Feast of St Francis

WED. OCT. 4TH , THE FEAST OF ST. FRANCIS, WE HELD A SPECIAL CELEBRATION AT WHICH OUR BROTHERS, CHRIS, TOOK FIRST VOWS, IVAN TOOK  HIS FOR ONE YEAR, AND JAMES  RENEWED FOR THREE YEARS. A RECEPTION WAS HELD AFTERWARD. THE MASS BEGAN AT 7:00 PM.

“RABBI, WHERE DO YOU LIVE?”

(Jn. 1:39)
“And the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What is you want?’ They answered Rabbi, where do you live? He replied “come and see. (Jn. 1:38-39). So the disciples took up the invitation and followed and spent the day with him. It is unfortunate that we do not have an account of what took place that day. What did they discuss? What was the reaction to this one who The Baptist call the “Lamb of God?” But, if Jesus was true to form, he would have begun to instruct these two would-be disciples in the Reign of God.

How does one begin to instruct another is a very new and novel way of thinking? I would think that the instructor would begin by giving some very broad ideas and concepts that would set the stage, as it were, to more in-depth information. Jesus would most likely invite these two to explore a new way of looking at life, not as we would view it, but as God would view it.

Jesus may have first present the “Broad View of God.” In this view, Jesus would invite the disciples to see that in a world where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more. That God’s last world is LOVE and HATE. That God is very hopeful, as hopeful as the old woman who is once heard to boast, “I’ve lived through the Depression and three world wars – I hardly wait to see what happens next!”

Jesus may have invited these men to explore would may be the “Long View of God.” Jesus would ask these disciples to take a new look at what nature shows us every day. That is, life can and does emerge from death. That some things must die that others may be born and that Victory can come from seeming defeat.

At last, Jesus may have invited the disciples to explore the “Value View of God.” Here, Jesus might remind these would – be disciples that being God is about all things. God is able to see everything in perspective and that all things are not equal. Here Jesus would tell the disciples to get their priorities in order. Jesus would tell them several important facts of this new life. First, that GIVING comes before RECEIVING. Two, that BEING is better than HAVING. Third, that GOOD comes from GOOD MEANS and Forth, that PEOPLE are prior to THINGS, and that God is most important above all.

We who have taken up the Lord’s invitation to “come and see” might want to come to understand that God is not looking for perfection. Rather, God is looking for people who are willing to strive towards that perfection to which we are all called. Maybe, just maybe, if we begin to see our world and ourselves through the eyes of God, we might be able to laugh a little more at some of our short comings, be a little more open, forgiving, and at peace with ourselves and those around us. And in this way we might, just might, come to believe that being human is our way to becoming divine.

Peace and All Good

Fr. Vinnie, osf

DECIDE TO FORGIVE

 

For resentment is negative, resentment is poisonous, resentment diminishes and devours the self. Be the first to forgive, to smile and to take the first step, and you will see happiness bloom on the face of your human brother or sister.

 

Be always the first do not wait for others to forgive for by forgiving you become the master of fate the fashioner of life the doer of miracles.  To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.

 

    Here is the program for achieving a truly forgiving heart:

Sunday: Forgive yourself.
Monday: Forgive your family.
Tuesday: Forgive your friends and associates.
Wednesday: Forgive across economic lines within your own nation.
Thursday: Forgive across cultural lines within you own nation.
Friday: Forgive across political lines within you own nation.
Saturday: Forgive other nations.

Only the brave know how to forgive.
A coward never forgives, it is not in their nature.

By Robert Muller (from Dear Abby)

“THOSE WHOM HE CURED, WHO WERE VARIOUSLY AFFLICTED, WERE MANY, AND SO WERE THE DEMONS HE EXPELLED.”

Fr. Raymond Brown wrote: “. . . working within the worldview of his time, Jesus, by driving out demons in his process of healing, is indicating that sickness is not simply a bodily ailment but is a manifestation of the power of evil in the world. . . suffering, tears, disasters and death are representative of alienation from God and of evil. . . the very existence of such factor indicates the incompletion of God’s plan.”
In the Gospel of Mark, we are told that the crowd came to Peter’s mother-law’s house and he cured them. We do not hear about who came, how he healed them or what he healed them of. Dis that beg to be healed? Did they allow the sickest to go first? Mark gives no instructions on how to behave or on what to say.
But, is it all that easy? “. . . no healing, no gift from God comes without some conditions.” William Faulkner once wrote. “The past is not dead –it is not ever past.” This sets the context for God’s condition. The past is not dead. Another southern writer, Flannery O’Connor, wrote in a short story about a father asking forgiveness from his son. The father states; I did not trust you, but please forgive me and forget it.” To which the son replied; “I’ll forget it, but you better not forget it.”
The past is not dead. . .it is not even past. . .the present is the totality of what went before. The acid of our past etches the metal of the present.
Even though we are healed, we still carry the scars that should remind us that we have wondered where we should not have gone. God asks that we remember that. God offers us healing, but that healing must be total me in the past, present, and future. God’s healing should make our lives a celebration of second chances and our prayer should be; “O God of second chances, here I am again.”
Peace and All God
Fr. Vinnie, osf

