October 30, 2021

Who lives in your house?  Is it another person?  An ideology?  A resentment?  A hope?  A feeling?  Whatever it happens to be, our hearts will be restless and our lives will be dissatisfied until God alone dwells in our house.  Indeed, what freedom and peace when the living God meets our deepest yearning for life!  Perhaps this is the reason the church values Mary so much, as the one who models how to be single-hearted with and faithful to the Word.  Unlike Eve, who let that sneaky serpent’s words into her garden (cf. Gen 3:6), Mary maintains a pure house that, with a closed door (cf. Lk 1:34), is a safe and secure dwelling place for the One Whom Her Heart Loves (Song 3:4).  We who are afraid of such deep intimacy have let all sorts of strange guests into our houses!  We tell ourselves that it is all in the name of love, but we cling and grasp in fear and desperation.  Let’s therefore take the risk of putting an end to all that does not belong in our inner sanctuary (cf. Jn 19:30).  Let’s trust that God can and will communicate with us through a closed and locked door (cf. Jn 20:19, Mt 6:6).  Let’s spend our eternity, with Mary, in the one house that lasts, giving birth to the Word forever (cf. Rev 21:22).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

October 23, 2021

Have you ever found yourself caught in the crossfires of a debate about abortion?  The rhetoric escalates extremely quickly and there is practically no room for real speaking and listening, as we are instead left with two opposing camps that think they share nothing in common.  Nevertheless, our Catholic faith, an unmistakably both-and tradition, invites us to consider how the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice positions actually do go together:  Is forcing a woman to give birth not a lapse in human dignity and thus a non-durable vision for any authentic society?  Isn’t a society that is built on freedom without recourse to an enduring point of reference, that is, the goodness of life, destined to cave into itself again and again?  Indeed, it should not surprise us that the same tradition that insists upon justice and mercy, law and prophets, spirit and flesh, human and divine rejects the notion that the truth could ever be contained in a single “camp” and instead directs us to the dazzling Word-made-flesh (cf. Jn 1:14, Mk 9:2-8) who sums up all things in his very person (cf. Jn 19:30), demanding that his disciples also be people of radical integrity (cf. 1 Cor 9:22).  Let’s therefore have the courage to stand with Jesus in that tight and narrow space that leads to life (cf. Mt 7:14), all the while rejecting easy versions of the truth.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica.


Totally Devoted to Bengal and Missionaries

Eric Fabian Salgada was born in Chittagong, Bengal, to an Anglo-Burmese family. He was educated by a group of Irish missionary sisters until the age of thirteen when he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross at St. Gilbert’s Novitiate in Tumilia. The year before he professed vows, in 1920, he was put in charge of a boarding school in Akyab, where he also made the second year of his novitiate. In 1927, at age 25, he was sent to Toomiliah to be the supervisor of all of the village primary schools of the Toomiliah-Rangamati parishes. He did not take well to teaching, but did what he was told to do because in the early days, there were few Brothers in the schools, and the demand for them was great and unrelenting among the parish priests.

In 1933, he left the classroom for good because he was appointed as the procurator providing everything needed by the missionaries to fulfill their ministries. Almost every morning for the next 50 years, he would hop into a rickshaw with a brown leather satchel in his lap and his day’s agenda laid out. He went from shops to offices, to the hospital and then onto the Archbishop’s house, checking off each of his daily tasks on a neatly scripted list. In the afternoons, he read all of the mail, answered the phone, attended to passports and visas, had photos printed, and filled the needs of anyone coming into the office.  Sisters often came to see him and a leper or two might drop by seeking pills. He kept a supply of medicines for the neighboring poor to provide some comfort for them from their aches and pains. For the last ten years of his life he suffered from heart problems and was completely blind.

A few days before he died, he was moved from Moreau House, where the Brothers felt they could no longer care for him and his heavy bronchial congestion, to the Gulshan Clinic. His death came silently as two Brothers prayed the rosary.  All manner of people flocked to his wake: Priests, Brothers, Sisters, the poor, the lame and the leper.  He was a brother to all, and like St. André Bessette, he personified pauper, servus et humilis.  He gave all that God had given him to his beloved of Bengal and the Holy Cross missionaries.

