Tag Archives: Meditation

“Marriage is the ultimate lover’s triangle!” – a Reflection†


Just a few more days of Easter left.  Easter season actually ends on the Sunday of Pentecost.  Today’s blog is one of my most humorous reflections on marriage, being a parent, and encouraging vocations.  I hope you enjoy reading it, and please, please comment.

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater.  Give her your love, she will give you a baby.  Give her a house, she will give you a home.  Give her groceries, she will give you a meal.  Give her a smile, she will give you her heart.  She multiplies & enlarges what she is given.  So if you give her crap, be ready to receive a ton of sh@#… 
   

Today’s reflection:
   

How do the graces from the Sacrament of Marriage help parents?  How do we help be “attentive to the vocation of each child”?
  

On December 1st, 1990, I prayed one of the most beautiful and important prayers any man can pray.  It is probably the shortest prayer known, but also one of the most important prayers of evangelization ever.  With this prayer came a life of significant sacrifice and love.  The prayer:  I DO!  I love my wife, the most beautiful woman in the world (in my eyes). 

We’ve experienced good times and bad, but between the three of us, we’re doing a good job.  And yes, I did say the three of us.  When I entered into the covenant of marriage with my wife Jeanine, we both also entered into a covenant with God.  Marriage is the ultimate lover’s triangle; and the only lover’s triangle approved by the Catholic Church. 

For me, marriage is easy, as long as I remember three simple phrases, and don’t go outside these responses: 1)Yes Dear, 2)I Love You, and 3)Have you lost weight lately?  Don’t get me wrong; I wear the pants in the family.  My wife, Jeanine, just tells me which ones to put on.

Now, it is time for some serious discussion about marriage and children.  I love my wife more and more every day.  We have been married for nearly twenty glorious years.  There have been some bad days, and unhappy events in our marriage, but we got through those trials with God’s help; and through lots of prayer.  Jeanine is so much a real part of me that I literally cannot imagine how I lived without her in my life.

Our four boys (Jeanine could not get the girl thing right) are a gift from God.  They each have their own distinct personalities, which collide quite often recently as they are teenagers; and the youngest is nearing this period in his life.  I see humor in the “hormone” fluctuations running rampant in our household.  I also get frustrated with the emotions and attitudes that are often displayed.  I wonder if God is doing this as a form of penance for our sins, or if He just wants a good laugh from time to time?

Living in a small home, privacy is a premium.  I take this as a blessing because it is easy for us to observe our children closely, and for our children to watch a Catholic marriage through the good times, and bad periods.  They see my wife and I kiss (which still totally grosses them out to this day) and say “love ya” multiple times daily.  They see us discuss household bills, education issues, parish matters, etc.  And they occasionally see us discuss with emotion (some may say argue), but luckily this is fairly a rare occurrence.

The key to marriage and raising children is communication and love.  I believe the only arguments we have had, dealt with a lack of communicating in some way or form.  Arguments and disagreements are a normal occurrence in marriage, and in ANY worthwhile relationship: how you handle these disagreements is what matters.  One can “shut down” or run away from the disagreement, which causes the eventual dissolving of the tie between the two.  Or, the two can work out the problem, and create a solution.  The first is the easy approach, but the second is the mature, and I believe, Christian approach to loving each other.

Jeanine and I have really only two rules when it comes to arguing: it must be done privately, and we cannot go to bed angry.  I have occasionally gone to bed unhappy and even possibly hurt; and I remember a couple times of not sleeping at all that night, but this rule works, and have brought us closer to each other.  God is always with us, and seems to help us find solutions to our problems when we asked.

Our children know that “vocation” does not mean ONLY being a priest or brother.  They see and participate in vocations regularly.  Our sons know marriage is a vocation equal to any other vocation.  Their serving mass is a participation in a vocation for their status in life: they are serving the Lord in a small and humble way.  My two oldest are “helpers” in the PSR (Parish School of Religion) program at our Church.  They do this in a volunteer way to help others learn about our faith and religion: another vocation.

