Tag Archives: politicians

“Not MY Job, It’s HIS; Or Is IT?!” – Mark 13:13-17†


The Holy Father’s (The Pope) Prayer Intention’s for June, 2010:

General Intention: That priests, united to the Heart of Christ, may always be true witnesses of the caring and merciful love of God.

Missionary Intention: That the Holy Spirit may bring forth from our communities numerous missionary vocations, willing to fully consecrate themselves to spreading the Kingdom of God.

 

It is the first day of June, and I hope everyone had a fun and safe holiday weekend.  Hopefully we all remembered and prayed for all veterans and military personnel, living and dead.

 

Today in Catholic History:

† 1480 – Birth of Tiedemann Giese, Polish Catholic bishop (d. 1550)
† 1495 – Friar John Cor records the first known batch of scotch whisky.
† 1571 – Death of John Story, English Catholic
† 1846 – Death of Pope Gregory XVI (b. 1765)
† 1903 – Birth of Blessed Vasyl Velychkovsky C.Ss.R Bishop and Martyr (d. 1973)
† Today is Commemoration of Justin Martyr (Eastern Orthodox).

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

Men have never wearied of political justice: they have wearied of waiting for it. – G.K. Chesterton
     

Today’s reflection is about Civic and Religious Duties.
     

They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to him to ensnare him in his speech.  They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?”  Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.”  They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”  So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.  (NAB Mark 13:13-17)

  

Who were the “Pharisees and Herodians?”  Of the three major religious societies of Judaism at the time of the New Testament, the Pharisees were often the most vocal and influential.  The name Pharisee in its Hebrew form means separatists, or the separated ones.  They were the most bitter and deadly opponents of Jesus Christ, and His message.

The Pharisees perhaps meant to obey God at first, but eventually they became so devoted and extremist to only a small portion of the Jewish Laws that they became blind to the “Messiah” when He was in their very midst.  They saw His miracles and heard His Words, but instead of receiving it with joy they did all that they could to stop Him; to the point of getting Him killed because He truthfully claimed to be the “Son of God.”

The Herodians on the other hand were one of the Jewish parties of Jerusalem and Judea during the human lifetime of Jesus Christ.  Unlike the other Jewish groups, the Herodians were primarily a political group, rather than religious.  The Herodians were supporters of Herod.  While the Pharisees and Sadducees opposed Jesus Christ because they viewed Him as a competitor for religious leadership of the people, the Herodians opposed Jesus because they viewed His growing popularity as a political threat to their Roman masters.

In the conflicts Jesus had with the Herodians, Pharisees, Sadducees, and Temple Scribes, Jesus vanquished his adversaries with simple and honest responses and parables to their questions; reducing them to silence.  In Mark 12:34, it is written, “And when Jesus saw that (He) answered with understanding, He said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  And no one dared to ask him any more questions.” 

Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”  What a simple, yet profound, statement!  I firmly believe we have as much difficulty with the concept today, as the Disciples of Christ did two-thousand years ago.  Jesus did not say, “Give to Caesar nothing, and give everything to the Church.”  Nor did He say, “Make sure what you give to Caesar is in no way associated with the Church.”  Jesus made it clear that we had a duty not only to the Church, but also to the people around us, to the civic leaders, and to society as a whole.  To be a good Catholic is to be a good citizen as well.  There is both a “physical” king, and a “spiritual” king to which we answer.  Jesus was not to rule by the force of military might, but by service to all.  He was not to be a political “Messiah.”

What do we owe to the government and others, and what do we owe to Christ and the Church.  Church precepts are easy, because they have been written down, and easily found.  The five duties of ALL Catholics:

1. To attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, and rest from servile labor on these days. 
2. To receive the
Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a year, if aware of committing a mortal sin, more often.
3. To receive
Holy Communion at least once a year, between the first Sunday of Lent and Trinity Sunday.
4. To observe the
fast days and abstinence days established by the Church.
5. To contribute to the support of the Church

How sad that so many Catholics today do not adhere to ANY of these five simple precepts of our Church.  Some people get upset and disgusted that these “C&E” (Christmas and Easter) Catholics only come to Mass twice a year if that, AND then go to Communion on top of it!  I instead have a strong feeling of sadness and spiritual pain that these misguided (those usually self-guided) individuals don’t know how bad they are hurting themselves, and the Church community as a whole, by putting their own needs and selfishness over following a few simple rules.

