Monday, April 6, 2020

Marianist Monday

April 2020

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

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be writing to you in the midst of a global health pandemic. Only last month, I was writing to you about something as simple and relaxing (at least to me) as painting, and how I saw parallels between painting and Lent. Today, I write amidst an atmosphere of uncertainly and anxiety as we deal with a virus that spreads quickly, requires considerable isolation from one another, and threatens the more vulnerable sectors of our population.

Much has been written about the COVID-19 pandemic, and about what it means theologically and spiritually. And, to be frank, I disagree with some of what has been said.

In the midst of our current trials, I would like to offer four simple points for our reflection:

Do not succumb to the thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic is divine retribution. God is angry, the thinking goes, and He is expressing His wrath so that we repent. This line of thinking is tempting, but it is theologically unsound. It is true that evil exists because of human sin. Original sin – and all the many times we sin again – these realities have ruptured our relationship with God. Let me emphasize that our relationship with God is ruptured, but not irrevocably broken. Nevertheless, because of the ruptures in our relationship with God, so too have our relationships with one another and even with the physical world been ruptured. Again, ruptured, but not irrevocably broken. That’s why we experience both good and evil. Furthermore, we experience not only moral evil (theft, lies, murder, war), but also physical evils (hurricanes, earthquakes, cancer, COVID-19). But here’s the important point: We know why evil exists: because our original relationship with God and with the created world – the kind of relationship that prevailed in the Garden of Eden – has been damaged. However, we do not know why specific evils happen to specific people. That is why we must resist the notion that COVID-19 is some form of divine retribution or of God’s wrath.

Here’s why I do not think our current health crisis is a manifestation of God’s wrath: Evil and suffering grieve God. He takes no satisfaction in these. Think of Our Blessed Lord Himself. When He arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept (John 11: 35). Jesus knew that He would raise Lazarus from the dead, yet, when He arrived at the tomb, He wept. And so it is today. Evil and suffering grieve God. He takes no satisfaction in our current trials.

Jesus is with us always. Just before He ascended into Heaven, Christ promised us, “And know that I am with you always, even to the end of time” (Mathew 28: 20). Even when Jesus might seem absent from us, He is with us. He is with us in our suffering, because He suffered for us. He is with us in our affliction, because He was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53: 3). I think also of Our Blessed Mother, for she too was “acquainted with grief.” She stood courageously at the foot of the Cross, Our Lady of Sorrows did, her heart breaking as her son was brutally crucified. Michelangelo’s Pietà poignantly conveys the sorrow and the suffering Our Blessed Mother endured. In this current time of trial, we can turn to Christ and His Blessed Mother in prayer, because they were both acquainted with grief.

Christ and His Blessed Mother knew grief. They also knew joy. They knew the joy of the Resurrection. By His Cross and Resurrection, Christ conquered sin and death. Death is not our final end. Even when we pass from this earthly life, we rise to eternal life with Christ. This is why the seventeenth-century preacher and poet John Donne could rebuke the dreaded enemy: “Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so . . . One short sleep past, and we wake eternally / And Death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.” It’s why Welshman Dylan Thomas could proclaim, “And death shall have no dominion.”

Our hope is in the Lord, who assured us, “I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies, he will live, and whoever believes in me will never die” (John 11: 25 – 26). And then He added, “Do you believe this?”

Yes, Lord, we believe!
On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

P.S. The Marianists are praying for you, your family, and your friends. If you have specific prayer intentions, please let us know. You can submit prayer intentions to either the Chaminade or the Kellenberg Memorial website, or by emailing me at

Times are tough, and we know that many of you are suffering. Nevertheless, with confidence in our Risen Lord, we wish you the blessings and the joys of the upcoming Easter season. Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Palm Sunday: the donkey

The donkey is a humble beast, right?


In the Hebrew Scriptures, it is kings who ride on donkeys.

That may sound strange — especially in light of countless Palm Sunday sermons we’ve heard. Yet, in 1 Kings 1:32-34, an elderly King David summons the religious leaders, commanding them to make arrangements for Solomon’s coronation. He instructs them to “have my son Solomon ride on my own mule.”

A royal mule? What’s that all about?

David was a hill-country chieftain, and Solomon a hill-country chieftain’s son. Although, years before, this scrappy warrior had become king of all Israel, he never forgot where he came from.

King David’s royal mount was not a horse. A horse is for those who dwell on the plains, who traverse highways broad and straight. A king like David, who got his start leading bands of raiders from cave to cave along rocky trails, preferred a sure-footed mule.

This is why, in later times, those who foretold the coming of a new king, a Messiah, to assume the throne of David, always had that monarch riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

The Roman overlords might have been amused by this somewhat comical sight — but Jewish zealots who knew their history would not have missed the symbolism.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Fly to her protection

The Memorare 
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided. 
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The Sunday Word

Today we celebrate the Fifth Sunday of Lent where the readings move us from thirst, to blindness, to death.

And our Gospel deals with this topic of death through the story of Lazarus. 

Lazarus represents someone who is totally drowning in sin. He is dead spiritually. After four days in his tomb Jesus calls Lazarus back to life. And we too are called back to life as Lazarus is called back to life by the loving voice of Jesus.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Be a child of God

"It is better to be the child of God than king of the whole world."

-St. Aloysius Gonzaga

Wednesday, March 25, 2020


“..Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38)

At the Annunciation, Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel, who asked her to give birth to God’s son, she freely accepts God’s will in her life. We also are free to say yes or no to God.

Mary’s yes changed the world. 

“Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.” St Bernard of Clairvaux

The story of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38) perfectly describes the route of our spiritual journey: Before ever we seek God, He is seeking us and initiates the conversation; but we are hesitant and fearful; as we seek to understand God’s will in our life; God reminds us of our experience of His love for us, and that “nothing is impossible for God”. If we, like Mary, say yes to God, we will conceive the Word in our heart, and bring Christ’s love into our families, communities, and our world, for we shall share her joy that “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for the Almighty has done great things for me.” (Luke 1:46)


Monday, March 23, 2020

Marianist Monday

Mary's final words in the Gospel, "Do whatever he tells you," are an invitation to trust God despite what we may be able to see or understand. They stem from Mary's own experience with God and how through trust, she was continually led to a deeper encounter with her Son.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Consecrated Life

The first duty of the consecrated life is to make visible the marvels wrought by God in the frail humanity of those who are called. They bear witness to these marvels not so much in words as by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world. To people's astonishment they respond by proclaiming the wonders of grace accomplished by the Lord in those whom he loves. -Vita Consecrata

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Prayer for a Spiritual Communion

Prayer for a Spiritual Communion

My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Merciful as Our Father

By Br. Ambrose Arralde, O.P.

Mercy is the fruit of knowledge. Mercy is “heartfelt sympathy for another’s distress, impelling us to succor him if we can” (Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 30 a. 1). As a result, we need to know the other’s distress to have mercy on him. This is the reason why mercy is not difficult for God. Even as we sin against him, “he knows of what we are made, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14). Even as they nail him to the cross, he knows that “they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Mercy is difficult for us because we do not see as God sees. When others sin against us, we forget of what they are made. When people nail us to the cross, they seem to know exactly what they are doing. We forget their distress: the brokeness in their hearts and the darkness in their minds that make them so vulnerable to temptation. We forget that they too are wounded by sin, and harassed by the devil. To be merciful, we need something of a “God’s-eye-view.” We need to see others as God sees them.

This perspective, of course, can only come from God himself. As such, when we hear Jesus say things like, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), we should hear more than simply a command. Whenever Jesus commands us to do something, he is promising that he will give us the strength to do it: “God therefore does not command impossibilities; but in His command He counsels you both to do what you can for yourself, and to ask His aid in what you cannot do” (St. Augustine, On Nature and Grace, 50).

In commanding us to be merciful as our Father, Jesus is promising to give us eyes to see others as our Father sees them. Whenever we find ourselves struggling to fulfill the command to be merciful, or find ourselves forgetful of the plight of our fellow, fallen brothers and sisters, we need to turn to Jesus. We need to turn to the one who opened the eyes of the blind, that he may open our eyes to the distress of those around us. Only in seeing others as God sees them, in knowing their distress as God knows it, can we too may be merciful, just as our Father is merciful.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

St. Joseph: Fountain of holiness

The Gospel says that Joseph was “a righteous man” (Mt 1:19). Some people ask: What more can be said?

Plenty! In 1989, Pope John Paul II offered us a masterful explanation and reflection of the unique vocation of St. Joseph in God’s plan of salvation with the pastoral exhortation Redemptoris Custos (“Guardian of the Redeemer”). This inspirational document, marking the centenary of Pope Leo’s landmark encyclical, treats “the person and mission of St. Joseph in the life of Christ and of the Church.” It recalls what makes him special, not only for us personally but for the universal Church.

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

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

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

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

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


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

10 things you need to know about St. Patrick’s Day

By Isabelle in Culture

On March 17, everyone’s a little Irish. Even though St. Patrick’s Day is only a public holiday in a handful of places – the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland, Labrador and Montserrat – Irishness is celebrated around the world. We put together a nifty little list of 10 things you need to know about St. Patrick’s Day to help you channel your inner Irishman or Irishwoman.

1. Once upon a time

St. Patrick is one of the most famous patron saints of Ireland: According to the legend, he brought Christianity to the island, made the shamrock fashionable and freed Ireland from snakes. The holiday marks St. Patrick’s death and has been observed as a religious holiday in Ireland for over 1500 years.

2. Cheers to the official holiday!

Ireland only officially started celebrating the day in 1903. Since the Emerald Isle is mainly catholic and St. Patrick’s Day usually falls on Lent, it used to be a quiet and religious holiday – until the 1960s, when a law allowed pubs to open on St. Paddy’s Day. (Never call it St. Patty’s Day!)
3. The patron saint formerly known as Maewyn

St. Patrick is not actually an Irishman named Patrick: Born Maewyn Succat, the Irish patron saint was actually British. According to the legend, he was sold into slavery in Ireland when he was a teenager, became religious, escaped back to England, became an ordained priest named Patrick and started converting all of the Irish Celtic pagans to Christianity.

4. The freeing of the snakes

He had it with these *** snakes in this *** country.*

According to the legend, St. Patrick freed Ireland from snakes. According to biologists, there were never any actual snakes in Ireland. The diplomatic explanation is that the snakes are a metaphor for paganism that was forced out by St. Patrick.
5. The popularity of shamrocks

It’s said that St. Patrick used shamrocks (aka clovers) to explain the holy trinity (God, Son and Holy Spirit) to the Irish. The Celts believed that each leaf of the clover has a meaning, so using clover leaves as teaching material was fruitful: St. Patrick started several churches, schools and monasteries and made the clover popular.
6. Going green
It’s green as far as the eye can see – from hair to clothes and even food. We’re not talking spinach here but bagels, pancakes, and even beer – if you can put green food coloring in it, it will be served on St. Patrick’s Day. But the coloring fun doesn’t stop there: rivers, monuments and even ski resorts have all been turned green to commemorate the occasion.
7. Green became the new blue

Even though everyone goes green, Patrick himself apparently preferred blue and proof can still be seen on old Irish flags. During the 1798 Irish Rebellion, wearing the the clover and the color green became a symbol of nationalism – and it stuck.
8. Let’s parade

Besides the drinking and green-wearing, watching or participating in a parade is the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Interestingly enough, the largest St. Paddy’s Day parades are held outside of Ireland as the Irish expat communities around the world are taking the festivities very seriously. More on the best St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world in this post.
9. Cheers!

