Tag Archives: sacrifice

“Peas Porridge Hot, Peas Porridge Cold, Jesus Christ is Eight Days Old!” – Luke 2:22-40†


  

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions For 2011

 

General Intention: That the family may be respected by all in its identity and that its irreplaceable contribution to all of society be recognized.

 

Missionary Intention: That in the mission territories where the struggle against disease is most urgent, Christian communities may witness to the presence of Christ to those who suffer.

 

 

Today in Catholic History:


    
†   672 – Death of Saint Chad
†   962 – Translatio imperii: Pope John XII crowns Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, the first Holy Roman Emperor in nearly 40 years.
†   1119 – Guido di Borgogna elected Pope Callistus II
†   1613 – Birth of Noël Chabanel, French Jesuit missionary (d. 1649)
†   1649 – Birth of Benedict XIII, [Pierfrancesco Orsini], Italy, 245th pope (1724-30)
†   1769 – Death of Clement XIII, [Carlo Rezzonico], Pope (1758-69), at age 75
†   1854 – Pope Pius IX encyclical “On persecution of Armenians”
†   1882 – The Knights of Columbus are formed in New Haven, Connecticut.
†   1906 – Pope encyclical against separation of church & state
†   1925 – Birth of David Abell Wood, priest
†   1974 – Pope Paul VI encyclical “To Honor Mary”
†   1983 – Pope John Paul II names 18 new cardinals
†   1986 – Dalai Lama meets Pope John Paul II in India
†   1995 – Death of Andre Frossard, French publicist (Defense of Pope), at age 80
†   Feasts/Memorials: Candlemas; The Presentation of the Lord; The Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary; St. Adelbald; St. Cornelius
†   Eastern (Byzantine) Catholic Church: Encounter of our Lord with Simeon – Major Feast Day
†   World Day for Consecrated Life (also February 3 in the United States).

(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:

 

“Catholic Church’s are prayer-conditioned for your (eternal) enjoyment!”

 

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

This is a thirteen (13) part reflection on a letter from the SFO International Council website.  It is titled “An exhortation of the Church to the Secular Franciscan Order” by Benedetto Lino, OFS.  It can be read in full at http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 

(Continuation from Previous blog)

Part 10 of 13 Parts

John Paul II, in his Message in 2002, questions this and challenges us to see to it that we never fail in our faithfulness to our vocation and Profession:

If you are truly driven by the Spirit to reach the perfection of charity in your own secular state, “it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity marked by a minimalist ethic and superficial religiosity” (Nove millennio ineunte 31). You must be sincerely committed to that “high standard of ordinary Christian living” to which I invited the faithful at the end of the Great Jubilee of 2000 (Ibid).

Let us be called, brothers and sisters, by these exhortations to renew our commitment and walk with courage and humility in the ways of the Lord.

It is all about, dearest brothers and sisters:

  • examining our own faith
  • examining our faithfulness to our vocation and Profession of Evangelical Life
  • examining and renewing the authenticity of our permanent “conversion”
(Continued on next published blog)
From “An exhortation of the Church
to the Secular Franciscan Order”
A commentary on Cardinal Franc Rodé’s letter
By:
Benedetto Lino OFS
SFO International Council Website
http://www.ciofs.org/Y2009/a9ENrodelet.html

 

  

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ presentation in the Temple.

 

22 When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” 24 and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.  25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.  This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him.  26 It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.  27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, 28 he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: 29 “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”  33 The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted 35 (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  38 And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.  39 When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.  40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.  (NAB Luke 2:22-40)

 

The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows that Joseph and Mary were devout Jews and faithful followers of the Mosaic Law (Like we really need more proof!).  Just as John [the Baptist] had been incorporated into the Jewish faithful of Israel through his circumcision (just a few months earlier), the infant Jesus becomes a member of God’s “chosen people” through the same action of His own “sacred” circumcision.   By Mosaic Law, it is at this time that a Jewish baby received his name:  in this case, “Jesus”, meaning “God Saves.”   Jesus is now considered part of the “chosen people” of God, in the same respect and distinction religiously as Simeon, Anna, and even the parents of John:

Both [John’s parents] were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly” (Luke 1:6)

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.”  (Luke 2:25)

“There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.”  (Luke 2:36-37).

