Ruminations from Deacon Hank Lyon

St Augustine

This is a reflection from the mind of St. Augustine, who takes us through a meditation of how the good things of the earth and human life point us to God, who is the source of all that is good. St. Augustine lived from 354-430 A.D.; I enjoy the fact that having lived 1,600 years ago, Augustine lists things which even in our modern day, we would agree that these things make life good.

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What Makes the Sun a Beacon for the Whole World?

How would you describe an experience you had? Often, we reach for descriptions of other things more familiar to us to describe something new and beyond precise articulation. Take for example my first experience of driving. It was like I was on this steady roller coaster. There was a feeling of not being in control and then remembering the brake pedal. The car seemed to float like a boat. I was driving a 2000 Ford Taurus. I'm sure the commercials for a Ford Taurus never compared it to a roller coaster or a boat, but that was the only way I could describe the new sensation.

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Ave Maria

There are countless Catholic devotions. They range from common prayers, special prayers, grand gestures to very small gestures. A small gesture I do is before I jot down my notes for class I sign the page with the letters A and M overlapping. The letters stand for “Ave Maria”, Hail Mary. The artist in me loves to doodle, so if class is rather slow that day, I tend to go back to that little insignia and add some more to it. This time I added a few titles of Our Lady in both English, Latin and one Greek word. The Greek reads, “God-Bearer” the Latin reads, from top to bottom, “Mother and Immaculate”.

I was inspired to pick up this little devotion from watching Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on Youtube. Before Sheen wrote anything on the blackboard, during his presentations, he would inscribe the letters, “JMJ”, on the top. The letters stand for “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”. It was a small gesture of honoring the Holy Family. I have seen some of my brother seminarians carry on this devotion as well. St. John Paul II also had a similar devotion. He would write on the top of his papers, “Totus Tuus”, Totally Yours. His papal motto and prayer to Our Lady. On the following pages he would add another piece of the prayer. These little gestures of devotion are ways in which we can turn our hearts to God throughout our day and let the little tasks in our day become sanctifying.

 

The one who seeks God, finds within his soul the Master painting His masterpiece

My favorite painter is from the Impressionist era, 19th century, Oscar-Claude Monet. His work can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago downtown. Even if you had never seen a single one of his masterpieces, walking into his gallery you would see his style throughout all of his pieces. Monet left his mark on every piece he did, and I mean that very literally. Monet was not afraid to let his brush strokes show and also add to the mood of the piece. Observing his series of hay bales, you would also notice his attention to how color, based upon the time of day, can greatly alter the expression of the same subject matter. What's more is that when you view one of his pieces from a distance and then up close (be sure security doesn't catch your nose on the canvas) you get two very different experiences. From afar, you can perceive the distinct subject matter; up close, you see only a dizzy of colors swimming next to each other.

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Garden for God

Throughout the day, here at Mundelein, it is not uncommon to see some of the brothers out walking the campus grounds. We are blessed to be surrounded by a forest and have a beautiful lake right at the heart of the campus.

Over the summer, the grounds crew finished a landscaping project that was inspired by one of our benefactors. One of the little quads had already a Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, complete with an altar and outdoor seating. It had already a walk-around Stations of the Cross and a statue of St. Pius X, but now the whole area was transformed by additional plants, trees (some were added to the grotto to provide shade for the benches), flowers and a new walk way connecting each monument.

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Silent Retreats

At the beginning of every academic year up at the seminary, we begin with a silent retreat. It allows us time to reflect on the ministries we were assigned to over the summer. Some of the brothers were off in other countries like Guatemala and Poland to study the language. Others worked in hospitals as chaplains in and around the city. The week of silence is spent mostly in prayer with a retreat director giving talks. In our prayer we thank God for sending us out, like Jesus sent out the 72 disciples, and we also go over with the Lord all the significant moments, encounters and people we met throughout the summer. We pray with these memories and often the Lord points out particular details for us to learn from or to treasure.

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Fun Always Follows Joy

Fun does not stop when you are living life by Jesus's commands, in fact it increases. Our Lord even says to the Twelve that He came so that our joy may be complete (Jn 15:11). This past weekend, here at the seminary, we had our big Welcome Event. It is a day of fun, fraternity and food for all the seminarians, organized by the Fourth-Year Theologians, a.k.a., my class.

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The Kingdom of God

Marvel caught my eye again with their epic hero movie, Black Panther. I was especially gripped by the awesome kingdom of Wakanda. This very technologically advanced kingdom is embedded in the luscious jungles of Sub-Saharan Africa. How did such a combination of technology and natural beauty come to be? Way back in its history, a meteorite of unknown origin struck the kingdom. Within the space rock the inhabitants discovered a highly advanced metal which they called, virbranium. It has the ability to absorb, store and release large amounts of kinetic energy. The suit Black Panther wears is made of vibranium, and interestingly enough is the same material Captain America's shield is made from.

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Sacramental Grace

Continuing on the topic of grace, let's first consider sacramental grace. These graces flow from each of the seven sacraments respectively. Each sacrament is a font for a particular grace, which we refer to as sacramental. Sacraments are sensible signs instituted by our Lord Jesus; they symbolize and confer grace.

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Redemption Won By Death

Among the heroes we see on the big screen, Captain America holds a privileged place. He's the hero of the most memorable war, World War II. He came from an Irish family but lost both of his parents at a young age. He wanted to join the army at the outbreak of war but was denied because of his frail stature. Yet, what caught the eye of the head of an experimental serum, Dr. Reinstein, was the tremendous virtue of Steve Roger's heart.

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