Tag Archives: Animals

“Simon, You Didn’t Kiss My Feet, and the Food Sucked Too!” – Luke 7:36-50†


What a week has it been for me.  It started last Saturday with our Secular Franciscan Regional Chapter.  Though the St. Clare Region is the smallest of the SFO Fraternities in the United States, all 11 Fraternities were represented, and a good time was had by all.  The day ended with Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Parish: a dynamic church group where you will see a person in a pin-stripe suit and $500 shoes sitting next to a person with a purple Mohawk and 20 pierces on the head hugging each other during the sign of peace.  The adult male server had a pony-tail down to his waist.  I truly enjoyed the love present at this Mass.

Sunday was my Fraternities (Our Lady of Angels) meeting, and we had a new member come for her first time.  I believe she is going to request admission, along with another from last month.  This is exciting for our fraternity had been stagnating for quite some time.

Friday was the “Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus” and Yesterday (Saturday) was the “Feast of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.”  I literally take to heart (excuse the pun) these two days of remembering the love, mercy, and forgiveness present in our Savior Jesus, and in His (and ours) loving Mother, Mary.

Yesterday (Saturday) was my weekly meeting of our parish fellowship group.  It always starts with a rosary before the Blessed Sacrament,” Mass, and then the Divine Mercy Chaplet after Mass; again before the Blessed Sacrament.  Afterwards we go to our groups “corporate office” (most others know of it as McDonalds) for a couple hours of small talk, religious and parish discussion; and some cholesterol enhancement.

To some this week up in a sentence or two:  It has been a peaceful, thought-provoking, and spiritual week for me.  God is truly great and magnificent with me; I love Him so!

   

Today in Catholic History:

† 1525 – Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, against the celibacy doctrine decreed by the Roman Catholic Church on priests and nuns.
† 1798 – Mission San Luis Rey de Francia is founded.
† 2000 – Italy pardons Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who tried to kill
† Pope John Paul II in 1981.  He has since converted to Catholicism.
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Anthony of Padua, priest, confessor, Doctor of the Church; Saint Agricius, bishop of Sens, confessor; Saint Leo III, pope; Saint Onuphrius, hermit, confessor; Blessed Thomas Woodhouse, martyr

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Give the world the best you have and you might get kicked in the teeth. Give it anyway ~ Bl. Mother Teresa
    

Today’s reflection is about the sinful woman washing and kissing Jesus’ feet.
            

Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he [Jesus] was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.  When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”  Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said.  “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.  Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?”  Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.  But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”  He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”  But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (NAB Luke 7:36-50)

    

Similar scenes to this Gospel reading can be found in the three other books of the Gospels.  In those versions the anointing takes place in the town of Bethany, near Jerusalem, and just before Passover.  In the other three Gospels, this anointing is related to Jesus being proclaimed “king” by the crowds when he entered Jerusalem; and is related to his being anointed as a preparation for his burial.  In today’s Gospel reading, the anointing takes place in the north, in the town of Galilee, and early in his ministry instead.

In this story of the pardoning of a “sinful” woman responding to God’s gift of forgiveness, we are presented with two different reactions to the “ministry” of Jesus.  A Pharisee named Simon, suspecting Jesus to be a prophet, invites Him to a festive banquet at his house; but the Pharisee’s self-righteousness leads to little forgiveness by God and little love shown towards Jesus.  

The sinful woman, on the other hand, displays a faith in God that led her to search for forgiveness of her sins.  Because so much was forgiven, she now overwhelms Jesus with her display of love.  What a powerful lesson on the relation between forgiveness and love!

The normal posture while eating at a banquet was to recline at the table, on the left side.  The most honored guest was immediately to the right (front) of the host, with his back near or against the host’s chest.  The least honored guest was at the end of the table.  Other oriental banquet customs alluded to in this story include the reception by the host with a kiss (Luke 7:45), washing the feet of the guests (Luke 7:44), and the anointing of the guests’ heads (Luke 7:46).