During St. Patrick’s Day, the worldwide consumption of Guinness almost triples – from 5.5 million pints on a regular day to 13 million pints. That’s 150 pints per second! Cheers!
10. Nom Nom Nom
Corned beef and cabbage is a classic dish that goes extremely well with all that beer – even though the dish was “invented” by Irish immigrants in New York. This might explain why in the US, over 26 billion pounds of beef and over two billion pounds of cabbage are produced during the holiday.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Saint Joseph & the Marianists

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

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

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

Marianist Province of the United States

Friday, March 13, 2020

Marianist Family Spirit

“The multiplication of Christians is brought about less by the use of certain pedagogic procedures than by the presence of a religious atmosphere in the school. Religion is not taught; it is communicated. Religion is instilled more deeply in the spirits and in the hearts of the students more through the atmosphere that permeates the school than through teaching.”

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

From its very foundation, the Society of Mary has given great emphasis and experience, both in the expression of the religious commitment of its members and in the apostolic services it has rendered to the Church.

In Community, the members of our Province earnestly strive to follow the Gospel by creating a family spirit of shared prayer, shared work, and shared vision. Through its apostolic activities our Province fosters communities of faith and strives to communicate the person of Jesus Christ.

The family spirit that is present among the Brothers is certainly a vocational attraction. We live together, eat together, pray together, cook together, teach together, work together, laugh together, and share every aspect of our lives with one another. This companionship is shared with those whom we work in our schools. Our students notice, experience and develop the same family spirit.

You might think that these men who make the same vows might all turn out pretty much the same. Well, we do share many similarities even beyond the black suits and ties we all wear. But even though we all made the same vows in the tent of the same Church, we are men of many different stripes and our differences are as variegated as nature and grace can possibly allow.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Special Witness to the Gospel

KMHS graduate 
Sr. Ann Thomas, O.P.

Marianists with Cardinal Dolan
Our Holy Father has spoken about the importance of religious life many times:
“Every consecrated person is a gift for the People of God on a journey. There is much need of their presence, that strengthens and renews the commitment to spread the gospel, to Christian education, to charity for the most needy, to contemplative prayer; the commitment to a human and spiritual formation of young people, of families; the commitment to justice and peace in the human family.”

He continued, “consecrated persons are signs of God in diverse environments of life, they are leaven for the growth of a more just and fraternal society, prophecy of sharing with the little and the poor. As such understanding and experience, the consecrated life appears to us just as it really is: a gift of God!

Those who live a religious life in imitation of Christ’s own poverty, chastity, and obedience, offer “a special witness to the gospel of the Kingdom of God.”

Although all Christians are consecrated to God in baptism and all are called to make “a generous gift of our lives, in the family, at work, in service to the Church, (and) in works of mercy,” those in religious life experience this consecration “in a particular way.”

“Totally consecrated to God, they are totally given over to their brethren, to carry the light of Christ there where the darkness is thickest and to spread his hope to hearts who are discouraged,” emphasized the pontiff.

The Church will benefit from a greater knowledge and presence of consecrated men and women, urged Pope Francis. The year 2015 will be dedicated in a special way to religious life.

“It is necessary to value with gratitude the experience of consecrated life and deepen the knowledge of different charisms and spiritualities. We must pray, so that many young people respond ‘yes’ to the Lord who calls them to consecrate themselves wholly to Him for disinterested service to their brethren.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

He Leadeth Them

From my lenten reading, Walter Ciszek, in his book He Leadeth Me:

. . . Lubianka wore him down with its constant hunger and isolation and the all-night interrogations, with their mind games and agonizing afterthoughts. After a year—brutalized, drugged, threatened with death—Ciszek did what he had been sure he would never do: He signed papers that gave the impression he had been spying for the Vatican.

Afterward, burning with shame and guilt for being “nowhere near the man I thought I was,” he finally faced the truth.

I had asked for God’s help but had really believed in my ability to avoid evil and to meet every challenge… . I had been thanking God all the while that I was not like the rest of men… . I had relied almost completely on myself in this most critical test—and I had failed.

The interrogations continued, and Ciszek fell into black despair. Terrified, he threw himself on God, pleading his utter helplessness. Then, in a moment of blinding light, he was able to see “the grace God had been offering me all my life.”

I knew that I must abandon myself completely to the will of the Father and live from now on in this spirit of self-abandonment to God. And I did it. I can only describe the experience as a sense of “letting go,” giving over totally my last effort or even any will to guide the reins of my own life. It is all too simply said, yet that one decision has affected every subsequent moment of my life. I have to call it a conversion… . It was at once a death and a resurrection.

Selfless in Siberia. Walter Ciszek was a new man—and it showed. Realizing they could not manipulate him, the Soviets sentenced him to fifteen years of hard labor in the Siberian Gulag.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Lent shakes us from lethargy

Pope Francis urged Christians to avoid being seduced by a society that measures the value of humans by how much they own or produce, but to instead turn their focus to God. He said that the true value in life is found not in success, but in what we have inside.

"What matters is not appearances, and the value of life does not depend on the approval of others or of success, but on what we have inside," said the Pope.

