Saturday, October 31, 2020
When you think of Halloween, what comes to mind? For a lot of people, Halloween has become synonymous with candy, costumes, scary stuff, witches, ghosts and pumpkins. But do you know the Christian connection to the holiday?
The true origins of Halloween lie with the ancient Celtic tribes who lived in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Brittany. For the Celts, November 1 marked the beginning of a new year and the coming of winter.
The night before the new year, they celebrated the festival of Samhain, lord of the dead. During this festival, Celts believed the souls of the dead, including ghosts, goblins and witches, returned to mingle with the living. In order to scare away the evil spirits, people would wear masks and light bonfires.
When the Romans conquered the Celts, they added their own touches to the Samhain festival, such as making centerpieces out of apples and nuts for Pomona, the Roman goddess of the orchards. The Romans also bobbed for apples and drank cider, traditions which may sound familiar to you. But where does the Christian aspect of the holiday come into play? In 835, Pope Gregory IV moved the celebration for all the martyrs (later all saints)from May 13 to November 1. The night before became known as All Hallows' Even or holy evening. Eventually the name was shortened to the current Halloween. On November 2, the Church celebrates All Souls Day.
The purpose of these feasts is to remember those who have died, whether they are officially recognized by the Church as saints or not. It is a celebration of the "communion of saints," which reminds us that the Church is not bound by space or time.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that through the communion of saints "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. Between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things" (CCC #1475).
Friday, October 30, 2020
Halloween reminds us that we are mortals, formed of the earth. None of us is God; none of us is immortal. We have limited time on Earth, as creatures of flesh and blood and bone, to take the path of service to God. Horror movies can be scary, but there's really nothing more terrifying than the path of evil.Most important, Halloween points us to All Saints' Day. It is, after all, All Hallows' Eve. Halloween reminds us that "we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", a heavenly congregation of faithful servants of God who have gone before us. On Halloween, we should remember that the barrier between the physical and spiritual is really quite thin -- thin in the sense that we can easily see the examples of the graceful and loving relatives, friends, and colleagues who have entered everlasting life with God.
On All Hallows' Eve, let's not focus so much on the living dead -- zombies that pop up on movie screens. Instead, let's remember the dead who are still living as saints of God, and as inspirations to us.
Thursday, October 29, 2020
Our theme for the junior retreat has been Community. While it is a relatively short retreat I was somewhat amazed at how quickly the junior retreatants are able to articulate the theme. Certainly they understand what we have been trying to instill on a day-to-day basis in school. And while they are on retreat, they articulate our philosophy very well.
Yesterday they shared during their discussions and the homily some of these one-liners :
There are two important tables for us on retreat. The Eucharistic and dining table. Both are important.
Our lives are about relationships.
We have come as strangers and now we are friends.
Communication is never easy, but it is very important.
Community is not an easy thing to create.
It is easier to be a part of a group, than to stand alone.
We prayed, cooked, ate and had a long diner celebration in a night filled with laughing and stories. They talked about their relationships, their friends and their families.
Whatever the configuration of families or community, it is central to our lives. In today’s brief, two-line gospel we listen as a woman calls to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus’ responds, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
What struck me about the Gospel today is that Jesus is surprising us with a change of focus. He is not discounting his own mother and their close relationship, but he is telling us that our own relationship with him can be blessed to the degree we let it be a relationship of hearing and keeping his word. Our fidelity to him blesses us with a family relationship with him.
By extension, that also means that we are invited to be family with those beyond our immediate family relationships. We include others because we have been included by Jesus.
Both inside and outside our families, we are called to reach out to others who need us as a way to really unite to Jesus and his mission on earth. What does Jesus want from us? A deeply personal relationship. Jesus isn’t looking for us to read more about him or discuss the theology of his ministry. Jesus longs for a close and personal family relationship with us as we speak to him about our lives and lean on him for support in times of need. Blessed by his love, we hear the call from this love to keep his word by loving as he has loved us.
Today Jesus imvites us to leave that family table and reach out to those who need us as we join with Jesus in his mission. Pope Francis has called us to be families of inclusion, dialog and service for all.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
The priority of consecrated (religious) life is] prophecy of the Kingdom, which is non-negotiable. The emphasis should be on being prophets… To be prophets, in particular, by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the Kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophesying. Prophecy makes a noise, uproar, a mess… Prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.
