Monday, March 7, 2022

Marianist Monday

March 2022

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite Christian songs is Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father. You might remember hearing it often at XLT or on the morning announcements. For me, it’s one of those songs that gets stuck in my head for days at a time – whistling it down the hallway, singing it in the shower, playing it over and over while I’m working at my desk. While the melody and instrumentals are catchy, the lyrics
echo in my heart and my spiritual imagination, helping me to pray. The song is a gift to me, and I want to share with you my favorite verse and the refrain:

Oh, it's love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think
As You call me deeper still
As You call me deeper still

As You call me deeper still into love, love
You're a good, good Father
It's who You are, it's who You are,
it's who You are
And I'm loved by You
It's who I am, it's who I am, it's who I am

Sometimes we can get caught up in the idea that our worth depends on what we experience or
achieve: our GPA, our next internship, our good or poor health, our past relationships, or our tough
family situations, for example. The song reminds me that when I lose sight of God’s action in my life, it
is God who reminds me of who I am in His eyes. I am his beloved son, and He is my loving Father. St.
John Paul II sums up this truth perfectly, saying, “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures;
we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of His Son Jesus.”
We are truly brothers and sisters of Jesus, so God is our Father who calls us deeper into relationship with Him. Just this past September, Bro. Andrew and I were blessed to be able to embrace that vocation to deeper communion with God by professing final vows as Brothers of the Society of Mary. “Brother” is not just a nice title to describe a Marianist who is not a priest; it is a constant reminder to me that God the Father has created me to love each and every person in my life as if he or she were my brother or sister – because it is who I am as a consecrated religious.

In preparation for our final vows, Bro. Andrew and I made an incredible 30-day silent retreat
last summer. While challenging, the experience was a beautiful moment to step aside to hear the Lord
speak to me in silence and to fully embrace the vocation the Father has offered to me as a gift. Since the
time I started high school in 2007, I have been steadily growing in my relationship with Mary, the
Mother of Jesus, but I really wanted to deepen my devotion to St. Joseph, the husband of Mary. As I
prepared to consecrate myself to Mary for the rest of my life, I thought St. Joseph would be the perfect
patron saint to help me grow in my love for Jesus and Mary, just as he loved them during his life on

St. Joseph did not disappoint me in any way, and I knew I picked a good patron for the retreat
when I arrived at the retreat house in Columbus, Ohio and saw a tremendous statue of Jesus’ earthly
father. In fact, I realized that just as Jesus has a Good Father in Heaven, he has a good father on earth
too. While we know so little about St. Joseph, he was the man who showed Jesus and Mary the love of a father and husband. I spent many hours (I had a lot of time during 30 days of silence...) praying with
this quote by Blessed Chaminade about St. Joseph: “We wonder why the Gospel makes so little mention of St. Joseph. But did it not say everything when it taught us that he was the husband of Mary?”

So, what does any of this have to do with this letter? This month, we both begin the sacred season of Lent, and we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Husband of Mary. While you are trying to decide on your Lenten practices and sacrifices, I thought I could suggest three quick lessons that I learned from St. Joseph on while preparing to make my final vows. They are taken from the Litany of St. Joseph and line up with each of the vows that the Brothers profess. I hope they will be
meaningful to you and start you off on a good path this Lent.

St. Joseph, lover of poverty, pray for us! Poverty enables us to love God and others more than we love the good things in this world. Does that mean you should get rid of everything you have and start begging? I personally don’t think so, but can you try to live more simply this Lent? Give up the
daily Dunkin’ Donuts run or try to rely less on Amazon. Are you wasteful or greedy with your time?

Make a spiritual commitment to procrastinate less. Maybe plan to leave for class a few minutes earlier
and spend the extra few minutes praying a decade of the rosary (or call your mom on the walk to class!)
We have so much in our lives; what can you give up for a few weeks to help you grow closer to Jesus?
St. Joseph, most chaste spouse, pray for us! The virtue of chastity is all about integrity.

Our actions should correspond with the faith we believe in our hearts. Can you skip the raunchy songs
on your playlist? Do you practice modesty and self-control? If you’re struggling with this virtue, maybe
reach out to a spiritual friend or mentor for some advice. It’s never shameful or too late to ask for help!
St. Joseph, most obedient, pray for us! None of us likes being told what to do. The virtue of obedience helps us to be open to God’s action in our lives. I know I often get confused by nice phrases like “Just do God’s will.” What does that even mean? Take the days of Lent to trust that God’s will is simply to love the real people right in front of you at any given moment. Focus especially on listening to what they say to you. If you start there, you can’t go wrong.

Lent is a time to remember that God is our Good Father whose love for us is undeniable and who
desires to give us peace beyond our comprehension, not only in Eternal Life, but right here and right
now. If you are looking for something to help you pray, I would suggest sitting down somewhere quiet
and offering the lyrics of this song as your words to God in prayer. Remember that you are loved by
God, and take some time with St. Joseph, the man Jesus was happy to call his father on earth. I pray
that this Lent will be a blessed one!

In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,

Bro. Patrick Cahill, S.M.

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