 

Any woman who gave birth to a boy was unable to touch anything sacred (except her husband – [he, he]), or to enter the temple area by reason of her “legal” impurity for forty days according to the Mosaic Law:

 ”Tell the Israelites: When a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days, with the same uncleanness as at her menstrual period.   On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy’s foreskin shall be circumcised, and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in becoming purified of her blood; she shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled.  If she gives birth to a girl, for fourteen days she shall be as unclean as at her menstruation, after which she shall spend sixty-six days in becoming purified of her blood.  “When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent a yearling lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering.  The priest shall offer them up before the LORD to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood.  Such is the law for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl child.  If, however, she cannot afford a lamb, she may take two turtledoves or two pigeons, the one for a holocaust and the other for a sin offering.  The priest shall make atonement for her, and thus she will again be clean.”  (Leviticus 12:2-8)

At the end of this period she was required by Mosaic Law to offer a year-old lamb as a burnt offering, and a turtle-dove or young pigeon as an atonement of sin.  The Holy Family could not afford the customary offering of a lamb.  According to today’s Gospel, Mary’s offering instead was two turtle-doves or two young pigeons (as allowed by Mosaic Law).  So, is this proof of Mary and Joseph led a humble and austere life?

 Yep, Jesus was born in an ordinary home without many (if any) extras or luxuries. Like all God-fearing parents, Mary and Joseph raised Jesus in a belief, fear, and wisdom of God through their Judaic religious faith, practices, and traditions.  With such devout parents, Jesus, being obedient to His mother and stepfather, grew in wisdom and grace.

 

They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem (which means “city of peace”) to present him to God.  As the firstborn son, Jesus was consecrated to God as the Law required:

Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me.  You shall dedicate to the LORD every son that opens the womb; and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the LORD.”  (Exodus 13:2, 12) 

 

The “Law” further stipulated that any firstborn son should be redeemed by the parents through a payment of five shekels. 

You shall take five shekels for each individual, according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel.   Give this silver to Aaron and his sons as ransom for the extra number.” (Numbers 3:47-48) 

Five shekels amounted to just about 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of pure silver.   The probable reason for the Temple obligation of “redeeming” the firstborn son through the giving to the Temple expressly “five shekels” is found in the Book of Numbers:

“Every living thing that opens the womb, whether of man or of beast, such as are to be offered to the LORD shall be yours; but you must let the first-born of man, as well as of unclean animals, be redeemed.   The ransom for a boy is to be paid when he is a month old; it is fixed at five silver shekels according to the sanctuary standard, twenty gerahs to the shekel.”  (Numbers 18:15-16)

I found a couple of possible explanations for “five shekels” of silver being used for the regulation just mentioned above.  One of which I found elsewhere in Holy Scripture, and the other in Wikipedia.  

First, let’s look at Holy Scripture.  In Genesis, Rachel’s firstborn son, Joseph (You know, the one with the fancy coat) was sold by his brothers for twenty silver pieces (which is equivalent of “five shekels” per my Bible commentaries).

“They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Some Midianite traders passed by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and took him to Egypt.”  (Genesis 37:28)

This may have established that the “standard price” for a firstborn son being “five shekels” for the ransom to “redeem” the child.  Interesting for me is that “twenty pieces of silver” was the exact price paid to Judas for betraying Jesus.  Could this infer the payment required to redeem us?!

The Second source for this amount of money comes from the “Zohar”, a book from a Jewish “mystical” belief known as Kabbalah.  Per the “Zohar”, the number five (5) is symbolic of the Hebrew letter “hei”, which was added to Abram’s name (becoming Abraham) when the time came for him to father Isaac, – – and the Jewish nation – – as written in the Book of Genesis:

No longer shall you be called Abram; your name shall be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a host of nations.”  (Genesis 17:5)

God’s choosing of the Jewish people as His “nation”, and the consecration and redemption of the firstborn alludes to Abraham.  Thus, FIVE (5) shekels is the price for redemption.

