Monthly Archives: July 2010

“Give Up Everything, and Become Wealthy!” – Mt 13:44-46†


Just about half-way through the magnificent devotion from St. Louis de Montfort known as the “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.”  It gets better every day.  This is the 3rd or 4th time I have done this consecration, and I find a new revelation each time.  Total Consecration is a giving of ourselves back to Christ through the hands of Mary.

       

    

Wife and I are going to “Vatican Splendors’” at the St. Louis History Museum today.  I understand that it is truly spectacular.  Without even seeing it myself, I recommend it.

 

 

Today in Catholic History:


†   1057 – Death of Pope Victor II
†   Roman Catholicism: Saints Nazarius and Celsus; Saint Innocent I, pope; Saint Pantaleon, martyr

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com)

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary was to be a turning point in my life…. This Marian devotion …has since remained a part of me. It is an integral part of my interior life and of my spiritual theology.” – Pope John Paul II
   

Today’s reflection is about finding the treasures in us, and what to do with them.
     

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls.  46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.  (NAB Mt 13:44-46)

 

The two people in these parables sell all that they have in the world in order to acquire their discoveries.  Similarly, the religious moral of these two parables stresses that the person who understands the supreme value of the Kingdom of God gives up whatever they must, in order to obtain eternity in paradise.  

The dilemma in obtaining the moral of these parables is that the reader must decide whether the point is the priceless value of the treasure/pearl, OR that the point is the behavior of those who sell all they own, to gain possession of the found article.  The emphasis in the second of the parables, to me, is decidedly clear: recognizing the value, he changes his behavior to obtain the object.  It most likely holds true for the “treasure” parable as well.

The word “joy” in this Gospel reading parable cannot be overlooked.  This word was used for a definite purpose.  The Kingdom of God is a priceless treasure that any intelligent and perceptive person would gladly give everything they have and own, solely for a chance to take hold of the Kingdom.  It is the ultimate opportunity of “divine intervention” in your lifetime, in the literal sense.

Who would bury priceless treasure in the ground?  Countless people do: it is still done in many parts of the world even today.  In the unsettled conditions of Palestine in Jesus’ time, it was not unusual to secure valuables by burying them in the ground; therefore not only hiding them from friends and foe, but also limiting any attempts at theft.  As proved in these two parables, possessions can be easily taken away (bought or stolen) at any time; but God’s graces are yours to keep, and to share without any loss of value to you.  Matter of fact, we are actually obliged to share our “treasures” from God with all possible.  In doing so, we not only walk a little in Christ’s footprints; we also gain more talents and treasures (to share) as our reward for doing so.

How can you give up everything, and then become wealthy?  St. Francis of Assisi is a prime example of someone who found a treasure; gave up everything for that treasure; and became wealthy again. 

Francis grew up in a home of significant wealth.  He was destined to inherit his father’s successful business.  Instead of becoming a military knight, business owner, and a political leader in his homeland; he chose to embrace poverty with God.  He had a personal revelation and miracle while recuperating from battle injuries, and illness obtained during captivity.  While at prayer in the ruins of an old Church, God came to Francis and told him to “rebuild my Church!”

With this invitation, God’s priceless treasure to Francis, he left his family; and he left all material objects, including his clothes behind.  With a rough wool tunic, and piece of rope tied around his waist; both actually lent to him, Francis entered into a new life: not of his choosing, but of God’s.  Francis not only gave up all he knew and all he had in life; he gave up his life as well.  Francis’ life now belonged to God, and he now did only what was directed of him by God from that day on.

From a person of wealth, to a poor pauper begging for food for his followers and others, Francis found new riches in the many graces bestowed to him by the Holy Spirit.  Francis, though blind, sick, and in severe pain by the end of his life on earth, never once complained about what life had bequeathed to him.

St. Francis also gave the gift of three religious orders, all dedicated to the way of his life, and the spirituality of their Franciscan father: St. Francis.  With humble certainty, I am sure that St. Francis is with Jesus, his (and my) seraphic Father, in paradise.

Attachment to items, and materialistic behaviors and attitudes, can block one’s way to paradise: God’s Kingdom in heaven AND on earth!  Half-measures will not do for the Kingdom of God.  Inadequate and ineffectual actions and behaviors are not a fitting way to be awarded the key to heaven.   

The only way to get to heaven is to open oneself to total conversion on a daily basis.  Marked with sin, we need to renew ourselves daily, and maybe even hourly.  We need to dedicate ourselves, and allow the Holy Spirit to enter into us, and dwell in us forever.  Testing the waters of faith may be fine for some, but it also may delay a full immersion into God’s graces until it is too late.  Do not be afraid to receive the graces given to you; they have already been purchased, for you, by Jesus on the Cross. 

So how do I find this treasure; and then what do I do with this treasure?  Finding it is easy!  You just have to invite Jesus to come into you.  This can be done through prayer, adoration, frequent Confession and attendance at Mass, and frequent reception of our Lord through the Holy Eucharist: literally, a piece of heaven on earth.

Now here is the hard part:  you MUST also share all the graces given to you by God with everyone you come into come into contact; and with love!  There are three ways to share God’s grace: Time, Talent, and Treasure:

Time:  Offer your time to the parish, a shelter or other institute.  Spend time before the Holy Eucharist.  Pray for yourself and others.  This is just a start; there are many other ways.

Talent:  We are all unique, and have something to offer.  Be it cooking or baking for others in need, coaching the kiddies, repairs and maintenance to the parish and home-bound, etc.  The list is endless, and some talents can be done with very little or no interpersonal skills whatsoever for those that choose to do things privately, or at home.

Treasures:  Means exactly what it says.  Though Catholics do not have a true “tithing” system, we still must support our parishes according to our means.  In today’s world, this is sometimes more difficult than in the past.  Being on disability, I understand more than most; but I have also realized that God gives back multifold; maybe not financially, but in other graces more valuable than any money on earth.

 

“Help Me to See the Way”
  

“Oh my dear God please help me understand in the world what I can not change . . . and help me to see the way . . . so that I can help you make a better world . . . Amen.”

(From http://www.yenra.com)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****
      

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leopold Mandic (1887-1942)
     

Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.

A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.

Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.

Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.

At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is “to have lost all sense of sin,” Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.

Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.

Comment:

St. Francis advised his followers to “pursue what they must desire above all things, to have the Spirit of the Lord and His holy manner of working” (Rule of 1223, Chapter 10)—words that Leopold lived out. When the Capuchin minister general wrote his friars on the occasion of Leopold’s beatification, he said that this friar’s life showed “the priority of that which is essential.”

Quote:

Leopold used to repeat to himself: “Remember that you have been sent for the salvation of people, not because of your own merits, since it is the Lord Jesus and not you who died for the salvation of souls…. I must cooperate with the divine goodness of our Lord who has deigned to choose me so that by my ministry, the divine promise would be fulfilled: ‘There will be only one flock and one shepherd’” (John 10:16).

