Monday, August 31, 2020

Basilica Cathedral of the Pillar

Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar - Church in Zaragoza - Thousand Wonders

Tradition of the "Pillar" probably began at a later date The "Pillar" is a column of alabaster on which the Virgin Mary would have stood during an apparition to Saint James the Great in the year 40. The story of this apparition only dates back to the 13 century; the mentality of that time insisted that all the saints have a holy apparition and there is no evidence for this story. Here's an excerpt:

"Saint James the Greater heard the voices of angels who sang: ‘Hail Mary, full of grace ...' He knelt down at once, saw the Virgin Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ between two choirs of a thousand angels standing on a marble pillar [...]. Then, the Blessed Virgin Mary called Blessed James the Apostle very softly to come to her, and said: ‘You should place the altar of the chapel near this [...] the power of the Most High will do miracles and wonders to those who call to me in need. This pillar will remain in place until the end of the world and there will always be someone in this town to venerate the name of Jesus Christ my Son.' "

In 1434, a devastating fire forced the Church authorities to destroy the church and to rebuild a Romanesque Gothic-Mudejar building, completed in 1515. The building consisted of a single nave, cloisters and a chapel housing the Pillar.

When Spain was unified, the devotion of Our Lady del Pilar spread throughout Spain. Christopher Columbus discovered America on October 12, Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar! A simple coincidence?

For us Our Lady of the Pilar is the place where Blessed Chaminade had a close experience with Our Lady and was inspired to found the Society of Mary.

Te Basilica Cathedral of the Pillar is the most important shrine in Spain. Its influence has global outreach. A church called the "Saint Mary House" already existed in Saragossa before the Muslim invasion in 711. In 1118, the Aragonese conquered the city and made it the capital of the Kingdom of Aragon. Only the tympanum still remains from the first Romanesque church built at that time.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Saint Jeanne, pray for us!

Saint Jeanne, pray for us!

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Jeanne Jugan, Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Marianists have shared so many things with the Little Sisters of the Poor and the elderly for whom they care. Over the last 30 plus years we have shared the charism of their Mother Foundress who in an act of mercy began a joyous care for the elderly poor. Each time we visit with our students the marvelous spirit radiates in the residents, Sisters, volunteers, children, Associates, and friends all shared the joyful spirit of Jeanne Jugan.

Today let us offer this prayer to all who have been blessed by the charism of St. Jeanne Jugan.


Jesus, you rejoiced and praised your Father
for having revealed to little ones
the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven.

We thank you for the graces
granted to your humble servant, Jeanne Jugan,
to whom we confide our petitions and needs.

Father of the poor,
you have never refused the prayer of the lowly.
We ask you, therefore,
to hear the petitions that she presents to you on our behalf.

Jesus, through Mary, your Mother and ours,
we ask this of you,
who live and reign with the Fatherand the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.

+ + +
Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Marianist Sr. Emily Sandoval professed first vows


On Saturday, June 20, Sr. Emily Sandoval professed first vows in a celebration that was watched live stream by the Marianist Family around the world. Thanks to Bro. Leno Ceballos for providing the technical assistance to make this happen. People on 289 screens tuned in from Rome, India, Ireland and all across the United States.Marianist Sisters Laura Leming and Emily Sandoval

The ceremony was presided by Fr. Chris Wittmann, with Sr. Laura Leming, who received the vows in the name of Sr. Gretchen Trautman, and Bro. Dan Klco who read the intercessions. In addition, Sr. Nicole Trahan, director of the Annunciation Dayton FMI community extended the welcome to those few sisters and brothers permitted to be present and to Emily’s family and friends and the Marianist family who joined in.

A new Marianist young adult lay community surprised Sr. Emily by decorating the house and sidewalk and the brothers of the Alumni Hall Community generously allowed the use of their chapel, Our Mother of Good Counsel, for the celebration.