 

What we DO know for certain, is that Jesus is presented to God at the Temple in Jerusalem as a baby; paying for the privilege of being consecrated to the service of God, as was all firstborn sons of the Jewish faithful.  Jesus however, also paid for OUR privilege of being saved from sin and death through His human pain, suffering, and death on that Holy Tree some thirty odd years later into His human and earthly life.  He will again be presented in this same place, this SAME Temple, at the end of His earthly ministry.  At this time Jesus will be presented not as the newborn infant, but instead as the “Messiah Christ!!”  Still a consecrated servant of God, Jesus offered far greater than a few coins to pay for His privilege of servicing God, and redeeming His people.  He offered His life and death – – for our “redemption”. 

Simeon (His name translates to “God has heard” – WOW!) was not a priest, but instead simply just a devout worshiper, always in the Temple.  He reminds me of an elderly gentleman I know (named John) whom I see at my local parish church nearly every single time I am there.  This man is always observed picking up little pieces of trash, straightening books, cleaning the parking lot, pruning the church and grotto flowers, dusting,  – – and of course praying! 

Though not a priest, Simeon obviously was close to his (and ours) loving God in the simple and miraculous fact that he received a prophetic vision that very few fellow “sinful humans” are privileged to experience.  This vision was given to him directly from God (no messenger here), and it was about the “Messiah”.  Simeon here (and Anna later) speaks about the child “Savior” that all faithful Jews were awaiting with anticipation.  Jesus is the ONE awaited “child” who is the “Redeemer” of Jerusalem as prophesized in the Old Testament.  Simeon recognized Jesus as “a sign that will be contradicted” – – a Messiah “destined for the fall and rise of many.” (Luke 2:34)

Simeon and Anna represent the hopes and expectations of faithfully devout Jews who were looking forward to the full and true restoration of God’s rule in Israel.  The birth of Jesus joyfully and gloriously brought these hopes to fulfillment for these two faithful servants of God (and for many others also).

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon prophesied that Jesus was to be “a light for revealing to the Gentiles“.  Five centuries earlier Malachi prophesied such an event (Malachi 3:1).  The Holy Spirit always reveals the presence of the Lord to those who are open, receptive and ready to receive him.  Do you recognize the presence of the Lord within and working through you?

How exciting it would be to actually see someone of a divine nature you had actually hoped and prayed for over many years, and to actually recognize that divinity in the infant child fully and truly alive and present before you.  In his excitement Simeon extols openly and publicly a beautiful prayer:

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” (Luke 2:29-30)

He is now ready to die – – ready to be with God in paradise – – because he has found “salvation” in his very presence on earth.  A salvation he had awaited his entire life.

I still remember the instance I looked at my wife on our wedding day, and each of my new-born children in the delivery room.  The excitement and happiness I felt at those moments was so elating.  Would not gazing upon the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord, have to be many times greater than these most profound moments I witnessed in my life?  I cannot wait to gaze upon you, my Lord and my all

The Jewish “Presentation” ritual, along with the associated circumcision of males, and the redemption of the first-born, points to the fact that children are truly and fully gifts from God. So why are large numbers of infants killed daily in an infanticide erroneously called “therapeutic abortions”?  There is absolutely NOTHING “therapeutic” about this tragedy! 

Remember, Simeon was not alone in recognizing the Lord’s presence in the temple.  Anna, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit.  Anna was a beautifully spiritual woman.  Through her faith and actions, she presents a model of devoutness, righteousness, and saintliness to the trust, hope, and faith in God as we advance in age, especially into the elder years.  Advancing age, and the tragedies and disappointments of life, can easily make us sad, cynical, and hopeless if we do not have our hope and trust in eternal paradise with God firmly rooted into our soul.  Anna’s hope and trust in God and His promises grew in her with age.  It resulted in a bountiful harvest of spirituality blossoming in, through, and out of her soul and heart.  She never ceased to worship God in faith and to pray with a hope and trust in God’s plan of salvation.  

 

When reading Simeon’s prophesies, they are so somber to me.  “Many will reject Jesus.”  Even in His hometown of Nazareth, Jesus (and the Holy Family) was ostracized by neighbors who may have thought Jesus was simply an illegitimate child of Mary, whom herself was merely thought of by many “neighbors” as an “adulterer” while still only “betrothed” to Joseph.  Jesus brought a new “covenant” to all people (including His town-folks) regardless of their status, nationality, or even beliefs, past actions, and/or behaviors. 

