Thursday, December 21, 2017

St. Francis and the First Creche

With ox and ass and manger and hay
St. Francis recalled that holy day.
But before that Greccio scene was done
The Father again provided his Son.

Pax et bonum

Friday, December 15, 2017

Advent of the New Covenant

By: Jeffrey R. Keyes, C.PP.S.

We prepare to enter another celebration of the Advent of the New Covenant. God dwells among us in this new Covenant in a way so full of promise, that after centuries of celebration we are still compelled to call this "new."  Table fellowship and feet washing are THE heights and depths and breadth of divine presence. God is no longer watching "from a distance." The veil has been lifted and all the barriers are down.  Being human has changed for us because God has taken flesh and lived among us. God has appeared, not with power, privilege or strength, but as a helpless, homeless infant.

God, in redeeming and calling Israel, prepared for the time when the covenant was to be open to all.  This was the desire of God from the beginning.   In order to approach us, God called a particular people and entered into their history.  After freeing them from their bondage God invited them into a continuing relationship, expressed in the Sinai covenant. Again and again and again God offered a covenant to them and through the prophets our ancestors were taught to long for salvation. Every generation was a recipient of the promise.

Later prophets described this promise in idyllic terms.  The word appears, coming gently from God, never intending to remain suspended like a cloud in mid-air, but to soak the earth and to be drawn back toward God like plants and trees.  God's spirit is planted within a human heart where it bears fruit.  God's word is less a message and more an event.  All the world, all of creation, breaks into song as God brings home the people, as God brings back the nations, as God makes room even for us.  The curse of darkness is removed forever, and in its place grow the trees of paradise that join in the song and clap their hands in the rhythm of the celebration (Isaiah 55:12).

Love is no longer distant and abstract.  The covenant between God and human beings is no longer a legal contract. The new covenant has now been written in human flesh and blood, recorded on every heart. Everyone, from the least to the greatest, is the beneficiary of this gift (Jeremiah 31:31-34).   The new covenant is now a communion of the whole of life; it is now this person, this friend and companion, this beloved, this family, this community, these children.

This vision has borne fruit in the person of Jesus, and in all who bear his name. Flesh and blood now becomes the vehicle for the real presence of God. All those who once were considered to be far off, or simply far out, have been brought near by the Blood of Christ

Pax et bonum

Friday, December 1, 2017

Franciscan Day of Reflection (11/4/17)

Purgatory is not normally spoken of in positive ways - but Father Anthony Baetzold, CFR, did indeed offer a positive spin.
Speaking November 4 at St. Leo’s Church in Hilton for a day of reflection for local Secular Franciscans, Father Baetzold cited St. Catherine of Genoa.
“I believe no happiness can be found worthy to be compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise; and day by day this happiness grows as God flows into these souls, more and more as the hindrance to His entrance is consumed,” she said. “Sin's rust is the hindrance, and the fire burns the rust away so that more and more the soul opens itself up to the divine inflowing.”
Thus, Father Baetzold noted in his homily that day, those in Purgatory, even if they are viewed as “poor souls,” are indeed undergoing their final preparation for Heaven.
He also cited Proverbs 16: 6 (“By faithful love and constancy sinis expiated”) and 1 Peter 4: 8 (Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins”).
After  the positive message of his homily, he also delivered a talk about then-Venerable Solanus Casey, a Franciscan priest and porter who died in 1957 after a life of calling for constant thankfulness for the blessings of God, and who would be beatified November 19. Father Baetzold summarized Blessed Solanus’s life and ministry, his humility in accepting slights and seemingly menial assignments, and the  joyful holiness he shared with the world.
The day included fellowship, Adoration, Benediction, and opportunities for Confession.
A wonderful day for Franciscans to renew and celebrate their vocation..
As Blessed Solanus once said, “We should ever be grateful for and love the vocation to which God has called us. This applies to every vocation because, after all, what a privilege it is to serve God, even in the least capacity!”
Pax et bonum

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Many Miracles of Solanus Casey

Saturday, he officially becomes Blessed.

The Many Miracles of Solanus Casey: Many people have begged Fr. Solanus Casey for healing, during his life and after. Learn about the miracles that have led to his beatification.

Pax et bonum

Monday, August 7, 2017

Feast of the Transfiguration

Greetings, Dear Brothers and Sisters, Franciscans of The Glory of [Yahweh] The Most High!

Happy Transfiguration Day! Let's be mindful on this radiant solemnity that the dazzlingly luminous glory of Yahweh the Most High was made manifest to chosen witnesses on this transfiguring day when the Father audibly and visibly proclaimed his beloved son's splendor and authority.

Let's also be mindful that we, too, have been named as chosen witnesses in our time and place, and that we are not simply a cluster of Franciscans among an indistinguishable array of others worldwide. For, as our very rule (#20) proclaims, all Franciscan fraternities
"...have THEIR OWN MORAL PERSONALITY in the Church..."

Our moral personality is formed from the mystery of the Glory of Yahweh. Our Glory-saturated personality is exposed for exploration and contemplation, among other times and places, in specific moments designated by Holy Mother Church in her order of the Liturgical Year. Today is one such moment.

