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“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.

 

 

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“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: …  

“Guilty or Not Guilty: Either is the Ultimate Life Sentence!” – John 12:44-50†


Today is the half-way point of the 50 day Easter Season.  Yes, Easter lasts longer than one day.  He get to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection for a long period of time, and then on Pentecost we celebrate His ascension, body and soul, to heaven.

Also today is the feast for Saint Louis Mary de Monfort, a Catholic Priest and promoter of Marian devotion and Marian consecration.  I do the 33 day “True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary” every year.  I believe I will start around June 13th, but I will let all know in a later blog.
    

Today in Catholic History:
† 1611 – Establishment of the Pontifical and Royal University of Santo Tomas, The Catholic University of the Philippines, the oldest existing university in Asia and the largest Catholic university in the world.
† 1716 – Death of Louis de Montfort, French catholic priest (b. 1673)
† 1841 – Death of Peter Chanel, French saint (b. 1803)

 

Today’s reflection is about us believing Jesus as God.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

You can delegate authority, but not responsibility. — Stephen W. Comiskey

Today’s Meditation:

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.  I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.  And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.  Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.  And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.”  (NAB John 12:44-50)

 

This is a final sermon by Jesus, and alludes to Deut. 18:18-19 [I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.  If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.], and 31:19, 26 [Write out this song, then, for yourselves. Teach it to the Israelites and have them recite it, so that this song may be a witness for me against the Israelites.  Take this scroll of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD, your God, that there it may be a witness against you.]. 

The Jews present at the temple for this festival; the one’s to whom Jesus is teaching, knew the Old Testament, and especially the “Torah” of which Deuteronomy is one of the five books.  They recognize that those who refuse to heed the prophet sent by God will be condemned.

This sermon is an affirmation of Jesus as the mediator of God.  Rejecting Him is rejecting His Father, and those rejecting Him stand condemned for eternity.

“I am guilty of believing in you as my Savior.  Please sentence me to life with you in eternity.  Amen.”
     

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Luchesio (Lucius)
    

Luchesio Modestini was a merchant in the little town of Poggibonzi in Tuscany. More than most merchants, he was so entirely and solely concerned with material success that he was generally reputed to be an avaricious man. His wife, Buonadonna, was of a similar disposition. Then the grace of God touched the husband. He realized how foolish it is to strive only for worldly goods, of which he could take nothing with him to eternity, meanwhile forgetting about his soul’s salvation, as he had, unfortunately, been doing until then. He began to practice works of mercy and to perform his religious obligations with fidelity; he succeeded in winning his wife over to a similar outlook on life.

Since they had no one to care for but themselves, and Luchesio feared that in conducting his business he might relapse into covetousness, he gave up his business entirely. He and his good wife divided everything among the poor and retained for themselves only so much acreage as would suffice for their support. Luchesio tilled this with his own hands.

About this time St. Francis came to Tuscany. After his sermon on penance, hosts of people desired to leave all and enter the convent. But the saint admonished them calmly to persevere in their vocation, for he had in mind soon to give them a special rule according to which they could serve God perfectly even in the world.

At Poggibonzi Francis visited Luchesio, with whom he had become acquainted through former business transactions. Francis greatly rejoiced to find this avaricious man so altered, and Luchesio, who had already heard about the blessed activities of Francis, asked for special instructions for himself and his wife, so that they might lead a life in the world that would be pleasing to God.

Francis then explained to them his plans for the establishment of an order for lay people; and Luchesio and Buonadonna asked to be received into it at once. This, according to tradition, they became the first members of the Order of Penance, which later came to be called the Third Order, (and then Secular Franciscan Order).

If Luchesio and Buonadonna were really the first Tertiaries, they must have become such not long after St. Francis founded his First Order in 1209. The first simple rule of life, which St. Francis gave to the first Tertiaries at that time, was supplanted in 1221 by one which Cardinal Ugolino prepared in legal wording. And in the same year Pope Honorius III approved this rule verbally. For this reason the year 1221 is often given as the date of the founding of the Third Order of St. Francis.

