Tag Archives: will

“Let Us Walk and Talk Together!” –Matthew 21:28-32†


 

 

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

 

 Today’s Content:

 

  • Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations
  • Today in Catholic History
  • Quote 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:

 

 

It is exactly 3 months till CHRISTinMASS today.  I love this season more than any other season of the year (Easter comes close, with Halloween being a distant 3rd).  The reason is because I believe more people live a life of “thinking” about Jesus, and are more open to hearing His message than any other time of the year.  It is so sad that a secular aspect of this beautiful time of the year has to be used to draw people back to what should be a daily event: celebrating Christ in our lives.

December is the Christmas Season per any wall calendar.  However, we need to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” every day of our existence.  I pray that we can all celebrate Christ in all aspects of our lives.  Let us “Walk the Talk” together on our individual paths of righteousness, leading to eternal joy and paradise in paradise.  Let us all keep “CHRISTinMASS”!!

 

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 Today in Catholic History:

    

†   303 – On a voyage preaching the gospel, Saint Fermin of Pamplona is beheaded in Amiens, France.
†   1392 – Death of Sergius van Radonesj, Russian saint, at age 78
†   1534 – Death of Clement VII, [Giulio de’ Medici], Italian Pope (1523-34), at age 56 (b. 1478)
†   1617 – Death of Francisco Suarez, Spanish Jesuit, philosopher/theologian (b. 1548)

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

 

 

 

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 Quote of the Day:

 

 

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for, and deserted by everybody.  The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards those who are victims of exploitation, corruption, poverty, and disease.  Love has to be built on sacrifice.  We have to give until it hurts.”  ~ Mother Teresa, “Where There Is Love, There Is God”, Doubleday

 

 

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus posing a question to the “Chief Priests and Elders” on the meaning of obedience; the Parable of the “Two Sons”.

 

 

 

(NAB Matthew 21:28-32) 28 “What is your opinion?  A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’  29 He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  30 The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.  31 Which of the two did his father’s will?”  They answered, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  32 When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.

 

 

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 Gospel Reflection:

 

What kind of future are you preparing for?  Jesus encourages us to think about the consequences of our choices, especially those decisions which will count not just for now, but for eternity as well.  The choices we make now can, and WILL, affect and shape our future, both our human future on earth as well as in our eternal life in the age to come.

 

The background for today’s Gospel concerns the mounting tension between Jesus and the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and Scribes.  Jesus has already entered Jerusalem and overturned the money changers’ tables in the Temple:

Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.” (Matthew 21:12).

 Jesus obliviously caught the attention of the religious authorities.  The “learned men”, (the chief priests and elders), approach and question Jesus about the “source” of His authority.  

Jesus refuses to name His source of His authority to these religious leaders.  Instead, He questions the “Chief Priests and Elders” through the parable we “hear” in today’s Gospel reading.  The religious leaders answer is essentially and humanly correct, but their answer, at the same time, convicts them.  Their failure to take note of the call for repentance from John the Baptist and for their inability to recognize the Kingdom of God is their downfall.

The example Jesus posed in today’s Gospel could have been taken directly from any of our personal experiences.  Each of us can recall instances in which someone spoke one thing, and then did another.  The reason for Jesus’ parable is to illustrate that our “actions” speak louder than “words”, even with God.  (And even “by” God.)

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Today starts a series of debates in Jesus’ public ministry.  His message is directed to the Jewish people about their misinterpretations of their Scriptures.  This message is highlighted by today’s first of three parables on the judgment of Israel, as found in Matthew’s Book (Matthew 21:28 – 22:14).  Future parables will include, “The Parable of the Tenants”, (Matthew 21:33–46), believed to originate from Mark 12:1–12, and, “The Parable of the Wedding Feast”, (Matthew 22:1–14) which is very similar to a parable found in Luke 14:15–24, concerning their readiness to accept invitations from God, and about proper attire, both external and internal.

In today’s reading from Matthew, the “two sons” respectively represent the religious leaders and the religious outcasts who followed John the Baptist’s call to repentance, in contrast to the religious leader’s choice NOT to respond to John the Baptist’s call for repentance to them as well.  The chief priests and elders condemned themselves by their choice not to follow the example of conversion and repentance of the tax collectors and prostitutes.

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Matthew’s first parable, (today’s parable), if taken by itself, would point simply to a difference between “saying and doing”, – – talking the talk versus walking the talk – – a theme of much importance throughout his 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);

And also,

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50).

This theme of the importance of one’s actions (or lack of actions) in response to a call to repentance is probably the parable’s “original” point.  However, the theme is given a more specific application by the addition of the very last two verses:

“’Which of the two did his father’s will?’  They answered, ‘The first.’  Jesus said to them, ‘Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.  When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did.  Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.’” (Matthew 21:31–32).

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Jesus states:

“Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” (Matthew21:31).

I take His words, “entering the kingdom of God before you”, as meaning “THEY (the “sinners”) enter AND YOU do not.”  (Do you see any correspondence to today’s Church situations?!)

Now, listen to Luke’s version, and notice the similarities:

“All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.” (Luke 7:29-30).

Pretty interesting declaration, don’t you think?!

 

Also in verse 32, when Jesus said, “When John came to you in the way of righteousness …”, several meanings are possible.  First, that John the Baptist himself was “righteous”; or, that he “taught ‘righteousness’” to others; lastly, that John the Baptist had an important place in God’s “plan of salvation”:

John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?  Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him” (Matthew 3:14–15).

