Tag Archives: glorified

“Jesus, Take Me, The Barren Branch, And Allow Me To Be Made Glorified And Cherished Grapes In Your Kingdom!” – John 15:1-8†


Fifth Sunday of Easter

Today’s Content:

 

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Today in Catholic History
  • ·        Joke of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer
  • ·        Catholic Apologetics
  • ·        A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • ·        Reflection on part of  the OFS Rule 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Great news!!!  The PepsiCo Boycott is finally OVER!!  Per “LifeNews.com”, “Pepsi Stops Using Aborted Fetal Cell Lines to Test Flavors”.  After months of pro-life protests and opposition, PepsiCo has indicated it will alter its contract with biotech firm Senomyx Inc., which uses cells from a babies killed in an abortion to provide “materials” in conducting flavor testing. 

 “We are grateful to PepsiCo and especially to all those who sent a loud and clear message to the management of this company. It’s incumbent upon us to closely monitor the situation to be sure that PepsiCo remains true to their word.  There are moral cell lines Senomyx can and should be using — not just for PepsiCo research but for all their customers.”

We are ALL strongly encouraged to take one more important step: write to PepsiCo and thank them — and then go buy your favorite Pepsi products to celebrate.

Contact Pepsico:
Jamie Caulfield, Sr. VP
PepsiCo, Inc.
700 Anderson Hill Road
Purchase, NY 10577
(914) 253-2000
Email form:
http://cr.pepsi.com/usen/pepsiusen.cfm?time=5189878

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Today in Catholic History:

†   973 – Birth of Henry II, Roman Catholic German king (1002)/emperor (1014-1024)
†   1312 – Pope Clement V closes Council of Vienna (Was the fifteenth Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church that met between 1311 and 1312 in Vienne.  Its principal act was to withdraw papal support for the Knights Templar)
†   1501 – Birth of Marcellus II, [Marcello Cervini], Italy, humanist/Pope (1555, 22 days)
†   1527 – Spanish and German troops sack Rome; some consider this the end of the Renaissance. 147 Swiss Guards, including their commander, died fighting the forces of Charles V during the Sack of Rome in order to allow Pope Clement VII to escape into Castel Sant’Angelo.
†   1536 – King Henry VIII, orders translated [KJV] Bibles be placed in every church
†   1542 – Francis Xavier reached Old Goa, the capital of Portuguese India at the time.
†   1574 – Birth of Pope Innocent X (d. 1655)
†   1638 – Death of Cornelius Jansen, (was Catholic bishop of Ypres (Belgium) and the father of a theological movement known as Jansenism) (b. 1585)
†   1708 – Death of François de Laval, first bishop of New France (The first Roman Catholic bishop of Quebec) (b. 1623)
†   1830 – Birth of Guido Gezelle, Flemish priest/poet
†   1962 – St. Martín de Porres is canonized by Pope John XXIII.
†   1975 – Death of József Mindszenty, Hungarian Catholic Cardinal (b. 1892)
†   2001 – During a trip to Syria, Pope John Paul II becomes the first pope to enter a mosque.
†   Feast/Memorials: Saint Justus; Saint Lucius of Cyrene; Saint Justus; Saint Dominic Savio, patron saint of studying youth; Saint Evodius of Antioch; Saint Gerard of Lunel; Saint Henryk Kaczorowski; Saint Petronax of Monte Cassino; Saint Theodotus; St George’s Day — Ðurdevdan (Serbian), Gergyovden (Bulgarian), Giorgoba (Georgian)

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

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Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

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Today’s reflection: Jesus teaches He is the vine and His disciples are the branches.

 

(NAB John 15:1-8) 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  2 He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  3 You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  4 Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  5 I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.  6 Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.  7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  8 By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Today’s reading from the Gospel of John is the middle part of Jesus’ discourse at the Last Supper, and is the beginning of a fairly long monologue (15:1–16:4) on Jesus’ union with His disciples.  We need to remember, John tells the story of Jesus’ Last Supper differently from the other Evangelists.  In his Gospel, the Last Supper begins with Jesus washing His disciples’ feet.  Jesus then provides them with a series of instructions we call the Last Supper discourse or Jesus’ farewell discourse.  In these chapters of John’s Gospel, Jesus instructs His followers, His disciples, about the importance of following His example of love and service, about the gift they will receive when Jesus sends them the Holy Spirit, and about their relationship with Jesus and with the world.  The Last Supper discourse concludes with Jesus’ prayer for his disciples (cf., John, Chapter 17).

Today, Jesus speaks about His relationship to His disciples.  In His symbolism of the “vine and the branches”, Jesus is referencing passages from the Old Testament.  In the “Hebrew Scriptures” (the OT), Israel is the vineyard, and “Yahweh” Himself watches over and cares for the vineyard.  One of the primary themes of John’s Gospel is to show Jesus to be the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.

Today’s long discourse (15:1–16:4) focuses on Jesus’ union with His disciples.  Jesus’ “Words”, a monologue, goes beyond the immediate crisis of Jesus’ departure: He will still be present with them, even after His physical departure. 

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The first part of this discourse, John 10:1–5, resembles a parable in that he likens Jesus to something they would immediately recognize and understand.  They have seen vineyards in their experiences, and knew they would possibly recognize this imagery from the prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah 5:1–7 is his prophesy entitled, “The Song of the Prophesy”.  Please read this inspired and inspiring prophesy, especially the last verse:

The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, the people of Judah, his cherished plant; He waited for judgment, but see, bloodshed!  for justice, but hark, the outcry!” (Isaiah 5:7) 

And, a similar vineyard is also described in Matthews Gospel (cf., Matthew 21:33–46), “The Parable of the Tenants”.  (Have you read it yet?  If not, why not do so now.)  Interesting enough, King David and the Prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea, also uses this special image of the vine and vineyard:

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out nations and planted it.  You cleared out what was before it; it took deep root and filled the land.  The mountains were covered by its shadow, the cedars of God by its branches.  It sent out its boughs as far as the sea, its shoots as far as the river.  Why have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?  The boar from the forest strips the vine; the beast of the field feeds upon it.  Turn back again, God of hosts; look down from heaven and see; Visit this vine, the stock your right hand has planted, and the son whom you made strong for yourself.  Those who would burn or cut it down— may they perish at your rebuke” (Psalm 80:9–17);

I had planted you as a choice vine, all pedigreed stock; How could you turn out so obnoxious to me, a spurious vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21);

Son of man, what makes the wood of the vine Better than the wood of branches found on the trees in the forest?” (Ezekiel 15:2);

Your mother was like a leafy vineplanted by water, Fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.” (Ezekiel 19:10);

And finally,

Israel is a luxuriant vine whose fruit matches its growth.  The more abundant his fruit, the more altars he built; the more productive his land, the more sacred pillars he set up.” (Hosea 10:1)?

My question is this: “Is Jesus using this image of the vine for a “special” purpose?”  So, what is that purpose?

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The identification of the vine as the “Son of Man” in Psalm 80, and Wisdom’s description of herself as a vine in Sirach, are further backgrounds for portrayal of Jesus by the figure of the vine and Israel as the branches:

“Turn back again, God of hosts; look down from heaven and see; Visit this vine, the stock your right hand has planted, and the son whom you made strong for yourself.” (Psalm 80:15-16);

I bud forth delights like a vine; my blossoms are glorious and rich fruit.” (Sirach 24:17).

