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One does not live by bread alone, Journey of Faith

One does not live by bread alone, Journey of Faith

“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, One does not live by bread alone.’” Luke 4:1-4

Do we really trust God to fulfill our needs and hopes?

Oftentimes, it is fear that our needs are not forthcoming or disappointment over dashed hopes that cause us to turn away from God.

The Lenten Season helps us to remember the blessings that we have received and return to God in trust; we can then share these blessings with others.  During this radically baptismal time, we enter into a deeper meaning of our faith as we open our hearts, putting aside our plans in favor of the dreams that the Lord has for us, His hope for our lives and His invitation to new life.

As we experience self-examination, fasting and penance – realizing that the work of our redemption will not be complete until we are resurrected like Jesus – we strive for holiness in our present form.  In significance of the 40 days the Israelites spent in the wilderness and our Lord’s 40 days resisting Satan’s temptations we, like Israel and our Lord, are tested.

From a beginning theme of the death and resurrection of Baptism on Ash Wednesday, to the conclusion at the Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday), we rise to new life in Christ.  Venturing on a quest for spiritual food and nourishment for the sake of getting to know God better is an activity that He will abundantly reward.

Friend, as co-missioners, our fast should be the same authentic one of which the prophet Isaiah spoke in his 58th chapter: “setting free the oppressed…sharing your bread with the hungry…bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house…clothing the naked when you see them.” By our baptism, we are responsible for showing Christ’s love to the world, and in doing so become fully devoted disciples with new hopes that surpass any we could conjure up.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

Fourth Sunday of Lent

You feed us with the Bread of Heaven

as we make our pilgrimage through life,

O Lord of my longing and liberation.

May it always strengthen us for the journey

and bring us safely to the Promised Land

where all your children gather in peace

and praise of your mighty works.

You are the Prodigal Father who lavishes his love

no less and the younger, impudent Son

than on the older offspring who obediently

stays and slaves for you In hopes of winning

your favor and meriting a greater reward.

Your mercy continues to scandalize us,

Lord, who can neither appreciate,

much less understand

your unconditional love is precisely that: unconditional.

May that love inspire and confound us

always.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations, Interview with Thomas Groome

What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations, Interview with Thomas Groome

In this readable and timely work, Thomas Groome explores the basis of Catholic education, from the historical Jesus to figures like Augustine and Aquinas, Angela Merici, Elizabeth Seton, and Mary Ward. Groome shows how these foremothers and fathers of Catholic education ground and shape the spirituality of Catholic educators today. It is these foundations that ensure that Catholic schools today deliver the education they promise to students–not only to Catholics, but to those of many religious traditions.

The Supreme Good of Knowing Christ Jesus, Journey of Faith

The Supreme Good of Knowing Christ Jesus, Journey of Faith

“More than that, I even consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith”.  (Philippians 3: 8-9)

“There’s a fire in my belly” are words I often hear from seminarians as they move through the process of formation.

That burning desire to share what has been given to us in knowing Jesus should be common to all believers. 

As we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland this week, let us take his example of putting “the supreme good of knowing Christ” first in his life.  Captured in Scotland by pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave to tend sheep, Saint Patrick prayed continuously during his captivity.  It was during those six years that he experienced a conversion which protected him from the hardships of slavery.  After being told in a dream from God to leave Ireland, St. Patrick escaped, returned home, and had another vision which prompted him to study for the priesthood.  Entire kingdoms were brought to Christ through hearing him speak, often by using shamrocks to explain the Trinity.

But just exactly how do we make knowing Christ our ultimate goal?  By meditating on how Jesus lived and responded to others when reading the Gospels; by studying references to Christ in Scripture; by allowing the Holy Spirit to remind us of our Lord’s words when we worship and pray; and by coming to mission with Him in forwarding the Gospel.

Friend, we are called to share our faith as St. Patrick did – even with his captors – however it will often mean making major changes in our thinking and lifestyle.  Knowing Jesus naturally transforms our lives daily, inspiring us to invite others to know Him through us and through our actions.  No amount of religious effort can make us right with God; we receive the gift of Christ’s righteousness only by trusting in the Lord.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

First Sunday of Lent

Walk with me, Jesus, across the wilderness

Of selfishness, envy and fear

That I might be cleansed of all Sin and deceit.

