Seventh Week of Easter
- 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
Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:
It is less than six months (175 days) till the start of Advent, and the new Missal is to be used throughout the English speaking world for Mass. Are you ready? There are only a few changes for the “congregation” part, and I am rotating through each, one at a time, with every reflection blog.
I am not sure if I will be able to post a reflection next Sunday. I’ll be on vacation. Hopefully I can get one done, but my wife has told me I need a break. I don’t think she understands how much I enjoy writing.
Today in Catholic History:
† 754 – Death of Boniface, [Winfrid], English saint/archbishop (Dokkum), at age 79
† 1099 – The First Crusade: The Siege of Jerusalem begins
† 1305 – Bordeaux’s archbishop Bertrand the Got elected Pope Clement V
† 1443 – Death of Ferdinand, Portuguese saint/slave 1654 – Louis XIV is crowned King of France
† 1855 – Anti-foreign anti-Roman Catholic “Know-Nothing Party’s” 1st convention
† 1954 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical Ecclesiae fastos (History of the Church), the story of the life of the English Benedictine, St. Boniface
† 1988 – Russian orthodox church celebrates 1,000th anniversary
† Feasts/Memeorials: Liturgical feasts: Corpus Christi; Colman, bishop of Dromore; Saint Maximinus, bishop of Aix, confessor; Blessed Robert, abbot of Newminster, Northumberland; Saint Servatius, bishop, confessor or martyr (Translation day); Saint Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, confessor (Translation day); Blessed Meriadec, bishop of Vannes
(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
“Today in Catholic History”
Quote or Joke of the Day:
The Pope says, “What can I do?”
The Colonel says, “I need you to change the daily prayer from, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken’. If you do it, I’ll donate 10 Million Dollars to the Vatican.”
The Pope replies, “I am sorry. That is the Lord’s Prayer and I cannot change the words.”
So the Colonel hangs up. After another month of dismal sales, the Colonel panics, and calls again.
“Listen your Excellency; I really need your help. I’ll give you $50 million dollars if you change the words of the daily prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken.'”
And the Pope responds, “It is very tempting, Colonel Sanders. The church could do a lot of good with that much money. It would help us support many charities. But, again, I must decline. It is the Lord’s Prayer, and I can’t change the words.” So the Colonel gives up again.
“This is my final offer, your Excellency. If you change the words of the daily prayer I will donate $100 million to the Vatican.”
“Let me get back to you” says the Pope.
So the next day, the Pope calls together all of his bishops and he says, “I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is that KFC is going to donate $100 million to the Vatican.” The bishops rejoice at the news. Then one asks about the bad news.
The Pope replies, “The bad news is that we lost the Wonder Bread account.”
Today’s reflection is about Jesus praying for His disciples.
(NAB John 17:1-11a) 1 Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, 2 just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. 3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. 5 Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. 6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.
Today, we get a glimpse of how Jesus prayed for His disciples, those who believed in Him. Sometimes it is hard for us to believe He prayed for them personally and frequently. He does for each of us, personally and frequently, still today.
Please let me describe the “setting” for today’s Gospel reading. Jesus has just left the “last supper”. Along with His closest disciples [Peter, James, and John], He goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray:
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.’ He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:36-39)
If you would read further on in this chapter of today’s reading, you would find that Jesus prayed for His disciples’ protection from the “evil one”, Satan. Jesus also prayed for all those who would gain a faith in Him due to His disciples’ teachings (then, now, and in the future). That means that Jesus prayed for us as well, – – even before His death on the cross. Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ continues to intercede for us at God the Father’s right hand.
Since the sixteenth century, this chapter of John’s Gospel (John 17) has been called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus. The prayer He prays today starts with His final commendation of Himself to the Father. He then expresses care and concern for His disciples as He prays to His Father in heaven. He speaks to His Father as OUR intercessor (meaning “on our behalf”). Through His prayer life, with words addressed directly to God the Father – – and not to the nearby disciples, who overhear His words, – – He is truly communicating with God the Father. I believe Jesus Christ wanted His disciples to hear His prayer, and to use this event for a further lesson on the necessity for our praying, as we learn from what He said in His prayer.
Jesus’ prayer today reaffirms the “complete and full” union between Jesus Christ and God the Father. Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus has been presented as the “Word”, who pre-existed with God the Father and was sent to do the Father’s work on earth. In this prayer we learn that Jesus’ life and ministry had been directed toward one purpose: revealing God the Father and His love for each of us personally.
