an Experience of “the Journey”

Morning Prayer:
February 16, 2018
Prayer by Sara Jane ’21

Last Tuesday a group of students and I went to Clarkston, GA to tutor and learn more about refugees.

While I was there, one of the most frequently asked questions to me was “how many more minutes do I have?” What they meant is how much longer are you going to spend with them. Each time I would try to avoid the answer because it made me feel guilty, but inevitably I gave them the truth. I had 30 more minutes, and I think I wanted to stay just as much as they wanted us too. The child I was with was named Shemi and he would always try and bargain with me for more time. “1000 more minutes,” he kept on saying. The thing is they wanted us there, and that is a luxury that the refugees do not have. Only 63% of people in the United States are willing to have refugees come into our country. That means that 37% of people do not want to give refugees a chance at a better life. I found that they were 100% welcoming to us, and we as a country need to have a more welcoming mindset and give them a better chance to survive and rebuild their lives. Let’s share the journey with immigrants and refugees.

Dear Lord,

Please give us empathy to better understand the plight of the refugees. May we have an open mind to learn more about these individuals and a mouth that says only kind words to them. May we have hearts that show love and what it means to be part of a community to refugees. May we have open ears that hear their calls for help, and helping hands that want to respond. But most of all, may we open our arms to welcome them into our country and communities.

Amen,

Mary Seat of Wisdom Pray for us.

“Share the Journey” this Lenten Season

Morning Prayer:
February 14, 2018
Prayer by Christian ’21

Pope Francis encourages us, “Not just to see but to look. Not just to hear but to listen. Not just to meet and pass by, but to stop. And don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity.”

Last September, Pope Francis launched the “Share the Journey” campaign as a call to respond to the crisis of refugees and migrants worldwide and for Christians to share the journey of young refugees. Many refugees our age spend over ten years in a refugee camp.

Many of you likely remember the simulation of the refugee camp that was set up in the arcade last October. It was a display from Catholic Charities of Atlanta to help raise awareness about the plight of refugees.

As we begin the forty days of Lent today with Ash Wednesday, all of you likely noticed that today is also Valentine’s Day. The first Lenten activity will be an opportunity to send a Valentine’s Card to your representatives in Congress asking for laws that treat migrants with respect, dignity, and justice as God’s children.  Stop by the tables in the arcade during lunch this week to ask our representatives to “Love Your Neighbor.”

And now, if you’re comfortable, I’d like to ask you to reach out and hold hands with your neighbors as we pray. Let’s share the love!

Let us pray together a prayer from Pope Francis.

Heavenly Father,

You are the source of all goodness, generosity, and love. We thank you for opening the hearts of many to those who are fleeing for their lives. Help us now to open our arms in welcome and reach out our hands in support. That the desperate may find new hope, and lives torn apart be restored. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who fled persecution at His birth and at His last triumphed over death.

Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom (Pray for Us)

Compassion as a byproduct of Fasting

Morning Prayer:
February 12, 2018
Prayer by Fr. Rowland, S.M., President

Lent begins this Ash Wednesday. To help get ourselves in the proper frame of mind, I want to quote Rabbi Allen S. Maller, the rabbi emeritus of Temple Akiba in Culver City, CA. He makes the following observation about fasting. “All animals eat, but only humans choose not to eat some foods that are both nutritious and tasty…During Lent, Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. As a general prohibition all year long, Hindus do not eat beef; Jews and Muslims do not eat pork. And on Yon Kippur – the Day of Atonement – Jews do not eat or drink at all for 24 hours. Every year for the entire month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from first light until sundown, abstaining from food, drink and marital relations…What do the religious practices of abstinence and fasting teach us? What spiritual benefits occur when we fast?”[1]

Rabbi Maller answers the question by observing that “Fasting produces many different outcomes. Most importantly; fasting teaches compassion. It is easy to talk about the world’s problem of hunger and to feel sorry that millions of people go to bed hungry each day. But not until one feels hunger in one’s own body is there real impact: empathy is much stronger than pity. Fasting has moral value if compassion toward others has been extended in the process. As the prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘The kind of fasting I want is this: remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor’ ” (Is 58: 6-7).[2]

During each week of Lent this year at Marist, we will focus on a specific theme that will stress our solidarity with the poorest of the poor: refugees and migrants. They have no country to call home and no such basic things such as food, water, clothing, shelter and few advocates among those in power who feel their anguish and are moved to relieve their suffering. If you and I are not moved to act; then, who will?

