MEN 25+ IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF MIAMI: COME, LEARN ABOUT PROJECT JOSEPH AND HOW TO HELP MEN IN CRISIS PREGNANCY.
To learn more visit www.projectjoseph.org
Many people look at St. Francis of Assisi as someone to be admired, but too difficult to follow. We often hear, “St. Francis was a saint; I’m not.” That’s the point. St. Francis was not born a saint. He grew physically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually. He became a saint through his efforts and the help of Grace.
Today, the Franciscans of Life seek only one thing. As the psalmist said, “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the Lord’s beauty, to visit his temple,” (Psalm 27:4).
We’re a brotherhood of married (Extern Brothers) and celibate men (Regular Brothers) that seeks to recover the original way of life of the early Franciscan family, both the friars and the secular penitents.
Regular Brothers vow obedience, poverty, and chastity. We live in a community house. We are consecrated to the Immaculate and we make a fourth vow, to proclaim the Gospel of Life. Regular Brothers comes from the Latin “regula,” those who live in brotherhood guided by a rule of life.
We consecrate ourselves to live in the “house of the Lord” all the days of our lives. Every brother crucifies himself next to Christ calling out to his Redeemer, “Remember me . . . “(Luke 23:42).
Ancient rabbis taught that, after the coming of the Messiah, all sacrifices would cease except the Todah (the perfect sacrifice of thanksgiving), which would never cease to be offered throughout all eternity. The sacrifice of the cross is the Todah. Christ’s blood can roll backwards to the first sinner and forward to the last.
“You cannot glory; that, however, in which we may glory is in our infirmities, and in bearing daily the holy cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Admonitions V, St. Francis of Assisi).
Like the “Good Thief”, St. Dismas, every Regular Brother entrusts his eternal life to the perfect sacrifice offered by Christ yesterday, today and tomorrow. The brother consecrates himself to live the Gospel living the Rule that St. Francis gave the Brothers and Sisters of Penance as our Constitutions explain it for us.
We strive to live the Gospel in an intense life of prayer, penance, and poverty. We freely exercise our ministry to the voiceless, paying special attention to the preborn child and his family, the chronically and terminally ill and their families and caregivers, and the immigrant poor. (Constitutions, Part II, Chap one, Parr 1). http://www.franciscansoflife.org/Constitutiones.pdf
The Regular Brothers day has a fluid structure, not unlike that of a Benedictine day, but in a smaller family unit which is by its very nature very informal. The vows are a means to an end. We vow to strive, with the help of Grace, to live the virtues of obedience, poverty and chastity in the manner that St. Francis lived.
Our effort is sustained by the common recitation of the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours), Lectio Divina, spiritual reading, silent prayer in solitude, keeping a log of our faults (the Culpa) and keeping a journal of God’s activity in our lives. Community worship, prayer, Eucharistic adoration, meals, recreation and apostolate are essential to the primitive Franciscan life.
Discipline is an essential element of our life. Every night, we proclaim our faults before our brothers and open our hearts and minds to hear and heed whatever correction they may offer in charity.
Blessed is the servant who bears discipline, accusation, and blame from others as patiently as if they came from himself. Blessed is the servant who, when reproved, mildly submits, modestly obeys, humbly confesses, and willingly satisfies. Blessed is the servant who is not prompt to excuse himself and who humbly bears shame and reproof for sin when he is without fault, (Admonition 23)
We make proper use of the time that God has given us, with full knowledge that only God is the Lord of Time, not man. Therefore, time is not man’s property to waste.
St. Francis taught the first-generation Franciscans that silence is a necessary part of our way of life. While we do not observe a strict silence as do Cistercians, we do observe exterior silence to achieve interior silence.
“Blessed is that servant who does not speak through hope of reward and who does not manifest everything and is not ‘hasty to speak,’ but who wisely foresees what he ought to say and answer,” (Admonition 22).
Finally, fasting and abstinence on Wednesdays and Fridays are essential to the way that we live and to the discipline in which we need strength to grow in virtue.
“Living this Rule transforms us in, with, and for, the Love of God so that we, in humble ways, begin to transform our world by serving as the voice of the voiceless and offering penance for those who do not do penance. A penitential life resounds a constant invitation to prayer and self-mastery
Prayer, fasting, abstinence, temperance, and a solid, family based Christian response to others drive all our daily activities in the home, fraternity and the world,” (Constitutions, Part II, Chap Six, Parr 49).