“The fruit of the vine” symbolism, as described in today’s reading, may have a secondary symbolism for the Holy Eucharistic.  (I believe so, do you?)  Remember what Mark reports in his Gospel:

“Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:25).

“The fruit of the vine” is a STRONG reference to the blood of Christ – – that is why the Catholic Church proclaims, “body, blood, soul, and divinity” as the core of OUR faith in Jesus being BOTH God and man).

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Verse three of this Gospel refers to God’s “Word”:

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.” (John 15:3).

John uses the word, “Word”, to relate its true meaning of this “word” as being revealed at the very beginning of his Gospel:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

In the above verse, “In the beginning” is a phrase found the very first words of the first book of the Old Testament (cf., Genesis 1:1).  John uses the verb “was” three times, with three different meanings, in this verse: existence, relationship, and affirmation of identity.  

The “Word” (in Greek: logos) is a term combining God’s dynamic, creative word (as found in Genesis), His personified pre-existent Wisdom as the instrument of God’s creative activity (as found in Proverbs), and the ultimate intelligibility of true reality (as found in Hellenistic [Greek] philosophy).

The phrase “with God” comes from a Greek preposition (“meta”) indicating a communication with, and being in the presence of, another.   And, finally, “was God” signifies an affirmation of identify.

However, what does Jesus mean by saying:

You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you” (John 15:3)?

I think it means: His disciples are saved, nurtured, and given extreme care by hearing God’s “Word”.  The effect of hearing God’s “Word” is to cause Jesus’ disciples to GROW, to be more productive in His kingdom, and giving each of us, through hearing His “Word”, the opportunity to become a pristine fruit (with pristine seeds) in His kingdom as well.  Later on, John will write:

Jesus said to him, ‘Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.’” (John 13:10).

Both “Pruned” and “Bathed” seems to suggest a symbolic reference to baptism for the first century Jewish Catholics.  Through the Sacraments – – especially Baptism, Confirmation, and Reconciliation – – we STILL become the pruned, pristine, fruit and seeds of His kingdom growing yet today.

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The above “Joke of the Day” section refers to verse six about the “withering branch” and being “thrown into a fire”.  I believe Jesus is referring to two specific verses of the Old Testament in regards to the imagery of vine, both from Ezekiel:

Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Like vine wood among forest trees, which I have given as fuel for fire, so I will give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  I will set my face against them: Although they have escaped the fire, the fire will still devour them; you shall know that I am the LORD, when I set my face against them.” (Ezekiel 15:6–7);

The second reference:

Your mother was like a leafy vine planted by water, Fruitful and full of branches because of abundant water.  One strong branch grew into a royal scepter.  So tall it towered among the clouds, conspicuous in height, with dense foliage.  But she was torn out in fury and flung to the ground; The east wind withered her up, her fruit was plucked away; Her strongest branch dried up, fire devoured it.  Now she is planted in a wilderness, in a dry, parched land.  Fire flashed from her branch, and devoured her shoots; Now she does not have a strong branch, a royal scepter!  This is a lamentation and serves as a lamentation.” (Ezekiel 19:10–14).

In the Old Testament reading, the “vine” is Judah; the “one strong branch” is the Davidic king.  In the above readings from Ezekiel, the allegory describes the deportation of the Davidic dynasty to Babylon and laments the destruction of the house of David.  From Ezekiel’s perspective, the arrogance of Judah’s kings lead to this tragedy. 

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The image of the vine was a rich one for the Jews since the land of Israel was covered with numerous vineyards.  Jesus is using the “vine” to mean ALL people of ALL nations, especially Israel.  The “one strong branch” is Jesus Himself.  Jesus is leading (and still leads) all who believe in Him on a new Exodus to a great feast in the paradise of Heaven.  Jesus is rebuilding a New Jerusalem in Himself and in each and every one of us.  How great is this to be part of the “City of God”!!

When Jesus calls Himself the “true vine”, He makes it clear no one can claim their spiritual inheritance through association with a particular people or bloodline (ie. the Jewish people).  Rather, it is only through Jesus Christ AND one’s faith in Him and His mission that someone can become “grafted” into the true “vineyard” of the Lord.

Jesus teaches His disciples that His relationship with them will not end after His death; He will remain with them always!  This new and unique unity between Jesus and His followers, His disciples, is the foundation and source of their (and OUR) ability to continue to do the work which He began.  Similarly, Jesus’ presence with each of us – – through the Grace of the Holy Spirit – – enables each of us, individually and personally, to continue the work of love and reconciliation which He began.

Jesus offers true life, an abundant life coming from God the Father and resulting in great fruitfulness for the true disciple.  How does the vine become fruitful?  The vine must be carefully pruned, eliminating the waste, before it can bear “good fruit”.  Vines characteristically have two kinds of branches — those which bear fruit and those which don’t.  The non-bearing branches must be carefully pruned back in order for the vine to conserve its strength for bearing good fruit.  Jesus used this image, well known to all in first-century Israel, to describe the kind of life He produces in those who are united with Him through faith:

 “… the fruit of ‘righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit’(Romans 14:17).

 Jesus says there can be no fruit in our lives “apart from Him”.  The “fruit” He speaks about allegorically here is the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23).

While the vine became a symbol of Israel as a nation, it also was used in Holy Scriptures as a sign of an unhealthy falling apart of the family, the nation, their religion, and their relationship with God.  Isaiah’s prophecy spoke of Israel as a vineyard which “yielded wild grapes” (cf., Isaiah 5:1-7): those choosing not to follow Christ, choosing to live a “worldly” life, will be “branches” surely “cut off”, “dried”, and “used as fuel”.  Sounds pretty ominous to me! (There’s a message in there somewhere!)

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There is a simple truth in today’s reading.  Each one of us is either “fruit-bearing” or “non-fruit-bearing”.  There is NO in-between, NO straddling the fence, on God’s “vine”.  The nurturing and care of healthy fruit requires drastic pruning – – in our own personal and public lives, as well as in God’s kingdom!!  Jesus promises that we will bear much fruit if we abide in Him and allow Him to nurture, care for, and feed us!!  So, get out the pruning shears and help God make you a great GRAPE!!

For those of us who remain faithful to God’s “word”, we will be given all we need, according to His will.   John even mentioned this same notion in his last chapter:

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13);

And, also in his first epistle:

 “We have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us(1 John 5:14).

Matthew and Mark also talk about God giving His faithful all we ask for, according to His will:

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7);

Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours” (Mark 11:24);

Simply believe, ask, trust, hope, love, and receive!  Your prayers will be answered; maybe not the way you want, but according to His will and plan for you.

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We “glorify” God the Father by living a true and faith-filled life, with Him always present in what we do, say, and believe.  Our “Words’, our “actions”, and our “decisions” are as important today, as they were with Jesus’, two millennia ago!

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:16);

Whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:13).

How well do YOU glorify God?  Does He shine in your life?  Or, is He a dull and tarnished notion of days past?  Even if so, it is never too late to get the polish out and start “buffing” away the tarnish on your heart out, making room for His heart to shine instead.

