Tag Archives: final

“Pray, Pray, Pray! After that, you should also – Pray!” – Luke 11:1-4†


 

25 Days till “All Hallows Eve” (Halloween)

80 Days till CHRISTMAS

(But who’s counting anyway)

 

 

Today in Catholic History:
       

     †   891 – Formosus begins his reign as Catholic Pope
     †   1101 – Death of Bruno of Cologne, German founder of the Carthusian order
     †   1552 – Birth of Matteo Ricci, Italian Jesuit missionary (d. 1610)
     †   1582 – Due to the implementation of the Gregorian [Pope St. Gregory] calendar, this day is skipped in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.
     †   1983 – Death of Terence Cardinal Cooke, American Catholic archbishop (b. 1921)
     †   2002 – Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escrivá is canonized.

(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:

 

Prayer: don’t give God instructions, just report for duty!  Remember: We don’t change the message. The message changes us!

 

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray.

 

1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” Luke 11:1-4

 

 

Did you know that besides emphasizing our need to help the poor in society, Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer!  The first of three episodes concerned with prayer, from Luke’s Gospel, are presented here.   This Gospel reading is about Jesus teaching his disciples a communal prayer: known to us as the “Our Father.”  The other two episodes, not included in this reflection, are Luke 11:5-8: the importance of persistence in prayer; and Luke 11:9-13: the effectiveness of prayer.

Matthews’s manner of the “Our Father” is the one we most commonly say, and is the one used in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:9-15).  Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke’s version seems quite simple and direct.  This shorter version occurs while Jesus is at prayer, which Luke regularly shows Jesus devoutly doing at important times in His public ministry.  Other times of Jesus praying devoutly include the choosing of the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12); before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18); at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28); at the Last Supper (Luke 22:32); on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:41); and on the cross (Luke 23:46). 

Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” also seems to follow the liturgical tradition of his synagogue.  Luke’s version, though less developed, also represents the liturgical tradition known to him; and it is probably closer to the original words of Jesus than Matthew’s.

Trivia time #1:  Most of us mistakenly call the “Our Father” prayer the “Lord’s Prayer!”  Find your Bible and brush off most of the dust from its cover; this is a good one to show others!  Actually, the “Lord’s Prayer” is found in John 17:1-26.  Since the sixteenth century, this chapter of John’s Gospel has been called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus.  This is His last prayer, at the “Mount of Olives,” just prior to His arrest.  Jesus, through prayer, speaks directly as an intercessor to His Father, in words His disciples probably overheard.  Jesus’ prayer is a petition for immediate and future disciples [us].  Many of the phrases are suggestive of today’s “Our Father” Prayer.  Although still in the world, Jesus looks on his earthly ministry as a thing of the past.  Jesus has up till this time stated that the disciples could follow him.  Now He wishes them to be with Him in union with the Father.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray just as Jesus’ cousin (and the last Biblical prophet), John [the Baptist] taught his followers to pray.  To have their own distinctive form of prayer was the mark of a religious community: the start of the “Catholic,” Christ-centered community in this case.  This ancient way of recognizing a religious community is also true today, e.g., the consecration to Mary of the Marianists, and the “We adore you” of the Franciscans.

Jesus presents them with an example of a Christian “collective” prayer that stresses the fatherhood of God, and acknowledges Him as the one that gives us daily sustenance (Luke 11:3), forgiveness (Luke 11:4), and deliverance from the final trial [or test] (Luke 11:4).

The words “our Father in heaven” is a prayer found in many Jewish prayers with inception of the New Testament period.  Interestingly, the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim peoples all believe of the same God as “Father.”  The relationship of this “Father” is the only difference for all three religions.

“Hallowed be your name” was an interesting phrase for many young Catholics I have taught in PSR.  I cannot tell you how many children thought they were saying “’Harold’ be thy name:” actually thinking God’s real name was “Harold!”  The word “Hallow,” used as a verb, is defined as: “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate; to venerate.”  The adjective form “hallowed,” as used in this prayer, means: “holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered.”

The act of “hallowing” the name of God is an intentional reverencing of God by acknowledging, praising, thanking, and obeying Him and His will.  This is what most Catholics have come to believe; I know I did!  Actually, it is more likely a petition that God hallow his own name; that he reveals His glory by an act of power!  This can be demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:23: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it.  Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.  In regards to the “Our Father” prayer, God is manifesting His power with the establishment of His “Kingdom,” first within each of us personally, and to also be fulfilled completely in the future.

