Tag Archives: wedding

“The ‘Sign’ Read: ‘If Momma Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy!’” – John 2:1-11†


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2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

 

T. table_of_contentsoday’s Content:

  • ·        Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • ·        Quote of the Day
  • ·        Today’s Gospel Reading
  • ·        Gospel Reflection
  • ·        Reflection Prayer  

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveris, & Declarations:

 

Please let me explain why I did not publish a blog Wednesday.  I have a chronic eye condition known in the medical field as “keratoconus”.  Patients with this condition have misshaped globes of the eye.  Instead of the ckeratoconus-demoorneas being round and smooth, my eyes are shaped like the ends of footballs, and with ridges on their surfaces.  Thus, I wear specially made (very expensive) contacts in order to see well enough for daily living.  Without these contacts, my vision is like looking through a very thin layer of petroleum jelly.  Eventually, I will have to have corneal transport surgery on both eyes, but obviously, I wish to postpone this surgery as long as is reasonable.

One of my eyes has started to develop blood vessels on the cornea; some2816_2835_3thing very bad for future corneal transplant surgery.  Thus, I have to use four different medications on the eye throughout the day and night, and I am unable to wear a contact in this eye until some point after my surgery.  Laser surgery is scheduled for late February (He will burn the blood vessels on my cornea with the laser). 

For now, it is difficult to read due to the resultant blurriness of not wearing the contact.  For this reason, I have to limit my reflection blog to Sundays – – only FOR NOWI am also asking for your prayers in this matter.  Thank you in advance.

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Quote of the Day:

To turn water into wine, and what is common into what is holy, is indeed the glory of Christianity.” ~ Frederick William Robertson

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Today’s reflection: Jesus performs his first sign at a wedding feast in Cana.  Jesus heard and obeyed His mother, Mary – – the mother of God; Do YOU?!

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(NAB John 2:1-11)  1On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  2 Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.  3 When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”  4 [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come.”  5 His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”  6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.  7 Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.”  So they filled them to the brim.  8 Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”  So they took it.  9 And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  11 Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs * in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

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Gos. Reflectionpel Reflection:

This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.  For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke.  Occasionally, however, we will read from John’s Gospel [as we do in every lectionary cycle].  Today’s Gospel reading comes from John, describing the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and His first miracle – – His first “sign”.

To situate today’s reading within the context of John’s Gospel, we need to know that this event follows Jesus’ call of His first six disciples (cf., John 1:35-51).  John tells us that Jesus and His disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, along with Jesus’ mother, Mary.  This event is unique to John’s Gospel.  There are no parallel reports of this miraculous “sign” at Cana in any of the Synoptic Gospels.

Today’s Gospel is about “Signs (“sēmeion” in Greek).  John uses “signs” to re5030826-directional-signs-vector-or-xxl-jpeg-imageveal Jesus as the true promised Messiah to ALL “Israel”.  John uses “signs” to symbolize Jesus’ wondrous actions, His deeds.  We need to remember that the Gospel according to John is quite different in character from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  His writing style is highly literate and symbolic in nature.  It does not follow the same order, nor reproduce the same stories, as the other three Gospels.  To a much greater degree as that of the three other Gospel writers, it is the product of a theological reflection growing out of a different circle of readers, and their different traditions.  John’s Gospel was probably written in Ephesus during 90’s AD. 

John’s Gospel narrative contains a series of “signs”, seven to be exact (They will be listed near the end of this reflection.).  John’s Gospel’s relates God’s “Word” through a series of wondrous deeds – – actions – – by Jesus Himself.  It gives the impression that John is primarily interested in the “significance” of these actions. 

The first sign in today’s Gospel reading, is the “transformation of water into wine” at a wedding feast in a place called Cana (John 2:1jesus_wine1–11).  This first “sign” represents the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings (John 2:6), and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus then, and still today.  He is still actually transforming US ALL through our hearing of His “Word” and the fellowships of our Church’s seven Sacraments.

So, the Old Testament exodus stories provide the background for today’s reading:

“Recall today that it was not your children, who have neither known nor seen the discipline of the LORD, your God—His greatness, His strong hand and outstretched arm; the signs and deeds He wrought in the midst of Egypt, on Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and on all his land; what He did to the Egyptian army and to their horses and chariots, engulfing them in the waters of the Red Sea as they pursued you, so that the LORD destroyed them even to this day … Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all His servants and to all His land(Deuteronomy 11:2-4; 29:1-2).

God’s intervention in human history is anew again – – in a new, fulfilled, and fulfilling way – –  through Jesus Christ in the midst of His brethren today.

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The first verse talks about Jesus being in a place called “Cana”:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there” (NAB John 2:1-11). 

Cana is NEVER mentioned in the Old Testament.  The only other (two) biblical references to “Cana” can be found(1) in John 4:46, which mentions Jesus, while in “Cana”, being asked to heal the son of a royal official at Capernaum; and (2) in John 21:2, where the Apostle Nathanael (Bartholomew in the Synoptic Gospels’) comes from “Cana”.  Cana of Galilee is not mentioned in any other book of the Bible, or in any other contemporary literary source.  So where is “Cana”, and why is this place significant to John?  I do not know with certainly.  Speculation is rampant among bible scholars, but I would love to find this place someday when finally discovered with certainty.  I hear the wine there is truly divine!

Also in the first verse, “The mother of Jesus” is never mentioned by name.  Matter of fact, Mary is never mentioned by name in John’s Gospel.  And, on tsecret-rosary13aop of this, Joseph is not present at the wedding feast as well.  I suspect Jesus’ earthly “father” had died sometime between his finding his lost Son in the Temple and this event some eighteen years later.

Jesus, per John, addressed His mother by saying “Woman”:

Woman, how does your concern affect me?  My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

This was NOT a ‘diss (slang word for “treat with contempt”) on Mary!!  Today, a child would possibly be given the “eveyesil eye” for calling his/her mother “woman” in this way.  However, in actuality, this was a normal and POLITE form of addressing one’s mother during Jesus’ time.  He also calls her by this SAME title while dying on the Holy Cross, at His most intimate – – and final – – time with her:

When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son’” (John 19:26).

The word “woman” was a revealed word which was highly exulted (like the word “king”) amoung the Jewish peoples.  Jesus is “the Word made Flesh”.  When Jesus Christ calls His mother “woman”, He is revealing the promised fulfillment in Genesis:

 “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel” (Genesis 3:15).

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Wine was running low, a good “sign” of the celebration being in full force, but a bad sign because – – they are RUNNING OUT OF WINE!  So, Mary, probably helping at the celebration, goes to her son and says:

When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine” (John 2:3).

Jesus replies to “His mother”:

Woman, how does your concern affect meMy hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

If itwasn’t His time”, why did Jesus do what His mother asked?  After all, Jesus never worked miracles solely to help His family and friends.  I believe He performed this first miraculous “sign” out of OBEDIENCE to His mother, ObedienceToTheWordknowing the importance of [what we today know as] the Fourth Commandment and its great importance in God’s kingdom:

Honor your father and your mother, that you may have a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you … Take to heart these words which I command you today…  Bind them on your arm as a ‘sign’ and let them be as a pendant on your forehead” (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 6:6, 8)  

I wish people today saw and appreciated the need and JOY to be obedient to God’s Commandments, and not to subjugate them – – to de-prioritize them – – out of personally selfish wants and desires. 

Now, let’s go on to discuss the second (of three) points about His reply to His “mother”: 

How does your concern affect me?” (John 2:4)

Everything Jesus says is a fulfillment of Holy Scripture.  He is telling His mother that if He does what she implies, the “cats are ‘gjesusturnedwaterintowineonna be out of the bag”!  Mary is hastening God’s will, My source and My authority by doing a miracle to meet the wedding parties need.  That’s why, I believe, the third revealing point in this one verse relates to Jesus saying: 

My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4).

The “hour”, I believe Jesus is referring to, is His Passion, death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven:hourglass

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved His own in the world and He loved them to the end” (John 13:1).

I wonder how much Jesus knew about His future at the time of the wedding feast miracle.  Did He know every single detail about His gruesome torture and death to come?  Did He know the beauty He will find in His ascension?  I believe He did.  Do you?  However, Jesus was focusing on His mother’s concern for the wedding couple.  He moved up the clock, revealing His divine authority.  So, He begins a series of seven signs here at “Cana”.

Only after John has Jesus fulfilling these seven “signs”, does the “hour” of Jesus fully arrive.  The whole Gospel of John is a progressivglory-to-god-by-brandon-halliburton-free-photo-11978e “revelation” – – a REVEALING – – of the glory of God’s only begotten Son.  At “Cana”, Jesus is beginning to reveal God the Father fully; which will ne fulfilled later when He returns – – in “glory” – – to His heavenly Father on our behalf.  Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

Jesus’ reply was tjohn2_5SCruly revealing in nature.  However, Mary was not going to take an implied “no” for an answer.  She simply looks at the “servers” and says:

Do whatever He tells you(John 2:5).

Mary knew her Scriptures well; she helped teach them to Jesus.  Mary, in her reply, may have been referencing a verse from the Book of Genesis:

When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: ‘Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you’” (Genesis 41:55).

What I believe was important about Mary’s reason for wanting Jesus to perform a “sign” before His “time”, and His willingness to obif_mama_aint_happy_aint_nobody_happy_magnet-p147594797048165970b2gru_400ey her fully, may have been one of simple logic and survival for Jesus:

If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

Do not forget the Fourth Commandment.  Jesus didn’t!!

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John goes on to report that:

There were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons” (John 2:6). 

