Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Growth of the Loaf

Note: after a long absence, Bro. Rene's Daily Bread will now appear as usual, thanks to help and instruction from Br. Sean Sammon.

When yeast is mixed with basic flour, water and a bit of sugar, kneaded and allowed to rise in a warm place, the mixture will double in size, if not triple. An amazing phenomenon to a first-time bread baker, but to a veteran, something expected and rarely disappointing.  There are days when the kneading, rolling and rising are exceptionally easy.  A lot depends on the mood and disposition of the baker:  when stressed, he or she tends to have to fight a dough which seems to have set up its own resistance. Other days, when the baker is peaceful and calm, the dough is supple and compliant and yields a large loaf of light, airy bread.
So it is with the "Kingdom of God" or the work of evangelization. When the evangelizer is at peace and in concert with God's will, the results grow beyond expectation; when under pressure or stress, the evangelizer finds limited success.  It's all God's work, but there is something to be said about the disposition of his intermediary.  If chosen for this task, (and we all are to varying degrees), the first step is to prepare for it by "relaxing in the Lord":  turning the job over to him and letting our hands be his instruments. It is then that God's work can be done most effectively without interference from us.
Bro.  Rene

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Preach to All

Fittingly, today´s Gospel from Luke 10: 1-9, underscores Luke´s beautiful proclamation of Jesus' mission of healing to a vast collection of sinners, the ill, and the grieving.  He shows the compassionate, warm, understanding and loving side of Jesus who takes time to touch, be touched, and forgive.  We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Luke, the physician and artist, whose feast we celebrate today,  for this picture of a sensitive, very human Jesus and for details about is mother and birth that we don´t find in the other Gospels.  Knowing who Mary is, helps us to understand Jesus, and helps us as Marists to further appreciate who we are and what our mission is: to proclaim him to ALL, excluding no one,  by our sensitivity, warmth, presence, compassion, forgiveness and healing.  We teach about him by who we are and by our actions more than by our words.  St. Luke, thank you for helping us to see Jesus as approachable and compassionate, and help us to become more like him so that we may be effective witnesses and proclaimers.
Bro. Rene
Note:  tomorrow is "moving day" to Manziana...not sure if there will be time to post a slice of bread, or access to the internet until we "get settled."  Will try, but no promises...

Monday, October 17, 2016

Mary's Love

Note:  After a week of vain attempts to send a slice of daily bread, Eurika...in Rome, I have finally succeeded in typing without losing a word after hitting the space bar.  I don´t know what happened to my I Pad, but until I got "on board" with this PC, I have been frustrated and disappointed.  Let me now share my joy with you all.

Three days at Fatima overlapping the Vigil on October 12th and the International Mass on the 13th, assured me of Mary´s unending love for all of us.  The little Cove where Mary appeared in 1917 has become a splendid shrine dominated by an imposing basilica, an underground museum and series of chapels, a huge square,  and a second modern church seating 8,600.  The original chapel constructed after the apparitions is still there and the location of the bush on which Mary appeared is marked by a marble pillar on which stands the revered statue of Our Lady of Fatima with a crown in which the bullet that nearly killed St. John Paul II is encased.  Pilgrims pray on their knees, sing, an honor Mary´s request by praying the Rosary.  Whatever the village of Fatima was 99 years ago, it has now become a welcoming city with hotels, restaurants and religious goods stores to accommodate the thousands who come each year.  As at Lourdes and Medjugorje, the local economy has benefited from Mary´s presence and the faith of her followers.
But over and above these material things, her plea for prayer, penance and a more complete adherence to the teachings of Jesus and the loving compassion with which she has repeated her request over the centuries is the most compelling justification for Fatima and the other major centers of Marian devotion.  Her love for us is so great that she tries with loving patience to help us "get it."  Few have tried harder than Pope St. John Paul II and now Pope Francis.  May we, in the best way we can, begin today to put our faith into practice, live it publicly as well as privately and let the world know that our only help, hope and happiness are in God.
Bro. Rene

