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Bro. Brian Poulin


March 5, 2022 – Saturday after Ash Wednesday



We live in a time of large-scale tragedy. Even as the coronavirus pandemic seems to be winding down, war is building up in eastern Europe and may threaten to spill across further national boundaries. Although these harsh realities get a lot of press, perhaps we have always lived in times of large-scale tragedy.


That’s not the whole story though, is it?


For one thing, each large-scale tragedy consists of multitudinous personal ones. Although it’s been said that the ultimate mark of one’s humanity is the ability to weep at statistics, most of us are most deeply affected by that which hits closest to home. I suffered one of those personal losses early this past month.


I was by no means the only one affected by the sudden death of Bro. Ernie Beland. He had a rich network of people who cared about him: family members, his fellow Marist Brothers, former colleagues and students. Each of us carried our particular grief in very personal ways however—as it always is.


Some of us had a grief that was initially blunted by shock only to grow over time. Mine was sudden and overwhelming. After all, Ernie had been both a friend and a mentor to me. He had been a valuable support in some of my early years as a Marist Brother, and I’d thought that things had evolved such that it was now my turn to take care of him. That’s not how it worked out though, at least not for very long.


This is not an occasion to dwell on sorrows, however. As sad as Ernie’s death was for all of us, his heart attack also brought him freedom from all the concerns that he carried so heavily. He was such a lovable and beloved figure of near-infinite jest that laughter regularly interrupted my tears from the first day of my grief. Aside from the joking banter that he knowingly bestowed upon us, Bro. Ernie was a true character. He’s the only teacher I ever knew who would never make a single photocopy during the school year… because back in June he had already made all the worksheets and handouts he would need for the whole year.


The Gospel of Christ promises us eventual freedom from our suffering, but it takes a whole lot of letting go to get there. It’s quite telling that when Jesus rose his friend Lazarus from the dead, he had to instruct the onlookers to unbind him from his funerary wrappings. Ernie’s shuffling off of this mortal coil was an unsought liberation for him as well. The healing process of my mourning has been to gradually learn to let go of my feelings of grief—once they’ve found their expression—so that I can move forward in life, sharing his memory with others.


There’s a fire in the ashes and a rising in the dying. While I believe this is true in a supernatural sense, I have been fortunate to actually live it in our natural experience.



This month’s ‘ear candy’ is a song of grief from the musical Les Misérables. It came to my mind when I saw Bro. Ernie’s place at the dinner table still set even days after his death. The ‘brain food’ is a reflection on the importance of maintaining and nourishing our humanity in spite of any tragedy, global or personal.


Ear Candy: “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” by Claude-Michel Schönberg and Herbert Kretzmer, performed by Eddie Redmayne

Brain Food: “My Synagogue Was Attacked, but I Will Never Stop Welcoming the Stranger” by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker


Come back on the first Saturday of next month for a new post!


Previous Posts:


Feb 5 – Glitch 

Jan 8 – Making It Real


Dec 4 – Reason for Hope

Nov 6 – Unspeakable Love

Oct 2 – God of the Always

Sep 4 – Time Unchained

Aug 7 – Pray for Us

Jul 3 – Real Presence

Jun 5 – Bag of Squirrels

May 1 – Brothers 

Apr 3 – Plan B

Mar 6 – Times 40

Feb 6 – Testimony 

Jan 2 – Unconditional 


Dec 5 – Gestation

Nov 7 – Where Hope Lives

Oct 3 – Enough 

Sep 5 – Assembly Required

Aug 1 – Stumped 

July 4 – Bitter and Sweet

June 6 – Fire

May 30 – Brother’s Keeper

May 23 – Remote

May 16 – Getting By

Apr. 25 – Thank God It’s Saturday

Apr. 18 – Joseph’s Fiat

Apr. 11 – Bells & Sirens

Apr. 4 – Adaptation

Mar. 28 – Guest Column

Mar. 21 – Moving Forward

Mar. 14 – Reality Check

Mar. 7 – Soar 

Feb. 29 – Hiking Lessons

Feb. 22 – Love in the Desert

Feb. 15 – Beautiful Life

Feb. 8 – Bad Science

Feb. 1 – All Shall Be Well

Jan. 25 – Let Somebody Love You

Jan. 18 – Extraordinary Time

Jan. 11 – L’Chaim!

Jan. 4 – Decisive


Dec. 28 – Can’t Alone

Dec. 21 – Unexpected Gifts 

Dec. 14 – No Room

Dec. 7 – End of the World

Nov. 30 – Elective Unpleasantness

Nov. 23 – Always Greater

Nov. 16 – Coloring Book

Nov. 9 – Justice and Mercy

Nov. 2 – Together in Loneliness

Oct. 26 – Gently

Oct. 19 – Flow

Oct. 12 – In This Place

Oct. 5 – Why Understanding

Sep. 28 – Stone to Flesh

Sep. 21 – Let God

Sep. 14 – Passion

Sep. 7 – Hermanos

Aug. 31 – 525,600

Aug. 24 – Pathway

Aug. 17 – Crazy Together

Aug. 10 – To Bridge

Aug. 3 – Stripes

July 27 – Ghost Town

July 20 – Adrift

July 13 – Borders without Borders

July 6 – Little Bit at a Time

June 29 – Holy Dissent

June 22 – Old Kentucky Home

June 15 – Steamer Trunk

June 8 – Squad

June 1 – Legacy

May 25 – Live like You’re Loved

May 18 – Purity of Heart

May 11 – Builders and Creator

May 4 – Value Proposition

Apr. 27 – Vital Signs

Apr. 20 – Let It Be Real

Apr. 13 – Meet Self

Apr. 6 – Let Go of the Best

Mar. 30 – Thirst

Mar. 23 – Back Home

Mar. 16 – Say Goodbye

Mar. 9 – Garden and Desert

Mar. 2 – In Transit

Feb. 23 – Wealth

Feb. 16 – In Place

Feb. 9 – Each and All

Feb. 2 – Not Disneyland

Jan. 26 – Pilgrim People

Jan. 19 – Waking Dream

Jan. 12 – Called and Sent

Jan. 5 – Divine Encounter


Dec. 29 -- Resolution

Dec. 22 – Room for Love?

Dec. 15 – Humbug!

Dec. 8 – Let It Begin with Me

Dec. 1 – Driven by Love

Nov. 24 – What Manner of King

Nov. 17 – Stranger

Nov. 10 – I Need Help to Be Holy

Nov. 3 – Fully Alive

Oct. 27 – Behind the Curtain

Oct. 20 – Questions. Answers?

Oct. 13 – Stumble & Fall

Oct. 6 – Young World

Sep. 29 – Defend Us in Battle

Sep. 22 – The Taste of Water

Sep. 15 – God’s Plan

Sep. 8 – Life Finds a Way