As Jesus said to the first disciples, “Come and see.” http://franciscansoflife.org/
An installment of the life of the Extern Franciscan of Life will soon be available. Check in with us as often as possible so that you don’t miss it.
As we approach the inauguration of a new presidency and the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, I assume that many of our friends expect the Franciscans of Life to say something wise and uplifting. Try as I did, I was unable to come up with anything wise to say. Perhaps is the fact that I fell today and lacerated my forehead. Thank God that my cranium was not currently occupied. In any case, I can’t come up with some wise and profound comment to make. So, I’ll let my simple country logic do the talking.
Roe vs Wade must never be forgotten, not only because it made abortion a constitutional right in our country, but it did much more. It stripped the preborn human being of the right to be born. Roe vs Wade was one of the most selfish acts that the American people have ever perpetrated on its citizens.
Our Founding Fathers rebelled against a monarchy and parliament that was tyrannical, a king and government that had no respect for the basic human rights of its citizens on the western side of the Atlantic. As far as the English crown was concerned, the colonists and their descendants were to be silenced when it came to matters that affected their lives, the lives of their families and the future of the kingdom. We must say “kingdom”, because on July 3, 1776 there was no United States. There was simply the American colonies and territories of the English Kingdom.
But our forefathers changed all that. They fought and many gave their lives for the right to live, the right to have a voice about their lives, and the right to choose their future.
Hilary Clinton once said that the unborn CHILD has no constitutional rights. The issue on the table is not whether the being in the womb is a person, human being, child or other. The question has been settled. The being in the womb is a CHILD.
The laws of nature dictate that the child of two human beings cannot be a chimpanzee. He must be a human being, regardless of his parents’ faults and virtues.
Yet, this human being, who lives in our midst, is denied the right to be born.
We have dared to do the unimaginable. We have dared betray the memory of those who fought for our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We betrayed their dream of a nation where people were given the right to live according to the graces endowed by their Creator, as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently wrote.
We have misrepresented the mind of the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In other words, we have hijacked the American dream.
Roe vs Wade limits the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness to those who have the power and cold-heartedness to terminate the life of one who is weaker and defenseless.
Br. Jay, FFV
Video by youtube user on ultrasound of their 8-week baby.
See and hear baby’s heartbeat, watch the 1-inch baby wiggle,
and see description for link to video of 1st year birthday.
The Franciscans of Life have as part of their foundational charism “paying special attention to…the chronically and terminally ill and their families and caregivers”.
In particular, we are called to”bring Christ’s compassion to the sick, especially those whose lives are threatened by the culture of death. We believe that death with true dignity occurs when man dies at the time and in the manner determined by Providence, not by man. To accelerate death in the name of dignity is a distortion of the meaning of dignity. It takes away from man what God has given him, the capacity to share in redemptive love. […] To help families and healthcare providers choose life, the brothers will work for the creation of education programs on end of life issues that proclaim the moral law and teach that the sick and elderly are not a problem to be solved, but brothers and sisters to be loved.”
Yet, “Recognizing that we are simple men, we do not aspire to do great things, but to be faithful in the small things”, with the Church and in submission to the Local Ordinary and the Magisterium of the Holy Father. This of course implies that we collaborate closely with other groups. First and foremost, of course, with Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami.
But we are also in fruitful exchange with other national and international groups that tackle the issue of euthanasia and assisted suicide.
One of our friends, indeed one of the most outspoken and reputable groups against assisted suicide, is the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, headquartered in Canada. Their documentary “The Euthanasia Deception” is an eye-opener.
One of the traits of the Franciscan charism is the emphasis on “preaching and using words only when necessary” (a phrase attributed to St. Francis, but actually coming from the writings of Brother Thomas of Celano, his biographer). In general, Franciscans do not argue. Argument leads to division. Yet, instructing and correcting are some of the works of mercy that our Lord entrusted to his followers. Therefore the brothers’ formation includes an academic aspect, “without extinguishing the spirit of prayer”, as St. Francis wrote to St. Anthony of Padua. This formation implies that although the brothers may be men of silence, they are not rocks. And we know that sometimes it becomes necessary for rocks to cry out (cif. Luke 19:40).
Far be it for us to enter into a dispute with our esteemed friends of the EPC, or to argue with one of the world’s foremost critics of assisted suicide and utilitarian bioethics, Wesley Smith JD. Yet, this time we have to rise to the occasion for the sake of clarity and for the benefit of the voiceless.
