Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sometimes I Really Need This Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Preserve the Spirit of Prayer and Devotion

“The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate.” (Chap. 5, 1223 Rule of the Order Friars Minor)

“To Brother Anthony, my bishop, Brother Francis sends greetings. It is agreeable to me that you should teach the friars sacred theology, so long as they do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotedness over this study, as is contained in the Rule. Farewell. (St. Francis of Assisi Letter to St. Anthony of Padua)

“As Jesus was the true worshipper of the Father, so let prayer and contemplation be the soul of all they are and do.” (Art. 8a, 1978 Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

At the last meeting of my Secular Franciscan fraternity, I closed the opening prayer service with reading the letter of St. Francis to St. Anthony. It seemed appropriate since the following day was June 13th, the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. Since then, the phrase: “do not extinguish the spirit of prayer and devotedness,” has continued to come up in my mind. Then, of course, I found the reference in the OFM Rule of 1223: “without extinguishing the spirit of prayer and devotion.” In the bright light of those words from Francis, I have to say that I have fallen short of the mark. In today’s American society, there are so many distractions; television, radio, podcasts, mp3 files, and the Web. Add to that the demands of work and family; we could say there is just not enough time for “prayer and contemplation.”

But I, and I am sure others, will find that we are fooling ourselves. We need to be honest with ourselves about what activities we could give up to make time for prayer. Because prayer is so important, it helps us open ourselves to the Presence of God, become aware of Him, of His love for us. Prayer gives us the opportunity to respond to that love, with thanksgiving and praise. Prayer can enrich us, inspire us, and strengthen us for the day. As Francis had learned and taught, a life dedicated to conversion to the Gospel life, but without the practice of prayer, will fail.

So here I begin again and may the Holy Spirit be with me. And may she give me a quick kick in the rear if I need it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boston Archdiocesan Newspaper Enters Stormy Waters

The June 4th edition of the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper, The Pilot, contained a column concerning children of same sex couples being admitted to Catholic parochial schools. The columnist was definitely against the admittance of such children, concerned for the safety of the other children from "pornographic" material coming from the same sex parents, among other things.

By June 10th, the local newspapers, like the Boston Globe, television and radio stations were carrying the story and the reactions and protests of the gay community. The editor of the Pilot apologized, claiming that they try to allow a wide spectrum of opinions concerning Catholic issues. As a long time reader of the Pilot, I have to say that I have never seen any kind of balance in their opinions pages. I rarely see any left of center opinions published. To see such language, to such a presentation, in the official newspaper of the Archdiocese pains me.

To be a Christian is to be compassionate, especially to those persons we do not agree with. Arguments should be reasoned, intelligent, and compassionate, qualities sadly lacking in that column.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 13, 2010 - Feast of Saint Anthony of Padua

St. Anthony's Brief
Behold the Cross of the Lord!
Be gone you enemy powers!
The lion of the tribe of Juda,
the root of David has conquered, Alleluia!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saint Celebrity - My June Column for Fraternity Newsletter

“Look at the Good Shepherd, my brothers. To save his sheep he endured the agony of the cross. They followed him in trials and persecutions, in ignominy, hunger, and theist, in humiliations and temptations, and so on. And for this God, rewarded them with eternal life. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves; the saints endured all that, but we who are servants of God try to win honor and glory by recounting and making known what they have done.” (Admonition VI, St. Francis of Assisi)

It could be said that our society is addicted to celebrities; we are fascinated with actors and actresses who are stars, with “beautiful” people who constantly get their pictures in magazines, or have their own reality TV programs. Still for all the gossip and press we read about them, we really do not know that much about them.

I sometimes think we Catholics are too enamored with “spiritual celebrity.” We are so fascinated with the miracles saints performed; the wondrous events of their lives, which we can sometimes fail to see what they can teach us about living the Gospel. This is true with St. Anthony of Padua. We can focus so much on Anthony as the miracle worker; we ignore other aspects of his life. He was a man who trusted the Father’s plan for him, even though it took him down unknown paths. He was a man of deep prayer, who contemplated God’s creation. He was a theologian and a preacher, who knew how to speak to the common man and woman about the love of God.

St. Anthony has a lot to teach us about loving God and others, if we but get beyond the spiritual hype, and listen to what he has to say.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Franciscan Spiritual Father Passes On.

The Friars of Holy Name Province announced the passing of Father Matthew Gaskin, OFM, on June 5th, 2010. He was 88 years old. Since 1982, he had been involved with the Secular Franciscan Order as a Spiritual Assisitant on the local, provincial, and national level. He was a great promoter of the SFO way of life.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Franciscan Response to the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

The Franciscan Action Network has a page on their website with suggestions on how to respond to the Gulf oil spill.

What Have We Done With The Father's Gift?

“Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which bear the imprint of the Most High, and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship” (Article 18, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

As a Franciscan, watching the scenes of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill leaves me full of sorrow. An ocean that is teaming with life surrounded by beautiful beaches and marshes, all of it a gift from a Father who loves us. It is now all spoiled by oil, all because we did not know or we belittled the risks of drilling so deep. We failed to consider the various disaster scenarios, nor prepared the technology to deal with all possibilities. We failed to be responsible with the gift we were given.

Now, all most of us can do is pray that somehow, the well will be stopped; that the beaches will be restored; that some of the creatures will be saved. We will need to open our hearts and our hands to those on the Gulf coast who could lose their livelihoods. And we need to recommit ourselves “to respect all creatures, animate and inanimate.”

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cardinal O'Malley Named Member of Irish Clergy Child Abuse Investigation Team

Local Boston news outlets, including the Boston Globe and Boston's TV station WCVB, have been reporting that Archbishop Sean Cardinal O'Malley, OFM CAP, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI, to be one of the Apostolic Visitors to the Church in Ireland. The Apostolic Visitation is charged with investigating the clergy abuse of children scandal that is ripping apart the Irish Catholic Church, and to recommend solutions to the Pope.
Once again, Cardinal O'Malley appears to be one of the Vatican's point men in dealing with this growing scandal, at least in the English speaking Church communities. While he has his critics, in my opinion, Cardinal Sean has done a lot to deal with the scandal here in Boston, and has begun the healing process. That process is no where near completion, nor has the process been perfect; but what he has begun is a lot better than all of the cover ups we in Boston suffered under previous Archbishops.
The task he and the other Visitors are undertaking will be daunting. They will be attempting to break through a wall of silence that has been built up over decades. And they will uncovering crimes, and tragedies; the dark underbelly of Irish Catholicism, that I am sure will challenge any person's faith. Hopefully, as things come to the light of day, as the painful healing process begins for the Irish Church, there will be a rebirth of the faith; as I hope there will also be in here in Boston and the rest of America.
Image from the Boston Globe