FRANCISCAN BLESSING

May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work of justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in the world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what other claim cannot be done.
Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER AS A MORNING MEDITATION

Developed by Rev. Frank Toia
(Based on unpublished material by the Rev. Dr. John Weterhoff.

Our Father, who art in heaven. . .
What do you want to make possible in my life today which neither I nor any other human being can make possible without you?
Hallow be thy name. . .
What are the ordinary and routine experiences of life which you wish to make sacred today?
Thy Kingdom come. . .
In what specific ways do you plan to bring about your Kingdom through me today?
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. . .
What are the “Gethsemanes” in my life today about which I need today as you did, “Thy will be done”?
Give us today our daily bread. . .
What kind of spiritual, physical and emotional nourishment do I need most today?
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. . .
For what action or inaction do I need to be forgiven? Whom do I need to forgive? For what do I need to forgive myself as you have forgiven me?
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. . .
From what do I need to be protected today?
For thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Thank you, God, for your guidance. Help me to know you are surrounding me with your love all the day long.

Policing the Communion Line

Not in My Parish

By Fr. Nonomen

You never know where God will surprise you.

The installation of Cardinal Joseph William Tobin of Newark, New Jersey / CNS photo

In the middle of a hot summer, while I was standing in the produce section at the local supermarket, a woman I had never met tapped me on the shoulder and introduced herself. She told me that she and her husband were not parishioners but had experienced an amazing Lenten journey at my parish. For the past two years, she said, they had fallen into a spiritual malaise. That began when the pastor of her own parish left the priesthood. He was a popular man, highly charismatic, and deeply spiritual. His unexpected departure brought to a head many issues in the church that she and her husband struggled with. Changes to their home parish also disoriented them. Looking for some fresh air, they had prayed their way through Lent with us and then joined us for the Easter Vigil. It was there, she said, that God gave her a gift: she watched as her former pastor and his new wife (who were never before at any of our Masses) joined the Communion line and received the Eucharist. “In that moment, I knew,” she said. “I was suddenly filled with a joyful, peaceful assurance that the church I love would weather the storms and issues that seem sometimes to tear it apart. Seeing Father Ed with his wife showed me how God is always doing something new! As they received Communion, I saw that there is room for all in Christ. And that has helped heal my heart.”

I walked away from this exchange with a bag of tomatoes and a grin on my face, thinking she doesn’t realize just how amazing the Communion line was that night. Besides Ed and his new wife, there were other Catholic priests and even a Protestant minister and her wife. Also, I saw a prominent local political leader, well known in the community and healing from a recent, very-public divorce. There were professional theologians and professional electricians. There were college students and middle-school students; the newly married and the recently widowed. It seemed that the depth and breadth of humanity was in the Communion line, all of their lives containing stories of hope and all of them, in that moment, drawn to one table, one altar, one Lord. I saw it. I sensed it. It was a foretaste of what liturgists call “the heavenly banquet.” I am so grateful that my new friend, the evangelizer in the produce department, saw it as well.

The people of the Kingdom are a diverse people, aware of their need and drawn to the God who welcomes all
As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for all these lofty thoughts of the Kingdom to come crashing back to earth. I thought of the diocesan administration and of how some might be extremely concerned about the “scandal” this sort of Communion line could cause. But as a participant and witness, it seemed to have the opposite effect, a healing effect. Of the hundreds who attended the Vigil that night, no one wrote a nasty letter of complaint, no unkind word was heard, not even so much as a passing sarcastic comment. Many noticed the same things I did that night and many were inspired.