We have encouraged our children to explore various vocations, and have taught them to be open to where the Holy Spirit may want to lead them.  A couple of my kids have shown an interest in the priestly life, and we have encouraged this interest, but we have learned to NOT push too hard.  If it is right for them, they will find it.

Someday in the future my children will have a vocation.  Be it a priest, a brother, a member of the SFO like their father; or as a police officer, doctor, or as an astronaut.  Wherever the Holy Spirit leads them, and they are happy in their vocation, and they are productive to society and the church; it will be an answer to our prayers.

“Gracious and loving God, you have blessed us with the privilege of becoming Parents.  We ask that you provide us with all that we need in accepting this awesome responsibility.  We pray that we will be open to your spirit who is our source of strength, as we witness to our children your love for each of them, and your desire for them to be happy and to live a full life.

We ask your help so we may guide and encourage our children to believe that they each have a special calling and to use their gifts and talents for others.

We pray, Heavenly Father, that our children will discover and respond enthusiastically to your desire for them, whether it be to the vocation of single, married, ordained or consecrated life.

We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Prayer by Mrs. Dorothy Foss
© USCCB. All rights reserved.

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Felix of Cantalice 1515-1587

   

In 1515, in the Italian village of Cantalice, in the beautiful valley of Rieti, Felix was born of humble but pious peasants. As a boy he tended cattle, and later he became a farm laborer. Being so much amid God’s free nature, his heart was attracted to God, who gracious ministering to us human beings he had daily before his eyes.

Neither did the hard work make him coarse and worldly-minded, as sometimes happens, but he was gentle and kind towards everyone. When he came home at night all tired out, he still spent much time in his little room engaged in prayer, to which for that matter he applied himself also while at work. It grieved him that he could not attend holy Mass on weekdays. He would indeed gladly have consecrated his whole life to the service of God, but he could see no way of carrying out his desire until one day an accident showed him the way.

Felix had to break to the plow a team of young oxen that were very wild. The oxen shied, and when Felix tried to stop them, they ram him down, dragging the sharp plowshare across his body. Peasants ran to the scene, certain that they would find the man dead, but Felix arose unharmed, with only his jacket rent. But he went straight to his employer and begged to be released from his service. The little he possessed he gave to the poor, and went to the nearest Capuchin convent, where he humbly begged for admission. After careful trial, his request was granted.

Now Felix felt like one newly born, as if heaven itself had opened to him. It was the year 1543, and Felix was 28 years old. But in his novitiate he was yet to experience the burden and the struggles of this earthly life. The devil attacked him with violent temptations of all kinds. He was also seized with a lingering illness, which made it appear that he was unfit for convent life. But patience, steadfast self-control, prayer, and candor toward his superiors helped him secure admission to the vows, which he took with great delight.

Soon afterwards he was sent to the Capuchin convent at Rome, where, because of his genuine piety and friendly manner, he was appointed to the task of gathering alms, which he did for all the next 42 years until his death. With his provision sack slung over his shoulder, he went about so humbly and reserved in manner that he edified everybody. When he received an alms, he had so cordial a way of saying Deo Gratias – thanks be to God – that the people called him Brother Deo Gratias. As soon as he got back to the convent and delivered the provisions, he found his way to church. There he first said a prayer for the benefactors, then he poured out his heart in devotion especially before the Blessed Sacrament and at the altar of our Lady. There he also passed many hours of the night, and one time the Mother of God placed the Divine Child in the arms of the overjoyed Felix.

He was most conscientious in observing every detail of his role and vows. He did not wait for the orders of his superiors; a mere hint from them was enough. Although always in touch with the world, he kept careful guard over his chastity in every word and look, that Pope Paul V said he was a saint in body and soul.

