Tag Archives: rest

“Hey, Let’s Go On Vacation; I Know A Little Quiet Spot For Some R&R. There’s Great Bread And Fish There As Well!” – Mark 6:30-34†


Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Today’s Content:

 

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Today is the tenth day of my yearly consecration to Jesus through Mary; a special devotion I absolutely look forward to every year, and have purposely scheduled (in my calendar) for the past 6 years.  It is a great devotion of prayer and reflection, created by St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716), which takes 33 days of preparatory devotions.  The “Total Consecration” made on the 34th day.  The day of Total Consecration should always be on a Marian feast day.  (My consecration day is the “Feast of Mary’s Assumption to Heaven”: August 15th.)  Schedules for the preparation and Total Consecration are included in resource materials – – provided at NO cost – – through this website: www.MyConsecation.org.  There are more than twenty start days throughout the calendar year (ending on a Marion Feast Day) for those wishing to make the Total Consecration, so give it a try.

Let me give you a little history about the author of this devotion, St. Louis de Montfort.  He was a French Roman Catholic Priest, Author, and Confessor.  He was known to be a preacher in his time: Pope Clement XI made him a “missionary apostolic”, giving him authority to emphasize the importance of the Church’s devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and to encourage the practice of frequent praying of the Rosary.  Father de Montfort is particularly known for his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and for the practice of consistently praying the Rosary (Reminds me that both St. Padre Pio and Venerable Pope John Paul II daily prayed the Rosary).  Father de Montfort’s most notable work regarding Marian devotions is contained in a two-part book entitled “The Glories of Mary” along with “The Secrets of the Rosary and the True Devotion to Mary”.

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Today in Catholic History:

†   0260 – St Dionysius begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1099 – First Crusade: Godfrey of Bouillon elected first Defender of the Holy Sepulchre of The Kingdom of Jerusalem.
†   1619 – Death of Lawrence of Brindisi, Italian monk (b. 1559)
†   1647 – Birth of Margaretha M Alacoque, French mystic/saint
†   1649 – Birth of Clement XI, [Giovanni F Albani], Italy, Pope (1700-21)
†   1676 – Death of Clement X, [Emilio Altieri], Italian Pope (1670-76), dies at 86
†   1722 – Birth of Jean-Noel/Joannes Natalis Paquot, Belgian priest/historian
†   1902 – Death of Mieczysław Halka Ledóchowski, Polish Catholic Cardinal (b. 1822)

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

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Joke of the Day:

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Today’s reflection: Jesus invites His disciples to rest after their ministry, and is moved with pity for the crowds who pursue them.

 

(NAB Mark 6:30-34) 30 The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  31 He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.  32 So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.  33 People saw them leaving and many came to know about it.  They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them.  34 When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

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Gospel Reflection:

 

Today, in Mark’s Gospel, we read of the return of the “Twelve”, who had been sent by Jesus, in pairs, to preach repentance, to heal the sick, and to drive out demons.  When they returned, Jesus invited them to “come away” from the crowds to get some rest with Him.  However, the crowds followed, not giving them any peace.  It seems that, as the Twelve Apostles now shared in Jesus’ ministry, they also now appear to share in Jesus’ popularity as well.

In an effort to get away from the crowds, Jesus and His disciples get into a boat with the hope of finding the “deserted place” familiar to Jesus.  The crowds notice their “escape”, and so follow along the shore line, also arriving at the same “deserted place”.  The crowds find them and continued to draw near Jesus and the Apostles, making contact, and presenting their individual requests.  Mark reports that these Apostles’s, the closest and most intimate disciple’s of Jesus, don’t even have time to eat their food due to the swarm of people surrounding them.  The crowds are so persistent that Jesus and His disciples cannot even find a place to be alone.  (Sounds like me, a parent of four teenagers in a one-bathroom house.)  Remarkably, even with this chaos and pressure,  Jesus “is moved with pity [for the crowds] and begins to teach” them.

Today’s Gospel stops with Jesus’ having “pity” for them and “teaching”.  Mark’s report of the unyielding demands of the crowd continues in the following verses (next week’s Gospel reading).  The work of Jesus, and the work of His disciples (even still today), appears to be a “round-the-clock” job.  (My kids did not know the term, “round-the-clock”.  They have told me to write “24/7” as an alternative.)  OK; so they were busy 24/7.

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For the second week in a row at Mass, Mark uses the term, “Apostle”.  He also used this term earlier, in his Gospel’s third chapter:

“He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach” (Mark 3:14).

Jesus instituted these twelve me as “apostles” in order to extend His messianic mission through them (cf., Mark 6:7–13). Mark correctly and appropriately calls the “Twelve” men, “Apostles”, meaning His emissaries, empowered them to preach, to expel demons, and to cure the sick (“Apostles”: a Greek word meaning, “one who is sent with the delegated authority of the sender”!):

They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” (Mark 6:13).

The earliest use of the special term, “the twelve”, as Jesus’ delegated “apostles” is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians:

“He [Jesus] appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:5).

The number (12) is meant to recall the twelve “tribes” of Israel, thus implying Jesus’ authority to call and gather ALL Israel into God the Father’s kingdom.  Mark distinguished between the “Twelve Apostles” and a much larger group called disciples:

“When He [Jesus] was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned Him about the parables.  Without parables He did not speak to them, but to His own disciples He explained everything in private (Mark 4:10, 34).

The “Twelve” also share in Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom:

As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7). 

