Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Recent News From Our Blue Brothers in Aleppo

Note:  We hear of constant bombings in Aleppo and wonder what's happening to our Blue Brothers and their work.  How they are surviving is a miracle.  As well as our prayers for the earthquake victims in Ecuador, let us not forget the on-going suffering, fear and desperation in Aleppo. Below is a first-hand report.
Bro. Rene
The situation in Aleppo is very dramatic. Western media is talking about the destruction of a hospital but doesn't focus on the rest of the reality in Aleppo.
It's an inferno. Yesterday we had to spend an hour in the corridor of the community to protect ourselves from the mortars that fell in the neighbourhood. With all that, we were able to distribute the monthly food baskets to 400 families.
People are afraid. And I confess that for the first time I feel the horror... The Blood.... The hate... The destruction… The death...  I feel like anything can happen at any time. I feel like the forces of evil have filled the hearts of the people of Aleppo with an unforgettable fear.
I feel that it is not the time to complain... So much pain- we need to get out from under our fear to serve a forgotten people.
 As a Marist, it is crucial to be very close to each person who is suffering.  It's great to open the doors of the community. It's important to be available despite the risks. This may mean walking on an empty, dangerous street, or driving a person to his house, or consoling a family whose child has been killed. This is a presence, a solidarity with the wounded of war. This is what it means to be Marist, a community of men, women, brothers, young people, and adults.
It's important to entertain a field of prayer that gives hope. I mean Jesus and Maria, whom you can count on.
Thank you for your fraternity. Your support and that of our Brother Emili (Superior General of the Marist Brothers) as well as all the Marists around the world offers us hope and relief.
A Hug,
Br. George Sabe, FMS
(Translated from Spanish)

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Monday, May 2, 2016

Uniting The Church

These are tumultuous times for our Church.  Controversy over doctrine, morality;  internal, personal scandals and external pressures from actual physical persecution to the media's barrages, direct or subtle seem to indicate that the Church is full of divisive cracks enough to make it tumble into ruin.  A calm look at history reveals that even at the very beginning, there was division.  Yesterday, we heard the decision of the "Council of Jerusalem regarding the admission of Gentiles directly into the Church without having to be circumcised.  Today we celebrate St. Athanasius, who defended the creed of the Council of Nicea against the Arians, whose teachings, so divisive for a couple of centuries, finally disappeared.  Pope Francis is taking bold steps to address the pressing issues of our times, the ones the press has deemed so pressing, and his statements, sometimes unclear, have given food to the media to press their point of view and play up the current divisions.  Through all of this we need to trust the promise of Jesus at the ascension, "I am with you to the end of the age." (Mt 28: 20).  He urged them to be witnesses and go out an preach to all the nations, guided by the Holy Spirit whom he would and did send on Pentecost.  Over the centuries there have been challenges, but through the workings of men and women over time, the truth has always emerged, for the Holy Spirit indeed works through the human process.  "It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and us..." (Acts15: 28).  May we not panic or become discouraged, for our present difficulties will be resolved; this Holy Spirit is as much with us today as in the first days of the Church.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Putting Us At Ease

"Do not let your hearts be troubled of afraid." (Jn 14:27). As Jesus prepares to leave his Apostles, like any good friend, or parent, he assures them "not to worry; everything will work out and be fine."  It seems the last thing he wants is for them to be afraid, uneasy, unsure, uncertain, worried, and anxious.  He GIVES them peace, (doesn't just offer it)  not a peace based on wealth or comfort, as the world gives it, but a peace that comes from the Holy Spirit.  He mentions the Advocate, the Holy Spirit 5 times during his "Priestly Prayer" (Jn 17) and certainly at Pentecost, they finally understood what he meant, and began to live and preach boldly.  Their days of hiding in the upper room were over.  The peace that Jesus promised was theirs for sure.
As we take time on this Sabbath, this Day Of Rest, may we sink our teeth into these promises of Jesus, and ask the Holy Spirit to free us from worry, anxiety and fear, and put us fully at ease.
Bro. Rene

