Easter Wishes from the Brothers


The Franciscans of Life wish all our family, friends, and benefactors all the blessings that the Easter Season brings.  May the mother of the Risen Lord walk with us and increase in us the desire to atone for our sins and those who do not do penance and may she guide us to greater virtue so that we live with the Risen Christ through eternity.

Brother Bernardo’s Pizza Rush

 

MosDSCN0076t of the brothers remained in Florida for Holy Week.  Brother Bernardo and I flew to Virginia where we spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and my granddaughter, Katherine Marie Therese, who turned six-months during Holy Week.  We also had a fantastic opportunity to surprise Brother Bernardo, whose birthday it was on April 13, Holy Thursday. pizza_icon

Because it was the beginning of the Paschal Triduum, we kept the celebration simple and quiet.  Brother Bernardo’s favorite food is pizza.  Brother Jay’s daughter made sure that he was not disappointed.  She served him about nine bagel pizzas for breakfast, which he devoured.  For lunch, it was an individual DiGiorno pizza with rising crust.  In the evening, he was treated to not one, but two large pizzas with his favorite toppings and a musical card from Brother Jay’s family.

Brother Bernardo haCARAVAN 1s voluntarily stepped up to serve as Brother Superior’s caretaker and health monitor.  He can tell when Brother Superior’s diabetes is too low or too high by looking at him and quickly dispenses the correct amount of insulin.  He installed a railing on Father Superior’s bed after the superior fell twice during the night.  Brother Superior’s vision is failing and everyday his legs grow weaker.  He moves from a wheelchair, to a walker that Brother Bernardo purchased at a White Elephant Sale, to a cane with a cuff around the forearm.   When Brother Jay must go anywhere, Brother Bernardo drives him and his medical equipment in the community’s van.  This allows Brother Jay to run Project Joseph at the Archdiocesan level, give talks, teach religious education and work on his book.

None of this love and support has gone unnoticed by Brother Jay’s family.  Because Brother Bernardo has no nieces or nephews and has never been married, he does not have frequent interactions with infants.  Brother Jay’s granddaughter, who just turned six-months on the 15th of April, love Brother Bernardo.  katherine at easterShe breaks into a smile and reaches out to him as he approaches.  We won’t mention that Brother Bernardo is quite attached to Katherine.  He holds her, feeds her, rocks her to sleep and has even taken her on a short walk in her stroller.

Virginia_babyWe have many good reasons for being forever grateful to Brother Bernardo.  The least we could do was fly him to visit his beloved Katherine, feed him pizza for an entire day and formally incorporate him into the family.  Brother Jay’s family has adopted him.

We pray for Brother Bernardo, who is still in formation.  We ask the Immaculate, if it is her Son’s will, to walk with him to the end of his formation period, when he will make perpetual vows of obedience, poverty, chastity and fidelity to the Gospel of Life.

Prayers for Brother Leo

Our brother Leo has had health problems during most of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017.  He was unable to participate in the community’s Easter meal, because he is too ill to walk.  He’s under the care of

Br_Leo_nurse_san excellent physician and is properly cared for at home.  We pray that he will be up and running soon.  Brother Leo is one of those special souls who has a natural gift to bring peace, comfort and hope to the terminally ill and their families.  He has served in hospice ministry for more than a decade.  It’s an emotionally draining ministry.

Brother is a registered nurse and is also trained in Christian spirituality.  He brings medical and spiritual support to the bedside.  His greatest gift is listening.  Brother is always willing to listen to the concerns, fears and hope of the dying and their families.  His quiet and gentle manner communicates the Lord’s peace to people in terminal situations.  He also provides guidance when moral questions such as euthanasia, assisted suicide, and extraordinary means of life support arise.

Please join our prayer to the Immaculate that she will intercede for her son and our brother, Brother Leo, so that he can return to bring Christ’s comfort to those who are dying, their families and their healthcare providers.  Losing a patient is never easy for a doctor or nurse who is truly committed to preserving and respecting life from conception to natural death.

Project Joseph, Up and Running

On the 29th of April, we will have a workshop for all who volunteer to mentor our dads in crisis pregnancies.  We will also welcome and begin training new volunteers who wish to serve fathers who are struggling with unexpected and often unwanted pregnancies.  The brother bring light where there is darkness.  They provide education to help the dads become better dads.

BROS FORMATION

They also provide material assistance to poor moms and dads who come to our pregnancy centers.  This material assistance goes from things as simple, but important, as disposable diapers to cribs, stroller and every other contraption that modern parents need to keep their babies safe and occupied.  Don’t ask me what those contraptions are called, because I don’t know.  Lately, I have begun to feel very old when a five-year old helps me open a childproof bottle of pills.  CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?  It’s supposed to be childproof but it takes a first-grader to help a 65-year old with several graduate degrees open a vial of pills.  Ugh, I’m aging faster than I thought!

