental questions which pervade human life,” which every great religion and philosophy must try to answer:

These are the questions which we find in the sacred writings of Israel, as also in the Veda and the Avesta; we find them in the writings of Confucius and Lao-Tze, and in the preaching of Tirthankara and Buddha; they appear in the poetry of Homer and in the tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles, as they do in the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle. They are questions which have their common source in the quest for mean- ing which has always compelled the human heart. In fact, the answer given to these questions decides the direction which people seek to give to their lives.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

“Who is Jesus?”

Did Jesus Exist? Searching for Evidence Beyond the Bible ...
It’s Jesus who brings his disciples and asks them a life-changing question: “Who do you say that I am?” One of the disciples, Simon, answers correctly: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then responds:

Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
There are two important details to recognize right now. First, it is Jesus who reveals to Simon his deepest identity as Saint Peter. But related to this is a second point: only after Simon declares Jesus to be “the Son of the living God” does Jesus declare Simon to be “the son of Jonah,” which is what “Bar-Jona” means. In other words, the question of “Who am I?” can be accurately answered only by first answering “Who is Jesus?”

Wednesday, July 1, 2020


Mount Calvary Presbyterian Church :: Insight into Worship - Why ...
St. Basil the Great (300-379) gives a great insight both into the role of the Psalms. He begins by asking, “What did the Holy Spirit do when he saw that the human race was not led easily to virtue, and that due to our penchant for pleasure we gave little heed to an upright life?” He inspired an entire book of the Bible that’s entirely dedicated to sacred music, the Psalms.

When we approach the Psalms today, we encounter them in translation, and most often read, rather than sung, but it’s worth remembering that this was sort of the songbook of Israel.

St. Gregory writes:

A psalm is the tranquility of souls, the arbitor of peace, restraining the disorder and turbulence of thoughts, for it softens the passion of the soul and moderates its unruliness. A psalm forms friendships, unites the divided, mediates between enemies. For who can still consider him and enemy with whom he has sent forth one voice to God? So that the singing of psalms brings love, the greatest of good things, contriving harmony like some bond of union and uniting the people in the symphony of a single choir.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tuesday Tunes

"So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new Creation: everything old has passed away; see everything has become new."

To be "in Christ" means to let the Spirit of Christ so infiltrate you that your very essence is affected. Every cell in your body becomes permeable to Christ's spirit, transforming you from the inside out. But a transformation this complete intimidates most people.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29.

Sts. Peter and Paul are two great companions and spiritual brothers. In fact they are often called the founding pillars of the Church. In this brotherly dyad Peter is regularly read as the rock, the steady one at the center, the leader of the Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem and Antioch and Rome. And Paul, then, is the one sent to the margins, the peripheries, to bring good news to the gentiles in Galatia and Athens and Thessalonica.

But just like most brothers – and just as other passages from both the book of Acts and another of Paul’s letter tell us – they also ran headlong into conflict with one another. Take Galatians for example. There Paul writes, “and when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.” There it is, plain as day. Conflict between the saints we celebrate on a single day. Even more, this wasn’t the first time Peter had been called to conversion.

We see another example of Peter’s need for a change of mind and heart immediately after the close of the Gospel we just heard. Peter, in what must have been one of those rare moments of being fully absorbed by the Holy Spirit, has just named Jesus “the Christ, the son of the living God.” And Jesus, always breathing deeply of that same Spirit, has in turn bestowed a name upon Simon son of Jonah: “You are Peter,” he said, “and upon this rock I will build my Church.”

And then Jesus calls Simon not Peter, the rock, but “Satan,” the tempter. What happened in the thin gap between those two names?

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sts. Peter and Paul

On Monday, June 29,  we remember the apostles Peter and Paul, commemorating not only their divinely inspired writings in the New Testament but also their efforts as apostles of Christ.

Here are a few interesting facts about their lives and ministry:

Peter and Paul both ended their ministry as apostles in Rome. The Gospel had reached Rome before their arrival, but they both saw it necessary to journey to Rome and bring apostolic leadership to the church there. Since Peter is not mentioned by name in Romans, he arrived in Rome at some point afterwards, perhaps in the late ’50s or early ’60s.

Paul was called to be an apostle on the street. Acts: 9 tells the story of Paul’s mystical encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ. As a Pharisee, he was committed to the persecution of those following "the Way," but was now being confronted by the Lord for his actions. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" In persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Christ himself, for the Church is his Body.

The apostles were at first divided over the treatment of Gentile Christians. This controversy came to a head in Antioch, where Paul opposed Peter “to his face, because he stood condemned." Much of the New Testament is devoted to the issue of whether one must become a Jew before one can be a true Christian, and it was a great controversy in the early decades of the Church. Paul was resolute: we are justified through our faith in Jesus Christ, regardless of one’s adherence to Jewish law.

Both apostles died as martyrs in Rome. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, it seems that he was given the more “merciful” death of beheading in the mid-’60s.

Peter was to be crucified, and he requested that he be hung upside down, feeling unworthy to die in the same manner as Christ.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Papal Moment

"Dear friends, if we walk in hope, allowing ourselves to be surprised by the new wine which Jesus offers us, we have joy in our hearts and we cannot fail to be witnesses of this joy. Christians are joyful, they are never gloomy. God is at our side. We have a Mother who always intercedes for the life of her children, for us, as Queen Esther did in the first reading (cf Est 5:3). Jesus has shown us that the face of God is that of a loving Father. Sin and death have been defeated. Christians cannot be pessimists! They do not look like someone in constant mourning. If we are truly in love with Christ and if we sense how much he loves us, our heart will “light up” with a joy that spreads to everyone around us. As Benedict XVI said here, in this Shrine: “the disciple knows that without Christ, there is no light, no hope, no love, no future”

Friday, June 26, 2020

A Prayer for Graduates

It is only appropriate that we offer a prayer for those who have graduated. 

This prayer by Thomas Merton I received years ago when I graduated from high school. It's a great prayer for graduates - and for anyone else as well. Pray it slowly... each line deserves reflection...

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

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Work, work, work

We know this from our own experience. Our struggle to give proper time to family, prayer, and helping others has mainly to do with time. We're invariably too busy, too pressured, too hurried, too-driven, to stop and help. A writer that I know confesses that when she comes to die what she will regret most about her life is not the times she broke a commandment, but the many times she stepped over her own children on her way to her den to write. Along similar lines, we tend to blame secular ideology for so much of the breakdown of the family in our society today when, in fact, perhaps the biggest strain of all on the family is the pressure that comes from the workplace that has us under constant pressure, forever in a hurry, and daily stepping over our children because of the pressures of work.