With His prayer continuing in the next verses, Jesus’ prayer becomes one of petition for His devoted disciples then, and for His future disciples as well (cf., John 17:12-21). Many of the phrases in Jesus’ prayer are reminiscent of phrases found in the “Our Father Prayer”, also known by most people (I believe incorrectly) as the “Lord’s Prayer”. The prayer found in Matthew’s Gospel, the “Our Father”, is a “template or model” on how to pray to God the Father. Here is the “Our Father” prayer, taught to us by Jesus, and as recorded in Matthews Gospel:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.
If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6:9-15)
Today, in this particular reading, we are actually hearing Jesus’ “Lord’s Prayer” to His Father, on our behalf.
Jesus, as Priest, is offering Himself in the imminent “sacrifice”, looming in His soon-to-be Passion and death by crucifixion. In witnessing to Jesus’ prayer addressed to His Father, we are being shown a vital component of Jesus’ redemptive and saving mission; and it also teaches us a further model for our personal and communal prayer lives, directed by Jesus and our Father in heaven..
He easily could have prayed silently; yet He desired to show Himself to His (and our) Father as petitioner, as requester. For His disciples, the way Jesus Christ is verbally praying today (just mere moments before His arrest), taught those present with Him physically their need for prayer in their lives; AND teaches us who read His prayer today, the very same need for prayer in our lives; and will continue to teach a need for prayer for all who come in the future. This reveals the great potential of God’s love growing in us as we allow Him in our lives.
I love to imagine Jesus at prayer; it is so comforting for me. He knows all the right things to say; yet He still asks for direction and help. He doesn’t have to stumble along in His prayer life, trying to figure out exactly what type of prayer works for Him in order to gain an intimate “connection” with God the Father. He doesn’t have to struggle with the constant repetition needed to learn “rote” memory prayers. He did not have Catholic Nuns breathing down His back, with ruler in hand, like I did! (- – Um, Sorry Sister.).
Jesus Christ, looking up to heaven and addressing God the Father, is the “typical” image of Jesus at prayer for me. The strength and determination of His prayer life is, in itself, awe-inspiring for me. I pray that I can get as deep into the moment in “connecting” with God in my prayer life as Jesus does; and as deep as such Saints like Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Theresa, and many other Christians of the Catholic Church who have succeeded, in theirs.
I found it revealing when Jesus said:
“Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:5)
It made me wonder: what is glory? How does the Holy Cross reveal His glory? I finally realized that, in the Cross of human death, God reveals, and is still revealing, the depth and immensity of His enduring and unending “love” for us sinners (not worthy of His love). His glory is the power of a saving redemption which cancels our debts by His power and mercy, and draws into union with Him. Jesus gave His Father a supreme honor and glory through His obedience and willingness to go to the Holy Cross, giving up His human life through suffering. The greatest honor, trust, and love any person can give another is through his obedience, even to the point of sacrificing his own life:
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).
The word, “glory” and “glorify” found in verses 1-5, refer to the splendor, power, and honor truly belonging to God the Father. The Son of God [Jesus] IS GOD equal to God the Father. From the time Jesus Christ was incarnated in Mary’s womb, and was born, and throughout His entire life ending with His Passion, death and Resurrection, His divinity was made visible and apparent to those who had a heart for God..
God’s “glorification” has four dimensions which I can see. The first dimension supports the glory of God the Father. In obedience to His Father’s redemptive and saving action, Jesus makes God the Father known and brings the Father’s saving work to completion.
The second dimension is Jesus then being glorified. His divinity was manifested through His human nature seen after the Resurrection, endowed in the very authority God has over ALL creation:
“Just as you gave Him authority over all people, so that He may give eternal life to all you gave Him. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (John 17: 2,5).
The third dimension, I see, is Christ, through His glorification, giving US the opportunity to participate in eternal life, to truly know God as Father and God the Son as “Messiah” Jesus.
The fourth dimension is the result: Our glorifying God the Father and Jesus Christ, through faith, involves OUR very participating in divine glory, divine eternal life:
“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17: 3).
To summarize the four dimensions of God’s glorification: The Son glorifies the Father, making Him known to all who believe in the Son (Dimensions 1&2). Building on this platform of faith, since the knowledge of God is life eternal, then it follows, the more we nurture life, the more we advance in His living knowledge, and vice- versa (Dimensions 3&4).
Where will we gain an ultimate and completely full knowledge of God? I believe only in heaven, where we will glorify Him in the “most” high! (Whoa; Heavy Stuff – – But Absolutely Awesome!!! … and true!!!)
