Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Sad Fact 60% Of American Catholics Believe!

“An official asked him (Jesus) this question, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus answered him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.’ ‘And he replied, ‘All of these I have observed from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this he said to him, ‘There is still one thing left for you; sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ But when he heard this he became quite sad, for he was very rich.” (Luke 18: 18-23)

“What good is it; my brothers, if someone say he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2: 14-17)“Francis sympathized lovingly and compassionately with those stricken with any physical affliction and he immediately referred to Christ the poverty or deprivation he saw in anyone. He was kind and gentle by nature and the love of Christ merely intensified this. His soul melted at the sight of the poor or infirm and where he could not offer material assistance he lavished his affection.” (Bonaventure, Major Life of St. Francis of Assisi, Chap. 8, Para. 5)

Sometimes, something has to be reported on television before it really grabs you. This happened to me today. I have glanced at the stories being reported by the National Catholic Reporter, from the survey they helped sponsored concerning Catholics in America. What I missed was a fact reported by the television program Religion and Ethics Newsweekly; that 60% of American Catholics believe that you do not have to donate anything to help the poor, nor work for the poor, and still can consider yourself a “good” Catholic!

Now I really went ballistic over this. If one looked at the tradition of the Church; if one examines the lives of a majority of Catholic saints, I believe, one sees a constant theme of how important service to the poor is in the life of the Church. And I do not mean just the charitable institutions of the Church, I mean the entire community of believers. If one believes in Jesus Christ, one follows the teachings Jesus Christ, to love God with all our heart and soul; and to love our neighbors. And that does not just mean our middle class neighbors, it means all of them, poor, disabled, and foreigner.

We are called to share the love of Christ we experience through the Eucharist with everyone we come in contact, by any means at our disposal. By our words and actions, we are to show to the world the power of the Gospel we preach. If we cannot live the faith we believe in, each of us individually, then that faith is truly dead. And the world will cast us aside.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Spiritual Food

“As bread is food for the body and holiness is food for the soul, so spiritual prayer is food for the interior mind.”  (Evagrios of Pontus)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Words From St. Francis of Assisi

“We should wish for nothing else and have no other desire; we should find no pleasure or delight in anything except in our Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour; he alone is true God, who is perfect good, all good, every good, the true supreme good, and he alone is good, loving and gentle, kind and understanding; he alone is holy, just, true and right; he alone is kind, innocent, pure, and from him, through him, and in him is all pardon, all grace, an all glory for the penitent, the just, and the blessed who rejoice in heaven.”
(St. Francis of Assisi, The Non-Approved Rule of 1221)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My October Column for My Secular Franciscan Fraternity Newsletter

Earlier this week, we celebrated the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi.  What came to my mind was a story in the Little Flowers of St. Francis, in which Brother Masseo asks Francis, "Why does the world come after you?"  Francis responded that people came after him because they saw how the power of God's love could work such miracles through such a poor, ignorant, sinful man like himself.  It was the example of his life, this witness to God's grace working in a very human person that drew people to Francis. 


What draws people to St. Francis today?  For some, it might be the stories about Francis, others may have read the Francis comic book, and others may have seen a movie about him.  Most, however, have been drawn to Francis because of the example given by the lives of Friars, Poor Clares, Third Order Regular Brothers and Sisters, and, hopefully, those Secular Franciscans they have come in contact with.  This is the responsibility that all of us who call ourselves Franciscan share, to keep the spirit of Francis alive and fresh in our world today.  We do this by reading and reflecting on his words, on his life, then seeing how we can apply his example to our own struggle to live the Gospel life.


We have a spiritual legacy to be proud of and to celebrate.  If that legacy is to last through the 21st Century and beyond, we cannot be complacent.  We need to allow Francis to continue challenge us to go farther, strive higher, and go deeper in our life with God. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi - 2011

St. Francis of Assisi came as a light of hope to a world in darkness.  It was a world where kings and nobles were at constant warfare with each other, often sweeping up innocent peasants into the fires of wars.  It was a world where the Church was afflicted by scandal, where clerics were more interested in declaring complex doctrines then preaching to the needs of their flock.  It was a world where lay people suffered from a spiritual hunger, longing to hear the Good News proclaimed and to see it lived.

Into this world came Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, walking on bare feet, with a song on his lips, a caring look in his eyes and a holy fire in his heart.  He had encountered the living Christ through prayer, word and sacrament.  Responding to that encounter, Francis strove to change his life, to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Where there was greed and desire for power, he lived a life of evangelical poverty, simplicity and humility.  Where there was strife and division, Francis was a peacemaker.  Where there were poor and abandoned people, he brought love and acceptance.  Where there was loss of faith, Francis inspired people to believe again in the love, power and glory of God.

In a modern world that in some ways is no different from the world of Francis’s time, we are all called to be lights of Christ.  In small ways and great, inspired by Francis, each one of us is to bring love, joy and peace to a world that is in strife, wallowing in hate and burdened with fear.  Each of us is part of the legacy of the Poverello.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Question of Girl Altar Servers

America magazine’s editors have commented on the situation in the Diocese of Phoenix, AZ, concerning the change of policy by the diocesan cathedral. Girls will no longer be able to be altar servers. That role will be reserved solely for boys. One of the reasons given by the rector of the cathedral was that having only altar boys encouraged vocations for the priesthood. Now, the cynic in me believes that there is another underlining reason for this policy change. And that is the feeling that still exists among some of the clergy that women are unworthy to be in the sanctuary during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Now when I heard about this policy, I got ill. Yes, I know canonically, bishops and pastors have the power to designate who can be altar servers, but to deny girls that honor is unwise, and reinforces the world view that women are second class members of the Church. And keep in mind that a majority of those who are active in the social, educational and charitable life of the Church are women. And that the majority of persons attending Mass are women.

In Scripture, we are told by St. Paul that in Christ there is neither male nor female. The Council Fathers of Vatican II have told us that all the baptized share in the priesthood of Christ, and all are called to actively participate in the Eucharist. Yes, each has their own unique role in that worship, but I do not see any valid theological reason to restrict the role of altar server to only males. And despite what some bishops and pastors may say, this is a matter of justice within the Church.