Monthly Archives: March 2011

“Old or New, Laws are Laws; and I’m the Judge!” – Matthew 5:17-19†


 

“Wednesday of the 3rd Week of Lent” 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote or Joke of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

QuikTrip Begins Major Recycling Initiative

 

Over the past year QuikTrip, in partnership with Allied Waste, has established a pilot program for recycling in the St. Louis Metro area.

QuikTrip owns and operates 63 locations in the St. Louis area.  They estimate the company will be able to recycle about 90 percent of all trash from its stores.  QuikTrip has set up recycling programs in almost all of its area stores and has switched to more environmentally friendly product packaging.

QuikTrip acknowledges and thanks the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and the Franciscan Sisters of Our Lady of Perpetual Help for their assistance in establishing this pilot program for recycling. The company hopes that the recycling program will remain successful and that other retailers will have the opportunity to join in this partnership.

Franciscan Sisters of Mary
gthackrey@fsmonline.org

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Thursday is the half-way point of Lent.  How are you doing with your prayers, sacrifices, and alms-giving?

 

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Today in Catholic History:

 

†   1492 – Ferdinand and Isabella sign the Alhambra decree aimed at expelling all Jews from Spain unless they convert to Roman Catholicism.
†   1984 – Death of Karl Rahner, German theologian (b. 1904)
†   1986 – Death of James Cagney, Catholic American actor (b. 1899)
†   Memorials/Feasts: Saint John Climacus (d. 649);  Saint Quirinus (d. 117); Tola of Clonard (Irish Roman Saint); Blessed Amadeus IX of Savoy

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

 

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Joke of the Day:

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching the fullness of Mosaic Law

 

 From http://www.thebricktestament.com

 

(NAB Matthew 5:17-19) – 17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  18 Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  19 Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

 

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Today’s Gospel reading stresses the permanency value of the Old Testament, including its Mosaic Laws.  After all, it is the word of God.  Jesus Christ is the “person” of the eternal WORD made flesh for our salvation.  In Jesus, God’s law is manifested in a visible way in human form.  There is a divine authority in the “Old” books and words – – and in Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament Laws deserve our total respect and reverence.

We are shown Jesus’ position concerning the Mosaic Law and His teaching of the enforceability to His followers.  Jesus Christ is literally telling all His followers that no law given to Moses on Mount Sinai is invalid, and will not be made invalid “until heaven and earth pass away”.  Luke reports the same notion in a little better twist (at least for me):

 “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for the smallest part of a letter of the law to become invalid.”  (Luke 16:17),

To fulfill the [Mosaic] law appears for most people to mean a “word by word” enforcement of the law in the least detail:

“Until heaven and earth pass away nothing of the law will pass from the law” (Matthew 5:18).

However, the “passing away” of heaven and earth is not necessarily the end of the world as we understand.  In many of our minds, we comprehend a “passing away” as the termination – – a total ending – – of the existing universe; a notion recorded in much apocalyptic literature.  

Jesus’ death and resurrection brought in the “new” and “final” age for all His followers, as prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth“:

“Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)

“As the new heavens and the new earth which I will make Shall endure before me, says the LORD, so shall your race and your name endure.” (Isaiah 66:22).

Jesus’ ministry is already breaking in the New kingdom of God.  His mission remained within the framework of Mosaic Law, however, with a significant anticipation of the age to come.  Jesus goes on, in the verses immediately following this Gospel reading, to teach about conduct demanded of a Christian Catholic disciple (cf., Matthew 5:21-48).  Jesus is not expecting less in the laws of God, He is expecting, demanding, much more!  In comparison to OT versus NT Laws, Jesus uses a formula of “You have heard”, “But I say to you”, pattern or formula of speech. In essence, we are told to do the exact opposite of what the expected norm is in society.  We are to love our enemies, to turn the cheek, to place God and others before our needs. 

Why do most people look at God’s law in a negative way, instead of in the positive way it was meant to be?  Is it because these laws of God are perceived to restrict our free will?  

Exactly what are God’s laws anyway?  The Jewish community could refer to the “law” as being the “Ten Commandments” and those other laws found in the five Books of Moses (the Pentateuch).  These “laws” explain the commandments and edicts of God – – for His “chosen” people.  The “law” could also refer to the entire teachings and/or ways of life which God gave to His people – – “Traditions and Precepts”.  

 

The problem with any law is abuse, misuse, misinterpretation, and/or abandonment.  The scribes and Pharisees added many more things to the law; things God did not intend.  On the other side of the spectrum, the Sadducees only recognized the actual law only found in the “Books of Moses”, and disregarding any traditions or laws not in those first five books.  Jesus condemned these intentional errors of interpreting and teaching of the laws by the three groups of Temple leaders.  The “Temple–based” laws placed too high of a hardship on “God’s chosen” people; a hardship God did not intend.  Jesus made it very clear that the essence of God’s law — His commandments, His way of life, and His teachings must be fulfilled to gain entrance to His, – – God’s, – – kingdom.

We have to look at the Mosaic Laws as having three separate precepts or instructions associated to them: moral, legal, and liturgical.  The moral precepts of Mosaic Law still hold true in the New Testament, and in God’s kingdom.  They are a specific, divine-positive, dissemination of the “natural law”.  Jesus Christ, in His physically human and divine presence, gives God’s law a greater power and significance, and a further meaning and fulfillment.

The legal and liturgical precepts were given by God for a specific stage in salvation history – – up to the coming of Jesus Christ.  Christians are not obliged to observe them with the onset of a new period in salvation history – – the “New Covenant” – – with, in, and through Jesus Christ!

 

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The “law of God” is truth!  When we live according to that truth it produces the fruits of righteousness and faith:

Virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Jesus is simply teaching respect and reverence for God’s law – – and for God Himself.  In the Laws, Jesus is teaching us respect and reverence for the Lord’s Day, for parents, for life, for property, for another person’s good name, for oneself, and for one’s neighbor – – the “Ten Commandments” in “scrip note” form.  Respect and reverence for God’s laws teach us the way of love – – love of God and love of neighbor, His earthly creations. 

The Evangelist John, in his poetically beautiful language, states the relationship about God’s law and love so well:

Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.  And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.” (John 14:21)

God gives us the grace to love as He loves, to forgive as He forgives, and to act as He acts.  The Lord Jesus Christ loves virtue, morality, and justice.  He hates wickedness, dishonesty, and injustice.  As His followers, His disciples, we must love His commandments, teachings, and precepts.  We must abhor, detest, and find insufferable every form of sin, immorality, and unjust acts.   

We become the person we are because of those who shaped out lives.  They are our parents, our teachers, our priests, and others we honor, obey, and cherish.  These people gave of themselves to educate us, nurture us, and inspire us.  We learned to be happy, responsible, compassionate, and secure through the examples of our caring and selfless role models.

We also can be an important influence on others by the giving of ourselves.  We can inspire others to stand up and speak out against wrongs in and of society, – – to instead follow God’s (natural) law.  We can help others to take charge in lives, especially when their “world” turns upside down. 

As Catholics, as part of God’s “chosen” people, we should live the same lives at Church and at home, in public life and in our private lives.  How would you answer the following question?

“What would my role models say to me, and about me, right now?”

 

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A Prayer based on verses from:

Psalm 119 

 

“Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your laws.
With my lips I recite all the edicts you have spoken.
I find joy in the way of your decrees more than in all riches.
I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths.
In your laws I take delight; I will never forget your word.
Be kind to your servant that I may live, that I may keep your word.
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your teachings.
I will keep your teachings always, for all time and forever.
I will walk freely in an open space because I cherish your precepts.
I will speak openly of your decrees without fear even before others.
I delight in your commands, which I dearly love.
In your kindness give me life, to keep the decrees you have spoken.
Keep your hand ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, LORD; your teaching is my delight.
Let me live to praise you; may your edicts give me help.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Peter Regalado (1390-1456)

 

Peter lived at a very busy time.  The Great Western Schism (1378-1417) was settled at the Council of Constance (1414-1418). France and England were fighting the Hundred Years’ War, and in 1453 the Byzantine Empire was completely wiped out by the loss of Constantinople to the Turks.  At Peter’s death the age of printing had just begun in Germany, and Columbus’s arrival in the New World was less than 40 years away.

Peter came from a wealthy and pious family in Valladolid, Spain.  At the age of 13, he was allowed to enter the Conventual Franciscans.  Shortly after his ordination, he was made superior of the friary in Aguilar.  He became part of a group of friars who wanted to lead a life of greater poverty and penance.  In 1442 he was appointed head of all the Spanish Franciscans in his reform group.

Peter led the friars by his example.  A special love of the poor and the sick characterized Peter.  Miraculous stories are told about his charity to the poor.  For example, the bread never seemed to run out as long as Peter had hungry people to feed.  Throughout most of his life, Peter went hungry; he lived only on bread and water.

Immediately after his death on March 31, 1456, his grave became a place of pilgrimage.  Peter was canonized in 1746.

Comment:

Peter was an effective leader of the friars because he did not become ensnared in anger over the sins of others.  Peter helped sinning friars rearrange the priorities in their lives and dedicate themselves to living the gospel of Jesus Christ as they had vowed.  This patient correction is an act of charity available to all Franciscans, not just to superiors.

Quote:

“And let all the brothers, both the ministers and servants as well as the others, take care not to be disturbed or angered at the sin or the evil of another, because the devil wishes to destroy many through the fault of one; but they should spiritually help [the brother] who has sinned as best they can, because it is not the healthy who are in need of the physician, but those who are sick (cf. Mt 9:12; Mk 2:17)” (Rule of 1221, Chapter 5).

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

The memorial acclamations that we currently use

have all been changed. 

The one that is most familiar to us (“Christ has died, Christ is risen …”) has disappeared completely.  The three remaining ones are similar to those in the current missal, but the wording is different in each case.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Eucharist II

 

Do you ever give public witness to your belief in the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament by stopping by for a brief visit when driving near the church?  Could this be something you could build into your “busy” schedule?

Does your parish encourage the devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament?  If not, can you help bring this about, or help with it?  Start with adoration on Holy Thursday evening adoration; or monthly; and then weekly?

Have I ever prayed over (meditated on) the rich understanding of the Eucharist by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1322 to 1419?

 

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Prologue to the
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule:

 

Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance In the name of the Lord!

Chapter 2

Concerning Those Who Do Not Do Penance

 

But all those men and women who are not doing penance and do not receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and live in vices and sin and yield to evil concupiscence and to the wicked desires of the flesh, and do not observe what they have promised to the Lord, and are slaves to the world, in their bodies, by carnal desires and the anxieties and cares of this life (cf. Jn 8:41).

These are blind, because they do not see the true light, our Lord Jesus Christ; they do not have spiritual wisdom because they do not have the Son of God who is the true wisdom of the Father. Concerning them, it is said, “Their skill was swallowed up” (Ps 107:27) and “cursed are those who turn away from your commands” (Ps 119:21). They see and acknowledge; they know and do bad things and knowingly destroy their own souls.

See, you who are blind, deceived by your enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil, for it is pleasant to the body to commit sin and it is bitter to make it serve God because all vices and sins come out and “proceed from the heart of man” as the Lord says in the gospel (cf. Mt 7:21). And you have nothing in this world and in the next, and you thought you would possess the vanities of this world for a long time.

But you have been deceived, for the day and the hour will come to which you give no thought and which you do not know and of which you are ignorant. The body grows infirm, death approaches, and so it dies a bitter death, and no matter where or when or how man dies, in the guilt of sin, without penance or satisfaction, though he can make satisfaction but does not do it.

The devil snatches the soul from his body with such anguish and tribulation that no one can know it except he who endures it, and all the talents and power and “knowledge and wisdom” (2 Chr 1:17) which they thought they had will be taken away from them (cf. Lk 8:18; Mk 4:25), and they leave their goods to relatives and friends who take and divide them and say afterwards, “Cursed be his soul because he could have given us more; he could have acquired more than he did.” The worms eat up the body and so they have lost body and soul during this short earthly life and will go into the inferno where they will suffer torture without end.