After Luchesio had put on the gray garment of a Tertiary, he rapidly advanced toward perfect holiness. He practiced penitential austerities, often fated on bread and water, slept on the hard floor, and at his work bore God constantly in his heart. His generosity to the poor knew no bounds, so that one day there was not even a loaf of bread for his own household. When still another poor man came, he asked his wife to look whether there was not something they could find for him. That vexed her and she scolded him severely; his mortifications, she said, had well nigh crazed him, he would keep giving so long that they themselves would have to suffer hunger. Luchesio asked her gently to please look in the pantry, for he trusted in Him who had multiplied a few loaves for the benefit of thousands. She did so, and the marvel of it! The whole pantry was filled with the best kind of bread. From that time on Buonadonna vied with her husband in doing good.

When a plague raged in Poggibonzi and the surrounding places, Luchesio went out with his laden donkey, to bring the necessaries to the sick. When he did not have enough to supply all, he begged for more from others in behalf of the distressed.

Once he carried a sick cripple, whom he had found on the way, to his home on his shoulders. A frivolous young man met him, and asked him mockingly, “what poor devil is that you are carrying there on your back?” Luchesio replied calmly. “I am carrying my Lord Jesus Christ.” At once the young man’s face became distorted, he cried out fearfully, and was dumb. Contritely he cast himself on his knees before Luchesio, who restored his speech to him by means of the Sign of the Cross.

The time had come when the faithful servant of God was to receive the reward for his good works. When he lay very ill, and there was no hope for his recovery, his wife said to him, “Implore God, who gave us to each other as companions in life, to permit us also to die together.” Luchesio prayed as requested. and Buonadonna fell ill with a fever, from which she died even before her husband, after devoutly receiving the holy sacraments. Luchesio passed away with holy longing for God on April 28, 1260. At his grave in the Franciscan church at Poggibonzi many miracles have occurred. His continuous veneration as Blessed was approved by Pope Pius VI.

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

 

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

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

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

“Some of the Sheep Are Obviously Deaf!” – John 10:22-30†


Today in Catholic History:
† 1509 – Pope Julius II places the Italian state of Venice under interdict.
† 1605 – Death of Pope Leo XI (b. 1535)
† 1613 – Death of Robert Abercromby, Scottish Jesuit (b. 1532)
† 1939 – Birth of  Stanislaw Dziwisz, Polish Cardinal
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Floribert, Saint Liberalis, Saint Mariana, Saint Zita

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being asked if He is the Messiah.

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep. — Navajo Proverb
  

Today’s Meditation:
   

The feast of the Dedication was then taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.  And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.  So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”  Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.  But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.”  (NAB John 10:22-30)
  

The “Feast of the Dedication” is an eight-day festival of lights.  In Hebrew, it is called by the more popular word “Hanukkah,” and is held in December each year.  It is always three months after the “feast of Tabernacles,” and is to celebrate the Maccabees’ rededication of the altar and re-consecration of the Temple in 164 B.C., after its desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Jesus, being a pious and dedicated Jew, was at the Temple for the event.  The “Portico of Solomon” was located on the east side of the temple area and offered some protection against the cold winds coming from the desert.

Jews that already knew of Jesus’ reputation and miracles asked Him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense?  If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly!”  This popularity of Jesus, as some type of “star,” will eventually lead to a climax with Jesus’ encounters with the Jewish authorities.  There has never yet been an open confession before then, and He had never openly said He was the “Messiah,” or God on earth.

I love it when Jesus says, “I’ve told you, yet you don’t believe me!”  Some may consider this an evasive answer, but after all that He had done, how could anyone not believe He is the Messiah!”  Jesus was right when he said that His “sheep” knows He is the “Good Shepherd” that will tend to His flock.  As a good shepherd, His flock will faithfully hear and follow Him without fail.  Some of His sheep, to me,  are obviously deaf!

Jesus again justifies and asserts His unity of power, and reveals that the words and deeds of His are the words and deeds of God.  Not a repeat of Gods words and deeds, but the same words and deeds.  People need to look at Jesus, and just watch and listen to Him, instead of asking questions and being told what to believe.