In learning that Jesus was at the house of the Pharisee Simon, she literally “crashed” the party. Though she was “sinful,” there is no evidence of her being a prostitute but possibly guilty of some other sin.  What can be alluded to, is that she was “unclean” according to first century Palestine societal norms.  In allowing someone deemed unclean by society, Jesus showed that His norms for clean and unclean conflicted with those of the Pharisees.

She brought with her a alabaster flask of ointment.  Ointments were typically very expensive, even for the wealthy of that time. 

She stood behind him, and at his feet.  This position obviously is a position of humility and a sign of submissiveness towards Jesus.  Her weeping was a sign of great love for Him, and of her sorrow for her sins that separated Her from Jesus’ grace.

She began to bathe Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them dry with her hair, kissed His feet, and finally anointed the feet with the ointment she had brought with her.  The feet were the dirtiest part of any person of that day.  Most people walked either bare foot or with a rudimentary type of sandal.  With no sewage system, dirt floors in most homes, and all the animals present, one can imagine what people had to tread through in their everyday lives. 

To wash one’s feet was the job of the lowliest slave.  To fall to her knees and wash Jesus’ feet, and then dry them with her hair, as well as to kiss and anoint them showed an adoration, reverence, and love for Jesus that was beyond reproach.  Her actions towards Jesus was, to say the least, generous.

Simon witnessed this event, and said, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”  Simon did not realize that Jesus was greater than a prophet!  Jesus responded by telling him the parable about two people owing money, forgiveness, and love.  As is typical of Jesus’ style, He doesn’t answer Simon’s question Himself, but draws the correct answer out of Simon; allowing him to learn a moral lesson.  Simon is forced to admit that the one who had the bigger debt canceled probably loves the creditor more, when he said, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” 

Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”  Though Simon followed all societal rules of hospitality towards Jesus, he had not shown any special acts of hospitality either.  In a sense, the generosity of the sinner is contrasted with that of the stingiest of Jesus’ host: Simon.

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment.  So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love.”  Jesus rebuked and challenges Simon for his self-righteousness and inadequate love towards Him.  Jesus then commends the woman for her great and unconditional love and self-sacrifice to Him.

This “sinner” performed such acts of love towards Jesus that her sins were forgiveness.  What is intriguing for me is that I believe she received the gift of forgiveness before her encounter with Jesus at Simon’s home.  The woman’s sins were forgiven by the great love she showed toward Jesus, which had to be immense and strongly evident prior to her physically meeting Jesus.  Her humility was only surpassed by her love for the “Messiah.”

Jesus tells the woman, “Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Jesus in saying this is doing more than healing physical problems as some of the prophets had done. He is forgiving sins!  We hear these exact, or very similar, words at the end of the “Sacrament of Reconciliation.”  The priest, in “Persona Christi,” forgives our sins in the same way that Christ instituted on this day.  To me, this shows a proof that Jesus loves all, the woman of this first century, and the people of this day, with the same intensity.  When we show our love, reverence, and humility towards God’s creation; we are showing our love, reverence, and humility towards Jesus.  Our “tears,” our “hair,” and our “kissing and anointing” are our actions as a citizen of this earth, and our duties as a Catholic.  Do we love Jesus as much as this “sinful” woman?!

The others at table said to themselves, ’Who is this who even forgives sins?’”  The answer is quite simple: a person greater than a prophet did: Jesus, the “Christ” (meaning anointed one), and the “Messiah” (referring to the leader anointed by God.  A future King of Israel physically descended from Davidic lineage who will rule the people of a united tribes of Israel and herald in the Messianic Age of global peace), and the second person of the “Trinity” (meaning GOD)!!

Prayer of Wisdom from St. Francis & St. Claire of Assisi

“Jesus, following You is not always easy and carefree.  It does require something from me: I must follow your commands. 

Often out of pride or convenience, I seek to follow my own will instead.  Lead me through the narrow gates.  Be merciful and soften my heart when I stubbornly refuse to follow You.

