The Franciscans of Life wish all our family, friends, and benefactors all the blessings that the Easter Season brings. May the mother of the Risen Lord walk with us and increase in us the desire to atone for our sins and those who do not do penance and may she guide us to greater virtue so that we live with the Risen Christ through eternity.
Brother Bernardo’s Pizza Rush
Most of the brothers remained in Florida for Holy Week. Brother Bernardo and I flew to Virginia where we spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and my granddaughter, Katherine Marie Therese, who turned six-months during Holy Week. We also had a fantastic opportunity to surprise Brother Bernardo, whose birthday it was on April 13, Holy Thursday.
Because it was the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, we kept the celebration simple and quiet. Brother Bernardo’s favorite food is pizza. Brother Jay’s daughter made sure that he was not disappointed. She served him about nine bagel pizzas for breakfast, which he devoured. For lunch, it was an individual DiGiorno pizza with rising crust. In the evening, he was treated to not one, but two large pizzas with his favorite toppings and a musical card from Brother Jay’s family.
Brother Bernardo has voluntarily stepped up to serve as Brother Superior’s caretaker and health monitor. He can tell when Brother Superior’s diabetes is too low or too high by looking at him and quickly dispenses the correct amount of insulin. He installed a railing on Father Superior’s bed after the superior fell twice during the night. Brother Superior’s vision is failing and everyday his legs grow weaker. He moves from a wheelchair, to a walker that Brother Bernardo purchased at a White Elephant Sale, to a cane with a cuff around the forearm. When Brother Jay must go anywhere, Brother Bernardo drives him and his medical equipment in the community’s van. This allows Brother Jay to run Project Joseph at the Archdiocesan level, give talks, teach religious education and work on his book.
None of this love and support has gone unnoticed by Brother Jay’s family. Because Brother Bernardo has no nieces or nephews and has never been married, he does not have frequent interactions with infants. Brother Jay’s granddaughter, who just turned six-months on the 15th of April, love Brother Bernardo. She breaks into a smile and reaches out to him as he approaches. We won’t mention that Brother Bernardo is quite attached to Katherine. He holds her, feeds her, rocks her to sleep and has even taken her on a short walk in her stroller.
We have many good reasons for being forever grateful to Brother Bernardo. The least we could do was fly him to visit his beloved Katherine, feed him pizza for an entire day and formally incorporate him into the family. Brother Jay’s family has adopted him.
We pray for Brother Bernardo, who is still in formation. We ask the Immaculate, if it is her Son’s will, to walk with him to the end of his formation period, when he will make perpetual vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and fidelity to the Gospel of Life.
Prayers for Brother Leo
Our brother Leo has had health problems during most of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017. He was unable to participate in the community’s Easter meal, because he is too ill to walk. He’s under the care of
an excellent physician and is properly cared for at home. We pray that he will be up and running soon. Brother Leo is one of those special souls who has a natural gift to bring peace, comfort and hope to the terminally ill and their families. He has served in hospice ministry for more than a decade. It’s an emotionally draining ministry.
Brother is a registered nurse and is also trained in Christian spirituality. He brings medical and spiritual support to the bedside. His greatest gift is listening. Brother is always willing to listen to the concerns, fears and hope of the dying and their families. His quiet and gentle manner communicates the Lord’s peace to people in terminal situations. He also provides guidance when moral questions such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, and extraordinary means of life support arise.
Please join our prayer to the Immaculate that she will intercede for her son and our brother, Brother Leo, so that he can return to bring Christ’s comfort to those who are dying, their families and their healthcare providers. Losing a patient is never easy for a doctor or nurse who is truly committed to preserving and respecting life from conception to natural death.
Project Joseph, Up and Running
On the 29th of April, we will have a workshop for all who volunteer to mentor our dads in crisis pregnancies. We will also welcome and begin training new volunteers who wish to serve fathers who are struggling with unexpected and often unwanted pregnancies. The brother bring light where there is darkness. They provide education to help the dads become better dads.
They also provide material assistance to poor moms and dads who come to our pregnancy centers. This material assistance goes from things as simple, but important, as disposable diapers to cribs, stroller and every other contraption that modern parents need to keep their babies safe and occupied. Don’t ask me what those contraptions are called, because I don’t know. Lately, I have begun to feel very old when a five-year old helps me open a childproof bottle of pills. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? It’s supposed to be childproof but it takes a first-grader to help a 65-year old with several graduate degrees open a vial of pills. Ugh, I’m aging faster than I thought!
The Franciscans of Life don’t do much marketing for vocations, but I think it’s time that we invite men between 18 and 50 years of age to think about a life detached from the material cares of the world, totally dependent on God’s Divine Providence to support you and guide you, and a life attached to the Immaculate who always leads us to Christ in the Sacred Host for spiritual nutrition and contemplation. The brotherhood is poor. Every brother engages in some kind of part-time job over and beyond our apostolic commitments to eat and pay utilities, rent, food, healthcare. We own nothing. Like our father, St. Francis, we share all things in common and some things we simply don’t need; therefore, we don’t have them.
Our life of prayer is very rich. The brothers engage in the ancient monastic tradition of praying the Divine Office five-times a day, quiet prayer and adoration, spiritual reading, mass, and service to the voiceless.
I promise you that we are very tired, but very happy building something beautiful for the Immaculate. Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, we hope to present Christ a holy city where men, women and children live, work, study, play and sing confident that Christ is alive and very close. This is not a physical city, but a spiritual city of people open to God’s embrace.
Single men between 18 and 50 are invited to come and discern if this is where they can best serve Christ, living and being one with, the voiceless and doing penance for those who have not entrusted themselves to God’s forgiveness and mercy.