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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. ūüôā 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 ūüôā Please prayerfully consider whether God may be inviting you to walk with us.

 

General Chapter

As per the Franciscan tradition, the brothers held a General Chapter on Pentecost (actually, the Monday after Pentecost).

The Mother House with the new artwork for Pentecost

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The Document of the General Chapter

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.

Some of the brothers at the General Chapter

       

Weekend Retreat

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 ūüôā 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 outdoors location of the retreat

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Cells 2 and 3.

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 ūüôā 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.

Br. Leo at work – Max and Tasha stand guard

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 ūüėõ

The Storm!

Solemn Promise

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 ūüôā

Br. Luis professes his Solemn Promise

 

Project Joseph

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 ūüėČ

Announcement of the new session

Adopt-a-Brother

adopt_a_student_brotherWe want to express a heartfelt thank you to our friends and benefactors who have participated and still participate to our fundraising to cover the education of our brothers.

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. ūüôā

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The FFV Motherhouse

The statue of Our Lady at the Motherhouse. It is the same image from the Miraculous Medal which all the brothers wear.

 

No Bikes Allowed In Heaven


I realize that it’s a little late to write Mother’s Day messages.  In my case, it may be a little late to write a eulogy for my mom who died 15 years ago.  Nonetheless, there is something that I would like to share with all of you who are parents and those who will be parents.

When a parent approaches the Lord for the final judgement, the most important question that he must face is whether or not he fulfilled his duty as a Christian and passed on the faith to his children.

Passing on the faith is more involved than sending kids to weekly CCD and putting them through the drills for First Confession, First Holy Communion and Confirmation.  The sacraments are not graduation ceremonies.  The sacraments are part of a journey.  This is where my mother comes into my spiritual picture.FLAMES

Whatever her faults, were many things that my mom did well.¬† But the one thing that she did with outstanding fidelity, love, courage and concern was to hand down the faith.¬† From the moment we were born we were incorporated into the faith community.¬† I say incorporated to mean that we didn‚Äôt just get dragged down to the church to be baptized or the temple to be blessed and ‚ÄúGoodbye‚ÄĚ.¬† There was much more.¬† Faith was part of our domestic culture.

I remember that the first picture book that I ever read was the story of Moses.  From there, I read every other story in the bible.  Faith was part of our recreation, because bedtime reading was a ritual and a fun time for me.

Religious symbols were present in every room in our house.  I was taught to pay attention to them.  I remember my mother insisting that I bow my head each time I passed a crucifix that was in the entry foyer.  Bowing to the crucifix and altar in church were not new to me.

Morning, evening and night prayers were part of our family schedule.  We prayed before going to school.  When I was older, I prayed the Holy Rosary with my mom every day at 7PM.  I have no idea why it had to be at 7PM.  I can tell you this.  I have no idea what wasrosary on TV at 7PM.  That was time for evening prayer.  Then there were night prayers that were said at bedtime.  The very first prayer that I learned to say was the Lord’s Prayer.  Because I grew up in a bilingual home, my mother made sure that I could pray it in two languages.  After that, other prayers were added, including prayers at the table.

My mother taught us Judeo-Christian morality without proselytizing and without nagging.¬† I would come home and tell her about something I saw at school or on the street.¬† My mother would stop to listen.¬† If the action was good, she explained how I should imitate it, because it pleased God.¬† If the action was bad, she explained the importance of avoiding it, because it was a sin and sin could land you in hell.¬† My mom was not afraid of words like ‚Äúsin‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhell‚ÄĚ.¬† Despite her use of those terms, I don‚Äôt suffer from PTSD.¬† If anything, I suffer from a guilty conscience when I mess up.

Not to drag this on too long, which I already have, when I was about 11 we had a fire that destroyed a good portion of our home.  It took several months to rebuild, paint and do whatever else they do when they rescue a house.  How would I know?  I was only 11.