When His work on earth was accomplished, Jesus returned to His Father in heaven to be glorified. Regardless of what happened to Jesus while on earth (ie., scourging, humiliation, crucifixion), He and God the Father were (and are) in charge. Think about this aspect of His nature for a second. Even in the details and description of Jesus’ death, Jesus does not “simply die”. He instead, “hands over His spirit”.
“When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (John 19:30)
Today, Jesus speaks of God the Father bringing glory to God the Son through the great “mystery” of His incarnation and Holy Cross. God the Father gave us His only begotten Son for our saving redemption from the slavery of sin and death. There can be no greater proof of God’s love for each and every person on the face of the earth than Jesus Christ’s scourging, suffering, and death on the Holy Cross. In the Cross we see a new way of loving — a loving that is unconditional, sacrificial and generous beyond ALL comprehension. This is why the “Crucifix” is the perfect symbol of the Catholic Church; we don’t see death in it – – We see ETERNAL LIFE!!
Also in today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of this “eternal life”.
“Just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:2-3)
What does eternal life mean? What IS eternal life? I believe it is more than simply an “endless time”, for this would be quite boring to me at least. Scientists and Researchers today look for ways to extend the duration of life; but that doesn’t necessarily make the quality of life better for us here. They can only make our duration on earth slightly longer.
For me, a truly magnificent and perfect “eternal life” is qualitative more than quantitative. To have eternal life is to have “the life of God” within us always. Eternal Life can be ours NOW! When we possess eternal life, we experience – – here and now – – a portion of God’s splendor, His peace, His joy, His love, and a holiness which illustrates the life of God. I believe we experience this “eternal life” (maybe only a little bit, maybe more), with reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Jesus, today, speaks of the knowledge of God – – i.e., the personal knowing of God:
“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you.” (John 17: 3,7).
Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they can know the “one” true God. Knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God. We can know God individually, personally, and intimately via the Holy Spirit working with, in, and through us. The spirit, soul, and fundamental nature of Catholicism, – – what makes our faith distinct from Judaism and other religions, – – is this personal knowing of God as OUR Father. Jesus made it possible for each and every one of us to individually and personally know God as our Father in a very uniquely intimate way.
John the evangelist starts verse six of today’s reading with, “I revealed your name”. In my opinion, John is relating Jesus’ own reference to the name “I AM”. Further proof can be found in other verses from John’s Gospel:
“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);
And again in John,
“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).
These “Eleven” men (plus many others then, and in the future) will continue Jesus’ redemptive and saving work in the world. In praying for them (and us), Jesus describes some of the prerogatives of those who will form the apostolic college.
First, there are the “privileges” of being “chosen” by God:
“I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine.” (John 17:9-10).
God the Father choose these men from all eternity (past, present, and future):
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.“ (Ephesians 1:3-4).
In due course, Jesus revealed this “choosing” to His close disciples. He first prayed at length to His heavenly Father, then called to Himself those whom He “willed”, and lastly appointed “Twelve” to be with Him, and whom He sent to preach the kingdom of God (cf., Mark 3:12-19; Matthew 10:1-42).
“Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Luke 6:14-16)
Jesus placed at the head of this assembly or “college” Peter, chosen from among the “Twelve”:
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He then said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ (Jesus) said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.’” (John 21:15-17).
And Vatican II also teaches about the “college”, with Peter being its head:
“The Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, calling to Himself those whom He desired, appointed twelve to be with Him, and whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God; and these apostles He formed after the manner of a college or a stable group, over which He placed Peter chosen from among them.” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 19).
The “Apostles” [to-be] enjoyed the privilege of hearing God’s teaching direct from Jesus Christ (God the Son) Himself. From His teachings, which they accepted with a pure and simple obedience, they learned that Jesus truly came from God the Father, and that therefore, He is God’s emissary on earth:
“The words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you.” (John 17:8).
These “Eleven” grew to know the true relationship that exists between God the Father and God the Son: Jesus Christ.
Catholics, who are also disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ, gradually acquire knowledge of God and of the divinity in His “word” by living a life of faith and by maintaining a personal relationship with Him through prayer.
St. Josemaria Escriva says of this relationship:
“Recalling this human refinement of Christ, who spent his life in the service of others, we are doing much more than describing a pattern of human behaviour; we are discovering God. Everything Christ did has a transcendental value. It shows us the nature of God and beckons us to believe in the love of God who created us and wants us to share his intimate life.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 109).
