Sunday, October 16, 2016

No One Person Can do Everything

In today’s first scripture reading (Exodus 17:8-13) at church, Moses received help from the men who were with him:
In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.
Moses, therefore, said to Joshua,
“Pick out certain men,
and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle.
I will be standing on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hand.”
So Joshua did as Moses told him:
he engaged Amalek in battle
after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
As long as Moses kept his hands raised up,
Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest,
Amalek had the better of the fight.
Moses’ hands, however, grew tired;
so they put a rock in place for him to sit on.
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other,
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people
with the edge of the sword.

I was struck by the reality that Moses, a human, had limitations. He grew tired even as people depended on him. As a leader, he needed help. He couldn’t let his people down but he couldn’t do his work by himself.  

In this story, we don’t know if Moses asked for help. Aaron and Hur seemed to move into action, taking their own initiative, to support Moses. Perhaps they knew what would happen if they didn’t intervene. Moses also didn't say, "Leave me alone. I've got this, guys." He was humble enough to receive assistance. While the grace of God was flowing through Moses, God’s grace was also with Aaron and Hur. They were inspired to act. For me, the point is that while Moses always gets the credit for being a prophet and leader, he didn’t do it by himself.

In many places - a faith community or the workplace, for example - there might be an appointed leader but everyone has a responsibility (and hopefully opportunities) to share their gifts, whether they are gifts of the head, hands, or heart. Sometimes it's nice to be asked to help. But sometimes we know the right thing to do and need to just do it. Step forward. Don't wait to be asked. No one person can do everything, but many people working together can do great things.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Born out of a Revolution

During the French Revolution, religion was suppressed. For their own safety, clergy went underground and some left the country.

October 12, in the Catholic Church, marks the Feast of Our Lady of the Pillar. This is a special day for the Marianists because it recalls the inspiration Blessed William Joseph Chaminade drew from Mary during his exile to Zaragoza, Spain during the French Revolution.

It was at the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar where Blessed Chaminade was inspired to return to France in 1800 to build inclusive and welcoming Christian communities known as sodalities. From those sodalities the Marianist Family was born. The first lay community, the Sodality of the Immaculate Conception, met on December 8, 1800 and members professed their commitment on February 2, 1801. As members sought to deepen their faith and service to the church and world, the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary took form and were founded in 1816 and 1817, respectively. These lay and religious communities exist throughout the world today.

I can’t imagine what Blessed Chaminade would think today. While we in the US are not in a revolutionary war, we are seeing a vastly divided country: black/white, rich/poor, male/female, national/immigrant, Christian/Muslim, and more. Call it a culture war or a battle for the soul of our country. Civility in politics and interest in the common good have been lost. Something must change.

The Marianist charism is a gift to the Church and world. Let us pray for civic and Church leaders. But let us also pray for ourselves, that we may be builders of a community (world) that honors human dignity and recognizes that we are all made in the image and likeness of God. 

October 12 is also celebrated as Marianist World Day of Prayer. Many celebrations in 2016 and 2017 will emphasize the bicentennials of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate and the Society of Mary but for all, it is a time to be united in prayer and mission across the globe.

Statue of Our Lady of the Pillar

May the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Amen.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Happy Birthday to the Society of Mary (Marianists)

Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels and on this date in 1817 the Society of Mary was founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade and seven committed men in Bordeaux, France.

Let us give thanks to those men who have committed their lives as Marianist priests and brothers to carry out Mary's mission of bringing Christ to the world.