Tag Archives: Forgivness

“Am I a Black Sheep?!” – Lk 15:1-7†


My oldest son is on his way to Springfield Missouri for a Jazz Band competition.  He loves to play the trumpet, and has found his love, and future, in music.  I am proud of him, and his ability with that “horn.”  But, then again, I am proud of all my boys for their various abilities.  God did me good with them!   
 

Wrangling and herding of sheep is the reason for reflection on the days blog.

Jesus and His Sheep

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“When you handle yourself, use your head; when you handle others, use your heart.” – Donna Reed

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  So to them he addressed this parable.  “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?  And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.  (NAB Lk 15:1-7)

 

A parable that I love, and is probably one of the first I ever remember as a young child.  The church officials, in seeing Jesus eating with people deemed “unclean” are insulted, since Jesus is looked upon by many as a teacher of the Jewish faith.  At the time of Jesus, one did not mingle with the unclean, and the general population, much less much the “upper crust” of Jewish society.  Jesus knows that His (and thus God’s) mercy breaks through all human restrictions. 

There is a theme of joy in today’s gospel reading.  Finding the wayward of faith, and then bringing them back to the fold, makes for joy.  Our conversion; our finding of the truth through Jesus, and living in His fold on a daily basis, is required for finding total joy.  Eternal happiness in sharing Gods own joy, and we are all called to participate in His joy from, and through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The parable of the lost sheep illustrated Jesus’ particular concern for the lost,  and  of God’s love for the repentant sinner.  

Who are these prodigal children of God.  They are ones that are suffering from addiction, alcoholism, pornography, having affairs, and stealing, to just name a few.  God desires our return to him even more than we desire of our children and loved ones return from the depths of sin.  All can return without any mention of the past, and all can be forgiven for any sin.  He is standing right there next to us right now.  All we have to do is turn, and walk into His open arms. 

“Lord, please welcome me and all Your children home in the paradise of Heaven.  Especially welcome cheerfully all Your prodigal and wayward children, as a loving Father only can.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Colette

 

Colette was the daughter of a carpenter named DeBoilet at Corby Abbey in Picardy, France.  She was born on January 13, christened Nicolette, and called Colette.  Orphaned at age seventeen, she distributed her inheritance to the poor.  She became a Franciscan tertiary, and lived at Corby as a solitary.  She soon became well known for her holiness and spiritual wisdom, but left her cell in 1406 in response to a dream directing her to reform the Poor Clares.  She received the Poor Clares habit from Peter de Luna, whom the French recognized as Pope under the name of Benedict XIII, with orders to reform the Order and appointing her Superior of all convents she reformed.  Despite great opposition, she persisted in her efforts.  She founded seventeen convents with the reformed rule and reformed several older convents.  She was renowned for her sanctity, ecstasies, and visions of the Passion; and prophesied her own death in her convent at Ghent, Belgium.  A branch of the Poor Clares is still known as the Collettines.  She was canonized in 1807.  Her feast day is March 6th.

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

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #7:

 

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.

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“♫ All We Need Is Love, Da—Da-Da-Da-Da! ♫” – Mt 5:20-22


A beautiful Friday morning outside.  All the kids got up on their own, and dressed without last-minute emergencies,; then found their own food to eat.  They left for school after giving me a hug and saying something like, “I love You,” or “See you later dad.”  Why do I feel concerned about the absence of some type of ‘upset’ today?
   

The reflection today is about how we are to act as Christians.  This reflection contains a little history narrative about Jewish laws and ancient Jerusalem, to help put things in perspective.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“If Sampson killed 10,000 men with the jawbone of an ass, how much more can God fight with a complete ass like me?” – St. John of the Cross

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.  (NAB Mt 5:20-22)

  

God wants us all to live in love, respect, and honor.  These are the highest and most important virtues, and principles, in life.  The actions listed in this first part of today’s Gospel reading are examples of the conduct demanded of the followers of Christ.  Each act deals with a commandment of Jewish law, and is then followed by Jesus’ teaching in regards to that rule or commandment of faith.

