Monthly Archives: February 2010

“Do You Need a ‘Green Card’ for Heaven” – Phil 3:20-4:1


A large earthquake struck in Haiti 47 days ago, and an even larger one exploded in Chile yesterday.  Many people have died, or are now homeless and hurt physically and/or mentally.  Let us pray that here spirit has not been shaken as well.  They, and all of us, need the divine intervention of God at this time of trial.  Please remember that all happens for a purpose.  We may not ever know the purpose, while on this earth; there is still one, and it will be revealed to us when God chooses.
  

Our citizenship in heaven, and the ticket on how to get there, is the subject of my reflection today.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths that little children have learned:
  

You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk!
 
Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts!
 
The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandma’s lap!

  

Today’s Meditation:

 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.  NAB Phil 3:20-4:1)

 

Citizenship for the Christians of Philippi was the colony of heaven, just as Philippi was a colony of Rome. Christians are already enrolled as citizens of heaven, through the grace of God.  Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s.”  We have to live as Jesus showed us how to live in this world, in order to attain our entrance to His world of heaven.

Our mortal bodies cannot enter the final glory without a transformation.  Most of us will need to go through the heavenly divine “carwash” of purgatory.  Many non-Catholics (and sadly some Catholics) do not believe in purgatory, because the word itself is not written in the bible.  To them, I say show me the word “Armageddon.”  What all of us can agree on, is that the risen Christ is our example for how to live a true Christian life. 

The hope Paul expresses in these few but powerful sentences from this letter, involves the final coming of Christ, and NOT what was already attained.  Our future with Him in heaven, is what we live for today.  It is never to late to say yes to God, and to start living a “perfect” life. 

“Lord, I will keep this short.  Please help me to perfection through you.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Hilary, Pope
 

Pope from 461-468; and guardian of Church unity.  He was born in Sardinia, Italy, and was a papal legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, barely escaping with his life from this affair.  Hilary was used by Pope St. Leo I the Great on many assignments.  When Leo died, Hilary was elected pope and consecrated on November 19, 461.  He worked diligently to strengthen the Church in France and Spain, calling councils in 462 and 465.  Hilary also rebuilt many Roman churches and erected the chapel of St. John Lateran.  He also publicly rebuked Emperor Anthemius in St. Peter’s for supporting the Macedonian heresy and sent a decree to the Eastern bishops validating the decisions of the General Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.  Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul.  He died in Rome on February 28

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

Prologue to 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: …  

 

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“Keep Your Friends Close, & Your Enemies Closer!” – Mt 5:43-48


 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths that little children have learned:

You can’t trust dogs to watch your food!
Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair!
Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time!

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?  So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (NAB Mt 5:43-48)

  

Did you notice this series of verses left out the end of the quote from the first sentence.  There was no “as yourself” at the end of the quotation.  There is no Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy.  The “neighbor” of this “love” commandment was understood as one’s fellow countryman.  Both in the Old Testament, and in the Qumran (1QS 9:21), hatred of evil persons is assumed to be permitted and all right.  Jesus extends the love commandment to the enemy, and the persecutor.  As children of God, we must imitate the example of the Jesus.  Christianity is purposely not aggressive by nature and intent.  Aggression displayed is transformed into a strategy of winning through the wisdom of love.

 Jesus distinguishes between earthly rewards, and Godly rewards.   The tax collectors were Jews of the region, who were engaged in the collection of indirect taxes such as tolls and customs.  Such tax collectors paid a fixed amount of money for the right to collect customs duties within their districts.  Whatever they collected above this amount was profit to them.  The abuse of extortion was widespread among tax collectors. Hence, tax collectors were regarded as sinners and outcasts of society, and were disgraced, along with their families.  Tax collectors were a symbol of low morality, being often associated with extortion and collaborating in the Roman occupation of Palestine.  Tax collectors were hated publicly, verbally, and sometimes violently.  It would have been difficult to be hated more than a tax collector.  Jesus ate with tax collectors frequently, during His ministry.  He instructs that loving those that hate you, increases God’s love for you.  Loving our enemies is a must for all Christians.  Remember, all people are God’s creation, and we should see Jesus in everyone we meet.  If you don’t see Jesus in everyone,  get your vision checked in the confessional, and at mass.