I‚Äôll never forget standing outside at 3:00 AM on a very cold March morning, in my PJs and a blanket, watching flames come out of one of the upstairs windows.¬† When the fire was finally out, I asked my mother, ‚ÄúWhat are we going to do?‚Ä̬† My mom was very quiet for a moment.¬† Then she said, ‚ÄúI have no idea.¬† Let‚Äôs not worry about that now.¬† Let‚Äôs find a warm place to sleep.¬† God always has a plan and he will tell us what to do when the time is right.‚Ä̬† This was a belief that she instilled in us from childhood.¬† ‚ÄúGod has a plan.‚Ä̬† And ‚ÄúOnly God knows.‚Ä̬† We were always assured that Providence was taking care of us.

Like any good Judeo-Christian, we worshipped every weekend and on holy days as well.  There was  no such thing as sleeping in and not going to Church until you were old enough to pay your own bills.

The best thing that I learned from my mother was love of God and love of neighbor.  I saw my mom take in kids whose parents could not care for them and they would live with us until the parents were ready to take them home.  One child lived with us about three months.  I saw my mother stop inside the church on her way home to visit the Blessed Sacrament.

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I was not asked if I wanted to come in.  I just naturally followed and knelt in front of the tabernacle.  There was no doubt that Christ lived in that little box.  There was no excuse for driving or walking by the church and not stopping to say hello to its sovereign resident.

Remembering these things, I believe that at the moment of her death, whatever faults my mother had were outshined by her perseveration when it came to handing down the faith to her children.  This is the first and most important vocation of parenting.

The roof over the head, the food on the table, the school tuition, and medical bills were all covered.¬† But as my mother once said, ‚ÄúGiving your kids the material things they need won‚Äôt get them to heaven.¬† No bikes allowed in heaven. ¬†You have to give more.”

The Joy of Love and the Burden of Anger ‚Äď Amoris Laetitia and Onus Irae


How-The-Human-Nervous-System-WorksI have to share this, because I must be missing something.¬† I‚Äôm more than half-way through Amoris Laetitia.¬† I just finished the ‚Äúinfamous‚ÄĚ Chapter Eight.

As I read through this document, I can see some statements that need further clarification or better wording, simply because most people do not think in Spanish and write in Latin or Italian.¬† That‚Äôs an unusual cross-over.¬† As one who speaks Spanish and Italian, I reread those expressions that sounded odd to my Anglophone ear, repeating them to myself in Spanish and realized, ‚ÄúOh, this is the way an Argentine would say X; whereas a European or an American would say it this other way.‚ÄĚ

Contrary to what the Blogisterium is saying, I did find where the Holy Father makes some very precise points.  Marriage is indissoluble.  A relationship between homosexual persons can in no way be elevated to the level of marriage.  We cannot disregard the rules, just because time changes. And the exception is not the rule.

I can appreciate the fact that he describes what is happening in marriage and family life in First World countries and even in South American middle class society.  His description is quite accurate.  I can testify to this as one who has lived on three continents and four countries.  It’s not a pretty picture, but it is what it is and we, Catholics and non-Catholics, have to begin to help heal the wounded, where they’re at, while at the same time teach the younger generation what they need to know before marriage, to avoid more casualties in the future.  I believe this is the tone of this exhortation.  We have to fight to secularist perception of love and commitment.

I don’t get the impression that the Holy Father is trying to change rules, disciplines, traditions, moral laws or doctrines.  He means to paint a portrait of what love, marriage and family should be and what it is in many parts of our society.  We don’t like the picture, but it won’t go away because we don’t like it.  We have to attack the problem with a double barrel, palliative and preventative.

In short, I can’t find anything that is heretical or new, other than the pastoral approach that the Holy Father suggests.  I use that word, because he is suggesting, not demanding.

In addition, I don’t agree with the manner in which some people speak about the Holy Father and the exhortation.  There are many things that people in positions of authority do and say that may upset us.  That does not give us the right to call the Vicar of Christ a heretic, Modernist, agent of the devil, or any other such labels.

If there is one thing that our holy Father Saint Francis taught not only his brothers and sisters, but also the people of his day, was to speak and think about the pope, bishops and other clergy with reverence and humility.  He had no problems seeing weaknesses, nor did he have problems defending what he believed to be true.  But he had a very serious problem with any Franciscan or lay person who spoke disrespectfully about the pope or the rest of the clergy.

