31.1.15

January 31, 2015

Announcements
·         Applications to renew tuition assistance are available now. Applications must be postmarked by February 3rd.  http://stmichaelsprep.org/images/stories/Admissions/psas_financial_aid_application.pdf
·         The next Moms’ Night Out is scheduled for Sunday, February 8, at 6:45 PM, in the Perpetual Help Room.
·         Please note that the weekend of February 14-15 is a closed weekend due to President’s Day (Monday, February 16).  No students may stay the weekend at the school.  All students return Monday night, February 16.
·         The school will be hosting a student from France the next few weeks.
·         The National Latin Exam will be on Tuesday, March 10, at 6:30 PM.


Athletics
·         The winter sports award ceremony is scheduled for Monday, February 16, at 7:00 PM.
·         Congratulations to our basketball and soccer teams on their recent games!
·         The next soccer games are: Tuesday, February 3, at 3:15 PM, at St. Michael’s; and Thursday, February 5, at 3:15 PM, at Oxford Academy [5172 Orange Ave., Cypress, CA 90630]
·         The next basketball games are: Tuesday, February 3, at American Sports Center [1500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805]; Thursday, February 3, at 4:00 PM, at Fountain Valley Recreational Center [16400 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708]; and Friday, February 6, at 4:00 PM, at American Sports Center [1500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805].


Sermon by a Norbertine Priest

An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord…An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit.

With these words, which we heard in today’s second reading, St. Paul lays out for us the charter, so to speak, for consecrated or “religious” life.  By “religious” or “consecrated” life is meant that state of life where a man or a women, responding to a call from God, consecrates themselves completely to Him, binding themselves to Him with the three vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, spending their lives in prayer and contemplation and in the service of the Church.  They are religious priests or brothers, or nuns.  Pope Francis has designated this year a year dedicated to religious or consecrated life, in which he asks all of us to reflect on this vocation within the Church, to thank God for it (for it’s a gift to His Church) and to pray for vocations to this state of life.

When we consecrate something—like a church building, for instance—we separate it from other buildings so that it can be dedicated entirely to God.  So, when we say that someone leads a consecrated life, we mean that he or she has, to a certain extent, cut themselves off from this world and the things of this world in order to give themselves completely to God.

By the vow of poverty religious cut themselves off from the care of all material goods.  This does not mean that they vow to live in absolute destitution, but it does mean that, like the Apostles, they have personal ownership of nothing, that share all they have with their community, and that they strive to live as simply as possible.  This is the one vow that seems to take on many different forms according to time, place and the apostolate; but the principle is always the same:  no personal ownership, and the simpler the life, the better.

By the vow of chastity religious cut themselves off not only from the good of marriage, but even from any kind of close personal relationship, in order that they might offer to God a completely undivided heart, giving all their attention to and finding all their joy in Christ, the object of all of their love.

And by the vow of obedience religious cut themselves off, so to speak, even from their own will, surrendering it to God, submitting their every action to His will as made known to them by their superiors.

By these three vows religious men and women live what has been called a “dry” or “white” martyrdom:  dying to the world in order to live soli Deo, “for God alone”.  They offer themselves up as a living holocaust on the altar of God, allowing not just part, but all of their life to be consumed in His sight.

Many today, in fact ever since the so-called Enlightenment of the 18th century, question the value of such a life.  It all seems so worthless, unproductive for society, a waste of time, a waste of your life.  Such an attitude has even taken on concrete action against religious life throughout the past 300 years or so, when, under certain anti-Catholic governments, all religious communities that were not also engaged in teaching or hospitals were closed down, since those with a more contemplative life were seen as useless for the common good of society.  What a foolish mistake!

Like St. John the Baptist (the first religious) and the Apostles, consecrated men and women by their words and actions point the world toward its Creator and God, towards its Redeemer and Lord.  Ecce Agnus Dei, “Behold the Lamb of God”, is what the religious says with his or her life.  By their consecrated life they remind others:  that this material world is passing away and you can’t take it with you; that, as our Lord Himself said about us all, At the resurrection of the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be as the angels; and that in heaven all are perfectly obedient to God’s holy will in all things.  In other words, the religious, even while still here on earth, begins to live the life that all will lead in heaven.  Maybe no one ever told you, but in heaven we will all be poor, chaste and obedient:  no marriage, no one possessing anything for themselves but all sharing God, and everyone perfectly obedient to God’s will.  And in so doing these consecrated souls give glory to God, save their own soul, and help lead others to heaven.

Perhaps you’ve heard the story taken from the life of St. Francis of Assisi.  One day St. Francis asked one of his brothers to come along with him to go preaching.  The brother agreed and followed St. Francis as he walked through the town.  Continued along walking, not saying anything, eyes downcast; they walked through the whole town, through the marketplace, past all the people, and then came home.  Upon their arrival the confused brother asked St. Francis, “I thought we were going out to preach to the people.”  St. Francis replied, “We just did.”  The greatest sermon religious can give is their fidelity to their vows and their way of life.

St. Thomas Aquinas and many others call the religious life the greatest state of life.  This does not mean that all religious are superior to married people or single people.  By no means does it mean that! But it does mean that this state of life, one given entirely to Christ, where, because of their consecration to God, because of their vows, every good act they perform, no matter how small, is also an act of the virtue of religion, an act dedicated to the worship of God; and hence, this state of life, objectively speaking, is greater than all others.

