Tag Archives: Worship

“Dying Is The Easy Part. The “New Life” Is the Hard Part!” – John 12:20-33†


Fifth Week of Lent

Today’s Content:

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

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Dan’s Deliberations, Discoveries, & Declarations:

We are already in the fifth week of Lent already.  Just a little bit longer till Easter Sunday and celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Birth.  Easter doesn’t end on April 8th.  Easter Sunday is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday, May 27th

Easter Sunday follows Holy Week.  Easter also follows the third and final day of the “Paschal Triduum”.  The Paschal Triduum is also called the Holy Triduum or Easter Triduum, and begins the evening of Holy Thursday, and ends the evening of Easter Day. It commemorates the heart of our faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

More about the Paschal Triduum will be discussed in next week’s blog.

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Today in Catholic History:

    708 – Constantine begins his reign as Catholic Pope
    
752 – Death of Pope-elect Stephen (died before taking office)
    
1297 – Birth of Arnost of Pardubice, Archbishop of Prague (d. 1364)
    
1347 – Birth of Catherine of Siena, Italian saint (d. 1380)
    
1409 – The Council of Pisa opens.
    
1571 – Catholic Italian businessman Roberto Ridolfi leaves England
    
1593 – Birth of Jean de Brébeuf, French Jesuit missionary (d. 1649)
    
1634 – Lord Baltimore founded Catholic colony of Maryland
    
1655 – Protestants take control of the Catholic colony of Maryland at the Battle of the Severn.
    
1847 – Pope Pius IX publishes encyclical “On aid for Ireland”
    
1917 – The Georgian Orthodox Church restores its autocephaly abolished by Imperial Russia in 1811.
    
1939 – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli becomes Pope Pius XII.
    
1954 – Pope Pius XII publishes encyclical “Sacra virginitas” (On consecrated virginity)
    
1991 – Death of Marcel Lefebvre, French Catholic prelate (b. 1905)
    
1995 – Death of Peter Herbert Penwarden, priest, dies at 73
    Feasts/Memorials: March 25th is typically celebrated as the day of the Annunciation so long as it does not fall on a Sunday, during Holy Week, or Easter Week; Saint Dysmas, the ‘Good Thief’; Saint Humbert  

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

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Joke of the Day:

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus teaching His disciples about the way in which He will be glorified by God, and a voice from heaven is heard to affirm this teaching.

(NAB John 12:20-33) 20 Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast.  21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.”  22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  24 Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.  25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.  26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be.  The Father will honor whoever serves me.  27 “I am troublednow.  Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”  29 The crowd there heard it and said it was thunder; but others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come for my sake but for yours.  31 Now is the time of judgment on this world; now the ruler of this world  will be driven out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” 33 He said this indicating the kind of death he would die.

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Gospel Reflection:

Today’s Gospel reading is taken from John (Probably my most favorite of the Gospel writers).  Chapter 12 of John’s Gospel is a preparation for the “Passion” narrative to soon follow.  Jesus has just raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11), a truly important “sign” (and miracle) in John’s Gospel.  The miracle involving Lazarus inspired many Jews and Gentiles alike to believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.  

The “Lazarus” event also marks the turning point in Jesus’ conflict with the Jewish authorities.  John’s Gospel relates to us how the Sanhedrin (the supreme Jewish judicial, ecclesiastical, and administrative council in ancient Jerusalem) met after Lazarus’ resurrection, creating plans to kill Jesus, whom threatens their materialistic way of life.  This 12th chapter of John has Jesus previously being “anointed” at Bethany, and then entering Jerusalem “in triumph”.  We also see allegorical evidence of the significance of the raising of Lazarus in today’s incident.  Keep in mind, John reported crowds gathering to “see” Lazarus in Chapter 11:

Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother” (John 11:19).

These “many Jews” became witnesses to the “glory” of Jesus’ divine being though Lazarus’ being resurrected.

Today’s Gospel Reading is about the coming of Jesus’ hour.  This announcement of “glorification” by death is a revelation of “the whole world” going after Jesus Christ.

So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the whole world has gone after Him.” (John 12:19)

There is much hidden, and needing to be explained and discussed, in today’s reading, so grab a cup of coffee and find a comfortable seat.

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In verse 20, the word “Greeks” was not used in a nationalistic sense, those who came from Greece itself.  They were probably simple Gentile proselytes (new converts) to Judaism;

So the Jews said to one another, ‘Where is He going that we will not find Him?  Surely He is not going to the dispersion among the Greeks to teach the Greeks, is He?” (John 7:35).

In the next two verses (12:21–22), “Philip went and told Andrew …”, we see an approach made through Jesus’ Disciples who had distinctly Greek names.  Could this suggest that access to Jesus was mediated to the Greek world through His disciples?  Philip and Andrew were from Bethsaida (which means “house of fishing”) in the most northern part of Galilee:

Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.” (John 1:44);

(Trivia time: Galileans were mostly bilingual.)

These men who were “new” to the Jewish religion asked Philip:

  “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” (John 12:21)

The word “see” seems to mean “have an interview with Jesus”, and not just merely observing Him.  Why?

Well, it may be that following His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus predicted His suffering, death, and Resurrection.  He also prepared His disciples to believe in the “salvation” that His death would accomplish, allowing them (and us) entry into God’s Kingdom, the paradise of heaven.  

Using the image of “the grain of wheat”, Jesus presented the idea that His dying would be beneficial for those believing in Him.  He also taught disciples that they must follow His example of personal sacrifice.  This theme of “personal sacrifice” will be repeated in John’s account of the “Last Supper” when Jesus washes the feet of His disciples (John 13) as an example of how they must serve one another:

Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me” (John 13:8).

