Monday, June 7, 2010

The Beatitudes - "Poor in Spirit"

Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3) (Word Among US magazine)

It’s not surprising that most self-help materials on the market are geared toward doing exactly that: helping ourselves. Many of them promise to unlock our hidden potential or show us the happiness and riches that could be ours if we would stop putting off our dreams and start doing what we’ve always wanted to do. If we would just focus all our energies on obtaining our goals—even if it means forgetting about the people around us—we would be happy.

How different is Jesus’ prescription for self-help! To gain perfect happiness—for this is what “beatitude” really means—we need to become “poor in spirit.” We have to see that we need something outside of ourselves. We were made to be in relationships, first with our God but also with other people. To be poor in spirit means that we need to be enriched, that we don’t have all the resources for happiness within ourselves. It means acknowledging our emptiness.

But the beatitudes aren’t just a general call to humility. Even more importantly, they are an invitation to participate in the life of God’s kingdom in practical, everyday ways. For instance, as we perform works of mercy, we begin to embody the very mercy of God. As we strive to live a righteous life, we come closer to touching the holiness of the Lord. And as we live in purity of thought, word, and deed, we set ourselves free from distractions so that we can see the Lord more clearly both in our hearts and in the lives of those around us.

There is no magic formula for living a balanced, peaceful life—not in pop psychology or in the teachings of the Scriptures. The beatitudes are not just a better self-help program. Rather, they embody the wisdom of God—a wisdom that Jesus lived and taught to everyone. And this wisdom carries a powerful promise: The more we see ourselves as poor without Jesus, the more we will become rich with him. It’s that simple—and that challenging.

“Lord, help me to know the joy that comes from getting out of myself and using my gifts and talents for your kingdom.”

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ
June 2010

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ is also known as the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, which translates from Latin to "Body of Christ." This feast originated in France in the midthirteenth century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. This feast is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or, as in the USA, on the Sunday following that

This feast calls us to focus on two manifestations of the Body of Christ, the Holy Eucharist and the Church. The primary purpose of this feast is to focus our attention on the Eucharist. The opening prayer at Mass calls our attention to Jesus' suffering and death and our worship of Him, especially in the Eucharist. At every Mass our
attention is called to the Eucharist and the Real Presence of Christ in it. The secondary focus of this feast upon the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion which Jesus shares with his disciples. He expresses this in the gospels by using the metaphor of a body where He is the head. This image helps keep in focus both the unity and the diversity of the Church.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is commonly used as an opportunity for public Eucharistic processions, which serve as a sign of common faith and adoration. Our worship of Jesus in His Body and Blood calls us to offer to God our Father a pledge of undivided love and an offering of ourselves to the service of others.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Remain Faithful to God

Psalm 119:157,160-161,165-166,168

Your every word is enduring; all your just edicts are forever. (Psalm
Today’s psalm offers the "bottom line" for all our thinking about God:
He never changes. There is no contradiction in God, as there is in human
beings. He is always good, always faithful, always fruitful.God’s "every
word is enduring" (Psalm 119:160). Think about it. Everything God has ever
said will remain true for all time. He never changes his mind. And because
God is always good as well, his word will always bear good fruit. Because
he is always faithful, your heavenly Father will never betray your trust.
He will never lie to you or give you a false impression. He is completely
and utterly reliable!We humans, on the other hand, can hold a lot of
mistaken beliefs. And we can advocate some of these false premises in loud,
convincing voices. St. Paul warned Timothy about this. He urged his young
disciple to "remain faithful" to what he had learned about the gospel and
to hold onto the word of God in Scripture (2 Timothy 3:14-15). This was the
only way Timothy could guard against the "charlatans" who were offering
false gospels (3:13).The same is true today. Let yourself be taught by the
word of God in Scripture. Root yourself in it. Ponder it. Learn it. Lean on
it as you go through life. On a practical level, this means reading it every
day. A good way to start is to take one of the daily readings from Mass and
think about it during the day. Write down one or two verses that strike you
and keep them close to you. Keep coming back to it during the day, looking
for ways it applies to you. Let the promises in the passage become more
important to you than the things that might discourage or confuse or
frighten you.Scripture itself promises: "Lovers of your teaching have much
peace" (Psalm 119:165). So do it. Learn to love the Scriptures, and you
will begin to see all that God, who is always good, has in store. "Father,
I believe you are good and faithful. Help me to think about your word more
than all the other words I hear." 2 Timothy 3:10-17; Mark 12:35-37

