Posts Tagged ‘brother’

On Being Solicitous…

December 10, 2017

On Being Solicitous…

” Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers, surely those who do so will never be lost. On the contrary, your entry into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for. ” ( 2 Peter 1: 10-11)

The word “solicitous” comes from the Latin verb sollicitare, meaning “to disturb, agitate, move, or entreat. So why this word in this passage ? In this passage we are called upon, to look at the various vocations, or callings. We are asked to look within, to see the path that God has laid out before us.

Now, in today’s day and age, maybe you have not taken much time, to take stock in, or take a deep look into your vocation. We each have multiple vocations each of which require some contemplation and commitment. The primary vocation or calling is that of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

This call to be a follower of Christ, can cause ALL of these feelings and emotions. These feelings can occur at multiple points in our spiritual journey. We can become disturbed, by that still small voice that calls us to God. It may be some little thing. It may be that nagging feeling that maybe there is something better for you. It might be a sense that your life has come to a point that has allowed you to stop and get off the world’s craziness for a bit, and provided time for you to look across your life and see that something might be missing.. It might be a loss, or just a pause.

That call can also be rather annoying, to the point of agitation. When that call becomes so very overwhelming, that you are forced to deal with it. It is a so strong, it just can not be ignored or put on hold any longer. Eventually, you must come to a good decision in order to gain lasting peace in your heart. In my own journey as a Franciscan, I actually went through initial formation twice.

I went through the first time, and approached the point where I would profess my rule, but was told that I was not ready. I eventually left, and went away for about 5 years. During that time, I kept running into others in my community, who kept inviting me back. In my heart I knew that this was where I belonged, but the pain of what I viewed as rejection, and my own pride, kept me from going back.

The problem was. that that nagging call, that annoying voice, that pull that would not be ignored, finally got the better of me, and as you know, I returned to complete the journey that was God’s plan for me.

Your call should agitate you ! I know that you might think that your Christian life should be all roses. I am sorry. It’s not like that at all. Sure, you have peace in your heart, but that peace comes from knowing that your salvation is “nearer now than when you first believed”, but, this world is not our home. We are in the struggle. Not only from the environment outside, but from within as well.

Our faith life is a series of mountains and valleys triumphs and falls. How often do we start the day thinking, and praying, and promising, that we will be better at doing this thing or that thing that we are struggling with, only to find at the end of the day, that we failed, in how we dealt with that exact thing ?

It is in the recognition of the issue, and the struggle to grow, and to be better than we are, that causes us to be agitated. In addition, it should also cause us to move, and to be moved. It should move us towards God. It should move our hearts and souls, toward Heaven. It should move us to do everything we can do, to constantly strive to move our lives to be ever closer to the whatever is the will of God for us in our lives.

Vocations, are an interesting study. It is only recently that the discussion of vocations, has extended beyond that of priests, and religious brothers and sisters. In fact, vocations are so much more than that. We have a vocation as Christians. That vocation, is even inclusive of the 3 fold vocation of “priest, prophet and king”. There are vocations to be single, or married, or to one community or another. There is a professional vocation ( the work you do to earn your daily bread ), which in itself becomes , by way of a circular logic, to our primary vocation, of being a Christian. There are of course many other “minor” vocations subject to the Christian vocation.

So, we are asked in this passage, to make this call permanent ; make it part of your daily life. Our call, is a life-long journey. We never reach a point in our faith life where we know it ALL, or we are free from the effects of sin, until we make it to Heaven.

More people than not, go through their initial Christian education, to a certain point, probably to the end of their elementary school years, or middle school years. They receive the sacraments, Baptism, and Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and then they disappear until they themselves become parents and the cycle begins again. The journey of Christian education never ends. There things we learn on the journey of our vocation also changes and reflects into our lives with different messages in different ways according to your call, and your journey.

So, I want to encourage you to renew your call, your vocation, and your own journey toward Heaven. Make that journey a permanent part of your daily life. Your journey of faith will challenge you, will frustrate you, will agitate you, and will make you soar ! ( Oh, yea, and it will also give you peace too ).

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Advent…It’s Here !

December 2, 2017

Advent…. It’s here.

“And do this because you know the time; it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed;

the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness [and] put on the armor of light;

let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day,* not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.

But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” ( Romans 13:11)

This is the very beginning of the season of Advent. Advent means to come. It comes from the Latin Ad ( to ) Venire (come). It is applied to the church calendar as the season prior to Christmas. It is set aside for us as a period, not unlike Lent, as a time of preparation, a spiritual house cleaning if you will.