The witness [of religious life] that can really attract is that associated with attitudes which are uncommon - generosity, detachment, sacrifice, self-forgetfulness – in order to care for others. This is the witness, the martyrdom of religious life.
Wake up the world! Be witnesses of a different way of doing things, of acting, of living! It is possible to live differently in this world.
The above excerpted from “Wake Up the World! Conversation with Pope Francis about the Religious Life
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
There's nothing wrong with being happy. The pursuit of happiness can even be a godly activity. But to know happiness in its fullness, we need to keep God in the equation.
Look at it this way: When the Good Samaritan helped the injured man by the road, God certainly evaluated his work as good and upright, and the Samaritan also reflected God. But chances are, the Samaritan felt good about what he had done as well. He likely experienced pleasure that he had really helped someone in need and had pleased God. He may have been inconvenienced by the help he gave, but that doesn't mean he was being self-sacrificial. He loved his neighbor as he loved himself, and self-love is part of happiness. Thus, the Samaritan was happy in all three senses that Wesley identified.
Here's something else: Almost certainly the Levite and priest who passed by the injured man without helping didn't arrive at their destination as happy men. They had no doubt come up with some sort of justification for their decision to pass by on the other side, but such justifications don't yield self-love. They support selfishness (which is different from self-love), but they don't result in a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction.
As we learn to enact the kind of self-love the Good Samaritan showed, our happiness deepens. And, in effect, we are rejoicing in the Lord, as Paul recommends in today's text. When Paul told the Philippians to "Rejoice in the Lord always," he wasn't recommending a worshipful ritual, but urging his readers to feel the genuine delight that comes from living and acting God's way.
Happiness, the Bible teaches us, is a feeling that comes from doing what pleases God.
Monday, October 26, 2020
They want a couple of prime cabinet posts in the messianic administration of Jesus, sitting in the seats closest to the very regent of God. Nothing would make them happier than having people look up at Jesus and his Dream Team, marveling at how great they are.
But there are a couple of problems with being great. The first is a life of illusion, and the second is a state of confusion.
The illusion is that you are more invincible, powerful and righteous than you really are.
The confusion is that you do not know the true meaning of greatness.
History teaches that greatness is often linked to a life of illusion, one which causes people to believe that they are more invincible, powerful and righteous than they really are.
Jesus addresses in the gospel of Mark. "You do not know what you are asking," says Jesus to the aspiring great ones, James and John. "Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Jesus senses that they are confused about what they are getting into, and he makes clear that the path to glory goes straight through the wilderness of suffering.
Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, asks Jesus -- the cup of my blood, shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sin? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with -- the baptism of dying and rising, one in which suffering and death always precede joy and new life?
John and James reply, "We are able." The two come across as supremely confident, but you have to suspect that they don't know what they're talking about. They're still confused about the path that lies ahead.
Jesus doesn't shoot them down. Instead, he nods in agreement. "The cup that I drink you will drink," he promises; "and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized." He knows that they are walking the way of the cross, which will lead to suffering for all and to death for some.
James and John. Both suffered. One was martyred. They drank the cup and experienced the baptism.
But as for positions of honor, Jesus says: "to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant." Jesus can promise suffering, death and new life to all who follow him in faith, but the granting of special places in the kingdom of heaven? That's God's call, because God is in control.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Saint Paul asks: “What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?”
The answer, of course, is a ton of stuff. Paul even lists some of them: “hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword.” All of these things were very real possibilities for the Christians in Rome of the first century. Self-identifying as a Christian often meant a loss of rights, the inability to conduct business in the marketplace, a loss of economic well-being, the possibility of being reduced to abject poverty, and even the possibility of losing one’s life, or watching loved ones lose theirs.
What’s at stake for us when we identify ourselves as Christians? We may gain the respect and admiration of others, but chances are we’ll be considered a bit odd, or off. We may be linked to fringe religious groups that we really don’t have any connection to. It’s not easy in our culture to proclaim our faith boldly.
But, even though “God be for us,” there are plenty of storms that come our way that serve to challenge, to weaken the bridge we’re crossing. We’re fearful of relationship problems, we’re concerned about health issues, we’re caught in battles of sobriety, sanity, depression and despair. We worry about terrorism, global warming, prices, crime rates and even road rage. This is a bridge that is critical to our well-being — even our salvation.