In summary, we become aware, in today’s Gospel, of the distinction found between the world and the disciples. The disciples are in the world, but they are separate from the world because they have been given to Jesus by God the Father. His disciples are chosen from the world to be in service to the world for its salvation (A very Franciscan statement, if I say so myself.) Salvation is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ because He revealed God the Father to the world. With this revelation, disciples are sent by Jesus to make both God the Father and Jesus Christ (God the Son) known to the entire world.
Jesus’ prayer today is ultimately for the disciples’ work in the world. Think about the tradition of praying for other people. Who do you pray for in your communications with God? What do you ask for in your prayers?
In today’s Gospel we find an example of Jesus’ prayer to the Father. Reread today’s Gospel again. Then, think about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. We know that Jesus, positioned at His Father’s right hand, continues to intercede for us. What might Jesus’ prayer be for YOU if you could overhear His words?
Let us all remember to see Jesus Christ in ourselves and others we meet throughout our lives. In doing so, we will see what God the Father is truly like. In Jesus Christ, we see the “perfect” love of God – – who cares intensely and unendingly – – for each of us. In Jesus, we see a God who yearns for each of us to come into His kingdom with His full heart, soul, body, and being. In Jesus, we see a God who loved us to the point of laying down His own life on the Holy Cross. Jesus reveals in today’s Gospel that He is the revelation of God!! Jesus reveals a God who loves each of us totally, fully, completely, unconditionally, and perfectly – – without exception – – for eternity! WOW!!
“St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit”
“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
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.
Currently, the priest says, “The Lord be with you” five times: at the Entrance Rite, before the Gospel, when the Eucharistic Prayer starts, at “the sign of peace”, and finally at the dismissal. The new response from the congregation will be:
“And with your spirit”
instead of “And also with you”.
This is a more direct translation of the Latin and matches what many other language groups have been using for years. It will obviously take some adjustment, since we have been used to saying, “And also with you,” for so long.
Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick
A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: St. Boniface (672?-754)
Boniface, known as the apostle of the Germans, was an English Benedictine monk who gave up being elected abbot to devote his life to the conversion of the Germanic tribes. Two characteristics stand out: his Christian orthodoxy and his fidelity to the pope of Rome.
How absolutely necessary this orthodoxy and fidelity were is borne out by the conditions he found on his first missionary journey in 719 at the request of Pope Gregory II. Paganism was a way of life. What Christianity he did find had either lapsed into paganism or was mixed with error. The clergy were mainly responsible for these latter conditions since they were in many instances uneducated, lax and questionably obedient to their bishops. In particular instances their very ordination was questionable.
These are the conditions that Boniface was to report in 722 on his first return visit to Rome. The Holy Father instructed him to reform the German Church. The pope sent letters of recommendation to religious and civil leaders. Boniface later admitted that his work would have been unsuccessful, from a human viewpoint, without a letter of safe-conduct from Charles Martel, the powerful Frankish ruler, grandfather of Charlemagne. Boniface was finally made a regional bishop and authorized to organize the whole German Church. He was eminently successful.
In the Frankish kingdom, he met great problems because of lay interference in bishops’ elections, the worldliness of the clergy and lack of papal control.
During a final mission to the Frisians, he and 53 companions were massacred while he was preparing converts for Confirmation.
In order to restore the Germanic Church to its fidelity to Rome and to convert the pagans, he had been guided by two principles. The first was to restore the obedience of the clergy to their bishops in union with the pope of Rome. The second was the establishment of many houses of prayer which took the form of Benedictine monasteries. A great number of Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns followed him to the continent. He introduced Benedictine nuns to the active apostolate of education.
Boniface bears out the Christian rule: To follow Christ is to follow the way of the cross. For Boniface, it was not only physical suffering or death, but the painful, thankless, bewildering task of Church reform. Missionary glory is often thought of in terms of bringing new persons to Christ. It seems—but is not—less glorious to heal the household of the faith.
Patron Saint of: Germany
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)
Franciscan Formation Reflection:
Do you actively respect the teaching Church as Sts. Francis and Clare? Or do you disagree with what the Church has been teaching us?
Do I believe the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church today? Give examples….
Which do you prefer?
- a) What the Church teaches, or
- b) What individuals prefer to teach and hold, contrary to the Church?
Do you take out time to figure out this difference? Which would Sts. Francis and Clare choose?
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 5 & 6 of 26:
05. Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.
06. They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.
Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.