Poverty was his favorite virtue. Because out holy Father St. Francis forbade his friars to accept money in any form, Felix could not be prevailed upon to accept it under ant circumstances. How pleasing his spirit was to God was to be proved in a remarkable way. Once on leaving a house, Felix slung his sack over his shoulder, but felt it weigh so heavily that it almost crushed him. He searched the sack and found a coin which someone had secretly slipped into it. He threw it away in disgust, and cheerfully and easily took up his sack again.

Almighty God granted for Felix extraordinary graces. Many sick persons he restored to health with the Sign of the Cross. A dead child he gave back alive to its mother. In the most puzzling cases he was able to give helpful advice. Honored by the great and lowly, he considered himself the most wretched of men, but earned so much more merits with God.

Finally, the day arrived when Felix was to gather the board of his merits. He died with a cheerful countenance while catching sight of the Mother of God, who invited him to the joys of Paradise. It was on the feast of Pentecost, May 18, 1587. Pope Urban VIII beatified him, Pope Clement XI inscribed him in the register of the saints in 1709.

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 #18:

   

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

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“On a Cloud and a Prayer!” – Acts 1:8-11† A unique reflection on the ascension of Jesus, as seen through my warped mind.


I hope all have a splendid and peaceful day celebrating with the Lord in some way.  After all, it is “His” day.

I also want to thank a dear friend in helping me “put to pen” some of my thoughts and reflections for this blog.  John H., you have helped me in more ways than you can imagine.  You are a true friend, and a reflection of Christ on earth.  Thank you.
   

Today in Catholic History:
   

†  583 – Death of Saint Brendan, Irish navigator (b. 484)
† 1265 – Saint Simon Stock, English saint (b. 1165)
† 1611 – Birth of Pope Innocent XI (d. 1689)
† 1657 – Andrzej Bobola, Polish Jesuit missionary (b. 1591)
† 1920 – In Rome, Pope Benedict XV canonizes Joan of Arc as a saint.
† 1943 – Holocaust: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising ends.
† Feasts: Saint Brendan the Navigator, Saint Germerius, Saint Honoré of Amiens, Saint Andrew Bobola, Saint Ubaldus, Saint Peregrine of Auxerre

Quote or Joke of the Day:
    

If Jesus didn’t rise, an even greater miracle happened:12 relatively uneducated guys changed the world & were martyred to protect a lie.〜 Unknown
        

Today’s Meditation:
    

You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.  While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.  They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”  (NAB Acts 1:8-11)

 

The Apostles are finally going to understand all that Jesus had taught them.  They are finally going to get a divine power to teach, lead, forgive, and heal (In ten days: at Pentecost).  But they are to receive this grace at a price.  They, as all Christians then and now, are charged by Jesus to be witnesses to their faith.  As priests of today still do, by the miraculous mark on their soul, these men were to leave their old lives behind and take up the mantle of Jesus: and to follow in His footsteps; including the good and the bad times. 
     

Jerusalem was the city of destiny in the Gospel of Luke; the place to be, and to come.  In Acts, Jerusalem was also the place where salvation was accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This city was the starting point for the mission of the Christian disciples for destinations to “the ends of the earth.” Jerusalem was the place where the apostles were situated, and thus the focal point in the early days of the Church community.  The “ends of the earth” for the people of Jerusalem at this time in history probably meant Rome from a geographical viewpoint, and to the gentiles from a doctrinal view.
   

Can you just picture Jesus standing on a cloud, with a lovingly coy smile on his face, and His arms outstretched in a way of blessing; as He slowly moved in an upward direction until no longer visible to the naked eye?  There is a major amount of symbolism involved with this scene from Catholic history.
    

The first symbol is the cloud.  The cloud is composed purely of water; in a shapeless and ever-changing form.  This water moves throughout the cloud in a continuous and living manner, reacting to each other by either combining with other water molecules or by repealing other water molecules.  Sounds like a typical Catholic parish to me.  Isn’t it interesting that the blood of Jesus washed away our sins, giving us redemption and salvation; and the living water of Baptism, just as the living water of Jesus’ cloud, rises us up to the kingdom of heaven.
     

