Monday, January 18, 2021

Marianist Monday

January 2021 

My dear friends from Chaminade, Kellenberg Memorial, and St. Martin de Porres Marianist School,

Happy New Year!

We certainly pray and hope that 2021 will be a better year for all than 2020! 

As I look forward to this new year, I suggest one word that I think would be helpful for all of us in 2021 – reconciliation. We live in a very fragmented world. You may remember back in high school, you pledged allegiance daily to “. . . one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” Sad to say, we no longer have one nation. Our country is no longer under God. We are deeply divided, and we have become more and more aware that liberty and justice do not exist for all. We are also painfully aware that our Church also suffers deep divisions. And while for many families the pandemic was a time for drawing closer to one another, for others it was a time of further separation and alienation. In addition, many of us have struggled to be at peace with ourselves. Witness the tremendous number of deaths from suicides and overdoses, particularly among young people. 

The words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn express the depth of our dilemma: If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them! But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? 

The beautiful feast of Christmas, which we have just finished celebrating, marks the opening moment in the drama of grace that enables us to overcome the alienation from God wrought by our first parents, Adam and Eve, and to restore again that harmony and love among us that was lost in the Garden of Eden. The angels sang at Christmas “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people of good will.” The ordering of these words is important – first glory to God, then peace on earth. We cannot be at peace with one another if we have not strengthened our relationship with God. Simply put, become one with God, and then the path to harmony with others will be more readily opened. In the Second Reconciliation Canon, as we address our prayer to our heavenly Father, we acknowledge the power of our heavenly Father to change our hardened hearts: . . . by your Spirit, you move human hearts, that enemies may speak to each other again, adversaries join hands, and peoples seek to meet together. By the working of your power, it comes about, O Lord, that hatred is overcome by love, revenge gives way to forgiveness, and discord is changed to mutual respect. 

The words of Mahatma Gandhi provide a good guideline for our efforts to bring about reconciliation in the world today: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” So, with these words in mind, here are some questions for you, that might lead to some New Year’s resolutions. Glory to God • Do I attend Mass each weekend? • Do I pray every day in the morning and evening, perhaps using the Magnificat as a source of prayer? Peace on Earth to People of Good Will • Is there something in my past that I cannot forgive myself for? Perhaps, the Sacrament of Reconciliation or sharing with a friend would release you from this burden. • Have I asked for forgiveness from anyone I might have offended in the past? A difficult task to do, but the word forgiveness itself has embodied in it give before, i.e., make the first gesture in a relationship where there is alienation and conflict. • Can I change my patterns of demonizing others with whom I disagree and replace my demonizing thoughts, words, and deeds with kindness and openness to the humanity of the other person? • Can I build up others with words of positive affirmation rather than tear them down with negativity, sarcasm, and snarky comments? • Can I increase kind words and kind deeds in my life, perhaps even carrying out occasional random acts of kindness? 

Pope Francis has told you young people that you are not the future of the Church; you are the Church! You are daily building up the New Jerusalem, come down from heaven. May you open your hearts to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and echo Mary’s words of acceptance: “Be it done unto me according to your will.” 

On behalf of all my Marianist Brothers, 

Fr. Garrett Long, S.M.