An original poem to honor Black History Month

Morning Prayer:
February 14, 2017
Prayer by Leona ’17

Good morning.
In honor of Black History Month I would like to share an original poem…

Take my hand and wipe my tears.
Be my friend and hold my fears.
Sometimes weak and so ran over.
But smiling proud… a strong black soldier.
But what’s a soldier to an army?
An army equipped with more than just “sorry”
An army full of white, brown, and black
A united front ready to attack
What are we without each other?
We’re internal friends, no different from one another.
We bleed the same red. We cry the same blue.
And we scream to create justice.
But it takes an “I” and it takes a “U”

Dear God,
Let us stand up for those we know, those we love, and those we have yet to meet. Allow us to share the love to all on this Valentine’s Day. Let us all come together and believe. Believe that Black Lives Matter. That women’s rights are human rights. That animal rights are human rights. That no human is illegal. That love is love. And that kindness… is everything.

The following is a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

Mary Seat of Wisdom
Pray for Us

Is it still too soon for this prayer?

Morning Prayer:
February 6, 2017
Prayer by Fr. John Harhager, S.M., President

I recently read survey results saying that one fourth of Americans believe God plays a role in determining the outcome of sporting events.

After last night’s game, fans in this region may be inclined to disagree with those 25% of Americans.

The survey also said that half of Americans believe God rewards devout athletes. It makes me wonder if they believe the opposite: God punishes those who are not devout.

And can some teams really be cursed by God, as 20% of Americans believe?

It does raise an interesting question about God’s involvement in our lives.

God is involved in the world which He created; and He is involved in our lives. He deeply cares for us; He is always with us; and He guides us as collaborators in His Divine Plan.

Let us pray, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Merciful God,
deepen our faith in you as Creator and Father of all.
Fill our hearts with a spirit of peace and reconciliation.
Let us be your instruments of mercy; making all things in Christ.
May we grow strong in your image
through which we spread your message of love and peace
in our community and throughout the world.
Grant this through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom…. pray for us.

Being Open to a New Experience

When I sat down to begin writing this reflection, I found myself with writer’s block. I knew in my heart that I had experienced something unique and consuming; however, I was unsure of what words to use. Naturally, I took to Google. I typed in “mission trip reflection questions.” None of the prompts I found asked me about who I helped, why I signed up to help those people, or about what happens in the area once I leave. We’re all thinking “What’s in it for me?” Sure. You can get all of your service hours done in one swoop. And sure, I can stand up here and tell you my life changed or that I single handedly salvaged a community on the brink. However, on a realistic level, I really just plastered and painted for hours. And you’d be surprised how a monotonous job gives the mind a chance to wander. Who’s going to be sitting in these classrooms? Who will look at these walls? I will probably never meet them, but I know a bit about them. They attend this school because they qualify for the 100% school free lunch program. Not one student on their campus, not even seniors, can afford to buy a Chick-fil-A sandwich on any given afternoon. That’s why they are allowed to attend this school. Why do they deserve to live like this? If you open yourself to it, a mission trip will provide an opportunity to look at life from a new perspective: from the perspective of a student who relies on a lunch program. It’s powerful.

I’m just going to tell you, it’s not easy to give up a week of your summer. When you have the option of spending time at your friend’s lake house or going to a Brave’s game or simply just watching Netflix, it is so easy to turn a blind eye to the impoverished kids in Charleston who can’t even afford a school lunch. The real challenge is being open to a new experience. It’s stepping out of your comfort zone and committing your time and energy to someone you have never met and maybe never will meet.

Another common challenge we face is consumption in one’s own faith journey. How am I walking with God each day? Do I pray outside of retreats? Do I ever thank God rather than just asking him for things? I get it. A Marist student’s life is hectic and often self-consuming.