So, Happy Transfiguration Day, dear mirrors of the most luminous, most holy, Most High!
May we respond to today's graces with mindfulness, that we might be more perfect reflections of Yahweh's manifest holiness, his transformingly radiant Glory.

For his greater glory,
MFL, ofs

Pax et bonum

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Fatima Prayers

The 5 Prayers Revealed at Fatima

     The apparition of an angel and Our Lady to three poor children in Fatima, Portugal in the early 20th century is one of the most famous miracles in the Catholic world.  This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the completion of those apparitions.  The children received many messages, mostly calling for personal conversion and prayer, as well as the words of 5 new prayers.  The first prayer is one many Catholics are likely already familiar with, but the other 4 are not as well-known.  Here are the 5 prayers given to the children at Fatima:

1) The Fatima Prayer/Decade Prayer: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen.”  Mary told the children that people should add this prayer to the end of each decade of the Rosary.

2) The Pardon Prayer: “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love Thee! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love Thee.”  This prayer was given to the children by the angel that visited them in 1916, the year before Mary appeared to them.

3) The Angel’s Prayer: “O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners.”   This is another prayer given to them by the angel. There was a Eucharistic host and chalice suspended in the air, and the angel led them in kneeling before it and praying this prayer.

4) The Eucharistic Prayer: “Most Holy Trinity, I adore Thee! My God, my God, I love Thee in the Most Blessed Sacrament.”  When Mary appeared to the children for the first time on May 13, 1917, she said, “You will have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.” According to Lucia, one of the children, a bright light shone all around them, and without thinking about it, they all started reciting this prayer.

5) The Sacrifice Prayer: “O Jesus, it is for the love of Thee, in reparation for the offenses committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and for the conversion of poor sinners [that I do this].”  Mary gave the children this prayer, as well as the Fatima Prayer/Decade Prayer, on June 13th, 1917. The prayer is meant to be recited when you are offering up suffering to God.

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Padre Pio Chapter 10 questions

Padre Pio: The True Story                                                                         Chapter 10


At this point, Padre Pio wished to die – he even asked permission to die. Why might he have wanted this? How might this fit in with holiness?


What lesson does Padre Pio’s experiences with Annitta Rodote teach about prayer?


Padre Pio finally arrived at St. Giovanini Rotondo. For a while he served as a teacher – apparently not a good one in the conventional sense. How was he effective, though?


Once again, Padre Pio began to gather a group of women as his “daughters.”  What was his appeal to them? Why did he not seem to have many spiritual “sons.”?

Padre Pio continued to be troubled by health issues – but they did keep him out of the army. What lesson about God’s ways can this teach us?


Overall, what lessons does this chapter teach us as Franciscans today?



Pax et bonum

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Open Ourselves to the Gifts of the Spirit

To the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Pope Saint John Paul II

Submitted by: Sally Lynch, OFS


From a homily delivered by the Holy Father on the vigil of Pentecost,

to members of the Renewal in the Spirit (Charismatic Renewal)

about “Burning Bush” on May 29, 2004.

     “Veni, Creator Spiritus!”  On the Solemnity of Pentecost, the whole Church raises unanimously this song…The Mystical Body of Christ, spread throughout the world, invokes the Spirit from whom it receives life, the vital breath that animates its being and its action…

Thanks to the Charismatic Movement, many Christians, men and women, youths and adults, have rediscovered Pentecost as a living and present reality in their daily life.  I desire that the spirituality of Pentecost be spread in the Church, as a renewed thrust in prayer, holiness, communion and proclamation.  In this connection, I encourage the initiative called “Burning Bush”, promoted by Renewal in the Spirit.  It is about incessant adoration, day and night, before the Most Holy Sacrament; and invitation to the faithful “to return to the Cenacle” so that, united in the contemplation of the Eucharistic mystery, they intercede for the full unity of Christians and the conversion of sinners.  I sincerely desire that this initiative lead many to rediscover the gifts of the Spirit, which have their source in Pentecost…

    Dear brothers and sisters! This afternoon’s celebration reminds me of the memorable meeting with the ecclesial movements and new communities on the vigil of Pentecost six years ago.  It was an extraordinary manifestation of the unity of the Church, in the richness and variety of charisms, which the Holy Spirit infuses in abundance. I energetically repeat what I said on that occasion: The ecclesial movements and new communities are a “providential answer”, “inspired by the Holy Spirit” given the present need of the new evangelization, for which “mature Christian personalities” and “strong Christian communities” are needed.

     For this reason I also say to you: “Open yourselves with docility to the gifts of the Spirit!  Receive with gratitude and obedience the charisms that the Holy Spirit does not cease to offer! Do not forget that all the charisms are given for the common good, that is, for the benefit of the whole Church!”