“I believe in one God, and in Jesus Christ who is the same God.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Zita of Lucca
  

Born in the early 13th century to a poor but religious family at Mont Sagrati, a village near Lucca in Italy. St. Zita was brought up by her virtuous mother. Her older sister entered a Cistercian convent and her Uncle Graziano was a hermit regarded as a saint by people in the area. Great attention was given to the task of instructing her daughter in the faith and to instill the love of God in the fertile soil or her daughters lender heart. By the age of seven, Zita found pleasure in nothing but doing God’s will. Her mother reinforced her lessons by saying, “This is most pleasing to God: this is the divine will”, or, “That would displease God.” As she grew, Zita was noted for her happy disposition, her sweetness and modesty, she spoke only when necessary, worked very hard and prayed without interruption. At twelve Zita was sent to Lucca to work as a servant in the house of a rich weaver. The Fatinelli house was next to the church of St. Frediano. Praising and thanking God for the opportunity to serve others obediently in humble house work Zita was grateful that her position provided all the necessities of life allowing her to avoid the worry caused by a less secure life. She considered her tasks to be a gift from God, and an opportunity for total obedience and joyful penance. From the first, Zita tried to anticipate what her employers would want her to do for them.

Despite her dedication to her work, Zita was, for many years, taunted and disliked by her fellow servants for being affected and proud and was distrusted by her master and mistress as well. She never complained about the urjust treatment or the overwork, but was able to maintain her sweet disposition, her meekness and charity and her devotion to her duties. Eventually, when her virtues came to be valued by the Fatinelli household, Zita was fearful that it would be a snare for her Soul. Her sincere humility and modesty prevented her worst fears from being realized. Her life continued to be one of devotion to God and to the smallest detail of her duties. Zita was promoted to the position or Housekeeper with the full confidence of her employers. She was scrupulous in every task remembering that she had to give an account to God for the way she spent every penny and every minute of the day.. Signor Fatinelli seeing his assets multiply as a result of Zita’s industry, gave her control of her work schedule and even allowed her to have great influence over him and his family. Given to great anger, he would often calm down upon a single word from her. Knowing that Zita gave away most of her meager belongings to the poor, Signor Fatinelli gave her permission to distribute some of his funds as alms, which she did with great discretion always keeping him informed.

Zita believe that God would grant security and special blessings on the household In which the family and staff were pious, faithful to their duties, punctual, modest in speech and manner and set a good example for others. She said, “A servant cannot be holy if she is not busy”. She treated all the staff with kindness never seeking revenge for the years of mistreatment at their hands, and excusing shortcomings although she could be severe in dealing with instances of evil and sinful behavior.

Rising several hours before the rest of the household, she had time to pray and to attend Mass before her day’s work began – a day filled with work and continual mental prayer and meditation. She fasted all year, slept on the bare floor or on a board and prayed continuously during her work day, never complaining or procrastinating or speaking disparagingly of others. Whenever she had a little leisure, she went to a small attic room where she could spend time in quiet prayer and contemplation. Word spread throughout Lucca about her visits to the sick, to those in Prison, her good deeds and her heavenly vision and she was sought out by made people, rich and poor alike.

St. Zita was always moved to tears when she received the Eucharist and experienced ecstasies at Mass or during her prayers. She foretold her own death, and after receiving the last sacraments, died on the 27th of April, in 1278 at sixty years of age The people of Lucca proclaimed her a saint and 150 miracles attributed to herr intercession have been approved. Dante’s (Inferno XI 38) refers to the city of Lucca simply as St. Zita. Her body was found incorrupt in 1580 and is enshrined in St. Frediano’s Church in Lucca next to the Fatinelli house where she lived and worked for 48 years. Her face and hands are exposed to view through a crystal glass. To this day, the city of Lucca pays great veneration to her memory as well as to the memory of St. Ferdiano, an Irishman who converted Lucca to Christianity. It is interesting that St. Zita, the second patron saint or Lucca, is buried in the church of that city’s first patron saint, both having witnessed to Christ throughout their lives. on April 27th, her feast day, everyone in Lucca brings bouquets of blessed narcissus to her crystal coffin laying in state in the Cathedral dedicated to St. Martin, (the third patron saint of the city) – pictures and paintings of her showing her miracles are everywhere. St. Zita was beatified and devotion to her approved by Pope Innocent XII in 1696.