Let me pick up my cross and follow you

That my ego might be crucified

And my soul be reborn to better reflect

Your holy image in me.

Not by bread alone may I live, Lord,

But by every word that

Comes forth from your mouth.

Help me tear down the idols I erected

In my heart that I might worship

You alone.

And give me the courage and strength

To overcome every temptation

The Tempter might send my way.

For you, O Lord, are my only way

You are my truth and my life.

Fill my emptiness with your presence

And my soul with your grace

For with you ever by my side

I shall never face neither the darkness

Nor death alone.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

First Sunday of Lent, Journey of Faith

First Sunday of Lent, Journey of Faith

“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Imagine for a moment an archbishop voluntarily living as a homeless man.

In the inspirational novel The Homeless Bishop by Joseph E. Girzone, (Orbis Books), modern-day Archbishop Carlo Brunini ventures on a journey of homelessness to better understand the plight of those for whom he cares so deeply.

He endures the pangs of hunger, the humiliation of begging, the bone-chilling sensation of sleeping in bitter cold, and the profound fear for his life that those living on the streets do.  Yet, through the self-sacrificing year-plus of living out in the elements, his faith grows exponentially.  Having become a shunned and marginalized person with no earthly trappings, he tells his homeless “family”, “He (Jesus) was also one of us, a homeless beggar with nowhere to lay his head…for the most part he wandered around from village to village, eating whatever was available along the way.”

After revealing his true identity to those with whom he has been living, Archbishop Brunini says, “I am a better person, a better priest, a better archbishop because of what I have learned from you, my special family…It was because he (Jesus) had such a deep and beautiful feeling of love for people like you…And he made treatment of you and those like you the basis for how he will judge people when they die.”

Friend, if you ask Jesus today, “Break my heart for what breaks yours,” He will, but then be prepared to embark on a journey such as you’ve never taken before, a journey to become a new creation in Christ.  Everything about you will change by the mighty power of the resurrected Christ.  Growing into this new creation, we no longer regard anyone according to the flesh, but rather the Spirit that lives within.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

First Sunday of Lent

Walk with me, Jesus, across the wilderness

Of selfishness, envy and fear

That I might be cleansed of all Sin and deceit.

Let me pick up my cross and follow you

That my ego might be crucified

And my soul be reborn to better reflect

Your holy image in me.

Not by bread alone may I live, Lord,

But by every word that

Comes forth from your mouth.

Help me tear down the idols I erected

In my heart that I might worship

You alone.

And give me the courage and strength

To overcome every temptation

The Tempter might send my way.

For you, O Lord, are my only way

You are my truth and my life.

Fill my emptiness with your presence

And my soul with your grace

For with you ever by my side

I shall never face neither the darkness

Nor death alone.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Preparing for Lent, Journey of Faith

Preparing for Lent, Journey of Faith

“No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40

Lent is days away now.  So I turn my humble thoughts on preparing for the miracle of Easter…

When Socrates was on trial for impiety, he was famously quoted as having said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  Words to live by as Ash Wednesday approaches.

As a child I learned how to examine my conscience before confession.  Later in college, my Jesuit teachers taught me about self-examination using the discernment exercises of Ignatius of Loyola.  I also had my Jewish friends telling me about the Ten Days of Repentance (Aseret Yemei ha Teshuvah) between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).  Like our own traditions, these centuries-old observances are dedicated to examining our conscience—and making the necessary amends.

When I served some years ago as a missioner in Egypt, I learned of a third tradition.  Going back to the earliest mystics, Muslims have practiced muhaasaba, or regular self-examination, in order to avoid evil and do good—all in preparation for the Last Judgment.

Our three Abrahamic religions agree:  understanding who we are, and desiring to do good above all, make us worthy in God’s eyes.  If the words “examination of conscience” produce a lingering anxiety in you, don’t worry.  You’re in the emotional company of many others who struggled, too, including Ignatius of Loyola and Thérèse of Lisieux.  Let’s go for something less intimidating.  How about “an examen of life”?

Today’s reading from Luke sets the stage.  Some questions to ask ourselves:  Whose vision for life am I following?  Whom have I named as my leader and guide, my teacher and role model?  How do I even make these choices?  Am I actually following someone who is visionary?  Or visionless? 