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Jesus’ response to these new converts to Judaism (verse 23) suggests that only after His Crucifixion could the Gospel – – His WORD – – encompass Jew and Gentile alike; ALL nations and ALL peoples.

Jesus described His approaching death on the cross as His “hour of glory”:

The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified (John 12:23).

He would then be “lifted up from the earth” and would “draw all men to himself”:

When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.” (John 12:32).

Jesus saw His death on the Holy Cross of Redemption and Salvation as a triumph over the powers of sin and darkness: Satan, Sin, and Evil.  Jesus illustrated an image of the “grain of wheat” to those hearing in order to show how this principle of dying to live truly works in God’s kingdom.  Seeds cannot produce new life by themselves.  They must first be planted in the soil, and DIE, before they can grow, then “producing much fruit”.  

Some may still ask: what is the spiritual comparison Jesus is conveying to His audience (then and now)?  Is this simply a veiled reference to His own impending death on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead? … Or, is Jesus imparting to us another kind of “death and rebirth” for His disciples?  I believe Jesus had BOTH meanings in mind.  Jesus’ obedience to God’s plan for OUR salvation by His death on the cross obtains for each of us – – individually and intimately – – a freedom and “new” life in, with, and through the Holy Spirit.  Jesus’ death on the Holy Cross truly frees us from the tyranny and destruction of sin and death (both physical and spiritual), and shows us the way of (and to) perfect love for God, each other, and ourselves.

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You know, I have come to learn that when Jesus says “Amen, Amen” (Verse 24), He is going to say something profound and usually mind (and soul) bending.  In today’s Gospel, He says:

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (John 12:24)

This verse reveals a profound truth: through His death, Jesus Christ will be accessible to ALL who seek Him and believe in Him.  (I cannot repeat this enough!)

But what does Jesus mean by His saying, “it remains just a grain of wheat” (verse 24).  I believe this particular saying is found all through Synoptic Scripture.  The wheat dying and then “producing much fruit” symbolizes that through His death, Jesus will be accessible to all:

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39);

“ For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25);

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mark 8:35);

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”  (Luke 9:24);

And finally,

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.” (Luke 17:33).

John however adds the phrases “in this world and for eternal life”.

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.” (John 12:25).

I love John’s Poetic nature of writing.  His additions truly make Holy Scripture JUMP to life in my mind, heart, and soul.

In these multiple verses from the Synoptic and John’s Gospels, “His life” (verse 25) is a translation of the Greek word “psyche”, referring to a person’s natural life; and not meaning “soul”.  Hebrew anthropology (the study of humankind culture and development) did not imagine a “body versus soul” dualism (two distinct parts or aspects, which are often opposites) in the way familiar to us.  For first century Hebrew, the Body and soul were intertwined.

With this little fact in mind, what does it mean to “die” to oneself?  For me, it means that what is in opposition to God’s will and plan for each of us must be crucified, put to death.  God gives us an extraordinary gift, a grace to say “YES” to His will and plan; to reject whatever is in opposition to His loving plan for our lives.  

Jesus also promises we will “produce much fruit” for Him, IF we choose to deny ourselves for His sake.  In today’s reading, Jesus used powerful words to describe the kind of self-denial He wanted from His disciples.  

Using this powerful speech I just mentioned, what did He mean when by saying one must “hate” himself?  (I hate the word hate!)  Jesus says nothing should get in the way of our preferring Him or with the will and plan of our “glorious” Father in heaven.  Our hope is not in an earth-based, materialistic world, but rather one of a heaven-bound hope.  St. Paul reminds us that:

What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:42) RSV.

Do you hope and trust in the Lord, and follow joyfully on the path He has chosen for you to follow?  Are you truly following in Jesus’ example in ALL you do and say?  I, at least, try!!  I hope and pray that you do as well!   

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Let us continue on with John’s Gospel reading.  In verse 27, Jesus states, “I am troubled”!  Jesus is perhaps giving a foretelling of what He will endure later: agony at Gethsemane:

I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 6:38);

Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its scabbard.  Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” (John 18:11).

Paul wrote in his letter to the Hebrews of Jesus’ troubles in a very direct way:

“In the days when he was in the flesh, He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence.  Son though He was, He learned obedience from what He suffered” (Hebrew 5:7–8).

This final section of today’s Gospel should be read as John’s parallel to the “agony in the garden”.  Unlike the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), John does not record Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, prior to His arrest.  It is interesting and comforting that Jesus gives a confident response to the question He raises when asking God to save Him from His impending death.

What should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’?  But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.  Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:27-28)

After announcing His conviction of “glorifying” His (and our) Father’s name IS the reason, the purpose that He came, a voice from heaven speaks, as if in answer to Jesus’ prayer:

Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it and will glorify it again.’” (John 12:28).

This “voice”, like the one heard at Jesus’ baptism and at Jesus’ Transfiguration – – both reported in the Synoptic Gospels, but not in John’s Gospel – – affirms that God the Father welcomes the sacrifice Jesus will make on behalf of each of US – – PERSONALLY!!  In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches this “voice” was sent for the sake of those who would believe in Him.

At the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus talks about the “Ruler of this world”.  Surprising for some, it is not God; it is instead Satan.  Remember, though God is everywhere, He is not “OF” this world, but is IN this world to save us.  Remember, there are no worldly items in paradise.  You can either be of this world, or of His kingdom, but not both:

My [Jesus’] kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”(John 18:36)

Satan and his angels (a “third of the stars”), were “thrown to earth”:

War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon (Satan).  The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.  The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels (the “third of the stars” – – the “fallen” angels) were thrown down with it.” (Revelations 4:7-9)

They had “free will”, as we do, and chose to turn their back on God.  For such a choice, they were barred from everlasting paradise.

