Tag Archives: glorify

“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.

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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.

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“The TRUE ‘Lord’s Prayer’!” – John 17:1-11a †


 

Seventh Week of Easter

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

It is less than six months (175 days) till the start of Advent, and the new Missal is to be used throughout the English speaking world for Mass.  Are you ready?  There are only a few changes for the “congregation” part, and I am rotating through each, one at a time, with every reflection blog.

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I am not sure if I will be able to post a reflection next Sunday.  I’ll be on vacation.  Hopefully I can get one done, but my wife has told me I need a break.  I don’t think she understands how much I enjoy writing.

 

 

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Today in Catholic History:

†   754 – Death of Boniface, [Winfrid], English saint/archbishop (Dokkum), at age 79
†   1099 – The First Crusade: The Siege of Jerusalem begins
†   1305 – Bordeaux’s archbishop Bertrand the Got elected Pope Clement V
†   1443 – Death of Ferdinand, Portuguese saint/slave 1654 – Louis XIV is crowned King of France
†   1855 – Anti-foreign anti-Roman Catholic “Know-Nothing Party’s” 1st convention
†   1954 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical Ecclesiae fastos (History of the Church), the story of the life of the English Benedictine, St. Boniface
†   1988 – Russian orthodox church celebrates 1,000th anniversary
†   Feasts/Memeorials: Liturgical feasts: Corpus Christi; Colman, bishop of Dromore; Saint Maximinus, bishop of Aix, confessor; Blessed Robert, abbot of Newminster, Northumberland; Saint Servatius, bishop, confessor or martyr (Translation day); Saint Wulstan, bishop of Worcester, confessor (Translation day); Blessed Meriadec, bishop of Vannes

(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:

 

After watching sales falling off for three straight months at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Colonel calls up the Pope to ask for a favor.

The Pope says, “What can I do?”

The Colonel says, “I need you to change the daily prayer from, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken’.  If you do it, I’ll donate 10 Million Dollars to the Vatican.”

The Pope replies, “I am sorry.  That is the Lord’s Prayer and I cannot change the words.”

So the Colonel hangs up.  After another month of dismal sales, the Colonel panics, and calls again.

“Listen your Excellency; I really need your help.  I’ll give you $50 million dollars if you change the words of the daily prayer from ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ to ‘Give us this day our daily chicken.'”

And the Pope responds, “It is very tempting, Colonel Sanders.  The church could do a lot of good with that much money.  It would help us support many charities.  But, again, I must decline.  It is the Lord’s Prayer, and I can’t change the words.”  So the Colonel gives up again.

After two more months of terrible sales the Colonel gets desperate.

“This is my final offer, your Excellency.  If you change the words of the daily prayer I will donate $100 million to the Vatican.”

“Let me get back to you” says the Pope.

So the next day, the Pope calls together all of his bishops and he says, “I have some good news and I have some bad news.  The good news is that KFC is going to donate $100 million to the Vatican.”  The bishops rejoice at the news.  Then one asks about the bad news.

The Pope replies, “The bad news is that we lost the Wonder Bread account.”

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus praying for His disciples.

(NAB John 17:1-11a) 1 Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, 2 just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.  3 Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.  4 I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.  5 Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.  6 “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.  They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  7 Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, 8 because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.  9 I pray for them.  I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.  11 And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.

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Today, we get a glimpse of how Jesus prayed for His disciples, those who believed in Him.  Sometimes it is hard for us to believe He prayed for them personally and frequently.  He does for each of us, personally and frequently, still today. 

Please let me describe the “setting” for today’s Gospel reading.  Jesus has just left the “last supper”.  Along with His closest disciples [Peter, James, and John], He goes to the garden of Gethsemane to pray:

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’  He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.  Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.’  He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’” (Matthew 26:36-39)

 

If you would read further on in this chapter of today’s reading, you would find that Jesus prayed for His disciples’ protection from the “evil one”, Satan.  Jesus also prayed for all those who would gain a faith in Him due to His disciples’ teachings (then, now, and in the future).  That means that Jesus prayed for us as well, – – even before His death on the cross.  Our faith tells us that Jesus Christ continues to intercede for us at God the Father’s right hand.

 

Since the sixteenth century, this chapter of John’s Gospel (John 17) has been called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus.  The prayer He prays today starts with His final commendation of Himself to the Father. He then expresses care and concern for His disciples as He prays to His Father in heaven.  He speaks to His Father as OUR intercessor (meaning “on our behalf”).  Through His prayer life, with words addressed directly to God the Father – – and not to the nearby disciples, who overhear His words, – – He is truly communicating with God the Father.  I believe Jesus Christ wanted His disciples to hear His prayer, and to use this event for a further lesson on the necessity for our praying, as we learn from what He said in His prayer.

Jesus’ prayer today reaffirms the “complete and full” union between Jesus Christ and God the Father.  Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus has been presented as the “Word”, who pre-existed with God the Father and was sent to do the Father’s work on earth.  In this prayer we learn that Jesus’ life and ministry had been directed toward one purpose: revealing God the Father and His love for each of us personally.

 

With His prayer continuing in the next verses, Jesus’ prayer becomes one of petition for His devoted disciples then, and for His future disciples as well (cf., John 17:12-21).  Many of the phrases in Jesus’ prayer are reminiscent of phrases found in the “Our Father Prayer”, also known by most people (I believe incorrectly) as the “Lord’s Prayer”.   The prayer found in Matthew’s Gospel, the “Our Father”, is a “template or model” on how to pray to God the Father.  Here is the “Our Father” prayer, taught to us by Jesus, and as recorded in Matthews Gospel:

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

Today, in this particular reading, we are actually hearing Jesus’ “Lord’s Prayerto His Father, on our behalf.

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Jesus, as Priest, is offering Himself in the imminent “sacrifice”, looming in His soon-to-be Passion and death by crucifixion.  In witnessing to Jesus’ prayer addressed to His Father, we are being shown a vital component of Jesus’ redemptive and saving mission; and it also teaches us a further model for our personal and communal prayer lives, directed by Jesus and our Father in heaven..

He easily could have prayed silently; yet He desired to show Himself to His (and our) Father as petitioner, as requester.  For His disciples, the way Jesus Christ is verbally praying today (just mere moments before His arrest), taught those present with Him physically their need for prayer in their lives; AND teaches us who read His prayer today, the very same need for prayer in our lives; and will continue to teach a need for prayer for all who come in the future. This reveals the great potential of God’s love growing in us as we allow Him in our lives.

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I love to imagine Jesus at prayer; it is so comforting for me.  He knows all the right things to say; yet He still asks for direction and help.  He doesn’t have to stumble along in His prayer life, trying to figure out exactly what type of prayer works for Him in order to gain an intimate “connection” with God the Father.  He doesn’t have to struggle with the constant repetition needed to learn “rote” memory prayers.  He did not have Catholic Nuns breathing down His back, with ruler in hand, like I did! (- – Um, Sorry Sister.).

Jesus Christ, looking up to heaven and addressing God the Father, is the “typical” image of Jesus at prayer for me.  The strength and determination of His prayer life is, in itself, awe-inspiring for me.  I pray that I can get as deep into the moment in “connecting” with God in my prayer life as Jesus does; and as deep as such Saints like Padre Pio, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Theresa, and many other Christians of the Catholic Church who have succeeded, in theirs. 

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I found it revealing when Jesus said:

“Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.”  (John 17:5)

It made me wonder: what is glory?  How does the Holy Cross reveal His glory?  I finally realized that, in the Cross of human death, God reveals, and is still revealing, the depth and immensity of His enduring and unending “love” for us sinners (not worthy of His love).  His glory is the power of a saving redemption which cancels our debts by His power and mercy, and draws into union with Him.  Jesus gave His Father a supreme honor and glory through His obedience and willingness to go to the Holy Cross, giving up His human life through suffering.  The greatest honor, trust, and love any person can give another is through his obedience, even to the point of sacrificing his own life:

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13).

The word, “glory” and “glorify” found in verses 1-5, refer to the splendor, power, and honor truly belonging to God the Father.  The Son of God [Jesus] IS GOD equal to God the Father.  From the time Jesus Christ was incarnated in Mary’s womb, and was born, and throughout His entire life ending with His Passion, death and Resurrection, His divinity was made visible and apparent to those who had a heart for God.. 

