Proclaiming Good News to the Poor


In 2009, a solitary Franciscan set out to serve families and individuals who struggle with abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide and capital punishment.  Most important we work for the salvation of soul and body.

Today, there are six brothers.  Three are Regular Brothers and three are Extern Brothers.

The Regular Brothers make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience and a fourth vow, to proclaim the Gospel of Life.  The Extern brothers make a solemn promise, which they renew annually, to support pro life ministry, to live a life of prayer and penance, and to observe the Rule of Penitents, given to us by Saint Francis of Assisi in 1221.

The proclamation of the Gospel of Life demands that we appreciate every man, woman and child as a gift from God, in whom God resides.

The brothers run Project Joseph, for the Archdiocese of Miami Respect Life Ministry.  We are currently in four centers where we reach out to men who are considering abortion, who are too poor and are anxious about another mouth to feed, and men who are not aware that Christ loves every human being and will not leave us to struggle alone, though at times it may seem that way.

Our brothers teach the faith to children in religious education, where we present the Bible in the manner that St. Francis of Assisi taught it to his early brothers and friends.  One of our brothers is the community questor.  He teaches at a school for students whose needs cannot be met in the local public-school system.

His small stipend goes to paying rent, utilities, groceries, gasoline, car maintenance, medical bills and unexpected expenses.  The brothers try to be truly poor, not just appear to be poor.  Like St. Francis of Assisi, we leave behind family, jobs, careers, bank accounts, inheritance, friends and everything that draws us into the secular world, instead of drawing us closer to Christ.

To date, the Regular Brothers live in a room that is on loan to them by a family member.  The situation is crowded.  In return the brothers take care of housekeeping, cooking, laundry, and other household chores.  This allows them to pay a very small monthly rent of $325.00.

We pray that God will send us house where we can welcome new candidates who wish to serve the family, the terminally ill and the immigrant poor.  It would allow us to expand our ministry as the number of brothers grows.

We invite any Catholic man between 18 and 50 years of age to talk to us.  Maybe God is calling you to be one with the poor, as was Saint Francis and to proclaim the Gospel of Life through your works, teaching, community living and life of prayer.

“Life calls out to life.”

Contact us

franciscansoflife@gmail.com

 

40 Days for Life, Transitus – Join Us!


We are entering that time of the year which we jovially refer to as “Franciscan season”. There are just so many unique events taking place, such as the feast of St. Francis (a Solemnity for the Franciscan family) preceded by the Transitus (crossing over), the commemoration of the Poverello’s entrance into Heaven; the beginning of our “little lent” on the feast of St. Michael (now feast of the Holy Archangels); the commemoration of the Franciscan saints and deceased…AND October is also Respect Life Month, which takes a very special meaning for the Franciscans of Life.

We are kicking off by supporting 40 Days for Life, in particular the Hollywood, FL chapter. We are doing so not only by making a special effort to fill in hours to support the ongoing prayer vigil, but also by promoting the event through a simple video tutorial on how to find a prayer vigil anywhere in the U.S. and how to register for volunteering. Check it out!

On the evening of Wednesday, October 3rd we celebrate the Transitus of St. Francis at the Chapel of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church in Pembroke Pines, FL, thanks to the kindness and support of the parish pastor and staff. A special thanks goes to the Charismatic Renewal prayer group that also meets on Wednesday evenings, who kindly welcomed our brother Bernardo last year.

The Transitus is a simple yet solemn ritual in which the brothers, following the historical recount by Brother Thomas of Celano, re-enact the last moments in the earthly life of the Seraphic Father and his “crossing over” to Heaven. On this occasion, the Testament of St. Francis is also read. You are welcome to join us! For more details and if you wish to confirm your attendance, you can visit

https://www.facebook.com/events/288624165071812/ 

Transitus (2014)

What else? Much more. During Respect Life Month we will participate in the Life Chain on October 7 and many other events to support and promote the work of Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami, in particular Project Joseph. Why not take a moment to find out more about this unique program to protect the unborn by serving fathers in crisis pregnancies? Visit www.projectjoseph.org and make sure to watch the short video at the end of that page! We include it here for your convenience:

Feel free to email us if you want to find out more about these events, or about our little Catholic brotherhood! We are an emerging community, joyful to obediently serve the needs of the local Church, pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and live a simple life of penance and prayer.