Let us pray,

God of all compassion and Father of all goodness: to heal the wounds our sins and selfishness bring upon us you bid us turn to fasting, prayer and sharing with our brothers and sisters. We acknowledge our sinfulness, our guilt is ever before us; when our weakness causes discouragement, let your compassion fill us with hope and lead us through a Lent of repentance to the beauty of Easter joy.[3]

Amen.

 

[1] Maller, Rabbi Allen S., “Feed Your Spirit,” America Magazine, February 15, 2010, page 16.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Opening Prayer: Third Sunday of Lent.

The Heart of a Champion

Morning Prayer:
December 18, 2017
Prayer by Fr. Rowland, S.M., Acting President

I want to begin this morning by acknowledging the disappointment we all feel as a result of Friday’s football game, but that is felt more keenly by the team and coaches. I would like to speak to them directly.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert at dealing with defeat given that my woeful Cleveland Browns lost their fourteenth game on Sunday. It is the youngest team in the NFL, and after each loss, you will hear one of the players talk about how hard it is just to win one game. If they ever do, they will celebrate it as if they had won a championship. True, it is only one victory, but it will be the one victory that, in their eyes, will make them champions at least for one game. And they can live with that.

I know you would prefer to have won the championship trophy, but that was not to be. But you have won our respect, admiration, and gratitude for the many thrills and wonderful memories you provided us under those Friday night lights. You can stand with your heads held high when you take your place in the Long Blue Line. You should know that in the lore that is Marist football, this team will be remembered as one of our finest. We who watched and cheered for you know that a champion is not only determined by the record but also by guts and grit that make up the heart of any champion. You had that in abundance together with fourteen victories. In our eyes, you are champions. I hope you can live with that.

I want to thank our students and fans for the many gestures of welcome and hospitality they extended to the fans from Blessed Trinity and for the many expressions of congratulations extended to them for having won their first state championship. On Friday night, Blessed Trinity was the better team. There is no shame in saying that. Sometimes, all we can do is tip our caps or, in this case, our helmets in the direction of our opponents and give them the credit that is due them. In doing this, we are practicing the Marist value of humility.

And now, we turn our attention to preparing for the coming of Christ, the Prince of Peace, at Christmas. May his peace reign in our hearts so that we can be at peace with whatever is not to be and with whatever is, trusting that both are part of a grander plan in which we are privileged to have a role – however small and insignificant it may appear to be. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Mary, seat of Wisdom. Pray for us.

The Family Advisory Created

Morning Prayer:
December 14, 2017
Prayer by Ashley ’18

On the first day of high school, I hated my homeroom. I walked into the band room to discover none of my close friends were in sight. The room was pretty quiet and awkward that first day. On top of my disappointment, I had no idea what to think of my homeroom teacher, known for his loud voice and crazy shoes. Persistently holding onto my negative first impression, I anticipated dreading 8:15 every morning for the next four years of my life.

However, over time, my homeroom started to warm up to each other. Conversation buzzed over ninth grade homecoming and how hard biology was. Additionally, we slowly got to know our homeroom teacher: he revealed that he spoke a ton of languages, had lived in all these cool European countries, and was a lot wiser and more interesting than we thought at first. He even told us the meaning behind his wacky ties that featured famous paintings and music notes: he showed us it’s always cool to just be yourself.

Flash forward to schola brevis this year, as seniors. My whole advisory rushed into C250 to take a group picture of the family advisory time had created. This closeness was mostly due to the trust we had built over the years. I now know I can confidently tell my homeroom anything and the secret would stay between us. They share in my triumphs, my defeats, and my anguish over uniform detentions. I am very grateful for Mr. Craddock’s  advisory and everyone in it for being one of my favorite parts of high school.

Now, I’m not just telling you this story to encourage you to get to know the people in your homerooms, although you definitely should. Instead, I want to remind you that sometimes God doesn’t always give us what we want, but he gives us what we need. My advisory was what I needed to grow into who I am- I just didn’t always know it.

