Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Good Shepherd - Catacombs of St. Callixtus, Rome

Today's image of The Good Shepherd is from the Catacombs of St. Callixtus in Rome. 

All the Christian catacombs in Rome include many of the earliest Christian works of art, well-preserved in the subterranean chambers, and they give us much information about early Christianity and the genesis of Christian art. 

Initially, since there was no “Christian art,” Christians utilized icons or styles commonly used in the Greco-Roman world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar

Our Lady of the Pillar | MaryPages
The Apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar was approved as a miracle by the Sacred Congregation of Rites on August 7, 1723.

"According to ancient and pious tradition, St. James the Greater, led by Providence into Spain, spent some time at Saragossa. He there received a signal favor from the Blessed Virgin. As he was praying with his disciples one night, upon the banks of the Ebro, as the same tradition informs us, the Mother of God, who still lived, appeared to him, and commanded him to erect an oratory in that place. The apostle delayed not to obey this injunction, and with the assistance of his disciples soon constructed a small chapel.”

The original chapel was eventually destroyed, but the pillar and the statue remained intact. Constantine ordered a Romanesque cathedral to be built over the site in the 4th century.

The most recent church, the Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar, is Baroque in style and construction work on it began in 1681. The original building was finished in 1711, but there were additions as late as 1872.

Catholics who have prayed before the Altar of Our Lady of the Pillar include Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Ávila, Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and Saint John Paul II.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Rosary

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The rosary

On most statues of Lourdes, the Virgin holds a rosary in her hands. The Virgin actually appeared to Bernadette holding a rosary. Bernadette had one. Bernadette says herself that at the time of the Apparitions, she only knew her rosary, that is the " I believe in God ", the " Our Father ", the " I salute you Mary " and the "Glory to the Father".

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today the simple and disarming love of Jesus revives the heart of Thomas (Jn 20,19-31). Like the apostle Thomas, let us accept mercy, the salvation of the world. And let us show mercy to those who are most vulnerable; for only in this way will we build a new world.

- Pope Francis

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Our Lady, Health of the Sick

Let us invoke Our Lady under the title 'Salus Infirmorum', 'Health of the Sick' for all those suffering from COVID 19 at this time, for all those who care for them and for all those working to find an effective treatment and/or vaccine. 

Salus Infirmorum, Ora Pro Nobis

Thursday, April 16, 2020


USGF: Tomorrow We Make Our Marian Consecration on the Feast of St. Bernadette of Lourdes

“I shall spend every moment loving. One who loves does not notice her trials; or perhaps more accurately, she is able to love them.”

“O my Mother, to you I sacrifice all other attachments so that my heart may belong entirely to you and to my Jesus.”

“I shall do everything for Heaven, my true home."

Today is the feast day of Saint Bernandette. On this day we recall the two requests of Our Lady of Lourdes. They were  1) Pray the Rosary, and 2) Pray for the conversion of sinners.

Easter candle

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This Easter Vigil Father Daniel began our service with a blessing and lighting of our Easter candle. While all candles have held a special place in the Catholic tradition, the Paschal candle is used as a direct symbol of Jesus.

According to Fr. Edward McNamara, “The most likely origin [of the Easter candle] is that it derived from the Lucernarium, the evening office with which early Christians began the vigil for every Sunday and especially that of Easter. In turn, this rite is probably inspired by the Jewish custom of lighting a lamp at the conclusion of the Sabbath. The rite therefore has its roots in the very beginning of Christianity. In the Lucernarium rite the light destined to dispel the darkness of night was offered to Christ as the splendor of the Father and indefectible light. This Sunday rite was logically carried out with greater solemnity during the Easter Vigil.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Marianist Postulant Assists

(Rome, Italy)

About four years ago, the first homeless people in Rome were able to take advantage of three showers and a small barbershop, opened for them by Pope Francis under St. Peter's Colonnade.

The showers operate every day except Wednesdays during the Pope's general audience and when celebrations take place at St. Peter's or in the square. On the various days, the service is provided by volunteers who alternate, among whom are the Marianist Sisters, along with postulants and young students who have stayed in Rome.

The volunteers are in charge of the reception of the "homeless", offering them a complete change of underwear, towel, soap, toothpaste, razor and shaving foam for the shower, and keeping the place clean.
Olivia (Marianist Postulant) 
Participated in this work

They also spend time with the poor who want to talk, offering them some food as well.

During the days when Italy is being hit by the coronavirus epidemic, the government insists on the "Io resto a casa" (I'm staying at home) campaign.

Let us pray this month for all the homeless.

Sr. Michela Messina, FMI
Olivia Razanamalala

Saturday, April 11, 2020

God Beyond All Names - Easter Vigil

Artwork Genesis Frontispiece: Creation by Donald Jackson

The Lord's Descent into Hell

Something strange is happening—there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory. At the sight of him, Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying:

“Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.

“I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants, I now, by my own authority, command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise.

“I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell. Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated. For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth.

“For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to the Jews in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

“See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

“I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

“Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

“The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity.”

An ancient homily for Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday

At the cross her station keeping,
Stood the mournful Mother weeping,
Close to Jesus to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
All His bitter anguish bearing,
Now at length the sword had passed.

Oh, how sad and sore distressed
Was that Mother highly blest,
Of the sole begotten One!

Christ above in torment hangs.
She beneath beholds the pangs
Of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
Whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
From partaking in her pain,
In that Mother's pain untold?

Bruised, derided, cursed, defiled,
She beheld her tender Child,
All with bloody scourges rent.

For the sins of His own nation,
Saw Him hang in desolation
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother: fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
Make my heart with thine accord.

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
Make my soul to glow and melt
With the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother, pierce me through;
In my heart each wound renew
Of my Savior crucified.

Let me share with thee His pain,
Who for all my sins was slain,
Who for me in torment died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
Mourning Him who mourned for me,
All the days that I may live.

By the Cross with thee to stay;
There with thee to weep and pray,
Is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins best,
Listen to my fond request:
Let me share thy grief divine.

Let me to my latest breath,
In my body bear the death
Of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
Steep my soul till it hath swooned
In His very blood away.

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
Lest in flames I burn and die,
In His awful Judgment day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
Be Thy Mother my defense,
Be Thy Cross my victory.

While my body here decays,
May my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee. Amen.

The Stabat Mater brings to mind front and center just how fully our Blessed Mother suffered along with Jesus, like Him on our behalf! 

St. Alphonsus Liguori once wrote, that “two hung upon one cross.”

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday Homily - Pope Francis - 2020
You who are consecrated, I only tell you one thing: Do not be stubborn, like Peter. Allow your feet to be washed. The Lord is your servant. He is close to you to give you strength, to wash your feet.

And so, with this awareness of the need to be washed, to be great forgivers. Forgive. A great heart has generosity in forgiveness. It is the measure by which we will be measured. As you have forgiven, you will be forgiven: the same measure. Do not be afraid to forgive. Sometimes there are doubts ... Look at Christ [look at the Crucifix]. There is everyone's forgiveness.

The New Passover

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.