Jesus’ disciples must not be content with the usual standards of conduct in society.  In the time of Jesus, the “greeting” mentioned above, was a prayer of blessing on the one greeted.  In the last sentence of this reading, the word “perfect” was used.  In the gospels this word occurs only in Matthew; here and in Matthew 19:21.  In Luke’s gospel, the parallel verse (Luke 6:36) demands that the disciples be merciful.  The idea of perfection for the Jews of that time, was a man who observed the whole law without exception.  We need to transform ourselves to be like Christ, and follow His whole laws.  The Franciscans’ have a saying: “commit yourself to daily conversion.”

“Lord, I love you above all.  Help me to love all others as much as I love you.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day: Bl. Sebastian of Aparicio

 

Sebastian lived from 1502 to 1600, and he was a bridge builder mostly in Mexico. At age 72, he distributed all he had among the poor and entered the Franciscans as a brother. He is known as the “Angel of Mexico” and is the patron of travelers.

 (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).

“♫ All We Need Is Love, Da—Da-Da-Da-Da! ♫” – Mt 5:20-22


A beautiful Friday morning outside.  All the kids got up on their own, and dressed without last-minute emergencies,; then found their own food to eat.  They left for school after giving me a hug and saying something like, “I love You,” or “See you later dad.”  Why do I feel concerned about the absence of some type of ‘upset’ today?
   

The reflection today is about how we are to act as Christians.  This reflection contains a little history narrative about Jewish laws and ancient Jerusalem, to help put things in perspective.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“If Sampson killed 10,000 men with the jawbone of an ass, how much more can God fight with a complete ass like me?” – St. John of the Cross

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.  (NAB Mt 5:20-22)

  

God wants us all to live in love, respect, and honor.  These are the highest and most important virtues, and principles, in life.  The actions listed in this first part of today’s Gospel reading are examples of the conduct demanded of the followers of Christ.  Each act deals with a commandment of Jewish law, and is then followed by Jesus’ teaching in regards to that rule or commandment of faith.

 We’ve all been angry at some time in our lives.  And chances are we are all going to be angry again in the future.  After losing my job due to health reasons, I was very angry.  I now admit I even cussed out God, and anything that had to do with Him.  I was mad at the world and everything in it, including me.  With time, patience, and divine interaction, I have actually grown closer to our Lord in heaven than ever before, and I love Him so dearly.  I now thank Him for the grace to suffer for others, in His name.

We need to forgive those that have hurt us.  By forgiving them, we can again see Jesus in them.  This simple act of forgiveness will change our hearts, and bring us just a little closer to being like Christ.  This gospel reading is all about forgiveness.  Reconciliation with any offended brother or sister of God is the message in this admonition.

Anger is the motive behind the act of murder, and insulting epithets are steps that may lead to it. They, as well as the deed, are all forbidden in Jesus’ kingdom.   In the above verses, the word “Raqa” is used.  Raqa is an Aramaic word, probably meaning “imbecile or blockhead:” and definitely a term of abuse.  Abusive language is also forbidden by Jesus. 

We are disciples of Christ. We were created in His image, and we are goal is to be like Jesus in all ways.  Definitely is not an easy proposition at all, but the path to salvation is a rocky and difficult road to transverse.    We need to look past other peoples faults..  We need to see Jesus in them instead.  We need to witness their hurt, pain, hopes and dreams; and to help them as is possible by our means. 

 The severity of the “judge” in the parable above, is a warning of the fate for any unrepentant sinners in the coming judgment by God.  Per my studies for this reflection, the ascending order of punishment during the time of Jesus started at judgment by a local council; then trial before the Sanhedrin; and ends with condemnation to Gehenna.  The gospel reading points to a higher degree of seriousness in each of the offenses listed in the verses above. The Sanhedrin was the highest judicial body of Jewish people.  

Gehenna is translated from Hebrew to mean “Valley of Hinnom, or “Valley of the son of Hinnom.”  Gehenna was southwest of Jerusalem, and the center of an idolatrous cult at one point, in which children were offered in sacrifice to a pagan god called Moloch, by followers of Ba’al.  Gehenna was a trash dump, and a burning pit for trash; not too far south from Golgotha, at Jesus’ time.