The argument, ‚ÄúI‚Äôm not a Franciscan,‚ÄĚ doesn‚Äôt apply here; because Francis‚Äô example of holiness, humility, charity, respect and submission was for the benefit of the entire Church, not just for those in his religious family.

When reading the exhortation, do not be afraid to disagree or to ask for clarification; but run away from the temptation to malign the good name of anyone, especially the Vicar of Christ.  He does not have to be perfect to command our respect.  This was made very clear by the Council of Trent and Vatican II.

Humble people who ask questions, offer suggestions, and show respect get further ahead than those who are hostile. Hostility creates distance between people.  It does not build bridges of communication and reflection.

Published in: on April 14, 2016 at 12:11 PM  Leave a Comment  

A question . . .


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Who said that you have to like the Pope?


Saint Pius XI found this article to be very helpful and supportive of what I¬†presented¬†in an earlier post, “Under Whose Authority “

Apparently, I’m not the only one who is noticing that people are not making a distinction between what they like and what they don’t like but must learn to live with.

When I was growing up I hated almost every rule that my father imposed on us. ¬†As far as I was concerned, he was a totalitarian despot. ¬†I’ll let you in on a little secret. ¬†I had no idea what a “totalitarian despot” meant. ¬†But I had read the term in a social studies book in school and it sounded like an appropriate label for my dad.

As the years passed and I transitioned from a child to an adult, I came to realize that my father was just a very conservative man from a different generation.  The truth of the matter was that nothing that he imposed on us did any harm to our bodies, mind or souls.  Some of his rules and statements were arbitrary and others were right on the money.  As I became an adult, I jettisoned that which was arbitrary and incorporated into my script that which was truth.

The same applies the pope and others in the hierarchy. ¬†Many times, just like our parents, they say things that are right on the money, but we don’t like what we’re hearing. ¬†That does not mean they’re wrong. ¬†Other times they say things using a language that is different, one that we’re not used to. ¬†That does not mean that they’re wrong. ¬†It simply means that we have to pay close attention to the nuances. ¬†Finally, they may even say things that sound silly to us or not consistent with what came before. ¬†That does not mean that they’re wrong either. ¬†It means that they are speaking to a different generation, at a different time in history, using a different language, and building on what came before, not denying it.

If we don’t understand, it’s like not understanding our fathers or mothers. ¬†We have to learn to respect the person and the office. ¬†The rest is a matter of biting the bullet. ¬†How many people would belittle their parents with such labels as “modernist, apostate, heretic, infidel, devil incarnate” and more, because the parent does not seem to tow the line with what we believe our parents should be saying or doing, in matters of home management, discipline and even faith formation of the children?

I remember that my father was a twice a year mass attendant. ¬†It was not until my mother converted that he started to attend mass every Sunday. ¬†My mom was a formidable woman. ¬†If she said “We’re going to mass,” we were going to mass. ¬†No discussions. ¬†Having said that, I wouldn’t dare place my father on the stand and accuse him of being any of those things that some people attach to the Holy Father. ¬†Respect and love do not depend on being right or being lovable. ¬†Respect and love are a choice that we make to treat every man and woman as Christ did. ¬†Let us never forget that even though Pilate was wrong, he was given authority from above to judge and execute Jesus. ¬†Jesus acknowledged that authority. ¬†He was not a fan of Pilate, but he was a loyal Son of the Father.

We too must learn to live in the Church as loyal sons of the Father.

One last note, this is not an attempt to bash Traditionalist Catholics or the Traditionalist movement. ¬†There are many Catholics in the movement who are very holy people and exercise great self-control when they don’t like something and know how to speak with firmness and respect. ¬†They are to be admired and applauded.

Some of you may like this article.  I thank Scott Eric Alt for sharing it.

 

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 2:20 PM  Comments (1)  

A Tradition of Hopelessness?


I’ve been reading certain blogs and newspapers online by Catholics who believe that the Church has lost her Catholic identity and her traditional roots.  I must admit that the reading is very depressing; but not because of the alleged crisis in the Church.  This is not to deny that there is a crisis of faith in the world, which affects people of all faith traditions.  We can address that in a later post in this blog.  For the time being, allow me to speak about the blogs and periodicals that are being posted online by Catholics.