Twenty to thirty gallons” is a litermarriageincanaal present day translation for the “two or three measures” of Jesus’ day.  This vast quantity of wine recalls prophecies of “abundance in the last days” from Jewish Scripture:

Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the LORD’s blessings: The grain, the wine, and the oil, flocks of sheep and cattle; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again neglected” (Jeremiah 31:12);

 “Yes, days are coming—oracle of the LORD—When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps and the vintager, the sower of the seed; The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes, and all the hills shall run with it. will restore my people Israel, they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, Plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.” (Amos 9:13–14).

With this “first sign”, the changing of the water to wine, Jesus is replacing the “Jewish ceremonial washings” with His divine body, blood, soul, and divinity washing away all affects of original sin.  This event also presented the initial revealing – – the initial revelation – – of Jesus’ divine nature and authority at the outset of His public ministry.  

Jesus’ action in this reading points to the “wine of the new covenant” and the “bread of life” He establishes in the “Last Supper” anjesusfirstLOGOd in our present Eucharist.  It also points to the Messianic banquet which Jesus personally will host at the end of time.  (Behold the Lamb of God … Hapy are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!)

The miracles of Jesus’ public ministry – – His “signs” – – demonstrate the power of God’s love and mercy for His people.  God’s kindness knows no limits!  And the ultimate expression of His love is revealed in the person of His Son, our Lord – – Jesus Christ.  He became flesh for OUR sake; He died for OUR redemption; He rose from the dead for OUR glorification!! 

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John ends his Gospel today by going to the beginning: the beginning of Jesus’ “signs”, the beginning of His revealed “glory”, the beginning of His public ministry, and the beginning of His disciples truly believing in Him as the true promised Messiah:

Jesus did this as the beginning of His signs in Cana in Galilee and so revealed His glory, and His disciples began to believe in Him” (John 2:11).

God reveals His “glory” in the most unlikely places: in a stable at Bethlehem, at a wedding party in Cana, in the muddy waters of the Jordan River, and on a blood stained crosto-god-be-the-glory_137_1024x768s outside the walls of Jerusalem.  Jesus’ first public miracle – – His first “sign” – – was performed at the confident “invitation” of His mother.  In doing as His mother requested of Him, Jesus blessed a young couple, bringing JOY to their wedding feast: first, by His presence, and second, by His surprising response to Hhis mother’s concern, saving them from an embarrassing situation. 

Changing water into wine was a remarkable act of kindness; but saving the best to last was unheard of in Jesus’ day.  In Jewish Scripture (our Old Testament) wine was often seen as a gift anDo-Whatever-He-Tells-You-1024x1024d symbol of God’s blessing (cf., Deuteronomy 7:13; Proverbs 3:10, Psalm 105).  With Jesus miraculously producing 180 gallons or so of the best wine possible, and many times more than what actually was needed for the feast, He showed the superabundance of the blessings He Himself came to offer to All “Israel”, to ALL peoples.

What other signs will Jesus go on to do during His public Ministry?  Well, now would be a good time to list the seven “signs” John reveals through his Gospel:seven-signs

  • The first sign is the transformation of water into wine at Cana (Jn 2:1–11); this represents, as I mentioned earlier, the replacement of the Jewish ceremonial washings and symbolizes the entire creative and transforming work of Jesus.

  • The second sign, the cure of the royal official’s son (Jn 4:46–54) simply by the word of Jesus at a distance, signifies the power of Jesus’ life-giving “Word”.  

  • The third sign, the cure of the paralytic at the pool with five porticoes in John 5, continues the theme of water offering newness of life.  In the preceding chapter, to the woman at the well in Samaria Jesus had offered living water springing up to eternal life, a symbol of the revelation Jesus brings.  Here Jesus’ life-giving “Word” replaces the water of the pool which failed to bring life.

  • John 6 contains two signs: the multiplication of loaves and the walking on the waters of the Sea of Galilee.  These signs are related to the “crossing of the Red Sea” and the manna” of the first exodus, manifesting a new exodus in process.  The multiplication of the loaves anticipates the future revelation of God in Jesus which the bread of life is His visible “sign” which we call the “Eucharist”.  

  • The sixth sign is presented in John 9, the sign of the young man born blind whom Jesus heals. This is a narrative illustration proclaiming the triumph of light over darkness.  Remember, this event takes place in the Temple during the Feast of the Tabernacles (aka, the Feast of Lights) at which there were a multitude of candelabras lighted throughout the “Holy Place”.  Jesus is presenting Himself as the Light of the Temple, and of the world.  The young man had been given his sight by Jesus.  This “sign” was an object lesson, revealing the divine power of Jesus to give light to the eyes, and at the same time, subtly revealing the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and Levites attending to the Menorah.

  • And finally, the seventh sign, the raising of Lazarus in John 11, is the climax of signs.  Lazarus is presented as a token of the real, spiritually alive, life which Jesus, THE Resurrection and THE Life, who will now ironically be put to death because of His gift of life to Lazarus, desires to give ALL to those believing in Him then, and after He was seen raised from the dead.  Notice the irony of Jesus raising Lazarus and then enduring His own death in place of Lazarus.

John’s purpose in describing these seven signs in their unique order is clearly expressed in what some bible scholars say was the “original” ending of his Gospel, at the end of Chapter 20.  Besides these seven just described:

Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [His] disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).

Amen!!  Amen!!          

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In the Church’s lit. summarize titleurgical history, the “wedding feast at Cana” is closely associated with the “adoration of the child Jesus by the Magi” and the “Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ”. The “sign” Jesus performs at the wedding feast is an “epiphany” (manifestation) of Jesus’ divinity to be celebrated.flickr-3699162219-hd

With these epiphanies in mind, awareness of Jesus’ Passion and death looming future on the Holy Cross is ever present in John’s Gospel.  Even in today’s narrative of Jesus’ “first sign”, the language used by John anticipates Jesus’ future Passion.  When Jesus says to His “mother” that “His hour has not yet come”, Jesus protests against her wishes in words John used again when describing Jesus’ “Last Supper” with His disciples in John 13:1.  When introducing the story of Jesus washing His disciples’ feet [also only found in John’s Gospel], John writes that Jesus knew His “hour had come”.  Per John, Jesus is very much in command and extremely aware of ALL that is to happen to Him, from the very beginning.

Throughout John’s Gospel, Mary is never mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as “the mother of Jesus”.  Mary is overridingly influential in Jesus’ first “sign”.  She will never abandon her Son, even being present at Jesus’ Crucifixion.  Mary was (and still is) a faithful and constant witness to the final manifestation – – “sign” and epiphany – – of Jesus’ divinity.

John’s Gospel describes seven “signs” indicating Jesus’ true divine nature and identity to His disciples.  He never speaks of these “signwordsandeedslogosas miracles because their importance is not in the deed – – the action – – which Jesus performs, but instead in what these deeds indicate in regard to Jesus’ true nature and identity.  In today’s reading, Jesus’ disciples are said to “begin to believe”.  However, no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.  (But, they thought the wine was heavenly in deed!)

Here, at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John’s Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to re-define and fulfill God’s promise to “Israel”.  Jesus is establishing the New Covenant promised to the Water_Wine_Renderprophets.  A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in His deed – – the action Jesus performs.  Asked to do something about the awkward situation that a lack of wine at the wedding feast would create, Jesus’ miraculous “sign” produces vast quantities of wine: six jars overflowing with over 180 gallons of superior wine.

This overflowing response to a simple human request is a vision for us – – a “sign” – – about the vast abundance of God’s kingdom.  It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with our needs, and others’, today.  Responding as best as we can, fully confident that, like the mother of Jesus, God can transform our efforts, brings the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us here and now!

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We. conclusionddings are magnificent and breathtaking celebrations.  We go out of our way to make the occasion festive and extraordinary.  People work hard to please one another with a special kind of JOY.  What better image of the Kingdom of God can there be than070114_weddinggift a wedding feast!  Wedding celebrations are not an everyday occurrence.  ut we can anticipate the Kingdom of God each and every day through our kindness, attention, and care to one another’s needs.

Reflect about weddings and other feasts and HOW they are used as images in Holy Slove others_t_nvcripture for the Kingdom of God.  Consider how these festive occasions are images of God’s tremendous, overflowing, love for us – – and examples of how we can show our love for one another.  Think about Mary’s attentiveness to the needs of the wedding hosts, and about Jesus’ response to His mother’s request.  What can you learn from today’s Gospel story?  Reflect on, and consider ways – – actions or deeds – – in which you might show these same sort of generous and loving values in your daily life.  Create your own “sign” for God’s plan in your life and for His kingdom on earth!!

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Reflecti. prayer sfon Prayer: 

Prayer for Generosity

(St. Ignatius of Loyola)

“Eternal Word, only begotten Son of God,
Teach me true generosity. generosity-revolution-revisited-graphic
Teach me to serve you as you deserve.
To give without counting the cost,
To fight heedless of wounds,
To labor without seeking rest,
To sacrifice myself without thought of any reward
Save the knowledge that I have done your will.
Amen.”

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♫“You Light Up My Life♫- – But I Still Have My Flashlight, Just In Case!” – Matthew 25:1-13†


 

 Thirty-Second Sunday in 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 Psalm
  • 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
for November, 2011

 

General Intention:

That the Eastern Catholic Churches and their venerable traditions may be known and esteemed as a spiritual treasure for the whole Church.

Missionary Intention:

For Justice and Reconciliation in Africa:
That the African continent may find strength in Christ to pursue justice and reconciliation as set forth by the second Synod of African Bishops.

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Tuesday, November 8th, is Election Day for most of the United States of America.  Please vote.

