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.

Cultivate Gratitude in Your Life

Morning Prayer:
November 13, 2017
Prayer by Fr. Harhager, S.M., President

This is the final week of the first term. So, I know this can be a time of stress as we rush to complete our projects, prepare for and then take the end-of-term exams.

 At the same time, Thanksgiving is near. If there was such a thing, we would be in the midst of the Thanksgiving Season. It reminds me of a talk I heard many years ago – when I was in Rome the first time.

 I attended a talk by a priest psychiatrist who spent most of his life treating people, including priests and religious, with serious mental health issues. After the talk, he opened the floor to questions. I don’t remember anything else from this talk except for his answer to the question: Can you identify a single element in troubled people’s lives which may be responsible for their mental/emotional illness? He said that, without a doubt, the one element missing in these people’s lives is a sense of gratitude. He said, if you want to stay healthy – cultivate gratitude in your life.

 Being grateful – helps us beat stress, softens the sad moments, enables us to say “goodbye”, reroutes our angry energy, moves us away from envy, etc. Gratitude will not only help us enjoy our family gatherings next week but may even help us get through this week.

 And so we turn to St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (4:6-7):

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 Let us pray:

Loving Father,

with grateful hearts we turn to you.

You are the source of all the good things we experience in our lives.

Help us to remain serene this week

so that our work these days may truly reflect

the profound fruit of Your love for us.

Fill our hearts with gratitude

now and forever and ever. Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom… pray for us.

Dodgeballs of Life

Morning Prayer:
November 8, 2017
Prayer by Ms. Julie Anderson, Science Department

Imagine for a moment that you are playing dodgeball and someone suddenly hurls a ball towards your head. When the dodgeballs of life hit us, what do we do? We put our arms up; we try to stop it on our own. We turn in on ourselves and we try to survive. And when we do that, we tend to put God in a box that we only open at certain times. Maybe we only let him in when life is good, or we have enough time because we aren’t stressed out. Or maybe we only open that box after we try everything ourselves, when we are bruised all over and have nothing left. Maybe we only have him in the Sunday morning, ‘why is it so early? Lord, I hate dress clothes’ box. But he wants to be with you in each moment. Each success, each failure, each painful memory, each boring class you have to sit through. And he wants to show you what it means that he is your Father. If we let Him, He will be with us as we go through the tough stuff. And he will bring us peace, because instead of all the stress and grumpiness and garbage, we have someone to give it all to as we walk along. And God’s not in some far off Heaven. He’s here – he never left. Jesus is in the Eucharist at Mass, He’s in our Churches, but he’s also in our schools, streets, cars, and shops because he is in each and every one of us. We just have to let him become part of our lives.

So today as we go through our day here at Marist let us be reminded that God is always there waiting and ready to love and support us on our journey.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

God, today we ask you to be Our Father. So often we try to go through life on our own, believing that we have to deal with everything ourselves. Help us to see in a new way today your love for each of us, and that you want to be a part of each of our lives. And let us be your children, especially to those suffering or who do not know you.

We ask this through the intercession of Mary, our mother, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

All That Lies Inbetween

Morning Prayer:
October 23, 2017
Prayer by Fr. Konzen, S.M., Principal

Good morning.  Yesterday I spent some time talking by phone to someone I knew growing up in Ohio.  Her family and our family were friends, and I regularly served Mass with the guy who became her husband.  Their story is unique.  They went to the prom with each other as seniors and, after that, went their separate ways for 20 years or so, neither marrying, and then met up at a wedding and decided to start dating, both in their late 30’s and having known each other all their lives.  I was there in 1988 to officiate at their wedding.  About a month ago, Doug had a stroke, out of the blue, and he never recovered.  He was buried this past week.  So, in talking to his wife yesterday, she said, “I guess we didn’t talk about this possibility when we were getting ready to be married.”  And I said, “No, we talked about the meaning of ‘all the days of my life’ and ‘until death do us part,’ but we didn’t imagine scenarios in which a spouse dies and the other is left to carry on.”

