Posts Tagged ‘#SecularFranciscan’

May You Attain Full Knowledge …

June 18, 2017

“May you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom, and spiritual insight. Then you will lead a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him in every way. You will multiply good works of every sort and grow in the knowledge of God. By the might of His glory you will be endowed with the strength needed to stand fast, even to endure joyfully what ever may come, giving thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light. He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Colossians 1:9-13

This passage from scripture is the opening lines of encouragement from the Apostle Paul, who was writing to the Colossians, along with Timothy who was traveling with Paul. What comes before this passage though is subtle, but noteworthy. Paul recognizes Epaphas, who he recognizes as a ” fellow servant”, or disciple of Christ. What is also important to note here is that there is no recorded point in time where Paul ever actually went to Colossea. Instead, Paul taught the true faith to Epaphas, who converted, learned and then took that seed of faith and returned home to Colossea, and spread it through the countryside converting the people and passed that faith to the people and the future saints who lived there.

So, you say to yourself, great ! So what does that mean for us here ? Glad you asked !

It is important because Paul did not have to go and hold the hand of Epaphas in order to pass on the light of faith and the Word. Paul had faith in the seed he planted. It really had little to do with Epaphas. Although, Epaphas did have an open heart, and believed the Word when he heard it. Paul trusted that Word would spread. Just as Jesus, entrusted the twelve apostles, who in and of themselves were not perfect, did not always have perfect faith, but still trusted in the seed of faith that they were given..

This idea of having the pure seed of faith being transmitted to others in a sometimes imperfect manner is pretty much how it goes. This should give us encouragement in the faith that we have received and to participate more fully in the charge that we are given to pass on this faith as Epaphas did. We don’t have to do it perfectly, we just have to do it. We also don’t need the sledgehammer approach, where we are pounding the seed into the skull of the person receiving it… All we have to do is plant the seed, and walk away.

We have to have faith that the seed we plant, is what God will use for His will. The seed that is planted, will not always bloom before our eyes. We may never get the opportunity to see the results of the seeds we plant. We must trust in God. We must trust that the Lord will use the seeds we plant in the continuum of His divine will.

The beginning of this passage says “may you attain full knowledge of God’s will through perfect wisdom and spiritual insight…” Maybe the saints eventually ended up at this place, but for the rest of us, this is the destination, and the journey is where we spend our time… at least if we make the effort.

Much like the planting of those seeds of faith, where at times we may get to see a glimpse of the results, possibly the beginnings of the results of our labors, we will likely never see the complete result, or even understand what it is that will occur as a result of that work, which would be in Gods will for mankind. The one truth that we know about Gods will to an absolute certainty is that Gods plan for us is as basic as the first truth we learned as children. God’s will for us is to …. know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.. so that we can be with Him in Heaven.
Ask someone who is your elder, if the life that they currently have, is the life that they dreamed of, or planned for in their youth. If their lives were the same now as what they had planned for it to be maybe after high school, or even after college ( if they went to college and attended after high school).

I would venture to say that nearly none of them can say that their lives turned out as they originally planned. This is the difference between where mans will differs from God’s will. We could attempt to understand, or discern where God had a hand in the things that have occurred in our lives, It is even possible that we could see a facet of how things happened the way that they did. This enlightenment is not just for our own understanding. This enlightenment is there so that we have the opportunity to not only be enriched in our own faith,, but to fulfill our mission to share that faith with others just as Epaphas did in Collosea.

God can take the one small seed, one small act of faith, and use that one act to help bring about the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. This is what Paul was praying for and encouraging the Colossians towards… and what I encourage you towards today, the same way that Saint Francis did hundreds of years ago… Preach the gospel at all times.. and when necessary, use words..

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Why Is There Suffering ?

June 3, 2017

” Praised be to God , the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation ! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble, with the same consolation that we have received from Him. As we have shared much in the suffering of Christ, so through Christ do we share abundantly in His consolation. If we are afflicted it is for your encouragement and salvation , and when we are consoled it is for your consolation., so that you may endure patiently the same sufferings we endure. Our hope for you is firm because we know that just as you share in the sufferings, so you will share in the consolation” ( 2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

Suffering, is one of the biggest questions we get asked. Mostly it is formed in the question of WHY ?

