I want to congratulate five friends and brothers/sister in Christ that are celebrating a Profession in the Secular Franciscan Order tonight. These good Catholic men and women have studied hard, and had a large amount of reflection, meditation, and prayer to get to this point. They are already great Franciscans, and are ready to travel this much further on their journey of faith, peace, love, and desire to follow in Jesus’ footsteps as St. Francis of Assisi demonstrated.
Today in Catholic History:
† 373 – Death of Ephrem the Syrian, Christian hymnodist
† 597 – Death of St. Columba, Christian missionary (b. 521)
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Alexander, martyr; Saint Columba; Blessed Columba, abbot, confessor; Saint Diomedes; Saint Edmund, bishop of Canterbury, confessor (Translation day); Saint Efrem (Saint Ephraim), deacon, Doctor of the Church; Saint Liborius, bishop (of LeMans), confessor; Saint Primus and Felicianus, martyrs; Blessed Richard, bishop of Andria, Apulia; Saint Vincent, deacon, martyr; Saint Pelagia, virgin, martyr; Blessed Diana d’Andalo
Quote or Joke of the Day:
It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels. – St. Augustine
Today’s reflection is about the need to follow the laws of old, still present with Jesus.
Jesus said to His Disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (NAB Matthew 5:17-19)
Jesus did not come to change, tinker with, amend, or even abolish the Mosaic laws; nor the words and prophesies of the prophets that came before Him. Jesus came out of a need to literally fulfill the all the laws and ALL prophesy spoken about the “Messiah” and a new kingdom to come! I know (there may be more) of about sixty (60) prophesies from the Old Testament, which was written between 400 and 1500 years before the birth of Jesus. To fulfill ALL prophesy is a statistic improbability, except for the true “Messiah!”
In a somewhat bizarre but realistic twist, the “new kingdom” is a direct “child or offspring” of the old. Catholics, in my opinion are a “second” generation or cousin of the Judaic religion. Jesus extols this when He said that the smallest tidbit of the law will stay intact for eternity. Jesus requires us to follow the laws and “the commandments,” which Moses received from God.
Maybe this is the key to what Jesus is wanting understood: the Laws were given to us by God via Moses, on Mt. Sinai; and since God cannot create anything naturally imperfect, the laws He gave us are indeed perfect in nature; and of no need to be amended, changed, or deleted.
Those who break any of the commandments, even in the smallest of ways; or teaches others to do so, are guilty of a moral evil (sin) that affects the entire body of Christ; the human Church (us), along with the divine Holy Trinity. The slightest “sin” of any type affects the entire Church, and separates that individual with sin from God.
Whoever obeys and teaches the commandments are truly walking in the path of Christ. The greatest gift one can give another is “of themselves!” Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:25-28); and do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law” (Mt 7:12). Peace, love, and humility were the gifts God gave to us, and a must for us to share with all people we come into contact. A talent or gift not shared is a talent or gift wasted!
To fulfill the Mosaic Law appeared at first, for me, to mean literally following each of the laws according to the slightest detail, until the end of time. After a time of reflection, I believe that maybe this “passing away” of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world as most one would think, but the dissolution of our understanding and knowledge of the existing universe for a more divinely inspired understanding. Maybe, we are living in the new and final age now, as prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth.” In Isaiah 65:17; 66:22, He declares, “Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind; As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make Shall endure before me, says the LORD, so shall your race and your name endure.)
Jesus’ ministry on earth was the cusp of this “new kingdom,” and His mission did not deviate from previous Old Testament prophesy, and remained within the framework of Mosaic Law; BUT with a significant anticipation of a new age and kingdom to come. In this new kingdom, He calls ALL of us to witness and teach. We are all responsible to help others gain knowledge, and to help “shape” the souls of others, as well as our own.
We remember more through our eyes than we ever will by what we read or hear. We need to show all others how to live a proper Catholic lifestyle, by demonstrating a proper Catholic lifestyle at all times. St. Francis was definitely right when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
Just For Today
“Oh, God, give me grace for this day. Not for a lifetime. Not for this week. Not for tomorrow, but just for this day.
Direct and bless everything I think and speak and do for just this one day, so that I have the gift of grace that comes from Your presence.
Oh God, for today, just for this day, let me live generously & kindly, in a state of grace and goodness that denies my many imperfections, and makes me more like You. Amen.” – unknown
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Ephrem (circa 306-373)
Poet, teacher, orator and defender of the faith, Ephrem is the only Syrian recognized as a doctor of the Church. He took upon himself the special task of opposing the many false doctrines rampant at his time, always remaining a true and forceful defender of the Catholic Church.
Born in Nisibis, Mesopotamia, he was baptized as a young man and became famous as a teacher in his native city. When the Christian emperor had to cede Nisibis to the Persians, Ephrem, along with many Christians, fled as a refugee to Edessa. He is credited with attracting great glory to the biblical school there. He was ordained a deacon but declined becoming a priest (and was said to have avoided episcopal consecration by feigning madness!).
He had a prolific pen and his writings best illumine his holiness. Although he was not a man of great scholarship, his works reflect deep insight and knowledge of the Scriptures. In writing about the mysteries of humanity’s redemption, Ephrem reveals a realistic and humanly sympathetic spirit and a great devotion to the humanity of Jesus. It is said that his poetic account of the Last Judgment inspired Dante.
It is surprising to read that he wrote hymns against the heretics of his day. He would take the popular songs of the heretical groups and, using their melodies, compose beautiful hymns embodying orthodox doctrine. Ephrem became one of the first to introduce song into the Church’s public worship as a means of instruction for the faithful. His many hymns have earned him the title “Harp of the Holy Spirit.”
He preferred a simple, austere life, living in a small cave overlooking the city of Edessa. It was here he died around 373.
Many Catholics still find singing in church a problem, probably because of the rather individualistic piety that they inherited. Yet singing has been a tradition of both the Old and the New Testament. It is an excellent way of expressing and creating a community spirit of unity as well as joy. Ephrem’s hymns, an ancient historian testifies, “lent luster to the Christian assemblies.” We need some modern Ephrems—and cooperating singers—to do the same for our Christian assemblies today.
Lay me not with sweet spices,
For this honor avails me not,
Nor yet use incense and perfumes,
For the honor befits me not.
Burn yet the incense in the holy place;
As for me, escort me only with your prayers,
Give ye your incense to God,
And over me send up hymns.
Instead of perfumes and spices,
Be mindful of me in your intercessions.
(From The Testament of St. Ephrem)
Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #9:
The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call. She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.