 

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)

    

From the Prologue to the Rule of Secular Franciscan Order (SFO):
    

Chapter 1

Concerning Those Who Do Penance

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).

We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).

We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).

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:

“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).

 

 

 

“Daddy, Can I …__________ …, PLEASE!” – Luke 11:1-13†


We are exactly five months till CHRISTmas!!  WOO-HOO!!  It is 75 degrees outside right now:  I need to find a coat to wear (OK, this is sick humor).

 

I am also starting part-two of St. Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus, Through Mary” 34-day “novena” of prayers and meditations.  It has been an unbelievable, and very spiritual journey for me.  I am a firm believer that anyone that truly experiences this beautiful set of prayers and meditations will gain magnificent graces from our beloved Father.

 

Today’s reflection on the Mass Gospel Reading is the longest I believe I have ever written,  It has also been the deepest I have ever delved into the early Church, and the theology of Jesus’ words.  I started with the misconceived notion that this reflection would be easy since I have been saying the “Lord’s Prayer” every day since I can remember.  I am sure Jesus was sitting next to me, laughing hysterically, while I was writing this minor thesis! 

Though I have used my usual (and sometimes sick) humor throughout this reflection, it became a very deep and fairly thorough examination of the Jesus’ words and history of that time, in order to understand the complexities of this seemingly simple prayer.  Please read it slowly and carefully in order to get the full intent of the reflection.  Grab a cup of coffee and sit down in a comfy chair.

I want to thank a dear friend, John H., for helping me by proof reading this reflection and bringing out further thoughts from my soul.  He has become my resource and “bouncing board.”  This very pious man has definitely become a grace from God, for me.  Thank you John, Luv Ya.

 

Today in Catholic History:
    

†   1261 – The city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus, thus re-establishing the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines also succeed in capturing Thessalonica and the rest of the Latin Empire.
†   1492 – Death of Pope Innocent VIII (b. 1432)
†   1593 – Henry IV of France publicly converts from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism.
†   1882 – Birth of George S. Rentz, Navy Chaplain, Navy Cross (d. 1942)

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com)

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

“By habitually thinking of the presence of God, we succeed in praying twenty-four hours a day” ~ St. Paul of the Cross †
       

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching us about prayer.

 

1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”  

5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ 7 and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed.  I cannot get up to give you anything.’  8 I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

9 “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  10 For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  11 What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  12 Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  13 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (NAB Luke 11:1-3)

 

Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer.  Today’s reading presents three sections concerning prayer.  The first recounts Jesus teaching his disciples this Christian communal prayer, the “Our Father”; the second part concerns the importance of persistence in prayer; and the third is about the effectiveness of prayer.  I have separated each section in the above reading for your convenience.

Matthews’s manner of the “Our Father” is the one we most commonly say, and is the one used in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:9-15).  Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke’s version seems simple and direct.  This shorter version occurs while Jesus is at prayer, which Luke regularly shows Jesus devoutly doing at important times in His public ministry.  Other times include at the choosing of the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12); before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18); at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28); at the Last Supper (Luke 22:32); on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:41); and on the cross (Luke 23:46).  Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of his synagogue.  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.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray just as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples to pray.  To have its own distinctive form of prayer was the mark of a religious community: the start of the “Christian” community in this case.  This ancient way of recognizing a religious community is also true today, e.g., the consecration to Mary of the Marianists, and the “We adore you” of the Franciscans.

Jesus presents them with an example of a Christian “collective” prayer that stresses the fatherhood of God, and acknowledges Him as the one that gives us daily sustenance (Luke 11:3), forgiveness (Luke 11:4), and deliverance from the final trial [or test] (Luke 11:4).

The words “our Father in heaven” is a prayer found in many Jewish prayers with inception of the New Testament period.  “Hallowed be your name” was an interesting phrase for the young Catholics I taught in PSR.  I cannot tell you how many children thought they were saying “Harold be thy name:” actually thinking God’s real name was “Harold!”  The word “Hallow,” used as a verb, is defined as: “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate.”  The adjective form “hallowed,” as used in this prayer, means: “holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered.”

The act of “hallowing” the name of God is an intentional reverencing of God by our acknowledging, praising, thanking, and obeying Him and His will.  This is what most Catholics have come to believe.  I know I did!  Actually, it is more likely a petition that God hallow his own name; that he reveal His glory by an act of power!  This can be demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:23: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it.  Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.  In regards to the “Our Father,” God is manifesting His power with the establishment of His “Kingdom,” first within us personally, and to be fulfilled completely in the future.

“Your kingdom come” is an appeal that sets the tone for this prayer, and slants the balance toward divine interaction and intervention, rather than human action in the petitions of this prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” is a request that God establish His Kingdom already present in heaven and on earth.  God’s Kingdom breaks the boundaries that separate the rich from the poor, the clean from the unclean, and the saint and sinner.

Trivia time: Instead of this appeal, some early church Fathers prayed, per the USSCB web site (www.usccb.org/nab/bible), “May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.”  This indicates that the “Our Father” might have been used in baptismal liturgies very early in Christianity.

“Give us today our daily bread” espouses a petition for a speedy coming of God’s Kingdom.  Interestingly, God’s Kingdom is often portrayed with the image of a “feast” in both the Old and New Testaments.  Examples can be found in Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines:” and in similar themes found in Matthew 8:11; 22:1-10; Luke 13:29; 14:15-24.

Luke uses the more theological word “sins” rather than “debts,” used in Matthew’s version.  The word “debts” in “Forgive us our debts” is used as a metaphor for sins, meaning our debts owed to God.  This request I believe is for forgiveness now, and at our final judgment.  But Jesus’ disciples (even today) need to be careful, since disciples of Jesus NOT forgiving each and every person who has sinned against them, cannot have a proper view of Jesus’ Father, who is merciful to ALL!  See, the Father is truly Catholic: truly universal!

Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trials before the end of the “age.”  You may have possibly heard it called the “messianic woes” or “Jacob’s Trials” (The Book of Jubilees: Chapter 23).  The petition, “do not subject us to the final test” asks that we be spared these final tests.

Having taught his disciples this simple, but complete, daily prayer, Jesus reassures them that God answers all prayers given to Him.  He stresses this point by telling the parable about the persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight.  The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door.  But because the neighbor is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  The moral: If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?!

Would I have acted the same way as the neighbor?  I can remember when my children were much younger, and spending a huge amount of time to get them to sleep.  If someone would have banged on my door, or rang the door-bell, I would have been quite upset, and not very hospitable or Christian when I answered that door.  I also know from past experiences, that I would have ultimately submitted to their request, and helped them in whatever way I could.  Is God the same way?  I believe yes!  He definitely does respond to us if we are persistent in our requests and communications with Him.