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1406 – Death of Innocent VII, [Cosma de’ Migliorati], Italian Pope (1404-06)
†   1789 – Pope Pius VI appoints Father John Carroll as the first Catholic bishop in the United States.
†   1875 – Death of John Baptist van Son, Dutch Catholic politician, at age 71
†   Feasts/Memorials: St. Leonard of Noblac; St. Winnoc

(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 is about Jesus telling the parable of the wise and the ten foolish virgins, teaching His disciples the importance of being prepared to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

(NAB Matthew 25:1-13) 1“Thenthe kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  2Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  3The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, 4but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.  5Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.  6At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him!’  7Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.  8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  9But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.  Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  10While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked.  11Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’  12But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’  13Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour.

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

In this week’s Gospel, Jesus talks about what it means to be “prepared” to receive the Kingdom of Heaven.  This reading follows a series of warnings and predictions by Jesus about the coming of the Son of Man, the “Parousia”.  Jesus wants His disciples to understand that the exact day and time cannot be predicted, for only God the Father knows the time.  He teaches the disciples that they must remain always vigilant so that they will not be caught unprepared.

When reflecting on the parable of the “wise and foolish virgins” from today’s reading, it is important to consider the first-century wedding traditions of Palestine.  Bible Scholars believe it was the custom of the day for young maidens—friends and family members of the bride—to meet the bridegroom when he came to bring his bride to her new home.

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The Parable of the “Ten Virgins” can only be found in Matthew’s Gospel.  As with many of Jesus’ other parables, several levels of interpretation are easily possible (just like separating the layers of an onion).  In last week’s Sunday Gospel, Jesus warned against following the example (and not the words) of the Temple leaders, chiefly the Pharisees and Scribes.  Today’s Gospel, – – when read in the context of Matthew’s early Church’s Christian on-going struggle to define itself against the misinterpreted Pharisaic Judaism, – – is a continuing critique and condemnation of that time.  This reading suggests that the Jewish leaders were like the foolish virgins, unprepared to meet Jesus who is the bridegroom of Israel.

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Jesus’ story of ten young women seems strange to most modern westerners today.  But Matthew’s audience knew how easy this event could happen in their society.  Wedding customs in ancient Palestine required extra vigilance and preparation for everyone involved.  (Some places in the world still follow this custom, in today’s reading.)  The bride and groom did not go away for their honeymoon, but celebrated for a whole week with their family and friends, twenty-four hours at that (Now that’s partying in the extreme!!). 

It was the custom for the groom to come at his discretion to get his bride and bring her to the wedding party.  If he came at night, lamps were obviously required, out of necessity (there were no public street lights in the first century). 

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Just prior to this week’s reading is the parables of the “Unknown Day and Hour” (Matthew 24: 36-44) and the “Faithful or the Unfaithful Servant” (Matthew 24: 45-51).  Along with these two parables, today’s parable is also about the time of the “Parousia”.  Knowing this explains the very first word, “Then”, meaning “at the time of the parousia”, followed immediately by, “the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins ….”  What a very thought-provoking sentence; it is not simple in structure nor meaning.

 The comparison of virgins and the kingdom in Matthew 25:1 does not mean that the kingdom of heaven may be likened simply to the ten virgins in question but to the situation related in the entire story. (In reading any part of Holy Scripture, we must take the whole of it and not just take a little part out of context.)  Today’s parable is a warning to Jesus’ disciples not to attempt to anticipate the Final Judgment of God, nor the limits of His kingdom.  His kingdom on earth is presently composed of the “good” and “bad”.  The sole judgment of God will eliminate the sinful, at His time – – not ours!!  Until then there must be patient and repentant as John the Baptist repeated preached throughout his ministry.

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I love the image of these ten virginal women who were split down the middle: five “wise” and five “foolish”.  I wonder, did they have blond jokes back then?  Matthew used this “foolish…wise” contrast once before:

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. … And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand.” (Matthew 7:24, 26)

The two groups of each parable are distinguished by good deeds and lack of good deeds.  The deed in today’s reading is signified by the “oil” of this parable.

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No one knows when Jesus will return for the “final judgment”, the Parousia.  We cannot anticipate or linger behind in our preparations for this time.  It is interesting that the phrase “trimmed their lamps” is used (verse 7).  Trimming a lamp means “preparing for use”.  It entails filling with oil, literally cutting off the bad part of the wick, and removing any excess so as to make the lamp burn more effectively and efficiently. 

For us, to prepare for the Parousia we need to “trim our lamps”.  Preparation includes our proper actions with ourselves and each other, AND with God.  Do you see Jesus Christ in yourself and others?  Do you participate in the Sacraments regularly, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation?  The Holy Eucharist fills us to the brim with the fuel of God, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation removes the evil and immoral excesses we collect in our sinful state.

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The exclamation “Lord, Lord”, found in verse 11, is a re-edification of a similar verse from much earlier in Matthew’s Gospel:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

In both verses, entrance into the kingdom is only for those who do the will of God the Father.  On the Day of Judgment the morally corrupt will be rejected by Jesus Christ.  The reply to these women in today’s parable, “I do not know you”, is also very similar to the one in Matthew 7:

I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Matthew 7:23)

 

Thank God that Jesus doesn’t stop with the ominous statement of “I do not know you.”  He goes on to offer hope for those who trust and prepare for His return.  We need to “Stay awake”; to be always ready.  The wise virgins were adequately equipped and PREPARRED.  The wise virgins prepared as the master of the house would have prepared for the thief coming in the night:

If the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into.” (Matthew 24:44)

Being unprepared can lead to a lot of unnecessary trouble, and can even lead to disastrous consequences!  After all, what good is a life-jacket left on shore when the boat is sinking?  Let us all take a lesson from the Boy Scout motto:  “Be Prepared!”

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To summarize, Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared.  There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment.  For example, a student cannot adequately prepare for his exam on the day of testing.  A person cannot get the right kind of temperament or skill required for an impending task unless he already possesses the temperament and skills by the time of the task.  

Our eternal happiness and wellbeing depends on our “hearing”, and sadly, many have trained themselves not to hear.  Those not hearing will also not be prepared to meet Jesus Christ on His return, when He calls us on the Day of Judgment.  We need to listen to Him TODAY and EVERY DAY!! 

 

In conclusion, in the chapter preceding this parable (Chapter 24), Jesus warns about the destruction of Jerusalem, the tribulation of the end times, and the coming of the Son of Man – – the “Parousia”.  Keeping this in mind, today’s parable is a warning to the Catholic Christian community to remain ever vigilant and always prepared to receive Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who will return at the end of time for the Final Judgment.  This interpretation is supported by the reference to the “delay of the bridegroom”.  The Jewish-Catholic community, for whom Matthew wrote this Gospel, was coming to terms with the realization that the promise of Jesus’ return would possibly not be fulfilled within their mortal lifetimes.  So, the question remains for us to ask to ourselves, “Are we ready to receive Jesus? AND,  Will we be prepared to receive him?”

In our daily activities, it is easy to find excuses for not attending to our spiritual lives.  If not given the “top priority”, prayer and reading of Holy Scripture risks becoming “occasional” activities rather than daily practices.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds us that if we fail to give our spiritual life priority, we will find ourselves unprepared to receive Jesus.  Daily prayer, spiritual practice, and frequent reception of the Sacraments help to keep us ready to receive Jesus Christ.

What are some of the things our faith calls us to do every day, every week, every moment, to keep God FIRST in our lives?  What might happen if these things are not done regularly?  Jesus taught us that it is important to keep ourselves prepared and ready to receive Him when he comes again.  Jesus says that it is so important to remain ready to receive the Kingdom of Heaven since you will not have time to prepare after He arrives for the Final Judgment.  Pray that you will always keep God “FIRST” in your lives so that you will “be prepared” to receive Jesus when He comes.

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  Reflection Prayer:

 

Psalm 63

Our souls are thirsting for God.

 

“O God, you are my God— it is you I seek!  For you my body yearns; for you my soul thirsts, in a land parched, lifeless, and without water.  I look to you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory.  For your love is better than life; my lips shall ever praise you!  I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands, calling on your name.  My soul shall be sated as with choice food, with joyous lips my mouth shall praise you!  I think of you upon my bed, I remember you through the watches of the night you indeed are my savior, and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.  Amen” (Psalm 63:2-8)

  

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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.

 

When the priest invites us to share in the Lord’s Supper, we now say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”  With the new Missal, we will respond:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

The use of “under my roof” is a reference to the Gospel passage where the centurion asks Jesus to heal his servant but says he is not worthy for Jesus to enter his house (Luke 7:6).  The other change is “my soul” instead of “I”, which focuses more clearly on the spiritual dimension of the healing we seek.

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

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day: Blessed Alfonso Lopez, priest, and companions, martyrs

Blessed Alfonso Lopez was born at Secorún, in the dioceses of Jaca, on 16th November 1875.  He held various civil offices, but he felt to be called to religious life, so he entered the convent of Granollers in 1906.   He was sent to Italy, where he was received in the Seraphic Province of Umbria.  He spent his novitiate at Osimo, pronouncing his temporary vows in 1908 and his perpetual profession in 1911, the same year of his priestly ordination.  He was confessor in the Basilica of Loreto, then he returned to Granollers, where he carried out the task of teacher of the postulants and novices until 1935.  He distinguished himself by his virtues, mainly by his love for God, for his neighbour and his devotion for the Virgin Mary.  He was an excellent formator of the applicants for consecrated life that he mainly directed with the example of his virtuous life.

At the outbreak of the civil war, Alphonzo Lopez was a Friar Minor Conventual priest (OFM, Conv.).  He took refuge at some of his friends and was arrested on 3rd August 1936, along with Friar Miguel Remón Salvador and four other companions.  They showed themselves brave in the face of the request of apostasy.  In the end, they were taken to Samalús and shot in the evening of the same day, while Father Alfonso repeated, with spirit of faith and charity, “Forgive them, My Lord”.

From his degree on Martyrdom:

“The Servants of God Alfonso López López and his 5 brethren of the Conventual Franciscan Order belong to this huge multitude.