I see meaning in all three reasons.  John is aware of Jesus’ superiority to him – – as the mightier one – – who is coming and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit:

 “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).

John’s reluctance to allow Jesus among “the sinners” whom he is baptizing, is strongly affected by Jesus’ prophetic response.  To “fulfill all righteousness” is a two-fold reference to 1) the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, and 2) the righteousness of moral conduct in conformity with God’s will.  These are God’s expectations for ALL – – both leaders and laity.  Here, however, “righteousness” seems to refer to “the saving activity of God the Father”. “To fulfill all righteousness” is to submit to “the plan of God (the Holy One of Israel)” for the salvation of the whole human race, His loving creation in His image and likeness.  God the Father’s plan involves Jesus’ true and real identification with sinners; hence the spiritual appropriateness of His accepting John’s baptism (… to “fulfill all righteousness”)..

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To Summarize: the situation Jesus posed, through today’s parable, is rather clear-cut and straightforward.  Given the same task by their father (to go out and work in the vineyard), one son declares his disobedience in words, yet then eventually obeys in his actions.  The second son obeys with his words, yet disobeys in his actions.  The question which Jesus poses is insightful and direct:

 “Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Matthew 21:31)

  All would agree that “actions speak louder than words” and that even if his words were disobedient, the son who did the work as ordered did the father’s will.  Remember how Jesus gave a revealing definition of who is truly His brother:

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50)

Jesus’ is just as insightful and direct- – TO US – – as well.  The chief priests and elders, the ones who speak most often about God, did not act accordingly.  They did not respond to the message of repentance announced by John the Baptist with a change of heart, a conversion.  Instead, John’s message was listened to by those one would not expect to repent – – tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners. However, because of their choices and actions, these sinners will enter the Kingdom of God ahead of the religious leaders.

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In conclusion: Jesus tells a simple story, a parable, of two typical and imperfect sons, to illustrate the attitude and desire of God, and the way of God’s kingdom on earth.  The father sufficiently provided for his sons: food, housing, and everything else they needed.  Everything the father had and owned was shared with his children.  The father also accorded his two sons with work in his own vineyard.  He expected them to show him some respect, loyalty, and honor by doing their fair share of the daily work.  The first son told his father, face-to-face, that he would not work for him. However, he soon changed his mind and did what his father asked of him.  The second son said he would work for his father, but didn’t carry through his promise.  He acted contrary to his father’s will and his own best self-interest.  So, who really was the good son among the two?  Both sons disobeyed their father; however, one repented and then did what the father told him.

Jesus makes His point clear though this parable: Good intentions are not enough.  Also, promises don’t count unless they are acted on.  God wants to change our hearts so that we will show by our words and actions that we respect His will.

God the Father offers each of us the greatest treasure possible: unending peace, joy, happiness, and life with Him in His eternal, everlasting, joyful kingdom.  We can lose that treasure by refusing the grace – – the gift – – God the Father offers us by following His way of truth and righteousness.  How well are you doing in respecting the “will and plan” of our heavenly Father?

Jesus asks us the same question, “Who did his Father’s will?”  Do your words indicate your obedience to God?  If not your words, do your actions?  God desires a full and daily conversion of heart so that our actions (and our words as well) will give evidence of our total love for, trust and faith in God.  Remember what is written in Hebrews:

Without faith, it is impossible to please him [God].” (Hebrews 11:6)

Did you notice that Jesus “condemned” the religious leaders for not allowing John the Baptist’s message of repentance to change their hearts and actions?  Recall a time when a family member or friend said one thing and then did another.  Acknowledge that sometimes the action taken demonstrates a “true” change of heart, a true conversion of heart and soul.  Jesus wants us to do more than just to pay lip service to, to only recognize, and to make some concession to, the Gospel.  Jesus wants ALL of us to be transformed – – converted – – by His “Word”!!  WALK the TALK!!  Experience a true conversion to and for God by showing evidence of your change of heart in both actions and words.

 

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 Reflection Psalm:

 

Psalm 25

A prayer to God for mercy.

 

“Make known to me your ways, LORD; teach me your paths.  Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior, for you I wait all the day long.  Remember your compassion and your mercy, O LORD, for they are ages old.  Remember no more the sins of my youth; remember me according to your mercy, because of your goodness, LORD. 

Good and upright is the LORD, therefore He shows sinners the way, He guides the humble in righteousness, and teaches the humble His way.  Amen” (Psalm 25:4-9)

 

 

 

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

The Glory to God (Gloria) has been significantly changed, with more words and many lines rearranged.

The Gloria

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to people of good will.
We praise you,
we bless you,
we adore you,
we glorify you,
we give you thanks for your great glory,
Lord God, heavenly King,
O God, almighty Father.
Lord Jesus Christ, Only Begotten Son,
Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father,
you take away the sins of the world,
have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world,
receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of
the father,
have mercy on us.
For you alone are the Holy One.
you alone are the Lord,
you alone are the Most High,
Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit,
in the Glory of God the Father.
Amen.

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

 

 

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 A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Finding the Body of St. Clare

For some six centuries the body of St. Clare laid buried deep under the high altar of “Santa Chiara”, a church in Assisi built in her honor.  In 1850 Pope Pius IX granted permission for excavations to be made to find and exhume her body.

After seven days, the stone coffin containing the body of the saint was found.  When it was opened, it was discovered that the body of St. Clare, though blackened with age, was still incorrupt.  It was put into a crystal coffin, and placed in a crypt of the church, after it was completed in 1872.