How does this happen? To begin with, the Vigil Mass cannot be taken out of context. Throughout the year, the people of this parish make a deliberate effort to be hospitable and welcoming. That is especially the case for the Vigil, which is touted as the high point of the liturgical year. No one is checking “Valid Catholic” cards at the door, and no one feels a particular need to be a Communion Cop. We recognize that we’re all a bunch of needy sinful people, who are eager to make room for others at the Lord’s Table. Add to this a year-long, parish-wide emphasis on the religious education of adults, both through formal catechesis and in the way we run a picnic or a liturgy or a parish council. Education has a broadening effect, which hopefully trickles down to the heart. The wider the heart, the easier it is to see the working of God and, consequentially, the longer the Communion line.

The more intriguing question, perhaps, is not how but why this happened. I figure it to be a lesson in grace. At a time when elitism and intolerance have crept into so many facets of life, the Lord insists that the Kingdom of God will be otherwise and often surprises us with glimpses of it right here, right now. The people of the Kingdom are a richly diverse people, aware of their need and drawn to the God who welcomes all and lavishes grace on all, even that former priest, even that same-sex couple, even that unsuspecting cleric in the produce department who thought he was only going home with a bag of tomatoes.

THE GREAT CLOUD OF WITNESSES

By Father Vincent Treglio
 
It has been said that it is not easy to be a Christian in today’s world. There are so many things that pull us this way and that. Those values we grew up with seem today to be out dated. Society has changed greatly from what we recall when we were younger. Family values, which were so strong in the past seem all but gone. We might truly wonder where we are headed. I guess, we all have days when we reflect on what will happen to our society. We need only read the morning paper to get almost a feeling of doom. But once in a while we do run across someone or have some experience that tells us that all is not lost.
 
In the Letter to the Hebrews chapter 12 verse 1 we are reminded that we are surrounded by a ‘cloud of witnesses’, those who have gone before us in the faith. We might think that they had it easy because they lived in the ‘good old days’, but I’m sure that they had their share of trouble living up to the call they received God.
 
There is a litany of names recorded at the end of chapter 11 of Hebrews. People like Abraham, Able, Enoch, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and the many prophets of old, as well as those who came after them and followed the Lord and his call to discipleship, all had their share of trouble in living up to live lives of virtue in a society that pulled them to the worship of other gods, to living lives of sinfulness in a pagan world. These great ancient heroes surround us and stand before us to give us strength and inspiration.
 
In his commentary on the book of Hebrews, William Barclay wrote, “An actor would act with double intensity if he know that some famous dramatic master was watching him. An athlete would strive with double effort if he knew that a stadium of famous Olympic athletes were watching him. It is of the very essence of the Christian life that it is lived in the gaze of the heroes of the faith, who lived, suffered and died in their day and generation. How can a person avoid the struggle for greatness with an audience like that looking down upon him” (The St. Andrew Press, Edinburgh: 1976)
 
Yes, it is hard sometimes to be a Christian. But we have a great army who have gone before us to show us the way. The heroes of our Old and New Testaments cheer us on to victory. They are the ones who support us with their prayers and their stories. They are to ones who tell us that if we are willing to struggle and hold firm to what our faith calls us to, then a great reward awaits us in the joys of the Father’s kingdom.

“GO”

THE LORD SAID, “GO”
And the Lord said, “GO!” and I said, “Who, me?” and God said, “Yes, you” and I said, “But I’m not ready yet, and there is company coming, and I can’t leave my kids; You know there is no one to take my place.” And God said, “You’re stalling.”

Again the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “But I don’t want to.” And God said, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to.” And I said, “Listen, I’m not the kind of person to get involved in controversy. Besides, my family won’t like it, and what will the neighbors think!” and God said, “Baloney!”

And yet a third time the Lord said, “Go!” and I said, “Do I have to?” and God said, “Do you love me?” and I said, “Look, I’m scared. . .People are going to hate me. . .and cut me up into little pieces. . . I can’t take it all by myself.” And God said, “Where do you think I’ll be?”

And the Lord said, “Go!” and I sighed, “Here I am, send me!’