The Spanish civil war (1936-1939) didn’t spare their convent, in the town of Granollers, in Barcelona district, where they lived at that time.

In 1936, immediately after the military insurrection of the 19th July, the authors of political change rushed into the convent searching for weapons; they didn’t find any, but they threatened the friars and threw them out of their house, compelling them to take refuge at their neighbors and friends.  They could hide themselves only for one week.

In such a hostile and irreligious environment, the seed of terror and death threats against the Church and Her children, as it was in Spain at that time, these followers of St. Francis of Assisi were imprisoned and condemned to death, just because they were Christ’s disciples.

They shed their blood with inner serenity and meekness, giving glory to God with the profession of faith and forgiving their enemies. ” (from the Decree on the martyrdom )

Blessed Alphonso Lopez was Beatified by Pope John Paul II on March 11, 2001.

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Saint Francis and Penance

Do I live this “penance” from a sense of duty, or of a love relationship?  How?

In what ways do change and conversion require detachment and humility (a form of poverty)?

Why is it important to realize that every personal sin have social consequences?

Do I think of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a positive celebration of the mercy of God?

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Subsection #’s 6 & 7 of 26:

06.  They have been made living members of the Church by being buried and raised with Christ in baptism; they have been united more intimately with the Church by profession. Therefore, they should go forth as witnesses and instruments of her mission among all people, proclaiming Christ by their life and words.

Called like Saint Francis to rebuild the Church and inspired by his example, let them devote themselves energetically to living in full communion with the pope, bishops, and priests, fostering an open and trusting dialog of apostolic effectiveness and creativity.

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07.  United by their vocation as “brothers and sisters of penance” and motivated by the dynamic power of the gospel, let them conform their thoughts and deeds to those of Christ by means of that radical interior change which the gospel calls “conversion.” Human frailty makes it necessary that this conversion be carried out daily.

On this road to renewal the sacrament of reconciliation is the privileged sign of the Father’s mercy and the source of grace.

  

“The Longest Sentence In The World Is, ‘I DO’! But What A Feast It Is!!” – Matthew 22:1-14†


 

 

Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

 Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quotes of the Day
  • Today’s Gospel Reading
  • Gospel Reflection
  • Reflection Prayer
  • 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:

 

 

It is 49 days till the Advent season begins, and the start of the “New Mass”.  Have you looked at the changes?  I have been posting most of them for over 6 months, one at a time.  Look for the section title, “New Translation of the Mass” towards the end of my blog.  Become informed, so you don’t become “lost”.

Т

Did you know today is “Clergy Appreciation Day”?  It is always the second Sunday of October.  Please say “thank you” to your Priests and Deacons today.

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   1047 – Death of Clemens II, [Suitger], Pope (1046-47), (b. 1005
†   1776 – Father Francisco Palou founds Mission San Francisco de Asis in what is now San Francisco, California.
†   1793 – Jean Joseph Marie Amiot, French Jesuit missionary to China (b. 1718)
†   1845 – The eminent and controversial Anglican, John Henry Newman, is received into the Roman Catholic Church.
†   1927 – Birth of Ivan Metropolitan Ioann Snychev, Russian Orthodox Priest
†   1958 – Death of Pius XII, [Eugenio Pacelli], Pope (1939-58), (b. 1876)

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

 

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 Quotes of the Day: (You get three today):

 

 

“Don’t get up from the feast of life without paying for your share of it.” ~ Dean Inge. 

“Faith is the ticket to the feast, not the feast.” ~ Edwin Louis Cole 

“Marriage is a feast where the grace is sometimes better than the dinner.”  ~ Charles Caleb Colton

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus comparing the kingdom of heaven to a wedding feast.

 

 

(NAB Matthew 22:1-14) 1 Jesus again in reply spoke to them in parables, saying,  2“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.  3 He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come.  4 A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’  5 Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business.  6 The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them.  7 The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.  8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come.  9 Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’  10 The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests.  11 But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.  12 He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.  13 Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’  14 Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

 

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

 

Today’s parable about a “wedding feast” is also in Luke’s Gospel (See Luke 14:15–24).   As in last Sunday’s parable about the “wicked tenants”, Matthew has inserted many symbolic traits inherent to his later first-century Jewish-Catholic Church.  The growing tension between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders of Jerusalem is relevant in today’s parable.  With this in mind, today’s parable brings into focus a similar growing tension between Matthew’s Church in Jerusalem with the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman political officials in Jerusalem.  The symbolic traits include the burning of the city of those quests who refused the invitation (Matthew 22:7), which corresponds to the destruction of Temple and Jerusalem itself, by the Romans in A.D. 70.

Today’s reading also has similarities with last week’s parable of the “wicked tenants” as well, in the sending of two groups of servants (Matthew 22:3, 4), the murder of the servants sent (Matthew 22:6), the punishment of the murderers of the servants (Matthew 22:7), and the introduction of a “another” group into the “privileged” situation, for which the previous group had shown themselves dishonorable, unworthy, and undeserving (Matthew 22:8–10).  

Т

The parable Jesus tells today is straightforward in the telling.  A king dispatches his servants to invite the guests to the wedding feast that he is planning for his son.  The listeners of this parable would have been surprised to learn that the first guests refused the invitation.  Who would refuse such a request?  Who would refuse a “king’s” invitation – – FREE FOOD & FUN?  A second dispatch of servants follows to the invitees.  Again, and with great surprise, some guests ignore the invitation for a second time.  Matters of fact, some of the invited guests go even so far as to beat and kill the king’s servants.  The king retaliates against these murderous “invitee’s” by destroying them and burning their city.  (Now, that’s what I call “scorching” retribution!)

Today’s parable ends with an element found only in Matthew’s Gospel; an element easily capable of being its own distinct [and separate] parable.  Matthew presents the “kingdom of God” in its true double characteristics, just like a coin has two sides.  BOTH sides are already present and enterable here and now (Matthew 22:1–10), AND, is something that will only be obtained and achieved by those who stand the scrutiny of His “final judgment”, the “Parousia” (Matthew 22:11–14).  (What a mystery of faith.)  Today’s parable is not only a statement of God the Father’s judgment on “Israel” and it people itself, it is also a stern and prophetic warning to Matthew’s church, and to us here, now, and into the future.

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Today’s first reading (cf., Isaiah 25:6-10a), and again in today’s psalm (cf., 23:1-6), Jesus’ magnificent and unending righteousness and loving goodness is unmistakable in the image of a feast of “good food and wine”. (Yummy!!)

Why does Jesus Christ portray the kingdom of heaven as a “wedding feast”?  Interestingly, wedding feasts of this time period are nothing like today’s wedding receptions.  A first-century wedding feast could normally last for an entire week or more, and not just for a few hours, but for the entire 24/7 period of time – – day and night.  The bride had many dresses for the feast, basically one or more for each day.  There would be large amounts of various foods and drinks available (and not a cash bar either).  Think of a cleaner version of “Woodstock”, and you get the idea.

Listeners of this story would have been familiar with the image of a wedding feast as a symbol for God’s salvation.  After all, they would consider themselves to be the only invited guests.  Keeping this in mind may help us to understand the relationship Jesus makes with this particular parable.  

Jesus’ version of a wedding feast is comparable to the Old Testament’s representation of “final salvation” under the image of a banquet, as found in Isaiah:

“On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” (Isaiah 25:6).

The symbolic image of a wedding feast is also reported earlier in Matthew, and inferred in Luke’s Gospel:

“I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11),

And,

“The Lord said to him in reply, ‘Hypocrites!  Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?” (Luke 13:15).

Т

The sending of “servants”, twice, makes me wonder about Matthew’s church and its mission.  Could he have been referring to Catholic Christian missionaries in both instances of his reported “sending servants” in these “justice parables”?  My reasoning comes in the very next chapter of Matthew book:

 “Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and pursue from town to town” (Matthew 23:34).

Matthew’s “prophets and wise men and scribes”, I believe, are Catholic Christian disciples, sent out alone:

Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward.” (Matthew 10:41)

Let’s not get confused over the word “prophet”.  A “prophet” is simply one who speaks in the name of God; those who proclaim the “good word”, His Gospel.   As with the prophets, righteousness was (and is still) demanded of ALL His disciples.  It might be difficult for us to take the “righteous man” of this verse (Matthew 10:41) as indicating different groups within the followers of Jesus.  All designations, – – disciples, prophets, wise men, and scribes – – are used here for Catholic Christian missionaries.  However, Matthew tends to identify Jesus’ disciples, and the Twelve Apostles, in a unique way.  “Scribes”, per Matthew, is not everyone who accepts the message of Jesus Christ.  While the Twelve Apostles, in certain regards, are in many ways, representative of all who believe in Jesus, they are also differentiated from everyone who believes in Jesus Christ.  Matthew’s early Jewish-Catholic Church had leaders, among who were a group designated as “scribes”.

These men (and women) would most certainly have been beaten and killed at times, during their mission trips.  Many, such as Paul, would be scourged in synagogues throughout the many places they were sent.

The persecutions brought against the first-century disciples (the followers) of Jesus Christ during this “post-resurrection” time of local and worldly missions are related here in Matthew’s Gospel as a message to his audience. 

Thus, today’s reading also brings into dialogue, verses which deal with events preceding the Parousia:

“Beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues.  When they persecute you in one town, flee to another.  Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:17, 23) 

Т

Ok, I have to wonder, “Why would guests beat and kill the king’s servants who sent to invite them to a royal wedding feast?”  Is it possible that the king was a ruthless tyrant, as evidenced by the destruction of the city of those who refused his generous invitation?  I don’t believe so, because, if we follow this path or notion of ruthless and tyrannical behavior, then the symbolism has to be about something other than the kingdom of heaven, where nothing is ruthless or tyrannical.  The symbolism of the “destruction of the city” is simply a powerful image which corresponds to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70; an important, and disturbing, event for Matthew’s Jerusalem-based Jewish-Catholic audience.