The feast of the Finding of the Body of St. Clare, instituted by Pope Pius IX, is celebrated by the all three branches of the Franciscan families.

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

 

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 Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

 

Sacraments

 

How prominent a role did the Catholic Church and her practices (such as Sacraments) play in Saint Francis’ thinking and advice?

How many of “blessings” and “helps’ from God are many non-Catholics totally unaware of?

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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26. As a concrete sign of communion and co-responsibility, the councils on various levels, in keeping with the constitutions, shall ask for suitable and well prepared religious for spiritual assistance.  They should make this request to the superiors of the four religious Franciscan families, to whom the Secular Fraternity has been united for centuries.

To promote fidelity to the charism as well as observance of the rule and to receive greater support in the life of the fraternity, the minister or president, with the consent of the council, should take care to ask for a regular pastoral visit by the competent religious superiors as well as for a fraternal visit from those of the higher fraternities, according to the norm of the constitutions.

  

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


 

Fourteenth Sunday
in Ordinary Time

 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

 

Holy Father’s Prayer Intentions

July 2011

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

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

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    

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

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

 

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Quote of the Day:

 

Hi Lord,

 

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

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

Thanks Lord, I Love You!

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James also reports:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jesus also said His “burden is light“:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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Psalm 145

 

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

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

 

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New Translation of the Mass

 

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

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

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

 

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

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrie eleison,”

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

Comment:

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

Quote:

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

Patron Saint of: Architects, Construction workers, Cooks

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

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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Mary, Prayer, and Meditation

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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04.  The rule and life of the Secular Franciscans is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of St. Francis of Assisi who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.

Christ, the gift of the Father’s love, is the way to him, the truth into which the Holy Spirit leads us, and the life which he has come to give abundantly.

Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to gospel.

 

“Lord, Lord; Can Satan Get In Through A Crack In My Foundation?! Is My Basement Leaking Holy Water?!” – Matthew 7:21-27†


  

  

Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

 

Today’s Content:

 

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

 

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

 

Just a few days till the start of the Lenten Season.  Lent is a time to prepare and meditate on the Passion of Christ, His crucifixion/death on the Holy Tree, and His Resurrection on a Sunday morning we now call Easter.  This is a season of reflection, alms-giving, prayer, and sacrifices (abstinence and fasting).

For me, I will try to pray more each day (my family says that is impossible for I am always praying, which is not true in reality).  I will also be sacrificing in multiple ways (traditional Friday abstinence as an example) and by specifically giving up my daily diet sodas (NO Diet Mt. Dew will be devastating.  Can we say withdrawal?)

 

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Anyone following this blog for some time has noticed a new format.  I wanted to reorganize this page for easier reading and to categorize everything together: news items, quotes, and jokes are grouped together; the Gospel reading and reflection, plus a prayer associated with the reflection, are closer together; and Franciscan materials are all together.  Let me know what you think, please, and thank you.

 

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Today in Catholic History:

    
†   766 – Death of Chrodegang, church reformer/bishop of Mainz, about 50 years of age
†   1205 – Aken, [Philips van Zwaben], is crowned Roman-Catholic German King
†   1252 – Death of Saint Rose of Viterbo, Italian saint (b. 1235)
†   1447 – Tommaso Parentucelli (Nicholas V) succeeds Pope Eugene IV
†   2008 – Death Peter Poreku Cardinal Dery, Cardinal Archbishop Emeritus of Tamale, Ghana
†   Memorials/Feasts: Saint Chrodegang; Saint Fridolin; Saint Colette (aka Saint Coleta of Ghent); Saint Olegarius

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

 

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Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

“When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn’t solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.”  (unknown)

 

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In today’s reflection, Jesus is teaching about building a foundation of faith and making a life which is firm and solid.

 

21 “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.  22 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?’  23 Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you.  Depart from me, you evildoers.’  24 “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.  25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.  26 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.  27 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house.  And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (NAB Matthew 7:21-27)

 

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The “Sermon on the Mount” is about how to be a true follower of Jesus.  This discourse is coming to an end with a reflection on what OUR words and deeds really mean.  We can say “we are followers of Jesus” all we wish, and cry out “Lord, Lord” till hoarse in the throat; but, in fact, that does not mean we are true followers of Jesus Christ.  We may even do powerful deeds “in Jesus’ name”, but does that mean we are following Him?  Ultimately, it is not our decision that we believe we are truly His followers.  We don’t get to choose what it means to believe in Jesus; we only get to see, listen, and believe completely in Him!  At the Parousia (the Day of Final Judgment), Jesus reveals the “word” is the “real” judge, of who was, and is, a true follower, and who was, and is, not.  At the Parousia, Jesus reveals our likeness to Him, acquired by our believing and acting upon His words.   

Jesus’ rebuke of false followers in verses 23 and 26 is now expanded to include “disciples” who perform works in the name of Jesus (“Lord”), yet live improper and evil lives (cf., 1 Corinthians 3:1-4).  (Just like some Catholics going to Mass only at Christmas and Easter.  Or, Catholics who go to Mass devoutly each and every week, without fail, yet live a non-Christian lifestyle at work, home, or play.)  (These folks do a good job of imitating the behaviors of non-believers.)

Jesus repeats many, many times throughout Holy Scripture that the kingdom of God is solely for those who do the will of the Father, at all times, without any need or desire for reward; – – for those doing the “will” of God, simply and purely out of love for Him.  At the Parousia, those claiming to be prophets and miracle workers, yet morally corrupt will be “rejected by Jesus”.