Remind me that life with You is well worth any cost I may incur in following You.”

      

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Anthony of Padua 1195-1231
           

Anthony was born in the year 1195 at Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, where his father was a captain in the royal army. Already at the age of fifteen years the youth had entered the Congregation of Canons Regular of St. Augustine, and was devoting himself with great earnestness to study and to the practice of piety in the monastery at Coimbra, when a significant event, which occurred in the year 1220, changed his entire career.

The relics of St. Berard and companions, the first martyrs of the Franciscan Order, were being brought from Africa to Coimbra. At the sight of them, Anthony was seized with an intense desire to suffer martyrdom as a Franciscan missionary in Africa. In response to his repeated and humble petitions, the permission of his superiors to transfer to the Franciscan Order was reluctantly given. At his departure, one of the canons said to him ironically, “Go, then, perhaps you will become a saint in the new order.” Anthony replied, “Brother, when you hear that I have become a saint, you will praise God for it.”

In the quiet little Franciscan convent at Coimbra he received a friendly reception, and in the very same year his earnest wish to be sent to the missions in Africa was fulfilled. But God had decreed otherwise. Anthony scarcely set foot on African soil when he was seized with a grievous illness. Even after recovering from it, he was so weak that, resigning himself to the will of God, he boarded a boat back to Portugal. But a storm drove the ship to the coast of Sicily, and Anthony went to Assisi, where the general chapter of the order was held in May, 1221.

As he still looked weak and sickly, and gave no evidence of his scholarship, no one paid any attention to the stranger until Father Gratian, provincial of Romagna, had compassion on him and sent him to the quiet little convent near Forli. There Anthony remained nine months occupied in the lowliest duties of the kitchen and convent, and to his heart’s content he practiced interior as well as exterior mortification.

But the hidden jewel was soon to appear in all its brilliance. Anthony was sent to Forli with some other brethren, to attend the ceremony of ordination. At the convent there the superior wanted somebody to give an address for the occasion. Everybody excused himself, saying that he was not prepared, until Anthony was finally asked to give it. When he, too, excused himself most humbly, his superior ordered him by virtue of the vow of obedience to give the sermon. Anthony began to speak in a very reserved manner; but soon holy animation seized him, and he spoke with such eloquence, learning, and unction that everybody was fairly amazed.

When St. Francis was informed of the event, he gave Anthony the mission to preach all over Italy. At the request of the brethren, Anthony was later commissioned also to teach theology, “but in such a manner, St. Francis distinctly wrote, “that the spirit of prayer be not extinguished either in yourself or in the other brethren.”

St. Anthony himself placed greater value on the salvation of souls than on learning. For that reason he never ceased to exercise his office as preacher along with the work of teaching. The concourse of hearers was sometimes so great that no church was large enough to accommodate the audiences and he had to preach in the open air. He wrought veritable miracles of conversion. Deadly enemies were reconciled with each other. Thieves and usurers made restitution of their ill gotten goods. Calumniators and detractors recanted and apologized. He was so energetic in defending the truths of the Catholic Faith that many heretics re-entered the pale of the Church, so that Pope Gregory IX called him “the ark of the covenant.”

Once he was preaching at Rimini on the seacoast. He noticed that a group of heretics turned their backs to him and started to leave. Promptly the preacher turned to the sea and called out to the fishes: “Since the heretics do not wish to listen to me, do you come and listen to me!” And marvelous to say, shoals of fish came swimming and thrust their heads out of the water as if to hear the preacher. At this the heretics fell at Anthony’s feet and begged to be instructed in the truth.

The blessings of St. Anthony’s preaching were not confined to Italy. St. Francis sent him to France, where for about three years (1225-1227) he labored with blessed results in the convents of his order as well as o]in the pulpit. In all his labors he never forgot the admonition of his spiritual Father, that the spirit of prayer must not be extinguished. If he spent the day in teaching, and heard the confessions of sinners till late in the evening, then many hours of the night were spent in intimate union with God.

