Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for March, 2011
That the nations of Latin America may walk in fidelity to the Gospel and be bountiful in social justice and peace.
That the Holy Spirit may give light and strength to the Christian communities and the faithful who are persecuted or discriminated against because of the Gospel.
Today in Catholic History:
† 1459 – Birth of Adrian VI, [Adriaan F Boeyens], Netherlands, Pope (1522-23)
† 1589 – Death of Alessandro Cardinal Farnese, Italian cardinal (b. 1520)
† 1758 – Death of Pierre Guérin de Tencin, French cardinal (b. 1679)
† 1810 – Birth of Leo XIII, [Vincenzo G Pecci], 256th pope (1878-1903)
† 1876 – Birth of Pius XII, [Euhenio MGG Pacelli], 260th Pope (1939-58)
† 1928 – Birth of Father John Romanides, Greek priest and professor (d. 2001)
† 1939 – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli is elected Pope and takes the name Pius XII.
† Catholic Church: Saint Jovinus; Blessed Charles the Good, Count of Flanders (+Bruges 1127)
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
It is better to be hated for what you are then to be loved for what you are not ~ unknown
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
What is poverty to you?
How is poverty expressed in the SFO Rule?
Can you recall any examples by people which you can imitate in regards to poverty?
Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching on authority, submission, and service.
32 They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. 33 “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 and hand him over to the Gentiles 34 who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” 35 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.” 36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?” 37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” 38 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?” 39 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; 40 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.” 41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. 42 Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. 43 But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NAB Mark 10:32-45)
Five separate times (in this Gospel reading, plus four others) in Holy Scripture, Jesus foretold of His suffering greatly at the hands of Jewish and Roman officials. He was betrayed, rejected, humiliated, and tortured. He finally experienced the punishment of a cruel and extremely painful death on that Holy Tree of redemption and salvation outside the gates of Jerusalem.
“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)
“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)
“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, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20:18-19)
“Then he took the ‘Twelve’ aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon; and after they have scourged him they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise.’” (Luke 18:31-33)
The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, had foretold that it was “God’s will” (His plan). Jesus Christ, the “Suffering Servant”, atoned for OUR sins and transgressions through His suffering and death (cf., Isaiah 53:5-12). Jesus paid the price for OUR redemption with His own human body, blood, soul, and divinity.
The Jewish people used stoning, and the Roman government used crucifixion to condemn people to death. For me, either way (rock or wood) is a painful and humiliating death. Our Lord Jesus Christ, labeled a criminal, went through a humiliating and torturous death, devised by man for not only physical torture, but for psychological torture and family disgrace as well. With this fact in mind, no wonder Jesus’ disciples, His Apostles, were greatly distressed at Jesus’ foretelling of these events, five separate times! You probably know what was going though their minds. If their teacher, their Master, and their friend, – – Jesus Christ, – – was to be put to death, then would they receive the same horrendous treatment by the Jewish people and/or Roman government?.
The price Jesus paid for OUR redemption liberated (and still liberates) us from the worst oppression and cruelty possible – the oppression and cruelty of sin and the “worry and fear” of death. Jesus became a victor, triumphing over death. He defeated the powers of death through His own demise and through His glorious and magnificent resurrection from the tomb three days later.
Jesus had an unquenchable and intense desire to make certain that all He had foretold about His arrest, passion, and death (and His ultimate rising and ascension) would come about. Jesus had previously told His disciples that He would physically and emotionally suffer intensely and terribly in Jerusalem. His disciples certainly were confused and perplexed in comprehending His “eagerness” at wanting to hurry the process of His murder along. In doing so, Jesus, in His humble example, is teaching us to carry our individual crosses with joy. We should not to try to avoid carrying our crosses, but rather, to ask for Him to make our load lighter and easier to manage – – through continual adoration and prayer.
“His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us; it is not for us to advise Him what to give us, for He can rightly reply that we know not what we ask. All that the beginner in prayer has to do — and you must not forget this, for it is very important — is to labor and be resolute and prepare himself with all possible diligence to bring his will into conformity with the will of God. (St. Theresa, Interior Castle, 2, 8).