In the Pauline letters (the New Testament epistles written by Paul) “apostle” has come to mean primarily one who had seen the “risen” Lord, AND had been commissioned to proclaim Jesus’ Resurrection to ALL the peoples of the planet.  Only after the Pentecost event is the title “apostles” used in the technical or precise term for the twelve specific men who became the first bishops of the Catholic (Universal) Church.  (However, don’t forget about Paul, the “Apostle to the Gentiles”, made so by divine appointment and Jesus’ appearing, creating the Lord’s baker’s dozen of 13.  – – Don’t forget the Lord’s choice of the first twelve’s replacement “Matthias”, (cf., ACTS 15:17)

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So, these twelve men, sent out in pairs on a divine mission from Jesus Christ, return back to Him at the conclusion of this inaugural mission – – and still in progress without interruption two millennia later.   Mark relates that the small group yearned for a well-deserved rest in a “deserted place” (Mark 6:31).  However, Luke is a little more specific as to where this “deserted place” actually is located:

When the apostles returned, they explained to him what they had done. He took them and withdrew in private to a town called Bethsaida” (Luke 9:10).

Bethsaida translates to “house of fishing”, and is a small village on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee, just east of the Jordan River.  The ground in this particular area has ALWAYS been uncultivated, used solely for grazing animals, and as a “fishing village”.  Note that the village of Bethsaida is where the feeding of the 5000 took place (in next week’s Gospel). 

Being mostly worldly fishermen, and ALL being the Kingdom of God’s “fishers of men”, these twelve men, plus Jesus, set off for Bethsaida by their favorite mode of transport:

 “They went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.” (Mark 6:32).  

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Just imagine the scene wherein Jesus and the Twelve Apostles are attempting to escape from the huge throngs of excited, spirit-filled, captivated, and strongly affected  people who wanted – – nay, demanded – – MORE!!  Jesus and His small group made good on an egress from the multitudes, placing water between them and the hordes of believers and non-believers desiring to be near them.

Picture this scene from both angles: from the crowds viewpoint on land and Jesus’ Apostles within the boat as it approached the beach?  I am certain the men in the boat felt some great relief, able to take a deep breath, and no longer wondering about their personal safety.  The other group was excited and awe-filled, wanting to see, hear, and experience MORE!!  The withdrawal of Jesus, with His disciples, to a “deserted place”, attracted a great swarm – – a humungous pack of people – – following the group traveling by boat.   This mob followed – – by foot – – along the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.  The sea and shore is fairly flat, thus making it easy to see a great distance across the water, keeping an eye on the boat, even if it is miles out to sea.  In desperation for the unique teaching, preaching, and healing ability of this small group of divinely inspired and full-filled men, the “crowd” wanted to hear and experience more of what was presented to them physically, mentally, and spiritually by Jesus and His Apostles.

I would think Jesus and His most intimate of friends would be used to crowds interrupting their rest and meals by now, since it wasn’t the first time.  Mark mentions at least one other time when crowds gathered around them, interrupting their “down time”:

Again [the] crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.” (Mark 3:20).

Jesus is moved with “pity” toward these people experiencing such awe, joy, and desire as to pursue them.  Jesus satisfies their spiritual hunger by teaching them many things in Bethesda, before and during the feeding of the 5000 @ Bethsaida (next week’s Gospel at Mass).  In His preaching, teaching, and healing (plus feeding the multitudes), Jesus shows Himself as the true, promised, and faithful “shepherd” of the NEW Israel and of a NEW Exodus, as prophesized by Moses and Ezekiel:

“Then Moses said to the LORD, ‘May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all humanity, set over the community someone who will be their leader in battle and who will lead them out and bring them in, that the LORD’s community may not be like sheep without a shepherd.’” (Numbers 27:15-17);

And,

I [the Lord] myself will pasture my sheep; I myself will give them rest—[says] the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:15).

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Verse 34 of today’s reading had an interesting and very prophetic statement somewhat openly hidden:

“When He disembarked and saw the vast crowd, His heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34).

What does the image of a shepherd tell us about God’s care for us?  Well, shepherding was one of the oldest of occupations (a true calling) in Israel, even before farming.  Why(?); because the “Chosen People” had to travel from place to place, living in tents, their constant movement required someone to herd and protect the flocks from one pastureland to another “round-the-clock” (“24/7”).  

Taking care of sheep was no easy calling; it required great skill and courage.  Flocks were often quite large, exceeding thousands or even ten thousands of sheep.  The flocks spent a good part of the year in the open country.  So, watching over the animals required a great deal of attention and care.  Sheep who strayed from the flock had to be sought out and brought back, solely, by the shepherd, at his own peril.  

Since hyenas, jackals, wolves, lions, and even bear were common in the biblical lands – – and tried to feed on the animals of the various flocks – – the shepherds often had to be ready to do battle with these wild and extremely dangerous beasts.  A shepherd literally had to put his life on the line in defending his sheep (Remember, the shepherd King David’s encounter with Goliath).  Shepherds took turns watching the sheep, grouped together at night, to ward off any attackers, so that each could get a little rest.  

The sheep and their shepherds continually lived together.  Their life was intimately bound together with the individual sheep, goats, and cattle in their charge, even when their animals mixed with other flocks.  These animals quickly grew to learn and recognize the voice of their own shepherd, coming to him immediately when called by name.  (My dog doesn’t even do this unless I have a treat in hand for her.)

The Old Testament often spoke of God as shepherd of His “chosen people”, Israel:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1);

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!” (Psalm 80:1);

And:

We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture (Psalm 100:3).

The prophesized Savior Messiah is also pictured as the shepherd of God’s people:

He will feed His flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms(Isaiah 40:11).

Jesus told His disciples that He was the “Good Shepherd” who was willing to lay down His life for His sheep:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?” (Matthew 18:12);

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4);

And:

“I am the good shepherd.  A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  Just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11, 15).