Once a man, at whose home Anthony was spending the night, came upon the saint and found him holding in his arms a child of unspeakable beauty surrounded with heavenly light. It was the Child Jesus.

In 1227, Anthony was elected minister provincial of upper Italy; and then he resumed the work of preaching. Due to his taxing labors and his austere practice of penance, he soon felt his strength so spent that he prepared himself for death. After receiving the last sacraments he kept looking upward with a smile on his countenance. When he was asked what he saw there, he answered, “I see my Lord.” Then he breathed forth his soul on June 13, 1231, being only 36 years old. Soon the children in the streets of the city of Padua were crying, “The saint is dead. Anthony is dead.”

Pope Gregory IX enrolled him among the saints in the very next year. At Padua a magnificent basilica was built in his honor, his holy relics were entombed there in 1263. From the time of his death up to the present day, countless miracles have occurred through St. Anthony’s intercession, so that he is known as the Wonder-Worker. In 1946 he was also declared a Doctor of the Church.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed.
by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

        

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

Advertisements

“My Toe Has Sinned, But My Nose Is Clean!”-†


“In the solemn celebration of Pentecost we are invited to profess our faith in the presence and in the action of the Holy Spirit and to invoke his outpouring upon us, upon the Church and upon the whole world. Let us make our own, and with special intensity, the Church’s invocation: ‘Veni, Sancte Spiritus!’ ” Pope Benedict XVI Homily of Pentecost 2010
     

Today in Catholic History:

† 1601 – Birth of Antoine Daniel, Jesuit missionary and martyr (d. 1648)
† 1651 – Birth of Louis-Antoine, Cardinal de Noailles, French cardinal (d. 1729)
† Feast Days in the Church: Augustine of Canterbury, Venerable Bede, Saint Julius the Veteran, Pope John I, Hildebert, Bruno, Bishop of Würzburg, Eutropius, Mother’s Day in Bolivia (Día de la Madre) and Sweden (Mors Dag), Children’s Day in Nigeria
    

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

The difficulty does not arise so much from the mere fact that good and evil are mingled in roughly equal proportions; it arises chiefly from the fact that men always differ about what parts are good and what parts are evil.  – G.K. Chesterton

Today’s reflection is:

Why does all personal sin have social consequences?  Do I think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?

     

Sin and its consequence on society: what an interesting subject.  I guess the first thing to discuss is what exactly is “sin” and “evil.”    Catholic resources say that is a “moral evil.”  Now we have to determine what is meant by evil and in particular moral evil.  It seems Catholic Theologians like to make things fairly difficult for other Catholics to understand at times.

So, being a good Catholic, I stopped with the religious resources at this point, and went to the secular dictionary instead.  A much easier definition of sin is:

“A transgression of a religious or moral law, especially when it is a deliberate disobedience to the known will of God.  Sin causes a condition of estrangement from God as a result of this disobedience.  Sin is usually something regarded as being shameful, deplorable, or utterly wrong.”

Evil is defined as:

Something morally bad or wrong, or wicked; causing ruin, injury, pain, or some other type of harm.  Evil implies a deficiency in perfection, hence it cannot exist in God who is by nature, “all good.”  

On earth, only the human race can display moral evil, as we are the only intelligent beings.  Animals and plant life have no capabilities to be intrinsically evil.  Animals and plants are only respondents to nature, and do not have “free-will.”

God gave free-will to only two of His creations: humans and angels.  This grace of free-will is a two edged sword.  One side brings us just this much closer to the divinity of God than all other creation, but its other side takes one away from God in the belief they ARE “gods” also!

Free-will is a concept and action of how we internalize and conform to right and wrong.  We either agree and conform, or disagree and do not conform to the natural and divine laws of God.

The angels were the first to fall on this sword, when a third of the angels tore themselves away from God, and were doomed to Hell.  As God is pure good and perfect in all ways; these “fallen angels” now have no good in them, and are pure evil.