There are several ways to stay in contact besides directly emailing us. For example, you can subscribe to our community blog using the little box on the side of this page (see below) and you will receive new articles in your email.

How to subscribe to our blog

You can also follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/franciscansoflife , we try to post our events and share pro-life news, and we even have a group for those who want to keep in touch and inquire on our way of life.

We are also on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/franciscansoflife We have two interesting series being edited already, one on the Gospel of Life and one on our Constitutions – and many interesting videos already published. Make sure to “subscribe” and click on the “bell” to receive a notice when the new videos come up!

And if you are wondering how to support us, check out the How to Help page of our website, and feel free to read and share our Vocations material.

Thank you for walking with us as we build something beautiful for the Immaculate.

Published in: on September 24, 2018 at 10:09 PM  Leave a Comment  

Franciscans of Life in Defense of the Family


While driving down the road to Mass, I noticed a trailer park that I had not seen nor heard of before.  It sits in the center of a middle-class neighborhood.  It looked overcrowded with trailers.  There was no paved road leading into the development.  People lived in trailers, not mobile homes.  The trailers did not appear to be sturdy nor new.  They looked rather shabby.  For a moment, I saw a woman walking through the trailer park.  I did not have time to take a close look at her, which would probably have been rude.  Her clothes gave her away as a member of a low economic class.

A trailer park. (c) Caren Mack Photography

When we arrived at the church, I began to pray; but all I could think of was that trailer park and the woman. Questions began to surface in my mind.

  1. Why did people live in such a place? It’s not a safe place.  A hurricane can come through and destroy many of the old trailers in the park and hurt many more people like the woman whom I saw.
  2. Were the men and women who lived in this poverty the people who came to our emergency pregnancy centers looking for an abortion; which is contrary to what we do.
  3. How long had they lived in such a state that they had begun to take it as “normal”?

(c) Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As a human community, a social body and as a Church, no effort should be spared to help these families safeguard family values, from respect to unborn life and senior citizens who often need assistance to accomplish the tasks of daily living.  The first and most important value is the family itself.  Any attempt to alter the natural definition of family contributes to the creation of such impoverished communities.  Until we acknowledge the dignity of the family brought together through matrimony and that no other type of relationship is analogous to this divine plan, there will not exist the indispensable human act, the recognition of the world’s obligation to protect the family not redefine it.

(c) Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The promotion of the family is the first step in the process of protection.  Protection is a process.  It is not a single isolated act, legislation or moral law.  To eliminate impoverished communities such as what I describe above, Catholics must cooperate with each other and organizations to protect the definition of the family, to identify what humanity needs to maintain families in healthy environments, and activate systems within the political, industrial and ecclesial world that recognizes that these are real families living in squalid conditions.

Until the world recognizes that natural society is founded on marriage and procreation, we will continue to focus on meeting the demands of those who lobby for marriages and family structures that are inconsistent with God’s plan for humanity.  One can say that the energy, time and money involved in redefining family and parenthood has been stolen from the poor.

Special interest groups do require our attention and services.  It would be a great injustice to ignore the dignity, needs and humanity of special interest groups.  However, our outreach must be rounded, like the flame of a camp fire.  You can sit on any side of the fire and feel its warmth and use the light that such a fire gives off.  If we redefine the properties of fire and force it to fit into our definitions, those who are in search natural fire are ignored.  Attention, protection and support is usually provided to those with deep pockets.  If there is anything left of the flame, we allow those who are poor to gather around a dying flame in search of a little light and warmth.

Catholics must pay close attention to Saint James when he says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  We cannot just say that we believe in the family and its place in society.  Catholics must engage legislators, business people, and other members of the community to protect the social priority of the family.  When this happens, our eyes will be opened, and we will see those families who have been left out of the mainstream.

 

It does not take much: volunteering an hour or two a week, tutoring their children, educate the adults in the real meaning of family and provide them with some of the basic supplies needed to begin to work toward the expression of the family that was Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Our families must reflect the family of Nazareth, not through stories, paintings or statues; but by our everyday lives.

 


Is the Lord calling you to be a Franciscan of Life?

Want to learn more about us?

Visit our Vocations page!