Why does God, who is almighty and omnipotent , and who is pure love, permit suffering to occur in the world. Why does it happen to those who are innocent, or young, or of some other circumstance ? Through our own questioning, we seek to find reasons for the suffering which seem particularly to make the least amount of sense to us.

Why death ? Why disease ? Why abuse ? Why is there war ? Why does God not just wipe away all of these things or maybe even some of those who cause these things to occur ? He could just point his celestial finger, or conceive of it happening and it would be so.

This is a valid question, and one deserving of an answer. There is only one answer, however, there are two circumstantial responses, pastoral, and theological. By this I mean, we would not necessarily want to provide a theological response to one who is grieving, and not really in a position to reason out the answer to this question.

That being said, lets take a look at the basis of suffering in our lives, its root, and its end result.

First, we know that all suffering, and death are a result of original sin. ” As a result of original sin, human nature is weakened in its powers, subject to ignorance, suffering , and the domination of death, and inclined to sin ( this inclination is called concupiscence .” ( CCC# 418 )

We also know that as a result this fallen nature, with its sin, suffering and death, were transmitted to all human kind.

That sounds all horrible and nasty and full of doom and gloom. It might have been so, but consider for a moment, that if we look back through the entire recorded history in the Bible, we saw where human kind , and in particular the Jews and later Christians, would inevitably sin, doubt, fail and fall.

Just as regularly, however, did God in His infinite wisdom and mercy, have a plan in place that would provide for the redemption and forgiveness of mans failures. It is always in Gods plan that man should grow, and mature and come into union, into relationship with Him.

Knowing this, we can look with confidence and with faith to God in our suffering knowing that He loves us, and wants what is best for us. There is however more to this story !

Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” ( James 5:14-15) .

What we know is that during the time Christ was with us, He of course healed many people of their sufferings, just as he does today. However, through the church he has also given the gift of healing

both to those within and outside the Magisterium. Of course, in there are 2 of the seven sacraments are specifically for healing. First is Extremeunction, or the Anointing of the Sick. The second sacrament of healing is Reconciliation, of course.

It is interesting to note that the sacrament of Reconciliation is offered in the light that, again, that it is always part of Gods holy will that mankind be united with Him. These are graces given to us by God.

Now, still there remains that nagging ” Why ?” question that is perpetually present.

The answer comes here :

“because of the abundance of the revelations. Therefore, that I might not become too elated, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.

Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.”

(2 Corinthians 12:7-9 http://www.usccb.org/bible/2corinthians/12)

In every instance of healing that has occurred in scripture there were reasons those healing s occurred, either for the benefit of those who were present, or for the individual in need of the healing.

We are, through baptism, Priest ( laity) , Prophet, and King ( royal priesthood of Heavenly Kingdom).

Through our priesthood, ( as lay people) we are called to make gifts, offerings, and sacrificial offerings.

These come in various forms. Our work, our lives, our tithing ( time, talent and treasure) and also in our suffering.

In both an informal, and a formal sense, when we suffer in minor ways, illness, tribulations etc. we are given the opportunity to offer our sufferings up to God in union with the passion of Christ for not only our own sins, but for the sins of the entirety of human kind.

Through the sacrament of Extremeunction, we are given the opportunity to formally offer these things and to receive the graces necessary to carry those through. In addition, we are given opportunity to not only advance our own salvation, but the salvation of all mankind and to help in bringing about the Kingdom of God.

Like many other things that happen in our earthly life, there are opportunities we are presented with on a daily basis. What we do with those opportunities is up to us. It is the blessing that comes with a free will, we can either choose to unite our daily lives more closely to God, or do nothing.

This of course in no way means that you should not pray for healing, or relief from the suffering that either you or a loved one is enduring. It just means that if you are the one suffering, that you have the opportunity to make something good and salvic come from your suffering. If it is a loved one who is suffering, then it gives you the opportunity to help by your prayers, and leading them to understand the opportunity they have for grace to be part of their journey..

May God give you the gift of His Peace !