In the last sentence of this Gospel reading, Luke alters the  traditional saying of Jesus, found in Matthew 7:11: “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more l will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Luke substitutes “the Holy Spirit” for the underlined “good things.”  Luke presents the gifts of the Holy Spirit as God’s proper response to our prayers.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are significant in Luke’s theology, and play an important role in the growth of the early Church after Pentecost, and in our very personal relationship with our Lord.  “Good things,” Luke knew, could get disciples of Jesus in trouble.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord) sum up all that is given to the Christian community through prayer.  As we learn these gifts, we then experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit: joy, strength, and the courage for witnessing to Jesus’ mission on earth.  These gifts and fruits prepare us for life in eternity with Him in paradise.

I firmly believe that part of a solution to today’s problems in the Church, in the family, and in the world – – problems like abortion, wars and other conflicts, religious and racial harmony, physical and mental illness, family issues, and issues involving money, poverty, and excess wealth (including idolatry to money) – – is for all of us to practice a strong, constant, persistent, and unrelenting PRAYER life.  Given who and what Jesus really is, He taught us a perfect prayer, as it recognizes God’s holiness and His rule over all things.  

Jesus taught us to approach God simply as we would approach a loving father.  Think of times when family members were persistent about something until they were able to achieve a goal or receive what they sought.  Prayer is a way of striving to recognize how God is reaching out to us in love, and that He responds when we present Him with our needs and gratitude.  God hears ALL our prayers.  He also answers ALL our prayers, just maybe not the way we want or anticipate.  God’s invitation is, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  The Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father) helps do just that!

 

“Our Father”

 

“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

 

*****

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. James
    

This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They said to him, ‘We can’” (Matthew 20:22). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.

Comment:

The way the Gospels treat the apostles is a good reminder of what holiness is all about. There is very little about their virtues as static possessions, entitling them to heavenly reward. Rather, the great emphasis is on the Kingdom, on God’s giving them the power to proclaim the Good News. As far as their personal lives are concerned, there is much about Jesus’ purifying them of narrowness, pettiness, fickleness.

Quote:

“…Christ the Lord, in whom the entire revelation of the most high God is summed up (see 2 Corinthians 1:20; 3:16–4:6), having fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips the Gospel promised by the prophets, commanded the apostles to preach it to everyone as the source of all saving truth and moral law, communicating God’s gifts to them. This was faithfully done: it was done by the apostles who handed on, by oral preaching, by their example, by their dispositions, what they themselves had received—whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or by coming to know it through the prompting of the Holy Spirit” (Constitution on Divine Revelation, 7).

Patron Saint of: Chile; Laborers; Nicaragua; Rheumatism; Spain

 

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From
http://www.franciscan-sfo.org 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.

 

 

“Are You a Good Seed, Or a Bad Seed; Let’s See What Sprouts!” – Mt 13:1-9†


It is a beautiful Wednesday in the St. Louis Area of the Country.  I am on day #9 of my yearly “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena, and am thoroughly enjoying the journey and reflections.

Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorite in the Bible.  I hope you enjoy the reflection.  It is a very positive one for all Catholics.  Please pass this blog on to your friends and even your ENEMIES; all are welcomed.

 

Today in Catholic History:

†   1515 – Birth of Philip Neri, Italian churchman (d. 1595)
†  Liturgical Feasts: Saint Arbogastus, bishop of Strasburg, confessor [Basel, Constance, Strassburg]; Saint Daniel; Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, priest, Doctor of the Church; Saint Praxedes (Praxidis); Saint Victor of Marseilles, and companions, martyrs [Trier, southern France; Paris]

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.

 

Today’s reflection is about the sowing of seeds parable:
    

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake.  Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.  And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!’  (NRSV Mt 13:1-9)

 

In Matthew’s Gospel, this is the beginning of Jesus’ third time making a public dissertation or sermon.   It seems Jesus preferred teaching outdoors, and usually by water; be it the Jordan River, or the Sea (a lake) of Galilee.  The crowd present must have been massive and pressing to require Jesus to take a position in a boat in order to teach. 

In Palestine, sowing often preceded plowing, with much of the seed scattered on ground being unsuitable for the conditions present.  Yet while much was wasted, the seed that fell on the good ground bore grain in extraordinarily large amounts.  The point of this parable is to show that in spite of failure due to opposition and/or indifference, the message of Jesus about the coming of the Kingdom of God will be enormously successful.

My wife planted a small garden this year, and she started as always by tilling the earth.  Tilling this year consisted of finding the tiny two-tined tiller buried somewhere in our garden shed; trying to get it started, with lots of prayers and frustrations; and then breaking up the earth to prepare it for the seeds.  She planted a variety of seeds and starter plants in this small patch of ground: three types of tomatoes; four types of “squash;” three types of melons, and even a couple of sunflowers just for fun.  Weeding the garden has, at times, been a major challenge and sometimes unsuccessful for us.

The crops are surprisingly bountiful this year, compared to others.  I recently made “No-noodle vegetable lasagna” wherein I substituted thinly sliced zucchini instead of the usual pasta noodles.  All the veggies (except mushrooms) came from my wife’s garden.  We had so much in fact, I actually made two big pans; sharing one with our neighborhood friends.  With great humility, this meal was a huge success!

What does my wife’s garden have to do with finding God?  This was the meaning of Jesus’ parable about throwing seeds around for me.  My wife searching for the tools to do the job, represents finding the time to look for God, and to find Him in prayer, adoration, the Sacraments and sacramental’s, Reconciliation, and most importantly, in the Eucharist. 

The breaking up of the ground represents our submission to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to live in us, and to work through us.  Our lives (the soil) have to be prepared so that the Holy Spirit can take root in us and grow.  

Most of my wife’s seeds were planted in fertile soil, but some were eaten by birds, squirrels and rabbits, and even our dogs; and some never germinated.  I believe this is the same with each of us.  Being sinners, and definitely imperfect, the seeds in us sometime never germinate, and some are destroyed by our vices and sins.  But some germinate and take a good strong root in us.  If in fertile soil, a well-prepared soul in this case, the seeds of God’s grace grow to fruition and sprout great graces (the vegetables) for the harvesting. 

Some of the seeds in my wife’s garden grew surrounded by weeds.  When the vegetables were ready to be picked, we had to separate them from the weeds in order to gather them.  They were still perfectly good to eat, even though they were not in pristine soil and conditions.  The same is true with us in God’s Kingdom.  Some of us are planted in fertile soil, but due to circumstances many weeds grow around us.  These weeds could be drugs, mental problems, petty crimes, bad family life, insecurity, or any other calamity that could affect someone’s spiritual life.  Even though you may be in this “weedy” soil, good produce is still possible and can be harvested.  With God, all things are definitely possible, even with all the baggage we sometimes carry.  Please allow God to harvest you from the weeds of life.  Jesus’ parable of the “sower and the seed” definitely gives hope and encouragement to all that listens to His word.