All those into whose hands this letter shall have come we ask in the charity that is God (cf. 1 Jn 4:17) to accept kindly and with divine love the fragrant words of our Lord Jesus Christ quoted above. And let those who do not know how to read have them read to them.

And may they keep them in their mind and carry them out, in a holy manner to the end, because they are “spirit and life” (Jn 6:64).

And those who will not do this will have to render “an account on the day of judgment” (cf. Mt 12:36) before the tribunal of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 14:10). 

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“Well, Well, Well, Let Me Tell You Woman!” – John 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42 (5-42)†


 

   

“Third Sunday of Lent” 

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

I have been chosen to be on another “ACTS” retreat team at my local parish.  For those that do not know, ACTS is a parish-based retreat similar to cursillo-type retreats.  ACTS is an acronym meaning Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service.  They are some of the most moving and spirit based movements one can experience.  I have been on many and each one hits me differently.  I can’t wait for the retreat.  

 

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The latest about Fr. Corapi on his forced leave of absence.  I received an e-mail from Santa Cruz Media.  Their official “Statement” relative to Fr. Corapi’s suspension included the following paragraph:

“We have consulted with a number of canon lawyers.  They have assured us that the actions of the Bishop of Corpus Christi, Texas are, on several points of canon law, illicit.  It is our fervent hope that The Dallas Charter will be changed because of false accusations like this.  There is no evidence at this time that Fr. Corapi did anything wrong, only the unsubstantiated rant of a former employee, who, after losing her job with this office, physically assaulted me and another employee and promised to “destroy” Father Corapi.  We all continue to pray for this person, and we ask you to do the same.”

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Today in Catholic History:


†   1191 – Death of Pope Clement III
†   1309 – Pope Clement V excommunicates Venice and all its population.
†   1329 – Pope John XXII issues his ‘In Agro Dominico’ condemning some writings of Meister Eckhart as heretical.
†   1378 – Death of Gregory XI, [Pierre R the Beaufort], last French Pope (1370-78)
†   1642 – The sixth Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Joseph takes his office.
†   1935 – Birth of Fr. Stanley Rother, Roman Catholic Priest, Martyr and Missionary to Guatemala (d. 1981)
†   1962 – Archbishop Rummel ends race segregation in New Orlean Catholic school
†   Memorial/Feasts: Rupert of Salzburg

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

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

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus revealing himself to the Samaritan woman at the well, as recorded in John. (The “shorter” form: John 4:5-15,19b-26,39a,40-42)

 

 

(NAB John 4: 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42) 5 Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.  6 Jacob’s well was there. Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well. It was about noon. 

7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  8 His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.  9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”  (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)  10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”  11 (The woman) said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water?  12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”  13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 14 but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

I can see that you are a prophet.  20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”  21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  22 You people worship what you do not understand; we worship what we understand, because salvation is from the Jews.  23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.  24 God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”  25 The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Anointed; when he comes, he will tell us everything.”  26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” 

39 Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.  40 When the Samaritans came to him, they invited him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days.  41 Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 42 and they said to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

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Today, and for the next two Sundays, we read from John’s Gospel instead of from Matthew’s at Mass.  The Gospel of John is the only Gospel not assigned to a particular liturgical year (A, B, or C). Instead, readings from John’s Gospel are interspersed throughout our three-year liturgical cycle and calendar. (We are presently in Cycle A; predominately Matthew’s Gospel.)

Also, for today’s Mass, the Deacon or Priest has the option of reading a long and short form of the Gospel.  I have chosen to comment predominately on the short form of the reading, otherwise, this reflection would be twice as long.

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Let me give you a little history and geography lesson for the three places in today’s reading/reflection that may be unfamiliar to you.

“Sychar” is a place that St. Jerome identified with “Shechem”.  St. Jerome, in his research while translating Holy Scripture to Latin from the original Greek discovered this link between the two names Syriac manuscripts.

Per biblical scholars, the mountain in verse 20 of today’s Gospel is believed to be Mount Gerizim.  A temple was built on the mountain in the fourth century B.C. by Samaritans.  

“Jacob’s well” was about a mile and a half from the nearest town (Sychar).  The well was located in a strategic fork of the road between Samaria and Galilee.  It wasn’t easy to draw water from this well as it was over a hundred feet deep, and Jesus did not bring a rope or bucket. 

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In today’s Gospel, the dialogue between Jesus and a Samaritan woman is among the most surprising for me.  A conversation between a Jewish man and a Samaritan woman rarely, if ever, happened.  Jesus, a devoutly observant Jew of that time (DAH!), was expected (almost required by law) to avoid conversations with any woman in public, regardless of their nationality.  

On top of the societal norms barring men from talking to women in public, the long-held dislike and hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans should have prevented conversation between the two as well.  The woman herself alludes to the break from Jewish tradition:

How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (John 4:9)

However, not only does Jesus talk with the woman, He also asks to share her drinking vessel.  Touching her cup, or her, is an action that would make Him unclean according to Jewish law.  (Samaritans must have had major “Kooties”!)

The history of the Samaritan people is quite interesting.  They originated in the period of the conquest of Samaria by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C., as found in 2 Kings 17:

“The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the Israelites. They took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities.  When they first settled there, they did not venerate the LORD, so he sent lions among them that killed some of their number.  A report reached the king of Assyria: ‘The nations whom you deported and settled in the cities of Samaria do not know how to worship the God of the land, and he has sent lions among them that are killing them, since they do not know how to worship the God of the land.’  The king of Assyria gave the order, ‘Send back one of the priests whom I deported, to go there and settle, to teach them how to worship the God of the land.’  So one of the priests who had been deported from Samaria returned and settled in Bethel, and taught them how to venerate the LORD.  But these peoples began to make their own gods in the various cities in which they were living; in the shrines on the high places which the Samarians had made, each people set up gods.  Thus the Babylonians made Marduk and his consort; the men of Cuth made Nergal; the men of Hamath made Ashima; the men of Avva made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the men of Sepharvaim immolated their children by fire to their city gods, King Hadad and his consort Anath.” (2 Kings 17:24-31)

Samaritans shared Jewish ancestry, but Samaritans had intermarried with the Jewish inhabitants and “foreigners” during their rule under the Assyrians.  Like the Jews, the Samaritans believed that a Messiah would come.  However, Samaritan religion not only included the worship of Yahweh, it was also influenced by the worship of other gods.  

The Samaritans did integrate rather quickly with the Jewish people of the region in a very limited and somewhat precarious way.  After the Babylonian captivity, they tried to ally themselves with the Jewish people for political reasons, and to contribute to the rebuilding of the Temple, but the Jewish people refused.  These two groups of people seemed to be always unfriendly, and sometimes hostile towards each other.

 

The initial dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is better understood if we recognize the importance of water, especially in an arid climate such as Palestine.  First, the Samaritan woman comprehends Jesus’ promise of “living water” in the literal sense, as “flowing” water.  There was no flowing water in her area that was easily accessible.  The daily trip to the well by the women of the community was of vital importance. Most women normally trekked to the water well in the early morning when the day was much cooler. 

Why did this woman come to the well at the hottest time of the day – – noon?  A realistic expectation for her late arrival at the well, when all the other women had already gone, is that she is an outcast within her own Samaritan community (She was an adulterer).  She, in essence, tells Jesus that she is an outcast because of her “many husbands.”

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Water in the arid land of Palestine was extremely scarce.  And we all know that water brings about life in its beauty.  When the Israelites complained about lack of water in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to “strike the rock” and a stream of fresh living water gushed out:

“I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.  Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it for the people to drink.” This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.” (Exodus17:6).

The image of “living water” is used throughout Holy Scripture as a symbol of God’s wisdom, a wisdom that imparts life and blessing to all who receive it.

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 13:14). 

Jesus offered this woman His “living water”, the water of life: the revelation that Jesus brings.  This Samaritan woman thinks Jesus is talking of “flowing” waters instead, which is so much more desirable – – “sweeter” – – than the stagnant cistern water which she had to use every day.  The water she used had to be collected the few rains they experienced in the area, and then sat gathering sand, dirt, parasites, trash, and other waist products.  However, the “flowing” water this woman considered so supreme and sweet is not anywhere near as supreme and sweet as God’s revelation within us, nor is it as refreshing to the soul.

For me, it is interesting that John’s method of recording such a misunderstanding in what the Samaritan woman understood from the words of Jesus’, reminds me of another verse from earlier in John’s Gospel:

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’” (John 3:3.)

One can’t truly “see”, or understand the kingdom of God – – along with Jesus’ words and actions in His kingdom, – – unless “born again”.  The word attached to “born” (again) is a Greek adverb that means both “from above” and “again.”  Jesus meant this word to be understood as “from above”, – – as with and in the Holy Spirit – – and not “again”, as being born “twice”.  I am sure there are a lot of Protestants saying, HMM right now. 

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As I said earlier, Samaritans and Israelites did not trust or like each other. (It seems this still is the case between the Palestinians and Jewish people in the Middle East areas still today.)  

For the woman to say, “sir” toward Jesus is impressive for me.  “Sir” comes from the Greek word “kyrios” meaning “master” or “lord”.  The word “sir” is a respectful mode of address for either a human being or a deity, and the Samaritan woman’s meaning is further revealed in verse 19 of today’s reading:

The woman said to him, Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.” (John 4:19).

Sir” is a word sometimes used in the Septuagint (the Torah) for the Hebrew “adonai”, substituted for the tetragrammaton “YHWH”.

 

Jesus captures the woman’s attention with His reply to her question about Him being greater than Jacob of the Old Testament.  He IS greater than Jacob!  Jesus Christ is capable of quenching her thirst – – once and for all!  Jesus offers a “drink” of changed through sanctifying grace; a grace that works in each of us through the Holy Spirit.  Sanctifying grace allows us the ability to share in God’s own life, and Him in ours, through the presence of the “Advocate” – – the Holy Spirit – – in our individual souls and hearts.  What a supreme and great gift to receive from Him, to be in Him, and Him in us!

 

This Samaritan woman became aware that she was speaking to someone of authority.  So, she asks an important question indirectly that affected the religious life of the two groups of people:

“Where was the right place to worship God?”

The Jewish people said “only Jerusalem would do”!  The Samaritans believed the shrine on Mount Gerizim was also legitimate, basing their claim on verses from Genesis:

“The LORD appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your descendants I will give this land.’  So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:7)

“Then God said: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah.  There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.’” (Genesis 22:2)

He set up a memorial stone there and invoked ‘El, the God of Israel.’” (Genesis 33:20)

Jesus not only answers her question, but also confirms the teachings of the prophets, and, further affirms His revealed truth.  The Samaritans, not being Israelites (God’s chosen people) are in the dark about many of God’s plans.  (They were not “in-the-know”!)  The Samaritans do not accept any revelation that is NOT found in the first five books of Holy Scripture – – the Law of Moses – – The Torah.  On the other hand, the Jewish people are closer to the truth since they accepted the whole, the entirety, of the Old Testament. 

Both, the Samaritans and the Jewish people, needed to open themselves to the new revelation found in, and of Jesus Christ.  Both religious communities were awaiting the “Messiah” – – the true dwelling place of God among men.  Jesus is the Messiah, the new Temple for both communities:

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’” (John 2:19)

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The mountain in verse 20 of today’s Gospel is believed to be Mount Gerizim.  A temple was built on the mountain in the fourth century B.C. by Samaritans.  The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy mentions this mountain and the building of a structure:

“When, moreover, you have crossed the Jordan, besides setting up on Mount Ebal these stones concerning which I command you today, and coating them with plaster” (Deuteronomy 27:4).

Mount Ebal in Deuteronomy is the Jewish peoples’ term for Mount Gerizim. 