There are other practices that a good Catholic should also be involved with.  The Church has broken them down into two categories:  “Corporal” and “Spiritual” Works of Mercy.  Being a good citizen involves, but is not limited, to these various works.

The Corporal Works of Mercy are the seven practices of Catholic charity toward our neighbor’s body:

1.  Feeding the hungry
2.  Giving drink to the thirsty
3.  Clothing the naked
4.  Sheltering the homeless
5.  Visiting the sick
6.  Visiting the imprisoned
7.  Burying the dead

The Spiritual Works of Mercy are the seven practices of Catholic charity toward our neighbor’s soul:

1.  Admonishing the sinner
2.  Instructing the ignorant
3.  Counseling the doubtful
4.  Comforting the sorrowful
5.  Bearing wrongs patiently
6.  Forgiving injuries
7.  Praying for the living and the dead

Being a good Catholic is nothing more than doing your best, being your best, and living your best.  We are to love all others because they are creations of God, and we are to be good Stewards of the gifts and resources God has given us.  When Jesus said, “Repay to Caesar … and to God …,” He was, and still is, extolling a need for an organizational flow in order to have a safe and orderly society; with realistic requirements, needs, and almsgiving in this world and in the next.  Jesus recognized the civil authority and its rights, but He warned that greater rights belong to God.

In this world, it involves paying taxes, adhering to the laws of society, and value the Church precepts, including the “works of mercy.”  In the next world, it involves simply honoring and praising our Creator, which will be easy for me as I am getting a head start well before getting there!

Give to Caesar the coins, and to God your heart!
    

A Prayer to Mary for Politicians & the USA

“O Most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, at this most critical time, we entrust the United States of America to your loving care.  We beg you to reclaim this land for the glory of your Son.  Overwhelmed with the burden of the sins in our nation, we cry to you from the depths of our hearts and seek refuge in your motherly protection.  Look down with mercy upon us and touch the hearts of our people.  Open our minds to the great worth of human life and to the responsibilities that accompany human freedom.  Free us from the falsehood that lead to the evil of abortion and threaten the sanctity of family life.  Grant our Country the wisdom to proclaim that God’s law is the foundation on which this nation was founded; and that He alone is the True Source of our cherished rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

O Merciful Mother, give us the courage to reject the culture of death and the strength to build a new Culture of Life.  Amen”
     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Joseph the Worker
   

Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history.

In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.

Comment:

“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44).

Quote:

In Brothers of Men, René Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of word, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God…in relation to this mystery, involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”

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.

 

 

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♬“If I Could Talk To The Animals; Just Imagine It!”♬ – St. Francis Did!†


It is a beautifully “WET” Thursday is Hazelwood (St. Louis) Missouri today.  The fresh air, the birds singing in the distance, and the lack of the pitter-patter (actually it is “thump-thump”) of my teenage children’s feet as they are now in school makes for an awesome day.  Three more days left of Eastertide and till the birthday of the Catholic Church.

 

Today in Catholic History:
† 325 – The First Council of Nicaea – the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church – is held.
† 1277 – Death of Pope John XXI (b. 1215)
† 1470 – Birth of Pietro Bembo, Italian cardinal (d. 1547)
† 1593 – Birth of Salomo Glassius, German theologian (d. 1656)
† 1825 – Death of Papaflessas, Greek priest and government official (b. 1788)
† 1927 – Birth of Franciszek Macharski, Polish Cardinal
† Feast and Memorials: Saint Bernardine of Siena, Saint Lucifer, Saint Austregisilus, Saint Ivo of Chartres, Abercius and Helena

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains un-awakened.
     

Today’s reflection:
    

What is the difference between showing respect for animals and treating them as if they are humans?  Do humans and animals have equal rights?
   

Probably the one big thing all people remember about St. Francis is that he was around animals.  If there is a statue of St. Francis in your garden or on your stoop, it probably has him with birds, deer, a wolf, or other animals surrounding him.  There are even many great stories about St. Francis’ encounters directly or indirectly, with animals found in nature.

It is true he loved animals.  He was even known to feed them with food literally out of his own mouth.   Our Seraphic Father (St. Francis) considered all creation, including people, animals,  flowers and trees, and even the various weather patterns as divine gifts from God, for us to enjoy, use, and to care for.

Secular Franciscans Rule # 20 states to “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.”  Let’s tear this rule down to its elements.