Adam and Eve were made perfect and good by God because God cannot make anything other than good.  Adam and Eve’s own free-will led them to sin.  With that first sinful act, humanity lost all hope of perfection since non-perfect people simply cannot make perfect offspring.  Makes me wonder what would have happened if Cain and Abel were born prior to the “apple” incident?

When humans and angels know of God and His law, and then deliberately refuse to obey, “moral evil” results.  Sin is nothing more than a morally bad act; an act not in accordance with reason as informed by the divine law, and which is known to us by the dictates of our own conscience (angel on one shoulder, and devil on the other).

In every sinful act two things must be considered, the substance of the act and the want of conformity.  The Catholic Church has divided sin into two fundamental categories: “venial” and “mortal” sins.  Venial sins are relatively minor and could be forgiven through sacramentals or sacraments of the church.  For those Catholics that “do” go to church, this is done at the very beginning of each and every mass.  Mortal sin destroys grace, and separates the soul from God.  Mortal sin creates a threat of eternal damnation for the individual unless absolved through the “Sacrament of Penance.”

The most objectionable sins (vices) are called the “Seven Deadly Sins,” also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins.  They are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.

Now that we know what sin and evil are, we can discuss how ones personal sins have consequences on groups such as family, community, and society as a whole.

All Catholics are part of a community.  If one part fails, it has a direct result on the other parts.  If you stub you toe, your entire body suffers.  The brain has trouble concentrating for a short time, and you body has trouble walking or hopping for a period of time as well.  This is the same for the Church community also.  Any injury to one part injures all.

The body can be healed.  We have medicines, Band-Aids, and even physical therapy to help us heal in body; but what about our soul?  It can be healed as well.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation needs to be looked as the “healing” sacrament it is, instead of as punishment for our transgressions.  We did away with cod liver oil decades ago, and in the church we have also done away with the medieval attitudes and practices associated with having our sins forgiven. 

Confession (yes, I’m an old-timer) is a very pleasant experience.  I nearly laugh as I watch people walk into the “confessional” looking like they are about to get a prostate exam, and exiting as if they had won a large and priceless prize.  In actuality, they did!  They won the prize of being sinless and nearer to God, and assured (if only temporarily) of a place in eternal oneness with God in heaven.  The act of confessing sins to Christ (in the person of the Priest) is a very open and fluid experience now.  There is a formula, but the priest will easily help you through the process.  It is truly NON-painful, and makes one so happy inside and out.  I have actually laughed “in the confessional,” over the exchange between the priest and I (my childhood St. Joseph Nuns are turning over in their graves at the thought of humor involved in confession).  If you haven’t gone in a while, you honestly do not know what you are missing: a pleasant experience; and eternity in heaven!

 “O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin.”

     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Augustine of Canterbury (d. 605?)
    

In the year 596, some 40 monks set out from Rome to evangelize the Anglo-Saxons in England. Leading the group was Augustine, the prior of their monastery in Rome. Hardly had he and his men reached Gaul (France) when they heard stories of the ferocity of the Anglo-Saxons and of the treacherous waters of the English Channel. Augustine returned to Rome and to the pope who had sent them—St. Gregory the Great (September3 )—only to be assured by him that their fears were groundless.

Augustine again set out and this time the group crossed the English Channel and landed in the territory of Kent, ruled by King Ethelbert, a pagan married to a Christian. Ethelbert received them kindly, set up a residence for them in Canterbury and within the year, on Pentecost Sunday, 597, was himself baptized. After being consecrated a bishop in France, Augustine returned to Canterbury, where he founded his see. He constructed a church and monastery near where the present cathedral, begun in 1070, now stands. As the faith spread, additional sees were established at London and Rochester.