Remember, we are all unique.  No one path to God’s Kingdom is identical to another’s; each is a “one-of-a-kind” experience.   God had a purpose for your life being different from any others.  I also believe that God gives us all the graces and talents we need to make that journey on the path we must take to Him.

The word “parable” (In Greek: “parabole”) is used to translate the Hebrew “mashal:” a word that covers a variety of oral and written literature such as maxims, axioms, proverbs, fable’s, similitude’s, and allegories.  In the New Testament the same word primarily designates stories that illustrates comparisons between Christian truths, and the events of everyday life.  Sometimes these events have an element that is quite different from the usual experience.  An example is found in the upcoming Matthew 13:33 where the enormous amount of dough, in the “parable of the yeast,” is enough to feed one hundred people; and used to illustrate the greatness of the Kingdom of God’s effect on humanity. 

Parables were meant to sharpen the curiosity of the hearer.  This parable was a calculated discourse to appeal to a rural-oriented audience present for Jesus’ lesson and sermon this day.  The local farmers knew the problems associated with trying to be successful in their environment.  Much of Palestine is very rocky, with the top-soil often quite thin, and the Palestinian sun often scorched and burned crops, thus decreasing the usual bounty of the farmer. 

St. Francis, while praying before the San Damiano Crucifix in that little town of Assisi in Italy, heard God tell him to “rebuild my house, which is falling in ruins.”  Francis, being man trained in practical business matters from his father, understood what God had told him to mean that the old chapel, he was praying in, which was decrepit and literally falling apart brick by brick, and needed to be repaired.

Francis did exactly that; he rebuilt that church, and several others.  In addition, he also rebuilt the entire Catholic Church by starting three separate Franciscan Orders of priests, brothers, and nuns that have spread world-wide; and even into the Anglican and Orthodox Churches.  The seed was planted with Francis in very fertile soil, and grew to an immense size, bearing much great fruit.   Is there are seeds waiting to sprout in you that could equal or surpass Francis’ bounty?  Ask God.

 

“Saint Francis Prayer”

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Lawrence of Brindisi 1559-1619
 

Lawrence was one of the greatest ornaments of the Capuchin Order, and deserved well of both Church and State at the beginning of the 17th century. He was born at Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples in 1559.

From his tenderest years he evinced rare gifts of nature and grace. In remembrance of Jesus in the Temple at 12 years of age, a custom prevails in Italy at Christmas time permitting boys to preach in public. Lawrence was only six years old when he preached in the cathedral of his native town with such force and point that his audience was deeply affected and many entered upon a more Christian life.

Lawrence entered the Capuchin friary at Verona when he was only 16 years of age. He distinguished himself from the very beginning as a model of perfection. He was punctual at all the community exercises, perfect in his submission to superiors, and full of respect and charity towards his brethren.

When his novitiate was over, he continued to pursue his studies. He was very successful in the study of philosophy and theology, and acquired so thorough a command of foreign languages that he was able to preach in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and even in Hebrew. He ascribed his success not so much to his talents as to the special help he received from Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, whom he honored with tender devotion.

With such accomplishments Father Lawrence started out on a highly fruitful missionary life. At first he visited the various cities in Italy; Venice, Pavia, Verona, Padua, Naples, where his labors were blessed with remarkable success. He was then called to Rome, where he was entrusted with the conversion of the Jews. His thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language won for him the esteem of the rabbis, and his gentle manner led many an Israelite to baptism.

In 1598 Father Lawrence was sent to Germany with eleven other friars to establish Capuchin convents there and to counteract the heresy of Luther, which was at that time gaining a foothold in Austria.

Emperor Rudolph II entrusted to our saint the task of organizing a crusade against the Turks, who were threatening to invade the whole Christian Occident. Father Lawrence, who loved seclusion, was now obliged to visit the principal cities of Germany to negotiate the cause with the princes, and preach it to the people. Due to his wisdom and holiness, which almighty God permitted him to manifest in astonishing ways, his efforts proved successful.

While he was saying holy Mass in Munich in the chapel of the duke of Bavaria, our Lord appeared after the elevation in the form of a resplendent Child, who lovingly caressed the saint. Frequently he was so affected during the celebration of holy Mass that he shed copious tears. Altar linens thus moistened with his tears were later used on the sick, and they were cured as were the faithful by the kerchiefs of St. Paul.

Father Lawrence was made the chief chaplain of the powerful army of Archduke Matthias, which went to Hungary in 1601 to war against the Turks. Although quite crippled with rheumatism, he mounted his horse and, crucifix in hand, rode at the head of the troops to the battlefield. The first sight of the enemy was most discouraging, for their position was so favorable and their number so superior that the most stout-hearted officers despaired of victory. But in the name of the God of battles Father Lawrence promised victory to the Christians and inspired them all with fiery courage. The enemy was completely routed.

Lawrence now returned to Italy where he hoped he might again serve God in his beloved solitude. But the general chapter of the order elected him vicar general. He was obliged in obedience to accept this heavy burden. In this high office he proved a charitable and vigilant pastor to his brethren. When his term expired, the pope again sent him to Germany, this time on an errand of peace, to reconcile the Archduke Matthias with his brother, the emperor. Again he was successful.

After he returned to Italy, the kingdom of Naples, his native land, was in need of his services. This kingdom which at that time belonged to Phillip III of Spain, was governed by a viceroy who cruelly oppressed the people. The only hope lay in presenting the people’s grievances to the king through Father Lawrence. The latter sympathized with the people and journeyed to Spain, only to learn that the king was then in Portugal. So on he went to Lisbon, where he pleaded the people’s cause and obtained the dismissal of the viceroy.

But this errand of charity cost Lawrence his life. He fell very ill at Lisbon. He knew that his end was drawing near and told his companions so. After devoutly receiving the last sacraments, he fell into ecstasy, during which he went to the sweet embrace of his Lord on the feast of St. Magdalen, July 22, 1619. Pope Pius VI beatified him in 1783, and on December 8, 1881, Pope Leo XIII canonized him. In December 1958 Pope John XXIII signed a decree declaring St. Lawrence to be a Doctor of the Church.

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 #21:
 

On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

“Martha! There Were Glass Ceilings in First Century Palestine: Ask Mary; She Broke One!” – Luke 10:38-42†


Sorry for being late in posting this reflection.  My wife and kids just came home from camping and float trip, and I wanted to spend a few minutes with them.

