“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!

[How to Help]

Project Joseph – Better Men, Better Dads


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The Story behind Project Joseph

   In 2009 Brother Jay Rivera, founder of the Franciscans of Life, was volunteering at Respect Life’s Pregnancy Care Center in Hollywood, Florida when he began to notice that the fathers of the infants in danger of being aborted were not being served by Respect Life Ministry.

   It was not that the Archdiocese had anything against the dads.  Simply . . . no one noticed. Men dropped off the expectant mother at the center, be it for class, counseling or material assistance, and sat in their cars, drove away or waited in the waiting area.  The volunteers who served at the center would eagerly jump to the assistance of the expectant mother, but would have little or no interaction with the father.     As Brother Jay watched, the thought hit him.  “This is very much like Planned Parenthood and other ‘pro-choice’ organizations.  Pregnancy is a woman’s issue.”

    Like many other Franciscan fraternities, the Franciscans of Life place themselves under the protection of the Immaculate.  Brother began to pray to the Immaculate for guidance.  He also spoke to Joan Crown, Archdiocesan Director of Respect Life Ministry for the Archdiocese of Miami.

     He laid out before them his concern that the fathers of the preborn babies were out of the loop.  They didn’t know what to do or what was expected of them.  Many of them were frightened by the sudden news of a pregnancy, wanted to walk away from the situation in the hopes that it would go away or offered to pay for an abortion as one would pay someone compensation for damages in an accident.  The mothers were holding on to their preborn babies, but uncertain whether to go forward with the pregnancy.

    Thanks to the support from the volunteer counselors and teachers at Respect Life, most of the mothers were determined to give the pregnancy a chance.  However, giving your preborn child a chance is not the same as eagerly awaiting his birth.  That chance can be revoked at any time.

    Brother began walking up to the dads in the parked cars and invited them to come into the center.  The men seemed friendly enough, but not too sure what to do about this invitation.  They were hesitant.  Of course, Brother Jay had no idea what he was going to do with the men either.  He knew that he had to offer them something.

     Finally one father, whom we shall call David, came inside.  He was not too eager to be there, but he seemed curious to find out what this older gentleman who looked like a monk wanted.  The first time that he entered the center they spoke for about 45 minutes about anything that came up.

    That night, Brother again knelt in prayer asking for guidance.  He prayed to St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan family, to the Immaculate, patroness of the Franciscans, and to St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan saint who is the patron of pro-life workers.       Simply put, he called a team meeting and placed the situation on the table.

We have preborn children who are at risk for abandonment and death, if both father and mother don’t step up to the plate.  But they don’t know what to do and I don’t know what to teach them, because there is so much information out there and such little time here.” 

    While at prayer he felt someone saying, Give it to St. Joseph.”

    The next day would be the first Sunday of the month, the day that the Secular and Regular Franciscans have their local community gathering.  Brother went to bed and dreamed.  He was in a small room that was illumined, but there were no signs of electricity, no flames, or windows.  The room just glowed.  In the room stood a friar with his back to the door.  Brother Jay recognized this friar as Brother Francis of Assisi.      Brother Jay saw the grey sleeve of Francis’ habit rise as he raised his arm pointing to something in front of them.  When he looked, Brother Jay saw a wooden statue of St. Joseph, about 10 inches tall, holding the child Jesus in one arm and something green in the other hand.

    The next day, he attended the fraternity meeting and shared his concern with his Franciscan brothers and sisters.  He mentioned the dream as well.  A Franciscan sister who was at the meeting got up and left the room.

    She came back with a white box. As she handed the white box to Brother Jay, she said:

Someone gave this to me about 12 years ago.  I have another, so I put it in my closet waiting to find someone to whom I could give it.  This morning, as I was getting ready to come to the gathering, something told me to put this in my car.  I think it’s for you.

    When Brother opened the box, there was the wooden statue that he had seen in his dream.  It was 10 inches tall.  St. Joseph was holding the child Jesus in one arm and something green in the other hand.  They were lilies.

    This was the confirmation.  Saint Joseph had accepted the challenge.  He would walk with Brother Jay and the expectant dads in crisis pregnancies.

Where Is Project Joseph Today?

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Today, Project Joseph has evolved into an archdiocesan network of formation and service for men who are in crisis pregnancies.

The program operates out of four of the five archdiocesan pregnancy help centers:  Hollywood, North Dade, South Dade and Fort Lauderdale.

At each center there is at least one trained mentor who provides small group education to fathers, counseling and material assistance.

Fathers may attend an entire program of 18 modules divided into three blocks of six:  Becoming a Better Man; Parenting; Future Planning.

After completing this set of modules, fathers are invited to continue in the program where they receive education and support in other areas of fatherhood such as:

  • community resources,
  • behavior management,
  • infant development,
  • chastity and human sexuality,
  • legal rights of fathers,
  • faith and parenting,
  • marriage and family,
  • and safeguarding children.