 “And you yourself a sword will pierce” (from verse 35) is so dismal, depressing, and prophetic for me!  Who would want their mother to be in pain?  However, Mary herself will not be untouched by the various reactions to the life and teachings of her loving child, Jesus.  Her gift of being the mother of the Lord will be challenged by her son, Jesus!!  Jesus Himself describes true blessedness as “hearing the word of God and observing it.”

“While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.  He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.’   (Luke 11:27-28)

“He was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.’  He said to them in reply, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.’”  (Luke 8:20-21).

Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph.  He prophesied to Mary about the destiny of Jesus, and the suffering she would undergo for His sake.  The Virgin Mother was given the “blessedness” of being the true mother of the Son of God (and thus the mother of God as well).  That blessedness was also a two-edged sword, piercing her heart as her beloved Son suffered and died upon the Holy Tree.  She received simultaneously – – a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow – – as her son received a crown of thorns.

Jesus did not come wielding a sword, or destructive weapon of any kind.  Yet, He dies at the hands of others.  Weapons of evil and destruction are wielded against Him.  Instead of a destructive weapon, Jesus wielded a CON-structive weapon against evil – – His “good news” – – the Gospel of salvation!  Loyalty to Jesus leads each of us to a pointed sword pressing against our “hearts” and souls: – – our relationships, our reputations, our ambitions, and even our monetary and earthly treasures.

 

The Jerusalem Temple is long gone, leaving a simple piece of one wall as its only physical remnant to the past.  However, Jesus is now the NEW temple: (John 1:14; 2:19-22).  

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)   

“Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.’  The Jews said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and you will raise it up in three days?’  But he was speaking about the temple of his body.  Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.” (John 2:19-22)   

In the Old Testament God manifested his presence in the “pillar of cloud” by day and the “pillar of fire” at night as He led Moses and the Israelites through the wilderness.  God’s magnificent and supreme glory came to dwell in a visible way over the ark and tabernacle:

Then the cloud covered the meeting tent, and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.  Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the LORD filled the Dwelling.  Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the Israelites would set out on their journey.  But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward.  In the daytime the cloud of the LORD was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the stages of their journey.”  (Exodus 40:34-38)

When the first temple was built in Jerusalem God’s glory came to rest there (cf., 1 Kings 8).  After the first temple was destroyed, Ezekiel saw God’s glory leave it (cf., Ezekiel 10).  But God promised one day to fill it with even greater glory (see Haggai 2:1-9; Zechariah 8-9).  That promise is fulfilled when the “King of Glory” himself comes to his temple:  

“Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.  Who is this king of glory?  The LORD, a mighty warrior, the LORD, mighty in battle.  Lift up your heads, O gates; rise up, you ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter.  Who is this king of glory?  The LORD of hosts is the king of glory.”  (Psalm 24:7-10)

“I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the LORD whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire.  Yes, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

Through Jesus’ coming in the flesh along with His saving death, resurrection, and ascension we are made living temples for his Holy Spirit:

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”  (1 Cor. 3:16-17) 

Open the doors to your heart, soul, thoughts, and actions for the Holy Spirit to dwell in, and to work in and through you.  Welcome Him in with open arms.  Grasp God in a bear hug of love and want.  Give Him your best in everything.

 

What a radical departure from ‘traditional’ JudaismJesus awakened and probably scared some people in His teachings, approach, and life style.  There appeared to be many reasons for not wanting to be “around” this man named Jesus, or to follow Him.  However, when condensed, all these reasons were simply and purely out of plain, simple fear; a fear that I believe stemmed from ignorance.  This ignorance could be seen throughout Holy Scripture in the fear emanated from the watchful eyes of the Temple priests and elders; and in the fear from the Roman government who was concerned about civil unrest and uprisings stemming from Jesus’ teachings and activities.

The model believer of trust and hope, the model disciple of Christ – – was Mary.  She had to decide what her role was going to be in salvation history: either to follow God’s plan or her own.  Though she was truly the faithful mother of God, Mary still had ‘free will.’  Family ties do not create faith – – only faith creates faith

She did not want to leave her homeland any more than Joseph wanted to leave.  However, according to God’s plan, Mary would have to escape to Egypt in order to protect her baby Jesus.  She would have to experience the fear of losing a child for three days in His youth.  And, Sadly, Mary would have to witness the devastation and despair of Jesus’ trial, scourging, crucifixion, and burial.

