Archive for the ‘Reflections’ category

On the Memorial of Fr. Chaminade

January 22, 2011

Tomb of Fr. Chaminade in Bordeaux, France (sketch by Bro. Brian Zampier, SM)

Today, January 22nd we celebrate the anniversary of the death of our Blessed Founder, William Joseph Chaminade. We also begin the special Chaminade Year in which we commemorate 250 years of his birth (April 8th). We were joined by members of the Woodlawn Marianist community for Mass and breakfast this morning.

What follows is the homily delivered by Fr. William Behringer, S.M.:

With Rome beginning the last stage of the process leading to Fr. Chaminade’s canonization looking at the miracle attributed to him, it is appropriate, I think, for us to reflect a bit on the example of holiness the Founder has left us.  The decree of heroicity of his virtues stated, “This man of God travelling with firm step the path of perfection adorned his soul with brilliant virtues.”  It is good for us to reflect on what that example says to us.

The basis of his sanctity as the Gospel of today’s mass pointed out is love.  That is the basis of all holiness and has to be because holiness is union with God and God is love.  So the basis of Fr. Chaminade’s holiness as also ours is love.  Introducing his letter of 1839, the founder wrote,”The spirit of all our works is charity.”  This means that we in our turn must allow love to take over our lives and all that we do.  Our vocation as Marianists – indeed as Christians – calls us to become great lovers.

Secondly, Fr. Chaminade was deeply committed to God and God’s will.  Nothing could sway him from that.  Even when some of his closest followers tried to change his mind, he refused to abandon the plan God had revealed to him.  This belonging to God will demand on our part a separation from anything opposed to God and God’s will.  One of the 3 ends of the Society as proposed by the Founder was to protect the members from the “contagion of the world.”  Adele de Trenquelleon expressed this same idea when she wrote, “All for God, all by God, nothing for the world.”  This aspect of Fr. Chaminade’s holiness calls us to a deep evangelical radicality.

Now for Fr. Chaminade, this understanding of evil does not call us simply to be cautious about ourselves.  If that were the case, we could just lock ourselves in a room and have no contact.  But the Founder calls us rather to a battle against evil.  He calls for New Wars!  We are called to join Mary in her fight against evil which, of course, is that of her Son.  So our vocation and the path of our holiness is an apostolic one.  The example of our Marianist martyrs clearly shows us that we are in a battle.

Fr. Chaminade’s sanctity was also strongly rooted in the Pascal Mystery.  He suffered deeply in his life  – the French Revolution, exile, the opposition of his fellow Marianists at the end of his life etc.  One of the Cardinals told Fr. Vasey that Fr. Caillet made our founder a saint! But he never lost faith.  He always believed in the triumph of Mary.  He are familiar of that scene in the garden with Fr. Chaminade  pressing his hand down on the foot of Mary crushing the head of the serpent.

Now the Pascal Mystery is essentially related to Baptism and we know the importance Fr. Chaminade put on baptism as the root and foundation of our religious commitment.  So our sanctity too must be rooted in our baptism and in the dying and rising of Christ.

Finally, Fr. Chaminade insists that our holiness must be communal.  We are not simply to be individually holy although we are to be that also.  But the community must be holy.  We are to give the witness of a nation of saints!  And we certainly recognize the need of our world for that very witness.

And so Fr. Chaminade’s example calls us to a challenging but a wonderful vocation.  Let us pray that we may be faithful.

Reflection: Monday of the 28th Week

October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010

First Reading: Galatians 4:22-24,26-27,31-5:1
Responsorial: Psalm 113:1b-2,3-4,5a and 6-7
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

Show us a sign, they said.

STOP right there, what do you mean?

Show us a sign, so we will believe.

STOP right there, believe what?

You cast out demons. Is it by the power of Beelzebul you do these things? (from Friday’s readings).

Show us a sign from Heaven.

Stop right there.

Why should I show you a sign from Heaven?We want a sign to prove who you are.

STOP right there.

Look at your own Salvation History for signs.

Look at what the Almighty God has done…given His only Son; given us Jesus.

Look at your own history and your own time:

Look at Chaminade…Mother Teresa…Francis of Assisi…your own families.

Look at creation…the fact that you can participate in creation…

Give us a sign, they said!

Sometimes the signs are all around us and we don’t see them.

– Brother Mike Sullivan, S.M.

