Today in Catholic History:
† 1537 – Pope Paul III routes Cardinal Pole to England
† 1621 – Alexander Ludovisi is elected Pope Gregory XV, the last Pope elected by acclamation.
† Feasts/Memorials: Saint Ansbert of Rouen; Saint Maron’s Day – Lebanon; Saint Apollonia, patron saint of dentists and dental technicians
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Cannibal: “Doctor, I have terrible heartburn.”
Doctor: “Well, what did you eat?”
Cannibal: “Nothing special. A couple of missionaries with hooded robes.”
Doctor: “How did you cook them?”
Cannibal: “I always boil my food.”
Doctor: “Well, no wonder you have heartburn. Those aren’t boilers. They’re friars!”
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
This is a thirteen (13) part reflection on a letter from the SFO International Council website. It is titled “An exhortation of the Church to the Secular Franciscan Order” by Benedetto Lino, OFS. It can be read in full at http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html.
(Continuation from Previous blog)
Part 12 of 13 Parts
Love — “caritas” — is an extraordinary force which drives people to engage with courage and generosity in the field of justice and peace. It is a force which has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.
Each person finds his good by adhering to the plan which God has for him, in order to accomplish it fully: in this plan, indeed, he finds his truth, and it is through adherence to this truth that he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:22). Defending the truth, proclaiming it with humility and conviction, and bearing witness to it in life are, therefore, exacting and indispensable forms of charity. (Caritas in Veritate, 1)
(Continued on next published blog)
From “An exhortation of the Church
to the Secular Franciscan Order”
A commentary on Cardinal Franc Rodé’s letter
By: Benedetto Lino OFS
SFO International Council Website
Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching about new Dietary regulations; and sin coming from the heart.
14 He [Jesus] summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. 15 Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” 16(*) 17 When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. 18 He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, 19 since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) 20 “But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. 21 From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. 23 All these evils come from within and they defile.” (NAB Mark 7:14-23)
Do as I say, NOT as I do! Have you ever felt like you were leading two completely different lives? The outer public “you” is a pious and happy go-lucky person, without a problem in the world. The inner private you – – the REAL you – – harbors hidden secrets such as addictions, infidelity, evil thoughts, theft, harm to others, greed, lies, trickery, envy, gossip, or arrogance. These two lives directly oppose each other, and can make you seem like your losing control. YOU COULD BE!!
Do you allow sinful thoughts and wants to invade your “being”? Realize, we do not have to allow sinful behavior rule our lives. Instead, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can condemn these unwanted and immoral behaviors rather than allow them to control us.
Where does evil come from anyway, and how can we eliminate it from our lives? Jesus dealt with this specific topic in today’s reading by answering concerns involving the topic of spiritual and dietary “defilement”. During the time of Jesus, defilement of either type (spiritual or dietary) would make one ritually unfit for entering the Temple to offer sacrifice and to worship God.
In the safety and privacy some time later in the day, Jesus’ “disciples questioned Him about the parable”. The term “parable” usually refers to something hidden in a statement or story, yet revealed to the listeners. In this case, the parables meaning is revealed to His disciples. There are many such parables throughout most of Mark’s Gospel, with today’s reading positioning the current Mosaic food laws into the framework of the “new” kingdom of God. These requirements are ended permanently with the new covenant established with, in, and through Jesus Christ. Jesus restored the righteous conduct of “morality” in all its clarity, purity, and intensity. He declared that moral “defilement” – – immoral thoughts, behaviors, and actions – – was (and still is) the only cause of “uncleanness”.
Jesus boldly “declared all foods clean”! His bold decree seemed to go unnoticed initially by many of His followers. Its power and influence was not realized even among the Jewish Christians of the early, first century, Catholic Church. The proof of this statement can be found in the story of Peter’s vision. He sees a “sheet” descending from heaven with all manners of animals (ritually clean and unclean) mixed together in the sheet, as found in the story of Cornelius’ conversion. (See Acts 10:10-11:18).
