January 29, 2022

If I were giving a commencement address to this year’s graduating class, I would say, “Make your life a solar flare!”  It’s so easy to live a lukewarm life, in front of the television, going through the motions, but we human beings are spiritual machines with energy constantly coursing through our veins.  When we do not recognize and honor that energy, it comes out in funny ways:  for some addiction to pornography, for others alcoholic drinking, for others obsessive thinking, or any other number of neurotic behaviors!  A solar flare might initially scare us because of our inability to control where it goes and how long it lasts.  Indeed, we might have tried to unleash our inner power in the past only to get burned in the process.  Nevertheless, we must go beyond repression and find creative ways to let our little light shine.  Maybe we take the risk of looking for a fun part time job, getting that tattoo we’ve always wanted, signing over our long-coveted stocks to a charity, picking up the phone and making amends to someone, or seeing what it’s like to take the bus to work.  Our inner solar flare is guaranteed to be beautiful – however it is manifested – so long as it springs forth from “the light of the world” (Jn 8:12) in whom “there is no darkness” (1 Jn 1:5).  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!



September 9, 1888

This memorial photo of invited guests to the Golden Jubilee festivities was taken by A. McDonald of McDonald Studio, South Bend, Indiana. In the September 8, 1888 issue of the Scholastic (48), this “most pleasing memento” was being sold for $1.00.  

It is obvious from the prelates pictured with Fr. Sorin, that he was, if not revered by them, at the very least seen as a peer – a priest-founder – who during the previous four decades, successfully founded a university in honor of the Blessed Mother. Sorin relentlessly worked with other Holy Cross priests, brothers and sisters to build upon the space situated on two lakes in northern Indiana, the finest Catholic University in the Country.  

Pictured with Sorin in the first row seated from the left are Bishop Gilmour of Cleveland, OH, Archbishop Elder of Cincinnati, OH, Fr. Sorin, Superior General, Cardinal Gibbons, Baltimore, MD, Archbishop Ireland of St. Paul, MN, Bishop Dwenger of Fort Wayne, IN, Bishop Watterson of Columbus, OH and Bishop Phalen of Pittsburgh, PA.  Standing from the left are Bishop Ryan of Alton, IL, Bishop Janssens of Belleview, IL, Bishop Keane of Washington, D.C., Bishop Burke of Cheyenne, WY, Bishop Spaulding of Peoria, IL, Bishop Ryan of Buffalo, NY and Bishop Richter of Grand Rapids, MI.

January 22, 2022

Have you ever gotten in trouble because you “took the part for the whole”?  This is the essence of cancer – one cell trying to become the whole organ – and the first sin – our first parents wanting to become God.  We can spend years in the delusion that we have just not grasped onto the right college, the right career, the right spouse, the right neighborhood (or the right religion!), but we discover that our human thriving does not really begin until we have made the turn from grasping to integration.  Indeed, mature adulthood means that we are spiritually secure and spend our time not in a desperate search for the solution, but rather weaving our commitments, responsibilities, ideas, relationships and desires into that one deep truth that grounds every human heart.  This in fact is the pattern of our eternal life!  Lord, teach me to discern the difference between your boundless goodness and the many created goods that surround me.  Give me the courage to surrender the many things that point to you, but are not you.  Lead me to that humble place where I might become “all things to all people” (1 Cor 9:22), and, with your Son, enjoy real connections that withstand the ages.  Help me to become conformed to the whole precisely by playing my part well.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica. 


Visits Notre Dame and Brothers’ Provincial Council, c. September, 1954

China’s first Roman Catholic cardinal (installed 1946) made a visit to the University of Notre Dame in 1954.  During this visit, he was photographed with the Provincial Council of the United States Province of Brothers and other brothers.  Picture with Cardinal Tien from left to right, first row are: Brothers Bonaventure Foley, Ephrem O’Dwyer (Provincial), Gerard Fitz (Superior of Columba Hall), Cardinal Tien, Ernest Ryan and Sabinas Herbert; in the second row are: Brothers Flavius Ellison, Reginald Juszczak, John Chrysostom Ryan and Kenan Judge.

In a letter to Brother Ernest Ryan from Miss Lida (sometimes Lyda) O’Neill, the niece of Brother Columba O’Neill, his younger brother Dennis’ daughter, dated October 3, 1954, she thanks Brother Sabinas Herbert for the two “special badges [Sacred Heart] blessed by Cardinal Tien”. Brother Sabinas was then the director of the Brother Columba Apostolate.

The Midwest Province Archives houses fifteen letters written by Brother Columba’s niece to him, beginning in 1913 and continuing through November 16, 1923 – Brother Columba died on November 20, 1923. 

She wrote another fifteen letters between 1923 and 1955 to Father O’Donnell (two letters in 1923 and 1924); Brother Alban Flaherty (one letter in 1926); Brother Ernest Ryan (five letters in 1933 and one in 1948); and Brother Sabinas Herbert (four letters in 1954 and one in 1955).