This is an awesome thought.  Please consider the following:

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

B. “But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.(Matthew 10:33)

And, from the Book of Psalms:

C. “My eyes are dimmed with sorrow, worn out because of all my foes.  Away from me, all who do evil! (Psalm 6:8-9)

I wonder whether Jesus was remembering this verse when He used them in Matthew 7:23 (See “A” above – today’s reading).

These strongly worded “negatives” led me to ask: “What does being a ‘true follower’ of Jesus Christ actually mean?” – – I have come to believe that it is not a question of just hearing Jesus’ words but of acting on them in our lives.  

In the final parable today, two people “building a house” have heard Jesus’ words.  Yet, only the one who hears and acts correctly, building on “rock” – – has a firm and strong foundation.  

The people listening to Jesus that day were very familiar with the effects of building houses with, or without strong foundations, in a flood prone area.  The described situation in today’s reading is very typical for the Palestine region.  During the dry season, when rain is non-existent, the ground becomes dry and extremely hard.  However, when the rain does come, it comes in torrents and rivers seem to appear out of “nowhere”.  Flash floods swoop down the dry valleys in the region, and any houses built on sandy soil, without a strong foundation, are easily washed away.  Only those houses diligently and carefully built on solid rock foundations have any chance of survival.

The type of “foundation”, (the basis of faith, the groundwork of understanding, and our charity toward others), we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the “storms” – – the depressing, dark, and lonely times – – that are sure to come in our earthly lives.  

My late father was a builder.  He planned, created, and built many types of foundations in his life.  I learned from him that it is best to “lay out” a foundation when the weather and soil conditions are at their best: dry and settled.  It takes insight, prudence, and forethought to know how a particular foundation can be made to withstand hostile and opposing forces.  You do not have to be a contractor, builder, or engineer though, to know that building a house on a foundation set in a flood plain, such as in a “dry” river-bed, is a sure bet for a violent and total destruction of anything associated with that foundation and house!

What kind of foundation are you “laying out” in your life?  On what base are you building your eternal life, your relationship with God?  When Jesus told today’s parable of the two builders, He must have had the following Old Testament proverb in mind:

When the tempest [fancy word for storm] passes, the wicked man is no more; but the just man is established forever.” (Proverbs 10:25).

So, what is the meaning, implication, importance, and impact of this particular parable for each of us, both individually and communally?  Keep reading on.

 

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In today’s reading, an interesting difference in emphasis is noted between verses 21-22 and verse 24: I found the relationship is not between “saying and doing”, as earlier in verses 21-22:

21Not 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 heaven22Many 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?’” (Matthew 7:21-22) 

Jesus focuses on the relationship between people “listening” and people doing.  Notice His change of emphasis in verse 24:

“Everyone who LISTENS to these words of mine and ACTS on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Jesus reveals He values every person who listens to His word, and then acts upon them.  For centuries, Christians have been studying, pondering, and listening to His word, and trying to live by them.  Did Jesus really mean for all His parables and teachings on this Palestinian hill to be taken seriously?  What does it actually mean to be “poor in spirit”?  Are we truly supposed to “turn the other cheek”?  Does God expect us to actually give “our coat to someone who asks for our shirt”?  Yes, Yes, and definitely YES!

In the end, each of us needs to work out the details of how to be an effective, successful follower of Jesus Christ.  For me, and I believe for anyone who is truly listening to our Lord’s words, it is much more than just saying “Lord, Lord.”  It is also much more than just performing “great acts” in Jesus’ name.  It begins always with faith first, and then working; acting upon Jesus’ words in a spirit of humility and greatness.  I think Paul put it this way: “Following and acting on His word is ‘faith working through love.’”

 “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6)

This formula – – listening, and then doing, – – is much more than a simple plan of protection and security through salvation.  Jesus wants not only to just shield us from falsehoods and evil, but also for us to be with Him, every single day of our two lives (both human and eternal).  He wants to bless us; He wants His blessings to flow in, and through, us as we “build” our lives on, in, and with His word by our listening attentively to all His words.  God bestows many blessings on each of us, individually.  Three come to my mind immediately: His unconditional love, His forgiveness, and His Mercy.  There are many more though.  Can you think of others?

God loves us no matter who we are, or what we do.  He never leaves us; we sometimes separate ourselves from Him.  Yet, He eagerly awaits our return to him with open arms.  His depth of forgiveness cleanses our consciences, hearts, and souls from all guilt, shame, and sins.  He has the largest spiritual “eraser” ever known:

“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

We also have God’s mercy.  His mercy is far deeper than even His forgiveness.  His mercy – – His compassion, steadfastness, and faithfulness – – for us is beyond human description or understanding.  His entire disposition is one of forgiveness, mercy, and love for each of us – – individually!

There is only one way in which a person’s love, trust, and sincerity toward God and other’s can be shown.  That is by one’s practice – – one’s deeds.  Fine, beautiful, and exquisite words can never replace good deeds.  Present day politicians are very excellent orators, and literally talk the coins out of our pockets with very little pressure (squeezing blood out of the proverbial turnip).  I believe most would agree all their talk is not producing many fruits.  On the other hand, there are many, many people servicing others daily with a genuine love, and producing a great harvest in, and for, God’s kingdom.