We are in need of funds to continue our work.  If you can spare $1.00 please donate using PayPal.com or by mailing your donation to

Franciscans of Life
9461 Palm Cir South
Pembroke Pines, FL  33025

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE MOTHER OF GOD


           On the 8th of September, the Church celebrates the birth of the Virgin Mary.  Is this the day she was born?  We don’t know when she was born.  First, Mary was born under the Jewish calendar, which was overshadowed by the Roman calendar.  Throughout the centuries, the calendars in the East and West have never been synchronized.  For example, the Israeli community works from two calendars, the Jewish calendar and the Julian calendar used in the Western world.  Is it important to know when Mary was born?  No.   Mary’s birth has greater significance in Catholic and Orthodox history.

This commemoration reminds us that Jesus was born into a family.  He was an only child; but the Scriptures mention some of Mary’s relatives and others are inferred.  In the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, we’re told that Elizabeth is related to Mary.  This makes Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John the Baptist relatives of Jesus.

Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age,” (Luke 1:36).

On the return trip from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus is with neither of them.  They travel three days back to the temple, but here is what Mary says, which is so meaningful to life of Christ.  “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”  We know that Joseph was Jesus’ “foster father”, not his biological father.  In this situation, it was not necessary to announce to the world that Joseph was not a genetic father.  Mary does not lie when she says: “father.” Luke tries to drive home that Jesus was an only child, but he was not a child with a mother and no other relatives.  He grew up loving and respecting Joseph as his father. He also had uncles, aunts and cousins on Mary’s side and Joseph’s side of the family, even if these were not related by blood.

Mary was not a figure who floats over trees or makes roses grow where they’ve never grown before. These signs and wonders took place after her assumption to Heaven. The Gospel tells that she was part of a family.  She was conceived by human parents who transmitted to her their genetic map, but God spared her from Original Sin, making her The Immaculate Conception.  She’s not just Mary, the mother of Jesus and Joseph’s wife.  She is a

All things are possible, if you do whatever he tells you.

mystery.  While she is conceived like any other child, the product of love between a husband (Joachim) and his wife (Anne), she didn’t have the stain of Original Sin before conception.  Nor were the parents able to transmit Original Sin to their daughter, even if they had known what it was and how to transmit it to their offspring.

Apparently, Mary came from a large family, brothers, sisters, nephews and nieces, and uncles, aunts and cousins.  Let me remind you, that Jesus was an only child, but he grew up surrounded by family.  Being an only child, probably never mattered to him; not because he has his parent’s complete attention, as is usual in a one child family, nor because they were able to provide for him without stress.  Usually, it is easier to provide for one child.

There is one verse in Luke’s Gospel that confuses people.  “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.” (Luke 8:20).  Jesus was born into a very real family, often referred to as a clan.  The members of the clan were your brothers and sisters.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalen.” (John Image result for the crucifixion of Jesus19:25).  We know that one Mary was from Magdala.  The first Mary was his mother; but who is this other Mary who was not afraid to be seen at the execution of her Lord?  The third Mary is the wife of Cleophas.  There are two traditions here.  Both point the fact that Jesus and Mary were important parts of their family.

Eusebius of Caesarea citing Hegesippus records that “Cleophas was a brother of Joseph,” which would make this Mary the Blessed Mother’s Sister-in-law.  Jesus’ aunt by marriage and by adoption.

Papias (Apostolic father of the Church, 70-163AD) identifies this “Mary” as the sister of Mary, mother of Jesus, and thus as the maternal aunt of Jesus.)  If this is correct, she is the mother of James the “Brother” of the Lord”, Simon, Judas (identified as Jude the Apostle), and Joseph (Joses). Some of the apostles were Mary’s nephews and Jesus’ cousins.  These may well be the brothers who were waiting for Jesus.  As we can see, James, “the brother of the Lord”, was not a sibling.  He was a cousin. Luke writes, “Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’”

The nativity of Mary is important because it confirms two Christian beliefs.  The first, Jesus is truly human.  He had a family who was close to him.  When we say the Man-God, we are correct.  He is the Lord of every man and woman who has ever lived and will live.  He was also part of a clan that was closely knitted to each other.

Mary was conceived without Original Sin.  During the Middle Ages, the great philosopher, John Duns Scotus, argued that God could preserve Mary from Original Sin.  It was appropriate that he do so.  So, he did it.  His words were used at the decree of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, “at the first moment of Her conception, Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ.,” (Pope Pius IX, 1854).

