Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dominus Flevit

On  a hill above the city of Jerusalem stands a church knows as Dominus Flevit, The Lord Wept.  Tradition holds that this is the spot where Jesus uttered the familiar words, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stoned those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling." (Lk 13: 34).
I stood in that church in July of 1977 and can attest to the view of Jerusalem and the Latin inscription on one of the walls of the church.
Today this passage resonates with the troubles still going on in the Middle East and Jerusalem, but could also be applied to the troubles going on within each one of us.  We insist on carrying our burdens and transgressions and ignoring the mercy Jesus extends to us.  If he were willing to forgive those who killed the prophets, how much more is he willing to forgive us?  The image of the hen gathering her young is powerful and reassuring:  Jesus sheds tears for us, not for our sins, but for our unwillingness to accept his mercy and be gathered under those tender wings.  May we set aside our fears or our self-sufficiency and allow the mercy of Jesus to set us free and put us on a new road of inner peace, trust and confidence.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Narrow Gate

As we move toward the conclusion of our liturgical year, the readings begin to focus on the Judgment we will face at the end of our lives.  May we live in such a way, that God recognizes us and does not greet us with the chilling words, "I do not know where you are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers."  (Lk 13: 27)  Jesus tell us that the way to him is through the narrow gate, that is, within the parameters he has set up for us:  love of God, of neighbor, putting God first, others second, and ourselves third.  It is a matter of doing what he wants, not what we want; it is in actions, good actions, not simply empty words.  It means going against natural inclinations, with self- discipline and control, not simply doing what we feel like doing.  Indeed it is clear that not everyone will pass through this narrow gate.  Let us watch, be vigilant, reflect on our actions and relationships with others, and make the changes necessary to fit through this gate.  These days before and during Advent are designed to help us.  Let us take advantage of them.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Triple Feast

The Church honors Saints Simon and Jude, apostles today and the Marist World is using this "Montagne Day" to launch its "Montagne Year".  What do they have in common?  Simon, known as the Zealot either for his great zeal, or because he belonged to a sect known as the Zealots before answering the call to follow Jesus, and Jude, famous for resolving hopeless cases and for his short Epistle, became foundation stones for the early church.  They taught, they preached the Word they both heard and experienced.
Jean-Baptiste Montagne, the 17 year old dying lad that St. Marcellin visited on this day in 1816 became the catalyst for the founding of the Little Brothers of Mary.  St. Marcellin was so appalled by JB's lack of knowledge of the faith that he decided then it was time to bring into reality a dream he had of starting a congregation of teaching brothers who would devote their lives to the Christian Education of youth so that the ignorance of the faith he experienced with Jean-Baptiste would never occur again.  He found two young men who agreed to help with this project and two months later moved in to a poor but adequate residence to form the first Marist community. As Jesus called Simon and Jude to follow him, so did Marcellin call these two young men.
This incident sets the theme for the coming year of preparation for the 200th anniversary of the founding of the Marist Brothers.  We will be focusing on our mission to make Jesus known and loved and be studying ways to make it more effective for our day and for the next hundred years.  It's a global process and with all those Marist Minds working together, something concrete and effective should emerge, it did on that October day nearly two hundred years ago.  May we all work together and pray together to continue the Marist Mission with the zeal of St. Simon and the hope provided by St. Jude.
Bro. Rene

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's the Striving that Counts

In our attempts to match the unconditional love God showers upon us, we might feel inadequate that our efforts yield little progress.  We don't have the same dedication or zeal, it seems, as the great saints and martyrs who gave so totally of themselves.  We go from day to day, year to year, pretty much the same without great signs and wonders, without great leaps into what we imagine sanctity to be. It is, however, the desire, the striving, the loving we do implement into our daily dealings with others through simple acts of kindness, an encouraging word or e-mail, a phone call, a pat on the back that God sees and embraces.  Though those simple things, love is transmitted, the same unselfish love that God gives to us.  We're doin' OK...for it's the striving that counts
Bro. Rene

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Loving God and Neighbor

Note:  Time is short as I rush to make a plane for San Antonio.

The two Great commandments bearing on love of God and love of neighbor sum up all of Jesus' teaching and provide a life-long challenge for us.  It's a pattern that begins as a small ripple from a stone thrown into a lake and gradually spreads as far as one can see.  Where is our ripple?  Does it compare with God's unconditional love of us?  With his help, all that bars us from loving totally can be removed.  Dear God, let me begin again and again to love without measure or restraintl
Bro. Rene

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Protection in our Weakness

As each day comes to a conclusion and we look back on what transpired, how we behaved, the good things we did, the things that make us cringe, and see that somehow God was present in it all, we realize that without his protection, faithfulness, forgiveness, and strength to find resilience, we would be a sorry lot indeed.  By taking time to reflect on our lives, we see what needs to be done by way of improvement but we also see how present God is, never quitting on us. even when we might want to quit on ourselves.  With his help we can pull it together as we saw in the Central Catholic vs Chelmsford football game last night.  Central was behind 31-21 with 2:44 left to go.  Pretty bleak, but in a rousing three play drive, the Raiders scored, got an onside kick, scored again along with a two point conversion, and won 35-31.  The team never gave up.  Yes, it's a football game, but a real life example of what we can do when we feel overwhelmed or even defeated by our persistent weakness.
It is when we admit our weakness that we are strong, for God's protection against our weakness is always there.
Bro. Rene

Friday, October 24, 2014

Living Worthily of the Call

In a familiar passage from his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul urges us "to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace; one Body and one Spirit as you were called to the one hope of your call; one Lord,one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Eph 4:1-6). Paul's enthusiasm carries him passionately from one idea to another, quoting even a hymn, (one Lord, one faith, one baptism), and lumping everything together till he sums up the perfect pattern for a way of life and for a perfect community.  Each phrase deserves reflection and application to our own situation.  How humble,  gentle and patient  am I in dealing with myself, let alone with others?  Is there division between myself and another person?  If so, what will I do to reconcile with that person?  Do I see God as Father?  Do I allow Jesus to keep me close and give me what I need, or do I stand apart and aloof, thinking I can do it all on my own?  There is much food for thought in today's slice of bread. Let us not swallow it too quickly, but digest it slowly.
Bro. Rene