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To summarize, Jesus taught His disciples about the importance of “the word”.  Just as Jesus will remain in His disciples, so too will His (and His Father’s) “Word”.  We come to know Jesus through the Holy Scriptures – – the “true, full, and living ‘Word’ of God”.  Our commitment to be Jesus Christ’s true followers and disciples is sustained through God’s eternal “Word”.  This commitment is strengthened, nurtured, and more fulfilled, by our life of prayer, and fed and cultivated by frequent receiving of the Holy Eucharist.  Through the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Himself, physical and spiritually dwells personally and intimately in each of us, remaining with each of us, and transforming each of us so that we might bear much fruit in His name.  Amen, Amen, Amen!!

We observe many people who act in ways which show their personal commitment to serve their neighbor with a true love Jesus displayed (and still displays), required (and still requires) from each of us, Catholics, other Christians, and even non-Christians to care for the sick, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and give alms to the poor.  These decisions and actions become acts of Christian discipleship when they are motivated by our personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ Himself.  Whatever the immediate results of this “worldly” act, Jesus promises us that these actions will bear much fruit, in His kingdom, when we do them in His name.

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To conclude, the goal of our life of prayer is to increase our awareness that Jesus lives with each of us in a personal, intimate, unique, and loving way – – ALWAYS!  It is much more than a simple dialogue with God.  Prayer is a lifting of our minds and hearts TO the Triune God so that the Triune God might dwell and act IN, WITH, and THROUGH each of us in a personal, intimate, unique, and loving way!  The summit of our prayer life – – our personal and public “communion” with the true and physically present Jesus Christ – – is in the Holy Eucharist.  Through this Blessed Sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ, we receive Jesus Himself, AND He remains with us.  Our prayer life, AND our personal, unique, and intimate union with Jesus, will naturally lead each of us to “fruit-full service” to others.  (How ‘bout them grapes!)

Jesus talked about His relationship to His disciples using the “vine” and the “branches” as symbols.   Think about the ways in which we are invited to “relate” to Jesus as His disciples in today’s secularized and materialistic world – – prayer, Holy Scripture, Holy Eucharist, and so on.  When we do these things, Jesus promises to remain with us AND to lead us to serve others in a good, effective, way.  Take some time to pray, asking the Holy Spirit to help you continue to be attentive and always open to Jesus as He works in, with, and through our lives today.  Let’s MAKE ROOM FOR GOD in our lives – – ALWAYS!!

I think I’ll get a glass of great wine now!  Thank you.

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Reflection Prayer:

 

A Prayer About Making Room For God

 

“Most Precious Lord Jesus, Gentle And Wonderful God, Truly Awesome And Ever-present Holy Spirit, Precious Lord Jesus, I love you.  Do not let me be arrogant.  Show me what life is like for the weak.  Help me reach out to help the weak to be stronger.  Never let me boast about the cravings of my heart.  Never let me bless or benefit the greedy.  Never let me make fun of your flock.  Turn my eyes upon you.  Place within me a seeking heart to find you.

Above all, help me always have room for you within my thoughts.  Every hour I take refuge in you.  Wickedness and sinfulness lurk in the shadows ready to devour me.  The more upright I try to be, the more arrows are set against the bows of the wicked to slay me.  When the foundations of my life are being destroyed, help me cling to you and cling to your old rugged cross.  When the foundations of my life are being destroyed, help me make room in my heart and life for your love and grace.  All these things I humbly pray in the name of my most Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, my Mighty God, and my Ever-present Holy Spirit upon whom I can rely.  Amen”

http://www.findthepower.com/PrayerPages/PrayerPagesMakeRoomForGod.htm

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 Catholic Apologetics:

My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church.  Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.

Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral.  Oral tradition includes written forms.  After all, it ALL started with oral tradition.  Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Laying on of hands or healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.  

All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

Scripture and Tradition

“I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2) RSV.

“ Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2) KJV.

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Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus; guard the truth that has been entrusted to you by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14) RSV.

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.  That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed Gerard of Lunel (13th century)

Gerard, born into a noble family in southern France, showed an early inclination to piety—so much so that he received the habit of the Third  Order of St. Francis at the age of five.  When he was 18, Gerard and his brother, Effrenaud, hid themselves in a cave on the banks of a river and began two years of living as hermits.  Both brothers then decided to go on a pilgrimage, in part to discourage the many visitors to the hermitage who had heard of their reputation for holiness.  Making their way to Rome on foot, they spent two years there, visiting its many famous churches and shrines.

They intended to continue to Jerusalem, but Gerard collapsed on the way.  While his brother went to seek help, he left Gerard in a simple cottage near Montesanto, Italy, but Gerard expired before his brother’s return.

Many miracles are said to have taken place at Gerard’s tomb, making it a favorite place of pilgrimage.  People who were afflicted with headaches or subject to epilepsy experienced special relief through his intercession.  The city of Montesanto has long venerated Blessed Gerard as its principal patron.  He is sometimes known as Gery, Gerius or Roger of Lunel.

Comment: Gerard didn’t have much success in reaching his goals, including his hope to visit the holy places in Jerusalem where Jesus walked.  However disappointed he may have been by all these setbacks, Gerard nonetheless managed to walk in Jesus’ footsteps throughout his life.

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

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

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

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07.  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.

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“Dying Is The Easy Part. The “New Life” Is the Hard Part!” – John 12:20-33†


Fifth Week of Lent

Today’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Today in Catholic History
  • ·        Joke of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer
  • ·        Catholic Apologetics
  • ·        A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • ·        Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

We are already in the fifth week of Lent already.  Just a little bit longer till Easter Sunday and celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Birth.  Easter doesn’t end on April 8th.  Easter Sunday is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday, May 27th

Easter Sunday follows Holy Week.  Easter also follows the third and final day of the “Paschal Triduum”.  The Paschal Triduum is also called the Holy Triduum or Easter Triduum, and begins the evening of Holy Thursday, and ends the evening of Easter Day. It commemorates the heart of our faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

More about the Paschal Triduum will be discussed in next week’s blog.

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Today in Catholic History:

    708 – Constantine begins his reign as Catholic Pope
    
752 – Death of Pope-elect Stephen (died before taking office)
    
1297 – Birth of Arnost of Pardubice, Archbishop of Prague (d. 1364)
    
1347 – Birth of Catherine of Siena, Italian saint (d. 1380)
    
1409 – The Council of Pisa opens.
    
1571 – Catholic Italian businessman Roberto Ridolfi leaves England
    
1593 – Birth of Jean de Brébeuf, French Jesuit missionary (d. 1649)
    
1634 – Lord Baltimore founded Catholic colony of Maryland
    
1655 – Protestants take control of the Catholic colony of Maryland at the Battle of the Severn.
    
1847 – Pope Pius IX publishes encyclical “On aid for Ireland”
    
1917 – The Georgian Orthodox Church restores its autocephaly abolished by Imperial Russia in 1811.
    
1939 – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli becomes Pope Pius XII.
    
1954 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical “Sacra virginitas” (On consecrated virginity)
    
1991 – Death of Marcel Lefebvre, French Catholic prelate (b. 1905)
    
1995 – Death of Peter Herbert Penwarden, priest, dies at 73
    Feasts/Memorials: March 25th is typically celebrated as the day of the Annunciation so long as it does not fall on a Sunday, during Holy Week, or Easter Week; Saint Dysmas, the ‘Good Thief’; Saint Humbert  

(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 teaching His disciples about the way in which He will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.