Mary, and Jesus, had to tread a rough and treacherous path hewed out for her by God, but isn’t sacrificing the “language” of love?  It is because of her sharing so much in the pain, suffering, and humiliation of Jesus, that she is called the “co-redemptrix” – – the co-redeemer – – in the Catholic Church.

Through all of these trials of faith – – Mary never faltered.  I believe she handled all these “sorrows” because she knew what was needed, and expected from herself, and from her son.  More importantly, Mary trusted in God’s providence at every stage in hers and Jesus’ life.  Even prior to Jesus’ birth, the teenage Mary had already surrendered her soul, her heart, and her body to God.  She allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in her – – and act through her.  Mary had NO doubts about God in her life, and in her priorities.  Even in the worst of times for her and her son on this earth, she never lost her faith, love, and trust in God’s plan for her.  We can, and we need, to learn from her example.  Please help me Lord to find the strength and fortitude to love, trust, and follow you as did your blessed mother, Mary, so perfectly demonstrated for us all.  

Do you know the joy of submission to God? Do you seek to pass on the Catholic faith, helping others to grow in wisdom, grace, and obedience to His word?  What do you hope for in your life, and in your families’ future?  How can you grow in hope?  We all must place our total faith, hope, and trust in the promises of Jesus Christ.  We must rely on the love, grace, and support of the Holy Spirit.  Does your hope and fervor for God grow with age?

Jesus promised that “no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16:22).  God gives us a mysterious grace of joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain, and which neither life nor death can take way.  One of my favorite short prayers highlights this mystery:

Jesus, there is nothing that is going to happen today that you and I can’t handle together.”

Ask Jesus Christ to renew your faith in the presence of His Holy Spirit living within you, and working through you for His glory.  Give Him thanks and praise for coming to you and each of us individually.  Thank Him for making His home (and place of business on earth) with and within you – – and through you!

 

Morning Offering

 

“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, and for the intentions recommended by our Holy Father for this month.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto yours.

O Mary, my Queen, my Mother, I give myself entirely to you, and to show my devotion to you, I consecrate to you this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being without reserve.  Wherefore good Mother, as I am your own, keep me, guard me as your property and possession. 

St. Joseph, model and patron of those who love the Sacred Heart, pray for me.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Presentation of the Lord

 

At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany (January 6), the observance of Christ’s birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later—February 15. (Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually “unclean” for 40 days after childbirth, when she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice—her “purification.” Contact with anyone who had brushed against mystery—birth or death—excluded a person from Jewish worship.) This feast emphasizes Jesus’ first appearance in the Temple more than Mary’s purification.

The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus’ birth on December 25, the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days after Christmas.

At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.

Comment:

In Luke’s account, Jesus was welcomed in the temple by two elderly people, Simeon and the widow Anna. They embody Israel in their patient expectation; they acknowledge the infant Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. Early references to the Roman feast dub it the feast of St. Simeon, the old man who burst into a song of joy which the Church still sings at day’s end.

Quote:

“Christ himself says, ‘I am the light of the world.’ And we are the light, we ourselves, if we receive it from him…. But how do we receive it, how do we make it shine? …[T]he candle tells us: by burning, and being consumed in the burning. A spark of fire, a ray of love, an inevitable immolation are celebrated over that pure, straight candle, as, pouring forth its gift of light, it exhausts itself in silent sacrifice” (Paul VI).

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 2 & 3 of 26:

 

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

 

 

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

Advertisements

“The Kingdom is Coming; the Kingdom is Coming! See, See; Told You So!” – (Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20)†


 

I hope and pray all are having a happy Independence Day weekend.  Please be safe and responsible: let’s keep this holiday a happy one!

 

My family and I just returned from a nine-day trip covering the southeastern United States.  We drove through Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee before getting to our first stop: the Atlanta, Georgia area.  We then went to Charleston, SC and Jacksonville, FL, before finally spending a couple of days at Cocoa Beach, FL.  Afterwards, we spent another couple of days at Walt Disney World, returning to our St. Louis Suburb home in a sprint of two 9-10 hour driving legs.  Saw a large part of our beautiful country, spent a good amount of quality time with my wife and four boys, spent a HUGE sum of money somehow, and gathered some unbelievable memories for all to enjoy.  My children have seen 28 of the 48 continental U.S. states, and one Canadian Province so far.  They will have to take their mother and I to Alaska and Hawaii on their dime!