When Jesus saw the huge number of people in need of His protection and care, He was moved, responding with a compassionate concern.  His love was a personal and intimate love for each and every person who came to Him in need – – and still comes to Him today!!  In the person of Jesus Christ, we see the unceasing vigilance and patience of God’s love for us as well as for ALL His creatures.  In our battle against sin and evil, Jesus is ever-ready to give us help, strength, and refuge.  Please trust Jesus and in His grace and help at all times!  (I try to!!)

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In summary, by reading between the lines, we can see from today’s Gospel reading the intensity of Jesus’ public ministry and the intensity of the Apostles involvement.  Such was His dedication to those in His care – – those individual and unique souls – – that Mark mentions TWICE in his Gospel that Jesus and His close groups of disciples did not having time to eat.  In doing so, Mark offered to us a precedent, an example to follow.  A true Christian should be ever-ready to give up time, rest, and even meals in the service to others, to the Lord, and to His “Word”.  In doing so, this attitude to openness, availability, and charity, will guide us to change our plans whenever, and wherever, the good of others souls requires our kindness and helping hand: our involvement. 

Jesus gave us another precedent, EQUALLY important to follow as well: He teaches us to have “common sense” – – not to go to such extremes that you lessen your ability to cope without your own pressures, physically, mentally, or spiritually.  Saint Bede (b.672/673 – d.735), an English monk, once wrote the following:

The Lord makes His disciples rest, to show those in charge that people who work or preach cannot do so without breaks” (St Bede, “In Marci Evangelium exposition, in loc.)

St. Josemaria Escriva also wrote about rest, but in a rather unique way:

He who pledges Himself to work for Christ should never have a free moment, because to rest is to not to do nothing; it is to relax in activities which demand less effort” (St. Josemaria Escriva, “The Way”, 357)

I believe what St. Josemaria Escriva meant by this above statement is that, even at rest, the rest “itself” should be in Christ’s work (i.e., prayer, meditation) and even play – – a great source of active relaxation and joy.

Jesus chose twelve men from among His disciples.  He sent them out to share in His ministry of preaching and healing.  We who are Jesus’ disciples TODAY have also been sent out to share His Gospel with others.  Perhaps, at times, our commitment to follow Jesus – – as His disciple – – leaves us feeling tired and overwhelmed.  In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus establish, encourage, and assert the importance of times of rest and renewal.  Jesus wanted His disciples to “come away” and spend time alone – – with HIM!!  This is what WE seek and find in our life of prayer, in our celebration of the Eucharist, and hopefully, in times of our personal retreats.  When was the last time you “came away”, solely to spend time – – alone with Jesus Christ?  When was the last time you made a retreat for even part of a day, much less a weekend or a week-long period of rejuvenation with, and in, Christ Himself??!!   A great retreat experience is a joy to behold, a time of renewal beyond most other experiences short of the Eucharist itself (which is the SUMMIT of ALL experiences).  Try it some time, “you’ll like it”!!

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In conclusion, family and work life, and its demands on us , can make us feel similar to how Jesus and the Twelve Apostles felt in today’s Gospel: tired, and in need of rest.  We often wish for times of relaxation and renewal, EXCEPT there are projects to complete, errands to do, household chores to keep up with, and commitments to keep.  These all may be great things in themselves, but we are often left feeling drained and tired in trying to keep up, and keep on schedule.   

Perhaps, if possible, take the opportunity this week to give yourself permission to find the rest and relaxation Jesus attempted to seek for His disciples in today’s Gospel.  A gift we ALL can give to another is to assist them in finding some time and space to renew themselves; even, and especially, by saying a simple prayer of intercession.

Review your work and family calendar, spending some time reflecting on your unique and individual activities.  Find ways to get an appropriate amount of time for rest and relaxation this week and in the weeks ahead.  All of us need to keep in mind how Jesus tried to find time and space for His disciples to rest and relax after they returned from their mission, their work life; so should YOU!  Ask God to help find time to renew yourself so that you might be better disciples of Jesus.  (OK guys, when your wife asks you to take out the trash, don’t say, “I can’t do that.  I’m under orders from Jesus to get rest.”)

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Reflection Prayer:

 

Renewal Prayer

 

“Lord, we are Your people, the sheep of Your flock.  Heal the sheep who are wounded, touch the sheep who are in pain, clean the sheep who are soiled, warm the lambs who are cold.  Help us to know the Father’s love through Jesus the Shepherd and through His Spirit.  Help us to lift up that love, and show it all over this land.  Help us to build love on justice and justice on love.  Help us to believe mightily, hope joyfully, love divinely.  Renew us that we may renew the face of the earth.  Amen”

http://www.catholic.org/prayers

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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

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

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

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

Christ’s Divinity

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1) RSV.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” “(John 1:1) KJV.

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“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) RSV.

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Mary Magdalene

 

Except for the mother of Jesus, few women are more honored in the Bible than Mary Magdalene.  Yet she could well be the patron of the slandered, since there has been a persistent legend in the Church that she is the unnamed sinful woman who anointed the feet of Jesus in Luke 7:36-50.

Most Scripture scholars today point out that there is no scriptural basis for confusing the two women.  Mary Magdalene, that is, “of Magdala,” was the one from whom Christ cast out “seven demons” (Luke 8:2)—an indication, at the worst, of extreme demonic possession or, possibly, severe illness.

Father W.J. Harrington, O.P., writing in the New Catholic Commentary, says that “seven demons” “does not mean that Mary had lived an immoral life—a conclusion reached only by means of a mistaken identification with the anonymous woman of Luke 7:36.”  Father Edward Mally, S.J., writing in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, agrees that she “is not…the same as the sinner of Luke 7:37, despite the later Western romantic tradition about her.”