We, as Christians, MUST respect all creation that lives, or inspires us to live.  Sounds simple, but the rule also says inanimate, meaning creation not in a physically live state; or not active, energetic, or lively.  To me this means to respect everything God has created, and God doesn’t make anything bad: it becomes bad only because of free-will and choosing that path of life.

Weather; rain as an example, is a good thing for us and the earth.  It cleans and refreshes the ground.  It gives us the necessary resources we need to survive.  Sometimes lightening occurs with the rain, and people see this as bad.  Lightening burns the ground, and scourges the earth.  It is a destroyer of the flora and fauna of an area.  We need to remember that with this death, comes a new life.  An area destroyed, within a few years, is thriving with a new growth of trees, grasses, and animal life.

It is everyone’s responsibility to remember that God gave us special gifts He did not give to any other earthly creation: a soul, and the responsibility to care for His creations.  We are to be good stewards of this planet.  Exploiting our resources is not only wrong: it is against God’s role for us, and is a sin against nature and divinity.

Does this mean we need to treat all creation as divine and Godly?  Absolutely NOT!  Only the Trinitarian God is divine, and deserves our worship.  But God’s creation does need to be respected, and appreciated for what they are:  God’s creation, for us to use and enjoy wisely.  Our Catechism of the Catholic Church even covers many aspects of animal rights, and proper use of earthly resources.  I will only print two for this article: #323- Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.  And In 2416 –  Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

Call to mind a time when you were outside, and felt the presence of God in the beauty of His awesome creations.  I believe we all need to take time out from our busy schedules, and renew our appreciation of our earth.  Go outside, sit in a chair, and put yourself in God’s presence.  Reflect not only on the beauty and wonder of nature, but reflect on your responsibility as God’s instrument on earth.

In the 1970’s, there was a famous commercial saying, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute!”  Then came the famous and still frequently used, “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!”  I think all of us know what the proper things are to help the world, and each other.  We just have to realize that ecology, recycling, and resource management MUST be a priority.  For those that pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer in it says, “Come let us worship God who holds the world and its wonders in his creating hand.”

Instead of a closing prayer, I would like to offer this little known poem from St. Francis of Assisi:
    

Not To Hurt

“Not to hurt our humble brethren (the animals)
Is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough.
We have a higher mission:
To be of service to them whenever they require it. ”
   

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Bernardin of Siena 1380-1444
 

St. Antoninus, archbishop of Florence, begins the biography of Bernardin with the words, “The grace of God, Our Saviour, has appeared in His servant Bernardin, who shone like a bright star in a dark night, and with the heavenly brilliance of his virtue and doctrine frightened away the darkness.”

The great saint descended from the old knightly family of the Albizeschi of Siena, and was born on September 8, 1380, in the town of Massa, a dependency of Siena, where his father was governor. When Bernardin was only 7 years old, he had lost both his parents, but he was reared in the fear of God by devout relatives. He evinced a great love for the poor, with whom, as a little boy, he gladly shared his food. He attended divine services with the most edifying devotion, and listened to sermons with such attention that he could repeat them to his companions.

He loved purity above all the virtues. While he attended the secondary school in Siena, he could not hear an unbecoming word without blushing for shame, so that those who spoken it themselves blushed. When any indecent conversation was going on among his companions, they stopped as soon as they saw him coming. “Be still,” they said, “Bernardin is coming.”

While the holy youth was otherwise very meek, he was friendly to all, he could nevertheless grow extremely angry if decency was violated. A prominent citizen once purposely told him something indecent in the open market place. Bernardin gave him a resounding slap in the face, and amid the laughter of the bystanders the disgraced citizen had to withdraw.

With his great love for purity, Bernardin united a tender devotion to the Blessed Virgin, whom he used to call his beloved. Out of devotion to her he daily visited an image of Mary just outside the town of Siena; he prayed there especially to learn his vocation. The Mother of Grace, who had protected him in the world, now led him to the sanctuary of the convent. In the quiet little convent of St. Mary Colombaio, which St. Francis himself had founded. Bernardin received the holy habit on the feast of the Nativity of Mary in the year 1402. On the same feast in the following year, he made his profession, and after he was ordained and appointed to preach, he also gave his first sermon on the feast of Mary’s nativity.

Since, however, Bernardin’s voice was very weak and hoarse, he seemed ill-fitted for the office of a preacher. Yet here, too, his beloved Mother helped him. AT her intercession his voice suddenly became so powerful and melodious that he became one of the most distinguished missionaries.