Earlier this month, EPC featured an article from Dr. Smith titled “Removing life support is NOT euthanasia“. We must humbly observe that both the article and its title are incomplete and, unfortunately, problematic under several aspects.
First and foremost, the author zeroes in on a patient who wants to remove his ventilator and die for the sake of organ donation…thus falling into the fallacy of doing an evil to accomplish a good.
As the Catechism reminds us, “a good intention does not make intrinsically disordered behavior good. The end does not justify the means. A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself. It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.”
Beyond this point (which we will address again later), the fundamental premise of the article is flawed, namely that “we all have the right to refuse medical interventions even if it is likely to lead to death“. On the contrary, we know that there are certain medical interventions that we are morally obliged to seek and provide! To do otherwise would constitute euthanasia.
The author pointedly mentions that the patient’s wish to remove his ventilator and die “is his right”. We respectfully disagree: there is no such a”right to die”.
As one renowned pro-life apologist states on Catholic Answers, “a right is a moral claim, and we have no claim on death — death has a claim on us. Some people see the “right to die” as a parallel to the right to life, but this is based on faulty reasoning. The right to life is based on life being a gift we can neither destroy nor discard, whereas the “right to die” is based on the idea that life is a thing we possess and may discard when it no longer meets our satisfaction.The culture of death, which chants, “My body, my life, my choice” also chants—by the same logic—”My body, my death, my choice.”
By skipping over some critical issues regarding end-of-life care and life-support, the article fails to grasp the fact that removing life support is too often the most common (and most hidden!) form of euthanasia, even though it may happen in plain light and with the full support of “the law”, as in the well-known case of Terri Schiavo and the less-known (but much closer to us) case of the sister of our Founder and Superior (see here, and follow-up article here).
But let us go back to the issue at hand: the removal of life support.
Too often, life support measures such as feeding tube, water, and oxygen are defined in the medical paperwork as “extraordinary means to prolong life” (or, worse, “to prolong the natural dying process”). When their removal causes death, it is a form of euthanasia. One quite common in Florida.
Ask yourself the following question: can we ordinarily live without food and water?
Yet, patients (especially elderly patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices) are often asked if they want to “die a natural death” or “prolong the dying process through extraordinary means” (where food and water are defined as “extraordinary means to prolong life”!). The former (“die a natural death) appears to be the way to go, even for a well-formed Catholic…except that it actually gives the caretaker the ability to pull out your feeding tube and hydration. There is nothing natural in death by starvation and dehydration!
As St. John Paul II reminded us, Catholic bioethics and morality states that Artificial Nutrition and Hydration (ANH) “always represents a natural means of preserving life, not a medical act”. This applies also and especially to persons in persistent vegetative state (PVS). The CDF clarified that the only three moral exceptions are “(1) when ANH would be impossible to provide; (2) when a patient may be unable to assimilate food and liquids; and (3) when ANH may be excessively burdensome for the patient or may cause significant physical discomfort”.
The National Catholic Bioethics Center reminds us that “We should provide food and water, even by [alternative] means, to all who are in need of them and can physiologically benefit from them. There are various means of providing nutrition and hydration, some of which are more invasive than others. The least invasive means of providing food and water should be used. The more burdensome to the patient a particular intervention, the less likely it is to be morally obligatory. In principle, the provision of nutrition and hydration by artificial means does not differ in its moral dimension from the provision of food and water by fork and cup. Both constitute ordinary means of preserving life. The fact that someone is in a state of unconsciousness and is not expected to recover [does not justify] depriving that person of food and water. If the provision of food and water proves to be useless (if they are not being assimilated by the body) or if it causes serious complications (aspiration pneumonia, infections, etc.), it can be stopped. ”
In short: “Whenever a recommendation is made not to provide food and water, one question to ask is “What will be the cause of death?” If the answer is dehydration and starvation, and artificial nutrition and hydration can be easily supplied and assimilated, then not supplying them is a form of euthanasia.”
The Catholic Medical Association also agrees that “discontinuing nutrition and hydration for a patient who is not imminently dying violates in its intention the distinction between ‘causing death’ and ‘allowing death.’”
Now let’s go back to the ventilator issue addressed in the article. A ventilator is a machine for artificial respiration.
