Monthly Archives: December 2009

“My King is Bigger Than Your King!” – Mt 2:3-8


It is New Years Eve today.  I am anticipating the coming new year with anticipation and hope.  I recently realized hope is the only action verb I can think of that depends on itself to come true:  Hope depends on Hope!  Faith depends on hope as well.  It is what gets us through those trials, when faith is challenged.  To me, both hope and faith are graces from God with each working in the other.  And together, there is a synergistic effect greater than each separately.  Jesus showed us this on the cross: three nail equals four-giveness (Sorry for the pun but anyone who knows me, knows I love puns.)!    

King Herod with the Magi

Quote or Joke of the Day:

     

 Give God what’s right — not what’s left.

     

Today’s Meditation:

     

When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.  Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.  They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; since from you shall come a ruler, who is to shepherd my people Israel.'”  Then Herod called the magi secretly and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search diligently for the child.  When you have found him, bring me word, that I too may go and do him homage.”  (NAB Mt 2:3-8)

 

King Herod reminds me of the ‘typical’ politician, even today.  He was no different than the Sanhedrin and Sadducees later in Jesus’ life.  Nor is he any different from the politicians of today!  All have the need to be superior to all others.  All are filled with greed, narcissism, suspicion of friends and foes, and fear of losing power. 

Herod had no interest in paying Jesus homage.  He was tyrannical, and wanted to eliminate any threat to his power.  He had no idea where this new ‘messiah’ was, but he knew that even as an infant, Jesus’ presence was a threat from those following Him rather than the “King” of Judea: Herod. 

 Herod’s consultation with the chief priests and scribes have a remarkable similarity to an old  Jewish legend about the child Moses, in which the “sacred scribes” warn Pharaoh about the imminent birth of one who will deliver Israel from Egypt,  and the kings plan to destroy Moses (Matthew 2:11Psalm 72:10, 15, and Isaiah 60:6).

 Again, a lowly versus mighty theme is intertwined in this part of the story.  Bethlehem is a small, poor, and lazy village, compared to the metropolitan Jerusalem with its rich and affluent lifestyles.  I just think about all my family vacations, which were spent getting away from the big city, and trying to spend as much time in the rural lifestyle as was possible.   

It is interesting that as I try to go to the basics in  my lifestyle, I am also getting to the basics of my faith.  There is nothing fancy to my belief in God, and being Catholic.  I need only one basic element, and the rest just fall into place:    

All I want is to be in your presence my Lord, Jesus Christ.  With your grace, I want always to see you in this life of exile, and in future life of eternal paradise.  Amen.    

     

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

     

*****

     

Secular Franciscan Order Motto:

     

Pax et Bonum

(Peace and All Good)

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“We Three Kings are the Star of the Show!” – Mt 2:1-2


It is New Years Eve Eve (is this good english?!).  The snow is falling, and I am getting sick of it already.  Don’t get me wrong:  I love snow, but the St. Louis Area has poor capabilities to handle the roads, and there are some real “ya-hoo” drivers that think 4-wheel drive means “can go anywhere and do anything, ‘ including swerving in traffic and doing 10 miles over the speed limit.

Again, please pass the word about this site.  I wonder if changing to another site like blogspot wood be better for getting the word out?Please let me know.  Thanks.

 

The Magi

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Friends are like stars. You may not always see them but you know they are always there.

http://www.oneliners-and-proverbs.com/

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (NAB Mt 2:1-2)

 

“We three Kings of Orient are traveling far … .”  I have sang this song many times, but never truly understood what the Kings journey and significance meant to me and catholicism as a whole.  After meditating and reflecting on these two verses, I will never sing this song apathetically again.  There is a lot packed into these two sentences.  The future rejection of Jesus by Jewish temple leaders and worshipers; and his acceptance by the Gentiles at the very start of His life, are demonstarated in the scene presented in these sentences.

Herod was a King under rule of the Roman emperor.  He was powerful: but not as powerful as the Roman government.  King Herod had to appease, and especially not upset, his Roman leaders.  This King reigned from 37 to 4 B.C.  According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus had to be born before the year 4 B.C., and not at year 1 A.D. as most Christians think.  Who really knows for sure the exact date of His birth, and who really cares!?  The date is not important:  it’s the God being born a human, for our redemption, that is important.

The Magi were originally a designation of the Persian priestly clan or caste system.  The word ‘magi’ became used for those who were regarded as having more than human knowledge; such as someone that could  interpret dreams, astrologers, or those that performed magic.  In Matthew’s Gospel, the magi are “astrologers.”  Somehow, in the western church,their names came to be Caspar, Balthasar, and Melchior; with Caspar being black.   The magi were not Jewish: they were gentiles, and probably from Persia, eastern Syria, or Arabia.