 

God’s “glorification” has four dimensions which I can see.  The first dimension supports the glory of God the Father.  In obedience to His Father’s redemptive and saving action, Jesus makes God the Father known and brings the Father’s saving work to completion.

The second dimension is Jesus then being glorified.  His divinity was manifested through His human nature seen after the Resurrection, endowed in the very authority God has over ALL creation:

“Just as you gave Him authority over all people, so that He may give eternal life to all you gave Him.  Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” (John 17: 2,5).

The third dimension, I see, is Christ, through His glorification, giving US the opportunity to participate in eternal life, to truly know God as Father and God the Son as “Messiah” Jesus.

The fourth dimension is the result: Our glorifying God the Father and Jesus Christ, through faith, involves OUR very participating in divine glory, divine eternal life:

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”  (John 17: 3).

To summarize the four dimensions of God’s glorification: The Son glorifies the Father, making Him known to all who believe in the Son (Dimensions 1&2).  Building on this platform of faith, since the knowledge of God is life eternal, then it follows, the more we nurture life, the more we advance in His living knowledge, and vice- versa (Dimensions 3&4).

Where will we gain an ultimate and completely full knowledge of God?  I believe only in heaven, where we will glorify Him in the “most” high!  (Whoa; Heavy Stuff – – But Absolutely Awesome!!! … and true!!!)

 

When His work on earth was accomplished, Jesus returned to His Father in heaven to be glorified.  Regardless of what happened to Jesus while on earth (ie., scourging, humiliation, crucifixion), He and God the Father were (and are) in charge.  Think about this aspect of His nature for a second.  Even in the details and description of Jesus’ death, Jesus does not “simply die”.  He instead, “hands over His spirit”.

When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’  And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (John 19:30)

Today, Jesus speaks of God the Father bringing glory to God the Son through the great “mystery” of His incarnation and Holy Cross.  God the Father gave us His only begotten Son for our saving redemption from the slavery of sin and death.  There can be no greater proof of God’s love for each and every person on the face of the earth than Jesus Christ’s scourging, suffering, and death on the Holy Cross.  In the Cross we see a new way of loving — a loving that is unconditional, sacrificial and generous beyond ALL comprehension.  This is why the “Crucifix” is the perfect symbol of the Catholic Church; we don’t see death in it – – We see ETERNAL LIFE!!

 

Also in today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of this “eternal life”. 

“Just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.  Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”  (John 17:2-3)

What does eternal life mean?  What IS eternal life?  I believe it is more than simply an “endless time”, for this would be quite boring to me at least.  Scientists and Researchers today look for ways to extend the duration of life; but that doesn’t necessarily make the quality of life better for us here.  They can only make our duration on earth slightly longer.

For me, a truly magnificent and perfect “eternal life” is qualitative more than quantitative.  To have eternal life is to have “the life of God” within us always.  Eternal Life can be ours NOW!  When we possess eternal life, we experience – – here and now – – a portion of God’s splendor, His peace, His joy, His love, and a holiness which illustrates the life of God.  I believe we experience this “eternal life” (maybe only a little bit, maybe more), with reception of the Holy Eucharist.

 

Jesus, today, speaks of the knowledge of God – – i.e., the personal knowing of God:

Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.  Now they know that everything you gave me is from you.” (John 17: 3,7).

Jesus Christ tells His disciples that they can know the “one” true God.  Knowledge of God is not simply limited to knowing something about God.  We can know God individually, personally, and intimately via the Holy Spirit working with, in, and through us.  The spirit, soul, and fundamental nature of Catholicism, – – what makes our faith distinct from Judaism and other religions, – – is this personal knowing of God as OUR Father.  Jesus made it possible for each and every one of us to individually and personally know God as our Father in a very uniquely intimate way.

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John the evangelist starts verse six of today’s reading with, “I revealed your name”.  In my opinion, John is relating Jesus’ own reference to the nameI AM”.  Further proof can be found in other verses from John’s Gospel:

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

And again in John,

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

And finally,

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

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In the first five verses of today’s prayer we hear Jesus pray – – for Himself.  He begins praying for His “chosen” disciples: the “Apostles [to-be]”, starting with verse six. 

These “Eleven” men (plus many others then, and in the future) will continue Jesus’ redemptive and saving work in the world.  In praying for them (and us), Jesus describes some of the prerogatives of those who will form the apostolic college.

First, there are the “privileges” of being “chosen” by God:

 “I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine.” (John 17:9-10).

God the Father choose these men from all eternity (past, present, and future):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.“ (Ephesians 1:3-4).

In due course, Jesus revealed this “choosing” to His close disciples.  He first prayed at length to His heavenly Father, then called to Himself those whom He “willed”, and lastly appointed “Twelve” to be with Him, and whom He sent to preach the kingdom of God (cf., Mark 3:12-19; Matthew 10:1-42). 

Jesus’ “chosen” men made up a model of a “permanent assembly” (aka, a “college”).  Their names were:

“Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.” (Luke 6:14-16)

Jesus placed at the head of this assembly or “college” Peter, chosen from among the “Twelve”:

“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’  He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’  He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’  He then said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’  He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’  He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’  He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’  (Jesus) said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17).

And Vatican II also teaches about the “college”, with Peter being its head:

“The Lord Jesus, after praying to the Father, calling to Himself those whom He desired, appointed twelve to be with Him, and whom He would send to preach the Kingdom of God; and these apostles He formed after the manner of a college or a stable group, over which He placed Peter chosen from among them.” (Vatican II, Lumen gentium, 19).

 

The “Apostles” [to-be] enjoyed the privilege of hearing God’s teaching direct from Jesus Christ (God the Son) Himself.  From His teachings, which they accepted with a pure and simple obedience, they learned that Jesus truly came from God the Father, and that therefore, He is God’s emissary on earth:

The words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you. (John 17:8).

These “Eleven” grew to know the true relationship that exists between God the Father and God the Son: Jesus Christ.

 

Catholics, who are also disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ, gradually acquire knowledge of God and of the divinity in His “word” by living a life of faith and by maintaining a personal relationship with Him through prayer.

St. Josemaria Escriva says of this relationship:

“Recalling this human refinement of Christ, who spent his life in the service of others, we are doing much more than describing a pattern of human behaviour; we are discovering God.  Everything Christ did has a transcendental valueIt shows us the nature of God and beckons us to believe in the love of God who created us and wants us to share his intimate life.” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 109).

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In summary, we become aware, in today’s Gospel, of the distinction found between the world and the disciples.  The disciples are in the world, but they are separate from the world because they have been given to Jesus by God the Father.  His disciples are chosen from the world to be in service to the world for its salvation (A very Franciscan statement, if I say so myself.)  Salvation is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ because He revealed God the Father to the world.  With this revelation, disciples are sent by Jesus to make both God the Father and Jesus Christ (God the Son) known to the entire world.

Jesus’ prayer today is ultimately for the disciples’ work in the world.  Think about the tradition of praying for other people.  Who do you pray for in your communications with God?  What do you ask for in your prayers?  

In today’s Gospel we find an example of Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  Reread today’s Gospel again.  Then, think about Jesus’ prayer for His disciples.  We know that Jesus, positioned at His Father’s right hand, continues to intercede for us.  What might Jesus’ prayer be for YOU if you could overhear His words?  

 

Let us all remember to see Jesus Christ in ourselves and others we meet throughout our lives.  In doing so, we will see what God the Father is truly like.  In Jesus Christ, we see the “perfect” love of God – – who cares intensely and unendingly – – for each of us.  In Jesus, we see a God who yearns for each of us to come into His kingdom with His full heart, soul, body, and being.  In Jesus, we see a God who loved us to the point of laying down His own life on the Holy Cross.  Jesus reveals in today’s Gospel that He is the revelation of God!!  Jesus reveals a God who loves each of us totally, fully, completely, unconditionally, and perfectly – – without exception – – for eternity!  WOW!!

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St. Augustine’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

“Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy.  Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.  Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy.  Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.  Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy.  Amen.”

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

Currently, the priest says, “The Lord be with you” five times: at the Entrance Rite, before the Gospel, when the Eucharistic Prayer starts, at “the sign of peace”, and finally at the dismissal. The new response from the congregation will be:

“And with your spirit

instead of “And also with you”.

