Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Franciscan Artist

Chapter 5. The manner of working

The friars to whom God has given the grace of working should work in a
spirit of faith and devotion and avoid idleness, which is the enemy of
the soul, without however extinguishing the spirit of prayer and
devotion, to which every temporal consideration must be subordinate.  As
wages for their labour they may accept anything necessary for their
temporal needs, for themselves or their brethren, except money in any
form.  And they should accept it humbly as is expected of those who
serve God and strive after the highest poverty. (Rule of 1223, OFM)

Quite a few years ago, I was discerning if I had a vocation, a calling to become a Franciscan Friar.  I joined the formation program of the Friars of Holy Name Province, OFM.  One of my fellow postulants was David Haack; a very nice fellow, and a very talented artist.  Half way through our novitiate year, I felt that the Holy Spirit was calling me elsewhere, and I left the formation program.  David went on to become a professed Brother in the Order.

Up until recently he was involved in art education at St. Bonaventure University.  He has since retired, but as reported in Holy Name Province's e-newsletter, he found retirement somewhat boring.  So he founded Haack Studiolo, a place where he can create and sell works of art; often with a Franciscan theme.  May his efforts be successful and fulfilling!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

An Interview With The CEO Of Canada's Salt & Light Network

The Jesuit magazine, America, has a very interesting interview posted on their website, with Basilian Father Thomas Rosica, who among other responsibilities is the CEO of the Canadian Catholic television network, Salt & Light..  The network has become something of a media power house, with some of it's programming appearing not only in Canada, but in other countries as well.

Several points I took away firm the interview was that for the New Evangelization to succeed, Catholic communications has to play a role in it.  Dioceses need to invest more in their media outlets, not reduce.  That the Church needs to be smarter in using social media, making it way to connect people with substantive content; which will engage their audience both in the head and the heart.  It is a very thought provoking interview.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Syrian Civil War Strikes Franciscan Friary

Vatican Radio News has reported that a Franciscan monastery in a Syrian village near the Turkish border was struck by a missile.  The building, which belongs to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, was severely damaged.  Fortunately, the friar occupying the building was only slightly injured.  The report goes on to mention other experiences of the Franciscan friars in the Syrian war zone. 

Sadly, the war tragedies experienced by Middle Eastern Christians, especially in Syria and Iraq, appear to be under reported by the major news agencies.  These stories have been crowded out by the series of fresh tragedies that have been occurring in our sad, wounded world.  We, who call ourselves Franciscans, must not forget our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ; keep them in our prayers, and come to their aid. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Such Faith In Churches"

"And the Lord gave me such faith in churches that I would simply pray and speak in this way: 'We adore You, Lord Jesus Christ, in all Your churches throughout the world, and we bless You, for through Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.'"  (The Testament of St. Francis of Assisi)

My wife and I have recently moved to Beverly, MA, into a very nice apartment complex.  I have recently been able to start using the MBTA commuter train to get into Boston for my job.  The train goes through the center of Beverly, and from my seat, I can see the steeple of St. Mary's, Star of the Sea.  When I catch sight of the steeple, I recite the above prayer that came to us from St. Francis of Assisi. 

Churches were important for Francis; for him, I think, they were a sacred space, where one could encounter God.  It was the place where the members of the Body of Christ, the community of believers gathered.  IT was were the Eucharistic Presence was reserved.  And it broke Francis' heart to see a church in disrepair, he would immediately set to work fixing it.  He was known to sweep out the interior of churches which had become dingy from neglect.  And, of course, he would spend many hours in a church, in deep prayer.

A church is more than just a building, it is a place were Christians gather, to encounter Christ in Word and Sacrament.  To take strength and inspiration from being part of a visible of community of believers.  It is where we experience all the moments of life; the baptism of an infant, the joining of a man and woman in marriage, and the remembering of a deceased person's life.