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

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

All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind, with all their strength (cf. Mk 12:30), and love their neighbors as themselves (cf. Mt 22:39) and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance.

 Oh, how happy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and persevere in doing them, because “the spirit of the Lord will rest upon them” (cf. Is 11:2) and he will make “his home and dwelling among them” (cf Jn 14:23), and they are the sons of the heavenly Father (cf. Mt 5:45), whose works they do, and they are the spouses, brothers, and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mt 12:50).

“Jesus Wants to Know: Are You a Good or Baa’d Sheep!” – John 10:1-10†


It’s a beautiful day in the large metropolis of Hazelwood, Missouri.  I had a very spiritual and enjoyable weekend.  Someone sent me this thought of our “priorities in life,” and I would like to share it with you as well.  I pray everyone has a beautiful day.

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone? 
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets? 
 What if we flipped through it several times a day? 
 What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it? 
   What if we used it to receive messages from the text? 
   What if we treated it like we couldn’t live without it? 
 What if we gave it to Kids as gifts? 
   What if we used it when we traveled? 
 What if we used it in case of emergency? 
   This is something to make you go….hmm…where is my Bible? 
  Oh, and one more thing. 
Unlike our cell phone, we don’t have to worry about our Bible being 
disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill. 
  Makes you stop and think ‘where are my priorities? And no dropped calls! 
  When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!

Today in Catholic History:
†  121 – Birth of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (d. 180)
†  1467 – The miraculous image of Our Lady of Good Counsel appears in Genazzano, Italy.
†  1478 – The Pazzi attack Lorenzo de’ Medici and kill his brother Giuliano during High Mass in the Duomo of Florence.
†  Liturgical Feasts: Our Lady of Good Counsel, Saint Alda (d. 1309), Richarius or Riquier (d. 643), Paschasius (d. 865), Saint Cletus (Pope Anacletus) and Marcellinus (Popes and martyrs), Lucidius (4th century), Trudpert (Irish monk martyred in Germany in 607).

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being the good shepherd

Quote or Joke of the Day:

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. — Henry Ford

Today’s Meditation:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.  But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”  Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.  So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.  (NAB John 10:1-10)
 

This “good shepherd” dialogue continues the theme of attack on the Pharisees from the preceding verses. The hired hands are symbolic of the Pharisees who excommunicated the cured blind man.  The Pharisees do not recognize Jesus for His role on earth, but the people of God (symbolized by the blind man) do recognize Jesus as the true Shepherd prophesized in the Old Testament.

The “figure of speech” that John used is a different word for illustrative speech than the “parable” of the synoptic gospel, but the idea is similar.  This quasi-parable illustrates that Jesus keeps those “outside” His teachings and belief from understanding, while His disciples know what He is talking about.

The crowds present are compared to sheep without a shepherd who must watch out for the wolves of false prophets in their community.  The righteous are the sheep that are saved from these false prophets by following Jesus as their shepherd.

In verses John 10:7-8, Jesus is the shepherd’s gate to come to His flock: the sheep.  In the next verses, John 10:9-10, Jesus is the shepherd’s gate for His flock: the sheep, to come in and go out.  Jesus is the gate: the “good shepherd.”  This symbolic gate, along with the symbol of the shepherd, is of messianic origin; and routinely found throughout the Old Testament.

What does this gospel reading mean to me?  The Lord, Jesus Christ, promises to go and gather His sheep, who are scattered throughout the lands, and bring them back to good pastures.  Jesus is the only source for salvation.  In referring to the Jewish teachers and to their traditions, He rejects them as thieves: they cannot bring salvation.  Jesus is the “Good Shepherd” who came so that we sheep may have life for eternity, in paradise with Him.  Jesus is the way, truth, and life!