Mary Magdalene was one of the many “who were assisting them [Jesus and the Twelve] out of their means.”  She was one of those who stood by the cross of Jesus with his mother.  And, of all the “official” witnesses that might have been chosen for the first awareness of the Resurrection, she was the one to whom that privilege was given.  She is known as the “Apostle to the Apostles.”

Comment:

Mary Magdalene has been a victim of mistaken identity for almost 20 centuries.  Yet she would no doubt insist that it makes no difference.  We are all sinners in need of the saving power of God, whether our sins have been lurid or not.  More importantly, we are all, with her, “unofficial” witnesses of the Resurrection.

She is the Patron Saint of: Penitents, Perfumers.

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

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Secular Franciscan Order (OFS) Rule
Article #’s 22 & 23 of 26:


22.  The local fraternity is to be established canonically.  It becomes the basic unit of the whole Order and a visible sign of the Church, the community of love.  This should be the privileged place for developing a sense of Church and the Franciscan vocation and for enlivening the apostolic life of its members.

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23.  Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sisters.

Admission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule.  The entire community is engaged in the process of growth by its own manner of living.  The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutes.

Profession by its nature is a permanent commitment.

Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.  Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.

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“Jesus FLASHES – His True Reality and Divinity!” – Matthew 11:25-30†


 

Fourteenth Sunday
in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Reflection on Today’s Gospel
  • New Translation of the Mass
  • A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day
  • Franciscan Formation Reflection
  • Reflection on part of  the SFO Rule

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions

July 2011

General Intention: That Christians may contribute to alleviating the material and spiritual suffering of AIDS patients, especially in the poorest countries.

Missionary Intention: For the religious who work in mission territories, that they may be witnesses of the joy of the Gospel and living signs of the love of Christ.

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

†   683 – Pope St Leo II dies, ending his reign of two years (681-683)
†   1250 – Louis IX of France (a Secular Franciscan) is captured by   Baibars’ Mamluk army at the Battle of Fariskur while he is in Egypt conducting the Seventh Crusade; he later has to ransom himself.
†   1849 – The French entered Rome in order to restore Pope Pius IX to power. This would prove to be a major obstacle to Italian unification.
†   1907 – Pope St Pius X issued a decree forbiding modernization of theology

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

Hi Lord,

 

It’s me…. things are getting bad here,
gas prices are too high, no jobs,
food and heating cost too high.

I know some have taken you out of our schools,
the US Government, & even Christmas.
But Lord I’m asking you to come back
and re-bless America, we really need you.

Thanks Lord, I Love You!

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus praying, praising and thanking God His Father, who has revealed Himself to the lowly.

 

(NAB Matthew 11:25-30)  25 At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  26 Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.  28 “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

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Is it possible to gain knowledge of God’s intellect, concern, awareness, and spirit?  What does Jesus’ prayer to His heavenly Father, in today’s Gospel reading, tell us about the relationship, unity, and “oneness” of God the Father and God the Son – – and about ourselves in that relationship and “oneness”?

For me, it discloses to us that God is both Father and Master of ALL creation on earth AND in heaven.  He is both the great “Creator” and supreme “Source” of all that He has made.  God is the source of everything.  God is the awe-inspiring, uplifting, and magnificent source of all, while, at the same time showing and dispensing love, trust, hope, and care for all His “children”.  God is the original of all families on earth and in heaven:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3:14-15).

 

Today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel comes after a dialogue in which Jesus rebukes people who have witnessed His “mighty deeds” – His “miracles” – – yet still lacked a belief in Him as the true “Messiah”.  Today’s Gospel explains the reason for this non-belief, and reveals what is necessary for a true and proper faith life.  This particular reading can be used to augment our personal understanding of being a faithful disciple follower of Jesus Christ.

Today, Jesus first prays in recognition and gratitude to God the Father who has made Himself known to Jesus’ disciples through Jesus Christ.  He then praises God the Father who has made Himself known to the “childlike” over the “wise and learned”.  As in other readings from Matthew’s Gospel, a strong difference is made here between the non-believing Scribes and Pharisees, who are the “wise and learned”, and Jesus’ faithful disciples which includes the marginalized, the tax collectors, and the other sinners with whom He kept company.

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This particular Gospel reading, with some slight changes, is nearly identical with Luke’s version:

“At that very moment he rejoiced (in) the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.  Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.’”  (Luke 10:21-22)

Both Matthew’s and Luke’s readings introduces an uplifting comment into a dialogue so dominated by a premise of skepticism, incredulity, and non-belief.

The “wise” and the “learned” of Jewish society – – the Scribes and Pharisees – – have rejected Jesus’ teachings, preaching’s, and miracles, along with the profound significance of His actions and words.  In a polarized first-century society, made up of Jewish and Gentile peoples living in the same region, the “childlike” accepted Jesus’ actions and words without any misconceptions or prejudices.

In reality, a true “acceptance” depends upon God the Father’s “revelation”.  This “revelation” is freely granted to any and every one of us who are open to receive His grace and gift, and refused to be as the arrogant wise and learned one’s who don’t believe in Him, His divinity, and His power.  

Jesus Christ can truly speak of all God’s “mysteries” because He is “God the Son” of, and from, “God the Father”.  There is a true, full, and perfect mutuality and reciprocity of knowledge between Jesus (God the Son), and God the Father.  What had been handed over to Jesus Christ is revealed only to those whom He wishes; those that not only believe in Him, but that follow Him and His teachings.