I know this all too well, of course, from my own experience. I am forever pressured, forever in a hurry, forever over-extended, and forever stepping over all kinds of things that call for my attention on my way to work. As a priest, I can rationalize this by pointing to the importance of the ministry. Ministry is meant to conscript us beyond our own agenda, but deeper down, I know that much of this is a rationalization. Sometimes too I rationalize my busyness and hurry by taking consolation in the fact that I came to be this way legitimately. It's in my genes. Both my father and my mother exhibited a similar struggle. They were wonderful, moral, and loving parents, but they were often over-extended. Responding to too many demands is a mixed virtue.

It's no accident that virtually all of the classical spiritual writers, writing without the benefit of the Princeton study, warn about the dangers of overwork. Indeed, the dangers of haste and hurry are already written into the very first page of scripture where God invites us to make sure to keep proper Sabbath. When we are in a hurry we see little beyond our own agenda.

The positive side to haste and hurry is that they are, perhaps, the opposite of acedia. The driven-person who is always in a hurry at least isn't constantly struggling to get through the morning to the lunch hour. She always has a purpose. As well, haste and hurry can help make for a productive individual who is affirmed and admired for what he does, even as he is stepping over his own children to get to his workplace. I know this too: I get a lot of affirmation for my work, even as I have to admit that pressure and hurry prevent me much of the time from being a Good Samaritan.

Haste makes waste, so goes the saying. It also makes for a spiritual and a human blindness that can severely limit our compassion.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Humility of the Baptist

The Solemnity of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the Predecessor of the Lord, who already in the womb of his mother, filled with the Holy Spirit, rejoiced at the coming of the salvation of the human race; his birth itself foretold the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the grace of God shone forth in him so brightly that the Lord himself said about him that among those born from a woman no man was greater than John the Baptist.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Celebrate Dad!

From the great Grassroots Films comes this short video that sums it all up beautifully.

Happy Father’s Day, dads. (both living and deceased)

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is primarily based upon the Sacred Scriptures. In the New Testament, there are two references to the Heart of Mary in the Gospel according to St. Luke: .."Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. " (Lk 2: 19) and " His mother meanwhile kept all these things in her heart. " (Lk 2:51) In the Old Testament, the heart is seen as the symbol of the depths of the human soul, the center of its choices and commitments. For all mankind, it is a symbol of love. In the Book of Deuteronomy we are told, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Dt. 6:5) When Our Lord Jesus Christ was asked by the scribes which was the first commandment, he answered them by quoting this verse to them.

It was the Heart of Mary which expressed her "yes" to God. This was her response to the message sent through the angel at the Annunciation. By her loving consent, Mary first conceived Christ in her heart and then in her womb. Our Lord Jesus, Himself: when reminded by a woman in the crowd how blessed was the womb which gave birth to Him, responds, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it." (Lk. 11:28) Pope John Paul II , in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, wrote "the mystery of Redemption was formed under the heart of the Virgin of Nazareth when she pronounced her 'fiat.'"

Historically, devotion to the Heart of Mary can be traced to the twelfth century with such writers as St. Anselm (d. 1109) and St. Bernard of Clairvaux (d. 1153) who is considered as one of the most influential writers in Marian devotion. St. Bernardine of Siena ( 1380- 1444) has been called the Doctor of the Heart of Mary due to his writings on Mary's heart. He wrote, "from her heart, as from a furnace of Divine Love, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words of the most ardent love." St. John Eudes (1601 -1680) helped by his writings to begin a renewal in this devotion. Both Pope Leo XIII and Pope St. Pius X called him, "the father, Doctor, and Apostle of the liturgical cult of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary." Even two decades before the first liturgical celebrations in honor of the Heart of Jesus, St. John Eudes and his followers observed February 8th as the feast of the Heart of Mary as early as 1643. Pope Pius VII (d. 1823) extended its celebration to any diocese or congregation requesting it.

Devotion to Mary's Heart has a greater flowering following the manifestation of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure in 1830 and the Appearances of' Our Lady in Fatima. From May 13 to October 13, 1917, our Blessed Mother Mary appeared to three children, Jacinta and Francisco Marto and their cousin Lucia DosSantos in Fatima, Portugal. On July 13 she told them: "to save poor sinners, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart." The entire Fatima message is one of prayer, penance and making sacrifices and reparation to God for the many offenses against Him.

In 1942, the twenty-fifth anniversary of Fatima, Pope Pius XII consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. That same year, he assigned the feast day to August 22, the octave of the Assumption. On May 4, 1944, he extended the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the Universal Church. With the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in 1969, the feast was given a more suitable place on the day following the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That is the Saturday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.

The opening prayer for the liturgical celebration helps us focus on the important message of this feast day. "God prepared the heart of Mary as a fitting home to the Holy Spirit. May we, His chosen people, become temples of His glory. We ask Mary to help us- her spiritual children, so dear to her heart, to stay ever united in friendship with her Son and never separate ourselves by sin."

Friday, June 19, 2020

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the World, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, Son of the Eternal Father, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, formed in the womb of the Virgin Mother by the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, united substantially with the word of God, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, of infinite majesty, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, holy temple of God, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, tabernacle of the Most High, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, house of God and gate of heaven, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, glowing furnace of charity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, vessel of justice and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, full of goodness and love, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, abyss of all virtues, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, most worthy of all praise, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, king and center of all hearts, have mercy on us.

Heart of Jesus, in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Divinity, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, in whom the Father is well pleased, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, desire of the everlasting hills, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, patient and rich in mercy, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, rich to all who invoke Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, fount of life and holiness, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, saturated with revilings, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, crushed for our iniquities, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, made obedient unto death, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, pierced with a lance, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, source of all consolation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our life and resurrection, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, our peace and reconciliation, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, victim for our sins, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, salvation of those who hope in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, hope of those who die in Thee, have mercy on us.
Heart of Jesus, delight of all saints, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord,
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

V. Jesus, meek and humble of Heart.
R. Make our hearts like unto Thine.

Let us pray

Almighty and everlasting God, look upon the Heart of Your well-beloved Son and upon the acts of praise and satisfaction which He renders unto You in the name of sinners; and in Your great goodness, grant pardon to them who seek Your mercy, in the name of the same Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

The Eucharist is “God’s memorial.”

Pope Francis leads Benediction at the conclusion of the Mass marking the feast of Corpus Christi in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican June 14, 2020.

Today Pope Francis spoke about the importance of the Eucharist for the life of the church community and the individual believer when he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He spoke about it again, from the study window of the papal apartment, when he greeted hundreds of Romans, in St. Peter’s Square when he recited the Angelus with them at noon. He reminded them that “today in Italy and in other nations, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, is celebrated.” He emphasized the “mystical” and “communal” effects of the Eucharist on the life of the Christian and said that “one cannot participate in the Eucharist without committing oneself to sincere mutual fraternity.”

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the Eucharist as “God’s memorial.”