Now he journeyed all over Italy in order to announce to the people the virtues and vices, and the reward of the former and punishment of the latter. In many places such depravity existed that he found it necessary to preach sermons which he himself called sermons for heathens. The effects, however, were so astounding that Pope Pius II compared him with the Apostle of the Gentiles and called him a second Paul. After he had shaken their truths, he poured into them the soothing oil of the sweet name of Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, and preached on Mary, the Mother of Mercy.

His blessed ministry induced many towns to seek him as their bishop. This Siena, Ferrara, and Urbino petitioned in turn for this privilege, and the pope offered Bernardin the episcopal dignity. But with unchanging humility, he declined every time. He remained among his religious brethren whom he encouraged in religious perfection.

Rich in merits and virtue he died at Aquila on May 20, 1944, Pope Nicholas V canonized him 6 years later, whereupon the citizens of Aquila built to his honor a beautiful church with a magnificent marble tomb.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #20:
    

The Secular Franciscan Order is divided into fraternities of various levels — local, regional, national, and international. Each one has its own moral personality in the Church. These various fraternities are coordinated and united according to the norm of this rule and of the constitutions.

“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.

“Go From Gospel To Life And Life To Gospel!”†


Today is the optional memorial for the “Lady of Fatima;” and only 10 days left of Easter, and till the “birth” of the Church: Pentecost.  Most Catholics will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension at mass on Sunday.
     

Today is the “Feast of the Ascension:”

The Feast of the Ascension commemorates Jesus’ ascension into  heaven 40 days after his resurrection.  Thus Ascension Day falls 40 days after Easter, on the 6th Thursday of Easter.  In some parts of the world, the solemnity is celebrated on the Sunday after the traditional date.

Forty Days after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Acts of the Apostles records Jesus’ ascension into heaven.  The ascension is an important Christian feast attesting and celebrating the reality of the God-Man Jesus Christ’s returning to the Father, to return again in the future parousia.  The Ascension is the final component of the paschal mystery, which consists also of Jesus’ Passion, Crucifixion, Death, Burial, Descent Among the Dead, and Resurrection.  Along with the resurrection, the ascension functioned as a proof of Jesus’ claim that he was the Messiah.  The Ascension is also the event whereby humanity was taken into heaven.  Finally, the ascension was also the “final blow” so-to-speak against Satan’s power, and thus the lion (Jesus) conquering the dragon (Satan) is a symbol of the ascension.  Early Christian art and iconography portrayed the ascension frequently, showing its importance to the early Church.

(from http://www.churchyear.net)

 

Today in Catholic History:

† 1024 –Birth of Hugh of Cluny, French saint (d. 1109)
† 1497 – Pope Alexander VI excommunicates Girolamo Savonarola.
† 1655 – Birth of Pope Innocent XIII (d. 1724)
† 1704 – Death of Louis Bourdaloue, French Jesuit preacher (b. 1632)
† 1792 – Birth of Pope Pius IX (d. 1878)
† 1917 – The Nuncio Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, is consecrated Archbishop by Pope Benedict XV.
† Memorials or Feasts in the Catholic Church: Our Lady of Fatima, Abban the Hermit, Saint Servatus, Saint Robert Bellarmine, Saint Gerald of Villamagna, Saint John the Silent

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

“In his search-and-rescue mission, St. Francis saw countless conversions, not as a result of his own clever preaching, but because of the power and mercy of God. What God needed was someone to take His message to the people, and St. Francis recognized that he was merely the messenger.”  — Patrick Madrid Search and Rescue, Sophia Institute Press
   

Today’s reflection:   What charism of St. Francis speaks the loudest to your spirit?
  

I suppose I need to define what charism is.  From Wikipedia:
 

“A charism (plural: charismata) in Greek means ‘gift of grace’.  Mentioned in Rom 12:6, it is a power whose source is the Holy Spirit.  The nature of charism is spiritual ability, endowment and power; and the purpose of charism is service or ministry.  Charism is believed to be a freely given gift by the grace of God.
 

These gifts are given mainly to build the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:8).  Some of these gifts are called Isaiahan gifts: wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, fear of the Lord, and piety.  The charismatic gifts are revelational gifts (word of wisdom and knowledge, discernment of spirits), sign gifts or power gifts (faith wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude), and word gifts (prophecy, tongues, teaching and preaching).”
  