So, what makes a true disciple of Christ if not words or actions?!  It starts with building our life on a solid foundation, “the rock”, of Jesus Christ himself and our faith in Him.  It’s in Him, with Him, and through Him that the Messianic Law and the prophets were (and still are) fulfilled completely, fully, and totally.  In, with, and through Him, the “will” of God, God’s plan for OUR salvation, is fully revealed to us.

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All families go through difficult times.  Recall some of the difficult times that you have had in your life.  Can you think of the most difficult situation or time that you faced?  Examples could be a sickness, death of a loved one, trouble in school, loss of your job.  We sometimes refer to these difficult periods as “storms.”  In today’s reading, Jesus talks about storms – – rain, floods, and wind – – and how we can stand firm in the face of them?  Only with a strong foundation of faith can we stand firm.  

What does it means for you to build your house on “solid rock”?  How has your faith helped you to get through difficult times and situations?  Our character is revealed in what we choose to do in our lives, especially when we choose between truth and falsehood, good and evil.  On a daily basis, pray for the strength and grace to remain strong in your personal relationship with Jesus.

Do you cheat when completing tests or income taxes?  Do you lie, directly or indirectly (through omission, evasion, and/or diversion)?   A true disciple of Jesus Christ is one that is honest and reliable – – before God, neighbor, and oneself.  Please remember, when honest and reliable in all you say and do, your word can be taken as trustworthy and true!

In closing, what keeps one from falsehoods, evil, distrust, and spiritual disasters?  Answer: our faith!  If we make Jesus Christ, and His word, the “rock and foundation” (the basis, groundwork, and charity) of our lives, nothing can unsettle us, or prevent us from God’s saving love, manifestation, and assistance.  Are Jesus Christ, and his word, the solid basis, groundwork, and love – – “the ‘ROCK’ FOUNDATION” – – of YOUR life?  (cf., 1 Corinthians 10:4)  He is mine!!

Today is a great day to thank God for laying such a strong foundation for you.  And, also to tell Him that you want and desire to follow Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and body.  Give Him your entire and total life today, and every day, and watch how the blessings start to flow!

 

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An Act of Faith

 

“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Amen.”

 

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.

 

A second option for the “penitential rite” (the “Confiteor” being the first option) has been revised.  This second form had been little used in recent years.  The second option is presently:

Lord, we have sinned against you:|
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your mercy and love.
And grant us your salvation.

May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life.  Amen.

 

It will now read as follows:

The priest says, “Have mercy on us, O Lord.”
The people respond, “For we have sinned against you.”  
Then the priest says, “Show us, O Lord, your mercy,”
and the people respond, “And grant us your salvation.”

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

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Servant of God Sylvester of Assisi (d. 1240)


Sylvester was one of the first 12 followers of St. Francis of Assisi and was the first priest in the Franciscan Order. A descendant of a noble family, Sylvester once sold Francis stones which were to be used to rebuild a church. When, a short while later, he saw Francis and Bernard of Quintavalle distributing Bernard’s wealth to the poor, Sylvester complained that he had been poorly paid for the stones and asked for more money.

Though Francis obliged, the handful of money he gave Sylvester soon filled him with guilt. He sold all of his goods, began a life of penance and joined Francis and the others. Sylvester became a holy and prayerful man, and a favorite of Francis—a companion on his journeys, the one Francis went to for advice. It was Sylvester and Clare who answered Francis’ query with the response that he should serve God by going out to preach rather than by devoting himself to prayer.

Once in a city where civil war was raging, Sylvester was commanded by Francis to drive the devils out. At the city gate Sylvester cried out: “In the name of almighty God and by virtue of the command of his servant Francis, depart from here, all you evil spirits.” The devils departed and peace returned to the city.

Sylvester lived 14 more years after the death of Francis and is buried near him in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

Comment:

Sylvester probably would have asked a higher price for his stones if he had thought Francis had the money. In today’s world he might have written the difference off on his taxes as a charitable contribution, but that wasn’t an option in his day. Quite understandably, he asked for payment from the money Francis was handing out so freely. So why did he later feel guilty? Perhaps he realized that, like many of us, he placed a higher value on lesser things.

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)

 

Т

    

Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

TIME – – TALENT – – TREASURE

When you give of your time, talent, and/or treasure are you giving some of yourself as well?  How? 

What priorities have you developed in regard to Franciscan poverty? 

How do you share of yourself with, and for, others in these three areas of life? Can you do more?

 

Т

 

 

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


 

6.  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.

 

Т

 

7.  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 Boss Is Away; It Is Time To Play!” – Luke 12:39-48†


            

Today in Catholic History:

   
    
†   1536 – Danish/Norway King Christian III leads reform in Catholic possessions
†   1587 – Battle at Coultras: Henri van Navarra beats Catholic League
†   In Christianity, it is the feast day of Andrew of Crete, a Martyr

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

 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

 

Life is worth living. Heaven is worth fighting for.

   

 

http://www.thebricktestament.com

 

Today’s reflection is about faithfulness to God’s wisdom.

 

39 [Jesus said to His Disciples] 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 12:39-48)

 

What can a thief in the night teach us of God’s desire for us?  Can you imagine a thief notifying us ahead of time, and telling us when he would raid our “treasures?”  What does this parable tell us about the treasures God has handed over to each one of us?  What is Jesus actually saying in this Gospel reading today? 

This parable is a lesson in faithfulness for me.  Jesus, our “Lord,” loves faithfulness and abundantly rewards those who are faithful to him.  I believe Jesus is telling us that His (and our) heavenly Father is expecting much more from us than we usually give to Him AND to others around us!  In verse 48 above it is written, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”  We are to be held responsible; to be answerable to God Himself for our ability to share, and how we did share our resources!