When I traveled to Charleston, South Carolina with Catholic Heart Work Camp, I found time to meditate and reflect on the impact I was making, usually while getting paint in my hair. It occurred to me that Jesus did not sit around trying to perfect his relationship with his Father. He did not stay adhered to one location or church or synagogue, preaching his perspective on the role of Christians in our world. Instead, on his journey, Jesus wasn’t afraid to look around, to search out people in need, and notice the poverty right around the corner. Poverty is present in downtown Atlanta, in Charleston, in Kentucky, and around the country. Jesus stood against doing what was easy: he showed compassion for lepers, healed the sick, and reached out to the Gentiles. Jesus took to the road to spread the Good Word, do good deeds, to lead others towards a better relationship with God. Catholic Heart Work Camp allowed me to realize something outside of myself. My hands were joined with others around the world fighting for those who have no one to fight for them, praying for those who have no one to pray for them, and spreading the Good News in a way that is tangible, emotional, and outside of simple words.

Our Humanity…

Morning Prayer:
February 8, 2017
Prayer by Taylor ’17

What makes us human? I’m sure there are plenty of scientific and spiritual theories to answer that question, but to me, our humanity is most prevalent when we are dedicated to showing compassion to both people and the Earth. Compassion is defined as, “sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others.” On paper, it seems like an easy enough thing to practice, but unfortunately, another defining trait of human beings is our egotism. History has shown that it’s not hard to become apathetic or downright aggressive towards people who aren’t experiencing life the same way we are, particularly when their adversity has no effect on our lives. That doesn’t automatically make us bad people, it just makes us human. But the great thing about humans is that we are capable of change. We just have to decide to do so. And it’s entirely possible, because you know what a synonym of compassion is? Humanity.

Dear Lord,

Thank you for blessing us with the gift of compassion. Please allow us to exercise it as often as possible. Make us not just more tolerant, but more accepting. Give us the wisdom to cherish both the Earth and people in situations different from our own. And above all, Lord, allow us to be a little more human.

Amen

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.

Rise Up!

Morning Prayer:
February 3, 2017
Prayer by Jack Pantlin ’18

When I was thinking about how to write this prayer, I thought about just saying a prayer for the Falcons. Like many of you, I’m really looking forward to the Super Bowl. But the thought also reminded me of the Falcons’ motto: “Rise Up.” This motto has been associated with the Falcons for years and was especially fitting this year, as the Falcons did something that no one expected them to do. The whole city has risen up with them because of their amazing achievements at a time when they face their toughest task yet.

In our lives, there are many tasks that seem insurmountable. There are many opportunities that we may be hesitant about. Maybe it’s because we’re unsure of what the future may hold. However, God asks us all to rise up day after day in almost everything we do, even if we don’t realize it. We just need to trust in ourselves, trust in God, and rise to the occasion, pushing ourselves to go further as people. This could mean leaving your comfort zone, reaching out to someone who needs help, or even a small act of kindness. We all are capable of rising up to God’s call, and if we do, we will form a more united community at our school and in our world, a community in which everyone can trust that the others will rise up. Together, we can do things that we never knew we were capable of.

Let us pray:

Dear God,

Please help us to rise up to your call and commit ourselves to doing everything that we can as people to strengthen community within our school, our city, and our world. (And, we pray for the Atlanta Falcons).

Mary, Seat of Wisdom. Pray for Us.

The Value of a Catholic Education

Morning Prayer:
January 30, 2017
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M., Principal of Marist School

Good morning. This week the nation marks Catholic Schools week. The start of that for us is always the Archbishop’s Education banquet which took place on Saturday night. Marist students provided the singing and the serving for the Mass that took place before the dinner. Thank you to those who were representing Marist, including Mr. Freel. At the dinner, one staff member from every school was honored. For Marist, Mrs. Mistretta was honored for her work at Marist as registrar and the other things she does. Also, Mrs. Claussen’s husband was honored for Immaculate Heart of Mary and Mr. Gentile for the Cristo Rey High School, who is the grandfather to our three Elledges and father to Mrs. Elledge. It was a good evening, and Marist was well represented.