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Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning about one’s pride keeping us from the caring love and realization of God.  What makes us unaware and “blind” to the things of God?  Coldness of heart and spirit, and stubbornness to change (conversion) will shut God out of your life, and shut us out of His kingdom – – leading one to death and not to eternal life.

Pride is the root of all evil”, and has the strongest effect driving us to sin.  Pride overpowers one’s heart and spirit, making it cold and indifferent towards God and His graces, truths, and wisdom in our lives.

So, what is pride?  By definition, it is an arrogant and/or self-important attitude shown by somebody who believes (often unjustifiably) that one is better than others.  It is the excessive and unreasonable love of oneself at the expense of others, and an overstated judgment of one’s own learning and importance to those around oneself.

Jesus compares the attribute of pride with a person displaying a childlike simplicity and humility.  The “childlike” see themselves and others without a need for self-importance.  The childlike recognize, accept, and respond to their dependence, trust, and faith in the “One” who is far greater, wiser, and trustworthy.  The childlike truly seek only one thing, that being “the greatest good”, who is God Himself.

Simplicity of heart and spirit is linked with the supreme of virtues: humility.  Humility predisposes the heart and spirit towards God’s grace and truth.  Just as pride is the root of every sin and every evil, humility is the true earth in which God’s grace can take a firm root.  Humility, by itself, gives us the correct attitude and posture before God.  Humility and the grace of the Holy Spirit allow God to do all in, through, and for us.

Proverbs states that God is stern with the prideful, but gives grace to the humble:

When he is dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.” (Proverbs 3:34).

James also reports:

 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  (James 4:6).

God wants His creations to be truly and fully happy and joyful.  Selfishness and pride makes true happiness impossible.  We need to go to Him in humility in order to be happy and joyful:

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)

Only the humble in heart and spirit can receive true wisdom and understanding of our magnificent God and His ways.  Can you submit to God’s word with a simple trust, love, and humility?

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Another part of this reading brings to our attention the unity – – the “oneness” between God the Father and God the Son.  God the Father has made Himself known through His Son, Jesus Christ.  And, in knowing Jesus, we come to know God the Father.  In Jesus’ life, in His person, in His Death, and in His Resurrection, God the Father reveals Himself to us.

 

In today’s reading, Jesus makes a declaration no one can dare to make: He is the “perfect revelation” of God the Father:  

All things have been handed over to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27). 

One of the greatest truths of the Catholic faith is that we can truly know the true “living and everlasting” God.  Our knowledge and understanding of God is not limited to only knowing “something” about God.  Instead, we can know God personally and intimately if we open ourselves up to Him, and surrender ourselves to Him.  The essence of Catholicism – – what makes it distinct from Judaism and other religions – – is the knowledge and understanding of God as our true, loving, and heavenly Father.

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally and intimately know and understand God as our Father.  To see Jesus Christ is to see God!  In Jesus Christ, we see the perfect love and revelation of God.  In Jesus the “Messiah”, we see a God who cares deeply for all creation, and who deeply desires the love, faith, trust, and hope of all men and women.  Jesus, – – God the Son, – – loved mankind to the point of laying down His own human life upon the Holy Cross of redemption and salvation.  Jesus is the true and pure revealing of God the Father; a God who loves us completely, unconditionally, and perfectly.  

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Jesus also promises that God the Father will hear our prayers when we pray in His name.  Through His words and example, Jesus taught His followers to pray with a certain confidence:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)

Do you pray to God the Father with a similar joy and confidence in His love, trust, and care for you?

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The middle verses of today’s Gospel are distinctive to Matthew’s Gospel:

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. (Matthew 11:28-29)

Matthew’s verses are very similar to Ben Sirach’s invitation to learn wisdom and submit to her yoke:

Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction.  Submit your neck to her yoke, that your mind may accept her teaching.  For she is close to those who seek her, and the one who is in earnest finds her. (Sirach 51:23, 26).

(“Ben” is Hebrew, meaning, “son” – – of Eleazar and Sirach.  Curiously, their son’s name was also “Jesus”.)

Verse 16 also states, “all you who labor and are burdened”.   What Matthew is alluding to with these words, are those people burdened with the interpretations and extraneous rules of Mosaic Law specified by the Scribes and Pharisees:

“The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.  Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example.  For they preach but they do not practiceThey tie up heavy burdens (hard to carry) and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:2-4).

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What does the “yoke” of Jesus refer to in today’s Gospel reading?  The Jewish people saw the religious image of a “yoke” as an expression of submissiveness to God almighty.  They regularly spoke of the yoke of Mosaic Law, the yoke of the great Commandments, the yoke of God’s kingdom, and the yoke of God Himself.  Jesus says His “yoke is easy“:

My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30).

The Greek word for “easy” also translates to mean “well-fitting“.  Yokes were tailor-made to fit the oxen well, as not to cause too much discomfort or injury for the animal.  Oxen were yoked in pairs, thus sharing the workload.

Jesus invites us to be yoked with Him, to unite our life with His life, our will with His will, our heart with His heart, and our spirit with His spirit.  To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with Him in a relationship of a sharing love, trust, hope, faith, and obedience.

 

Jesus also said His “burden is light“:

My yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:30).

My father used to frequently visit “Father Flannigan’s ‘Boys Town’”.  I remember the story about a statue at the entrance to the complex.  The story goes that a man met a boy carrying a smaller crippled boy on his back.  “That’s a heavy load you are carrying there,” exclaimed the man.  The boy answers simply, “He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother!”

There is NO “burden” too heavy when it is given and carried with a pure and total love.  When we “yoke” – – attach – – our lives with Jesus Christ, He also carries our burdens with us.  He gives us His strength to follow Him in His way of love, faith, and hope – – now ours.  