Work was sometimes slow and Augustine did not always meet with success. Attempts to reconcile the Anglo-Saxon Christians with the original Briton Christians (who had been driven into western England by Anglo-Saxon invaders) ended in dismal failure. Augustine failed to convince the Britons to give up certain Celtic customs at variance with Rome and to forget their bitterness, helping him evangelize their Anglo-Saxon conquerors

Laboring patiently, Augustine wisely heeded the missionary principles—quite enlightened for the times—suggested by Pope Gregory the Great: purify rather than destroy pagan temples and customs; let pagan rites and festivals be transformed into Christian feasts; retain local customs as far as possible. The limited success Augustine achieved in England before his death in 605, a short eight years after he arrived in England, would eventually bear fruit long after in the conversion of England. Truly Augustine of Canterbury can be called the “Apostle of England.”

. (From http://www.americancatholic.orgwebsite)

 

Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule, Chapter 1:
   

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).

♬“If I Could Talk To The Animals; Just Imagine It!”♬ – St. Francis Did!†


It is a beautifully “WET” Thursday is Hazelwood (St. Louis) Missouri today.  The fresh air, the birds singing in the distance, and the lack of the pitter-patter (actually it is “thump-thump”) of my teenage children’s feet as they are now in school makes for an awesome day.  Three more days left of Eastertide and till the birthday of the Catholic Church.

 

Today in Catholic History:
† 325 – The First Council of Nicaea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church – is held.
† 1277 – Death of Pope John XXI (b. 1215)
† 1470 – Birth of Pietro Bembo, Italian cardinal (d. 1547)
† 1593 – Birth of Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
† 1825 – Death of Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
† 1927 – Birth of Franciszek Macharski, Polish Cardinal
† Feast and Memorials: Saint Bernardine of Siena, Saint Lucifer, Saint Austregisilus, Saint Ivo of Chartres, Abercius and Helena

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains un-awakened.
     

Today’s reflection:
    

What is the difference between showing respect for animals and treating them as if they are humans?  Do humans and animals have equal rights?
   

Probably the one big thing all people remember about St. Francis is that he was around animals.  If there is a statue of St. Francis in your garden or on your stoop, it probably has him with birds, deer, a wolf, or other animals surrounding him.  There are even many great stories about St. Francis’ encounters directly or indirectly, with animals found in nature.

It is true he loved animals.  He was even known to feed them with food literally out of his own mouth.   Our Seraphic Father (St. Francis) considered all creation, including people, animals,  flowers and trees, and even the various weather patterns as divine gifts from God, for us to enjoy, use, and to care for.

Secular Franciscans Rule # 20 states to “respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.”  Let’s tear this rule down to its elements.

We, as Christians, MUST respect all creation that lives, or inspires us to live.  Sounds simple, but the rule also says inanimate, meaning creation not in a physically live state; or not active, energetic, or lively.  To me this means to respect everything God has created, and God doesn’t make anything bad: it becomes bad only because of free-will and choosing that path of life.

Weather; rain as an example, is a good thing for us and the earth.  It cleans and refreshes the ground.  It gives us the necessary resources we need to survive.  Sometimes lightening occurs with the rain, and people see this as bad.  Lightening burns the ground, and scourges the earth.  It is a destroyer of the flora and fauna of an area.  We need to remember that with this death, comes a new life.  An area destroyed, within a few years, is thriving with a new growth of trees, grasses, and animal life.

It is everyone’s responsibility to remember that God gave us special gifts He did not give to any other earthly creation: a soul, and the responsibility to care for His creations.  We are to be good stewards of this planet.  Exploiting our resources is not only wrong: it is against God’s role for us, and is a sin against nature and divinity.

Does this mean we need to treat all creation as divine and Godly?  Absolutely NOT!  Only the Trinitarian God is divine, and deserves our worship.  But God’s creation does need to be respected, and appreciated for what they are:  God’s creation, for us to use and enjoy wisely.  Our Catechism of the Catholic Church even covers many aspects of animal rights, and proper use of earthly resources.  I will only print two for this article: #323- Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.  And In 2416 –  Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

Call to mind a time when you were outside, and felt the presence of God in the beauty of His awesome creations.  I believe we all need to take time out from our busy schedules, and renew our appreciation of our earth.  Go outside, sit in a chair, and put yourself in God’s presence.  Reflect not only on the beauty and wonder of nature, but reflect on your responsibility as God’s instrument on earth.