In his homily, the Pope said that conversion starts with recognizing that "we are creatures, that we are not God." Too many people today, he added, think they have power and "play at being God the creator."

The Pope said "Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy," and he explained the need for prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Almsgiving 101

This is just unbelievable.

This guy gives a homeless man a bogus winning lottery ticket – just so he can give the homeless man a huge payout.

The result is unexpectedly moving.

Enjoy, take a look.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Marianist Fiat

Marianist Operation Fiat

Last evening at Operation Fiat over 100 young men gathered to pray evening prayer and explore the possibility of a Marianist religious vocation. What a courageous act to enter into prayer and discussion to discern whether God is calling you to embrace religious life.

May God continue to shower His graces on all who attended.

Our Founder gives this explanation for the following a Marianist religious vocation:

In his letter to preachers of retreats (August 24, 1839) our Blessed founder, Father William Joseph Chaminade spoke of those qualities which "distinguish the Society of Mary and the Institute of the Daughters of Mary from the other religious orders:"

" is certainly the distinguishing character and family trait of both our Societies: we are in a special manner the auxiliaries and the instruments of the Blessed Virgin in the great work of reforming morals, of preserving and propagating the Faith, and by the fact, of sanctifying our neighbor. She communicates to us her own zeal and entrusts to us the projects which are inspired by her almost infinite charity, and we make a vow to serve her faithfully till the end of our life, to carry out punctually all that she tells us. We are glad that we can thus spend in her service the life and stregnth that we have pledged to her. We are moreover so entirely convinced that this is the most perfect thing for us to do..."

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Take up your Cross

"I'm in with the 'In Crowd,' boast an old popular song, "I go where the 'In Crowd' goes." This catchy tune is still being remade today (recently it was on a TV commercial), becasue it gives voice to the desire to be popular, admired, a little envied, hip. To be, not "holier than thou" but "cooler than thou."

As an antidote to this desire, Jesus offers us a warning in today's gospel. To follow in his footsteps, he explained, often involves being out of step with the world. As his disciples, we are to think differently, and act differently, from the world around us. In other words, we may not always be "in" with the "In Crowd." This is what Jesus means- at least in part- when he speaks of losing ourselves, even if we've gained the "whole world." In other words, if we confirm ourselves to the world- the "In Crowd," we risk losing ourselves in the process.

Jesus' invitation to daily take up our cross and follow him may lead us to being at odds with the world, and the world as a result may in turn consider us odd. To follow Jesus is not necessarily to "go where the 'In Crowd' goes." Jesus was "rejected," and we may find ourselves rejected too- at least by the "In Crowd." But when all is said and done, that's okay. We may not be "in." But we will find ourselves, and have true life.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

A Lenten Thought

Dr Greg Popcak gives some sage advice on making spiritual progress over at his blog:

To forgive ourselves doesn’t mean letting ourselves off the hook. It means refusing to give into the temptation to heap coals on ourselves for having failed. St Francis de Sales in his Introduction to the Devout Life reveals the folly of this approach when he notes that our sins tend to be in a flawed attempt to make ourselves feel better.

Therefore, the worse we make ourselves feel about our sins and failings the more likely we’ll be to sin again in that same pathetic attempt to making ourselves feel better for having sinned! It truly is a vicious spiritual cycle. If we were to apply Augustine’s formula for forgiveness to ourselves, we’d have to say that forgiving ourselves means surrendering our natural desire to hurt ourselves… for having hurt ourselves. Think about that a minute. How quick are we to heap pain on ourselves for having hurt ourselves? Does that even make sense? How is that supposed to help?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Marianist Monday

What is a Brother in the Marianist tradition?

1. The Brother is one who lives a life of total self-gift to God; nothing is ours and everything is meant to be given away, even our lives.

2. The Brother lives fraternal life in community with his fellow Brothers. Our Community becomes a visible manifestation of charity in the Church. Our Community is the source of our strength. Blessed Chaminade has told us that in living life as Brothers, the interior is the essential.

This means we are dedicated not only to personal prayer, mediation and the rosary but also the common prayer of the Church where we gather to pray three times each day in our Chapels, in addition to celebrating the Eucharist and in being present to the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration.

Sometimes people ask...Why are the schools so successful and different than other schools?...the answer lies not in administrative skills or academic degrees nor in teaching experience but in the prayer life and fraternity that flows from the Marianist Community.

Sunday, March 1, 2020


Here is a visual representation of the idea of trust. It uses two performers from Cirque du Soleil to illustrate the notion of trust.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Marianist Monday

March 2020

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

Many more years ago than I care to admit, when my cohort in religious life and I were “Young Brothers” (or, what the students affectionately referred to as a “Baby Brothers” or BITs – “Brotherin Training”), we were all assigned some facet of manual labor at which we were to become experts. It took me a while to find my niche.

At first, I was assigned to carpentry, working under the skilled eye of Fr. Garrett. Let’s just say that I had a few close calls with the table saw and the radial-arm saw. You might say that I’m lucky to have all ten fingers today – a thought that makes me shiver when I consider all the typing I do.

Then I tried my hand at gardening. I discovered that I most certainly do not have a green thumb. Next, I reported for kitchen duty. I gave it my best shot, and although I’m not a bad cook now, I was a terrible one back in the not-so-halcyon days of the Novitiate. I thought I’d go out of my mind peeling potatoes and cutting up vegetables for about thirty-five people a night. And when I finally did graduate to some actual cooking – well, barbecuing, actually – I burned seventy or so pork sausages to a carbon-crusted crisp.
And so, painting was my last, best hope. That’s painting walls, not canvases.