Can we ordinarily live without oxygen?
Neuroscientist Fr. Pacholczyk, Ph.D. (National Catholic Bioethics Center) explains that “ordinarily, a ventilator offers a reasonable hope of benefit for the patient that can be obtained and used without excessive pain, expense, or other significant burden. Ordinary implies a moral obligation.”
However “if the patient’s condition is worsening with the nearly certain outcome that he will die in a few hours or days, then ventilation would be “extraordinary”, assuming all end-of-life matters have been taken care of. It may be decided that the use of a ventilator becomes extraordinary or disproportionate because it no longer achieves its perceived outcome. Withdrawing the ventilator would not be an act of euthanasia, because the patient would be dying due to the underlying condition. Yet, occasionally, ventilators may end up being part of a long-term solution.”
It is unclear from Dr. Smith’s article whether the patient who generously wishes to donate his organs is in a position to request in good conscience the removal of his ventilator. We are only told that the patient is “dying of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)”, which can have multiple interpretations. One of the question on the table (and our friends at the National Catholic Bioethics Center are much more qualified to answer it) is whether, upon removal of the ventilator, the patient would die as a result of the ALS (allowing death) or as a result of suffocation (causing death). Another question is whether the ventilator is excessively burdensome on the patient. In any case, the bottom line is the distinction between ordinary and extraordinary means of supporting life. Sorry, it is not as simple as “it’s his right” to remove the ventilator; nobody has an a priori right to die.
We could address DNR, dialysis, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, invasive surgery, heart-lung resuscitation, and antibiotics, and when they may be judged morally extraordinary or disproportionate. But this is beyond the scope of this article.
We do hope that we have clarified the main topic: more often than not, removing life support IS euthanasia, when we look carefully at the whole picture. Only then we realize that most of the time such life support is ordinary, beneficial…and morally binding.
For those who wish to learn more, the Franciscans of Life are always available to provide more information. You can touch base with us here. You may also want to learn more about Living Will and Advanced Medical Directives that can protect you and your loved ones from the dangers of “hidden euthanasia”. The page of the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops (FLACCB) provides them in English and Spanish. Again, we are here to point you in the right direction, whether you are a patient, a family member, an inquirer, or a healthcare practitioner, physician, or nurse.
Vita ad vitam vocat – Life calls out to life.
Please note: the contents of this article do not constitute medical or legal advice. When it comes to end-of-life decisions, you should consult with your pro-life physician, spiritual director, confessor, chaplain, or another highly qualified authority such as the experts of the National Catholic Bioethics Center by calling their 24/7 hotline (215) 877-2660 (select Option 4 if urgent) or by submitting an online request.
Br. Bernardo, FFV
I’ve been trying to keep up with news and thoughts by and about Catholics on Facebook. However, I’m starting to feel somewhat disappointed. It is naive to believe
that one is going to find much that is worthwhile on Facebook; but occasionally one runs into another person who thinks with clarity and shares his or her thoughts in such a way that encourages us to rise to higher moral ground and to a more intense life of virtue and prayer.
Having said this, I must confess that it has been a great disappointment to find the many priests and consecrated religious who post on Facebook talk about every social and civil ill, encourage people to rise in protest, at times denounce those who do evil, but something is obviously lacking from their posts. God, Jesus, the Immaculate, prayer, the perfection of charity and atonement for one’s sins and those who don’t do penance. These are never mentioned.
A good example of this gap in “Catholic” posts is found in discussions on discrimination and racism. Since the US elections several Catholic bloggers have taken to the Internet to denounce racial discrimination and other forms of discrimination, be due to religion, sex, sexual orientation or gender-dysphoria. They have denounced politicians, Church hierarchy, business men and women, and other members of society for behaviors that are often cruel and unnecessary, or at times for failing to speak up for the voiceless.
Another important area of life in which we find protesting, finger pointing and even name calling is in religion. We have politicized religion to such an extent that we now speak of fellow believers using popular political jargon: liberals and conservatives or novus ordo and traditionalists.
Here too, the language is very often offensive. At times, it offends because it is vulgar and sometimes it offends because words are used to assassinate someone’s character. They don’t simply describe an immoral behavior or a statement that contradicts absolute truth. These are words that encourage hatred.
