“Second Sunday of Lent”
- 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
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.
I hope everyone had a great (and safe) St. Patrick’s Day and Feast of St. Joseph (Yesterday); I did.
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
“Today in Catholic History”
Joke of the Day:
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.
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)
“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).
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)
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.
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 year. During this week every native Israelite among you shall dwell in booths.” (Leviticus 23:39-42).
“The Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.” (John 7:2)
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)
“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 father. I will proclaim the decree of the LORD, who said to me, ‘You are my son; today I am your father’”. (Psalm 2:5-7);
“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 command “listen 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);
“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).
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.
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.
(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.”
Pax et Bonum
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Salvator of Horta (1520-1567)
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.
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.
“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)
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
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
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?
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.
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.