The concept of punishment for sinners by fire, either after death or the final judgment, is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature such as in the Jewish “Book of Enoch, Chapter 90:26” [And I saw at that time, how a similar abyss was opened in the middle of the Earth which was full of fire, and they brought those blind sheep and they were all judged, and found guilty, and thrown into that abyss of fire and they burned.  And that abyss was on the south of that house.]  The name geenna (a Greek derivation of the word Gehenna) is given to a place of punishment, for the first time, in the New Testament.

“Lord, give me the courage to forgive and forget any transgressions towards me.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Isabel of France

 

Sister of St. Louis and daughter of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile, she refused offers of marriage from several noble suitors to continue her life of virginity consecrated to God. She ministered to the sick and the poor, and after the death of her mother, founded the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Longchamps in Paris. She lived there in austerity but never became a nun and refused to become abbess. She died there on February 23, and her cult was approved in 1521.  Her feast day is February 26th.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

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.

“The Golden Rule, But Me First!” – Mt 7:7-12


Charlie is being buried today.  I would like all to take a moment to pray for his souls.  Charlie saved many people in his long EMS & fire service.  He lived the golden rule every day of his life.  It is now time to return the favor for this local hero.
 

It is 10 months to Christmas.  Is it too soon to start counting?
 

The Golden Rule is my reflection today.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other — it doesn’t matter who it is — and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other. — Mother Teresa

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.   “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” (NAB Mt 7:7-12)

  

Prayer, Prayer, Prayer:  We need to communicate with God CONTINUOUSLY throughout the day.  Prayer is not just saying some words to an almighty deity somewhere in the spirit world.  Prayer is a constant communication and exchange of thoughts and actions between you and God: directly or indirectly.  Remember, God is always literally with you, and not “in the spirit world.” 

Prayer can be those rote memory prayers we all learned in religion class, or from our parents.  Prayer is our spontaneous utterances we exchange with Him “in the air” when frustrated.  Prayer is the smile given to the person that appears sad or depressed.  Prayer is the gentile squeeze when holding your young child’s hand.  I can go on, but it is prayer when we think about God, or when we have an interaction with another of His creations.

This particular Gospel reading from today’s Mass suggests an unreflective sin on the part of those listening to Jesus this day.  Today is an interesting mediation reading, as it seems to expand and unfold the longer I meditated and researched this reading.

The second sentence seemed really bizarre to me.  In my research and meditation, it could be that there is a resemblance between a stone and a round loaf of bread; and between a snake and a scale-less fish called a “barbut.”  I’ve eaten rattlesnake before, but never a rock.

The Golden Rule, [Trivia time – this saying has been named this since the 18th century] is found in both positive and negative form in both pagan and Jewish writings.  It had a long history before being spoken here.  It emerged in the 5th century B.C. in Greek history, and the same phrase can also be found in Luke 6:31. 

The Golden Rule comes at the end of the sermon.  It is a summary, in much simpler terms.  Our retributions and morals need to be balanced and controlled by a notion of the good for that individual , and for society as a whole.  A sadomasochist would cause some major problems, and wreak havoc with this rule!

“Lord, help me to always think of you in all my actions.  The only way to salvation is through you, and through your creations of this earth.  Please help me to always do what is right for others , and myself.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Tarasius

 

St. Tarasius was subject of the Byzantine Empire.  He was raised to the highest honors in the Empire as Consul, and later became first secretary to the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Irene.  When being elected Patriarch of Constantinople, he consented to accept the dignity offered to him only on condition that a General Council should be summoned to resolve the disputes concerning the veneration of sacred images, for Constantinople had been separated from the Holy See on account of the war between the Emperors.  The Council was held in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople in 786; it met again the following year at Nice and its decrees were approved by the Pope.  The holy Patriarch incurred the enmity of the Emperor by his persistent refusal to sanction his divorce from his lawful wife.  He witnessed the death of Constantine, which was occasioned by his own mother; he beheld the reign and the downfall of Irene and usurpation of Nicephorus.  St. Tarasius’ whole life in the Episcopacy was one of penance and prayer, and of hard labor to reform his clergy and people.  He occupied the See of Constantinople twenty-one years and two months.  His charity toward the poor was one of the characteristic virtues of his life.  He visited in person, all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople, so that no indigent person might be overlooked in the distribution of alms.  This saintly Bishop was called to his eternal reward in the year 806. His feast day is February 25th.