Under King’s David and Solomon, the Temple in Jerusalem was designed, funded, built, and worshipped in.  Neither Temples in Gerizim and Jerusalem exist any longer, nor are they needed!  As I just said, Jesus is the new Temple of God.  By accepting Him in body, blood, soul, and divinity, we are offering to Him worship from the heart; an offering the Holy Spirit of God stirs people to bestow. 

 

Being “in Spirit and truth” (verse 23) is not a reference to an interior and personal worship within one’s own mind and body.  The “Spirit” is THE Holy Spirit, given by God to us as a grace, which reveals His truth to us and enables us to worship God in appropriate ways.  The evangelist John qualifies this concept and “truth” in two consecutive verses found in the long-form of today’s Gospel reading:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate  to be with you always, the Spirit of truth,  which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it.  But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you.” (John 14:16-17).

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Due to their different paths in history and religious focus, the Samaritans expected a “prophet” Like Moses to come, and take them on a new “exodus” to paradise,  They did not expect a “Messianic” king from the house of David.  Their expectations of a new “prophet” stems from their tradition, history, and a particular verse in Deuteronomy:

“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

 

This “adulteress and outcast” Samaritan woman becomes a “disciple” of Jesus Christ!  Even with her past history as an outcast in her community, and her not being a Jew, as Jesus is, she still gains the courage to return to her town telling others of her revelational discovery in the Jewish Jesus’ words.  This Samaritan woman then leads other non-Jew Samaritans to Jesus.  Though Jesus does not meet her initial expectation, thinking He is a prophet, she’s now knows she had truly found the “Messiah”.  Her belief was so strong and convincing that members of the Samaritan community return with her to meet Jesus personally and many of them come to believe in Him, and follow Him.

 

The Samaritan woman in today’s story not only comes to acknowledge Jesus Christ being someone of importance, but also acknowledges her sins.  She accepts the “true” teaching about worshipping God the Father in “spirit and truth”.  Though she shows and demonstrate favorability to Jesus Christ, she still had to grow to recognize Him as the “Messiah”.  Seeing this favorability emitting from her, Jesus reveals that He IS the “Messiah” she and her people had been awaiting:

 “I am he, the one who is speaking with you.” (John 4:26)

 

Jesus could not be more direct in verse 26, when He declares, “I am He”!  These three simple words is rooted in the well-known Old Testament name of Yahweh – – I am”.  Jesus declares He is the Messiah, AND He evokes the words Yahweh used to reveal Himself to Moses:

“God replied, “I am who am.”  Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14),

These words by Jesus are used to indicate a revelation not only of His being the Messiah, but also of His divinity:

But he said to them, ‘It is IDo not be afraid.’” (John 6:20),

“That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.  So Jesus said (to them), When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me.” (John 8:24, 28),

“Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.’” (John 8:58),

“From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.” (John 13:19),

“They answered him, ‘Jesus the Nazorean.’ He said to them, ‘I AM.’  Judas his betrayer was also with them.  When he said to them, ‘I AM,’ they turned away and fell to the ground.  Jesus answered, ‘I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.’” (John 18:5-6, 8). 

Mark even makes a reference to “I AM” and His divinity in an indirect way:

They had all seen him and were terrified.  But at once he spoke with them, ‘Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!’” (Mark 6:50).

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Jesus Christ is displaying and teaching to us “evangelization at work” in His conversation with a lowly Samaritan Woman.  She was enthusiastic to His words and eager to learn. 

St. Augustine understood Jesus’ role as an Evangelist when he wrote:

“The same thing happens today with those who are outside, who are not Christians: they receive tidings of Christ through Christian friends; like that woman, they learn of Christ through the Church; then they come to Christ, that is, they believe in Christ through this report, and then Jesus stays two days among them and many more believe, and believe firmly, that he indeed is the Saviour of the world” (St. Augustine, In Ioann. Evang., 15, 33).

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There are several reasons for the importance of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  First, the woman changed in heart, mind, and soul.  She gained a belief in Jesus Christ as the true “Messiah”.  Through Jesus, she came to recognize her sins.  

This woman, who was deemed to be so immoral as to be an outcast in her own society, becomes a stout and fervent evangelist to her own people.  She went from being a “sinner” to a believer and messenger of God’s word; goes from being a “foreigner” to a loved member of the family!

Finally, the dialogue from the Samaritan people that came to see this “prophet named Jesus” is a foretaste of the type and beauty of the “open” community that will be created among those who believe openly and truly in Jesus Christ as the “Messiah”.

The Samaritan woman gained a gift – – a grace – – based on faith.  Faith comes from the Holy Spirit indwelling in each of us, and acting in and through each of us, individually.  I came across a nice little comment about faith that I would like to share:

“Faith comes to us as a grace, a gift from the Holy Spirit.  We do not earn faith or create it out of our own efforts and talents.  The Holy Spirit plants an attraction to God in our hearts as well as the faith we need to come to God.  It is a strong yet gentle impulse that honors our freedom and fills us with gratitude.”  (Alfred McBride, Truth for Your Mind, Love for Your Heart, Our Sunday Visitor)

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In Summary, why do we have this reading at this time of the year?  Our Lenten season is one of repentance.  It is a season during which we are called to reflect upon, and to live acutely and respectfully, the promises of Baptism.  The water well, and all the talk about water in today’s Gospel reading, should immediately call to mind in us the Sacrament of Baptism.  As the Samaritan woman was changed in heart, mind, and soul, – – “converted,” – – and then sent on a mission to her community as an evangelist, we too are converted and sent by our Baptism to preach the good news of Jesus Christ to others on a daily basis.

The Catholic Church’s Magisterium teaches that we become true worshipers of God through Baptism:

“By baptism men are plunged into the paschal mystery of Christ: they die with Him, are buried with Him, and rise with Him; they receive the spirit of adoption as sons ‘in which we cry: Abba, Father’ (Romans 8 :15), and thus become true adorers whom the Father seeks.” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 6)

 

Do you thirst for God and for the life of the Holy Spirit within you?  Reflect upon the importance of Baptism to you.  How is Jesus’ discourse with the woman at the well like Baptism?  (Hint: Jesus knows the woman’s sin and forgives her. The woman comes to know Jesus as the Messiah.  And, the woman invites others to meet Jesus.)  

Jesus broke through the obstacles, impediments, and walls of prejudice, hatred, aggression, and conviction to bring peace, love, and reconciliation to all people – – Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles – – alike.  He demonstrated the universality (Kathlicos – Catholic) of the Gospel in word AND deed.  No one is barred from the love of God and His grace of salvation.  There is only one thing that can keep us from God and His redeeming love – – OURSELVES, by turning away from Him.

 

 

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Psalm 95
 “Sing joyfully in the presence of the Lord.”

 

“Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD; cry out to the rock of our salvation.
Let us greet him with a song of praise, joyfully sing out our psalms.
Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For this is our God, whose people we are, God’s well-tended flock. Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert.
There your ancestors tested me; they tried me though they had seen my works.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed Francis Faà di Bruno (1825-1888)

 

Francis, the last of 12 children, was born in northern Italy into an aristocratic family. He lived at a particularly turbulent time in history, when anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiments were especially strong.

After being trained as a military officer, Francis was spotted by King Victor Emmanuel II, who was impressed with the young man’s character and learning. Invited by the king to tutor his two young sons, Francis agreed and prepared himself with additional studies. But with the role of the Church in education being a sticking point for many, the king was forced to withdraw his offer to the openly Catholic Francis and, instead, find a tutor more suitable to the secular state.

Francis soon left army life behind and pursued doctoral studies in Paris in mathematics and astronomy; he also showed a special interest in religion and asceticism. Despite his commitment to the scholarly life, Francis put much of his energy into charitable activities. He founded the Society of St. Zita for maids and domestic servants, later expanding it to include unmarried mothers, among others. He helped establish hostels for the elderly and poor. He even oversaw the construction of a church in Turin that was dedicated to the memory of Italian soldiers who had lost their lives in the struggle over the unification of Italy.

Wishing to broaden and deepen his commitment to the poor, Francis, then well into adulthood, studied for the priesthood. But first he had to obtain the support of Pope Pius IX to counteract the opposition to his own archbishop’s difficulty with late vocations. Francis was ordained at the age of 51.

As a priest, he continued his good works, sharing his inheritance as well as his energy. He established yet another hostel, this time for prostitutes. He died in Turin on March 27, 1888, and was beatified 100 years later.

Comment:

It wasn’t Francis’ lack of scholarly ability or deep-down goodness that almost kept him from the priesthood, but his bishop’s distrust of “late vocations.” Until the later part of the 20th century, most candidates for the priesthood entered the seminary right out of grade school. Today no bishop would refuse a middle-aged applicant—especially someone whose care for people in need is constant. Francis is a holy reminder that God’s call to reassess our life’s direction can reach us at any age.

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

There is only one change in the “Holy, Holy”.  Where we now say, “God of power and might,” with the new liturgical text we will say:

God of hosts”.

While this may make many people think of round Communion wafers, the meaning here is “armies,” and it refers to the armies of angels who serve God.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Eucharist I

 

What kind of nourishment do you seek when you receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?

How do you use “Communion” to renew your pledge to sacrifice for the Body of Christ?

How do you use “Communion” to renew your pledge to accept the Body of Christ, with all her limitations and weaknesses?

While we speak of receiving the Consecrated Bread and Wine, do we include adoration of the Divinity in our prayers at Communion?

In what way(s) is the Eucharist for healing?

 

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Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule:


 

Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance

In the name of the Lord!

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). 

“John and James, Your Mother Is Asking For Favors! Doesn’t She Know I Have Pressing Issues On My Mind Right Now? BTW, Has Anyone Seen My Cup?!” – Matthew 20:17-28†


  

“Wednesday of the
Second Week of Lent”
 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History

  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Satan is laughing his “tail” off right now.

The devil hates and despises priests, but I bet he LOVES this “de facto guilty” policy the Magisterium has taken in regards to the clergy automatically being permanently suspended without a proof of guilt.  It seems all someone has to do to get rid of a member of the clergy, and/or to destroy the reputation of a (usually good) person is to simply accuse him of sex and/or drugs (even anonymously from what I understand).  The accuser knows that the Church will do the rest: simply remove the clergyman from any type of service, permanently, – – even if not credible. 

Satan also knows an important SACRAMENT of the Holy Catholic Church – – Holy Orders – – the (Deacon, Priest, and Bishop) – – can’t stand a chance with this ease in destroying a good person’s reputation.

We need to remember that we are a Church of faith, mercy, and charity (love).  Let us all please pray for the accuser and accused; each is a victim in one way or another.  We need to place our trust and hope that “truth” will prevail. 

I do have a question with this policy, which I believe needs to be tweaked or fixed in some way.  Don’t we owe it to our clergy to support them until certain they have broken their vow, promise, and position of respect?

 

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Have you donated to the Catholic Relief Service (CRS) for the victims of the Japanese Tsunami and earthquake relief efforts?  If not, please go to the following address and give.  It’s the right thing to do!

http://crs.org/japan/ 

 

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Today in Catholic History:


    
†   1153 – Treaty of Konstanz signed between Frederik I “Barbarossa” & Pope Eugene III.
†   1174 – Jocelin, abbot of Melrose, is elected bishop of Glasgow.
†   1555 – Death of Julius III, [Giovanni M del Monte], Pope (1550-55), at age 67.
†   1568 – Peace of Longjumeau ends the Second War of Religion in France. Again Catherine de’ Medici and Charles IX of France make substantial concessions to the Huguenots.
†   1752 – Pope Stephen II elected to succeed Zacharias, and thendied 2 days later.
†   1914 – Death of Rafqa Pietra Choboq Ar-Rayès (Saint Rebecca), Lebanese saint (b. 1832).
†   1966 – 1st official meeting between Catholic & Anglican Church, after 400 years.
†   1980 – “Servant of God” Archbishop Óscar Romero (August 15, 1917 –    March 24, 1980) of El Salvador gives his famous speech appealing to men of the El Salvadoran armed forces to stop killing the Salvadorans.  A short time later, he was assassinated while celebrating Mass, – – in the process of elevating the chalice at the end of the Eucharistic rite.  (His blood spilled over the altar along with the contents of the chalice.)