Through the merits of the cross, Mary was not only the biological mother of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity (God), but she was also the spiritual mother of the Body of Christ her son.  At the Annunciation 30 the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, when she questions how is this possible, since she’s still a virgin, “the angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God.”’   Mary becomes the mother of the human family of Christ, the apostles and of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church.

Her nativity is important to us.  The more we understand Jesus human and divine origins, the closer we get to Man-God who is the Lord of Lords.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on September 7, 2018 at 11:06 PM  Comments (2)  

Brother Jay Learns Meekness and Firmness from Caring Healthcare Professionals


OK!  So where has Brother Jay been since March?  I was on dialysis for three months.  But my kidney function improved.  It’s not perfect, but it works.  Doctor says I may need dialysis in the future, but not for now.

I miss the people in the dialysis center.  You get the same people scheduled at the same time, after a while you become family.  The patients were very nice.Male Doctor Holding Clipboard

What can I say about the staff?  Nurses, technicians, doctors and administration were the most delightfully people I Dialysis device with rotating pumps.have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Best of all, they knew what they were doing, and everyone walked by and greeted you.  For me, it was an example of Christian service.

Let’s stop and think how often we lose our patience with a spouse, a child, an older parent, or a disabled family member.  Do we remember that Mary, the Mother of the Lord, did a charitable act going to Elizabeth, even though she was pregnant too?  Read the Magnificat in Luke’s Gospel.  Mary begins saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”  She doesn’t begin the conversation telling Elizabeth how tired she was.  Riding on camels and donkeys, up to the highlands of Palestine was not an easy trip.  Then there was always the fear of highway robbers.  We never hear Mary complain.  However, let us not confuse meekness with weakness.

Going back to the dialysis center, the staff was very meek and gentle, but when they had to be demanding with the patients, they could be very straightforward, without being rude or authoritarian.  They often gave the patient a choice between A and B, explaining the risks involved in both choices.  They stepped back and let you discern what you wanted to do.  Every choice had to be explained.  You couldn’t choose A because it sounded better than B.  You were expected to explain why you believed A was better than B for you.

Let’s go back to the Mother of the Lord.  When Jesus was 12-years old, he, Mary and Joseph made a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  On the third day of the return trip, Joseph and Mary realize that Jesus was not with them.  They retrace their travels back to Jerusalem, hoping to find him.  When they find him, something very interesting happened.

It is not Joseph who asks Jesus to explain himself, which would have been his right as the patriarch of the Holy Family.  It was his mother who spoke up.  This was at a time in Jewish history when women didn’t speak before their husbands.  They certainly could not walk freely around the temple.  Certain parts were off limits to women.

Mary does not concern herself with man-made laws.  She was a mother, concerned for her son.  When she finds him, her dialogue with him is not as poetic as her dialogue with Elizabeth.  She said, “Why have you done this to us?  Don’t you know that your father and I have been looking for you for three days?”

Mary is very firm with her son.  She wants an explanation; but she does not raise her voice or humiliate Jesus to release their anxiety or vent their anger.  She simply laid out the facts.  When Jesus responded, she didn’t quite understand his response.  “Don’t you know that I am about my Father’s work?”  Then he went and was obedient unto them.”

Granted, we’re not all are Mary and Joseph and not every child is Jesus, but the lesson remains applicable.  A truly caring person, whether it’s a parent or a nurse, knoRelated imagews the difference between being clear and firm, and being punitive and unwilling to listen to the other person.

In both scenarios, Mary models for us what I call “grace filled behavior.”  She doesn’t complain about her trip from Nazareth to Elizabeth’s.  She acknowledges that all the good that has surrounded her during her entire life, comes from God.  She doesn’t assault her son with questions and whining about the fear they experienced.  This would be very typical of us.  She asks him what she wants to know.  When he answers, she acknowledges that it’s a reasonable response and says nothing more.  She treasures these things in her heart.

The people that I met at the dialysis center, often reminded me of Mary.  I took every opportunity to let them know.  Most, even the Catholics, don’t connect the dots between the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and their lives today.  Humanity does not change as quickly as technology and fashions do.

When Mary plays a role in our lives, meaning that she’s not just a holy woman whom we crown every year in May and place her in a manger at Christmas, we experience how real she is in our lives.  She is alive in body and soul, always near us, hoping that we call on her to teach us meekness and firmness or strength, without the shouting, insults, complaining, and punishment that can often do incredible damage to a relationship between two people.

