Wednesday morning, and the weather man is using those bad words again. It seems everyone needs to stock up on the milk, bread, and eggs!
Yesterday marks two weeks for the survivors of the ‘quakes in Haiti. Please pray that they keep up their faith in God, and allow Jesus to work through them, and others coming to their aid.
Today’s reflection is about “Love.”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
God loves everyone, but probably prefers “fruits of the spirit” over “religious nuts.”
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated
(NAB 1 Cor 13:4)
This verse defines love by what it does, or does not do with the relationship. Translated from Greek, it has fifteen verbs. Many of these translate into English as adjectives. Patient and kindness is love. Jealousy and self-importance is not. Love, I have observed, does not usually happen all at once. I am going to steal from today’s Gospel reading to describe love. Love is like a mustard seed thrown on the ground.
As the mustard seed thrown on rocky soil will not grow: neither will attempts at love based on lies, and lack of communication skills. Many people say they are in love, when they are only infatuated with each other. I like it when my kids have girl friends. They think they are in love, but they cannot understand what true love entails. Patience and kindness are not necessarily virtues of today’s teenage population. I know a lot of “adults” who have yet to leave this stage in life. I will call this the “have my ice cream and eat it NOW’ approach to love.
The mustard seed thrown among thorns equates to love that may start strong for the two persons, but as time goes on, one or both, of the two lose the focus of the relationship, and gets stung by a thorn. This “thorn” could be jealousy, an extramarital affair, addiction to drugs or alcohol, or lack of pathos for the other person in the relationship, just to name a few. I’ll consider this the “have my ice cream and let it melt, without ever consuming the dessert.
I speculate that the “thorn bush” is actually a metaphor for poor communication. As the mustard seed of love gets entangled in the thorn bush, communication between the two become less and less, until there is no communication. Without communication, there is no way love can grow, and it will eventually die. I believe communication is a part of love that gets more rich, sweeter, and fuller with age.
Finally, the mustard seed of love that is placed on good soil. Do you know what happens to a seed placed in fertile ground? IT DIES! When in love with someone, the two in love die of themselves, and grow into one beautiful creation. My children say, “There is no “I” in team.” Love is a team approach to a wonderful gift, expressed by God Himself. When a couples love develops to a point of marriage, they enter into a special relationship, a covenant, with each other and God. My favorite ice cream metafore: “On a daily basis, have some of your ice cream and not only eat yours, but eat some of your spouses; and visa versa – and never run out!”
God is pure love. He loves us so much, that we cannot understand the depth of His love for us. God loves us so much, He gave us “free-will,” and the ability to accept or deny His love. No other creation on this planet is able to do this.
We all need to cherish our love for others, while at the same time giving this love to all we come into contact with along our daily path in life. The more love we share, the more love takes root. Wouldn’t it be great if the entire world was covered with the vines and fruits of love!?
“Lord, be with me as I attempt to plant the seeds of love in others. Nurture these seeds so they sprout, and allow these sprouts to grow in others. The harvest will be great with your help. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Angela Merici 1470-1540
Angela Merici was born in the year 1470 at Decenzano, northern Italy, on the banks of Lake Garda. She so loved modesty and purity of heart that she was quite generally venerated as a little saint in her native town. When she was in her 13th year she entered the Third Order of St. Francis, and soon afterward took the vow of perpetual chastity, renounced all her possessions, and wished to live only on alms. Along with this she practiced great austerities, slept on the bare earth, and fasted continuously on bread and water. Sometimes Holy Communion was her only food over a period of several days.
When she was 23 years old, Angela was praying one day in a secluded place, and there she had a vision of a friend who had died a short while before. Her friend prophesied that Angela would be the foundress of a religious institute which would be devoted to the education of youth, and destined to do an unlimited amount of good for the kingdom of God. That proved to be a great incentive for Angela, not only to lead a life of contemplation, but also to serve her fellowmen in active work.
She gathered about her a group of young women, and together they went out to give religious instruction to little children, to help the poor, and to care for the sick. Often there were great sinners among those to whom she ministered, and in such cases she did not cease instructing, entreating, and encouraging them until they were reconciled with God and began to lead a new life.
Her saintly conduct and the profound knowledge she had, concerning even the most difficult questions of theology, caused her to be greatly respected by high and low and to be regarded as a saint. In order to escape such honor, Angela left her native town of Decenzano in 1516, and went to Brescia, where a wealthy but pious merchant offered her a house. There she lived absorbed in God until the year 1524.
At that time Angela was seized with an ardent desire to visit the Holy Land, just as our holy Father St. Francis once was. She visited Jerusalem, Mt. Calvary, and the other holy places with uncommon devotion. She returned by way of Rome, in order to pray at the tombs of the apostles, and this gain the great jubilee indulgence. Pope Clement VII, who was not unaware of her sanctity, wished to detain her in Rome, and did not permit her to return to Brescia until he understood by divine inspiration that in Brescia lay the field of labor for which God had destined her.
Due to disturbances caused by war, Angela could not undertake her appointed work until 1531. On November 25, 1535, her pious society was founded as the religious congregation of St. Ursula, who was the special patron of their work. The congregation, known also as Ursulines, spread rapidly and is active in many countries, also in America, where its institutions for the Christian education of Feminine youth are blessed with much success.
When Angela reached the age of 70, the day and hour of her death were revealed to her. She received the last sacraments with great fervor, and was rapt in ecstasy. While pronouncing the holy name of Jesus, she departed this life on January 27, 1540, in the very hour that had been foretold to her. She was laid out in the habit of the Third Order, holding in her hand the pilgrim’s staff she had used in the Holy Land. Thus she reposes in a side chapel of the parish church of St. Afa in Brescia. Pope Clement XIII beatified her, and on March 24, 1807, Pope Pius VII canonized her in St. Peter’s Church, Rome.
from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed.
by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
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).