Vision 2020: Gather at the River

July 1, 2010

Reflection presented at Province Gathering 2010
Session 2: Celebrating our beginnings
Thursday, July 1, 2010, 9:15 a.m.
Hyatt Regency North Ballroom
Louisville, Kentucky

My Marianist story began seven years ago when, as a contact, I applied for—and was accepted to—the Marianist formation program. Since then, I have lived in four different parts of the Province: San Antonio as an aspirant; Dayton as a first-year novice; St. Louis as a second-year novice; and San Antonio as a temporary professed—and, as of last October, a perpetually professed.

Throughout my entire life in the Society of Mary, I have known and lived in only one province: the Province of the United States. Therefore, the story of the first eight years of the province coincides with my own formation as a Marianist brother. As I reflect on these past seven years, …

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Reflection: 8th Wednesday in Ordinary Time

May 26, 2010

Mass: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
First Reading: 1 Pt 1:18-25
Responsorial: Psalm 147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Gospel: Mk 10:34-45


At morning prayer, I posed a question for possible reflection of the day: How will the choices I make today reflect a vocation committed to leading myself and others to God’s love?

So, how did we do today?

As educators, I’m sure we are familiar with the many ways we can educate others about the values of our Marianist life through words, actions and examples.

One particularly powerful way of educating others—beyond words, actions and examples—is through our choices.

What actions of our day reflected our choice to live this vocation and accept its privileges and limitations?

What actions of our day reflected our choice to live not just the letter of the vows, but the spirit of the vows—which ask us to go above and beyond what we are asked to do?

What actions of our day reflected our choice to live this vocation with joy and happiness—and share that with those around us, in ministry and community?

In life, the choices we make often result in some consequences and costs. For Jesus, the choice to follow his vocation cost him his life.

For those who choose to live religious life, it costs us the ability to make decisions on our own about what we do, where we live and with whom with live.

For those who profess the vow of stability, it costs us the option of having a contingency plan where we can wait and see until it all turns out before making a commitment.

For those who risk sharing God’s love and expressing that through healthy affection for one another costs us the risk of being rejected.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that we choose to do that can teach others a lot about what we cherish and value about our Marianist vocation.

Courtesy of Brother Jerry Matz, retired sociology professor of St. Mary’s University, this is a list of simple, everyday choices we can make:

At the end of your day, ask yourself, “Today, have I…”

  • Greeted someone by his/her first name?
  • Smiled at someone?
  • Hugged someone?
  • Complimented someone?
  • Affirmed someone?
  • Thanked someone?
  • Laughed with someone?
  • Offered a potentially-helpful suggestion to someone?
  • Listened attentively and patiently to someone?
  • Offered to help someone?
  • Actually helped someon?
  • Given someone some of my valuable time?
  • Shown patience with someone who frustrates me or whom I dislike?
  • Tried to cheer-up someone?
  • Prayed for someone?

(excertps from a list developed by Brother Jerome Matz, S.M., Ph.D.)

At profession, we each made a public commitment to choose our vocation again and again. Choosing is central to loving; choosing again and again is essential to the deepening and growth of that love—and it is love that keeps us faithful.

Let us pray that the eucharist that we receive today strengthen us in our commitment to choose, time and again, to reflect a vocation committed to leading myself and others to God’s love.

Reflection: 5th Tuesday of Easter

May 4, 2010

Mass: Tuesday, May 4, 2010
First Reading: Acts 14:19-28
Responsorial: Ps 145:10-11, 12-13ab, 21
Gospel: Jn 14:27-31a


If you were given three wishes, what would they be? Of course, if you ask me, I’d always make sure that the third wish I would ask is for more wishes!

Inspired by the spirit of today’s Gospel, where Jesus tells his disciples about his hopes for them as he prepare to department, my reflection focused on answering this question: What would be God’s three wishes?

I think one wish that God would want for us is for us to be at peace. Jesus tells his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you…Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

Perhaps the reason why God wants us to be at peace is so that we can become people who live with a sense of gratitude for all of God’s blessings and gifts.

Those who live with a sense of gratitude are not only much more pleasant to be around, but also inspire us to see the challenges of life as ways to grow, mature and deepen our faith and trust in God—just like Paul in the first reading.

It also is this sense of peace that allow us to live in a world where differences are appreciated and embraced, allowing for countries to seek collaborative, rather than aggressive, solutions for international conflict.