I am glad to be back writing my reflections.  I only missed four episodes, but this has become a part of my life.  I hope you are enjoying these reflections as much as I enjoy researching and writing them.  Please let me know what you like, don’t like, or would like.  Also, please let your friends and ENEMIES know of this reflection blog.  I would love to have more readers. 

Peace and all good (Pax et Bonum)

 

A little “4th of July” minutiae:

 

“WHY THE AMERICAN FLAG IS FOLDED 13 TIMES”
(Unofficial & not Part of US Law)

Have you ever wondered why the Flag of the United States of America is folded 13 times when it is lowered or when it is folded and handed to the next of kin at the burial of a veteran?

Here is the meaning of each of those folds and what it means:

The first fold of our Flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our Country, in dealing with other countries may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie.  It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether
they are found within or without the boundaries of our Republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it
flies on Mother’s Day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to the Father, for he also has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.

When the Flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our Nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.”  After the Flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the Sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones, who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

The next time you see a Flag ceremony honoring someone that has served our country, either in the Armed Forces or in our civilian services such as the Police
Force or Fire Department, keep in mind all the important reasons behind each and every movement.  They have paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us by
honoring our Flag and our Country.

Author Unknown

 “While Public Law 94-344 does not place any significance or meaning to the 13 folds of the American flag the sentiments above have been adopted as a tradition by many veterans and family members of veterans of our great nation as they reflect what we recognize about our flag and our country.  They give meaning and hope to those family members who have lost a loved one fighting for our freedoms.

Tell me what makes a tradition?  Does it just crop up one day and become a reality?  How did our national song come about?  Was it an official publication written into a law somewhere to begin with or did the people adopt it and it then become our National Anthem?   There are those who take issue with the religious nature of the lines but that is all a matter or preference and that is what fighting for our freedom gave us; the freedom to choose religion, or not to choose it along with all of our other rights.  

L. Halamek, PO3 US Navy, Disabled Veteran

 

Today in Catholic History:

† 965 – Death of Pope Benedict V
† 973 – Death of Ulrich of Augsburg, German bishop (b. 890)
† 993 – Saint Ulrich of Augsburg canonized
† Liturgical feasts: Saint Flavian; Translation, Ordination of Saint Martin, bishop of Tours, confessor; Saint Odo, bishop of Canterbury; Saint Procopius, abbot (at Prague), confessor; Saint Ulric, bishop of Augsburg, confessor (d. 973); Saint Bertha, widow, abbess of Blangy in Artois; Saint Elizabeth Lusitania of Portugal (d. 136)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
  

Life is worth living.  Heaven is worth fighting for.
  

Today’s reflection is about Jesus sends out 72 people to announce the coming Kingdom.

 

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.  He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.  Go on your way.  See, I am sending you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.  Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.  Whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this house!”  And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.  Remain in the same house, eating and drinking whatever they provide, for the laborer deserves to be paid.  Do not move about from house to house.  Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.”  But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you, go out into its streets and say, “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.  Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.”  I tell you, on that day it will be more tolerable for Sodom than for that town. Woes to Unrepentant Cities.  The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’  He said to them, ‘I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning.  See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’  (Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20 NRSV)
   

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus appoints seventy-two disciples to travel ahead of Him to every town and place He plans to visit, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand.  He sends them in pairs because the Law of Moses required two witnesses for a testimony to be credible.  I imagine it was also a safer way to travel.

Only the Gospel of Luke contains the two episodes in which Jesus sends out his followers on a mission: the first (Luke 10:1-6) recounts the sending out of the Twelve Apostles; and in this Gospel reading, the sending out of seventy-two.  This reading continues a theme of Jesus preparing witnesses to himself and his ministry.  The instructions given to the Twelve Apostles and also to the seventy-two disciples are very similar, and that what was said to the seventy-two disciples in Luke 10:4 (“Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and greet no one on the road.”) is also similarly directed to the Twelve Apostles in Luke 22:35 (“When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything?”).