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

 

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

“Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old, shared a little of what he is good at doing.” ~ Quincy Jones

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ third prediction of His Passion as related by Matthew.

  

(NAB Matthew 20:17-28) 17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve (disciples) aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, 18 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, 19 and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”  20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.  21 He said to her, “What do you wish?”  She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.”  22 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.”  23 He replied, “My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left (, this) is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”  24 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers.  25 But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt.  26 But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; 27 whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.  28 Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Today, Jesus connects His notion of authority with service and sacrifice of one’s life – – for the sake of another. We all have to remember that authority is self-serving and selfish without sacrificial love

Jesus used simple, blunt, unembellished, and glaring language to explain what kind of sacrifice He had in mind for Himself, and for others choosing to follow Him.  His disciples were, and still are obligated to drink from His “cup” if they expect to reign with Him in His kingdom. 

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Today, we are presented with the third, and the most detailed of the passion predictions from Matthew’s Gospel.  The two others are from chapters 16 and 17:

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21),

And,

“As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.’ And they were overwhelmed with grief.” (Matthew 17:22-23).

 

Jesus’ prediction speaks of being “handed over to the Gentiles“:

“They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate, the governor.” (Matthew 27:2),

Of His being “mocked“:

“Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.  Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand.  And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’  They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.”  (Matthew 27:27-30),

Of His being “scourged“:

Then he released Barabbas to them, but after he had Jesus scourged, he handed him over to be crucified.” (Matthew 27:26),

Finally ending with His “crucifixion“:

“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.  After they had crucified him, they divided his garments by casting lots.” (Matthew 27:31, 35).

The Evangelist and Gospel writer Mark mirrored his Gospel exactly with Matthew in all but the last of these four events involving Jesus’ passion.  Whereas Matthew speaks of Jesus being specifically “crucified”, Mark only speaks of Jesus being “killed”:

“Who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”.” (Mark 10:34).

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Don’t you just love a Jewish mother at work pushing for the best in regards to her children!  They could have been doctors or lawyers, but chose to follow Jesus instead.  Yet, their mother is still trying to get the best position for them.

The request of the sons of Zebedee (John and James), made through their mother, Salome, for the highest places of honor in the kingdom, – – and at the “indignation” of the other ten Apostles, – – shows that neither John and James, nor the other ten Apostles, truly understood that what makes for greatness in God’s kingdom is not “power” or a high status.  Greatness in God’s kingdom comes from a position of humble service to God and to His creations.  

Jesus gives the example of what their request to sit next to Him would mean:

“Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus’ “ministry of service” will reach its highest point – – the SUMMIT – – when He gives His life – – a ransom – – on that Holy Tree outside the walls of Jerusalem, for the liberation of the human race from sin.

 

It isn’t absolutely clear the reason Matthew has the men’s mother, Salome, being the petitioner.  I wonder if John and James were embarrassed.  Did you think they said, “Oh mom, stop interfering with our lives!”

So, how do I know the “two disciples” are John and James?  Matthew does not mention the two Apostles name directly.  However, Mark does:

“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’” (Mark 10:35)

Was Matthew alluding to Bathsheba’s seeking the kingdom for Solomon in having Salome (Her name is found in Flavius Josephus’s Jewish Antiquities”) being the person asking for a place of honor for her children?  Doing this would then link King David’s wife and son to the wife of Joseph and her son, Mary and Jesus.  What an interesting linkage of the Old and New Testaments for Matthew to make; see for yourself:

“Then Nathan said to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother: ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah, son of Haggith, has become king without the knowledge of our lord David?  Come now, let me advise you so that you may save your life and that of your son Solomon.  Go, visit King David, and say to him, ‘Did you not, lord king, swear to your handmaid: Your son Solomon shall be king after me and shall sit upon my throne?   Why, then, has Adonijah become king?’  And while you are still there speaking to the king, I will come in after you and confirm what you have said.’  So Bathsheba visited the king in his room, while Abishag the Shunamite was attending him because of his advanced age.  Bathsheba bowed in homage to the king, who said to her, ‘What do you wish?’  She answered him: ‘My lord, you swore to me your handmaid by the LORD, your God, that my son Solomon should reign after you and sit upon your throne.  But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord king, do not know it.  He has slaughtered oxen, fatlings, and sheep in great numbers; he has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest, and Joab, the general of the army, but not your servant Solomon.  Now, my lord king, all Israel is waiting for you to make known to them who is to sit on the throne after your royal majesty.  If this is not done, when my lord the king sleeps with his fathers, I and my son Solomon will be considered criminals.’”  (1 Kings 1:11-21).

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In verse 21, Salome answers Jesus’ question about her wish she had for her sons with these words:

Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” 

I wonder what she meant by “your kingdom”?  We know it now as “the world and heaven”, but did she?  Jesus’ sovereignty preceded His final coming in glory.   The preceding of His sovereignty and His kingdom is extolled much earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:

The field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one.” (Matthew 13:38)

“The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.” (Matthew 13:41)

The word “coming” does not mean the “parousia” event – – the “final” coming.  Instead, it is the manifestation of Jesus’ rule after His resurrection, and the granting to Him of “all power in heaven and on earth” as foretold later in Matthew:

“Then Jesus approached and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (Matthew 28:18).

 

Let me throw a “wrench” into the discussion!  Jesus’ kingdom is set apart from that of God the Father!  WHAT – – SAY WHAT!!!  Relax; read the two verses below and what follows:

Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” (Matthew 13:43);

“Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father, when he has destroyed every sovereignty and every authority and power.  For He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24-25).

So, where, and what, is Jesus’ kingdom?  Answer: The church is the place where Jesus’ kingdom is truly and fully manifested.  However, His royal “authority” embraces the entire world.

 

Ignorance is bliss!  We all jump into situations with both feet, not realizing where the “quick sand” is in our path.  Jesus said to Salome (along with John and James):

You do not know what you are asking” (Matthew 20:22)

The original Greek verbs in this verse are plural.  With the rest of the verse, it indicates that Jesus’ answer was addressed – – not to the mother, Salome, – – but to her sons, John and James.

Jesus asked John and James (and probably the other ten Apostles present as well) if they could “drink the cup that He was going to drink”?!  Mark relates an identical question in His Gospel.  But, Mark also ties baptism into a commitment of discipleship, and a willingness to serve God and others; – – to give oneself as a ransom for Jesus’ kingdom on earth: 

 “Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?’  They said to him, ‘We can.’  Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.’” (Mark 10:38-40).

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Ransom” (verse 28) is a noun.  It is an active action word.  To ransom is to do an action.  Jesus came to actively redeem us, and to bring us to His Father’s paradise in heaven – – AND STILL IS!!  This noun occurs only here in the New Testament, and in the Mark’s parallel Gospel reading:

“For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45),

Mark’s verse uses the word, “many”.  This word can be confusing for English language people.  This word is used in regards to the numbers of people liberated by Jesus’ redemption.  Isaiah also says that the liberation bought by Jesus’ “ransomed” death will be for many:

“Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses. (Isaiah 53:12).

The word “many” in Mark’s Gospel and Isaiah’s prophecy does not mean that some are excluded.  Instead, it is a word designating a united benefit of all – – from the service of one.  In this usage, “many” is equivalent to “all”.  Reread the verses substituting the word “all” for “many”.

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The “fourth Servant Song” of Isaiah is an extraordinary description of the “sinless Servant” (Hmm, who could that be?).  His voluntary suffering atoned for the sins of His people (need another hint).  He saves His people from a just punishment at the hands of God.  (OK, enough hints – now the answer,) Only in Jesus Christ is Isaiah’s prophecy perfectly fulfilled.

There are links between today’s Gospel reading and the last of the four “Servant-of-the-Lord” visions.  The fourth Servant Song, (cf., Isaiah 52:13-53:12) shows the particular aspects of Isaiah’s vision being reflected again in today’s reading.

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Jesus’ “cup” involved crucifixion.  What kind of “cup” does the Lord have in mind for you?  I suspect that for some of His followers, thecup” that we must drink entails physical suffering and even the painful struggle of martyrdom.  However, for many of us, it will entail a long Christian life of simple routines and practices, with all its daily sacrifices, disappointments, struggles, frustrations, hurdles, and temptations.  A disciple – – a follower of Jesus Christ – – must be willing, able, and ready to lay down one’s life as a martyr.  One must be ready to do this every day, every moment, by embracing the little and big sacrifices required of a disciple.

“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.  Amen” (unknown author) 

We share in God’s reign by living and laying down our lives in humble service to one another exactly as Jesus did for our sake.  Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?  Are you ready to serve and to reign with Christ?  I know I am, I am, I am!!

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Saint Francis’ Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament

 

“We adore You,
O Lord Jesus Christ,
in this Church and all the Churches of the world,
and we bless You,
because,
by Your holy Cross You have redeemed the world.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Turibius of Mogrovejo (1538-1606)

 

Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada.  He succeeded too well.  But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled.  He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst.  The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population.  Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food.  He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.  Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was St. Rose of Lima, and possibly St. Martin de Porres.  After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, St. Francis Solanus.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others.  Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

Comment:

The Lord indeed writes straight with crooked lines.  Against his will, and from the unlikely springboard of an Inquisition tribunal, this man became the Christ like shepherd of a poor and oppressed people.  God gave him the gift of loving others as they needed it.

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

When the Eucharistic Prayer begins, we will again respond:

And with your spirit

to the first line of the opening dialogue.  The last line of that dialogue also changes.  We now say, “It is right to give him thanks and praise,” but with the new text, it is simply:

It is right and just.”

This will lead more clearly into the opening of the prefaces, which will commonly begin with the words:

It is truly right and just.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Franciscan Spirituality I

At every Mass, immediately after the Consecration, we all proclaim the “mystery” of faith.  Is this the mystery of YOUR faith?  How much of a disciple are you?  

How can you use the devotion of the Way of the Cross (the Stations) to enrich your meditation on the Lord’s Passion- which he suffered for me?

Do you think about, and appreciate the great price that Jesus underwent so that you might be reinstated in the holiness of God?  How might you express this appreciation?

How does our SFO “TAU insignia” compare to the “habit” St. Francis adopted as his public sign of commitment?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 23 & 24 of 26:

23.  Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters.

Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule. The entire community is engaged in the process of growth by its own manner of living. The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutes.

Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.

Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue. Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.

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24.  To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.

“Father Corapi, Fairness, and Satan!”


THIS IS A SPECIAL POSTING.

I will still post on Wednesday and Sunday as usual.

 

 

On Ash Wednesday, Fr. John Corapi posted on his website that he was placed on “administrative leave” because an ex-employee of his sent a letter to a couple of bishops accusing him of sexual impunity and drug abuse.

Fr. Corapi has been very open about his “worldly” path PRIOR to his entrance into the seminary.  For me, it is very hard to believe this allegation, but I do not know all the facts in the case.  All I know is that he has, in fact, been found “de facto guilty” without any hearing or trial – – solely because he is a “PRIEST”.

Fr. Corapi is the second Catholic Priest I personally know that has been placed in this position.  The other is a local priest in my area of the country accused by “one” person (who has behavior issues and is under psychiatric care) with abusing him as a teenager, many years (decades) ago.  That priest (and another much loved person at that) has been forced to retire without any trial or finding of guilt.  Amazingly, this “local” case has disappeared from the news and public eye. (There seems to be no excitement for news people if the person is not guilty.)

Satan is laughing his “tail” off right now. 