 

Today in Catholic History:
 

†  64 – Great fire of Rome: A fire begins to burn in the merchant area of Rome and soon burns completely out of control while Emperor Nero reportedly plays his lyre and sings while watching the blaze from a safe distance.
†  1334 – The bishop of Florence blesses the first foundational stone laid for the new campanile (bell tower) of the Florence Cathedral, designed by the artist Giotto di Bondone.
†  1100 – Death of Godfrey of Bouillon, Protector of the Holy Sepulcher, de facto King of Jerusalem
†  1925 – Death of Louis Nazaire Bégin, Roman Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Quebec (b. 1840)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

“If we secretly feel a desire to appear greater or better than others, we must repress it at once” ~ St. Teresa of Jesus†


Today’s reflection is about Jesus visiting the house of Martha and Mary, and discipleship for men and women.

Now as they [Jesus and the Disciples] went on their way, he [Jesus] entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.’ (NRSV  Luke 10:38-42)

 

The story of Martha and Mary illustrates the importance of hearing the words of the teacher: Jesus.  It also demonstrates a concern Jesus had about women of that time.  Jesus was one of the very first “equal-rights” proponents, breaking with the social conventions of His time.  This is demonstrated in that Jesus is alone with women who are not related to Him; a woman serves Him instead of the master of the house serving Him; and He teaches a woman in her own house, all in opposition to societal norms.  Just as the Samaritan (from last Sunday’s Gospel reading) would not be a model for neighborliness; a woman, in Jesus’ time, would not sit at the feet of a teacher; be alone in the house with Him; nor would serve Him directly.

Women of first-century Judaic Palestine were to be hardly seen, and never heard, especially in public.  Women were very much a marginalized group, just like the Samaritans.  For Martha’s sister, Mary (NOT to be confused with the Blessed Virgin Mary), to “sit at the Lord’s feet” is significant indeed.  Mary, just like Martha, should have been instead preparing a “proper” welcoming of hospitality, which always included food for any guest (i.e., Jesus).  Her taking the posture and place of a disciple at the master’s feet, reveals a characteristic attitude of Jesus towards the women around Him.

The story of the Good Samaritan that precedes this Gospel reading opens with the words “a certain man,” and today’s reading opens with the words a certain woman.”  The Samaritan was an example of how a disciple should see and act; and the woman, Mary, an example of how a disciple should listen.  I also don’t see Martha’s activities as necessarily wrong either.  After all, you can’t have a real “communion” [an intimacy, connection or fellowship] with Jesus without service, as well as faith!  Martha just lost her perspective, which caused her to lose her temper.

Interestingly, both of these people do what is NOT expected of them.  Women had a significant role in Jesus’ ministry which was unprecedented in Jewish Society.  His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was with Him throughout His public ministry: never leaving His side.  All of His male Apostles deserted Jesus in the garden on Holy Thursday; but at least several women stayed by His side throughout His scourging, walk with the cross, His crucifixion, and even at and after His death.  The first person to see the Risen Lord on that Easter Sunday morning was a woman.  During His public life, women followed Jesus, and provided for Him and the others out of their own resources:  Besides Mary and Martha, others included Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Susanna, plus many others.

Women today still have a significant role in Jesus’ ministry on earth.  Some argue that women are considered a second class in the Catholic Church.  Though I am a male, I strongly disagree!!  Women have a very active role in the Church family.  Women are on Parish Councils and Boards; run Parish and Diocease based programs such as schools, PSR programs, RCIA programs, and other church functions.  Women primarily teach and administrate in our schools, including Catholic seminaries, write books and lecture, evangelize and even run Missionary Societies and programs.  And most importantly, women are usually the lead person in the rearing of children, and are the instrumental teacher of the Catholic faith to future generations.  The only role that a woman is not allowed is that of the Permanent Diaconate and Priestly vocations (including the Episcopacy).  The reason, to put it simply, is that Jesus was a male and that He (and the Apostles) never appointed any females to these roles, at any time.  There have never been female clergy in the Catholic Church, so the church can never have female clergy.

The parable of the Good Samaritan and this story, both exemplify how a disciple is to fulfill the dual command which begins this chapter of Luke’s Gospel:  to love God (shown by Mary),  and to love neighbor (shown by the Samaritan).  These two “essentials” of daily life are necessary for inheriting the Kingdom of God.  By using the examples of a Samaritan and woman, Jesus is saying that something more is needed than what the social codes of that day, or even today call for to gain entrance to the Kingdom.  Social rules and boundaries were obviously very stringent in first-century Judaic Palestine.  However, to love God with all one’s heart, and to love one’s neighbor regardless of social, religious, ethnic status; or position in society, required breaking those rules and norms.  

I believe this message of love needs to be advocated and preached to today’s world through all potential methods available.  We need to imprint the “beatitudes” in our hearts; and to live them continuously, and without any prejudice.  Food for thought: what is my relationship with God?  Am I the servant, the listener, or the conversationalist in my relationship with God?  Or, am I just too pre-occupied to think about Jesus and my relationship with Him?  I pray that I am a little bit of the first three (servant, listener, conversationalist), and none of the last (pre-occupied)!

The Kingdom of God has never changed, and never will change, for it is already perfect.  It is a society without distinctions and boundaries between its members.  It is a society that requires times for seeing and doing, and also times for listening and learning at the feet of a teacher.  How can I help break down the boundaries that separate people; and bring the Kingdom of God on earth to all, by learning, seeing, and doing in my everyday life ?

I would like to close this reflection with a prayer that expounds that no boundaries should separate us, and that we are all His children: the Lord’s Prayer, also known as the “Our Father.

 

Our Father”

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

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Szymon of Lipnica 1439-1482

In the summer of 1453 when St. John Capistrran visited Cracow, the capital of Poland, at the invitation of the Polish King Casimir, his sermons produced veritable miracles of conversion. Many of the young people, too, among them many students from the University of Cracow, resolved to renounce the world and begged the holy preacher for the habit of the Franciscan Order.

One of these was Szymon of the little town of Lipnica not far from Cracow.

He had just taken his bachelor’s degree in the humanities, and what is of greater consequence, by means of childlike veneration of the Blessed Virgin he had preserved his purity of heart unsullied.  

Although he had lived an innocent life, he now lived a life of great penance in the order, observed long fasts, scourged his body, and always wore a penitential girdle.  On the feasts of our Blessed Lady he added a second one, in order to win her special favor.

After he had been ordained a priest and been entrusted with the office of preacher in the convent church of Cracow, his words bore the impress of such zeal and eloquence that he brought back countless sinners from the paths of iniquity; and he then guided them on the path of Christian conduct with loving gentleness. Many of his auditors were moved to aspire to higher perfection.

Szymon entertained an ardent desire to shed his blood for the Faith, and he hoped to be sent to Palestine to labor among the Saracens.  This hope, however, was not fulfilled. He did have to suffer many hardships, but after devoutly visiting the holy places, he returned safely to Cracow. There another type of martyrdom was destined to procure for him the eternal crown.

