Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Canadian Treat

Spending a few days with retired missionaries was like taking a drink from the fountain of life.  These men, in their 80's and some in their 90's, are still going strong and having the chance to tell their stories brought out their youthful, daring hearts once more.  These men went to Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Zambia in their twenties, not knowing English, nor much about African  Culture, but left a mark in these countries that is indelible.  They opened a teacher training college as well as several primary and secondary schools, and laid the foundation for the current prosperity of these countries through education, both  in the faith and in purely academic subjects.  The schools they started continue under the administration of local Marist Brothers.  Young men are joining in numbers sufficient enough to insure a strong Marist presence for years to come.
Having just spoken in six parishes over the summer seeking support of our Marist Missions, and having so far received very generous responses, I feel further kinship with the missionaries who are in the field today.  Mustering up financial and prayerful support will enable wonderful works abroad to continue.  Join with me in those prayers for missionaries as well as in gratitude for all who have and are serving in the missions today.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Trusting One Another

Note:  Three of us brothers are leaving shortly to visit some of our Canadian Brothers at Chateau Richier (between Quebec City and Ste. Anne de Beaupre).  Can't be sure of internet access again.  Many interruptions between Mass and now make only one little thought possible. We'll be praying for you.

Where would the world be if we didn't trust one another?  God, the source of all trust shares his trust with us and asks us to share it with others.   Let's put this day in God's hands and at the same time, show more than the usual trust in our family, co-workers and friends...
Bro. Rene

Monday, August 31, 2015

Bro. Rene's Raiders

Thousands of people gathered yesterday to take part in the growingly popular Spartan Races sponsored by Reebok at a remote farm in Barre, Massachusetts; among them were Bro. Rene's Raiders, a small team of one teacher and four students.  It was the first of such races for them, so, not knowing ahead of time what to expect, they learned the hard way, step by step of the 5 mile course filled with challenges and obstacles, which demanded stamina, determination and strength.  They crawled over bales of hay, climbed fences, ducked under barbed wire, plunged into streams and jumped over smokey, smoldering hay.  Finishing was a major accomplishment, no matter how long it took; for our boys, it was 2 hours and fifteen minutes.  Like all  the other runners, they were covered with mud and sweat at the finish line.  They took the "punishment" willingly, as we had mentioned in an earlier slice of bread, to raise money for the new Marist high school in Bangladesh, St. Marcellin High School.  The final tally is not available yet, but just the effort these young men made alone is worth its weight in gold.  They definitely poured "sweat equity" into this new school.  Thank you, Bro. Rene's Raiders!
Bro. Rene

Friday, August 28, 2015

Wandering Youth

It's sad, if not frightening, to read about the defection of thousands of "Millennials" from the Faith of their Fathers, Mothers, or maybe we should say, Grandfathers and Grandmothers.  A Poll in May revealed a growing number of "Nones" to the question: "To which denomination do you associate yourself?"  Alternatives are sought, offered, ranging from poetry readying to just sitting.  As we look on, we experience the sadness of Monica as she watched her Augustine swept away by the tide of his day.  She prayed and shed tears, and finally, his search for truth led him to discover THE TRUTH.  "Oh late have I loved, thee, O Beauty Everlasting."  With his passion for truth now rightly directed, he made a huge difference in our world through his writings and sermons.  We might liken todays Millennials to the wandering Augustine who will someday arrive at the Truth and pursuit it with a passion that would bring a smile to the faces of their grandparents.  They may not see this now, as neither did Augustine in his youth, but with our Monica prayers and faith, it will happen.
Bro. Rene
Note:  I will not have internet access Saturday and Sunday, so there will be no slice of bread offered then.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Subborn Mother's Love

In the last long conversation with her son Augustine in Ostia, outside of Rome, Monica asked, "Why am I still here?  My work is done.  I have seen you baptized, and now there is nothing on earth that can bring me delight."  Five days later, she died of a fever and was buried in Ostia.
Her life had been a trial:  married to a philandering and violent man, Patricius, she suffered much abuse from him, but her prayers were answered and he converted before his death.  Her brilliant but wayward son, Augustine, was the source of more pain as he dabbled in Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, took on a concubine and fathered a son out of wedlock. She followed him to Milan where he tried to escape her, but could not escape the effect of her prayers, and already converted by St. Ambrose, he was baptized in her presence by him.  What joy filled her heart!  She was ready to die in peace; her life's work was over, her stubborn love had prevailed.
When we are in doubt about the effectiveness of our prayers we think of Monica and are consoled.  In addition to being such an inspiration and consolation, she is also the patroness of alcoholics, victims of abuse and adultery, of widows, and mothers facing family difficulties--all very current situations that need such an advocate.  Let us not, then,  hesitate to call on this woman of remarkable faith and stubborn love.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sharing With The Poor

Pope Francis will be known as the Pope of the Poor.  It is with intention and purpose that in almost every statement he makes, he mentions the poor and keeps prodding all of us to share what we have with them.  This is no new message:  In Psalm (33/34) we read that "The Lord hears the cry of the poor" (v. 17) and also in Psalm 69:33, "the Lord takes care of the needy."   St. John Chrysostom, one of the early Church Fathers, spoke of the discrepancy between gold threaded altar cloths and gold chalices, while outside the church people in rags were shivering with the cold and their empty stomachs.  He was quick to say, these are incompatible, and in our modern jargon, we would say, "unacceptable."  He said that it is not wrong to honor he Lord with golden vessels, but only AFTER we have taken care of the poor.
We pass panhandlers on the streets, (and wonder how legit they are), our daily mail is full of solicitations, and the phone often rings with pleas for this or that cause.  It is maddening, to say the least, but this constant hammering in line with the Pope's messages should make us stop and evaluate our use of goods, money, time and talent.  And certainly the institutional Church, though it does much already and has huge financial burdens, still needs to stop and look at lifestyle and the way it disperse funds donated by the people in the pews.  Lord, if I were poor, how grateful I'd be if someone would hear my cry for help.  Let me not be deaf to the cry of the poor.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Psalm 37

The Psalter, the collection of 150 Psalms of David and other authors, is, in my estimation, the best "prayer book" around.  Every situation, every emotion or need we experience, has already be experienced and reflected upon by these prayerful writers who both affirm what we are going through or offering sound advice, through the Holy Spirit, to help us face our situation.  Psalm 37 is a long and rich psalm that can serve as fodder for meditation for days.  For example, the first 9 verses are rich in wisdom, comfort and assurance:
Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit you way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.
Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him;
Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.
Cease from anger, and forsake wrath;
Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. Ps 37: 1-9)

If something leaps out at you, then stick with it; this is how you nourish your soul.
Bro. Rene