The Marianist Sisters thank all those who have walked with Emily and the community during this time of her formation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Blessed Sacrament for vocations

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament - Kellenberg Memorial

Several times a day the Brothers gather together to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for vocations. Today will be no different. We  gather today at 6:20 p.m to pray for an increase of vocations. Perhaps you could join us in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or in the comfort of your home and pray with us for an increase of Marianist vocations.

During Adoration we sing Evening Prayer and end with a medieval Latin hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas. I am sure you have heard the hymn before but here it is below and its translation.

Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et jubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio. Amen.

Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! o'er ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Ghost proceeding
Forth from Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty. Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Queenship of Mary

The Soldier of Mary: William Joseph Chaminade | NACMS

Marianists celebrate Religious Commitment

Today Saturday, August 22nd, the Province of Meribah will gather to celebrate milestones of religious commitment of our Brothers.
August 22nd , the feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Marianists of the Province of Meribah  celebrate the Anniversary of the Profession of Vows of the following Brothers:

Father Albert - 1961 - 59 years professed
Father Garrett - 1963 - 57 years professed
Brother Joseph Anthony - 1963 - 58 years professed
Brother Mark - 1963 - 58 years professed
Brother Gary - 1965 - 55 years professed

+ + +

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

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Magdaleno (Leno) Alonso Ceballos Marcel professes first vows

The Marianist Novitiate Community: Bro. Tom Wendorf, John Shim (KO-novice), Bros. Tom Redmond, Dan Klco and Leno Ceballos, Francisco Cho (KO-novice), Bro. John Lemker and Fr. Chris Wittmann.

On May 23, Magdaleno (Leno) Alonso Ceballos Marcel, made his first profession of vows as a Marianist brother. Fr. Chris Wittmann, province director of novices, presided at the Mass; Fr. Charles (Kip) Stander received the vows. The event was live-streamed to all those joining in spirit while sheltering in place.

“A vow ceremony is always a sign of hope. It’s encouraging to have new brothers in the Society of Mary,” says Fr. Chris. He noted that while the pandemic presented significant limitations on the ceremony, the Marianists believe safety had to be the primary concern.

Bro. Leno, 31, grew up in southern California and first met the Marianists at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in 2012. He was attracted to the Marianist life of prayer, devotion to Mary, and commitment to community. “In the early part of his discernment, Leno met Marianists who really connected with him and inspired him,” says Fr. Chris.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Queenship of Mary

 Into The Deep: Queenship of Mary

Queenship of Mary

Reflection: The Queenship of Mary (Memorial)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casa Maria Marianists

Friday, August 21, 2020

Pope Saint Pius X

Pope Saint Pius X | “Let the storm rage and the sky darken –… | Flickr

Pope Saint Pius X pointed directly to the Gospel and showed how Jesus wished to embrace all children.

The pages of the Gospel show clearly how special was that love for children which Christ showed while He was on earth. It was His delight to be in their midst … He embraced them; and He blessed them. At the same time He was not pleased when they would be driven away by the disciples, whom He rebuked gravely with these words: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

It is clearly seen how highly He held their innocence and the open simplicity of their souls on that occasion when He called a little child to Him and said to the disciples: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven … And whoever receives one such little child for my sake, receives me.”

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Seraphic Southern Catholicism

Why We Wish Flannery O'Connor Was Our Friend

The United States has never been a predominantly Catholic country, but she has certainly been a Christian one. The Christian ethos permeates her history. Religious pilgrims were among the first to stake their claims on her shores and times of renewed religious fervor, coined Great Awakenings, line her annals. Though a mainly Protestant majority has cultivated this ethos, the Catholic influence in it is not negligible. After the country’s initial founding, the U.S. would come to annex lands that were characterized by a widespread Roman Catholicism, mostly of Spanish background.

This awkward diversity of religious practice has produced a patchwork quilt of Christian identity that is hard to discern in its totality. Flannery O’Connor found herself in this confusing America in the mid-twentieth century. Coming of age as an Irish Catholic in the deep south of Milledgeville, Georgia, gave O’Connor a unique perspective on the interaction between Catholicism and Protestantism, especially in its Fundamentalist strains. She would deepen this perspective even more after attending the Iowa Writing Workshop at the University of Iowa and living at an artists’ community in upstate New York. The writing tools she received at these places and the ability to practice writing more drew her to develop her views on life’s deepest questions. With this particular vantage point, O’Connor launched into a literary career, commenting on modern society and its relationship with Christianity.