At first I was a mess – literally. I ended each work period with more paint on my clothes than on the wall. I couldn’t do trim work or cut a straight line to save my life. Midway into my first summer in Community, when we were painting in the newly carpeted library, I spilled a five-gallon bucket of yellow paint – the entire bucket – onto the new avocado- green carpet. I saw my entire four weeks of religious life ebbing away before me as the paint spilled not onto the tarp with which we had covered our work area, but away from the tarp, right onto the portion of the floor we had been too lazy to cover.

Despite these inauspicious beginnings, and thanks to the patient instruction of many professed Marianists who, for some reason, still had faith in me, I gradually became rather proficient at painting. It’s a silly boast, I know – I hope you will forgive me this brief moment of braggadocio – but within about five or six years, I became the painting guru not just of Chaminade High School, but of the entire Meribah Province. It’s a dubious honor that I still hold today!

As I think about the season of Lent that we have just begun, I see a good number of parallels between the fundamental premises of Lent and the basic principles of painting. In fact, I think I could tick off quite a few similarities between painting and Lent.

First off, most people I know just don’t like to paint. When summer rolls around, and I announce which Brothers and which students will be working on the painting crew, I usually hear more than a little groaning. Now, at this point in my life, I rather like painting, but I’m afraid that not too many of my confreres and trainees share that view. The same is true of Lent.

Why is that? Well, I think it’s because both painting and Lent require considerable discipline. Only in cartoons do painters slop on the paint in any old way. I learned early in my painting career that there is a correct way to hold the brush; a correct direction in which the painter applies the paint to the wall with his or her paint brush (ALWAYS unpainted to painted, and NEVER any exceptions); and a correct way to use a roller, lest the finished ceilings and walls turn out botchy, streaky, or otherwise uneven. Painting is intentional, not casual – or worse, mindless.

So too with Lent and the spiritual life. Advancing in the spiritual life implies a high degree of intentionality, no small amount of discipline, and a willingness to submit to a methodology developed by many who have gone before me. Neither painting nor Lent is about doing it my way. Both are about doing it the right way.
Further, the right way requires a tremendous amount of preparation. Everyone who has ever donned painter’s overalls knows the popular painter’s adage: “Painting is 75% preparation and 25% execution.”
Of course, by its very definition, Lent is all about preparation – preparation for Easter, for the Resurrection of Our Lord. Further, the preparation is rarely easy. I’ve spent many a day scraping away old layers of paint, sometimes with the help of a chemical – and highly caustic – paint remover. Not infrequently, scraping opens up fault lines in the original plaster that have to be filled with quick-drying cement or spackle. And no painter worth his paint-brush bristles applies paint to the a freshly spackled wall without sanding and washing the walls down first. In painting, there’s a lot of old that has to be stripped away before the new can be applied.

So too in Lent. Lent is all about striping away the old – the old bad habits; the old, self-deceiving ways of thinking; the old grudges that we harbor against one another. Sometimes what we thought would be a simple resurfacing job opens up deep cracks and fault lines within our lives that have to be cleaned out and replaced by something more solid. It takes time; we can grow impatient with the process. But, if we want the finished job to look right, we have to take the time to get the preparation right.

Then, once we begin to apply the paint, we have to do so deliberately, not haphazardly. How many times have I had to fend off project supervisors who want me and the paint crew to cut corners!!! “Maybe we could get away with one coat of paint. No? Then how about trimming only once but rolling the walls twice? That would work, wouldn’t it?” To that suggestion, every bone in this old painter’s body wants to shout, “No, no, no!”

Painters don’t take shortcuts. Neither do those who are serious about the spiritual life.

“Painting is seeing,” I repeatedly tell my painting crew. Of course, they look at me as if I were crazy, but it’s true: painting is seeing. You’ve got to look carefully at what you’re doing. Youve got to step back from time to time to see if you skipped any spots with your trim brush or your roller. You can’t get so absorbed in all the peripheral noise of conversation, of the radio, of your iPhone and your Apple Music, that your take your eyes off the prize. And so too with the spiritual life. Lent asks us to reduce some of the noise, some of the distraction, in our lives so that we can keep our eyes on the spiritual prize of Christ Crucified and Risen from the Dead.

Painting is seeing. Lent is seeing. Not infrequently, the good painter and the good Christian see something with which he or she is not entirely satisfied – some imperfection that we’re just not going to settle for. And we do everything we can to fix it.

So far, it sounds like a lot of work. And, truth be told, it is. But when you reach the end of the job, fold up all the tarps, remove all the painters’ tape, and clean out all the brushes and rollers (A good painter cleans up his equipment so well that it lasts a lifetime!), the result is a glorious room – clean, freshly painted, a true reward for a job painstakingly done.

And speaking of rewards, what greater reward can there be than the celebration of Easter and the assurance of the Risen Christ that we are redeemed? The work of Lent is strenuous; its reward is more glorious than the most meticulously painted, gilt-edged salon in the Palace of Versailles.

Forty-six years ago, when I was a rookie religious with few skills in either ora or labora, a couple of kind Marianists who saw more in me than I saw in myself, took me under their wing and helped me to become someone who has supervised the painting of every nook and cranny of Chaminade High School – and of more than a few places at Meribah, Founder’s Hollow, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres. I didn’t become a good painter on my own – not by a long shot. And I know that, someday, when at last I can call myself a good Christian, I won’t have become that on my own either. I will have profited immensely from the example, the guidance, the patience, and the kindness of many mentors and teachers along the way. Most of all, I will have profited from the instruction, from the grace, from the redemption, and from the love of the Master Teacher, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Despite the odds, I became a better painter. And despite the odds, I – all of us – can become better Catholics, better Christians, more ardent followers of Christ. Lent is the training season – and the season of grace – to do just that.