He hates and despises priests, but I bet he LOVES this “de facto guilty” policy the Magisterium has taken in regards to the clergy.  It seems all someone has to do to get rid of a member of the clergy, and/or destroy the reputation of a (usually good) person is to accuse him of sex and/or drugs.  The accuser knows that the Church will do the rest.  Also, Satan knows an important SACRAMENT of the Holy Catholic Church – – Holy Orders – – the (Deacon, Priest, and Bishop) doesn’t stand a chance in hell, or on earth (only in heaven).

We need to remember that we are a Church of faith, mercy, and charity (love).  Let us all please pray for the accuser and accused; each is a victim in one way or another.  We need to place our trust and hope that “truth” will prevail. 

I do have a question with this policy, which I believe needs to be tweaked or fixed in some way.  Don’t we owe it to our priests to support them until certain they have broken their vow, promise, and position of respect?

 

Prayer in Time of Trial

 

“St. Maximilian Kolbe, we thank God for the good example of your life.

You teach us to love and thus overcome our hatred of those who harm us.  You teach us to hope and thus conquer the depression and despair that so often overwhelm us.  You teach us courage by your daring enterprises for God and sacrifice of self as the Immaculata’s instrument.

Pray for us now that Mary, our Mother; and Jesus, her Son will bring to our troubled spirit peace, calm, and joy.  Amen”

(Spend two minutes thinking of the good things that God has done for you during your lifetime.)

“It Just Goes To Figure – – No, TRANSFIGURE!” – Matthew 17:1-9†


 

“Second Sunday of Lent” 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Joke of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Only in St. Louis can one’s children shovel snow on one day, and wear swimming trunks and playing in the sprinklers the very next.  I love the St. Louis area. 

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I hope everyone had a great (and safe) St. Patrick’s Day and Feast of St. Joseph (Yesterday); I did.

 

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Today in Catholic History:


†   687 – Death of St. Cuthbert, patron saint of Northumbria (born 634)
†   1191 – Death of Clement III, [Paolo Scolari], Pope (1187-91, 3rd crusades), dies
†   1393 – Death of Johannes Nepomucenus, [Jan Nepomucky], Czech saint, killed
†   1619 – Death of Matthias II, Holy Roman Catholic emperor (1611-19)
†   Feast/Memorials: Feast of St. Cuthbert; Abdon and Sennen at Soissons; Saint Herbert; Saint Wulfram; Saint Alexandra

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

 

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Joke of the Day:

  

(from http://thebackpew.com)

 

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Today’s reflection is Matthew’s account about Jesus’ Transfiguration.

 

 

 

(NAB Matthew 17:1-9) 1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.  2 And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.  3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him.  4 Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”  5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”  6 When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid.  7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.”  8 And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.  9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

 

Wow, we are at the second Sunday of Lent already.  We move from Jesus’ forty day “retreat” in the beautiful and warm Palestinian desert, to His “Transfiguration” on a “cloudy” mountain top.  Today’s story of Jesus’ Transfiguration is told in each of the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  And, in each of the three Gospels, the Transfiguration follows Jesus’ initial prediction of His death, and His teaching about the cost of being His disciple such as temptations from evil and from worldly influences.  

While praying on a mountain top (High Prayers?), a voice pronounces that Jesus IS God’s “Son” in words not unlike those heard “from the heaven’s” at Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River.  In addition, the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus on the mountain connects this “Transfiguration” story with God’s relationship to the people of Israel – – His “chosen” people.  Moses and Elijah represent the “Law” and the “Prophets”, respectively.  Together with Jesus, they represent God’s “complete and fulfilled ‘Word’”.

Jesus very likely discussed with Moses and Elijah His crucial and earth-shattering (and creation saving) decision to go to the Holy Cross – – the Holy Tree – – of salvation and redemption. 

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The Transfiguration occurs in the presence of just three of Jesus’ disciples.  Peter, James, and John always seemed to be with Jesus.  Matters of fact, in Matthew’s Gospel, these three disciples are among the first whom Jesus calls to be His Apostles.  These men had a very special relationship among Jesus’ chosen group of men – – The Apostles – – who, as a group, all had a uniquely special relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  These twelve particular men – – the Apostles – – are identified as the “inner circle” among Jesus’ disciples. 

Peter, James, and John were obviously Jesus’ “BFF’s” (Text talk for “Best Friends Forever”) as these three Apostles were also with Jesus at a later [important] date, while He was at prayer on another hilltop – – Gethsemane, just prior to His arrest:

“He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.” (Matthew 26:37).

The “Transfiguration” confirms to the three Apostles accompanying Jesus (and all who believed and still believe) that Jesus is truly the “Son of God”.  The Transfiguration also points to a fulfillment of prophesy that “He will come in His Father’s glory at the end of the age”:

“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” (Matthew 16:27).

Jesus goes up “a high mountain” (verse 1).  This mountain has been identified with Mount Tabor, or possibly Mount Hermon.  The meaning of “a high mountain” may be a theological, rather than geographical, statement.  Some scholars say “a high mountain” may have been used in a literary way to recall the revelation of God given to both Moses and Elijah (at separate times) on Mount Sinai; and linking that relationship to the New Covenant brought in by Jesus.  The Lord was with both on their mountain tops, and is now again with them on His mountain top:

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tablets on which I have written the commandments intended for their instruction.’  So Moses set out with Joshua, his aide, and went up to the mountain of God.  The elders, however, had been told by him, ‘Wait here for us until we return to you.  Aaron and Hur are staying with you. If anyone has a complaint, let him refer the matter to them.’  After Moses had gone up, a cloud covered the mountain.  The glory of the LORD settled upon Mount Sinai.  The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the LORD was seen as a consuming fire on the mountaintop.  But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:12-18)

And,

“He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb [Sinai].  There he came to a cave, where he took shelter.  But the word of the LORD came to him, ‘Why are you here, Elijah?’  He answered: ‘I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts, but the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.’  Then the LORD said, ‘Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.’  A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire.  After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.  When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.  A voice said to him, ‘Elijah, why are you here?’  He replied, ‘I have been most zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts.  But the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life.’  ‘Go, take the road back to the desert near Damascus,’ the LORD said to him. ‘When you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king of Aram.  Then you shall anoint Jehu, son of Nimshi, as king of Israel, and Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you.  If anyone escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill him. If he escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill him.  Yet I will leave seven thousand men in Israel–all those who have not knelt to Baal or kissed him.’” (1 Kings 19:8-18).

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I have been embarrassed a few times, and sunburned many, many, times in my life (I never seem to learn).  My face has glowed red with anger a few times as well.  But, never has my face been described as “shining like the sun”!  This physical description reminds me of two events in the Old Testament; Moses on Mount Sinai, and Daniel’s prophesy:

Then the Israelites would see that the skin of Moses’ face was radiant; so he would again put the veil over his face until he went in to converse with the LORD. (Exodus 34:35)

 “His body was like chrysolite, his face shown like lightning, his eyes were like fiery torches, his arms and feet looked like burnished bronze, and his voice sounded like the roar of a multitude.” (Daniel 10:6).

Jesus’ garments became glistening and intensely white.  Jesus’ face shined and “His clothes became white as light”.  Just as Jesus is manifesting God now, Moses skin shined when he met with God on Mount Sinai as he experienced God directly:

As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the LORD.” (Exodus 34:29). 

White clothes are a prominent image associated with God’s manifestation.  Daniel’s prophecy (about 600 years earlier) states that the clothing of God appeared “snow bright”:

“As I watched, Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne.  His clothing was snow bright, and the hair on his head as white as wool; His throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

The Evangelist Paul said the Jewish people could not look at Moses’ face because of its brightness after spending time with God:

“Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade.” (2 Cor. 3:7).

And, even the book of Revelations is fairly active with “white garments” for heavenly beings:

“Surrounding the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four elders sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads.”  (Rev 4:4)

“After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev 7:9)

“The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen.” (Rev 19:14)

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The cloud which eclipsed Jesus, His apostles, Moses, and Elijah fulfilled the Jewish peoples prophesy of God’s presence, when the true “Messiah” came to His “chosen” people, in the form of a cloud.  This cloud would again fill the temple, as the cloud did in the Old Testament:

“When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!  (Exodus 16:10).

The LORD also told him, ‘I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also.’  When Moses, then, had reported to the LORD the response of the people.” (Exodus 19:9). 

As Moses entered the tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the LORD spoke with Moses.”  (Exodus 33:9). 

“When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10). 

“Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified.”  (2 Maccabees 2:8). 

Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus Christ as God’s representatives and witnesses to the fulfillment of the Old Covenant laws and prophecies.   These laws and prophesies are being fulfilled in the person of Jesus as He appears in glory before theses two Old Covenant representatives, His three much loved Apostles, and His magnificent Father in heaven.

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Peter asked Jesus if he should make “three tents”.  “Tents” were places in which the Israelites lived during the “Feast of Tabernacles” while in their travels to Jerusalem from their home towns; in essence biblical era mobile homes.  The reference to “tents” in today’s Gospel reading is meant to recall the Jewish ancestors’ living in tents (also called “booths”) during the Exodus journey from Egypt to the “promised land”.  The words “tents” is a translation of the original Greek word, “skene”.  It is used interchangeably with the word “booths” which is sometimes used instead in reference to the “Feast of Tabernacles”. 

Per “Bible-truth.org”, the “Feast of Tabernacles”, also called “Sukkoth” or “Booths”, starts on the fifteenth of “Tishri”, the seventh month of the Jewish (biblical) calendar (sometime in the Gregorian calendar month of September or October).  This feast is the third of seven Jewish feasts in the Hebrew calendar year.  The “Feast of Tabernacles” required a pilgrimage of the Jewish peoples to Jerusalem in order to worship in the Temple, and to offer sacrifices and offerings to the Lord.  The Feast of Tabernacles is explained well in the book of Leviticus, and is also vaguely mentioned in John’s Gospel:

“On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast of the LORD for a whole week.  The first and the eighth day shall be days of complete rest.  On the first day you shall gather foliage from majestic trees, branches of palms and boughs of myrtles and of valley poplars, and then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God.  By perpetual statute for you and your descendants you shall keep this pilgrim feast of the LORD for one whole week in the seventh month of the yearDuring this week every native Israelite among you shall dwell in booths. (Leviticus 23:39-42).

And,

The Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.” (John 7:2)

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Jesus went to the mountain in full knowledge of what awaited Him in a short amount of time in Jerusalem: His betrayal by Judas, His rejection by all His Apostles, His scourging and humility, and His crucifixion on the Holy Tree of redemption. 

Jesus was in prayer on this mountain top when a “cloud cast a shadow over them” and the “Word” emanated from the clouds.  (I wonder if they brought umbrellas and a tape recorder.)  The Gospel of Mark parallels Matthews account in a nearly identical way:

Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.’” Mark 9:7.

Jesus’ most loved and closest friends – – three of His Apostles – – enter into the mystery of Jesus’ glorification on that mountain top.  (Wow!  Can you just imagine their feelings?!)  

Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Jesus Christ.  Remember though, we too, as followers of Jesus Christ are also called to be witnesses of His glory in today’s world.  In witnessing to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, we change into His likeness little by little, as this possible as a grace from our Lord, – – and in, with, and through the Holy Spirit:

“All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).  

Why a cloud, and “words” coming from the cloud?  Well, in the Old Testament, a cloud covered the “meeting tent” during the 40 year exodus (had to be high quality tents), indicated the Lord’s presence in the midst of His people.  This same “cloud” came to rest upon the Temple in Jerusalem at the time of its dedication.  Verses from the Books of Exodus and 1 Kings are being revealed again:

“Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.  Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.” (Exodus 40:34-35)

And,

“When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD.” (1 Kings 8:10).

 

“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” is identical to Matthews’s earlier statement of God’s word at the time of Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River:

“And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:17).