Detachment

The Franciscans of Life don’t do much marketing for vocations, but I think it’s time that we invite men between 18 and 50 years of age to think about a life detached from the material cares of the world, totally dependent on God’s Divine Providence to support you and guide you, and a life attached to the Immaculate who always leads us to Christ in the Sacred Host for spiritual nutrition and contemplation.  The brotherhood is poor.  Every brother engages in some kind of part-time job over and beyond our apostolic commitments to eat and pay utilities, rent, food, healthcare.  We own nothing.  Like our father, St. Francis, we share all things in common and some things we simply don’t need; therefore, we don’t have them.

Our life of prayer is very rich.  The brothers engage in the ancient monastic tradition of praying the WP_20160130_004Divine Office five-times a day, quiet prayer and adoration, spiritual reading, mass, and service to the voiceless.

I promise you that we are very tired, but very happy building something beautiful for the Immaculate.  Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, we hope to present Christ a holy city where men, women and children live, work, study, play and sing confident that Christ is alive and very close.  This is not a physical city, but a spiritual city of people open to God’s embrace.

Single men between 18 and 50 are invited to come and discern if this is where they can best serve Christ, living and being one with, the voiceless and doing penance for those who have not entrusted themselves to God’s forgiveness and mercy.

 

Project Joseph Training – April 29 2017


MEN 25+ IN THE ARCHDIOCESE OF MIAMI: COME, LEARN ABOUT PROJECT JOSEPH AND HOW TO HELP MEN IN CRISIS PREGNANCY.

Official Event Link

To learn more visit www.projectjoseph.org

– You can also RSVP on Facebook –

UPDATES

A huge THANK YOU to the Archdiocese of Miami for including the announcement of the workshop in the Pastoral Bulletin of April, and to the Knights of Columbus of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe County for promoting the workshop.

We look forward to prepare more men so that they be ready to mentor dads in the Archdiocese of Miami’s 5 Pregnancy Help Centers.

 

Published in: on March 20, 2017 at 2:31 PM  Leave a Comment  

Our Forefathers Have Been Betrayed


As we approach the inauguration of a new presidency and the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, I assume that many of our friends expect the Franciscans of Life to say something wise and uplifting.  Try as I did, I was unable to come up with anything wise to say.  Perhaps is the fact that I fell today and lacerated my forehead.  Thank God that my cranium was not currently occupied.  In any case, I can’t come up with some wise and profound comment to make.  So, I’ll let my simple country logic do the talking.

Roe vs Wade must never be forgotten, not only because it made abortion a constitutional right in our country, but it did much more.  It stripped the preborn human being of the right to be born.  Roe vs Wade was one of the most selfish acts that the American people have ever perpetrated on its citizens.

Our Founding Fathers rebelled against a monarchy and parliament that was tyrannical, a king and government that had no respect for the basic human rights of its citizens on the western side of the Atlantic.  As far as the English crown was concerned, the colonists and their descendants were to be silenced when it came to matters that affected their lives, the lives of their families and the future of the kingdom.  We must say “kingdom”, because on July 3, 1776 there was no United States.  There was simply the American colonies and territories of the English Kingdom.

But our forefathers changed all that.  They fought and many gave their lives for the right to live, the right to have a voice about their lives, and the right to choose their future.

Hilary Clinton once said that the unborn CHILD has no constitutional rights.  The issue on the table is not whether the being in the womb is a person, human being, child or other.  The question has been settled.  The being in the womb is a CHILD.

The laws of nature dictate that the child of two human beings cannot be a chimpanzee.  He must be a human being, regardless of his parents’ faults and virtues.

Yet, this human being, who lives in our midst, is denied the right to be born.

We have dared to do the unimaginable.  We have dared betray the memory of those who fought for our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  We betrayed their dream of a nation where people were given the right to live according to the graces endowed by their Creator, as Thomas Jefferson so eloquently wrote.

We have misrepresented the mind of the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  In other words, we have hijacked the American dream.

Roe vs Wade limits the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness to those who have the power and cold-heartedness to terminate the life of one who is weaker and defenseless.

Br. Jay, FFV

Video by youtube user on ultrasound of their 8-week baby.

Watch full-screen!

See and hear baby’s heartbeat, watch the 1-inch baby wiggle,
and see description for link to video of 1st year birthday.

Vita ad vitam vocat – Life calls out to life

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They came from the east, west, north and south


Happy New Year to all our relatives, friends and benefactors.