Not unlike Lent it has been a time of fasting and praying. In fact there was a period of time when there was a 40 day fast that was just like Lent. ( without the fish frys). If we look at the time of Lent and the time of Advent as mirrors of each other, both have certain characteristics that are very similar in tone and purpose.

Both serve the purpose of preparing our hearts as a birthplace for Christ to reign, a channel through which God may share the blessings of Heaven with and through us. Prior to His arrival however we have a little preparation to do.

As a child the time previous to the holiday season, there was a certain amount of that ” spring cleaning” that my mother would always have my brother and I to do. There was silver to polish, vacuuming, scrubbing and There was a brass table to polish and well as the candlesticks that stood on either side of the fireplace. Dusting the furniture and all of that came after taking care of the animals we had. ( which in itself was an 8 hour job).

Yes, the preparations were something that we as kids did not look forward to in the least, as we would rather have been exploring the forest that we lived in, or the just relaxing around the house. On the other hand, once all the work was done, and night had fallen, there was a cool nip in the air, and we would turn off the lights in the livingroom, and light a fire in the fireplace. The house took on that certain feeling of “Hearth and Home”. When the holidays came, and we were able to entertain guests, and share our home with friends and family there was a certain comfort, a certain joy to be able to serve them and make them feel at home.

The same thing applies to our spiritual lives. Paul is telling us to use Advent as a time to remove from our hearts the spiritual “baggage”. that we need to throw off. Those things that belong to the dark, and not to the light. Those things that we have been holding onto, that do not aid us in our spiritual journeys, those things that hold us back from serving Christ, or keep us from being the conduit of the blessings, or keep us from helping someone else from seeing Christ because of our actions.

So let us work on throwing off those works, those deeds, and put in some of the work in those areas of our lives to prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus. Throw out those pains, and grudges, lets fix those broken relationships. Let’s be the one who extends the olive branch, and extends the hands. Let us be the Christ in the season, and really live the life of faith we profess.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Three Men of the Cross – Part IV

August 12, 2017

Here we have come to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. The third man crucified on Calvary, and the focal point upon which we find ourselves. Like the first two men, the time Jesus spent on the cross was really not spent in a vast amount of conversation with those who were present. In fact, we only know about 3 conversations that Christ had during his crucifixion. The first, was the conversation he had with Mary and John, where he gave John responsibility for his mother, and in turn had given John in love to His Mother. The Second, was the conversation that Jesus had with Dismas, where he told him that he (Dismas) would be in paradise with Him that very day. Finally, the third were the final words Jesus uttered, That were not directed to those standing around but instead were directed towards God, the Father.

Let us consider for a moment how Jesus’s journey through the crucifixion is not too unlike the small share it is that we have in our daily lives. In our lives we go out into the world. We work and try to do the things that we need to do to make things function. At the same time , for people of faith, our daily lives are just a minuscule splinter of our own crosses. We begin each day in prayer and in a firm effort to get out in the world and try to live a life that is worthy of the giver of the gift.

I have a rule that is usually pretty solid in life, ( aside from the Holy Rule of the Order) that serves me fairly well. Basically, You need to have at least one area of your life where things are going well and it gives you joy to be in that place. The problem begins when there is no where in your life that is currently giving you joy. It is also possible that the area of your life that is giving you problems has begun to take over the joy that you would normally be having in other areas of your life and there is no longer a balance there. In other words, you are experiencing your own small crucifixion and you have been nailed to the cross that you are attempting to carry.

When life gets to this point, its time for a change.. Jesus, knew that He was going to leave, and in the midst of the passion, He put his mother in the care of John. This was a sign of the times. for at that time particularly for women, who were single they were needing protection, and care. Someone to look after them. At the same time He loved John. John had a job to do, and at the same time, Jesus entrusted John to His mother. His mother the archetype of Christian virtue and love, would keep John on the straight and narrow and insure the care of those He was leaving behind.

Like Jesus, we try our best to take care of what was necessary to insure things went the right way. Sometimes, we get it right, and sometimes we fail, but that part does not matter in the grand scheme of things. This was what was going on in the first conversation. Tidying up the initial loose ends that needed His care before he went to deal with the matter at hand.

The next phase is that we deal with the job that needs doing. We carry on with our day.. we have people who do not support us,, or at least we might not see that support us, or just become another voice in the crowd of people who would like to add or lend support to the issues that you are facing.