May every church we see house a community of the faithful; who are alive in the Spirit, and ready to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

First Communion at St. John's - 2014

Today I assisted at a Mass during which 33 young children recieved their First Communion.  The church was packed with families, all dressed up and in a celebratory mood.  The children all looked adorable; the girls in their white dresses, the boys in their dark suits, though one or two were in white suits.

The liturgy went well and was very moving.  The Gospel reading I proclaimed, was from Luke, the Emmaus story, where the disciples recognized the Risen Jesus, only when he blessed and broke the bread.  It is with eyes of faith that we recognize Jesus in the Bread and Wine; the Body and Blood we receive.  At the time of Communion, we need to be fully present to the moment, truly aware of whom we are receiving.  And when I distribute Communion, I see in most of the people who come forward, that awareness that something wonderful is about to happen!  And I smile!

I pray that those young children will grow in their awareness of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist, His Presence within their hearts, and around them.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

First Easter for the Beverly Catholic Collaborative

The Beverly Catholic Collaborative has celebrated it's first Sacred Tridiuum!  Each member parish hosted a service; St. John the Evangelist hosted the Holy Thursday's Lord's Supper; St. Margaret's hosted Good Friday services; and St. Mary, Star of the Sea, hosted the Easter Vigil.  All the services went very well and were very moving!  Especially the Easter Vigil, where we witnessed five individuals be baptized into the faith.

For Easter Sunday, the three parishes distributed little plastic Easter eggs to the little children.  It was fun watching the little tykes run up the main aisle of St. John's, to receive their egg!

Whether we are going through good times or difficult ones; the dawn of Easter provides one with joy and with hope!

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Second Sunday of Lent 2014 Homily

Genesis 12: 1-4a
Timothy 1: 8b-10
Matthew 17: 1-9

The term “multitasking,” has been a part of the recent popular lexicon in our society.  Many believe that with the improvement in computer technologies, we can do several tasks at the same time.  Now I know someone who does a lot of different things on their laptop; however, when I address that person with a question or statement, there is a 15 to 20 second delay before I get a response.  I think that many of us are finding that, yes, we can do a lot more, but our concentration is being fractured.  And we are not as present to others as we should be.  And this is not exactly a new phenomenon; human beings have always had to deal with having too many things on our mind.  We sometimes are always thinking about other things in the future, rather than being present in the moment.

Let us look at today’s Gospel.  We heard how Jesus took, Peter, James, and John, his first disciples, up a high mountain; and there revealed himself to them as the Messiah, the Son of God.  The imagery Matthew the evangelist uses in describing what happened probably does not do justice to awesomeness of the event.  And how does Peter respond to the glory he is witnessing?  He is thinking about camping!  “Lord, let me set up some tents for you and your friends, sit down, put up your feet, and stay awhile!”  Peter was not being present to the moment, was not being mindful of what was happening; he was not being fully aware of the glory that was before him.  It took the Father delivering a verbal head slap to make them pay attention:  “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him!”

We all can sometimes let the normal daily cares, anxieties, worries of life get in the way of our being aware of God’s presence in our world, within ourselves.  Even here, as we gather together for this most perfect moment of prayer; we can let ourselves get distracted, thinking about recent tweets, planning dinners, deciding which sports we are going to watch, instead of focusing on what is happening here, right now  Because at this altar will occur an event just as important as what happened on that mountain.  Soon, ordinary bread and wine will be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ!  How awesome is that? And soon we will receive Him in Holy Communion!  Are we aware of that?  Are we allowing ourselves to experience the power of what is happening here and now?

Buddhists describe us humans as having what they call “monkey minds,” skittering from one thought to another; never being still, never being present to the moment.  It takes discipline, it takes practice to quiet our hearts and minds, and let God speak to us, to experience His Presence.  On our own, it is difficult to succeed in this, which is why the Father gives us the grace through Christ Jesus; so that we will be open to receive His love and peace.  Like Abram, who was open to the Lord’s word, and was willing to set out on a journey into unknown lands; let us be receptive the God’s love and guidance, and set off again on our own journeys to the Father’s house, to that promised land which is the Kingdom of God.