Ralph C. Wood’s book Flannery O’Connor and the Christ-Haunted South is an illuminative study on the relationships among O’Connor’s Catholic sensibility formed by Southern gentility, Fundamentalist preaching, and the predominance of nihilism in the modern world. These relationships provide the substance for the series of essays that comprise the book. These essays touch on different aspects of O’Connor’s literary engagement with the prominent social and religious ideas of her time.

Among the topics that Wood treats are sacramentality, racism, cultural identity, vocation, nihilism, and history. Wood’s scholarship glistens most lucidly when, over the course of an argument, he writes as a theologian, social critic, philosopher, and novelist, and arrives at penetrating insights into O’Connor’s genius. Additionally, though not a Catholic himself, Wood magisterially exposits O’Connor’s Catholic ideas. He does this while comparing the similarities between the theologians who inform those Catholic ideas and the ones who formed Wood’s own theological tradition such as Karl Barth, whom O’Connor read.

What is also salutary about Wood’s essays is his facility in elucidating O’Connor’s ability to find and promote the redeeming qualities of Fundamentalist Christianity, a group she strongly criticizes. He integrates those qualities into O’Connor’s vision of the Church’s place in the modern world. No one is spared in her respectful criticism, not even her own beloved Catholic Church. Bruising rhetoric speaks of her desire to test everything and hold fast to the good that remains (1 Thess 5:21). It also reveals her undying conviction of the reality of Original Sin and every man’s need for redemption⏤a constant, underlying refrain in her writings.

Flannery O’Connor shatters any stereotype that one might try to place on her. For this reason, her popularity continues to grow, and rightly so. That popularity has spurred a number of impressive works on her literature, life, and legacy. Wood’s book fits in well with this assortment and makes a unique contribution because of his fluency in so many disciplines. For the avid O’Connor enthusiast or even the neophyte struggling to understand her arrestingly grotesque stories, this book will not disappoint.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Pray for the Canonization

 + + +

Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"The knowledge of Jesus Christ, we know, is of absolute necessity for attaining salvation, for he is our Mediator with God the Father, and his words are “the words of eternal life.” Without, however, detracting from this fundamental principle, it is our firm belief that the intimate knowledge of Mary is most useful for the attainment of our salvation, for she is, in the beautiful words of St. Bernard, “our hope, our sweetness, and our life”

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Foundation Day

Marianists - Province of Meribah - Foundation Day

The Marianists of the Province of Meribah give thanks to God today as we celebrate Foundation Day! Our Province began in 1976 with our founding fathers, Fr. Francis Keenan, S.M. and Fr. Philip Eichner, S.M.

The Brothers' motto, Servire Quam Sentire, captures well the spirit which animates the members of the Province. We seek to put our own fears and reservations aside, and to serve the Lord with gladness and with joy.

The works of the Province have expanded since its initial foundation. Under the Meribah banner are: Chaminade High School, Kellenberg Memorial High School (including the Bro. Joseph C. Fox Latin School Division, for sixth, seventh and eight-graders); and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School (pre-k though eighth grade).

The Province also runs four retreat houses which are: Meribah, Emmanuel, and Founder's Hollow and our most recent, Stella Maris.

Since the Province of Meribah was created, it has maintained the common life of prayer, the common dress of the religious habit, and the common apostolates of education.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Chaminade High School: Media

O God, who gave increase to your Church through the zeal for religion and apostolic labors of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade, grant, through his intercession, that she may always receive new growth in faith and in holiness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

(from The Roman Missal: Common of Pastors—For Missionaries)

Sunday, August 16, 2020



This is the awe of God's otherness. God's transcendence leads us through praise to an intimate period of Adoration -- this is a seated, a kneeling and even a silent mode, encapsulated by Psalm 95,
"Come let us ... bow down ... let us kneel ... We are the people of his pasture."

