Tuesday, February 20

Isaiah 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
And do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
Giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
So shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
It shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Today's reflection reminds me that God has a mission for all our lives and is willing to help us through. God has bestowed upon us Brothers Boys many blessings in life and I believe it is our duty to seek out his will through reflection and meditation. He says, "So shall my word be...it shall not return to me void but shall do my will" meaning once the Lord has put a calling on your life you have to seek it out and ensure to best of your ability it is accomplished.

As a young alumnus of CBHS I have recently found the calling God has put on my life and I am vigorously pursuing it every day. This reflection also lets us know that the Lord will help move us through tough times, ensuring we don't backtrack as we figure out our mission in life "just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth." I wish all CBHS alumni young and old success in their future endeavors and hope today's reflection will help you through your life's journey. 

Caylon Thomas
CBHS Class of 2011

Monday, February 19

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him. 
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you? 
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

Each year at CBHS, our students earn direct service hours, and specifically during the month of January, we focus as a school community on the virtue of service.  Why do we place such an emphasis on concern for the poor and social justice?  Today's reading shows us a poignant answer to this question, as Christ reminds us that when we serve our fellow man, we serve him.

If you were to ask me, "Shawn, do you do enough to help those in need?", I'm sure I could find some ways to rationalize my answer.  Maybe I'd say, "Yeah.  I give at church.  I try to go to the faculty day of service.  Oh, I teach kids each day too... that's definitely an act of service!"  I'd probably smile, and with good humor and conviction, I'd let that be that, hoping that the conversation would turn to more comfortable, if less challenging, topics.  However, after thinking about this passage from today's Gospel reading, I'm left feeling a little guilty.  Look at all this nice stuff I have.  My family and I live such comfortable lives!  When is the last time I really went out of my way to help someone who obviously needed it?  I wonder if Jesus wants his followers to feel this way about their current stations in life.  Maybe so, or perhaps instead of guilt, he intends this story to inspire action.  (Most of his parables do just that.)  A commonly used expression comes to mind: "Live simply so that others can simply live."  Certainly, this is action that we all can take to.

During this season of Lent, let's all look for those opportunities to see Christ in our fellow man.  From the guy with the cardboard sign at the intersection to the lady who brings 40 items to the express lane in Kroger, to the child who just wants someone to listen, let's take opportunities as they come to be men and women of action.  Only then can we look forward, with confidence, to the day when God says to us, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Shawn Morgan '02
 CBHS Faculty

Sunday, February 18

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, 
and he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

After John had been arrested, 
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
"This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel."

I am from a BIG Catholic family. Each year brings babies and baptisms. I have been to a lot of baptisms, but it hit me like a ton of bricks when I stood by the baptismal font with my wife holding our precious child. We stated our intentions and recited the Apostle's Creed. Holding a candle, we promised that we would bring him up in the faith and keep the light of Christ alive in his heart.

Today's Gospel illuminates the purpose of baptism. Jesus has just been baptized when the Spirit leads him out to the desert. There Jesus prepares for ministry with fasting and prayer, he also contends with the wild beasts and with the demons who test him. Inspired by the Spirit, Jesus goes there to detach from comforts, find union with the Father to accomplish his vocation.  When my son was being baptized, I couldn't help but think about the years to come. I thought about how I hope he will be strong when life is hard, even when I am not around to encourage him. I want my son to be led by the Spirit, to contend well in the desert, and come out proclaiming the Gospel. My prayer today is that in the darkness we all keep the light of Christ burning. When the dawn breaks on Easter Morning we may rise and say, "The Kingdom of God is at hand!"  

John Michael Simpson
CBHS Faculty

Saturday, February 17

Luke 5:27-32
Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him.
Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house,
and a large crowd of tax collectors
and others were at table with them.
The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying,
"Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"
Jesus said to them in reply,
"Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."
Today's Gospel reading illustrates God's boundless mercy and poignantly speaks to how God calls us to seek others regardless of their shortcomings. 
During Jesus time, Jewish tax collectors were despised for working on behalf of the Roman authorities to collect taxes from their fellow Israelites. They were considered the worst of sinners and traitors for willingly taking on this task.  Yet Jesus does the unthinkable by calling Levi, a tax collector, to follow him.  To the even greater bewilderment of the Pharisees, Jesus dines with Levi and a large group of his tax collector friends. 
Similar to many of his dealings with the Pharisees, Jesus goes scandalously against the grain of Jewish culture to demonstrate that no one, regardless of their sin, is beyond God's calling, mercy and redemption.  This is joyful news for all of us.  We can relate to Levi and the fellow tax collectors, as sin is a reality in each of our lives.  In some cases, we may have discouraging patterns of sin that we constantly struggle to overcome.  Despite these weaknesses and shortcomings, our loving Father repeatedly calls us back to a deep, abiding relationship with him. We can experience this so tangibly in the beautiful sacrament of Confession where God draws us back into union with him, pouring out abounding love, forgiveness, and mercy.  There are no restrictions to his forgiveness when we bring a genuine, contrite heart to him and repent. 
The grace we receive in Confession is vital to our healing, growth in holiness, and strength to continue in our journey to grow closer to the Lord.  We should also take note that despite his past as a tax collector, Levi demonstrates a critical building block in our faith - the willingness to leave everything behind to follow the Lord.  We all grapple with this daily yet our relationship with Christ, and ultimate freedom, relies on letting go of our attachments and giving our whole heart to God.
This Gospel reading also presents a charge for us to invoke the same compassion and charity that Jesus did.  We encounter people every day who may be considered outcasts, unpopular, or unappealing to associate with.  If we don't see past their shortcomings as Jesus did with Levi and help draw them to God's love and compassion, who will?
Aaron Ranson 
CBHS Class of 1997
Alumni Club of Washington D.C.