“Scripture has been given to us that we might overcome our forgetfulness of God,” he told his global audience. He emphasized the importance of remembering in our prayer “the deeds of the Lord” and “those wonders that the Lord has worked in our own lives.” He said, “if we do not remember it, we become strangers to ourselves, ‘passers-by’ of existence. Without memory, we uproot ourselves from the soil that nourishes us and allow ourselves to be carried away like leaves in the wind.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Aims of Marianist Religious Community

Community life is designed to be a support and stimulus for holiness. The grace of Jesus is concretely at work in each of us. When we share our living of that grace, we all become enriched. Our prayer, our living of the vows, our faith, hope and charity thus develop new dimensions. When we accept the challenges of community as occasions for grace and conversion, when we overcome hostility by sympathetic understanding and indifference by interest and concern, we all support one another in our common call to holiness.

Community prayer is a “source and summit”: it both expresses the life of the community and aims to deepen our sense of God and to enrich our practical charity for one another and for the world around us. A prayerful community immeasurably stimulates and deepens the spiritual experience of its members. We need to recognize that we can learn from one another in our spiritual lives, from the different ways in which others pray and experience God. A reasonable diversity of styles and modes of prayer, corresponding to the religious sensibilities of the different members, should be an enrichment for everyone.

Marianist community is also a permanent mission, not a cozy atmosphere closed in on itself. To share in the mission of Jesus is to join in the company of his disciples, companions whom he sends to preach the good news and to heal. We find ourselves together in communities, not by personal choice, but in function of a mission we share in the local Church. Our community is meant to be less a refuge from apostolic battles than a source of creativity and strength for mission.

We are not meant to be individual free-lancers in our ministries. Our whole history as a Society teaches us that. Great Marianist success-stories, great times and places of grace, have always involved a vital and unified community. The witness of a group of people – whether three or fifty – who truly work together in harmonious support is contagious, sometimes overpowering. It attracts followers.

Even if we may at times be called to work more individually, we need to consider our ministry as an outreach of our Marianist community, and ask for the support, guidance and evaluative discernment of the community (Rule of Life, 68).

A key element of our apostolic mission as Marianists is the discovering, building and maintaining of close community among us and the extension of such an experience of community to those around us. This is a deep way of understanding our ministry as religious within the entire Marianist Family – even within the whole Church.

The emphasis on prayer with and for one another, on trying to understand one another, on affirmation, on team work, on dialogue and a strongly felt community life is not navel-gazing or “nesting” in a warm, supportive atmosphere. It is an essential mark of our Marianist mission.

Rev. David Joseph Fleming, S.M. 
Superior General of the Society of Mary 
Missionary Apostolic
Rome, September 12, 2004 
Feast of the Holy Name of Mary

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

"Lead, Kindly Light."

June 16th.

You might know why this date is so important. When the young John Cardinal Newman was traveling in Italy he fell ill. He experienced a time of great emotional and spiritual discouragement. When a nurse asked him what troubled him, he responded, "I have work to do in England." Eventually he got passage on a boat home, but they were constrained to heave to, slowed by a thick fog and nearby cliffs. Trapped in the fog, on June 16th Newman wrote The Pillar of the Cloud:

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see

The distant scene—one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray’d that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,

Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile

Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Marianist Monday

If the light of faith is the Word of God, if because of it the adorable Word comes to live within us, then we understand that faith, the conviction resulting from the impression of this light, is precisely the union of Jesus Christ with us; a union which goes so far as to transform us into Jesus Christ. By faith we think as Jesus Christ thinks, it is Jesus Christ who unites himself to our heart. By faith our guided will acts only as Jesus Christ acts, it is Jesus Christ who unites himself to our will. Thus the new self is formed within us.

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade
Writings on Mental Prayer

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Culture of waste

As we have heard before Papa Bergoglio often recycles his content so that his message is impossible to avoid.

Along those lines, Francis' catechesis has often focused on the "culture of waste":

This "culture of waste" tends to become the common mentality that infects everyone. Human life, the person is no longer perceived as a primary value to be respected and protected, especially if poor or disabled, if not yet useful - such as the unborn child - or no longer needed - such as the elderly. 

This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic parameters. 

We should all remember, however, that the food we throw away is as if stolen from the table of the poor, the hungry! I encourage everyone to reflect on the problem of thrown away and wasted food to identify ways and means that, by seriously addressing this issue, are a vehicle of solidarity and sharing with the needy.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

St. Anthony of Padua

Feast Day of St. Anthony of Padua | Naming the Days | Spirituality ...Pope Pius XII recommended that we go to St. Anthony, not just for favors, but to learn the path of holiness of life. St. Anthony modeled the great teaching found in the Book of Wisdom: Devotion to God is mightier than all else.

There has always been a real power in St. Anthony’s intercession. Thousands come and pray before his statue. Many seek help from pain and suffering that has challenged their faith in God. Some call on him who are in deep depression, even bordering on despair. While St. Anthony does not always remove their pain and suffering, he has helped them to bear their cross as Jesus did, with courage, patience and firm conviction that God loves them despite His permitting them to suffer.

St. Anthony helped them to understand the great truth taught by St. Paul: “Jesus learned obedience to the Divine Will and came to realize his own perfection through the things that he suffered.”

St. Anthony gives us hope when things appear hopeless. While there is probably much to be said for the song, “I did it my way,” St. Anthony’s life was a different song: “I did it God’s way.”

Friday, June 12, 2020

We Live in Community

Each and every day we attempt to build this Gospel community that is the essential core of our lives. Our vowed life in the Church focuses on the two tables; the table of the Eucharist and the table of community.

The book, "Why Community" is described as follows:

Everyone these days seems to be searching for community in one way or another - whether in the form of committed, nourishing relationships at home and at work, support networks, small groups, house churches - even cyberspace. But mention "community" and many people literally go blank. They claim that they're not ready for the commitment such a term implies, or lack sufficient energy, gifts, or time. It's just not 'where they're at.' Or is it? This new translation of a time-honored manifesto adds a fresh, engaging voice to the vital discussion of what real community is all about: love, joy, unity, and the great "adventure of faith" shared with others along the way. Neither Arnold nor Merton describe (or prescribe) community here, but for the individual seeker, they do provide a vision to guide and inspire the search, and for those who may have already answered the call to community, they offer the disarming challenge of greater commitment and a continually deepened faith.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Vocation: your deep gladness meets the world's deep hunger

From David Brooks, in the New York Times a little profundity — and a challenge to the world—
A human life is not just a means to produce outcomes, it is an end in itself. When we evaluate our friends, we don’t just measure the consequences of their lives. We measure who they intrinsically are. We don’t merely want to know if they have done good. We want to know if they are good.

That’s why when most people pick a vocation, they don’t only want one that will be externally useful. They want one that they will enjoy, and that will make them a better person. They want to find that place, as the novelist Frederick Buechner put it, “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

If you are smart, hard-working, careful and lucky you might even be able to find a job that is both productive and internally ennobling. Taking a job just to make money, on the other hand, is probably going to be corrosive, even if you use the money for charity rather than sports cars.