It is important for all of us to be aware of injustices, abuses and disregard for God and man. When priests and consecrated religious brothers or sisters write only about the evils and don’t mention what the Scriptures, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium have to say about these things, we fail our people. People have a right to expect clergy and religious to refer to faith to enlighten human life. We don’t become priests or religious to be social workers or activists. Ordination and consecrated life are not essential to the work of an activist. Conviction is what matters.
I encourage clergy and religious who post on Facebook and in blogs to remember that faith enlightens reason. Reason enlightened by faith strengthens convictions. Christ did not come into the world to lead men into a godless revolution. His followers were to be guided by their faith. Their faith shed light on the rightness and wrongness around them. Then they denounced what was wrong and defended what was right. But they always proclaimed the faith that enlightened them. Many were martyred for doing so, but there were more converts than martyrs.
Let us look at the world, including the Church, through the eyes of faith. Let faith help us see what is good and what is evil. Let faith supply the courage to fight for good and against evil. Most importantly, never forget to share the faith that drives us, lest others see us as simple social activists or worse.
We who are priests or consecrated men and women have committed our lives to living according to the faith. The Church has charged us with the duty to proclaim the perfection of charity and the Kingdom of God. The first step in serving God is to find Him. The search for God is the search for truth. We must begin by discerning what God has called each of us to do and how God wants us to go about it. For priests and religious, the call is not a call to godless social work or godless political activism.
We must never give up and never surrender our awareness of God’s presence in human affairs. Going into battle for purely human reasons or as some say, for the sake of justice alone, is not the Gospel. Christ exemplifies true justice. The exercise of evangelical justice leads man back to the Father. Christian justice and renewal is built on faith and preached with courage. There is nothing courageous in insulting another person or group of people. There is no hope when God is not part of the discussion for justice.
When I was a kid my mother would always tell me to “cut to the chase.” So, I will. We need ongoing financial backing from friends and friends of friends.
The Franciscans of Life have a steady income of $2,610.00 a month. We live in a very modest home where four brothers share one bedroom that we divided into individual cells using curtains as you would see in a hospital room.
Having said this, here is a chart our monthly expenses.
The Immaculate has always come through for us by way of our friends. We hope that she will continue to do so. The brothers need to continue their education to better serve the voiceless. Our brothers participate in the apostolate while they attend school full-time.
We proclaim the Gospel of Life at no cost to the Archdiocese, parishes, schools or individuals. All expenses are assumed by the community, including travel.
We serve in the following apostolates:
Respect Life Archdiocese of Miami – our brothers run Project Joseph, a mentoring, counseling and education program for fathers in crisis pregnancies.
Hospital ministry to the sick and dying – our brothers take Holy Communion to the sick, provide spiritual support for the patient and the family. Often, the brother is asked to clarify a question of morality on an end of life issue. If the brother can answer, he does so. If he cannot, he finds a deacon or priest who can help; but the patient and family are never abandoned. The brothers also provide a limited amount of education on the Gospel of Life to healthcare personnel, when they approach us.
Religious education – there are not many consecrated men teaching the Gospel of Life in our religious education classes. Franciscans of Life are one example of the few who are. We teach not through hate speech or morbid graphics. On the contrary, we guide our students through the Old and New Testament where they discover the dogmas of the Catholic faith, the sacraments, the liturgy, and the moral lessons contained in Sacred Scripture. Thus the students are exposed to the Gospel of Life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,” (Jeremiah 1:5)
Immigrant poor – our brothers provide guidance to any immigrant who asks for it. Sometimes an immigrant will email us asking for information on inexpensive housing, free medical care, leads on employment. One of our brothers is charged with keeping a database on our website with the most current services available not only to the immigrant poor, but to all who are poor.
In addition, our brothers supplement rent for disabled immigrants who don’t have access to government assistance. They also provide small material support such as bus tickets so that individuals can go to a job interview or to see a doctor. They may buy lunch for someone who’s hungry.
One day, it was raining very heavily. One of our brothers spotted a homeless person who was barefooted. Brother stopped the car, took off his sandals and gave them to the barefooted man. Obviously, brother arrived barefoot at the motherhouse and the sandals had to be replaced. They were replaced, with an old pair of patched sandals that had been cast aside. Brother is still putting mileage on them.
Right now we have two brothers in school. Our Adopt a Brother program has raised about $2500.00 of the needed $5000.00. Fortunately, tuition is paid in increments, not in one lump sum. But it still has to be paid.