Related image

 

Let the Children Come


So, the United States allegedly now has more than 2,000 children at different facilities, where they remain separated from their families.  What are Christians to think about this situation?

There is a moral question that must be answered before proceeding to what the law allows and does not allow.  As Catholics we should always “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to him.”

The Law

          The first thing that belongs to God is the law. If we refer to Thomas More and John Fisher, who publicly stated that they were loyal servants of the King, but God’s first and Henry VIII had both executed.

            Scripture proves to us that one cannot violate God’s laws to obey those of the State when they’re in conflict.  This does not mean that we go out and put his or head on the chopping block.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  If the act or forcefully separating a child from his parent or other relative, is not a neutral act.  We’re talking about separating children from parents who can care for them.   As to those who execute the separation, we have no right to judge as good or evil, until they have been examined by a jury and judge.

The Franciscans of Life first seek to fulfill and proclaim God’s laws concerning human life concerning what the Gospel of Life has to say about life outside the womb.  It is equally sacred, has human rights, and, freedom to make choices, when we reach an age where we can reason for ourselves.  Children have a right to be part of their family if it’s safe.  Parents who have a proven track record of caring for their children, have a God-given right to care for and raise their children.

Daniel Soñé Photography

Children are a gift from God to a man and a woman.  Parenting is often the humanizing trigger in life of the parent.  If we take away from man that which makes him more human we create dangerous people

God gives us civil leaders to guide us in the fulfillment of his commands.  When those civil leaders are out of sync with revealed moral law, citizens with a well-formed moral conscience have the right and duty to insist that the government exercise restraint and good will.

Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that God reveals his law through prophets and their disciples.  Christians know that God revealed his will for humanity through his son, Jesus Christ as well.  He also made use of many great men and women through the centuries.

Good citizenship calls for us to exercise good moral judgment, before considering the law of the State.  God’s law always sets the path that human law must follow.  We must be ready to inform our leaders when they lose sight of the path.  Very often it’s because our leaders do not know God’s position on certain subject.

Rebelling won’t help get these kids back to Mom and Dad, reasonable dialogue and the desire on both parties to find the right path, not outdo each other will.  “Let the children come to me,” says the New Testament.  Muslim, Jew or Christian children first contact with God is through the lessons on justice, peace, and compassion they learn from through their parents.  Our first encounter with God should always be through our parents and family, not in a holding tents.

Undocumented migrant children detained and separated from their parents, waiting to be reunited. Reuters

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 7:43 PM  Comments (1)  

Human Trafficking in Our Community


A Respect Life Event

You Are Invited!

For reservations, please see the number in the flyer. There is also a Facebook page.

Please feel free to share this event ( JPEG, PDF, link 1, link 2, link 3).

[Click to Zoom]

Admission ticket will benefit the charitable works of the North Broward (Margate) Pregnancy Help Center, where pregnant mothers and fathers receive FREE support, education, and assistance.

Published in: on May 4, 2018 at 4:38 PM  Leave a Comment  

I’M STILL HERE . . . BLAME IT ON GRACE


All things are possible, if you do whatever he tells you.

I’m finally back to work.  I’m starting off slowly, as I gain my strength.   Being healed is one thing.  Recovery is something else.  Up to today I can get in and out of bed without assistance, dress myself, wash dishes and cook dinner all while in a wheelchair.  Brothers Chris and Bernie were are always attentive to my needs, especially Brother Bernie.  I don’t know how the man does it.  He teaches college, religious education and takes communion to the sick at the local hospital.  On top of that, he has prayer commitments and household chores.  However, he always has time to give me hand when I’m stuck.  I get stuck quite easily and sometimes its comical.

One day I was coming out of the cell, in the wheelchair.  As I left the cell, I turned my chair around, 180 0.  I had never noticed the narrowness of the corridor outside to the cell.  Needles to say, I spent almost 15 minutes trying to turn myself around to go in the right direction and I always ended up facing either the bathroom door or the cell door.  Apparently, I crashed into the walls and door so much that it attracted attention and another brother had to rescue me or I would still be swiveling from side to side in a narrow corridor.