 We’ve all been angry at some time in our lives.  And chances are we are all going to be angry again in the future.  After losing my job due to health reasons, I was very angry.  I now admit I even cussed out God, and anything that had to do with Him.  I was mad at the world and everything in it, including me.  With time, patience, and divine interaction, I have actually grown closer to our Lord in heaven than ever before, and I love Him so dearly.  I now thank Him for the grace to suffer for others, in His name.

We need to forgive those that have hurt us.  By forgiving them, we can again see Jesus in them.  This simple act of forgiveness will change our hearts, and bring us just a little closer to being like Christ.  This gospel reading is all about forgiveness.  Reconciliation with any offended brother or sister of God is the message in this admonition.

Anger is the motive behind the act of murder, and insulting epithets are steps that may lead to it. They, as well as the deed, are all forbidden in Jesus’ kingdom.   In the above verses, the word “Raqa” is used.  Raqa is an Aramaic word, probably meaning “imbecile or blockhead:” and definitely a term of abuse.  Abusive language is also forbidden by Jesus. 

We are disciples of Christ. We were created in His image, and we are goal is to be like Jesus in all ways.  Definitely is not an easy proposition at all, but the path to salvation is a rocky and difficult road to transverse.    We need to look past other peoples faults..  We need to see Jesus in them instead.  We need to witness their hurt, pain, hopes and dreams; and to help them as is possible by our means. 

 The severity of the “judge” in the parable above, is a warning of the fate for any unrepentant sinners in the coming judgment by God.  Per my studies for this reflection, the ascending order of punishment during the time of Jesus started at judgment by a local council; then trial before the Sanhedrin; and ends with condemnation to Gehenna.  The gospel reading points to a higher degree of seriousness in each of the offenses listed in the verses above. The Sanhedrin was the highest judicial body of Jewish people.  

Gehenna is translated from Hebrew to mean “Valley of Hinnom, or “Valley of the son of Hinnom.”  Gehenna was southwest of Jerusalem, and the center of an idolatrous cult at one point, in which children were offered in sacrifice to a pagan god called Moloch, by followers of Ba’al.  Gehenna was a trash dump, and a burning pit for trash; not too far south from Golgotha, at Jesus’ time.

The concept of punishment for sinners by fire, either after death or the final judgment, is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature such as in the Jewish “Book of Enoch, Chapter 90:26” [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.]  The name geenna (a Greek derivation of the word Gehenna) is given to a place of punishment, for the first time, in the New Testament.

“Lord, give me the courage to forgive and forget any transgressions towards me.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Isabel of France

 

Sister of St. Louis and daughter of King Louis VIII of France and Blanche of Castile, she refused offers of marriage from several noble suitors to continue her life of virginity consecrated to God. She ministered to the sick and the poor, and after the death of her mother, founded the Franciscan Monastery of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Longchamps in Paris. She lived there in austerity but never became a nun and refused to become abbess. She died there on February 23, and her cult was approved in 1521.  Her feast day is February 26th.

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

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

“The Golden Rule, But Me First!” – Mt 7:7-12


Charlie is being buried today.  I would like all to take a moment to pray for his souls.  Charlie saved many people in his long EMS & fire service.  He lived the golden rule every day of his life.  It is now time to return the favor for this local hero.
 

It is 10 months to Christmas.  Is it too soon to start counting?
 

The Golden Rule is my reflection today.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Smile at each other, smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other — it doesn’t matter who it is — and that will help you to grow up in greater love for each other. — Mother Teresa

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish?  If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him.   “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.” (NAB Mt 7:7-12)

  

Prayer, Prayer, Prayer:  We need to communicate with God CONTINUOUSLY throughout the day.  Prayer is not just saying some words to an almighty deity somewhere in the spirit world.  Prayer is a constant communication and exchange of thoughts and actions between you and God: directly or indirectly.  Remember, God is always literally with you, and not “in the spirit world.” 

Prayer can be those rote memory prayers we all learned in religion class, or from our parents.  Prayer is our spontaneous utterances we exchange with Him “in the air” when frustrated.  Prayer is the smile given to the person that appears sad or depressed.  Prayer is the gentile squeeze when holding your young child’s hand.  I can go on, but it is prayer when we think about God, or when we have an interaction with another of His creations.

This particular Gospel reading from today’s Mass suggests an unreflective sin on the part of those listening to Jesus this day.  Today is an interesting mediation reading, as it seems to expand and unfold the longer I meditated and researched this reading.