“Your kingdom come” is an appeal that sets the tone for this prayer, and slants the balance toward divine interaction and intervention, rather than human action in the petitions of this prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” is a request that God establish His Kingdom already present in heaven and on earth.  God’s Kingdom breaks the boundaries that separate the rich from the poor, the clean from the unclean, and the saint and sinner.

Trivia time #2: Instead of the appeal just mentioned: “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven, per the USSCB web site (www.usccb.org/nab/bible), some early church Fathers prayed, “May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.”  This indicates that the “Our Father” prayer might have been used in baptismal liturgies very early in Christianity.

“Give us today our daily bread” espouses a petition for a speedy coming of God’s Kingdom.  Notably, God’s Kingdom is often portrayed with the image of a “feast” in both the Old and New Testaments.  An example can be found in Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines;” and in similar themes are also found in Matthew 8:11; 22:1-10; and Luke 13:29; 14:15-24.

Luke uses the more theological word “sins” rather than “debts,” used in Matthew’s version.  The word “debts” in “Forgive us our debts” is used as a metaphor for sins, meaning our debts owed to God.  This request I believe is for forgiveness now, and at our final judgment.  But Jesus’ disciples (even today) need to be careful, since disciples of Jesus NOT forgiving each and every person who has sinned against them, cannot have a proper view of Jesus’ Father, who is merciful to ALL!  You need to understand that our “Father,” God, is truly Catholic: truly universal!

Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trials before the end of the “age.”  You may have possibly heard it called the “messianic woes” or “Jacob’s Trials” (found in the “Book of Jubilees:” Chapter 23).  The petition, “do not subject us to the final test” asks that we instead be spared these final tests: these periods of severe trials believed by all Jewish people.

Having taught his disciples this simple, but complete, daily prayer, Jesus reassures them that God answers all prayers given to Him.  In the following Gospel verses, Jesus stresses this point by telling a parable about the persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight.  The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door.  Yet, the neighbor is persistent, and the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  The moral of this parable: If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests as well?!

Would I have acted the same way as the neighbor in this parable?  To answer this question, I can remember when my children were much younger, and spending a huge amount of time to get them to sleep.  If someone would have banged on my door, or rang the door-bell, I would have been quite upset, and probably not very hospitable or “Christian” when I answered that door.  I also know from past experiences, that I would have ultimately submitted to their request or need, and helped them in whatever way I could.  Is God the same way?  I believe yes!  He definitely does respond to us if we are persistent in our requests and “communications” with Him.

I firmly believe that part of the solution to today’s problems in the Church, in the family, and in the world – problems like abortion, wars and other conflicts, religious and racial harmony, physical and mental illness, family issues, and issues involving money, poverty, and excess wealth (including idolatry to money & other material aspects) – is for all of us to practice a daily strong, constant, persistent, and unrelenting PRAYER life.  Given who and what Jesus really is, He taught us a perfect prayer; as it recognizes God’s holiness and His rule over all things.  

Jesus taught us to approach God simply as we would approach a loving father.  Think of times when family members were persistent about something until they were able to achieve a goal or receive what they sought.  Prayer is a way of striving to recognize how God is reaching out to us in love, and that He responds when we present Him with our needs and gratitude.  God hears ALL our prayers.  He also answers ALL our prayers, but just maybe not the way we want or anticipate.  God’s invitation is, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  The “Our Father” prayer helps do just that!

 

Today’s prayer is a combination of an early Christian practice and the prayer found in Luke 18:9-14.  It is possibly the most popular prayer among Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Christians.  It is recited using prayer ropes that are similar to Western rosaries.

 

“The Jesus Prayer”

 

“O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Bruno (1030?-1101)

 

This saint has the honor of having founded a religious order which, as the saying goes, has never had to be reformed because it was never deformed. No doubt both the founder and the members would reject such high praise, but it is an indication of the saint’s intense love of a penitential life in solitude.

He was born in Cologne, Germany, became a famous teacher at Rheims and was appointed chancellor of the archdiocese at the age of 45. He supported Pope Gregory VII (May 25) in his fight against the decadence of the clergy and took part in the removal of his own scandalous archbishop, Manasses. Bruno suffered the plundering of his house for his pains.

