Mothers

Morning Prayer: Mothers
May 12, 2014
Prayer by Fr. Bill Rowland, S.M.

A couple of years ago, I attended the Marist Mothers prayer group. These mothers meet faithfully every first Friday of the month.  They begin with a discussion about some aspect of our faith and then they end with prayer. They pray for their children, for the students, faculty and staff at Marist, and for each other.

I came to the meeting in May. This is the meeting when those mothers whose sons and daughters will be graduating from Marist are encouraged to share their feelings about that.

The mothers shared how much their children had matured while at Marist and how it seemed like only yesterday that their child was just that: a child. Now, they were young adults. They talked about how proud they were of them, how excited they were for them as they prepared to go to college, the fears and apprehension that sometimes haunted them because they know the dangers that are out there. Those mothers whose last child was graduating Marist talked about how much they will miss all the other parents with whom they had become friends and the void they will feel because their weekdays and weekends won’t be filled with activities associated with their children. They recalled how they had looked forward to no longer being stuck in traffic while going to yet another school function. Now that reality was upon them,  it didn’t bring them the peace and satisfaction they had anticipated. They ended their sharing with prayers that were heartfelt and earnest as they entrusted their son or daughter to God’s loving providence. It is not easy to let go and to let God. The tears flowed freely.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. It doesn’t seem right for us to let that day go by and not to pray for our mothers at Marist. They keep vigil for us students, faculty, and staff through their prayers as do those mothers who meet faithfully every Friday morning after Mass to pray the rosary on our behalf.

Let us pray:

We pray for young mothers, who give life and count toes and tend to our every need; May they be blessed with patience and tenderness to care for their families and themselves with great joy.

We pray for our own mothers who have nurtured and cared for us; May they continue to guide us in strong and gentle ways.

We remember mothers who are separated from their children because of war, poverty, or conflict; May they feel the loving embrace of our God who wipes every tear away.

We pray for women who are not mothers but still love and shape us with motherly care and compassion.

We remember mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our memory and who nourish us with their love.   Amen.

Anonymous

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Landmarks

Morning Prayer: Landmarks
May 7, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Jai-Sun Bolden, English Department

Proverbs 22:28 says “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.”

As a boy, my father set landmarks verbally and physically. When I was about six years old, I broke off a wonderfully sculpted dirt clod from the ground and heaved it as hard and far as I could…CRSHHH. I shattered my neighbors bathroom window. As soon as my father heard this, he snatched me up off the ground.  After I felt my arm yank up, I literally blacked out.  I can only remember waking up the next day with a sore backside. The next day happened to be Sunday, so I guess you could say my father knocked me into the next week.

When I was around six or seven, I received a Speak and Spell for my birthday.  For those of you who don’t know what a Speak and Spell is, it was an early 80’s version of a tablet for kids. It was a gigantic, red and yellow, talking keyboard that taught children how to read.  As a creative six year old, I thought that my Speak and Spell would make a great talking battleship for my favorite GI Joe action figures during bath time.  Thus, during bath time, I took Lieutenant Torpedo, Seargent Gung-Ho, and Snowjob into the tub to ride and do battle on their new Speak and Spell Battleship. For a minute, the Speak and Spell was everything I had imagined as the Joes battled on the deck of their new state of the art talking battleship. But when I made the Speak and Spell dive underwater [sound effect], a hideous, terrifying electronic gurgle sound emanated from the 80s machine shattering my bathtub bliss.  My father who was within an earshot barged in and again. I felt his hand snatch my arm.  He yanked me out of the bathtub and, well, let’s just say getting a whooping while you are dripping wet in your Birthday suit does feel every bit as bad as it sounds.

But one of the greatest landmarks my father set occurred when I was about 8 years old. I had once again indulged in my favorite past time of throwing rocks in the front yard, and fortunately, I broke another window, the window to our living room. My mother told me to wait for my dad to get home and that he would deal with me.  When my dad came home, he took me outside right to the window. “Did you break this window?”, he asked.

At this moment I had my very first understandable bout with temptation.  I felt like a little Jesus standing on top of a very real mountain being tempted by a tangible Satan within my mind.  “Tell him your friend Marcus did it.”  “Tell him the wind did it.”  Eventually, I stammered out, “I did it”, and immediately braced for impact.  Awaiting another prodigious pounding to my backside, I closed my eyes and tensed up as best as I could.  I waited for three seconds with my eyes closed…The blow never came. My dad told me to always tell the truth and be honest at all cost, even when you make a mistake.  He told me he was proud of me for being honest.  I never received another whooping after that.  That moment in time was a landmark. I feel as if the Lord allowed me to learn the value of honesty and integrity in that moment, and He knew I would someday testify about this landmark that my father set.  Strangely, when I remind my dad about this moment, he doesn’t even remember the event.  He did not realize that his decision that day still affects me thirty years later.