The God above and beyond the mountains nevertheless makes us "the people of His pasture, the flock under His care."

How could a God so transcendent yet be a God so immanent? It is when we bow down in wonder at the greatness of God that the transcendent Lord moves towards us and is felt as an immanent God. God, the omniscient and omnipotent, is also closer to us than a brother, nearer to our hearts than a sister. God has established a relationship of divine intimacy with us in the person of Jesus, who brought divinity near. Indeed, scholars contend that what was distinctive about Jesus' experience of God was "its intimacy and immediacy," and Jesus' "intimate awareness of God as his Abba.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

The pearl of great price

You are God's “Pearl of Great Price” - Curt Landry Ministries

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchantsearching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.

To follow Jesus is costly – or so we tell ourselves. But how costly? Is it really costly to follow in the way of Jesus? To be sure, it will place demands on our hearts, our minds, and our souls but the big question is not how much it will cost us, it’s rather the worth what we will get. What Jesus offers us is worth any price. All the really valuable things in life need to be judged not in terms of how much they cost but what they are worth.

Some things are worth whatever they cost. Some things are worth every sacrifice and price we have to pay for them. For example the respect we receive from others. The freedom of knowing that God's sees you and respects you; what would it like to be in the presence of God without any shame? Imagine living so that you never have to apologize to anyone for anything you thought, or said, or did? What value would you put on living with yourself like that?

Let's not fool ourselves. Greatness of character comes at a price. A great life is expensive and costly. Oh, not in terms of money, with rather in terms of paying the price of giving up being lazy, of giving up our comfortable ease, of giving up self-centeredness and self-c­oncern. Being a great human being demands a lot from us. It requires discipline and self-sacrifice; it requires self-denial, hard work, and care in our relationships with others. Conversely, selfish living in smallness of heart can be terribly expensive... it can cost us some of the things that we hold most dear in life.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Sunday - The Lord's Day

Ex Pope Benedict's Condition 'Not Particularly Worrying': Vatican | World  News | US News ... To lose a sense of Sunday as the Lord's Day, a day to be sanctified, is symptomatic of the loss of an authentic sense of Christian freedom, the freedom of the children of God. Here some observations made by my venerable predecessor John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini continue to have great value. Speaking of the various dimensions of the Christian celebration of Sunday, he said that it is Dies Domini with regard to the work of creation, Dies Christi as the day of the new creation and the Risen Lord's gift of the Holy Spirit, Dies Ecclesiae as the day on which the Christian community gathers for the celebration, and Dies hominis as the day of joy, rest and fraternal charity.

Sunday thus appears as the primordial holy day, when all believers, wherever they are found, can become heralds and guardians of the true meaning of time. ...

Finally, it is particularly urgent nowadays to remember that the day of the Lord is also a day of rest from work. It is greatly to be hoped that this fact will also be recognized by civil society, so that individuals can be permitted to refrain from work without being penalized. Christians, not without reference to the meaning of the Sabbath in the Jewish tradition, have seen in the Lord's Day a day of rest from their daily exertions. 

— Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, February 22, 2007.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Blessed Jakob Gapp(Marianist)


The Marianist Family celebrate today the anniversary of the martyrdom of Blessed Jakob Gapp in Berlin, Germany in 1943. In 1939, Blessed Jakob said, “Don’t forget to pray! We need the Lord particularly at this time, when everything seems to be wavering.” 


Blessed Jakob, pray for us.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

FMI First Vows Celebration

FMI First Vows Celebration 

Srs. Alka Xaxa, Nilima Enga Purty, and Mainsha Tirkey. 

On July 11, the feastday of St. Benedict, Srs. Alka Xaxa FMI, Mainsha Tirkey FMI, and Nilima Enga Purty FMI, professed first vows during the Eucharistic celebration in Shanti Deep, Ranchi. 