By Lois Hodrick

Good Friday Meditation

AND PETER FORGOT

“Simon, Simon! Look, Satan has got his wish to sift you all like wheat; but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail, and once you have recovered, you in your turn must strengthen your brothers.”
“Lord, (Peter said), I would be ready to go to prison with you, and to death. Jesus replied, ‘I tell you, Peter by the time the cock crows today, you will have denied three times that you know me.’” (LK 22: 34)
We know the rest of the story. After the Passover meal they went out to the Mount of Olives to sing the traditional psalms and songs. It was at this point that the mood became very heavy for Jesus knew in his heart that the time was approaching that he would be handed over to the of the authorities to be put on trial, a mock one at that, and given over to the Romans to be flogged and crucified.
Those who had sworn their allegiance all took off when the guards form the Temple arrived. Some ran so fast that the very cloths that cover them were left behind, as with John Mark who had on a sheet. Maybe the boasting the disciples made was due to too much wine at the Passover meal?? But whatever the reason, it was short lived.
Fear, my brothers and sisters, has a very powerful affect upon us. It can make us stronger that we ever thought we could be or make us turn tail and run for our lives. Fear make us forget the past or the future, for only the present is important; the immediate presence of danger that we come face to face with.
Peter, as well as the others, found himself in that situation and he FORGOT!
As we read in the Gospel of John, Peter and John follow the crowd back toward the Temple Mount. Peter hides himself in the shadows of his cloak and tries to warm himself at the charcoal fire in the courtyard. It was there that a someone pointed him out…and Peter was faced with his paralyzing fear.
The girl at the door noticed Peter and said, “Aren’t you another of that man’s disciples?” Peter said NO! Fear of being discovered took over. Peter FORGOT the first time he encountered Jesus. It was up on the lake of Galilee. Jesus was on the shore and said to Peter and his companions, “Children, have you caught anything?” No, they said. Jesus then said, “Through you nets to the other side of the boat,” and so they did. To their astonishment, their nets were filled to the breaking point. They had to call to their friends in another boat to come and help them with the catch. It was then that Peter through himself at the feet of Jesus and said, “. . . depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” But Jesus said instead, follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.
Peter forgot the time at the wedding feast of Cana, and how, at the request of his mother, Jesus turned water into the best wine they had ever tasted. And let us not forget the time when in that deserted place, Jesus was able to feat 5,000 men, not to mention the women and the children.
Not much later, as Peter stood by the fire warming himself, another said, “Are you not one of that man’s followers?” Peter’s answer was again a resounding NO. Peter FORGOT.
Yes, Peter forget the time in that little town on Nain. Jesus and the disciples had just entered the town as the only son of a widow was being carried out and the town followed in procession. Jesus approached the litter and place his hand upon it and stopped them. Then to the young man, Jesus said ‘arise’. Jesus then gave the young man back to his mother. And then there was the time, that Jesus took pity on the ten lepers and heal them, and that only one, a Samaritan, came back to give thanks. And should we forget the time Peter and the others were there when the daughter of Jairus, Temple official, was very ill. Jairus asked Jesus to come and make her better. As Jairus pleaded members of his household came and said that the little girl died. Jesus took Peter, James and John with him into the house and said to the child ‘Talitha Kum!’ Which means, “little girl, get up.” And then he said, “give her something to eat.”
Peter also forgot that even before they went of the Jairus’ house, an old woman who suffered from hemorrhages most of her life was in the crowd and came up behind Jesus and said in her heart, “if only I touch the tassel of his garment, I will get better. . .” and so she was.
The night was chilly and Peter wanted to get closer to the fire. Once again, another spoke up, one who just who happened to be a relative of Malcus, the man whose ear Peter had cut with a sword. “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again, Peter started to curse and he swore he did not know the man.
Peter FORGOT. Yes, fear again got the hold of him and made him forget when Jesus and the others got word that, their good friend, Lazarus had died. Peter did not remember when they went to the town of Bethany, Jesus had encountered Mary as they entered the town. Peter may not have been close enough to Mary to hear what they said….as Jesus assured Mary that her brother would rise again. . . “Yes, Lord, I know he will, in the resurrection of the Just.” Peter did may not have heard what Jesus said to her…. Mary, I AM THE RESURRECTION.”
Fear made Peter to forget what took place afterward when they went to the place where Lazarus had been buried four days earlier. How Jesus, filled with emotions cried for his friend and then ordered the stone moved away and call into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out”. And to the astonishment of all, the dead man came out at which Jesus ordered, “Untie him and let him go free.”
It was at this point, when Peter coursed and swore for the third time that he did not know this man Jesus, that he raised his head, just as they were taking Jesus into the inner court to be judged, and their eyes met. There was no condemnation in the Lords gaze, only understanding, forgiveness and love. And off in the distance, in the chilly gray of dawn a cock crowed. A cock crowed announcing the dawn of a new day. Yes, their eyes met, and Peter REMEMBERED! And he when out and wept bitterly.