Brother Ernest was seeking information about Brother Columba’s early life that he might include in his biography These Two Hearts. Brother Sabinas was seeking information about “cures and favors received” through the intercession of Brother Columba to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

January 15, 2022

Profile of a spiritual person:  Little, simple, listening, attentive, responsive, open, trusting, graceful, honest, contemplative, transparent, humble, patient, consistent, authentic, uncomplicated, vulnerable, flexible, sensitive, sincere, gentle, supportive, slow, connected, peaceful, intentional, playful, engaged, integrated, genuine, courageous, risk-taking, mystery-oriented, boundary-conscious, decision-making, process-minded, often-smiling, freely-sharing, discretion-practicing, interior-gazing, solitude-cherishing, forgiveness-seeking, self-aware, self-reflective, self-disciplined, willing to waste time with others, takes things as they come, does not judge, lets go of things that get in the way, holds onto what is important, trustworthy in small matters, cares about the welfare of everyone, respects the dignity of all people, doesn’t take shortcuts, walks with purpose, doesn’t look back, stops to smell the flowers, serves the community, has a job, has a family, has friends, celebrates holidays, gets dressed in the morning, eats well, sleeps well, prays well, laughs, cries, hopes and dreams just like you and me. Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

“The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and six Holy Cross brothers, all of them members of the recently established Congregation of Holy Cross, took possession of 524 snow-covered acres that the Bishop of Vincennes had given them in the Indiana mission fields.

A man of lively imagination, Father Sorin named his fledgling school in honor of Our Lady in his native tongue, L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac (The University of Our Lady of the Lake). On January 15, 1844, the University was thus officially chartered by the Indiana legislature” (www.nd.edu).

The six brothers who accompanied Sorin to South Bend were men who brought much-needed skills for the laying down of both literal and metaphoric roots á du Lac. Brother Vincent Pieau (1797-1890) was the elder and would prove to be Sorin’s most loyal colleague for over fifty years. He educated most of the young members of the fledgling congregation to embrace the “voice of Moreau.” Sorin was so in debt  to Brother Vincent that he once mused about being buried in the same grave. 

Next in age and a man of many talents was Brother Lawrence Manage (1816-1873), an astute business manager and a most able farmer.  The third oldest was Brother Francis Xavier Patois (1820-1896), the carpenter, the undertaker and the sacristan.  

The final three brothers were very young: Brother Joachim André (1809-1844), Brother Gaitan Monsimer (1826-1860), and Brother Anselm Caillot (1825-1845).  Each would contribute through brawn and become the first teachers in a few of the early elementary schools.  Brother Anselm who left France when he was just sixteen would drown in front of some of his students at age twenty.

Today, one will look in vain around Our Lady’s University for any recollection of these six brothers’ names. They are the men behind the king–“the six companions.” Yet Rev. Edward Sorin, if alive, would be the first to celebrate them as mes cher frères et mes collaborateurs.

January 8, 2022

The word sex literally means “having been cut off.”  Thus, from the onset of puberty, with the awareness of our biological differences, we search for that perfect person who will make us whole again and satisfy our deepest longing for completeness.  We know from life experience, however, that those feelings are short-lived and that our physical and emotional complementarity with another person symbolizes some deeper integrity to which we are called.  Indeed, God has created each of us “male and female” (Gen 1:27), and our relationships are therefore healthiest only when they go beyond the neediness of sex and, instead, provide supportive circumstances for each partner to do the work of self-understanding.  What we discover is our essential dignity, that we are whole and complete and perfect as we are!  Our singular and universal human vocation emerges:  to glory in our identity as children of God and to spend ourselves creating circumstances for others to come to this same awareness.  What, then, is sex for the integrated person?  It is synonymous with the Greatest Commandment:  to love and be loved by God, while at the same time partnering with every one of our neighbors so that they too might have life (Mk 12:29-31).  Let’s never again succumb to those feelings of being cut off by learning how to have the kind of sex that lasts.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!

January 1, 2022

Let’s end transactional relationships in our lives once and for all!  What are we robots!?  Is there not some deeper meaning to our souls than an intellectual rubric that constantly keeps score and secretly tries to leverage relationships so that we might get what we want?  Indeed, let’s make the word “risk” the mantra for this new year:  the risk of putting ourselves out there, the risk of loving without counting the cost, the risk of making sacrifices, the risk of serving others without getting anything in return.  Risk is the language and logic of God and until we have the courage to step outside of our fear-based tendency to manipulate outcomes and use other people to our advantage, we will never discover our true dignity nor realize our authentic human vocations.  May this year be a time when we pause before we give that compliment, apply for that job, assist our neighbor with some task, or buy that new house:  Why am I doing this?  What is my intention?  What does God think about it?  In this way, our twisted and ugly interiors shall slowly be realigned as we begin to experience the purity of heart that allows us to remember what God is like (cf. Mt 5:8-9).  Let’s make 2022 the year when that age-old transaction game gets interrupted by the bold risk of love.  Ave Crux, Spes Unica!