This bridge must be a bridge that can stand strong in the storm. And it is. Because God is for us. Many things may be against us, but the bottom line is: Nothing can prevail against us!
This is a bridge that is long enough. Walk this bridge and we’ll make it to the other side. Nothing, Paul writes, “will be able to separate us from the love of God.”
Friday, October 23, 2020
Jesus answers with words that were familiar to every Jew, words that were recited every morning and evening as a prayer. The "Shema" was so important that pious Jews took the commandment to "bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" literally. Little scrolls containing the words of were worn on the foreheads of pious Jews in leather boxes called phylacteries and attached to doorposts in little containers called mezuzahs. It was a command to be carried, worn and touched.
But even more than that, it was a command to be lived. In a sense, the words on the scroll were unnecessary because they were prayed and recited daily. The irony of the "test" is that those standing in front of Jesus in their phylacteries had the text in paper and ink and yet they did not realize that in their desire for religious correctness they were allowing it to disappear.
Indeed, Jesus tells the crowds to listen to the teaching of the Pharisees but not to do as they do "for they do not practice what they teach." Of all the commandments in their scrolls, Jesus says, this commandment is "the first and greatest" -- not just to be taught, but to be lived. Even if the words on the scrolls disappeared, this commandment remains permanent.
The second commandment is "like" the first: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" . This commandment wasn't just to be worn on the forehead, but it was to be kept in the heart and obeyed through the hands. For Jesus, love of God naturally works its way outward in love for neighbor, and love for neighbor can be an expression of love for God. If you put these two commandments together, says Jesus, you will boil down all the words of "the law and the prophets." The words printed by the water-jet printer may disappear every 24 hours, but the words of Jesus will never disappear.
Thursday, October 22, 2020
We don't really know if Jesus ever put pen and ink to paper. No record exists that he ever wrote anything or kept a library of his own. We do know, however, that Jesus was immersed in Israel's Scriptures in a way that did not require him to carry a Torah scroll with him or keep a filing system. The text never disappeared from his memory, and the words that he spoke were so important that among tons of paper and gallons of ink ever used in history, they are the most important -- so much so that precious ink is still used to show them to the world. And perhaps none of those words are as important as those spoken by Jesus known to history as "The Great Commandment."In Matthew's Gospel, this passage appears in a series of rapid-fire questions from the religious authorities who are grilling Jesus in the temple. The Pharisees maintained huge libraries of commentaries about the Torah and believed themselves to be experts in the law as it appeared on ink and paper. When they heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, another religious literate group, they gathered together and had a lawyer among them ask Jesus a question designed to "test" him.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
There's a pop-Gospel song entitled, "If You're Happy, Notify Your Face." Not a well-known song among the contemporary Christian songs. The first stanza goes like this:
If you're happy, notify your face,
Take that frown off and put a smile in its place;
If you love Jesus, well, show it to the human race,
If you're happy, notify your face.
The song is catchy and cute, but, in reality, our facial expression is affected by the whole range of things we experience. Do you know people whose natural facial expressions when at rest looks like smiles? If projecting happiness is a Christian obligation, then those people have an edge on the rest of us because they don't need to think about notifying their faces. But, of course, their usual expressions are merely the result of how the muscles in the face function. These same people might tell us that their lives aren't happy at all. On varying occasions, we might even see their faces projecting pain, upset and anger. Most of us find it impossible to be happy all the time. Life is just too complicated for that.
Author Thomas Kelly tells of a well-known Christian of an earlier era, John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868-1905), who began to lose his sight, and went to a doctor. After examining Rowntree, the doctor told him that nothing could be done; he was soon going to go completely blind. Afterward, outside the office, Rowntree stood holding onto a railing to collect himself, when he suddenly felt the love of God wrap around him and he "was filled with a joy he had never known before." Under the circumstances, that was hardly happiness at all, but it was the powerful presence of God. And certainly that radiates a quality of joy!
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
But if truth be told, a more appropriate mantra for this generation is: "It's all about me." In fact, Web sites abound making that very claim. Type in "It's all about me" and you'll find thousands of self-declarative, self-proclaiming, self-expressing netizens professing "It's all about me" - whoever "me" might happen to be.
