Monthly Archives: October 2010

“Pray, Pray, Pray! After that, you should also – Pray!” – Luke 11:1-4†


 

25 Days till “All Hallows Eve” (Halloween)

80 Days till CHRISTMAS

(But who’s counting anyway)

 

 

Today in Catholic History:
       

     †   891 – Formosus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
     †   1101 – Death of Bruno of Cologne, German founder of the Carthusian order
     †   1552 – Birth of Matteo Ricci, Italian Jesuit missionary (d. 1610)
     †   1582 – Due to the implementation of the Gregorian [Pope St. Gregory] calendar, this day is skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
     †   1983 – Death of Terence Cardinal Cooke, American Catholic archbishop (b. 1921)
     †   2002 – Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá is canonized.

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
http://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Prayer: don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!  Remember: We don’t change the message. The message changes us!

 

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray.

 

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.” Luke 11:1-4

 

 

Did you know that besides emphasizing our need to help the poor in society, Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer!  The first of three episodes concerned with prayer, from Luke’s Gospel, are presented here.   This Gospel reading is about Jesus teaching his disciples a communal prayer: known to us as the “Our Father.”  The other two episodes, not included in this reflection, are Luke 11:5-8: the importance of persistence in prayer; and Luke 11:9-13: the effectiveness of prayer.

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 quite 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 of Jesus praying devoutly include 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” also seems to follow the liturgical tradition of his synagogue.  Luke’s version, though less developed, also represents the liturgical tradition known to him; and it is probably closer to the original words of Jesus than Matthew’s.

Trivia time #1:  Most of us mistakenly call the “Our Father” prayer the “Lord’s Prayer!”  Find your Bible and brush off most of the dust from its cover; this is a good one to show others!  Actually, the “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17:1-26.  Since the sixteenth century, this chapter of John’s Gospel has been called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus.  This is His last prayer, at the “Mount of Olives,” just prior to His arrest.  Jesus, through prayer, speaks directly as an intercessor to His Father, in words His disciples probably overheard.  Jesus’ prayer is a petition for immediate and future disciples [us].  Many of the phrases are suggestive of today’s “Our Father” Prayer.  Although still in the world, Jesus looks on his earthly ministry as a thing of the past.  Jesus has up till this time stated that the disciples could follow him.  Now He wishes them to be with Him in union with the Father.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray just as Jesus’ cousin (and the last Biblical prophet), John [the Baptist] taught his followers to pray.  To have their own distinctive form of prayer was the mark of a religious community: the start of the “Catholic,” Christ-centered 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.  Interestingly, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim peoples all believe of the same God as “Father.”  The relationship of this “Father” is the only difference for all three religions.

“Hallowed be your name” was an interesting phrase for many young Catholics I have 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 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 reveals 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” prayer, God is manifesting His power with the establishment of His “Kingdom,” first within each of us personally, and to also 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 #2: Instead of the appeal just mentioned: “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven, per the USSCB web site (www.usccb.org/nab/bible), some early church Fathers prayed, “May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.”  This indicates that the “Our Father” prayer 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.  Notably, God’s Kingdom is often portrayed with the image of a “feast” in both the Old and New Testaments.  An example 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 are also found in Matthew 8:11; 22:1-10; and 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!  You need to understand that our “Father,” God, 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” (found in the “Book of Jubilees:” Chapter 23).  The petition, “do not subject us to the final test” asks that we instead be spared these final tests: these periods of severe trials believed by all Jewish people.

Having taught his disciples this simple, but complete, daily prayer, Jesus reassures them that God answers all prayers given to Him.  In the following Gospel verses, Jesus stresses this point by telling a 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.  Yet, the neighbor is persistent, and the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  The moral of this parable: If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests as well?!

Would I have acted the same way as the neighbor in this parable?  To answer this question, 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 probably 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 or need, 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.

I firmly believe that part of the 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 & other material aspects) – is for all of us to practice a daily 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, but 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 “Our Father” prayer helps do just that!

 

Today’s prayer is a combination of an early Christian practice and the prayer found in Luke 18:9-14.  It is possibly the most popular prayer among Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians.  It is recited using prayer ropes that are similar to Western rosaries.

 

“The Jesus Prayer”

 

“O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Bruno (1030?-1101)

 

This saint has the honor of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint’s intense love of a penitential life in solitude.

He was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII (May 25) in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains.

He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and, through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse” (from which comes the word Carthusians). The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers.

Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day, and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts.

The pope, hearing of Bruno’s holiness, called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and spent his last years (after refusing a bishopric) in the wilderness of Calabria.

He was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. Pope Clement extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.

Comment:

If there is always a certain uneasy questioning of the contemplative life, there is an even greater puzzlement about the extremely penitential combination of community and hermit life lived by the Carthusians.

Quote:

“Members of those communities which are totally dedicated to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through constant prayer and ready penance. No matter how urgent may be the needs of the active apostolate, such communities will always have a distinguished part to play in Christ’s Mystical Body…” (Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life, 7).

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 6 & 7 of 26:

   

They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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“How Big Is Your Faith? Is It Well ROOTED? Mine Is a Mustard Seed!” – Luke 17:5-10†


 

Today is the Transitus of St. Francis

  

The Transitus is a Franciscan devotion to ritually remember the passing of Saint Francis from this life to God.  This ritual takes place each year, the evening of October 3rd.  

For me, to revisit the account of St. Francis’ death is essential; otherwise something significant would be missing.  It describes the living memory of St. Francis, and it deepens and strengthens our duty to follow Jesus Christ in the way of this “poor man of Assisi.” 

   

† 

 

Tomorrow is [his] the Feast of St Francis of Assisi.  The feast commemorates the life of St Francis, who born in the 12th century is the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals and the environment.