In verse four of today’s Gospel reading, it is written, “Carry no money bag . . . greet no one along the way.”  Due to the urgency of the mission, and the focus required of these missionaries, any attachment to material possessions or any deviation from their mission needed to be avoided.  Even customary greetings, salutations, and small-talk needed to be quelled so as not to distract from the accomplishment of their task.  I am sure there is also some symbolism to God giving all we need in this world; and that materialistic processions are a hindrance to a true relationship with Jesus.

Jesus admits the difficulty of their mission by saying that they will be like “lambs among wolves.”  Yet they knew that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and what was needed of them in this Kingdom.  No special privileges were to be allowed.  They were only to eat and drink whatever was given them; and were to stay in one house; not looking around for one that provides better accommodations.  If the town would not receive them, they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

They were sent not only to teach and witness, but also to heal the sick as a sign that the Kingdom of God is at hand for them.  Demons were under their power because of Jesus’ name.  Wasn’t it Isaiah that said that “the Lord’s power will be known to His servants?”  God can obviously make the impossible come to life!

On first entering a house, the “missionary” was to first say, “Peace to this household.”  This “peace” is from Christ, and is for those whom God has favored with his grace.  This peace is more than just an absence of war; it also includes the security and well-being characteristic of the same type of peace often found in the Old Testament.  Historically, the greeting of peace is conceived of NOT as a mere gesture of politeness, but as a “precious” word and act upon itself.  If a worthy recipient for this greeting could not be found, the greeting of peace (and God’s favor) was not communicated.

By Jesus saying that He had observed “Satan fall like lightning,” Jesus was symbolically characterizing the seventy-two disciples sent out to teach and witness as the beginning of an established “Kingdom of God” on earth.  Through Jesus life, death and resurrection from the dead; and through the believers and followers of Jesus continuing His work on earth, evil in all its forms will eventually be totally defeated, and the power of Satan over humanity will be extinguished.

Jesus may have sent the seventy-two out as lambs among wolves, but they returned rejoicing, and I’m sure somewhat surprised, because their mission had been successful.  Discipleship has its challenges, difficulties, and rewards.  Sharing in the mission of Jesus is difficult, but everyone baptized in His name is called to share Jesus with others, and to see Jesus in all others.  Evangelization is not solely for priests, deacons, religious and those trained for ministry: and it is not necessarily verbally quoting Bible Scripture, or handing out Bible Tracts.  St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words!

Prayer for Vocations

“Lord Jesus, as You once called the first disciples to make them fishers of men, let your sweet invitation continue to resound: Come, follow Me!

Give young men and woman the grace of responding quickly to your voice.  Support our bishops, priests and consecrated people in their apostolic labor.

Grant perseverance to our seminarians, and to all those who are carrying out the ideal of a life totally consecrated to Your service.  Awaken in our community a missionary eagerness.  Lord, SEND WORKERS TO YOUR HARVEST and do not allow humanity to be lost for the lack of pastors, missionaries and people dedicated to the cause of the Gospel.

Mary, Mother of the Church, and the model of every vocation; help us to say “Yes” to the Lord who calls us to cooperate in the divine plan of salvation.   Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Elizabeth of Portugal

 

She was the Queen of Portugal and a Franciscan tertiary.  A native of Aragon, Spain, she was married at the age of twelve to the immoral King Denis of Portugal.  Known as a peacemaker, she was able to overcome the difficulties of her marriage.  For her peacemaking efforts not only at home but among many associates and struggling people, she was called “the Peacemaker.”  When Denis died in 1325, Elizabeth entered the Poor Clares as a Franciscan tertiary.  She later died at Estremoz, Portugal.

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

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #4:

 

The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.  Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.  Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

“Don’t Piss-Off God” – Ex 32: 7-10†


I am wearing shorts today, for the first time this year.  Spring is near.  That’s the good part; now the bad part: the damn mocking bird outside my bedroom window every morning.  I’ve tried the “St. Francis thing of asking it to stop singing; alas without success.  Maybe its now time to get my BB gun out! 
 

Today’s reflection is on God’s wrath to those that break their covenant with Him!