With the invited guests now deemed “unworthy” to attend the king’s wedding feast, the king sends out his servants to invite “whomever they can find”.  These “new” invitee’s (found on the streets) arrive at the banquet not realizing that it in accepting the king’s invitation, it brings certain obligations with the invite.  The guest who failed to dress in the appropriate wedding attire is cast out of the banquet feast.  How is this image pertinent to me and you – – TODAY?

Well, while many are invited to the kingdom of heaven, not all are able to meet its requirements.  God invites ALL of us to His feast, giving us His salvation.  Yet He also asks us to repent for our sins.

Т

Matthew has Jesus (in verse 10) gathering the “bad and good alike”.  My question is, “Why would you want the ‘bad’ to come to a joyous occasion?”  Maybe the answer can be found in an earlier verse from Matthew:

The kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” (Matthew 13:47).

Only God will judge and sort His people, separating the good harvest from the bad weeds.  It is not our job and above our “pay-scale”!  Instead, we should try with all our resources, power, and being to bring ALL people to His kingdom.  As the famous (or infamous) Marine Corps saying goes:

“It’s God’s job to forgive. It’s only our job to arrange the meeting”!!

Т

The “wedding garment” described in verse 11 of todays reading is representative of repentance and conversion: a true change of heart, mind and soul.  This is the absolute condition required for entrance into God’s kingdom – – on earth and in heaven – – from each of us “sinners”:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 & 4:17).

This daily repentance and conversion needs to be continued, and demonstrated,  in a life of unconditional love, prayer, and good works:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?  Did we not drive out demons in your name?  Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’  Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers.” (Matthew 7:21–23).

 Т

The image of “wailing and grinding of teeth”, as found in verse 13 of today’s reading, does not sound like a fun activity whatsoever (unless one happens to be a sadistic oral surgeon)!  In this verse, Jesus is referring to the Catholic disciple who lacks being clothed in the “wedding garmentof good works, those who will suffer the identical fate as the Jewish “chosen people” (the people of Israel) who have rejected Jesus Christ in His mission and message.  Matthew gives a similar account earlier in his Gospel:

I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven, but the children of the kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” (Matthew 8:11–12)

Matthew inserted into today’s parable an element regarding the entrance of Gentiles into God’s kingdom AND the exclusion – – the separation from God – – of those Israelites descended from the patriarchs and members of the chosen nation, who refused to believe in Jesus Christ.  The phrase, “wailing and grinding of teeth”, is used frequently throughout Matthew’s Gospel to describe a “final condemnation” (cf., Matthew 8:12, 13:42, 13:50; 22:13; 24:51; and 25:30).   It is found in only one other place in the New Testament outside Matthew’s Gospel, that being Luke’s Gospel:

“There will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.“ (Luke 13:28).

Т

To summarize, Jesus’ message in today’s parable cautions against exclusive beliefs about the kingdom of heaven: the Protestant, “I know I am saved and going to heaven” type of belief.  This parable also teaches about humility.  Those who assume that they are the invited guests may find that they have actually “refused” the invitation, with others invited to the banquet in their place.  To accept the invitation is also to accept its obligations and responsibilities.  God wants our full conversion – – daily, – – and in complete acceptance of His mercy.

Why does Jesus’ parable seem to focus on an angry king who ends up punishing those who refused his invitation and who mistreated his servants?  We need to realize that Jesus’ parable, in reality, contains two stories.  The first has to do with the original guests invited to the feast.  The king sent out invitations, well in advance, to his subjects.  They had plenty of time to prepare for attending this great feast.  How insulting was it for the invited guests to then refuse to come when the time for celebrating arrived?!  In refusing, they not only insulted the King, but his son as well.  The king’s anger and hurt is rightly justified; they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due!!

Jesus directed this warning – – somewhat found “between the lines” in today’s reading, – – to the Jews of His day.  It both communicated how much God wanted them to share in the joy of His kingdom, AND also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing His Son, their (and our) Messiah and Savior – – Jesus Christ.

The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king; those who would never have considered getting such an invitation.  The “good and the bad“, found along the highways, refers to Gentiles and sinners – – the weeds among the grain.  How great was this invitation of grace!  What an undeserved, unmerited, favor, and kindness was this invitation for these outcasts of society! 

However, let’s look at the other side of the “grace” coin (there is always two sides to everything).  The flip-side contains a warning for those who choose to refuse His gift, His grace, OR, who approaches the heavenly banquet feast “unworthily”.  Grace is a free gift, but with it comes an awesome responsibility. 

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In conclusion, we are all, in fact and faith, invited to the MOST important banquet of all banquets ever possible, anywhere and at any time!!  The last book in the Holy Bible: “Revelations”, ends with a beautiful invitation to God the Father’s wedding feast for the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and His Bride, the Catholic (Universal) Church:

The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’  Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’  Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.” (Revelations 22:17)

 

So, how do we respond to His invitation?  God the Father has granted us “free will” to accept or reject His salvation.  The parable of the wedding feast reminds us that God desires our wholehearted and total acceptance of His invitation.

What do you consider appropriate attire for various occasions?  For example, if you were invited to a barbecue, what would you wear?  If you were planning to attend the symphony, how would you dress?  If invited to an evening wedding, what might you put on?  Doesn’t our preparation for an event, our choice of attire, indicate the importance and value we place on the particular occasion?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses this metaphor to talk about the kingdom of heaven. What does Jesus Himself expect from those who accept His invitation of salvation?

God invites each of us to His banquet; a feast we may share in, with, and through His joy – – for eternity.  Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

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 Reflection Prayer:

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.

 

During the Preparation of the Gifts, the prayers of the priest have several changes, but the only change for the assembly is the addition of the word Holy” to the response just before the Prayer over the Offerings.  Where we now say, “for our good and the good of all his Church,” the new text says, “for our good and the good of all His Holy Church.

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

 

ТТТ

 

 

 A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. John Leonardi (1541?-1609)

 

 

“I am only one person!  Why should I do anything?  What good would it do?”  Today, as in any age, people seem plagued with the dilemma of getting involved.  In his own way, John Leonardi answered these questions.  He chose to become a priest.

After his ordination, he became very active in the works of the ministry, especially in hospitals and prisons.  The example and dedication of his work attracted several young laymen who began to assist him.  They later became priests themselves.

John lived after the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent.  He and his followers projected a new congregation of diocesan priests.  For some reason, the plan, which was ultimately approved, provoked great political opposition.  John was exiled from his home town of Lucca, Italy, for almost the entire remainder of his life.  He received encouragement and help from St. Philip Neri [whose feast is May 26], who gave him his lodgings—along with the care of his cat!

In 1579, John formed the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and published a compendium of Christian doctrine that remained in use until the 19th century.

Father Leonardi and his priests became a great power for good in Italy, and their congregation was confirmed by Pope Clement in 1595.  He died at the age of 68 from a disease caught when tending those stricken by the plague.

By the deliberate policy of the founder, the Clerks Regular of the Mother of God have never had more than 15 churches and today form only a very small congregation.

Comment:

What can one person do?  If you ever glanced through a Christopher Notes pamphlet you know—plenty!  In the life of each saint one thing stands clear: God and one person are a majority!  What one individual, following God’s will and plan for his or her life, can do is more than our mind could ever hope for or imagine.  Each of us, like John Leonardi, has a mission to fulfill in God’s plan for the world.  Each one of us is unique and has been given talent to use for the service of our brothers and sisters for the building up of God’s kingdom.

Quote:

“Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  Sell your belongings and give alms.  Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy” (Luke 12:32-33).

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)

 

ТТТ

 

 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

 

Saint Francis and the Spirituality

 

How does Saint Francis show his awareness of his “duty” as a superior (aka, “minister”)?

What expectations did Saint Francis expect from other superiors (Ministers)?

How did Saint Francis advise about compassion, for friars who sin publicly?

What does Saint Francis mean when saying, “everything that makes it difficult to love God” is a “special favor”?

 

 

ТТТ

 

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Subsection #’s 9 & 10 of 26:

 

9.  The Virgin Mary, humble servant of the Lord, was open to His every word and call.  She was embraced by Francis with indescribable love and declared the protectress and advocate of his family.  The Secular Franciscans should express their ardent love for her by imitating her complete self-giving and by praying earnestly and confidently.

Т

10.  United themselves to the redemptive obedience of Jesus, who placed His will into the Father’s hands, let them faithfully fulfill the duties proper to their various circumstances of life. Let them also follow the poor and crucified Christ, witness to Him even in difficulties and persecutions.

  

“Jesus was Caught by a Red-Light Camera, But Who Is Going to Give HIM the Ticket?!” – Luke 14:1, 7-14†


  

 

Today is going to be a beautiful day in the St. Louis area.  I hope all have a spiritual day as well.  On Facebook yesterday, I was drawn into a “debate” over abstinence education versus prophylactic education.  Someone I consider a long-term friend, and already known as ultra-“progressive,” felt strongly that abstinence education is not only wrong, but also considered abstinence a joke in today’s society. 

When given information from LDI (Life Decisions International) that abstinence education was proven effective, and that the US Government tried to cover up its own study, he still persisted that abstinence will not work.  He wrote: “so ignore the facts, cloak sexuality in some divine gifting scenario, and hope such a priority will resonate with teens.  Good luck with that.  My children understand that sexual activity leads to parenthood, so if they are willing to accept that… consequence, then they are ready to understand contraception and why that is a good idea.  Marriage is not about sex.  Marriage is about money, assets, property and security. I think your values are awesome to attain and to maintain.  If they work for your family then good for you. But abstinence programs don’t work unless condoms are readily available…” 

My concern is that he left out the most important aspect of marriage: LOVE!!  And, sexuality IS a divinely magnificent gift, a grace, from God!  With love, anything is possible.  Please keep this person in your prayers and LOVE today.