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In today’s Gospel, we “hear” Jesus speak about the “worldly” framework against which we are to understand His passion, death, and Resurrection.  Through His death and Resurrection, Jesus Christ conquered Satan, “the ruler of this world” (verse 31).  In this way the “world” is judged, yet, the judgment is NOT necessarily one of condemnation.  Instead, through Jesus’ dying and rising from the dead on third day, “salvation” is lovingly and “gloriously” brought to the world for OUR sake.

If we want to experience the “new” life Jesus offers, then the outer shell of our old, sinful nature must be broken, rejected, and put to death.  In Baptism our “old nature”, enslaved by the darkness of sin, is buried with Jesus Christ.  We then rise as a “new creation”, also in Jesus Christ.  This process of death to the “old sinful self” is both a one-time event such as in our personal baptism, and a continuous – – daily and on-going – – cycle in which God buries us more deeply into Jesus’ death to sin, so we might rise anew and bear more fruit for God.  This concept is my impression of the Franciscan notion of “Daily Conversion”.  WOW, have you realized yet that there is a great, and on-going, paradox presented to us today: “death leads to life”.  When we “die” to OUR – – individual, sinful, and “worldly” – – selves, we “rise”, with Christ through the Holy Spirit, to brand new and more fulfilling life in Jesus Christ.  Again, WOW!!

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To conclude, our lives are often balancing acts in which we “prioritize” and attend to a variety of sometimes overwhelming and competing needs.  In time, most of us learn the value of putting others’ needs ahead of our own when necessary.  We also learn that when we make personal sacrifices to serve others, we gain so much more than we may have lost.  In these times, we are living up to what Jesus asks of us: to follow His example of personal sacrifice.  

Reflect on how important it is to you to gladly serve one another, especially those you do not know or personally like.  Consider the last time someone asked for help.  What was your response?  Did you “cheerfully” try to honor their request, or, did you ask, “Why me?”  How do you think Jesus would want us to respond when someone asks for help?  Realize “the help” may not be the “help” the requester wanted; it may be helping in a way they NEED instead.  Make a commitment for the next week (or more) to try to respond cheerfully to requests for help.  Ask for God’s help with this commitment; He WILL respond in a way which may surprise you!!

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Reflection Prayer:

 The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.”

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 Catholic Apologetics:

 

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

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

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

The “Papacy”

“‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Luke 22:31-32) RSV.

“’Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32) KJV.

***

He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter)” (John 1:42) RSV.

He brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone. (John 1:42) KJV.

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, goes back to the fourth or fifth century.  Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us.  From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human.  Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized.  The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love.  Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan.  From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world.  We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation.  Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption.  It is a God-given role.  It is God’s grace from beginning to end.  Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace.  She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

She is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined.  She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth.  She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence.  She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God.  She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life.  She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become.  She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God.  She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.

Comment:

Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her.  Perhaps such an observation is misguided.  God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal.  We have scarcely begun to realize the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love.  The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us to wake up to the marvelous creatures that we all are by divine design.

Quote:

“Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Luke 1:28).  To the heavenly messenger she replies: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38).  Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).

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

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule
Article #’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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Proper Etiquette for Liturgical Worship (MASS & Others)


01.    Remember to keep your Eucharistic fast by abstaining from food & beverages (water excluded) for an hour before Mass.

 

02.    Always dress modestly and appropriately. 

03.      Arrive early to allow for personal prayer, or to read the readings of the day.

 


 04.     
Turn off all mobile devices while still in the vestibule.  This is your time with God and His people.

05.    Use the restroom before or after Mass. 

 

 

06.    Men, remove hats or caps before the Lord.

07.    Deposit all trash in waste receptacles, or take with you.  Don’t leave in pew please.

 

08.    Make the sign of the cross with Holy Waterupon entering.

 

09.      Genuflect with great reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle before entering your pew.  If unable to genuflect, a profound bow is respectful.
 


10.    Refrain from chit-chat – – which distracts others who are connecting with God through prayer – – before Mass.

 

11.    Join the singing.  St. Anselm said, “singing is praying twice.”  Singing with others gives great praise to God, which is really why we are gathered here.


12.    Listen to the readings.  God is speaking directly to you.
 


13.      Receive Communion with a particular attention to the true presence in the Eucharist.  We receive Communion, we do not take it.  If choosing to receive the Body of Christ in the hand, place the hand you write with under the hand you will receive, in a way, creating a throne for the Lord.  A simple bow of the head to the Eucharist is appropriate as a sign of reverence to Christ before receiving.

 

14.    Don’t forget to make a prayer of thanksgiving after receiving Communion.  “There is no prayer more agreeable to God, or more profitable to the soul than that which is made during the thanksgiving after Communion.” (St. Alfonsus Liguori)

15.    Remember that the point of being at Mass is not to see what we can get out of it, but what you can do to praise and worship the Almighty.

 

 16.    Finally, leave church – – only after – – the procession has left the altar.  

Only one person left the Last Supper early… (Judas)!

Let me know what you think of these.  Are these too strict or, are they appropriate.  I believe there is too much “liberalistic  ‘anything goes'” in the Catholic Church today.  We need to get back to reverance.

“The Devil Made Me Do IT – – NOT!” – Matthew 4:1-11†


 

“First Sunday of Lent” 

 

  

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:

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  I know it is not until Thursday, but is it ever too early to celebrate a great saint (and a fun time)?!  (PS – 286 days till CHRISTmas.)

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Are you active in the “40 Days for Life” campaign?  If not; why not?!  Just pray, if not wanting to participate in a prayer vigil at an abortion death mill.

