Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jesus is Our Ladder

By Fr. Isaac Spinharney, CFR from the Friars’ e-Letter

In …Genesis 28:11-22, we hear the story of Jacob’s ladder. The Fathers of the Church saw in Jacob’s ladder a prophetic image of Jesus Christ.   Jesus, who is both True God and True Man, is a ladder uniting heaven and earth upon which God first descends to us so that we might ascend to Him! 

We see this ladder image played out in Matthew 9:18-26… where Jesus heals… the woman with the hemorrhage and the official’s daughter. By a simple touch Jesus descends into their hopelessness allowing them to ascend the ladder of hope and healing to new life in God. The fact that He touched them, or allowed Himself to be touched…, is significant.  According to Jewish ceremonial law, touching the bleeding woman or a corpse rendered Jesus ritually unclean; that is, unfit for Temple sacrifice and worship.  But Jesus has already said to the Pharisees who were outraged that He was eating with sinners that God “desires mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). Jesus ranks mercy over the ceremonial law because only the ladder of God’s mercy, only His sacrifice, can bridge the infinite gap between God and man.

Brothers and Sisters, what about us?   Do we experience the mercy of God in our own lives? Do we try to ascend to God by… human effort or do we beg Him to first come to us? Do we allow the ladder of God’s mercy to touch down upon those areas of our hearts that are bleeding or even dead so that we might rise and ascend to new life in Him?

This is God’s desire for us: that we would allow His mercy, which comes to us in the sacrifice of Jesus, to be the ladder by which we climb to Him.  This can happen every time we go to Mass. In the Eucharist—the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus—heaven and earth are united… Jesus comes to us as we are, to once again eat with poor sinners. He comes to forgive, He comes to heal.  He comes so that through Him, we might return to God our Father!

Pax et bonum

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Local Franciscan Family Grows

The Glory of the Most High Fraternity's "daughter" fraternity, The Immaculate Heart of Mary Fraternity, celebrated the profession of four new members of the Secular Franciscan Order.

At an August 17 Mass at St. Leo's Church in Hilton - the home of this offshoot of our Rochester fraternity - Douglas Charles, Margaret Keiffer, Gail Parmelee, and Dennis Viele all became professed members of the Secular Franciscans.

From Right, Katherine Schmidt, OFS (Minister), Margaret Keiffer, OFS, Douglas Charles, OFS, Gail Parmelee, OFS, Dennis Viele, OFS, and Father Anthony Baetzold, C.F.R (the celebrant).


Pax et bonum

Friday, May 17, 2013

Knowing Jesus in our Midst

Knowing Jesus in our Midst
Saint Clare
     Our labor here is brief, but the reward is eternal.  Do not be disturbed by the clamor of the world which passes like a shadow.  Do not let the false delights of the deceptive world deceive you.
     Love Him totally Who gave Himself totally for your love.
     Our body is not made of iron.  Our strength is not that of stone.  Live and hope in the Lord, and let your service be according to reason.  Modify your holocaust with the salt of prudence.
     Melancholy is the poison of devotion.  When one is in tribulation, it is necessary to be more happy and more joyful because one is nearer to God.
     Close your eyes to the whisperings of hell and bravely oppose its onslaughts.
(Submitted by Gwen Franus OFS)

Pax et bonum

The Secular Franciscan Identity

The Secular Franciscan Identity

General Minister Emanuela DeNunzio

From a speech to International Gathering 7

     Who are the Secular Franciscans scattered all over the world?  What is their identity? ...There were in the past very many groups.  Mostly their members used to wear characteristic clothing, … In some places there were different fraternities for men and women and, even when they were mixed, the men sat on one side and the women on the other. .. For some time some Fraternities presented themselves still composed of laity with a certain nostalgia for the life of the friars and of religious, although having the persistent call to be valid tools of action of the Church in the world.  But the attitude of the brothers and of the sisters was changing into a new way to be Franciscan,..The Franciscan Third Order had assumed the new Franciscan name of The Secular Franciscan Order, exactly because it wanted to underscore the presence of Franciscan laity in the world; it wanted to distinguish itself in its "secular" state, the most significant feature of the Third Order. 

     Later, in the Christifideles La├»ci, Pope John Paul II, recalling the doctrine of the Council, wrote: "The vocation of the laity to holiness carries with it that life according to the Spirit be expressed in a particular way by their insertion in temporal reality and in their participation in earthly activity"   And so, to update the discussion, we have to ask ourselves: What does it mean today to be a Secular Franciscan?  To be Franciscan belongs to the most intimate part of our personal identity, to the marrow of our being …

     The updated legislation of the SFO (Rule and General Constitutions) states that the identity of the Secular Franciscan is expressed in a triple dimension: personal (the inner life), fraternal (co-responsibility) and universal (the mission).

     The Inner Life: Our contribution in overcoming the problems that clutch the world and the Church is not realized by transforming us into "activists", but into disciples of prayer.  It is certain that for Secular Franciscans, like other citizens, we are called to political commitment, professional competence, promotion of solidarity and of liberty, of rights and of justice.  Nevertheless what is specifically ours is prayer to the living God.  The contemplative dimension allows us to go through the world with eyes enlightened by hope and compassion.  There is no true Christian commitment in the world without prayer… This is why it is very important that Fraternities be eloquent schools of prayer, places of harmony, mirrors of charity and sources of hope, so that their members feel the joy of being loved by their brothers and sisters, and at the same time to communicate to those around them the fullness of joy of being disciples of Christ… 

To be continued…
Pax et bonum

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Servant Leader Workshop

Council members of the Glory of the Most High Secular Franciscan Fraternity joined with council members and others from across the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Region for a Servant Leadership Workshop April 27 at the Stella Maris Retreat Center.