From a Franciscan viewpoint, charism for me is taking an active role in the mission of the Catholic Church: to make Christ present in the world.  All Franciscans (laity, religious, and priests) join our Seraphic Father, St. Francis, in the common effort to aid and support the aforementioned life and mission of the Church.  I wish to walk in the footsteps of my Orders founder: St. Francis of Assisi.
   

Charism can be also defined as a particular way in which people respond to God’s call.  “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.”  Secular Franciscans mission and charism is to “go from gospel to life and life to gospel.”
   

What does “from gospel to life and life to gospel” mean?  When I first heard this frequently used phrase of all the Franciscan families (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Orders), I believed it was just a simple statement of fact.  Upon reflecting on this phrase, I discovered its complexity.  Living this dynamic phrase includes many aspects: spirituality, community, apostolic ministries, and a simple life style.
  

As a secular in the Franciscan family, I share my life as a person living in the world, but not of the world.  No, I haven’t gone over the edge, or lost some marbles; and there are no new holes in my head (Now my wife may disagree with this statement).  Basically, I have given over my personhood to God to do with as He wishes.  I have chosen to take seriously the common Christian belief that we are temples of God; allowing the Holy Spirit to dwell in me, and work through me.  I live the famous prayer associated to St. Francis that embodies the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi’s simplicity and poverty: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. (Prayer is printed below.)
  

Rule number one of the Secular Franciscan order, in part states, “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 St. Francis of Assisi.”  I, in union with all other Franciscans of the various Orders, have a common charism: to share the Good News of Our Lord with His, yours, and my brothers, sisters, neighbors, and community.
  

The following prayer has a lot to say, and a lot to absorb.  This prayer is not just for Franciscans.  If all people observed even just a small part of these charisms, the world would be a much better place.  Please read it slowly; one part at a time, then stop and reflect, before continuing with this most beautiful 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 error, truth;
Where there is doubt, 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.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. John the Silent
  

Bishop of Colonia in Palestine and a hermit. Born in Nicopolis, Armenia, he established a monastery at the age of eighteen.  Appointed a bishop at the age of twenty-eight, he spent nine years in his office before retiring to Jerusalem to embrace the eremitical life.  Through a vision, he found his way to the monastery, or laura, of St. Sabas, asking to be walled up and living for seventy-five years as a silent recluse.  His Feast Day is May 13th.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #13:

As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.

“My Two Fathers; and Not the Television Show!” – CAUTION: Contains Humor and Pathos


I am deviating a little from my normal routine today.  This is a day of remembrance for me.  My father would be celebrating his 102nd birthday if he was still alive.  He was a remarkable man, yet still humble and loving to all who met him.  SO, today I am not writing a reflection about a bible reading, but instead sharing my memories about two men that had a strong impact on me and my faith.

   

Today in Catholic History:
† 1256 – Augustinian monastic order constituted at Lecceto Monastery when Pope Alexander IV issues a papal bull Licet ecclesiae catholicae
† 1415 – Religious reformers John Wycliffe and Jan Hus were condemned as heretics at the Council of Constance.
† 1493 – Pope Alexander VI divides the New World between Spain and Portugal along the Demarcation Line.
† 1626 – Death of Arthur Lake, Bishop of Bath and Wells, English bishop and Bible translator (b. 1569)
† 1729 – Death of Louis-Antoine, Cardinal de Noailles, French cardinal (b. 1651)
† 2001 – Pope John Paul II follows Saint Paul’s footsteps across the Mediterranean, from Greece to Syria to Malta.
† Liturgical Feasts: Saint Judas Cyriacus, Saint Florian, Saint Godehard, Saint Ethelred, Saint Sacerdos of Limoges, Saint Venerius, Saint John Houghton, Saint Robert Lawrence, Saint Augustine Webster, Saint Richard Reynolds; all put to death in 1535, and Saint Monica of Hippo (d. 387)

 

Today’s reflection is about my two fathers faith and life’s lessons.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. — B.C. Forbes
   

Today’s Meditation:
    

Today would have been my dad’s 102nd birthday.  He died many years ago (1966), but left a legacy with me that is indelible.  I am, because of him (and my mother).

How was I influenced, invited, induced or inspired to believe in my faith so strongly.  How did I come to love Jesus, the Holy Spirit, GOD, and this thing called the “community of saints”, and so on?  Was I taught these beliefs and values?  YES – but more than that; I witnessed them in others.

