Monday, June 27, 2016

A Prayerful Venture

The God of Surprises has brought us safely to Mexico, Main, to a lovely old farmhouse turned into a welcoming retreat center for the 8 Central girls and four adults who are accompanying them. Surprising also is the availability of Wi-Fi which brings you this little slice of bread. As you read it, we will be heading toward the home of Carol and Merwin, an elderly couple whose home is in much need of repair. We'll do what we can, but we trust that in the spirit of the Visitation, our presence will help repair their spirits and deal with the realities of aging, relinquishment and poverty. The girls are full of energy, optimism and good will, and like Mary, will help them recognize the simple gifts that so many of us take for granted. In our weeklong encounter with them, and with each other, in our listenings and sharings, we hope to encounter Christ, and no doubt come away with much more than we came to give. So far, Christ has been amazingly visible in the few hours we've been here. May you find him yourselves today in the most surprising and unsuspecting places.
Bro. Rene

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Plowing Forward

When Jesus said, "No one who set a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind him is fit for the kingdom of God", (Lk 9:62) he was referring to those plows either pulled by an ox or even worse, simply pushed by the plowman.  Hard work demanding enormous concentration.  There might be a touch of hyperbole here as well, for we know that try as we might, whatever the "plow" we are using, there do come times to stop, look back and evaluate before moving on in one direction or another.  Hindsight is part of learning and part of the wisdom gained through experience.  Basically, however, he is right, the notorious "flip-flopping" of politicians is looked upon as a sign of weakness, and certainly, if a Christian flip-flops on moral issues, he or she, indeed, is not fit for the kingdom of God.  This saying of Jesus comes in the context of fidelity, and underscores the need to stay with the plow, even when the ground is rough, dry or hard. We can't say "yes" one moment, and then "no" the next.  Fortitude, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, enables us to continue even when we think we are "done."  We don't like "fair-weather friends," and it seems Jesus doesn't either.
Bro. Rene

Note:  I will be in Mexico, Maine on a service trip with a group of students and teachers from Central Catholic for the next week...Not sure if our lodgings will be wireless equipped.  If you do not receive a slice of daily bread, it's because there is no internet access...Please pray for us that we might keep our noses to our plows this week.  Thank you.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Power of Entrustment

Entrustment is a word not commonly heard...we're more used to "entitlement", but it's a word that suggests trust, naturally, humility, and abandonment...the letting go of MY WAY.  In today's Gospel, the compassionate centurion approached Jesus to explain the condition of his servant but when Jesus offered to come and cure him, he pushed back saying, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof only say the word and my servant will be healed," (Mt 8:8).  Faith, entrustment, the abandonment of his servant to the mere command of Jesus.  Power.  Jesus healed the servant from that spot.
On the cross, just before dying, Jesus entrusted Mary to John and John to Mary. John, the representative of the human race, was given to Mary's care, as she was to his.  St. Marcellin loved the idea of being entrusted to Mary, and from the beginning entrusted his fledgling group to her, facing trial and difficulty time and time again, confident that his entrustment would resolve the problems.  She never disappointed him.  Simple faith, simple trust.  As we look at the power of entrustment, we wonder why we work ourselves into a dither for what in the end turns out to be nothing. We need a jolt from Mary and the centurion to nail us again and again into the power of entrustment. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, us doubters, now and at the hour of our death. Amen,
Bro. Rene

Friday, June 24, 2016

God's Call

When we hear the phrase, "God's Call", we most likely consider it to mean the call to the priesthood or religious life, for it has been associated with these vocations for years. True, it is a special calling meant, obviously for a few, but it is also a call to each one of us to take anoher step, one, which might involve risk, demand courage, or lead us to a deeper trust and faith.
When the archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah announcing the birth of a son, Zechariah hesitated and was struck mute for his disbelief.  In those nine months of silence, he grew and was ready to take the next step, which he did in a simple way by going against family tradition and naming he boy John.
John, in turn, heard God calling him to a solitary life in the desert until the Spirit moved him to start preaching with vigor and conviction to prepare the way for Jesus.  His zeal converted many, but also made enemies which eventually led to his martyrdom.
His life and message to repent, change and be ready for the coming of Jesus bellow down the ages to us today.  What is God calling me to do with this day, with my family, with my co-workers, with my prayer life, with my talents and gifts?  What leap of faith" am I to take today...and tomorrow and the next day?  Whatever it is, hesitation might result in a muteness that stymies the furtherance of the Kingdom of God whereas a willingness, a yes, will produce results far beyond our wildest imaginations. Look what happened to the characters in the birth of the Baptist story,, including Mary. May we answer our calls with their faith, courage and trust.
Bro. Rene

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Action

Action is part of our Marist Legacy.  When St. Marcellin encountered the dying Jean-Baptiste Montagne, he didn't lose a minute recruiting two young men to initiate his dream of founding a congregation of brothers to address the pressing need for the religious education of youngsters.
When the French Government outlawed religious congregations and confiscated their property in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the then Superior General, Br. Theophane. courageously moved to disperse a thousand brothers from France to other parts of the world, thus causing the enormous growth of the Marist Brothers as a global congregation.
Br. Florentius in Lawrence, Massachusetts saw the need for a Catholic boys high school and in the midst of the Great Depression opened Central Catholic High School, which continues to grow and flourish 80 years later.
When Jesus said, "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and act on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock."  (Mt 7: 24) St. Marcellin and these others have set the pattern of listening to the needs of their times and acting on them.  Their example is our mandate.
Bro. Rene

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

By Our Fruit

Jesus, always aware of the lessons that nature gives, reminds us that only good plants bear good fruit. (cf. Mt 7:20) As disciples and sons of Mary, we as Marists have her as our special model of the one who bore good fruit.  "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb", we pray daily in the Hail Mary.  Indeed she brought forth and nourished Jesus himself, the best fruit of our human family.  Like her, then, our call is to continue to bring forth this Good Fruit by making Jesus known and loved, to our families, our colleagues at work, the patient check out staff at the super market...to everyone!  Our welcoming smiles, our small talk, our demonstration of interest in those around us all help us accomplish this mission. Let us have confidence, that the simplest of words or gestures bear effective witness to the Good Fruit.
Bro. Rene

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Through the Narrow Gate

Again Jesus proposes a path that seems impossible:  the narrow gate the leads to LIFE! He warns us that it is not for all:  "And those who find it are few." (Mt 7:14).  Evidently it is not the "easy way" of the broad road of self-indulgence that eventually leads to destruction, but it seems to demand a self-sacrifice that is especially difficult in our age of convenience and self-indulgence.  St. Marcellin, himself a seeker of the narrow gate, showed us by his imitation of Mary that bringing forth Jesus to youth demands discipline, and a willingness to go the extra mile.  He himself walked the hills of the Pilat region to show his love and support of the brothers and students in the schools of that area.  His dedication to them along with his own fasting put a burden on his body which eventually led to his early death. 
Today we remember another "Apostle of Youth", St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose prayers, fasting and service to those suffering with the plague took a huge toll on his life, leading to an early death at the age of 23.
So, does the narrow gate mean that we choose self-destruction in order to pass through it?  Not necessarily, but it does mean, with balance, a life of prayer, sacrifice for the sake of others...including Jesus...and service, which often demands so much that it has a built in way of leading us out of the selfishness and self-centeredness that make it impossible to pass through the narrow gate.
Bro. Rene