We live in a relentlessly commercial culture, so it’s natural that many people would organize their lives in utilitarian and consequentialist terms. But it’s possible to get carried away with this kind of thinking — to have logic but no wisdom, to become a specialist without spirit.

Making yourself is different than producing a product or an external outcome, requiring different logic and different means. I’d think you would be more likely to cultivate a deep soul if you put yourself in the middle of the things that engaged you most seriously. If your profoundest interest is dying children in Africa or Bangladesh, it’s probably best to go to Africa or Bangladesh, not to Wall Street.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Whenever someone is called the salt of the earth, and the light of the world, you are saying that they have the right qualities for the fundamentals of life and for the well-being of all society. You have what it takes to preserve a good and orderly society from one generation to the next.

It is quite interesting that Jesus tells his disciples, and tells us, that they are the salt of the earth; the preservation of all that is basic and necessary for human life and good social order. It is as if Jesus is telling them that if they fail, everything else falls apart; that they are the people everyone is counting on; and so Jesus is talking to us as well.

Light of the world means that, as part of our being, we naturally reflect who we are, and what we stand for. We give the world insight into why we live, and where we are going. We hold that Christ is the way the truth and the life for all of us, for all society, until the end of time. Everything may fall apart, but the Church will remain. "When we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim your death, O lord, until you come again.” This is a comforting truth, because it means that following Christ is a good decision.

Today, Jesus has given a great compliment calling us the salt of the earth- we are the ones who will provide the foundation for society; we are the ones who will provide light to the world. Not because of our own merits or accomplishments, but because Jesus, who loves us and who died for us, has given us the grace, the ability, to live great lives according to His will.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Marianist Monday

Image result for our lady of good counsel chaminade high school mineola
June 2020 
Dear Graduates of Kellenberg, Chaminade, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School, 

In the past few months, we all have added a few new words to our vocabulary. Phrases like in these uncertain days, in these unnerving weeks, or during these unprecedented times seem to be commonplace now on television commercials or podcasts. One Brother even jokingly refers to the pre-pandemic time as before all hell broke loose! We are all Zooming and setting up Google Hangouts to see our friends and families, albeit virtually on the screen in front of us. None of us had even heard of contact tracing or social distancing before the pandemic came upon us in early March. Honestly, social distancing seemed like an oxymoron to me, until I found myself sitting at a table alone in my grandparents’ backyard while my mom, dad, and sister sat at one table and my grandparents at another. 
We all seem to have adjusted to the new normal, yet I think all of us wish we could just go back to the way things were. Many of us have gotten used to sharing a home office space with family members. We have learned to log into Zoom classes with our mics muted and to make sure our cameras are pointed at a flattering angle. I don’t know about you, but I have been in one too many Zoom meetings where the speaker had the camera pointed right up his nose! One perk for me, though, was that I was able to attend my graduate classes in jacket and tie but with pajama pants and slippers on too. Still, I have missed teaching my freshman classes in person — a recorded Youtube lesson just doesn’t do it for me. 

Of course all of the things that I just mentioned are minor inconveniences, but life goes on, and we adjust to the new normal. For so many of us, however, life can never just go back to the way it was. Perhaps some of you, like me, were unable to attend your graduation ceremony last month. Not being able to celebrate your outstanding accomplishment with your college friends and families is a real sadness, so please don’t minimize the sorrow you feel. Many of you now face an uncertain job market and worry about what the future holds. On a deeper level, I am sure that all of us now know at least someone who suffered as a result of the virus. As the death toll in our country reaches 100,000 people, we all probably know someone who has died. Even if a death was not COVID-19 related, we have been unable to gather together to console one another at wakes and funerals. Many of you have reached out to the Marianists with prayer requests for yourselves or for loved ones who were sick and in need of prayers. Know that we pray for you and your families each and every day at Mass. 

As I am sure that many of you have heard by now, the Brothers lost one of our own last month. Fr. Ernest Lorfanfant, S.M. passed away on May 19, and while the Marianists were blessed to be able to celebrate a small, private funeral Mass for him, we were sad that we were not able to celebrate his life with all of the many people whom Fr. Ernie impacted during his lifetime. The Brothers have received more than one thousand messages of condolences and remembrances of a man who could only be called a one-of-a-kind person. I ask that you keep Fr. Ernest in your prayers, and join the Brothers in thanking God for his 62 years of religious consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. May he rest in peace! 

All of these thoughts were in my mind when Fr. Peter sent me an article written by Sr. Gabrielle Bibeau, FMI called Living in a Time of Crisis: It is in our Marianist DNA. Sr. Gabby is a Marianist Sister living and ministering in Dayton, Ohio. Like me, she is also in the period of Marianist formation called temporary profession. During this time, we live our lives according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and we minister alongside our Marianist Brothers and Sisters in preparation for our perpetual profession of vows. We spend time learning about our Marianist history and charism, and we often think about how the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin are asking us to serve God’s people in today’s world. In the midst of a global pandemic, that means that we have to be creative in coming up with new ways of being faithful to the mission Fr. Chaminade envisioned for us. Speaking of Blessed Chaminade and Blessed Adele (the foundress of the Marianist Sisters with Fr. Chaminade), who lived during the terror of French Revolution, Sr. Gabby writes: 
As I study their lives, I am constantly struck by the parallels between our circumstances facing the coronavirus pandemic and their circumstances of violence, death, and exile. Of course, there are some obvious differences: the reason we cannot have public liturgies is to mitigate the spread of a deadly contagion, not because our faith is being persecuted. The violence we are facing is the violence of disease, not a violence inflicted by other human beings. When we set aside some of those differences, there are so many lessons we can learn from our Marianist ancestors and their context about how to respond to the pandemic. Father Chaminade and Mother Adele were able to seek out the will of God even in the midst of unprecedented hardship. Their one desire was to remain faithful to God and to their service in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Despite the threat of exile and death, they knew that they had to place their trust totally in God and to live in hope for a more peaceful future. 
So while the Brothers have not been dealing with imprisonment or guillotine — thank God! — we have had to find new and creative ways to remain faithful to our mission. I have been tremendously edified by some of my older Brothers in Community who have totally embraced Zoom as a means of 

continuing their classes and Sodality meetings. More importantly, however, this pandemic has given us Brothers the opportunity to live our life together with a little bit more prayer, kindness, and fraternity. We have spent a lot of time together, and while that can be trying for us at times, as it is for any family, it also has been a great blessing to be together in prayer and mission. 
So what can we learn from Blessed Chaminade, who lived during a crisis in his own day? Cling to your prayer life and devotion to God. I am sure that for many of you, not being able to go to Mass on Sunday has been a real sadness and a source of great anxiety. So, pray that we will be able to gather together in our churches soon, but also pray to Blessed Chaminade for the grace to keep the faith during these unnerving weeks. Fr. Chaminade’s mission, and our Marianist mission, is to form communities of faith in which you can grow in your knowledge, love, and service of Christ and His Mother. Think about your family members and friends who draw you closer to God and spend time with them. Be kind and patient with them too. Then, you will begin to see God at work in your life and experience the great peace that comes from loving Him. On the first of this month, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. Pope Francis established this feast day in 2018 as a reminder of Mary’s constant maternal care for us. Think back to the Marianist 3 o’clock prayer that you prayed at the end of every school day: Lord, we thank you for giving us Mary as our Mother. St. John, obtain for us the grace of taking Mary into our life, as you did, and of assisting her in her mission. Amen! May Our Blessed Mother always watch over you and your families and see you through these unprecedented times. The Brothers look forward to seeing you all again soon! 