Next, I wish to delve into the image of Jesus’ rising to heaven: the Ascension.  Jesus’ ascension into heaven, body, blood, soul, and divinity is as of yet beyond my comprehension, but one I do take as a matter of faith.  Until Jesus, and later Mary; heaven was, and still is, a timeless, and measureless abode for the souls of the “righteous,” that have been perfected either while still on earth or in purgatory.  Again, I believe Jesus and Mary are in heaven “body, blood, and soul,” but I cannot explain how at this time.
   

Jesus rose to heaven on His own power.  Mary on the other hand did not. Although Mary was a living saint; the first disciple of Jesus; and the first Christian, she was still purely, and only human; whereas Jesus was totally human and totally divine (another mystery of faith).  Mary did not ascend to heaven, as many Catholics mistakenly believe. 
    

Our blessed Mother, our Queen, was “assumed” into heaven through the action of the Holy Spirit.  So, on August 15th, the day we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, please remember two things.  First, this feast is about Mary entering heaven and ruling with Jesus as our heavenly Queen, and as His (God’s) Queen Mother.  And secondly, Mary was brought “body, blood, soul, and humanity” to heaven by God for her dedication, purity, and a holy life worthy of God’s graces.  All we have to do is be humbly dedicated to Jesus, and lead a worthy life of pure love, as a gift which is heaven.  Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?!
   

The Apostles, and I am sure some of His disciples as well, were standing in awe at witnessing Jesus ascending to heaven.  They were probably wondering what to do now without their leader physically with them.  All of a sudden two men (I believe they are angels) are standing next to them.  Dressed in the color of purity and love, they inquisitively ask, “Wats U lookin at?!” (Sorry for the slang phrase.  I am using it for descriptive purposes.)
     

There is another thing I noticed about these two “angels” appearance to all to all these men of faith.  I believe this is one of only a very few appearances of angels in the Bible that did not cause some type of “fear factor” among the witnesses involved.  I wonder why?  Is it because they were already in some type of “mental overload” as to be unaffected by these heavenly beings?  Or, was it because these “men in white” comforted and calmed all present by telling them that Jesus would be returning in the future?
     

I think we Catholics, as a whole, are still standing in awe and looking at the sky for help.   We just need to remember that Jesus is still present with us, as He was present to these early Christians.  Since our struggles are really no different than those of the first Christians; the awesome fact that He loves us can keep us comforted and calmed in our times of stress, and in our trials of human life.  Finally, the members of the first Church were probably no different than today: a combination of sinners and saints.
     

We are all part of a great and divine phenomenon: Christianity.  Take heart, smile, and listen to our Church leaders.  They are inspired by the Holy Spirit when in communion with the Magisterium of the Church.  And Jesus is never wrong!
    

“Lord Jesus, give me a generous heart to those I meet.  Please make me your instrument on earth.  Amen”
          

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:    St. Margaret of Cortona 1247-1297

This Magdalen of the Franciscan Order came into the world in the year 1247 at Laviano near Cortona in the province of Tuscany. When she was 7 years old, she lost her pious mother. She was neglected by her careless father, who married again within a short time, and her unsympathetic stepmother death harshly with her, so that when Margaret was 18 years old, she left home to earn her bread among strangers.

She was possessed of rare beauty, and ere long this became a snare for her. For the space of 9 years she gave herself up to a life of sin and scandal. Then one day she waited a long time in vain for her accomplice in sin to return home to the place where she lived with him. Presently his dog came to her whining and tugging at her dress. She followed the animal into the heart of the forest, and there she suddenly stood before the blood stained corpse of the unfortunate man; his enemies had murdered him.

At the appalling sight, Margaret was stunned like one struck by lightening. Filled with terror she asked herself, “Where is his soul now?” Then and there she firmly resolved in future to be even greater in penance than she had been in sin. Like the prodigal son she returned repentant to her native town of Laviano.