It was a wonderful day of education and socializing - with plenty to think about, and plenty to laugh about.


Pax et bonum

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Live as if the whole world were a cloister

This approach to ministry is one that places relationship and community above one’s personal faith journey and conversion. In fact, one’s own conversion, if indicative of a Franciscan hue, should lead toward humanity and away from only one’s self. It is for precisely this reason that Francis insisted that the friars were to remain mendicants and not monks, to live as if the whole world were a cloister and not be limited to the four walls of private religious life.
~Francis of Assisi and the Future of Faith by Daniel Horan OFM

Pax et bonum

The Genius of the Incarnation

The Genius of the Incarnation

Marty Lynch OFS

     I found this recent article from ZENIT relevant to me as a Franciscan, because in it the Holy Father offers the faithful yet another insight into the genius that is imbedded within the mystery of the Incarnation, a mystery so central to our saintly founder’s major charism.  So I’m offering this little piece that would be useful for our own catechesis and contemplation. May it bring you – as it has me -- to a prayer of gratitude to our merciful Lord who has provided us with yet another brilliant and pastoral Vicar of his holy presence on earth, the successor of John Paul the Great.  Makes you want to shout, “Alleluia!”

       What the prophets of the Old Testament longed for, and what even atheists today long for, is made possible by Jesus Christ, says Benedict XVI: We can see God's face.

     This was the reflection the Pope offered Wednesday in the general audience, as he considered the revelation of God made with the Incarnation.

     The Holy Father explained that Jesus' answer to the Apostle Philip, who requested to see the Father, is a synthesis of the Christmas event…Jesus' answer…leads us into the heart of the Christological faith of the Church; the Lord affirms: 'Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.'

     This is a synthesis of the novelty of the New Testament, according to the Pontiff. God can be seen, he has shown his face, he is visible in Jesus Christ.

     The theme of seeking God's face runs throughout the Old Testament, Benedict XVI added, with 400 uses of the Hebrew term for face, 100 of which refer to the face of God.

     Still, Judaism, in forbidding the use of all images -- and thus standing in opposition to the worship of idols -- seems to totally exclude from worship and piety any possibility of seeing, the Pope observed.

     What does it mean then, for the pious Israelite, to seek the face of God, while recognizing that there can be no image of Him … on the one hand, it is said that God cannot be reduced to an object, to a simple image, nor can anything be put in the place of God; on the other, however, it is affirmed that He has a face, that is, He is a 'You' that can enter into a relationship, who isn't closed in his Heavens looking down upon humanity.

God is certainly above all things, but he turns to us, hears us, sees and speaks, makes covenants, is capable of love. The history of salvation is history of God with humanity, it is the history of this relationship of God who progressively reveals himself to man, letting him see His face.

     In fact, the Pope continued, The splendor of the divine face is the source of life, it is what allows us to see reality, and the light of His countenance is the guide to life.

    God's progressive revelation culminates in Christ … God's affirm(s) to Moses…no one shall see me and live, (yet) something new happens with the Incarnation.  The search for the face of God undergoes an unthinkable change, because now this face can be seen: that of Jesus,… In Him the path of God's revelation finds fulfillment, which began with the call of Abraham;… in Him the content of Revelation and the Revealer coincide.

The Holy Father affirmed that a desire to know God truly, to see the face of God is in every man, even atheists.  This desire is fulfilled in following Christ… in the whole of our lives, not only when we are in need or find a spare moment.

     The whole of life should be directed towards encountering Him, towards loving Him; and, in… the light of the Crucified One… to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, the suffering, Pope Benedict said.  This is only possible if the true face of Jesus has become familiar to us in… entering into his Word in such a way as to really encounter him, and naturally in the Mystery of the Eucharist.

     The Eucharist, the Pope said, is the great school in which we learn to see the face of God, we enter into an intimate relationship with Him, and we learn at the same time to turn our gaze towards the final moment of history, when He will satisfy us with the light of his face.

 ZENIT, The world seen from Rome News Agency


Pax et bonum

God's Romantic Love

The Greatest Valentine of All:

Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR, Most Blessed Sacrament Friary, Newark, NJ

     Love is a word that is bigger than mere romance.  And yet there is something in romantic love that more keenly captures the heart.  Paternal or maternal love, filial or fraternal, even spousal love—which cannot always be romantic—are more enduring kinds of love.  They are loves that walk us through life, foundational and structural loves, highly important in practice and reception.

     We know that God loves us paternally, like a father. Jesus is our friend and brother, and so we experience his steadfast support and presence. Even the Holy Spirit loves us, encouraging and inspiring us over the long haul.  

     But do you ever encounter God’s romantic love?  If not, I have to say, it’s important that you do.  Romantic love is quicker, more sudden, shorter lasting but more impacting.  It is the love that pierces the heart and captures the imagination.   This encounter is behind all those overbearing converts that won’t stop talking about Jesus and the Church and the Eucharist, and they won’t stop because they simply cannot, because they’ve fallen in love, and when we do that, we want everyone to fall with us!...

     The scriptures give us no shortage of evidence that God will pursue us, that he will court us, and the word seduce us is even used. Christmas is the story of a lover decidedly throwing himself into the life his beloved. God puts himself in a position of radical closeness to the one he loves and begins to woo, to seduce by his presence, by his words and his life.  He now touches us, speaks closely to us and desires to take us unto himself so that we may live together forever.

      He is anxious to love you romantically, to surprise you and win you; you have only to let him do it.  If you have not yet experienced this side of him, I would say, ask for it, expect it, and don’t be afraid when it actually happens.  For then you will learn two very important truths: Jesus is real and alive, and he loves you personally, whoever and wherever you are, and he loves you a lot.  And if you allow it, this will change your life.

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 5, 2013