Ebay, the online auction site, encourages "about me" pages because "Your About Me" page is a great way for people to understand who you are. You describe who you are - or if not who you are, then maybe how you see yourself, or wish yourself to be. You create a Web site which defiantly declares, "It's about me! It's all about me! Me, me, me, me! Notice me! See me! Here I am! I matter! Read about me! Know me!"
Jesus is well aware of the destructive nature of the "all-about-me" mentality. That's why he warns that his followers must be willing to deny themselves before they can be counted as true disciples. He understood that the only thing that stands between God and me, is me. I'm in my own way. Every time I try to walk alone I trip over myself.
This getting-out-of-the-way is what makes Peter's proclamation about Jesus so remarkable, so extraordinary, so inconceivable. For a moment, perhaps for the first time in his life, Peter gets out of his own way. For a moment Peter stops thinking about himself. He stops putting "me" first. In a flash of insight he understands, if only for that instant, that it isn't "about ME" - it never was and never will be. In effect, Peter proclaims, "It's all about you, Jesus!"
It's about Peter's becoming smaller inside himself and allowing Jesus to become bigger inside him. John the Baptist had the same insight when he said about Jesus, "He must increase, but I must decrease."
Monday, October 19, 2020
The eight Jesuits--Jean de Brébeuf,Noël Chabanel, Antoine Daniel, Charles Garnier, René Goupil, Isaac Jogues,Jean de Lalande and Gabriel Lalemant--are some of the most heroic and noble men in the church’s calendar of saints. They worked in the wilderness, among people with whom they had little in common other than their common humanity, far from their homelands, sometimes together, sometimes apart, always bound to the Lord, in “New France,” in the 17th century.
His life, like the lives of all the North American Martyrs, has much to teach us about working and living among those who are different from us, the inevitability of difficulties even for the most devout of souls and the necessity of faith at all times.
When he returned to New France in 1635, he was cheerfully welcomed by his Huron friends. Immediately he and Antoine Daniel, another Jesuit, began their work in earnest. (They were one of several Jesuits working in the region at the time.) Near a town called Ihonotiria, near current-day Georgian Bay in Canada, Fathers Brébeuf and Daniel began teaching the people about Christianity. They were later joined by two other French Jesuits, Charles Garnier and Isaac Jogues.
With the arrival of their new companions, though, a smallpox epidemic broke out among the Jesuits, which spread to the Hurons, who had no immunity whatsoever from the illness. The missionaries cared for the sick and baptized thousands of Hurons. But because they had baptized those who were dying, the Hurons concluded that baptism brought death, and so many of the Hurons began to turn against the "Blackrobes." Brébeuf then moved to Sainte-Marie, a center for the Jesuits in the area.
Then a new danger arose. Rumors (false ones) circulated that Jean was in league with a sworn enemy of the Hurons, the Seneca clan of the Iroquois. So he prudently moved to another site, Saint Louis. On March 16, the Iroquois attacked the village and took the Hurons, who were mainly Christians, along with Jean and another Jesuit, Gabriel Lalement, prisoner. He knew that the possibility of martyrdom was imminent.
Jean de Brébeuf's torture was among the cruelest any Jesuit has had to endure. (You might want to avoid this next paragraph if you're squeamish.)
The Iroquois heated hatchets until they were glowing red and, tying them together, strung them across his shoulders, searing his flesh. They wrapped his torso with bark and set it afire. They cut off his nose, lips and forced a hot iron down his throat, and poured boiling water over his head in a gruesome imitation of baptism. They scalped him, and cut off his flesh while he was alive. Finally someone buried a hatchet in his jaw.
After 14 years as a missionary, Jean de Brébeuf died on March 16, 1639. He was 56. At his death his heart was eaten as a way for the Iroquois, who were stunned by his courage, to share in his bravery. Eight other Jesuits were martyred around this same time, and are now referred to as the North American Martyrs.
May they pray for us and be our examples of patience, fortitude and faith.
Excerpt from James Martin, SJ
Chaminade - A Man of Faith & VisionTo the south of Bordeaux a road leads down across the Pyrenees into Spain. This was the road Father William Joseph Chaminade followed into exile in September of 1797.