What is meant by this word, “faithfulness?”  Simply, it’s keeping one’s word, promises, and commitments, regardless of how rough, hard, dangerous, demanding, or difficult it becomes.  God loves the virtue of faithfulness.  He expects us to be faithful to all His creations.  God gives us the grace of faith, and the free-will to remain faithful – as we choose! 

Everyone has something to share; to give to those in need.  Each one of us can be generous in sharing a “time, talent, or treasure.”  If you can’t give financially, maybe a meal to someone home bound or homeless can be you forte.  The arts; finances; cooking; driving; and teaching, are all excellent talents that can be shared relatively easily.  And everyone is always in need of smiles and prayer!

My master is delayed in coming” from verse 45, indicates that the early Christians anticipation for an imminent return of Jesus had undergone some modifications.  Jesus’ followers expected Him to return within days of His assumption into heaven.  Like children waiting near the Christmas tree on a snowy Christmas morning, they waited with baited anticipation to open our gift from God: a new and everlasting world of beauty in paradise with our magnificent Lord, Jesus Christ.  But Luke, in today’s Gospel, wisely advices his readers against counting on a lag in time, and then acting foolishly.  A parallel warning can be found in Matthew 24:48, “But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed…’” 

The concept of one being delayed is found in other stories in Scripture as well.  In Matthew 25:5, it is written, “Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep,” and in Matthew 25:19, “After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.”  Both deals with the delay of a noteworthy and important person: the bridegroom and the master.  Both also warn against imprudent actions.

The fact is, everyone has something they can do for others.  God expects us all to share with those that have less than us; and not to just squander our gifts He has given us.  The more He gives, the more He requires!  The temptation to “put off for tomorrow” what we know God expects for us to do today is a very dangerous practice for our everlasting souls!  After all, where do you want to spend eternity: smoking or non-smoking?  Are you faithful to God, and ready to give him an account of your actions?  And finally, remember that Jesus gave the ultimate gift to all of us: His human life!  The least we can do is to share a portion of our excess with others of God’s creation!

 

“Act of Faith”

 

“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.  Amen.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

 

*****

 

A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888-1922)

 

If anyone knew rejection, ridicule and disappointment, it was today’s saint. But such trials only brought Maria Bertilla Boscardin closer to God and more determined to serve him.

Born in Italy in 1888, the young girl lived in fear of her father, a violent man prone to jealousy and drunkenness. Her schooling was limited so that she could spend more time helping at home and working in the fields. She showed few talents and was often the butt of jokes.

In 1904 she joined the Sisters of St. Dorothy and was assigned to work in the kitchen, bakery and laundry. After some time Maria received nurses’ training and began working in a hospital with children suffering from diphtheria. There the young nun seemed to find her true vocation: nursing very ill and disturbed children. Later, when the hospital was taken over by the military in World War I, Sister Maria Bertilla fearlessly cared for patients amidst the threat of constant air raids and bombings.

She died in 1922 after suffering for many years from a painful tumor. Some of the patients she had nursed many years before were present at her canonization in 1961.

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

    

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #’s 20 & 21 of 26:
    

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

 

 

 

21.     On various levels, each fraternity is animated and guided by a council and minister who are elected by the professed according to the constitutions.

Their service, which lasts for a definite period, is marked by a ready and willing spirit and is a duty of responsibility to each member and to the community.

Within themselves the fraternities are structured in different ways according to the norm of the constitutions, according to the various needs of their members and their regions, and under the guidance of their respective council.

 

 

 

 

“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.

 

 

“♪♬ Who Do You Say You Are, Mr. Big Shot! ♬♪” – Mt 11:25-27†


I started Saint Louis de Monfort’s “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary” novena this week.  This prayer novena is 34 days of prayers, meditation, and reflection on Jesus’ teachings, and Mary’s faith in Jesus as a model for us to mimic.  This novena always ends on a Marian Feast Day, so can be started many times throughout the year.  There are tons of websites dedicated to this novena for those interested.  It is even on Facebook now!  I do this novena every year, and have received much in return each time.  Please consider this novena: “Try it, you’ll like it!”

 

Today in Catholic History:

†   1771 – Foundation of the Mission San Antonio de Padua in modern California by the Franciscan friar Junípero Serra.
†   664 – Death of Deusdedit of Canterbury, Archbishop of Canterbury
†   1575 – Death of Richard Taverner, English Bible translator
†   1614 – Death of Camillus de Lellis, Italian saint (b. 1550)

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

A disciple once complained, “You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us.” The master replied, “How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and chewed it up for you before giving it to you?” — Anonymous

 

Today’s reflection is about Jesus being the exclusive revelation of God.
     

At that time Jesus said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  (NRSV Mt 11:25-27)

 

Today’s Gospel Reading, with some very minor variations is identical with Luke 10:21-22.  It introduces a little joy into this part of Matthews’s gospel where unbelief seems to dominate.  While the “wise and the intelligent,” [the Scribes and Pharisees], rejected Jesus’ preaching and the significance of his striking actions and conduct; the trusting and innocent accepted them.  

As a child, I thought of God as a stern judge, sitting at a big desk with a gigantic book open and quill pen in hand, making notations in the book with every sin; and condemning me for every transgression that I made.  My friends say He must have had a very big book, just for me: and I always told them that I was a “victim of circumstances!”