Yesterday, we had our weekly community meeting.  The discussion centered on putting everything in the hands of Christ and his mother.  As we took turns talking, one of the brothers referred to something interesting that happened to me as I was crashing to my death.  Brother said, “If that had been me, I would have been asking God ‘Where are you?’ “Or I would be concerned with what’s happening.  My blood pressure was crashing, my kidneys stops working.  I stopped breathing and had to be intubated.

Now comes the part that interested me.  Brother said that I had not said a word from the time they rolled me out of the emergency room into ICU.  As I was losing air I said, “Pray with me.” He says that I could hardly be understood.  He asked me if I wanted to pray the Rosary and I nodded “no”.  He then asked me if Related imageI wanted to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and I nodded “yes”.  We started to pray the chaplet.  Brother remembers that my voice faded out and the doctor and nurses moved in with all kinds of gadgets to assist my breathing.  Nothing worked.  It was decided to put a respiratory tube down my throat.  If that didn’t work the next step would be to let me go.  The doctors and my family had done everything humanly possible to keep me alive.  They followed Pope John Paul’s example to the tiniest detail.  A tracheotomy would have been an extraordinary measure, without any guarantee that it would work.

As Brother was sharing what he saw and what we did in ICU, he and the other brothers expressed amazement that I had not called out to the doctor for help.  I don’t remember any of this.  But apparently, I never panicked as my organs were shutting down and allegedly I had a look of peace.  While I was in a coma, I remember being in a room with other deceased people.  There was only one way out and it was guarded.  I saw dark shadows come toward me.  I my state of mind I believed that I had died, and these were demons casting lures for my soul.  As they got closer I began to pray, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”  I had great confidence that no evil could touch me under the care of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.  As I prayed the second part of the Ave Maria, I thought to myself, “Try to get past her.”  Her being the Immaculate.

I remember looking toward the Blessed Mother, who stood quietly at my feet. I think she was praying; but I am not sure.  Coming from the same direction that the Immaculate had come, came St. Teresa of Calcutta.  At first, I made sure that it was her and not an evil spirit trying to trick me.  When I looked into her eyes, I recognized the depth of her love.  Which was the case when she was alive.  Her eyes always spoke of love.  I don’t remember if I said it or I thought it.  The words that came out of my mouth were, “Mother Teresa, you picked up the homeless and the dying from the streets and gave them a home where they could meet God as human beings, not animals.”

 

With that, she touched me.  She touched along the sides of my kidney.  She placed her frail old hands on my chest and finally, she signaled that I could leave.  But she didn’t speak, neither did the Immaculate.  All the communication took place without words.  I can’t explain this.

I DON’T claim this to be miracle or and end of life experience; but I’m not sure that it was a dream either.  After more than two weeks, I opened my eyes and tried to recognize everyone standing around me.  I saw my brothers and the medical team.  I couldn’t speak clearly, so I communicated with my eyes and my hand that I wanted the brothers to call my friend, Father Jeff.  When arrived he told me that he has already given me all the sacraments that I needed for a Christian death.  But I wanted to tell him about the Immaculate and St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Given that a breathing tube has just been pulled out of my mouth, I could only make sounds.  We talked and finally he gave me his blessing.

If we fast forward to last night, one of the brothers said to me.  “The only thing that you did was to pray.  Everything else was the work of  Grace.”  I sincerely believe this.  If we place our lives in the hands of the Immaculate at the foot of the altar, she will always command the angels and saints to fulfill God’s will for us.  But she will never leave us.  She will find a way to make us “presentable” before her son.  But we must be willing to be John, the Beloved Disciple who stood by her at the foot of the cross and embraced her as MOTHER.

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 3:14 PM  Comments (7)  

Something Missing


Let me wish all our readers a Happy and Blessed Easter season.  Moving right along, I have heard several sermons and talks on the meaning of the Resurrection of the Lord, but something has been missing.  I believe that I may have figured out what has been missing for me.  One of the several gospels read on Easter Sunday includes the meeting of Mary Magdalen and Jesus in the garden and the race to see the tomb with their own eyes by Peter and John.  But there are some key details in John’s gospel that cannot be ignored, especially these days when people often believe that the Resurrection was a spiritual event rather than a truly physical rising from the dead.

Let us examine facts handed down to us by those who saw.  It’s interesting, if someone delivers a lecture on the structure of the atom or the source of human chromosomes, we accept as fact, what someone closer to the subject says even when their statements are theories that have yet to be Image result for empty tombobserved through human experience.  This is not the case of John’s resurrection narrative.  Every statement was made by an eye witness, followed by many other witnesses.