2017_01_bros_virginiaChristmas week was a very active one for us.  On December 23rd, Brother Jay and Brother Bernardo flew into Virginia to spend Christmas with Katherine Marie Therese, Brother Jay’s brand new granddaughter.  It was her first Christmas.  But there was much more to it.  We’ll get to that shortly.

December 24th family came in from Pensacola, FL, Pembroke Pines, FL, and Bloomington, IL.  The house was filled with joy, conversation, a lot of picture taking and a fantastic dinner.

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Daniel, Brother Jay’s son-in-law, cooked the main course, a roast pork shoulder.  No one knew Daniel was such a great cook.  Our waistlines, the next day, proved that Daniel cooks very well. Let’s put it this way, on the trip home, Brother jay could not move once he opened the tray-table in front of him on the airplane.

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Anonymous well-rounded brother

To be perfectly transparent, if one can be transparent with such girth, the airline industry is determined to influence relationships between people who don’t know each other.  The seats are so close to each other that no one with a waist over 40” can get to the window seat.  There is no way to squeeze in between the three seats in your row and those in front of you, unless you breath and hold it as you navigate in a tight space.  If you try to do this after eating several holiday meals, you can forget it.  You may as well pay a little extra for a seat in the bulkhead section, preferably a loveseat.  But let’s get back to Christmas Eve.

Unfortunately, we were unable to attend Midnight Mass, because the local parish did not have one this year.  The closest Midnight Mass was about thirty minutes away, which is a rough trip for a two-month old little girl, in the middle of a cold December night.  Since we couldn’t travel that far, we sat around and talked, teased each other and I believe that one or two of us may have dozed off for a few minutes, after such a large and delicious meal.

cartujoEarlier that day, Daniel’s mother and Brother Jay engaged in a conversation about a liquor that the Carthusian hermits have been making for hundreds of years.  The more they talked about it, the more enthusiastic they became about finding it.  Thank God for Google.  The first problem was identifying the name of the liquor.  Brother Jay is a “master googler”.  We found the name of the liquor, Chartreux, named after the Charterhouse where the hermits have lived for about 1,000 years.

The next step was to find out where we could purchase a bottle of it to go with the Christmas meal.  Once again, Google came to the rescue and the liquor was found and purchased.  Did I mention that it smells and tastes like cou2016_01_24_quest.jpggh medicine?  Originally, the Carthusian hermits made this liquor for medicinal purposes.  It’s no surprise that it smells like cough medicine without the artificial cherry flavor.   Let’s put it this way.  The stuff smells and tastes so awful that an ounce is about all you can drink in one evening.  I don’t mean one sitting.  I mean a full evening.  The positive here is that you’re literally indulging in Catholic spirits that have been around for about 800 years.  If you’re looking to make contact with your Catholic roots and traditions, here is a drink that you can use as an aperitif or as a cure for any disease imaginable.

Opening the gifts under the Christmas tree was a beautiful experience.  You have picture some 15 people in a small living room with room for a sofa, a chair and a Christmas tree.  There is no more floor space.  The little floor space that used to be available is now occupied 2016_01_24_collage.jpgby baby Katherine’s play mat, chair and some other contraptions.  If you’re not careful, you can trip on a piece of infant equipment and find yourself sitting in an infant carrier.

In any case the gifts were distributed and opened.  The beauty of the event was that there were no “over the top” gifts, no electronic gadgets (other than a book light for Brother Jay) and there were many books given as gifts.  Each gift was purchased with the intention of enriching the life of the next person, as the infant in the manger enriched the lives of the shepherds and peasants in the surrounding pastures.

These are true Christmas gifts.  It’s not a show of opulence; nor is it an attempt to impress the recipient with one’s FANTASTIC present.  It was a sharing of gifts that have meaning that we share and that enrich the life of the recipient, because the giver has been enriched by it first.  You’re not just sharing a thing, you passing on a positive experience in your life.

2017_01_25_Christmas_baby.jpg

On December 25th, everyone met up at the local parish for Christmas Day mass.   It was a great experience.  We were all filled with the same awe as the shepherds in Bethlehem the morning of Our Lord’s birth. That’s one of the wonderful things that happens when you have a family where everyone is a practicing Catholic and well catechized.  The mystery of the Eucharist, especially on a solemnity such as Christmas, moves you as an individual and as a family.  In this way, the entire family travels down the path to redemption following Mary, the star that leads to Incarnate Son of the Father.2016_25_Christmas_mass.jpg

Then came December 27th.  This was the day that Baby Katherine was to be baptized, her godparents being her paternal uncle and auntie.  This time, family members came not only from the cities that we mentioned above, but more family arrived.  Some drove all the way from Miami.  Others took a five-hour bus ride to be there.  There were cousins who live in New York and other relatives from Virginia, and there were the brothers, the Franciscans of Life.  There were also childhood friends who are now married and parents themselves.  They took the time off from work to participate in the baptism.

