Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Stewards Of The Goods Received For The Benefit of God's Children"

“Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.” (Art. 11. a, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

Let me begin by making a confession, I am not the most friendliest person in the morning. I prefer a quiet car ride, just listening to National Public Radio; and a quiet subway ride into the city. So needless to say, when my car was recently totaled in an accident (not my fault) and I was forced to walk to a local bus stop to begin a longer commute, I was not a happy camper. One recent morning, I am waiting for the bus, when a young fellow came up on a bike, asking about what bus I was waiting for, and when it was arriving. He needed to get to Lynn, and there was something wrong with his bike. I answered his questions, in an annoyed voice, unfortunately. He joined me on the bench, waiting for the bus.

The bus came, and I got on, and the young fellow put his bike on the rack that most MBTA buses have. He came on the bus and discovered he only had a $20.00 bill, and T buses do not make change. So he was asking all us on the bus if we could break a $20 bill. I could not, but I had enough change and small bills to cover his fare. So I gave it him. Again, I must confess, I was not the most joyful giver.

Why did I do it? Maybe in the back of my mind, I hearing the above article of the SFO Rule: “…they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children.” I think we all have a tendency to think of grand gestures and actions to fulfill the Rule of life we profess. But sometimes it is the smallest gesture that can sometimes be the greatest challenge.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Our Father and Francis of Assisi

This Sunday"s Gospel reading was about how Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, and gave us the "Our Father." Francis of Assisi paraphrased the "Our Father":

"OUR FATHER MOST HOLY, our creator and redeemer,our Savior and Consoler.
WHO ARE IN HEAVEN, in the angels and saints enlightening them that they may know you, for you, Lord, are love, dwelling in them and filling them with your divinity, that bliss may be theirs, for you, Lord, are the highest Good, the eternal Good, from whom all goodness flows,without whom nothing is good.
YOUR NAME BE HELD HOLY: may our knowledge of you shine ever more clearly within us,that we may perceive the breadth of your blessings, the extent of your promises, the height of your majesty, the depth of your judgements.
YOUR KINGDOM COME: rule us now, through grace,and bring us at last to your kingdom of light where we shall see you as you are,and our love for you will be made perfect,our union blissful, our joy unending, in you.
YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IN HEAVEN: may we love you with all our heart,ever thinking of you;with all our soul,ever longing for you;with all our mind,directing all our aims to you and seeking nothing but your glory;with all our strength,spending all our energies and all our senses of soul and body to serve only your love and nothing else.
May we love our neighbors as ourselves;drawing them all to your love in so far as we can,sharing their good fortune as if it were our own,helping them to bear their trials and doing them no wrong.
GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD: your beloved Son our Lord Jesus Christ,that we may remember,understand and revere the love he showed for us,and all he said and did and suffered for our sake.
FORGIVE US OUR SINS: through your mercy beyond words,through the power of the passion of your beloved Son,through the merits and intercession of the Virgin Mary and of all your chosen ones.
AS WE FORGIVE THOSE WHO SIN AGAINST US: and that we ourselves cannot fully forgive,make us fully forgive;make us love our enemies,truly, for your sake;teach us how to pray sincerely to you on their behalf;and not to render harm for harm to anyone, but rather try to do good to all, in you!
AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION: whether veiled or visible,sudden or searing and prolonged.
BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL: past, present and to come. Amen "

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feast of St. Bonaventure - July 15th, 2010

“In the beginning I call upon the First Beginning, from whom all illuminations descend as from the Father of Lights from whom comes every good and every perfect gift.

I call upon the Eternal Father through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that through the intercession of the most holy Virgin Mary, the mother of the same God and Lord Jesus Christ, and through the intercession of blessed Francis, our leader and father, he may enlighten the eyes of our soul to guide our feet on the way of that peace which surpasses all understanding.

This is the peace proclaimed and given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ and preached again and again by our Father Francis.

At the beginning and end of every sermon he announced peace; in every greeting he wished for peace; in every contemplation he sighed for ecstatic peace like a citizen of that Jerusalem of which that Man of Peace says, who was peaceable with those who hated peace: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Prologue, The Soul’s Journey into God, St. Bonaventure)

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

The Boston press has reported on the theft of a very valuable relic from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross; a piece of wood believed to be from the cross on which Our Lord Jesus Christ suffered and died. It is a great tragedy for the Archdiocese, and the Holy Cross community.

The story had me thinking about the role of relics during the time of Saint Francis of Assisi. Relics were valuable to the people of the time because they were a means of coming in contact with the Divine. Some relics were famous for their ability to heal. Relic could have an economic value for a city or town as well, especially if was the burial site of a popular saint. The community could count on large numbers of pilgrims coming to their city, spending their money, enriching their coffers.

When Francis of Assisi laid dying, the nobles and common people established a guard around him so that the people of Perugia could not raid Assisi and steal his body. When his Basilica was built, the remains of Francis were secretly buried in the church, again to thwart possible thieves. They did such a good job in hiding the body of Francis, that they lost the location for hundreds of years. Now his tomb is visible for all to see in the Basilica named after him.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"Who Is My Neighbor?"