He had a dream of living in solitude and prayer, and persuaded a few friends to join him in a hermitage. After a while he felt the place unsuitable and, through a friend, was given some land which was to become famous for his foundation “in the Chartreuse” (from which comes the word Carthusians). The climate, desert, mountainous terrain and inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty and small numbers.

Bruno and his friends built an oratory with small individual cells at a distance from each other. They met for Matins and Vespers each day, and spent the rest of the time in solitude, eating together only on great feasts. Their chief work was copying manuscripts.

The pope, hearing of Bruno’s holiness, called for his assistance in Rome. When the pope had to flee Rome, Bruno pulled up stakes again, and spent his last years (after refusing a bishopric) in the wilderness of Calabria.

He was never formally canonized, because the Carthusians were averse to all occasions of publicity. Pope Clement extended his feast to the whole Church in 1674.

Comment:

If there is always a certain uneasy questioning of the contemplative life, there is an even greater puzzlement about the extremely penitential combination of community and hermit life lived by the Carthusians.

Quote:

“Members of those communities which are totally dedicated to contemplation give themselves to God alone in solitude and silence and through constant prayer and ready penance. No matter how urgent may be the needs of the active apostolate, such communities will always have a distinguished part to play in Christ’s Mystical Body…” (Decree on the Renewal of Religious Life, 7).

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)

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 6 & 7 of 26:

   

They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

 

 

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.

On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.

 

 

 

Advertisements

“Daddy, Can I …__________ …, PLEASE!” – Luke 11:1-13†


We are exactly five months till CHRISTmas!!  WOO-HOO!!  It is 75 degrees outside right now:  I need to find a coat to wear (OK, this is sick humor).

 

I am also starting part-two of St. Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus, Through Mary” 34-day “novena” of prayers and meditations.  It has been an unbelievable, and very spiritual journey for me.  I am a firm believer that anyone that truly experiences this beautiful set of prayers and meditations will gain magnificent graces from our beloved Father.

 

Today’s reflection on the Mass Gospel Reading is the longest I believe I have ever written,  It has also been the deepest I have ever delved into the early Church, and the theology of Jesus’ words.  I started with the misconceived notion that this reflection would be easy since I have been saying the “Lord’s Prayer” every day since I can remember.  I am sure Jesus was sitting next to me, laughing hysterically, while I was writing this minor thesis! 

Though I have used my usual (and sometimes sick) humor throughout this reflection, it became a very deep and fairly thorough examination of the Jesus’ words and history of that time, in order to understand the complexities of this seemingly simple prayer.  Please read it slowly and carefully in order to get the full intent of the reflection.  Grab a cup of coffee and sit down in a comfy chair.

I want to thank a dear friend, John H., for helping me by proof reading this reflection and bringing out further thoughts from my soul.  He has become my resource and “bouncing board.”  This very pious man has definitely become a grace from God, for me.  Thank you John, Luv Ya.

 

Today in Catholic History:
    

†   1261 – The city of Constantinople is recaptured by Nicaean forces under the command of Michael VIII Palaeologus, thus re-establishing the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines also succeed in capturing Thessalonica and the rest of the Latin Empire.
†   1492 – Death of Pope Innocent VIII (b. 1432)
†   1593 – Henry IV of France publicly converts from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism.
†   1882 – Birth of George S. Rentz, Navy Chaplain, Navy Cross (d. 1942)

(From the “On This Day” Blog Site
otday.wordpress.com)

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

“By habitually thinking of the presence of God, we succeed in praying twenty-four hours a day” ~ St. Paul of the Cross †
       

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching us about prayer.

 

1 He was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”  2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread 4 and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.”  

5 And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ 7 and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed.  I cannot get up to give you anything.’  8 I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.

9 “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  10 For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  11 What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?  12 Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?  13 If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (NAB Luke 11:1-3)

 

Luke gives more attention to Jesus’ teachings on prayer than any other Gospel writer.  Today’s reading presents three sections concerning prayer.  The first recounts Jesus teaching his disciples this Christian communal prayer, the “Our Father”; the second part concerns the importance of persistence in prayer; and the third is about the effectiveness of prayer.  I have separated each section in the above reading for your convenience.