In Christ and His Blessed Mother, and on behalf of all my Brothers, 

Bro. Patrick Cahill, S.M. 

“What is a faithful man to do in the chaos of events which seem to swallow it up? Sustain himself calmly by that faith which . . . assures us that all things work together unto good for those who love God.” ~ Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Summer reading Recommendations

The Diary of a Country Priest

by George Bernanos

The first-person narrative in George Bernanos’ The Diary of a Country Priest might divert our attention from the heart of the novel, at least for a few chapters: unsuspecting readers might suppose that the young Curé’s career as a village pastor will control the tale. Instead, the Diary develops through its conversations. It almost wanders from one encounter to another, spotlighting individual men and women whose ultimate fates remain often, but not always, hidden to both reader and narrator. Through their words, the true character of this sickly priest and his tired flock shine out, as Bernanos weaves his masterpiece from these thin threads of sin and sanctity. A few themes seem central here:

A Shepherd’s Heart: The Curé’s conversations provide a direct answer for our Lord’s command to Peter: “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). Feeble and inexperienced as this priest might be, the man is truly a pastor, bearing throughout the novel his love of and responsibility for this town of Ambricourt, these men and women. The lone priest walking his parish rounds might be an image of sanctity unfamiliar to both the modern family and our own Dominican community; nevertheless, his charity reflects some facet of Christ’s all-encompassing compassion, especially for the “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt 9:35-38).

Evil and Sin: Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd, but also the Divine Physician: these two aspects of priestly ministry are necessarily related. A good shepherd cannot ignore disease: “A priest can’t shrink from sores any more than a doctor. He must be able to look at pus and wounds and gangrene” (117). Uncomfortably incisive in his diagnoses of broken humanity, it’s no wonder he becomes known as a meddling idealist. But the Curé won’t tolerate a false peace in a dead soul: Jesus came not to bring “peace on earth … but a sword” (Matt 10:34-36).

Bernanos’ memorable discussions of sin and evil might unsettle good Thomists, who firmly insist that evil is “neither a being nor a good.” Evil is merely privation, a lack of real being or order (ST I, q. 48, a. 1). “Essential evil” or essential sin as a positive desire, a “vast yearning for the void, for emptiness” (112) makes little sense to existentialism and none at all to consistent metaphysics. Contrast Augustine’s reflections about pear-stealing and desiring false goods (but not evil itself!) in Confessions II. Still, as long as we don’t “reify” evil in our philosophy, the author’s disconcerting language serves its purpose. It startles us out of our daily compromises, making us recognize just how horrible sin is and, likewise, how great our redemption.

Poverty and the Church: The apostolic coffers began rather empty; in Acts 3, all the beggar receives is the invocation of Jesus’ Name (Acts 3:1-10). The Curé, too, lives in what many would consider intolerable poverty, and he was raised in worse. Bernanos does not whitewash this cross, and more than once he brings poverty to the foreground. Marxism, however, has no place is Bernanos’ ecclesiology. Jesus did not claim a kingdom in this world (John 18:36); similarly, the Church comes and announces the Gospel, not material relief: “Blessed are you poor” (Luke 6:20-23). “God sends us to them first, and what is our message? Poverty” (43). As earnestly as we must apply ourselves to the works of mercy (see Jas 2:15-17 on “dead faith”), the real treasure of the Church does not change: she ultimately offers no richness but Christ.

Weakness and Suffering: Without revealing too much here, suffice it to say that this priest is a man of intense physical and spiritual suffering. Don’t wait around for him to defend his reputation or earn the goodwill of his parishioners; his long spiritual darkness persists as well. To the world he remains a pathetic figure on every level; faith is left to judge differently.

Bernanos’ Diary is a quick read, even for a novel; all the same, it captures something profound of the beauty of God working through human instruments. One can ultimately hear only Christ’s words in these pages: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 7:9).

Brother: Br. Linus Martz, O.P.

Friday, June 5, 2020


Life and Times of Fr. Chaminade
Dear Members of the Marianist Family,

“Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”

A century ago, the Irish poet W.B. Yeats wrote these prophetic words as he contemplated the societal upheaval wrought by the violence of World War and the ravages of the influenza pandemic of 1918-19. The disruptive events of the past few months, compounded with the distressing and disturbing death of Mr. George Floyd and so many others, leaves us feeling confused, uncertain, and angry. Can the center hold?

“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?”

Two months ago, Pope Francis stood alone in the rain in St. Peter’s Square and preached on the gospel story of the disciples tossed fearfully in a storm with Jesus asleep in the boat: “Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets, and our cities; it has taken over our lives; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away. We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel, we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.”

“Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

Today, injustice is startlingly revealed; chaos threatens our streets. Our faith is challenged; our hope is nearly exhausted. Fear, anger, and confusion wash over us like the waves that nearly overwhelmed the storm-tossed disciples. Can we still have faith? Do we dare to hope? Where do we stand?

As men vowed to live and teach the gospel, the Marianists of the Province of Meribah believe in the dignity and sanctity of every human life. We affirm the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that “racism is not merely one sin among many, it is a radical evil dividing the human family;” thus “every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God’s design.”

As educators, we are committed to educating all of our students at Chaminade High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School to strive for justice and peace and to form them as young women and men committed to service, leadership, and transformation. We strive to create an environment of respect where growth and goodness can flourish and where every student is cherished and challenged. With Pope Francis, we believe that “The most effective antidote to every form of violence is education about discovering and accepting difference as richness and fruitfulness.”

As Christians, we are called to listen and know the stories of our brothers and sisters. We must create opportunities to hear, with open hearts, the tragic stories that are deeply imprinted on the lives of our brothers and sisters, if we are to be moved with empathy to promote justice. As teachers, we pledge to work with all our students and their families to strengthen the commitment of our schools to our core values:

One Heart and One Mind

Fortes in Unitate – Strength in Unity

Above all, Charity

Finally, as members of the Marianist Family, we turn to Mary for hope and intercession. She is the Mother of Sorrows who stood in silent witness as her Son suffered violence and degradation on the cross. She is the Mother of Mercy who wraps all her children in her mantle of protection. She is the Woman of Faith who trusts in the Father’s promise and opens herself to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, she is the Mother of the Church who intercedes for her children in their every need:

Mary, Mother of the Church,
you are enthroned as queen at your Son’s right hand:
we ask your intercession for the needs of our country,
that every desire for good may be blessed and strengthened,

that faith may be revived and nourished,
hope sustained and enlightened,
charity awakened and animated;
guide us, we pray, along the path of holiness.