Fr. Birendra Kullu presided at the liturgical ceremony; Sr. Teresa Ferre, the District Superior, received the vows. The newly professed Sisters’ parents, the FMI Sisters, and a few Marianist Brothers from the local area participated in the celebration. 

The Marianist Sisters’ community highlighted the event with a fellowship meal for all the participants. Congratulation, Srs. Alka Xaxa, Mainsha Tirkey, and Nilima Enga Purty!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Saint Benedict

Into The Deep: St. Benedict pray for us!

On July 11, the Marianist Family celebrate the Memorial of Saint Benedict, Abbot. 

He is the patriarch of the Society of Mary.

St. Benedict, pray for us.

Monday, August 10, 2020

First Vows in Ivory Coast

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.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

100 years ago, Jakob Gapp joined the Society of Mary

Jakob Gapp - Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia
100 years ago, Jakob Gapp joined the Society of Mary 
From Via Latina #292 – July 2020 

Life is full of events, encounters and highlights. Opening the book of one’s life sometimes allows us to find a hidden meaning in it, a particular resonance that gives meaning to today. 

It was Jakob Gapp's experience on August 13, 1943 in the Berlin prison of Plötzensee, which served as a reminder of that very same summer day in a previous year, a happier day, a day that would be fully brought to completion in the sacrifice of his life: "On August 13, 1920, I began my novitiate, the most beautiful year of my life, and today I hope to be able to begin the life of blessed eternity.” Born on July 26, 1897 in Wattens, Austrian Tyrol. He was not yet 18 when he volunteered to defend his homeland in 1915. After the war and the prison camp, this 23-year-old young man wanted to enter religious life with as much ardor as he had displayed during his military commitment. He was a man of great frankness and when he went to Freistadt to meet the provincial, as he got off the train, he announced to the religious who came to pick him up: "Here I am, I'm a socialist and I want to be a priest. If you don't agree, tell me right now, and I'll go home.” Jakob was admitted to the novitiate at Greisinghof where he arrived on August 13, 1920. It was a beginning that foreshadowed an end yet unknown. Who would have thought that 23 years later, on the same day of the calendar, it would be Jakob’s day of offering the totality of his life? 

In this man full of ideals, the search for truth was constant. It was in this spirit that he began his studies to become a priest: "When I entered the seminary in 1925, at the age of 28, I said to myself with great conviction: during these years of study, I will only be able to adhere to what I really feel, for I must not believe half or out of obligation in the dogmas of the Church. I will only be able to speak about my faith to others in a truly convincing way if that faith has really penetrated me and is really mine..." It is also in this spirit that he conversed at length with his teachers to understand, verify and deepen his knowledge. 

During the rise of National Socialism, he scrutinized this ideology and was now convinced of one thing: National Socialism is incompatible with the Christian faith. This conviction become a struggle that he shared with his students and all those he met, including from the pulpit in his native village. He become an outlaw and was followed by the Gestapo. Then, exiled in France and then in Spain, he was misunderstood. 

At the moment when he was about to give the supreme testimony of his life, he wrote to Father Jung, Vicar General of the Society of Mary who was replacing the deceased Superior General (a letter that would remain in the file of his conviction in Berlin and would not be found until years later). You can read or reread it (see box below). 

Let us not forget to remember him and trust in his intercession.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Henceforth, walk in the steps of... - Marianists - Province of Meribah |  Facebook

Pray for the Canonization of Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

"The knowledge of Jesus Christ, we know, is of absolute necessity for attaining salvation, for he is our Mediator with God the Father, and his words are “the words of eternal life.” Without, however, detracting from this fundamental principle, it is our firm belief that the intimate knowledge of Mary is most useful for the attainment of our salvation, for she is, in the beautiful words of St. Bernard, “our hope, our sweetness, and our life”

Blessed William Joseph Chaminade

Friday, August 7, 2020

Fire with Christ

What does it mean for a Marianist Brother to be on fire with Christ?

