I hope and pray all are having a happy Independence Day weekend. Please be safe and responsible: let’s keep this holiday a happy one!
My family and I just returned from a nine-day trip covering the southeastern United States. We drove through Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee before getting to our first stop: the Atlanta, Georgia area. We then went to Charleston, SC and Jacksonville, FL, before finally spending a couple of days at Cocoa Beach, FL. Afterwards, we spent another couple of days at Walt Disney World, returning to our St. Louis Suburb home in a sprint of two 9-10 hour driving legs. Saw a large part of our beautiful country, spent a good amount of quality time with my wife and four boys, spent a HUGE sum of money somehow, and gathered some unbelievable memories for all to enjoy. My children have seen 28 of the 48 continental U.S. states, and one Canadian Province so far. They will have to take their mother and I to Alaska and Hawaii on their dime!
I am glad to be back writing my reflections. I only missed four episodes, but this has become a part of my life. I hope you are enjoying these reflections as much as I enjoy researching and writing them. Please let me know what you like, don’t like, or would like. Also, please let your friends and ENEMIES know of this reflection blog. I would love to have more readers.
Peace and all good (Pax et Bonum)
A little “4th of July” minutiae:
“WHY THE AMERICAN FLAG IS FOLDED 13 TIMES”
(Unofficial & not Part of US Law)
Have you ever wondered why the Flag of the United States of America is folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the next of kin at the burial of a veteran?
Here is the meaning of each of those folds and what it means:
The first fold of our Flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether
they are found within or without the boundaries of our Republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it
flies on Mother’s Day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.
The tenth fold is a tribute to the Father, for he also has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.” After the Flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.
The next time you see a Flag ceremony honoring someone that has served our country, either in the Armed Forces or in our civilian services such as the Police
Force or Fire Department, keep in mind all the important reasons behind each and every movement. They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us by
honoring our Flag and our Country.
“While Public Law 94-344 does not place any significance or meaning to the 13 folds of the American flag the sentiments above have been adopted as a tradition by many veterans and family members of veterans of our great nation as they reflect what we recognize about our flag and our country. They give meaning and hope to those family members who have lost a loved one fighting for our freedoms.
Tell me what makes a tradition? Does it just crop up one day and become a reality? How did our national song come about? Was it an official publication written into a law somewhere to begin with or did the people adopt it and it then become our National Anthem? There are those who take issue with the religious nature of the lines but that is all a matter or preference and that is what fighting for our freedom gave us; the freedom to choose religion, or not to choose it along with all of our other rights.
L. Halamek, PO3 US Navy, Disabled Veteran
Today in Catholic History:
† 965 – Death of Pope Benedict V
† 973 – Death of Ulrich of Augsburg, German bishop (b. 890)
† 993 – Saint Ulrich of Augsburg canonized
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Flavian; Translation, Ordination of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours, confessor; Saint Odo, bishop of Canterbury; Saint Procopius, abbot (at Prague), confessor; Saint Ulric, bishop of Augsburg, confessor (d. 973); Saint Bertha, widow, abbess of Blangy in Artois; Saint Elizabeth Lusitania of Portugal (d. 136)
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Life is worth living. Heaven is worth fighting for.
Today’s reflection is about Jesus sends out 72 people to announce the coming Kingdom.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go. He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go on your way. See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!” And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid. Do not move about from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you. Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.” I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. Woes to Unrepentant Cities. The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’ He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ (Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20 NRSV)
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus appoints seventy-two disciples to travel ahead of Him to every town and place He plans to visit, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand. He sends them in pairs because the Law of Moses required two witnesses for a testimony to be credible. I imagine it was also a safer way to travel.
Only the Gospel of Luke contains the two episodes in which Jesus sends out his followers on a mission: the first (Luke 10:1-6) recounts the sending out of the Twelve Apostles; and in this Gospel reading, the sending out of seventy-two. This reading continues a theme of Jesus preparing witnesses to himself and his ministry. The instructions given to the Twelve Apostles and also to the seventy-two disciples are very similar, and that what was said to the seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:4 (“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.”) is also similarly directed to the Twelve Apostles in Luke 22:35 (“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?”).
In verse four of today’s Gospel reading, it is written, “Carry no money bag . . . greet no one along the way.” Due to the urgency of the mission, and the focus required of these missionaries, any attachment to material possessions or any deviation from their mission needed to be avoided. Even customary greetings, salutations, and small-talk needed to be quelled so as not to distract from the accomplishment of their task. I am sure there is also some symbolism to God giving all we need in this world; and that materialistic processions are a hindrance to a true relationship with Jesus.
Jesus admits the difficulty of their mission by saying that they will be like “lambs among wolves.” Yet they knew that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and what was needed of them in this Kingdom. No special privileges were to be allowed. They were only to eat and drink whatever was given them; and were to stay in one house; not looking around for one that provides better accommodations. If the town would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.
They were sent not only to teach and witness, but also to heal the sick as a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand for them. Demons were under their power because of Jesus’ name. Wasn’t it Isaiah that said that “the Lord’s power will be known to His servants?” God can obviously make the impossible come to life!
On first entering a house, the “missionary” was to first say, “Peace to this household.” This “peace” is from Christ, and is for those whom God has favored with his grace. This peace is more than just an absence of war; it also includes the security and well-being characteristic of the same type of peace often found in the Old Testament. Historically, the greeting of peace is conceived of NOT as a mere gesture of politeness, but as a “precious” word and act upon itself. If a worthy recipient for this greeting could not be found, the greeting of peace (and God’s favor) was not communicated.
By Jesus saying that He had observed “Satan fall like lightning,” Jesus was symbolically characterizing the seventy-two disciples sent out to teach and witness as the beginning of an established “Kingdom of God” on earth. Through Jesus life, death and resurrection from the dead; and through the believers and followers of Jesus continuing His work on earth, evil in all its forms will eventually be totally defeated, and the power of Satan over humanity will be extinguished.
Jesus may have sent the seventy-two out as lambs among wolves, but they returned rejoicing, and I’m sure somewhat surprised, because their mission had been successful. Discipleship has its challenges, difficulties, and rewards. Sharing in the mission of Jesus is difficult, but everyone baptized in His name is called to share Jesus with others, and to see Jesus in all others. Evangelization is not solely for priests, deacons, religious and those trained for ministry: and it is not necessarily verbally quoting Bible Scripture, or handing out Bible Tracts. St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words!”
Prayer for Vocations
“Lord Jesus, as You once called the first disciples to make them fishers of men, let your sweet invitation continue to resound: Come, follow Me!
Give young men and woman the grace of responding quickly to your voice. Support our bishops, priests and consecrated people in their apostolic labor.
Grant perseverance to our seminarians, and to all those who are carrying out the ideal of a life totally consecrated to Your service. Awaken in our community a missionary eagerness. Lord, SEND WORKERS TO YOUR HARVEST and do not allow humanity to be lost for the lack of pastors, missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.
Mary, Mother of the Church, and the model of every vocation; help us to say “Yes” to the Lord who calls us to cooperate in the divine plan of salvation. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Elizabeth of Portugal
She was the Queen of Portugal and a Franciscan tertiary. A native of Aragon, Spain, she was married at the age of twelve to the immoral King Denis of Portugal. Known as a peacemaker, she was able to overcome the difficulties of her marriage. For her peacemaking efforts not only at home but among many associates and struggling people, she was called “the Peacemaker.” When Denis died in 1325, Elizabeth entered the Poor Clares as a Franciscan tertiary. She later died at Estremoz, Portugal.
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #4:
The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people. Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly. Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.