I spent the morning in prayer and reflection with fellow Secular Franciscans of the St. Clair Region, at a morning of recollection and reflection. I want to warmly thank the St. Francis fraternity for hosting this splendid event. Marge, the event speaker, is a true treasure for your fraternity and the Church as a whole.
Today in Catholic History:
624 – Death of Mellitus, third Archbishop of Canterbury
709 – Death of Wilfrid, English archbishop and saint
1342 – Death of Pope Benedict XII (b. 1285)
1581 – Birth of Vincent de Paul, French saint (d. 1660)
1622 – Death of Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Swiss friar, martyr, and saint (b. 1577)
2005 – Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is inaugurated as the 265th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church taking the name Pope Benedict XVI.
Today’s reflection is about disciples leaving Jesus and returning to their old ways.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. ~ Morpheus
Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?” Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.” As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. (NAB John 6:60-69)
After witnessing all that had already transpired, I cannot believe that some of Jesus’ disciples were still not convinced. There still were some in the community finding it difficult to accept the high Christology reflected in this “bread of life” sermon.
Jesus asked those present if they could accept Jesus as the bread of life promised in the Old Testament. He asked if His statement shocked them. He further inquired if they had to visibly see Him go upwards toward heaven before they could believe all He had taught them.
Actually, the statement he made: “What if … you to where he was before?” seems to be an incomplete sentence to me. I feel like He should have ended the sentence with “… would that make you believe then!”
Jesus claimed to be the bread that comes down from heaven in an earlier verse (see John 6:50), and His claim provokes skepticism among for some of His disciples. Jesus, I think, is also asking what His disciples will say when He does finally go up to heaven. Will that be the moment when many of His disciples will finally say, “Oh, yea. He really was the Son of God!”?
Jesus exclaims that it is the “spirit” that gives life, and not flesh. Jesus was probably not referring to His Eucharistic body, but to the supernatural aspects of the Holy Spirit working through elements of the Eucharist; and the not the natural aspects of the physical properties in the host and wine.
Jesus knew from the beginning who would not believe and the one who would betray Him. I cannot fathom how someone that had witnessed Jesus’ ministry, and believed in Him at one time, could not believe any longer. Everything He had promised had been fulfilled: yet, some still could not believe. Humans can be a stupid bunch at times.
Jesus warned that no one could come to Him unless it is granted him by His Father.” Even with this stern but loving warning, many of his disciples had lost heart and returned to their former ways of life. Was this because they could not think of eating the true body and blood of Christ; or was it out of an underling fear of their families and other Jews shunning them for following a man that had died, and whose resurrection was covered up by the Church and Roman authorities?
We do know a few things though. We know that the Eucharist is a gift from the Holy Spirit; that the Eucharist is the true body and blood of Christ transubstantiated; and that Jesus did not chase after anyone that left, giving further proof that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ.
“Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Fidelis of Sigmaringen 1577-1622
Born at Sigmaringen of prominent family in the principality of Hohenzollern, in the year 1577, St. Fidelis received the name Mark in baptism. He was fortunately endowed both by nature and by grace, so that while he progressed in learning, he made still greater progress in virtue and piety. When he had completed his studies in philosophy and jurisprudence at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau, the parents of several young noblemen were looking for a tutor who would accompany their sons on a tour through the various countries of Europe. The professors at the university drew their attention to Mark, who qualified for the position by his moral as well as by his mental gifts. Mark accepted the position, as a result of which he spent 6 years traveling. To the young men who had been entrusted to him he pointed out, not only everything that was noteworthy from a worldly point of view, but he led them also to the practice of Christian virtue. He himself was to them an exemplary model, since in all the vicissitudes of these 6 years they never saw him get angry.
Upon his return, Mark followed the profession of a lawyer. He was soon much in demand because of his ability. But when he noticed that many lawyers, corrupted by money, did violence to justice, and that an attempt was being made to lure him also into that course, he gave up the dangerous career.
He had an elder brother among the Capuchins; and he, too, joined them in the year 1612. At his investiture he received the name Fidelis, the faithful one, and in his address, the superior applied to him the words of Holy Writ: “Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life.” (Apoc 2, 10). The words were destined to be a prophecy concerning the new candidate in the order. After Fidelis had completed his studies in theology and had received holy orders, he preached the word of God with great zeal. Meanwhile, he was a model in all the conventual practices, and evinced such wisdom that a few years later the superiors appointed him guardian.
In this position he strove earnestly to promote in his subjects religious perfection, tolerating no violation of it. But he was stricter with himself in this regard than with any of his brethren; towards all the others he cherished truly maternal solicitude and charity. Whenever the salvation of a soul was concerned, no sacrifice was too great. When he was guardian at Feldkirch, a pestilential disease raged among the soldiers there; at once Father Fidelis betook himself to them and tendered them every possible service.
In the year 1622, the Congregation of the Propaganda, which had just been founded by Pope Gregory XV, established a mission for the Grisons in Switzerland, to check the pernicious inroads of the Calvinists and Zwinglians. Father Fidelis was named the head of this mission. For a long time he had been begging God daily at holy Mass to grant him the grace to shed his blood for the Faith; now his prayer was about to be heard. Since Fidelis had the happiest results from the very first months of his mission activity, the rage of the heretics rose to great heights; his death was resolved upon. Fidelis was so convinced of it that on the morning of April 24th at Sevis he prepared himself for his last moments. Then he mounted the pulpit. During the sermon a band of armed heretics pressed into church. They dragged him down from the pulpit, and inflicted so may blows and cuts on him that he died at their hands.
God almighty glorified His martyr by many miracles, whereupon Pope Benedict XIV solemnly entered his name in the register of saints in 1746.
from: The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org 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.