Our life is unassuming and is one of witness, less by words and more by actions. A life of being in relationship with each other and young people for the sake of the Gospel. Those who know us well can identify who we are even when we are not wearing our suits or vestments.

For we(as well as all Marianists throughout the world) wear the gold ring not on our left hand as men do in marriage, but on the right hand as a threefold sign representing:

1. our total self gift to God.

2. our alliance to each Brother in Community.

3. and our pledge to be Sons of Mary like Jesus for the salvation of the world.

In a way, a single Marianist is like a small burning coal, but when we join together as a Community for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, for the honor of Mary and to follow Christ more closely in His saving mission, we set the world on fire and encourage others to be on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Feast of the Transfiguration

Pope at Angelus: Gospel calls us to trusting abandonment to God ...

Let us keep our eyes fixed on the resplendent face of God, whom we contemplate in Christ transfigured on Mount Tabor. He is the light that illuminates the events of every day.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

St. John Vianney

Parolin: St. John Vianney, the resounding voice of God - Vatican News

One story told about St. John Vianney, the saintly pastor of Ars in France, is that he often saw a farmer sit in the back of the parish church. The saint took notice that the farmer would spend long periods of time there before the Eucharist. Finally one day, the saint asked him what he did during his time of adoration. The farmer simply responded, "I look at Him and He looks at me."

Tuesday, August 4, 2020


by Brandon Vogt
August 3, 2018

Today we remember one of the greatest pastors in the history of the Church, St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. The Curé d’Ars had one all-consuming desire: to help his parishioners become holy. Although many pastors, then and now, would undoubtedly share that mission, St. John was utterly committed to it, willing to do whatever was necessary to attain it. He spent several all-night vigils in his chapel, praying:

My God, grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer all my life whatsoever it may please thee to lay upon me; yes, even for a hundred years I am prepared to endure the sharpest pains, only let my people be converted.

This may sound crazy to the outside world. Someone inviting suffering on himself? Most of us do everything we can to avoid pain, suffering, or even a little discomfort. But as Catholics, we know that our suffering is not pointless, that it can be redemptive, offered up to God as a sacrifice for the sake of others. Even if suffering is not inherently good, it can produce good if we endure it, allow it to purify us, and make it into a sacrifice.

St. John Vianney had plenty of opportunities to “offer up” his suffering. When he arrived at his parish in 1818, there were only sixty households and about two hundred people. Few of the people were literate, and most were indifferent about faith. Almost nobody cared what this new priest had to say. Even though he would spend up to seven hours writing his homilies, and spend all day Saturday practicing and memorizing them for the Sunday Mass, he faced what we might delicately call a “difficult” crowd of listeners. They entered late and left early, banging the loud door each time. They whispered to each other throughout his homily and yawned noisily. Some parishioners liked to mock the priest’s voice and mannerisms.

But that still didn’t shake his commitment: “When I preach I speak to people who are either deaf or asleep, but when I pray, I speak to the God who is not deaf.”

Even with this heroic degree of sacrifice, it took a long while to see any change. Besides their deplorable behavior at Mass, John’s parishioners accused him of debauchery, wrote songs to taunt him, and threw mud and hung crude posters on his rectory door. They sent hateful letters to his bishop about him. One woman even falsely accused him of fathering her child. His only response to all this vehemence? “We must pray for them.”

Jesus says, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mt 16:24). Many of us struggle with seemingly unbearble relationship problems. Maybe it’s a suffering friend or a relative facing severe health trials. Perhaps it’s a difficult child, maybe one who has left the Faith. Whatever the case, we can offer up our own suffering on their behalf, just as St. John did.

Jesus says we must not flee the crosses in our lives. Just as he accepted beatings, torture, and ultimately death on our behalf, offering his sacrifices for the sake of the world, so we must channel our much smaller pains and sufferings for the sake of those who could use some extra grace.

What does this look like in practice? Each time you face a difficult situation at home or work, pray, “Lord, I offer this to you for the sake of [insert name].” Each time you suffer a small cut, or perhaps a sore throat, bear it willingly and say, “Lord, I offer this sacrifice to you for [insert name].”