James and John ask for special places in God’s kingdom; for a “share” in the glory of Jesus Christ. To do so, did they not realize that they would have to share in Jesus’ sufferings, tribulations, and sacrifice of self? The authority of assigning places of honor in the kingdom is reserved solely to God the Father. A place of such honor is not freely given, but must be earned through a life of prayer, penance, alms-giving, sacrifice, and suffering. (I just pray to be let in the “back” door of heaven. I don’t want anything special, for I am not worthy such an honor.)
God wanted Holy Scripture to record the weaknesses in those of Jesus’ followers (including the Apostles); those who will become unshakeable pillars of the “Catholic” (universal) Church. The grace of God produces spectacular and awesome wonders in the individual souls of His people! So, we should never be pessimistic in the face of our own trials, misery, unhappiness, and depression:
“I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Jesus asks a serious and profound question to James and John:
“Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)
In asking the phrase “drinking the cup”, Jesus is using an Old Testament figure of speech, referring to one’s acceptance of God’s future destiny and providence in their life. An “allotted cup” is the cup given to drink by God in three separate Psalms:
“And rains upon the wicked fiery coals and brimstone, a scorching wind their allotted cup.” (Psalm 11:6)
“LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.” (Psalm 16:5)
“Yes, a cup is in the LORD’S hand, foaming wine, fully spiced. When God pours it out, they will drain it even to the dregs; all the wicked of the earth must drink.” (Psalm 75:9)
In Jesus’ case, drinking from God’s “cup” involved accepting, – – through His actions, suffering, and death, – – a divine “sentence” for OUR sins. Jesus, though innocent of any crime or sin, is the one that came to do penance and make amends, on behalf of the sinful “guilty” – – US!! Jesus’ crucifixion and death was (and is) for the salvation of the human race:
“But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus joined “authority” with “selfless service” and “loving sacrifice”. Authority without sacrificial love is impolite, vulgar, and self-serving. Jesus used severe language to explain what kind of sacrifice He had in mind for His followers; one of absolute and total surrender to God’s will. For some followers, the “cup” we must drink may entail true physical pain and suffering, and may ultimately include the painful act of martyrdom. However, for many (if not most) Christians, it entails the long (sometimes boring) everyday regularity of Catholic life; its daily surrender, sacrifices, regrets, disappointments, impediments, struggles, and temptations. A follower of Jesus Christ, – – a disciple – – must be ready, and willing, to lay down one’s life for God and faith (martyrdom). A follower of Jesus Christ, – – a disciple – – must be ready to surrender to Jesus Christ every single day in little, and big, sacrifices and loving service required by God.
A prayer I say every morning is:
“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.”
Whatever authority His disciples – – Jesus’ followers – – carry out, it must be like that of Jesus Christ Himself. They must execute their authority as one of service to others and not for personal enhancement and/or motives. Keep in mind, Jesus’ humble service to others involved His arrest, passion, and death on the Holy Tree for OUR (not His) sins. Can you follow in His path to salvation?
“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. 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 53:11-12)
With Jesus, and His new covenant with us, we no longer live in a system of retribution (eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc). We no longer “get even” with someone who does evil toward us. Retribution and retaliation simply adds MORE evil into the world. Instead, we need to “absorb” the evil, and respond with unrelenting forgiveness. Instead of making war, we are to make PEACE! This is how the kingdom of God comes about, and is how we gain a place in the kingdom. This is how we are to “drink from the cup”!
Our attitude should mimic that of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We need to seek opportunities to serve God, mankind, and the earth, with a truly supernatural and divinely inspired outlook and passion. We should not expect anything in return for our service. We should serve those who do, and do not, appreciate the service we perform, and with them in mind and prayer as we perform it.