Answering these questions during Lent is my job, too.  It requires me to “tune into myself” and be honest about how I want to live my life, and the example I want to be for others.  This reminder from Luke says all I need to know:  “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit; nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.  For every tree is known by its own fruit.”

Friend, now’s the time to think about what you and I will do this Lent to bear the good fruit of our faith.  With a little effort, the harvest can be rich with gifts of charity, compassion, justice, and hope.  May our Lent—yours and mine—be bountiful.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

I confess my sins and acknowledge my guilt

before Your altar, my Lord and my God.

Cleanse me from all my transgressions,

evils that I did and good I failed to do.

Wash my soul anew and restore Your image

in me which through my fault became stained and distorted.

Through prayers, fasting and penance

rekindle the divine spark within me

that I, in turn, might draw all people to You.

Not for my sins alone, but for all

who dwell in darkness and

the shadow of death, may my prayers

and petitions rise like incense in Your sight.

Walk with me Lord, as I walk with You,

this Lent and always. Do not put me

to the test nor hide Your presence

from me. Into Your hands, O Lord,

I commend my spirit and place

all my hope and trust in You

that together we might cross the dessert

of indifference to arrive in that kingdom

where You live and reign with the

father and Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Power of Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

The Power of Forgiveness, Journey of Faith

“I give you a new commandment, says the Lord; love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34

Today’s Gospel is a tall order.  Love your enemies, turn the other cheek, and if someone takes your cloak, give them your tunic as well.

Reminds me of John Lennon’s utopian—and boundaries-free—“Imagine”…   “imagine all the people living’ life in peace… nothing to kill or die for…. And no religion, too.”

No religion.  Really?

My “Imagine” goes this way:  Imagine a world in which we practice Jesus’ religion of compassion and contradict (even flagrantly violate) our more predictable codes of behavior.  Here’s an example:  You’re sitting in the parking lot with your brand new car.  Haven’t even made the first payment on it yet.  Then someone drives up and parks right next to you, opens the door with brio, and puts a nice dent in your shiny new vehicle.  Eyes meet.  What do you do?

Imagine the most ridiculously generous and totally unexpected thing you could do for the door slammer.  Imagine what you would want someone to do to you if you were the offending party.  Searching for clues, I think of Luke 6:36:  “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”  Does that mean being a pushover or someone who is robotically compassionate?  I don’t think so, even though I myself have to deal at times with typical “first reactions” that I wouldn’t want broadcast anywhere.

Friend, the Kingdom of God arrives on planet earth when we contradict our normal and maybe even fair-minded ways.  I believe that what motivates us to rethink the thorns of life has something to do with wanting to be a better person—God-like if you will—and becoming worthy of salvation in Christ.  His promise after all—“Forgive and you will be forgiven”—is a really good place to start.  Let me know how you do.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

 

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lord Jesus, from the cross

You asked the Father to forgive those

who hated You and wanted You dead.

Help me follow Your example

and fulfill Your commandment

especially when I lack the will or

desire to forgive those who harm me

or wish me ill.

Help me to at least imitate You

by praying for my enemies when

I lack the desire to forgive them myself.

Remind me of my own faults and failings

when I too stood in need of forgiveness

and help me surrender all thoughts

of resentment and vengeance

to make room in my mind and heart

for Your most amazing grace.

I stand before Your most glorious

throne of Mercy and fervently pray

for all who have wronged me

that I might be free from all unhealthy

thoughts of getting even or paying back.

I commend my wounded past to Your

healing presence and merciful heart

that with Your saints, I too might one day

enjoy the company of the saints In the light of Christ forever.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Cost of Discipleship, Journey of Faith

The Cost of Discipleship, Journey of Faith

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord.” Jeremiah 17:7

Easy to find solace in today’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus addresses a great crowd with words we call the eight Beatitudes, virtues sure to transform and bless us on our journey home to God.  Harder to understand is the cost of virtue that the Beatitudes imply.

The fourth and climactic pair of blessings provides a clue.  Jesus says, “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!  Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

Frightening?  Yes, definitely.  Jesus is saying there is a cost to discipleship and we must be prepared for rejection, even suffering.  But the cost will insure us salvation and the gift of eternal life.  Here’s a modern-day story that makes my point…

While serving in Kenya, I came to know a highly successful Catholic couple that was having difficulty conceiving a child.  This was a looming tragedy because in Africa many communities believe that the primary purpose of marriage is children.  For them, a relationship without children is not a marriage.  Eventually, the husband’s family began to pressure the young man to either divorce his wife or take a second wife.