To be clear, this isn’t an attempt to manipulate God. We can’t force God’s hand by demanding he offer grace to our children in return for our good works. Grace is, by definition, an unmerited gift. But in God’s spiritual economy, he always meets sacrifice with grace—it’s the inevitable result.

When we make small sacrifices on behalf of others, we experience what St. John found two hundred years ago: needed grace surging into the world.

Monday, August 3, 2020

St. Alphonsus

St Alphonsus of Liguori

“In the wake of St. Augustine, [St. Alphonsus] invites every Christian to not be afraid of obtaining from God, through prayer, the strength he does not possess and that he needs to do the good, in the certainty that the Lord does not withhold his help from whoever prays with humility.”

To this realization of the constant availability of the grace of prayer, together with the recognition of the power of prayer to gain further graces, we must add the great axiom of St. Alphonsus:

“He who prays is saved. He who does not pray is damned!”

Hence, salvation is possible to all, since prayer is possible to all. But it is our great task then to pray at all times, but especially when tempted or when striving to complete some task important for our salvation – for without prayer we will fall, but with prayer we will easily overcome every obstacle.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Marianist Monday

Lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson calls for markers to be ...

August 2020 

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

I have a new hero. His name is Bryan Stevenson, an American lawyer, social-justice advocate, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and professor at New York University School of Law. Mr. Stevenson has spent his entire adult life fighting injustices in our criminal-justice system. He has worked tirelessly to overturn guilty verdicts based on insufficient evidence, to commute the sentences of prisoners incarcerated on death row, and to represent juveniles who have been made to stand trial as adults and who have too often been sentenced to life in prison for crimes that do clearly not merit so severe a punishment. Despite daunting odds, Mr. Stevenson has met with considerable, albeit hard-won, success. His work has been of particular importance to people of color, many of whom have been convicted of crimes they did not commit or handed stiff sentences significantly beyond the punishment they deserve. Mr. Stevenson is a staunch opponent of the death penalty. 
I have never met Bryan Stevenson, but earlier this summer, I finished his book Just Mercy. I suspect many of you have read the book already, or seen the movie (which is definitely on my to-do list for this summer). For those of you who have not, Just Mercy chronicles some of the most important cases in Mr. Stevenson’s 35-plus-year career, most notably, the story of Walter McMillan, a black man who was sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit. For all the bigotry that he has had to endure and all the bias he has had to battle every day, Mr. Stevenson never never succumbs to bitter cynicism. He is, instead, a beacon of hope, determined to build a better society not only for poor people of color, but for Americans of every stripe. At turns both heartbreaking and heartwarming, 

Just Mercy is a page-turner. I read it in a single weekend. Just Mercy is also a deeply spiritual book. In a chapter entitled “Broken,” Mr. Stevenson writes candidly about EJI’s growing caseload, his own exhaustion, and his disillusionment with seemingly intractable attitudes regarding race and the criminal-justice system. Mr. Stevenson’s frustration comes to a head when he is unable to obtain a stay of execution for Jimmy Dill, a young man who had been sexually and physically abused throughout his childhood and who suffers from an intellectual disability. Mr. Dill had been accused of shooting someone during the course of a drug deal. The victim did not die at the time of the shooting but became gravely ill several months later, after he had been released from the hospital. When the victim died, in all probability because of inadequate home care, state prosecutors changed the charges against Mr. Dill from assault to capital murder. 

Mr. Stevenson recounts Jimmy Dill’s final words to him during a phone conversation immediately before the execution: “Mr. Bryan, I just want to thank you for fighting for me. I thank you for caring for me. I love y’all for trying to save me.” Then, Bryan pours out his own heart and soul in words that crystallize the empathy and humanity that course through every page of Just Mercy: When I hung up the phone that night, I had a wet face and a broken heart. The lack of compassion I witnessed every day had finally exhausted me. I looked around my crowded office, at the stacks of records and papers, each pile filled with tragic stories, and I suddenly didn’t want to be surrounded by all this anguish and misery. As I sat there, I thought myself a fool for having tried to fix situations that were so fatally broken. It’s time to stop. I can’t do this anymore. Bryan continues: 

We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness, even if our brokenness is not equivalent. I desperately wanted mercy for Jimmy Dill and would have done anything to create justice for him, but I couldn’t pretend that his struggle was disconnected from my own. The ways in which I have been hurt -- and have hurt others -- are different from the ways Jimmy Dill suffered and caused suffering. But our shared brokenness connected us.