I know that you all know many ways that Catholic schools are different. Yes, we can pray when and how we want. Yes, we can discuss God and topics in religion as we please. But there is also a basic human respect that drives what we do, down to greeting each other and feeling like we could trust the others in this community if we needed help with something. I hear the word “community” a lot when people are describing what they appreciate about Marist. That’s not always the case in other private schools or in public schools. The same regard for human life that we say pertains to the unborn obviously pertains to the born, all the way through old age and death. That kind of consistent valuing of the most important part of our days together—namely, appreciating each other and the contribution that each person makes—is what has made Catholic schools successful since the first ones were started in the United States in the early 1700’s. It’s no accident that the people who graduate from Catholic schools do pretty well later on—we teach responsibility and care for other people. Those things often mean that our graduates are in leadership wherever they are.

So, it would be great if you told your parents and your teachers “thanks” at some point for the benefits of Catholic schools. But even if you don’t, I know you’ll be enjoying those benefits anyway. Let us pray.

In the name of the Father…

From the earliest schools in convents and monasteries to today’s high-performing prep schools, you, O God, have been the beginning and the end of the efforts of teachers and students—to glorify your name, to understand your ways, and to make you known throughout the earth. Bless our efforts in this and the other schools that seek to advance your will by bringing together from diverse stories and places people of great promise, energy, and faith. May we maintain Marist School in its independence and in its reliance on Mary’s way, so that all who go on from here might take with them the benefits and the memories of a bountiful and helpful education, in a community of care and a spirit of common belief. Through the intercessions of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the other patrons of Catholic education, we bless your holy name and seek to follow Jesus, who is the Lord and is our primary teacher now and forever. Amen.

Mary, seat of wisdom.

Make Sure There’s Enough Room for Everyone

Morning Prayer:
January 13, 2017
Prayer by Mr. Billy Vogelson, Campus Ministry

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

Today in some way shape or form you will be challenged to think about what type of person you are and what type of person you want to be. I think these are good questions to ask myself every day. Because even though it is awfully inconvenient, I must hold myself accountable to who I am today and measure it against who do I want to be. And there are days that I don’t want to do that and I horribly fail at making those two things line up.

When I wake up late or don’t get out of bed when I’m supposed to… and take my time… fully not admitting that we are going to be 15 minutes late and stuck in traffic, and rather than just deal with it, and “see serenity in the moment”, I hurry my kids along and get frustrated when my 4-year-old is struggling with her jacket zipper because it’s stuck on the fabric, and my two-year-old can’t carry his own bag, and his milk cup, and walk down the front stairs, and I JUST CAN’T BELIEVE THESE PEOPLE I HAVE TO DEAL WITH!

Yeah, that’s not the type of Dad I want to be….I know I should do better than that.
And I can. I have the power to change my actions, in part because I have to. My actions affect people who are literally dependent on me… That can’t survive on their own. That need my help. And because I’m their Dad, it’s easy to do that…most days.

It’s a lot harder to care about people who I am not directly tied to. I think a lot about the Judgment of the Nations reading from Matthew 25 when it goes through the whole litany of folks who will inherit the kingdom of God and ultimately represent Jesus- the hungry I’m supposed to feed, the naked I’m supposed to clothe, the thirsty who need something to drink, the sick who need care, and the imprisoned that need companionship.

Honestly, these are a list of people that I really have no desire to hang out with… at all. I don’t know them and don’t really want to know them… and it sure doesn’t make much sense why they’re inheriting the kingdom because it sure sounds like they’ve got a lot of problems going on that might hinder how effectively they run the place…

And the story ends with “whatever you did for the least of mine, you did for me.” And that is tough, especially if the “least” shows up in the person I’d LEAST like to see today, or a person who has done the LEAST for me lately, or they could’ve at LEAST tried…but now they’re dependent on me to help them out.
And I know what I should do… help them, I mean, it’s pretty clear. But sometimes I don’t for some reason. Probably because God’s truth doesn’t change, but I have to.