I Saw Before Me a Huge Crowd !…

May 27, 2017

” I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could ocunt from every nation and race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and the Lamb , dressed in long white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, ” Salvation is from our God, who is seated on the throne , and from the Lamb !” All the angels who were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creaturesfell down before the throne to worship God. They said ” Amen, ! priase and glory , wisdom and thanksgiving and honor, Power and might to our God forever and ever Amen !”. ( Revelation 7:9-12)

When I began to look at this passage, I thought to myself. What could one possibly say, or think, or ponder more than what is already written here.

Many in the theological circles I have traveled in, either know little about the book of revelation or sometimes I get the feeling that it is for the clergy, and those in pastoral, and spiritual care circles, much the same feeling one gets as a guitar player, when someone comes up and asks you to play
” Freebird”… now. don’t go get all defensive if your one of those who just can not seem to hear the song enough, and feel like it is your personal anthem.

What I mean is that there are certain questions one gets asked oh, about a trillion times and you really long for something with a little more substance or something different. What Circle of Hell am I in ? Which room in the Interior Castle am I in ? What do you think about that labyrinth thingy ?

Now, don’t get my wrong. I want to encourage everyone in their quest for knowledge, truth, ,and the understanding in their relationship with Christ. It is important, to seek these things, so that you understand what you believe and why. In today’s world we have far to few “educated” Christians, meaning disciples who know what they believe, and why they believe it, and the history and meaning behind that faith.

But I digress..

So what is it about this passage that speaks to us ? What is it about it that sticks out to you ? Most assuredly, and hopefully it will be a little different for you. Why ? Because the scripture speak to us differently, at different times, for different reasons, in order to teach us different things.

While reading the passage , we are taken into the scene. The sheer vastness of the Throne Room, the huge hall, and all of the faithful there praising God in all His spendor. The part however that caught my attention was the mention of the four creatures.. and it really did not seem to make sense to me.

In my search there are those who have described these four creatures in various ways. have connected the creatures to the four creatures from Ezikiel, but those creatures came in a much different scene. In fact there are a few places throughout scripture in the Old Testament where there are 4 creatures mentioned.

The important thing to note is that Revelation like several other books are full of imagery, and symbolism. Its just that Revelation is chocked full of the stuff. I mean literally this is wall to wall imagery. The thing is you have to understand that these revelations are mystical and dream-like and are meant to a certain degree, to speak to the audience it was meant for… the early church.

The other thing is that translations are at work here. The word “creatures” are also used to refer to various options, including angels. The reference changes according to the translator apperantly.
So who were these 4 creatures ? – they are by cross reference to the Old Testament in Daniel and Ezekiel as a Man, Eagle, Lion, and Ox. Great ?! you say ? Now what.. these 4 creatures are actually symbols of the Evangelists of the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
These are born out by such great theologians as Iraneas , St Auguine of Hippo and St. Jerome.

There were the elders.. the communion of Saints.. another great voice and our intercessors in Heaven.
This should give us hope, and confidence not only in our prayer life, but in our intercession. For others, and in turn through the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary. It should also give us great confidence in the intercessory prayers of others on our behalf.

What a glorious scene for us, for our future. What fire should fill our hearts and souls as we contemplate the glories of Heaven and of our Heavenly Father.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Patience of the Lord

May 14, 2017

” The patience of the Lord is directed towards salvation ” – 2 Peter 3:15 \
(*ibid Shorter Christian Prayer)

I was on my way to a gathering of our community, which I was supposed to lead. At the last minute, I received a phone call from the Minister stating that the person who was supposed to lead the formation class, might not be able to make it due to some mechanical and service issues with her car.

I said not to worry about it, we would be able to work through the process and if necessary I would take up the challenge and provide some necessary formation discussions.

As it ended up, someone else came to me before the meeting began and provided the impetus for the needed discussion. However, lets backup the story a bit. I will share with you that one of my character traits/flaws (depending on ones view) is that I can not stand to be late for anything. There is something rather irritating to me about insuring that I am not late in order not to be burdensome to someone else. At work, I am always at least an hour early, as it allows me time for coffee, and to ease into the day. (caffeine is one of my vices).

Anyway, while walking to the meeting I allow plenty of time to stop and have coffee prior to its beginning and I used some of that time to review the readings of the day. Now, on this particular day, for those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours, there were approximately 4 different possible readings for the day. There was the standard reading from the Psalter, the Blessed Mother on Saturday, there was another saint whose name I have forgotten, and Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The readings that were previously selected were Our Lady of Fatima, and I had sent out the notice.