Dads are “paidParent Dollars for every session they attend.  They can cash in these parent dollars for anything from diapers to cribs and mattresses.  A father may join Project Joseph at any point from the moment of conception until the child is one-year old.  Project Joseph is always there to help if a father needs to return later.

There is no charge for the services that we provide, nor do we charge the Archdiocese of Miami for such services.  Project Joseph is financed through grants and donations.

Through the year, Project Joseph serves approximately 20 fathers per week, 50 weeks out of the year.  The only time the program is closed is during Holy Week and Christmas week.

It is run by men for men.  Our mentors are volunteers from the community. They are Catholics in good standing with the Church.

The Franciscans of Life provide initial and ongoing formation for the mentors.

Project Joseph is grounded in the spirituality of St. Francis of Assisi.

Fathers and mentors are brothers who walk side by side on this journey, as did Saint Francis of Assisi and those whom he and his brothers served.  The mentors approach the fathers from the “bottom up”.  Like Saint Francis, they are here to serve, not to preach, teach, correct, discipline or be heard.   They preach the Gospel through their lives and through their unconditional love for every man whom they serve.  We train our mentors in the pastoral methods of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, a Franciscan Friar and patron of pro-life workers.

Like his spiritual father, Saint Francis, Saint Maximilian placed his trust in the Immaculate.  He planted the seed and allowed her to guide him and those with whom he walked.  Like Christ, he was willing to lay down his life for his brother, especially if that brother was the father of a family.  Our mentors are formed in the spirit of total detachment from self and confidence in the Immaculate and Divine Providence.  We do what we need to do for the dads and we get out of God’s way.

If you are a man in the Archdiocese of Miami, ask yourself if God is inviting you to help us proclaim the Gospel of Life by walking with your brothers. Do not worry about not knowing what to do. We in the apostolate will walk with you and our brothers. Contact us to find out more!

Below is a short video about Project Joseph:

 [How to Help]

Conscience in crisis


This year we remember the landmark decision Roe v. Wade of 1973. For 42 years, the American conscience has grappled with the rightness and wrongness of abortion.

Abortion is a human rights issue. If a human being does not have the right to be born, of what use are the other rights that follow? That’s the first problem.

The right to choose does not mean the right to terminate an innocent life. The problem with “it’s a woman’s right” is that we’re saying that a mother has the right to choose to terminate the life of her pre-born child. Should she have the right to terminate the life of a child after he or she is born?

The case of rape does not hold. The father is obviously a heinous criminal, but not the child. He’s her child as well, not just the male’s child. If a parent feels that keeping such a child would do her harm, there are adoption agencies that help with this. One does not need to kill a child to get him out of one’s life.

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Another problem with “a woman’s right to choose” is that it strips the man of his right to be a father. The child of a good father only has a father if the woman decides to keep the child – only then the father comes into the equation. However, we’re saying that a raped woman is carrying a “scumbag’s” child. Let’s run with that for a moment. If it’s a scumbag’s child, the child fathered by the good man also has a dad. If the rapist is a parent, so is the good man. What happened to a parent’s duty to bring his children into the world?

We can’t abdicate duties, because we have the means to eliminate the obligation. Means does not make right. We have the means to blow up our planet too.

It is true that we have a duty to protect and provide for those who have been born, regardless of age, social condition and politics. The duty to protect the voiceless is not rooted in the fact that a person has been born so now we have to provide for him.

Our duty to the voiceless is grounded in our humanity. As human beings we acknowledge that other human beings have the same rights as us. They have the right to be born and the right to succeed in life. The human response is to protect those rights from the moment of conception to natural death. Abortion is not a human response. It is a response of humans. Responses of humans are acts of which a human being is capable, but they are not acts that make us better people.

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The bible argument does not hold. The fact that Jesus never uses the term abortion does not mean that he was indifferent to it. Abortions did exist in his time. There were many other forms of evil as well.

The Gospel writers report in concepts. Jesus condemned evil, not specific acts alone. Those specific acts that the evangelists mention in the scriptures are given to the reader as examples of evil, not the only evils in the world.

The Scriptures were written as summaries of the faith of God’s people, not as comprehensive statements. If one wants to know what God revealed to man, one must look at the oral tradition as well as the written tradition. Much of what we know about moral truths was passed down from generation to generation through oral tradition. The biblical writings are synopses. We must read beyond the scriptures to fully understand what the early Jews and Christians understood, and understand it as they understood it.

BABY M-2 (2)

[How to Help]

“Walk in my presence . . . ,” Brother begins his journey


The journey of a consecrated brother in the Franciscans of Life has several steps.  At the beginning they seem to move very quickly and then they slowly settle down.  That’s because the early steps are short.  As the child learns to walk, he takes wider steps.

Let’s follow the journey of Br. Raul Carmine Carmarca Torres.  It began at Baptism when his parents and godparents promised to raise him in the Catholic faith and he was washed clean of Original Sin by the waters of Baptism and initiated into the Catholic Church.  He would later make his First Holy Communion and then be confirmed, concluding his initiation into the faith.