(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

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.

“Sounds a little Fishy to Me!” – Lk 11:29-32


Today is bitter-sweet for me.  My wife is home, so I get to spend some time with her: but I will not be able to go to my friends wake and funeral due to other obligations.  He died earlier this week at age 40.  Much too young for a vibrant and fun-loving firefighter-paramedic.  I pray that he finds rest and solace in heaven.  My heart goes out for his family.  I wish there was more that I could do; but prayer is what he needs now, and I definitely can do that job.

 

My reflection today is about Jonah meeting Jesus in the belly of the whale!

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths Learned by Little Children:
 

No matter how hard you try, you can’t baptize cats.

When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don’t let her brush your hair.

If your sister hits you, don’t hit her back.  They always catch the second person.

Never ask your three-year old brother to hold a tomato.

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

While still more people gathered in the crowd, he said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.   Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.  At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the Wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.  At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.  (NAB Lk 11:29-32)

 

The “sign of Jonah” in these verses is the preaching for the need of repentance, by Jonah, a prophet who came from a long distance to convert the Ninevites.  Luke uses the “sign of Jonah” as a typology of Jesus, and His death and resurrection three days later.  Both came from afar to convert and save sinners.  Both were entombed (one in a grave, the other in a fish) for a period of three days, to be resurrected and bringing the saving “word” to their charges.

Jonah, while on his journey, was swallowed by a large fish, and spent three days in the belly of that fish.  Can you just picture what he smelled like after three days immersed in fish guts?  Whether you believe in this story literally, or as a teaching tool for the Jewish peoples of the Old Testament is really not important here.  Jonah’s preaching of God’s word as the “sign of Jonah” is the important lesson from this Gospel reading from today’s mass.

The other great person of the Old Testament mentioned in this gospel reading is Solomon, a great man and king.  The son of King David, Solomon learned to use his keen sense of wisdom instead of his use of force.  Solomon united the twelve Jewish tribes; not by the conquering and military type ruling of his father, but by his wisdom.

He had many achievements that would be hard to surpass, even today.  Solomon built the first great Temple in Jerusalem.  All the Jewish people were living in some state of harmony, under the umbrella of one ruler.  This gospel reading tells us that Jesus’ wisdom is far greater than Israel’s wise king, Solomon.

The Ninevite people lived in a city, near present-day Mosul in Iraq.  Their city was so large that it would take three days to walk across from one side to the other.  God’s word, coming from the prophet Jonah, resulted in mass conversions of these Ninevites.  What a spectacular event for a prophet like Jonah.  With Jesus, there is an even greater power in His “word.”  We have all been saved by His word, and need to continue listening to, thinking about, believing in, and living His word every day.

“Lord, thank you for sharing your word with us.  In the beginning was the word, and it is definitely good.  Please allow your word to always live in me.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. John Theristus

Benedictine monk, called Theristus or “Harvester.” He was of Calabrian lineage, born in Sicily. His mother was a slave of the Saracens. John escaped at a young age and became a monk.  Feast day: February 24

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #24:

 

To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.

“Jesus Said What?!“ – Mt 6:9-15


I just found out that a friend from my EMS days has just died.  Please keep him, his family and friends, and all public service workers in your prayers today.  Lent is a time for preparation to see Jesus.  Charlie, with God’s Grace, you are with Him now in heaven.  God Bless You Charlie!

 

Is it wrong to love this time of the year?  The weather is in a continuous state of change.  Literally, in the St. Louis area at this time of the year, one day could be in the 60’s and 70’s, with everyone outside in shorts, and all windows in the house open; and the next below zero degrees outside, with several inches of snow; and then the next being a day of severe thunderstorms.  The saying in St. Louis is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes!”   

 

The same goes for our faith.  Anticipated joy is tempered with Lenten acts of almsgiving, meditation, sacrifice, and preparation for Easter.  But even these six weeks of lent are broken up with six “mini” days of joy: Sundays.  Sundays are always days of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and times to rejoice in our salvation through Him.