In the beginning he resumed his task of preaching with renewed zeal. He was obliged also to accept various positions in the order, including that of provincial.  He was ever active for the welfare of his brethren and of all men, and allowed himself only the most necessary repose.  He used to say that he hoped to enjoy a real rest when God would grant him eternal rest.

His motto was: “Pray, work, and hope.”

About the year 1482, an epidemic broke out in Cracow and raged with terrible fury. Filled with love for his neighbor and the spirit of holy zeal for the salvation of souls, Father Szymon devoted himself entirely to the service of the sick. It was not long before he, too, was attacked by the dread disease.

Filled with gratitude to God for this privilege and with Christian hope in a merciful judgment, he died a martyr of charity on July 18, 1482. Numerous miracles occurred at his grave, whereupon the Holy See approved his veneration. Beatified February 24, 1685 by Blessed Pope Innocent XI, he was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on June 3, 2007.

from THE FRANCISCAN BOOK OF SAINTS
edited by Marion Habig, ofm
Copyright 1959  Franciscan Herald Press 
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:

Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.

“♪♬ Who Do You Say You Are, Mr. Big Shot! ♬♪” – Mt 11:25-27†


I started Saint Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena this week.  This prayer novena is 34 days of prayers, meditation, and reflection on Jesus’ teachings, and Mary’s faith in Jesus as a model for us to mimic.  This novena always ends on a Marian Feast Day, so can be started many times throughout the year.  There are tons of websites dedicated to this novena for those interested.  It is even on Facebook now!  I do this novena every year, and have received much in return each time.  Please consider this novena: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

 

Today in Catholic History:

†   1771 – Foundation of the Mission San Antonio de Padua in modern California by the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.
†   664 – Death of Deusdedit of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
†   1575 – Death of Richard Taverner, English Bible translator
†   1614 – Death of Camillus de Lellis, Italian saint (b. 1550)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us.” The master replied, “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and chewed it up for you before giving it to you?” — Anonymous

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being the exclusive revelation of God.
     

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  (NRSV Mt 11:25-27)

 

Today’s Gospel Reading, with some very minor variations is identical with Luke 10:21-22.  It introduces a little joy into this part of Matthews’s gospel where unbelief seems to dominate.  While the “wise and the intelligent,” [the Scribes and Pharisees], rejected Jesus’ preaching and the significance of his striking actions and conduct; the trusting and innocent accepted them.  

As a child, I thought of God as a stern judge, sitting at a big desk with a gigantic book open and quill pen in hand, making notations in the book with every sin; and condemning me for every transgression that I made.  My friends say He must have had a very big book, just for me: and I always told them that I was a “victim of circumstances!”

At that young age, I saw “God” as a distant, scowling, unapproachable “Zeus-type” figure; sort of like an Ebenezer Scrooge turned Greek God.  Isn’t it a pity that there are many adults today that still see God this way, such as the Islamic belief of an “Allah” being a stern judge and Ruler. 

On the other hand, I always saw Jesus as being much nicer.  He was not only a “sort-of-God;” He was also a man.  Jesus seemed to be more kind, and more caring than “God,” and was always talking about love instead of judging people.

With the maturity of many birthdays and experiences granted to me from the grace of God, I now know better.  Besides, God would have had one helluva case of carpal tunnel disease, and arthritis of the hand by this time; again solely because of me.

Acceptance of “mysteries” and graces depends solely on God’s revelation made available to us: but it is granted only to those who are open to receive it; and is usually rebuffed by the arrogant, the proud, and self-important that are not open to anything but themselves.  Divine communication is a powerful irreducible religious mystery, with Jesus being the exclusive revelation of the Father!

Jesus is capable of speaking about all “mysteries” unknown to us, because He IS the “Son” of the “Father,” and thus the perfect recipient and disseminator of knowledge between Himself and the Father; “things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows … except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses.”

Jesus came to earth to reunite and bring us together, with God.  We need to keep in mind that it was God that sent Jesus to us, in human form.  Sending a being to earth to “save” us is a ‘less-than-nothing’ accomplishment for a divine being such as God.  Making that being a “human” without the usual corporal act necessary is also no real mystery for this omnipotent God.  These two actions to me are simply facts based on faith.  Here is the ultimate “faith” statement for me, and an absolutely true “Mystery:” Jesus IS God, and God IS Jesus! 

God wants to have a relationship with us.  He sent Himself, in the form of the totally divine and totally human Jesus, to do just that (Gives new meaning to the phrase, “He gave 200 % to his job!”).  God is not a checklist maker and judge with gavel in hand, waiting to slam it down hard while yelling “GUILTY!” 

God is the loving Father we should have all had.  God is the Father that leads the innocent; and allows His children to experiment with life while He closely watches.  God is the Father that weeps bitterly when we turn our backs on Him, and rejoices and jumps for delight when we remember Him by continuing His work on earth.  And God is the one that wishes to hear from us and to talk to us as often as possible; and is sad when we ignore him.   He just wants to be a continual part of our daily lives.

How do we find God?  That’s simple!  All we need to do is open our arms and hearts to Him:  He is right there, next to you right now.

 

“Act of Faith”

 

“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

 

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf were tomahawked by Iroquois warriors, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (Jesuit missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.

Comment:

We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and alms: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.

Quote:

Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”

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 #14:

Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.

“If you are going to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk; just like the Samaritan!” – Luke 10:25-37†


It is a beautiful Sunday morning.  I hope all my Benedictine friends have a great day celebrating the founding of their religious order in the Catholic Church. 

My Secular Franciscan Order’s Fraternity is having our monthly meeting today.  We have a new inquirer, and I excited to travel with her on our journey in the Franciscan Order.  Anyone interested in the SFO, or even just have questions, please let me know.  Can’t find a better group of fun and pious people; and being Franciscan’s, it seems there is always food present.  

  

Today in Catholic History:

 

†   Feast Day of Saint Olga (first Russian Saint)
†   Feast Day of Saint Benedict (founder of the Benedictine Order)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
    

The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth. ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
            

Today’s reflection is about the story of the “Good Samaritan.”

Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus.  ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’  He said to him, ‘What is written in the law?  What do you read there?’  He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’  And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’  But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’  Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead.  Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.  But a Samaritan while travelling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity.  He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them.  Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.  The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, “Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.”  Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?’  He said, ‘The one who showed him mercy.’  Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’ (NRSV Luke 10:25-37)

 

In response to questioning from a Jewish “Lawyer” about inheriting eternal life, Jesus gets the “Lawyer” to respond that what is written in the law comes from Deuteronomy 6:5: “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  In this Old Testament bible verse, one of the most important prayers in Judaism and said twice a day in Jesus’ time, confirms that love of God and neighbor are what is required for eternal life. Jesus’ response to this official was just as pure and simple as this verse from Deuteronomy above; “Do this and you will live.”