But God does not stop working with us on the day of our Confirmation.  On that day, He is finished with the initial part of the process.  Then began the next step.  Like any other man, Raul had to find his place in the Church.  After a few years involved in campus ministry and debating Traditionalist points on Catholic Answers Forums, he met the Franciscans of Life.  This dialogue/debate between Raul and Br. Jay went from 2012 to the September 2013.  It was almost one year.

Raul Carmine CamarcaBr. Jay invited Raul to attend a workshop on the Church’s teachings on the life issues with an introduction to Project Joseph.

This is the young man who entered the door on June 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM.  He was very friendly, but reserved and very guarded.  Almost wondering, “What’s a nice boy like me doing in a place like this?”

That didn’t last very long.  Raul  can’t keep quiet more thanBr. Chris and Raul 20 minutes at a time and remaining distant is against his nature.  This is a man who is naturally oriented toward others.  This became obvious very quickly, especially as he and Brother Christopher Thomas enjoyed some coffee and donut.

But God was not finished.  Later, Brother Jay would ask Raul to visit a family meeting with the Franciscans of Life.  When the meeting ended, he was excited and happy, like a kid who has just been told that he got an A on a math exam.  He continued to attend the family meetings.WP_20140825_066

On August 23, 2014, Brother Jay decided to risk it and invited Raul to enter the aspirancy program.  Brother still had reservations.  But he put it all in the hands of the Immaculate.   On the 24th of August, Raul accepted the invitation and was received as an aspirant on August 25, 2014.

The aspirants receive a white shirt and a Tau pin that they wear on their collar

WP_20140825_081On October 27, 2014, Brother Jay found himself at prayer in front of the Immaculate.  As usual, he prayed for all of his brothers, secular and consecrated; aspirants, postulants, novices and professed.  He was very tired and his eyes started to close.  As if in  a state between asleep and awake he clearly saw Raul’s face.

“Is that whom you want me to call for you,” Brother Jay asked the Immaculate.  “But Mother, there are some complications, because he’s a doctoral student and I don’t yet know his family,” Brother Jay told the Immaculate.  “Please give me a sign that I’m understanding you correctly.”

Suddenly, the sleepiness vanished and Brother Jay started to laugh.  He was not sure what was going to happen next, but he was sure of one thing.  He had a message to deliver for the Immaculate.  It didn’t make a difference whether Raul believed it or not.  Brother never promised the Immaculate and she never demanded that Raul would believe the message.  He was to deliver the invitation to enter the Franciscans of Life.  The  Immaculate had already placed a strategy in Brother Jay’s mind how Raul would be a postulant and finish his degree.  On October 29, 2014, Brother Jay delivered the message and the plan that the Immaculate had put into his mind.  In less than 24 hours, Raul accepted the invitation.

After consulting with the brothers, the date was set.  Raul would be invested in the seraphic robe on November 17, 2014 the Feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, patroness of the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, whose rule the Franciscans of Life follow.  Brothers have to be invested in the name they received at baptism, when they become novices, a new name is assigned to them.  That evening, Raul became Brother Raul Carmine Carmarca Torres, Student Brother, in the FFV.  Assisting in the investiture was Mrs. Angela Torres, Raul’s mother and Brother Christopher Thomas, whom Raul had chosen as his sponsor and witness..

The habit and all the pieces come in a plastic bag.  Brother Chris was holding the bag, handing Mrs. Torres one piece at a time.  When he handed her the Seraphic Tunic she said, “Que emoción,” which Spanish means “I’m 009so moved.”  

There is no such thing as an investiture without comic relief.  We had to take off Raul’s shirt to throw the tunic over his head.  But Raul just stood there as his mother and one of us fiddled with the tiny buttons on his shirt.  Finally, Brother Jay said, “Oh for goodness sake.  You can help us, you know.”  The buttons were tiny.

But all worked out well.  At the end of the investiture, Brother Raul, his mother, the brothers and some of his friends who attended took pictures and offered Brother their best wishes.

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One thing that the new postulant has to be able to do, besides dress himself is to explain each piece of his habit.  The grey was chosen because it was the original color worn by St. Francis and the early brothers.  The tunic stops at midcalf, because that how many Italian peasants wore them in the 13th century.  The cowl (hood) was worn for warmth and the scapular of Our  Lady we have added over the years in honor of the Immaculate who appeared to St. Simon Stock wearing the clothes of a peasant woman, undyed brown wool for her tunic and apron (scapular) and undyed white wool for the mantle.

The postulant’s habit is held together by a leather belt as a reminder that St. Francis also started his journey wearing a leather belt, before he gave it up for a piece of rope.  The cord is received when one enters the novitiate.

Over the heart, every Franciscan of Life wears the Tau just as St. Francis drew it on his habit when he first learned of its meaning.  Postulants and novices wear a wooden Tau, while professed wear a bronze Tau.  The red cord that holds the Tau in place reminds us of the Passion of Christ to which we have a special devotion.  Finally, there are things to do around the house.  This postulant’s first assignment was to learn how to cook.