But you do not have to be a ‘father’ to set a landmark.  God, the greatest Father, works through each of us, to set landmarks in the lives of the friends, family, and strangers we interact with. Let us all be mindful of the great impact our words, actions, and decisions can have on other people.  Through our right words and decisions, God, the Father, just may be using us to set a landmark in the life of another, helping them to draw closer to Him.

Let us pray:  Lord, we thank you for the spiritual landmarks that you have given us in our lives that have allowed us to draw closer to you.  We pray that we allow your Holy Spirit to guide our actions, our words, and our decisions so that You may work through us to help set landmarks in the lives of those close to us.

In Jesus name, Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Three people I’d like you to meet

Morning Prayer: Three People
May 5, 2014
Prayer by Fr. John Buldoc, S.M.

I’d like to introduce you to three people.  Marvin was sleeping in an abandoned car outside the church.  I was shoveling outside.  “Man,” he rolled down the window to shout at me, “you don’t have to make such a racket when a guy’s trying to sleep.”  Marvin would never take your money.  Thieves can’t take what you haven’t got.  When he died, the church was full.  He was know all up and down Nostrand: the gentle, helpful homeless guy.  We can pray to Marvin.

Sarah was a fourth grader at St. Francis School.  St. Francis’ statue had had its head cut off by vandals, determined to rid the Church of Idol worship.  The NYPD treated it as a hate crime with TV 24/7 coverage.  CBS news came on the scene, live.  Sr. Teresa sent her fourth graders around the statue.  The reporter asked Sarah, “When they catch who did this, what should they do to him?”  In her Trini (Trinidad) accent, Sarah said without a pause, “Well, we would have to forgive him.”  Sr. Teresa and I smiled.  St. Francis, without a head that morning, preached a sermon.

I was in Havana walking up a hill after class when I saw a man coming down the other side.  Reaching closer I saw the ugliest person I had ever, ever seen.  He had an enormous bump on is forehead, another where his eye should have been.  His cheek protruded, his lips hung over, and he seemed to have two disfigured necks.  He slowed as though he wanted to cross the street toward me.  I made fast, passing him, so as he, without a chance, wouldn’t stop to talk to me or beg a peso.  I did not want to have to see him anymore.  But, you know, I see him every day.  Months ago Pope Francis hugged a man, disfigured.  He looked just like my man; Francis hugged him, a man who looked just like my man.  I am so humbled.  Don’t miss a chance to give a hug to Christ.

I’ve introduced you to three people.  Marvin, Sarah, and one whose only name I know is Christ.

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.

Suspended Coffee

Morning Prayer: Suspended Coffee
May 1, 2014
Prayer by Carole Ann ’14

I’d like to share a story I came across a while ago:

2 friends entered a coffeehouse and gave their orders. They took their coffee, and they approached their table. Shortly after, 2 people came into the coffeehouse and went to the counter. “Five coffees, please.” they said, “ two for us and three suspended.” They paid for their order, took the two coffees, and left. One of the friends, confused, asked the other what a suspended coffee was. The friend, answering, said, “Wait for it and you will see.” Some more people entered the coffeehouse and ordered 7 coffees. There were 3 of them, and 4 were to be suspended. While the first friend still wondered what was going on, a man entered the coffeehouse, dressed in shabby clothes and presumably homeless. He walked to the counter and kindly asked “Do you have a suspended coffee?” And shortly after was given a coffee free of charge. He sat down, took a sip, and smiled.

The idea was simple: people pay in advance for a coffee meant for someone who cannot afford a warm beverage. The tradition of suspended coffee started in Naples, Italy, but has spread all over the world, and in some places you can order not only a suspended coffee but also a sandwich or a whole meal.

It’s a simple act of generosity, a way to pay it forward in a small but never unnoticed way.

I encourage all of you to take the time to perform small acts of kindness and generosity, especially as the end of the year approaches. Find ways to show those around your appreciation for what they do for you, and seniors especially, cherish every moment you have left together. Take the time to reach out of your comfort zone and do something thoughtful for someone else. Discover your own way to pay it forward. Discover your own suspended coffee.

Let us pray.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for everything you have blessed us with. Remind us to be thoughtful and considerate of others, and give us the inspiration to go out and perform acts of kindness and generosity on a daily basis.

In your name we pray,

Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Pray for Us.

 

An Interview With God

Morning Prayer: An Interview With God
April 29, 2014
Prayer by Christopher ’14

I dreamed I had an interview with God.

“Come in,” God said. “So, you would like to interview me?”

“If you have the time,” I said.

God smiled and said:
“My time is eternity and is enough to do everything; What questions do you have in mind to ask me?”