Matthews’s manner of the “Our Father” is the one we most commonly say, and is the one used in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew 6:9-15).  Stripped of much of the language we are used to, Luke’s version seems simple and direct.  This shorter version occurs while Jesus is at prayer, which Luke regularly shows Jesus devoutly doing at important times in His public ministry.  Other times include at the choosing of the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:12); before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18); at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28); at the Last Supper (Luke 22:32); on the Mount of Olives (Luke 22:41); and on the cross (Luke 23:46).  Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of his synagogue.  Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus.

Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray just as John [the Baptist] taught his disciples to pray.  To have its own distinctive form of prayer was the mark of a religious community: the start of the “Christian” community in this case.  This ancient way of recognizing a religious community is also true today, e.g., the consecration to Mary of the Marianists, and the “We adore you” of the Franciscans.

Jesus presents them with an example of a Christian “collective” prayer that stresses the fatherhood of God, and acknowledges Him as the one that gives us daily sustenance (Luke 11:3), forgiveness (Luke 11:4), and deliverance from the final trial [or test] (Luke 11:4).

The words “our Father in heaven” is a prayer found in many Jewish prayers with inception of the New Testament period.  “Hallowed be your name” was an interesting phrase for the young Catholics I taught in PSR.  I cannot tell you how many children thought they were saying “Harold be thy name:” actually thinking God’s real name was “Harold!”  The word “Hallow,” used as a verb, is defined as: “to make holy or sacred, to sanctify or consecrate, to venerate.”  The adjective form “hallowed,” as used in this prayer, means: “holy, consecrated, sacred, or revered.”

The act of “hallowing” the name of God is an intentional reverencing of God by our acknowledging, praising, thanking, and obeying Him and His will.  This is what most Catholics have come to believe.  I know I did!  Actually, it is more likely a petition that God hallow his own name; that he reveal His glory by an act of power!  This can be demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:23: I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it.  Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.  In regards to the “Our Father,” God is manifesting His power with the establishment of His “Kingdom,” first within us personally, and to be fulfilled completely in the future.

“Your kingdom come” is an appeal that sets the tone for this prayer, and slants the balance toward divine interaction and intervention, rather than human action in the petitions of this prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” is a request that God establish His Kingdom already present in heaven and on earth.  God’s Kingdom breaks the boundaries that separate the rich from the poor, the clean from the unclean, and the saint and sinner.

Trivia time: Instead of this appeal, some early church Fathers prayed, per the USSCB web site (www.usccb.org/nab/bible), “May your Holy Spirit come upon us and cleanse us.”  This indicates that the “Our Father” might have been used in baptismal liturgies very early in Christianity.

“Give us today our daily bread” espouses a petition for a speedy coming of God’s Kingdom.  Interestingly, God’s Kingdom is often portrayed with the image of a “feast” in both the Old and New Testaments.  Examples can be found in Isaiah 25:6, “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines:” and in similar themes found in Matthew 8:11; 22:1-10; Luke 13:29; 14:15-24.

Luke uses the more theological word “sins” rather than “debts,” used in Matthew’s version.  The word “debts” in “Forgive us our debts” is used as a metaphor for sins, meaning our debts owed to God.  This request I believe is for forgiveness now, and at our final judgment.  But Jesus’ disciples (even today) need to be careful, since disciples of Jesus NOT forgiving each and every person who has sinned against them, cannot have a proper view of Jesus’ Father, who is merciful to ALL!  See, the Father is truly Catholic: truly universal!

Jewish apocalyptic writings speak of a period of severe trials before the end of the “age.”  You may have possibly heard it called the “messianic woes” or “Jacob’s Trials” (The Book of Jubilees: Chapter 23).  The petition, “do not subject us to the final test” asks that we be spared these final tests.

Having taught his disciples this simple, but complete, daily prayer, Jesus reassures them that God answers all prayers given to Him.  He stresses this point by telling the parable about the persistent neighbor who asks a friend for bread at midnight.  The friend is already in bed and has no desire to disturb his family by opening the door.  But because the neighbor is persistent, the sleeping man gets up and gives him all that he needs.  The moral: If a neighbor is willing to help us if we are persistent enough, how could God not respond to our requests?!