In a penitential garb, her hair cut short, a cord around her neck, she knelt at the door of the church and publicly asked all the congregation to forgive the scandal she had given. Many people were edified at this public humiliation, but her stepmother was all the more embittered at it. She. as well as Margaret’s father, forbade her to enter the parental home again. This reception severely tempted Margaret to return to the road of vice, but God’s grace sustained her.

Led by divine grace, she repaired to Cortona, made a contrite general confession to a Franciscan there, and submitted to the spiritual direction of her confessor. In a poor little hovel she now lived a secluded life, in penance, tears, and prayer, earning her scanty nourishment by hard manual labor.

Again and again she begged for the habit of the Third Order, that she might be recognized by all the world as a penitent. But not until 3 years had elapsed and she had been severely tried, was her wish granted. She received the habit in 1277. Now her fervor increased, and it is almost incredible what rigorous penances she practiced from then on. Day and night she wept over her sins, and often sobs so choked her voice that she could not speak. Satan made use of every wile and snare to cause Margaret to relapse, but prayer, mortification, and humiliation successfully put him to flight.

When finally, after uninterrupted struggling, she had triumphed over every earthly inclination, God assured her that her sins were fully pardoned and granted her special proofs of His knowledge of the innermost secrets of hearts. In many an instance, even when people came from great distances, she recalled grievous sins to their mind, while her exhortations and prayers were instrumental in bringing about conversion. Many souls were released from purgatory upon her prayers. Almighty God wrought many miracles through her even in her lifetime. Health was restored to the sick, a dead boy was raised to life, and at her approach evil spirits shuddered and left those whom they possessed.

Finally, after 23 years of rigorous penance, in the 50th year of her life, God called the great penitent to the Beatific Vision on February 22, 1297. Her body is preserved in a precious shrine in the Franciscan church at Cortona which bears her name. It is incorrupt even at the present day and frequently emits a pleasant perfume. Several popes have confirmed the public veneration accorded her. Pope Benedict XIII canonized her amid great solemnity in 1728.

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 #16:
  

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

“I Believe in ???? !” – 1 Cor 15:1-8†


Today is the Feast of Sts. Phillip and James.  Philip was born in Bethsaida, and was a disciple of John the Baptist prior to following Jesus.  Philip is the Apostle that asked Jesus how they were going to get all the bread and fishes to feed the crowds on that countryside hill; and also asked Jesus to “show him God!” 

James (the lesser) was the son of Alpheus.  There were many James in the Bible, so be careful.  This James is listed four times in the New Testament, and needs to be distinguished from James “the Greater.”  He became the leader of the Church in Jerusalem, wrote an epistle, and otherwise led an austere life.  Philip was martyred in the year 62.
   

Today in Catholic History:
† 1160 – Death of Peter Lombard, Italian scholar and bishop (b. c.1100)
† 1428 – Birth of Pedro González de Mendoza, Spanish cardinal and statesman (d. 1495)
† 1491 – Kongo monarch Nkuwu Nzinga is baptized by Portuguese missionaries, adopting the baptismal name of João I.
† 1606 – Death of Henry Garnet, English Jesuit (executed) (b. 1555)
† 1622 – Death of Pedro Páez, Spanish Jesuit missionary (b. 1564)
† 1679 – Death of James Sharp, English archbishop (assassinated) (b. 1613)
† 1758 – Death of Pope Benedict XIV (b. 1675)
† 2000 – Death of John Joseph Cardinal O’Connor, Catholic Archbishop of New York (b. 1920)
† Liturgical Feasts: Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross (the Invention of the True Cross), Saint Philip, Saint James “the Lesser,” Saint Alexander I, Saint Juvenal of Narni (d. 369), Saint Ansfrid (c. 1008), Antonia and Alexander (martyrs of 313), Black Madonna of Czestochowa Queen and Protector of Poland (since April 1, 1656); In the Eastern Orthodox Church: St Theodosius of Kiev; Syriac Orthodox Church: Abhai; Coptic Church: Saint Sarah
      