With a new covenant, Jesus offers us a new “kingdom” of righteousness, peace, and everlasting joy.  Sins are not only forgiven in His kingdom, but removed through the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  In His kingdom, eternal life flows forth to the entirety of His followers in His kingdom.  

 

In place of the “yoke” of the Mosaic Law as dictated by the Scribes and Pharisees, and radically complicated by the Scribes interpretations (they were the Jewish “lawyers”, as compared to the Pharisaic “priesthood”), Jesus invites the burdened people to take the “yoke” of observance and obedience to His “word”, and thus find rest:

Thus says the LORD: Stand beside the earliest roads, ask the pathways of old which is the way to good, and walk it; thus you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16).

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In the closing sentences of today’s Gospel, Jesus’ teaching and concern for His brethren is again compared to the teachings of the Scribes and Pharisees.  It seems this comparison between Jesus and the Temple leaders is a common topic of Matthew’s Gospel.  His narratives most likely reflect tensions that existed between Jesus and the Temple leadership, as well as between the Temple officials and the community of first-century Catholics for whom Matthew wrote.  

Pharisaic Judaism became the predominant form of Judaism after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem about 70 A.D.  That tension, I believe, is expressed in today’s reading as an existence of at least two beliefs for gaining “holiness” among first-century Jerusalem Jews.  The dutiful and careful observance of Mosaic Law, taught by the Scribes and Pharisees, most likely was experienced by some Jews as being difficult, complicated, and “burdensome“.  In comparison, Jesus’ way of holiness is presented as being uncomplicated – – and even restful – – for who which choose to follow His path and carry His “yoke”.

 

Jesus does not give up His yoke.  Instead He asks you to share His yoke.  In sharing, He is also carrying a part of your “load” (your burdens).  Think about this for a moment.  All one has to do is allow Jesus Christ into one’s life, and you share your heavy burdens, entering into a personal, intimate relationship wherein Jesus Christ agrees to share in the carrying of a different load.  In all reality, one’s life is made easier by participating in God’s life!  WOW!!  Excuse the play on words (and a little pun), but, for those individuals not wanting a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the “yoke” is on them (solely)!

The yoke of His kingdom, – – His kingly power, reign, and ways, – – frees us from our burdens of guilt, from our sinful habits, and from our hurtful desires.  Only Jesus Christ is able to free us from the burden of sin and the extreme, crushing weight of hopelessness.  Jesus used the well-known Jewish image of a yoke to explain how we can exchange the burden of sin and despair for His glory and victory WITH Him. The yoke which Jesus invites us to embrace is His way of love, trust, faith, grace, and freedom from the power of our sins.  

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In conclusion, in today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches an important lesson for all of us.  From those “like a child” we can learn the most profound and clear awareness, insight, and ability to see spontaneously, instinctively, and unthinkingly into the nature of an otherwise complex and multifaceted, dual-nature, triune God.  

Those who are attentive to a childlike “true reality” can learn much from children, even as children learn from parents, teachers, and religious.  Those who “find” the time and space for encountering Jesus Christ in their lives will enrich the faith of all who share in that person’s life.  Can you “find” the time to share Jesus with others, and with yourself?

 

Please re-read today’s Gospel, slowly, again.  Allow time to reflect on what Jesus reveals to us about God the Father.  Find a creative way (i.e., through a picture, poem, or some other way) to share your revelation with another (and please share with me).  Finally, thank Jesus Christ for making God the Father known to all of us, through Him.

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Psalm 145

 

“I will extol you, my God and king; I will bless your name forever.  Every day I will bless you; I will praise your name forever.  The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and abounding in love.  The LORD is good to all, compassionate to every creature.  All your works give you thanks; O LORD and your faithful bless you.  They speak of the glory of your reign and tell of your great works, your reign is a reign for all ages, your dominion for all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in every word, and faithful in every work.  The LORD supports all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.” (Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

In November of 2011, with the start of the new Liturgical year and Advent, there will be a few noticeable changes in the Mass.  It will still be the same ritual for celebrating the Eucharist.  The Mass will still have the same parts, the same patterns, and the same flow as it has had for the past several decades.  It is only the translation of the Latin that is changing.

The new translation seeks to correspond much more closely to the exact words and sentence structure of the Latin text.  At times, this results in a good and faithful rendering of the original meaning.  At other times it produces a rather awkward text in English which is difficult to proclaim and difficult to understand.  Most of those problems affect the texts which priests will proclaim rather than the texts that belong to the congregation as a whole.  It is to the congregation’s texts that I will address with each blog, in a repetitive basis until the start of Advent.

In the words of Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium, #11, the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of Christian life. Anything we can do to understand our liturgy more deeply will draw us closer to God.

 

The third form of the penitential rite, with the various invocations of Christ (e.g., “You came to call sinners”) will be much the same (not much of a change), though an option is added to conclude each invocation in Greek:

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison,”

instead of in English: “Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy; Lord, have mercy”, as it is presently.  The first two forms (found in the past two previous blogs) may conclude with this threefold litany too, either in English or in Greek.

Material from “Changing How We Pray”, by Rev. Lawrence E. Mick

 

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Thomas the Apostle

 

Poor Thomas!  He made one remark and has been branded as “Doubting Thomas” ever since. But if he doubted, he also believed.  He made what is certainly the most explicit statement of faith in the New Testament: “My Lord and My God!” (see John 20:24-28) and, in so expressing his faith, gave Christians a prayer that will be said till the end of time.  He also occasioned a compliment from Jesus to all later Christians: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

Thomas should be equally well known for his courage.  Perhaps what he said was impetuous—since he ran, like the rest, at the showdown—but he can scarcely have been insincere when he expressed his willingness to die with Jesus.  The occasion was when Jesus proposed to go to Bethany after Lazarus had died.  Since Bethany was near Jerusalem, this meant walking into the very midst of his enemies and to almost certain death.  Realizing this, Thomas said to the other apostles, “Let us also go to die with him” (John 11:16b).