The star being followed by the magi is identified with the messiah in Old Testament.  It was a common ancient belief that a new star appeared at the time of a ruler’s birth.  Matthew drew upon the Old Testament story of Balaam, who had prophesied that “a star shall advance from Jacob” (Numbers 24:17), though in this OT verse the star means not an astral phenomenon, but the king himself.  This ‘star’ was a definite heavenly body, and was probably either a supernova, a comet, or a planetary conjunction. 

Just think, a heavenly body brings in the announcement of a heavenly God made human – by a heavenly angel to lowly Jewish shepherds and rich, wise gentile men –  looking towards the heaven. 

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Prologue to Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:

 

… “Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).

“Anna Has the Groove On” – Lk 2:36-38


It is going to be a cold day in Missouri.   I can relate to today’s subject.  I feel like I am a lot like Anna.  I feel like she did every time I receive Jesus in the eucharist.

Please pass the word about this Blog Site.  I would like to have more readers.  The main reason for this site are two-fold: To help me with my meditation and reflection, and to share His word.  Thanks, Dan

 

Anna

  

Quote or Joke of the Day:

   

Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited until you try to sit in their pews.

   

Today’s Meditation:

   

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

   

These verses are interesting when certain names are translated.  Anna means ‘ grace or favor,’ Asher translates to ‘happy,’ and Phanuel becomes ‘the face of God.’  Anna had probably been a widow for sixty or so years, spending her time happily, and entirely, in the temple praising and waiting for the lord.  Makes me wonder about people that only come to church at Christmas and Easter, and those that complain about going every week.   

Simeon and Anna mirror Zechariah and Elizabeth in standing side-by-side before god.  One family brought into salvation the instrument [John] to announce and proclaim the Lord to mankind; and the two in the temple not only were waiting for Lord to come; but recognized the Lord’s entrance, and exclaimed it joyously, and loudly to the world as well.  I pray that I can only be as devout and enthusiastic to my faith as they were.   

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

   

*****

   

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:

   

… Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and Holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.  

Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying: …  

“The Ups and Downs of Being Stabbed in the Heart” – Lk 2:33-35


mon    

Simeon at the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

When you get to your wit’s end, you’ll find God lives there.

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  (NAB Lk 2:33-35)

 

Simeon’s prophesies seem to be somber.  Many will  reject Jesus.  Even in his hometown of Nazareth, the holy family are ostrisized by neighbors who think Mary was an adulterous for getting pregnant before marriage to Joseph.  Jesus is bringing a new covenent to the people, regardless of staus or nationality.  This is a radical departure from ‘traditional’ judism.  Some did not want to be around Jesus out of fear; fear from ignorance, fear from the watching eyes of the priests, and fear from the Roman government who was concerned about civil unrest and uprisings.

“And you yourself a sword will pierce.”  Mary herself will not be untouched by the various reactions to the life and teachings of Jesus.  Her gift of being the mother of the Lord will be challenged by her son.   Mary, the model believer of Christ, had to decide what her role was going to be in salvation history.  Mary, though being the faithful mother of God, still had ‘free will.’  Family ties do not create faith.  Mary will have to escape to Egypt in order to protect the baby Jesus.  She will have the fear of losing a child for three days.  And, Mary will witness Jesus’ trial, scourging, crucifixicion, and burial. 

But through all of this, Mary never faultered in her faith.  I believe she could handle all these sorrows because she knew what was needed, and expected, from her son; and more importantly, from her at this stage in Jesus’ life.  Even prior to Jesus’ birth, Mary had already surrendered her soul, and her body to God, thus allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in her and act through her.  Mary had NO doubts about God, even in the worst of times.  We all need to learn from her example.

Please help me Lord, find the strength and fortitude to love and follow you as did your blessed mother, Mary.  Amen. 

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:

 

… We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).

We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16). …

“Simeon Gets Permission to Finally Die!” – Lk 2:25-32


It’s a beautiful, and snowy, day in St. Louis area.  Thank you Lord for the beautiful gift floating softly from your hands. 

Jesus and Simeon in the Temple

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

Those wonderful Church Bulletins!  These sentences (with all the BLOOPERS) actually appeared in church bulletins, or were announced in church services:

  

For those of you who have children and don’t know  it, we have a nursery downstairs.

  

Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.

  

Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church.  So ends a friendship that began in their school days.