The second sentence seemed really bizarre to me.  In my research and meditation, it could be that there is a resemblance between a stone and a round loaf of bread; and between a snake and a scale-less fish called a “barbut.”  I’ve eaten rattlesnake before, but never a rock.

The Golden Rule, [Trivia time – this saying has been named this since the 18th century] is found in both positive and negative form in both pagan and Jewish writings.  It had a long history before being spoken here.  It emerged in the 5th century B.C. in Greek history, and the same phrase can also be found in Luke 6:31. 

The Golden Rule comes at the end of the sermon.  It is a summary, in much simpler terms.  Our retributions and morals need to be balanced and controlled by a notion of the good for that individual , and for society as a whole.  A sadomasochist would cause some major problems, and wreak havoc with this rule!

“Lord, help me to always think of you in all my actions.  The only way to salvation is through you, and through your creations of this earth.  Please help me to always do what is right for others , and myself.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Tarasius

 

St. Tarasius was subject of the Byzantine Empire.  He was raised to the highest honors in the Empire as Consul, and later became first secretary to the Emperor Constantine and his mother, Irene.  When being elected Patriarch of Constantinople, he consented to accept the dignity offered to him only on condition that a General Council should be summoned to resolve the disputes concerning the veneration of sacred images, for Constantinople had been separated from the Holy See on account of the war between the Emperors.  The Council was held in the Church of the Holy Apostles at Constantinople in 786; it met again the following year at Nice and its decrees were approved by the Pope.  The holy Patriarch incurred the enmity of the Emperor by his persistent refusal to sanction his divorce from his lawful wife.  He witnessed the death of Constantine, which was occasioned by his own mother; he beheld the reign and the downfall of Irene and usurpation of Nicephorus.  St. Tarasius’ whole life in the Episcopacy was one of penance and prayer, and of hard labor to reform his clergy and people.  He occupied the See of Constantinople twenty-one years and two months.  His charity toward the poor was one of the characteristic virtues of his life.  He visited in person, all the houses and hospitals in Constantinople, so that no indigent person might be overlooked in the distribution of alms.  This saintly Bishop was called to his eternal reward in the year 806. His feast day is February 25th.

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

“Pro-Life vs. Pro-Death: Not a ‘Touchy’ Subject At All” – Dt 30:19


Thursday morning, and I feel refreshed after a great sleep.  Last night, my Church was packed to the brim with parishioners.  It would be nice to see that many at our normal “days of obligation” such as on Sunday’s.  I so love my faith, and ALL that it entails.

  

I have a “doozy” of a reflection today.  I suspect here will be a very strong response from some: and I encourage it.  The only way to correct a problem is to first think and talk about it.  God Bless All of You!

The "Season of Lent"

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

Allan K. Chalmers: The Grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.

Today’s Meditation:

I call heaven and earth today to witness against you: I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live  (NAB Dt 30:19)

This verse is from the first reading at mass today.  This ONE sentence can cause so much discomfort in nearly all of today’s society.  If I was to be ‘politically correct,’ I would not bring up the deadly trio:  abortion, euthanasia, and death penalty (not to mention stem cell embryonic research).  But those that know me, know I am as politically correct as Archbishop Raymond Burke or William Donohue.  I am a very direct person, that sometimes embarrass or makes uncomfortable, the people near us. 

Pro-life and pro-choice to me are the same concept.  By choosing a stance on pro-life issues, you are making a choice: a choice to love and cherish all life, as a gift of creation from Him above.  After all, God does not make mistakes: only Humans are capable of this act!  Being Pro-life is making a choice to regard all life as sacred and special.  Being pro-life is choosing to recognize the grace and gift  God has given us:  dominion over all His creations on this earth.  Pro-life means having an understanding that life and death is NOT a matter for us to accept or deny; but to cherish and foster in a loving way, regardless of what ‘life’ gives us as challenges.   

Euthanasia and death penalty decisions are considered the “lesser of two evils” by our societal norms.  Evil is evil without exception; and any sin against life separates us from Christ’s relationship.  Purposeful murder is wrong, regardless of who the person is, or how much of a burden that person is to a family or society.   