 

            

Today in Catholic History:

 
    
†   1799 – Death of Pope Pius VI (b. 1717)
†   1844 – Death of Edmund Ignatius Rice, Irish founder of the Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers (b. 1762)
†   Liturgical Feast Day: Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholic Church commemorate the beheading of John the Baptist with a feast day.

 

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

 

   

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Q:     What brand of car does Jesus drive?
A:     A “Christ-ler!”

 

 

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ parable on humility; instructing us that when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.

 

1 On a Sabbath he [Jesus] went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.  7 He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.  8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor.  A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, 9 and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place.  10 Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.  11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  12 Then he said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.  13 Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; 14 blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  (NAB Luke 14:1, 7-14)

 

Was there such a thing as “red-light” cameras during the days of Jesus’ time on earth in human form?  Probably not, BUT he still had many “video cameras” trained on Him continuously during His adult ministry.  People observed Him incessantly, carefully, and with an eye (excuse the pun) to find any error, as well as any revelation that He uttered.  With many eyes trained on Him, many tongues followed; and these tongues wagged continuously, especially at lunch and dinner time. 

Meals played an important role in the society in which Jesus lived. More than just a time for sharing nourishment, meals were a time to share ideas and to develop and shape different aspects of social relationships.  A great deal of societal life — business, politics, romance, and religion — was discussed, argued, and debated over meals.  “Banquets” such as a wedding feast, could last for seven days.  That’s a lot of food and discussion!  In my home, I live by the “fresh fish” philosophy for guests:  Guests, like fresh fish, are always welcome, but after three days they both start to smell!

Jesus sets a banquet and invites us to this actual place of honor every day of the week; and it is here on earth right now!  It is the EUCHARIST, and Jesus is our host!  Imagine this: When you’re at Mass, let the image of Jesus hosting a banquet fill your imagination, letting it seep into your being.  In the presence of the Eucharist — JESUS, we are sitting next to the Lord, the angels, and all our loved ones that have preceded us to His heavenly glory.  How will the image of a heavenly banquet here on earth at this moment change the effect of the liturgy on you now, and in the future? (For a preview please read Hebrews 12:22-24.)

In Luke’s Gospel, the places where a person ate, such as at the home of a tax collector as in Luke 5:29; the people with whom a person ate, like the sinners in Luke 5:30; whether a person washed before eating such as in Luke 11:38; and, as in the case here, the place where a person reclines while eating, are all important.  Luke discloses that Jesus tells a parable; but this “story” is in reality prudent advice to both guests and hosts about finding true happiness at the heavenly banquet.

This banquet scene, this parable, is found only in Luke’s Gospel.  Luke provides an opportunity for Jesus to teach on humility and presents a setting to display his interest in Jesus’ attitude toward the rich and the poor of society.  The poor in Luke’s gospel are associated with the downtrodden, the oppressed, the afflicted, the forgotten, and the neglected; it is they who accept Jesus’ message of salvation.  Hmm, “the meek will inherit the inherit earth!” (Matthew 5:5)

Jesus’ ministry to the poor and downtrodden is evident in other writings of Luke.  In Luke 4: 18-19, Luke describes Jesus reading: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Jesus, in reading that “the Lord is upon Him” is declaring Himself as a prophet whose ministry is similar to the great prophets Elijah and Elisha and all the prophets recognized as the one’s anointed to speak and reveal God’s law.  Jesus did so when He said, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

In another of his chapters, Luke 6: 20-26, Jesus — during His “Sermon on the Mount” (the “Beatitudes”) and the parable of the “two houses” — described blessings and woes as relevant today as then, with the current economic and social conditions of humanity.  Today there are still the poor and the rich, the hungry and the satisfied, those grieving and those laughing, the outcast and the socially acceptable.  In the sermon, the word “blessed” extols the fortunate condition of persons who are favored with the blessings of God.  The “woes,” addressed as they are presented to the disciples of Jesus, reveals God’s profound displeasure on those so blinded by their present “fortunate” situation that they do not recognize and appreciate the real values of God’s kingdom: the willingness on the part of the poor to believe God’s faithfulness in the words of Jesus.  In both the blessings and woes of people in the present condition of success on one hand, and those being poor, disposed, and outcast on the other, faith tells us the presentation of all these people addressed will be reversed in the future.

Also, in Luke 12:13-34, the parable of the “landowner with the bountiful harvest,” Jesus joined together two specific moral sayings, contrasting individuals whose focus and trust in life were on material possessions as symbolized by the rich landowner of the parable, with those who recognize their complete dependence on God, those whose radical detachment from material possessions symbolized their heavenly treasure (The real values of God’s Kingdom).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus teaches His guests to choose the humble place at the table.  In this way they can avoid the fear of embarrassment that Jesus observed. This parable is more than just a lesson about earthly dinner etiquette.  It is sage advice on how to find your “true place” in the Kingdom of God, and relationships with others.  Jesus advises His hosts not to invite people who would be expected to repay them with an invitation to another greater and more elaborate dinner (the normal process at that time in history).  Jesus encourages them to invite those who could not repay: the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  This is where real blessings can be found and given!

We are all poor, lame, or blind (either physically or spiritually).  No matter how tough we are, we all want peace, healing, and love.  Jesus wants to shower us with these gifts every time we receive Him in the Holy Eucharist of Communion.  We need to receive His presence in Communion with an admonition and humility, and by reflecting on and saying, “Lord, I am not worthy, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” (Mt 8:8)

In these four parables I have reflected on today, we are given not only advice on how to approach the future, but also on how to live according to Jesus’ vision of a good, Catholic-Christian society.  Luke’s Gospel also advises us how the Catholic Church must be part of bringing about Jesus’ vision for us.

Trivia time: I purposely said “Catholic-Christian society.”  When you break the words down, it translates into “a ‘universal’ (Catholic) society of ‘little Christ’s’ (Christian)!”

To summarize, we often “negotiate” over various issues in our lives.  Children try to squeeze as much allowance out of their parents as possible at certain times throughout their youth.  Teens vie for the use of the family car, extended curfews, and even permission to go to certain concerts and events.  As adults, we typically negotiate for various monetary and non-monetary compensations in bidding work requirements and expectations.  And, with today’s economic situation, sometimes we even negotiate FOR a job!

Typically, when someone seeks an increase in their income, it is usually attached to an increase in job requirements and/or responsibilities.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus talked about doing good deeds for others and expecting nothing in return.  

How would you feel if you were told to take on responsibilities or a work-load without ever expecting another raise in income or benefits?  Jesus teaches us that it is our duty as his followers, His disciples, to take care of the needs of others and to do so without any financial or compensatory expectations.  

We sometimes fall into the trap of wanting too many things, especially from others.  In the great prayer taught to us by Jesus, the “Our Father,” we pray for “our daily bread.”  This means that we pray for only what we really need in life.

 

“The Our Father”

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Martyrdom of John the Baptist

     

 

The drunken oath of a king with a shallow sense of honor, a seductive dance and the hateful heart of a queen combined to bring about the martyrdom of John the Baptist.  The greatest of prophets suffered the fate of so many Old Testament prophets before him: rejection and martyrdom.  The “voice crying in the desert” did not hesitate to accuse the guilty, did not hesitate to speak the truth.  But why?  What possesses a man that he would give up his very life?

This great religious reformer was sent by God to prepare the people for the Messiah.  His vocation was one of selfless giving. The only power that he claimed was the Spirit of Yahweh.  “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.  I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11).  Scripture tells us that many people followed John looking to him for hope, perhaps in anticipation of some great messianic power.  John never allowed himself the false honor of receiving these people for his own glory.  He knew his calling was one of preparation.  When the time came, he led his disciples to Jesus: “The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God.’  The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus” (John 1:35-37).  It is John the Baptist who has pointed the way to Christ.  John’s life and death were a giving over of self for God and other people.  His simple style of life was one of complete detachment from earthly possessions.  His heart was centered on God and the call that he heard from the Spirit of God speaking to his heart.  Confident of God’s grace, he had the courage to speak words of condemnation or repentance, of salvation.

 

Comment:

Each of us has a calling to which we must listen.  No one will ever repeat the mission of John, and yet all of us are called to that very mission.  It is the role of the Christian to witness to Jesus.  Whatever our position in this world, we are called to be disciples of Christ.  By our words and deeds others should realize that we live in the joy of knowing that Jesus is Lord.  We do not have to depend upon our own limited resources, but can draw strength from the vastness of Christ’s saving grace.

Quote:

“So they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.’  John answered and said, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said [that] I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.  So this joy of mine has been made complete.  He must increase; I must decrease’” (John 3:26–30).

 

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)

 

    

Prologue to the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO):

 

Chapter 1: Concerning Those Who Do Penance

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Oh, holy Father, protect them with your name (cf. Jn 17:11) whom you gave me out of the world. I entrusted to them the message you entrusted to me and they received it. They have known that in truth I came from you; they have believed that it was you who sent me. For these I pray, not for the world (cf. Jn 17:9). Bless and consecrate them, and I consecrate myself for their sakes. I do not pray for them alone; I pray also for those who will believe in me through their word (cf. Jn 17:20) that they may be holy by being one, as we are (cf. Jn 17:11). And I desire, Father, to have them in my company where I am to see this glory of mine in your kingdom” (cf. Jn 17:6-24).