I was born a poor NON-minority child on north side of St. Louis City, to two beautiful people.  My Mother was very active till the day she died at the age of 87.  I am proud that this “saintly” lady, who used a walker, could play poker and bingo like a professional.  She never lost her sense of humor.

My father was a strong man of short stature (standing 5’6” in shoes).  He was equal parts Irish and German, but I believe he considered the German DNA recessive.  Though he never drank a drop of alcohol, he was known to be the life of the party, and if you didn’t know him, you would have sworn he had a little help from a bottle to be so jovial. 

My dad and his brothers (my uncles) served in WWII as a Navy Seabees in the South Pacific.  He and my uncles all served with pride; but never talked about their war experiences with others.  When asked about the war, they would only say the proverbial, “It is true that there are no atheists in foxholes.”

My parents married within a year or so of meeting after the war, and had four boys in three years and nine months.  Then they bought a television.  [Some say my mom is a saint because she raised the five of us boys.]    About seven years later, around Independence Day of 1958 the television must have finally malfunctioned, because the following April, I came along.  I wonder if that’s why my brothers, all 8-12 years older than me, sometimes call me “Mr. Warranty”.

My Mom was 39 years of age when she was carrying me; and my father was 52.  I have been told my dad strutted around for weeks with his chest popped out; acting like an old rooster that knew he was in charge.  On the other hand, it is said my mother apparently looked like she had just accidentally swallowed a full box of “Feen-a-mints.”

Needless to say, I am betting I wasn’t necessarily a planned blessing (but a great blessing none the less – obviously) since my bedroom was initially a walk-in closet, in the house my father had literally just finished building himself.  Regardless, I always knew I was loved by my family.

My dad, per my mom, was in the seminary for a short period prior to WWII.  Faith was important to him.  I remember him going to six am mass every morning before going to work.  We, as a family and without exception, went to the earliest mass on Sunday every week and holy day.  I believe there were two reasons for this: the first reason is that dad always said, “On the Lord’s day, the first thing you do is say hello, and to spend time with Him.”  Secondly, after fasting all night he was hungry!  After Mass, and a big breakfast, we as a family always did something.  There never was any work performed on Sunday’s – unless it was for the Church.

Dad was involved in the early days of the Kourey League and CYC in St. Louis.  We always had kids at the house after some type of game, which meant Mom was also very involved; making hot cocoa, popcorn or hotdogs; or just going to games and rooting for the teams. 

My parents were “pray-ers.”  My brothers and I had no choice in the matter.  When either parent went to church, we were all expected to go as well.  That meant every Sunday and holy day obviously.  But it also meant every Tuesday evening for Perpetual Help Devotions, for Stations of the Cross, any for parishioners funeral, any special masses, fish fries, etc.  Even though we were not protestants, a bible was always “displayed” prominently in the house, and often read (I admit not by me).  Rosaries, prayer books, and holy cards abounded in our family niche.

In October of 1966 (when I was 7 years old), my father had a massive heart attack while in the hospital.  I later learned that the cardiac surgeon, the cardiologist, and a nurse were standing next to him when in obvious pain; he cracked a joke and then immediately died.  I believe God gave my father the grace to die the way he lived – with a joke on his tongue and humor in his heart.

I remember sitting at my school desk that day when one of the women from the ladies sodality (and a friend of my parents) came to our classroom and talked to my teacher.  I was told to gather my things and to go with this person. 

I sat alone in the back seat of the woman’s car; with her and another woman in the front seat.  They both were just staring ahead and not talking, and even at the age of seven I remember thinking how unusual was it for two women to be in that close of proximity, and not be squawking like two hens.

When I entered the house, I could see down the hallway into the kitchen.  Sitting at the table was my mother; with red, swollen, and tear stained eyes.  You could tell she was fighting to keep her composure.  Sitting next to her was Father “G”, the parish pastor, and the fear of every parochial student in the mid-west.

Let me explain: Father “G” took pride in personally handing out the report cards to every student in school.  He would enter the classroom, and everyone; including the nun, would automatically stand at attention.  Father “G” would sit at the Nun’s Desk; normally a mortal sin dooming any ordinary person too eternal pain in Hell.  Father “G” would look at each report card separately, before individually calling you up to the desk to retrieve it.  Everyone knew instinctively, and rather overtly, what every other student’s grades were, by Father “G”’s actions.  He only had three when it came to report cards. 