When I was growing up, I was taught that in a democratic society, disagreement is a sign of health.  When disagreement triggers dialog, the possibility for growth is endless.  Along with such sage advice, my mother also taught me that disagreement must never rise to the level of disrespect for a person or his office.  Crude, disrespectful, dismissive or condescending behavior is simply arrogance.  Arrogance, like any other evil, has no rights.  Therefore, the arrogant person forfeits his right to a dialog with civilized and intelligent human beings.

What we have is certain Catholic journals and blogs publishing articles and posts that disagree with much of what Pope Francis does and say.  There is nothing wrong with that, as long as the Church is open for dialog, which she is on certain points.  However, they take the liberty to apply such terms as Modernist, apostate, heretic, Marxist, sacrilege, indifferentism, syncretism, and more to the Vicar of Christ.

Everyone knows that there has never been such a person as the perfect pontiff.¬† From the first day of its existence, the pontificate has been plagued by human weakness.¬† Yet, it has survived.¬† It has survived, because Grace has never been absent in the Church, especially in the Petrine Ministry.¬† The first pope denied his master three times.¬† He behaved with certain prejudices toward Jews and Gentiles, causing Paul to ‚Äúlose it.‚ÄĚ

However, when Paul lost it, he challenged Peter’s behavior and position.  But he also addressed him by his proper title, Cephas or Rock.  Paul did not cease to insist that Simon was the Rock upon which Christ built his Church.  Paul was smart enough to see the weakness in Peter’s behavior when it came to the conversion of Gentiles and smart enough to remember that despite it all, Peter was the Vicar of Christ, not him.  So . . . he took his argument to Peter and to the Council of Jerusalem.  But not once did he stick disparaging labels on Peter.

Some “Traditional Catholics” invoke Irenaeus as their model or Catherine of Siena.¬† Both of these people held on to the faith during times of crisis in the Church and the world.¬† Both were honest enough to speak their mind to the pope and point to the errors in the pope‚Äôs thinking.¬† Maybe, the reason why Irenaeus and Catherine share the label ‚Äúsaint‚ÄĚ in front of their names, is not because they challenged and questioned, but because they loved and respected.¬† They acknowledged that whatever they saw as mistakes didn‚Äôt change the fact that the pope was the legitimate successor of Peter who was the Prince of the Apostles and the Vicar of Jesus Christ.¬† They spoke up without mocking, insulting, and labeling the pope or encouraging others to do so.¬† They communicated their protest with dignity, charity and humility.¬† I often find this lacking when writers in blogs and periodicals apply hurtful labels to the person of the pope and to his ministry.

Surely, we can learn from Catherine, Irenaeus and many other great men and women in Catholic history, how to speak about those things that are difficult and disturbing without arrogance, rudeness, and hopelessness.

 

Published in: on January 19, 2016 at 10:14 PM  Leave a Comment  

FFV Highlights


Pax et bonum!

The past few months have been quite busy ūüôā We wish to share with you some highlights, hoping that you will enjoy them and pray for us! Also pray for vocations. The Year of Consecrated Life is not over yet. Could¬†the Lord be inviting you to build with us in the footsteps of St. Francis…?

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The regular brothers wear the “corona” as a sign of consecrated celibacy.

 

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Extern Brother Chris Thomas More (right) renewed his Solemn Promise, and Regular Brother Leo (center) made his First Profession.

 

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In September we celebrated the birthday of Father Superior by throwing a “surprise puppy”… ūüėČ

 

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We crafted our first holy cards featuring a statue of St. Joseph donated to us by a generous benefactress. Some of the cards were blessed in Philadelphia by the Holy Father.

 

 

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We went in pilgrimage to D.C. and Philadelphia following the footsteps of the Holy Father. In the picture: Pope Francis preaches the homily at the closing of World Meeting of Families.

 

 

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On the evening of October 3rd we celebrated the Transitus of our Seraphic Father, St. Francis outside of our mother house.

 

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The brothers worked hard to raise funds at the Flea Market of St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church. Most of the objects were donated to us for this purpose!

 

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Tailor and cobbler workshop at the mother house ūüôā In the pictures, a brother sows a pair of pants and admires its¬†seam, then proceeds to repair some sandals.