 

The first prayer I, and most other Christians learned, is the topic of my reflection today.  It is also the gospel reading in today’s Mass at all Catholic Church’s.
 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

“When the devil reminds you of your past… remind him of his future!” – St. Teresa of Avila

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  (NAB Mt 6:9-15)

    

I love the “Our Father” prayer.  I bet most Catholics don’t know there are actually two versions of this beautiful prayer, and I am not talking about the “Catholic” and “Protestant” versions.  Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of the Jewish church.  Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus.  Again, we have a case for a conceptual view, and a direct and literal view of the same prayer. 

  

“Our Father in heaven” is found in many Jewish prayers created after the period of the New Testament.  “Hallowed be your name” refers to the “hallowing” or reverence done to God, through human praise, and by obedience to God’s will.  In this case, it is more probably more of a petition that God manifest his glory through a powerful action: the establishment of His kingdom on earth. 

  

“Your kingdom come” sets the tone of the prayer.  In this great prayer, it trends more towards divine action, rather than human action in the petitions of the prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” exclaims that the divine purpose is to set up the kingdom on earth; already present in heaven. 

  

“Give us today our daily bread” is from a rare Greek word “epiousios,” that only occurs in the New Testament here, and in Luke 11:3. The word probably means “daily” or “future;” but other meanings have also been proposed. This verse of the “Lord’s Prayer” signifies the want of a speedy coming of the kingdom: i.e., today.  The kingdom of God is often portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments as an image of a feast  (look at my post from a few days ago).  

  

“Forgive us our debts” is a metaphor for our sins, and for forgiveness at our final judgment. 

Jewish writings prophesize a period of severe trial before the end of time.  This last part of the prayer asks that believers in Jesus (thus God) be spared any final test. 

  

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  I believe most of us do not read this sentence completely, or have a selective understanding of this two-part petition.  The first part asks for forgiveness from God.  We all have no problems with this portion: it’s the next that seems to cause the real concern.  If we do not forgive, neither is God.  Any resentment towards another, will be dealt with some type of “resentment” when it comes to eternal paradise.  So, to put this part of the prayer in perspective; God is only going to forgive us to the exact amount we have forgiven ALL that have sinned against us!  If we want total forgiveness for our sins, we have to forgive EVERYONE, IN FULL, for any sins, actions, words, behaviors, lies, or thefts they have done against us.  Sounded easy at first: didn’t it?  

  

These seven or eight petitions give us a formula for the perfect prayer.  Jesus proves His divinity, in the beauty and sincerity of such simple phases. 

  

“Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

   

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Catholic Saint of the Day: Saint Polycarp

   

 Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.  

But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?  

With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.  

Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer — to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp “your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock.”  

Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the “gospel model” — not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God’s will as Jesus did. They considered it “a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters.”  

One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, “Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found.” (They considered Christians “atheists” because they didn’t believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy “even before his grey hair appeared”, this was a horrible demand.  

Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time in prayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.  

As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, “God’s will be done.”  

Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had ever known and for the Church, “remembering all who had at any time come his way — small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world.” Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.  

But that didn’t stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, “Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man.”  

Because of Polycarp’s lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.  

When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn’t being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.  

The proconsul wouldn’t let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: “They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world.” After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156.  

(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

   

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #23:

  

Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sistersAdmission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule.  The entire community is engaged in the process of growth by its own manner of living.  The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutesProfession by its nature is a permanent commitment.  Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.  Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.  

“Jesus was a Man’s Man!” – Lk 15:2


I have been off the radar for the past three days with the worst case of gastroenteritis (GI flu) that I have ever experienced in my life.  Many, many, souls have been released from purgatory through my pain and suffering.  I am soory this 150th blog is three days late, but I have not stopped.  Thank you all for the prayers.

 

This is my 150th reflection.  What a time of study, reflection, and meditation I have had.  What has it done for me?  I truly believe that it has brought me closer to God.  I encourage all to do the same thing.  It is a wild trip!
 

Do not make it difficult on yourself.  Just read one or two verses, and then put the bible down. This is where the miracle takes place.  Sit quietly of 10-15 minutes thinking about what you read.  To be frank, and possibly somewhat rude, you can even do this while sitting on the toilet.  I have had many great thoughts in the extreme silence of sitting on the porcelain throne.
 

