Sunday, July 24, 2016

Living The Lord's Prayer

As often as we pray the OUR FATHER, there always seems to be the opportunity to delve more deeply into it.  We have further insight into this beloved prayer from Robin  Ryan, CP,  a professor at  Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and Pope Benedict XVI:
The Lord's Prayer is much more than just a prayer that we say; it is also meant to be a prayer that we live. Cyprian of Carthage, a third century bishop and martyr wrote, "My dear friends, the Lord's Prayer contains many great mysteries of our faith. In these few words there is great spiritual strength, for this summary of divine teaching contains all of our prayers and petitions." In the twentieth century, Pope Benedict XVI observed, "The meaning of the Our Father goes much further than the mere provision of a prayer text. It aims to form our being, to train us in the inner attitude of Jesus." When we pray the Lord's Prayer we enter into the world of Jesus and into the depths of his relationships with God and with others. We begin to view life, God, others and ourselves through his eyes. Praying these words with attention entails a training in vision.
May we not only pray these words from our hearts, but strive to put them into practice in our lives. They will help us see the world and others in a different way.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Birth of the Society of Mary

Today marks the 200th anniversary of a pledge made after Mass in front of the statue of Our Lady of Fourviere in the chapel dedicated her on a hill overlooking the city of Lyon, France. Twelve men, 8 ordained just the day before and 4 seminarians made up the even dozen who pledged to begin a Society of Mary, akin to the Society of Jesus, to work toward the initiation of a "Marian Church", a Church of mercy and compassion (as called for by Pope Francis), in which Mary, Mother of the Church, would be the model.  The Society of Mary was to be composed of priests, brothers, sisters and laity under one superior, but Rome rejected this progressive idea, declaring it to be too cumbersome.  Today there are four separate congregations and a growing group of laity who embrace the same mission as declared by the original Twelve:  the Marist Fathers, the Marist Brothers of the Schools, the Maris Sisters, the Marist Missionary Sisters and the Third Order of Mary, now evolving into the Marist Family Movement or simply, Lay Marists.
The Fourviere Conference at Long Beach, New Jersey earlier this week resurrected the original spirit of the pledge and today at the very same chapel of Our Lady of Fourviere, 450 Marist Youth attended an anniversary Mass and renewed the pledge.
There is a huge supply of energy and thrust being generated to propel all Marists into their third century with creative zeal and determination.  May Mary, our Good Mother continue to nurture and guide us into furthering the creation of a Marian Church. All are welcome to join.  Hop on board!
Bro. Rene

Friday, July 22, 2016

Christ's Burning Love

Traditionally, Fridays are dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but today we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene.  What a happy blend!  The heart of Jesus burns with a love more intense and faithful than the red hot scorching sun that rose again today over the horizon at Long Branch, New Jersey.  Mary's heart was deeply longing to locate the missing body of Jesus; her weeping was audible, her search, desperate. Seeing a man she thought to be the gardener, her first words demanded to know where he might have laid him. She had nothing else on her mind than to find Jesus. One word, her name, pronounced lovingly, enabled her to recognize him and she threw her arms around him, holding him as tight as possible. Love bound them together.  Jesus would not, could not, allow her heart to remain empty. 
This is the love we are called to trust, even in the most distressing circumstances...an unexpected accident that paralyzes or kills, the loss of a job, an argument with a loved one or the shocking news of stage four cancer. The natural question is, "Where is Jesus in this?"  The answer: He's there as loving as the faithful rising sun, or as the Rabbouni in the arms of Mary. He will call our name.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hearing And Seeing Through Parables

Jesus explained to his disciples why he spoke in parables:  "I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see, and hear but do not listen or understand." (Mt 13:13).  Do we fall into this category?  Do we choose to close our eyes and ears to the truth, to the needs of others?  The daily papers, mail, pleas on the internet keep us abreast of drought in South Africa, terrorist attacks, accidents and other atrocities.  It's so easy to ignore them and delete them from our consciousness. We can as easily miss the message of a beautiful sunrise or a full moon, the attentive care of a nurse or lifeguard, even the in the Word of God itself.  God has given us the freedom to chose.  The parables invite us to question, to probe, to seek a deeper meaning.  The parables of creation, the beauty of flowers, the endless flow of waves on the seashore, all have lessons for us.  Gently do the Word and Work of God present themselves to us; may we not ignore these overtures of God, for they are meant not only for our instruction, but for our healing.  Lord, let me not miss what is right in front of me today.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Fertile Ground