“But those poor men and women, no freedom, no happiness, what a life!,” some might say.  St. Francis De Sales has a response.  He said, How happy are the hearts of religious, in having given up some years of the false liberty of the world in order to enjoy eternally that desirable slavery in which no liberty is taken away except that which hinders us from being truly free.  There is no person more free than a good religious.  There is no person more happy than a good religious.  To live for God alone, every moment of your life! To want nothing else than to think about, pray to, live for Christ! It is a truly blessed life.

Some St. Michael's Alumni At Walk For Life
Pray for all religious, for all men and women who have consecrated themselves to God in poverty, chastity and obedience, that they might be forever faithful to those vows; and pray that many young men and women will say “yes” to God when He calls them to this life which is so important for the life of the Church; so that by the prayers and example of consecrated souls we all might be reminded of our true home and our hearts might be prepared to receive the Lamb of God, Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit eternally reigns.  Amen.


Prayer Requests
● Mr. Andy Portka, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
● Mrs. Donna Loeffler, who is fighting cancer.

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

24.1.15

January 25, 2015

Announcements
·         The next Moms’ Night Out is scheduled for Sunday, February 8, at 6:45 PM, in the Perpetual Help Room.
·         Applications to renew tuition assistance are available now. Applications must be postmarked by February 3rd.  http://stmichaelsprep.org/images/stories/Admissions/psas_financial_aid_application.pdf

·         Please note that the weekend of February 14-15 is a closed weekend on account of President’s Day (Monday, February 16).  No students may stay the weekend at the school.  All students return Monday night, February 16.


Athletics
·         Congratulations to the soccer, archery and basketball teams on their recent victories!

·         The next soccer games are:  Tuesday, January 27, at 3:15 PM, at Southlands Christian [1920 Brea Canyon Cut Off Rd., Walnut, CA 91789]; Thursday, January 29, at 3:00 PM, at the Trident Center [1800 W. Ball Road, Anaheim, CA 92801.
·         The next basketball games are:  Tuesday, January 27, at 4:00 PM at American Sport Center [1500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805]; Thursday, January 29, at 4:00 PM American Sport Center [1500 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805].

·         The winter sports award ceremony is scheduled for Monday, February 16, at 7:00 PM.


Sermon by a Norbertine Priest
“The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.”

Fasting is perhaps more intimidating than any other facet of the spiritual life.  It touches us deeper than any other kind of bodily mortification.  As living creatures nourishment is the most basic power of our soul, and as animals the pain of hunger adds a certain urgency to relieve what we might do to ourselves by fasting.  And therefore, the effect of this particular bodily penance tends to hijack our attention in order to alleviate itself. 

Weekend Outing
And when the simple delight of food is rendered difficult to obtain because we are commanding ourselves not to have as much as we would like, our inner animal snarls and snaps at everybody, not realizing that people and events from without are not the evil threatening us so much as the demon from within.

All we can think about is eating again, wondering what the next meal will be, disproportionately enticed by savory smells wafting from the kitchen during the Magnificat so that prayer is practically impossible.  So, the vexation caused by the black hole in our stomach can go all day long, longer than just about any other kind of discipline we apply to our flesh.  John Cassian points out in his Conferences that other sinful inclinations can be starved to death, but not gluttony, because at some point we have to eat again, and then the monster is roused, and the fight for temperate control over our stomach starts all over again.  
Fasting is more intimidating even than the legendary Dark Night of the Soul.  We quickly compare trials in life to the Dark Night of the Soul, but never to fasting, even though the visceral need for food is such an obvious parallel to our existential need for God.  Why is this?  

Perhaps because we don’t want to think about something so close at hand like fasting, whereas we don’t really expect the Dark Night for a long time yet.  Or again, it ennobles our suffering to compare it to that final, radical purification of our inmost spirit, but it degrades our suffering to liken it to the daily needs of the flesh.  Or maybe it’s because we prefer to submit to purifications imposed by God rather than reminding ourselves of penances we should be putting on ourselves but so often don’t.

Nevertheless, the Gospel today is clear, we as Christians are obligated to fast.  “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.”  Just as an epicurean life marks us as worldlings, so fasting identifies us as the spiritual Semites we are.  And though we might immediately want to hide behind Canon Law and thank God we’re only obligated to fast two days a year if we’re eighteen to fifty-nine years old, we should call to mind Blessed Paul VI’s earnest hope that people would generously go beyond the minimum: “The Church…invites all Christians without distinction to respond to the divine precept of penitence by some voluntary act, apart from the renunciation imposed by the burdens of everyday life.”
And more pointedly to us in the sanctuary: “The precept of penitence must be satisfied in a more perfect way by priests, who are more closely linked to Christ through sacred character, as well as by those who, in order to follow more closely the abnegation of the Lord and to find an easier and more efficacious path to the perfection of charity, practice the evangelical counsels.”

STM Alumni
If we can rouse the manliness to engage in this battle directly, not only will we find greater facility in taming our lower appetites, since restraining ourselves in one area of desire trains us to restrain other areas of desire; not only will we have a most pleasing sacrifice to expiate sin; but, when sublimated through prayer, fasting powerfully reminds us of that true hunger for God which alone ought to consume our lives.  Thus it assists us in our contemplation of divine things, freeing our souls from the heavy shackles of the flesh even while united to the flesh.  And therefore, what is really at the root of it all, fasting helps our hearts love God more freely and completely, love our neighbor more compassionately and divinely.  There is thus a very straight line connecting the concrete and indispensable practice of fasting and the summit of the spiritual life which is to love God with our whole being and our neighbor as ourselves.



Prayer Requests
● Mr. Andy Portka, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
● Mrs. Donna Loeffler, who is fighting cancer.

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