I cannot explain why people, especially the elderly, have to suffer with debilitating diseases and conditions.  As one with disabilities, I can tell you I still have a purpose in society, even though others may think I am “over-the-hill” and possibly even a burden to my family.  I believe my family will disagree with my being a burden, though they will agree that my life-style and needs have changed.  Along with my disabilities have come a stronger relationship and interaction with my wife and children.  Instead of being at work, missing their growth into manhood, I am now a witness and active part in my boys becoming the men they are to be in society.  They are witnessing the good and bad of life, and the need to help others with a loving touch, smile, and compassion when encountering struggles in life. 

Now for the “touchy” subject: abortion!!  How many people can I get angry with me by saying abortion is absolutely and totally wrong?  So I won’t!  But it is not going to be that easy for you either!  

I love when I am told, “It’s my right to choose!!!”  I ask, “Choose what?”  My right to choose as an incomplete sentence.  Tell me what you are choosing.  See; not that easy to answer, is it?  

What you are actually saying in this incomplete sentence is this, “I have the right to choose whether to kill a living being of human DNA and tissue, thriving in my uterus, for reasons of fear, selfishness, inconvenience, vanity, or lack of responsibility.”  Not to be confrontational, but I challenge anyone to disagree with me on this sentence.  

Rape and incest account for so few of the numbers of the abortions performed.  This may be a strong statement by me, but I believe that even these reasons do not permit the murder of an innocent human being.  Instead, I believe the government should aid the affected female with free mental health and medical care to deal with the pregnancy and delivery; and to offer the option of adoption services, if wanted.  I even think there should be some type of financial aid given for the care of the fetus during pregnancy, and for the care of the baby if kept by the woman. 

The other statement I hear in regards to the “pro-choice” stance on birth control is, “I do not want to be a mother at this time.”  The sad fact is you will still be a mother.  Instead of being the mother of a child of God, you are now a mother of a dead baby!  

“Legally, it is not a baby until born.”  This exclamation is the one the comes out of pure desperation and hypocrisy!  Our government pronounces and practices, that on one hand a person can be convicted of murder if a baby that dies at the hand of another, while it is still in the uterus.  At the same time our government also allows the cruel purposeful death by the cutting and pulling apart, with suction and surgical tools, of a screaming human. Our government also allows the excruciatingly painful burning to death of this same  “human” with a strong saline (salt water) solution, as long as it is still in the uterus.  There is no way possible for anyone to rationalize, or explain the hypocrisy and malfeasance with this paradox in today’s society. 

The last argument I come up with is , “You’re a male!  Stay out of woman’s issues!”  I may be a man, but I remember being taught in science class is that the female egg has to be fertilized with a MALE sperm.  This ‘piece of tissue’ has equal amounts of DNA material from male and female genomes.  Yes, I do not have to carry the baby, and go through a form of hell in delivering the baby, but THAT BABY IS NO LESS MINE if I am the sperm donor.  

The problem with our society is that men are not being forced to be responsible and “buck up” to help raise and support the baby.  My sons know the facts of life, and know the consequences of an “unwanted” pregnancy.  My boys know they will probably not be able to finish college as planned, and that they will need to develop and have a nurturing relationship with their child.  It is not a threat to them:  they know it is their responsibility as father of a child from God.  

Should we harm, or use violence in the support for or against any of these three forms of death against nature.  NO, NO, NO, NO!!!  Again pro-life means we sanction, support, and love ALL life.  Jesus Christ said that it is easy to be with your friends, so be with your enemies.  We need to dialogue with those that disagree with our thoughts on life.  We need to come to an understanding of the causes, and problems that make these issues a hotbed of contention.  People need to understand the life is sacred, in all forms.  Alternative solutions such as adoption, and help during pregnancy must be paramount in our society as the “pro-choice” movement, and not abortion.  And most importantly, we need to pray for those that have had abortions; those getting abortions today and tomorrow; and for those that have died at the hands of others in violence, neglect, or by government action.  

Prayer to the Virgin Mary:
 

O Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of us all, we turn to you today as the one who said “Yes” to Life. “You will conceive and bear a Son,” the angel told you. Despite the surprise and the uncertainty about how this could be, you said yes. “Be it done unto me according to your word.”
 