 

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A big “thank you” to the generous donor who helped us purchase much-needed front tires for the community car!

 

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Boo! ūüėÄ On Halloween we “dressed up” the front door of the mother house for the joy of the little children who live in the neighborhood.

 

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Franciscans of Life presented Project Joseph (Proyecto Jose’) at the II Respect Life Ministry Hispanic Conference.

 

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Mrs. Joan Crown, Executive Director of Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami, along with our Superior and Director of Project Joseph.

 

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Franciscans of Life attended the Ministry Fair at St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, raising awareness for Project Joseph and its great need for mentors.

 

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St. Pius X – our “Brother Giuseppe”


We are celebrating today the feast of a Franciscan saint, Pope Pius X. Born Giuseppe Sarto, he entered seminary at 15, was ordained at 23 and became pastor of Salzano (province of Venice) at age 32, where he remained for the following eight years.

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It is during his residence in Salzano where he became a professed member of the “Ordo Franciscanum Saecularis”. Originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, this¬†was the third order founded by St. Francis after that of the Friars¬†Minor (the Franciscans) and of the Poor Ladies (the Poor Clares). It welcomed those who wished to follow the life of the Gospel but could not join the “regular” orders – this included married men and women, diocesan clergy, and also those who were single but discerning the call to marriage.

“Brother Giuseppe” was known for his kindness to the poor. He restored the Church of Salzano, enlarged the hospital, and was known during his years as bishop of Mantua to give copies of texts of dogmatic and moral theology to poor seminarians.

Upon election as bishop of Rome, with the name of Pius X, he followed his spiritual father St. Francis in promoting devotion to the Holy Eucharist, even when this meant breaking with long-established customs in the Latin Church.

He encouraged the faithful to receive Holy Communion daily in a time in which frequent communion was far from being the customary practice. He also dispensed the sick from the pre-communion fast, which at the time was due from midnight of the previous day. Furthermore, he strongly promoted giving First Communion to children as soon as they¬†manifested sufficient discretion, lowering the “age of reason” from 12 to 7 years old. Finally, he urged the frequent reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to worthily receive Holy Communion.

Intending to “restore everything in Christ”, he began a series of extensive reforms of the liturgy.

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The Porziuncula, a simple church where the first Franciscans praised and glorified God

The first step he took in this direction was to affirm the primacy of Gregorian chant in the Latin churches, but not for the reasons that some today wish to attribute it… He did so¬†because it represented a much simpler musical style than the¬†theatrical style¬†that was predominant at the time, namely Classical and Baroque compositions. His intent was all-encompassing: by restoring the chanting by the people, he wished¬†to restore the¬†active participation of the faithful in the liturgy. In this he would be echoed by his successor to the Chair of Peter, who insisted that chant had to be restored to the use of the people since “it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers“.

Insisting in the importance of the participation of the lay faithful in the life of the Church, St. Pius mandated that catechism classes be established in every parish in the world, and redacted a Catechism known for its “simplicity of exposition and depth of content”, which found its worthy successor in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, not StPiusXatDeskaimed to the use of the clergy but to the entire People of God.
His most encompassing reforms were of the Code of Canon Law and of the Divine Office. The former received a universal structure. The latter was a major revision: he abolished and forbade¬†the Breviary established by St. Pius V, promulgating a revision that rearranged¬†the psalms, dividing them when too long, and significantly reducing the individual Hours. The changes also made necessary a reform of the Roman Missal, which was completed¬†in the 1920 typical edition by his successor to the Apostolic See. This was the fourth revision of the so-called “Tridentine Mass” since the day that St.¬†Pius V¬†established it as the norm¬†for most¬†diocesan clergy of the Latin Rite.