It’s not easy to do the right thing, at all. But I’m not supposed to do life by myself. That’s why there’s family, friends, church and community who, when we’re all looking out for each other, makes it a lot easier to follow the Gospel. I mean, look at Jesus- he needed 12 people to help him out.
So whether you’re attending Mass today or the Assembly, my challenge to you is to be open… and not just learn something new, but open to God speaking to you in your heart. Because if you listen He’s probably saying two things:

1. I love you. Always.
2. Build my kingdom and make sure there’s enough room for everyone. No, for real, everyone.

Mary Seat of Wisdom, pray for Us. In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Bartholomew’s Blessing

Morning Prayer:
December 16, 2016
Prayer by Anna ’18

Once of my favorite Christmas books from when I was little, called Bartholomew’s Blessing, by Stephanie S. Tolan, describes a young mouse who is invited to come see the baby Jesus in the manger. He faces many challenges along the way and believes that he has nothing to bring to Jesus. I am going to read to you a brief passage:

“The prince will not notice me, Bartholomew told himself, but I’ve come this far. I can’t go home without seeing him.” Inside, the stable was filled with soft sounds of the animals breathing. Bartholomew, wet, bedraggled, and shivering, made his way forward between the legs of the other creatures. In a manger full of golden straw, a baby lay, waving his hands in the light that surrounded him. Bartholomew caught his breath in wonder. This was a baby – a prince – worthy of all the gifts he had meant to bring. Warmth and light filled Bartholomew. And the night was filled with blessings.”

Dear Lord,

Let us be like Bartholomew. As we approach this Christmas season, let our hearts be open to the light that Jesus shines upon each and every one of us. Help us to be open to embracing your light and love. Help us to remember the true reason for Christmas, the birth of our savior. Please continue to guide us to your light and help us to spread your light to other people.

AMEN

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, Pray for Us.

Open House Video Recap 2016

We had an amazing day Sunday at Open House.  Despite the weather, it was quite the festive afternoon.  A special thanks to our students and faculty who helped to share the joy and enthusiasm that they have for Marist School with all of our guests.

Enjoy this video recap of the day produced by Freshman Michael Cully ’20.

Real Joy Comes From Giving…

Morning Prayer:
December 12, 2016
Prayer by Fr. Joel Konzen, S.M., Principal of Marist School

Good morning. We’re in our last week before Christmas break, and even though we just had a week’s break, we are all hungry for another one.

My thoughts as we are less than two weeks from Christmas are with those whose hunger is more basic than our hunger for a break. I worry that, especially given the policy changes I’m hearing might take place in the new year, the poor in our country might be even more invisible and forgotten than they are already. In every society, Christmas has been a time when even the stingiest of individuals have opened up and shared something of their good fortune. I thank those who have brought canned goods, have responded to Mrs. Shanahan’s requests for aid to families, and who have on your own thought of those who do not have a lot to celebrate this year, whose lives are still marred by lack of opportunity or by some misfortune.

It seems like a never-ending effort—to help the poor. Jesus himself said that you will have the poor with you always, but he didn’t mean that it was right to ignore them or to sigh and say, “there’s probably not much we can do.” The Letter of James says that if we see someone in need and say “Good-bye and good luck,” there is no good in that.

Let me again thank members of this community for the ways you have been generous to the poor this year, and I hope that in the days ahead you will find the chance to share more of what you have with those in need. Christmas is celebrated in our faith and in our hearts, and the older we get, our happiness comes from giving and not getting. Give especially to those who will treasure your gift because it means so much to them—and pray that we might always be aware of the poor in our midst.

Let us pray.

God of the rich and the poor, on this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we ask that in your Son Jesus you will help us to open ourselves to those whose way is hard and who suffer much because they lack the basic resources that ensure security and promise. Grant that we might be in some way a blessing to the poor and to know that you have filled our lives with so much that we want to share what we have with others. Your son Jesus said that when we offer aid to the least in the Kingdom, we are in fact ministering to Him. May we not tire of serving our Lord through service to others. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Mary, Seat of wisdom, Pray for us.