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two Franciscans Saints

June 2 - Saint Felix of Nicosia

Born on November 5th 1715, Giacomo Amoroso followed the trade of his father, a shoemaker. As a lad he held the greatest horror of any sin at all. At his work he distinguished himself by great modesty, docility, industry and patience. When his parents died he applied at the Capuchin convent for admission. He was refused. He persevered and he prayed and waited and at opportune times renewed his plea again and again. Finally after eight years, at the age of twenty seven, he gained admission. On October 19th 1743 at Mistretta he was invested with the habit and the name Felix after the first saint of the Order.

Upon his profession, a year later, he was recalled to Nicosia to assist the questing brother in his mendicant rounds. Like his Seraphic Father, Saint Francis, Felix was very austere on himself in private but publicly his love of God was expressed itself in charity towards his neighbour. Like Francis, also he had a great love and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

He was endowed with the gift of healing temporal and spiritual diseases and he delighted in tending the sick. He could also bi-locate in the same way as Padre Pio. Called to aid the sick when a malignant epidemic was decimating Cerami in March 1777, he responded eagerly. Airlessly and indefatigably he went about ministering the sick, and his labours were crowned with abundant success. "So be it for the Love of God", were the words with which he accompanied his miracles of healing, and for the love of God he may be said to have lived his whole life. Second only to love came obedience. He never did anything without permission, and when he was overtaken by his last illness he asked the guardian to give him leave to die. He passed away on May 31st, 1787, at the age of seventy two.

For thirty three years he lived under a superior who considered it his role to sanctify Felix by subjecting him to relentless severity and fantastic humiliations, all of which he heroically endured.

Felix was beatified by Leo XIII, on February 12th 1888. Three years later his remains were transferred to the Cathedral of Nicosia. He was Canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 23rd, 2005.
Hospital Sisters of Charity of St. Francis of Assisi FOUNDER:

Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, who died on June 2, 1858 in Telgte, Germany. As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of his death, we pray for a deeper understanding of our Franciscan heritage and a recommitment to carry his vision into the future.

The story begins in 1777
Johann Christoph Bernsmeyer was born on May 15, 1777, in Verl, Germany, and was the second of four children. When he was not attending school, it is presumed that he worked with his father on a farm. He probably attended school in Gütersloh or Rietburg where there was a Franciscan school which offered preparation for study at a university leading to a professional career or to the priesthood.

Religious persecution by Government
At the age of 24, he entered the Novitiate of the Franciscan Province of the Holy Cross on September 13, 1801, at Koster, Hamm, and he remained there for one year. Just after his profession to the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), he was transferred to Warendorf to study philosophy. Soon after, on August 11, 1802, King Frederich III forbade all monasteries of men to accept novices and allow them to make profession. On August 26, 1802, this prohibition was attached to the doors of the churches.

After he had finished his philosophical studies in Warendorf Monastery, Father Christopher was transferred to Münster to study theology with the Observant Franciscans. He was ordained to the priesthood on January 24, 1805 - much earlier than was customary or prescribed by the Order. He then had to finish his Theological Studies and then was appointed to parish work. This transfer from Warendorf Monastery was made without the permission of the German government. On June 15, 1805, when the status of population was to be given from the Monastery and his name appeared on the list, difficulties arose with the government. The government ordered that Father Christopher had to leave Münster within six weeks. The Provincial wrote a 14-page excuse to the King on account of this political crime, and the Guardian sent a petition to keep Father Christopher because he needed his help. On July 26, 1805, the government allowed him to remain in Münster.

Fondness for Telgte, Germany
Beginning in March 1808, part of his ministry involved a weekend commute from Münster to Telgte where he heard confessions and preached to pilgrims visiting Our Lady of Grace Chapel. This Chapel was built in 1654 under the direction of Prince-Bishop Bernhard von Galen and displayed a wooden pieta (the artistic term describing “Mary holding the body of Jesus after his death”) that was carved in 1370.