Every regular brother must complete a degree in Spiritual Theology, which prepares him to provide spiritual care, guidance, support, and encouragement to those who are far from Christ. In addition, the brother must also complete a secular degree in education, technology, nursing, counseling, social work, or some other specialized area. The brother who is not academically oriented must complete a technical training program such as automotive maintenance, electricity, carpentry, cooking, pluming, tailoring, or any other technical area that will support the apostolate and our service to the voiceless.
a one-time gift or a monthly gift using PayPal, maybe a check made out to Franciscans of Life sent to the address below.
If the donation is for the Adopt a Brother program, please indicate this on the memo line. We keep those donations in a separate column in our ledger.
Thank you for helping us find ongoing support.
You can also pray that we find benefactors. Prayers count too.
May the Immaculate drape you in her mantle, protect you from all evil and lead you to her Son, Jesus Christ.
Franciscans of Life
9461 Palm Circle South
Pembroke Pines, FL 33025
On August 14, we celebrate the feast of St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, patron of the Franciscans of Life, and the 75th anniversary of his martyrdom. The next day, August 15th, is the solemnity of the Assumption, also known as the Feast of the Dormition of Mary in the Eastern Churches. For the moment, let’s put the Assumption on the side. By the end of this article, we’ll see how it all fits together. Let’s begin with Maximilian Kolbe.
Here is a learning moment for those who are parents. As important as it is to reign in your restless children and protect them from getting into trouble, as seemed to be Mrs Kolbe’s daily task with Raymond, it is imperative that we never forget that even those little mischievous creatures that we love and call children were given to us to form so that they can return to God. The school that any child must attend is the school of prayer.
Raymond, despite the grief that he caused his mother, learned to go to prayer when he didn’t know where else to turn. This is not something that comes built into a child. This is the work of actual grace given by God to the parent, which the parent passes on to the child as he promised at the child’s baptism. In other words, Raymond prayed because his parents had fulfilled the covenant they made when they baptized him, “to bring him up in the faith.” A child who is brought up in the faith may be derailed, but can find his way back more easily than those who have not grown up in the Catholic faith. We should pay special attention to those parents who raise saints. Often, they serve as good models for parenting.
First for youth – St. John Paul told the youth of the world, “Do not be afraid of Jesus Christ.” When Our Lady offered Raymond a choice between martyrdom and purity, he chose both. We think of this story and we swoon over this wonderful little boy who was so pious and so holy. We completely miss what God wants to teach us. Those who struggle, as did Raymond, are also called to a life of virtue and sacrifice. Prefabricated saints don’t need to practice heroic virtue or make heroic sacrifices. Sinners do.
Raymond admitted that he was a sinner. He also trusted Christ. He was not afraid of Him. If Christ used his Immaculate Mother to guide Raymond to Himself, Raymond was willing to take that step into the unknown and follow her lead. He didn’t become a Franciscan Friar because this was what he wanted to do. He may have wished to be a friar. But he examined his attraction to the Franciscan life in light of the call that Christ made to him through the Immaculate. Raymond entered the Franciscans because the Immaculate said to him, “Do whatever he tells you.” She promised to be by his side along the journey. There was no reason to fear Christ, no reason to fear embracing a life of uncertainty, sacrifice, long days and short nights, penances and many humiliations. Maximilian teaches us that Christ calls us down paths that he has paved specially for each of us. Christ never calls you where you cannot walk.
The question for the young person should be, “What is to become of me, Lord?” This was Raymond Kolbe’s question and the Immaculate responded, “Do whatever he tells you.” Life is not about what I want to do, but about God’s plan for me.
Second for parents: The Kolbe parents were committed to raising their children in the Catholic faith, as they had promised at their baptism. They were also conscious that their children were not their special project, but they were a temporary gift from God that they would have to return when God asked. However, they had no idea what God would ask of their children, when or how. They remained open to the God of surprises rather than planning out their children’s lives in advance and trying to steer them into careers and marriages without consulting God’s plan for them. They educated their children in the faith, provided the academic education available to them and offered them guidance along the way. But they never owned their children. Their children belonged to God. When Christ called Raymond to become Brother Maximilian, it may have not been what Mr and Mrs Kolbe expected or planned, but they trusted. If this was truly the voice of God calling their son, he would be safe and they could offer him no better assurance of his happiness and salvation. If it was simply an illusion of youth, God would open their son’s eyes to the folly of his choice in life. Again, they trusted.