“There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, ‘Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read it?’ He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’ He replied to him, ‘You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.’” (Luke 10: 25-28)

“Secular Franciscans should devote themselves especially to careful reading of the gospel, going from gospel to life and life to the gospel.” (Article 4c, Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order)

Last Friday, on my drive home from work, my car was rear ended by an SUV. After getting over the shock, I got out of my car and faced the driver of the SUV, who turned out to be a teenager, from Maine yet! My car had a crumbled trunk; the SUV only lost its license plate holder. After we had exchanged information, and we were about to drive off, the SUV driver held out his hand to shake mine. In my mind, my first reaction was to step back and yell “Are you sh@#*&g me?” But something stopped me, maybe the Holy Spirit, and I gave him a half hearted handshake.

The scholar in Luke’s gospel asked Jesus “And who is my neighbor?” Our neighbor is not necessarily someone who happens to live next to us, nor is somebody we are friendly with. Our neighbor can that person who makes us feel uncomfortable when he or she sits next to us on the subway. And our neighbor can a scared kid, who just rear ended our car. In whatever the situation, we need to show respect, courtesy, and care.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

"We Hold These Truths.." My July Secular Franicscan Fraternity Newsletter Column

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence – United States of America)

“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.

Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite choices in harmony with their faith.” (Articles 14-15, Secular Franciscan Rule 1978)

Last weekend we celebrated the birth of this nation, that occurred on July 4, 1776. That was the date that the Declaration of Independence was approved. Since then, the above words have been a rallying cry for millions of oppressed people, who seek to secure for themselves those rights that have been given by our Creator God. Since that date, in this nation, there has also been a continually debate on what those “Rights” mean, and how they are to be secured, and for whom. The process has at times been messy. Unfortunately, it has at times been bloody.

It is a process, though, that we as Secular Franciscans are called to engage in. I know that many are disgusted with the way our political system has developed. Public discourse has devolved into name calling, slander, and real hatred. We need to show our local communities, our states, our nation, that it is possible to have a civil debate; it is possible to build a “fraternal” society. We are called not to separate from public life, but to enter into it, so that the poor, the outcast, the forgotten have a voice that will remind all people why this nation was established, to secure those “unalienable rights” that belong to us all.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"How Long Must I Carry Sorrow In My Soul?"

Psalm 13

How long, LORD? Will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I carry sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look upon me, answer me, LORD, my God! Give light to my eyes lest I sleep in death,

Lest my enemy say, "I have prevailed," lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.

I trust in your faithfulness. Grant my heart joy in your help, That I may sing of the LORD, "How good our God has been to me!"

It has been said that the Psalms express all the emotions one can experience in his or her relationship with God. Two members of my family have experienced serious illness recently; they are battling cancer. One is recovering from treatment, the other is just beginning hers. To witness their suffering, I am both railing against God, while at the same time begging for His assistance. One moment I am in awe of His power and love; and then I am in despair about His seeming powerlessness. In the end, we need to trust in His faithfulness; and sometimes cry out “I do believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9: 24)

Monday, July 5, 2010

The "New Liturgical Movement"

I came across an article today that is on the National Catholic Reporter website. It was written by John Allen Jr., and deals with Pope Benedict XVI call for a “new liturgical movement,” within the Church. Basically, the Pope appears to trace many problems within the Church to the changes in the liturgy that took place shortly after the Second Vatican Council. He, among others, believes that the Council’s teachings on the liturgy were misinterpreted and changes were taken that has robbed the liturgy of its sense of mystery, transcendence, and a loss of respect for the Eucharist.

It is known that he does not approve of receiving communion in the hand; it would be interesting to know his opinion of receiving communion under both species. And if one views his celebration of the Eucharist at St. Peter’s Basilica, one sees a large cross on the altar, with huge candlesticks, which obscures the congregation’s view of the consecration of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It almost seems as if the Vatican liturgists believe that only the Pope, bishops, and priests may view this wondrous miracle.

Yet, when the Pope celebrates the Eucharist away from the Vatican, one sees different liturgical set up on the altar, one which everyone I think will recognize from their own parishes. I saw this morning the Pope celebrate Mass in Sulmona, Italy, with the altar unobscured. And even though those receiving communion from the Pope, received on the tongue, there were others who received in the hand from other priests.

As with many things that are happening in the Church, the Pope and the bishops need to listen to us, the laity, on how we are experiencing the Eucharist, and what brings meaning to us.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Auxiliary Bishops for Archdiocese of Boston - And Thoughts of "What If?"

Yesterday, the Boston Archdiocese issued a press release, announcing the Pope's appointment of two new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese. They are Bishop-Elect Arthur L. Kennedy, and Bishop-Elect Peter J. Uglietto. Both men have been recently responsible for the formation of new priests, Kennedy is rector of the archdiocesan St. John's Seminary, Uglietto is rector of the national Blessed John XXIII Seminary.
I am acquainted with Bishop-Elect Uglietto, we were both at St. John's Seminary, he was in a class ahead of me. That makes two Boston auxiliary bishops I have known from my seminary days, the other being Bishop Robert Hennessey. It makes one think "what if?" What if I had decided to stay at the seminary, how would my life had turned out? But thinking "what if?" is like looking over a fence at a neighbor's lawn; the grass always looks greener on the other side. Best to remain focused on the here and now.