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

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

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

(from Wikipedia)

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


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

Quote or Joke of the Day:

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

Today’s Meditation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO


Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Athanasius

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

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

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

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

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #2:

The Secular Franciscan Order holds a special place in this family circle. It is an organic union of all Catholic fraternities scattered throughout the world and open to every group of the faithful. In these fraternities the brothers and sisters, led by the Spirit, strive for perfect charity in their own secular state. By their profession they pledge themselves to live the gospel in the manner of Saint Francis by means of this rule approved by the Church.