When questioning continued, with an attempt to trap Jesus, He illustrated the superiority of love over legal rhetoric through the parable about the “good” Samaritan, found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Samaria was the territory between Judea and Galilee west of the Jordan River. Samaritans were descendents of Jews from the northern part of the country, who had intermarried with Gentiles and did not worship in Jerusalem.  For these cultural and religious reasons, the Samaritans and the Jews had a bitter hatred of each other. 

This “lawyer” is obviously an expert in the Mosaic Law, and was probably a “Scribe.”  Scribes were Jewish temple leaders that were extensively trained in oral interpretation of the written law, and were adversaries of Jesus because Jesus questioned their interpretations and judgments. 

As an example, remember the story of Jesus asking for water from a Samaritan woman at the well.  What a dangerous thing to carry out; and explicit statement to make, with this action.  Jews used nothing in common with Samaritans.  Samaritan women were regarded by Jews as ritually impure, and therefore Jews were forbidden to drink from any vessel they had handled.  For a Samaritan to touch a Jew was diabolical, for it made the Jewish person ritually unclean as well.  Jesus, taking a cup of water from her was, in essence, a slap to Jewish Law.

Earlier in Luke’s gospel (the Sermon on the Plain found in 6:27-36), Jesus talked about the “law of love.”  In today’s Gospel Reading, Jesus proclaimed that the Samaritan, a person the temple lawyer would have considered ritually impure, actually exemplified the love we should offer to others much more than the Priest and Levite did.  The Temple lawyer (or Scribe) had to bitterly admit that the identity of the “neighbor” was a Samaritan, a despised person to the Jewish faith and people.  For the Jewish people, and especially the Temple officials, the Priest and Levite being religious representatives of Judaism, would have been the expected models of the “neighbor.”

Where does all this hatred in the Jewish people come from, and is it in Scripture?  There is no actual Old Testament commandment demanding hatred of one’s enemy, but the “neighbor” of the love commandment was understood as only one’s fellow countryman.  Hatred for others outside your group could be interpreted from Old Testament and Dead Sea Scroll Passages as being a correct attitude.  Psalm 139:19-22 states (O that you would kill the wicked, O God, and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me those who speak of you maliciously, and lift themselves up against you for evil!  Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?  I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies.).  The Qumran 1QS 9:21 reads (And these are the norms of conduct for the man of understanding in these times, concerning what he must love and how he must hate: Everlasting hatred for all the men of the “Pit” [those who do not belong to the Essene community] because of their spirit of hoarding!).

Where does hatred come from today?  It is all around us.  With groups such as Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other “Jihad” groups; the Ku Klux Klan; Neo-Nazi’s; and the Black Panther’s, hatred is spread in a separatist and destructive style.

Relations sometimes even erupt in every day religion.  Issues involving Protestant, Catholic, and Judaic groups seem to be an everyday occurrence; with clear and specific beliefs by some that each other group may be doomed to eternal hell for not believing exactly the same way as they do.  And we definitely cannot forget the Pro-Abortion, Pro-Capital Punishment, Pro- Euthanasia versus Pro-life conundrum.

How do I, [and we], get over all of our issues to live in harmony?  How can I, [and we], make a difference in this world, in order to establish peace throughout the lands?  Start small!  I say the following prayer every day:  “Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in Your name.”   The key is to keep God in your hearts, and on your lips.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is extending the “love commandment” to any enemy, and to the persecutor. Jesus demands that His disciples, being children of God, must imitate the example of His Father in heaven: God the Creator, who daily offers His gifts of sun and rain to both the good and the bad equally

Jesus’ disciples (then and now) must not be content with merely displaying the “usual” standards of conduct for their status in society.  What Jesus taught (though I am not even close to being worthy of summarizing anything Jesus taught), is that love for God and each other is basically genetic in origin, and natural in all of us.  It is already in our hearts and consciousness.  Love of God and each other is not a complex set of theological rhetoric or formulas. 

We do not choose to do good for others.  We actually have to choose to be malevolent, or even ignore the person, when we witness one in need of assistance.  For whatever reason, (even if it is a realistic reason), we make a definite decision NOT to help when we see a need; and sometimes we choose to do the exact opposite of helping by encouraging further distress to an individual.  Think about this the next time you see a person fall, hurt, or otherwise in need: and you do not act; be it for safety, lack of knowledge, time constraints, or for some other reason.  Remember this also the next time you see someone threatening to jump from a high obstacle (even on television) and hear, “Go ahead, jump, jump, jump!”

Jesus, with this parable, utterly destroys the notion that social definitions such as class, religion, gender, or ethnicity determines who our neighbor will be.  A neighbor, through Jesus, is now defined as a person who acts with compassion towards another.  It is no longer “who” deserves to be loved as I love myself, but that I become a person who treats everyone with compassion, regardless of their social status.

The last sentence of this Gospel Reading threw me for a loop!  Jesus is an extremely smart and cunning person; who would make a great lawyer today: He knew how to use His words to play with people.  When He said “Go and do likewise,” He is explicitly saying that it is not enough to just understand loving God and each other; the “doing” is important as well.  If He were to make this point today, He would probably have say something like, “If you are going to talk the talk, then you have to walk the walk!”

With the English Translation of the new “GIRM” (General Instructions of the Roman Mass) coming out within the next year, the dismissal at Mass is changing to the more accurate vernacular found in Scripture.  The words presently are, “The Mass is ended, go in peace.”  The Priest, with the upcoming changes in the Mass, will have the option to say either, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord” or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”  It is now time to walk that walk!  Do as St. Francis of Assisi did; go up to the metaphoric “leper” to hug and feed him.  In other words, try to find Jesus in everyone: family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies; and then ACT on that love.

 

 “Act of Love”

    

“O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love.

I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.  Amen.”

  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)

  

Veronica’s desire to be like Christ crucified was answered with the stigmata. 

Veronica was born in Mercatelli.  It is said that when her mother Benedetta was dying she called her five daughters to her bedside and entrusted each of them to one of the five wounds of Jesus.  Veronica was entrusted to the wound below Christ’s heart. 

At the age of 17, Veronica joined the Poor Clares directed by the Capuchins.  Her father had wanted her to marry, but she convinced him to allow her to become a nun.  In her first years in the monastery, she worked in the kitchen, infirmary, sacristy and served as portress.  At the age of 34, she was made novice mistress, a position she held for 22 years.  When she was 37, Veronica received the stigmata.  Life was not the same after that. 

