11.4.14

April 11, 2014

The next Entrance Exam will be given May 3rd.  We generally encourage 7th graders interested in St. Michael’s Preparatory to take the exam on that day.  Feel free to spread the word.  Please have interested families contact Mrs. Christian at 949-858-0222 (ext. 237) to register.

● Third Quarter Oral Exams are this week:  Monday through Thursday.  Students are encouraged to study; parents are encouraged to pray.

● Students are dismissed for Easter Vacation after the Good Friday service (around 4:30 PM).  They must return on Sunday, April 27, by 7:45 PM.

● Non-senior parents are reminded about their donation towards the graduation reception.

● There is a Moms’ and Dads’ Night Out scheduled for Sunday, April 27, at 6:30 PM in the Perpetual Help Room.  See Rimini Esser for more details.


Athletics
● The next baseball games are:  Tuesday, April 15, at 6:00 PM [*Updated], at Bonita High School (La Verne, CA); and Wednesday, April 16, at 1:30 PM, at St. Michael’s.

Homily of the Week by a Norbertine Priest
“When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” How can we explain this? What were the Pharisees supposed to see in the Son of Man lifted up? What are we to understand by it?

Whenever we hear challenging Scriptures in the liturgy, we might practically assume: “I’m not supposed to understand this,” or “I can’t possibly put that into practice.” In this verse, the Lord is telling us something about Himself that should make an impact on our lives. Something about Jesus being lifted up on the cross will proclaim to one and all that He is the Son of God. At the moment of supreme weakness and defeat, we are supposed to see the power and the glory of God.

Christ teaches us that His power is shown not by calling down fire from heaven, not by calling twelve legions of angels to assist Him, not even by destroying the Jerusalem Temple and rebuilding it in three days. Instead, His real power is shown by suffering freely and patiently accepted for love of us--and this combined with no threats of retaliation, no bitter words, no breath of hatred from His mouth. Only God can suffer like that. Only God can love so perfectly, so purely, people who can be so unappreciative.

It goes without saying that the Lord wants us to love and to suffer like Him as well. And if we say, “I can’t possibly put that into practice,” or “It’s a nice ideal; maybe someday I’ll make it,” to each of these reactions, the Lord answers, “No. This is for you. And you must put it into practice without delay.” What is the Lord asking of us?
Perhaps it is best explained by St Paul: “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we are weak in him, but … with you we shall live with him by the power of God.” In order to follow after the Lord in His Passion, we have to become weak. In order to experience God’s power in our lives, we have to become weak. Who wants to become weak? Who boasts of weakness? Aren’t we more often concerned about being right, being on top, being in control? Or avoiding people and situations that might make us feel awkward and unsure of ourselves? The idea of deliberately putting ourselves into a state of dependence and vulnerability seems to set us back quite a ways.

But Saint Paul explains what kind of people boast of their weakness and why--Christians: “I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, … for when I am weak, then I am strong.” To be weak for the sake of Christ does not mean making excuses for ourselves, or giving ourselves permission to sin, but it is to set our sights on the cross of Christ and say: I will imitate that Love. I know that I will fail and fall short again and again. But my Savior has invited me to come, to behold Him, and to imitate. There is no greater love than this and I claim it for myself. There is no higher standard of love than that of Christ on the cross. And there is no greater feeling of inadequacy or weakness than trying to imitate this love--and yet it is so salutary. 
We all fall short. After taking barely one step in following the Lord we realize that we cannot be generous, poor, chaste, obedient, prayerful, prudent, courageous unless some power from on High descends to overshadow us. And God often allows us to fall short for the sake of teaching us a lesson that is hard for us to learn: Depend more on me. Think more about me. Stop thinking so much about yourself and your problems and weaknesses. Stop being surprised that you are weak. But be humble and you will be exalted.

Isn’t this a refrain of Lent? If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. One of the hardest tasks we face is the conversion of our ways. Wouldn’t we all like to walk out of this church this morning feeling compelled to change for the better? To feel so inspired that we are willing to suffer anything and do anything for the Lord? It always seems to come to the same thing: Unless our hearts are touched, we won’t change. We’re looking for a compelling reason to give up what we’re used to, to refrain from what we don’t need, to reach out to others at inconvenience to ourselves. And until someone puts his finger on our hearts, it just won’t happen.

Perhaps the Lord is putting His finger on our hearts today in this way: Look again at me hanging on the cross and understand this: This is the only way to life, to love, to power, to glory. These gifts are mine to give. Be weak in me and dependent on me, and you will receive more power and glory than you can bear. You will receive the strength to love like me, which is the only strength worth having. And most importantly, when you truly feel how weak you are and how good and powerful I am, then you will know that I AM. And what I AM, by my grace, you too will be.
   
Prayer Requests

●For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.