The lesson to be learned is that even when we are unsure what God wants from our children, if the choice is not a sinful one or a danger to to self or others, we can stand back and let the Immaculate guide. She can only guide our children to her Son. Her GPS is locked on Christ as the compass is locked on the North Pole. There is nothing to fear and much to be gained.
This year, during the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, let us focus less on the end product, the martyr and more on the boy, the man and his parents. Let us learn to follow the guidance of the Immaculate and to trust her Son as they did. When we commit to following the guidance of the Immaculate, which leads to her son, then the Assumption needs very little if any explanation. She who leads others to her Son was also called to follow Him in body and soul and will lead all men to the same end.
Hello friends! Pax et bonum!
We would like to share some highlights from the past few months.
Of course, there has been more going on. 🙂 Lent and the Easter season were spiritually fruitful times full of joy and great moments of fraternity. We also posted two new videos on our Youtube channel (http://youtube.com/franciscansoflife) and several updates and interesting news on our Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/franciscansoflife). We even published our Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franciscans_of_Life). Check them out when you get a chance!
These highlights are from our community life and apostolate – more of an “insider’s peek”. As you go over them, please keep us in your prayers. Also pray for the men who are discerning with us, and for all those whom the Most High will invite to join us when the time is right. Pray that the seed of their vocation may flourish for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life to the voiceless. In the territory in which we serve there is much work to be done 🙂 Please prayerfully consider whether God may be inviting you to walk with us.
As per the Franciscan tradition, the brothers held a General Chapter on Pentecost (actually, the Monday after Pentecost).
The tradition of the Capitulum goes back to the 8th Century Benedictines. The first”General Chapter” for an entire community was celebrated by the Cistercians in 1195.
The IV Lateran Council established in 1215 that all religious communities should celebrate Chapters at regular intervals as a means of promoting reform of religious life. At the time of St. Francis, a General Chapter was celebrated twice a year from 1209 to 1216, once a year from 1217 onward.
This is the highest authority over the community, and the decisions taken by the chapter are binding even on the Superior. At the end, a Document is redacted with the mandates of the Chapter and a summary of the discussions, along with an introduction by the Superior General.
The community organized a weekend retreat which also provided an opportunity for a limited number of inquirers to come and see. The theme of the retreat was Conversion of Manners. Brother Chris provided the canopy and the buckets, and installed it with Brother Leo. Brother Leo rescued it from the stormy winds that followed 🙂 After that, the weather was perfect. The participants gathered on Friday afternoon, shut down and put aside their cellphones, and all contact with the outside world became off-limits.
The retreat included the prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, formation, fraternity, times of silence and private prayer, and overnight stay. Visitors were allowed to sleep in their own cella, the same the brothers use. We made sure we washed the sheets ahead of time 🙂 The Superior, as traditional, gave up his cella to a guest – our friend Alex – and slept on the couch.
Visitors also witnessed the Friday night Chapter of Faults, where the brothers accuse themselves before the Superior and their brothers of their faults against the Holy Rule and the Constitutions. Attendance to this ritual is ordinarily reserved to the brotherhood.
It was a joyful and edifying experience. Brother Jay, our Superior, delivered the formation talks. Brother Leo was in charge of the meals.
Brother Bernardo ensured that the citronella candles were lit (he has a thing about our brothers mosquito) and helped take down the canopy at the end of the retreat.
Five minutes later, a storm hit again, with much lightning. Brother Jay remarked that the guys taking down the canopy reminded him of Ben Franklin trying to harness the power of lightning 😛
On June 20, Extern Brother Luis Charbel, having completed his formation, made his Solemn Promise to live according to the Holy Rule of Penance and our Constitutions for one year. The Extern brothers do not profess the Evangelical Counsels, but they bind themselves to observe their spirit in accordance with their state of life. They are truly members of the fraternity, and the Constitutions provide separate chapters to guide them. Brother Luis Charbel is an exemplary Extern Brother. His entire family attended the event, which took place at the Chapel of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church during the liturgy of Vespers – including his 28-week pre-born child 🙂
The brothers were very excited that Tom, a good friend of the community who had begun his training to be a Project Joseph mentor, completed his training and began serving the dads of the North Dade Center of Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami. The dads are very excited to be able to have a weekend session and this is also the first time that a Respect Life center offers two weekly Project Joseph sessions! Brother Bernardo was assigned as liaison between the mentors and the center director. He reports directly to our Superior, who oversees the entire Project from the administrative office. Keep your eyes on the Florida Catholic for more on Project Joseph and the Franciscans of Life 😉
Graduate school in Spiritual Theology and Education is an expensive proposition for our emerging community, but these are skills that we need to serve the voiceless in our ministry. We do not charge the Church or the people whom we serve. Following the Testament of St. Francis, the brothers work to provide for their needs and, only when necessary, they beg. Our monthly income keep our simple living quarters and car up and running and cover for food and medical expenses.