He was a French priest in disguise, escaping the enemies of the Church in his native land. Close by lay the danger of arrest. Other priests had already died as martyrs.
But Father Chaminade was at peace. He was a man of faith.
The night before his journey into exile Father Chaminade wrote:
“What is a faithful man to do in the chaos Of events which seem to swallow him up? He must sustain himself calmly by Faith. Faith will make him adore the eternal plan of God .Faith will assure him that to those who love God all things work together for good.”
In Saragossa, Spain, near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.
So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."
Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:
The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!
May the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.
Monday, October 12, 2020
On October 12th we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain. Near the Shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar, Father Chaminade settled down to wait out his exile. Here he prayed and planned for his future work. And here he received from Our Lady a special message. He was to be Mary’s missionary. He was to found a society of religious who would work with her to restore the Faith in France.So vivid and detailed was the inspiration given to Father Chaminade, that years later he could say to his first religious, "As I see you now before me, I saw you in spirit at Saragossa, long before the foundation of the Society. It was Mary who conceived the plan of the Society. It was she who laid its foundations, and she will continue to preserve it."
Two of Father Chaminade’s favorite prayers reveal the intensity of his love of God and of Mary:
"The most just, most high, and most amiable will of God be done, praised, and eternally exalted in all things!"
" A true Christian cannot live any life but the life of Our Savior Jesus. When we try to imitate Him the divine plan is carried out in our lives. The Blessed Virgin is our Model. She is a very exact copy of her Son Jesus. When we are devoted to Mary we will imitate Jesus.
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Fear makes all of God's creatures do strange things. Once adrenalin hits the bloodstream, who can predict the ways of fight or flight? For example, unlike other bears, grizzlies merit extreme caution from hikers because they have a highly unstable adrenal gland and are "high" on this fight-flight drug most of the time. Imagine having your insides - your nerves, stomach and heart - jangling, reeling and pounding all the time like you'd just seen the latest Halloween movie. Poor bears! And poor anyone who gets in their way!
The disciples experienced that mouth-drying, heart-thumping, knee-buckling kind of fear many times. The disciples could not fathom the magnificence of the divine presence. The mystery was far beyond their ken and kin.
No wonder the disciples often reacted by curling into defensive little fear-balls at Jesus' feet.
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
H/T to The Deacon's BenchI still have my first set. Do you?
It was given to me as a first communion gift: simple black beads with a plain cross. They're small, child-sized, but I carried them in May processions when I was in grade school. They served to teach me the rudiments of one of our faith's most popular - but often misunderstood - forms of prayer.
Since October is dedicated to this devotion, and since the Holy Father specifically recommended rediscovering the rosary..., I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves how meaningful it is, and to appreciate even more the part it plays in our Catholic culture.
Monday, October 5, 2020
“My Mother, help me, you who succeed at everything. Christ, my ideal is going to be to live always united with you so that each day is closer to the goal of my vocation: to be a religious at the service of people for the love of Christ.
Mother, help me to attain my ideal”
(Diary, June 22, 1961)
Born in Valencia (Spain) on August 4,1946, he was a student at "Colegio Nuestra Señora del Pilar" from the time he was six until he died on March 3,1963, of Hodgkin's disease, while he was studying pre-university courses.
Joyful and congenial, he was enthusiastic about sports, camping, and everything good. Few could have suspected the greatness of soul hidden in the small body of this boy who was everybody's friend: his fidelity in every trial,his iron will, his intense love of Christ, his filial affection for the Virgin. He was a member of the Sodality-State of Mary Immaculate from 1962, and on February 9,1963, after receiving the Sacrament of the Sick, he made his definitive consecration.
From 1960, feeling the call of the Lord, his great ideal was to consecrate his life to the salvation of souls as a Marianist religious. Before he died, he promised to concern himself with vocations in Heaven.
Through his diary, one can see the work of the Holy Spirit in his soul, totally dedicated to the Lord.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
What is a cross for? It was not just a burden to be borne. Far more than that, it was an instrument of death and total sacrifice. Jesus said take up our cross and follow Him. He bore a cross and we must bear our cross and follow Him. But where was He going with His cross? He had just said He was going to die. In the next verse Jesus said we must give our lives for Him. Then He asked what good our lives would be to us, if we are unacceptable at the judgment.