During his pontificate, St Pius X was very close to the people in times of natural disasters Рwe recall the earthquake of Calabria and the eruption of Mount Vesuvio Рand showed his paternal care towards the Secular Franciscan Order by asking the Franciscan friars to take spiritual care of them (see the Latin document here). The Franciscan spirit which permeated his life and pontificate could be summarized by his words concerning the Catholic attitude towards the Holy Father:

“How must the Pope be loved? Not in word, nor in tongue, but in deed, and in truth. When a person is loved, one tries to adhere in everything to his thoughts, to execute his will, to interpret his desires. When we love the Pope, we make no¬†arguments¬†around¬†what he disposes¬†or demands, or¬†about how far¬†obedience must go, and in what things one must obey; we do not say that he has not spoken clearly enough…we do not place his orders in doubt…we do not limit the scope¬†in which he can¬†and should¬†exercise his authority; we do not set above the authority of the Pope that of other people no matter how¬†learned who dissent from the Pope, who¬†may be¬†learned but are not holy, because he who¬†is holy cannot dissent from the Pope.

This is the cry of a hurting heart, that with deep bitterness¬†I express, not for your sake, beloved¬†brothers, but with you in order to deplore the conduct of many priests, who not only dare¬†to debate and criticize the wishes of the Pope, but are not ashamed¬†to reach impudent and shameless¬†disobedience, with much scandal for the good and with so much ruin of souls. (Discorso 18-XI-1912)”

In this he echoes the words of the Seraphic Father who writes:

“Brother Francis, and whoever may be at the head of this religion, promises obedience and reverence to our Lord Pope Innocent and to his successors. And the other brothers shall be bound to obey Brother Francis and his successors. […]¬†Let all the brothers be Catholics, and live and speak in a Catholic manner. Let none of the brothers preach contrary to the form and institution of the holy Roman Church. (Rule)

The Lord gave me and still gives me such faith in priests who live according to the manner of the holy Roman Church because of their order, that if they were to persecute me, I would still have recourse to them. And if I possessed as much wisdom as Solomon had and I came upon pitiful priests of this world, I would not preach contrary to their will in the parishes in which they live. And I desire to fear, love, and honor them and all others as my masters. And I do not wish to consider sin in them because I discern the Son of God in them and they are my masters.”¬† (Testament)

St Pius was known to have said: “I was born poor, I lived poor, and I wish to die poor.” Falling ill on the feast of the Assumption, also weighed down by the distress of the First World War that he had tried so difficultly to prevent, he expressively prohibited the¬†embalming¬†of his remains¬†and was buried in a simple, unadorned tomb in the crypt of St Peter’s Basilica.

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To him the Lord entrusted the Church at a very difficult time – when the world was transitioning into the Great Wars that would forever change its face and usher a new era for civilization in terms of destruction and reconstruction. We are all indebted to him for the courage and simplicity with which he embraced the task of laying the foundations for a comprehensive renewal of the Church.

For those who wish to read some of his writings, you may visit the page dedicated to him on the website of the Holy See, here.

 

 

“Life calls out to life”


A couple of months ago we mentioned that there would be some upcoming articles focusing on¬†Project Joseph and on our family, the Franciscans of Life. The former we addressed in April. Today we continue this “mini series” by answering the question…

Who Are The Franciscans Of Life?

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   The Franciscans of Life is a private association of Catholic laymen who are celibate, singler, or married.  It is the hope of the society to become a public association of the faithful someday, maybe an institute of mixed life, where regular and secular meet.

   We exist with the permission and blessing of the Archbishop of Miami, the Most Reverend Thomas Wenski. Men from six countries, four language groups and three generations make up the fraternity.

¬†¬† We attempt to replicate that brotherhood that grew up around Saint Francis of Assisi in the thirteenth century, where there were friars, nuns, married men and women, diocesan priests, widows and single people who followed the Gospel according to the Rule of Penance written by Saint Francis.¬† Today, our fraternity is comprised of men only.¬† There are “regular” brothers who live the evangelical counsels in private vows and “extern” brothers who live the evangelical counsels as single or married men.

Our Way of Life

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The Franciscans of Life make a covenant to live the Gospel according to the Rule of Penance and the constitutions of the society.  Every brother, celibate, single, or married is a full member of the fraternity.  Therefore, each one binds himself to observe obedience to the Church and the superior of the fraternity, to live a life of detachment from material things and temporal honors, and to persevere in chastity in the celibate, single, or married life.

While all of the brothers in Franciscans of Life are lay and secular, we use the term “extern” to identify those brothers who are married or single and hoping to marry, and the term “regular” to identify those brothers who live in community, are in private vows and are celibate.

 Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, private prayer, fasting and abstinence are the guiding lights for the brothers.  Fraternity is a hallmark of Franciscan tradition.  Therefore, the brothers look to Christ and the apostles and endeavor to follow that model of fraternal life and service.

Common prayer, sharing, openness to each other, our families, and support for each other along the journey toward the perfection of charity are the means by which the brothers sanctify their lives and the lives of those they touch.  The brothers are faithful and obedient to the Catholic Church as she speaks to us through the successor of Peter and the local bishop.

Our Mission

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The mission of the fraternity is to proclaim the Gospel of Life through service to the voiceless, in particular the preborn child and his family, the terminally ill and the elderly, the immigrant poor who feels hopeless, and the person living with disabilities.

The brothers engage in a variety of apostolic activities in the Archdiocese of Miami. These include catechesis, campus ministry, Respect Life, prayer vigils at abortion mills, and serving fathers in crisis pregnancies through Project Joseph. Other apostolates are hospice and linking immigrant poor with community resources.

The invisible dimension of the brothers’ mission is a life of atonement for those who embrace the culture of death.

Extern Brothers

 

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The extern brothers live in the secular world, but are not of the world.  They are husbands, fathers, and single men.  The fraternity is also open to deacons and diocesan priests who have the permission of their bishop to join.

   These brothers hold typical jobs in the world and belong to different parishes in the Archdiocese.  However, they come together with each other and the regular brothers at the weekly family meeting, liturgical functions, prayer, and apostolic activities.

   Those who are husbands and fathers include their spouses and children in as many of the fraternal activities as possible.  In this way, the Franciscan spirit is carried into the family and the family is embraced by the fraternity.

   The extern brothers and their families engage in the proclamation of the Gospel of Life through participation in activities that promote the sanctity of life.

Regular Brothers

 

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These brothers live in community under the leadership of a superior.  They make private vows of obedience, poverty and chastity and are celibate for life.

None of the brothers owns anything individually or in common.  They rent their home, share their material resources, and work to provide for their material needs as prescribed by Saint Francis in his Testament.  When the income is not enough, the brothers beg as did the early Franciscans.

The daily life of these brothers is comprised of prayer, apostolic service to the voiceless, study, and labor that generates enough income to support the brothers and their work for the poor.

Under the guidance and encouragement of a superior also known as a guardian, the brothers strive to live as a family where brother serves brother as Christ served the apostles when he washed their feet at the Last Supper.  These brothers spend a great deal of time together at prayer, work, ministry, study, recreation and rest.

 

Trinitarian

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Like Saint Francis and the first generation Franciscans, the Franciscans of Life look to the Trinity for guidance and example in community, intimacy, love, unity and holiness.

 

Marian

 

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Saint Maximilian Kolbe and Saint John Paul II are the patrons of the Franciscans of Life.  From these saints we learn to live under the mantle  of the Immaculate and to protect the sanctity of life from conception to death.

Vita ad vitam vocat…”

Prayerfully consider whether the Lord is inviting you to walk the way with us. In doing so, bear in mind the sayings of our patron saints: “Do not be afraid…forget not love!”

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Holy Week: a time to choose


Palm Sunday

As Holy Week moves along,palm-sunday-crosses-6 the Franciscans of Life are also moving right along with the liturgy and the celebration of the paschal mysteries. ¬†The week began with the liturgy of Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday). ¬†The brothers attended ¬†the liturgy as family. ¬†It was a very moving day for us, especially for those brothers who had never seen the liturgy of Palm Sunday in the Ordinary Form. ¬†The beauty and solemnity of the liturgical celebration removed any doubt that the Ordinary Form can raise the heart and ¬†mind to God as much as the Extraordinary Form. ¬†In both, Christ does his part. ¬†It is up to us to do our part. ¬†The young men and women from LifeTeen¬†reenacted the Lord’s passion as the Gospel was read. We were impressed to see how prayerful the kids looked and how well they memorized the many lines in the Gospel reading. ¬†Of course the priest and the deacon helped out during the reading.