As the Marists around the world are bringing the Year of Fourviere to a close and preparing for the LaValla Year, the final stage commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Marist Brothers, today's Gospel fits perfectly.  Here at Long Branch, New Jersey, delegates from the four branches of the Society of Mary, the Marist Fathers, the Marist Sisters, the Marist Missionary Sisters, the Marist Brothers and the growing number of Lay Marists of all ages, we are seeing the enormous results of the seeds that were sown two centuries ago.  Indeed, those seeds have fallen on fertile ground.  Struggle, determination, FAITH, TRUST, HOPE and LOVE as vast as the ocean have been part of the cultivation of these seeds resulting in making Jesus known and loved to millions of people.  And hope springs eternal as the vitality of the Young Marist Adults touches the souls of the "Elder Marists" and assures them that the seeds will continue to mature, grow and spread even further than where they are now.  In one sense, our Marist Work and Mission are just beginning.  There is rocky soil, there are thorns and thistles, there are challenges and needs that impel us to find the same energy and motivations of the giants who walked before us and brought us to this point.  Our growth from dreams, visions, and hard work is a miracle and an assurance that this is not simply the work of humans, but truly Mary's way of nurturing and healing, and of making the ground fertile for the blossoming of the Kingdom of God.  Stay with us, Mary, continue to be our Mother and Gentle Guide. We will do whatever you tell us.
Bro .Rene

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Being Jesus's Mother


"Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother."  (Mt 12:50).  Consoling and challenging words...Much needed in our time, and much in line with our Marist Call to be the face of a nurturing, tender, merciful and mothering Church.   We have Mary as our model ad guide.  She noticed important details, as "they have no wine," and quietly made sure they were addressed:  "Do whatever he tells you."  (cf. Jn 2:5)
How many people are discouraged these days by the sights and sounds of violence, abroad and at home.  Appalling, scary, upsetting.   It seems that every day there's another shooting or explosion killing hundreds.  One can pose all kinds of questions...why, who's to blame, etc...  Investigations might give some answers but don't seem to STOP the escalating attacks on the innocent.  Is this not an important "detail" that needs attention?  It's time for the merciful face of Mary to look lovingly at our neighbor, to encourage the downhearted not to lose faith, but to find renewed energy, hope and strength, as did the 12 men who signed a pledge 200 years ago at the chapel of Our lady of Fourviere in Lyon, France to found the Society of Mary. Europe was reeling from the effects of the French Revolution and Napoleon's attempted conquests.  A time for despair, but also a time for hope and challenge under the protection of Mary. Millions have since been positively affected as a result of this pledge...so a renewal of the zeal of these men and under the protection of Mary our Good Mother is the order of the day.  Can we do it?
Bro. Rene

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Finding Signs

Because our human nature thrives on skepticism, it is common for people to ask for a "sign" to assure them that what they see or hear is true. Mary most often appears to children or teenagers, and every time they report the apparitions to authorities, they are confronted with the demand:  "Show is a sign." It was no different for Jesus.  In today's Gospel, some of the Scribes and Pharisees asked him for a sign, but he refused, saying that "no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah the prophet...three days in the belly of the whale, and Jesus in the tomb for three days.  It was only in retrospect that these words made sense.
And so, with us, when we look for a sign (and they still appear), they might be something simple, right under our noses.  Isn't the wonder of each day, the wonder of the universe, the human body, the uncountable number of species (some still being discovered) enough?  Lucky for us we have an all-patient God who bears with our unnecessary wishes for "confirmations" and signs...How about going about today saying, I believe. I trust.  Enough!
Bro. Rene