In both cases, God the Father’s voice speaking from the “heavens” is a reflection of God’s words heard in several Old Testament encounters:

“Then God said: ‘Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah.  There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.’”  (Genesis 22:2);

“Then speaks to them in anger, terrifies them in wrath: ‘I myself have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’  I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your fatherI will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your father”.  (Psalm 2:5-7);

And,

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations.” (Isaiah 42:1)

The voice of God heard by Peter, James, and John not only repeats the baptismal proclamation about Jesus; it adds the commandlisten to him”.  “Listen to Him” makes reference to a particular verse from the book of Deuteronomy:

“A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

The command “’listen’ to Jesus” is a simple and generally academic command.  However, in the context of today’s Gospel reading, it may apply particularly to the past prophesies of His “Passion”, His “Resurrection”, and of His coming again – – IN GLORY!  Matthew exemplifies this belief later on in his Gospel:

“From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21);

And,

“For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.  Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27-28).

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How powerful is this statement from verse 7: “Rise, and do not be afraid“?!  The Old Testament typography found in this verse is amazing and comforting for me.  I use a very similar verse from the book of Daniel quite often, especially when stressed.  Please write down these verses from Daniel, and use them as a prayer and meditation when in need of comfort, courage, and strength: 

“When I heard the sound of his voice, I fell face forward in a faint.  But then a hand touched me, raising me to my hands and knees.  The one who looked like a man touched me again and strengthened me, saying, ‘Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.’”  (Daniel 10:9-10, 18-19).

For me, it is apparent that Jesus was not only well-versed in this particular book of the Old Testament (Daniel), He internalized, loved, and emitted this beautifully “prophetic” book. 

 

Matthew is the sole Gospel writer using the words, “the vision” to describe the ‘Transfiguration’.   It was impossible for these three men (the Apostles) to fully understand the importance of the “Transfiguration” event that happened before their very eyes UNTIL the “Son of Man” – – Jesus Christ – – had been raised from the dead on that one Sunday morning!  Only in the light of, the illumination of, and the radiance of Jesus’ “Resurrection” can the true and full meaning of His life and mission on earth be completely and justly understood.  Prior to Jesus’ Resurrection, – – happening three days after His horrific torture and demise on the Holy Tree, – – NO testimony, declaration, or evidence to the “vision” presented to these three Apostles would be able to lead people wholeheartedly to faith in Jesus Christ, as the “Messiah”, without the works of the Holy Spirit.

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I am certain the Apostles’ had questions about the appearance, – – the return to earth – – of the Old Testament’s law giver – Moses, and the Old Testament’s leading prophet – Elijah.  In addressing any questions, Jesus unravels the mission and actions of the “greatest” Law-giver and prophet from the Old Covenant.

  Through Moses, God brought His law to His “chosen” people.  Jesus is not only continuing the law of God, but through Jesus Christ, the law is completely and fully revealed.  Elijah’s expectations and prophecies are brought about and fulfilled in Jesus Christ when baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist.  God’s “Law” is fulfilled, and ALL the “Messianic” prophesies are fulfilled – – Through Jesus Christ!!

I find it interesting that the role in salvation history which John the Baptist played, – – and revealed many centuries before in Elijah’s prophesies – – was not suspected by those individuals who vehemently opposed John’s message, and also those individuals whom ultimately had him killed. 

Jesus ends this Gospel reading with a fact yet unknown, yet to berevealed, to man. He tells of a human fate for Himself, similar to Elijah and John the Baptist – – death.

 

Have you ever been able to use the memories of previous “good times” and “positive experiences” to sustain you in the difficult times?  Jesus’ Transfiguration was certainly an event from which Peter, James, and John drew courage when facing the difficult events of Jesus’ Passion, and in their own personal “passions” later in their lives.  

Are you prepared to see God’s glory?  Do you seek, search out, His presence with faith and reverence in all we do, we experience, and we see?  The Lord wants to reveal His glory to us, His much loved disciples.  Pray a prayer of thanksgiving for the good times and experiences that you have had in your life.  Pray to use these experiences to sustain you during the difficult times.  

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Psalm 33”
(from today’s Mass)

 

“For the LORD’S word is true; all his works are trustworthy.
The LORD loves justice and right and fills the earth with goodness.
But the LORD’S eyes are upon the reverent, upon those who hope for his gracious help, delivering them from death, keeping them alive in times of famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and shield.
May your kindness, LORD, be upon us; we have put our hope in you. Amen.”

Psalm 33:4-5,18-20,22

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Salvator of Horta (1520-1567)

 

A reputation for holiness does have some drawbacks.  Public recognition can be a nuisance at times — as the confreres of Salvator found out.

Salvator was born during Spain’s Golden Age.  Art, politics and wealth were flourishing.  So was religion.  Ignatius of Loyola founded the Society of Jesus in 1540.

Salvator’s parents were poor.  At the age of 21 he entered the Franciscans as a brother and was soon known for his asceticism, humility and simplicity.

As cook, porter and later the official beggar for the friars in Tortosa, he became well known for his charity.  He healed the sick with the Sign of the Cross.  When crowds of sick people began coming to the friary to see Salvator, the friars transferred him to Horta.  Again the sick flocked to ask his intercession; one person estimated that two thousand people a week came to see Salvator.  He told them to examine their consciences, to go to confession and to receive Holy Communion worthily.  He refused to pray for those who would not receive those sacraments.

The public attention given to Salvator was relentless.  The crowds would sometimes tear off pieces of his habit as relics.  Two years before his death, Salvator was moved again, this time to Cagliari on the island of Sardinia.  He died at Cagliari saying, “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”  He was canonized in 1938.

Comment:

Medical science is now seeing more clearly the relation of some diseases to one’s emotional and spiritual life.  In Healing Life’s Hurts, Matthew and Dennis Linn report that sometimes people experience relief from illness only when they have decided to forgive others.  Salvator prayed that people might be healed, and many were. Surely not all diseases can be treated this way; medical help should not be abandoned.  But notice that Salvator urged his petitioners to reestablish their priorities in life before they asked for healing.

Quote:

“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.” (Matthew 10:1).

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

During the Preparation of the Gifts, the prayers of the priest has several changes, but the only change for the assembly is the addition of the word “Holy” to the response just before the Prayer over the Offerings.  Where we now say, “for our good and the good of all his Church,” the new text will say, “for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Prayer III

Read the explanations about contemplative prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Does this help your understanding of contemplative prayer?

How many paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are devoted to instructing us about prayer?  Have you we read these pages, and reflected on them?

Why do you think the Catholic Church has devoted this amount of space to publish the aforementioned section on prayer in the Catechism?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 20 & 21 of 26:

 

20.  The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.

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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.  

♫“Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign…”♫ – Luke 11:29-32†


 

“Wednesday of the First Week of Lent” 

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Joke of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

  

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day.  During all the fun, frivolities, and “partying”, please reflect on the true purpose and person of celebrity:  St. Patrick Himself.  He is an awesome man of faith, hope, and trust.

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As a father of four teenage boys, and a husband to a very beautiful woman (in body, heart, and soul), this Saturday (March 19th) is a special day for me.  It is the Feast of St. Joseph, Patron of families and fathers. 

Though St. Joseph says absolutely NOTHING in Holy Scripture (my wife says I should follow his lead) in words, his actions say so much about love, trust, and hope.  Remember what St. Francis said:

“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words”.

 

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Today in Catholic History:


†   597 BC – Babylonians captures Jerusalem, replaces Jehoiachin with Zedekiah as king.
†   1072 – Death of Adalbert of Hamburg, German archbishop
†   1249 – The Servite Order is officially approved by Cardinal Raniero Capocci, papal legate in Tuscany.
†   1517 – Pope Leo X signs 5th Council of Lateranen
†   1620 – Death of St. John Sarkander, Moravian priest, died of injuries caused by torturing
†   1649 – Death of Jean de Brébeuf, French Jesuit missionary (b. 1593)
†   1878 – Birth of Clemens August Graf von Galen, German archbishop and cardinal (d. 1946)
†   1988 – North-Ireland Protestant fires on Catholic funeral, 3 killed
†   1998 – Pope John Paul II asks God for forgiveness for the inactivity and silence of some Roman Catholics during the Holocaust.
†   Memorials/Feasts: Saint Heribert of Cologne (died 1021); Saint Agapitus

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

 

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 Joke of the Day:

 

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales.  The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though they are very large mammals, their throats are very small.

The little girl stated “Jonah was swallowed by a whale”.  The teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human; it is impossible.

The little girl said, “When I get to heaven I will ask Jonah.”  The teacher asked, “What if Jonah went to hell?”

The little girl replied, “Then you ask him.”

 

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Today’s reflection is Jesus’ association about “sign’s” from Jonah and Solomon in regards to God’s wisdom and message.

 

(NAB Luke 11:29-32) 29 While still more people gathered in the crowd, he [Jesus] said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.  30 Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation.  31 At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here.  32 At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.

 

Ever wonder what Jesus would say to our generation if he was physically seen by all, and could actually “talk” to us as a whole group?  Just imagine what the world would be like if we could tune in our radio to “’AM Heaven’ – ‘333 on the radio dial’”!  I believe Jesus would give us the same stern warning He gave to the people of His “human” time; a warning given after the people demanded a sign of His divinity and the future from Him.  Are we still “demanding” signs from Him today? 

At a fast food restaurant this weekend, a nice gentleman whom I personally know as being a devout Christian asked if the earthquakes of the past few years, the tsunami of this past week, and even all the middle-east turmoil happening recently could be a “sign” of the end times.  It certainly doesn’t look good to have “mother earth [sic]” so upset, but in reality, “only God knows the future!”

But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” (Matthew 24:36)

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In Luke’s Gospel, the “sign of Jonah” was a discourse for the need of repentance by a prophet, Jonah, who came to Nineveh from a far away country.  The “sign of Jonah” was interpreted by Jesus as being about His death and resurrection.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus relates a warning regarding Jonah’s mission:

“Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, ‘Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.’  He said to them in reply, ‘An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.  Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.  At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here.  At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the Wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.’” (Matthew 12:38-42)

Nineveh was a city in Mesopotamia (in present day Iraq).  The Ninevites accepted Jonah’s warning from God when he spoke to them during His three day sojourn across that large and modern city (for the time period) preaching his warning and prophesy.  After hearing Jonah’s promised warning and prophesies, they repented from their sinful activities.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation is evident in Jonah’s mission.  The people confessing and repenting were the key goals of Jonah in his mission.

The Holy Spirit grew out of Jonah, entering into the inhabitants of Nineveh, and then grew in them as well.  I love what the Evangelist John says about being born in the Holy Spirit:

What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’  The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)

(Jonah must have given one “whale” of a testimony!  Sorry, I simply had to use this pun!) 

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The Queen of Sheba (from southwestern Arabia) recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon (cf., 1 Kings 10: 1-10).  Jonah was God’s “sign” and His messenger for the people of Nineveh (cf., Jonah 3).  The Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit offers us a grace of freedom from sin, and a gift of wisdom through the “word” and the presence of the same Holy Spirit in our lives.  To receive this gift and grace, we only need to choose to listen to Jesus, and to follow the path He has set out for us. 

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It was typical and distinctive of the Jewish people to demand a “sign” from God’s messengers – – the prophets – – in order to authenticate their claims.  The religious leaders of the area (the Scribes and Pharisees) pressured Jesus to give proof for His claim that He is sent by God.  In reality, they actually needed no further evidence, from heaven or anywhere else.  All they needed to do was to just listen to Jesus’ beautiful and fully alive words, and to watch His actions, and His love that He displayed towards all He came into contact.  