Today’s reflection is about Paul preaching on the Creed.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Heretics are to be converted by an example of humility and other virtues far more readily than by any external display or verbal battles. So let us arm ourselves with devout prayers and set off showing signs of genuine humility and go barefooted to combat Goliath. –ST. DOMINIC
    

Today’s Meditation:
    

Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand.  Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.  For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.  Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.  (NAB 1 Cor 15:1-8)

   

Paul the writer of this letter to the people of Corinth recalls the tradition, common ground, and starting point for this letter.  These verses are the fundamental content of all Christian preaching and belief for Paul.  The language by which Paul expresses the essence of the “gospel,” meaning good news, is not his own but is drawn from older creedal formulas. This credo highlights Jesus’ death for our sins (confirmed by his burial) and Jesus’ resurrection (confirmed by his appearances); and presents both of them as fulfillment of prophecy, and conforming Jesus’ passion to the scriptures.

Paul is calling these Christians his “brothers.” This is the same man that in the recent past had tried to have these same people killed as heretics.  The “Bible” was not a written document at this time; and everything was spread in the typical verbal fashion of the day.  The “gospel” Paul is exhorting is the “Good News” (its literal translation) that he preached.   

Through this “good news,” many were obviously converted and “saved.”  The next step for these Christians was maybe the hardest for them: to “hold fast to the word” Paul, and the others, preached.  The societal norms of that day condemned Christians as scourges and the “crazies” of the time.  Too bad this is happening again today, in this Country.

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.”   We say these exact words at every mass.  These words are part of both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds.  How often do we actually think about what these words are telling us?

Jesus appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve Apostles” who were hiding in a locked room, afraid of being killed; and with the uncertainty any group would have that had lost its leader without warning and preparation.  I think the pitiful thing is that Jesus had prepared them for their roles, and they just did not realize, and did not have truly trust in Jesus till this point.  Later, Jesus appears again to James, and the Apostles.  I believe this was the “stoking the fire” appearance.  After this appearance, the disciples were so on fire as to cause a conflagration that literally caught the entire world on fire towards Christianity.   

After appearing to the Apostles, “He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once.”  At the time of Paul’s writing this letter, most of these Christians were still living, and some had died in body, but living in divinity with Christ in heaven.  Can you picture the stories they told their grandchildren? 

Finally, Jesus appears to Saul (Paul) and literally scares the hell out of him!  (Sorry, I had to write this little pun/joke.)  Paul calls himself “abnormal.”  His use of this word to describe his life prior to conversion is humorous for me.  I myself, and most of my friends, think of me as abnormal (mentally at least), in a humorous and good way.  I also believe that as a sinner, and in no way even close to the goodness of Jesus, have to purposely convert myself on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis.

“I believe you definitely did die for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; and that you were buried and raised on the third day; that ascended to heaven; and is seated at the right hand of God.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bl. Arthur Bell, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, et al
   

Among the Martyrs of England, Scotland and Wales, are found the Blessed Thomas Bullaker, Henry Heath, John Woodcock, Charles Meehan, all Franciscan priests. John Woodcock was born at Leyland, Lancashire, 1603; suffered at Lancaster, 7 August, 1646. He was converted about 1622, and after studying at Saint-Omer for a year was admitted to the English College, Rome, 20 October, 1629. On 16 May, 1630, he joined the Capuchins in Paris, but soon afterwards transferred himself to the English Franciscans at Douai. He received the habit from the Venerable Henry Heath in 1631 and was professed by the Venerable Arthur Bell a year later. For some years he lived at Arras as chaplain to Mr. Sheldon. Late in 1643 he landed at Newcastle-on- Tyne, and was arrested on the first night he spent in Lancashire. After two years’ imprisonment in Lancaster Castle, he was condemned, on his own confession, for being a priest, together with two seculars, Edward Bamber and Thomas Whittaker, 6 August, 1646. When he was flung off the ladder the rope broke. Having been hanged a second time, he was cut down and disemboweled alive. The Franciscan nuns at Taunton possess an arm-bone of the martyr. (from Catholic Encyclopedia Online Edition © 2003 by K. Knight) – These martyrs have been beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1987.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #3:
   

The present rule, succeeding “Memoriale Propositi” (1221) and the rules approved by the Supreme Pontiffs Nicholas IV and Leo XIII, adapts the Secular Franciscan Order to the needs and expectations of the Holy Church in the conditions of changing times. Its interpretation belongs to the Holy See and its application will be made by the General Constitutions and particular statutes.