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers,

Bro. Stephen

Friday, February 21, 2020

The lost art of waiting

The Scriptural vinedresser says, "Let it alone for one more year."

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

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

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Incredible Patience

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

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

Monday, February 17, 2020

Trust in God's grace

I just finished talking to one of our students in the hallway. He mentioned how proud he was of his father. For years his father was focused outside the family. The focus led him to areas that was not helpful to the growth of the family or even his father's personal growth. But since that time, his father has had a complete conversion. He has reorganized his life. He takes his family members seriously. He has begun a relationship with his God.

Now before Jesus called his very first disciples, he was already calling people to faith. Faithfulness is actually the Christians' "thumbs-up" sign. We have no way of knowing if the course ahead of us carries smooth air or turbulence and storms. We have no special foreknowledge if the skies will be friendly or filled with hostility and danger.

What we all do have is faith--faith in the love of Christ, faith in the eternal closeness of God's presence and God's kingdom. Jesus proclaims that the correct response to the gospel news is faith. He gives us the "thumbs-up" signal first. It is then essential that we return a "thumbs-up" sign of trust in God's grace and faithfulness to us.

Can we let go and let God take us into the wild blue yonder? Can we let go and trust God enough to lift us into stratospheres of spirituality and service we never knew even existed? Can we get out of the way and let God be God in our lives?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Proclaim the Gospel

Pope Francis during his Homily at Mass on Friday at the Casa Santa Martha said that as Christians we are called to proclaim the Gospel with humility.

Taking his cue from Friday’s Gospel which recounts the tragic death of John the Baptist, the Pope said John was the man God had sent to prepare the way for his son.

He, Pope Francis continued, was a man in the court of Herod, filled with corruption and vices who urged everyone to convert.

The Holy Father recalled how this great Saint firstly, proclaimed Jesus Christ. John had the chance to say he was the Messiah, added the Pope, but he did not. Secondly, said Pope Francis, John the Baptist was “a man of Truth.”

The third thing John did, underlined the Holy Father was to imitate Jesus in his humility, in his suffering and humiliation.

The Pope also stressed that like other religious figures such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, John the Baptist had dark moments, moments of anguish and doubt sending his disciples to ask Jesus : ' But tell me, is it you, or am I wrong and there is another?

Pope Francis explained that John the “icon of a disciple” because he is "the man who proclaims Jesus Christ… and follows the way of Jesus Christ ."

Concluding his homily the Holy Father said we should not take advantage of our condition as Christians, as if it were a privilege. Instead we are called proclaim the Gospel message with humility without seizing on the prophecy.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Psalm 5

Psalm 5 is an open outcry: "Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray."

The psalmist is crying to God, asking for help. Facing the threat of violence, he begs God to destroy those who are telling lies. Perhaps he has been accused of wrongdoing himself, and is now pleading his case to God. The psalm can be used today by anyone being threatened by wicked, evil, boastful, bloodthirsty or deceitful people.

You know them: Friends who are really enemies -- "frenemies." High school gangs. Street thugs. Unfaithful spouses. Unethical co-workers. Substance-abusing relatives who lie to you. Put-down artists. Adversaries who try to undermine and destroy you. Sleazy salespeople and unscrupulous loan officers. Anyone who lies, cheats and steals, showing no regard for the welfare of others.

In short, the people who make you want to scream. All of us have them in our lives, every one of us. But yelling at such people face to face is not always an appropriate or productive thing to do.

That's why Psalm 5 encourages us to make an outcry first to God.

Friday, February 14, 2020

In the morning...

"O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice," says the psalmist; "in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch. For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you."

Believe it or not, we can gain relief simply by speaking honestly about our troubles. "Talk therapy" is the technical term, and it can do a lot of good for people feeling depressed, stressed or anxious. Professional therapists all agree that talking, articulating, voicing, speaking or otherwise expressing our ideas, thoughts and feelings is a good thing.

So why not talk about your feelings with God, who is the ultimate listener? In the morning, plead your case -- ask for help with frenemies, spouses, co-workers and relatives. Pray for strength to face the challenges of the day, knowing that the Lord is "not a God who delights in wickedness.

Thursday, February 13, 2020



We are tiny and God is great, all powerful, all sovereign and all good.

"the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Consecrated Person

The Consecrated Person: A Bridge

Pope Benedict's homily for Vespers on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord was a model of liturgical preaching. Below is shared a small excerpt of the Holy Father's message. Consecrated men and women, be they hidden in the cloister, or engaged in the Church's mission to the world, are associated to the Lord Jesus and called, at every moment, to remain close to Him, at "the throne of grace."

If Christ was not truly God, and was not, at the same time, fully man, the foundation of Christian life as such would come to naught, and in an altogether particular way, the foundation of every Christian consecration of man and woman would come to naught. Consecrated life, in fact, witnesses and expresses in a "powerful" way the reciprocal seeking of God and man, the love that attracts them to one another. The consecrated person, by the very fact of his or her being, represents something like a "bridge" to God for all those he or she meets -- a call, a return. And all this by virtue of the mediation of Jesus Christ, the Father's Consecrated One. He is the foundation! He who shared our frailty so that we could participate in his divine nature.