Comment:

Thomas shares the lot of Peter the impetuous, James and John, the “sons of thunder,” Philip and his foolish request to see the Father—indeed all the apostles in their weakness and lack of understanding. We must not exaggerate these facts, however, for Christ did not pick worthless men.  But their human weakness again points up the fact that holiness is a gift of God, not a human creation; it is given to ordinary men and women with weaknesses; it is God who gradually transforms the weaknesses into the image of Christ, the courageous, trusting and loving one.

Quote:

“…[P]rompted by the Holy Spirit, the Church must walk the same road which Christ walked: a road of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice to the death…. For thus did all the apostles walk in hope.  On behalf of Christ’s Body, which is the Church, they supplied what was wanting in the sufferings of Christ by their own trials and sufferings (see Colossians 1:24)” (Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, 5).

Patron Saint of: Architects, Construction workers, Cooks

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

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Mary, Prayer, and Meditation

 

How well do you follow Saint Francis in listening to our Mother Mary when she tells us: “Do whatever he tells you“?

How much time do you spend trying to enter into the “heart of Mary” by reflecting and meditating on her prayerful messages in her “Magnificat”?  Do you take time to make these sentiments my own, to bring them into your heart and soul?

What strikes you in reading paragraph #2708 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church?:

  • “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire.  This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ.  Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary.  This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.” (CCC, #2708)

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 3 & 4 of 26:

03.  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.

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04.  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’m Just a Humble Politician; Yah, Right!!” (Luke 18:9-14)†


Today, I am standing watch and praying for the young ladies and poor souls in their wombs at the local Planned Parenthood death mill.  It is a shame that these girls (most barely ladies) feel so desperate as to kill a human life. 

The forecast is for rain and thunderstorms.  If my misery in advocating against this barbaric act of abortion may save a soul, I gladly accept this distress.

 

 

 

Today is United Nations Day (chartered in 1945).  Please pray for the relief of suffering in the world as a whole. 

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

            

Today in Catholic History:

    
†   1710 – Birth of Alban Butler, English Catholic priest and writer (d. 1773)
†   1911 – Birth of Paul Grégoire, French Canadian archbishop of Montreal (d. 1993)
†   2004 – Death of James Cardinal Hickey, American Catholic archbishop (b. 1920)

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

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“The value of consistent prayer is not that He will hear us, but that we will hear Him.” – William McGill

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus telling the parable of the proud Pharisee who prayed from his self-importance, contrasted with the tax collector who prayed with humility and faith.

 

9 He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.  10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.  11 The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity–greedy, dishonest, adulterous–or even like this tax collector.  12 I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’  13 But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’  14 I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.  (NAB Luke 18:9-14)

 

Jesus offers a striking story of two men at prayer and is a continuation of last Sunday’s reading.  This is the second of two parables about prayer.  The first is found in Luke 18:1-8 and is about the diligence and perseverance we should display in our prayer life.  This second parable condemns the haughty and judgmental attitudes of the Pharisees.  The story teaches us why we must have a proper attitude in prayer; that the essential need of any follower of Jesus Christ is in recognizing one’s own sinfulness and a further need in acknowledging a total dependence and faith in God’s graciousness.  Jesus teaches us about the character of prayer in regards to our relationship with God by drawing a distinction between these two exceptionally different approaches towards prayer.  Notice that the Pharisee prayed to himself (not God).  The tax-collector believed he needed God’s mercy because he DID believe in God.

This parable gives us a warning about the danger of slighting others around us.  Disrespecting others is more than an action of being mean-spirited.  Conceit and disrespect of others erupts from a self-conceived notion of one’s own goodness and righteousness.  So, that one conceited person feels “competent” to sit in the “judges’ seat” that determines who is a good and just person. 

I bet Jesus’ story offended those present who regarded “tax-collectors” as being “unworthy” of God’s blessing and love.  How could Jesus slight a Pharisee, a temple leader, and praise a known “sinner”?  This parable reminds me of the story of the “pardoning of the sinful woman” found in Luke 7:36-50: – “… Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment …,” – wherein a similar distinction is presented between the judgmental view of the Pharisee “Simon,” and the love and faith shown by the woman now a pardoned [by Jesus] sinner.  

Luke unquestionably loves stories.  He should have had some “Irish” blood in him!  To set the stage for today’s story, Jewish tax-collectors were a quasi-partner with the Roman officials in a practice that allowed the tax-collector to pad their own purses (or coin-bags) by charging much more than the straightforward taxes.  Because of this relationship with the Romans and their “less-than-honest” business practices, the tax-collector was more than aware of his “unworthiness” per Jewish societal norms.  He was well aware how others perceived him; he also knew that he wasn’t even welcomed in the temple for worshipping.  The tax-collector though, never lost his faith and hope IN God.  He was looking for forgiveness FROM God.  And he sought after an internal and spiritual peace THROUGH God.

Remember from last week’s reflection that Pharisees were high-ranking members of the Jewish religion during Jesus’ time.  They taught an oral interpretation of the Law of Moses (the Torah) as a foundation for Jewish devoutness and practices.  If anyone would be an example for prayer, one would think a Pharisee would normally be an expected model to the Jewish community.  