Each step is recorded in our family’s chronicles and witnessed by two people other than the superior.  Raul had chosen Brother Chris as one of his witnesses, Brother Jay chose Raul’s mother to be her son’s second witness, something that does not happen too often. The journey of a new Franciscan of Life only begins here.  There is still much to learn and many steps to be walked.  There is a one year novitiate and at least three years of temporary vows.

You too can walk this path.  Think about it.014

Enjoy the pictures.

Let's see if the oven is ready.

Let’s see if the oven is ready.

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Making Mom’s sauce — “Where is she when I need her?”

Figuring out how to cook a precooked lasagna

Figuring out how to cook a precooked lasagna

Getting the lasgna ready for the oven.

Getting the lasgna ready for the oven.

Parents and God: friends or foes?


This week, I’ve had the privilege of working with many parents and their children.  When you work in the field of evangelization, you get to meet many families.  I consider it pretty special.  I always walk away feeling that I have exchanged gifts.  It can be an individual member of a family or an entire family who gives me a gift and to whom I give a gift.

For the sake of privacy and because it would be silly to give so many details, I’m going to combine all of my families into three groups.

GROUP I:

I received a letter from someone whom I do not know.  I have never met this person or any member of her family.  It was a lovely letter.

Brother JR, I just wanted to thank you – you were so instrumental in our family’s conversion five years ago. I spent many long hours reading your articles, which were always gentle and full of the beauty of the faith. For that, for helping us know the beauty of the Catholic Church, I am forever grateful.

God bless you, and please know you’re in my prayers.

This letter moved me a great deal.  The Holy Spirit can use anything and anyone to save.  The key is to be aware of that one is an instrument, not the solution to a problem and certainly not God.  Messages like this help us.

My articles are not written with children in mind.  They’re written for adults.  This means that an adult in the family read the articles and shared it with spouse and children.  This is a parent who has found a means to evangelize the family, a means that works for that family.  This is the duty of parents, to bring their families to the faith.

GROUP II:

The other case is also a letter representative of how other parents think.  I have the honor of helping some men and women discern their vocation.  I like to think of it as walking alongside them.  At the end of the day, God does the calling and they respond.  I’m just there to make sure that the person is paying attention.

In vocation discernment, I not only walk with the inquirer, but I often walk with the parents, if they allow it.

During the walk, I have received many positive and holy reactions from parents, especially those parents who have given God a hearing.  I call it a hearing, because they have sought me out or invited me to their home so as to understand what it is that God is asking of them and their sons.  I’m not God and I’m not the son.  I’m the middleman.  I get the opportunity to have some wonderful conversations with parents about consecrated life, marriage, Holy Orders, and parenting.   I received a letter from a parent that really speaks for the several parents with whom I’ve spoken and edited it for privacy and brevity.

Dear Br. Jay,

God’s greatest gifts to a couple are their children.  It is with great joy and love for God that we support our son’s aspiration to become a religious brother or any other vocation he chooses.  Our son . . . and our family are blessed to have you in our lives.  May our God of love and peace keep you healthy to continue to serve Him.

With much love and admiration,

I had to share this message, because I’ve heard this from other parents.  They understand that their children are a gift.  They understand that giving their son or daughter license to respond to God’s plan for his or her life is an act of love for God and the child.  They understand that having a guide is a blessing that God gives to the family, to the son or daughter and to the guide.  We’re all blessed that God has called us to cooperate with Him in His plan for the salvation of this soul.  They have understood the most important part of all.  God has a plan for every human being who is conceived.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Jer 1:5

One’s vocation in life has already been written in God’s heart before one ever existed.  All one has to do is follow what God puts before you in the present moment.  He takes care of the rest.

GROUP III:

I also have had experience with a third group of families who struggle with the idea of a vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life.  The reasons for their struggles can be many.  I believe that the bottom line is that they are worried about their children’s happiness.  But here is where faith should enter the picture.

One’s happiness is not dependent on the parent.  A man’s happiness is dependent on the choices he makes.  If he chooses to cooperate with God’s plan for his life, he will be happy.  If he chooses some other plan (no matter how noble), he may as well sign his own death sentence.  There is no happiness outside of God’s plan for you.

In these families, parents want to take charge and direct the son or daughter in whatever direction they believes is best for the adult child.  There can be validity to this.  If my son or daughter were dating someone with a criminal background and were talking marriage, I have a duty to warn my child.  At the end of the day, it is my child who consents to the marriage or not.  It is not I who consent.  My duty before God and child is to guide.  Guidance is not the same as control, manipulation, placing temptations before our children to get them to change their minds (See Thomas Aquinas), nor is it the same as commanding, threatening or using guilt.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that children living at home have to submit to their parents, meaning to their rules, because it’s the parents’ home.  They do not have to submit to that which is not beneficial to their soul.

As they grow up, children should continue to respect their parents. They should anticipate their wishes, willingly seek their advice, and accept their just admonitions. Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them. This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2217).

Our faith also tells us that

“Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law,(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2222)

And finally, our faith tells us,

“Parents should respect and encourage their children’s vocations. They should remember and teach that the first calling of the Christian is to follow Jesus (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2253).