The vision Peter had in Joppa (Acts 10:10-16) showed him the full insight and wisdom of what Jesus taught in today’s reading about Jewish dietary requirements. When he returns to Jerusalem, Peter himself tells us of this revelation in his account on the conversion of the Roman, Cornelius:
“I remembered the word of the Lord.” (Acts 11:16)
The now non- compulsory nature of such dietary instructions – – handed down by God in the Old Testament (cf., Leviticus 11) – – would obviously be something Peter would certainly include in his lectures and worship, wouldn’t he?
Local religious leaders were concerned with avoiding defilement in regards to dietary requirements as directed by Mosaic Law. Jesus directed His followers – – His disciples – – to the actual cause of “true” defilement: evil desires which coming from inside a person’s deepest, intimate nature – – their heart. Sin cannot “just” happen! It must first emerge from the recesses of our thoughts and intentions. Only our individual “sinful” hearts can conceive immoral thoughts.
We know the Word of God – – Holy Scripture – – is a living document:
“The truth of the gospel is that God can set us free from the cancer of sin. Our freedom consists in being forgiven our sins. This is what the death of Jesus Christ means. God has proven faithful to us as a friend.” (Fr. Francis Martin, The Life Changer, St. Bede’s Publications)
God works in us (through the Holy Spirit) to make our hearts, and souls receptive to His word and grace. The Holy Trinity makes our heart and souls clean and whole through the unique and supernatural powers of the Holy Spirit.
In God’s magnificent and splendid mercy, He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to save us from our own sins. To receive His mercy, we only need to become aware of our iniquities, to simply admit our faults to Him, and to confess our sins.
“If we say, ‘We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.’” (1 John 1:8-9)
Denial of our nature to sin is a self-deception. It is even contradictory of divine revelation – WOW! There is also the certainty of sin’s continued recurrence in our lives, through our action (or inaction) of denial. Forgiveness and release from sin is through Jesus Christ! Again, we are assured of forgiveness and release from sin through acknowledging our nature to sin, and repenting our sins to Jesus Christ (through the Priest “persona Christi” in the confessional).
Through His Word, and the actions of the Holy Spirit, God reveals that we may recognize His mercy and grace for pardoning and healing our sinful nature. The Holy Spirit imparts to us the grace of consciousness – – knowing right from wrong, – – and the grace of certain salvation and redemption. SO USE THESE GRACES!
The Lord Jesus Christ is ever ready to purify our hearts, and souls through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, and working in and through us. Though His power and grace, He permits us to choose the good in our thoughts, words, and actions; and to reject evil. We have the free-will to accept God’s love and grace, or to not to accept Him in our lives. Do you want God to change and transform your heart and soul – – your spiritual and natural “being”?
Satan is a sly and evil spirit. He never rests! We have to be ever diligent. We cannot become slaves to sin, but rather, slaves to righteousness.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)
Our “heart” is the way we open our self to the reality around us. Attention has to be diligent and meticulous to what comes from our heart. By the act of original sin etched into our hearts and souls we are, in essence, all “addicted” to the grasp of “sin” in nature. We often act as if we are the center of the world, and that everything and everyone revolves around us. We sometimes act and believe as if everything and everyone exists solely for our exploitation, profit, and pleasure. We must submit ourselves regularly and often to the Sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church, especially the Holy and living Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to fight this addiction in our hearts.
So what is this talk about the “heart”? Isn’t the soul the important “organ” of faith?
“When we speak of a person’s heart, we refer not just to his sentiments, but to the whole person in his loving dealings with others. In order to help us understand divine things, Scripture uses the expression “heart” in its full human meaning, as the summary and source, expression and ultimate basis, of one’s thoughts, words and actions. A man is worth what his heart is worth…” (St. Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By, 164)
Jesus Christ Himself tells us today that sinful actions can come from the human heart. The Council of Trent addressed how original sin has changed our bodies and souls.