Monday, October 10, 2016

Seeking Signs

The desire for a "sign" resides in all of us.  We seek a sign in making a career choice, answering a call to the priesthood or religious life, or even who to vote for.  The people who heard Jesus and saw his healings also asked for a sign, exasperating him who was present right before their eyes.  Humans can be "blind",  I can be blind and miss the obvious. Thank God that he is patient with us and from time to time does give us a sign that seems to pop up from the nowhere, or from the obvious.
Today I leave for Fatima, where I've never been, and then go to  Manziana, Italy, where I visited briefly in 1999, and this Scripture verse just "happened to pop up" this morning:   "I will lead the blind on their journey;/ by paths unknown, I will guide them./ I will turn their darkness into light before them,/ and make crooked ways straight. These things I do for them,/ and I will not forsake them." (Is 42:16).  These words were written 700 years before Christ, yet they apply to me TODAY and to what lies ahead on this Sabbatical!  God's love is always present and, knowing us intimately, gives us a boost now and then to reassure us that he's with us.
You will all be in my prayers and I will try to send a daily slice of bread.
Bro. Rene 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Praise and Gratitude

From our youth we have been taught to "say thank you."  If the message has "stuck" it is a way of life.  It's amazing, however, to read in today's Gospel of the Ten lepers, of the ingratitude of the Nine.
St. Bernard has some rather harsh words to describe the lack of gratitude:  "Ingratitude is the enemy of our souls, the annihilation of our merits, the scattering of our virtues, the loss of our benefactions  Ingratitude is a burning wind, drying up the fountain of piety, the dew of mercy.  Nothing so displeases God, especially the children of grace, For ingratitude obstructs the pats of grace, and where there is ingratitude grace no longer finds access and has not place." Wow!
Yet, the one leper, having had a physical healing, an amazing experience in itself, as anyone who has been healed through medicine or prayer (or both) can attest, first glorifies God and then says thank you to Jesus.  Praise comes first, then thanks.  He acknowledged the power of God, the grace of God even before concentrating on his own healing.  He teaches us the true place of gratitude, as the occasion to acknowledge and praise God.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Power of the Rosary

While Christians were fighting the Turks at Lepanto in 1571, St. Peter's Square was filled with people praying the Rosary.  The Turks were defeated and the Pope instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, attributing the victory to Mary's intercession.   A few years later, the feast was changed to Our Lady of the Rosary and has become a universal commemoration to honor Mary and Jesus through the repetition of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be and meditation on the life of Jesus and Mary.  What a combo!  Mother and Son before us, in our hearts and on our lips for as long as it takes to pray the five decades.
Mary's presence continues in our world through various apparitions and she always recommends the Rosary.  At Fatima 99 years ago, on the 13th of this month, Mary appeared for the last time, wowing (even scaring) the 79,000 people gathered there with the "Miracle of the Sun"...when it seemed that the sun was dancing and  plunging to the earth.  Her message of praying the Rosary has been perpetuated with some degree of success, but evidently, we need to put her request into action more faithfully.  Our days are so busy that we find if hard to set aside 15-20 minutes for this powerful prayer.  A look at today's world should be motivation enough for us to MAKE time for it
Bro. Rene
Note:  As providence would have it, I will be in Fatima on October 13th this year, and you can be sure I'll be praying for all of you.      

This slice somehow ended in "draft" and I just noticed it this morning... Naturally, it was meant for October 7th...Sorry!   

Pondering in Faith

Again we look at Mary's Way and find Jesus praising his mother for hearing the Word and observing it. (Lk 11:28).  She accepted the Word when Gabriel announced God's plan/invitation to her, and as she raised the child, watched him grow into manhood, then leave to work his mission, she accepted.  Perhaps there were many questions going through her mind, but she learned to live without the answers, pondering all in faith.
How many times do we look for answers, not having yet learned to live without them?  May Mary's example penetrate our hearts and free us to find peace in accepting God's invitations, plans, and the diverse paths he asks us to follow.  As Mary did, we will find all converges in HIM.  Blessed then will we be.
Bro. Rene