Hence, "taking up your cross" refers to giving your whole life to God, as Jesus was about to give His life for us. This involves bearing burdens, but it is deeper than that. It is a total dedication of life. Our whole life is given to His service in anything He says. This will lead us to willingly deny self. Following Him then requires us to live as He lived His life.
The determination to give our lives to God's service is called "repentance." In repenting we determine to turn away from our own will and live our lives to please God. We cannot be saved without this, and that is why repentance is so important in salvation.
The next verse then helps us understand Jesus' point and strengthens the application. If a person holds his life so dear to himself that he wants to use it to please himself, do his own will, and accomplish his own purposes, rather than denying self and serving God, that person will in the end loses his life eternally. But anyone who loses his life for Jesus' sake - gives it in service and sacrifice to God by denying himself, as described above - such a man will save his life by gaining eternal life.
There can be no greater or clearer teaching anywhere of the meaning of being a disciple. This is how our Master lived, so this is how His disciples must live. We must live lives of complete and total submission to the will of God.
Saturday, October 3, 2020
Between Jesus and Mary, Father Chamiande taught, existed an unsurpassed intimacy and spiritual union that inseparably united Mary to all his mysteries.
Just as Mary is Mother of God, she too, is the mother the Church, the mystical body of Christ. Thus Mary becomes our mother.
Finally for Blessed Chaminade, in order to assist in Mary's mission of bringing her children to her son, Mary must be known in order to be loved and served.
May we always love and serve our Mother Mary, that we may know, love and serve her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ!
Friday, October 2, 2020
On December 8, 1817, several men made private vows and on September 5, 1818, seven men made public vows as members of the Society of Mary.
October 2, Foundation Day for the Society of Mary, is the feast of the Guardian Angels. Remembering the Guardian Angels has been important to members of the Society of Mary. Guardian Angels were seen as guardians of the students in Marianist schools. To help students behave appropriately, members of the Society of Mary were encouraged to “invoke the Guardian Angels of their pupils at the beginning of class and surveillance periods." Hopefully, the angels would guarantee that students behaved in a proper manner so as to be receptive to the classroom instruction of the Brothers and priests.
"Education is a participation in the work of Mary. She is the great teacher of mankind. Her mission has been, and still is, to give birth to Jesus Christ and to rear Him….In calling us to the work of education, Mary has constituted us Her collaborators in this mission. Our pupils are Her children more than ours…and it is Her name that we ought to try to form Jesus in them. "
Emil Neubert, S.M., (1954)
Thursday, October 1, 2020
They're capricious little critters. But cross them just once, and they'll zing you and sting you.
So you've got to wonder why a monk named Remy Rougeau spends so much time with them.
On days like today, when heavy snowfall blankets the upper Midwest, Remy puts on his snowshoes and walks two miles over prairie hills with a shovel. He passes antelope, snowy owls and jackrabbits. Mule and whitetail deer are everywhere. One year, a porcupine was hanging around the bee yard. His reason for making this trek is to clear the snow off the honeybee hives, because if hive entrances are covered, the bees can suffocate.
But Remy does more than simple snow-clearing. Throughout the year, he keeps some bees at the abbey so that he can sting himself.
Sting himself. On purpose. Each week he takes a bee in the knee. A local allergy specialist suggested this. "Years ago," he recalls, "when I was first assigned the apiary, I nearly choked to death when a bee got into my suit and stung me in the neck. I was far from help and not breathing well. Fortunately, I had an anaphylactic kit ... and after three injections of epinephrine my throat began to relax. Later, after the allergist thoroughly tested me, he suggested regular exposure to venom. And nowadays, I have no reaction to bee stings at all. They hurt for 10 seconds and it's over."
Exposure to venom. It's not a deadly thing for Remy Rougeau. In fact, it's the poison that enables him to maintain his passion for the honeybees.
In a certain way we should open our eyes and see that God loves us in the same way that this monk loves his honeybees. God adores us despite the fact that we are unpredictable little buzzers, responsibly making honey one second, and then aiming our stingers and shooting venom the next.
According to the letter to the Hebrews, God made Jesus - the pioneer of our salvation - "perfect through sufferings." Jesus exposed himself to our venom so that he could identify completely with our suffering and death, and so that he could have a full understanding of the human condition.