4.4.14

April 04, 2014

The school is hosting an Open House this Sunday, April 6, at 3:30 PM in the St. Norbert class room.
The next Entrance Exam will be given May 3rd.  We generally encourage 7th graders interested in St. Michael’s Preparatory to take the exam on that day.  Feel free to spread the word.  Please have interested families contact Mrs. Christian at 949-858-0222 (ext. 237) to register.

Athletics
●The next baseball games are not until Tuesday, April 8, at 3:15 PM, at Marina High School (Huntington Beach); Wednesday, April 9, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s; and Friday, April 11, at 3:15 PM at St. Michael’s.

Homily of the Week by a Norbertine Priest
Not to hate one’s enemies, not to return evil for evil, to refrain from vengeance and to forgive ungrudgingly were all considered at that time unusual behavior, too heroic for normal men…. But Christ wanted to teach his disciples — you and me — to have a great and sincere charity, one which is more noble and more precious: that of loving one another in the same way as Christ loves each one of us. Only then will we be able to open our hearts to all men and love in a higher and totally new way (St Josemaria Escriva: Friends of God, no. 225).
Former Major League Baseball Player, Justin Speier, Instructs The Baseball Team

Maybe more than any other of His teachings, our Lord’s command to love our enemies, to pray for and do good to them, triggers an unholy resistance within us. There is an ugly, unredeemed part of each of us that wants to deny to others the mercy that Christ shows to us. Fallen people find it easier to punish than to pardon.

But even at our best, the command to love and forgive our enemies may also create an apprehensive, uneasy feeling in us: that we must become indifferent to good and evil, ignore our feelings, and not care about being hurt. Is this really what the Lord is asking of us? How do I love someone who makes me unhappy or causes me pain of some kind? How should I feel about loving them?

But if we only look at forgiveness through our feelings, then we will never arrive at the place where Jesus wants us to be. He commands us to be perfect without compromise, and the place where perfection is fully realized is on the cross. The place Jesus wants us to reach is the cross, because only on our own cross will we experience the full force of His mercy and love, and so find the strength to give it to others.

Jesus Himself loves us from the cross, speaks to us from the cross, forgives us from the cross. From the cross He says, “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.” From the cross, He gives us His Mother to be our Mother. Everything good comes from the cross of Christ—most especially, the mercy that saves us. 
Saint Josemaria says about this courageous charity to which we are called: “Not to hate one’s enemies, not to return evil for evil, to refrain from vengeance and to forgive ungrudgingly were all considered at [our Lord’s] time unusual behavior, too heroic for normal men…. But Christ wanted to teach his disciples — you and me — to have a great and sincere charity, one which is more noble and more precious: that of loving one another in the same way as Christ loves each one of us. Only then will we be able to open our hearts to all men and love in a higher and totally new way.”
Frater Matthew Desme Instructs the Baseball Team

The pathway to this heroic love—a goal which I would ask you right now in your heart to decide if you really want to attain or not—the pathway to this goal is through continual mercy, forgiveness, pardon—not approval of or turning a blind eye to evil, but our heroic refusal to hold anything against anyone. For “your Father who is in heaven… makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Forgiveness is never approval of evil. If someone has done something bad, it will always be bad—it cannot suddenly become good. What we mean when we say “I forgive” is that I, as a child of my Heavenly Father, also want my “enemy” to be a good, obedient child of God. I want him to be saved. And yes, the path to his salvation will involve his conversion, and probably a lot of suffering; there must be a cross for him, just as my own salvation takes the path of conversion and suffering, and of the cross. But may God enable him to walk it as He enables me.

The Catechism puts it so beautifully and succinctly: “It is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC 2843). And this underscores what the Lord is really asking of us: He is issuing an uncompromising challenge, not to our feelings, not even to our memory, but to our love. 

Listen to how blunt Jesus is: “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brethren, what is unusual about that? Do not even the pagans do the same?” Jesus is “mocking” the small, mean heart that is satisfied with being small. To those who think it is enough to love friends only, the Lord says that if you follow and imitate Him, you must leave all limits behind.

The truth is, unless you love your enemies you will not even love your friends and family rightly. Because there are many times when those closest to us will push the boundaries of our patience, kindness, our sense of what’s fair, our generosity. The boundaries of our charity will be pushed to the point where we will feel that too much is being asked of us.

The Lord is gently but surely pushing us to go beyond the borders of comfort to love those who will not love back, to forgive those who do not ask to be forgiven. And the justification that Jesus gives is always the same: that you may be perfect like God, children of Him “who makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

In place of the sinful reactions to the real evils and offenses that we face, we must continually have in mind the remembrance of God’s mercies toward ourselves. Let’s not forget that the higher and new love to which we are called springs from hearts deeply aware of having been not only forgiven for past sins, but preserved from many others by the same Jesus who knew and loved us before we knew and loved Him. It is this same Lord who calls us to do the same: to love before love is returned, and to keep loving even if we never see it returned, “that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

   
Prayer Requests

●For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.