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I personally would like to thank the Governor of Illinois for doing away with the Death penalty in his state.  Though the “death penalty” is not absolutely opposed in the teachings of the Catholic Church, I believe that even the lives of prisoners should not be taken away from them by others.  All life is sacred, including the unborn, the marginalized, the sick, the old, – – and yes, – – even prisoners.

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Congratulations to Justin Cardinal Rigali for doing the right thing in suspending 24 priests in his diocese.  I am sure his action was the result of much thought and prayer, and probably not very popular with some people.  I pray other Church Leaders learn from his example as a shepherd of his flock.  God Bless you Cardinal Rigali.

         

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Today in Catholic History:

 

†   483 – St Felix III begins his reign as Catholic Pope
†   1138 – Cardinal Gregorio Conti is elected Antipope as Victor IV, succeeding Anacletus II.
†   1548 – Birth of Sasbout Vosmeer, Dutch Catholic theologist/apostole
†   1599 – Birth of Johannes Berchmans, Dutch Jesuit/saint
†   1615 – Birth of Innocent XII, [Antonio Pignatelli], Pope (1691-1700)
†   1951 – Death of James I Wedgwood, British theosophist/Catholic bishop, at age 67
†   1981 – Attempt on Pope John Paul II’s life by Mehemet Ali Agca, in Vatican Square
†   2004 -Death of Franz König, Austrian Catholic Archbishop of Vienna (b. 1905)
†   Memorial/Feasts: Saint Gerald; Saint Nicephorus (also in Greek Orthodox); Saint Roderick; Saint Leticia 

(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:

 

“When tempted, invoke your Angel.  He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!  Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him.  He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel” ~ St. John Bosco

 

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Today’s reflection is about Jesus’ fasting for forty days in the desert and His being tempted by Satan, as recorded by Matthew. 

(Matthew 4:11) 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.  3 The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.”  4 He said in reply, “It is written: ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.'”  5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.  For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you and ‘with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”  7 Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'”  8 Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, 9 and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”  10 At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan!  It is written: ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.'”  11 Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him. 

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In each of the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke), Jesus is reported to have gone into the desert wilderness, after His baptism by John the Baptist, in order to fast and to pray for forty days, wherein, He is tempted by the devil.

Each Evangelist tells how the devil tempts Jesus in the desert.  In Matthew, as in Luke, the devil presents three temptations to Jesus.  (Mark does not mention the individual temptations.) The devil tempts Jesus to use His divine power, first to appease his hunger, then to put God’s promise of protection to the test, to become a world ruler of all the kingdoms of the world, if only He (Jesus) will worship him (the devil).  In each case, Jesus resists his temptations and rebukes the devil with words from Holy Scripture.

Matthew’s Gospel reading from today’s Mass is filled with suggestions, quotations, and similarities found in the Old Testament, particularly in the stories of the Jewish people’s wandering in the desert for forty years.  Just as the Israelites were tempted during the Exodus of the First Covenant, so too was Jesus tempted with the bringing in of the New, Second Covenant.

Jesus, just recently proclaimed by God to be God’s “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17) at His baptism, is now subjected to three temptations by Satan.  Obedience to the Father was (and is) a characteristic of being a true son.  Jesus was tempted by the devil to rebel against God the Father.  In the first two tests, the temptations were subtle; then, in the last one, the test is clearly more revolt.  In each refusal and rebuke by Jesus, He expressed Himself, in the words of Moses found in the Book of Deuteronomy:

“He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deut 8:3)

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deut 6:16).

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.”  (Deut 6:13)

Jesus allowed Himself to be tempted out of His deep love for us.  He also allowed Himself to be tempted in order to teach us important lessons needed for our spiritual maturity and survival.

The divine Jesus is perfect.  He could only be tempted “externally”.  What does “externally” mean?  Well, there are three levels of temptation:

  • External: We may know this type of temptation as “suggestion”.  It is a temptation in which we take delight even though we don’t give clear consent.  We can experience this type of external temptation without actually sinning.  An example would be finding a bundle of $100 bills lying on the street and imagining for a brief moment keeping the money. (Finders keepers, losers weepers.)  [No sin occurs yet]

 

  • Internal: a temptation in which we take delight and give some consent, but not complete consent.  In this type of temptation there is some sinfulness.  An example could be picking up the money in the previous example, and taking it home.  Once at home, you have a change of heart, and call the police. [Most often venial sinning]

 

  • And, deeply internal:  – a temptation in which we give actual and full consent.  This is always profoundly sinful.  This type of temptation affects the deepest part of the soul.  An example would be keeping, and spending the money though you know it is not yours (and you do not care)!  [It is a mortal sin, separating oneself from God’s presence and the grace of salvation.]

Jesus’ temptations in the desert wilderness have a deep significance in salvation history.  Satan’s testing of Jesus resemble those trials of Israel during the wandering in the desert, and later in Canaan.  The victory of Jesus, the true Israel, and the true Son, distinctly differs from the failure of the ancient, disobedient “son,” the old Israel.  

Many (in fact, all of us) important people have been tempted throughout sacred history.  Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, and all the Jewish people themselves experienced temptation; I believe we are all tempted on a daily basis, at minimum:

“For the just man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble to ruin.”  (Proverbs 24:16). 

With Jesus zealously rejecting the temptations of Satan, He became THE example, and revealed how to handle temptations in our daily battles with Satan, or with any other evil enticements.  We need to learn to resist and overcome evil by our increasing knowledge of the word of God, especially the three verses Jesus knew and used in today’s Gospel.