Our text insists on more than on faith, but rather on "trust" with which we can approach the "throne of grace," from the moment that our high priest was himself "put to the test in everything like us." We can approach to "receive mercy," "find grace," and "to be helped in the opportune moment." It seems to me that these words contain a great truth and also a great comfort for us who have received the gift and commitment of a special consecration in the Church.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Our Lady of Lourdes

Our Lady of Lourdes

O ever immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, health of the sick, refuge of sinners, comfort of the afflicted, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Monday, February 10, 2020

A light to be seen

A light is first and foremost something which is meant to be seen. The houses in Palestine were very dark with few and usually only one small window. The lamp was like a sauce-boat tiled with oil with the wick floating in it. It was not so easy to rekindle a lamp in the days before matches existed. Normally the lamp stood on the lampstand which would be no more than a roughly shaped branch of wood; but when people went out, for safety's sake, they took the lamp from its stand, and put it under an earthen bushel measure, so that it might burn without risk until they came back. The primary duty of the light of the lamp was to be seen.

So, then, Christianity is something which is meant to be seen. As someone has well said, "There can be no such thing as secret discipleship, for either the secrecy destroys the discipleship, or the discipleship destroys the secrecy." A man's Christianity should be perfectly visible to all men.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

You are the light...

A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.

When Jesus commanded his followers to be the lights of the world, he demanded nothing less than that they should be like himself.

When Jesus spoke these words, he was using an expression which was quite familiar to the Jews who heard it for the first time. They themselves spoke of Jerusalem as "a light to the Gentiles," and a famous Rabbi was often called "a lamp of Israel." But the way in which the Jews used this expression will give us a key to the way in which Jesus also used it.

Of one thing the Jews were very sure--no man kindled his own light. Jerusalem was indeed a light to the Gentiles, but "God lit Israel's lamp." The light with which the nation or the man of God shone was a borrowed light. It must the so with the Christian. It is not the demand of Jesus that we should, as it were. produce our own light. We must shine with the reflection of his light. The radiance which shines from the Christian comes from the presence of Christ within the Christian's heart. We often speak about a radiant bride, but the radiance which shines from her comes from the love which has been born within her heart.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Salt adds flavor

The greatest and the most obvious quality of salt is that salt lends flavor to things. Christianity is to life what salt is to food. Christianity lends flavour to life.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Salt cleanses

Christians must be the cleansing antiseptic in any society in which he happens to be; the Christian must be the person who by his presence makes it easier for others to be good.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Salt preserves

In the ancient world salt was the commonest of all preservatives. It was used to keep things from going bad. Salt preserves, and is therefore like a new soul inserted into a dead body.

So then salt preserves from corruption. If the Christian is to be the salt of the earth, he must have a certain antiseptic influence on life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


In the time of Jesus salt was connected in people's minds with some special qualities.

Salt was connected with purity. No doubt its glistening whiteness made the connection easy. The Romans said that salt was the purest of all things, because it came from the purest of all things, the sun and the sea. Salt was indeed the most primitive of all offerings to the gods, and to the end of the day the Jewish sacrifices were offered with salt. So then, if the Christian is to be the salt of the earth he must be an example of purity.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Sunday Word

No better way to prepare for Sunday than to spend some time with the readings of the day.

“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world."

When Jesus said this, he provided men with an expression which has become the greatest compliment that can be paid to any man. When we wish to stress someone's solid worth and usefulness, we say of him, "People like that are the salt of the earth."

In the ancient world salt was highly valued. The Greeks called salt divine. In a phrase, which in Latin is a kind of jingle, the Romans said, "There is nothing more useful than sun and salt."

Monday, February 3, 2020

Marianist Monday

February 2020

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

 Admittedly, it’s not easy to read all the quotations etched on the tabernacle wall in our Community chapel, but if you concentrate, you’ll find this hidden gem from Blessed William Joseph Chaminade: “It is for us an infinite honor to be like Him by being a living expression of the life that He lived when He was among us. Now, it is by Mary that this life is communicated to us.” That quotation pretty much sums up our entire Marianist life. We’re all about the imitation of Christ, under the guidance and strengthened by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And, if you think about it a little further, that same quotation pretty much sums up the entire Christian life. We are all infinitely honored to be infinitely loved by Jesus Christ. We all strive to be like Him. Moreover, it is Mary who brings Jesus to us. Quite literally, she, as Christ’s mother, gave birth to the Savior of the world. She brought Christ to the world. Furthermore, she continues to bring souls to Christ – to her son. Think of her appearances at Guadalupe; at Lourdes; at Fatima; and at Saragossa, a favorite Marian shrine among Marianists worldwide. Recall some of the most beloved prayers that Catholics recite: the Hail Mary, the Memorare, the Salve Regina. 

Consider the many parishes and churches throughout the world that bear some particular title of Our Lady. From Christianity’s earliest day until this very moment, Mary has communicated Christ and the Christ life to us. That’s why I’d like to pause for a moment and communicate four facets of the Christ life that Mary communicates to us, by both her words and her actions. 

1. Be humble. Humility seems to be in short supply these days. In so many quarters of public life, selfaggrandizement rules the day. But against the spirit of self-promotion and self-indulgence stands Mary’s humility. At the Annunciation, she replied to the no-doubt daunting news that she would be the mother of the Christ, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1: 38). At the wedding feast of Cana, she uttered those words that were so near and dear to Blessed Chaminade’s heart: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2: 5). For this humble handmaid of the Lord, it was not about having her own way. It was about doing God’s will. To do the will of the Father. How might we grow in our ability to do the will of the Father? Might I suggest that we start by trying to do the will of our family members, our friends, and our neighbors? Not in all things, of course – and especially not in those things that lead to sin. But certainly, we could practice the virtue of deference. In matters of preference or taste, might we not defer to others? Must we always have it our own way? The humble man or woman defers regularly and gracefully to others.