Mary our Mother,
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

At each of our schools, we speak of ourselves as a family, and “family spirit” is an animating principle of Marianist education: “In this way a community of learning becomes an experience of grace, where the teaching program contributes to uniting into a harmonious whole the human and the divine, the Gospel and culture, faith and life”

To all our students, all our families of every skin color and background: you are valued as men and women made in God’s image; you are treasured as people who seek peace and strive for justice; you are loved as brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ and beloved children of Mary. We stand firm in this belief despite the darkness that engulfs our world.

In the spirit of Jesus who reassures us: “Do not be afraid. I am with you always.”

The Brothers of the Marianist Province of Meribah,

Bro. Timothy Driscoll, S.M.

Thursday, June 4, 2020


The gentle wisdom of Francis de Sales

"Truth which is not charitable
proceeds from a charity
which is not true."

Wednesday, June 3, 2020



Almighty God and Father,
You came to dwell among us

in your Son, Jesus Christ,
who died for our sins
and was raised from the dead
so we too may walk in newness of life.

In your Holy Spirit,
which he breathed on his disciples,
we were sealed at baptism;
and he promised this Advocate
will remain with us always.

We know that this is true
in the Eucharist and in all your sacraments,
as well as in Scripture,
the life and tradition of the Church,
and within disposed and prayerful hearts.

Still, we often forget all this.
We are fearful, doubtful, anxious,
and are frequently led astray.
Please forgive us,
and guide us along the right way.

One God in Three Persons,
help us to remember
that you are with us always,
and to cast out fear with love,
doubt with faith, and anxiety with hope.

You who give
life and breath and all things,
as we seek you in this valley of tears
help us to be aware
that you are always near us.

In you alone
we live and move
and have our being.

-- Br. Francis

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


A prayer for the times

Steer the ship of my life, Lord, to your quiet harbor, where I can be safe from the storms of sin and conflict. Show me the course I should take. Renew in me the gift of discernment, so that I can see the right direction in which I should go. And give me the strength and courage to choose the right course, even when the sea is rough and the waves are high, knowing that through enduring hardship and danger in your name we shall find comfort and peace.

Monday, June 1, 2020

First Profession - Province of Meribah - Society of Mary

This Saturday, May 30th was a day of great joy and outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Brother Thomas Terrill, S.M. made his first profession of the Vows of Consecrated Life in the Society of Mary.

Brother Thomas Terrill, S.M. professed vows of chastity, poverty and obedience at the Vigil Mass of Pentecost.

"My son, you are with me always, everything I have is yours. " 
(Lk 15:31)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Happy Birthday!

On Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius(Chicag), a beautiful ancient custom takes place at the end of Mass that dates back at least to the 5th century.

In Rome, rose petals would be dropped through the the circular “oculus” at the Pantheon (now a minor basilica called “Sancta Maria ad martyrs”). The petals would fall to the crowd below reminiscent of the coming of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.

This beautiful custom takes place at the end of the Masses on Pentecost Sunday at St. John Cantius Church. Rose petals are dropped through the circular opening of the transept of the church during the recessional hymn, “Come Holy Ghost.” Some are surprised while others wait expectantly for the rose petals to fall.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Bro. Raymond M. Kane, S.M. - RIP

Society of Mary 
The Province of the USA recommends to our fraternal prayers our dear brother, Raymond Michael KANE, of the Chaminade-Mineola Community, Mineola, New York, USA, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on May 27, 2020 in Little Neck, New York, USA, at the age of 81 with 62 years of religious profession.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno

Maryknoll Father Vincent R. Capodanno, a Navy chaplain who was killed while serving with the Marines in Vietnam, is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS file photo)

Labor Day, September 4, 1967, in the United States was just like so many other Labor Days before: the last day before the start of school, a federal holiday, banks and stores closed, and people preparing to join friends and family for backyard barbecues.
But some 8,000 miles away in South Vietnam it marked the start of an epic 11 day battle known as Operation SWIFT. Today it is primarily remembered by military history buffs, as well as those who honor the memory of a Navy chaplain who lost his life after 30 minutes of battle, Fr. Vincent Capodanno, MM.

But what Father did during those 30 minutes not only earned him the Medal of Honor, it has propelled his beatification cause.

From Staten Island to South Vietnam

Born February 13, 1929, Capodanno grew up on Staten Island, New York, the youngest of nine children born to a Brooklyn-born mother of Italian ancestry and a father who immigrated to New York from Gaeta, Italy. According to his last surviving sister Gloria Holman, the home was a happy one, and “Vin” or “Junior” “was serious, his personality, more so than not, you know?”

His cousin Al Lambert remembers Junior, like his mother, had a fantastic sense of humor, and when he laughed, his whole body shook. He also says he was very fastidious.

Capodanno heard his calling to the priesthood at age 18 and entered the Maryknoll Missionary Seminary at 20. On June 14, 1958, he received holy orders at the hands of New York’s Francis Cardinal Spellman.

His superiors first posted him among the aboriginal tribesman in Taiwan’s mountains. Then they stationed him at the order’s school in Hong Kong. The new assignment did not thrill him, but he went without protest.

By this time the Vietnam War had begun, and so Capodanno asked for and received permission to enter the Navy chaplaincy corps.

He received his commission as a chaplain on December 28, 1965, and was attached to the 1/7 (1st Battalion, 7th Marines) in April 1966.

Lt. RJ Marnell remembers, “Fr. Capodanno was … told several times it was not his job to go on patrols, fire sweeps, etc. Yet you had to watch him like a hawk as it was not uncommon to see a group of Marines running to get on a helicopter to go into battle, and all of a sudden this figure comes out of nowhere, no rifle, just his priest gear, and jumping in the helicopter before anybody could catch him. He wanted to be with his Marines and didn’t feel his job was simply to say Mass on Sundays.”

Eight months after his arrival, he transferred to the 1st Medical Battalion at the Marines’ hospital in Da Nang. Toward the end of his first tour of 11 months, he applied for and was granted a second. In August 1967, his superiors attached him to Mike Company of the 3/5. (Each Company is known by a letter of the alphabet and is called not “A” Company, for instance, but Alpha Company, Bravo Company, Charlie Company, etc.)