At that young age, I saw “God” as a distant, scowling, unapproachable “Zeus-type” figure; sort of like an Ebenezer Scrooge turned Greek God.  Isn’t it a pity that there are many adults today that still see God this way, such as the Islamic belief of an “Allah” being a stern judge and Ruler. 

On the other hand, I always saw Jesus as being much nicer.  He was not only a “sort-of-God;” He was also a man.  Jesus seemed to be more kind, and more caring than “God,” and was always talking about love instead of judging people.

With the maturity of many birthdays and experiences granted to me from the grace of God, I now know better.  Besides, God would have had one helluva case of carpal tunnel disease, and arthritis of the hand by this time; again solely because of me.

Acceptance of “mysteries” and graces depends solely on God’s revelation made available to us: but it is granted only to those who are open to receive it; and is usually rebuffed by the arrogant, the proud, and self-important that are not open to anything but themselves.  Divine communication is a powerful irreducible religious mystery, with Jesus being the exclusive revelation of the Father!

Jesus is capable of speaking about all “mysteries” unknown to us, because He IS the “Son” of the “Father,” and thus the perfect recipient and disseminator of knowledge between Himself and the Father; “things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows … except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses.”

Jesus came to earth to reunite and bring us together, with God.  We need to keep in mind that it was God that sent Jesus to us, in human form.  Sending a being to earth to “save” us is a ‘less-than-nothing’ accomplishment for a divine being such as God.  Making that being a “human” without the usual corporal act necessary is also no real mystery for this omnipotent God.  These two actions to me are simply facts based on faith.  Here is the ultimate “faith” statement for me, and an absolutely true “Mystery:” Jesus IS God, and God IS Jesus! 

God wants to have a relationship with us.  He sent Himself, in the form of the totally divine and totally human Jesus, to do just that (Gives new meaning to the phrase, “He gave 200 % to his job!”).  God is not a checklist maker and judge with gavel in hand, waiting to slam it down hard while yelling “GUILTY!” 

God is the loving Father we should have all had.  God is the Father that leads the innocent; and allows His children to experiment with life while He closely watches.  God is the Father that weeps bitterly when we turn our backs on Him, and rejoices and jumps for delight when we remember Him by continuing His work on earth.  And God is the one that wishes to hear from us and to talk to us as often as possible; and is sad when we ignore him.   He just wants to be a continual part of our daily lives.

How do we find God?  That’s simple!  All we need to do is open our arms and hearts to Him:  He is right there, next to you right now.

 

“Act of Faith”

 

“O my God, I firmly believe that you are one God in three divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; I believe that your divine Son became man and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because you revealed them, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”

 

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Franciscan Saint of the Day:  Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

 

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brébeuf were tomahawked by Iroquois warriors, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York.

Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (Jesuit missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk brave and at 19 finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Kateri (Catherine) on Easter Sunday.

Now she would be treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people.

She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a 200-mile walking journey to a Christian Indian village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At 23 she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for an Indian woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day—and was accused of meeting a man there!

Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.

Comment:

We like to think that our proposed holiness is thwarted by our situation. If only we could have more solitude, less opposition, better health. Kateri repeats the example of the saints: Holiness thrives on the cross, anywhere. Yet she did have what Christians—all people—need: the support of a community. She had a good mother, helpful priests, Christian friends. These were present in what we call primitive conditions, and blossomed in the age-old Christian triad of prayer, fasting and alms: union with God in Jesus and the Spirit, self-discipline and often suffering, and charity for her brothers and sisters.

Quote:

Kateri said: “I am not my own; I have given myself to Jesus. He must be my only love. The state of helpless poverty that may befall me if I do not marry does not frighten me. All I need is a little food and a few pieces of clothing. With the work of my hands I shall always earn what is necessary and what is left over I’ll give to my relatives and to the poor. If I should become sick and unable to work, then I shall be like the Lord on the cross. He will have mercy on me and help me, I am sure.”

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #14:

Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone “who follows Christ, the perfect man, becomes more of a man himself,” let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.

“Jesus Said What?!“ – Mt 6:9-15


I just found out that a friend from my EMS days has just died.  Please keep him, his family and friends, and all public service workers in your prayers today.  Lent is a time for preparation to see Jesus.  Charlie, with God’s Grace, you are with Him now in heaven.  God Bless You Charlie!

 

Is it wrong to love this time of the year?  The weather is in a continuous state of change.  Literally, in the St. Louis area at this time of the year, one day could be in the 60’s and 70’s, with everyone outside in shorts, and all windows in the house open; and the next below zero degrees outside, with several inches of snow; and then the next being a day of severe thunderstorms.  The saying in St. Louis is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes!”   

 

The same goes for our faith.  Anticipated joy is tempered with Lenten acts of almsgiving, meditation, sacrifice, and preparation for Easter.  But even these six weeks of lent are broken up with six “mini” days of joy: Sundays.  Sundays are always days of the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and times to rejoice in our salvation through Him.

 

The first prayer I, and most other Christians learned, is the topic of my reflection today.  It is also the gospel reading in today’s Mass at all Catholic Church’s.
 