 

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.  It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.  He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”  (NAB Lk 2:25-32)

  

Simeon (means “God has Heard”) was not a priest, but a devout worshiper in the temple.  Though not a priest, he obviously was close to God in that he received a vision few are privileged to have, from God about the Messiah.  Simeon here, and later Anna, speak about the child all were awaiting, that would be the redemption of Jerusalem.  Simeon, and later Anna, represent the hopes and expectations of faithfully devout Jews who at this time were looking forward to the restoration of God’s rule in Israel.  The birth of Jesus brings these hopes to fulfillment. 

How exciting it would be to actually see someone you had hoped and prayed for for many years.  I still remember the instance I looked at my wife, and my new-born children; and the excitement and happiness I felt at that moment.  Gazing upon the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, would have to be many times greater than these most profound moments in my life.  I can’t wait to gaze upon you, my Lord.  Amen, 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule,  Chapter 1:

  

All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance. 

Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50). … 

“I Have to Get WHAT Cut Off!: and I Have too Pay ALSO!” – Lk 2:21-24


Have the kids experienced ‘let-down’ yet?  Just 364 days till CHRISTMAS again! 

Mary CHRISTmas!

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

Jesus is the man God intended all humans to be. (D.L. Dykes)

http://www.oneliners-and-proverbs.com/

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”  and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.  (NAB Lk 2:21-24)

  

Just as John [the Baptist] before him had been incorporated into the people of Israel through his circumcision, Jesus becomes a member of Gods chosen people through his circumcision.   This is the time that a Jewish baby receives his name:  Jesus’ name means “God Saves.”   The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows that Joseph and Mary were devout Jews, and faithful followers of the law of Moses.  In this respect, they are described in a fashion similar to the parents of John, and Simeon, and Anna. 

According to the Mosaic law ( found in Lev 12:2-8), any woman who gives birth to a boy is unable to touch anything sacred, or to enter the temple area by reason of her legal impurity, for forty days.  At the end of this period she is required to offer a year-old lamb as a burnt offering, and a turtle-dove or young pigeon as an expiation of sin.  The woman who could not afford a lamb offered instead two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, as Mary does here.  This shows that Mary and Joseph were not well-off, and of the lowly caste of the population. 

They took Jesus to Jerusalem (which means ‘city of peace’) to present him to God.  As the firstborn son, Jesus was consecrated to God, as the law required (found in Exodus 13:2, 12).  The law further stipulates (in Numbers 3:47-48) that the firstborn son should be redeemed by the parents through a payment of five shekels.  Jesus is presented to God in Jerusalem as a baby; paying for the priviledge of being consecrated to the service of God.  Jesus is again presented in Jerusalem thirty plus years later, as Christ and a servant of God, to pay with His life for the priviledge of servicing God, and redeeming His people.  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #26:

  

As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance.  They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.  To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions. 

“Jesus is on Santa’s ‘Nice’ List!” Lk 2:16-20


It is snowing outside this beautiful morning.  Even my teenagers were up at 7 a.m.  I placed this miracle on the calendar.  Mass was great with the super music.  Our parish is blessed with an enthusiastic music ministry director.  I pray all have a nice day, and a great year to come.  The Christmas Season has just started, and will continue till January tenth.  

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JESUS!

Jesus' Birth!

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

 Every ten seconds, somewhere on this earth, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.

 http://www.oneliners-and-proverbs.com/

Today’s Meditation:

 

So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.  All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.  And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.  (NAB Lk 2:16-20)

 

These verses are from the Mass at Dawn for Christmas Day.  The shepherd’s, and all others present were amazed, joyous, excited, and possibly even bewildered to some extent at what the angels have told them, and for the future of their Jewish race.  Though the shepherd’s were illiterate and outcasts; they were probably devout in the Jewish religion, and knew what ‘savior’ and ‘messiah’ meant when said by the angels appearing to them.

 The shepherd’s ran to town, and to anyone willing to listen,telling others of what happened to them, and about the birth of a baby that would be king over the entire world.  I wonder how many took these shepherd’s, dressed in rags, seriously?  Were they mocked and ridiculed, as Jesus will be later in life?  Were the temple priests ‘in the know’ of what happened in a cave in their town; and were they concerned?

No one present that day fully understand what is happening with Jesus’ birth. Even 2000 years later, it is still impossible to fully understand all the ramifications and surprises in store for us through Jesus’ birth in that cold, dank cave.  God joined mankind in a human birth, so we can join him in His deaths; and eventual rising to eternal life in eternal paradise with the Lord..

Mary’s journey of faith, reflection, and glorifying of God is a model for our behavior.  We need to take Jesus into our hearts, minds, and bodies.  We need to die to Him, and allow His Holy Spirit to work through us. 

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #25:

 

Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils