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“Jesus, Can I Be The Right-Hand Servant, And My Brother The Left-Hand Servant?!” – Mark 10:35-45†


29thSunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Joke of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:


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Joke of the Day:

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Today’s reflection: Jesus teaches that those who wish to be great must be the servant of all.  Jesus came to serve.  What about YOU?

(NAB Mark 10:35-45) 35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  36 He replied, “What do you wish [me] to do for you?”  37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”  38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  39 They said to him, “We can.”  Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”  41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.  42 Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.  43 But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

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Gospel Reflection:

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is still journeying to Jerusalem (3 weeks now).  Last Sunday, Jesus taught about the specific challenge to confront, and surmount, for those with many possessions, in order to enter the Kingdom of God.  Jesus then foretold of His passion to His “Twelve” close and faithful disciples, who then become “amazed and afraid” at His prophetic vision.  Jesus’ “Words” to His closest of His followers, I believe, are intended to prepare them for events that will occur in Jerusalem at the time of Passover, and also in their future lives and paths to martyrdom.

James and John, in today’s reading, ask to be given seats of honor when Jesus “enters into His glory”.  It seems that once again, the disciples are selective in what they hear Jesus say.  (It must be a male trait because my wife accuses me of having selective hearing quite often.)  James and John want to share Jesus’ “glory”, but do not appear to understand that Jesus’ glory will be preceded by His suffering and death.  James and John, though truly loyal and constantly dutiful followers to Jesus, were “wet behind the ears” – – inexperienced and idealistic – – in the understanding of Jesus’ specific mission.  Jesus notes their lack of understanding and foretells the suffering that they will also undergo for the sake of His “Word”, the Gospel.  

Jesus concludes today’s reading by saying that the “honor” they seek is not His to give.  When the other ten disciples hear what James and John have asked, they become “indignant” towards them, probably wishing they had asked first!  It is interesting that these twelve bickering men are the group to whom Jesus will entrust the entire leadership and “authority” of His community of believers and followers, the future Catholic Christian Church. 

Rather than scold His twelve “special” disciples, Jesus turns their squabble into a lesson about “servant leadership”.  Jesus takes the opportunity to teach all of them about the importance of service and sacrifice in the life of EVERY disciple.  In actuality, Jesus seems to be preparing the “Twelve” [Apostles] for their leadership roles in the emerging Catholic Christian community.  

Echoing the Gospel which we heard several weeks ago (cf., Mark 9:33-37), Jesus acknowledges that His teaching is deliberately very different from the cultural values of our earthly society and materialistic world.  His “WAY” in life is countercultural.  Jesus goes on, in today’s reading, to contrast and distinguish the dynamics – – the change producing force – – within the community of His disciples to those of the “rulers of the Gentiles”.

Mark’s description of this event is somewhat different than what is written in Matthew’s Gospel.  Matthew has the mother of the two disciples approaching Jesus:

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Him with her sons and did Him homage, wishing to ask Him for something.  He said to her, ‘What do you wish?’  She answered Him, ‘Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.’” (Matthew 20:20–21).

These two men (or their mother) boldly asked Jesus to promote them to the top positions in His kingdom.  I think their desire for greatness seems to be inherent in all of us.  After all, who truly wants to be last or least in the group?  

The reason Matthew’s Gospel has “the mother” petitioning is not made clear.  Some bible scholars suppose that Matthew wanted to allude to Bathsheba’s seeking the kingdom for Solomon (cf., 1 Kings 1:11–21).  Bathsheba, as we all know (hopefully), was the wife of King David and the mother of Solomon.  In David’s old age, Bathsheba secured the succession of her son Solomon to the throne, instead of David’s eldest surviving son Adonijah.  James and John, and Solomon it seems, had good Jewish mothers who wanted the best for their children and “lent a hand” in facilitating the best position possible for their children.

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Jesus replies to the brothers (and probably their mother as well):

Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized? (Mark 10:38).

Jesus is using a metaphor, a figure of speech, for the “drinking from the cup” used in Jewish Scripture, which refers to acceptance of the destiny assigned by God the Father:

 “The LORD tests the righteous and the wicked, hates those who love violence, and rains upon the wicked fiery coals and brimstone, a scorching wind their allotted cup. (Psalm 11:5-6)

This “allotted cup”, given by God the Father to drink, is a common figure for destiny throughout both the Old and New Testaments:

LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure” (Psalm 16:5);

“Yes, a cup is in the LORD’s hand, foaming wine, fully spiced.  When God pours it out, they will drain it even to the dregs; all the wicked of the earth will drink” (Psalm 75:9);

Jesus said in reply, ‘You do not know what you are asking.  Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’  They said to him, ‘We can.’” (Matthew 20:22);

“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 26:39);

“A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice, ‘Anyone who worships the beast or its image, or accepts its mark on forehead or hand, will also drink the wine of God’s fury, poured full strength into the cup of his wrath, and will be tormented in burning sulfur before the holy angels and before the Lamb’” (Revelations 14:9-10).

Jesus’ “cup” is filled with the divine judgment on sin.  Jesus Christ – – the innocent one – – is to drink of this cup on behalf of the guilty:

“He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many’” (Mark 14:24);

Jesus was well aware of the Jewish Scripture prophecy found in Isaiah, chapter 53, in regards to drinking from this cup of salvation:

He was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity.  He bore the punishment that makes us whole, by his wounds we were healed” (Isaiah 53:5).

Jesus’ destiny is to be crucified and die for the redemptive salvation of the human race, “His baptism”:

There is a baptism [His death] with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50).

So, you see, the request of James and John to share in Jesus’ “glory” (Mark 10:35–37) must also involve a share in Jesus’ sufferings as well – – their individual, personal, and intimate endurance of trial, tribulation, and suffering for the sake of the “Word”, the Gospel.

 Jesus ends His lesson with James and John by telling them that the “authority” of assigning places of honor in God the Father’s kingdom is solely reserved to God the Father Himself, and to NOONE else:

To sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mark 10:40)!!

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As I stated earlier, the other “Apostles” became rather upset, offended, and resentful toward James and John for making such a request of “honor”.  How dare they (or their mother per Matthew) have the nerve to ask for special treatment from Jesus!  Too bad they did not realize that eventually, they ALL, plus many more followers of Jesus’ WAY would be included in the drinking from Jesus’ “cup” – – dying for their Christian faith in horrendous and cruel ways.  They ALL would come to sit WITH Jesus – – in the seats allotted to them by God the Father.  And, ALL of them would be the Grade “A”, primo seats, for eternity.  

Dissention, it seems, was looming amongst the group, and the “boss’s son” knew.  So, Jesus called the group together in order to talk to them:

You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.  But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:42-45).

Wow, “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Later, Jesus will again dramatize this very important lesson on the night before He dies, at the Last Supper, when He washes the feet of the Twelve Apostles.

Jesus is telling these future leaders within His group that whatever “authority” is to be exercised by them (and by US today), it needs to be in the example of Jesus’ service to them.  Their “authority” is to be rendered AS SERVICE to others (Mark 10:45).  Their “authority” is NOT to be for personal enrichment or embellishment (Mark 10:42–44).  

Saint Francis of Assisi understood this lesson of Jesus intimately well, and practiced it ALWAYS!  In his “rule of life”, Saint Francis stresses that the ministers – – the leaders of the Friar Minors (little brothers) – – should be:

“Admonish and encourage them with humility and love.… The ministers are to be servants of all.” 

Additionally, St. Francis wrote:

“No one is to appropriate any office or ministry as if it were a personal right.”

The same lesson holds true for today’s secular and religious leaders.  Leaders must give their “authority”, priority, energy, abilities, and commitment to the service of ALL others.  

Jesus stated, in a direct manner, that He came to serve His Father in Heaven by His passion and death – –  NOT for His sake – – but for the sins of the human race!  Later, at the “Last Supper”, He will again say of His service:

This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many” (Mark 14:24).

In both today’s reading and in the future “Last Supper” event, Jesus is AGAIN referring to prophesy found in Isaiah, chapter 53:

“Because of His anguish He shall see the light; because of His knowledge He shall be content; my servant, the just one, shall justify the many, their iniquity he shall bear.  Therefore I will give Him His portion among the many, and He shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because He surrendered Himself to death, was counted among the transgressors, Bore the sins of many, and interceded for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:11–12);

Jesus, what a man, what a leader, what a Lord He truly was AND IS!!  I can never say this little prayer enough:

“I adore you Jesus, I hope in you Jesus, I love in you Jesus, I trust in you Jesus!  You are my Lord, my God, and my ALL!!  Amen.”

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Following Jesus’ example of sacrificial love continues to be “countercultural” today.  Some days, I feel this difference between our societal values and that of God’s values is excruciatingly painful – – both physically and spiritually.  True Catholics, full with God’s grace, are truly at battle with the forces of evil in this world.  All of us need to keep in mind, during this time of spiritual warfare, that we already know the outcome of the war – – GOD WINS!!  And, I know that I personally want to be on the winning side with YOU!  Let’s take this opportunity, given to us by God, and consider our known models of “authority”, and compare them to our OWN use of “authority”.  Whose model of leadership are you using: Jesus Christ’s, or, the “rulers over the Gentiles”?  I know that in my life, I have used BOTH examples in the past, and I prefer the former than the latter.

Jesus did the unthinkable!  He reversed the path to gaining true greatness and glory, literally turning the ladder of success we climb upside down.  If we want to be first and great, then we must place ourselves at the disposal of others by putting their interests first and by taking on their cares and concerns as if they were our own.  Jesus attached “authority” to “unconditional love and service” – – to total sacrifice – – a willing sacrifice of one’s life for the sake of another.  In doing so, our service to others brings about, in ours and others lives, the model of perfect JOY:

J     –       Jesus first;
O    –       Then others.
  And finally; 
Y    –       Yourself last.

Authority”, without sacrificial love, is simply degrading and self-serving.  Jesus used blunt language to explain the kind of sacrifice He expected of Himself and for His disciples.  His disciples need to drink from His “cup” if they expect to reign with Him in God the Father’s kingdom.  The “cup” He described is a bitter one – – involving pain, suffering, and crucifixion – – laying down one’s life, even to the point of shedding one’s blood for the sake of Christ and His “Word”, the Gospel.

What kind of “cup” is prepared for each one of us?  For some, such a “cup” entails physical suffering and the painful struggle of martyrdom.  However, for most of us, it entails the long routine of a pious Catholic Christian life, with all its monotonous daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and ever-present temptations.  

Christ offered His life for our sake, and He calls us to freely offer our lives in a daily sacrifice of love and service for others.  What makes sacrifice a JOY – – rather than a burden – – is love; the kind of joy-full love which has the power to transform and change our lives, as well as the lives of those around us.  Saint Paul tells us that this special kind of love is a pure grace which “God poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5).  If we allow God’s love to transform our lives, then no sacrifice – – no pain, no torment, no death – – will be too great or too difficult to endure.

Pope John XXIII – – who opened the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago this past week (October 11, 1962) – – was a true “servant leader”.  If parents, priests, bishops, politicians, and business leaders are to lead according to the Gospel, they must learn what the Gospel has to say in their particular circumstances, as Pope John the Great had done.  Only in this way can they exercise “servant leadership” in the manner of Jesus Christ.  

As we prepare to elect our nation’s leaders on November 6th, we should pray for all candidates that they may seek NOT political power and prestige, but the ability to be “servant leaders”, especially to those who are in greatest need.  It is also appropriate for us to ask of them – – to DEMAND of them – – that they BE “servant leaders”! 

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In the daily routine of life, power struggles are unavoidable.  Whenever two or more people are together, there will be occasions of disagreement and attempts to exert influence over each other.  However, when two or more are together, in HIS name, all there can be is LOVE, even during dissension:

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). 

Today’s Gospel is an invitation to reflect on how “authority” is applied in your life.  There is a temptation to use our “authority” in order to show power over others.  When conflicts emerge, many of us even rely upon the power we believe our role in life gives us in order to facilitate the situation to “our” favor.  However, Jesus teaches us that there is a more persuasive form of leadership to follow – – servitude.  In our daily “challenges” we have the opportunity to practice and teach the kind of service leadership Jesus modeled for us in His ministry, AND, in His passion and death.

Realize that conflicts based on “power struggles” seem unavoidable in our secular lives.  However, Catholic Christians are to display their authority over others in a unique, some may say unthinkable, way.  Think about Jesus’ unique message to His disciples (and to US) about how He wishes for us to apply “authority”.  Think about ways in which you might apply Jesus’ “Words” in your own life and in others lives.  We all need to remember a somewhat famous expression from the Church itself:

“To serve is to reign with Christ”.

Pray that we ALL may receive honor in God’s eyes by learning to serve others in love.  We share in God’s power, authority, and kingdom by loving others as He has loved us, AND, by laying down our lives in humble caring service for the sake of our neighbor’s welfare.  With God, all is possible.  Father Jacque Philippe, in his book, “Interior Freedom” said:

We do not all have in us the stuff of sages or heroes.  But by God’s grace we do have the stuff of saints

Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?  I believe I do, even if it means for me a slow martyrs death by way of the everyday monotonous and drudging routine of a normal Catholic Christian life, with all its dull, repetitive, boring, and tedious daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and ever-present temptations.  How about you?

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Reflection Prayer: 

PARDON PRAYER of FATIMA

 

My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love Thee!  I ask forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love Thee!  Amen.

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“You Cannot Mention My Father’s Name. However, I Truly Want You To Use MINE!” – Mark 9:38-48†


 

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Content:

 

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Quote of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

As Catholics, we are to achieve a “unity of life”, letting our faith form our political decisions as we prepare to vote this November:

“We have important obligations as citizens.  But we have to carry out those obligations always in light of our duty to God” (Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles).

We, per Jesus’ “Word”, are to “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”  We are called to work for the common good of society, to obey just laws, and to respect society and government.  These responsibilities are what we render unto Caesar. 

What we render unto God – – IS FAITH. This means that “we can’t forget about the Church’s teachings and the demands of God’s law.  We have to make sure our participation and our contributions ALWAYS reflect the moral and religious values we find in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church.

When Catholics go to the voting booth, there are NON-negotiable aspects of Catholic social teaching.  Abortion, euthanasia, and marriage between a man and a woman, are among those that are non-negotiable!!

However, many issues ARE, and can be, debatable among Catholics.  Such issues include the economy, taxes, government spending, immigration, foreign affairs, and helping the poor and marginalized.  All these topics are matters for careful judgment – – careful CHOICE.  In such areas, we are always going to have legitimate differences of opinion over how best to apply the Church’s moral principles and teachings among members of our faith community.

So, what is a Catholic to do this November when we go to vote for our future?  What is important to remember is that we are always think and act with the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church in voting and in other civic responsibilities.

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Quote of the Day:

 

“We want with all our hearts to love, to BE “love”.  When you love people, you see all the good in them, all the Christ in them.  God sees Christ, His Son, in us and loves us.  And so we should see Christ in others.” ~Dorothy Day, “My Wounded Hands“, Pauline Books & Media

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Today’s reflection: Jesus teaches that whoever is not against Him – – is FOR Him.  Are YOU a fan, or a follower?

(NAB Mark 9:38-43,45,47-48)  38 John said to him, l “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”  39 Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.  40 For whoever is not against us is for us.  41 Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.  42 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe [in me] to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.  43 If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.  45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.  47 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, 48 where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Last week we heard Jesus rebuke His disciples for their arguing about who among them was the greatest.  Jesus taught them that the greatest among them will be those who serve the least among us.  Today, Jesus’ closest disciple, John, questions Jesus about an “unknown exorcist”, driving out demons in Jesus’ name.  John’s question to Jesus, in today’s reading, looks to have been motivated by simple jealousy:

“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us (Mark 9:38). 

I believe John’s question is evidence that Jesus’ disciples have not completely grasped the meaning of Jesus’ “Words”.  These twelve extremely close followers of Jesus continue to compare themselves to others, especially others who appear to have greater healing powers than they possess.  They DO NOT want to share the power of Jesus’ name with others.  John and the other “disciples” even try to stop the man “because he was not following us“.

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Jesus’ reply is, in itself, filled with wisdom:

Do not prevent him.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me (Mark 9:39).

Jesus strongly warns against jealousy and intolerance toward others who do not follow in His and our particular ways of faith, and leading to making false judgments.  In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian’s:

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

Let me ask you all a question: “Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to stand out more than us?”  I remember as a child being told by the Nuns teaching at my parochial school that ONLY Catholics would go to heaven.  All others would go to Hell, purgatory, or the infamous “limbo” (with the un-baptized infants), and going no further towards a full glory found in heaven.  Thank God (literally) that our closed-minded misunderstanding of dogma no longer exists in the Catholic faith today. 

All of us have to keep in mind that the Catholic Church was established by Christ Himself, at the “Last Supper”, and it has continued without a break in Apostolic Succession to the present day.  Yet, this “perfect” Church is filled with imperfect, sinful souls.  All can achieve the glorious perfection of heaven through their individual actions in this world, even without ever hearing the “Words” of Christ.  Christ knows all of us BY our works:

I [God] know your works (Revelations 3:15);

Christ knows all of us BY our faith and HOW we show our faith through our works:

“Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).

With this in mind, there are many Catholics walking on the much easier road to Hell than much more difficult path to paradise.  These materialistic, jealous, judgmental people think they will be saved simply because they attend Mass when necessary, by sending their children to a parochial school, and by supporting their parish and diocese.  At the same time, they cheat, steal, tell lies, look at pornography, and so on.

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In today’s more medically advanced society, the “demon possession” described in Mark, might be seen as only a form of mental illness.  However, the need for healing, including for those with mental illness, was as real for them in the first-century, as it is for us still today.  “Exorcism” was a common practice during Jesus’ time on earth.  We know some people had the power to heal the symptoms of possession then, just as priests are able to do so now.  One of the strategies used in “driving out demons” was, and is still, by invoking the name of a person or figure believed to have the divine power and authority to heal: e.g., Jesus Christ.

The disciples observed that the “unknown exorcist” invoking Jesus’ name was potentially successful in his healing of others (hot-diggity-dogma!!).  This unknown healer recognized the power of Jesus’ name as truly having a divine power in itself, even though this “healer” who was not a member of the clan following of Jesus.  Even though this “healer” was an “outsider”, he must have believed in Jesus, by the fact of using His name. 

In Jesus’ reply to His disciples, He acknowledges that deeds of faith certainly can – – and DO – – precede the words of faith.  Our actions are more powerful than words alone.  Jesus continues teaching His disciples that they should not be reluctant to share Jesus’ healing powers with others.  In other words, we should “spread the wealth” of His grace and its power!!

In Mark 9:40, Jesus’ axiom truly demonstrates a broad attitude, belief, and tenet found in displaying His divine patience, lenience, and charitable tolerance toward others:

Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40).

Even the smallest of considerations are shown to those who teach in Jesus’ name: – – and they will not go unrewarded!!  This axiom, this saying, compels a warning: there is NO position for a “neutral” stance where Jesus is concerned.  He Himself states to ALL present that they are either for or against Him – – they are either hot or cold.  NO lukewarm faith is allowed in His Kingdom:

I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot.   So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Revelations 3:15-16).

Jesus goes on further to speak about the positive effects in works of faith; in other words, those who act their faith in their love for God and others are those who are “hot”:

Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward (Mark 9:41).

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Was Jesus’ exaggerating when He urged His followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences found in the last half of this reading (Mark 9:42-48)?  (I believe not.)  The last six verses (Mark 9:42-48) of this Gospel relate to the consequences of sin on one’s life.  Tying a heavy stone and being thrown into the sea, cutting your hand or foot off, or plucking your eye out, in order to save yourself from Hell, is an extremely vivid and morbid image to contemplate.  These images make me think of the idea of ALL of His children being part of His Church body.  If one of us sins, it truly affects ALL of us.  If a “sinner” remains unrepentant, they separate themselves from the Church body (Self-excommunication, which means they are out of fellowship with Christ – – until they choose to acknowledge their sin and repent). 

Just as a doctor might remove a limb, or some other part of the body, in order to preserve the life of the whole person, so too must we be ready to part with anything causing us to sin, leading to a spiritual death.  Jesus warns His disciples of the terrible responsibility of not putting stumbling blocks in the path of another.  Jesus warns us to not give offense or bad example, which may lead another to sin.  Even the first-century Jews understood that giving offense, or giving a bad example, is sinful since leads another TO sin.  If we lead another to sin, that person in turn may lead still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end – – and with assured devastation occurring – – unless someone harkens to an inspired conscious and grace, then to acknowledge their behavior as sin, and finally, to ask God’s forgiveness and mercy. 

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Remember: Christ came to heal; He was the first “medic” coming into – – and onto – – the field of battle: the Jewish nation, PLUS, ALL our individual souls, i.e., the whole human race.   His salves and bandages are the Holy Sacraments of the Catholic Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders, and the Anointing of the Sick.  They all heal our wounds of sin and strengthen our moral character.  Jesus treats ALL who come to Him (His practice is open 24 hours per day) with a pure love.  He expects us to treat people with His healing example of love.

With Jesus, there is no longer a need to cut off, or pluck out, anything to gain entrance to heaven.  Instead, we are to put on a great gift which Jesus gave to each and every one of us: the sanctifying grace of Himself and His Spirit!!  Through a proper faith in Jesus, we no longer have to worry about eternal misery with Satan.  After all, “Gehenna” does not sound like a fun place to be:

 “where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

Ironically, it is interesting the number of people who end up going to Hell, even though they are aware of the consequences to their earthly actions.  There is not much, if anything, written about Hell that is positive.  So, why do we sin, knowing our action puts us on this road?  The answer is “Satan”  Satan is always wanting another soul – – NOT – – to go to paradise in heaven, but instead, to come to eternal misery and pain in HIS kingdom.  This is his only goal: JEALOUSY – – to take a soul away from GOD!!

The word, “Gehenna” (Mark 9:44, 46), is an interesting word indeed.  It refers to a valley just southwest of the city of Jerusalem.  To the Hebrew’s, this valley is known as the “Valley of Hinnom” (pronounced “gê-hinnōm”), or the “Valley of the son of Hinnom” (“gê ben-hinnōm”).  Gehenna was at one time the center of an idolatrous cult during a monarchy in which children were offered in sacrifice.  This specific place is mentioned in two books of Jewish Scripture, our present-day Old Testament:

The king also defiled Topheth [a place of torment and punishment where the wicked are sent after death] in the Valley of Ben-hinnom, so that there would no longer be any immolation [killing; sacrifices] of sons or daughters by fire in honor of Molech [a Semitic deity]” (2 Kings 23:10);

“In the Valley of Ben-hinnom they go on building the high places of Topheth to sacrifice their sons and daughters by fire, something I never commanded or considered”(Jeremiah 7:31).

The concept of punishing sinners by fire, either after death, or after the final judgment, is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature:

Seventy shepherds were judged, and found guilty, and they also were thrown into that abyss of fire.  And I saw at that time, how a similar abyss was opened in the middle of the Earth which was full of fire, and they brought those blind sheep and they were all judged, and found guilty, and thrown into that abyss of fire and they burned.  And that abyss was on the south of that house. (Enoch 90:25-26**)

** (The “Book of Enoch” is an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah.  It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from a group known as “Beta Israel”.  It is regarded however, as canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Eritrean Orthodox Church, but no other Christian group. ~ From Wikipedia)

“Gehenna” is traditionally used as an image of the invisible reality of the place of eternal punishment written about in the New Testament – – HELL!  Saying either Gehenna or Hell, “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched”, reminds me of another morbidly vivid description found in the book of Isaiah:

 “They shall go out and see the corpses of the people who rebelled against me; For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be extinguished; and they shall be an abhorrence [revulsion] to all flesh” (Isaiah 66:24).

Per Isaiah, God’s enemies lie dead outside the walls of the “New Jerusalem” – – understood to be heaven.  As in the time of Isaiah, Jesus’ time on earth also had huge cemeteries of dead and decaying corpses, filth of every type, and societal/human waste scattered about in this “Valley of Hinnom” – – Gehenna – – JUST outside the city.  There still are many of God’s enemies surrounding us today – – the “living dead” who have rejected Jesus Christ.

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Jesus teaches us NOT to create obstacles for those who are just beginning to have faith, but to encourage even the smallest signs of faith.  In the vivid terms of today’s reading, Jesus teaches His disciples the consequences of putting obstacles before people on their road to faith.

The second part of today’s Gospel (Mark 9:42-48) contains a strong message for those sharing the responsibility of fostering faith in Jesus to others, an AWE-some responsibility.  Today’s Gospel reminds us that “FAITH” is a continuous, day-to-day, moment-to-moment, lifelong journey toward happiness – – which is God Himself!!  We don’t always understand our journey, or even stay on-track at times.  However, we should pray daily for the grace – – His grace – – to acknowledge and build upon even the smallest signs of faith, in ourselves, and in others.  This is what HOPEIS for Catholic Christians.   In today’s world, there are plenty of obstacles preventing the growth of faith in many individuals.  Pray you are not contributing to the obstacles, thus hindering another person’s continuously growing faith in Jesus Christ; instead continue to choose to encourage and strengthen that faith in others as well as ourselves.

We have a calling to confront obstacles to faith.  In dealing with obstacles confronting you, you may be called upon to use courageous, bold, outspoken word, and unpopular actions in order to surmount and break down that obstacle.  Perhaps God is calling YOU to break down that obstacle for another.  Saint Francis, a loyal member of the Catholic Church, and a radical challenger to Church of his day, broke down many obstacles in his public ministry, always with a sincere love, and with definite actions of faith and love.   Saint Francis routinely said:

Preach the Gospel, and at times, use words”.

Are you being called for a “challenge”, just as Saint Francis was called?  In a little, dilapidated, weathered chapel known as San Damiano, Jesus Christ spoke to him with the following words:

Francis, rebuild my church”!

What is Christ saying to YOU?!

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There are many people and things in our daily lives nurturing our faith, and, also attempting to hinder our faith.  Those nurturing our faith include: healthy family relationships and friendships, good literature, EWTN, Healthy Church life, retreats, and so on.  Those things that might be obstacles to our faith may include: improper relationships, scandals, bad habits, sin, and so on.

Jesus teaches us, in today’s Gospel, that we are to do everything possible to help another HAVE faith in Jesus Christ.  We are also to do everything possible to avoid creating obstacles hindering another’s faith life.  Pray that you will be a faith-filled Catholic Christian, helping others grow in faith, that you do not create obstacles for others obtaining or growing in faith.  YOU ARE the next “unknown exorcist” to proclaim God’s Word and Plan by your actions, and by passing on your faith to the next generation!

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 Reflection Prayer: 

 

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.  Amen. 

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“Judge Me Not – – Um, – – Actually, Please Judge Me Lord!” – Matthew 25:31-46†


 

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King

Last Sunday of Ordinary Time for Liturgical Year

 

 Today’s Content:

 

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

  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

One week to the beginning of the Advent Season.  What are your plans to make this Advent personally special and more faith fulfilling for you?  Let me know.

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   284 – Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor.
†   1168 – Giovanni di Struma elected “anti-Pope”
†   1342 – Pope Clemens VI names John IV of Arkel as Bishop of Utrecht
†   1437 – Death of Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, cardinal and lord chancellor; excommunicated, reinstated by anti-pope John XXIII (b. 1363)
†   1529 – Death of Karl von Miltitz, papal nuncio to Germany and envoy of Pope Leo X to Martin Luther
†   1621 – Birth of Avvakum, Russian priest and writer (d. 1682)
†   1761 – Birth of Pope Pius VIII, [Francesco S Castiglioni], Italy, 253rd Pope (1829-30)
†   1778 – Death of Francesco Cetti, Italian Jesuit Jesuit priest, zoologist and mathematician (b. 1726)
†   1890 – Pope Leo XIII publishes encyclical on slavery in missions
†   1934 – Birth of Valentine J Peter, Omaha Nebraska, priest (Boy’s Town 1985- )
†   1942 – Birth of Paulos Faraj Rahho, Iraqi Chaldean Catholic Bishop (d. 2008)
†   1947 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical “Mediator Dei”, suggesting new directions and active participation instead of a merely passive role of the faithful in the liturgy, in liturgical ceremonies and in the life of their parish.

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

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 Quote of the Day:

 

“Every time a parent and child ‘express their love and care for one another,’ wherever that may happen, our world has become a little more perfect.” ~ Chris Lowney, “Heroic Living”, Loyola Press

  

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching that when the Son of Man comes in glory, He will judge the nations, separating the sheep from the goats.  (Judgment of Nations)

  

(NAB Matthew 25:31-46) 31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him.  And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father.  Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  38When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  39When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’  41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’  44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’  46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

Today’s Gospel passage is the conclusion of Jesus’ teaching discourse with His disciples.  The topic is about the “end of time”, – – the coming of the Son of Man, – – and the Final Judgment: the “Parousia”.  We are hearing today, this description of this “changing” event, at the conclusion of our present liturgical year, “the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King”.  Next week starts a new Liturgical year in the Catholic Church (Cycle “B’, using Mark’s Gospel predominately).  With the ending of Matthew’s Gospel, today’s passage might also be read as a wrapping up of Matthew’s account and testimony on Jesus’ life and ministry as well.  The remaining chapters go on to tell the events of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection.

Do you remember last Sunday’s parable of “the Talents”?  It goes along with today’s narrative.  The “Talents” parable, along with today’s reading, teaches us that the gifts and graces we have been given are intended to be used for the service of others, especially the least among us.  Our final judgment before God will be based not only on how we have used these gifts and talents, but also on how we have extended ourselves in service to these least ones of His creations.  In fact, Jesus tells us that whenever we have served “these least ones”, we have served Jesus Christ Himself.  How awesome is that fact!!  (As much as we might like to judge the parables, the parables, nonetheless, judge us as well.) 

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Today’s narrative of Jesus, which is distinctive only to Matthew’s Gospel, portrays the “Final Judgment” that will accompany the “Parousia”.  Although most people call today’s reading a “parable,” it really isn’t a parable, per se.  The only elements of a parable are the 1) depiction of the “Son of Man” as a “shepherd”, and 2) of the “righteous” and the “wicked” as “sheep” and “goats” respectively (Matthew 25:32–33).  

In today’s reading, Jesus describes to His disciples the scene of the Final Judgment of the “Son of Man”, Jesus Christ.  “All the nations” will be assembled before Him, and He will separate them as a shepherd separates sheep and goats upon their return from the pasture.  The “Final Judgments” made by Jesus Christ, will be based upon the acts of mercy shown to the least ones: the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned.  Without a doubt, Jesus Himself, – – who suffered through His scourging, and who died a painful death on the Holy Cross, – – identified (and still identifies) Himself with the “least ones” of His flock.  The decisive factor of “judgment” will be the deeds of mercy that have been done for the least of Jesus’ brothers (Matthew 25:40).  

A difficult and important question is how we identify these “least brothers”.  Are they “all people” who have suffered hunger, thirst, etc. (Matthew 25:35-36) or a particular group of such sufferers?  Bible scholars even seem to be divided in their response to this question.  Arguments can be realistically made for either side of the question.  For me, it seems a stronger case can be made for Matthew’s view being that the sufferers are his “Christians”, and probably Christian the missionaries whose sufferings were the result of their preaching of the Gospel.  The measurable criterion of judgment for “all the nations” (verse 32) is revealed by their treatment of those who have heard the message of Jesus Christ, and their ultimate acceptance or rejection of Jesus Christ Himself:

Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (Matthew 10:40).

So, I think Jesus meant, by saying, “all the nations will be assembled before him”, a reference to the time before the Parousia event when ALL will hear (and thus be responsible) for God’s message:

This Gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14).

Wow!  This means the “Gentiles and Samaritans” will be judged on their response to His “Word” as well.  The phrase “all the nations” includes the Jewish people AND non-Jewish peoples who will be brought to His throne at the “Final Judgment”:

 “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.” (Mt 16:27).

 Т

Goats are animals that will consume ANYTHING.  Jesus states that the “Goats”, will be placed to the left – – not an honorable position.  In verse 41, Jesus says:

Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”  (Matthew 25:41) 

The “accursed” (Matthew 25:41) – -the “goats” of today’s reading, will be surprised and dumbfounded that their neglect of “the sufferers” was also – – at the same time – – neglect of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  Furthermore, they will receive – – from Jesus Christ Himself – –  a similar response at the “Final Judgment”:  separation from His kingdom.

 

Jesus’ story about the separation of goats and sheep must have unsettled His audience, nearly everyone either being shepherds or related in some way to shepherds.  In the barren and parched lands of Palestine, goats and sheep often grazed together during the day because green pasture was sparse indeed.  These animals were only separated at night, as goats apparently need shelter.  Goats were also less submissive and meek; more often “on edge” than sheep are.  Goats even came to symbolize evil, and the expression “scapegoat” has become a common expression for someone who is made to take the blame for others. 

There is even an Old Testament passage eluding to this “scapegoat” expression, and of the ritual expulsion of the “sin-bearing” goat on the Jewish “Day of Atonement” (Yom Kippur):

When he has finished purging the inner sanctuary, the tent of meeting and the altar, Aaron shall bring forward the live goat.  Laying both hands on its head, he shall confess over it all the iniquities of the Israelites and their trespasses, including all their sins, and so put them on the goat’s head.  He shall then have it led into the wilderness by an attendant.  The goat will carry off all their iniquities to an isolated region.” (Leviticus 16:20-22)

Jesus is telling us that separation is an inevitable consequence of His judgment.  The Day of “Final Judgment” will reveal who showed true compassion and mercy toward their neighbor (the sheep), and those who have not (the goat).  

Т

At any banquet of Jesus’ time, the preferred place of honor was ALWAYS to the right of the host.  In today’s reading, the “sheep” will be placed in the place of honor at God’s heavenly banquet.  This expression of the “place of honor” can be seen throughout Holy Scripture, and medieval art.  In the famous painting of the last supper, Simon Peter was immediately to the right of Jesus.  St. Dismas, the good thief, is shown crucified to the right of Jesus Christ.  And Jesus’ throne in Heaven is to the right of God the Father:

“From this time on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:69)

This right hand “place of honor” is so important of a position that ONLY God the Father can grant such a place hold:

My cup you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left [, this] is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)

Т

So, what are we to “DO” to gain entrance to His kingdom?  Jesus gives more than a hint in verse 35-36:

For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:35-36) 

The Church calls the actions that Jesus described in today’s Gospel the “Corporal Works of Mercy”.  These works are:

  1. Feed the hungry
  2. Give drink to the thirsty
  3. Clothe the naked
  4. Shelter the homeless
  5. Visit the sick
  6. Visit those in prison
  7. Bury the dead

The “righteous” will be amazed to know that in caring for the needs of “sufferers”, they were actually ministering to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as well.  We have to remember the famous verse from Matthew 10:

Whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple—amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42).

 Jesus Christ is going even further in saying:

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

Not only are we to see Jesus in all who we meet, we also “DO” to Jesus whatever we “DO” to each and every person we see.  Hmm, what does that mean when you curse at someone, “flip the bird” at another, or do something immoral or inappropriate toward a neighbor, friend, or family member? (You know the answer!)

Jesus is teaching us a very important lesson about loving our neighbor and taking responsibility for others as a role we should endeavor in as faithful Catholics.  God will judge us not only for the wrong we have done, but also for what we have failed to do!! 

Т

Verse 41 of today’s reading has a scary and prophetic message for all of us, especially thegoats” among us.  I personally do not like the hot weather of St. Louis summers, so this image of a “fiery” hell truly scares me.  This image scared the Jewish people as well.  1 Enoch 10:13 (an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally attributed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah) says of the evil angels and their leader:

When their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgment and of their consummation, till the judgment that is forever and ever is consummated.  In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: and to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined forever.  And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all.” (1 Enoch 10:12-14)

I highly recommend a book titled, “23 minutes in Hell”, written by Bill Wiese.  It is an extremely eye opening personal account of someone given the “grace” of being placed at the entrance to hell for a very short period.   Not an enjoyable “read”, but well worth the time.  It may literally scare “the hell” out of you!!

Is there an example of how to live this “doing” to others?  Well, when Saint Martin of Tours, a young Roman soldier from the 4th century AD, met an unclothed man begging for alms in the freezing cold, he did an unbelievable thing for that time period.  He stopped at the man, cut his coat in two, and gave half to the stranger.  That night he dreamt he saw the heavenly court with Jesus robed in a torn cloak.  One of the angels asked Jesus, “Master, why do you wear that battered cloak?”  Jesus replied, “My servant ‘Martin’ gave it to me.”  Martin’s disciple and biographer, Sulpicius Severus, states that as a consequence of this vision, Martin “flew to be baptized”. 

 

In the chapters that follow, in Matthew’s Gospel, we learn the great and boundless extent to which Jesus Christ identifies with the least ones; to the point of giving up His life for the least among us.  In accepting a horrible and excruciating death on the cross, Jesus Christ shows Himself to be one of the hungry, the naked, the ill, and the imprisoned.  To accept Jesus IS to accept Him – – who suffered and died on the Cross –as one of the least ones.

Т

To conclude, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches us that we will be judged on only one thing: one’s acts of mercy, which we have shown to the least among us.  Knowing the answers will not suffice; “DOING” the answers is all that counts!!  Jesus identifies with the least ones; thus we serve Him whenever we serve one of the least ones!!  In these actions, these “Corporal Works of Mercy”, we show God’s compassion and mercy to those “least one’s” in need of faith, hope, and love.

God’s boundless love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness.  When we do something for one of Christ’s least and marginalized ones, we do it for Christ Himself.  Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love – – as Jesus Christ has treated you?

Reread the list of the “Corporal Works of Mercy” mentioned earlier.  What are some concrete examples of how you might “DO” these actions in your community?  Why is it important that we “DO” these things, especially for others?  Why does Jesus say we ought to – – need to – – DO these works of mercy?  (The answer is simply because whenever we show mercy to another person, we are also showing mercy to Jesus himself.)  Choose one “Corporal Work of Mercy” to “DO” this week; then add to it each week.  Pray that you will always see, and always serve, Jesus Christ in the least and marginalized ones among us.

 

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 Reflection Prayer:

 

Act of Love

“O my God, I love you above all things with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of those whom I have injured.  Amen.”

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

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

The Gloria

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

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

 

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 A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Edmund Rich (1175 – 1240)

 

Archbishop of Canterbury England, who battled for discipline and justice, also called Edmund of Abingdon.  Edmund was born in Abingdon, Oxfordshire on November 30, 1180.  He studied at Oxford, England, and also in Paris, France.  He taught art and mathematics at Oxford and was eventually ordained to the priesthood.  

He spent eight years teaching theology and became Canon and treasurer of Salisbury Cathedral.  An eloquent speaker, Edmund preached a crusade for Pope Gregory IX and was named archbishop of Canterbury.  He became an advisor to King Henry III and presided in 1237 at Henry’s ratification of the Great Charter.  When Cardinal Olt became a papal legate with the patronage of King Henry, Edmund protested.  

A long-lasting feud between Edmund, the king, and his legate led him to resigning his See in 1240.  He went to Pontigny, France, where he became a Cistercian Priest.  He died at Soissons, on November 16, 1240.  Edmund was canonized in 1246 or 1247.  A hall in Oxford still bears his name.

Patron of: Abingdon, Oxfordshire; Roman Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth; St Edmund’s College, Cambridge

Information from Wikipedia

 

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Saint Francis and His Message

 

If Saint Francis were writing a letter to your local SFO Fraternity, what do you think he would include in that letter? – Make a list.

Using this idea, can you make up a letter from Saint Francis to your Fraternity?

What inspiration(s) have you found in the letters of St. Francis?  (If you haven’t. you should.)

  

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

 

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

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21.  On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

“Is Catholic ‘Communion’ sanctioned with ‘PETA’?!” – John 6:51-58 †


 

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

This weekend, I will be away at my fourth “ACTS” retreat weekend.  This is my third experience being “on team”: presenting the retreat to others.  ACTS is an acronym meaning: Adoration, Community, Theology, & Service.  With many retreat experiences under my belt, I honestly believe the ACTS Retreat movement is the most “Spirit Filled” encounter I have undergone.  I offer to each of you a personal invitation, if one ever becomes available in your area.  You can more information on the ACTS Retreat movement at the following website:

http://www.actsmissions.org/

 

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   684 – St Benedict II begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1409 – Council of Pisa selects Petros Philargi as 3rd Pope: Alexander V
†   1870 – Christmas is declared a federal holiday in the United States
†   1936 – Birth of Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte, Archbishop of Montreal
†   1967 – Pope Paul VI names 27 new cardinals
†   1975 – Death of St. Josemaría Escrivá, Spanish Catholic priest (b. 1902)

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

 

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Joke of the Day:

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus saying, “I am the living bread.”

 

 (NAB John 6:51-58) 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?” 53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.  54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.  57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.  58 This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

 

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This Sunday we celebrate a second solemnity at this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar.  Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  (Last week’s was the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity.)  This day was once called Corpus Christi (Latin for “Body of Christ”) in the Catholic Church.  In the revised Lectionary the name of this solemnity, “Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ”, is expanded to more completely reflect our unique and true Eucharistic theology.

 

Today’s reading is taken from the Gospel according to John.  The reading relates a discourse between Jesus and a crowd of Jews.  Today’s discourse comes shortly after the miracle of Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves and fishes.  In John’s Gospel, “miracles” are identified and mentioned as “signs” through which people come to believe that Jesus is truly the Son of God.  These signs are always followed by a dialogue, or discourse, that interprets and explains the miracle (“sign”).

In John’s Gospel, Jesus’ multiplication of the loaves is said to have occurred near the time of Passover.  Jesus chose the time of the Jewish Feast of Passover to fulfill what He had announced at Capernaum:

“So Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  So they said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’  Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.’” (John 6:32-35)

In doing this, John links it to the Exodus story and God’s saving action toward the Israelites.  Even the representation of Jesus coming from heaven as a life giving bread is a manifestation and revelation of the “manna” stories of the Old Testament Exodus stories.

The recollection of the manna in the wilderness evokes to the Israelite people that they live – – not by earthly bread alone – – but by the “bread” of the Word of God:

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

In the Old Covenant (Old Testament), bread and wine were offered in a Eucharistic (thanksgiving) sacrifice as a sign of grateful acknowledgment to God the Creator as being the true life giver and the true giver of life’s nourishment.  Melchizedek, both a priest and king, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine, as Christ also will:  

“Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine, and being a priest of God Most High, he blessed Abram with these words … “. (Genesis 14:18);

And,

Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of God Most High, met Abraham as he returned from his defeat of the kings and ‘blessed him.’  And Abraham apportioned to him ‘a tenth of everything.’  His name first means righteous king, and he was also ‘king of Salem,’ that is, king of peace.  Without father, mother, or ancestry, without beginning of days or end of life, thus made to resemble the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.  See how great he is to whom the patriarch ‘Abraham (indeed) gave a tenth’ of his spoils.”  (Hebrews 7:1-4).

 

Melchizedek’s offering foreshadowed the offering made by Jesus Christ, our high priest and king in the “new” covenant of God’s everlasting kingdom.

“It was fitting that we should have such a high priest: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens.  But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creationBut this one offered one sacrifice for sins, and took his seat forever at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 7:26; 9:11; 10:12).

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Having seen Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes, the crowd pursued him, perhaps to seek more food, but I believe also to look for other signs (miracles).  Jesus told the crowd that “He is the bread of life”.  He explains that just as God gave the Israelites manna to sustain them in the desert, so now God has sent “new manna” giving eternal life.  It is in this context that Jesus repeats those same words and tells all again (both then and now) that He is TRULY the living bread that came down from heaven.

At the last supper when Jesus blessed the cup of wine, he gave it to his disciples saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins”:

This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).

Jesus, in blessing the cup of wine at the “last supper” was pointing to the sacrifice He was about to make on the cross, shedding His blood for us, pouring Himself out and giving Himself to us as a sacrificial atonement for our sins, and the sins of the world.  Jesus made Himself an offering and sacrifice; a gift that was (and is) truly pleasing to God the Father.  He “offered himself without blemish to God”

“How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14). 

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After witnessing the life and miracles of Jesus Christ, why did many Jewish followers get so upset?  Some even asked:

How can this man give us (His) flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)

Many left disappointed in Jesus’ words about eating flesh and drinking blood.  Probably because both are prohibited by Jewish law. 

“Many of His disciples who were listening said, ‘This saying is hard; who can accept it?’  As a result of this, many (of) His disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him.” (John 6:60, 66)

These individuals choose to return to their old lives, instead of “the Jewish sin” of consuming the body and blood of Jesus Christ.  They took the words on an absolutely literal basis!  These poor souls believed they had to actually eat the skin of Jesus.  They envisioned acts of cannibalism.

This literal concept of “cannibalism” is revolting, even to me.  But yet, we are eating the actual body and blood of our divine Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Catholic Church.  I am not being hypocritical in any way.  To non-Catholics (and even some Catholics), this concept of “transubstantiation” is hard to understand.  The bread (host) and wine does not change physically, or even molecularly; yet both change “substantially” into the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ.  Non-believers (including most Protestants) don’t understand or believe in this concept of “transubstantiation.”  How wrong they were (and are).  I will hope to offer proof in this reflection.

Jesus said to His disciples:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (John 6:53)

Another Amen, amen – – “YO, LISTEN TO ME” – – moment for the people He is talking to and teaching.  He goes on to say:

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:54)

Notice that Jesus did not say “eat a representation or simulation of my body.”  He also did not say “reminder of my body… ”.  Jesus said in no uncertain terms:

“… EATS my flesh and DRINKS my blood …” (John 6:54)

Jesus goes on to declare that only through Him, can one obtain salvation.  Only through Jesus Christ can we obtain the grace to overcome our sins and iniquities.  Only through Jesus can we obtain the grace of eternal life in paradise with the Holy Family, the angels, the Saints, and the entire celestial court.

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The verb “eat” used in verse 54 of today’s reading is not the classical Greek verb used for human eating, but rather that of animal eating.  A proper translation for this verb would be instead:

To “munch” and “gnaw.”  

John may have purposely used this verb in order to emphasize the true reality of the flesh and blood of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist (Body and Blood).  However, this same verb eventually did evolve to become the ordinary verb in Greek to mean “eat.”  

I believe John’s reference to the word “eat” is for the “Bread” of the Eucharist used in the celebration of the Mass.  Further proof is in verse 56:

“For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink..” (John 6:55) 

Did you notice that the word “eats” is plural?  Hmm, one may eat the “flesh” of Jesus multiple times!!  I love that as a Catholic Christian, I can do as Jesus Christ specifically wanted His follows to do: to come to Him daily.  In participating in the Holy Eucharistic celebration, I bring Him in me AND me in Him.  

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (John 6:56)

And, I can encounter this celebratory event DAILY!!  I can renew my love for Him, and dedicate myself to Him anew each day.  WOW!!  The Franciscans call this daily conversion:

“United by their vocation as ‘brothers and sisters of penance’ and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls ‘conversion.’  Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.” (Rule #7 of the Secu;lar Franciscan Order)

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Saying “the living Father” (verse 57), Jesus is referring to the “living bread” of the Holy Eucharist.  The little pad or morsel of dead flour becomes, – – through the grace and action of the Holy Spirit, – – the living body of Jesus Christ sent to give life to all who believe in and consumes (“eats”) it.

In a way, it is the true bread that came down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ, and unlike our ancestors who ate the bread of life, “manna,” (cf., Exodus 16:12-36) in the desert, and still died.  Whoever eats Jesus’ “bread” will live forever.

“This is the bread that came down from heaven.  Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:58)

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Jesus’ words were not well understood by the crowd; they argued that He was not from heaven but only born of human parents: Mary and Joseph (and not from God’s).  The crowd also had trouble understanding how Jesus could give them His flesh to “eat”.  He tells them that when they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they will remain forever connected to Him in a very intimate and personal way.  

Jesus’ words may be difficult words for some to hear, yet, they are important words because they seek to show us our intimate connection with Him.

 This is the “mystery” at the center of our unique and true Eucharistic theology.  In the elements of bread and wine, Jesus’ Body and Blood are truly present.  When we share in the Body and Blood of Christ, Jesus Himself comes to dwell within us and us in Him.  This “communion”, this personal and intimate contact with the Lord Jesus Christ makes us one body, brings us eternal life, and sends us forth to be Christ’s Body in the world.

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Our faith teaches us that when we gather to celebrate Mass, Jesus is present to us.  The bread and wine truly becomes the Body and Blood of Christ.  This is what we mean by the word “transubstantiation”.  Jesus truly makes himself present to all who receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

 

Do you have memories of your First Holy Communion?  Reflect on what Jesus meant when He called Himself the “living bread”.  Recall that every time we receive the Holy Eucharist, Jesus, Himself, keeps the promise He made in today’s Gospel:

Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”  (John 6:58)

 

Jesus’ passing over to His Father by His death, resurrection, and ascension – the new Passover – is anticipated in the Last Supper and still celebrated in the Holy Eucharist, thus fulfilling the Jewish Passover and anticipating a final Passover of the Catholic Church in the glory of God’s eternal kingdom.  When the Lord Jesus commanded His disciples to eat His flesh and drink His blood, He also invited us to take His life into the very center of our being.  The “life” He offers is the very life of God Himself.  I think I am hungry for some bread; How ‘bout you?

 

Jesus, I believe

 

“Jesus, I believe in the true body and blood of our Holy Eucharist. You gave up your life for us, and continue to give us life through the Holy Eucharist, and the actions of the Holy Spirit.  I love you forever.  Amen.”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

A second option for the “penitential rite” (the “Confiteor” being the first option) has been revised.  This second form had been little used in recent years.  The second option is presently:

Lord, we have sinned against you:|
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.

 

It will now read as follows:

The priest says, “Have mercy on us, O Lord.”
The people respond, “For we have sinned against you.
Then the priest says, “Show us, O Lord, your mercy,”
and the people respond, “And grant us your salvation.”

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer (1902-1975)

 

An estimated 300,000 people filled St. Peter’s Square on October 6, 2002, for the canonization of Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei. His canonization came only 27 years after his death, one of the shortest waiting periods in Church history.

Opus Dei, which means Work of God, emphasizes that men and women can become holy by performing their daily duties with a Christian spirit. In his homily, Pope John Paul II emphasized the importance of every believer following God’s will, as had the newly sainted founder of Opus Dei. “The Lord has a plan for each one of us. Saints cannot even conceive of themselves outside of God’s plan: They live only to fulfill it.”

Born in Barbastro, Spain, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer sensed early in life that he had a vocation to the priesthood. Following his ordination in 1925, he briefly ministered in a rural parish. He moved to Madrid, where he obtained a doctorate in law. At the same time Father Escriva was beginning to envision a movement that would offer ordinary people help in seeking holiness through their everyday activities. It was officially founded in 1928.

As Opus Dei grew, Father Escriva continued his studies and his priestly work among the poor and sick. During the Civil War in Spain he had to exercise his ministry secretly and move from place to place. Only after the war did he return to Madrid and complete his doctoral studies. He later moved to Rome and obtained a doctorate in theology. Pope Pius XII named him an honorary prelate and a consultor to two Vatican congregations. All the while, Opus Dei grew in size and influence.

When Msgr. Escriva died in 1975, Opus Dei could be found in dozens of places around the globe. Today its membership includes approximately 83,000 laypersons and 1,800 priests in 60 countries. It is a “personal prelature,” a special jurisdictional entity within the Church.

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Creation & Ecology

 

What is the result when some individuals accumulate large amounts of wealth created from this world’s resources at our disposal, when at the same time there are other humans suffering a lack of the basic needs means to live humanely?

What balance is required in order to be Franciscan in regards to ecology issues?

Are all creatures of equal value — the inanimate, the plants, animals, human?  How does the Church prioritize them?

In SFO Rule #18, what is meant by “the Franciscan concept of universal kinship”?

What means do I use to show reverence for all creation?

What is the moral error in the economic principle that indicates the price of an item should be set by “what the market will bear”? (cf., CCC p.2424)

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 25 & 26 of 26:

25.  Regarding expenses necessary for the life of the fraternity and the needs of worship, of the apostolate, and of charity, all the brothers and sisters should offer a contribution according to their means. Local fraternities should contribute toward the expenses of the higher fraternity councils.

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26.  As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.

To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.

 

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


 

   

“Third Sunday of Lent” 

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

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

 

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

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

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Today in Catholic History:


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

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

“Where was the right place to worship God?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

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

God of hosts”.

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

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

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Eucharist I

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Prologue to the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule:


 

Exhortation of Saint Francis to the Brothers and Sisters in Penance

In the name of the Lord!

Chapter 1

Concerning Those Who Do Penance

 

All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.

Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).

We are spouses, when by the Holy Spirit the faithful soul is united with our Lord Jesus Christ; we are brothers to him when we fulfill “the will of the Father who is in heaven” (Mt 12:50).

We are mothers, when we carry him in our heart and body (cf. 1 Cor 6:20) through divine love and a pure and sincere conscience; we give birth to him through a holy life which must give life to others by example (cf. Mt 5:16).

Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.

Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying:

“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24). 

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


  

“Wednesday of the
Second Week of Lent”
 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Satan is laughing his “tail” off right now.

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

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

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

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

 

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

http://crs.org/japan/ 

 

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Today in Catholic History:


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

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

 

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

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

 

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

And,

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

 

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

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

Of His being “mocked“:

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

Of His being “scourged“:

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

Finally ending with His “crucifixion“:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with Your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in your name.  Amen” (unknown author) 

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

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Saint Francis’ Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament

 

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

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

When the Eucharistic Prayer begins, we will again respond:

And with your spirit

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

It is right and just.”

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

It is truly right and just.

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

 

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Franciscan Spirituality I

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.

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

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

“You Want Authority?! You Can Have It, But With Authority – Comes Responsibility!” – Mark 10:32-45†


  

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions for March, 2011

 

General Intention:

That the nations of Latin America may walk in fidelity to the Gospel and be bountiful in social justice and peace.

 

Missionary Intention:

That the Holy Spirit may give light and strength to the Christian communities and the faithful who are persecuted or discriminated against because of the Gospel.

 

 

            

Today in Catholic History:


†   1459 – Birth of Adrian VI, [Adriaan F Boeyens], Netherlands, Pope (1522-23)
†   1589 – Death of Alessandro Cardinal Farnese, Italian cardinal (b. 1520)
†   1758 – Death of Pierre Guérin de Tencin, French cardinal (b. 1679)
†   1810 – Birth of Leo XIII, [Vincenzo G Pecci], 256th pope (1878-1903)
†   1876 – Birth of Pius XII, [Euhenio MGG Pacelli], 260th Pope (1939-58)
†   1928 – Birth of Father John Romanides, Greek priest and professor (d. 2001)
†   1939 – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli is elected Pope and takes the name Pius XII.
†   Catholic Church: Saint Jovinus; Blessed Charles the Good, Count of Flanders (+Bruges 1127) 

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

 

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

It is better to be hated for what you are then to be loved for what you are not ~ unknown

 

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

POVERTY

What is poverty to you? 

How is poverty expressed in the SFO Rule? 

Can you recall any examples by people which you can imitate in regards to poverty?

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching on authority, submission, and service.

  

32 They were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them.  They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him.  33 “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles 34 who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.”  35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”  36 He replied, “What do you wish (me) to do for you?”  37 They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”  38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”  39 They said to him, “We can.”  Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; 40 but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”  41 When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.  42 Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt.  43 But it shall not be so among you.  Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; 44 whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.  45 For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (NAB Mark 10:32-45)

 

 

Five separate times (in this Gospel reading, plus four others) in Holy Scripture, Jesus foretold of His suffering greatly at the hands of Jewish and Roman officials.  He was betrayed, rejected, humiliated, and tortured.  He finally experienced the punishment of a cruel and extremely painful death on that Holy Tree of redemption and salvation outside the gates of Jerusalem.  

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

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

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matthew 20:18-19)

Then he took the ‘Twelve’ aside and said to them, ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem and everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.  He will be handed over to the Gentiles and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon; and after they have scourged him they will kill him, but on the third day he will rise.’” (Luke 18:31-33)

The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, had foretold that it was “God’s will” (His plan).  Jesus Christ, the “Suffering Servant”, atoned for OUR sins and transgressions through His suffering and death (cf., Isaiah 53:5-12).  Jesus paid the price for OUR redemption with His own human body, blood, soul, and divinity.

The Jewish people used stoning, and the Roman government used crucifixion to condemn people to death.  For me, either way (rock or wood) is a painful and humiliating death.  Our Lord Jesus Christ, labeled a criminal, went through a humiliating and torturous death, devised by man for not only physical torture, but for psychological torture and family disgrace as well.  With this fact in mind, no wonder Jesus’ disciples, His Apostles, were greatly distressed at Jesus’ foretelling of these events, five separate times!  You probably know what was going though their minds.  If their teacher, their Master, and their friend, – – Jesus Christ, – – was to be put to death, then would they receive the same horrendous treatment by the Jewish people and/or Roman government?.

The price Jesus paid for OUR redemption liberated (and still liberates) us from the worst oppression and cruelty possible – the oppression and cruelty of sin and the “worry and fear” of death.  Jesus became a victor, triumphing over death.  He defeated the powers of death through His own demise and through His glorious and magnificent resurrection from the tomb three days later.

Jesus had an unquenchable and intense desire to make certain that all He had foretold about His arrest, passion, and death (and His ultimate rising and ascension) would come about.  Jesus had previously told His disciples that He would physically and emotionally suffer intensely and terribly in Jerusalem.  His disciples certainly were confused and perplexed in comprehending His “eagerness” at wanting to hurry the process of His murder along.  In doing so, Jesus, in His humble example, is teaching us to carry our individual crosses with joy.  We should not to try to avoid carrying our crosses, but rather, to ask for Him to make our load lighter and easier to manage – – through continual adoration and prayer.

When we ask for anything in prayer, we should be always ready to accept God’s will, even if it does not coincide with our own:

His Majesty knows best what is suitable for us; it is not for us to advise Him what to give us, for He can rightly reply that we know not what we ask.  All that the beginner in prayer has to do — and you must not forget this, for it is very important — is to labor and be resolute and prepare himself with all possible diligence to bring his will into conformity with the will of God. (St. Theresa, Interior Castle, 2, 8).

 

James and John ask for special places in God’s kingdom; for a “share” in the glory of Jesus Christ.  To do so, did they not realize that they would have to share in Jesus’ sufferings, tribulations, and sacrifice of self?  The authority of assigning places of honor in the kingdom is reserved solely to God the Father.  A place of such honor is not freely given, but must be earned through a life of prayer, penance, alms-giving, sacrifice, and suffering. (I just pray to be let in the “back” door of heaven.  I don’t want anything special, for I am not worthy such an honor.)

God wanted Holy Scripture to record the weaknesses in those of Jesus’ followers (including the Apostles); those who will become unshakeable pillars of the “Catholic” (universal) Church.  The grace of God produces spectacular and awesome wonders in the individual souls of His people!  So, we should never be pessimistic in the face of our own trials, misery, unhappiness, and depression:

“I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me.” (Philippians 4:13).

 

Jesus asks a serious and profound question to James and John:

“Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)

In asking the phrase “drinking the cup”, Jesus is using an Old Testament figure of speech, referring to one’s acceptance of God’s future destiny and providence in their life.  An “allotted cup” is the cup given to drink by God in three separate Psalms:

And rains upon the wicked fiery coals and brimstone, a scorching wind their allotted cup.” (Psalm 11:6)

“LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you have made my destiny secure.” (Psalm 16:5)

Yes, a cup is in the LORD’S hand, foaming wine, fully spiced.  When God pours it out, they will drain it even to the dregs; all the wicked of the earth must drink.” (Psalm 75:9)

In Jesus’ case, drinking from God’s “cup” involved accepting, – – through His actions, suffering, and death, – – a divine “sentence” for OUR sins.  Jesus, though innocent of any crime or sin, is the one that came to do penance and make amends, on behalf of the sinful “guilty” – – US!!  Jesus’ crucifixion and death was (and is) for the salvation of the human race:

But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:24)

Jesus joined “authority” with “selfless service” and “loving sacrifice”.  Authority without sacrificial love is impolite, vulgar, and self-serving.  Jesus used severe language to explain what kind of sacrifice He had in mind for His followers; one of absolute and total surrender to God’s will.  For some followers, the “cup” we must drink may entail true physical pain and suffering, and may ultimately include the painful act of martyrdom. However, for many (if not most) Christians, it entails the long (sometimes boring) everyday regularity of Catholic life; its daily surrender, sacrifices, regrets, disappointments, impediments, struggles, and temptations.  A follower of Jesus Christ, – – a disciple – – must be ready, and willing, to lay down one’s life for God and faith (martyrdom).  A follower of Jesus Christ, – – a disciple – – must be ready to surrender to Jesus Christ every single day in little, and big, sacrifices and loving service required by God.

A prayer I say every morning is:

“Lord, help me to do great things as though they were little, since I do them with your power; and little things as though they were great, since I do them in your name.”

Whatever authority His disciples – – Jesus’ followers – – carry out, it must be like that of Jesus Christ Himself.  They must execute their authority as one of service to others and not for personal enhancement and/or motives.  Keep in mind, Jesus’ humble service to others involved His arrest, passion, and death on the Holy Tree for OUR (not His) sins.  Can you follow in His path to salvation?

“Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.  Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses. (Isaiah 53:11-12)

With Jesus, and His new covenant with us, we no longer live in a system of retribution (eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc).  We no longer “get even” with someone who does evil toward us.  Retribution and retaliation simply adds MORE evil into the world.  Instead, we need to “absorb” the evil, and respond with unrelenting forgiveness.  Instead of making war, we are to make PEACE!  This is how the kingdom of God comes about, and is how we gain a place in the kingdom.  This is how we are to “drink from the cup”!

Our attitude should mimic that of our Lord, Jesus Christ.  We need to seek opportunities to serve God, mankind, and the earth, with a truly supernatural and divinely inspired outlook and passion.  We should not expect anything in return for our service.  We should serve those who do, and do not, appreciate the service we perform, and with them in mind and prayer as we perform it. 

Serving others not appreciative may not make any sense as judged by human standards.  However, a Catholic identified with Christ is satisfied and delighted precisely in serving others, including those not appreciative.  By doing so, we share in Jesus Christ’s mission, and thereby attain true dignity:

This dignity is expressed in readiness to serve, in keeping with the example of Christ, who ‘came not to be served but to serve’.  If, in the light of this attitude of Christ’s, ‘being a king’ is truly possible only by ‘being a servant’ then ‘being a servant’ also demands so much spiritual maturity that it must really be described as ‘being a king’.  In order to be able to serve others worthily and effectively we must be able to master ourselves, possess the virtues that make this mastery possible.  Our sharing in Christ’s kingly mission – His ‘kingly function’ (munus) is closely linked with every sphere of both Christian and human morality.” (John Paul II, Redemptor hominis, 21)

Those who do follow Jesus on His path of total submission, – – including His agony, pain, and death, – – will be rewarded by the Lord in a personal and unique way.  They will enjoy happiness and joy while basking in the warmth of the light emanating from God’s love.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.” (Ephesians 5:8-9)

We can experience this warmth and glow – – RIGHT NOW!  We can experience a little taste of heaven at each Eucharistic celebration.  When we become one with Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion, we enter into a unique and special relationship with the Holy Trinity, the angels, the saints, and the entire celestial court.  AWESOME!  With reception of His Body and Body in the Holy Eucharist, we experience Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection; and OUR release from venial sin, all at the same time.

“For this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)

He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.” (Mark 14:24)

 “Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.”  And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20.)

At Mass (and specifically at Communion) we approach Jesus, in the Holy Eucharist, with a “list” of wishes, wants, petitions, and intentions.  We approach this special and living Sacrament asking for favors and forgiveness.  In doing so, we believe we are honoring Him, – – but, are we?

We need to remember that at the same time we are approaching Jesus, He is also approaching us!  How do you imagine Jesus approaching us at Mass?  I believe Jesus comes to us with a broken body; a body broken out of love for us.  He comes to us as the “loving servant” who stoops down, washing our feet.  He is our individual and collective “lover” who knows the deepest needs of our hearts, minds, and souls – – and is ready and willing to fill them completely full!  All He asks for, in return, is our hope, love, trust, and obedience.  So, come to Him as He comes to you; as the one who gives as well as the one who receives.  Along with petitions and intentions, offer your deeds, works, talents, and accomplishments to Jesus as a “loving servant” gift for Him.

 

An early church father (unknown to me) summed up Jesus’ teaching with a simple expression: to serve is to reign with Christ.”  With this in mind, we share in God’s “reign” by surrendering our lives, – – spiritually, mentally, and physically, – – in one of humble service, just as Jesus did for OUR sake.  Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus Christ did so completely and lovingly?  Are you willing to plead guilty to being a Christian, – – A Catholic?!  Are you willing to be sentenced to a life of eternal service for God’s kingdom?

 

Prayer of Selflessness

 

“O Dearly beloved Word of God,
teach me to be generous,
to serve You as You deserve,
to give without counting the cost,
to fight without fretting at my wounds,
to labor without seeking rest,
to spend myself without looking
for any reward other than that
of knowing that I do Your Holy will.  Amen.”

http://www.yenra.com/catholic/prayers/

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Agnes of Bohemia (1205-1282)

 

Agnes had no children of her own but was certainly life-giving for all who knew her.

Agnes was the daughter of Queen Constance and King Ottokar I of Bohemia.  At the age of three, she was betrothed to the Duke of Silesia, who died three years later.  As she grew up, she decided she wanted to enter the religious life.

After declining marriages to King Henry VII of Germany and Henry III of England, Agnes was faced with a proposal from Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor.  She appealed to Pope Gregory IX for help.  The pope was persuasive; Frederick magnanimously said that he could not be offended if Agnes preferred the King of Heaven to him.

After Agnes built a hospital for the poor and a residence for the friars, she financed the construction of a Poor Clare monastery in Prague.  In 1236, she and seven other noblewomen entered this monastery.  Saint Clare sent five sisters from San Damiano to join them, and wrote Agnes four letters advising her on the beauty of her vocation and her duties as abbess.

Agnes became known for prayer, obedience and mortification.  Papal pressure forced her to accept her election as abbess; nevertheless, the title she preferred was “senior sister.”  Her position did not prevent her from cooking for the other sisters and mending the clothes of lepers.  The sisters found her kind but very strict regarding the observance of poverty; she declined her royal brother’s offer to set up an endowment for the monastery.

Devotion to Agnes arose soon after her death on March 6, 1282. She was canonized in 1989.

Comment:

Agnes spent at least 45 years in a Poor Clare monastery.  Such a life requires a great deal of patience and charity.  The temptation to selfishness certainly didn’t vanish when Agnes walked into the monastery.  It is perhaps easy for us to think that cloistered nuns “have it made” regarding holiness.  Their route is the same as ours: gradual exchange of our standards (inclination to selfishness) for God’s standard of generosity.

Quote:

“Have nothing to do with anyone who would stand in your way and would seek to turn you aside from fulfilling the vows which you have made to the Most High (Psalm 49:14) and from living in that perfection to which the Spirit of the Lord has called you” (Clare to Agnes, Letter II in Murray Bodo, O.F.M., Clare: A Light in the Garden, p. 118).

Saint of the Day: Lives, Lessons and Feast
By Leonard Foley, O.F.M.;
revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
(From http://www.americancatholic.org website)

 
    

New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.
The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.
In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

The “Confiteor” (I Confess prayer) has been revised, again to match the Latin texts more closely.  More stress is once again placed on our unworthiness more so than in the current missal.  It will now say, “I have greatly sinned” and later adds “through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

“I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

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

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 2 & 3 of 26:

 

2.  The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.

 

 

3.  The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.