Occasionally, the adult child is up against a parent that seems to have forgotten this.  If I could send a message to parents it would be very simple.

Man was created to cooperate with God, not compete with Him.  To compete with God is to place oneself and one’s child on a slippery slope.  Don’t do it.  You may regret it.  You never know the long-term damage that you may do to your child’s soul.

Some important points to remember.

First, for the parent, competing with God is contrary to the vocation of parenting.  It raises the question, where is God in this picture?

Therefore, life must be treated with the greatest reverence.  Creating obstacles that interfere with the development of a person’s life according to God’s plan runs the risk of violating the sanctity of that person’s life.

I encourage all parents on this slope to step back.  We don’t have to agree with our children’s choices of a vocation.  Our daughter can bring home the last man on earth whom we would pick for her husband; but if there is no moral impediment and he makes her happy, I have to trust that God loves me and loves my child.

Second, for the child, one may never yield to the will of another, when that will is in conflict with God’s plan.  

This includes other people as well, not just parents.  It’s not a license to rebel against parents and follow others down the wrong path.

God makes His plans pretty clear through people, prayer, scripture, sacraments, and events in our lives.  Love of parents is binding until death; but love of God is the first and greatest commandment and it does not end at death.  We are called to love God for eternity.

We too must trust that even if our vocational choice causes our parents some grief, God loves our parents more than we do.  He will give them what they need.  We can never give our parents what God can give them.  We need to move on and give to God what He asks and take what He gives.  Sometimes, the grief is part of God’s plan.  There is such a thing as redemptive suffering.

Father Mitch Pacwa tells the story of how his father swore that he would never speak to him again and would disown him if he joined the Jesuits.  Mother Angelica told the story of how she had to run away from home to join the Poor Clares, because her mother would not hear of it.  I know that Mother Angelica’s mother eventually softened and actually entered the community.  I don’t know if Mr. Pacwa ever made peace with his son.  These two people are examples of a man and a woman who would not stand on the slippery slope with their parents, no matter how much they loved them.  Regardless of how much or how little they understood God’s plan for their lives, they knew that they had to follow the lead that God was giving them.  God would unwrap the rest with time.

If you keep another person company on a slippery slope, because it will make them happy, you may want to ask yourself the question that Christ asked St. Francis.  “Is it better to serve the Master or the servant?”

We must love and assist our parents in every way we can.  But we must always serve the Master first.  When we do, He will give us the means to honor our father and mother.  Was Mary abandoned by Christ?  Yet Christ said,

“Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matt 12:49-50)

God is both merciful and just.  He will have mercy on those who live according to His plan.  Beware of God’s justice.  It is not God who punishes.  God’s justice is an act of love.  He allows us to live and die with the consequences of our choices.

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel 30 who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. (Mark 10:29-30)

God created families, parents and children.  When he did so, he had a plan for each member of the family.  None of us can presume to love our parents, spouses, or children more than God loves them.  All of us must see our families as a gift that is part a plan in the mind of God.  We have to allow God to unfold that plan little by little.  As He unfolds it, He also gives us the resources to love each family member even more than we do  now.  In the meantime, we follow the lead that he places before us.  If parents and children make an honest mistake, God will help us find our way.

St. John XXIII said, “Follow the signs of the times.”

 

DON’T MESS WITH MY FAMILY


This afternoon I received an important challenge from one of our brothers.  October is an important month, because it’s Respect Life Month.  There are also other important events happening this month.

Today, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family began in the Eternal City of Rome.  On October 19th, Venerable Paul VI will be become Blessed Paul VI.  I don’t think that any of this is a coincidence.

Some people have narrowed down and boxed in pro-life ministry to fight against abortion.  There is probably no greater fight than the fight for human life, but we must not limit ourselves to life in the womb.  We must extend our concern to all people from conception to natural death.  We must protect life at all stages of development and in all conditions: Mc Carthy walk 4healthy, sick, poor, rich, male, female, old and young, with special attention to the voiceless.

But where does life flourish?  Where should life find its first home if not in the family?  Today’s family is under attack, maybe no more than families in the past, but certainly by different kinds of demons.  The enemy is resourceful, if nothing else.  He can find different ways of tearing apart the fabric of the family by war, poverty, disease, bigotry, politics, infidelity, heterodoxy, apostasy, atheism and secularism.  The key is not how creative the enemy can get.  The key is how smart we are.

Human life, outside of the context of family life, is very difficult to defend, much more difficult to protect.  To defend means to defend the dignity of human life.  Man has a dignity that is inherent to his roots, which are found in the hand of the Creator.  This dignity must be defended from those who would reduce man to an unexplained accident in the cosmos, making him expendable because he has no justification for his existence; therefore, no inherent value.