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The number forty has many Old Testament Biblical references:

  • the forty days and nights God sent rain in the great flood of Noah’s day:

“Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made.” (Genesis 7:4);

  • the forty days Moses spent on Mount Sinai with God:

“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.” (Exodus 24:18);

  • the forty years the Hebrew people wandered in the desert while traveling to the Promised Land:

“Here where your children must wander for forty years, suffering for your faithlessness, till the last of you lies dead in the desert.”  (Numbers 14:33);

  • The forty years during which Israel was tempted in the desert:

“Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God, has directed all your journeying in the desert, so as to test you by affliction and find out whether or not it was your intention to keep his commandments.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

  • the forty days and nights Elijah spent walking to Mount Horeb:

“He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.” (1 Kings 19:8);

  • And, the forty days warning Jonah gave the people of Nineveh in his prophecy of judgment to repent:

Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, ‘Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed.’” (Jonah 3:4).

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In the hostile environment of the desert, Jesus fasted for forty days.  At the conclusion of this period of prayer, and fasting, Jesus was tempted by the devil: 

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry.” (Matthew 4:1-2)

“At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1:12-13)

“Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.  He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.” (Luke 4:1-2)

Jesus prepared himself for His “test” by prayer and fasting.  Moses acted the same way when preparing for his role in salvation history:

“So Moses stayed there with the LORD for forty days and forty nights, without eating any food or drinking any water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)

We follow in Jesus’ footsteps with OUR yearly Lenten fast.  Pope John Paul II (the Great) brought this concept to mind so eloquently in one of his “General Audience” addresses:

“It can be said that Christ introduced the tradition of fasting for forty days into the liturgical year of the Church, because He himself “fasted forty days and forty nights” (Mt 4:2) before beginning to teach.  With this forty-day fast, the Church is, in a certain sense, called every year to follow her Master and Lord, if she wishes to preach his Gospel effectively.” (John Paul II, General Audience, February 28, 1979)

Jesus’ retreat into the desert wilderness calls us, and teaches us, to prepare ourselves by prayer and penance before any important decisions or actions.  How often do you fast, much less pray?

Jesus spent forty days and nights in a physically brutal environment. Verse two of today’s reading says He was “hungry”.   Of course He was hungry!  Satan knew this, and took the opportunity to tempt Him when the “human” Jesus was at His weakest.  The enemy will certainly tempt us when we are at our weakest!

What kind of a temptation is there in Jesus “producing some bread”?  Jesus not only produced bread later on in His ministry, he also produced fish AND wine as well!  (What a great meal.)  However, Satan is very cunning.  What Satan proposed for Jesus would have been for His [Jesus’] benefit solely, and not part of God’s plan for salvation and redemption.  If you notice, all of Jesus’ miracles were 1) always for others, and 2) always for the purpose of salvation and redemption for all peoples of every race, culture, and nation.

When tempted by the devil to change rock into bread, Jesus refused to use His divine power for His own sole benefit, though He was truly and personally physically hungry.  Performing a miracle at this time was not part of His Father’s plan for salvation and redemption.  Jesus instead chose to accept whatever God “wills”.  Do we “choose” as Jesus did? 

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your fathers, in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Jesus is trusting in God’s fatherly providence.  God led Jesus into the desert in order to prepare Him for His earthly ministry.  Jesus trusted God the Father completely that He would not let Him die from hunger in the desert.  “Yahweh” [God] prevented the Israelites from dying by miraculously providing manna to eat in the desert.  In contrast to the Israelites of the Exodus, who were impatient when faced with hunger in the desert, Jesus trusted in His father’s providence wholeheartedly.  How is your level of “trust” in God’s providence?

In this example, Jesus teaches us that when we ask God for things, we should not ask for what can be obtained by our own efforts.  We should also not ask for something that would be exclusively for our own convenience.  Rather, we should pray for what will help us towards our holiness, and that of others.

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The devil continued His tempting of Jesus, relentlessly and cunningly (I cannot stress how persistent and cunning Satan is!).  If Satan isn’t able make us renounce our faith, or able to trick us into a mortal sin, he will then try to get us to make little “choices” which will eventually lead us away from God.

Since “daring” Jesus to perform a miracle did not work, the enemy quickly moved to another approach.  The devil has no scruples and will use whatever way possible to separate a human soul from God.  Satan prods Jesus to jump off a high structure to prove His divinity with Jesus being saved from death by the hands of angels.  Tradition has it that this particular temptation happened at the southeast corner of the Temple wall, its highest point due to its geographical position on the hill.  Satan further supports his proposal, his test, with the use of Holy Scripture, specifically Psalm 91:

“For God commands the angels, with their hands they shall support you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11a, 12).

This test for Jesus from Satan was unlike the Israelites at Massah, who demanded a miracle of water from Moses:

“You shall not put the LORD, your God, to the test, as you did at Massah.” (Deuteronomy 6:16),

Jesus refuses to “test” God: 

“They quarreled, therefore, with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’  Moses replied, ‘Why do you quarrel with me?  Why do you put the LORD to a test?’” (Exodus 17:2).

To “test” God’s faithfulness reveals little or no real trust in Him.  It shows an opposition to trust in God.  On the other hand, we should also not be presumptuous in purposely placing ourselves in danger, expecting God to help us with His power, nor by asking God for signs of proof of His faithfulness to His word.  Our trust in God must be simple, complete, and full, – – not “foolhardy”!

Jesus does not demand from God an amazing, special, or unexpected show of power at this time in His human life.  He is completely, totally, and fully surrendering His existence to the will, the trust, and the love of God the Father!