Church authorities in Rome wanted to test Veronica’s authenticity and so conducted an investigation.  She lost the office of novice mistress temporarily and was not allowed to attend Mass except on Sundays or holy days.  Through all of this Veronica did not become bitter, and the investigation eventually restored her as novice mistress. 

Though she protested against it, at the age of 56 she was elected abbess, an office she held for 11 years until her death.  Veronica was very devoted to the Eucharist and to the Sacred Heart.  She offered her sufferings for the missions. Veronica was canonized in 1839. 

Comment: 

Why did God grant the stigmata to Francis of Assisi and to Veronica?  God alone knows the deepest reasons, but as Celano points out, the external sign of the cross is a confirmation of these saints’ commitment to the cross in their lives.  The stigmata that appeared in Veronica’s flesh had taken root in her heart many years before.  It was a fitting conclusion for her love of God and her charity toward her sisters. 

Quote: 

Thomas of Celano says of Francis: “All the pleasures of the world were a cross to him, because he carried the cross of Christ rooted in his heart.  And therefore the stigmata shone forth exteriorly in his flesh, because interiorly that deeply set root was sprouting forth from his mind” (2 Celano, #211). 

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 #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

  

  

“The Not So Dirty Dozen; At Least To Start With!” – Mt 10:1-7†


Today in Catholic History:

 

† 1304 – Death of Pope Benedict XI (b. 1240)
† 1456 – A retrial verdict acquits Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
† 1946 – Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini becomes the first American to be canonized.
† 2007 – Pope Benedict XVI issues the “Summorum Pontificum,” removing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass.

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, an even greater miracle happened.  Twelve relatively uneducated guys (and many, many other followers) changed the world, and were martyred to protect a lie.
  

Today’s reflection is about the sending out of the twelve Apostles!

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.  These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”  (NRSV Mt 10:1-7)

 

This Gospel reading is a cousin to last Sundays, when the seventy-two disciples were dispatched to witness to the world the “Kingdom of God.”  It deals with a broadening of the Kingdom from its core group and geographical area, and starts the missionary activities of the Catholic Church just prior to, and includes the time of the Jesus’ resurrection, and the “parousia” (the second coming of Christ).

Matthew, unlike Mark and Luke, has no story of Jesus’ choosing the Twelve in his gospel.  Being closely aligned with first-century Judaism (he was the Jewish tax-collector), maybe he just assumed that the group of Apostles would be already known to the readers of his gospel.  The number of Apostles chosen by Jesus, “twelve,” probably was meant to recall and represent the twelve tribes of Israel clearly described in the Old Testament.  By doing so, Jesus is implying an authority to call all Israel into His Kingdom with His coming “new” covenant.

“Authority over … every sickness.”  What a significant sentence!  Jesus is giving the Apostles the gift, the grace, to witness and participate in the same activities as He.  In doing so, the Twelve Apostles also share in Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom.  But although Jesus teaches, the Apostles do not go out to teach at this point in time.  Their commission to teach comes only after Jesus’ resurrection, and after they have been fully instructed by him.

The word “Apostle” translates to “one who is sent.”  It will, with the first Easter, come to mean primarily one who had seen the Risen Lord and had been commissioned to proclaim the resurrection: our first “Bishops.”  This is a great explanation for why Paul is sometimes called as the 13th Apostle.  He did see the Risen Lord (on the road to Damascus), and been to told to tell the world.  With some very slight variations in Luke’ Gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, the names are the same in the four lists of Apostles given in the New Testament.  

Now I want to write about the “black sheep” in the group: Judas Iscariot.  In reading the Bible, I noticed that Judas always ends the list; and always with a mention of his betrayal of Jesus.  He went and performed miracles at Jesus’ command.  Judas witnessed nothing different from any other Apostles.  As the “holder of the purse,” he had a special role, a quasi-board member role, in the group of followers of Jesus.  AND, he was NOT the only one to turn away from Jesus.  Remember, all the Apostles fled from Jesus at His capture in the garden, persecution by the Sanhedrin, and trial before Pilate.  Peter (the Rock) even explicitly denied his relationship with Jesus THREE separate times!  The “Rock” succumbed to betrayal and fear before the crow of the “Cock!”

So what made Judas different than the rest?  I believe it was the way he handled his betrayal; his sin.  All the Apostles returned to Jesus, except him.  We know for a fact that at least Peter wept and begged for forgiveness.  All (except Judas) gathered together and felt the mercy of God, while Judas just hung around for awhile. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist!  My-bad!) 

Judas, could not get past himself.  His “self”-ishness would not allow him to get past his own guilt for his actions.  In his eyes, no one could forgive him for what he had done.  Satan had won with this one Apostle!  Judas never realized the magnificence and boundless love and mercy Jesus has for everyone.

We are all sinners.  We all betray the Lord many times throughout our lives. Luckily, we know that we can be forgiven.  There is noting that can keep God from showing us His mercy and unlimited love, except ourselves.  God doesn’t turn His back on us EVER!  Even the most horrendous, dangerous, and mean person on this earth still has God with him at his darkest times. 

So why can’t we see God when we sin?  We turn our backs to Him.  We refuse to see the brightness in the darkness of our lives.  Take off the shades, open your eyes, and walk to the warm light of forgiveness and love.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a miraculous grace given to us, by Jesus, so that we can ask for forgiveness directly and physically to Him.  Please use this grace often.

Like Jesus, the Twelve Apostles were initially sent only to areas of Israel.  This may be because early Jewish Christians refused extending the mission to the Gentiles.  Interestingly, Jesus Himself even observed this limitation during His earthly ministry.  It took a scholarly, cultured, devout, and militant Jewish leader, of Jewish and Roman heritage, to help the Twelve Apostles (Judas was replaced with Mathias) extend the Kingdom of God to other parts of the known world: Saul, later to be known as Paul (my favorite “apostle.”).
  

Franciscan Morning Prayer
  

 

“Jesus Lord, I offer you this new day because I believe in You, love You, hope all things in You, and thank You for your blessings.

I am sorry for having offended You, and forgive everyone who has offended me.

Lord, look on me and leave in me peace, and courage, and Your humble wisdom, that I may serve others with joy, and be pleasing to You all day.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Emmanuel Ruiz and Companions
(1804-1860)

Not much is known of the early life of Emmanuel Ruiz, but details of his heroic death in defense of the faith have come down to us.

Born of humble parents in Santander, Spain, he became a Franciscan priest and served as a missionary in Damascus. This was at a time when anti-Christian riots shook Syria and thousands lost their lives in just a short time.

Among these were Emmanuel, superior of the Franciscan convent, seven other friars and three laymen. When a menacing crowd came looking for the men, they refused to renounce their faith and become Muslims. The men were subjected to horrible tortures before their martyrdom.

Emmanuel, his brother Franciscans and the three Maronite laymen were beatified in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.

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 #7:

 

United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.  On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.