Serving others not appreciative may not make any sense as judged by human standards. However, a Catholic identified with Christ is satisfied and delighted precisely in serving others, including those not appreciative. By doing so, we share in Jesus Christ’s mission, and thereby attain true dignity:
“This dignity is expressed in readiness to serve, in keeping with the example of Christ, who ‘came not to be served but to serve’. If, in the light of this attitude of Christ’s, ‘being a king’ is truly possible only by ‘being a servant’ then ‘being a servant’ also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as ‘being a king’. In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively we must be able to master ourselves, possess the virtues that make this mastery possible. Our sharing in Christ’s kingly mission – His ‘kingly function’ (munus) is closely linked with every sphere of both Christian and human morality.” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 21)
Those who do follow Jesus on His path of total submission, – – including His agony, pain, and death, – – will be rewarded by the Lord in a personal and unique way. They will enjoy happiness and joy while basking in the warmth of the light emanating from God’s love.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:8-9)
We can experience this warmth and glow – – RIGHT NOW! We can experience a little taste of heaven at each Eucharistic celebration. When we become one with Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion, we enter into a unique and special relationship with the Holy Trinity, the angels, the saints, and the entire celestial court. AWESOME! With reception of His Body and Body in the Holy Eucharist, we experience Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection; and OUR release from venial sin, all at the same time.
“For this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
“He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:24)
“Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20.)
At Mass (and specifically at Communion) we approach Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist, with a “list” of wishes, wants, petitions, and intentions. We approach this special and living Sacrament asking for favors and forgiveness. In doing so, we believe we are honoring Him, – – but, are we?
We need to remember that at the same time we are approaching Jesus, He is also approaching us! How do you imagine Jesus approaching us at Mass? I believe Jesus comes to us with a broken body; a body broken out of love for us. He comes to us as the “loving servant” who stoops down, washing our feet. He is our individual and collective “lover” who knows the deepest needs of our hearts, minds, and souls – – and is ready and willing to fill them completely full! All He asks for, in return, is our hope, love, trust, and obedience. So, come to Him as He comes to you; as the one who gives as well as the one who receives. Along with petitions and intentions, offer your deeds, works, talents, and accomplishments to Jesus as a “loving servant” gift for Him.
An early church father (unknown to me) summed up Jesus’ teaching with a simple expression: “to serve is to reign with Christ.” With this in mind, we share in God’s “reign” by surrendering our lives, – – spiritually, mentally, and physically, – – in one of humble service, just as Jesus did for OUR sake. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus Christ did so completely and lovingly? Are you willing to plead guilty to being a Christian, – – A Catholic?! Are you willing to be sentenced to a life of eternal service for God’s kingdom?
“Prayer of Selflessness”
“O Dearly beloved Word of God,
teach me to be generous,
to serve You as You deserve,
to give without counting the cost,
to fight without fretting at my wounds,
to labor without seeking rest,
to spend myself without looking
for any reward other than that
of knowing that I do Your Holy will. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Agnes of Bohemia (1205-1282)
Agnes had no children of her own but was certainly life-giving for all who knew her.
Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia. At the age of three, she was betrothed to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later. As she grew up, she decided she wanted to enter the religious life.
After declining marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and Henry III of England, Agnes was faced with a proposal from Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor. She appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help. The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.
After Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague. In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery. Saint Clare sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them, and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation and her duties as abbess.
Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification. Papal pressure forced her to accept her election as abbess; nevertheless, the title she preferred was “senior sister.” Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers. The sisters found her kind but very strict regarding the observance of poverty; she declined her royal brother’s offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.
Devotion to Agnes arose soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989.
Agnes spent at least 45 years in a Poor Clare monastery. Such a life requires a great deal of patience and charity. The temptation to selfishness certainly didn’t vanish when Agnes walked into the monastery. It is perhaps easy for us to think that cloistered nuns “have it made” regarding holiness. Their route is the same as ours: gradual exchange of our standards (inclination to selfishness) for God’s standard of generosity.
“Have nothing to do with anyone who would stand in your way and would seek to turn you aside from fulfilling the vows which you have made to the Most High (Psalm 49:14) and from living in that perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you” (Clare to Agnes, Letter II in Murray Bodo, O.F.M., Clare: A Light in the Garden, p. 118).
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)
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 “Confiteor” (I Confess prayer) has been revised, again to match the Latin texts more closely. More stress is once again placed on our unworthiness more so than in the current missal. It will now say, “I have greatly sinned” and later adds “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”
“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.”
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 2 & 3 of 26:
2. The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.
3. The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.