I had an interesting and enjoyable time in Chicago this past Thursday through Saturday. I was attending a workshop on “Justice and Peace in the Integration of Creation” (JPIC). Though only about 20 people were present, literally all aspects of the Franciscan tradition were represented: OFM, Conv.; OFM; SFO; TOR; FSM, OSF; and lay people not “Officially” Franciscan except in heart, spirit, and soul – and without the strange initials behind their names.
This was a learning experience for me in a unique way. I will write later about my experience, but suffice it to say that being immersed in a very liberal (sorry, I meant “progressive”) group is mind-opening for me: an extremely CONSERVATIVE Catholic!! I hope I did not aggravate or upset the others present with my viewpoints about “politics.” If I did, I sincerely apologize. We, as Franciscans, should be non-partisan (totally different than being non-political) in our ministry efforts.
“90 Days till CHRISTmas!!”
That is Less than 3 Months!!
Today in Catholic History:
† 1181 – Birth? of Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian founder of the Franciscan Order (d. 1226)
† 1468 – Death of Juan de Torquemada, Spanish Catholic cardinal (b. 1388)
† 1897 – Birth of Pope Paul VI, [Giovanni Montini], 262nd Roman Catholic pope (1963-78)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on your front door forever.
Today’s reflection is about Jesus tells the parable of the reversal of fortunes between the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus.
19 “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. 20 And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. 22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.’ 25 Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. 26 Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.’ 27 He said, ‘Then I beg you, father, send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.’ 30 He said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 Then Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'” (Luke 16:19-31)
What do you have that can be shared with others? Sometimes sharing is not easy, but is still absolutely necessary for entrance to God’s kingdom. Why not make a commitment to share something soon, and share your possessions (your time, talent, &/or treasures) with someone in need. Put a tear of joy in God’s eye!
The major theme in today’s Gospel is the importance of the care of God’s creations; the care of the poor today – NOW – and not later! In the parable above, Jesus contrasts the life of a rich man with a poor and sick man named Lazarus, who lives squalidly in the “shadow” of the rich man’s wealth and extravagance. Both die, and Lazarus finds himself in heaven, with the rich man in the “netherworld.” The rich man asks for assistance from Lazarus in his torment, but Abraham reminds the rich man of all the good things he had in his life, and then describes the current situation as a reversal of fortunes. The rich man then asks Lazarus to go to warn his haughty and self-important family, but this is also refused with a prompt that Moses and the prophets had forewarned of judgment for those who neglect the care of the poor and indigent.
The reversal of the fates of the rich man and Lazarus in the “netherworld” exemplifies the teachings of Jesus found in Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” (Luke 6:20-21, and 24-25). With Luke, not only are the “Beatitudes” given to us, but, in addition a stern warning is pronounced about the evils of materialism (being “rich”).
The “netherworld” was, to the Jewish people, the underworld: the place of the dead as contrasted with heaven. The netherworld is not really “heaven” or “hell,” but a place where the “good” and “bad” souls are separated while waiting for the final judgment.
This parable was probably delivered in the presence of a crowd of listeners, and is part of Jesus’ response to some Pharisees questions and accusations. These Pharisees are portrayed in Luke’s Gospel as “loving money, prestige, and wealth.” They put less emphasis on Temple worship and devotion, and more importance on applying “the law” to the Jewish people’s everyday life; even though some shared many of Jesus’ concerns about the law. Jesus observed that the actions of some Pharisees demonstrated misplaced priorities: they spoke one way, but acted in another.
Abraham warned that if one did not listen to Moses and the prophets, they were doomed to eternal misery and separation from our creator, God. There is a foreshadowing in this Gospel about rejecting the call to repentance, even after Jesus’ resurrection. Not repenting is also not a smart thing to do: the confessional has the “no waiting” sign out.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus makes obvious, and shows the importance of the care of the poor, infirmed, and “forgotten” children of God. It reminds those who would follow Jesus of the insignificance and inconsequentiality of wealth in the eyes of God.
“Prayer of Wisdom from
St. Francis & St. Claire of Assisi”
“Jesus, following You is not always easy and carefree. It requires something from me: I must follow your commands. Often out of pride or convenience, I seek to follow my own will instead. Lead me through the narrow gates. Be merciful and soften my heart when I stubbornly refuse to follow You. Remind me that life with You is well worth any cost I may incur in following You. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Sts. Cosmas and Damian (d. 303?)
A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass, probably in the sixth century.
Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. They were among those who are venerated in the East as the “moneyless ones” because they did not charge a fee for their services. It was impossible that such prominent persons would escape unnoticed in time of persecution: They were arrested and beheaded.
Nine centuries later, Francis of Assisi (October 4) rebuilt the dilapidated San Damiano chapel outside Assisi.
For a long time, it seems, we have been very conscious of Jesus’ miracles as proofs of his divinity. What we sometimes overlook is Jesus’ consuming interest in simply healing people’s sickness, whatever other meaning his actions had. The power that “went out from him” was indeed a sign that God was definitively breaking into human history in final fulfillment of his promises; but the love of God was also concrete in a very human heart that was concerned about the suffering of his brothers and sisters. It is a reminder to Christians that salvation is for the whole person, the unique body-spirit unity.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
Patron Saint of barbers, pharmacists, physicians, and surgeons
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 #’s 25 & 26 of 26:
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.
26. As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.
To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.