October 16, 2021

Learning a new language is hard.  Yes, there is the vocabulary, conjugations, declensions, constructions, tenses, moods, idioms and pronunciation, but what is more, is the risk of sharing our mental space with foreign ideas and concepts.  Indeed, to allow ourselves to think differently necessarily challenges our well-established neural pathways, which is where our opinions and attitudes dwell.  Slowly we learn to befriend these intellectual visitors and develop a whole new mental landscape that makes us more capable of communicating with others and sharing ourselves.  The language of an authentic human life is the Word, who similarly knocks on the doors of our souls and invites learning at the deepest of levels.  As we navigate the interior conversion of our spiritual pathways, where there can be all sorts of blocks and obstacles, we slowly learn to speak God’s language: seeing the poor among us, listening compassionately to others, forming our consciences before acting, practicing gratitude spontaneously, humbly asking for help, smiling generously, breathing deeply, and being present to each and every one of our sisters and brothers throughout a given day.  May we thus find the courage to confront the babel of our lives (cf. Gen 11:1-9), to share our personal spiritual space with the Word (cf. Jn 14:2-3), and begin speaking the Good News in all that we say, think and do (cf. Acts 17:28).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

Brother Bede (Sylvester) Stadler, CSC (1911-1992)

Heroic Missionary

Brother Bede was born in Manawa, WI and attended schools there.  He worked in various jobs and joined the Brothers of Holy Cross in 1931 making first vows in 1933. 

Having taken the foreign mission vow, his first assignment was to Bengal for ten very devoted years. He was among the Holy Cross missionaries who were caught in India during World War II. As the headmaster of Holy Cross High School in Bandura, India, he went through the severe famine of 1943, the riots and demonstrations for freedom from British rule, and the threat of Japanese invasion.  During the famine Brother Bede helped government officials in distributing food.  Once he returned to the States, he seldom talked about these experiences, yet it was evident that he paid a heavy price. 

When he returned in 1948, he taught Latin at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, IN, and then spent the next eleven years in Monroe, MI at Catholic Central High School serving as librarian and assistant principal.  In 1962, he joined the faculty at Holy Cross High School in River Grove, IL teaching his Latin classes and developing one of the finest high school libraries in the Midwest Province. Upon retirement at Holy Cross, he continued to serve the community as a housekeeper and spent a great amount of his free time researching his family history and publishing an extensive genealogy of the Stadler family.  

After nineteen years of devotion to the students and the Brothers at Holy Cross, Brother Bede moved to Dujarié House continuing to live a life of generosity.  He might best be memorialized by this scriptural approbation: “Show yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect.” Titus 2:7

October 9, 2021

I used to go on very long hikes – thirty or forty miles at a time.  After a series of failures where I either did not make it to the destination or did so only hobbling and exhausted, I decided to get more serious about my preparation and my strategy: frequent stretching, plenty of rest, full hydration, carbo-loading, packing wisely, well-timed breaks, weather updates, etc.  The hikes became deeply gratifying experiences that allowed me to take ownership of the process as well as enjoy my full physical flourishing.  I have to think that this is what the journey of discipleship is like.  We have this exciting spiritual destination that our hearts absolutely long for, but the preparation and planning is complex and demands a multifaceted approach:  daily prayer, participation in the liturgy, spiritual friendships, sacramental reconciliation, faith-sharing, ministry commitments, acts of charity and so much more!  Each time we feel that we have failed or come away discouraged from our efforts to walk in faith, we can turn to Jesus who spent thirty years in preparation for his singular journey to Jerusalem which came to such a definitive ending (cf. Jn 19:30) that he exists at the end point of each of our individual journeys, rooting for us in love and grace along the way.  May we learn to hike on his glorious path of perfection (cf. Ps 119:1).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

October 2, 2021

Today is the feast of Guardian Angels, a celebration which may conjure up caricatures of spiritual beings in our mind’s eye.  Perhaps this was a day that was important to us as kids, when we could be assured that there was an invisible friend who was protecting us at all times.  Perhaps we prayed and talked to our guardian angel before going to bed.  Whatever the case, it is not unreasonable to believe, even as adults, that the living God who is pure spirit, has created spiritual beings to mediate our daily experiences so that we may be drawn ever closer to our salvation (cf. Jn 1:51).  While we may be tempted to speculate about the nature of angels or articulate their exact theological meaning – topics which were the basis of many medieval debates – we need only to trust that the God who is Love (1 Jn 4:8) enjoys finding creative ways to lead us homeward, and that God’s angels can indeed fill the gaps that sin has caused in our lives.  So the next time we make it to the gas station just in time, or we catch an important mistake before submitting a report, or have an unexpected change of attitude, or, like Jesus, experience deep consolation in the midst of a major trial (cf. Lk 22:34), let’s offer a prayer of gratitude for the angels who “guard us in all our ways” (Ps 91:11).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!