This is a more direct translation of the Latin and matches what many other language groups have been using for years.  It will obviously take some adjustment, since we have been used to saying, “And also with you,” for so long.

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

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Boniface (672?-754)

 

Boniface, known as the apostle of the Germans, was an English Benedictine monk who gave up being elected abbot to devote his life to the conversion of the Germanic tribes.  Two characteristics stand out: his Christian orthodoxy and his fidelity to the pope of Rome.

How absolutely necessary this orthodoxy and fidelity were is borne out by the conditions he found on his first missionary journey in 719 at the request of Pope Gregory II.  Paganism was a way of life.  What Christianity he did find had either lapsed into paganism or was mixed with error.  The clergy were mainly responsible for these latter conditions since they were in many instances uneducated, lax and questionably obedient to their bishops.  In particular instances their very ordination was questionable.

These are the conditions that Boniface was to report in 722 on his first return visit to Rome.  The Holy Father instructed him to reform the German Church.  The pope sent letters of recommendation to religious and civil leaders.  Boniface later admitted that his work would have been unsuccessful, from a human viewpoint, without a letter of safe-conduct from Charles Martel, the powerful Frankish ruler, grandfather of Charlemagne.  Boniface was finally made a regional bishop and authorized to organize the whole German Church.  He was eminently successful.

In the Frankish kingdom, he met great problems because of lay interference in bishops’ elections, the worldliness of the clergy and lack of papal control.

During a final mission to the Frisians, he and 53 companions were massacred while he was preparing converts for Confirmation.

In order to restore the Germanic Church to its fidelity to Rome and to convert the pagans, he had been guided by two principles.  The first was to restore the obedience of the clergy to their bishops in union with the pope of Rome.  The second was the establishment of many houses of prayer which took the form of Benedictine monasteries.  A great number of Anglo-Saxon monks and nuns followed him to the continent.  He introduced Benedictine nuns to the active apostolate of education.

Comment:

Boniface bears out the Christian rule: To follow Christ is to follow the way of the cross.  For Boniface, it was not only physical suffering or death, but the painful, thankless, bewildering task of Church reform.  Missionary glory is often thought of in terms of bringing new persons to Christ.  It seems—but is not—less glorious to heal the household of the faith.

Patron Saint of: Germany

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

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Faith

 

Do you actively respect the teaching Church as Sts. Francis and Clare?  Or do you disagree with what the Church has been teaching us?

Do I believe the Holy Spirit speaks through the Church today?  Give examples….

Which do you prefer?

  • a) What the Church teaches, or
  • b) What individuals prefer to teach and hold, contrary to the Church?

Do you take out time to figure out this difference?  Which would Sts. Francis and Clare choose?

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 5 & 6 of 26:

05.  Secular Franciscans, therefore, should seek to encounter the living and active person of Christ in their brothers and sisters, in Sacred Scripture, in the Church, and in liturgical activity. The faith of St. Francis, who often said, “I see nothing bodily of the Most High Son of God in this world except His most holy body and blood,” should be the inspiration and pattern of their Eucharistic life.

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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.

 

“There Are No Salt Substitutes In Heaven!” – Matthew 5:13-16†


 

What a week we had.  Snow, sleet, wind, and COLD was had by all.  Two inches of ice with ten inches of snow on the top at the beginning and mid-week, with an additional 4 inches of predicted “just a dusting” yesterday.  More snow predicted for tomorrow. 

On the positive side, did not lose power (yet) and we got a lot of “family time”.  Playing “Chutes and Ladders” with four teenage boys can be a “hoot and howler” when stir-crazy.

 

 

 

Last weekend, I attended the St. Louis Catholic Men’s Conference, held at St. Louis University.  What a great, spiritual, and uplifting time I experienced!  The lectures were superb, the fellowship was awesome, and the books and CD’s available were numerous (my wallet was quite a bit lighter at the end of the day).  I highly recommend this conference to all, if it is available in your area.  Who wants to attend with me next year?

 

            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†  337 – St Julius I begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†  891 – Death of Photius, Byzantine theologist/patriarch of Constantinople/saint
†  1740 – Death of Pope Clement XII (b. 1652)
†  1910 – Death of Alfonso Maria Fusco. Beatified Italian Roman Catholic priest and founder (b.1839)
†  1922 – Cardinal Achille Ratti elected Pope Pius XI
†  Feast/Memorials: Saint Amand, Apostle of the Franks; Saint Vedastus; Saint Dorothea, patron saint of florists; Saint Paul Miki; Saint Titus

(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:

 

 

  

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

This is a thirteen (13) part reflection on a letter from the SFO International Council website.  It is titled “An exhortation of the Church to the Secular Franciscan Order” by Benedetto Lino, OFS.  It can be read in full at http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 (Continuation from Previous blog)

Part 11 of 13 Parts

It is only through our conversion and our efforts to conform to Christ, like Francis, that our parrhesia and faithfulness to the accomplishment of our Mission can be born and prosper.

It is a matter of recognizing the Plan which God has for each of us, in which we will find our own Truth, which is Christ, and the Grace to accomplish fully our vocation and mission, letting charity in truth, which is God, take hold of us, as we are taught by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in his latest Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate:

Charity in truthis the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity.

 

(Continued on next published blog)

From “An exhortation of the Church
to the Secular Franciscan Order”
A commentary on Cardinal Franc Rodé’s letter
By:
Benedetto Lino OFS
SFO International Council Website
http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 

 

  

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching that His disciples are to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.

 

13 You are the salt of the earth.  But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?  It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.  14 You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house.  16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.  (NAB Matthew 5:13-16)

 

Today’s Gospel reading is quite endearing and timely for the majority us this past week.  After “surviving” a declared, genuine, and potentially life-threatening ice storm/blizzard/deep-freeze, I have used mega-amounts of driveway salt in the past few days.  (And I am supposed to be on a low-salt diet!)

Jesus just completed the teaching of the Beatitudes.  He used the metaphor of “salt and light” to describe our life as His disciples.  Jesus seemed to appreciate using fairly ordinary images, (like salt and light), to convey extraordinary truths of fact and spirituality.  At every Mass today Jesus will be stating a very deep and prophetic statement in these few sentences, and in the images it creates in our minds.  His declaration is not only for those following Jesus nearly two millennia ago, but also for His many disciples today and in the future.  He is teaching to His disciples, He emphasized that the results of their (and our) conduct, actions, and activities can influence the world for a divine good.  Every single one of us will NOT escape notice in doing God’s will any more than a city set on a mountain can escape notice.  

 

How often do we think of salt and light in our lives and in society as a whole?  We seem to take salt for granted (unless it is snowing), but this element of nature was critical in the days before refrigeration and prior to the advances in today’s preservation techniques.  During the time of Jesus, salt was also used as a healing agent as well as the aforementioned essential preservative and food flavoring.  

In a similar way, the prevalent and common use of electricity in our modern world makes us less perceptive and less insightful to the value, need, and importance of the sun’s light in our lives.

 

Jesus says to these farmers, fishermen, and laborers, “You are the salt of the earth … the light of the world.”  I am sure they were standing there listening to Him start His teaching, and thinking, “Hey, wait a minute.  You pulled out the wrong sermon today.  That sermon should be for the big city people in Jerusalem.  That is where the scholars, priests, lawyers, and philosophers live and work.  We are just little ‘nobodies’ that make no difference to anyone, barely surviving each day.”  How wrong can they be in this thought?!

Jesus is warning these men (and women) following Him that they would attract strong opposition from the world:

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you (falsely) because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Mathew 5:11-12)

God could have destroyed – – wiped out – – ALL evil in His authority, power, and supremacy: in His omnipotence.  Yet, He did not.  He actually did a much better thing.  He allows good to come out of evil!  He makes “sanctity” (holiness) come out of evil!  When the day of His bountiful harvest comes, sanctity will be found so great and overpowering among us – – solely because of the wickedness, malice, and evil that will cover and take it in.  WOW – this paragraph is a reflection just by itself!

Food for thought: Even ONE person in a family or group of friends may be the salvation for the whole family or group.  It may not be given to him to see the final results, and ultimate conclusion of his acts and words on the family or group, but God truly works through each of us in unique and special ways.  Sin is negative, but sanctity is so much more positive.  In fact, sanctity is truly the only REAL power when it comes to evil!  SO, when prompted with evil, flip the coin over to see the opportunity for holiness – – for love – – for SANCTITY!

We are never alone in fighting evil.  His disciples will exert an influence on the world through and with the power of the Holy Spirit.  If we fail in doing good works, we would be as useless as “flavorless salt or as a lamp whose light is concealed”.  This simile (a figure of speech or image) is the bases of a fundamental and essential teaching for any Catholic.  We all must strive for personal sanctification (a means of achieving holiness or a source of grace), AND, we must also strive to seek sanctification in all others we meet.  As salt purifies, preserves, and penetrates, so must we – – as His disciple on earth – – be “salt” in the world to purify, preserve, and penetrate society, for the kingdom of God and His righteousness, love, and peace. 

 

In Jesus’ time, people traded with salt, exactly like we trade with gold, stocks, and bonds today.  It was used as a form of “currency”!  Why?  Salt was used to preserve food from corruption: going “bad” or rotting.  Salt also “brings out” flavor in foods to which it is added, usually making it taste better.  Salt is not noticed physically in the food we eat, completely disappearing into the cuisine it is placed into.  Its “actions” in the food is noticeable, yet remains invisible to the naked eye. 

We should also be the same as “salt” among the people around us.  We should help others not to sour, not to sin, not to “go bad”.  Others we meet should recognize the flavor and zest of our spirituality, trust, and love for God and each other we come into contact, – – truly seeing Jesus in everyone we meet.  However, our actions should not draw attention to ourselves, but instead to the magnificent glory and divinity of the Holy Trinity.

“You are salt, apostolic soul.  ‘Salt is a useful thing’, we read in the holy Gospel; but if the salt loses its taste, it is good for nothing, neither for the land nor for the manure heap; it is thrown out as useless.”  (St. Josemaria Escriva, The Way, 921)

The odd theory of salt “losing its flavor” has led some scholars to reason that the verse refers to salt from the Dead Sea.  Since this type of “salt” is chemically “impure”, it could conceivably lose its taste with time and atmospheric conditions.  (If you put salt on the bedpost, would it lose its flavor overnight?)

Our good works are the fruits of charity, – – of love.  Our works are to love others as God loves each of us individually and as a whole.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (John 15:12)

John Stott, an Anglican clergyman of some notoriety, once commented that when society goes bad:

“We Christians tend to throw up our hands in pious horror and reproach the non-Christian world; but should we not rather reproach ourselves?  One can hardly blame unsalted meat for going bad.  It cannot do anything else.  The real question to ask is: ‘Where is the salt?’” 

Do your thoughts, words, behaviors, actions, and life in general, help to hinder and stop the physical, social, and spiritual decay of society that is festering and rancid family, neighborhood, country, and world?

 

Jesus also used the image of “light and a lamp” to further illustrate His teaching.  Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, as they still do today.  They enable people to see and work in the dark.  Lamps have saved my shins many times in the middle of the night.  (Can you picture urban “rush hours” without intersection signal lights?)  The Jewish people of Jesus’ time comprehended “light” a little different than we do now.  For them, “light” could also be an expression of an inner beauty, truth, and goodness of, and with God.  In His light we see light.

For with you is the fountain of life, and in your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:10)

God’s word is a lamp that directs our steps on our individual paths to Him.

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)

 

Our duty or mission as Catholics involves the conversion of others to His grace and love.  It is one of the clearest expressions of love we can show.  The Second Vatican Council emphasized our duty to be apostolic – to be like the Apostles.  And what is that duty?  Well, simply put, to preach the Gospel in our thoughts, words, and actions – – ALWAYS!!

“It seems to me that this lamp is the symbol of charity; it must shine out not only to cheer up those we love best but to all in the house.”  (St. Therese of Lisieux, The Autobiography of a Saint, Chapter 9)

St. Francis preached this notion in his own special way, when he said:

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words!”

Our duty to be like the Apostles was conferred to each of us in an individual and specifically unique way with our Baptism and Confirmation (cf., Lumen gentium, 33).   We are given untold opportunities for applying our love for each other, for evangelization, and for sanctification.  Always let “your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds” (Matthew 5:16). 

In regards to our Catholic witness to others, it is said in the “Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church”:

“The Church must be present in these groups through her children, who dwell among them or who are sent to them.  For all Christians, wherever they live, are bound to show forth, by the example of their lives and by the witness of the word, that new man put on at baptism and that power of the Holy Spirit by which they have been strengthened at Conformation.  Thus other men, observing their good works, can glorify the Father and can perceive more fully the real meaning of human life and the universal bond of the community of mankind.” (Ad gentes, 11)

 

Many of the speeches given by George H.W. Bush (#43 – Daddy Bush) had a recurring phrase throughout his Presidency about a “thousand points of light”.  The phrase was actually created by his speechwriter, Peggy Noonan, and the phrase was first used in his inaugural address on January 20, 1989:

“I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.  We will work hand in hand, encouraging, sometimes leading, sometimes being led, rewarding.  We will work on this in the White House, in the Cabinet agencies.  I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved.  The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.”

You may like his politics are not like his politics, but this part of his speech was extraordinary in showing his love for all mankind.  God’s grace not only illuminates the darkness in our lives, showing us our sins and iniquities, but it also fills us with the warmth of His divinely spiritual light, joy, and peace.  Just as the light from our Sun (in the celestial heavens) illuminates the darkness of the world and enables one to see visually, so does the light of Christ (our heavenly SUN SON on earth) shine in the hearts of His followers and enables all of us to see the heavenly reality of God’s shining kingdom, also on earth. 

 

All Catholics wherever they happen to be, must be living witnesses and examples of God’s kingdom through their words, deeds, and actions.  We have an obligation to manifest and reveal the “new being” we became through the sacred Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.  In others seeing our witness to God’s word through good works, they may recognize the true meaning of human dignity and life, as well as the universal commonality, unity, and shared aims of mankind as creations of our loving God.

Matthew’s Gospel speaks to the enduring power of imagery that Jesus often presented to His followers two thousand or so years ago (and still today).  Jesus’ call to be a “salt for the earth and light for the world” powerfully states our mission as a Church, and as individual Catholics.  Our commitment to social justice and peace for God’s creations surges from the two catchphrases that Jesus imparts to us in today’s Gospel.  Our obligations and responsibilities as disciples of Jesus Christ, leads us to our situational requirements as Catholics, known to many of us as the “Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy”.

 The traditional Corporal Works of Mercy are:

•To feed the hungry;
•To give drink to the thirsty;
•To clothe the naked;
•To shelter the homeless;
•To visit the sick;
•To ransom the imprisoned;
•To bury the dead.

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are:

•To instruct the ignorant;
•To counsel the doubtful;
•To admonish sinners;
•To bear wrongs patiently;
•To forgive offences willingly;
•To comfort the afflicted;
•To pray for the living and the dead.

 

Our mission is to be a light-bearer of, and for, Christ so that others may see the love, truth, and grace, of and in, Holy Scripture.  When we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, console the doubtful, and so on, we exemplify to ourselves – – and to each other – – our witness to being the “salt of the earth and the light of the world”.  When we do these things in a “community” of faith, – – the Church, – – we are indeed acting as “a city set on a mountain” that cannot be hidden!

Jesus said that “nothing can remain hidden or secret”.  We can try to hide things from others and from ourselves; yet, we cannot hide ANYTHING from God!  Many of us yield to the temptation to shut our eyes from the consequences of sinful ways and immoral habits, even when we are fully aware of what the consequences are for such behaviors.  Remember, even in those times when we abandon Him, He NEVER abandons us.  He will always wait for us to return to Him – – with the open and outstretched arms – – of the Crucified Jesus on that Holy Tree.  There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God’s light and who seeks HIs truth through faith. 

 

Prayer for Enlightenment

 

“O Holy Ghost, divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate to you my understanding, my heart and my will, my whole being for time and for eternity.  May my understanding be always obedient to your heavenly inspirations and the teachings of the Holy Catholic Church, of which you are the infallible Guide; may my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbor; may my will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may my whole life be a faithful following of the life and virtues of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and you be honor and glory forever.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Paul Miki and Companions (d. 1597)

 

Nagasaki, Japan, is familiar to Americans as the city on which the second atomic bomb was dropped, immediately killing over 37,000 people.  Three and a half centuries before, 26 martyrs of Japan were crucified on a hill, now known as the Holy Mountain, overlooking Nagasaki.  Among them were priests, brothers and laymen, Franciscans, Jesuits and members of the Secular Franciscan Order; there were catechists, doctors, simple artisans and servants, old men and innocent children—all united in a common faith and love for Jesus and his Church.

Brother Paul Miki, a Jesuit and a native of Japan, has become the best known among the martyrs of Japan.  While hanging upon a cross Paul Miki preached to the people gathered for the execution: “The sentence of judgment says these men came to Japan from the Philippines, but I did not come from any other country. I am a true Japanese.  The only reason for my being killed is that I have taught the doctrine of Christ.  I certainly did teach the doctrine of Christ.  I thank God it is for this reason I die.  I believe that I am telling only the truth before I die.  I know you believe me and I want to say to you all once again: Ask Christ to help you to become happy.  I obey Christ.  After Christ’s example I forgive my persecutors.  I do not hate them.  I ask God to have pity on all, and I hope my blood will fall on my fellow men as a fruitful rain.”

When missionaries returned to Japan in the 1860s, at first they found no trace of Christianity.  But after establishing themselves they found that thousands of Christians lived around Nagasaki and that they had secretly preserved the faith.  Beatified in 1627, the martyrs of Japan were finally canonized in 1862.

Comment:

Today a new era has come for the Church in Japan.  Although the number of Catholics is not large, the Church is respected and has total religious freedom.  The spread of Christianity in the Far East is slow and difficult.  Faith such as that of the 26 martyrs is needed today as much as in 1597.

Quote:

“Since Jesus, the Son of God, showed his love by laying down his life for us, no one has greater love than they who lay down their lives for him and for their sisters and brothers (see 1 John 3:16; John 15:13).  Some Christians have been called from the beginning, and will always be called, to give this greatest testimony of love to everyone, especially to persecutors.  Martyrdom makes disciples like their master, who willingly accepted death for the salvation of the world, and through it they are made like him by the shedding of blood.  Therefore, the Church considers it the highest gift and as the supreme test of love.  And while it is given to few, all, however, must be prepared to confess Christ before humanity and to follow him along the way of the cross amid the persecutions which the Church never lacks” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 42, Austin Flannery translation).

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

 

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

 

6.  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. 

 

7.  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.

“Salvation Saves! I’ll Bet Your SKIN On It !” – Luke 17:11-19†


            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†   461 – St Leo I the Great ends his reign as Catholic Pope with his death (440-461)
†   627 – Death of Justus, Archbishop of Canterbury
†   1241 – Death of Celestine IV, [Goffredo Castiglioni], Pope (for 16 days)
†  1483 – Birth of  Martin Luther, Ex-Catholic Priest and German Protestant reformer (d. 1546)
†   1549 – Death of Paul III, [Alessandro Farnese], Italian Pope (1534-49), at age 81 (b. 1468)
†   1687 – Pope Innocent XI publishes decree Coelestis pastor
†   Feast Days:  Pope Leo I the Great; Andrew Avellino

(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:

 

Suffering with truth decay?  Brush up on your Bible.

 

 

Today’s reflection is about is about Jesus healing 10 lepers, with only one (the Samaritan) returning to give thanks; and on the nature of change.

 

11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.  17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  (NAB Luke 17:11-19)

 

 

Jesus, during His journey to Jerusalem, stopped to heal ten lepers that approached Him.  (Note: all skin diseases during this time were called “leprosy,” which itself is now known as “Hansen’s Disease”).  In performing an act of mercy, Jesus is giving us a lesson about faith, love, and reconciliation.  Jesus also gives us a reminder that faith can sometimes be found in unlikely places and that we should always be open to change.  

Ten people afflicted with “leprosy” came to Jesus asking for a cure.  In the Jewish culture, leprosy created a division between those with skin disease and family, societal, and religious practices.  “Sin” does the exact same thing to any of us also.  With the effects of sin on our souls, we are separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with the Trinitarian God Himself!  With sin, we are focused on a self-love, our own needs and wants instead of the needs and love of those with whom we come into contact.  When we confess our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are “healed” immediately by God’s grace.

Struck with compassion towards the ten “diseased” men, Jesus heals all of them. However, only one returns to thank Him, that one being the Samaritan, a “foreigner.”  In the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived, Samaritans were looked down upon as “heathens” because of the differences between the two communities in their observance of Mosaic Scripture.  

How could this Samaritan, a foreigner in Jesus’ land – a man with a strange accent and probably strange mannerisms – and definitely a man possessing a rebellious theology, be the ONLY ONE to go back to Jesus?  He surely had to overcome two major barriers in order to ask for, and receive, a cure from Jesus.  The first barrier was physical.  He had to overcome the contagious aspect of his disease in order to approach Jesus.  He also had to forget about the cultural and religious differences (the second barrier) of their perceived mutual disbelief of each other’s religion to obtain God’s favor. 

Why were Samaritans so disliked by the Jewish people?  Well, Samaritans were a people that originally inhabited a portion of central Palestine west of the Jordan.  Many were “Hebrews,” but with their own separate doctrinal beliefs, and perhaps even different religious practices.  They, like the Jewish people, regarded themselves as descendants of the “ten tribes of Israel.”  The Samaritans though claimed to possess the orthodox religion of Moses in their manuscripts of the Torah or Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).  The Samaritans further regarded the Jewish Temple, and the Jewish priesthood, as having deviated from the Orthodox Law of Moses.  In essence, the two groups existing together could be described as gasoline being thrown into an oil pit.  The two did not mix well, but if any match was thrown into the mix (e.g., controversies or in-fighting) BOTH could erupt violently! 

So, imagine what it might be like for these ten men (nine Jewish and a single Samaritan) to begin realizing they are being totally healed – WOW!  Then imagine the nine Jewish lepers excited to run to the Temple priests as Jesus commanded; while the one Samaritan stopped, realized he is free from the disease, and his first impulse was to return to Jesus in order to thank Him, and not go to the “Jewish” Temple priest in Jerusalem.  Jesus was delighted to see him return fully whole and healed.

The significance of Jesus commending the Samaritan for his faith (and salvation) is very important to not only the Jewish crowd following Jesus, but also to the non-believers in the area overhearing Jesus’ surprise of the Samaritan returning.  Jesus proclaimed, and also demonstrated, that God will bring salvation to ANYONE who hears with faith; and that a true faith can be found in very unique and surprising places (e.g. “foreigners”).

This event describing the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan [hence, non-Jewish believer of Jesus] who had leprosy is told in Luke’s Gospel only.  I believe it is because this happening provided a further illustration of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries that God’s grace through Jesus the Messiah is for all people who will believe, even “foreigners.”  Another example of this perception can be found in Luke 10:33, where a comparable point is achieved in the story of the Good Samaritan (Another foreigner who cares for his neighbor without regard of religion).  It is the faith these “foreigners” had in Jesus that brought them salvation.  I can think of three other similar Bible verses that compare the relationship between faith and salvation in Luke’s Gospel: Luke 7:50; 8:48; and 8:50.  Please read them.

Why did Jesus tell the ten men to Go show yourselves to the priests?”  Jesus, being well-versed in the Old Testament and Levitical laws knew that any person with a skin disease had to be examined by the temple priest when a skin disease was cured; and then also to make an offering for their cleansing, as Moses prescribed in Leviticus 13:45-46, 49; 14:2-9; and Num 5:2-3.  With the priests’ approval, this person could then re-enter Jewish society, and thus re-enter the temple to worship as well.

 

Besides the importance of faith, another lesson given to us in this healing encounter has to do with salvation itself.  Salvation is defined in this instance as “liberation of an individual from sin and its consequences.”  All ten of the lepers were given the gift of healing for their skin lesions; but in his gratitude to God for this gift of healing, only the Samaritan actually found the gift of “salvation,” a personal relationship with Jesus.  Salvation is realized in recognizing and accepting the gifts we have been given; sharing these gifts as God wants us to; and in knowing to whom we are to offer our thanks: God!!  To me, salvation creates a divine change in our attitudes, our reasoning, and our souls.

Change is inevitable in all our lives.  “Nature” itself is changeable (every 10 minutes in my part of the country); and we, as mortal humans change, in part, through and because of the staining nature sin on our souls.  Even though we are redeemed and renewed by the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, and the Holy Eucharist, we are still continuously bombarded by the temptation to sin.  Our nature is continually urged towards corruption by bodily desires unless fortified by divine spiritual assistance.

When our battles with evil our made evident (even if just to ourselves), “brought out into the open,” so too are the graces of and from God.  We only need to choose which nature to grasp: God’s grace or Satan’s iniquities.  When temptation and failure is nearest, the promise of God is also at hand. 

Among our many and unrelenting responsibilities as loving parents, we are to help foster the gift of appreciation and thankfulness.  This is especially true of appreciating and thanking God for all His compassion, benevolence, kindness, and helpfulness to us. 

Prior to Jesus coming into their lives, the Apostles were certainly victims to earthly vices.  After encountering Jesus, they were changed – transformed or converted – into people who labored and counseled others with love and gratitude for all, Jew and Gentile alike.  This conversion or transformation was not easy in any way.  It was a Daily struggle of hard work on the Apostles part.  So it goes with OUR spiritual journey of DAILY conversion.  One is not saved on belief (FAITH) alone: one must work at being a Christian!

What are some of the gifts you have received from God?  How often do you give thanks for all of God’s goodness given to you?  Do you praise God, even when given the gift you DO NOT want?  It is far too easy to thank Him for the good things in life.  But, through the bad periods we are also given the opportunity to grow closer to our magnificent, heavenly, Father by giving Him thanks in all circumstances as St. Paul instructs us to do!  Our sufferings can unite us with the same suffering Jesus endured for our salvation on the Holy Cross in a very personal way.  We are not necessarily thanking God for the suffering itself, but for the grace to endure, and the lessons we will learn from the gift of suffering.

I am in pain on a daily basis.  Like the lepers in today’s Gospel reading, I am ordained to a life of agony and suffering.  Between my heart and lung maladies, back and knee pain from 30 years of abuse as a paramedic lifting, prying, and carrying many things and people in awkward situations, plus the usual general aches and pains of growing old, I am very familiar with agony and hurting.  I have come to realize that my suffering is a permanent – and probably necessary – component in my life.  I now know I need to be humble instead of being the proud and boisterous person of my youth.  I need humility in my general life, as well as my prayer life and my faith.  I used to pray and NEVER listen.  I now know that I NOT ONLY need to talk to God, but also more importantly, I need to LISTEN to Him as well.  

My pain and trouble breathing keeps me focused on the divine mercy of God in Jesus, through His own suffering and forgiveness.  Maybe my pain is a kind of personal “stigmata” to keep my heart and soul going in the right direction.  By the way, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life.  God definitely works in mysterious and unorthodox ways.  He gave me a difficult cross to carry; and for giving me this unique and true grace, I truly love Him more than I ever have before.   

Don’t think I am bragging.  There is nothing to brag about in what I just related to you.  Other than being a uniquely special creation of God, (as each one of us is to God), I believe I am nothing special.  I believe I am a typical Catholic man living in an often “unjust” and “secular” world today.  However, I have hope and faith for the future; and I give thanks and praise to God for His “Peace and all good.”  (A translation of St. Francis’ favorite greeting:Pax et Bonum.”)

Today’s story relates to us what Jesus is wanting from all of us.  Every time our faith is increased, we should turn to Him in prayers of thanksgiving and adoration.  Every time our prayers are answered, we need to acknowlege His grace with a moment of being in His presence spiritually.  It is not because He knows that when we approach Him our faith increases.  It is because every time we come to Him our hearts and souls are opened even more to His word, His works, and His love!!

 

“Joy in Suffering”

 

“Lord, help me to joyfully suffer in this life for the souls in purgatory; and be with me in prayer as I gladly cleanse my soul in purgatory for my transgressions.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leo the Great (d. 461)

 

With apparent strong conviction of the importance of the Bishop of Rome in the Church, and of the Church as the ongoing sign of Christ’s presence in the world, Leo the Great displayed endless dedication as pope. Elected in 440, he worked tirelessly as “Peter’s successor,” guiding his fellow bishops as “equals in the episcopacy and infirmities.”

Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas, indicative of his notion of the pope’s total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism, Manichaeism and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs. A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church’s teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo’s work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people, which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. One of his sermons is used in the Office of Readings on Christmas.

It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and St. Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

Comment:

At a time when there is widespread criticism of Church structures, we also hear criticism that bishops and priests—indeed, all of us—are too preoccupied with administration of temporal matters. Pope Leo is an example of a great administrator who used his talents in areas where spirit and structure are inseparably combined: doctrine, peace and pastoral care. He avoided an “angelism” that tries to live without the body, as well as the “practicality” that deals only in externals.

 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 10 & 11 of 26:

 

10.      United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.

 

 

11.      Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.

“Keep Your Skin On! Keep Your Skin On! I’ll Take Care of You; Don’t Worry!” – Luke 17:11-19†


 

This weekend is the annual Knights of Columbus “Tootsie Roll” Drive for mentally and physically handicapped children in the State of Missouri.  We are also exactly half-way through the annual “40 Days for Life” event for unborn children.  Let us all remember in our prayers the sanctity and uniqueness of each person’s life today.  God does not make “mistakes” or “inconveniences!”  All life is precious, and a special grace from God.

 

 

 

Did you realize that this October has 5 Fridays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays; all in 1 month.

This event occurs only one time every 823years. 

AND,

Today is 10-10-10!  This only happens once every 1000 years (a millennium) – WOW!

BUT the best news is that:

Jesus comes every moment of every day!

 

Today in Catholic History:


†   1575 – During the Battle of Dormans, Roman Catholic forces under Duke Henry of Guise defeated the Protestants, capturing Philippe de Mornay among others.
†   1582 – Because of the implementation of the Gregorian calendar this day does not exist in this year in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain.

(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:

 

“Worry” looks around, “Sorry” looks back, “Faith” looks up.

 

  

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus healing 10 lepers, and the only one returning to give thanks is the Samaritan.

 

11 As he continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  12 As he was entering a village, ten lepers met (him). They stood at a distance from him 13 and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”  14 And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”  As they were going they were cleansed.  15 And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; 16 and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.  He was a Samaritan.  17 Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine?  18 Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  19 Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”  (NAB Luke 17:11-19)

 

Jesus, during His journey to Jerusalem, stopped to heal ten lepers that approached Him.  (Note: all skin diseases during this time were called “leprosy”).  In performing an act of mercy, Jesus is giving us a lesson about faith, love, and reconciliation.  Jesus also gives us a reminder that faith can sometimes be found in unlikely places.  

Ten people afflicted with “leprosy” came to Jesus asking for a cure.  In the Jewish culture, leprosy created a division between those with skin disease and family, society, and religious practices.  “Sin” does the exact same thing to any of us also.  With the effects of sin on our souls, we are separated from our brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with the Trinitarian God Himself!  With sin, we have focused on a self-love, our own needs and wants instead of the needs and love of those with whom we come into contact.  When we confess our sins through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are “healed” immediately by God’s grace.

Struck with compassion towards the ten “diseased” men, Jesus heals all of them.  However, only one returns to thank Jesus, that one being a Samaritan, a “foreigner.”  In the Jewish culture in which Jesus lived, Samaritans were looked down upon because of the differences between the two communities in their observance of Mosaic Scripture.  

How could this Samaritan, a foreigner in Jesus’ land – a man with a strange accent and probably strange mannerisms – and definitely a man possessing a rebellious theology, be the ONLY ONE to go back to Jesus?  He surely had to overcome over two major barriers to ask for, and receive, a cure from Jesus.  The first barrier was physical.  He had to overcome the contagious aspect of his disease in order to approach Jesus.  He also had to forget about the cultural and religious differences (the second barrier) of their perceived mutual disbelief of each other’s religion to obtain God’s favor. 

Why were Samaritans so disliked by the Jewish people?  Well, Samaritans were a people that originally inhabited a portion of central Palestine west of the Jordan.  Many were “Hebrews,” but with their own separate doctrinal beliefs, and perhaps even different religious practices.  They, like the Jewish people, regarded themselves as descendants of the “ten tribes of Israel.”  The Samaritans though claimed to possess the orthodox religion of Moses in their manuscripts of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).  The Samaritans further regarded the Jewish temple, and the Jewish priesthood, as having deviated from the Orthodox Law of Moses.  In essence, the two groups existing together could be described as gasoline being thrown into an oil pit.  The two did not mix well, but if any match was thrown into the mix (e.g., controversies or in-fighting) BOTH could erupt violently! 

So, imagine what it might be like for these ten men (nine Jewish and one Samaritan) to begin realizing they are being totally healed – WOW!  Then imagine the nine Jewish lepers excited to run to the temple priests as Jesus commanded; while the one Samaritan stopped, realized he is free from the disease, and his first impulse was to return to Jesus in order to thank Him, and not go to the “Jewish” temple priest in Jerusalem.  Jesus was delighted to see him return fully whole and healed.

The significance of Jesus commending the Samaritan for his faith (and salvation) is very important to not only the Jewish crowd following Jesus, but also to the non-believers in the area overhearing Jesus’ surprise.  Jesus proclaimed, and also demonstrated, that God will bring salvation to ANYONE who hears with faith; and that a true faith can be found in very unique and surprising places (e.g. “foreigners”).

This event describing the thankfulness of the cleansed Samaritan [hence, non-Jewish believer of Jesus] who had leprosy is told in Luke’s Gospel only.  I believe it is because this happening provided a further illustration of Jesus holding up a non-Jew as an example to his Jewish contemporaries that God’s grace through Jesus the Messiah is for all people who will believe, even “foreigners.”  Another example of this perception can be found in Luke 10:33, where a comparable point is achieved in the story of the Good Samaritan (Another foreigner who cares for his neighbor without regard of religion).  It is the faith these “foreigners” had in Jesus that brought them salvation.  I can think of three other similar Bible verses that compare the relationship between faith and salvation in Luke’s Gospel: Luke 7:50; 8:48; and 8:50.  Please read them.

Why did Jesus tell the ten men to Go show yourselves to the priests?”  Jesus, being well-versed in the Old Testament and Levitical laws knew that any person with a skin disease had to be examined by the temple priest when a skin disease was cured; and then also to make an offering for their cleansing, as Moses prescribed in Leviticus 13:45-46, 49; 14:2-9; and Num 5:2-3.  With the priests’ approval, this person could then re-enter Jewish society, and re-enter the temple to worship as well. 

Besides the importance of faith, another lesson given to us in this healing encounter has to do with salvation itself.  Salvation is defined in this instance as “liberation of an individual from sin and its consequences.”  All ten of the lepers were given the gift of healing for their skin lesions; but in his gratitude to God for this gift of healing, only the Samaritan actually found the gift of “salvation,” a personal relationship with Jesus.  Salvation is realized in recognizing and accepting the gifts we have been given; sharing these gifts as God wants us to; and in knowing to whom we are to offer our thanks: God!! 

Among our many and unrelenting responsibilities as loving parents, we are to help cultivate the gift of appreciation and thankfulness.  This is especially true of appreciating and thanking God for all His compassion, benevolence, kindness, and helpfulness to us. 

What are some of the gifts you have received from God?  How often do you give thanks for all of God’s goodness given to you?  Do you praise God, even when given the gift you DO NOT want?  It is far too easy to thank Him for the good things in life.  But, through the bad periods we are also given the opportunity to grow closer to our magnificent, heavenly, Father by giving Him thanks in all circumstances as Paul instructs us to do!  Our sufferings can unite us with the same suffering Jesus endured for our salvation on the Holy Cross in a very personal way.  We are not necessarily thanking God for the suffering itself, but for the grace to endure, and the lessons we will learn from the gift of suffering.

I am in pain on a daily basis.  Between my heart/lung maladies, back and knee pain from 30 years of abuse as a paramedic lifting, prying, and carrying many things and people in awkward situations, plus the usual general aches and pains of growing old, I am very familiar with agony and hurting.  I have come to realize that my suffering is a permanent – and probably necessary – component in my life.  I now know I need to be humble instead of being the proud and boisterous person of my youth.  I need humility in my general life, as well as my prayer life and my faith.  I used to pray and NEVER listen.  I now know that I need NOT ONLY to talk to God, but also more importantly, I need to LISTEN to Him as well.  

My pain and trouble breathing keeps me focused on the divine mercy of God in Jesus, through His own suffering and forgiveness.  Maybe my pain is a kind of personal “stigmata” to keep my heart and soul going in the right direction.  By the way, I can honestly say that I have never been happier in my life.  God definitely works in mysterious and unorthodox ways.  He gave me a difficult cross to carry; and for giving me this unique and true grace, I truly love Him more than I ever have before.   

Don’t think I am bragging.  There is nothing to brag about in what I just related to you.  Other than being a uniquely special creation of God, (as each one of us is to God), I believe I am nothing special.  I believe I am a typical Catholic man living in an often “unjust” and “secular” world today.  However, I have hope and faith for the future; and I give thanks and praise to God for His “Peace and all good.”  (A translation of St. Francis’ favorite greeting:Pax et Bonum.”)

 

“In Gratitude”

 

“Thank you, Father, for having created us and given us to each other in the human family.  Thank you for being with us in all our joys and sorrows, for your comfort in our sadness, your companionship in our loneliness.  Thank you for yesterday, today, tomorrow and for the whole of our lives.  Thank you for friends, for health and for grace.  May we live this and every day conscious of all that has been given to us.  Amen.”

From The Catholic Prayer Book,
compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Francis Borgia (1510-1572)

 

Today’s saint grew up in an important family in 16th-century Spain, serving in the imperial court and quickly advancing in his career. But a series of events—including the death of his beloved wife—made Francis Borgia rethink his priorities. He gave up public life, gave away his possessions and joined the new and little-known Society of Jesus.

Religious life proved to be the right choice. He felt drawn to spend time in seclusion and prayer, but his administrative talents also made him a natural for other tasks. He helped in the establishment of what is now the Gregorian University in Rome. Not long after his ordination he served as political and spiritual adviser to the emperor. In Spain, he founded a dozen colleges.

At 55, Francis was elected head of the Jesuits. He focused on the growth of the Society of Jesus, the spiritual preparation of its new members and spreading the faith in many parts of Europe. He was responsible for the founding of Jesuit missions in Florida, Mexico and Peru.

Francis Borgia is often regarded as the second founder of the Jesuits. He died in 1572 and was canonized 100 years later.

Patron Saint of Earthquakes

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 10 & 11 of 26:

 

10.     United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.

 

11.     Trusting the Father, Christ chose for Himself and His mother a poor and humble life, even though He valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.

Thus, in the spirit of the Beatitudes, and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power.

“OK, Who’s In Charge: Dad, Son, Or the One We Never See?!” – John 16:12-15†


This blog is a thought provoking, and fairly involved reflection on the topic of the Holy Trinity, and the role it plays in relationship to Jesus, and God the Father; and what role the Holy Spirit play in each of us?  I have a question for you to ponder prior to reading this reflection: 

Can we love one another as fully as Jesus loves us?

Try answering the question, and please let me know of your answer.  No grades will be given, and could be fun to find out how others think and believe.  Thanks, to all that read my blog.  Please share it with others.

Happy “Memorial Day” weekend to all Americans.  Please, please, please be safe; and also remember our fallen military, our retired and active duty soldiers, sailors and Marines, and those veterans that have passed from this world to the grace of eternal bliss in heaven.   

BONUS – Trivia: 
✪In 1868, “Decoration Day” (the predecessor of the modern “Memorial Day”) was observed in the United States for the first time.
✪In 1958 – Memorial Day: The remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War, are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.
   

Today is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.
  

Today in Catholic History:

† 1252 – Death of King Ferdinand III of Castile (3rd Order Franciscan)
† 1416 – The Council of Constance, called by the Emperor Sigismund, a supporter of Antipope John XXIII, burns Jerome of Prague following a trial for heresy.
† 1431 – Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a heretic.

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Love from the Heart: It is only from the depth of the heart that a real relationship with Jesus can arise.
    

Today’s reflection is about Jesus and the role of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity.   
  

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.  He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.  (NAB John 16:12-15)

     

Every time we make the “Sign of the Cross,” we are proclaiming a central tenet of the Catholic faith.  We are declaring our belief that God IS both one, AND three divine “Persons” in one God.  This unveils God as the one Holy Trinity of divine persons.  Making the Sign of the Cross is the one, unique statement and action that separates the Catholic faith from ALL other religions in the world.

Jesus knew the disciples disposition to knowing matters of faith and that they were slow to believe (Luke 24:25).  He knew that they could become overwhelmed with too much so fast, as they had been overwhelmed in the past.  Jesus also knew of the special gift and mission of the Holy Spirit since He, Jesus, is one with the Spirit in the Trinity.  When He said in today’s Gospel reading, “he … will declare to you the things that are coming,” it was not meant as a reference to new predictions, but to interpretations of what had already occurred, or had already been said. 

The Holy Spirit played (and still plays) an important role within the community of Christ.  The Holy Spirit made what Jesus said or did “understandable,” by associating His words and actions with Holy Scripture.  Interestingly, this is exactly what a “Sacrament” is defined as: the word of God in action.

The Holy Spirit did not make prophetic disclosures about the future, but simply guided the Church community’s maturity in its understanding of Jesus as the fulfillment of everything that had been promised in Holy Scripture.  The Holy Spirit was, and still is, the source of deeper understanding of the revelation of God!  The Holy Spirits function is to reveal Jesus, to draw us closer to Him, and to glorify Him.  This is how the Holy Spirit takes what the Father had given Jesus, and then declares it to the disciples, then and NOW!

So, where is God the Father in all this?  God is NOT a remote or secluded being, nor uninvolved deity: His very existence is about relationships.  The Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness.  It is also the power that helps us to live together.  If it is God’s nature to share his eternal life with us; and if we are created in His image and likeness, it must follow that we are meant to share our lives with each other as He shares His existence and presence with us.  Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians (12:12-14) that WE are the body of Christ, by writing, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ.  For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.  Now the body is not a single part, but many.”

Can we love one another as fully as Jesus loves us?   As “Sanctifying Grace” matures in us, and we draw from God’s love for us, we grow in grace and hope; we allow truth to enter into us, and radiate from us; and we grow in the ability to love others as Jesus loves us.  Paul (obviously one of my favorite people ever) wrote in his letter to the Catholics in Rome (5:5), “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Jesus assures us that as we intensify our relationships with Him, the Father, the Holy Spirit, AND each other, our existence will start to mirror the very life of the three-fold Godhead: the Holy Trinity.  This IS the experience and joy of being a Catholic!

“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.”

(thanks John)
     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Ferdinand, king, III Order
   

Born near Salamanca, Spain, c. 1199; died in Seville, Spain, on May 30, 1252; canonized in 1671 at the request of Philip IV. He was a Franciscan III Order member.

Ferdinand was the son of Alphonso IX, king of León, and Berengaria, the oldest daughter of Alphonso III, king of Castile. His maternal grandmother was the daughter of Henry II of England, and her sister Blanche became the mother of Saint Louis of France.

The death of Berengaria’s brother, Henry, left her heiress to the throne of Castile in 1217, but she ceded her rights to the 18-year- old Ferdinand. He was a stern, but forgiving, ruler who ignored personal slights, and an excellent administrator. The archbishop of Toledo, Rodrigo Ximenes, was chancellor of Castile and his principal adviser for many years. Ferdinand married Beatrice, daughter of King Philip of Swabia in 1219.

Upon the death of his father in 1230, Ferdinand became king of León. There was opposition to this, for there were supporters of the claim of his two half sisters, but his union of the two kingdoms made a recovery from the Moors possible. He campaigned against the Moors without respite for 27 years, and his success won the great devotion of his people. He recaptured the greater part of Andalusia, including Ubeda, Cordova (1236), Murcia, Jaen, Cadiz, and Seville (1249).

It was in the battle of Xeres, when only 10 or 12 Spanish lives were lost, that Saint James (Santiago) was said to have been seen leading the host on a white horse. Saint James’s chronicle is a principal source for Ferdinand’s achievements. Ferdinand’s military efforts were not so much imperialistic in motivation as driven by a wish to save Christians from the dominance of infidels.

Although he was a warrior, it was said of him that “he feared the curse of one old woman more than a whole army of Moors.” In thanksgiving for his victories, Ferdinand rebuilt the cathedral in Burgos and converted the great mosque of Seville into a church. He restored to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella the bells that had been removed by the Moors.

Once the Moors and Jews submitted, he pursued a course of tolerance, while encouraging the friars to convert them. He was the founder of the famed University of Salamanca in 1243. He married Joan of Ponthieu on the death of Beatrice. By his second wife he was the father of Eleanor, wife of King Edward I of England. It is interesting to note that upon his death he was buried in the habit of a Franciscan friar in the cathedral of Seville. At his death he was popularly acclaimed a saint but canonical recognition took another 400 years.

King Saint Ferdinand is depicted in art as a crowned knight with a greyhound. He is dressed royal regalia, cross on his breast, and the dog at his feet (Roeder). He is the patron saint of persons in authority (rulers, governors, magistrates, etc.)–a result of his wise appointments; the poor and prisoners (over whom such persons rule); engineers (a result of his technical military skills), and the Spanish army.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

“Jesus, Do You Need a Hearing Aid?!” – John 21:15-19†


My Franciscan Fraternity has its monthly meeting today.  I so look forward to them, and to the fellowship with each gathering.  If anyone is interested in what the Secular Franciscans are; or their role in the Roman Catholic Church, just contact me and ask. 

Today in Catholic History:
† 1506 – The cornerstone of the current St. Peter’s Basilica is laid.
† 1909 – Joan of Arc is beatified in Rome.
† 2007 – The US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision.
† In the Roman Catholic Church: Saint Apollonius (d. 185/6), Saint Galdino (d. 1176), Saint Perfecto (d. 850), Saint Laserian, Saint Emma

Today’s reflection is about Jesus forgiving Peter for his denial of Him.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

“You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward” ~ St. Mary Magdalen de’Pazzi†

Today’s Meditation:
     

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”  He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  (Jesus) said to him, “Feed my sheep.   Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”  (NAB John 21:15-19)
  

This section constitutes Peter’s rehabilitation for his denials of Jesus, and emphasizes his role in the church.  The threefold confession of Peter is meant to counteract his earlier threefold denial (see John 18:17, 25, 27).  The First Vatican Council cited these verses in defining that Jesus after his resurrection gave Peter the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler over the whole flock.  Peter “ate crow,” and not only has been forgiven and redeemed by Jesus.  His faith has been cemented into the strong “Rock” needed to lead the Church of Christ on earth.

When Jesus said “more than these,” did He mean “more than you love fishing, or some other item or activity?  Or did Jesus mean “Do you love me more than you love them: the other disciples?”  I cannot be certain, but I think Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus “more than these disciples, or any other does.” This last option; the one I think is the correct understanding, emphasizes Peter’s love for Jesus as being so great, that Peter’s love is far stronger than any others love towards Jesus could ever be.  As the Vicar of Christ on earth, Peter’s love had to be of such a supernatural strength, so that he could continue with Jesus’ mission: to bring all to the beauty and magnificent love of Jesus.

Jesus uses a parable as a figurative reference to the crucifixion of Peter.  In essence, He says, “YO, LISTEN UP PETER!!  You used to take care of yourself, and only had to worry about you, and no others.  You could do as you wish, and come and go without concern.  Now, you are responsible as I was, for the truth of the “word.”  You must take the path that I have taken!  Your life is no longer yours, but our heavenly Father’s to do with as He wishes.  Your happiness is reserved for heaven, but not for this earth.  Prepare yourself for the role you have inherited from God.”

“Lord Jesus, I love you, I love you, I love you.  Do with me as You wish always.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Apollonius the Apologist
    

Martyr whose Apologia, or defense of the faith, is considered one of the most priceless documents of the early Church. Apollonius was a Roman senator who was denounced as a Christian by one of his slaves. The Praetorian Prefect, Sextus Tigidius Perennis, arrested him, also putting the slave to death as an informer. Perennis demanded that Apollonius denounce the faith, and when he refused, the case was remanded to the Roman senate. There a debate took place between Perennis and Apollonius that clearly outlines the beauty and the value of Christianity. Despite his eloquent defense, Apollonius was condemned and beheaded

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:
      

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