Sunday, February 1, 2015

God's Word Is Our Salvation

With all the hoopla surrounding "Super Sunday":  the TV ads, the food and drink at the "Super Parties", the victory, we might forget the every Sunday is a "Super Sunday" as we attend Mass and feed on the Word of God and the Holy Eucharist.  These are what nourish, bring us together, give life and victory. Here at the Encounter we heard a moving testimony of how the gift of a Bible changed a man's entire life:  he went from atheist to devout, energetic youth minister who touches the hearts of others with his faith and music.  In our small group, we gave out copies of the New Testament to each student, with highlighted passages that seemed tailor-made for each person.  The students were amazed at how apropos the verses were for each of them (the Holy Spirit was with us when we made the choices) and were sparked into wanting to delve more into God's Word, pledging to read a chapter a day.   May their enthusiasm rub off onto us and lead us step by step daily to our eternal salvation.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Jesus Calms the Storm

Again we read about another storm on the Sea of Galilee in today's Gospel (Mk 4:35-41); this time Jesus is in the boat asleep.  How tired he must have been!  Many of us know the feeling!  The disciples, seasoned fishermen, some of them, are again worried, and wake him.  The storm stops, but the rebuke from Jesus is the same:  "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" (Mk 4:40).  The YET is important for them and for us...  How many times have we let fear terrorize us after many years and reassurances that there is nothing to fear.  God is with us, has a plan for us, takes care of us better than we do for ourselves, will not let us perish or bear a burden beyond our strength (his strength, if we give the fear over to him) and in the end, everything will turn out all right?  Again and again we have to be rebuked and taught; but God never seems to tire of us and our slowness to learn.
May we humbly ask him to bear with our "disability" and continue to repeat the same lessons until we finally grasp them.
Bro. Rene

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Wilderness Rejoices"

If a mustard seed can grow into large bushes or trees where birds can find refuge, and if seed sown on the earth can sprout and yield an abundant harvest of grain, how much more can God's grace transform the wilderness of our hearts, illness, death of a loved one, or a tragic accident into a bright meadow where flowers sparkle in the sun and indeed, the "wilderness rejoices?"  So it is here at the beginning of this Marist Youth Encounter Christ retreat in Esopus, NY where 56 eager juniors and seniors have entered into such a transformation.  We pray and sacrifice that by Sunday we will witness a harvest of joy.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Letting Our Lamp Shine

Whatever gifts we have been given, are not just for ourselves.  That would be like hiding them under a bushel basket, as we read in today's Gospel from Mark (4:21-25).
 A touching story on this morning's news describes a popular football player asking a handicapped classmate to their senior prom.  What joy filled that girl's face; his face too was radiant with joy, for he saw that he had made a major impact on her and her rather restricted life. Whatever ridicule he risked never happened; rather his simple action inspired his whole school and millions of viewers who saw the story.  That's letting the light shine!
We can all find something to do today, a word or encouragement, a promise of prayer, a phone call, and e-mail, that will let the light of Christ we have been given shine in the life of someone else.
Beginning tonight at our Marist Center in Esopus, NY, over 50 students will begin a Marist Youth Encounter Christ retreat, where college age students will share their faith, let their light shine to these high school students.  You can be part of the light, by offering a prayer or sacrifice for us.  Thank you.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nurturing the Soil

No, we're not talking about spring planting...yet!...but as we remember St. Thomas Aquinas today, it seems appropriate to see what we can do to make the soil of our souls more welcoming to the seed of God's Word.  In today's Gospel, Jesus describes the seed falling on the path where the birds ate it up; other fell on rocky ground where the lack of soil caused the shoots to wither in the hot sun; some fell among thorns and were choked to death without producing grain; finally, some fell on rich ground and produced a huge harvest. (cf. Mk 4: 1-8).  Thomas spent his life studying, pondering, teaching and writing about the Seed, the Word of God, and did his best to prepare souls to receive it.  Seeds don't flourish without tilling, watering and weeding.  So too must the soul be stirred by study, watered with love-in-action and purged of what prevents it from doing both. We listen prayerfully and reflectively to the Word; we share our thoughts about it with others, and we live it. In so doing, we provide the rich soil that will bring forth the hundred fold harvest.  This prayer composed by St. Thomas will help and serves as a guide for Catholic Schools as they celebrate their unique mission this week:

Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your brilliance penetrate the darkness of my understanding. Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born—an obscurity of sin and ignorance. Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
St. Thomas Aquinas
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

We Need A Winter In Our Lives

As we in New England sit imprisoned in our homes where we cannot leave nor can anyone enter, and as the winds howl and swirl the snow in circles around us, this day can be a precious gift, as is the season of winter.  A friend sent this poem that can give added meaning to this day:

Heavenly Father,
We need a winter in our lives
a time of rest, a time to stand still
a time to acquaint ourselves with the faith in which we live.

It is only then that we can draw strength
from the one in whom we are rooted
take time to grow and rise through the darkness
into the warm glow of your springtime

to blossom and flourish
bring color to your world
your garden.

Thank you Father
for the seasons of our lives.

May we be open to the gifts of time and rest that this day will bring.
Bro.  Rene

Monday, January 26, 2015

Catholic Schools Week

Ironically,  Catholic Schools Week begins with the threat of cancellations due to weather, but at least we are here today.  Fittingly, the Memorial of the Day is Sts. Timothy and Titus, dear friends of St. Paul and early bishops.  Paul urges Timothy recall that his faith was nurtured by his grandmother and mother, something to be noted as we in the schools, merely continue and enhance what should be the duty of the family:  to educate their children in the faith and to model it for them.  We do our best in these areas, but it is really in the Catholic Family that Catholic Education begins.
Bro. Rene