Let us pray:

Dear God,

Help us to remember to keep an open mind today and everyday.

Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

The Drama Surrounding St. Nicholas

Morning Prayer:
December 6, 2017
Prayer by Mrs. Erin Paul ’92, Theology Department

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas!  Happy Day! For those of you who have studied Church History with me, you know I like a good drama.  Church History is full of it!  And St. Nicholas doesn’t disappoint!

We all might have heard of the good things St. Nicholas did during his lifetime…

His story goes a bit like this…

His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

I lost you somewhere around, “he dedicated his life…blah blah blah.” Right?

So here’s the real scoop, that makes me want to hang out with St. Nicholas in heaven.  Before he was a saint, he was a bishop – bishop of Myra in Turkey.

Constantine you may recall called a little council together to solve some issues in the Church.  Over 300 bishops convened in a city called Nicea to talk it out.  A gentleman named Arius, was talking about Jesus not being fully divine.  Wait what???  Yep.  He was, how should we say today? Arius was roasting my friend Jesus!

NOOOO you say.  Mmmhmm.

So, the bishops, being polite and holy, let Arius talk.  And talk, and talk.  Until Nicholas just couldn’t take it anymore.  The story goes, that Nicholas got up, walked across the room and slapped Arius across the face.  Seriously.  No one knew what to do.  Bishops don’t hit people.  Nicholas was thrown in jail – and stripped of his title.  Oh no you say – not his title!  Yes, his title. Whoa.

So now, regular guy Nicholas is in jail, kinda bummed he let his anger get the better of him, when who should appear? But Mary and Jesus – and no reindeer.  Sorry, that was a stretch…

Ok, really.  Mary and Jesus appear in a vision to Nicholas in prison. They dress him in his bishop clothes, and give him some scripture to read, while he’s in a timeout.  Well.  When the other bishops came the next morning – they were shocked to see him dressed and reading.   He apologized and so happy ending – he got his title back!  Whew, thank goodness!

So what does this have to do with St. Nicholas Day? We all think of St. Nicholas as Santa Claus – that jolly guy who helps people, gives gifts to children, and reminds us that there is good in the world.

But Nicholas was a person.  A person who could be frustrated.  I’ve found myself frustrated a lot recently.  There have been plenty of occasions that I have wanted to walk across a room, or into my TV, and slap someone.  St. Nicholas reminds me that I’m human.  But the greatest part of the story is the character with few lines.  My friend Jesus.  He makes a small appearance, reminds me that even when I’ve been a bit out of control, I should sit down and maybe read some scripture.  Probably say “I’m sorry.”

Let us pray,

Heavenly Father, we await your birth during this Advent. May our focus be on you and your kingdom.  But if we become distracted along the way and maybe slap someone, thank you for the gift of St. Nicholas who reminds us to sit down, read Scripture and maybe say I’m sorry.  Because our focus should be on you, whom we should love above all things. Amen.  Mary, Seat of Wisdom.  Pray for us.

Our trust in God

Morning Prayer:
December 5, 2017
Prayer by Lili Amirhosseini ’18

The Christmas season is my favorite time of year.  Not only is it a time of family, faith, and extravagant decorations, it also is the time of my favorite genre: Christmas music. One of my favorite Christmas songs of all time is Last Christmas by Wham!. If you haven’t heard it, the person singing is reminiscing that last year for Christmas, he gave someone his heart and the next day they gave it away. This year, he wants to give it to someone that he can trust and who will be careful with his heart. Even though it is just a Christmas song, this is actually a pretty relatable concept.  Sometimes, it takes a while to find people we can trust, and we might get hurt along the way as we try to find a person to lean on. Once we find those people, though, it feels as though you can breathe easier.

During the hardest times in my life, I kept a diary and wrote down my feelings. At the time, I thought writing in a diary was my only refuge because I thought I didn’t have anyone to talk to. I didn’t realize that I was in fact talking to God. He is always there for us and is always making sure that we are following the path that He has laid out for us.

Let us pray.

Dear God,

Thank you for always looking out for us. Please help us to remember to always place our trust in you, especially when we feel as if we have no one else to turn to. Help us to celebrate the birth of your son, Jesus Christ during this Christmas season. In your name we pray,

Amen. Mary Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.