     “Veni, Creator Spiritus!”  Among us, with raised hands, is praying the Virgin Mother of Christ and of the Church, Together with her, let us implore and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, light of truth, strength of authentic peace.  We do so with the words of the antiphon in the Magnificat… (For vespers of the eve of Pentecost): “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of thy faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of thy love: you who, in the variety of human languages, gather people in one faith, Alleluia!”

“Sante Spiritus, Veni!”

Pax et bonum

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Franciscan Day with Sisters of Life

We held a shortened day of recollection Saturday for Secular Franciscans at St. Leo's in Hilton. Father Anthony Baetzold of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal lead the retreat, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and conducting a Benediction Holy Hour. And David Valenzuela, who had been with the Friars, but has felt called to serve outside the order (while still working with it when he can), led the music.

But the highlight of the day was the presence of two Sisters of Life.

Sister Mary Loretta Graffeo (above)

and Sister Veronica Sullivan shared the history of the order and their ministry.

They were created in 1991 by Cardinal John O'Connor in New York. They take the three traditional vows that women religious take - Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience - but also take a fourth vow: To protect and enhance the sacredness of human life. As such, they work with women in crisis pregnancies and individuals affected by abortion, run retreats, evangelize and work with the Respect Life in New York.

Sister Veronica said the ministry with pregnant women is not intended to humiliate them, but rather "to restore their God-given dignity."

The order is growing, There are now more than 100 sisters, and many others in formation. The average age of the sisters is 34. Yes, average age. Many older congregations don't even have a single member that young. But the growth of the Sisters of Life is typical of congregations that embrace Church traditions - including the wearing of a habit.

They were delightful, and full of joy. Indeed, as Sister Mary said, "There is no Sister of Life without joy."
Pax et bonum

Sunday, February 19, 2017

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Region’s OFS Saint?

Brothers and sisters, greetings and great peace always….

     Minister Ray Porzio OFS of St. Marianne Cope Fraternity located in Syracuse, informed me that the Servant of God, Brother Joseph Dutton OSF whose cause for sainthood was opened in 2015 by Bishop Silva of Honolulu was a member of their Fraternity in Syracuse.  (Born in Vermont) He was a Civil War veteran who later in his life became a Catholic and a penitent.  He worked alongside Saints Father Damien and Mother Marianne Cope.  Although he never left Kalaupapa or Molokai (after arriving there to help), Mother Marianne arranged for him to become a Secular Franciscan in the Syracuse Fraternity.

     That Syracuse Fraternity is so very blessed with a Saint (Mother Marianne Cope) and now the Servant of God Joseph Dutton OSF.

     Let us shower Heaven with our prayers so the title of “Saint” will be accorded to our brother Secular Franciscan Joseph Dutton.    
      Great peace and abundant blessings to all,

Al Picogna, OFS, Regional Minister

Pax et bonum

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Franciscan Crown Rosary

From: Al Picogna, OFS, Regional Minister
FW: [TAU-Daily] October

     The Franciscan Crown Rosary is a Rosary consisting of seven decades in commemoration of the seven joys of the Blessed Virgin (the Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of our Lord, Adoration of the Magi, Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the Resurrection of Our Lord, and the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin and her Coronation in heaven), in use among the members of the three orders of St. Francis.

     The Franciscan Crown dates back to the year 1422. A young novice who had that year been received into the Franciscan Order had, previous to his reception, been accustomed to adorn a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a wreath of fresh and beautiful flowers as a mark of his piety and devotion. Not being able to continue this practice in the novitiate, he decided to return to the world. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and prevented him from carrying out his purpose. She then instructed him how, by reciting daily a rosary of seven decades in honor of her seven joys, he might weave a crown that would be more pleasing to her than the material wreath of flowers he had been wont to place on her statue. From that time the practice of reciting the crown of the seven joys became general in the order.

     The manner of reciting the Franciscan Rosary is as follows: The Apostles' Creed, the Our Father, and three Hail Marys having been said as usual, the mystery to be meditated upon is introduced after the word Jesus of the first Hail Mary of each decade, thus: "Jesus, whom thou didst joyfully conceive", "Jesus, whom thou didst joyfully carry to Elizabeth", and so on for the remaining five decades, which are given in most manuals of Franciscan devotion. At the end of the seventh decade two Hail Marys are added to complete the number of years (72) that the Blessed Virgin is said to have lived on earth.

     There are other ways of reciting the Crown but the one given seems to be in more general use. The plenary Indulgence attached to the recitation of the Franciscan Crown, and applicable to the dead, may be gained as often* as the crown is recited.

     It is not required that the beads be blessed, or in fact that beads be used at all, since the Indulgence is not attached to the material rosary, but to the recitation of the prayers as such. In 1905 Pope Pius X, in response to the petition of the Procurator General of the Friars Minor, enriched the Franciscan Crown with several new Indulgences that may be gained by all the faithful. Those who assist at a public recitation of the Franciscan Crown participate in all the Indulgences attached to the Seraphic Rosary that are gained by the members of the Franciscan Order. It is required, however, that beads be used and that they be blessed by a priest having the proper faculties. A translation of the pontifical Brief is given in "St. Anthony's Almanac" for 1909.

Pax et bonum