Despite the pain this caused, the couple refused.  They were committed to the indissolubility and exclusivity of their marriage.  After praying for guidance, they made the decision to adopt two babies who had been abandoned at the gate of a Catholic children’s home.  The husband’s family opposed the adoption.  But no amount of pressure worked.  The couple stayed true to their marriage covenant and began raising the children they longed for.  Their cost of discipleship was great—but so was their reward.

Freind, staying true to our faith is a journey.  We understand the challenges, but we have the strength of God’s grace, we have each other, and we have the promise that one day we will be in Christ’s presence for all time.  May that be all you need in this world to celebrate the promise of eternal life in the next.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Prayer for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Give me, O God, strength to do Your will,

courage to say yes to You, perseverance to stay the course,

and patience with myself and others when I face

disappointments, setbacks and failure.

I believe You remain with me, Lord,

no less in my weakness than in my strength

and You give me daily grace to do Your will

and follow Your way in the world.

May I have the humble desire to welcome

all You send me to help me follow You.

Grant that I might accept Your will

even when it differs from my own

and never let despair overshadow

my faith in You, who daily call me

to pick up my cross and follow.

Amen

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

The Gift of Purpose, Journey of Faith

The Gift of Purpose, Journey of Faith

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” 1 Corinthian 15:10

I think of today’s readings as a gift.  Rarely do all three scriptures have a unifying theme, but this Sunday they do, perhaps a gift for the preacher—meaning me.  But I think a gift for all of us seeking direction in life.  And that is what I call the Gift of Purpose.

Each reading tells us about someone finding purpose through some action of God… people as different from each other as Isaiah is from Peter and Peter from Paul.  And I from you.  What we learn today is that God’s action in our lives does not have to be dramatic or extraordinary, although it can be.  After all, Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah.  But let’s remember, Peter was a fisherman and Paul was a kind of policeman of his day.  Neither was on retreat or deep in prayer while fasting when they heard the voice of God.  They were just at work doing the things that society expected of them.  The way you and I do.

Today’s readings remind us that the Gift of Purpose in our lives is not only unpredictable but it’s also unmerited.  Nothing indicates that Isaiah, Peter or Paul are called because of their character, skill set, or potential as missioners.  They are called just because God had a plan and only these individuals could fulfill it.

Something else about the Gift of Purpose that we learn today:  Peter was called to become the fisher of men and women; and Paul was called to evangelize Jews and Gentiles alike.  Which tells me that God’s Gift of Purpose directs us away from ourselves in radical service to others.  It enables us to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and life lessons in everyday events.

One Gift of Purpose I will never forget came to me from a man I knew in Kenya who was dying of cancer.  “Cheerful” was not a word I took seriously before I met him, but I changed my attitude when he told me that despite his illness he had set a goal for himself to be cheerful.  He used the word often during our visits.  That’s when God’s message came to me loud and clear:  What we choose to do with our circumstance—whatever form that may take—can have an enormous impact on other people.  I was not only humbled by his example, but I realized how much work was left for me to do before I could match his gift-giving.

Friend, no need to abandon the normal routine of daily life to fulfill your calling.  I’m just inviting you to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to find the wings of an angel hiding somewhere in a corner, and even to be an example of the Gift of Purpose that God intended for you.  Why not go searching and surprise yourself?

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

Prayer for 1st Sunday

Come to me, Lord, in everyday things:

in meals to be prepared and enjoyed,

in dishes to be washed and dried,

in laundry to be done, floors swept clean,

furniture dusted and beds to be made.

You, in whom all things live and move

and have their being, help me to seek and find

You no less in the common place than in

lofty Cathedrals and awesome sunsets.

You, who sanctified all of our lives

by Your becoming human through Mary,

bless the minutes and hours of each day,

that I might know Your wisdom and will

guiding me ever gently by Your grace.

Fill my life with purpose and meaning

that not a single moment is ever wasted

but each thought, word and action by me

this day might redound to Your eternal glory.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

Resurrection Hope, Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas

Resurrection Hope, Interview with Kelly Brown Douglas

“How do we really know that God cares when Black people are still getting killed? How long do we have to wait for the justice of God? I get it, that Christ is Black, but that doesn’t seem to be helping us right now.”