Any footbDON'T MESS WITH MEall player will tell you that the best defense is a good offense.  Translated into Gospel terms, human life must be protected from the culture of indifference which is a culture of death.  The best way to protect man and preserve him for the Kingdom is to push back against the economy of sin.  Sin can no longer be allowed to be the currency that rules our lives as individuals, families or nations.  When sin governs our lives, man despairs and the message of Christ is smothered by the cries of angst . . . . Man looking for gods, rather than GoPope Paul VId.

Pope Paul VI foresaw this coming and tried to warn us in his now famous encyclical Humanae Vitae, on the transmission of human life between husbands and wives in the intimacy of marriage and the shelter of the family.  It is probably the Holy Spirit who has inspired Pope Francis to beatify Pope Paul VI at the end of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.  Immediately following, on October 22nd is the first feast day of St. John Paul II, the author of Gospel of Life.

We besignslieve that this is a good month to do something together that is open to other members of the Catholic and pro-life community.  The Franciscans of Life encourage everyone who reads our blog to organize an activity for this special month on life and the family.  It can be something as simple as an evening rosary between several families, a night of praise and worship, a penitential service in atonement for those who destroy instead of build the human family.  You may want to organize a meal with several couples to celebrate traditional marriage and family.  The demon that afflicts human life and weakens the fabric of the family will only be evicted from our lives with prayer and fasting.  A family or community day of fasting and abstinence is alwaysSt. Max good option.

Please post your ideas in the comments below so that others who read this can take some ideas back to their families and their parishes.  Remember the words of Sacred Scripture.  “Do not be afraid.”  Through the prayers of the Immaculate Christ is slowly, but surely conquering the kingdom of darkness.  He will not leave us orphans.

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/us-bishops-invite-faithful-to-pray-for-family-synod-35304/ (more…)

Monastic Dad Without Mystic Coffee


This is my last full day of vacation at the home of my daughter and son-in-law. In one sense, I’m sad to be leaving, because I won’t be seeing IMG_3369them again until December. On the other hand, it will be nice to get home, back into my routine and not live out of a suitcase. I don’t see how these folks who travel a lot do it. Living out of a suitcase is not fun.

I’ve made some interesting discoveries during this vacation, discoveries that one does not make in the seminary or on retreat. There are some rules that one must follow if one is a Dad, father-in-law, sibling, theologian and religious superior.

  • If you debate with your family, you will lose every time. Your family does not use the methods of Augustine, Aquinas and Bonaventure and you haven’t used your family’s methods since you left the world; you’re a little rusty.
  • Humor can often be a mystery. You often find yourself wondering what they’re laughing about or you’ll laugh and they won’t understand. Sometimes you get the joke 20 minutes later.
  • If you have a relative who likes to play the Devil’s Advocate, just tell him or her that you accept that you’re as dumb as sheep and move on to pizza. Those of us who are monastic don’t know how to respond to the Devil’s Advocate, because St. John Paul II banned this kind of argumentation in 1983. It’s been a long time since some of us have had to deal with the Devil’s Advocate.
  • Obedience and authority have nothing to do with relationships. Monastic relationships are defined by a hierarchy. You never question a superior or a brother who is older than you are unless he commands you to violate the moral law. Relationships out here are built on respect, love, trust, friendship, cooperation, complementarity and common goals, just as in religious life. However, they are horizontal, not vertical as in a monastic community.
  • Forget structures and schedules. We are very used to following a horarium and doing things a certain way, speaking a certain way, saying some things and never saying other things, or simply doing things in a certain order. In this world, you have to be very flexible. Schedules are governed by work, domestic chores, social commitments and custom. In our world, schedules are governed by the superior, period. He makes up the schedule and the entire community follows along. It’s very easy.
  • As far as what you can or cannot say, the rule and constitutions take care of that. Out here, the rules are not written down. You have to observe. You may often have what I call “The Stupid Look” on your face, because you don’t have a road map for the day or for the conversation. You’re trying to figure out what’s what.

I believe that secular clergy have an advantage over religious men, especially monastic religious. The life of the secular clergy is closer to that of the typical family.  The secular clergyman has never renounced the world. He simply has a different place in the Church. He is a deacon, priest or bishop. But he is not required to distance himself from the secular world.

The life of the monastic is very different. Our first time with our family we may feel like one who is learning to ski. His feet are in two worlds at the same time and he has to keep them from colliding or he will fall.  He’ll feel that he is neither a good monastic nor a good family member.

As a monastic spending time with family, one goes through three stages.

1) You’re excited to see your family; nothing bothers you.

2) You realize that you’re in a different world and you feel anxious.

3) You throw your anxiety into God’s hands and you relax.

Many people think monastic is a place where there is an eight foot wall and you never leave. The truth is that monastic is a way of living and thinking. It can take place in a monastery or on the road. Each order is different. To be monastic is to build your life around prayer, silence, solitude, brotherhood, study, penance and out of that grows service. When you’re a dad and a monastic, your life is very different from that of your adult children, their spouses, and friends.  You have to detach from your old self to become the person Christ means for you to be today.

La Aventura Conjunta de Franciscanos de Vida y Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de Miami en el Apostolado de Vida.