This Pharisee, unlike the “sinful” tax-collector, was very much pleased with himself; he further expected God to also be extremely pleased with him as well.  His prayer was not from his heart (nor from his faith) like the tax-collectors.  The Pharisee represents those who take pride and smugness in their personal religious practices; praising himself at the expense of others.  Engrossed with [self-] approval, pleasure, and opulence, he mainly prayed with himself and not to God!  His prayer consisted of congratulatory declarations of what he did, and of scorn for those he loathed.  In reality, his prayer was just a listing of his political and social achievements.  I can’t believe he actually had the audacity to thank God for his “high” position in society!  This Pharisee believed he justified himself through his prayer.  In reality, only God can justify His creations! – – by Grace!!

The tax-collector in today’s Gospel represents the lowly, despised and desperate of society.  He humbled himself before God and begged God for His mercy.  God was pleased with the humble attitude of faith and reliance of this tax-collector, a self-professed sinner.  This “sinner’s” prayer was truly heard by God, for this person had a true remorse for his sins against God AND his fellow brethren.  This man sought God with a humble heart rather than with a prideful spirit.  The tax-collector, and not the Pharisee, went home “justified”- – vindicated by God. 

I believe this parable shows the tax-collector as THE example of faith and prayer.  Jesus loves the marginalized, the humble “tax-collectors” of society.  He even went so far as to eat with, and touch the lowly “sinners and unclean” of His time.  In Luke 5:30-32, Jesus said that He came, “NOT for the healthy, but for the sick!”  Thank God we, as sinful humans, are “spiritually sick” and thus in need of Jesus daily in our daily lives!  We simply need to recognize this fact and to ask God for His grace and magnificent mercy. – – Daily!

The proud among us, like today’s Pharisee, do not believe they need any help.  They believe they hold their own destiny in their hands.  They don’t realize the danger they are placing themselves in, in not seeing the need for God’s compassion, generosity, and mercy, in their lives. 

Today, we are presented with both an opportunity for betterment and a stern warning.  Pride (a deadly sin) leads one to false assumptions, false impressions, and false honesty.  Humility, the flipside virtue of the coin, helps us to see ourselves as we really are.  A humble approach to prayer disposes oneself to knowledge of God’s love, grace, and mercy.  

In Isaiah 57:15 (NRSV), it is written “For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”  God does not hear us in prayer if we are not humble in heart, or if we hate and despise any other of God’s creation!

Do you truly trust in the divine mercy and generosity of our Trinitarian God?  Do you ask for help from Him on a daily basis?  Do you realize how weak in spirit and flesh you may be at this time, and how much you need God’s continual compassion?  In 2 Cor 12:10 it is written,”when I am weak, then I am strong.”  How can we emulate the prayer of this “weak” tax-collector? 

We sometimes see and experience a high level of competition between ourselves and others around us.  This behavior happens for many reasons; but usually it is for the purpose of gaining attention or for acknowledgement of one’s skills and talents.  Some even seem to believe that any attention given to one person has to significantly lessen the attention available to be given to another.  In believing this way, people can act like the Pharisee in today’s parable. 

Have you ever compared yourself to another or another to you?  Is it helpful to compare yourself to another? In what ways can comparing yourself to another be a positive experience from a spiritual viewpoint?  In what circumstances might this comparison be unhelpful or dangerous spiritually?

Do you seek God’s love and mercy with a humble or prideful heart?  Do you show love and mercy to others around you? – – especially those you find difficult to love and to forgive, as St. Theresa of Lisieux found happening within her?

If we are pompous and self-important, then there may be far too little room for God to work in and through us!  So, as you pray, please believe in, and remember, to thank God for His unconditional love for you NOW.  Today’s parable tells us that when we pray, we must bear in mind our need for God in our lives. 

 

The Serenity Prayer

 

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

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him Forever in the next.  Amen.”

–Reinhold Niebuhr
(A Lutheran Minister from
the St. Louis, MO area)

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Anthony Claret (1807-1870)

 

The “spiritual father of Cuba” was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee.  He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council.

In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: the future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers.

He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand.  At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians.

He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba.  He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for stamping out concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves.  A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist.  Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term.  His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market.  This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar.  Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: Reflections on Agriculture and Country Delights.

He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen.  He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions.  In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony.

All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press.  He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets.

At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops.  Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, “There goes a true saint.”  At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.

Comment:

Jesus foretold that those who are truly his representatives would suffer the same persecution as he did.  Besides 14 attempts on his life, Anthony had to undergo such a barrage of the ugliest slander that the very name Claret became a byword for humiliation and misfortune.  The powers of evil do not easily give up their prey.  No one needs to go looking for persecution.  All we need to do is be sure we suffer because of our genuine faith in Christ, not for our own whims and imprudence’s.

Quote:

Queen Isabella II once said to Anthony, “No one tells me things as clearly and frankly as you do.”  Later she told her chaplain, “Everybody is always asking me for favors, but you never do. Isn’t there something you would like for yourself?”  He replied, “Yes, that you let me resign.” The queen made no more offers.

Patron Saint of: Savings & Weavers

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

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 24 & 25 of 26:

 

 
24.     To foster communion among members, the council should organize regular and frequent meetings of the community as well as meeting with other Franciscan groups, especially with youth groups. It should adopt appropriate means for growth in Franciscan and ecclesial life and encourage everyone to a life of fraternity. The communion continues with deceased brothers and sisters through prayer for them.

  

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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


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

The Unemployed and the Homeless:

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

Victims of Discrimination, Hunger and Forced Emigration:

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Today in Catholic History:

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

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

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
     

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

   

      

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

“Prayer in Time of Trial”

    

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

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

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

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****
    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comment:

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

Quote:

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

Patron Saint of Theologians and Vocations

 

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

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #1:
      

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

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