All things have a season, just because one voice is not agreeing with where your going, or what your doing, it is not a reason to shut them completely out. As a Franciscan, we are called to be bridge builders. It is our calling to develop channels of communication, and to find common ground through which peace may reign. The conversation with Dismas as a statement of faith, An assent to the will of God. In our world when presented with challenges, it is up to us to build those bridges, to open channels of communication, and to be brave enough to make those statements and stand on the side of faith even when there are those who are around us, chiming in and echoing the worldly views, that are not of the Kingdom of God.

The last conversation, is actually in this story, as it should be in ours.. the FIRST conversation. Consider that before Jesus entered into the crucifixion, he started his Passion, by first entering into prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. As an example for us all, He started all things in prayer, and after the Crucifixion was at an end, He completed that work again with prayer.

We all have a different calling, a different path, but the process is still the same. Give it to God, first, last and always…

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Three Men of the Cross

July 22, 2017

Three Men of Calvary… We Are All Three

The crucifixion as an event was filled with some points of interest. To get a good understanding of what occurred we need a sense of what was going on in the area at the time.

Roman rule was fairly new to them, and during that time robbery, theft, and murder were somewhat commonplace and a pretty big issue that the Romans were trying to get under control. The Roman way of dealing with that, was execution by crucifixion. It was cruel, it was not quick, and it allowed, for an extended period of time, the opportunity for others to watch them die and consider that possibly they would not like to meet the same end, and amend any ideas they might have had of breaking the laws.

Another curiosity, is that, generally speaking, the Roman method of execution was, at least in practice, to execute people two at a time, unless….. they happened upon a group of people they caught in the act of the crimes, in which case all the people who were responsible were crucified at the same time. If this were to happen, AND the person who was the leader of the group, or band , or rebellion could be identified, that person was executed in the middle of the grouping of people so that they would not be missed and would be identified as such.

From this, then, we can know that the crucifixion of Christ was an oddity. Consider what happened in the Garden when Jesus was taken into custody. ” And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs? ” ( Luke 22:52) . So here Jesus is treated as such.

In addition, it is noteworthy that He is crucified in the middle of the three.. This would tend to signify that He was the leader of the group.. He was in charge… Then, there is the other two men. So, history records that the other two actually were robbers Since they were crucified with Jesus it appears that Jesus’ crucifixion was an addition… or an after thought of the day. In perspective, it was the other two men had been in jail for a while awaiting their execution, and Jesus’ trial, and judgment occurred on the same day as the others, after all the delays and passing Him back and forth etc. Finally , with Roman efficiency, they decided that since they already had an execution scheduled, why not just get this over with, and crucify Jesus at the same time. It would make efficient work of the issue and put it to a final resolution and make the locals happy all at the same time.

I went all through this explanation because it helps to gain an objective non-theological view of the occurrence in order to understand, as one friar used to quip.. ” The story behind the story ” .

Now on to the other two men. The two other men who were crucified with Christ were , Dismas and Gustus. Dismas was the robber who was crucified on Jesus right side, and Gustus on his left side.

In the coming few weeks, I would like to beg your indulgence , as we will examine these men, and their circumstances. Stay with me.. I hope you enjoy our journey together !

May God give you the gift of His peace… .

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

We are the Body…

November 9, 2009

This mornings second reading ( 1 Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17 ) is a bit more definition of ourselves and our relation to God.

We are taught that WE are the church.  That WE would be the people, you and I , and that guy sitting next to you in the pew.  It is not the brick and mortar, wood and nails that hold the building together.  It is not the Crystal Cathedral, or the Vatican building.  It is the people you and I who are the church.  God the Master builer, the architect of the universe that designs the universe and our lives.

We are reminded also that we are dwelling places of the most high God !   A dwelling of the Holy Spirit.  You are a holy person, a holy temple.  This is the part of the basis for the Ministries of Life.   If you have a belief that each person is a dwelling place of the Spirit, or contains the imprint of the most high.  Then you also should believe that each person is sacred.  Each life is sacred, the old, the infant, the challenged.  Each is a gift.   Each is a teacher and a student.

What does that say about us in the homeless, in the abused, in the elderly who are forgotten, or thrown away.  We do this to the sacred, to the gifts we are given.    They are also the body of Christ, they are also the church, they are also the dwelling of God.   Wars are the killing of those who we disagree with, who are also church, they are also the dwelling of the Most High.  Whether or not they share our faith, our beliefs, our values.  They are still sacred.

May God forgive us for what we do to our brothers and sisters.