“Me Prepared? Nope, But There Is Plenty of Time – Isn’t There?!” – Luke 12:32-48†


One week to go till the finish of my yearly devotion: St. Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary.”  It has been an awesome journey of faith.  It ends next Sunday, when I renew my consecration of the Marian Feast of “The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” 

As a side note, completion of the devotion and consecration, —   along with the Sacrament of Reconciliation attained yesterday, attendance at Mass on the day of consecration, and reception of the Holy Eucharist on that day, — will grant me a plenary indulgence: a total wiping clean of any imperfections on my soul from the abuses I have earned through my own sins – and that’s some serious wiping!  This is the ultimate in being prepared for the Parousia.  (If you do not understand what “parousia” is, you will after reading this reflection today.)

 

 

** A mini-reflection: (You get two reflections, for the price of one today!)
  

For those did not know their Church Calendar backwards and forwards, this past Friday was the feast of the “Transfiguration of the Lord.”
     

The Transfiguration of Christ is related in detail in the Synoptic gospels: Matthew 17:1-6, Mark 9:1-8, and Luke 9:28-36.  Six days after His stopover in Cæsarea Philippi, Jesus took Peter, James and John to Mount Tabor where He was “transfigured” before their eyes.  His face shone as the sun, and his garments became snow white.  The dazzling brightness which emanated from His whole Body was produced by an interior shining of His Divinity. 

This sounds a lot like what happened with Moses on Mount Sinai, as written in Exodus:  “The glory of the LORD settled upon Mount Sinai. The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.  To the Israelites the glory of the LORD was seen as a consuming fire on the mountaintop.  But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights. As Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the commandments in his hands, he did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant while he conversed with the Lord.”  (NAB Ex 24: 16-18, 34: 29)

Previously, we learned from Exodus 3:14 — “God replied, ‘I am who am.’ Then he added, ‘This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.’” — that God revealed His glory in the bush that was burning bright, but not consumed.  Then, at a later time as written above, the bush blazed and the cloud became luminous on the mountain top, as God gave Moses the Law of the Covenant.  On another mountain top, Jesus like the bush before, again revealed His glory in Jesus, and the glory of His Father shining threw His whole body, and even His garments.

In this manifestation, Moses and Elijah not only encouraged Jesus, but also adored Him as the promised one of God.  And, for the second time (the first being at His baptism in the Jordan River), God spoke and proclaimed Him His only-begotten and well-loved Son.  Jesus’ speaking with Moses and Elijah about the trials which awaited Him at Jerusalem strengthened His faith, and the growing faith of his three friends, preparing them ALL for the terrible struggle they were to endure at Gethsemane.  After all, in witnessing this beautiful manifestation, Peter, James, and John received a foretaste of the glory and heavenly delights to come.        

Have you been transfigured?  Are you burning with God’s love and revelation?  Have you ever received Jesus in Holy Communion?

PS – See if you can find the link between the “Transfiguration” and today’s Gospel reading.

 

Does anyone have access to a few free “used but still usable” 1 volume Divine Office books (“Christian Prayer”)?  We have several new Inquirers and Candidates in our SFO Fraternity.  If you know of one collecting dust, please let us use it for the glory of God.  Will pick up if in St. Louis metro area, or will gladly pay for postage.  Please let me know if you can help.  We need a minimum of three, but can use 10 if possible.

Our SFO Fraternity has decided to try to get hold of donated “Christian Prayer” books that have been used in order to save trees, and to continue the good works from Religious that have died or left the order.  When using the original owner’s book, we will also be praying for their soul and intentions. (What’s a better payment than praying for one’s soul and intentions?!)
      

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:
   

“What I desire most is to be faithful and to finish the race. It doesn’t matter if I finish running or crawling; all I want is to finish and to hear God the Father say to me, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:23). I can’t give up; I must keep going.”

— Fr. Dave Pivonka, TOR,
Hiking the Camino:
500 Miles with Jesus,
Servant Books

 

  

    

Today’s reflection is about being prepared, for when we do not know or expect, the Son of Man will come.

 

32 Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.  33 Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.  34 For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.  35 “Gird your loins and light your lamps 36 and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.  37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.  38 And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.  39 Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  40 You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  41 Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?”  42 And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute (the) food allowance at the proper time?  43 Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.  44 Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.  45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful.  47 That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; 48 and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.  (NAB Luke 12:32-48)

 

God desires to give us His Kingdom.  He wants to take us to be with Him forever in paradise.  But we MUST wait, and be Prepared.  Sounds like a “scouting” thing to me.  Maybe the scouts have it right in their “Scouting Oath and Law:”

“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

The “Scout Law” is to be: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent (12 virtues).  What else can you ask for in being a Catholic?  Our entire Catechism and focus of our faith are possibly summed up in these two promises that “children” pledge routinely throughout the world.  Didn’t Jesus say we are to be like children to enter the kingdom?  Kind of makes you think; doesn’t it!?

Today’s Gospel Reading is a collection of quips and sayings related to Luke’s understanding of the “end time” and “the return of Jesus.”  Luke emphasized the importance of being faithful to the instructions and teachings of Jesus in the period before the “parousia.”  What the heck is “parousia?”

Parousia is the return of Jesus Christ to end the current period of human history and existence on earth, and to open the new era of paradise here for some, and eternal torment, also here, for others.  This “time” when Jesus will return has been given many names: the Day of the Lord, the Parousia, the end time, and the Second Coming of Christ.  I might even call it the “Oops – Too Late” time for some.

Why do we have to wait for the Parousia?  The Jewish people knew and trusted they would defeat their many enemies, but had to endure many plagues and tribulations before they were released by the Pharaoh, after the first “Passover.”  Abraham and Sarah had to wait a very long time before Isaac was born: and ditto for Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth.  I, for one, never joke about my wife and I being too old to get pregnant: God does have an awesome and surprissing sense of humor after all!  Waiting is a necessary component of faith in God: it is a virtue called patience.

God has bequeathed to us paradise with Him.  He just asks us to be prepared, by doing a few simple things.  First, forget about the materialistic things of this world, and instead embrace the spiritual things of His kingdom.  Secondly, use the resources available to you to help others in need.  After all, as is written in today’s Gospel reading, “where your treasure is, there also will your heart be (Luke 12:34).” 

“Gird your loins and light your lamps … ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks ….”  I yelled out this phrase to my teenage children, and then almost fell out of my chair laughing after seeing their faces.  I honestly believe they thought I went off the deep end!  This phrase simply means to be dressed and ready to go, day or night; for when He comes, no one knows.  I’ll go even further and say that the “dressed” part of this phrase is to be dressed in God’s graces and virtues; and the “light” is the illumination present in us (we call this “Sanctifying Grace”).  This transfigured grace guides us in walking in the brightness of Jesus’ footsteps.

Peter asks if this parable is meant just for the Apostles, or for the large crowd that had gathered to listen to Jesus.  Without answering Peter’s question, Jesus responds with yet another parable (I love Jesus’ style) about servants awaiting the return of their master.

This new parable adds to the theme of vigilance and caution.  It explains how to wait, and reminds us of the reward for the faithful follower at the heavenly banquet in paradise.  If it was addressed to the Apostles, then it was addressed to the leadership of the “early” Catholic Church; and the “Church body” of today: the faithful individuals and community, in union with the Magisterium.  

Those faithful followers and servants whom God finds observant will be sanctified on His return: the Parousia.  God so dearly wants to oblige himself to us.  He desires to have us recline at His table, and wishes to wait on us as He hosts the divine feast in heaven.  I suspect God will be the perfectly gracious host, at a meal of a lifetime!

“My master is delayed in coming” is a statement that indicates that the early Christian expectation for the impending return of Jesus had undergone some modification.  Luke warns his readers against depending on such a delay and acting irresponsibly, and may I say unwisely.  A similar warning can found in Matthew 24:48-51: But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  Two warnings in the hand are better than one soul in hell! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Is this time of preparation and waiting going to be an easy wait?  Hell NO! – Literally.  Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.  The “Peter Principle” states that “we rise to our highest level of incompetency.”  The “Jesus Principle” states that we can rise to the highest level of sanctification and perfection.

God’s kingdom is unfolding in this world and in our hearts and souls – TODAY!  We actually see a hint of the kingdom at every Mass and Liturgical Sacrament.  We catch sight of the kingdom every time we gather in His name.  We make out His kingdom in every person we help, we forgive, and to whom we ask for forgiveness.

We are not to be like the greedy rich fool in last Sunday’s Gospel reading who planned to store his great harvest in barns rather than share it.  We are instead to share our wealth with anyone we encounter in need.  We need to see Jesus in all humans, regardless of their earthly predicaments.  The solution for the angst or fear brought on by Jesus’ return and the coming judgment is to surrender our greed and dependence for material possessions, and to provide for the needs of others as our circumstances allow us. Our immense treasure will instead be in heaven, where it cannot wear out, be stolen, nor destroyed (Luke 12: 33).

How many clocks are in your home?  If you’re like me, you have a timepiece everywhere: the kitchen and living room walls; on the microwave and oven, on the DVD/DVR device(s), on both sides of the bed, on the cell phone(s), and maybe even on your wrist.  With all of these time reminders, are you (or a loved one) still repetitively late to appointments, breaking my “11th Commandment: “Thou shall never be late!”?

FYI, I don’t believe you really want to be late, when the Parousia occurs.  Place a symbol such as a crucifix, Rosary, or picture of the “Sacred Heart of Jesus,” near your clocks as a reminder that it is always “time” for us to be acting like Disciples of Christ.  Another easy thing that I have recently started doing is to set an alarm on my cell phone (that is ALWAYS with me) for 3 p.m. (that’s 1500 hours for the military mind set).  At this time each and every day, when the alarm alerts me, I pray a very simple and short prayer: “Jesus, I trust in you.”  This literally puts Jesus into my thoughts and heart at least once in the middle, and probably the busiest point, of every day.