This is my 150th reflection.  What a time of study, reflection, and meditation I have had.  What has it done for me?  I truly believe that it has brought me closer to God.  I encourage all to do the same thing.  It is a wild trip!

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you’re looking down, you can’t see something that’s above you. — C. S. Lewis

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

This man welcomes sinners and eats with them. (NAB Lk 15:2)

 

Jesus was a “Man’s Man” in ancient Palestine.  This “God made man” did something no other human could accomplish (other than the obvious dying for our sins thing).  He was able to eat with royalty and the rich in society; and also with the lowest of the low.

We know via the gospels that  Jesus was at a banquet in Cana, and how His first recorded miracle took place there.  This was a large feast, with many people, and a lot of money was spent during this feast; and that Jesus and His mother were there in a notable way.

Other stories in the Bible show Jesus conversing with, touching, and even eating with the “unclean” of the region.  This included people with defects like blindness, physical defects, and psychological problems.  The ultimate in low class in Palestine were those with skin diseases like cancers, tuberculosis tumors, and the dreaded leprosy.

I can just picture the look on His disciple’s faces the first time Jesus walked up to a person with “leprosy” and not only hugged him, but probably kissed him.  I wonder how many disciples He lost with that one action?  Or did He gain disciples?

As a Secular Franciscan, I know of our orders founder, St. Francis of Assisi, and of his conversion story.  It is nearly identical to what I just described in the above paragraph.  Only, with St. Francis, he had many converts, and his order grew, and continues to grow today.

What are we to learn from this verse?  Are we to welcome the thief into our house to steal from us?  I don’t believe so.  We are only expected to love and respect all individuals, regardless of their status in life.  God’s creation is all sacred, and thus all equal in His eyes.  If the poor and rich, the clean and dirty, the sick and healthy are all good in God’s eyes, why should they not be good in our eyes as well?

“Lord, I am a sinner.  Thank you for allowing me to come to your table.  Thank you for offering yourself, body and blood, at each Eucharistic meal at Mass.  I so love to consume you, and to be consumed by you in my faith and life.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Margaret of Cortona

 

Margaret of Cortona, penitent, was born in Loviana in Tuscany in 1247. Her father was a small farmer. Margaret’s mother died when she was seven years old. Her stepmother had little care for her high-spirited daughter. Rejected at home, Margaret eloped with a youth from Montepulciano and bore him a son out of wedlock. After nine years, her lover was murdered without warning. Margaret left Montpulciano and returned as a penitent to her father’s house. When her father refused to accept her and her son, she went to the Friars Minor at Cortona where she received asylum. Yet Maragaret had difficulty overcoming temptations of the flesh. One Sunday she returned to Loviana with a cord around her neck. At Mass, she asked pardon for her past scandal. She attempted to mutilate her face, but was restrained by Friar Giunta. Margaret earned a living by nursing sick ladies. Later she gave this up to serve the sick poor without recompense, subsisting only on alms. Evenually, she joined the Third Order of St. Francis, and her son also joined the Franciscans a few years later. Margaret advanced rapidly in prayer and was said to be in direct contact with Jesus, as exemplified by frequent ecstacies. Friar Giunta recorded some of the messages she received from God. Not all related to herself, and she courageously presented messages to others. In 1286, Margaret was granted a charter allowing her to work for the sick poor on a permanent basis. Others joined with personal help, and some with financial assistance. Margaret formed her group into tertiaries, and later they were given special status as a congregation which was called The Poverelle (“Poor Ones”). She also founded a hospital at Cortona and the Confraternity of Our Lady of Mercy. Some in Cortona turned on Margaret, even accusing her of illicit relations with Friar Giunta. All the while, Margaret continued to preach against vice and many, through her, returned to the sacraments. She also showed extraordinary love for the mysteries of the Eucharist and the Passion of Jesus Christ. Divinely warned of the day and hour of her death, she died on February 22, 1297, having spent twenty-nine years performing acts of penance. She was canonized in 1728. Her feast day is February 22nd.

 (From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #22:

 

The local fraternity is to be established canonically. It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love. This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.