St Francis (b.1181 or 1182 – d.1226), founder of the Franciscan order, lived during the late 12th and early 13th centuries in Italy.  He is remembered for his generosity to the poor and his willingness to minister to the lepers. However, what most people recall about him today is his love for animals and nature.  Many children bring their pets to the Church to be blessed on St Francis’ feast day because of this love for animals, as expressed in his “Canticle of Creatures.”

        

Today in Catholic History:


†   1226 – Death of St. Francis of Assisi (b. 1181 or 1181)
†   1247 – Willem II of Holland elected Roman Catholic German emperor
†   1877 – Death of James Roosevelt Bayley, first Bishop of Newark, New Jersey, and the eighth Archbishop of Baltimore (b. 1814)
†   2006 – Death of Alberto Ramento, Filipina bishop (b. 1937)

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com) &/OR
“Today in Catholic History”
zhttp://www.historyorb.com)

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Peace starts with a smile.

 

 

   

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching the Apostles the importance of faith and service to God.

 

5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”  6 The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.  7″Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?  8 Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat?  Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’?  9 Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?  10 So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.'”  (NAB Luke 17:5-10)

 

In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus teach about faith and service to God. The framework of today’s reading is that it is a continuation of dialogue between Jesus and his followers in regards to what it means to be a “disciple” of His.  These “proverbs” of Jesus are exclusively Lucan biblically, and takes up again Jesus’ response to the Apostles’ request for an increase in their faith (see Luke 17:5-6 above): “And the apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’  The Lord replied, ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, be uprooted and planted in the sea, and it would obey you.’”   This truism should remind all of the followers of Jesus, then and now, that His disciples can make no claim on God’s graciousness.  In truly fulfilling the sometimes challenging and demanding requirements of discipleship, we are only doing our duty.

The first proverb today is the Bibles very familiar illustration and important reminder that faith, even as little as the proverbial mustard seed, enables the followers of Jesus to do great and wondrous things.  Yet, this uplifting and inspiring teaching is immediately followed by a second instruction.  This caution-centered second doctrine is about having vigilance in knowing one’s place in God’s plan.  The followers of Jesus are to understand their role as being servants to God, and true instruments for God’s plan.  

Even when God brings about phenomenal marvels and miracles through us, our “mustard seed” faith should not seek praise or gratitude.  Our participation in God’s plan IS God’s grace to us; nothing more and nothing less!  When we are “graced” enough to cooperate with God and His actions through and in us, the work we do is nothing more than our obligation to Him as His faithful stewards.  Yet, our “mustard seed” size faith allows us to know that what we have done – what we have offered – to God can produce a “hundredfold” in return.

In our daily attempts as Christians to live up to the confidence and trust that others place in us, we come to know the wonders that God can do in and through us.  This is true even if we may possess just a minuscule amount of faith.  In life, we learn that obligations can be our own rewards.  The daily tasks that we do for one another are simply the expressions of our responsibilities to one another.

What have you done recently that made a big difference in another’s life?   Remember, we are all called by God to believe that He can work miracles in our lives and that He can, and DOES, use us to make a difference in the world!  Please pray daily for the grace that God will work through you to make a difference in the lives of those around you!

St. Gregory the Great once wrote that the entire mass of a large tree lies hidden within the one grain of a very small seed.  When planted, a root is produced from the seed; and then a shoot from the root; and a fruit from the shoot; and then yet, other seeds are produced in the fruit.  The same can be true about OUR seed of faith.

Like the mustard seed in today’s Gospel that uprooted the large formidable Mulberry tree, plant — by faith and service — Jesus’ love in your heart and soul.  Nurture this seed of faith and service and allow it to naturally grow out of you and into others.  Let the Holy Spirit “root out” your fears, concerns, and speculations.  Let Him “see” and touch every aspect of your life in the very unique way “planned” for you long before you were “you!”

 

“Just a Simple Prayer of Faith and Service”

 

“I am who I am in the eyes of God—
nothing more and nothing less.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Mother Theodore Guérin (1798-1856)

    

Trust in God’s Providence enabled Mother Theodore to leave her homeland, sail halfway around the world and to found a new religious congregation.

Born in Etables, France, Anne-Thérèse’s life was shattered by her father’s murder when she was 15. For several years she cared for her mother and younger sister. She entered the Sisters of Providence in 1823, taking the name Sister St. Theodore. An illness during novitiate left her with lifelong fragile health; that did not keep her from becoming an accomplished teacher.

At the invitation of the bishop of Vincennes, she and five sisters were sent in 1840 to Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, to teach and to care for the sick poor. She was to establish a motherhouse and novitiate. Only later did she learn that her French superiors had already decided the sisters in the United States should form a new religious congregation under her leadership.

She and her community persevered despite fires, crop failures, prejudice against Catholic women religious, misunderstandings and separation from their original religious congregation. She once told her sisters, “Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us. The way is not yet clear. Grope along slowly. Do not press matters; be patient, be trustful.” Another time, she asked, “With Jesus, what shall we have to fear?”

She is buried in the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Indiana, and was beatified in 1998. Eight years later she was canonized.

Comment:

God’s work gets done by people ready to take risks and to work hard—always remembering what St. Paul told the Corinthians, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). Every holy person has a strong sense of God’s Providence.

Quote:

During his homily at the beatification Mass, Pope John Paul II said that Blessed Mother Theodore “continues to teach Christians to abandon themselves to the providence of our heavenly Father and to be totally committed to doing what pleases him. The life of Blessed Theodore Guérin is a testimony that everything is possible with God and for God.”

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 3 & 4 of 26:

    

The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

 

 

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.