These Scribes and Pharisees were not satisfied, nor pleased, to accept the sign of God’s divinity – – Jesus Christ – – actually and physically standing before their very eyes.  They were closed minded, and closed hearted!  They had previously rejected the message of John the Baptist in regards to Jesus being “from above and above all”:

John answered and said, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said (that) I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him.  The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.  So this joy of mine has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease.’  The one who comes from above is above all.  The one who is of the earth is earthly, and speaks of earthly things.  But the one who comes from heaven (is above all).   He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony.  Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.  For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.  He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.  The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.”  (John 3:27-36)

These same Scribes and Pharisees are again rejecting Jesus as God’s “Anointed One” – – the “Messiah”.  In doing so, they refused to listen to, and to pay attention to, His teachings and message for them.  I wonder if their refusal to listen and pay attention was actually part of God’s plan.  (Hmm)  Thirty or so years earlier, an old man in the Temple named Simeon, had prophesied that Jesus was:

destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34- 35). 

Jesus confirmed His message with many revelations and miracles in order to prepare the Jewish “chosen” people for the greatest of all “signs” (then and now) – – His Resurrection – – during that Passover Sunday morning we now call Easter, and three days after His death on the Holy Tree. 

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There is a particular irony or paradox in what Jesus said (with His obvious biting wit) about “something greater” than Jonah or Solomon having arrived.  (I see a refined and distinct sense of humor in Jesus’ words and actions at times.)  In reality, Jesus is much greater than any other prophet or leader that came before Him, or claimed to be a prophet after Him (i.e., Mohammad, Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.)!  Jesus preferred to restrain and curtail any difference between Himself and any individual found in Old Testament Scripture, no matter how important they were in salvation history.  Jesus did not have the vice of “pride”; do you?!

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Is there a craving for God’s wisdom, via the Holy Spirit, dwelling in and through you?  In His address to the Jewish Christian Community, James said:

Wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity.” (James 3:17). 

Someone who has a proactive, ambitious, and determined purpose to seek God in their lives can receive His message, – – His “wisdom”.  One needs only to want for, long for, and ask for, two things – – “goodness”, and “orderliness” in one’s life according to God’s “wise” plan for salvation and redemption.  Pray to the Lord for His message and wisdom.  Pray for Him to renew your mind with His “word”, and to increase your desire for His wise way.

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Today, I am combining two famous “Franciscan” prayers into one prayer for desire, wisdom, and orderliness:  

 

Saint Francis’ Meditation Prayer, &
Saint Francis’ Vocation Prayer

 
“My God and my All; Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds.  Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity, so that we may always, and in all things, act according to Your Holy Will.  Amen.”
 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Clement Mary Hofbauer (1751-1820)

 

Clement might be called the second founder of the Redemptorists, as it was he who carried the congregation of St. Alphonsus Liguori to the people north of the Alps.

John, the name given him at Baptism, was born in Moravia into a poor family, the ninth of 12 children.  Although he longed to be a priest there was no money for studies, and he was apprenticed to a baker.  But God guided the young man’s fortunes.  He found work in the bakery of a monastery where he was allowed to attend classes in its Latin school.  After the abbot there died, John tried the life of a hermit but when Emperor Joseph II abolished hermitages, John again returned to Vienna and to baking.  One day after serving Mass at the cathedral of St. Stephen, he called a carriage for two ladies waiting there in the rain.  In their conversation they learned that he could not pursue his priestly studies because of a lack of funds.  They generously offered to support both him and his friend, Thaddeus, in their seminary studies.  The two went to Rome, where they were drawn to St. Alphonsus’ vision of religious life and to the Redemptorists.  The two young men were ordained together in 1785.

Newly professed at age 34, Clement Mary, as he was now called, and Thaddeus were sent back to Vienna.  But the religious difficulties there caused them to leave and continue north to Warsaw, Poland.  There they encountered numerous German-speaking Catholics who had been left priestless by the suppression of the Jesuits.  At first they had to live in great poverty and preached outdoor sermons.  They were given the church of St. Benno, and for the next nine years they preached five sermons a day, two in German and three in Polish, converting many to the faith.  They were active in social work among the poor, founding an orphanage and then a school for boys.

Drawing candidates to the congregation, they were able to send missionaries to Poland, Germany and Switzerland.  All of these foundations had eventually to be abandoned because of the political and religious tensions of the times.  After 20 years of difficult work Clement himself was imprisoned and expelled from the country.  Only after another arrest was he able to reach Vienna, where he was to live and work the final 12 years of his life.  He quickly became “the apostle of Vienna,” hearing the confessions of the rich and poor, visiting the sick, acting as a counselor to the powerful, sharing his holiness with all in the city.  His crowning work was the establishment of a Catholic college in his beloved city.

Persecution followed him, and there were those in authority who were able for a while to stop him from preaching.  An attempt was made at the highest levels to have him banished.  But his holiness and fame protected him and the growth of the Redemptorists.  Due to his efforts, the congregation, upon his death in 1820, was firmly established north of the Alps.

He was canonized in 1909.

Comment:

Clement saw his life’s work meet with disaster.  Religious and political tensions forced him and his brothers to abandon their ministry in Germany, Poland and Switzerland.  Clement himself was exiled from Poland and had to start all over again.  Someone once pointed out that the followers of the crucified Jesus should see only new possibilities opening up whenever they meet failure.  He encourages us to follow his example, trusting in the Lord to guide us.

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

A big change occurs in the text of the “Creed” (Our “Profession of Faith”).  The first obvious change is with the very first word.  Currently we begin with “We believe.” The new, revised text has “I believe” instead of “We”.

Another noticeable change comes in the tenth line, regarding the Son’s divinity.  We currently say Jesus is “one in being with the Father.”  The new text will now say Jesus is “consubstantial with the Father.”  

Consubstantial is not really a translation.  In reality, It is a transliteration—the same Latin word, spelled in English— of the Latin “consubstantialis”, which means “one in being.”  Translation versus transliteration is not the point.  The point is that Jesus is God, one with the Father.

A third noticeable change occurs in how we speak of Christ’s human nature.  We currently say, “by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.” The new text will now say, “and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man.

Incarnate means “made flesh.” So, using the term here reminds us that he was human from the moment of his conception and not just at his birth. 

There are several other minor changes in the text of the “Creed” (new version is shown below).  It will certainly take us some time to commit the new version to memory, and to be able to profess it together easily.  

The new missal also allows the option of using the “Apostles’ Creed” instead of this version of the “Nicene Creed”, especially during Lent and Easter.  The “Apostles’ Creed” is another ancient Christian creed, long in used by Roman Catholics in our baptismal promises and at the beginning of the Rosary.

The Creed

 

I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial
with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate
of the Virgin Mary, and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under
Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord,
the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son
is adored and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
I believe in one, holy, catholic and
apostolic Church.
I confess one baptism for the
forgiveness of sins
and I look forward to the
resurrection of the dead
and the life of the world to come.
Amen.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Prayer II

What forms of prayer do you use (structured prayers; meditation; and contemplation)?  Why, or why not?  Should you?

What are the forms of recommended structured prayers for “our SFO office”? (Ask someone if you do not know the various structured prayers)

Do your prayers express or capture the same exuberance we find in Sts. Francis and Clare?  Why?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 16 & 17 of 26:

 

16.  Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.

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17.  In their family they should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and respect for life, striving to make of it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ.

By living the grace of matrimony, husbands and wives in particular should bear witness in the world to the love of Christ for His Church. They should joyfully accompany their children on their human and spiritual journey by providing a simple and open Christian education and being attentive to the vocation of each child.

“The Devil Made Me Do IT – – NOT!” – Matthew 4:1-11†


 

“First Sunday of Lent” 

 

  

Today’s Content:  

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day 
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I know it is not until Thursday, but is it ever too early to celebrate a great saint (and a fun time)?!  (PS – 286 days till CHRISTmas.)

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Are you active in the “40 Days for Life” campaign?  If not; why not?!  Just pray, if not wanting to participate in a prayer vigil at an abortion death mill.

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I personally would like to thank the Governor of Illinois for doing away with the Death penalty in his state.  Though the “death penalty” is not absolutely opposed in the teachings of the Catholic Church, I believe that even the lives of prisoners should not be taken away from them by others.  All life is sacred, including the unborn, the marginalized, the sick, the old, – – and yes, – – even prisoners.

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Congratulations to Justin Cardinal Rigali for doing the right thing in suspending 24 priests in his diocese.  I am sure his action was the result of much thought and prayer, and probably not very popular with some people.  I pray other Church Leaders learn from his example as a shepherd of his flock.  God Bless you Cardinal Rigali.

         

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Today in Catholic History:

 

†   483 – St Felix III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1138 – Cardinal Gregorio Conti is elected Antipope as Victor IV, succeeding Anacletus II.
†   1548 – Birth of Sasbout Vosmeer, Dutch Catholic theologist/apostole
†   1599 – Birth of Johannes Berchmans, Dutch Jesuit/saint
†   1615 – Birth of Innocent XII, [Antonio Pignatelli], Pope (1691-1700)
†   1951 – Death of James I Wedgwood, British theosophist/Catholic bishop, at age 67
†   1981 – Attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life by Mehemet Ali Agca, in Vatican Square
†   2004 -Death of Franz König, Austrian Catholic Archbishop of Vienna (b. 1905)
†   Memorial/Feasts: Saint Gerald; Saint Nicephorus (also in Greek Orthodox); Saint Roderick; Saint Leticia 

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

“When tempted, invoke your Angel.  He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!  Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him.  He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel” ~ St. John Bosco

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ fasting for forty days in the desert and His being tempted by Satan, as recorded by Matthew. 

(Matthew 4:11) 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.  3 The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”  4 He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'”  5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”  7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'”  8 Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9 and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”  10 At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!  It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.'”  11 Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. 

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In each of the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus is reported to have gone into the desert wilderness, after His baptism by John the Baptist, in order to fast and to pray for forty days, wherein, He is tempted by the devil.

Each Evangelist tells how the devil tempts Jesus in the desert.  In Matthew, as in Luke, the devil presents three temptations to Jesus.  (Mark does not mention the individual temptations.) The devil tempts Jesus to use His divine power, first to appease his hunger, then to put God’s promise of protection to the test, to become a world ruler of all the kingdoms of the world, if only He (Jesus) will worship him (the devil).  In each case, Jesus resists his temptations and rebukes the devil with words from Holy Scripture.

Matthew’s Gospel reading from today’s Mass is filled with suggestions, quotations, and similarities found in the Old Testament, particularly in the stories of the Jewish people’s wandering in the desert for forty years.  Just as the Israelites were tempted during the Exodus of the First Covenant, so too was Jesus tempted with the bringing in of the New, Second Covenant.

Jesus, just recently proclaimed by God to be God’s “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17) at His baptism, is now subjected to three temptations by Satan.  Obedience to the Father was (and is) a characteristic of being a true son.  Jesus was tempted by the devil to rebel against God the Father.  In the first two tests, the temptations were subtle; then, in the last one, the test is clearly more revolt.  In each refusal and rebuke by Jesus, He expressed Himself, in the words of Moses found in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut 8:3)

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deut 6:16).

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”  (Deut 6:13)

Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted out of His deep love for us.  He also allowed Himself to be tempted in order to teach us important lessons needed for our spiritual maturity and survival.

The divine Jesus is perfect.  He could only be tempted “externally”.  What does “externally” mean?  Well, there are three levels of temptation:

  • External: We may know this type of temptation as “suggestion”.  It is a temptation in which we take delight even though we don’t give clear consent.  We can experience this type of external temptation without actually sinning.  An example would be finding a bundle of $100 bills lying on the street and imagining for a brief moment keeping the money. (Finders keepers, losers weepers.)  [No sin occurs yet]

 

  • Internal: a temptation in which we take delight and give some consent, but not complete consent.  In this type of temptation there is some sinfulness.  An example could be picking up the money in the previous example, and taking it home.  Once at home, you have a change of heart, and call the police. [Most often venial sinning]

 

  • And, deeply internal:  – a temptation in which we give actual and full consent.  This is always profoundly sinful.  This type of temptation affects the deepest part of the soul.  An example would be keeping, and spending the money though you know it is not yours (and you do not care)!  [It is a mortal sin, separating oneself from God’s presence and the grace of salvation.]