(NAB John 12:20-33) 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast.  21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.  27 “I am troublednow.  Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”  29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.  31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world  will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

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Gospel Reflection:

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from John (Probably my most favorite of the Gospel writers).  Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the “Passion” narrative to soon follow.  Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11), a truly important “sign” (and miracle) in John’s Gospel.  The miracle involving Lazarus inspired many Jews and Gentiles alike to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  

The “Lazarus” event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities.  John’s Gospel relates to us how the Sanhedrin (the supreme Jewish judicial, ecclesiastical, and administrative council in ancient Jerusalem) met after Lazarus’ resurrection, creating plans to kill Jesus, whom threatens their materialistic way of life.  This 12th chapter of John has Jesus previously being “anointed” at Bethany, and then entering Jerusalem “in triumph”.  We also see allegorical evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus in today’s incident.  Keep in mind, John reported crowds gathering to “see” Lazarus in Chapter 11:

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother” (John 11:19).

These “many Jews” became witnesses to the “glory” of Jesus’ divine being though Lazarus’ being resurrected.

Today’s Gospel Reading is about the coming of Jesus’ hour.  This announcement of “glorification” by death is a revelation of “the whole world” going after Jesus Christ.

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after Him.” (John 12:19)

There is much hidden, and needing to be explained and discussed, in today’s reading, so grab a cup of coffee and find a comfortable seat.

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In verse 20, the word “Greeks” was not used in a nationalistic sense, those who came from Greece itself.  They were probably simple Gentile proselytes (new converts) to Judaism;

So the Jews said to one another, ‘Where is He going that we will not find Him?  Surely He is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is He?” (John 7:35).

In the next two verses (12:21–22), “Philip went and told Andrew …”, we see an approach made through Jesus’ Disciples who had distinctly Greek names.  Could this suggest that access to Jesus was mediated to the Greek world through His disciples?  Philip and Andrew were from Bethsaida (which means “house of fishing”) in the most northern part of Galilee:

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.” (John 1:44);

(Trivia time: Galileans were mostly bilingual.)

These men who were “new” to the Jewish religion asked Philip:

  “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

The word “see” seems to mean “have an interview with Jesus”, and not just merely observing Him.  Why?

Well, it may be that following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted His suffering, death, and Resurrection.  He also prepared His disciples to believe in the “salvation” that His death would accomplish, allowing them (and us) entry into God’s Kingdom, the paradise of heaven.  

Using the image of “the grain of wheat”, Jesus presented the idea that His dying would be beneficial for those believing in Him.  He also taught disciples that they must follow His example of personal sacrifice.  This theme of “personal sacrifice” will be repeated in John’s account of the “Last Supper” when Jesus washes the feet of His disciples (John 13) as an example of how they must serve one another:

Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me” (John 13:8).

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Jesus’ response to these new converts to Judaism (verse 23) suggests that only after His Crucifixion could the Gospel – – His WORD – – encompass Jew and Gentile alike; ALL nations and ALL peoples.

Jesus described His approaching death on the cross as His “hour of glory”:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (John 12:23).

He would then be “lifted up from the earth” and would “draw all men to himself”:

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32).

Jesus saw His death on the Holy Cross of Redemption and Salvation as a triumph over the powers of sin and darkness: Satan, Sin, and Evil.  Jesus illustrated an image of the “grain of wheat” to those hearing in order to show how this principle of dying to live truly works in God’s kingdom.  Seeds cannot produce new life by themselves.  They must first be planted in the soil, and DIE, before they can grow, then “producing much fruit”.  

Some may still ask: what is the spiritual comparison Jesus is conveying to His audience (then and now)?  Is this simply a veiled reference to His own impending death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead? … Or, is Jesus imparting to us another kind of “death and rebirth” for His disciples?  I believe Jesus had BOTH meanings in mind.  Jesus’ obedience to God’s plan for OUR salvation by His death on the cross obtains for each of us – – individually and intimately – – a freedom and “new” life in, with, and through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus’ death on the Holy Cross truly frees us from the tyranny and destruction of sin and death (both physical and spiritual), and shows us the way of (and to) perfect love for God, each other, and ourselves.

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You know, I have come to learn that when Jesus says “Amen, Amen” (Verse 24), He is going to say something profound and usually mind (and soul) bending.  In today’s Gospel, He says:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)

This verse reveals a profound truth: through His death, Jesus Christ will be accessible to ALL who seek Him and believe in Him.  (I cannot repeat this enough!)

But what does Jesus mean by His saying, “it remains just a grain of wheat” (verse 24).  I believe this particular saying is found all through Synoptic Scripture.  The wheat dying and then “producing much fruit” symbolizes that through His death, Jesus will be accessible to all:

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39);

“ For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25);

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35);

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  (Luke 9:24);

And finally,

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” (Luke 17:33).

John however adds the phrases “in this world and for eternal life”.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (John 12:25).

I love John’s Poetic nature of writing.  His additions truly make Holy Scripture JUMP to life in my mind, heart, and soul.

In these multiple verses from the Synoptic and John’s Gospels, “His life” (verse 25) is a translation of the Greek word “psyche”, referring to a person’s natural life; and not meaning “soul”.  Hebrew anthropology (the study of humankind culture and development) did not imagine a “body versus soul” dualism (two distinct parts or aspects, which are often opposites) in the way familiar to us.  For first century Hebrew, the Body and soul were intertwined.

With this little fact in mind, what does it mean to “die” to oneself?  For me, it means that what is in opposition to God’s will and plan for each of us must be crucified, put to death.  God gives us an extraordinary gift, a grace to say “YES” to His will and plan; to reject whatever is in opposition to His loving plan for our lives.  

Jesus also promises we will “produce much fruit” for Him, IF we choose to deny ourselves for His sake.  In today’s reading, Jesus used powerful words to describe the kind of self-denial He wanted from His disciples.  

Using this powerful speech I just mentioned, what did He mean when by saying one must “hate” himself?  (I hate the word hate!)  Jesus says nothing should get in the way of our preferring Him or with the will and plan of our “glorious” Father in heaven.  Our hope is not in an earth-based, materialistic world, but rather one of a heaven-bound hope.  St. Paul reminds us that:

What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:42) RSV.

Do you hope and trust in the Lord, and follow joyfully on the path He has chosen for you to follow?  Are you truly following in Jesus’ example in ALL you do and say?  I, at least, try!!  I hope and pray that you do as well!   

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Let us continue on with John’s Gospel reading.  In verse 27, Jesus states, “I am troubled”!  Jesus is perhaps giving a foretelling of what He will endure later: agony at Gethsemane:

I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 6:38);

Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its scabbard.  Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (John 18:11).

Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews of Jesus’ troubles in a very direct way:

“In the days when he was in the flesh, He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrew 5:7–8).

This final section of today’s Gospel should be read as John’s parallel to the “agony in the garden”.  Unlike the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John does not record Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, prior to His arrest.  It is interesting and comforting that Jesus gives a confident response to the question He raises when asking God to save Him from His impending death.

What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27-28)

After announcing His conviction of “glorifying” His (and our) Father’s name IS the reason, the purpose that He came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus’ prayer:

Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.’” (John 12:28).

This “voice”, like the one heard at Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ Transfiguration – – both reported in the Synoptic Gospels, but not in John’s Gospel – – affirms that God the Father welcomes the sacrifice Jesus will make on behalf of each of US – – PERSONALLY!!  In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches this “voice” was sent for the sake of those who would believe in Him.

At the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the “Ruler of this world”.  Surprising for some, it is not God; it is instead Satan.  Remember, though God is everywhere, He is not “OF” this world, but is IN this world to save us.  Remember, there are no worldly items in paradise.  You can either be of this world, or of His kingdom, but not both:

My [Jesus’] kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”(John 18:36)

Satan and his angels (a “third of the stars”), were “thrown to earth”:

War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon (Satan).  The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels (the “third of the stars” – – the “fallen” angels) were thrown down with it.” (Revelations 4:7-9)

They had “free will”, as we do, and chose to turn their back on God.  For such a choice, they were barred from everlasting paradise.

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In today’s Gospel, we “hear” Jesus speak about the “worldly” framework against which we are to understand His passion, death, and Resurrection.  Through His death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ conquered Satan, “the ruler of this world” (verse 31).  In this way the “world” is judged, yet, the judgment is NOT necessarily one of condemnation.  Instead, through Jesus’ dying and rising from the dead on third day, “salvation” is lovingly and “gloriously” brought to the world for OUR sake.

If we want to experience the “new” life Jesus offers, then the outer shell of our old, sinful nature must be broken, rejected, and put to death.  In Baptism our “old nature”, enslaved by the darkness of sin, is buried with Jesus Christ.  We then rise as a “new creation”, also in Jesus Christ.  This process of death to the “old sinful self” is both a one-time event such as in our personal baptism, and a continuous – – daily and on-going – – cycle in which God buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin, so we might rise anew and bear more fruit for God.  This concept is my impression of the Franciscan notion of “Daily Conversion”.  WOW, have you realized yet that there is a great, and on-going, paradox presented to us today: “death leads to life”.  When we “die” to OUR – – individual, sinful, and “worldly” – – selves, we “rise”, with Christ through the Holy Spirit, to brand new and more fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.  Again, WOW!!

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To conclude, our lives are often balancing acts in which we “prioritize” and attend to a variety of sometimes overwhelming and competing needs.  In time, most of us learn the value of putting others’ needs ahead of our own when necessary.  We also learn that when we make personal sacrifices to serve others, we gain so much more than we may have lost.  In these times, we are living up to what Jesus asks of us: to follow His example of personal sacrifice.  

Reflect on how important it is to you to gladly serve one another, especially those you do not know or personally like.  Consider the last time someone asked for help.  What was your response?  Did you “cheerfully” try to honor their request, or, did you ask, “Why me?”  How do you think Jesus would want us to respond when someone asks for help?  Realize “the help” may not be the “help” the requester wanted; it may be helping in a way they NEED instead.  Make a commitment for the next week (or more) to try to respond cheerfully to requests for help.  Ask for God’s help with this commitment; He WILL respond in a way which may surprise you!!

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Reflection Prayer:

 The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

“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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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

My reason and purpose for this section on my blog is to provide “scriptural confirmation” for our beliefs and doctrines, not to cause dissention or opposition with my fellow believers in Jesus Christ, yet not in union with the Roman Catholic Church.  Whether God speaks to us through the “Bible”, or through “Tradition”, it is the Holy Spirit that inspires the “Word” from which all authentic tradition flows.

Tradition can be separated into two aspects: oral and behavioral.  Oral tradition includes written forms.  After all, it ALL started with oral tradition.  Behavioral tradition includes Baptism, Eucharist or Lord’s Supper, Lying on of hands or healing, Intercessory prayer, and Ordination.  

All Scriptural verses are taken from both the Revised Standard Version: Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.

The “Papacy”

“‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Luke 22:31-32) RSV.

“’Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32) KJV.

***

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter)” (John 1:42) RSV.

He brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone. (John 1:42) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, goes back to the fourth or fifth century.  Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us.  From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human.  Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized.  The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love.  Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan.  From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world.  We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation.  Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption.  It is a God-given role.  It is God’s grace from beginning to end.  Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace.  She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

She is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined.  She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth.  She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence.  She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God.  She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life.  She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become.  She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God.  She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.

Comment:

Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her.  Perhaps such an observation is misguided.  God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal.  We have scarcely begun to realize the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love.  The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us to wake up to the marvelous creatures that we all are by divine design.

Quote:

“Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Luke 1:28).  To the heavenly messenger she replies: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38).  Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).

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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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Article #’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.

“Wine First; Now Bread: Am I a Brewer, Baker, or a Healer?!” – Matthew 15:29-37†


 

Holy Father’s (Popes) Monthly Prayer Intentions for December, 2010

    

The Experience of Personal Suffering as a Help to Others who Suffer, and Opening Our Doors to Christ

 

General: That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.

 

Missionary: That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice.

 

 

 

Today is my (and my wife’s) twentieth wedding anniversary.  Though I jokingly say to all who will listen that “twenty years with her is like twenty minutes – – underwater”, I literally cannot remember a time without her.  The two of us are truly of ONE nature.  I love her so much, and that grows exponentially each and every day STILL.  When will the honeymoon be over?!

  

Today in Catholic History:


†   660 – Death of Eligius/Eloy, French bishop of Tournay-Noyon; saint
†   772 – Pope Adrian I elected to Papacy
†   800 – Charlemagne judges the accusations against Pope Leo III in the Vatican.
†   1521 – Death of Pope Leo X, [Giovanni de’ Medici], Italian Pope (1513-21), at age 45 (b. 1475)
†   1580 – Death of Giovanni Morone, Italian cardinal (b. 1509)
†   1581 – Death of Edmund Campion, English Jesuit (martyred) (b. 1540)
†   1581 – Death of Ralph Sherwin, English Catholic saint (b. 1550)
†   1581 – Death of Alexander Briant, English saint (b. around 1556)
†   1830 – Death of Pope Pius VIII (b. 1761)
†   1989 – USSR Pres Mikhail S Gorbachev meets Pope John Paul II at the Vatican
†   Feast Day: St Eligius

(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:

 

Franciscans are dedicated to the care of creation, seeing all creatures as brothers and sisters.

   

“Saints Francis and Clare had a relational understanding of creation. All creatures, from the smallest to “our Sister, Mother Earth,” were sisters and brothers, part of the very family of God.  Because of this, Francis was named the patron saint of ecology by Pope John Paul II.  Following this tradition, St. Bonaventure developed a theological and spiritual vision that acknowledged all creation as emanating from the goodness of God, existing as a “footprint” of God, and leading us back to God if we are able to “read” nature properly. He spoke of creation as the first book that God wrote.”

“This is the royal dignity which the Lord Jesus assumed when he became poor for us that he might enrich us by his want and would make us truly poor in spirit, as heirs and kings of the kingdom of heaven. I do not wish to relinquish this royal dignity.”  St. Bonaventure, Major Legend, Chapter VII

(From the Franciscan Action Network (FAN) website:
http://www.franciscanaction.org)

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus feeding and healing many on a mountain.

 

29 Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there.  30 Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others.  They placed them at his feet, and he cured them.  31 The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel.  32 Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat.  I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.”  33 The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?”  34 Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?”  “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”  35 He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.  36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  37 They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.  (NAB Matthew 15:29-37)

 

The mountain is a “classic” place for encounters with God throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  Many centuries prior to this event encountered in today’s Gospel, Isaiah prophesized in Chapter 25:6-9 that on a mountain the Lord “will provide for ALL peoples.”  He will feed, heal, and destroy death.  On this mountain, Jesus Christ gives love, joy, hope, peace, a purpose, and freedom; to heal and energize all of us – – with LEFTOVERS!! 

This is not the story of the feeding of the five thousand as found in Matthew 14:13-21.  What makes this one different from the former is that Jesus is taking the initiative by summoning the disciples.  Also different is the numbers of the crowd: 4000 men versus 5000 men in the former story.  Finally, the crowd was with Jesus for three days, seven loaves were multiplied, and seven baskets of fragments remained after all had eaten to satisfaction. 

Here is another example in support of Jesus’ healing ministry.  Our divine physician made many house calls by travelling to those in need.  Many people who were in good physical shape, who were maimed, and who were sick and/or injured sought out Jesus.  He not only healed the physical body, He healed the spiritual soul as well.

Many of the healed people in this Gospel reading are possibly Gentiles.  Through Jesus’ ministry they became part of a reassembled Israel.  Jesus came for ALL, not just two of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, Pagan, etc.; does not matter to God.  They are all His creation and equally allowed the opportunity to gain entrance to God’s almighty kingdom.

In verse 31, the people “glorified the God of Israel.”  In writing this Matthew was obviously influenced by Isaiah 29:23:

“When his children see the work of my hands in his midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of Israel.”

How prophetic is this verse from centuries before Jesus.  I love how the Old Testament is in the New, and the New Testament fulfills the Old.

Jesus had “pity for the crowd”  Can you possibly picture someone being so mesmerized, enthralled, and captivated in someone’s speech, abilities, and presence that they are with Him “for three days and have nothing to eat.”  I picture heaven just this way.  Motivated by a strong and loving compassion for all the people with Him, Jesus took the initiative to care for them: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

They were in a desert!  There were no 7-Elevens, Quick Trips, or grocery stores in the area.  Where could they get bread and fish?  This part of the story is reminiscent of the feeding of the Israelites with manna during the Exodus (Exodus 16:4-12):

Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you.  Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them, to see whether they follow my instructions or not.  On the sixth day, however, when they prepare what they bring in, let it be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”  So Moses and Aaron told all the Israelites, “At evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, as he heeds your grumbling against him.  But what are we that you should grumble against us?  When the LORD gives you flesh to eat in the evening,” continued Moses, “and in the morning your fill of bread, as he heeds the grumbling you utter against him, what then are we? Your grumbling is not against us, but against the LORD.”  Then Moses said to Aaron, “Tell the whole Israelite community: Present yourselves before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.”  When Aaron announced this to the whole Israelite community, they turned toward the desert, and lo, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud!  The LORD spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites.  Tell them: In the evening twilight you shall eat flesh, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread, so that you may know that I, the LORD, am your God.” 

The provision of manna in the wilderness is a precursor to this event in the New Testament.  Jesus is now providing HIS “bread” in abundance for the hungry to those who seek Him.

Why “seven” loaves of bread?  It is a very interesting number for the “Bread of Life” that Jesus gives to all in His presence.  In the Hebrew, seven is “shevah.  It is from the root “savah, to be full or satisfied, have enough of.  So, the meaning of the word “seven” is referring to a fullness and completeness; a goodness and perfection.  Nothing can be added to Jesus’ life sustaining gift to us, or taken from it, without damaging it.

In verse 36, Jesus “Gave thanks.”  He said a blessing, probably similar to the blessing found in Matthew 14:19: 

“… and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.” 

Eucharist is a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving.”  This “thanksgiving” was a blessing of God for His benefits and graces.

The taking of the bread, – – “Jesus’ bread of life,” – – saying a blessing, and finally breaking and sharing His bread of life with His disciples to further share with the crowds matches up with the actions of Jesus’ praying over the bread at the Last Supper found in Matthew 26:26.  

What I think is more interesting is Matthew’s not mentioning Jesus dividing the fish.  I wonder if this was done on purpose, as “fish” is not part of the Eucharistic meal.  I believe what Matthew DID NOT say in this respect is perhaps more significant than the breaking of the bread.

“They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over – – seven baskets full.”    That number of fullness and completion – – seven – – again, and in the same reading.  There is apparently a special message that Mathew is trying to get across to His readers.  The number seven in this context may recall the nations of Canaan (Acts 13:19):

“When he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance”

 and the first seven Deacons (Acts 6:5):

“The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit, also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.”

The leftovers from this profound event were greater than “seven” times the amount food they started with.  God’s promises and graces are immeasurable.  When He gives, He gives in great abundance!!  You will be “satisfied” to “fullness and completeness” (that #7) in Jesus’ Eucharistic meal!!

Earlier, I proposed that many Gentiles were present, and were healed in these three days in Jesus’ presence.  Thus, they have been included and integrated into the fullness and completeness of Israel – – God’s chosen kingdom.  In other words, all are invited into God’s Kingdom!

Jesus fulfilled all their profound hungers and human weaknesses.  Jesus came to fulfill God’s promise to give what is needed to live.  Jesus’ reveals a sign of God’s kingdom, an expression of His power, and His divine and intense mercy and love for all His creation.  When God gives, he gives in abundance!!  He gives us more than we deserve!  Have you thanked Him?  NEVER underestimate the love, power, and graces of God in your lives.  He is always very generous!!

 

Psalms 23:1-6

“A psalm of David”

 

“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.  In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength.  You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name.  Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.  You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.  Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.  Amen”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Blessed John of Vercelli (c. 1205-1283)

 

John was born near Vercelli in northwest Italy in the early 13th century. Little is known of his early life. He entered the Dominican Order in the 1240s and served in various leadership capacities over the years. Elected sixth master general of the Dominicans in 1264, he served for almost two decades.

Known for his tireless energy and his commitment to simplicity, John made personal visits—typically on foot—to almost all the Dominican houses, urging his fellow friars to strictly observe the rules and constitutions of the Order.

He was tapped by two popes for special tasks. Pope Gregory X enlisted the help of John and his fellow Dominicans in helping to pacify the States of Italy that were quarreling with one another. John was also called upon to draw up a framework for the Second Council of Lyons in 1274. It was at that council that he met Jerome of Ascoli (the man who would later become Pope Nicholas IV), then serving as minister general of the Franciscans. Some time later the two men were sent by Rome to mediate a dispute involving King Philip III of France. Once again, John was able to draw on his negotiating and peacemaking skills.

Following the Second Council of Lyons, Pope Gregory selected John to spread devotion to the name of Jesus. John took the task to heart, requiring that every Dominican church contain an altar of the Holy Name; groups were also formed to combat blasphemy and profanity.

Toward the end of his life John was offered the role of patriarch of Jerusalem, but declined. He remained Dominican master general until his death.

Comment:

The need for peacemakers is certainly as keen today as in the 10th century! As followers of Jesus, John’s role falls to us. Each of us can do something to ease the tensions in our families, in the workplace, among people of different races and creeds.

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 1 & 2 of 26:

 

The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.

In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

 

 

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.

“The Two Greatest ‘YO, LISTEN TO ME’ Commands of Jesus Christ!” – NAB John 13:31-35†


What a beautiful day for a Secular Franciscan Fraternity meeting.  We will be celebrating the Eucharist with a Mass for the intentions of deceased Franciscans.  Want to know more about the SFO: read the next paragraph.  Interested in experiencing or joining the SFO: please, please contact me, your local diocease office, or call 1-800-FRANCIS.  (NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED!)

 The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) is a community of Roman Catholic men and women in the world who seek to pattern their lives after Christ in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.  Secular Franciscans are tertiaries, or members of the Third Order of St. Francis founded by St. Francis of Assisi 800 years ago.  Originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the Order is approved and recognized by the Holy See by the official name of Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis (OFS).  It is open to any Roman Catholic not bound by religious vows to another Religious Order.  It is made up of the laity (men and women) and also secular clergy (deacons, priests, bishops).  Although Secular Franciscans make a public profession, they are not bound by public vows as are religious orders living in community.  The Third Order Regular (TOR), which grew out of the Third Order Secular, do make religious vows and live in community.  The Holy See has entrusted the pastoral care and spiritual assistance of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO), because it belongs to the same spiritual family, to the Franciscan First Order (Friars Minor) and Franciscan Third Order Regular (TOR). 

(from Wikipedia)
 

Today in Catholic History:
†  1601 – Birth of Athanasius Kircher, German Jesuit scholar (d. 1680)
†  1989 – Death of Giuseppe Siri, Italian Catholic Cardinal (b. 1906)
†  Liturgical feasts: Athanasius of Alexandria, Saint Germanus, Saint Waldebert, Walbert or Gaubert; and in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church: Saint Tsar Boris

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ two Great Commandments.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because they are generally the same people. – G. K. Chesterton

Today’s Meditation:

When he [Judas] had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.  (If God is glorified in him,) God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once.  My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (NAB John 13:31-35)
  

These verses form an introduction to the last discourse of Jesus, which extends through John 14-17.  

I give you a new commandment” puts Jesus on a par with Yahweh.  The commandment itself is not new.  It can also be found in Leviticus 19:18 of the Old Testament: “Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.” 

You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is the second of the two most important commandments of God. The greatest commandment being: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind;” found in Matthew 22:39.  The word “neighbor” was restricted to “fellow countrymen” at the time of Jesus.  In Luke 10:29-37 Christ extended its meaning to embrace all men, even enemies.

Some believe that by following these two commandments of Jesus Christ, one is following all the commandments given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  I think it would be very difficult to not lead a good and reverent Catholic life, if one would follow these two simple and divinely inspired sentences of God made man: Jesus.

St. Francis probably thought of these two edicts from Jesus when composing his famous prayer.  I know that this claim has been recently protested, but I believe that St. Francis lived the prayer better than anyone, including the unknown author, could ever.  If St. Francis did not actually put pen to hand, he definitely put his hands, feet, and heart to action in writing the words:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And 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.
  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Athanasius
    

St. Athanasius, the great champion of the Faith was born at Alexandria, about the year 296, of Christian parents. Educated under the eye of Alexander, later Bishop of his native city, he made great progress in learning and virtue. In 313, Alexander succeeded Achillas in the Patriarchal See, and two years later St. Athanasius went to the desert to spend some time in retreat with St. Anthony.

In 319, he became a deacon, and even in this capacity he was called upon to take an active part against the rising heresy of Arius, an ambitious priest of the Alexandrian Church who denied the Divinity of Christ. This was to be the life struggle of St. Athanasius.

In 325, he assisted his Bishop at the Council of Nicaea, where his influence began to be felt. Five months later Alexander died. On his death bed he recommended St. Athanasius as his successor. In consequence of this, Athanasius was unanimously elected Patriarch in 326.

His refusal to tolerate the Arian heresy was the cause of many trials and persecutions for St. Athanasius. He spent seventeen of the forty-six years of his episcopate in exile. After a life of virtue and suffering, this intrepid champion of the Catholic Faith, the greatest man of his time, died in peace on May 2, 373. St. Athanasius was a Bishop and Doctor of the Church.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #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.

 

“I Ain’t Just Name Dropping!” – John 14:7-14†


Today in Catholic History:
†  305 – Diocletian and Maximian retire from the office of Roman Emperor.|
†  1218 – Birth of Rudolph I of Germany, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire (d. 1291)
†  1555 – Death of Pope Marcellus II (b. 1501)
†  1572 – Death of Pope Pius V (b. 1504)
†  1987 – Pope John Paul II beatifies Edith Stein, a Jewish-born Carmelite nun who was gassed in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.
†  Feast Days: Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, Saint James the Less, Saint Philip the Apostle, Saint Andeol, Saint Asaph, Saint Brieuc, Saint Sigismund of Burgundy, Saint Theodulf, Saint Augustin Schoeffer
   

  
Today’s reflection is about Philip asking Jesus to prove He is God.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

If Jesus didn’t rise, an even greater miracle happened.  Twelve relatively uneducated guys changed the world, and were martyred to protect a lie.
  

Today’s Meditation:

If you know me, then you will also know my Father.  From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?  Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.  Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.  And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.  (NAB John 14:7-14)
   

When Philip said, “show us the Father,” he is asking for a theophany (the appearance of a god in a visible form) like in Exodus 24:9-10; 33:18: “Moses then went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and they beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be sapphire tile work, as clear as the sky itself.  Then Moses said, “Do let me see your glory!”  Philip still hasn’t realized that his friend: Jesus, IS God in His human form!  When is Phillip going to have his epinphany?

I can just picture Jesus being a little irritated by this time.  How sharp were His words when He said, “How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’!?  The Father, who dwells in me, is doing his works.  I am in the Father, and the Father is in me!”  Jesus is stating very plainly who He is.  He is God, and God is Him – Period!

Jesus is also exhorting that we need to perform good works, if we believe in Him.  It does not suffice to just believe in Him, in order to gain salvation.  If one truly believes in Jesus as our savior, and as God that came to earth in human form, then it would only be natural to want to share this revelation with all others we come into contact with.  The best way to communicate His saving grace is to live a life worthy; by helping others in their time of need, and by trying to see Jesus in all we meet.  St. Francis said “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words!”

Is it possible to surpass the good works Jesus did during His short life on earth?  He never travelled further than His homeland region, nor preached to people other than the Jews and gentiles of that region.  He only knew His native Aramaic, Greek, and Hebrew languages of the day.  Yet He says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these.”  In less than 100 years after His death, the Christian Catholic religion had spread to all areas of the earth, and spoken in all languages.

That, in itself, is an impressive miracle!  But it shouldn’t have surprised anyone.  The last sentence of this gospel reading from today’s mass says it all: “If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.” 

“I am asking, in your name Lord Jesus Christ; please allow me to do your work in this life, so I may inherit eternal life with you in the next.”
  

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****
     

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Marculf
    

Marculf is also known as Marcoul. He was born at Bayeux, Gaul, at noble parents. He was ordained when he was thirty, and did missionary work at Coutances. Desirous of living as a hermit, he was granted land by king Childebert at Nanteuil. He attracted numerous disciples, and built a monastery, of which he was abbot. It became a great pilgrimage center after his death on May 1. St. Marculf was regarded as a patron who cured skin diseases, and as late as 1680, sufferers made pilgrimages to his shrine at Nanteuil and bathed in the springs connected with the church. His feast day is May 1.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #1:
    

The Franciscan family, as one among many spiritual families raised up by the Holy Spirit in the Church, unites all members of the people of God — laity, religious, and priests – who recognize that they are called to follow Christ in the footsteps of Saint Francis of Assisi.

In various ways and forms but in life-giving union with each other, they intend to make present the charism of their common Seraphic Father in the life and mission of the Church.

 

 

“Yo, Listen to Me Boys!” – Jn 12:23-26†


Happy Holy Week!!

Tomorrow starts the “Easter Triduum.”  This is a time for prayer & other devout practices, individually & in public.  There are special intentions associated with attending all the Triduum services.  What a great way to bring in the Easter Season, but as a community with God.

Today’s reflection is about a “YO, LISTEN TO ME” statement from Jesus Christ.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

“When you were born, you cried, and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a manner that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” — Indian Proverb
 

Today’s Meditation:
     

Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.  (NAB Jn 12:23-26)
  

Powerful, powerful statements and prophesies made in these few verses.  “The hour” is Jesus’ culmination of his mission on earth.  He knows His time is coming to an end, and He is reflecting on His life till now; and His life to come.

Jesus is extolling to us one of those “YO, LISTEN TO ME” moments, when He said, “Amen, Amen.”  He is comparing our need to die in Christ in order to obtain salvation, with a grain of wheat’s need to die in order to grow into a new life.

As a seed must die in order to bring a new life, Jesus’ death makes salvation and eternal life with Him in heaven possible for us.  With His death, we will grow in unity with Him and with our Father in Heaven.

Jesus seems to suggest that only after the crucifixion could the gospel encompass both Jew and Gentile.  This implies that through his death, Jesus will be accessible to all believes.  Faith in God, through Jesus will be a universal faith, the Greek word “Kathlicos,” from which the word “Catholic” comes.

His life” refers to a person’s natural life.  It does not mean “soul.”  Hebrew anthropology did not postulate body/soul dualism in the way that is familiar to us today.  Our physical life is a temporary Temple for the Holy Spirit as we live our lives in exile from Heaven.  Our soul dwells within us, and will live, with God’s mercy, in heaven eternally.

There is a strong hint of future suffering for the Catholic community addressed in Jesus’ statement.  With hindsight of what happens later in history, it is well known that the Catholic Church has suffered through many persecutions, internally and externally.  Scandals, wars, and abuses have happened, are happening now, and will happen in the future, for the Catholic Church.  If Jesus had to personally deal with these obstacles during His lifetime on earth, why would we not also have to follow in His footsteps, and deal with these issues now?

Jesus, in this reading, states that He will deny before God, anyone who has denied Him.  With present thoughts of abortion and euthanasia, priest abuse scandals, “Obamacare,” deceit in politics, and even in our own church by a small group of nuns wrongly claiming authority to approve the present healthcare bill; I wonder how He is going to react when He sees these individuals on judgment day!?  I also wonder how He will react when He sees me!?  I pray He is smiling!

“Jesus, I am that acorn that has fallen to the ground to die, in order to grow.  Please allow me, this nut, to become a mighty oak of faith in you, my Lord!  Amen.”
 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:   St. Peter Regaldo
 

Saint Peter Regaldo, a Friar Minor and reformer, born at Valladolid, 1390; died at Aguilera, 30 March, 1456. His parents were of noble birth and conspicuous for their wealth and virtue. Having lost his father in his early youth, he was piously educated by his mother. At the age of ten years Peter begged to be admitted into the Seraphic Order, which favour was granted him three years afterwards in the convent of his native town. In 1404 he became one of the first disciples of Peter de Villacreces, who in 1397 had introduced into Spain the reform of the Observance of which he became one of the most zealous propagators. In the newly-founded convent at Aguilera Peter found the life of solitude, prayer, and eminent poverty, which had always been the greatest object of his desire. In 1415 he became superior of the convent at Aguilera and, on the death of Peter de Villacreces (1422), also of that at Tribulos or del Abroyo. He observed nine, fasting on bread and water, and was endowed with the gift of miracles and prophecy and of every virtue. When his body was exhumed thirty-six years after his death, at the instance of Isabella the Catholic, it was found incorrupt and placed in a more precious tomb. He was beatified by Innocent XI, 11 March, 1684, and canonized by Benedict XIV, 29 June, 1746. His feast is celebrated 13 May, the day of the translation of his body. In art he is represented with flames bursting from his heart.

(from Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition © 2003 by K. Knight)
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
 

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

… “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).

“Do You Need a ‘Green Card’ for Heaven” – Phil 3:20-4:1


A large earthquake struck in Haiti 47 days ago, and an even larger one exploded in Chile yesterday.  Many people have died, or are now homeless and hurt physically and/or mentally.  Let us pray that here spirit has not been shaken as well.  They, and all of us, need the divine intervention of God at this time of trial.  Please remember that all happens for a purpose.  We may not ever know the purpose, while on this earth; there is still one, and it will be revealed to us when God chooses.
  

Our citizenship in heaven, and the ticket on how to get there, is the subject of my reflection today.

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Truths that little children have learned:
  

You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk!
 
Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts!
 
The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandma’s lap!

  

Today’s Meditation:

 

But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself. Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved.  NAB Phil 3:20-4:1)

 

Citizenship for the Christians of Philippi was the colony of heaven, just as Philippi was a colony of Rome. Christians are already enrolled as citizens of heaven, through the grace of God.  Jesus said, “Give to Caesar what is Caesars, and to God what is God’s.”  We have to live as Jesus showed us how to live in this world, in order to attain our entrance to His world of heaven.

Our mortal bodies cannot enter the final glory without a transformation.  Most of us will need to go through the heavenly divine “carwash” of purgatory.  Many non-Catholics (and sadly some Catholics) do not believe in purgatory, because the word itself is not written in the bible.  To them, I say show me the word “Armageddon.”  What all of us can agree on, is that the risen Christ is our example for how to live a true Christian life. 

The hope Paul expresses in these few but powerful sentences from this letter, involves the final coming of Christ, and NOT what was already attained.  Our future with Him in heaven, is what we live for today.  It is never to late to say yes to God, and to start living a “perfect” life. 

“Lord, I will keep this short.  Please help me to perfection through you.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Hilary, Pope
 

Pope from 461-468; and guardian of Church unity.  He was born in Sardinia, Italy, and was a papal legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, barely escaping with his life from this affair.  Hilary was used by Pope St. Leo I the Great on many assignments.  When Leo died, Hilary was elected pope and consecrated on November 19, 461.  He worked diligently to strengthen the Church in France and Spain, calling councils in 462 and 465.  Hilary also rebuilt many Roman churches and erected the chapel of St. John Lateran.  He also publicly rebuked Emperor Anthemius in St. Peter’s for supporting the Macedonian heresy and sent a decree to the Eastern bishops validating the decisions of the General Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon.  Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul.  He died in Rome on February 28

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

 

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

 

… 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: …