Today in Catholic History:
† 330 – Byzantium is renamed Nova Roma during a dedication ceremony, but is more popularly referred to as Constantinople.
† 1310 – 54 members of the Knights Templar are burned at the stake in France for being heretics.
† 1610 – Death of Matteo Ricci, Italian Jesuit missionary (b. 1552)
† 2007 – Pope Benedict XVI canonizes the first Brazilian-born saint, Frei Galvão.
Today’s reflection is about thinking of Jesus as our Brother.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
A Franciscan Friar and Jesuit Priest were debating which order was the greatest. So, they decided to ask for a sign from God. This is what they received, falling down from heaven:
Please stop bickering about such trivial matters.
Today’s SFO Reflection Question:
Have you ever thought of Christ as your brother?
When I first thought about this question, I said, “No way!” Jesus is the “BIG GUY,” and my GOD! HE could only be my Father watching everything I do. You may be having a similar reaction at this moment, but just sit back and reflect on this question.
In my youth, I was brought up to believe that Jesus was our fatherly figure; guiding us to salvation. My parents loved the Catholic Church, and were very active participants in the parish life. Priests and Nuns were always at our home, or we were at the rectory and convent doing errands for them. I have fond memories of having fun with those “people in black.”
During my teenage years, and for luckily a short time, I thought of Him as a “guy” that caused difficulties in my life style. I did not enjoy going to mass or parish functions; and I never went to confession because I could ask for forgiveness directly through prayer – if only I prayed at that time. I was selfish and wanted to do only what “I” wanted to do. Others did not matter to me at this time. Thank you again Lord for helping me through this short period of darkness in my life.
As a young adult I appreciated my religion, and actively participated in the church life. Sounds like I had made it to the point of loving Jesus, Catholicism, and its rituals and traditions; but I wasn’t. Jesus was a “boss” that demanded me to go to Mass each week; but I denied Him about other aspects of faith such as confession, Holy Day Mass attendance, and Eucharistic Adoration. Jesus was a priority, but not ranked as high of a priority as work, dating, recreational activities, or vacation plans.
Now, as a “well seasoned” adult, I have learned many things about life and death, societies, people, various religious beliefs, and most importantly; about me and how I fit in this puzzle called “being human.” I can remember being so extremely happy with the birth of my children, and my marriage day to my love of my life: Jeanine. I have also experienced the fear of unexplainable proportions in dealing with a major life threatening emergency of a son. And have had been depressed to an extreme low, when dealing with my own health issues and job loss.
Through all of these paths I have taken, there was a constant in every situation: Jesus. I have come to appreciate that He is with us at all times, even the bad. He isn’t with us to necessarily prevent us from going down a path of difficulty, but to be there as a friend to lean on in those moments. Too bad most Catholics do not choose to lean on and go forward, but to turn around and find the easier path: the path away from Jesus’ redemption and salvation and to eternity in hell.
Is Jesus my brother? Physically, Jesus had a human body in order to do His work on earth, but the divine Jesus as well as the Trinity as a whole, has no physical body or sex. Just as the angels, the Holy Trinity is a spirit that can appear in any form necessary. Jesus, God and the Paraclete are all good and all perfect. Their beauty is beyond our comprehension. Spiritually, Jesus is all things to me: brother, Father, Mother, and even spouse.
Please allow me to explain by twisting a portion of the “Prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order” written by Saint Francis of Assisi several hundred years ago.
Jesus is our spouse when our soul is united with Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit; He is our brother when we fulfill God’s will (Mt 12:48-50). He is our mother when He carries us in our times of need. He gives birth to us when we live Holy lives, giving example to others. Jesus is our great and Holy Father in heaven, and also our advocate; our Paraclete, who gave up His life for His sheep (John 10:15).
“Oh, holy Father, protect me in your name. Please send me to do your work. I desire you Lord, and want you in my company at all times; and in all places.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: FREI GALVAO, THE FIRST BRAZILIAN SAINT
On May 11, 2007 the Pope presided at Mass in Sao Paulo’s “Campo de Marte” in the presence of a million people. During the ceremony he canonized Blessed Antonio de Santa Ana (ne Antonio Galvao de Franca, 1739-1822), a Franciscan priest who founded the “Recolhimento” (Retreat) of Our Lady of the Conception and Divine Providence, today known as the Convent of Light.
Beginning his homily, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to the Conceptionist nuns who, he said, “spread the spirituality and charism of the first Brazilian to be raised to the glory of the altars.”
“The Franciscan charism, lived out in the spirit of the Gospel,” he went on, “has borne significant fruits through [Frei Galvao’s] witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist, as a prudent and wise guide of the souls who sought his counsel, and as a man with a great devotion to the Immaculate Conception of Mary, whose ‘son and perpetual servant’ he considered himself to be.”
“The Holy Eucharist,” said the Pope, “contains all the spiritual wealth of the Church,” and Christians “must come to know the faith of the Church through her ordained ministers, through the exemplary manner in which they carry out the prescribed rites that always point to the eucharistic liturgy as the center of the entire task of evangelization. The faithful, in their turn, must seek to receive and to venerate the Most Holy Sacrament with piety and devotion, eager to welcome the Lord Jesus with faith, and having recourse, whenever necessary, to the Sacrament of Penance so as to purify the soul from every grave sin.”
Frei Galvao “was renowned as a counsellor, he was a bringer of peace to souls and families, and a dispenser of charity especially towards the poor and the sick. … The conversion of sinners was therefore the great passion of our saint.”
“United with the Lord in the supreme communion of the Eucharist and reconciled with Him and our neighbor, we will thus become bearers of that peace which the world cannot give. Will the men and women of this world be able to find peace if they are not aware of the need to be reconciled with God, with their neighbor and with themselves?”
“Renown of the immense charity” of the Franciscan saint “knew no bounds,” said the Holy Father, pointing out that “pastoral initiatives for the building up of society, if directed towards the good of the poor and the sick, bear within themselves this divine seal,” that of the love of God Who died on the Cross to save us.
“Frei Galvao prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. … The Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Saviour. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady. In fact, the saint that we are celebrating gave himself irrevocably to the Mother of Jesus from his youth, desiring to belong to her for ever, and he chose the Virgin Mary to be the Mother and Protector of his spiritual daughters.”
“The world needs transparent lives, clear souls, pure minds that refuse to be perceived as mere objects of pleasure. It is necessary to oppose those elements of the media that ridicule the sanctity of marriage and of virginity before marriage. … Marian devotion is the sure guarantee of her maternal protection and safeguard in the hour of temptation.”
At the end of his homily, the Holy Father invited the faithful to give thanks to God for the gift of sanctity “which, together with faith, is the greatest grace that can be bestowed upon a creature: the firm desire to attain the fullness of charity, in the conviction that holiness is not only possible but also necessary for every person in his or her own state of life, so as to reveal to the world the true face of Christ, our friend!”
Following Mass, the Holy Father travelled by car to the monastery of Sao Bento, where he had lunch. In the afternoon, before leaving for the “da Se” cathedral for his meeting with Brazilian bishops, he bid farewell to the monks.
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #11:
Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.
Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.