 Paul Farmer, the renowned physician who has spent his life trying to cure the world’s sickest and poorest people, once quoted me something that the writer Thomas Merton said: We are bodies of broken bones. I guess I’d always known but never fully considered that being broken is what makes us human. We all have our reasons. Sometimes we’re fractured by the choices we make; sometimes, we’re shattered by things we would never have chosen. But our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis of our search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion. 

We have a choice. We can embrace our humanness, which means embracing our brokennatures and the compassion that remains our best hope for healing. Or we can deny our brokenness, forswear compassion, and deny our own humanity. 

I could continue quoting Bryan Stevenson for pages and pages, but I want to address the next point in this month’s reflection, so I will leave you with these excerpts as a sampling of the spirit of Just Mercy. And if I might be so bold, if you haven’t read Just Mercy, do so. You will be truly inspired. 

It’s no secret, I suppose, that I write these monthly reflections not only for the spiritual edification of our graduates, but also to encourage a culture of vocations that might prompt young people to consider a vocation to religious life and the priesthood, and, in particular, to the Society of Mary. 

And, believe it or not, this morning, as my mind was wandering during Mass (My mind does that far too often!), I started thinking about the connections between Bryan Stevenson’s heroism and my own Marianist vocation. 

I usually hesitate to think of a religious vocation in terms of heroism. It’s a proposition, I fear, that is too full of hubris. But in one sense, a religious vocation is about heroism. When I was in high school, some forty-five-plus years ago, I saw many -- in fact, all -- of my Mariainst teachers as heroes. The Brothers were passionate about everything they did. Their dedication went far beyond the hours of 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. spent in the classroom. Marianists like Bro. Larry Syriac and Bro. George Zehnle, Fr. Albert Bertoni and Fr. Ernest Lorfafant formed us intellectually, spiritually, and morally with a dedication and depth that I had never encountered before. Heck, on the weekends and in the summer, they even built twelve new classrooms in a once empty courtyard and transformed a dilapidated estate into a flourishing retreat house that still serves students today. 

When I joined (at the tender age of seventeen!), I definitely had the sense that I was signing up for a heroic adventure. And all these many years later, Marianist life is still a heroic adventure. We are men on a mission, determined to help make the world a better place by prayer and work, what St. Benedict termed ora et labora. Our prayer is for the salvation of our own souls and for the salvation of the world. Our work is with our students, through education, not simply to impart the knowledge and skills that will enable them to do well for themselves later in life, but, far more importantly, to instill the values and faith that will empower them to make a positive difference for others in this world. In all of this, there is indeed no small degree of heroism. Our heroism, however, is counterbalanced by our brokenness. We are keenly aware of our shortcomings and our limitations. Painfully, we know our failures and our sins. Thankfully, and as Bryan Stevenson so eloquently explains, these remind us of our common humanity. They draw us into a tighter circle of compassion for those whom we serve and those whom we meet in the pages of a book like Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. Far from dissuading us, our brokenness persuades us all the more of the urgency of our mission. I am more convinced than ever that we need men of faith to carry out our Marianist mission of bringing healing and wholeness to a broken world. We need men who recognize that they can be wounded healers. Blessed Chaminade once said of his fledgling Marianists, “Ours is a great work, a magnificent work.” Thank you, Bryan Stevenson, for reminding me of the heroism of our Marianist life, as we seek nothing less than the healing of a broken world, under the standard of the greatest hero who ever walked the face of the earth, Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen from the dead! On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M