Satan purposely tried to use Holy Scripture in a false way.  We must be aware of heresies from people interpreting the bible out of context, losing site of the unity which exists in Holy Scripture.  St. Gregory the great wrote:

 “The devil can also interpret Holy Scripture, quoting it to suit himself.  Therefore, any interpretation which is not in line with the teaching contained in the Tradition of the Church should be rejected.  Catholics should be on guard against arguments which, though they claim to be founded on Holy Scripture, are nevertheless untrue.” (St. Gregory the Great, In Evangelia homiliae, 16)

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For Satan’s third and final test offered to Jesus, he proposed to give Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world” if only Jesus would simply bow down and worship him – – the devil.  This temptation was probably intended to recall Israel’s worship of false gods during their desert sojourn of forty years (the Exodus; cf., Numbers and Deuteronomy).  Jesus’ refusal of the offense is therefore taken from the words of the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy:

“The LORD, your God, shall you fear; him shall you serve, and by his name shall you swear.” (Deuteronomy 6:13).

Jesus’ statement is both a teaching and a warning for all of us to be on alert; not to allow oneself to be deceived by the devil.  We should appreciate and learn from Jesus’ attitude and actions during these three “tests”.  During His human life on earth Jesus did not want any glory which belonged to Him alone.  Though Jesus had the right to be treated as “God”, He took the form of a servant, a slave:

“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians  2:6-8).

So, as Catholics, believers in, and followers of, Jesus Christ, we need to realize that ALL glory is due solely to God alone.  We must not use the fullness, completeness, and greatness of the Gospel to further our own personal interests and ambitions.  I found ideas of St. Josemaria Escriva enlightening:

“’We should learn from Jesus.  His attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who takes flesh to save men.  He has a mission which the Father affectionately guides with tender care: ‘You are my son; I have begotten you this day.  Only ask, and you shall have the nations for your patrimony.’  And the Christian who, following Christ, has this attitude of complete adoration of the Father, also experiences our Lord’s loving care: ‘He trusts in me, mine is to rescue him; he acknowledges my name, from me he shall have protection.’” (St. Josemaria Escriva, Christ Is Passing By, 62)

If we struggle without faltering, we will attain victory.  No one wins without first overcoming, little by little, until we have fully conquered our selfishness, and enemies of our human nature:

“Do not be afraid of anything that you are going to suffer.  Indeed, the devil will throw some of you into prison that you may be tested, and you will face an ordeal for ten days.  Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelations 2:10).

In return for Jesus’ trust, angels came and “ministered to Him.” By coming to minister to Jesus after rejecting Satan’s offers, the angels teach us about the interior “joy” given by God to the person who fights against temptations brought forth from the devil.  To help in this fight, God has given us very powerful protectors against Satan’s temptations – – our Guardian Angels.  That is why the Church encourages us to call on their help and aid daily!  (By the way, do you know the name of the angel assigned as the “Prince of the Heavenly Host” of those angels empowered to help us resist and overcome Satan and all the other “fallen” angels? —————-(The answer is Michael).

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In summary, each of Satan’s temptations to Jesus offers insight into God, the human state in life, and salvation history.  Jesus’ rejection of the temptations showed that He would not put “God the Father” to the test. (So, neither should we.)  Positioning Himself on the word and authority of Holy Scripture, Jesus rebukes Satan (“the devil”).  Throughout this ordeal, Jesus always stayed confident in God’s providence, protection, and faithfulness.

Jesus was tempted just like we are tempted every single day.  He overcame His temptations by the grace and strength which His Father gave Him.  In Luke’s Gospel, he says that Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit” (cf., Luke 4:1).  When tempted by the devil Jesus did not try fighting His adversary with His “human” strength and capabilities.  Instead, He relied on the power of the Holy Spirit in and with Him. 

On our journey through Lent, you may notice the Sunday Mass readings calling us to adopt the same confidence Jesus had in dealing with His temptations.  By itself, God’s word will be – – and IS – – always enough.

My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Corinthians 12:9) 

God’s promise of protection can always be faithfully trusted.  We need to keep in mind that “God alone is God”!

How can we conquer sin and coercion in our personal lives?  Jesus Christ gives us His Holy Spirit to be our strength, our guide, and our comforter during temptations.  God wants us to “fight the good fight for our faith”:

“Compete well for the faith.  Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Tim. 6:12).

He graces us with the power and strength coming from the Holy Spirit.  Do you depend and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for your strength and help in your life?

When Jesus resists the temptations presented to Him by Satan, He draws on His religious upbringing and tradition.  Jesus is able to quote from Holy Scripture because He was praying the scriptures of Moses and the prophets, and so was a person who lived His Jewish beliefs “fully”.  He also knew Himself to be the “Son of God”.  So, we too are responsible for engaging ourselves “fully” in our Catholic Christian faith and tradition so that we too can draw upon these when needed to help resist temptations.  The Secular Franciscan Motto says this so well, in seven simple words:

“Gospel to life and life to Gospel”.

Since Jesus rebuked the devil’s temptations by quoting Holy Scripture, how important to you is the Bible, the Sacraments, and the Traditions of our Catholic faith life?  Do you have a favorite Scripture passage?   Please remember, and be encouraged, that “one does not live by bread alone”…….. but, by “every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  (A little known motto of our Jesus believing Jewish cousins.)

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 “Our Father

 

“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

 

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A Franciscan’s Saint of the Day:  St. Leander of Seville (c. 550-600)

 

The next time you recite the Nicene Creed at Mass, think of today’s saint.  For it was Leander of Seville who, as bishop, introduced the practice in the sixth century.  He saw it as a way to help reinforce the faith of his people and as an antidote against the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ.  By the end of his life, Leander had helped Christianity flourish in Spain at a time of political and religious upheaval.