Well in my lack of caffeine haze, I started reading (to myself , before the meeting) the reading from the Psalter. which was 2 Peter 3 12-15. This last line however stuck with me and I could not quite shake the desire to pick that apart a bit. So, what does this exactly mean that His patience, is DIRECTED towards salvation ? How exactly is it that this reflects into our own lives. ?

The Lord’s patience is,without end. Consider the span of recorded time, has man over thousands of years have we failed, have we sinned, have we failed. Still, the Lord is patient and repeatedly tries to teach us how to follow His holy will ! Why ? Why is it that God has been so patient and kind towards man who stubbornly does not learn, and has to repeatedly relearn the same lessons He has been trying to teach.

The Lords patience is directed towards salvation….

Jesus, came into the world. He took on the most vulnerable of children, born into poverty, patiently He bore His humanity in order to teach us how we are to live. Patiently, He lead the leaders. Patiently He taught the disciples, even as they failed, and stumbled. Even Peter, prince of the apostles, did he stop and patiently explain, teach, forgive, and teach again. He patiently bore the process of dealing with those who hated, and misunderstood Him.

Jesus deals with us this way, suffered, and suffers yet, for us this way, in order that we gain wisdom, and which is would lead us to salvation. Jesus often taught, that the Love is the law. take a moment and switch the word patience, with the word love. Jesus loves us. his patience exists because He loves us.

Jesus also teaches that we are to be Holy even as the Father is holy. (1 Peter 1:16 and Leviticus 11:44 )

If this is the case ( and it is) that our part of our daily offering should be that in our struggles, we need to try to emulate in our human state the holiness of Christ on Earth, then our patience should be long standing just as God’s patience is which is directed not only to the salvation of others, but towards our own sanctification.

I freely admit this is one of my own character flaws. I am not always as patient as I should be. I try, I struggle and I fail. I probably like many of you, ask the Lord , praying for patience, or being afraid to ask for patience, because of fear that the Lord would give you opportunities to work on your patience, that the human side of you ” just does not want to deal with”.

Do not be afraid to ask the Lord for anything. Primarily, however, pray and ask to become the vessel. Ask to become the tool, ask to fulfill what ever it is that is His holy will for you. I hate to tell you but if it is His will for you to have more patience, those opportunities to work on your patience are going to come whether you want them to or not. There is, however, that nasty free will thing that keeps showing up. We have choices about how we deal with them. We have to pick up our daily cross, and follow. That’s the job. Will we fail ? Yes. Will we ever get better ? Yes ! Does God love us even when we fail ? YES ! Why ? Because….

” The Lords patience is directed towards salvation ” for you, and for me.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

The Coronation – Franciscan Crown – Part VII

May 6, 2017

Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

“And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”

(1 Peter 5:4)

In this mystery, we contemplate on Mary, who was assumed into Heaven and is crowned Queen of the Universe, with her never fading crown of the 12 stars spoken of in the book of Revelations.

The mystery calls to mind the extension of the Assumption and completion of , or the fulfillment of the vocation Mary was called to. As Mary was given to us on the cross as our own mother, we have the greatest advocate and intercessor who pleads for us with Jesus.

This mystery is all about the subject of perseverance. Perseverance, is that long, steady and abiding faith.. It is not that we do not fail, it is not that we do not fall, or falter from time to time. perseverance is about the efforts, it is about the work involved towards something. It is about truth, without and within. It is about truth from without, because God is the source. The Eucharist, often called the “Source and Summit ” is Jesus. God incarnate. It is faith at its deepest quaking in our hearts and souls.

It is our abiding with God. It says everything about how we are as a disciple. It has everything to do with how we live out our day to day lives in our work, in our rest, in our service, both to God and to our brothers and sisters.

It is from within, when we spend time in prayer. Not just the prayer of self…. Not the *I* prayer. You know the one I am speaking of. *I* need…. *I* want… What *I* am coming to you for …. These prayers that are centered in the desires of the world. This does not mean that we should not ask God for what we need. Or that it makes us bad Christians. It is changing the orientation of our prayer life.

from the child like process of give me “this” because I want it, into a more mature version of asking for Gods will. ” Lord. I have been presented with this situation, and we are seeking your will in what it is that we are to do “.