“Jesus; swing that gate open wide.  I do not want any misses as I aim for your safety and your good pastures.  Please help me enter.  Amen.”

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Cletus

St. Cletus Popes, Martyrs April 26 A.D. 91     St. Cletus was the third bishop of Rome, and succeeded St. Linus, which circumstance alone shows his eminent virtue among the first disciples of St. Peter in the West. He sat twelve years, from 76 to 89. The canon of the Roman mass, (which Bossuet and all others agree to be of primitive antiquity,) Bede, and other Martyrologists, style him a martyr. He was buried near St. Linus, on the Vatican, end his relics still remain in that church.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #26:

As a concrete sign of communion and co- responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance. They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.  To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.

“The Son IS the Father!” – John 10:27-30 †


Happy “Good Shepherd Sunday.”  It is a beautiful day outside, with a cool breeze, light rain, and the birds singing.  Today is also the “World Day for Vocations.”  And finally, we are exactly 1/3 of the way to Christmas.  Woo-Woo and Ho-Ho.
 

Today in Catholic History:
† 32 – Marcus Salvius Otho, Roman Emperor (d. 69)
† 1214 – Birth of King Louis IX of France, Third Order Franciscan (d. 1270)
† 1265 – Death of Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester, English crusader
† 1982 – Death of John Cardinal Cody, American cardinal (b. 1907)
† 2007 – Boris Yeltsin’s funeral – the first to be sanctioned by the Russian Orthodox Church for a head of state since the funeral of Emperor Alexander III in 1894.

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus is God!

Quote or Joke of the Day:
 

For us Trinitarians (if I may say it with reverence) – to us God Himself is a society – G. K. Chesterton
   

Today’s Meditation:
     

My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.  The Father and I are one.”  (NAB John 10:27-30)

  

What does a shepherd do: it is much more than just forcing animals around a field?  A shepherd lives with his charges 24 hours daily.  He gives the sheep their food, and attends to any needs they may need.  The shepherd teaches his sheep to follow the one chosen to be in charge of the flock.  The shepherd watches the flock, and protects his flock, even with his own life.  The shepherd will place himself in danger to rescue one little sheep out of thousands.  The shepherd is the sheep’s life-giver and protector, as well as their teacher and leader.

Jesus, our heavenly and good shepherd, is truly a “shepherd” for us.  He lives with us, and through us.  He feeds us and tends to our needs.  Jesus teaches and leads us.  He watches over us, protects us, and rescues us.

 So when He calls us “His sheep,” we should take that as an honor of a true love from Him.  Jesus wants us to hear, know, and follow Him.  For simply allowing Jesus into our lives and following Him, we will not only never die, but He also promises that He will never let anyone go.

The third sentence of this gospel reading is a two part sentence.  I find it easier to read this sentence as, “As for the Father, what he has given me is greater than all,” or “My Father is greater than all, in what he has given me.”

Jesus is asserting His unity of power with God, and reveals that the words and deeds of His ARE the words and deeds of God.

“Lord, you are my shepherd, and I fear no evil in any valley or place, as I know you are always with me.  For that I am thankful.  Amen.”
    

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:    Bl. Pedro de San Jose Betancur
     

Blessed Pedro de San Jose Betancur, was born a poor shepherd. He prayed much as he tended his flocks. At 31 he travelled to Guatamala City to try find a job away from sheep. Here he became friends with the Franciscans and Jesuits and enrolled in the Jesuit College of San Borgia to become a priest. Due to lack of education he had to withdraw and became a member of the Third Order of St. Francis, where he took the name Peter of Saint Joseph. He is the first canonized Guatemalan native. He and other men founded the Bethlehemite Congregation or Hospitalers Bethlehemite who attended to the sick. He was born in 1619 at Villaflores, Tenerife Island, Canary Islands, and died in 1667 at Guatamala City, Guatamala.

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #25 :
    

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