Thus Father had only been with his new unit about three weeks when the fateful battle started. Knowing his second tour was drawing to a close, “He voluntarily extended here for another six months. He was just refused another extension and was due to go home in November.”1

Former Lance Corporal Steve Lovejoy recalls, “Over the years I always believed Fr. Capodanno had spent at least three months with Mike Co., if not longer. In actuality, it was no more than four weeks!! He had that kind of impact. He treated us as if he was one of us, and that is how we related to him. Of course we had respect and understood his position, but the men accepted him as one of their own.”

Retired Col. Joaquin Gracida, then a staff officer with 3/5, relates, “One day while having our afternoon meal, one of the Lieutenants rushed into the tent, and when he reached our table said, ‘What kind of @#$% soup do we have today?’

The others seated there knew that Chaplain Capodanno was sitting at our table so we all, without saying a word, sat up straight and looked in the direction of Fr. Capodanno. Father, without missing a beat continued eating his meal, then looked at the rest of us and said, ‘If that’s the kind of soup he wants, let him have it.’”

‘Fear not: God is with us all this day.’

Talk with anyone who knew him in the service, and they will describe how his eyes would pull someone in.
Additionally, George Phillips of 1st Platoon says he “had an innate ability to know when Marines needed to talk about something. And he would sit and wait in silence until the Marine was ready to talk [and] never move on until he saw the Marine had received some comfort…. But when you … were talking with him, it was like the two of you were in a cocoon. And nothing else was going on around you. You know, rockets, bullets, whatever, guys walking by. He kept his attention focused on one person at a time. Five or six guys sitting around, talking, and he joins them. He’d listen intently to the guy who’s talking, but ignore the other four. And when you were one-on-one with him, it was almost a mystical experience.”

One Marine recalled, “Sometimes he would just put his hand on your shoulder, and he’d make you feel great.”

Father simply put himself where he knew others would be. He would relax with other officers smoking his Camel cigarettes and, when allowed this, drinking the ration of two cans of beer. He would walk around where the enlisted men billeted. He got friends back home to send him candy, cigarettes, and St. Christopher medals, and retired Col. Joaquin Gracida says he would stuff his pockets full of these for the men.

Sometimes he would sit somewhere in the open, pull out his rosary, and start praying. Guys would sort of just gravitate toward him and join in. His Masses and prayers services were well attended (he “had no problems drawing a crowd on short notice,” says Col. Hill), and his sermons were concise but meaty, “on target,” and “comforting to Marines of any faith or … no faith at all.”

Phillips says Capodanno repeated one such message over and over: “‘Fear not: God is with us all this day.’”

September 3 was Election Day in South Vietnam. Because over 80 percent of South Vietnam’s electorate opposed the communists and voted against so-called “peace candidates,” the Viet Cong (guerillas with little or no training) and the NVA (aka, PAVN, North Vietnamese regulars, who were well trained and respected by the Americans) would attempt to disrupt voting.

As such GIs and their South Vietnamese allies would guard polling stations around the country.

Around 4:30 a.m., Delta’s perimeter came under heavy attack by the NVA 2nd Division. The communists had between 2,500-6,500 soldiers in the area. To aid Delta, the regimental commander sent in Bravo Company, but soon both outfits were pinned down under heavy fire in separate areas. By 8:30 a.m., with 29 Marines dead, Delta was under threat of being overrun.

At 9:37 a.m., the 5th Marine Regiment ordered the 3/5 to aid Bravo and Delta. Though he had only Kilo and Mike Companies available, battalion commander Lt. Col. C.B. Webster told the Company commanders to prepare for a helicopter lift to the area of Dong Son.


While there is some disagreement about this, some assert Capodanno actually had permission to join the Marines in combat this day. Regardless, he hopped onto a helo with Mike’s 3rd Platoon, and the helicopters left between 11:30 a.m. and noon.

The ride took roughly 30 minutes. Upon arrival, the helicopter pilot told Mike’s commander JD Murray the original LZ near Bravo and Delta was “too hot,” meaning there was too much enemy fire to risk a landing. The alternate LZ was to have been the one used by Kilo, about 1,000 meters away from the original landing site, but that, too, was unsafe. So the helicopters ultimately discharged Mike at an LZ in some dried up rice paddies roughly 2,500 meters away from Bravo and Delta.

The day was hot, humid, and clear as Murray prepared his men to head out in a wedge formation. In other words, 1st Platoon would lead the way in a spaced out, single file line, 2nd Platoon would fall into the same configuration some distance back on the right side, and the 3rd Platoon would be even further back holding the left.

The march through lightly wooded terrain was relatively peaceful. Then just before they entered an expanse of dry rice paddies, 1st Platoon’s Lt. Ed Combs later recounted that a little after 2:30, Bill Vandegriff, squad leader for the 1st Squad, shouted to him that a tree “in the tree line just got up and moved.” Combs “told him if it moved again to shoot the son of a b—-.”

The tree moved, and Vandegriff shot.

Then proverbial hell broke loose. Combs says, “When he fired his rifle, it was like the 4th of July coming in on us. The NVA opened up on us with everything they had, machine guns, small arms, mortars and rockets.” Unbeknownst to the Marines, five NVA battalions had been lying in ambush for them, each battalion holding 400-600 men. Every witness agrees: Had Vandegriff not shot when he did, the NVA would have slaughtered the Americans as they entered the rice paddies.

Murray sent 2nd Platoon to aid 1st Platoon.

Just before the battle commenced, 2nd had passed some deep holes resembling bomb craters on their way over the top of a small knoll. As soon as the Marines came over the hill, they came upon another group of entrenched North Vietnamese soldiers who were hidden in a bamboo tree line. These PAVN dropped one mortar on the Marines, causing them to pause. As they got moving again, more mortars dropped on them.

The 2nd had trouble reaching 1st because this is when the NVA opened up on them. A book about SWIFT, Road of 10,000 Pains, says the heavily camouflaged enemy came at the Marines “in a flood, like water from a burst dam.” Lovejoy describes it like the sound of Niagara Falls. Another 2nd Platoon soldier Fred Tancke recalls, “There was such thunderous, thunderous fire from that north tree line.” Marine John Lobur remembers, “There were so many bullets in the air, you could trim your fingernails just by sticking your hands up.”

Lovejoy was pinned down with Lance Cpl. Al Santos of Fall River, Mass., to whom he gave his M16 because Santos’ had jammed. Then after firing one round, Lovejoy’s weapon jammed, as well. Indeed, according to Lovejoy, “JD Murray attributes 50 percent of our casualties to the fact that our M16s failed. We probably had 40 if not 60 percent failure that day.”

By this time, at most ten minutes had elapsed. Sgt. Larry Peters yelled for everyone to take cover back over the top of the hill. Tancke recalls that, “The Marines on the line quickly began to pull back and pivot back up the hill from the north to the south.”3

Lovejoy, a radio operator, was trying to stay low out of the line of fire and lug his heavy equipment up the knoll with him at the same time. Lovejoy says “rounds were flying everywhere.”