Leander’s own family was heavily influenced by Arianism, but he himself grew up to be a fervent Christian.  He entered a monastery as a young man and spent three years in prayer and study.  At the end of that tranquil period he was made a bishop.  For the rest of his life he worked strenuously to fight against heresy.  The death of the anti-Christian king in 586 helped Leander’s cause.  He and the new king worked hand in hand to restore orthodoxy and a renewed sense of morality.  Leander succeeded in persuading many Arian bishops to change their loyalties.

Leander died around 600.  In Spain he is honored as a Doctor of the Church.

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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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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Franciscan Formation Reflection:

 

Prayer I

What attitudes do prayers create in me? 
Can you identify with your prayers? 
What is your approach to prayer? 
How is your prayer-life like Jesus Christ and St. Francis? 
How do you handle it when you fall into the habit of “reciting prayers” rather than “praying prayers”? 
Can you define the difference?

 

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Secular Franciscan Order (SFO)
Rule #’s 13 & 14 of 26:

13.  As the Father sees in every person the features of his Son, the firstborn of many brothers and sisters, so the Secular Franciscans with a gentle and courteous spirit accept all people as a gift of the Lord and an image of Christ.

A sense of community will make them joyful and ready to place themselves on an equal basis with all people, especially with the lowly for whom they shall strive to create conditions of life worthy of people redeemed by Christ.

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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.  

“Go South Young Man, Go South, Says the Winged Wonder!” – Acts 8:26-36†


Today in Catholic History:
† 296 – Death of Pope Caius
† 455 – Petronius Maximus, Roman Emperor
† 536 – Death of Pope Agapetus I
† 1509 – Henry VIII ascends the throne of England after the death of his father.
† 1610 – Birth of Pope Alexander VIII (d. 1691)
† 1864 – Congress authorized the inscription “In God We Trust” on coins minted as U.S. currency.
† 1970 – First Earth Day celebrated.

Today’s reflection is about Phillip evangelizing to an African slave. 

Quote or Joke of the Day:

We cannot do great things — only small things with great love. — Mother Teresa

Today’s Meditation:

Then the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”  So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.  Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.  The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.”  Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.  This was the scripture passage he was reading: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth.  In (his) humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.”  Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?”  Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.  As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?”  (NAB Acts 8:26-36)
  

Is Phillip responsible for the first Gentile convert to Catholicism? I am not sure, since Peter has a remarkable mass-conversion story as well.  It is just remarkable that conversions are literally happening left and right so shortly after the cruelty of Jesus’ execution.  I wonder how many possible converts did not commit out of fear of similar fates.

The story of this official’s conversion to Christianity is given a strong supernatural cast by the introduction of an angel, and instruction from the Holy Spirit.  Whether sent by an angel or the Holy Spirit, the initiative plan for the mission was God’s: Phillip is only the pawn in God’s plan.  Phillip had a northward movement towards Samaria.  Now he is told to head south, where he will meet his charge.

This gentleman, a slave to the queen of Nubia is quite impressive.  The conversion of this Ethiopian eunuch, gives additional evidence to show the spread of Christianity outside the confines of Judaism itself, and was in accord with the plan of God.  This man, having deep African origins conjures up dark skinned converts well beyond the Jewish civilization’s outer boundaries and most definitely on its way to ends of the earth.

It is not clear whether the Ethiopian was originally a convert to Judaism or, as is more probable, a “God-fearer:” such as one who accepted Jewish monotheism and ethic, and attended the synagogue, but did not consider himself bound by some of the regulations like circumcision and dietary laws.  

Candace” is not a proper name, but the title of a Nubian queen.  Nubia is the region in the south of Egypt, along the Nile and in northern Sudan, and during this time in history, was a separate kingdom.  The name of the Queen, or the slave for that manner, is unknown.

Philip is brought alongside the carriage at the very moment when the Ethiopian is pondering the meaning of Isaiah 53:7-8 (“Like a sheep … taken from the earth.”), a passage that Christianity, from its earliest origins, has applied to Jesus.  He was led to slaughter while remaining quiet and humble; killed in a very humiliating way; and was resurrected and ascended to heaven.  Isaiah was a “way too cool” prophet!

This Ethiopian, after talking to Phillips for such a small amount of time, has a very profound conversion.  He wishes to follow in Christ’s footsteps: on the same journey to salvation.  This encounter has a sacramental outcome.  He wants to begin his eternal life with the living water washing away his old life.

“My God, and my all.  Please allow me to have the obedience and wisdom of Phillip.  Tell me which way to turn in order to claim you love for us all.  Amen.”

Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO

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Catholic Saint of the Day:  St. Abdiesus

Also called Hebed Jesus, a deacon in the Christian community of Persia who was caught up in the persecutions conducted by King Shapur II. Records indicate that Abdiesus was accompanied in his martyrdom by Abrosimus, Acepsimus, Azadanes, Azades, Bicor, Mareas, Milles, and a women named Tarbula. Some were Persian courtiers, others priests and bishops. Tarbula was the sister of St. Simeon, and suffered a particularly cruel death by sawing

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

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #22:

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

“Martha, the Devils Got My Foot and Won’t Let Go!” – Luke 4:8-9


Saturday morning and the sun is out.  Had a great time at Church today.  Afterwards, a large group of us went to McDonald’s to partake in a little cholesterol enhancement.

Today’s reflections is about temptation, and how to handle it.  Something I need a lot of, is control over temptation.

Bible Scroll

Quote or Joke of the Day:

  

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

  

Today’s Meditation:

  

Jesus said to him [the devil] in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.”  Then he [the devil] led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here … (NAB Luke 4:8-9)

  

You cannot serve two kings.  It’s either going to be God, or the devil.  The devil once worshiped our Lord, and our Lord once loved him and all the other “fallen angels,”  God loved them so much he gave them the same gift we received from Him: the gift of free-will!  After this, the angels no longer believed as God, and refused to honor his creation of us.  They were thrown out of heaven for not following God in His love for his creations. 