I contrast that with the wildly exuberant display I saw at the end of the football game Friday night against Blessed Trinity, when there was this tide of students rushing onto the field, and congratulations for the team, and everyone singing the Alma Mater in a state of euphoria.  These are the diverse components that make up our lives.  We adults like to see that young people have more of those really happy moments than the really sad moments, but the trip to becoming an adult is about making room for the full range of human experience and knowing how, using our faith, to make as much sense as we can of the big up’s and the big down’s in our lives and all that lies in between.  We would like to hang onto the high’s and to rule out the low’s, but we know it’s not realistic.  We embrace them both as part of our experience as Christians, as part of the life of Christ that we say we have taken on when we were baptized, confirmed, and fed on or brought into the Body of Christ.

An Italian writer, Carlo Carretto, captured these alternating feelings in a prayer that offers a way to see them both as part of our faith and a way to make room for them both in our lives, and here is the prayer:

In the name…   My Lord Jesus Christ, two graces I beg you to grant me before I die:

the first is that in my lifetime I may feel that sorrow that you underwent

in the hour of your blessed and generous passion;

the second is that I may feel in my heart the greatness of love

that you, the Son of God, had for all in the world and that

allowed you to undergo the sacrifice you offered for us sinners.

And now, praying for the soul of Douglas Palmer and for his wife Marilyn, I add to the Carretto prayer:  Help us, O God, to be your servant in the best of times and in the worst of times and to praise your goodness when we are awash in it and when we are barely aware of it—you who want our eternal happiness and offer us Jesus Christ to lead the way to that happiness.  It is in his name we pray today.  Amen.

El Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead Celebration

El Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead Celebration

Wednesday, October 25, 7 p.m., Bishop Gunn Art Gallery

Families will enjoy the Marist altar, authentic Mexican food, as well as the delightful sounds of Willie Ziavino & the C.O.T. Band

Dating back to pre-Columbian cultures, El Día de los Muertos is the Mexican tradition of respecting and honoring the lives of loved ones who have passed away. It is an integration of Aztec practices and the Catholic feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. El Día de los Muertos is a joyous celebration of the departed through food, drink, song, and art held annually October 31 through November 2.

The most recognized symbols of El Día de los Muertos are the playful calacas and calaveras (skeletons and skulls). These are not scary ghouls, but vibrant figures representing the sweetness of life. The most infamous calaca is Catrina. Derived from the satirical etchings of political cartoonist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913), Catrina has become an icon of the holiday.

This exhibit is a collaboration of Centro Hispano, Consulate General of Mexico, the Fine Arts Department, Marist Arts Guild (MAG), the Office of Inclusion & Diversity, the Spanish Department, the MOSAIC student club, and Marist Staff Josephina Mora.

In Pursuit of Magic

Show time! Marist theater presents…In Pursuit of Magic

Thursday and Saturday, October 26 & 28, 7:30 p.m.

Our own Marist Theater, with the support of the award-winning Serenbe Playhouse, has created a thrilling and chilling evening of theater for the Halloween season!

The show is an exploration of some of the darker aspects of human nature, and will be presented at various sites around campus.  Yes, it’s all outdoors.

Each of the seven stories is inspired by literature that is studied at some point in our students’ career here:  Hamlet, Red Badge of Courage, Life of Pi, Lord of the Flies, Princess and the Tiger, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and 1984.

Here are a few important points that will help you enjoy your experience:

  • We will perform rain or shine, outdoors at all times. • Please dress for the weather.
  • The experience will last for about an hour, with no intermission.
  • Our show will take place in a variety of locations on campus, all within the same general area. You will always be walking on concrete, but please wear appropriate footwear.
  • Please gather on the large staircase off the Flag Circle by 7:30 p.m.
  • Restrooms are available in the lobby of Woodruff Auditorium. We recommend that you visit them before the show begins.
  • There will be gunshots, screams, and ghosts in our show. Be prepared.
  • PLEASE JOIN US IN COSTUME! We would love to see your favorite characters from literature, but cool Halloween-wear will be awesome, too!
  • Our show is an immersive one: you are within the action, and, at times, may be called upon to be a part of the action. Take your cues from the actors…they’ll guide your way.

Come one, come all, and help us create a chilling new first for Marist Theater! Tickets on sale at the Campus Store.

Audience: Rated PG-13. This will not be a “cute” Halloween story!