“We can understand how this can happen if we realize that, after original sin, man ‘was changed for the worse’ in both body and soul and was, therefore, prone to evil.” (Council of Trent, De peccato originali)
So, the origins of sin in our lives can be found in the nature, character, and temperament of our heart, plus its effect on our soul. Outward acts of sin start as tiny thoughts and desires in our hearts. However, the nature of sin can be as devious and scheming as the image of the proverbial “iceberg”. A small portion of our sinful nature may be visible to others (or even our individual self’s); however a vast majority is still hidden beneath the surface. The visible part, though dangerous in its own right, is not as dangerous necessarily as the much larger part hidden from view. If we rationalize our petty sins as simple random acts of “being human”, and without dealing with the issues at root in the act of sin, coming from our hearts, we are only asking for trouble – – a true “Titanic” moment, to say the least!
Keeping tight hold of the urges and acts concerning sin within us will most certainly harm the heart and soul. It will damage our spiritual clarity at the minimum. And it could also damage our relationships with family, friends, and peers. The tightly held inequities – – of which we choose not to rid ourselves – – may even cause physically harm to ourselves. The “stress” from trying to keep secret, parts of our lives, along with the “lies” one must keep up for others, can cause both physical and psychological problems over a period of time (not to mention the immediately danger to ones eternal soul).
With that said, can you imagine the peace that would overwhelm your “being” when released from the dark recesses of sin? Sin, our inequities, can be easily released through the beautiful and loving Sacrament of Reconciliation. (Do you get my hint to go to confession often and regularly?) The confessional is the best place to receive the grace of repentance and forgiveness, so please start today – – right now – – by coming clean with Jesus. Review your consciousness, and get back on that path to salvation. God is waiting for you on your individually unique path, wanting so dearly to walk with you!
We must ask God regularly and often for forgiveness, mercy, and salvation from original sin, and we must ask it from all others as well. WHAT!? Yes, not only from God, but from ALL Catholics who believe and trust in the passion of Christ, who humble themselves before Him, who acknowledge their sinfulness to Him, and who also asks for mercy and forgiveness by the merits of Jesus Christ’s suffering and death on the Holy Tree of salvation. Think of this the next time use pray the “Confiteor” at Mass (and posted as the prayer below).
(*) Some of your bibles may have a verse “16” that reads as follows, “Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” It is officially omitted in the NAB version because it is actually absent in the better Greek manuscripts from which the New Testament is translated. Most scholars have a belief that the verse was probably transferred from other locations such as Mark 4:9 and Mark 4:23, to this location, by “scribes” transposing copies of bibles by hand.
“He added, ‘Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.’” (Mark 4:9)
“Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” (Mark 4:23)
In Summary, God’s law is meant to help us live a good and proper Catholic life. Yet, sometimes we can get stuck in the complexities of His law (Sounds like what the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees did.). We need to remember that God’s laws are supposed to help us DO something. The way we should measure our lives is by examining our consciousness to see if we are living the loving compassion that Jesus Christ lived and modeled for us. Jesus Himself said (I am paraphrasing from today’s reading):
“It doesn’t matter what goes into a person that makes Him right with God; it’s what comes out that does.”
“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Jerome Emiliani (1481?-1537)
A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews—and began his own studies for the priesthood.
In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.
Around 1532, Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928 Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.
Very often in our lives it seems to take some kind of “imprisonment” to free us from the shackles of our self-centeredness. When we’re “caught” in some situation we don’t want to be in, we finally come to know the liberating power of Another. Only then can we become another for “the imprisoned” and “the orphaned” all around us.
“‘The father of orphans and the defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling. God gives a home to the forsaken; he leads forth prisoners to prosperity; only rebels remain in the parched land’ (Psalm 68)…. We should not forget the growing number of persons who are often abandoned by their families and by the community: the old, orphans, the sick and all kinds of people who are rejected…. We must be prepared to take on new functions and new duties in every sector of human activity and especially in the sector of world society, if justice is really to be put into practice. Our action is to be directed above all at those men and nations which, because of various forms of oppression and because of the present character of our society, are silent, indeed voiceless, victims of injustice” (Justice in the World, 1971 World Synod of Bishops).
Patron Saint of: Orphans, abandoned children
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 9 & 10 of 26:
9. The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call. She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family. The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.
10. United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.