Another major way to be ready for the coming judgment is to simply be on continuous alert.  We must be like the servants waiting for the master’s return from a wedding banquet that (even now) usually lasts for days in the Middle East.  (And we complain about a couple hours of bad food and cash bars.)  We need be watchful, so that even if Jesus comes in the middle of the night, we will be ready for Him.  We ought to be found doing our Catholic and sacred jobs when Jesus arrives at the time of the Parousia.  If we are doing our jobs, our reward will be great.  But if we relax and neglect our duties, acting like the greedy rich man, we will not have a place in God’s kingdom: eternal paradise.  This requires that we be living in a consistently moral and obedient way, so that we are always ready and prepared to give a first-rate account to God of how we have lived.

It can be an easy wait for those that maintain their faith and Christian practices.  Here is the secret: Just live every day as you want to live in God’s Kingdom.  If you do, Jesus will surely wait on you!  He’ll honor you for helping others, and for walking in His footsteps.

There is a great hope and joy in today’s Gospel reading.  God is never outdone in generosity!  God ALWAYS wins: and He picked all of us to be on His team!

 

 “The Apostles Creed”

 

“I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
     

*****
    

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Holy Father Dominic 1170-1221
   
  

Dominic was born to wealthy Spanish nobility.  At his baptism, his mother saw a star shining from his chest.  Dominic, though of noble stature, eventually turned his back entirely on material possessions and wealth.

He studied theology at Palencia, and became the “Canon” of the church of Osma.  As a Priest and Augustinian, Dominic lived a lifelong apostolate among heretics, especially the Albigensians in France.  He founded the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1215.  The Dominicans were a group who live a simple and austere life.  Dominic also founded an order of nuns dedicated to the care of young girls.  He was a true visionary, and associated with friends such as Saint Amata of Assisi (a Poor Clare Nun).

At one point Dominic became discouraged at the stalled progress of his mission; the heresies remained.  He received a vision from Our Lady who showed him a wreath of roses, and told him to say the Rosary daily, and to teach it to all who would listen.  Eventually the true faith won out over the heretics. Dominic is often erroneously credited with the invention of the Rosary, but the Rosary predated his life.  It had been prayed long before his birth by those who could not read, as a substitute for reading and praying the Psalms.

Through St. Dominic and Blessed Alan, it is a widely accepted belief that our Blessed Mother Mary granted fifteen promises to all those who recite the Rosary:

1.  Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.

2.  I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3.  The Rosary will be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.

4.  It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things.  Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.

5.  Those who recommend themselves to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6.  Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune.  God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an un-provided death; if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.

7.  Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.

8.  Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death, the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.

9.  I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10.  The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in heaven.

11.  You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.

12.  All those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13.  I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.

14.  All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and brothers of my only son, Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Legend says that Dominic received a vision of a beggar who, like Dominic, would do great things for the Faith.  Dominic met the beggar the next day, and he embraced him saying, “You are my companion and must walk with me.  If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us.”  The beggar was Saint Francis of Assisi.

Quote:

“A man who governs his passions is master of his world.  We must either command them or be enslaved by them.  It is better to be a hammer than an anvil.” – Saint Dominic

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

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #8 of 26:
   

As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.

Let them participate in the sacramental life of the Church, above all the Eucharist.

Let them join in liturgical prayer in one of the forms proposed by the Church, reliving the mysteries of the life of Christ.

 

 

“It’s Party Time!” – Mt 22.2


The first Friday of Lent 2010.  I even talked my wife into going to our favorite fish fry at a neighboring parish for dinner.  This fish fry is so popular that she will need to be there by 2 pm, for its 3 o’clock start.  Getting there at 2 pm will get her out of the parish hall at about 5 pm with the take out order.  The fish is good, but the money they make has to be awesome, considering the lines usually go down the street.
  

Today we are reflecting on my favorite subject: banquets and feasts!   

"Fish Friday"

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

God himself does not propose to judge a man until he is dead, so why should you?

 

Today’s Meditation:

 

The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.  (NAB Mt 22:)

 

It’s party time!  What a strange thing to say during lent: a time of renewal and sacrifice.  Mardi-gras was the time to party, and now we are to wear sack cloths and ashes, in a figurative way anyhow.

Yes, this is true.  We are to remember the Passion of Jesus: His trials on earth, and His torture and crucifixion.  We are to meditate on the reason He came to us in human form, and the redemption given to us with His divine gift of dying for us.

Maybe we have to realize that Jesus wants us to remember, sacrifice, and meditate, but He also wants us to think of life as a feast.  He has given us gifts, and we should celebrate.

Love, joy, laughter, passion, caring and concern for others, a wanting to help the down-trodden: these, and many more, are fabulous gifts from God and needs to be passed on to others.  Share what you have, and don’t be obsessed with the acquisition and hording of material items.  After all, the only thing you can take with you is your soul, and your track record of how you lived your life, and this feast, in heaven, could be considered is our final salvation.

Sharing God’s gifts is the best way to obtain more gifts and graces from God.  I have seen it for myself.  By giving more in the way alms, to organizations such as the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and in the collection basket at mass each week, it seems I have enough to pay the bills more easily, and have an easier time to give more back to others.  There is always “just enough” to pay for the needs of my family when I give more to others in need.

Should we consider having enough as a type of lottery win?  NO: It’s not.  It is always work and sacrifice to have a feast.  It takes time, talent, and treasure to take part in a feast of gifts with, and for, others.

Sometimes we seem to be too busy to come to the feast.  We are too distracted, and in our own little world, to even think about the great gifts God has given us.  We literally push God into the closet.  How selfish can we be at times!

At other times we come to the feast, but then see an “obstacle,” and our response is a type of, “I can’t sit next to him.”  As my parents used to tell me from time to time; “you take your ball and go home mad!”  You only want to give your gifts with strings attached, and not freely; without ulterior motives.  Love, joy, laughter, and so on, are given freely to you, and only gain value as they are dispersed to others.

Life is too short not to think of it as a feast.  Jesus wants us to be happy.  Life with Him in heaven is our greatest gift that we may receive from Him, but only if we choose it freely.  Believe it or not, our joy here on earth can in no way compare to the joy we will experience with Jesus in heaven.

“Lord, thank you for allowing me to come to your feast.  Please allow me to continue the feast with all people I come into contact with today, and in the future.  Let me have an appetite and disposition to share all that you have given me.  I pray that no one ever goes hungry in this world, or the next.  Amen”

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  St. Conrad of Piacenza 1290-1351

 

Conrad was born at Piacenza, Lombardy, in the year 1290, of a very noble family, and while still quite young, he married Euphrosyne, the daughter of a nobleman of Lodi. He had a great fondness for chivalrous sports and was an eager hunter.

One time when out hunting, his quarry hid itself in dense underbrush. To force it into the open, Conrad directed his attendants to set fire to the brushwood. The wind, however, drove the flames upon a nearby grain field, where it continued to spread, destroying the entire crop and a large forest besides. The governor of Piacenza at once sent out armed men to apprehend the incendiary.

Filled with consternation at the unfortunate turn of the conflagration, Conrad meanwhile fled into the city along certain lonely roads. The posse, however, came upon a poor peasant who had gathered a bundle of charred sticks and was carrying them into the city. Believing him to be the guilty person, the men seized him. He was tortured on the rack until they wrung from the poor man a statement that he had set fire to the woods out of sheer spite. He was condemned to death.

Not until the unfortunate victim was passing Conrad’s house on the way to execution, did Conrad learn why the sentence of death had been imposed on the peasant. Driven by his conscience, Conrad rushed out, saved the man from the hands of the bailiffs, and before all the people acknowledged that he was the guilty person. He went to the governor and explained that the conflagration was the result of a mishap; that he was willing to repair all the damage done. His wife joined him in his good will and sacrificed her dowry to assist in making restitution.

The incident taught Conrad the vanity of the goods of this world, and he resolved to give his attention only to eternal goods. He communicated his sentiments to his wife, and found that she entertained the same ideas. She went to the convent of Poor Clares and received the veil there, while Conrad, who was only 25 years old, left his native town and joined a group of hermits of the Third Order.

In a very short time he made such progress in virtue that the fame of his sanctity attracted many of his former friends and acquaintances to his hermitage. But it was Conrad’s wish to forsake the world completely; so he slipped away to Rome, and from there went to Sicily, to the Noto valley, near Syracuse, where he hoped he could remain unknown and in utter seclusion. He lived there for 36 years, the last of which he spent in a lonely cave on a height since named Mount Conrad.

There Conrad lived an extremely penitential life, sleeping on the bare earth and taking only bread and water with some wild herbs for nourishment. Nevertheless, he was subjected to some of the most terrible assaults of the devil. But by means of prayer so pleasing to God that he was granted the gifts of prophesy and miracles.

When Conrad perceived that his end was drawing near, he went to Syracuse to make a general confession of his life to the bishop. On the way flocks of birds flew about him and perched on his shoulders as they used to do to St. Francis, and on the way back to his solitude they accompanied him again, to the astonishment of all whom he met. On the very same day he was seized with a fever, which resulted in his death a few days later. He was kneeling before an image of the Crucified when he peacefully passed away on February 19, 1351. In accordance with his wishes he was buried in the church of St. Nicholas at Noto, where his remains still repose in a silver shrine. Many miracles have taken place there. In the year 1515 Pope Leo X permitted his feast be celebrated at Noto. Urban VIII canonized him in 1625.

 

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

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #19:

 

Mindful that they are bearers of peace which must be built up unceasingly, they should seek out ways of unity and fraternal harmony through dialogue, trusting in the presence of the divine seed in everyone and in the transforming power of love and pardon. Messengers of perfect joy in every circumstance, they should strive to bring joy and hope to others. Since they are immersed in the resurrection of Christ, which gives true meaning to Sister Death, let them serenely tend toward the ultimate encounter with the Father.