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


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

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

(from Wikipedia)
 

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

 

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

Quote or Joke of the Day:

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

Today’s Meditation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Athanasius
    

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

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

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

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

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #2:
    

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

 

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


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

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

Quote or Joke of the Day:

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

Today’s Meditation:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****
     

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Marculf
    

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

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #1:
    

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

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

 

 

“Faith is a Conversion Problem!” – John 14:1-6†


Today in Catholic History:
†  1131 – Death of Adjutor, Roman Catholic Saint
†  1555 – Death of Pope Marcellus II (b. 1501)
†  1623 – Birth of François de Laval, first bishop of New France (d. 1708)
†  1651 – Birth of Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, French educational reformer, Catholic saint (d. 1719)
†  Liturgical feasts: Saint Adjutor, Saint Eutropius, Saint Maximus, 3rd century martyr, Saint Suitbert the Younger (d. 807), Saint Pope Pius V

Today’s reflection is about faith.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

“Faith makes all things possible: love makes all things easy.”
    

Today’s Meditation:
     

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.  Where (I) am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  (NAB John 14:1-6)
      

This gospel reading is about the start of dialogue about Jesus’ departure and return.  This conversation will eventually end the same way it started, with John 14:1, 27: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”

You have faith” is an essential element of Christianity.  What is faith?  The twinkle in the eyes of Children on Christmas morning, before even spying what Santa had brought them, and placed under the tree, is faith.  Faith is also the grip your child has on your hand the first time they get stitches or a cavity filled.  And faith is the child going to sleep after you rid their room of the boogey-man one stormy evening.

Faith, for me as an adult Christian, is looking at the monstrance holding that piece of bread, and knowing that it had been changed into the true and actual body of the living Christ, through the actions of the Holy Spirit.  Faith knows that God, who being perfect could not suffer, so He came to us in the form of a human so He could suffer for us, in order to gain our redemption.  Faith knows my suffering is living in the footsteps of Christ, so that I can gain perfection in heaven.

Patrick Overton wrote, “When you have come to the edge of all light that you know, and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or you will be taught to fly.”  This is what most children believe. As young adults, we come to think of faith by what St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”   Being a “well seasoned” adult, I have finally come to think of faith the same as Mother Teresa of Calcutta believed: “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish He didn’t trust me so much.”

In this gospel reading Jesus talks about coming back again.  In the bible, it is reiterated time and time again that He will return.  He also wants us to return to Him on a daily basis.  Let’s face it; we are all sinners, and need to convert ourselves to Christ on a daily basis.  This phrase has a special significance for me.  At my lowest point in life, a time when I was angry at everyone including myself and especially at God, I was in Church giving Him a piece of my mind (to say it nicely).  I actually heard God say to me (not in a thunderous voice, but in that little internal feeling), “It has been a very long time since you actually came to me and talked openly.  Come back tomorrow, and let’s do this again!”  I nearly fell out of the pew!

There are two ways to know the “way” that Thomas is asking about.  The first is through a genuine relationship with Jesus himself; and also through following the tenants of Christianity in your life.  Neither is an easy path.  Actually, both are very difficult paths to follow; having many pitfalls and obstructions.  The many roads away from Jesus and a Christian life are much easier to navigate, but do not offer the reward of eternal life in paradise, that the difficult one does.

We already covered the “way” to Jesus.  Now, “the truth and the life:” the divinely revealed reality of God the Father being manifested in the person and works of Jesus. Jesus, possessing the truth and life of perfection, has the knowledge, and the ability to liberate us from sin.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Amen.”
     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Benedict of Urbino, OFM Cap.
     