Would I have acted the same way as the neighbor?  I can remember when my children were much younger, and spending a huge amount of time to get them to sleep.  If someone would have banged on my door, or rang the door-bell, I would have been quite upset, and not very hospitable or Christian when I answered that door.  I also know from past experiences, that I would have ultimately submitted to their request, and helped them in whatever way I could.  Is God the same way?  I believe yes!  He definitely does respond to us if we are persistent in our requests and communications with Him.

In the last sentence of this Gospel reading, Luke alters the  traditional saying of Jesus, found in Matthew 7:11: “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more l will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.” Luke substitutes “the Holy Spirit” for the underlined “good things.”  Luke presents the gifts of the Holy Spirit as God’s proper response to our prayers.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are significant in Luke’s theology, and play an important role in the growth of the early Church after Pentecost, and in our very personal relationship with our Lord.  “Good things,” Luke knew, could get disciples of Jesus in trouble.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit (Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord) sum up all that is given to the Christian community through prayer.  As we learn these gifts, we then experience the fruits of the Holy Spirit: joy, strength, and the courage for witnessing to Jesus’ mission on earth.  These gifts and fruits prepare us for life in eternity with Him in paradise.

I firmly believe that part of a solution to today’s problems in the Church, in the family, and in the world – – problems like abortion, wars and other conflicts, religious and racial harmony, physical and mental illness, family issues, and issues involving money, poverty, and excess wealth (including idolatry to money) – – is for all of us to practice a strong, constant, persistent, and unrelenting PRAYER life.  Given who and what Jesus really is, He taught us a perfect prayer, as it recognizes God’s holiness and His rule over all things.  

Jesus taught us to approach God simply as we would approach a loving father.  Think of times when family members were persistent about something until they were able to achieve a goal or receive what they sought.  Prayer is a way of striving to recognize how God is reaching out to us in love, and that He responds when we present Him with our needs and gratitude.  God hears ALL our prayers.  He also answers ALL our prayers, just maybe not the way we want or anticipate.  God’s invitation is, as Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  The Lord’s Prayer (the Our Father) helps do just that!

 

“Our Father”

 

“Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. James
    

This James is the brother of John the Evangelist. The two were called by Jesus as they worked with their father in a fishing boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus had already called another pair of brothers from a similar occupation: Peter and Andrew. “He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him” (Mark 1:19-20).

James was one of the favored three who had the privilege of witnessing the Transfiguration, the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus and the agony in Gethsemani.

Two incidents in the Gospels describe the temperament of this man and his brother. St. Matthew tells that their mother came (Mark says it was the brothers themselves) to ask that they have the seats of honor (one on the right, one on the left of Jesus) in the kingdom. “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). Jesus then told them they would indeed drink the cup and share his baptism of pain and death, but that sitting at his right hand or left was not his to give—it “is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father” (Matthew 20:23b). It remained to be seen how long it would take to realize the implications of their confident “We can!”

The other disciples became indignant at the ambition of James and John. Then Jesus taught them all the lesson of humble service: The purpose of authority is to serve. They are not to impose their will on others, or lord it over them. This is the position of Jesus himself. He was the servant of all; the service imposed on him was the supreme sacrifice of his own life.

On another occasion, James and John gave evidence that the nickname Jesus gave them—“sons of thunder”—was an apt one. The Samaritans would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to hated Jerusalem. “When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?’ Jesus turned and rebuked them…” (Luke 9:54-55).

James was apparently the first of the apostles to be martyred. “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1-3a).

This James, sometimes called James the Greater, is not to be confused with James the Lesser (May 3) or with the author of the Letter of James and the leader of the Jerusalem community.

Comment:

The way the Gospels treat the apostles is a good reminder of what holiness is all about. There is very little about their virtues as static possessions, entitling them to heavenly reward. Rather, the great emphasis is on the Kingdom, on God’s giving them the power to proclaim the Good News. As far as their personal lives are concerned, there is much about Jesus’ purifying them of narrowness, pettiness, fickleness.

Quote:

“…Christ the Lord, in whom the entire revelation of the most high God is summed up (see 2 Corinthians 1:20; 3:16–4:6), having fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips the Gospel promised by the prophets, commanded the apostles to preach it to everyone as the source of all saving truth and moral law, communicating God’s gifts to them. This was faithfully done: it was done by the apostles who handed on, by oral preaching, by their example, by their dispositions, what they themselves had received—whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or by coming to know it through the prompting of the Holy Spirit” (Constitution on Divine Revelation, 7).