“What surprises you most about mankind?”

God answered:
“That they get bored of being children, are in a rush to grow up, and then long to be children again…

That they lose their health to make money and then lose their money to restore their health…

That by thinking anxiously about the future, they forget the present, such that they live neither for the present nor the future…

That they live as if they will never die, and they die as if they had never lived.”

God’s hands took mine and we were silent for awhile and then I asked… “As a parent, what are some of life’s lessons you want your children to learn?”

God replied with a smile:
“To learn that they cannot make anyone love them. What they can do is to let themselves be loved…

To learn that what is most valuable is not what they have in their lives, but who they have in their lives…

To learn that it is not good to compare themselves to others. All will be judged individually on their own merits, not as a group on a comparison basis…

To learn that a rich person is not the one who has the most, but is one who needs the least…

To learn that it only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love, and that it takes many years to heal them…

To learn to forgive by practicing forgiveness…

To learn that there are persons that love them dearly, but simply do not know how to express or show their feelings…

To learn that money can buy everything but happiness…

To learn that two people can look at the same thing and see it totally different…

To learn that a true friend is someone who knows everything about them, and likes them anyway…

To learn that it is not always enough that they be forgiven by others, but that they have to forgive themselves.”

I sat there for awhile enjoying the moment. I thanked Him for his time and for all that He has done for me and my family, and He replied, “Anytime. I’m here 24 hours a day. All you have to do is ask for me, and I’ll answer.”

Dear Lord,

We always have so much to learn from you, so as we approach the end of this school year, let us slow down and appreciate everything and everyone that we have around us.  May we enjoy our time with you and with others so that we can practice the love and forgiveness that you understand so well.

Amen.  Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Pray for Us.

Holy Week

Morning Prayer: Holy Week
April 14, 2014
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M., Principal of Marist School

A couple of weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, I was sitting in a student desk in a Marist classroom.  It was the first hour that day of a debate and speech tournament that Marist was hosting.  I was listening to 10-minute prepared speeches that high school students from around Georgia were giving.  I was surprised when the last speaker moved to the front of the room and began with a statement saying in blunter terms than I’m using that all her life she had been thought of as unattractive and, as a result, made fun of to the point of spending most of her days miserable and depressed.  She recounted locking herself in bathroom stalls at school so that she could escape taunts from classamtes, and she described the effect of her mother’s death, which further complicated her situation.  Her outlet, more and more, had come to be writing, and especially writing about her experiences.  It seemed to have been her saving grace.

The Marist student who sat beside me and the three other people in the room were, I’m sure, no less surprised than I was.  I was left pondering the fact that this girl didn’t have to think about what she would use as her subject; it was obvious to her that the subject was what she was bearing and contending with every day.

All of us are trying to get better each day at feeling what someone else is feeling and trying to understand their experiences.  This requires a healthy portion of respect.  I am glad for the respect that Marist students show each other and those outside the school on a daily basis, and I’m glad for the lessons and the advice that Marist teachers and coaches give in the area of respecting others.

In this week that we call Holy Week, when we remember the sufferings of Jesus because he was human, because he was one of us, let us pray that we can recognize the value of those whose experience is different from ours and that we can respond in love and respect to any cry of anguish or plea for help that we might hear today and each day to come.  In that way, we accompany Jesus on His journey from abandonment and pain in his last hours to the new life and joy that comes with leaving behind doubts and uncertainties that weigh us down.

Let us pray.

In the name of the Father…  O God, you who show us the path out of our own worries by calling us to serve others and to think of their needs over our own, give us the way to see your Son Jesus in those in distress and to reach out to them in care and respect.  Because of the abundant life that we have been given in Christ, our joy, may we express our thanks to you this week by helping others to carry their crosses as we shoulder our own burdens.  We praise you for what we can learn from the suffering of Jesus, and we hope we can imitate his ways and finally follow him to everlasting life.  In Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom,Pray for Us.

Safety First

This week we welcome students from Marist Fuerstenzell, a Marist School in Germany, who are part of the German Exchange Program.

Erwin Gierl, teacher and chaperone, gave this mornings prayer:

“Safety first”, the pilot had said and so we arrived more than one hour later in Atlanta due to technical problems.

What can make me safe in my life?  Money?  Success?  Possessions?  They are all fleeting.

What makes me safe is faith – though I can only believe and not prove.  But knowing that our Lord is always with me gives me strength and the feeling of safety.

Thank you for praying for Marist Fuerstenzell.

Thank you for your warm welcome here in Atlanta.

Thank you for making this exchange program possible for our young people.

Knowing that I have friends all over the world makes me safe.