The devil doesn’t necessarily want us.  As a matter of fact, the devil despises us with the utmost zeal.  The only interest he has in us, is to turn us from our love of God; his eternal enemy.  The pitiful thing is that at some time in the relatively near future, we are all going to spend eternity with one of these two supreme beings!  If you don’t spend eternity with God in paradise, the only option left is spending eternity with a being that hates you to a degree we cannot even imagine.  Scary thought, isn’t it!? 

For those that think they are immune from the temptation or taunting of the devil, because of their strong faith in God: just remember that God, as Jesus, was tempted for forty days; and then taunted several other times throughout the gospels.  If the devil has no fear of tempting God, what makes you think he has no qualms about tempting or taunting a ‘mere human.’ 

The devil even took Jesus to the place of His birth, and put Him on top of the temple were He became a member of the Jewish community (through His circumcision, and sacrifice of pigeon doves) 30+ years in the past.  From there, the devil challenged Him to do an easy task that Jesus knew he would be protected; but did not succumb to this temptation, as it was not His time.  

How interesting, and ironic that the devil brought Jesus to Jerusalem.  This is the place of His birth, His entrance into the Jewish faith, and His first episode of His future role as priest and messiah, by being “found in the temple with the temple priests” in His early teenage years.  It is also the city were Jesus will ultimately face his destiny with death: not by falling from the temple parapet as the devil wanted; but on the cross in total pain and agony, by His own free-will, as His heavenly Father had instructed, in order to give us redemption for our ‘devil pleasing’ sins. 

“Lord please help the fools that think the immoral acts of today will have no impact on their futures.  They are being deceived by Satan.  Please be with them and come too their aid.  St. Michael, protect us all from the horrors of eternal damnation by protecting us from the devils temptations and taunts.  Amen.”

  

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

  

*****

  

Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Hyacintha Mariscotti 1585-1640

  

St. Hyacintha, born in 1585, belonged to a wealthy and prominent family. Her father was Count Antonio of Mariscotti, and her mother descended from the princely Roman family of the Orsini.  

After her younger sister had been given in marriage, the disappointed Clarice, as Hyacintha was then called, entered the convent of the Tertiaries at Viterbo, but apparently only as a secular Tertiary. She permitted herself to be supplied with all sorts of things by way of eatables and articles of dress which enabled her to enjoy quite an agreeable and comfortable existence. Her rooms were furnished with much worldly apparatus. The spirit of mortification and of penance with which every Tertiary ought to be equipped was in no wise discernible to her. 

Then it happened that she was afflicted with a strange illness, and her confessor was obliged to go to her rooms to administer the sacraments to her. When he saw the worldly and frivolous objects in her cell, he sharply reproved the sick sister. Following her confessor’s advice, she afterwards went to the common refectory and there, with a rope around her neck, begged forgiveness of her fellow sisters for the scandal she had given them. 

However, it was only after she had invoked the aid of St. Catherine of Siena, that she dispossessed herself of all frivolous and unnecessary objects, and thereupon resolutely entered upon a life of heroic virtue. 

She began to lead a very penitential life, in which she persevered unto the end. She went barefoot, wore an old habit that had been discarded by another sister, and performed the lowliest and most trying tasks. She ate only inferior food with which she mixed bitter herbs. Her bed consisted of a few bare boards, on which there was but a single blanket; a stone served as her pillow. She fostered a special devotion to the sufferings of Christ; and in memory of them, she subjected herself to special austerities on Fridays and in Holy Week. She also entertained a filial love for Mary, the Mother of Mercy, who sometimes appeared to her and comforted her. 

Enriched by every virtue and held in great repute by her fellow sisters, she died in the 55th year of her age, in the year of our Lord 1640. Many miracles occurred at her grave for which reason Pope Benedict XIII placed her in the ranks of the blessed.  

In the year 1807 she was canonized by Pope Pius VII. 

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

  

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

  

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

 

“Honey, the Kings are Here!”


Humor of the Day:  Q: What type of car would Jesus Own?     A: a “Christ-ler.”

  

Today’s Meditation:   The Adoration by the Magi, 4th Joyful Mystery  (Matthew 2:1–2, 9b–11)

 Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage, and on entering, they saw the child with Mary his mother.  They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

 The three wise men some say were kings.  Others say they were astronomers.  And others say they were just wealthy.  Regardless of their state in life, we do know certain things.   These ‘wise men’ were learned.  They knew how to follow astronomic signs.  They knew the prophesies of the coming of the messiah.  And more importantly, they knew how to interpolate all they knew into a plan and action of how to meet and worship in the coming of the Lord.

From their physical features, they probably came from separate areas of the ‘knigdom.’  They brought with them gifts, that prophesied Jesus’ role in this earthly life.  Gold for the the kingship He will have; frankincense – an incense, representing the spiritual worship of Jesus; and Myrrh representing the death of Jesus – Myrrh was used to anoint bodies after death. 

These Kings bowed to this humble baby, and worshipped a poor child from a poor family, living in a cave with animals.  From the meek, a king is born that is far greater than any king ever before or since.  Praise the Lord.

 

Pax et Bonum

Dan Halley, SFO

*****

Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule # 17:

 

In their family they should cultivate the Franciscan spirit of peace, fidelity, and respect for life, striving to make of it a sign of a world already renewed in Christ.   By living the grace of matrimony, husbands and wives in particular should bear witness in the world to the love of Christ for His Church. They should joyfully accompany their children on their human and spiritual journey by providing a simple and open Christian education and being attentive to the vocation of each child.