Saturday, September 25, 2021

Thursday, September 23, 2021

"SAINT THERESA MUSEUM BRIEF" #5 - Our One Religious Brother"



Born Joseph Leo Burch, Brother Edwin Leonidian is the son of Leo Burch and Elizabeth Abbie (Elder) Burch. After their marriage at St. Theresa, the Burch family moved to St. Louis where Joseph Leo was born July 19, 1914. 

Joseph Leo Burch entered the community of the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 1930. In 1933, he was invested with the holy habit of that community and received his religious name Brother Edwin Leonidian. 

While teaching at St. Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota, in 1936, his health began to fail. He was sent back to St. Louis to Mount Saint Rose Sanitorium for treatment for about a year. Feeling that the country air would be more beneficial, with his Superior's per mission, he went to his grandmother's home in Mooleyville near St. Theresa Church. In the summer of 1939, he died at St. Joseph Infirmary in Louisville. His burial services were held at St. Theresa's and he was laid to rest among his family members in the church cemetery.

Sister of Mercy Sister Mary Bernard Warren, Father Joseph Henry Elder, Brother Edwin Leonidian Burch, Father Henry Lee Egart and Dominican Sister Mary Catherine Buren, all from St. Theresa, died from tuberculosis, (the first at age 31, the second at age 39 and the last 3 at age 25), one of the infectious diseases that took the lives of many young people at that time. In those days, many women died during child birth which explains why so many men married two or three times in their lifetimes. 


Tuesday, September 21, 2021


In June of 2019, I was invited to Notre Dame University to present a paper at their fifth annual conference on Catholic preaching. The title of my paper was "Claiming the Pulpit for Spiritual Leadership and Personal Sanctification."

I was honored two weeks ago when a copy of the book, PREACHING AS SPIRITURAL LEADERSHIP: Guiding the Faithful as Mystic and Mystagogue, arrived and saw that my paper made up Chapter 18 of the book. It was both a tremendous honor and such an affirmation to be included among 24 nationally recognized leaders in Catholic preaching! 


Sunday, September 19, 2021


One of the biggest problems we face today is the ability to distinguish between what is true and what is false! We seem to have lost the ability to know whom to trust! It is so bad now that people who do tell you the truth are condemned, while those who tell you a lie are praised! Even tech companies are having a hard time separating truths from lies and what to do about it when they do know lies are being packaged and spread as truth! People seem to be more susceptible to all this because people want their opinions validated, not challenged. People seem to, more and more, want to hear what they want to hear, believe what they want to believe, do what they want to do and they do not want anyone to challenge them on it! Traffic in misinformation is now a big business! Calling the truth a lie and a lie the truth must be a very old problem if the Book of Wisdom speaks about it as clearly as it does today.

Confronting this twisting of the truth has been called "fraternal correction." “Fraternal correction” is an old religious idea that has fallen out of style, but one that our readings today talk about! “Fraternal correction” is the practice of calling a brother or sister on some destructive action as a way of helping them stop doing that wrong! As you might imagine, it is extremely risky, because the one who receives the criticism almost always acts defensively. “Mind your own business,” “You’ve got a lot of room to talk,” “Who in the hell do you think you are?” are only mild forms of the backlash you might receive in response. You could end up with black eye, missing a tooth, a former friend or even end up seriously maimed in the process! With so many people on edge and so many available guns, you can actually get yourself killed for trying to confront evil! John the Baptist had his head chopped of for having the nerve to tell Herod that it was not right for him to live with his brother’s wife! No wonder the idea of “fraternal correction” has gone out of style! People tend to think that "prophets" are mainly people who predict the future. Not, so! More often than not, "prophets" are simply people who tell the truth when nobody wants to hear it! That's why they usually get killed - not for lying, but for telling the truth to people who don't want to hear it!!

Here again is what out first reading said. Listen to it's warnings to those of us who dare confront evil.

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us;
he sets himself against our doings,
reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for according to his own words, 
God will take care of him.

Wisdom 2:12,17-20

Regardless of how tricky and dangerous it is, the Prophet Ezekiel tells us that it is our obligation to correct others, and others to correct us, when wrong is being done! Ezekiel says, “If you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die and I will hold you responsible for his death.” Whoa! That sounds like another version of Cain’s old question to God about his brother Abel: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The answer is: “Of course, you are!”

In the gospel, Jesus gives his disciples a four stage process on how “fraternal correction” is to be done. (1) If your brother or sister is in the wrong, first have a “one on one” to discuss it. (2) If that doesn’t work, get a couple of friends together to make the appeal. (3) If that doesn’t work, get the whole faith community to make an appeal. (4) Finally, if that doesn’t work, “treat him like a Gentile or tax collector.”

It is very important to understand this 4th step. How did Jesus treat Gentiles and tax collectors? He loved them anyway! In other words, if all efforts fail, let it go and love them anyway, even if you think they are making a mistake!

I can still remember one very painful experience in particular, from years ago, when I tried “fraternal correction.” It involved one of the one or two weddings that I simply refused to do! A young woman and her boyfriend, both friends of mine, were fighting like cats and dogs. There was infidelity, as well, on both sides. They came in one day and told me that they wanted to get married and asked if I would preside at the wedding. They came to me with the crazy belief that marriage would cure their intense fighting and chronic infidelity!

It would have been easier on me to just go ahead and perform the wedding, and have them to like me, but I knew in my gut that my doing a marriage was not right and that it would not be good for them either. I told them I could not, in good conscience, do their wedding under the circumstances. I finally got up the courage to do the right thing, not the easy thing. They left very angry at me and went to the Lutheran Church where the pastor asked no questions and performed their wedding in a few weeks. The marriage lasted six months and, sadly for them, ended in a very messy and angry divorce. I could not stop them from hurting themselves, but I felt that I had done the loving thing for them, even though they did not appreciate it at the time.

There are times when we absolutely must speak out, especially when others' lives, property or reputation are at stake. We should all know by now that it is illegal, and immoral, not to report a possible Columbine-like situation. We should all know by now that is illegal, and immoral, not to report child abuse, even suspected child abuse. We should all know by now that it is illegal, and immoral, to leave the scene of an accident without offering assistance or calling for help. We should all know by now that we are morally and legally obligated, for the sake of the community, to “blow the whistle” in cases of gross embezzlement, grand theft, pyromania and hazardous exposure.

It is not always appropriate or advisable to confront someone personally, as in cases of suspected spouse or child abuse, grand theft and vandalism. In those cases, there are avenues that provide help and guarantee anonymity. Sometimes, when the situation is not life-threatening but involves close friends or family members, all we can do is speak the truth with love and let it go! Sometimes all we can do is not participate in, encourage or condone immoral behavior! That kind of silence and passivity can speak louder, and sometimes be even more effective, than words! The loving thing is not always the easy thing. The easy thing is not always the loving thing.

We are our brothers and sisters keepers. We are morally obligated to speak out, but we are obligated to speak the truth with love! The goal of “speaking out” is not to hurt, embarrass or get even, but to help the individual and to help the community. As Christians, we are called to do “fraternal correction” for each other. Turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to evil gives it an environment to grow and spread, until it inundates a community and even the world.

In the Confiteor, when we call to mind our sins, we admit to the things we have done and failed to do. The Letter of James says this, “It is a sin to know the right thing to do and not do it!” The famous Edmund Burke put it this way, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good people to do nothing.”