The Lord’s Prayer
(German)

Vater unser im Himmel,
geheiligt werde dein Name;
dein Reich komme;
dein Wille geschehe,
wie im Himmel so auf Erden.
Unser tägliches Brot gib uns heute.
Und vergib uns unsere Schuld,
wie auch wir vergeben unsern Schuldigern;
und führe uns nicht in Versuchung,
sondern erlöse uns von dem Bösen.

Denn dein ist das Reich und die Kraft
und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit.
Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Choices

Morning Prayer: Choices
April 2, 2014
Prayer by Sara Adelaide ’16 and Ansley ’16:

 SADD color

Continuing the theme of “Making  Good Choices” for Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) week, we would like to begin prayer with a poem:

Choices

by Allen Steble

We all have a choice
to live a lie
or be ourselves
to laugh and cry
or to follow someone else

to look up and smile
or bow down and frown
to walk the whole mile
or take off our crown

We have a choice
to shout out loud
or chant a whisper
to fly through the clouds
or to be blown like paper

to conquer our fear
or hide in the shadow
to the wise words hear
or be thrown out the window

We all have a choice
to climb our highest mountain
or fall into our deepest hole
to drink from life’s fountain
or live life like a troubled soul

to learn love in the heart
or grasp to hate with regret
to wake up and start
or sleep until sunset

We all have a choice
to speak truly with ourselves
or go against what seems

We all have a choice
to fulfill our greatest dreams

 

We chose this poem because it talks about the daily decisions and choices we have to make in our lives and how our choices can impact ourselves, others, and who we are.

Let us pray –

This is another day, O Lord.  I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be.  If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely.  If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly.  If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently.  And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly.  Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus.  In your name we pray, Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom… Pray for us.

Mary

Morning Prayer: Mary
March 24, 2014
Prayer by Fr. John Harhager, S.M., President of Marist School:

March is Women’s History Month.  This is our opportunity to remember all of the great women who contributed much to our world, our country, our church and to our school community.

It is fitting for our school and during this Season of Lent that we remember Mary – the most important woman in Church history.  She was the first disciple, the faithful disciple, the one who stayed with Jesus to the last.  We are told in John’s Gospel that she was present at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and was also there at the foot of the cross at the end.  She perfectly models for us: Discipleship.

The 13th century hymn, the “Stabat Mater,” is traditionally sung during the Stations of the Cross.  I invite you to pray with me as I recite a few of the verses of this beautiful hymn:

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ’s dear Mother to behold?

O thou Mother! Fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Mary, seat of wisdom… Pray for us.

Birthday Brownies

Morning Prayer: Birthday Brownies
February 27, 2014
Prayer by Mr. Eric Rangus, Director of Communications:

My birthday was two weeks ago. It fell right in the middle of our second snowstorm, so the celebration was rather muted, and in many ways, better than the original plan. Instead of a night out for dinner, it was a night in with neighbors. Instead of some big meal in some loud restaurant, I got brownies delivered.

It was a great evening and since I was home all day, I got to watch a lot of Olympic curling, which is not insignificant. Another unintended weather-related consequence was that by necessity, the celebration was extended to allow everyone to take part.

Last week, all the staff in the Hartnett Building, where my office is located, got together for a casual birthday lunch and desserts. We do this for everyone in the building –it’s a very nice tradition, and I was the lucky one whose turn came up.

Father Rowland led the blessing and he wrote a beautiful prayer for me. I won’t read it verbatim, because I don’t want to steal anyone else’s work, but one phrase has stuck in my mind ever since I heard it. In mentioning my role here at Marist, Father Rowland described it as being “charged with the task of following in the footsteps of the Archangel Gabriel and communicating the message about the mission and spirituality of the Society of Mary.”

Following in the footsteps of Archangel Gabriel. The Messenger of God. That’s a pretty serious path. Am I up to following that road? What if I can’t?

I thought about that a lot, and first thing that entered my mind was how I thought about it. What if I can’t? What if I can’t communicate the word of God? I thought about it some more and really focused on the word “can’t.” And it’s negativity. Was I assuming that it would be too difficult and I couldn’t measure up?

And then I thought about it some more and realized, I was looking at it all wrong. I should be thinking about the ways that I can deliver the word of God. Not only on a page or a computer screen, but in my actions and deeds. Speaking and acting with humility and generosity and ardent love of neighbor. Accepting with grace the gifts that I am given and to give gifts of my own with happiness.

That’s not a difficult path. It’s an aspirational one to be sure. And it does require some effort. It can be easy to step off the trail, but it is just as easy to get back on it. Wherever it leads.

Let us pray …

Dear Lord, please watch over us and guide us as we communicate your word in our own ways – be writing or speech or action.

And when plans go awry or our path hits a wall or leads to a cliffside, or a big patch of ice. Give us the strength to change that path or plan … to improvise, find a new direction for it may lead to brownies … amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom, pray for us.