When Mary Magdalen peers into the tomb, there is no corpse.  In the garden, she encountered a man whom she believed to be the caretaker and asked him where they had taken Jesus’ body.  But when the man responds, Mary’s eyes are opened, and she recognizes Jesus Christ.  She runs to the apostles and delivers the Good News, “I have seen . . .”   She does not describe Christ to be any different from before he was crucified, except for his wounds.

John tells us that Peter and the Beloved Disciple ran to the tomb, with the beloved disciple arriving first, because he was younger and faster. He does not enter the tomb until Peter arrives.  In this simple act of respect, John points to the Image result for empty tombprimacy of Peter, an honor never applied to any other apostle.  Peter is always first.

Both men probably went to the tomb with mixed feelings.  The body could have been stolen or Jesus was truly alive.

Here we run into small but crucial details. Peter enters the tomb.  Apparently, John stood closer to the exit.  It is he who reports that the shroud laid neatly on the slab where Jesus’ body rested.  But there was another important detail.  The veil used to cover the face of the deceased was not with the shroud.

As John looks around, he sees the veil on another shelf, neatly folded.  This begs the question, since when do grave robbers tidy up after they snatch a corpse?  Robbers would have probably wrapped the body in the shroud to hide the identity of deceased, if they ran into anyone; but this is not what happened.  The tomb was left in perfect order.Image result for empty tomb

The evangelists testify that Jesus appeared before them in the upper room, but came through the wall, not an open door.  If this point stood alone, one could consider the Resurrection a spiritual event or even a symbolic story to drive home the point that Jesus is alive.  But what happens after these sudden appearances of Jesus among the disciples and the travelers to Emmaus leave no doubt that they saw a physical Jesus, with a body scarred by the wounds of the cross.

In one narrative Jesus invites Thomas to place his hands inside the wounds.  On another occasion, Jesus asks the apostles for something to eat.  Spirits don’t eat.  They have to nutritional requirements.

The two travelers on their way to Emmaus reported that they had met a MAN.  He walked with them and spoke to them.  But they did not recognize him until be breaking of the bread.  It is at this point in the meal when the words of consecration are spoken.  “This is my body . . . This is the cup of my blood.”

First, those words had been spoken only by Jesus.  The Apostles were present at the Last Supper, but we are not told that there were strangers in the room with them.  Only the apostles and Jesus knew those words.  But here was a man who appeared to be a stranger repeating those words at the precise moment during the meal where Jesus first said these words, at the breaking of the bread.

The travelers then realized that this was truly Jesus who walked and talked to them as he explained the scriptures and then disappear.  This was not a spirit, but a real man of flesh and blood.  Yet, he could disappear in an instant.  Somehow, some way, this body had been stripped of human limitations.  He no longer needed to walk long distances, knock on the door or eat.  These narratives were handed down to the first-generation Christians by people who had seen Jesus alive, Matthew, John, Peter and by people who trusted the credibility of the eye witnesses.

There are too many details to include in one sermon, but some of the more salient ones could have helped those who still have doubts about the historical reality that was the Resurrection.  Unfortunately, too many preachers have failed to mention the greatest truth of all.  Jesus rose from the dead, was seen by others to whom he chose to reveal himself and there are details in the Gospels and other first century writings that are very important, such as the orderly tomb, and the invitation to Thomas to put his finger into the pierced hand of Jesus.

We must always remember that Christ died and rose for our benefit, to remove the shackles of Adam’s sin and open the gates of heaven for the just. This time of year, catechists, preachers and leaders must always remember to emphatically place the risen Christ in human history.  This single fact changed the course of world history.  People forget these things.   If they are not spelled out during Easter.  There will be something missing in the message.

 

Published in: on April 7, 2018 at 1:34 PM  Comments (2)  

As Lent Continues…


We are now in the fourth week of Lent. The year seems to be moving fast, as the season of joy quickly made room for the season of penance and atonement.

As you know, this has been a difficult time for our community, as our Superior was hospitalized in critical condition and it appeared that he was at the end of his earthly journey. He may wish to describe his journey later on. As a bystander, I can mention that he was unexpectedly sick and that his condition at the ER became critical. Our good friend Fr. Jeff, Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe parish, came in as quick as possible to anoint Brother Jay.