2. Be open to ambiguity. We love clarity, don’t’ we? Certainty is comforting, reassuring. For the most part, I think we prefer black and white to grey. Unfortunately, most of life is not black and white. Personally, I experience lots or ambiguity. The people I know are capable of great good, but they are also beset by considerable weakness. And that applies not only to my students, but to my friends, to my family members, and even to the Brothers. Most of all, it applies to me. I can certainly identify with St. Paul’s confession: “For the good which I will, I do not; but the evil which I do not will, that I do” (Romans 7:19). Who among us could not echo that cry of frustrating moral ambivalence? Jesus Himself knew our moral ambiguity personally, profoundly, and painfully. That’s why, even from the Cross, He could appeal to God on behalf of us sinners: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23: 24). Mary too knew firsthand the ambiguity of life. What strange and baffling events filled her early years as the mother of Jesus! Magi fell on their knees and did her son homage. At the presentation in the Temple, the priest Simeon prophesied, “You see this child; He is destined to be the rise and fall of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul as well” (Luke 2: 34 – 35). When their son was just twelve years old, Mary and Joseph lost Him, only to find Him again in the Temple, instructing the doctors of the Law, and admonishing his earthly parents, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2: 49 – 50) As the Gospel tells us, “His mother pondered all these things in her heart” (Luke 2: 52) There must have been much for Mary to ponder: so many questions, so few answers, so much faith! Can we live with ambiguity? Sometimes, I have my doubts. We demonize those who disagree with us or who are different from us. Unfortunately, I see this kind of demonization – “We have it completely right; they’re all wrong” – not only in politics but even in the Church. Because of the “absolutizing instinct,” as William F. Lynch, S.J. explains in his spiritual classic Images of Hope: Imagination as Healer of the Hopeless, “The good becomes tremendously good, the evil becomes the absolutely evil, the grey becomes the black or white, the complicated, because it is too difficult to handle, becomes, in desperation, the completely simple.” By contrast, Mary lived with ambiguity. She did not lash out, speak harshly, or grow angry when she was not offered a clarity that life simply does not give us. Instead, she “pondered all these things in her heart.”

3. Go to Mass. At every Mass, the priest reenacts Christ’s sacrifice of His body and blood upon the Cross. That’s why it’s called the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As horrific as it was, Mary was there, at the foot of the Cross, pondering all these things in her heart, her soul pierced by a sword, just as her son’s side was pierced by a lance. As Mary knelt at the foot of the Cross, so let us kneel at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, because it is in this moment that our salvation is won. It is at this heavenly banquet where we are invited to partake of the divine life and receive, quite literally, the body and blood, soul and divinity, of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Once we understand the depth of this heavenly banquet – once we realize exactly what Jesus is giving us at Mass – we will want to attend Mass as often as possible. The Mass bring us to the very heart or our salvation.

4. Cling to the community of believers. In the Acts of the Apostles, we read a description of the infant Church. “ . . . when they reached the city [Jerusalem], they went to the upper room where they were staying: there were Peter and John, James and Andrew . . . together with several women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus” (Acts 1: 13 – 14). It was in this upper room that the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire. It was in this upper room – most likely, the same upper room that was the site of the Last Supper – that John, the Beloved
Disciple, made good on his promise, from the moment of the Crucifixion, to make a place in his home for Christ’s mother, now his mother too, now our mother as well. Cling to the community of believers. Belong to a group of godly friends. Have all kinds of friends, of course, but be sure to have a core friend group of firm believers who will support you in your faith and spur you on to become more and more like Him. We are nourished by the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. We are also nourished by the Body of Christ which is the community of believers.

As Lent approaches, let us resolve to become more and more like Him by cherishing the lessons that Mary communicates to us: Be humble. Learn to live with ambiguity. Go to Mass. Cling to the community of believers. We enjoy the infinite honor of being loved infinitely by Christ. Now, let us enjoy the infinite honor as well of being like Him! 

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, 

Bro. Stephen

Sunday, February 2, 2020

This coming Sunday we hear the Scriptures from the writer of Hebrews. He proclaims the following:

Since the children share in blood and flesh,
Jesus likewise shared in them,
that through death he might destroy the one
who has the power of death, that is, the Devil,
and free those who through fear of death
had been subject to slavery all their life.
Surely he did not help angels
but rather the descendants of Abraham;
therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters
in every way,
that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God
to expiate the sins of the people.
Because he himself was tested through what he suffered,
he is able to help those who are being tested.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Malachi 2

The upcoming Sunday selections from the prophet Malachi offers us a scene when Malachi speaks the word of the Lord. Although he himself is a messenger from God, he tells the people of another messenger to come, suddenly and without warning, who will be an advance man for God Almighty. And that messenger's job will be to make the way ready for the Lord. That messenger will function like a refining fire that rids gold and silver of impurities, only his fire will purify the people.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Sunday Word

There is no better way to prepare for this Sunday's celebration then to reflect on our readings given to us by the Church. Our first reading comes to us from the prophet Malachi:

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Lo, I am sending my messenger
to prepare the way before me;
And suddenly there will come to the temple
the LORD whom you seek,
And the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.
Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.
But who will endure the day of his coming?
And who can stand when he appears?
For he is like the refiner’s fire,
or like the fuller’s lye.
He will sit refining and purifying silver,
and he will purify the sons of Levi,
Refining them like gold or like silver
that they may offer due sacrifice to the LORD.
Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem
will please the LORD,
as in the days of old, as in years gone by.

In 1928, Dietrich Bonhoeffer preached a sermon in Barcelona in which he spoke about the emotions surrounding the coming of the LORDfor this season: "It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming so calmly," he said, "whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God. ... We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God's coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fearthat God's coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us ..."