En nuestra primera empresa conjunta, los Franciscanos de Vida y la Oficina de Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de Miami presentó una mañana de formación para hombres que sirven en el Proyecto José, un apostolado de alcance y formación dirigido a padres que enfrentan embarazos en crisis. El Proyecto José se dirige directamente a los padres, mas incluye a las madres y a la familia a través de sesiones individuales y familiares.

Aunque no todo Franciscano de Vida es asignado al Proyecto José, a todo hermano (seglar y consagrado) se le requiere conocer todos los aspecto del trabajo pro-vida llevado a cabo por la Sociedad.

El hermano Jay, Superior de los Franciscanos de Vida y Director del Proyecto José, Arquidiócesis de Miami, dio comienzo a la mañana con una reflexión sobre la escuela franciscana de espiritualidad cristiana. Subrayó los elementos clave de nuestra espiritualidad, que la rinden el modelo más apropiado para llevar el Evangelio de la Vida a nuestros padres en nuestras circunstancias particulares: minoría, hermandad, expiación, la Cruz, Encarnación, la Trinidad, y empatía.

El hermano Chris siguió con una meditación sobre la vida y herencia de San Maximiliano Kolbe, subrayando la contribución que San Max ofreció en toda s vida al Evangelio de la Vida a través de la Inmaculada, lo que llevaría eventualmente a su martirio voluntario para salvar a un padre y mantener a una familia unida.

El padre Alfred Cioffi, profesor de biología y bioética en la Universidad St. Thomas, miembro de la Junta de Asesores de Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de Miami, y gran amigo de los Franciscanos de Vida, ofreció una presentación sobre asuntos de final de la vida, presentación hermosa sobre los principios que todo Católico debe de tener a la mano para poder tomar decisiones morales apropiadas al lidiar con enfermedades terminales propias o de familiares.

En conclusión, la Sra. Joan Marie Crown, Directora Ejecutiva de Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de Miami, le habló al grupo sobre los planes futuros del ministerio. Estos incluyen la inauguración de un nuevo edificio que hospedará un Centro de Embarazo, las oficinas diocesanas de Respeto a la Vida, y la oficina del hermano Jay para el Proyecto José.

Ha sido una mañana interesante. El hermano Jay recién salía del hospital después de una pelea con la neumonía, mas trajo su concentrador de oxigeno portátil e hizo lo suyo. Luego tuvo la oportunidad de pasar un tiempo junto a algunos de los hermanos y varios jóvenes que están discerniendo la vocación de hermanos consagrados en Franciscanos de Vida.

Ha sido maravilloso ver un grupo integrado de hombres que están respondiendo a la llamada de Cristo a servirle en el padre sin voz y en su hijo prenacido, ya sea como mentores laicos, como hermanos seglares, o como hermanos consagrados. Algo quedó demostrado: estos hombres son claramente hermanos los unos con los otros y con aquellos quienes Cristo les envía.

En conclusión, queremos agradecer a Mary Tate, la directora del Centro de Ayuda de Embarazo North Dade de la Arquidiócesis de Miami, por acoger el evento esta mañana. Mary dedicó el tiempo libre de su Sábado para pasar la mañana con nosotros. Como siempre, el amor de Mary para quienes no tienen voz, para el ministerio, y para los hermanos, se transmite a través del brillo de sus ojos, de su cariño, de su sentido del humor, y de su paciencia con todos nosotros. Ella es como la mamá que los Franciscanos de Vida necesitan.

Algunas fotos para que nuestros lectores pueda saborear algo del día.

El hermano Superior necesitaba recuperar el aliento - aspirantes y hermanos le hacen compañía - esta es hermandad.

El hermano Superior necesitaba recuperar el aliento – aspirantes y hermanos le hacen compañía – esta es hermandad.

Alberto está a punto de comenzar el discernimiento

Alberto está a punto de comenzar el discernimiento

Luis funge de mentor al discernimiento de Alberto

Luis funge de mentor al discernimiento de Alberto

El discernimiento requiere de muchas rosquillas

El discernimiento requiere de muchas rosquillas

¿Sigues en discernimento? :)

¿Sigues en discernimento? 🙂

Joseph King y José también hacen un poco de discernimiento personal

Joseph King y José también hacen un poco de discernimiento personal

Raul Camarca y Mary Tate emergen de la cocina. ¿Mas discernimiento?

Raul Camarca y Mary Tate emergen de la cocina. ¿Mas discernimiento?

El hermano Chris y Raul van para allá.

El hermano Chris y Raul van para allá.

Tiempo de volver al trabajo.

Tiempo de volver al trabajo.

Pero Hermano, ¡estamos tan cansados luego de todo ese discernimiento!

Pero Hermano, ¡estamos tan cansados luego de todo ese discernimiento!

El Dr. James Dugard y la Sra. Joan Crown en una discusión profunda durante la pausa. No tenemos idea de que estuviesen discerniendo.

El Dr. James Dugard y la Sra. Joan Crown en una discusión profunda durante la pausa. No tenemos idea de que estuviesen discerniendo.