As in the “Prologue” of our Holy Rule states :

” All who love the Lord with their whole heart, with their whole soul and mind , with all their strength, and love their neighbors as themselves, and hate their bodies with their vices and sins, and receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and produce worthy fruits of penance. Oh, how holy and blessed are these men and women when they do these things and PERSEVERE (emphasis added) in doing them. ”

I once saw a poster of an injured lion. The lion had pulled itself up off the ground and stood strong and fearless. The caption at the bottom of the poster was this :

” It is not how we fall that matters…. It is how we RISE ! ”

As Christians, and as Franciscans this is primary in our necessity to examine how it is that we fallen, but more importantly, how it is that we rise in strength of perseverance and with the heart of the lion, strong in our faith, and strong in the knowledge and surety, in the perseverance of the love of our Lord !

This mystery is the Coronation of Mary, Queen of the Universe.

We meditate on Perseverance.

We ask pardon Lord, for those times when we have not lived the Holy Rule, as we should.

For when we have failed and faltered,

For when our failures have injured our brothers and sisters …

For those times when we have missed opportunities for worthy penance

For those times when we have stayed in our sin and vices.

We pray Lord for perseverance and strength and wisdom.

For the perseverance of mind, heart and soul, that we might not falter

For the strength of faith and character to live out our faith to the glory of God.

For the Wisdom, to see where we have failed to persevere, and to assist our brothers and sisters who may also need strength, assisting without judgment and with love in the examination of our own sin.

Finally, in perseverance of living our Holy Rule of Life to the fullest human extend with extraordinary heavenly graces, gifted to others through us.

Our Father who art in Heaven…..

May God give you the gift of His peace..

Those Who Are Well Do Not Need The Physician..

January 14, 2017

Those who are well do not need the physician…

Jesus went out along the sea.
All the crowd came to him and he taught them.
As he passed by, he saw Levi, son of Alphaeus,
sitting at the customs post.
Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”
And he got up and followed Jesus.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners sat with Jesus and his disciples;
for there were many who followed him.
Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” ( Mark 2 : 13-17)

This morning we had this reading at Mass. I was preparing to go and be with our Franciscan community, but felt I wanted to linger a while in the church. Although I was tired from the weeks labors, and honestly would have much preferred to sleep in, such is our vocation to be present for and present to our brothers and sisters.

On the way out the door, I had some challenges getting past a couple of folks who also wanted to linger and talk with their fellow parishioners. Since I was having some difficulty navigating access to the side door I normally use, I decided to stop and head back towards the center of the building in front of the altar. After a short pause to say a prayer, I turned and gazed upward towards our choir loft, which is pictured above.

Interestingly, the beautiful stained glass mosaic of our Lord, is a picture, that is visible to only those who serve at the altar, ( meaning the priest, deacon, readers, Eucharistic ministers (EMHC) and altar servers). At least this is true DURING the Mass. Even the choir sings facing forward towards the altar and do not see this sight. Indeed, it is only at the very end of the Mass when the people are preparing to leave the church do they have the opportunity to gaze of this art.

I pondered how loving and inviting this image of Christ is, His arms outstretched inviting in everyone. During the Mass the priest can not help but to gaze upon the face of Christ in this image. I sometimes wonder what they think on any given day.

We, like Levi, are at church, stopping by the church to visit. We are there at the invitation of Christ to dine at table with “sinners and tax collectors” and every other manner of sinner. Jesus calls to us…
He calls us to come and follow Him. So, even though we are sinners, we go as we are called. We are called to His house, to His table, to His sacrifice. All sinners, the ministers, and the congregation.

Jesus told the Pharisees, that those who are well do not need a physician… the problem is, that no one is truly well. From the priests on down all are sinners. There are just varying degrees of wellness.

It is also interesting to note, that at the end of the Mass, that everyone leaves through the rear doors and so they have the opportunity to see this image of Christ . Here Christ again is inviting us to take Him that we have received and take Him out into the world. We must become what we have received and share Christ, see and recognize Christ, and be Christ to the world, no matter how large or small our world is.

May God give you the gift of His peace !