Growing tension between the government and Church leads to vision for the future
Throughout these years, there was a growing tension between the government and the Church. Then one day in 1811, a notice was posted on the Franciscans’ Monastery in Münster that read: “…Now therefore I, Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, do decree that the aforementioned Franciscan Monastery at Muenster, Westphalia, be, and hereby is, dissolved; that all property of whatsoever kind appertaining thereto be forfeited to the state; and that all members thereof be expelled and dispersed.” (The Monastery became a barracks and their church became a stable and then a prison.) On January 1, 1812, Father Christopher and the other Friars were forced to leave the monastery. He returned to Telgte and served as assistant pastor at St. Clements Church (for more than 25 years) and tended to the pilgrims who visited Our Lady of Grace Chapel. Here he learned about the situation of the sick in rural areas.

What he needed was a religious nursing organization devoted to the sick poor of the rural districts with the same efficient, full-time care that other sisterhoods were giving the poor of the cities. It became his dream to care for the sick and poor of Telgte. He purchased a former leper house at Auf der Hille near Telgte - paying for it from his own savings - and worked with another former Franciscan Brother to build an orphanage. The cornerstone of the house was laid on May 4, 1844 and completed in 1845.

The foundation of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis
On July 2, 1844, in Our Lady of Grace Chapel, he officially welcomed five young women as Sisters to the Third Order, which constituted the founding of the Community of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. This group based their religious life on the rules of the Third Order of St. Francis approved by Pope Leo X in 1521. To these, Father Christopher added statutes of a more local character, as the care of the sick – poor of that territory in their own homes, as well as in hospitals. Kneeling before the wooden pieta where thousands of pilgrims had also prayed, these young women devoted their lives to the service of God and His people. Political and Church complications made for the slow evolution of the small group of Sisters.

During his life, Father Christopher continued to practice his Franciscan spirit but under very difficult political circumstances. He dreamed of nurturing the Franciscan spirit in whatever way that would be possible and even build a convent for sisters who would care for orphans, the poor, and the sick. His dream came true in spite of his distancing from it. The Congregation grew, and before his death in Telgte on June 2, 1858, at the age of 81, Father Christopher lived to see much accomplished what filled his heart with joy.

His vision continues today
Today, Father Christopher’s vision of a nursing sister has grown into a 164-year-old Congregation of Hospital Sisters serving the poor, sick, and needy throughout the world. Presently, there are 1100 Sisters in four Provinces (Germany, Poland, USA, and Japan) and one Region (India) who strive to be Christ’s healing presence and to bring this healing presence to others.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

History and Growth of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis

John Patrick Doyle 1874-1952
The history and growth of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis in the United States is closely connected with the life and work of this zealous Franciscan priest.
Born near Thules, County Tipperary, Ireland, John Patrick Doyle migrated with his parents to the united States in 1881; they settled in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating n 1897 from St. Francis College(Brooklyn,John decided to become a diocesan priest. He received his doctorate in theology in Rome, Italy and was ordained in 1901.
After several years as and assistant pastor in the Brooklyn diocese, Father Doyle was appointed professor of philosophy at St. Francis College and chaplain to the Franciscan of Brooklyn who ran the college. Two years later he became an assistant pastor again. In 1910, with his bishop's permission, Father Doyle entered the Third Order Regular at Loretto, Pennsylvania.
He soon became president of St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennhsylvania, where he reorganized the curriculum. In 1912 Father Doyle began St. Francis Seminary there for the education of diocesan and Third Regular Order priests. All the students were inspired by the holiness of his life. He was fondly known by the clergy and members of the Order as "Doctor Doyle." The friars benefited from his service as minister provincial (1924-37) and 1947-48).
When Father Doyle died on June 02,1952, hundreds of priests - many coming from distant places - attended his funeral.
QUOTE: Father Doyle liked to quote the Italian proverb "Corragio, il diavolo e morte"
("Have courage, the devil is dead").
Resource: Franciscan Saint of the day - Patrick McCloskey, OFM