Friday, February 16

Isaiah 58:1-9A

Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast; 
Tell my people their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins. 
They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
"Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?"

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!


Today's reading doesn't pull any punches. God, speaking through his prophet Isaiah (in full-throated Old Testament fashion), immediately takes us to task for our hypocrisy and selfishness. We are admonished for demanding our due from the LORD even as we are consumed by "our own pursuits." The entire first half of the passage reads like a shamefully familiar catalogue of human weakness and failing which inevitably "ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw." Our selfish behaviors dehumanize us, and we turn away from the love and light of God. 

Finally, in complete exasperation God demands: is this "acceptable to the LORD?" Of course not. The disease of selfishness to which we are all so susceptible will eventually destroy us. We will continue to build walls of darkness and isolation until we are totally cut off. It seems hopeless. How can we ever find our way back to the light? 

Suddenly, the tone and tenor of the passage change dramatically, and God shows us the way out. In fact, God takes pains to lay it out for us as simply and directly as possible:
• Release those bound unjustly
• Share your bread with the hungry
• Shelter the oppressed and the homeless
• Clothe the naked
• Stop turning your back on your own
No theological abstractions here or esoteric mysteries-instead, we are presented with a menu of personal and practical actions we can all take; actions which put others before ourselves. And when we choose to devote ourselves to others, especially the downtrodden and forgotten, then our "light shall break forth like the dawn" and our wounded souls "shall quickly be healed" and the LORD will remind us of what we should have known all along. He will say, "Here I am!".

Jamie Brummer Ph.D.
CBHS Associate Principal for Instruction

Thursday, February 15

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Moses said to the people:
"Today I have set before you
life and prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen,
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

I am constantly searching for ways to strengthen my faith and my moral compass. You live your life according to your inner compass, regardless of the faith you claim or whether you argue "Secular" on this issue and "Non-Secular" on that one. Your Moral Compass is innate in you and it's constantly molded over time. 

So I turn to catchy sayings, one-liners, mottos and scripture to shape my thinking and help me stay on the good path. I especially love scripture that is short and simple, yet you know in your bones it's true. 

This passage is a beautiful reminder of the undying love God has for each of us. He has blessed us all with the gift of life, but we are charged with choosing how to live it. 

When Moses said "Today I have set before you life and prosperity, and death and doom" this made a light bulb go off in my head. To me, the biggest "choice" in life is choosing how to spend the energy and spirit God consecrated into your body. Everyone, like it or not, will spend that energy. You're either going to spend it putting off positive energy into the universe, or the other option is on the negative side of things. Which way do you lean?

"Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you, a long life for you to live on the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob."

Will you spend your life focusing on things that are positive, good and wholesome? Or will you spend yours on the negative, materialistic behaviors? The answer to me has become pretty simple; focus on the positive, asking God for help and praying to him along the way, and the positive will usually win out.

Ben Maxwell
CBHS Class of 2008
Alumni Club of Nashville

Ash Wednesday, February 14

 Joel 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, "Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
Brother Adrian's niece Ramona would visit the Brothers in Memphis.  Ramona lived in Brother Adrian's hometown, Ossian, Iowa and she would bring with her a tub of "freshly rendered lard" with which to make pie crust to encase strawberries and rhubarb grown  in her garden.  A hog butchering plant was not far from Ramona's home and she was able to procure "freshly rendered lard" with ease.  The fat from the hog had been boiled down and "rendered" to use in cooking.  And boy what scrumptious pie crust was the result of Ramona's expert use of that lard and flour and water.  Maybe not the most heart-healthy crust...but definitely the most delicious!
Ash Wednesday's first reading starts right away with directing us to rend our hearts, not our garments.  Like that hog fat, we are directed to "boil down" the fatty elements in our hearts...the anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and sloth and render from that boiling the healthy elements of patience, contentment, moderation, generosity, chastity, humility and zeal.  Rather than tearing up and shredding the sinful ingredients of our daily lives, during Lent we can practice the virtues of patience, contentment, moderation, generosity, chastity, humility and zeal.  These are the holy spirits that can fill our hearts and push away the evil spirits of anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride and sloth.  We can then feast on the delicious pie of mercy, joy and love in our daily lives, this pie of spiritual health.  Taste and see how good the Lord is!
Br. Joel William McGraw, FSC
CBHS Class of 1963



Lenten Reflection Series Introduction
"I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person's life. God is in everyone's life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else - God is in this person's life. You can -- you must -- try to seek God in every human life."
                                            - Pope Francis

"Each vocation arises from the mystery of the unique encounter between God and the person who is called."
                                            - St. John Baptist De LaSalle

ThIs year, Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day.
Celebrating the relationship with a "significant other" on a day of fasting, abstinence, and penance might send the wrong signal as an expression of love.
However, both Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are opportunities for personal reflection.  During Lent, 40 days of religious introspection leads up to the Resurrection---a life of everlasting hope and promise. February 14 provides an amplified opportunity to celebrate those who are special in our lives.   It is not about the card, dinner, or flowers; rather it is the reminder of the commitment which love requires.

This is my first Valentine’s Day without either parent, but I will still think of them and treasure the love they gave to my siblings and myself.  And as I spiritually prepare for Easter Sunday, I celebrate their own resurrection and the joy they are mysteriously sharing today.

As we journey through Lent together, we are given the opportunity to reflect on the things that are important to us----our faith, our actions, and our friends.  Thank you to those who have taken the opportunity to share your personal journey---including the joys and challenges which give vitality to our faith.

Br. Chris Englert, FSC
President, Christian Brothers High School