In the 1970’s, there was a famous commercial saying, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!”  Then came the famous and still frequently used, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!”  I think all of us know what the proper things are to help the world, and each other.  We just have to realize that ecology, recycling, and resource management MUST be a priority.  For those that pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer in it says, “Come let us worship God who holds the world and its wonders in his creating hand.”

Instead of a closing prayer, I would like to offer this little known poem from St. Francis of Assisi:
    

Not To Hurt

“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals)
Is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.
We have a higher mission:
To be of service to them whenever they require it. ”
   

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bernardin of Siena 1380-1444
 

St. Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, begins the biography of Bernardin with the words, “The grace of God, Our Saviour, has appeared in His servant Bernardin, who shone like a bright star in a dark night, and with the heavenly brilliance of his virtue and doctrine frightened away the darkness.”

The great saint descended from the old knightly family of the Albizeschi of Siena, and was born on September 8, 1380, in the town of Massa, a dependency of Siena, where his father was governor. When Bernardin was only 7 years old, he had lost both his parents, but he was reared in the fear of God by devout relatives. He evinced a great love for the poor, with whom, as a little boy, he gladly shared his food. He attended divine services with the most edifying devotion, and listened to sermons with such attention that he could repeat them to his companions.

He loved purity above all the virtues. While he attended the secondary school in Siena, he could not hear an unbecoming word without blushing for shame, so that those who spoken it themselves blushed. When any indecent conversation was going on among his companions, they stopped as soon as they saw him coming. “Be still,” they said, “Bernardin is coming.”

While the holy youth was otherwise very meek, he was friendly to all, he could nevertheless grow extremely angry if decency was violated. A prominent citizen once purposely told him something indecent in the open market place. Bernardin gave him a resounding slap in the face, and amid the laughter of the bystanders the disgraced citizen had to withdraw.

With his great love for purity, Bernardin united a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he used to call his beloved. Out of devotion to her he daily visited an image of Mary just outside the town of Siena; he prayed there especially to learn his vocation. The Mother of Grace, who had protected him in the world, now led him to the sanctuary of the convent. In the quiet little convent of St. Mary Colombaio, which St. Francis himself had founded. Bernardin received the holy habit on the feast of the Nativity of Mary in the year 1402. On the same feast in the following year, he made his profession, and after he was ordained and appointed to preach, he also gave his first sermon on the feast of Mary’s nativity.

Since, however, Bernardin’s voice was very weak and hoarse, he seemed ill-fitted for the office of a preacher. Yet here, too, his beloved Mother helped him. AT her intercession his voice suddenly became so powerful and melodious that he became one of the most distinguished missionaries.

Now he journeyed all over Italy in order to announce to the people the virtues and vices, and the reward of the former and punishment of the latter. In many places such depravity existed that he found it necessary to preach sermons which he himself called sermons for heathens. The effects, however, were so astounding that Pope Pius II compared him with the Apostle of the Gentiles and called him a second Paul. After he had shaken their truths, he poured into them the soothing oil of the sweet name of Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, and preached on Mary, the Mother of Mercy.

His blessed ministry induced many towns to seek him as their bishop. This Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino petitioned in turn for this privilege, and the pope offered Bernardin the episcopal dignity. But with unchanging humility, he declined every time. He remained among his religious brethren whom he encouraged in religious perfection.

Rich in merits and virtue he died at Aquila on May 20, 1944, Pope Nicholas V canonized him 6 years later, whereupon the citizens of Aquila built to his honor a beautiful church with a magnificent marble tomb.

 (From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

“Where the Hell Did Jesus Go?!”


Humor of the Day:

Be  fishers of men. You catch them – Jesus will clean them.