Meet Our New Postulant

Monday night was a very special night for the fraternity.  We received a new postulant, Alberto Emilio Rodriguez.  Alberto joined us as an aspirant several months ago.  He is the product of a solid Catholic home and

Alberto est√° a punto de comenzar el discernimiento

Postulant Alberto Rodriguez, FFV

Catholic education.  We thank his parents and the Marist Brothers for their investment in Alberto.  Postulant Alberto is active in the community, especially in youth retreats.  As a student the only thing we can say is that he is brilliant.  He was accepted by three leading universities in the United States, all of which offered him full scholarships.

Lazaro Rodriguez (father), Postulant Alberto, Br. Jay and Br. Luis sign the registry after Alberto is received as a posulant

However, Alberto has decided to study in Miami and form with the Franciscans of Life.  He has responded to what Jesus said to his apostles at the Last Supper when he washed their feet:

14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:14-16).

As we have said, he is academically gifted, speaks two languages, is the class president at his school, has been a retreat speaker and altar server, is an excellent drummer and an aeronautics aficionado.  Most important, he is a man of great faith and a deep prayer life.

New Secular Franciscan of Life

We have also received a new brother as novice for the Secular Franciscans of Life, Brother Luis Charbel.

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Br. Luis Charbel, FFV was received as a novice at St. Maximilian Kolbe Chapel.

Br. Bernardo di Carmine and his mother, Mrs. Angela Torres

 

Brother Bernardo Di Carmine delivered a beautiful reflection during solemn vespers when Luis was received.

Luis is originally from Colombia. ¬†He and his wife have made Miami their home along with their beautiful eight children. ¬†Luis came to us driven by the Holy Spirit. ¬†He has always experienced an attraction to the spirit of St. Francis. ¬†His children serve the poor in a Franciscan ministry. ¬†However, Luis had never done anything about his craving for Francis of Assisi and his way of life until he saw an article about Project Joseph, which the Franciscans of Life operate for Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami. ¬†Docile to the Holy Spirit, he responded¬†to Christ’s challenge¬†to the apostles during his Passover with them:

12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these. (Jn 14:12).

"Louis-ix" by El Greco - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Sfan00_IMG using CommonsHelper.Author: Original uploader was Uri at en.wikipedia. 2003-07-01 (original upload date). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louis-ix.jpg#/media/File:Louis-ix.jpg

St. Louis IX by El Greco

Like Alberto, Luis is also a man of profound faith and prayer. ¬†His patron saints are Saint Louis¬†King of France, the patron of the Third Order of St. Francis, and Saint Charbel Makhluf, Maronite monk and hermit, known for his intense life of prayer and asceticism. ¬†Luis couldn’t have picked better patron saints.

Saint Louis IX was a contemporary of Saint Francis of Assisi and king of France.  He is one of the earliest secular brothers in the Franciscan family, a faithful husband and the father of eleven children.

Saint Charbel Makhlouf, O.L.M. The Wonder Worker

Saint Charbel was Maronite monk and hermit at the Monastery of Saint Maron where he lived a life of severe asceticism.  For those who may not understand the term asceticism, it has little to do with corporal penances and much to do with the practice of the virtues.  As an ascetic, Saint Charbel disciplined his mind and body to conform to the virtues of Christ and his Blessed Mother.

Like Saint Charbel, Luis has a very personal relationship with the Immaculate and recently completed his consecration to Mary in the Kolbe tradition.

Holy Week: time to reach out

John’s Gospel tells us that after Jesus had finished the Last Supper and had washed his disciples’ feet he said to¬†them

“Love each other as I have loved you. 13¬†Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one‚Äôs life for one‚Äôs friends. 14¬†You are my friends if you do what I command. 15¬†I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master‚Äôs business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16¬†You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit‚ÄĒfruit that will last‚ÄĒand so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17¬†This is my command: Love each other.” ¬†(Jn 15:12b-17).

Holy Week is the perfect time to reflect on our universal vocation: ¬†the perfection of love. It’s a time to examine what we do and who we are,¬†keeping in mind the precedence of being over doing.

Jesus calls us friends, for that is our universal vocation.  He has loved us enough to call us his friends.  Brothers Alberto and Luis have taken the leap of faith.  Christ chose and extended his hand from the cross in friendship.  Like Saint Francis of Assisi, they responded.

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