Another wish God might make is for us to know how much we are loved by God. Just count the many ways we have been blessed in our lives and to commit ourselves everyday to remembering that even in the midst of our sin, God still loves us unconditionally and without question. And, image how God must feel when, in our humanity and limitations, we struggle to be faithful to our vocation of serving others.

Finally, a third wish I think God would want is to share that love with others. The peace and love that we’ve been granted in those first two wishes compel us to action and allow us to share that with others. As the words of our communion song, El Amor Nos Unió, sing, “Where there is charity, there is love, there is our Lord. Jesus gives us life and unity, en the sacred communion. The cross and pain are love, love is a commandment of God. Love united us as we sing this song.”

As we are reminded of the peace and love that we are given daily, let us pray that through our poor efforts at holiness, we may bring about God’s wishes for a world of peace, love and aloha.

Reflection: Monday of the Third Week of Easter

April 19, 2010

Today’s Scripture: Acts 6: 8-15 ~ Psalm 119: 23-24, 26-27, 29-30 ~ John 6: 22-29

(this version has been heavily revised from the one I gave at mass today, I wish I had taken more time with it before mass – or that I could present it again)

I forgot to eat lunch today.  I got really engrossed in what I was doing at work. Flitting around, from one thing to the next. By mid-afternoon I was losing  steam. I couldn’t figure out why I had run out of energy. Then my stomach growled and I realized I had completely forgotten about lunch.  I thought to myself, if I’m going to make it through the day, I’d better sit down and eat something!

 When I was reflecting on today’s gospel I remembered my missed lunch and thought to myself, is spiritual hunger like physical hunger?  Is there only so far we can go before we have to stop, move away from the world, gather at Christ’s table and allow ourselves to be fed?

 As I reflected I realized that sometimes I forget about my spiritual food too. Running through the day and getting caught up in menial tasks. I sit in mass completely distracted by my other obligations and entirely disconnected from the celebration. Then I thought of the people in today’s gospel. They’ve have one taste of Christ and they can’t get enough. They want so much to be in the Christ’s presence that they climb into boats and sail across the sea to find him.

 I began to realize that often, I forget the significance of the Eucharist. I forget how blessed I am to be called to God’s table every day. I forget that if I really want to know God, and to do his work, if I want to have the strength to make it through my day, I have to accept his invitation to the table.

 I am challenged to remember that God loves us all so much, and wants so much for us to do his will on earth, that he allows us to take his presence physically into ourselves.

 It stuck me that this is what the Eucharist is about. I remembered that there are days when I cannot go to Mass, and even though I pray on those days, and make quiet time for God; I miss the Eucharist. I crave it. I get so hungry for this Spiritual food that I can’t wait until I’m able to receive it again.

 Spiritual hunger.

 I have come to realize, that I can only do so much, then I have to stop, move away from the world and gather with my brothers around the Lord’s table. In the Word, in our fellowship, and in the Eucharist I find the energy, love, wisdom, and Spirit that I need to keep me going. I am learning that In the Eucharist, we build community; we build Christ in one another.

 If we are called to be Christ for the world, we must stop and let Christ come into our lives… we must let Christ renew his spirit in us… we must love the Eucharist and allow ourselves to enter fully into its celebration. It is this Spiritual food that sustains us for the journey.  How blest we are to be able to come to God’s table every day. May we never forget how God satisfies our hunger and may we always be willing to seek God out wherever he is found.

Reflection: Tuesday of the Octave of Easter

April 6, 2010

Scripture: Acts 4:32-37 ~ Ps 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5 ~ John 3:7b-15

Mary went out and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!”

 I saw a man in New York City, he had no pants, and no shoes… and I saw the Lord

 I saw another man, walking ten miles home in the rain… and I saw the Lord

 I saw a little girl leap into her father’s arms at the airport… and I saw the Lord

 I see students everyday in the caf, laughing, visiting, eating, studying… and I see the Lord

 I look at each of us gathered here today… and I see the Lord

 Mary encountered the gardener that morning, and she saw the Lord

 Our Risen Christ is everywhere, He is in every person we meet, and everywhere we go. Do we recognize Jesus when we encounter him in others? In ourselves? Do we remember that each time we interact with someone, it is an opportunity to be Christ for that person and to find Christ in that person?

 When we encounter Christ, and we do, everyday, do we have the courage to run to our friends and say “I have seen the Lord!” so that they too may encounter the peace of Christ?

 Wherever you go today, I invite you to see the Risen Christ and I invite you to be Him for others. For he has most assuredly risen, and now he goes before us to greet everyone we meet.