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

With that, the LORD said to Moses, “Go down at once to your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, for they have become depraved.  They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them, making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it, sacrificing to it and crying out, ‘This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt!’  I see how stiff-necked this people is,” continued the LORD to Moses.  “Let me alone, then, that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them. Then I will make of you a great nation.” (NAB Ex 32: 7-10)

 

No one is happy when mom is not happy!  How much worse can it be, when the only entity greater than “mom,” is mad.  Making God angry will have some serious consequences associated with it.  Time-out for God is for these people,  forty years in a barren desert.  I love the beach, but forty years of sand in your pants can get old. 

Moses was up in the mountain for forty days.  The people at the base of the mountain had no idea what was happening for these many days without Moses.  They probably thought that Moses had abandoned them, or that he even died on the mountain. 

Have you noticed that forty days is associated with a times of trial?  Moses forty days in the mountain; Jesus in the desert for forty days with the devil; raining for forty days and nights with the great flood; and the Philistine giant tempting the Israelite army twice daily for forty days prior to fighting David, just to name a few. 

Did the Israelites turn away from God?  Making a molten calf seems to support this; or does it?  Maybe the golden calf was intended as an image, and not a false god.  The calf may have represented the LORD himself, with his strength being symbolized by the strength of a young bull.  Whatever the case, the Israelites had been forbidden to represent the Lord under any visible form (See Exodus 20:4). 

God had a covenant with the Israelites.  A covenant is like a contract, but it has a stronger bond that is without any end.  God was pissed-off.  He had destroyed human society several times in the bible: the great flood, Sodom, Gomorrah.  What could stop Him from burning everything down, and starting over? 

Moses does!  Moses will go on to plead for His people.  In a sense, He saves the Israelite nation, by coming back into a true relationship with God.  They take their “time-out,” and are eventually given a great place to make as their homeland.  It only took a short time in the relative scheme of things with God.  They passed their test! 

“Lord God, please help me on my journey to your homeland; heaven.  Please stay with me on my journey.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Salvator of Horta

  

Saint Salvator of Horta, d. 1567. Franciscan confessor. Born at Santa Colomba, Gerona, Spain, he was orphaned as a child and became a shoemaker before joining the Franciscans in Barcelona as a lay brother. He worked for many years as a humble cook in the friary of Horta, near Tortosa, dying at the friary of Caliari, Sardinia. During his life, he was known for his many and severe austerities and his miracles. He was canonized in 1938.

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

  

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:

 

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

“I Have to Get WHAT Cut Off!: and I Have too Pay ALSO!” – Lk 2:21-24


Have the kids experienced ‘let-down’ yet?  Just 364 days till CHRISTMAS again! 

Mary CHRISTmas!

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

Jesus is the man God intended all humans to be. (D.L. Dykes)

http://www.oneliners-and-proverbs.com/

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.  When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,”  and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.  (NAB Lk 2:21-24)

  

Just as John [the Baptist] before him had been incorporated into the people of Israel through his circumcision, Jesus becomes a member of Gods chosen people through his circumcision.   This is the time that a Jewish baby receives his name:  Jesus’ name means “God Saves.”   The presentation of Jesus in the temple shows that Joseph and Mary were devout Jews, and faithful followers of the law of Moses.  In this respect, they are described in a fashion similar to the parents of John, and Simeon, and Anna. 

According to the Mosaic law ( found in Lev 12:2-8), any woman who gives birth to a boy is unable to touch anything sacred, or to enter the temple area by reason of her legal impurity, for forty days.  At the end of this period she is required to offer a year-old lamb as a burnt offering, and a turtle-dove or young pigeon as an expiation of sin.  The woman who could not afford a lamb offered instead two turtle-doves or two young pigeons, as Mary does here.  This shows that Mary and Joseph were not well-off, and of the lowly caste of the population. 

They took Jesus to Jerusalem (which means ‘city of peace’) to present him to God.  As the firstborn son, Jesus was consecrated to God, as the law required (found in Exodus 13:2, 12).  The law further stipulates (in Numbers 3:47-48) that the firstborn son should be redeemed by the parents through a payment of five shekels.  Jesus is presented to God in Jerusalem as a baby; paying for the priviledge of being consecrated to the service of God.  Jesus is again presented in Jerusalem thirty plus years later, as Christ and a servant of God, to pay with His life for the priviledge of servicing God, and redeeming His people.  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

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.