 

 Today’s Meditation: 

The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple,

The 3rd Sorrow of Mary  (Luke 2:39-52)

Imagine the sufferings in Mary’s heart when she realized the Child Jesus was not with them.

“And a sword, too, shall pierce your heart, O Mary!”

 

With four boys, I remember the panic I experienced when one of them ‘got away from me’ and I did not know their location.  This panic, most parents will agree, is indescribable and extreme – even if just for a minute.  I thought this feeling would lesson as the boys got older.  What a fool I am!

Recently, my 16 year-old, newly licensed driver, son left to go to a friend’s house at noon.  He had orders to be home by dark.  At 8 pm, he was not home, and he was not answering any of my phone calls or text messages.  I was almost literally climbing up the walls.  Being a retired paramedic, and used to seeing the bad effects of life, I was imagining all kinds of problems my son had gotten himself into.  Needless to say, when he came home at 9 pm, he soon realized that his actions and behaviors were unacceptable, and that these actions will not be allowed again!

That was with my son being three hours late.  I can not even imagine three days of not knowing the location or welfare of my son.  Was he hurt and laying in the desert?  Was he abducted?  Was he eaten by a famished camel?  This had to be three days of pure hell for Mary and Joseph.  Can you just picture them running through the dessert trying to retrace their journey, and not finding Him.  Again, pure agony!

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day: Blessed James of Strepar

James was born in the 14th century of a noble Polish family of Strepar and was educated in a Christian manner by his pious parents. To escape the dangers of the world, he entered the poor order of St. Francis when he was a young man. Very soon he became distinguished among his brethren for eminent virtue, rare attainments, and zeal for the salvation of souls.

With the consent of his superiors James went to Russia to preach the Gospel and to save the faithful from going astray. About 1360, he had a share  “>in the organization of a special group of Franciscan missionaries called Societas Peregrinantium or Travelers for Christ, who did excellent work in Russia. Wallachia, and Podolia, and in 1401 extended their activities also to the Tatars near the Caspian Sea and other parts of Asia.

Father James’ missionary efforts were so successful, and his apostolic virtues were so pronounced, that on the death of the archbishop of Halicz, the pope named him his successor at the request of the king of Poland in 1392. Only because he was compelled, did James accept the dignity. But even as a bishop he wore the Franciscan habit and as far as possible continued his missionary labors.

To secure God’s blessing on the territory entrusted to his spiritual care, he considered nothing more helpful than veneration of the Mother of God. Next to God he placed his confidence in her.

After a laborious and blessed episcopate of 19 years, God called him to receive his heavenly reward in the year 1410. Clothed in the habit of the order and wearing the marks of his episcopal dignity, he was entombed in the Franciscan church at Lwow, to which the archbishopric had been transferred from Halicz. When his grave was opened after 200 years his body and clothing were found entirely incorrupt. Later the remains were removed to the cathedral.

The continued veneration paid to him was formally approved by Pope Pius VI.

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press

(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

“Compassion & Pity”


 Meditation of the day:

“Men who exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion & pity, will deal likewise with their fellow men.”  (St. Francis)

 In my younger days, while camping in the beautiful country of the Ozark hills, I remember being awaken by a rooster making the most awful noise at 6 o’clock in the morning.   I also remember being so upset that  I found myself chasing that rooster across a field swinging a hatchet.  Thank God that I did not succeed in my goal of quieting the “rooster from hell.”

The way we treat God’s creatures we deem subservient to us does have a direct relationship on how we treat our peers.  How often have we heard about the rapist or murder who started out as a child harming animals.  In today’s society of immorality do we see disgusting animal abuse cases involving “puppy mills.” 

This meditation also includes humans.  How often have we subjectively made a decision based solely on first looks and/or preconceived notions of others.  Have I ever looked at someone begging for money at a corner with ill repute?  YES!!  I need to personalize St. Francis’ action and “hug and kiss the leper.”  Everyone is made by God – and all God’s creation is always good! 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO