Tag Archives: grain

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


Fifth Week of Lent

Today’s Content:

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

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

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

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

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Today in Catholic History:

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

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

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Joke of the Day:

 

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

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

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Gospel Reflection:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Trivia time: Galileans were mostly bilingual.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Reflection Prayer:

 The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.”

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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

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

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

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

The “Papacy”

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Quote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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♫ “Sow a Seed, a Tiny Seed. Ray, a Drop of Golden Sun!” ♫ – Mark 4:1-20†


            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†   1109 – Death of Albericus of Côteaux, French saint
†   1564 – The Council of Trent issued its conclusions in “the Tridentinum”, establishing a distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
†   1589 – Job is elected as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
†   1722 – Birth of Alexander Carlyle, Scottish church leader (d. 1805)
†   1789 – John Odell signs contract for £336 to build St Peter’s church (Bronx)
†   1932 – Birth of George H Clements, first Roman Catholic Priest to adopt a child.
†   1962 – Bishop Burke (not Raymond Cardinal Burke) of Buffalo Catholic dioceses declares Chubby Checker’s “Twist” is impure & bans it from all Catholic schools
†   1976 – Belgium catholic elite start amnesty campaign for war criminals
†   1991 – Alfaro Vive guerrilla group of Ecuador gives arms to Catholic church
†   Feasts/Memorials: Timothy and Titus; Saint Paula; Saint Alberic; Saint Margaret of Hungary

(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 08 of 13 Parts

John Paul II strongly advocated parrhesia:

“The parrhesia of faith must be matched by the boldness of reason” (Fides et Ratio, 48)

And the Holy Father Benedict XVI, then a Cardinal, commented thus on these words:

In a climate in which present day Catholicism risks being too acquiescent about conventional culture’s attitude to values and human rights, often considered variable “rules in a social game”, the Holy Father claims the right and duty of faith to speak strongly and clearly, to proclaim Christ as the ultimate and definitive truth of mankind and the world: with parrhesia, indeed. (from a talk by Card. Ratzinger on the Encyclical)

And on boldness, an exceptional Secular Franciscan, Bishop Don Tonino Bello, expresses himself thus:

“Boldness” does not mean rashness or foolhardiness, but parrhesia, i.e. freedom, frankness of speech, the active capacity to say things in the name of the Gospel. It does not mean to tone down the Gospel, to sweeten it or to dilute it to the point where it no longer says anything new.

(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’ “Sower and the Seed” parable.

 

1 On another occasion he began to teach by the sea.  A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.  And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.  2 And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, 3 “Hear this!  A sower went out to sow.  4 And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  5 Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.  6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.  7 Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain.  8 And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.”  9 He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.”  10 And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables.  11 He answered them, “The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you.  But to those outside everything comes in parables, 12 so that ‘they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.'”  13 Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? 14 The sower sows the word.  15 These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.  As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them.  16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.  17 But they have no root; they last only for a time.  Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.  18 Those sown among thorns are another sort.  They are the people who hear the word, 19 but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.  20 But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (NAB Mark 4:1-20)

 

The word “parable” (Greek: “parabole”) is used as a term covering a wide variety of literary forms such as axioms, proverbs, similitude’s, and allegories.  In the New Testament, a “parable” primarily designates stories that illustrate comparisons between Christian truths and the events of everyday life at that time (and even now).  The key feature of today’s parable is the sowing of the seed, and its representation of the new initiative of the kingdom of God coming into the world.  

The use of parables was typical of Jesus’ mysterious and unfathomable method of teaching to the crowds.  Compare Jesus’ way of teaching to the masses with the interpretation that He presents to his disciples (a fewer number than the crowds) according to their capability to appreciate and comprehend His word. 

Parables were meant to focus and sharpen the curiosity of the individual “hearer”.  Today’s parable was a calculated homily appealing to a rural-oriented audience present at the seashore for Jesus’ lesson and sermon.  The local farmers knew the problems associated with trying to be successful in their particular farming environment.  After all, much of Palestine (even still today) is very rocky, with the top-soil that is more than often quite thin.  The Palestinian sun bears down on the earth relentlessly, often scorching and burning crops, and thus decreasing the usual bounty for the farmer.

Without any doubt from me (a self-proclaimed urban-city “born and bred” inhabitant expert), a large portion of the seed was scattered on ground not fit for growing dust, much less any plant.  Any gardener or farmer reading this reflection will recognize the importance of the need for good soil in order to supply nutrients for growth to any plant.  The “roots” of the plant are fundamentally necessary to get the food and water it needs.  Though much seed was used and wasted, the seed that fell on “good ground” (and also tended to with care) grew a good root system and bore a harvest of large bounty.  

The distinct and various types of soil conditions in today’s verses refer to the diverse range of responses to the word of God.  The climax of Jesus’ parable is the harvest of thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold, indicating the completion of the exponential expanding kingdom on earth and in heaven.  Thus, the present and future actions of God, – – from the initiation to the fulfillment of the kingdom, – – are presented through todays and others of Jesus’ parables and teachings.

The point of today’s parable is that in spite of some failures due to resistance, conflict, and indifference, Jesus’ message of the coming of His kingdom will still have a bountiful and enormous success.

 

It seems Jesus preferred teaching outdoors and usually by water, be it the Jordan River or the Sea of Galilee.  The crowd present must have been massive and swarming to require Jesus to take a position in a boat in order to teach.  Can you picture Jesus standing in a boat at the shore of the Sea of Galilee (If He walked on water, He certainly can stand in a boat!)?  Mark depicts Jesus teaching to the crowds from such a platform a few times throughout his book.   

“Once again he went out along the sea.  All the crowd came to him and he taught them.” (Mark 2:13)

 “Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people (followed) from Galilee and from Judea.  Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon.” (Mark 3:7-8)

In contrast to His teaching near or on the Sea of Galilee, the mountain was the typical scene of Jesus at prayer and in the process of forming his disciples:

“And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray.”  (Mark 6:46)

 “He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.” (Mark 3:13; 9:2)

 “After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves.  And he was transfigured before them,” (Mark 3:13; 9:2)

 

The verses in today’s Gospel should be viewed against the concerns, unbelief, and opposition Jesus encountered in His earthly ministry.  With the background of today’s parable in mind, the distinction in Jesus’ method of teaching becomes clearer in His presenting the kingdom of God to the unbelieving crowd in one manner, and to His followers (His disciples) in another.  To the unbelievers, His message is presented in simple parables – – and the truth remains hidden.  For Jesus’ disciples, the parable is interpreted in their individual minds, heart, and souls, and the “mystery” is partially revealed to them by the Holy Spirit’s action, because of their faith.

 

There are different ways of accepting God’s word.  They all produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. The prejudiced individual shuts His mind to Jesus’ message.  This individual is not teachable and remains blind to the illumination of God’s word.

Then there is the shallow “hearer”. This person fails to fully understand and internalize the message.  In essence, he/she lacks a “depth” of understanding.  At first, he/she responds with enthusiasm and passion.  However, this zeal wears off and their minds seem to wander to something else.  Some quit when God’s mission gets too hard for them (“when the going gets hard …”).  And, even some (if not most I believe) just drift away, distracted by other “priorities” in their earthly world.

Another type of “hearer” is the person who is just too busy to pray, study, and meditate on God’s word.  His/her ability to accept God’s word is hardened.  His/her brain, heart, and soul are “rock hard”, and cannot be penetrated.

Finally, there is the individual whose mind is open to God’s word.  This person is willing to listen, learn, and accept Jesus’ message fully.  He/she allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in and through them. 

God gives grace to those who hunger for His word that they may understand His will, and have the strength to live according to His will and plan.  Do you hunger for God’s word; do you want to grow in God’s love?

 

My wife planted a small garden last year.  As always, she started by tilling the earth with her tiny two-tine tiller.  Tilling this year consisted of her little beast of burden buried somewhere in our garden shed; trying to get it started (with lots of prayers and frustrations); and then breaking up the earth to prepare it for the seeds.  She planted a variety of seeds and starter plants in a small patch of ground: three types of tomatoes; four types of “squash;” three types of melons, and even a couple of sunflowers just for fun.  Weeding the garden was a major challenge and sometimes unsuccessful for her.

The crops were surprisingly bountiful (especially the squashes) as compared to other years.  I even experimented once with “her” produce, and made “No-noodle vegetable lasagna” wherein I substituted thinly sliced zucchini instead of the usual pasta noodles.  All the veggies (except the mushrooms) came from my wife’s garden.  We had so much in fact, I actually made two big pans; sharing one with our neighboring friends.  With great humility, this meal (MY RECIPE AND CREATION!!) was a huge success!

What does my wife’s garden have to do with finding God?  For me, this was the meaning of Jesus’ parable about throwing some seeds around on the ground.  My wife searching for the tools to do the job, represents finding the time to look for God: finding Him in prayer and adoration; the Sacraments and sacramental’s; Reconciliation; and most importantly – – in the Eucharist.

The breaking up of the ground represents our submission to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to live in and with us, and to work through us.  Our lives (the soil) has to be prepared so that the Holy Spirit can take a strong hold and “root” in us, allowing the Holy Spirit to grow in, through, and out of us. 

Most of my wife’s seeds were planted in fertile soil, but some were eaten by birds, squirrels and rabbits, and even our dogs; and sadly, some never germinated.  I believe this is a representation of the same thing happening in each of us.  Being sinners, and definitely imperfect, the seeds of faith sometime never germinate within us, and some seeds of faith are destroyed by our vices and sins.  Yet, some seeds germinate and take a good strong root within us, if we allow.  In fertile soil, a well-prepared soul in this case, the seeds of God’s grace grow to fruition and sprout great graces (the vegetables) for the harvesting.

Some of the seeds in my wife’s garden grew surrounded by weeds.  When the vegetables were ready to be picked, we had to separate them from the tangled weeds to gather them.  They were still perfectly good to eat, even though they were not necessarily in pristine soil and conditions.  The same is true with our graces in God’s Kingdom.  Some of our graces are planted in fertile soil, but due to many circumstances weeds grow around our faith, trust, and love in and for God.  These circumstances (weeds) could include drugs, mental problems, petty crimes, bad family life, insecurity, or any other calamity that could affect someone’s spiritual life.  Even though you may be in this “weedy” soil, good produce is still possible and can be harvested from you.  With God all things are definitely possible, even with all the baggage we oftentimes carry.  Please allow God to harvest you from the weeds of life.  Jesus’ parable of the “sower and the seed” definitely gives hope and encouragement to all that listens to His word.

Remember, we are all unique.  No one path to God’s Kingdom is identical to another’s.  Each of us is a unique and “one-of-a-kind” individual, with unique and individual experiences.   God has a purpose for your life being different from any others.  I also believe that God gives you all the graces and talents you need to make that journey on the path that you must take to Him.

Maybe the parable today actually describes the different times in our individual lives as much as the different attitudes of the people we meet.  Though I am always open and in dire need of hearing God’s word, I seem to truly receive His word as eagerly as I should – – only some of the time!  I further believe this is truly human nature; an effect of our original sin on our soul.  God knows this as well – – Heck, after all, doesn’t He know everything?  Even though I may not be completely open to God’s word today, He also knows I will be more open, more attentive, and more determined in His word “tomorrow”.  God, “the sower”, will keep throwing me some of His seeds (His graces), and I know at least some will take root through His divine mercy and love.

 

St. Francis, while praying before the San Damiano Crucifix in the little town of Assisi in Italy, heard God tell him to “rebuild my house which is falling in ruins.”  Being a man trained in practical business matters from his father, St. Francis understood that God had told him that the old chapel he was praying in, which was now decrepit and literally falling apart, and – – brick by brick, – – needed to be repaired.

Francis did exactly that; he rebuilt that small Chapel and several others as well in his lifetime.  In addition, St. Francis also helped rebuild the entire Catholic Church.  He started three separate Franciscan Orders of priests, brothers, and nuns that eventually (and rapidly) spread world-wide; and even into the Anglican and Orthodox Churches.  God’s seed was planted with St. Francis in very fertile soil, and grew to an immense size, bearing much great fruit for God and His kingdom.   Are there any seeds waiting to sprout in you that could equal or surpass St. Francis’ bounty?  Ask God!

 

Saint Francis’ Vocation Prayer

“Most High, Glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,
so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy Will.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Sts. Timothy and Titus

 

Timothy (d. 97?): What we know from the New Testament of Timothy’s life makes it sound like that of a modern harried bishop. He had the honor of being a fellow apostle with Paul, both sharing the privilege of preaching the gospel and suffering for it.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a “mixed” marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul—often in the face of great disturbance in local Churches which Paul had founded.

Timothy was with Paul in Rome during the latter’s house arrest. At some period Timothy himself was in prison (Hebrews 13:23). Paul installed him as his representative at the Church of Ephesus.

Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. (“Let no one have contempt for your youth,” Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:12a.) Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul’s most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: “Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses” (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus (d. 94?): Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul’s second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus, and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel: “When I went to Troas…I had no relief in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia…. For even when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted in every way—external conflicts, internal fears. But God, who encourages the downcast, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus…” (2 Corinthians 2:12a, 13; 7:5-6).

When Paul was having trouble with the community at Corinth, Titus was the bearer of Paul’s severe letter and was successful in smoothing things out. Paul writes he was strengthened not only by the arrival of Titus but also “by the encouragement with which he was encouraged in regard to you, as he told us of your yearning, your lament, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more…. And his heart goes out to you all the more, as he remembers the obedience of all of you, when you received him with fear and trembling” (2 Corinthians 7:7a, 15).

The Letter to Titus addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses and appointing presbyter-bishops.

Comment:

In Titus we get another glimpse of life in the early Church: great zeal in the apostolate, great communion in Christ, great friendship. Yet always there is the problem of human nature and the unglamorous details of daily life: the need for charity and patience in “quarrels with others, fears within myself,” as Paul says. Through it all, the love of Christ sustained them. At the end of the Letter to Titus, Paul says that when the temporary substitute comes, “hurry to me.”

Quote:

“But when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy” (Titus 3:4-8).

Patron Saint of Stomach disorders

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 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.

 

 

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

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

“The One Who Ha$ the Mo$t – Just Might Lo$e!” – – Luke 12:13-21†


Pope Benedicts XVI’s Prayer Intentions for the Month of August, 2010:

The Unemployed and the Homeless:

General:  That those who are without work or homes or who are otherwise in serious need may find understanding and welcome, as well as concrete help in overcoming their difficulties.

Victims of Discrimination, Hunger and Forced Emigration:

Missionary: That the Church may be a “home” for all people, ready to open its doors to any who are suffering from racial or religious discrimination, hunger, or wars forcing them to emigrate to other countries.

 

 

Today I am hosting the annual Secular Franciscan Picnic for our Fraternity.  My wife had literally spent all of yesterday cleaning the house because, as she said, “real holy people” were coming over.  I thanked her for the compliment of calling me holy, as I am in the group.  Her response put me back into my shoes on solid earth: “You’re just their token misfit that is in all groups!”  Anyway, please pray for a successful BBQ.

 

 

Today is also “World Scout Day:” the anniversary of the first day of the “Brownsea Island Camp” in 1907, where Robert Baden-Powell began scouting.

 

 

Today in Catholic History:

†   371 – Death of St Eusebius of Vercelli, Italian bishop (b. c. 283)
†   1546 – Death of Peter Faber, French Jesuit theologian (b. 1506)
†   1974 – Death of Ildebrando Antoniutti, Italian Catholic cardinal (b. 1898)
†   2001 – Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a Ten Commandments monument installed in the judiciary building, leading to a lawsuit to have it removed and his own removal from office.

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

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

As for me, I’m just hoping God grades on the curve.

   

      

Today’s reflection is about why a person’s life should not consist solely of material possessions, but more importantly on spiritual possessions.

 

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”  14 He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”  15 Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”  16 Then he told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.  17 He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’  18 And he said, ‘This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods 19 and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!”  20 But God said to him, ‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’  21 Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.” (NAB Luke 12:13-21)

 

Our economy has been, to say the least, “depressed” for the past several years.  Though it may have never been officially called an economic “depression,” I believe we met the unofficial requirements for being in one.  There have been many serious financial blows in these past couple of years; collapse of the banking and real estate markets; Government bailouts of financial and automotive infrastructures; inappropriate use of tax financing incentives for big business; and the extreme unemployment, and outsourcing of jobs “offshore.”

I remember when the United States was on the top of the economic world.  Our dollar at one time was the most valuable money across the world.  It is no longer so.  It still has a strong hold, but countries such as China, Japan, and several European countries hold extensive financial holdings and bonds from our country.

Most of us recently have had personal and drastic hits financially.  IRA’s, T-bills, retirement plans, and stocks and bonds have all been seriously damaged, and are worth less than just a few years ago.  There is even a larger percentage than usual of retired people, some into the 80’s, returning to the work force; solely out of financial need.  Home foreclosures are at an all-time high, with more people and families living on the streets.

Today’s Gospel reading will probably mean more to most of us than ever before.  Bountiful harvests DO disappear without any warning.  Bigger barns, crops, and our homes and jobs are gone; at least for now!  Mark Twain once said that we are only obligated to do two things in life: “pay taxes and die.”  As a Christian I know the only realistic absolutes in this world are life, death, and judgment.  The best success in this life that we can make every effort for, is a spiritual and physical love for God and each other.

Family life helps us learn about the values of shared aims and the common good. As a family of blood relatives and neighbors, we need to strive in the respecting of the rights of each family member.  What is so wrong in making decisions that promote the common good?!  We are called to share the goods of creation fairly and justly.  Jesus, in this parable, challenges us to remember that the goods of the world are intended to be shared by all.

Luke, in this chapter of his Gospel, shows Jesus instructing His disciples and others on how to ready themselves for the coming judgment.  In this particular case, a crowd of many thousands have gathered to hear Him.  Jesus is speaking to His disciples when He tells them that it is not persecution by others they should fear, but the coming time when we will be held accountable for the use of our treasures before God.  I can hear Him saying something like, “Woe to the one who does not acknowledge the Son of Man!”  

Someone from the crowd asks Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”  Jesus uses the statement to teach this point: for anyone inheriting the coming Kingdom; spiritual wealth is to be over material wealth.  

Jesus, as he had done many times (about 35 in total; 20 in Luke’s Gospel), tells the crowd a parable.  To refresh, a parable is a story with a moral or spiritual point.  In this case about a “rich” man whose land yielded a massive amount of produce, much more than he ever expected.  His reaction to this great gift from God was not to consider how he might share some of the extra food with others in need, but to contemplate how he could possibly store it all for future personal use, and future $elling.  He believed he had a brilliant solution for what to do with his success and excess.  He was going to tear down his present barns, and then to build much larger ones. In hoarding all the produce grown, he would have future years of “eating, drinking, and making merry,” and thus felt secure in his lifestyle.

In this parable, God says to the man, “You fool!”  I don’t know about you, but THAT is one phrase I would certainly not like to hear from God directed towards me!  In God’s infinite and sometimes directly harsh sense of humor, He tells this “man of new found material wealth,” that his life will be taken away from him that very night.  What a punch line!  Is it inappropriate to go “te-he-he-he, oops, sorry?” “Life is full of surprises indeed.”

The story continues with God asking the “wealthy” farmer to whom his extreme wealth will belong after his death.  What can he do with his material possessions after he is dead? NOTHING!!  As the old adage clearly states, you certainly can’t take it with you! 

Jesus joined together the contrasting views of those whose focus and trust in life is on material possessions, symbolized here by the rich man of the parable with those who recognize their complete dependence on God.

What is life all about?  Jesus clearly states what life is about in the moral of this parable:  it is not material wealth that matters to God.  What matters most to God is each one of us individually, and our sincere and loving relationship we have with Him and all others with whom we come into contact.  We MUST acknowledge God in our daily lives, and give alms to help those in need. 

Focusing on excess possessions is capable of having deadly effects on people.  The vainness of seeking a safe haven from the struggles of life by hoarding possessions is harmful.  In this one parable, I see a potential for five of the seven “sins that lead to death” (1 John 5) being violated: Pride in himself as a great farmer; Greed in not sharing what he has; Gluttony by eating more than he truly needs; Envy by boasting on his great success; and Sloth by being lax in his requirement to help others in need, and forgetting God in the big picture.

The man in the story doesn’t seem openly bad.  He is not mean or threatening.  He does not wish harm to others in this parable.  Jesus points out that this man’s flaw was his thinking only about himself, and his own comfort and security.  His egotism excluded God and neighbor from his sight, heart, and soul.

The pitiful thing with this man and his ego in this parable is this: I know of friends and family that may be emulating him.  They love their families, and shower them with extravagant and beautiful gifts, almost haphazardly.  When we fail to think about the needs of others, we may be guilty of the sin of omission.   We need to review the seven deadly sins (pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth) daily.  I know I need to ask for help in not committing these offenses to God and to His creations on a daily basis.

For some people, not having enough money is worse than death itself.  However, the silver lining in this parable and in this economic tribulation we are experiencing so harshly today, IS the lack of $ilver!  I firmly believe we all need to take steps toward a simpler lifestyle.  On one hand, being financially successful is a grace from God; but as you know, ALL graces and talents are meant to be shared.  On the other hand, experiencing limitations and even loss of resources is, from a faith perspective, a grace, an invitation, and a reminder for us to look to God for His help and guidance.  Actually, I certainly would not mind an increase in my household income.  It would be accepted gladly if anyone wishes to give me some gold, diamonds, silver, or any other type of monetary value.

What I am saying, and what I believe Jesus was stressing in this parable, is that our TRUE treasures are in heaven, and the graces and creations around us.  Each one of us is meant to be a grace for each other.  Our heaven-dwelling friends and family, our personal angels and saints, our blessed Mother, and our God in three persons are the true treasures that we need to rely on and value more than material possessions; the simple trinkets we have on earth!

The only way to obtain our true treasures is to dig for them here on earth: prayer,
fasting, and Almsgiving.  Almsgiving is much more than putting money in the collection basket.  It is caring for each other by feeding and giving drink to the hungry and thirsty, clothing, and giving shelter to those without, visiting the sick and imprisoned (even in their own mind and/or broken body) to remind them they are loved, and burying the dead in the hopes of an everlasting life in paradise.

 

“Prayer in Time of Trial”

    

“Lord, teach us to love and thus overcome our hatred of those who harm us.  Teach us to hope and thus conquer the depression and despair that so often overwhelms us.  Teach us courage and sacrifice of self as the Immaculata’s instrument.

Pray for us now Mary, our Mother; and Jesus, her Son to bring our troubled spirit peace, calm, and joy.  Amen.”

(Spend two minutes thinking of the good things that God has done for you during your lifetime.)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****
    

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787)
      

Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.

In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.

At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but soon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups.

He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.

Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions.

He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.

His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.

At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.

Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.

Comment:

St. Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a “practical” model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all.

Quote:

Someone once remarked, after a sermon by Alphonsus, “It is a pleasure to listen to your sermons; you forget yourself and preach Jesus Christ.”

Patron Saint of Theologians and Vocations

 

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 #1:
      

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

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

 

“Are You a Good Seed, Or a Bad Seed; Let’s See What Sprouts!” – Mt 13:1-9†


It is a beautiful Wednesday in the St. Louis Area of the Country.  I am on day #9 of my yearly “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena, and am thoroughly enjoying the journey and reflections.

Today’s Gospel reading is one of my favorite in the Bible.  I hope you enjoy the reflection.  It is a very positive one for all Catholics.  Please pass this blog on to your friends and even your ENEMIES; all are welcomed.

 

Today in Catholic History:

†   1515 – Birth of Philip Neri, Italian churchman (d. 1595)
†  Liturgical Feasts: Saint Arbogastus, bishop of Strasburg, confessor [Basel, Constance, Strassburg]; Saint Daniel; Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, priest, Doctor of the Church; Saint Praxedes (Praxidis); Saint Victor of Marseilles, and companions, martyrs [Trier, southern France; Paris]

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

WARNING: Exposure to the Son may prevent burning.

 

Today’s reflection is about the sowing of seeds parable:
    

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the lake.  Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach.  And he told them many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A sower went out to sow.  And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away.  Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them.  Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.  Let anyone with ears listen!’  (NRSV Mt 13:1-9)

 

In Matthew’s Gospel, this is the beginning of Jesus’ third time making a public dissertation or sermon.   It seems Jesus preferred teaching outdoors, and usually by water; be it the Jordan River, or the Sea (a lake) of Galilee.  The crowd present must have been massive and pressing to require Jesus to take a position in a boat in order to teach. 

In Palestine, sowing often preceded plowing, with much of the seed scattered on ground being unsuitable for the conditions present.  Yet while much was wasted, the seed that fell on the good ground bore grain in extraordinarily large amounts.  The point of this parable is to show that in spite of failure due to opposition and/or indifference, the message of Jesus about the coming of the Kingdom of God will be enormously successful.

My wife planted a small garden this year, and she started as always by tilling the earth.  Tilling this year consisted of finding the tiny two-tined tiller buried somewhere in our garden shed; trying to get it started, with lots of prayers and frustrations; and then breaking up the earth to prepare it for the seeds.  She planted a variety of seeds and starter plants in this small patch of ground: three types of tomatoes; four types of “squash;” three types of melons, and even a couple of sunflowers just for fun.  Weeding the garden has, at times, been a major challenge and sometimes unsuccessful for us.

The crops are surprisingly bountiful this year, compared to others.  I recently made “No-noodle vegetable lasagna” wherein I substituted thinly sliced zucchini instead of the usual pasta noodles.  All the veggies (except mushrooms) came from my wife’s garden.  We had so much in fact, I actually made two big pans; sharing one with our neighborhood friends.  With great humility, this meal was a huge success!

What does my wife’s garden have to do with finding God?  This was the meaning of Jesus’ parable about throwing seeds around for me.  My wife searching for the tools to do the job, represents finding the time to look for God, and to find Him in prayer, adoration, the Sacraments and sacramental’s, Reconciliation, and most importantly, in the Eucharist. 

The breaking up of the ground represents our submission to the Holy Spirit, allowing Him to live in us, and to work through us.  Our lives (the soil) have to be prepared so that the Holy Spirit can take root in us and grow.  

Most of my wife’s seeds were planted in fertile soil, but some were eaten by birds, squirrels and rabbits, and even our dogs; and some never germinated.  I believe this is the same with each of us.  Being sinners, and definitely imperfect, the seeds in us sometime never germinate, and some are destroyed by our vices and sins.  But some germinate and take a good strong root in us.  If in fertile soil, a well-prepared soul in this case, the seeds of God’s grace grow to fruition and sprout great graces (the vegetables) for the harvesting. 

Some of the seeds in my wife’s garden grew surrounded by weeds.  When the vegetables were ready to be picked, we had to separate them from the weeds in order to gather them.  They were still perfectly good to eat, even though they were not in pristine soil and conditions.  The same is true with us in God’s Kingdom.  Some of us are planted in fertile soil, but due to circumstances many weeds grow around us.  These weeds could be drugs, mental problems, petty crimes, bad family life, insecurity, or any other calamity that could affect someone’s spiritual life.  Even though you may be in this “weedy” soil, good produce is still possible and can be harvested.  With God, all things are definitely possible, even with all the baggage we sometimes carry.  Please allow God to harvest you from the weeds of life.  Jesus’ parable of the “sower and the seed” definitely gives hope and encouragement to all that listens to His word.

Remember, we are all unique.  No one path to God’s Kingdom is identical to another’s; each is a “one-of-a-kind” experience.   God had a purpose for your life being different from any others.  I also believe that God gives us all the graces and talents we need to make that journey on the path we must take to Him.

The word “parable” (In Greek: “parabole”) is used to translate the Hebrew “mashal:” a word that covers a variety of oral and written literature such as maxims, axioms, proverbs, fable’s, similitude’s, and allegories.  In the New Testament the same word primarily designates stories that illustrates comparisons between Christian truths, and the events of everyday life.  Sometimes these events have an element that is quite different from the usual experience.  An example is found in the upcoming Matthew 13:33 where the enormous amount of dough, in the “parable of the yeast,” is enough to feed one hundred people; and used to illustrate the greatness of the Kingdom of God’s effect on humanity. 

Parables were meant to sharpen the curiosity of the hearer.  This parable was a calculated discourse to appeal to a rural-oriented audience present for Jesus’ lesson and sermon this day.  The local farmers knew the problems associated with trying to be successful in their environment.  Much of Palestine is very rocky, with the top-soil often quite thin, and the Palestinian sun often scorched and burned crops, thus decreasing the usual bounty of the farmer. 

St. Francis, while praying before the San Damiano Crucifix in that little town of Assisi in Italy, heard God tell him to “rebuild my house, which is falling in ruins.”  Francis, being man trained in practical business matters from his father, understood what God had told him to mean that the old chapel, he was praying in, which was decrepit and literally falling apart brick by brick, and needed to be repaired.

Francis did exactly that; he rebuilt that church, and several others.  In addition, he also rebuilt the entire Catholic Church by starting three separate Franciscan Orders of priests, brothers, and nuns that have spread world-wide; and even into the Anglican and Orthodox Churches.  The seed was planted with Francis in very fertile soil, and grew to an immense size, bearing much great fruit.   Is there are seeds waiting to sprout in you that could equal or surpass Francis’ bounty?  Ask God.

 

“Saint Francis Prayer”

“Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Lawrence of Brindisi 1559-1619
 

Lawrence was one of the greatest ornaments of the Capuchin Order, and deserved well of both Church and State at the beginning of the 17th century. He was born at Brindisi in the kingdom of Naples in 1559.

From his tenderest years he evinced rare gifts of nature and grace. In remembrance of Jesus in the Temple at 12 years of age, a custom prevails in Italy at Christmas time permitting boys to preach in public. Lawrence was only six years old when he preached in the cathedral of his native town with such force and point that his audience was deeply affected and many entered upon a more Christian life.

Lawrence entered the Capuchin friary at Verona when he was only 16 years of age. He distinguished himself from the very beginning as a model of perfection. He was punctual at all the community exercises, perfect in his submission to superiors, and full of respect and charity towards his brethren.

When his novitiate was over, he continued to pursue his studies. He was very successful in the study of philosophy and theology, and acquired so thorough a command of foreign languages that he was able to preach in French, Spanish, German, Greek, and even in Hebrew. He ascribed his success not so much to his talents as to the special help he received from Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, whom he honored with tender devotion.

With such accomplishments Father Lawrence started out on a highly fruitful missionary life. At first he visited the various cities in Italy; Venice, Pavia, Verona, Padua, Naples, where his labors were blessed with remarkable success. He was then called to Rome, where he was entrusted with the conversion of the Jews. His thorough knowledge of the Hebrew language won for him the esteem of the rabbis, and his gentle manner led many an Israelite to baptism.

In 1598 Father Lawrence was sent to Germany with eleven other friars to establish Capuchin convents there and to counteract the heresy of Luther, which was at that time gaining a foothold in Austria.

Emperor Rudolph II entrusted to our saint the task of organizing a crusade against the Turks, who were threatening to invade the whole Christian Occident. Father Lawrence, who loved seclusion, was now obliged to visit the principal cities of Germany to negotiate the cause with the princes, and preach it to the people. Due to his wisdom and holiness, which almighty God permitted him to manifest in astonishing ways, his efforts proved successful.

While he was saying holy Mass in Munich in the chapel of the duke of Bavaria, our Lord appeared after the elevation in the form of a resplendent Child, who lovingly caressed the saint. Frequently he was so affected during the celebration of holy Mass that he shed copious tears. Altar linens thus moistened with his tears were later used on the sick, and they were cured as were the faithful by the kerchiefs of St. Paul.

Father Lawrence was made the chief chaplain of the powerful army of Archduke Matthias, which went to Hungary in 1601 to war against the Turks. Although quite crippled with rheumatism, he mounted his horse and, crucifix in hand, rode at the head of the troops to the battlefield. The first sight of the enemy was most discouraging, for their position was so favorable and their number so superior that the most stout-hearted officers despaired of victory. But in the name of the God of battles Father Lawrence promised victory to the Christians and inspired them all with fiery courage. The enemy was completely routed.

Lawrence now returned to Italy where he hoped he might again serve God in his beloved solitude. But the general chapter of the order elected him vicar general. He was obliged in obedience to accept this heavy burden. In this high office he proved a charitable and vigilant pastor to his brethren. When his term expired, the pope again sent him to Germany, this time on an errand of peace, to reconcile the Archduke Matthias with his brother, the emperor. Again he was successful.

After he returned to Italy, the kingdom of Naples, his native land, was in need of his services. This kingdom which at that time belonged to Phillip III of Spain, was governed by a viceroy who cruelly oppressed the people. The only hope lay in presenting the people’s grievances to the king through Father Lawrence. The latter sympathized with the people and journeyed to Spain, only to learn that the king was then in Portugal. So on he went to Lisbon, where he pleaded the people’s cause and obtained the dismissal of the viceroy.

But this errand of charity cost Lawrence his life. He fell very ill at Lisbon. He knew that his end was drawing near and told his companions so. After devoutly receiving the last sacraments, he fell into ecstasy, during which he went to the sweet embrace of his Lord on the feast of St. Magdalen, July 22, 1619. Pope Pius VI beatified him in 1783, and on December 8, 1881, Pope Leo XIII canonized him. In December 1958 Pope John XXIII signed a decree declaring St. Lawrence to be a Doctor of the Church.

The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #21:
 

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

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

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

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


Happy Holy Week!!

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

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

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

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

Today’s Meditation:
     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:   St. Peter Regaldo
 

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

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

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

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

“I Certainly Don’t Have a Drinking Problem!” – Isaiah 55:1


My oldest son is interested in “Music Education” for his future.  He received permission to “job shadow” a music educator today, instead of going to his normal high school classes.  I guess this is a benefit of being an “A” student (and a suck-up).  He thinks today is going to be a blow-off:  I am laughing my @#$ off.  Jeanine and I think he will ‘crash’ when he gets home.

Today’s reflection is all about water. 

Bible Study

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!  (NAB Isaiah  55:1)

  

Why does water have a special place in the bible, and in religion?  Well, without water, there is no life.  Our space programs biggest function and goal is to find water elsewhere in space.  Humans are 98% water!  Water has the capabilities of quenching thirst, and moving boulders.  Water can keep the grass green, and can cut through granite to make canyons.  And in the future, water may be fuel for our cars.  Without water, one can only live 3 or so days: but can live 2+ weeks without food. 

From a religion viewpoint, water is also essential.  Jesus was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist, with water from the Jordan River.  This Rite of the Catholic Church, and many other churches, requires water as an essential element.  In the Catholic Church this water must flow across the forehead of the person being baptised.  Why?  Because we are baptized with “living water!”  This water represents a washing away of our sins.  There is an action present in the movement of the water; and there is an action in the ‘mark’ placed on our soul.  There is also an action in that the Holy Spirit becomes present in the baptised, making this one of the most beautiful events anyone can experience. 

God’s salvation is freely given and extended to His people, and to all nations.  Through Him, benefits promised to David are renewed: in Isaiah 12:3 it is written, ” With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.”  Also, in John 7:37 it says, On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, ‘Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink.'”   

Jesus is promising, through the living water of baptism, that the Holy Spirit will be a part of our lives.  If anything is for sure, it is that Jesus knows His water.  He chose where to be baptised; He could walk over its surface; and could make a miraculously great drink from it when needed. 

“Lord, thank you for the gift of water.  A molecule that in its solid state soothes our physical thirst, and washes away our sins spiritually. In its vapor form, it reaches for the heavens, and renews our earth.  God, you are a magnificent chemist!  Amen.”

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Joseph of Leonissa 1556-1612

  

In the year 1556, at Leonissa in the Abruzzi in the kingdom of Naples, the devout couple John Desiderius and Frances Paulina were blessed with a son, to whom they gave the name Euphranius at baptism. Under their faithful guidance the little boy made such progress in piety that at a very tender age he resolved upon certain feast days, and took the greatest pleasure in practices of piety. 

Later on, pursuing his studies at Viterbo, he attracted the attention and admiration of everyone by his industry and virtuous life to such a degree that a nobleman in that city offered him his daughter in marriage together with a large dowry. But the Euphranius has already made a nobler choice. He left school and entered the Franciscan order among the Capuchins at Leonissa, in the year 1573, under the name of Joseph. Here he found happiness and peace in things which an effeminate age abhors most: mortification and penance. 

His dwelling was a poor cell, so small and narrow that he could hardly stand, sit, or lie down in it. His bed was the bare earth, a block of wood was his pillow. He ate by preference food which the others could not or would not eat, such as stale beans and mouldy bread. In spite of the great strain associated with a life of preaching, he persevered in doing such penance even after he had been entrusted with the task. With works of penance he strove to win over those souls to God that he could not move with words. 

In the year 1587, his zeal for souls urged him to go to Constantinople. He could not long conceal from the fanatical Turks the good that he was doing, especially among the Christian captives on the galleys. They seized him, pierced his right hand and right foot with sharp hooks, and hung him up on a high gibbet, then kindled a weak fire under him in order to roast him alive slowly. and gradually to suffocate him. He suffered untold tortures for three days. On the fourth day he was miraculously freed by an angel and received the command to return to Italy to preach the Gospel to the poor. From now on he traveled untiringly through all the villages and country towns of Umbria. He strongly denounced evils of that day, such as frivolous dances and plays. In his associations with the people, however, he resembled a lamb in his meekness and charity. His very bearing won for him the affection of the people, and effected the most remarkable reconciliations between persons who had been living in enmity for years, and between families and communities that had been at variance with each other. 

Often while at work or at prayer he would be rapt in ecstasy. He wrought many miracles, and was vouchsafed the gift of prophesy and of reading human hearts. He also foretold the day of his death. It was February 4, 1612, when he entered into the joy of his Lord in the convent at Amatrice. His body was taken to his native town of Leonissa, and reposes there, glorified by many miracles. 

Pope Clement XII beatified Joseph, and Pope Benedict XIV canonized him in the year 1745. 

from: The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm., © 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
 (From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #4

  

:The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.  Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.  Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.