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Growing In Prayer

If we are taking the teachings of Jesus seriously and doing our best to imitate him and grow more completely in love with him and in love of neighbor, taking the advice of a spiritual director and reading books on spirituality and prayer, we might find ourselves longing for more TIME for prayer. How else are we going to accomplish this goal?  We might desire to have the leisure to ponder as Mary did and allow the word of God to fall like seed on the fertile soil of our hearts and just grow and grow. We are frustrated, however, for as much as we try to find the TIME, it eludes us, a victim of our "duties of state". i.e. the things we have to do because of our roles, our jobs, or because the needs of others call us to give of ourselves beyond what we have planned, to eat into that precious time we have allotted for prayer.  What are we to do?   We are caught.
However, a close look at the lives of Jesus and Mary does not reveal the luxury of pondering daily for endless hours;  they were busy.  With Jesus, it was walking from place to place, hours preaching, teaching and healing;  with Mary, the duties of wife and mother without the microwave or the washing machine that lighten those household tasks today.  For them, it was those very roles, duties and tasks that produced the fruit that comes from prayer:  service to others.  Fr. Ron Rolheiser calls this "the prayer of charity,"  Done with love, the most ordinary things can be the imitation of Jesus and Mary that we hope to accomplish.   May we then go about our days with peace and joy, knowing that we are following in these sacred footsteps that lead us to union with our Father.
Bro. Rene

Friday, April 29, 2016

What A Friend

In today's Gospel passage, Jesus calls us his friends:  "You are my friends if you do what I command you.... I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you...."  (Jn 15: 15b, 16)  This is a fitting passage on the Memorial of St. Catherline of Siena, whose love for Jesus resulted in intimate visions, ecstasies and eventually the stigmata.  We might for a moment pine for such a friendship with Jesus, but for most of us with our daily duties and multiple distractions, perhaps the best we can do is seek a friendship on the level of a best friend, a friendly card or letter from time to time, or, as extoled in the old classic, What A Friend We Have in Jesus,  a relationship to the one who gives us peace, ability to bear pain, strength in trial and temptation, hope in discouragement and sorrow, knowing that he is always at our side and closer in prayer. Humming or singing this hymn often could strengthen our friendship and perhaps lead it to deeper levels.

Brad Paisley - What A Friend We Have In Jesus...

Bro. Rene 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

All For Love

As Jesus prepares for his passion, death, resurrection and ascension to his Father, he repeats in different ways his command to love one another.  "As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love."  (Jn 15: 9).  Today, the Church honors two men whose lives, mission and message illustrate that selfless, unconditional and universal love:  St. Peter Chanel and St. Louis de Montfort.  St. Louis remains a popular advocate of devotion to our Blessed Mother as his consecration to Mary spreads widely among Marial devotees.  Less popular is St. Peter Chanel, (except where the Marist Family has served.  His early desire to be a missionary, his patient obedience in awaiting the opportunity to fulfill his dream, and his martyrdom on the Island of Fotuna after four years of evangelizing, including learning their difficult language, give us a model for our Marist spirituality.  As we approach our 200th anniversary in 2017, the Marist Brothers are observing "The Year of Fourviere", for it was in the hilltop church of Our Lady of Fourviere, that overlooks the city of Lyon, that 12 young seminarians pledged before the statue of Our Lady, that they would begin a society of priests, brothers, sisters and laypeople dedicated to her (The Society of Mary). with the purpose of making her Son known and loved, particularly among the poor and neglected. So, we as the Marist Family claim St. Peter Chanel as "our saint" along with St. Marcellin Champagnat. His zeal, determination and patience serve as an inspiration to live out the command to love, no matter how far it takes us...even to the point of martyrdom.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Abide In Me

Community Service seems to be a healthy trend that's growing daily...schools, private and public, require it and even the judicial system is assigning it rather than incarceration.  There is a spiritual component to service, from teamwork, to growth in community; from reflection on the work to prayer.  Some do not see the connection to the spiritual world, and would prefer just to "serve", just to do the work involved.   But, the true value of service comes from union with the VINE...where the juices of grace provide the fruit which comes from our labors, our service.  "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing." (Jn 15: 5)
Let us abide in Jesus and bear that fruit which will last.
Bro. Rene