The best was when he called your name, and when you got to the desk he handed the card to you.  If you got to the desk and he placed the report card on the corner of the desk for you to retrieve, this meant it was satisfactory, BUT COULD BE BETTER.  God help you if when you came to the desk and he dropped the card into the trash can; an indication that it was not going to be a good day at school, or at home later.  Regardless of which of the three actions he took, he rarely smiled or said a word.  In a “Steven King-ish” type of way, it was a rather addictive and haunting time when we saw Father “G”.

So, when I saw Father “G” in MY House, I knew I had done something BIG, and was about to experience the “Passion” personally, IN REAL LIFE & NOW. 

Instead, I saw and experienced a kind, gentle, concerned, and loving man, who took me into his arms with a firm hug as he placed me on his lap.  He held me and rocked from side to side gently, as a mother would do with her sick child. And he explained to me that my dad was no longer alive and was with Jesus now.

My reaction at age seven to my dad’s funeral was that of confusion.  My dad was dead, but all the excitement and emotions around me was bewildering.  I don’t remember much about the funeral (which is probably a good thing), but I do remember three things about the incidents surrounding the event.  First, I remember wondering who the priest was that came to the funeral home with the fancy red hat and big gold cross on his chest.  Everyone he came into contact with genuflected and kissed his hand.  He hugged my mother, and had tears while praying at my father‘s casket. 

Secondly, I also remember the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Honor Guard with all their regalia, and holding those gleaming silver swords while standing at attention next to my dad’s open casket.  And, finally I remember curiously counting to 73, the number of cars in the funeral procession to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery; the folding of the American flag, and the presentation of this flag to my mother.

My dad knew what life was all about.  He, in his own way, testified to the mercy and love of Jesus every day of his life.  Through him, I realized our lives are not measured by the big actions and decisions, but by the nitty-gritty every day choices we make.  The deceptive reality is our small every day actions, decisions and tasks make a huge difference.

After my father’s death, life changed for me and my family.  We moved to another home in the same neighborhood basically; but strangely, even closer to our Church and school – and Father “G”. 

I started serving at masses not too long after my father’s funeral.  Father “G,” I would have considered almost schizophrenic, if I knew that word at age 8.  He would sharply criticize my decorum as a server after a Mass; but then request me for serving the Masses at weddings, funerals; and the ultimate gift of serving at special masses (sometimes with the bishop) at the Old Cathedral at the St. Louis riverfront.  I realize now that Father “G” wanted perfection in our actions.  In hindsight, I could see that he insisted on nothing more than what he insisted for himself.  Our actions and decorum during sacred liturgy was, in itself, a type of prayer. 

To evangelize does not mean to simply teach doctrine.  It is to proclaim by one’s words and ACTIONS: To make oneself an instrument of HIS presence and action in the world.  Both of my father’s; a family leader and a spiritual leader, lived their faith externally for others to see, and internally as a sign of love to God.  I pray that I can follow in their footsteps as I know their footsteps are on Jesus’ path.

“Lord, thank you for bringing these two men into my life.  They were truly instruments of your peace and love.  Please keep them in your arms.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Florian
   

The St. Florian commemorated in the Roman Martyrology on May 4th, was an officer of the Roman army, who occupied a high administrative post in Noricum, now part of Austria, and who suffered death for the Faith in the days of Diocletian. His legendary “Acts” state that he gave himself up at Lorch to the soldiers of Aquilinus, the governor, when they were rounding up the Christians, and after making a bold confession, he was twice scourged, half-flayed alive, set on fire, and finally thrown into the river Enns with a stone around his neck. His body, recovered and buried by a pious woman, was eventually removed to the Augustinian Abbey of St. Florian, near Linz. It is said to have been at a later date translated to Rome, and Pope Lucius III, in 1138, gave some of the saint’s relics to King Casimir of Poland and to the Bishop of Cracow. Since that time, St. Florian has been regarded as a patron of Poland as well as of Linz, Upper Austria and of firemen. There has been popular devotion to St. Florian in many parts of central Europe, and the tradition as to his martyrdom, not far from the spot where the Enns flows into the Danube, is ancient and reliable. Many miracles of healing are attributed to his intercession and he is invoked as a powerful protector in danger from fire or water. His feast day is May 4th.

From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ 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.

“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.