Mary, we pray today for all mothers who are afraid to be mothers. We pray for those who feel threatened and overwhelmed by their pregnancy. Intercede for them, that God may give them the grace to say yes, and the courage to go on. May they have the grace to reject the false solution of abortion. May they say with you, “Be it done unto me according to your word.” May they experience the help of Christian people, and know the peace that comes from doing God’s will. Amen.

(from the “Priests for Life” website)

      

 

  

For help for pregnant women in the St. Louis/St. Charles areas of Missouri:

Our Lady’s Inn (314) 351-4590, emergency shelter for homeless, pregnant women & their children. www.OurLadysInn.org

Birthright http://www.birthright.org/htmpages/index.htm

ThriVe St. Louis, Greater St. Louis Pregnancy Resource Centers (314) 783-3040 or their hotline is (314)-PREGNAN http://www.thrivestlouis.org/ 

 

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Simon

  

In St. Matthew’s Gospel, we read of St. Simon or Simeon who is described as one of our Lord’s brethren or kinsmen. His father was Cleophas, St. Joseph’s brother, and his mother, according to some writers, was our Lady’s sister. He would therefore be our Lord’s first cousin and is supposed to have been about eight years older than He. No doubt he is one of those brethren of Christ who are  mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles as having received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. St. Epiphanius says that when the Jews massacred St. James the Lesser, his brother Simeon upbraided them for their cruelty. The apostles and disciples afterwards met together to appoint a successor to James as bishop of Jerusalem, and they unanimously chose Simeon, who had probably assisted his brother in the government of that church. In the year 66 civil war broke out in Palestine, as a consequence of Jewish opposition to the Romans. The Christians in Jerusalem were warned of the impending destruction of the city and appear to have been divinely ordered to leave it. Accordingly that same year, before Vespasian entered Judaea, they retired with St. Simeon at their head to the other side of the Jordan, occupying a small city called Pella. After the capture and burning of Jerusalem, the Christians returned and settled among the ruins until the Emperor Hadrian afterwards entirely razed it. We are told by St. Epiphanius and by Eusebius that the church here flourished greatly, and that many Jews were converted by the miracles wrought by the saints. When Vespasian and Domitian had ordered the destruction of all who were of the race of David, St. Simeon had escaped their search; but when Trajan gave a similar injunction, he was denounced as being not only one of David’s descendants, but also a Christian, and he was brought before Atticus, the Roman governor. He was condemned to death and, after being tortured, was crucified. Although he was extremely old – tradition reports him to have attained the age of 120 – Simeon endured his sufferings with a degree of fortitude which roused the admiration of Atticus himself. His feast day is February 18  

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:

  

Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship. 

“God Doesn’t Tempt Us To Sin, Does He?!” – James 1:12-14


Fat Tuesday: Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which starts tomorrow; known as “Ash Wednesday.” 

 

Today is a reflection about sin.  How sin occurs, and the effects of sin.  We are getting ready for Lent.

"LENT Begins Tomorrow"

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering, ‘What the heck happened?’

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life that He promised to those who love him.  No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and He himself tempts no one.  Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  (NAB James 1:12-14)

 

There are some interesting words in this verse from the first reading in today’s Mass.  Temptation is a Greek translation for a word that is used here for the “trials” in James 1:2 [Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials].  In ancient Palestine, crowns or wreaths of flowers were worn at festive occasions as signs of joy and honor.  Wreaths were also given as a reward to great statesmen, soldiers, athletes.  Finally, “Life,” in this verse means eternal life. 

It is contrary to what we know of God, for God to be the author of human temptation and sin.  In the commission of a sin, one is first influenced by passion; then consent is given; which in turn causes the sinful act to occur.  Mortal sin ultimately encompasses the entire person, and hinders our relationship with God.  Mortal sin separates us from God, and it incurs the ultimate penalty of eternal death from Christ.

Jesus is telling us that we are tempted to evil by the nature of orignal sin; and we have free will to accept or deny that opportunity to sin.  God will never test us by tempting us to sin.  On the contrary, God is with us at all times, except when we sin.  When sin happens, (in my mind) He is standing behind us, sad and crying.  If we are freely open to the suggestions and temptations of sin, (i.e., drug use, alcoholism, pornography, stealing, cheating, etc.), we are literally turning our backs to God, and waving Him away from us, like we do to someone we don’t want near us.

Thank God (again, literally) that He does not hold a grudge.  The moment we want to welcome God back into our lives (through the Sacrament of Reconciliation), God is right there next to us as our best friend forever!  we have to make the first move away from God, and we again have to make the first move to return to His grace.

“Lord, as children would say in phone texts to each, I want us to be  “BFF”.  I want you to be next to me always.  Please help keep me from the harms, and temptations of sin.  Please forgive me when I do fall.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Daniel

 

Died in 309, He and four companions, Elias, Isaias, Jeremy and Samuel were Egyptians who visited Christians condemned to work in the mines of Cilicia during Maximus persecution, to comfort them. Apprehended at the gates of Caesarea, Palestine, they were brought before the governor, Firmilian and accused of being Christinas. They were all tortured and then beheaded. When Porphyry, a servant of St. Pamphilus demanded that the bodies be buried, he was tortured and then burned to death when it was found he was a Christian. Seleucus witnessed his death and applauded his constancy in the face of his terrible death; whereupon he was arrested by the soldiers involved in the execution, borught before the governor and was beheaded at Firmilian’s order. Feast day Feb. 16.

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

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #16:

 

Let them esteem work both as a gift and as a sharing in the creation, redemption, and service of the human community.

 

“Paradoxes in Behavior & Attitudes” – Lk 6:20-25


Sunday morning and it is snowing again.  The quiet beauty outside my kitchen window is relaxing to me. 

 

I have been up all night with a very sick wife.  She either has a bad case of the flu, or food poisoning.  She is now dehydrated, dizzy, and muscles are hurting, but is refusing to go to ER for fluid replacement.  For being an ER nurse, she can be stubborn and a ‘royal’ pain at times.  PS. – I love my wife so much:  Happy Valentines Day Honey Buns.
 

Today, we are talking about the different versions of the “Beatitudes.” 

Bibile Study

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. — Angela Schwindt

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.  Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.  But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.  But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.  (NAB Lk 6:20-25)

 

I always thought the “Beatitudes” were the same in all the Gospels.  Surprisingly, they are not!  The end goals are the same: finding Jesus, and finding the way to Jesus in heaven and eternity.  Matthew has a conceptual approach to changing our attitudes towards others; and Luke, being a physician and analytical, was direct and realistic in his approach.  I am more attracted to Luke’s shorter and “you need to do this” approach to the Beatitudes.  In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching on the plains: intermingled with His people.  In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is above all around Him, on a mountain.  Jesus probably preached the Beatitudes many, many times during His ministry on earth.  Can you picture Jesus standing on a soapbox, on the corner of a busy intersection in Jerusalem, as well as in the Temple?

Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain” is the counterpart to Matthew’s “Sermon on the Mount” found at Mt 5:1-7:27.  It is addressed to the disciples of Jesus, and, like the sermon in Matthew, it begins with beatitudes and ends with the parable of the two houses, later in Lk 6:46-49.  Almost all the words of Jesus reported by Luke are found in Matthew’s version, but Matthew includes sayings that were related to specifically Jewish Christian problems, and Luke’s audience was predominantly Gentile Christians.

 The introductory part of the Luke’s sermon consists of blessings and woes that address the paradoxes of the economic and social conditions of humanity (the poor–the rich; the hungry–the satisfied; those grieving–those laughing; the outcast–the socially acceptable).  In Matthew, the “Beatitudes” emphasized the religious and spiritual values taught by Jesus (“poor in spirit,” Matthew 5:5; “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6). 

In Luke’s sermon, “blessed” extols the condition of persons who are blessed by God.  The “woes” threaten God’s displeasure on individuals blinded by their situations that they do not recognize, and appreciate the real values of God’s kingdom.  In all the blessings and woes, the present situation or condition of the person, will be reversed in the future.

The path to follow in order to get to Christ should not have the goal of being a Fortune 500 company, or to be known to all the world as a celebrity.  We need to remember to seek God on our individual paths, and to ask for His help and guidance constantly.

“Lord, help me to understand, and believe, the Beatitudes of Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospel, and what they teach us.  Please help me to choose the path leading to you.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #14:

 

Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.