Jesus’ temptations in the desert wilderness have a deep significance in salvation history.  Satan’s testing of Jesus resemble those trials of Israel during the wandering in the desert, and later in Canaan.  The victory of Jesus, the true Israel, and the true Son, distinctly differs from the failure of the ancient, disobedient “son,” the old Israel.  

Many (in fact, all of us) important people have been tempted throughout sacred history.  Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and all the Jewish people themselves experienced temptation; I believe we are all tempted on a daily basis, at minimum:

“For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin.”  (Proverbs 24:16). 

With Jesus zealously rejecting the temptations of Satan, He became THE example, and revealed how to handle temptations in our daily battles with Satan, or with any other evil enticements.  We need to learn to resist and overcome evil by our increasing knowledge of the word of God, especially the three verses Jesus knew and used in today’s Gospel.

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The number forty has many Old Testament Biblical references:

  • the forty days and nights God sent rain in the great flood of Noah’s day:

“Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made.” (Genesis 7:4);

  • the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God:

“But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:18);

  • the forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land:

“Here where your children must wander for forty years, suffering for your faithlessness, till the last of you lies dead in the desert.”  (Numbers 14:33);

  • The forty years during which Israel was tempted in the desert:

“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

  • the forty days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb:

“He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” (1 Kings 19:8);

  • And, the forty days warning Jonah gave the people of Nineveh in his prophecy of judgment to repent:

Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, ‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.’” (Jonah 3:4).

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In the hostile environment of the desert, Jesus fasted for forty days.  At the conclusion of this period of prayer, and fasting, Jesus was tempted by the devil: 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2)

“At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.” (Luke 4:1-2)

Jesus prepared himself for His “test” by prayer and fasting.  Moses acted the same way when preparing for his role in salvation history:

“So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)

We follow in Jesus’ footsteps with OUR yearly Lenten fast.  Pope John Paul II (the Great) brought this concept to mind so eloquently in one of his “General Audience” addresses:

“It can be said that Christ introduced the tradition of fasting for forty days into the liturgical year of the Church, because He himself “fasted forty days and forty nights” (Mt 4:2) before beginning to teach.  With this forty-day fast, the Church is, in a certain sense, called every year to follow her Master and Lord, if she wishes to preach his Gospel effectively.” (John Paul II, General Audience, February 28, 1979)

Jesus’ retreat into the desert wilderness calls us, and teaches us, to prepare ourselves by prayer and penance before any important decisions or actions.  How often do you fast, much less pray?

Jesus spent forty days and nights in a physically brutal environment. Verse two of today’s reading says He was “hungry”.   Of course He was hungry!  Satan knew this, and took the opportunity to tempt Him when the “human” Jesus was at His weakest.  The enemy will certainly tempt us when we are at our weakest!

What kind of a temptation is there in Jesus “producing some bread”?  Jesus not only produced bread later on in His ministry, he also produced fish AND wine as well!  (What a great meal.)  However, Satan is very cunning.  What Satan proposed for Jesus would have been for His [Jesus’] benefit solely, and not part of God’s plan for salvation and redemption.  If you notice, all of Jesus’ miracles were 1) always for others, and 2) always for the purpose of salvation and redemption for all peoples of every race, culture, and nation.

When tempted by the devil to change rock into bread, Jesus refused to use His divine power for His own sole benefit, though He was truly and personally physically hungry.  Performing a miracle at this time was not part of His Father’s plan for salvation and redemption.  Jesus instead chose to accept whatever God “wills”.  Do we “choose” as Jesus did? 

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus is trusting in God’s fatherly providence.  God led Jesus into the desert in order to prepare Him for His earthly ministry.  Jesus trusted God the Father completely that He would not let Him die from hunger in the desert.  “Yahweh” [God] prevented the Israelites from dying by miraculously providing manna to eat in the desert.  In contrast to the Israelites of the Exodus, who were impatient when faced with hunger in the desert, Jesus trusted in His father’s providence wholeheartedly.  How is your level of “trust” in God’s providence?

In this example, Jesus teaches us that when we ask God for things, we should not ask for what can be obtained by our own efforts.  We should also not ask for something that would be exclusively for our own convenience.  Rather, we should pray for what will help us towards our holiness, and that of others.

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The devil continued His tempting of Jesus, relentlessly and cunningly (I cannot stress how persistent and cunning Satan is!).  If Satan isn’t able make us renounce our faith, or able to trick us into a mortal sin, he will then try to get us to make little “choices” which will eventually lead us away from God.

Since “daring” Jesus to perform a miracle did not work, the enemy quickly moved to another approach.  The devil has no scruples and will use whatever way possible to separate a human soul from God.  Satan prods Jesus to jump off a high structure to prove His divinity with Jesus being saved from death by the hands of angels.  Tradition has it that this particular temptation happened at the southeast corner of the Temple wall, its highest point due to its geographical position on the hill.  Satan further supports his proposal, his test, with the use of Holy Scripture, specifically Psalm 91:

“For God commands the angels, with their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11a, 12).

This test for Jesus from Satan was unlike the Israelites at Massah, who demanded a miracle of water from Moses:

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16),

Jesus refuses to “test” God: 

“They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’  Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to a test?’” (Exodus 17:2).

To “test” God’s faithfulness reveals little or no real trust in Him.  It shows an opposition to trust in God.  On the other hand, we should also not be presumptuous in purposely placing ourselves in danger, expecting God to help us with His power, nor by asking God for signs of proof of His faithfulness to His word.  Our trust in God must be simple, complete, and full, – – not “foolhardy”!

Jesus does not demand from God an amazing, special, or unexpected show of power at this time in His human life.  He is completely, totally, and fully surrendering His existence to the will, the trust, and the love of God the Father!

Satan purposely tried to use Holy Scripture in a false way.  We must be aware of heresies from people interpreting the bible out of context, losing site of the unity which exists in Holy Scripture.  St. Gregory the great wrote:

 “The devil can also interpret Holy Scripture, quoting it to suit himself.  Therefore, any interpretation which is not in line with the teaching contained in the Tradition of the Church should be rejected.  Catholics should be on guard against arguments which, though they claim to be founded on Holy Scripture, are nevertheless untrue.” (St. Gregory the Great, In Evangelia homiliae, 16)

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For Satan’s third and final test offered to Jesus, he proposed to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” if only Jesus would simply bow down and worship him – – the devil.  This temptation was probably intended to recall Israel’s worship of false gods during their desert sojourn of forty years (the Exodus; cf., Numbers and Deuteronomy).  Jesus’ refusal of the offense is therefore taken from the words of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy:

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.” (Deuteronomy 6:13).

Jesus’ statement is both a teaching and a warning for all of us to be on alert; not to allow oneself to be deceived by the devil.  We should appreciate and learn from Jesus’ attitude and actions during these three “tests”.  During His human life on earth Jesus did not want any glory which belonged to Him alone.  Though Jesus had the right to be treated as “God”, He took the form of a servant, a slave:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians  2:6-8).

So, as Catholics, believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ, we need to realize that ALL glory is due solely to God alone.  We must not use the fullness, completeness, and greatness of the Gospel to further our own personal interests and ambitions.  I found ideas of St. Josemaria Escriva enlightening:

“’We should learn from Jesus.  His attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who takes flesh to save men.  He has a mission which the Father affectionately guides with tender care: ‘You are my son; I have begotten you this day.  Only ask, and you shall have the nations for your patrimony.’  And the Christian who, following Christ, has this attitude of complete adoration of the Father, also experiences our Lord’s loving care: ‘He trusts in me, mine is to rescue him; he acknowledges my name, from me he shall have protection.’” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 62)

If we struggle without faltering, we will attain victory.  No one wins without first overcoming, little by little, until we have fully conquered our selfishness, and enemies of our human nature:

“Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer.  Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days.  Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelations 2:10).

In return for Jesus’ trust, angels came and “ministered to Him.” By coming to minister to Jesus after rejecting Satan’s offers, the angels teach us about the interior “joy” given by God to the person who fights against temptations brought forth from the devil.  To help in this fight, God has given us very powerful protectors against Satan’s temptations – – our Guardian Angels.  That is why the Church encourages us to call on their help and aid daily!  (By the way, do you know the name of the angel assigned as the “Prince of the Heavenly Host” of those angels empowered to help us resist and overcome Satan and all the other “fallen” angels? —————-(The answer is Michael).

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In summary, each of Satan’s temptations to Jesus offers insight into God, the human state in life, and salvation history.  Jesus’ rejection of the temptations showed that He would not put “God the Father” to the test. (So, neither should we.)  Positioning Himself on the word and authority of Holy Scripture, Jesus rebukes Satan (“the devil”).  Throughout this ordeal, Jesus always stayed confident in God’s providence, protection, and faithfulness.

Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted every single day.  He overcame His temptations by the grace and strength which His Father gave Him.  In Luke’s Gospel, he says that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (cf., Luke 4:1).  When tempted by the devil Jesus did not try fighting His adversary with His “human” strength and capabilities.  Instead, He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit in and with Him. 

On our journey through Lent, you may notice the Sunday Mass readings calling us to adopt the same confidence Jesus had in dealing with His temptations.  By itself, God’s word will be – – and IS – – always enough.

My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

God’s promise of protection can always be faithfully trusted.  We need to keep in mind that “God alone is God”!

How can we conquer sin and coercion in our personal lives?  Jesus Christ gives us His Holy Spirit to be our strength, our guide, and our comforter during temptations.  God wants us to “fight the good fight for our faith”:

“Compete well for the faith.  Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:12).

He graces us with the power and strength coming from the Holy Spirit.  Do you depend and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for your strength and help in your life?

When Jesus resists the temptations presented to Him by Satan, He draws on His religious upbringing and tradition.  Jesus is able to quote from Holy Scripture because He was praying the scriptures of Moses and the prophets, and so was a person who lived His Jewish beliefs “fully”.  He also knew Himself to be the “Son of God”.  So, we too are responsible for engaging ourselves “fully” in our Catholic Christian faith and tradition so that we too can draw upon these when needed to help resist temptations.  The Secular Franciscan Motto says this so well, in seven simple words:

“Gospel to life and life to Gospel”.

Since Jesus rebuked the devil’s temptations by quoting Holy Scripture, how important to you is the Bible, the Sacraments, and the Traditions of our Catholic faith life?  Do you have a favorite Scripture passage?   Please remember, and be encouraged, that “one does not live by bread alone”…….. but, by “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  (A little known motto of our Jesus believing Jewish cousins.)

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 “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

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leander of Seville (c. 550-600)

 

The next time you recite the Nicene Creed at Mass, think of today’s saint.  For it was Leander of Seville who, as bishop, introduced the practice in the sixth century.  He saw it as a way to help reinforce the faith of his people and as an antidote against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.  By the end of his life, Leander had helped Christianity flourish in Spain at a time of political and religious upheaval.

Leander’s own family was heavily influenced by Arianism, but he himself grew up to be a fervent Christian.  He entered a monastery as a young man and spent three years in prayer and study.  At the end of that tranquil period he was made a bishop.  For the rest of his life he worked strenuously to fight against heresy.  The death of the anti-Christian king in 586 helped Leander’s cause.  He and the new king worked hand in hand to restore orthodoxy and a renewed sense of morality.  Leander succeeded in persuading many Arian bishops to change their loyalties.

Leander died around 600.  In Spain he is honored as a Doctor of the Church.

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)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God. 

 

The Glory to God (Gloria) has been significantly changed, with more words and many lines rearranged.

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of
the father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One.
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.
Amen.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Prayer I

What attitudes do prayers create in me? 
Can you identify with your prayers? 
What is your approach to prayer? 
How is your prayer-life like Jesus Christ and St. Francis? 
How do you handle it when you fall into the habit of “reciting prayers” rather than “praying prayers”? 
Can you define the difference?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 13 & 14 of 26:

13.  As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.

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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.