Born at Urbino, Italy; died at Fossombrone, Italy, 1625; beatified in 1867. Born into the de’Passionei family, Benedict was a lawyer in his home town before joining the Capuchins at Fano in 1584. His previous training, complemented by his faith, made him an effective preacher. He was the companion of Saint Laurence of Brindisi, whom he followed to Austria and Bohemia.

(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).

“Who’s Greater: God or Jesus?!” – John 13:16-20†


Today is a feast day for a doctor of the Church: St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380).  She is best remembered as convincing Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome in 1377, after the papacy’s home being in Avignon, France since 1309.  She also nursed lepers, cancer patients, and plague victims; and prayed with condemned prisoners awaiting execution.         Her body is still incorrupt!
   

Today in Catholic History:
†  1380 – Death of Catherine of Siena, Italian saint (b. 1347)
†  1429 – St. Joan of Arc entered Orleans to lead the French army to a victory over the English.  (BONUS TRIVIA: On this day, in 1862 (433 years later, during American Civil War, New Orleans falls to Union forces under Admiral David Farragut.
† 1945 – The Dachau concentration camp is liberated by United States troops.
† Roman Catholic Calendar of saints: Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Robert (d.1111), Saint Wilfred the Younger, Saint Peter of Verona, Saint Hugh of Cluny

 

Today’s reflection is about the slave not being greater than the master.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

When we join our cross to the cross of Christ we gain a sense of purpose for our lives.
  

Today’s Meditation:
   

Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.  If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.  I am not speaking of all of you. I know those whom I have chosen. But so that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.’  From now on I am telling you before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe that I AM.  Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” (NAB John 13:16-20)
  

In this gospel reading from today’s Mass, Jesus is saying, “Yo, Listen.  I am saying something extremely important.  I AM not greater than God.”  But, Jesus is also no less than God in heaven.  He is the “I AM,” the SAME deity; only in a different form.  In Matthew 10:24, it is written, “No disciple is above his teacher, no slave above his master.”  And in Luke 6:40, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.

The verse “The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me” is literally referring to Psalm 41:10 which states, “Even the friend who had my trust, who shared my table, has scorned me.”  This prophesy predicted Jesus’ betrayal by Judas Iscariot.   It does not mean the betrayal itself will reveal Jesus’ divinity.  It refers to the fulfillment of Jesus’ word in the crucifixion.

The last sentence is another “Yo” statement.  The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) refer to the reward due those who receive the disciples sent in Jesus’ name.  Jesus always spread His graces to those that do His work in this world.  Definitely, this includes the Pope and other bishops, and the priests marked with a special grace of the Holy Spirit.  But it also includes me and you, when we are doing God’s work, in His name, with a clean and joyful heart.

“Lord, you are my master.  I joyful wish to be your slave.  Please let me do your will in this world, and the next.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church
    

The 25th child of a wool dyer in northern Italy, St. Catherine started having mystical experiences when she was only 6, seeing guardian angels as clearly as the people they protected. She became a Dominican tertiary when she was 16, and continued to have visions of Christ, Mary, and the saints. St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. She persuaded the Pope to go back to Rome from Avignon, in 1377, and when she died she was endeavoring to heal the Great Western Schism. In 1375 Our Lord give her the Stigmata, which was visible only after her death. Her spiritual director was Blessed Raymond of Capua. St, Catherine’s letters, and a treatise called “a dialogue” are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. She died when she was only 33, and her body was found incorrupt in 1430.

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

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

… Oh, how glorious it is to have a great and Holy Father in heaven! Oh, how glorious it is to have such a beautiful and admirable Spouse, the Holy Paraclete.  

Oh, how glorious it is to have such a Brother and such a Son, loved, beloved, humble, peaceful, sweet, lovable, and desirable above all: Our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave up his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10:15) and prayed to the Father saying: …