Padre Alfred Cioffi ofrece una sobresaliente presentación sobre principios morales para decisiones de final de la vida. No, Joan no se quedó dormida. Simplemente no alcanzó a las rosquillas. Los hermanos se las comieron. :O

Padre Alfred Cioffi ofrece una sobresaliente presentación sobre principios morales para decisiones de final de la vida. No, Joan no se quedó dormida. Simplemente no alcanzó a las rosquillas. Los hermanos se las comieron. :O

Para más información sobre este importante asunto, visiten:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/end-of-life/euthanasia/index.cfm (en español: http://goo.gl/Fc5SQV )

y

http://www.flaccb.org/CDLD/index.php
Ahí encontraran todo lo que se necesita para preparar una Declaración Católica sobre la Vida y la Muerte – Directiva Anticipada (Designación de Sustituto para Cuidado de la Salud, Testamento Viviente)

Los Franciscanos de Vida desean agradecer la Oficina del Ministerio Respeto a la Vida de la Arquidiócesis de Miami para esta oportunidad de reunirnos como hermanos y hermanas para reflexionar sobre el Evangelio de la Vida y nuestra vocación común a la santidad.

Gracias a Raul Camarca por la traducción al castellano.

Sometimes, the Circle of Life Can Be a Beautiful Wobbly Egg


When the pope speaks about the poor, human trafficking, peace, war, unity, hunger, abuses in the Church, he knows about people’s real lives. When he says that those who deliberately choose a childless Jeannie & Julian2marriage, suddenly he knows nothing about people’s real lives and is draconian.

Then comes the “infertile couple card”. No one said that an infertile couple must have biological children, nor did anyone say that they are not allowed to adopt. That sector of the population did not enter into this sermon.

Finally, Fido becomes a papal casualty. This was not true either. Replacing a child with a pet and being anti-pet are not the same thing. I should know. I raised two loving children who are now loving adults with a ratio of two pets per kid. Now, one kid is married and my ratio has increased to four pets per kid. OK, so my daughter traded in the four-legged pet for a two legged husband who just happens to have severe allergies.

The point is that there is no condemnation for those who take on the care and love of a pet. In fact, the Church has always demonstrated great care for nature and its creatures. Just look at monastic communities. One way to teach our children to be responsible stewards of nature is to raise them surrounded by other living species that are treated with respect, love and justice.

How did this author become our new moral magisterium? Because she’s being told that there are consequences when society eliminates children from the equation. She claims that the population is growing. She forgot to mention that in Europe, North America and some countries in the southern hemisphere, the population is also top heavy.

When Americans who paid thousands and thousands of dollars into FICA now have to pay a monthly Medicare premium out of a fixed Social Security check and put out over $150 a month in medications, because Medicare does not cover enough, it seems that we have a shortage of younger people to replace the funds that older people paid and are no longer available to us. She forget these little details. Let’s not forget to ask who’s going to care for the older person who has no family when he takes to a bed.

Read her “logic” and make up your own mind. I’m just glad that I have two beautiful adult children. Our relationship has never been picturebook perfect. We’re three very different people and we like it that way. It’s fun when we come together. You never know what the other is going to say. Sometimes he’ll make you laugh and at other times you just have to wonder about him or her. The Circle of Life is often like a wobbly egg. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

Read this author’s reaction to the Holy Father’s message.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/06/pope-francis-is-wrong-about-my-child-free-life.html

Published in: on June 7, 2014 at 4:42 AM  Leave a Comment  

On Being A Franciscan, husband and dad


Brother Thomas More, FFV

Postulant ChrisSt. Francis conformed himself closely to Christ.  His deep prayer life, fidelity to the Church and detachment from the secular culture serves as an inspiring example for my own vocation as a husband and father.  As a husband, I am called to love my spouse unconditionally.  In doing this, I model Christ’s love and desire for the salvation of my wife’s soul as well as my own.  My Franciscan vocation deepens my commitment to this salvific mission of love by establishing a prayer life that is centered on communing with God Himself.  With a vibrant prayer life, God’s love and Spirit can blow across my everyday life as it is lived out along side of my wife.

I am blessed with four children, each reflecting the beauty and love of God.  Guarding my children’s spiritual and physical development requires the protective and providential embrace of a father.  Saint Francis became the spiritual father of many brothers and sisters by caring for their souls.  By embracing a poverty of spirit and a detachment from material possessions, Saint Francis serves as a constant reminder on how to detach from our own secular culture and to focus on providing for the spiritualcord life of our families.  My Franciscan journey, with its spirit of poverty that reaches upward and outward, mediates God’s grace and peace.  In letting go and emptying myself from selfish preoccupations and secular concerns, I’m discovering how to spread the joy and peace that St. Francis so beautifully exemplified as a spiritual father to the sons and daughters of the Church.

Charged with the Franciscan spirit, I hear a call to reach outward and to embrace the faith and mission of the Church.  The faith of the Church has helped me grow in holy attentiveness to God’s plan for me, my family and the wider community of God’s people.