The Adopt-a-Brother program is still up and running. You can read more about it here. We post updates on our Facebook group and we will notify when we have reached our goal. We only ask for as much as we actually need. 🙂
Brothers and Sisters:
Graduate formation in spiritual theology and education for one of our brothers is an expensive proposition. However, these are skills that every brother needs to serve the voiceless in our ministry.
We’re asking our friends to adopt one of our brothers. It will cost approximately $5,000.00 to put him through graduate school. That’s $5,000.00 that our fraternity does not have.
Our monthly income from our stipends is $2,610.00. With this we support three brothers living at our motherhouse. This pays for rent, electric, telephone and internet, food, medications, car maintenance, co-pay at doctor offices and everything else that is needed to run a house.
Currently, we have one brother who has begun graduate school in education and spiritual theology. This brother mentors expectant dads through Project Joseph. He serves as the liaison between FIU Campus Ministry and Respect Life South Dade. Brother also does hospital ministry and teaches Sacred Scripture to youngsters. He assists the immigrant poor collecting clothing for them, directing them to community resources no matter where they are in the United States and even paying for their bus passes so they can go to work.
Through these services the brother brings Christ’s brotherhood and concern for humanity to the world. Like Christ, who washed the disciples’ feet at the last supper, Brother continues to wash the feet of the voiceless.
We’re asking all of our friends to make a comfortable donation to help us cover the cost of education. You can do through our Paypal account at the bottom.
May God bless you for your generosity. We will inform all of our friends when we have reached our goal. We only ask for as much as we actually need. The brothers keep nothing in savings or other accounts. We depend totally on what Divine Providence can provide for us through the People of God.
Brother Jay, Superior
To better understand this comment, I would refer you to the excellent post by Scott Eric Alt on Interacting With the Spaemann Interview on Amoris Laetitia ,
Now my two cents.
I’m having a problem with the Professor Spaemann’s answers and those of others of the same way of thinking. It is not impossible for anyone to disagree with something in an Apostolic Exhortation. This much is true. They are written to offer some guidance, not to teach. One can always disagree with the guidance that is offered. Before I continue, allow me to say that we can and often do teach through the guidance that we offer. Anyone who’s a parent knows exactly what I mean, but back to the professor.
I never trust these reports. It is often the case that the gaps between what the subject said and the reporter wrote are as numerous as the craters on the moon. For the sake of this discussion, let’s give the interviewer the benefit of the doubt and accept that he is reporting without too much editing.
It is my opinion that the Professor’s responses are not helpful on two fronts.
First: They present a dark side of the exhortation, but the speaker fails to give you observable results from past experiences that prove the existence of such a dark side. Philosophy works with and based on systems. I could not find that system that the professor uses to arrive at his conclusions. Therefore, I can only assume that the systems are not reported, which does not allow those of us who know some philosophy to question the methodology leading to his conclusions. The other possibility is that he is not using systematic thinking, but it projecting his predictions based on subjectivity (gut feeling).
Second: I caution people to be careful with those who claim to love the Church and to have been a consultant to this pope and a friend to that one. This can be and probably is true. Sometimes, these relationships can obscure one’s sense of duty. Even though the Professor was an advisor to St. John Paul II and a friend to Benedict XVI, as a faithful Catholic philosopher, his first allegiance is to the Church, not the individual popes. Therefore, I would expect him to use his skills and his intimate experience with these two giants to help his audience see the points of contact and continuity between AL and tradition. In no way does this detract from his right to use his intellect to say, “This can be said more clearly,” or “This raises this question that we need to submit to someone in authority to respond.”
In doing so, one is faithful to the Church, does not throw the current pope under the bus, is not sucked into the typical Church politics of “conservative vs liberals”, and helps people see the good in the exhortation while encouraging them to ask questions respectfully and with trust in the integrity of the person answering.