These questions from her son prompted theologian Kelly Brown Douglas to undertake this soul-searching reflection. The killing of George Floyd and the ongoing litany of Black victims raised questions about the persistence of white supremacy in this nation, leading her to reflect on how a “white way of knowing” has come to dominate American identity and even to shape the consciousness of Christians.

In exploring the message of Confederate monuments and the “Make America Great Again” slogan, she examines the failures of even “good white Christians” and struggles with the hope that “Black Lives Matter,” before reaching deep into her own experience and the faith of Black folks to find her way back to Resurrection Hope.

Take up The Challenge, Journey of Faith

Take up The Challenge, Journey of Faith

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.”   1 Corinthians 13:1

Charity begins at home.  At least that’s what the Nazarenes thought about the doings of their favorite son.  They wanted Jesus to work a few miracles in their own backyard—and maybe send a message to their enemies to boot.

Knowing human nature as he did, Our Lord was ready for the challenge. “Physician, cure yourself” is doubtless the proverb he expected to hear—and he did.  His neighbors and relatives wanted him to do the things they heard he had done in Capernaum.

That demand did not go over well.  Jesus admonished the crowd, suggesting that they take up the challenge to cure themselves instead.  What he meant was care for one another… place your own needs and concerns after the stranger’s and those who are suffering.  To make matters worse, Jesus specifically referred to God’s kindness toward Israel’s enemies:  the widow from Zarephath, and Naaman the commending general of Aram’s armies.  That was too much for the Nazarenes to hear.  They drove Jesus out of town with the intention of actually killing him.

Now enter the words of St. Paul.  “Love is patient, love is kind… love never fails.”  You know the rest.   

Friend, the people of Nazareth had lost their capacity for caring.  They wanted to shrink God down in size to conform with their own needs and self-centered expectations.  You could say they wanted a God as small as they were.  Our challenge

is to achieve the exact opposite… to serve as Christ did, to bring healing wherever we can and without exception—and to understand that the expansiveness of God’s love can never be contained.

That’s the gift of a God who is bigger than us, and who wants us to know we can be bigger than ourselves, too.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Father ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Lance Nadeau, M.M.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Your love, like Your mercy,

lasts from age to age, O Lord.

In Your infinite mercy cast from my heart

all that is not motivated by love:

love of family, love of neighbor,

love of enemy, love of self,

all of which are different ways of loving You.

Walk by my side when I am weary,

be my guide when I am lost.

Shelter me when I am afraid

and catch me if I should fall

that I, in turn, may accompany,

guide, guard and support

others in the same way.

All creation gives You praise

and reflects Your glory, O Lord,

the galaxies no less than the flowers,

the sunset no less than the butterflies

but all pale in comparison to Your love

reflected in those who forgive each other

In Your holy Name.

Amen.

Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.

ABOUT MARYKNOLL

We are a Catholic Society of priests and brothers based in the United States. We are dedicated to missionary work overseas in over 20 countries. Additionally, we animate Catholics in the United States to follow their own baptismal call to share God’s compassion and love with the poor, the sick, and all those in need.

OUR GENERAL COUNCIL

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Fr. James M. Lynch, Fr. Lam M. Hua, Fr. Lance P. Nadeau, Fr. Timothy O. Kilkelly)

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers is overseen by our General Council, led by Superior General Rev. Lance P. Nadeau, M.M.

OUR FOUNDERS

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier

(Our Co-Founders Father Price and Father Walsh)

PLACES WE SERVE

EVANGELIZATION, PARISHES, AND PROJECTS

USA

STORIES OF MISSION

(Africa) Education and Formation of African Clergy

The Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers Africa Region will provide tuition assistance to African clergy, male and female religious at institutes of higher education or specialized training. Read More

Stories of Our Global Mission

The calling of a lifetime

The life of a Maryknoll missioner is challenging, fulfilling, and deeply rewarding. Follow your baptismal call to mission by sharing God’s compassion with the poor, the sick, and people most in need.

L-R Tom O'Brien, Ray Finch, Joe Everson, Russ Feldmeier
“Go where you are needed but not wanted, and stay until you are wanted but not needed.”
– Bishop James E. Walsh, M.M.
First Maryknoll Bishop