He was in an induced coma and a ventilator for two weeks, surrounded by the love and prayers of his community, his family, friends, and benefactors. Friends from across the globe joined in prayer. The amount of support he received was overwhelming, and a true blessing for those of us who still need Brother Jay in our formation and daily life as a mentor, guardian, and even “just” as a friend.

While at the hospital he received the best care but we also witnessed the ongoing struggle between two mindsets, one fed by the Culture of Death that focuses on giving up, taking shortcuts, and ultimately trying to “focus on the quality of life” (that is to say, slowly push over the edge the person who is chronically or terminally ill), the other one fed by the Gospel of Life, manifested by many who expressed hope and even faith in the improvement and recovery of Br. Jay, if it be God’s will.

To make a long story short, Brother Jay recuperated slowly, was eventually transferred to an acute rehab center where he met the kindest people but also was under a strict schedule that involved early rising, hours of physical and occupational therapy, and lights off at midnight. Brother Jay went into induced coma praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and, ever since waking up and having the ventilator removed, resumed as much as possible his prayer life. This was a powerful example for us his brothers and disciples, and also for those who take care of patients who are chronically or terminally ill.

By the grace of God he completed his rehab program faster than anyone could have predicted, and was discharged to the motherhouse. His journey is far from over, and his medical condition remains, as always, delicate, therefore we do appreciate your prayers and, if possible, even a bit of your support. However if “the flesh is weak”, “the spirit is willing”. Tonight we gathered again to “look back” at the last month or so and make plans to “move forward” in accordance with our charism. We have many ongoing projects and we have not slowed down our Lenten penance one bit.

We would like to take this opportunity to promote an upcoming Respect Life Ministry event. As you know, the Franciscans of Life work closely with Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami, particularly through our joint venture, Project Joseph, still led by our Superior. And by the way, we would like to acknowledge the support received by the Knights of Columbus towards promoting and expanding Project Joseph. This is very motivating. We are especially grateful for the dedication shown by the Sir Knight Ed Suazo, who was trained and installed as Project Joseph mentor at the South Dade Pregnancy Help Center near FIU.

We would also like to acknowledge that we have been invited by Ave Maria University for their upcoming Pro Life Workshop to give a talk on pro-life ministry to men. Given the recovery of our Superior we are not sure we will be able to attend but we strongly encourage you to support this event. It is worth noting that one of the conference organizers is an FIU Campus Ministry alumni with an outstanding record of dedication for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

We cannot conclude without mentioning that our prayers have been and will continue to reach out to those affected by the nearby tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which occurred on the very day when the Universal Church gathers to receive the ashes as a sign of penance for the sins of the world and the remembrance that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return” and we are therefore to “repent and believe in the Gospel”, which is the only way to eternal life.

One of the victims was a CCD teacher at a nearby parish known to some in the CCD staff at St. Max, while another one was a parishioner of Nativity Catholic Church and one of our brothers was able to attend his funeral, one among a large crowd including survivors from the event, veterans from the military (as the victim was a veteran himself) and also the Governor and H.E. the Archbishop. We pray to the Almighty for the eternal rest of the souls of the victims and for the healing and consolation of those affected directly or indirectly by this tragic event.

(c) Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel

We also and especially pray for the conversion and healing of the perpetrator, who has been demonized by the media, forsaken by many (his natural parents have passed away), and now faces the inhumanity of the death penalty.

Last, we pray for all those who have made use of this tragic event – many in good faith! – to further or fuel their political agendas through the media (including the social media outlets) and even through social activism. Let us never forget that (a) there are much larger and deeper roots to this evil that would become visible if we took at step back and engaged in some introspection, and (b) that a society that has forsaken all faith in the true God, has embraced a relativistic concept of good and evil, and promotes, as it were, in a bipartisan effort, the Culture of Death, has entirely lost its moral and ethical compass, and therefore will never be able to bring about, by mere legislative changes, peace and social justice as understood and taught by the Catholic Church.

This Lent, let us reflect on the absolute, unconditional dignity of human life, and on the love shown to sinners and saints by God who dwelt among us, suffered with us, and died for us, only to rise and proclaim that there is no such thing as death for those who follow the Way, in the footsteps of a King whose homeland is not in or of this world.

Published in: on March 12, 2018 at 11:43 PM  Comments (1)