Patron Saint of: Chile; Laborers; Nicaragua; Rheumatism; Spain

 

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

 

 

“Jesus Said What?!“ – Mt 6:9-15


I just found out that a friend from my EMS days has just died.  Please keep him, his family and friends, and all public service workers in your prayers today.  Lent is a time for preparation to see Jesus.  Charlie, with God’s Grace, you are with Him now in heaven.  God Bless You Charlie!

 

Is it wrong to love this time of the year?  The weather is in a continuous state of change.  Literally, in the St. Louis area at this time of the year, one day could be in the 60’s and 70’s, with everyone outside in shorts, and all windows in the house open; and the next below zero degrees outside, with several inches of snow; and then the next being a day of severe thunderstorms.  The saying in St. Louis is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes!”   

 

The same goes for our faith.  Anticipated joy is tempered with Lenten acts of almsgiving, meditation, sacrifice, and preparation for Easter.  But even these six weeks of lent are broken up with six “mini” days of joy: Sundays.  Sundays are always days of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and times to rejoice in our salvation through Him.

 

The first prayer I, and most other Christians learned, is the topic of my reflection today.  It is also the gospel reading in today’s Mass at all Catholic Church’s.
 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

“When the devil reminds you of your past… remind him of his future!” – St. Teresa of Avila

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  (NAB Mt 6:9-15)

    

I love the “Our Father” prayer.  I bet most Catholics don’t know there are actually two versions of this beautiful prayer, and I am not talking about the “Catholic” and “Protestant” versions.  Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of the Jewish church.  Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus.  Again, we have a case for a conceptual view, and a direct and literal view of the same prayer. 

  

“Our Father in heaven” is found in many Jewish prayers created after the period of the New Testament.  “Hallowed be your name” refers to the “hallowing” or reverence done to God, through human praise, and by obedience to God’s will.  In this case, it is more probably more of a petition that God manifest his glory through a powerful action: the establishment of His kingdom on earth. 

  

“Your kingdom come” sets the tone of the prayer.  In this great prayer, it trends more towards divine action, rather than human action in the petitions of the prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” exclaims that the divine purpose is to set up the kingdom on earth; already present in heaven. 

  

“Give us today our daily bread” is from a rare Greek word “epiousios,” that only occurs in the New Testament here, and in Luke 11:3. The word probably means “daily” or “future;” but other meanings have also been proposed. This verse of the “Lord’s Prayer” signifies the want of a speedy coming of the kingdom: i.e., today.  The kingdom of God is often portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments as an image of a feast  (look at my post from a few days ago).  

  

“Forgive us our debts” is a metaphor for our sins, and for forgiveness at our final judgment. 

Jewish writings prophesize a period of severe trial before the end of time.  This last part of the prayer asks that believers in Jesus (thus God) be spared any final test. 

  

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  I believe most of us do not read this sentence completely, or have a selective understanding of this two-part petition.  The first part asks for forgiveness from God.  We all have no problems with this portion: it’s the next that seems to cause the real concern.  If we do not forgive, neither is God.  Any resentment towards another, will be dealt with some type of “resentment” when it comes to eternal paradise.  So, to put this part of the prayer in perspective; God is only going to forgive us to the exact amount we have forgiven ALL that have sinned against us!  If we want total forgiveness for our sins, we have to forgive EVERYONE, IN FULL, for any sins, actions, words, behaviors, lies, or thefts they have done against us.  Sounded easy at first: didn’t it?  

  

These seven or eight petitions give us a formula for the perfect prayer.  Jesus proves His divinity, in the beauty and sincerity of such simple phases. 

  

“Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.”

   

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Catholic Saint of the Day: Saint Polycarp

   

 Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.  

But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?  

With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.  

Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer — to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp “your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock.”  

Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the “gospel model” — not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God’s will as Jesus did. They considered it “a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters.”  

One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, “Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found.” (They considered Christians “atheists” because they didn’t believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy “even before his grey hair appeared”, this was a horrible demand.  

Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time in prayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.  

As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, “God’s will be done.”  

Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had ever known and for the Church, “remembering all who had at any time come his way — small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world.” Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.  

But that didn’t stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, “Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man.”  

Because of Polycarp’s lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.  

When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn’t being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.  

The proconsul wouldn’t let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: “They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world.” After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156.  

(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)

   

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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 sistersAdmission 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 statutesProfession 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.