Braving fire, blessing the fallen

All of a sudden, out of nowhere appeared Fr. Capodanno. He dragged Lovejoy to safety in a bomb crater. In addition to having saved Lovejoy, Father braved enemy fire to do the same with Sgt. Howard Manfra of Philadelphia. Tancke recalls being aware of Capodanno rushing around the battlefield exposing himself to unrelenting enemy fire to bless and comfort the fallen.

“I remember the cool look about him,” recalls the Lovejoy, “as though he was saying, ‘Do not worry, all will be OK.’ We had dropped some [tear] gas on the enemy, but it drifted over our position. I offered him my gas mask as I was down in a bomb crater and was not affected. He said, ‘No, you need it more than I do.’ We nodded to each other, and he left.”

Suddenly an enemy machine gunner appeared to the northwest and opened fire where Corpsman Armando Leal of San Antonio had gotten near Tancke. Like Father, Leal had been heroically going giving aid to the wounded. As he approached Tancke, who was kneeling down and firing at “enemy soldiers in the rice paddy,”4 a bullet went through his leg, cutting his femoral artery. Tancke attempted to drag Leal up the knoll and into a crater, putting one finger in the wound to staunch the bleeding, and trying to fire at the enemy with the other.

Meanwhile a Huey gunship appeared above the fracas, the pilot firing rockets into the tree line and the gunner unloading bullets on the enemy with his machine gun until the ammunition ran out

As Tancke struggled with Leal, Lance Cpl. Steve Cornell came down the knoll, stood over the pair and asked “if I needed help… I told him to get down.”5 That was when a bullet pierced Cornell’s chest. Another Marine was also shot nearby. As they were pulled back over the knoll, Fr. Capodanno rushed to give them last rites.

At that moment, Tancke says, “a loud almost thunderous barrage of small arms fire came from the north tree line.”6 Around this time, he and Leal neared the knoll’s crest.

Fifteen to twenty feet away, Tancke saw an NVA machine gunner grinning madly. The Marine momentarily left Leal, crawled a few feet, and aimed his rifle at the man. Click! His M16 double fed, causing it to jam, and he couldn’t clear the chamber. Tancke then reached for a grenade but couldn’t liberate it from his pouch because of his injured right hand. The Vietnamese soldier had a clear shot at Tancke but for some reason didn’t shoot. Tancke saw the Corpsman had bled out and died, however. Tanke turned to the east, took three or four steps, and then the gunner unloaded on Tancke, who quickly jumped into the shelter of a hole.

To the gunner’s west was the Platoon’s other Corpsman, David Phelps of Williamstown, NY, his body slumped over a Marine’s. He had jumped out of a crater to aid his comrade and received a mortal wound to the head.

Father Capodanno’s heroic death

Roughly 30 minutes into the battle, Tancke saw something out of his eye. Coming from his rear (the south) but heading to the west and then stopping to look north before heading in that direction was Fr. Capodanno. Tancke says he yelled at Father, “Watch out for the gunner!” and as Capodanno made his way north, presumably to aid a downed Marine, Tancke heard the machine gun’s loud BRAP! He estimates four to seven bullets pierced Father from the head down to his torso. The Padre fell where he was hit, and Tancke, who was at most six feet away, says he saw no signs of life in the fallen hero. Not long after this, a Marine crawled toward the machine gunner and took him out.

Several rumors surround Father’s death. One says he died of 27 bullet wounds. Another claims those wounds came from .50 caliber bullets. A normal machine gun bullet (e.g., a .30 cal) is about the size of a cigarette and will do significant damage. A .50 cal is about the size of a decent cigar. It can punch a hole through a railroad tie. If someone died from being shot 27 times with a .50 cal, not much of them would be left, yet Father’s body was recovered intact.

What Tancke believes happened is this.

After several hours, there was a lull. At some point 2nd Platoon Sergeant James Marbury spoke of not seeing the enemy and wondered where they were.

“Just then an NVA soldier popped his head up behind the bush where Fr. Capodanno lay dead (6 to 8 feet away). My rifle was still jammed so I managed to get a grenade out of my pouch and with my left hand I lobbed it over the bush on top of the enemy soldier and Fr. Capodanno.”7

This killed the soldier, but it might also explain the 27 wounds—not bullet holes—that were discovered on Father postmortem.

In addition to Father and the two Corpsmen, 14 other Mike Company Marines perished that day. Of the 165-178 men who went into battle, only 63-68 were physically unscathed the next day. By its end on September 15, SWIFT resulted in 123 Americans killed, including 51 from Father’s battalion.

But whether Marines lived, were wounded, or died, by all accounts, Father’s presence was a comforting one.

Lance Cpl. Jim Carter of Kingsport, Tenn. almost cried when he heard Capodanno had died. Other men openly wept. Battalion chaplain Eli Takesian, who gave the eulogy following Father’s funeral Mass, recalled that upon hearing of Capodanno’s passing, “It was as if a shroud had covered us all.”

He added, “We used to joke that troops shot in the back were often running away. It certainly was not so with Chaplain Capodanno, a courageous man, whose sacrificial act truly emulated Jesus Christ.”8

“Somehow he just seemed to act the way a man of God should act,” said Ross Nutera, a 20-year-old corporal from Buffalo, NY. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”

“He saved my soul”

On the day of his death, Fr. Capodanno didn’t just save lives, he saved souls.

Critically wounded on the battlefield, Lt. Combs thought he would die. He asked George Phillips to baptize him. “Into the Catholic faith?” Yes, said Combs. “Of course Combs and Capodanno were friends.”

Byron Hill relates, “During my tour in Vietnam, I had been married for four years, but we did not have children. Father was curious about my family life, and we discussed having children. He once said to me, ‘When you get home, have babies. That is why God put you and your wife together.’

After returning home, he and his wife discussed in which church they would raise their daughter. That is when, having been “so inspired [by] Father Capodanno, that I realized I wanted to become Catholic.”

Fr. Capodanno’s chaplain’s assistant Henry Hernandez, Jr., recently said, “Not only did he save my life, but most important he saved my soul. He brought me back to the Church.”

Not only on the day he died but in all his time serving men in battle, Fr. Capodanno had an incredible ability to do the one thing that most of us could never do: Completely ignore the human person’s basic instinct for survival. He cared more about serving and saving others than he did about himself. In this he completely emulated Jesus Christ, Who taught us, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

This is why even if it takes 300 years for the Vatican to recognize Father’s sanctity, many believe there is no doubt that this icon of Our Lord and Savior is one of the saintliest men of modern times.

Today nine chapels and several streets and buildings are named after him. Several statues and memorials also stand in his honor.

In one of his last letter’s home, he wrote to an aunt, stating, “Aunt Annie, pray a lot yourself, because unless we pray, we really can’t be anything worthwhile at all.”