 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

“When the devil reminds you of your past… remind him of his future!” – St. Teresa of Avila

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

“This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  (NAB Mt 6:9-15)

    

I love the “Our Father” prayer.  I bet most Catholics don’t know there are actually two versions of this beautiful prayer, and I am not talking about the “Catholic” and “Protestant” versions.  Matthew’s form of the “Our Father” follows the liturgical tradition of the Jewish church.  Luke’s less developed form also represents the liturgical tradition known to him, but it is probably closer than Matthew’s to the original words of Jesus.  Again, we have a case for a conceptual view, and a direct and literal view of the same prayer. 

  

“Our Father in heaven” is found in many Jewish prayers created after the period of the New Testament.  “Hallowed be your name” refers to the “hallowing” or reverence done to God, through human praise, and by obedience to God’s will.  In this case, it is more probably more of a petition that God manifest his glory through a powerful action: the establishment of His kingdom on earth. 

  

“Your kingdom come” sets the tone of the prayer.  In this great prayer, it trends more towards divine action, rather than human action in the petitions of the prayer.  “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” exclaims that the divine purpose is to set up the kingdom on earth; already present in heaven. 

  

“Give us today our daily bread” is from a rare Greek word “epiousios,” that only occurs in the New Testament here, and in Luke 11:3. The word probably means “daily” or “future;” but other meanings have also been proposed. This verse of the “Lord’s Prayer” signifies the want of a speedy coming of the kingdom: i.e., today.  The kingdom of God is often portrayed in both the Old and New Testaments as an image of a feast  (look at my post from a few days ago).  

  

“Forgive us our debts” is a metaphor for our sins, and for forgiveness at our final judgment. 

Jewish writings prophesize a period of severe trial before the end of time.  This last part of the prayer asks that believers in Jesus (thus God) be spared any final test. 

  

“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”  I believe most of us do not read this sentence completely, or have a selective understanding of this two-part petition.  The first part asks for forgiveness from God.  We all have no problems with this portion: it’s the next that seems to cause the real concern.  If we do not forgive, neither is God.  Any resentment towards another, will be dealt with some type of “resentment” when it comes to eternal paradise.  So, to put this part of the prayer in perspective; God is only going to forgive us to the exact amount we have forgiven ALL that have sinned against us!  If we want total forgiveness for our sins, we have to forgive EVERYONE, IN FULL, for any sins, actions, words, behaviors, lies, or thefts they have done against us.  Sounded easy at first: didn’t it?  

  

These seven or eight petitions give us a formula for the perfect prayer.  Jesus proves His divinity, in the beauty and sincerity of such simple phases. 

  

“Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name. Thy Kingdom come.  Thy 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. Amen.”

   

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Catholic Saint of the Day: Saint Polycarp

   

 Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist.  

But being part of the second generation of Church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. What did you do when those eyewitnesses were gone? How do you carry on the correct teachings of Jesus? How do you answer new questions that never came up before?  

With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.  

Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer — to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp “your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock.”  

Polycarp faced persecution the way Christ did. His own church admired him for following the “gospel model” — not chasing after martyrdom as some did, but avoiding it until it was God’s will as Jesus did. They considered it “a sign of love to desire not to save oneself alone, but to save also all the Christian brothers and sisters.”  

One day, during a bloody martyrdom when Christians were attacked by wild animals in the arena, the crowd became so mad that they demanded more blood by crying, “Down with the atheists; let Polycarp be found.” (They considered Christians “atheists” because they didn’t believe in their pantheon of gods.) Since Polycarp was not only known as a leader but as someone holy “even before his grey hair appeared”, this was a horrible demand.  

Polycarp was calm but others persuaded him to leave the city and hide at a nearby farm. He spent his time in prayer for people he knew and for the Church. During his prayer he saw a vision of his pillow turned to fire and announced to his friends that the dream meant he would be burned alive.  

As the search closed in, he moved to another farm, but the police discovered he was there by torturing two boys. He had a little warning since he was upstairs in the house but he decided to stay, saying, “God’s will be done.”  

Then he went downstairs, talked to his captors and fed them a meal. All he asked of them was that they give him an hour to pray. He spent two hours praying for everyone he had ever known and for the Church, “remembering all who had at any time come his way — small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world.” Many of his captors started to wonder why they were arresting this holy, eighty-six-year-old bishop.  

But that didn’t stop them from taking him into the arena on the Sabbath. As he entered the arena, the crowd roared like the animals they cheered. Those around Polycarp heard a voice from heaven above the crowd, “Be brave, Polycarp, and act like a man.”  

Because of Polycarp’s lack of fear, the proconsul told him he would be burned alive but Polycarp knew that the fire that burned for an hour was better than eternal fire.  

When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn’t being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.  

The proconsul wouldn’t let the Christians have the body because he was afraid they would worship Polycarp. The witnesses reported this with scorn for the lack of understanding of Christian faith: “They did not know that we can never abandon the innocent Christ who suffered on behalf of sinners for the salvation of those in this world.” After the body was burned, they stole the bones in order to celebrate the memory of his martyrdom and prepare others for persecution. The date was about February 23, 156.  

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

   

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #23:

  

Requests for admission to the Secular Franciscan Order must be presented to the local fraternity, whose council decides upon the acceptance of new brothers and sistersAdmission into the Order is gradually attained through a time of initiation, a period of formation of at least one year, and profession of the rule.  The entire community is engaged in the process of growth by its own manner of living.  The age for profession and the distinctive Franciscan sign are regulated by the statutesProfession by its nature is a permanent commitment.  Members who find themselves in particular difficulties should discuss their problems with the council in fraternal dialogue.  Withdrawal or permanent dismissal from the Order, if necessary, is an act of the fraternity council according to the norm of the constitutions.