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Three generations of family from her father’s side and three from her mother’s side, plus long-term friends, were present to welcome Katherine into the Church and to formally name her, Katherine Marie Therese.   She is now a Catholic along with her family and friends.  For this we are grateful to God.  Passing down the faith to the next generation is always a memorable event when those present are more than spectators.  They are men and women of faith opening the door for a loved one to enter into a deeper communion with the family and with Christ, through the waters of Baptism.2016_27_Baptism.jpg

It was finally time to go home.  But Brother Bernardo couldn’t find his wristwatch.  He decided to take a look behind the sleeper sofa, not knowing that the sofa is alive.  The bed started to close and swallow him up.

sofa_eats_brother.gif

Thankfully, the sofa spit him out and the brothers returned to the Motherhouse, exhausted, elated, enriched and in one piece.  It’s going to be a great year.  The best part is that it’s not an election year.  NO MORE CAMPAIGNS!!!!!  YEY!!!!!

Dancing Friar

Can you help us find help?


When I was a kid my mother would always tell me to “cut to the chase.”  So, I will.  We need ongoing financial backing from friends and friends of friends.

The Franciscans of Life have a steady income of $2,610.00 a month.  We live in a very modest home where four brothers share one bedroom that we divided into individual cells using curtains as you would see in a hospital room.

Having said this, here is a chart our monthly expenses.

Rent $700.00
Electricity $185.00
Telephone $220.00
Internet $100.00
Gas $125.00
Metro $40.00
Medications $250.00
Auto Insurance $320.00
Groceries $200.00
Charity $1,300.00
Total $2,840.00

The Immaculate has always come through for us by way of our friends.  We hope that she will continue to do so.  The brothers need to continue their education to better serve the voiceless.  Our brothers participate in the apostolate while they attend school full-time.

We proclaim the Gospel of Life at no cost to the Archdiocese, parishes, schools or individuals.  All expenses are assumed by the community, including travel.

We serve in the following apostolates:

Respect Life Archdiocese of Miami – our brothers run Project Joseph, a mentoring, counseling and education program for fathers in crisis pregnancies.

Hospital ministry to the sick and dying – our brothers take Holy Communion to the sick, provide spiritual support for the patient and the family.  Often, the brother is asked to clarify a question of morality on an end of life issue.  If the brother can answer, he does so.  If he cannot, he finds a deacon or priest who can help; but the patient and family are never abandoned.  The brothers also provide a limited amount of education on the Gospel of Life to healthcare personnel, when they approach us.

Religious educationthere are not many consecrated men teaching the Gospel of Life in our religious education classes.  Franciscans of Life are one example of the few who are.  We teach not through hate speech or morbid graphics.  On the contrary, we guide our students through the Old and New Testament where they discover the dogmas of the Catholic faith, the sacraments, the liturgy, and the moral lessons contained in Sacred Scripture.  Thus the students are exposed to the Gospel of Life.  “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,”  (Jeremiah 1:5)      

Immigrant poor – our brothers provide guidance to any immigrant who asks for it.  Sometimes an immigrant will email us asking for information on inexpensive housing, free medical care, leads on employment.  One of our brothers is charged with keeping a database on our website with the most current services available not only to the immigrant poor, but to all who are poor.

In addition, our brothers supplement rent for disabled immigrants who don’t have access to government assistance.  They also provide small material support such as bus tickets so that individuals can go to a job interview or to see a doctor.  They may buy lunch for someone who’s hungry.

One day, it was raining very heavily.  One of our brothers spotted a homeless person who was barefooted.  Brother stopped the car, took off his sandals and gave them to the barefooted man.  Obviously, brother arrived barefoot at the motherhouse and the sandals had to be replaced.  They were replaced, with an old pair of patched sandals that had been cast aside.  Brother is still putting mileage on them.

Right now we have two brothers in school.  Our Adopt a Brother program has raised about $2500.00 of the needed $5000.00.  Fortunately, tuition is paid in increments, not in one lump sum.  But it still has to be paid.

Every regular brother must complete a degree in Spiritual Theology, which prepares him to provide spiritual care, guidance, support, and encouragement to those who are far from Christ.  In addition, the brother must also complete a secular degree in education, technology, nursing, counseling, social work, or some other specialized area.  The brother who is not academically oriented must complete a technical training program such as automotive maintenance, electricity, carpentry, cooking, pluming, tailoring, or any other technical area that will support the apostolate and our service to the voiceless.

Please help us find help.

 a one-time gift or a monthly gift using PayPal, maybe a check made out to Franciscans of Life sent to the address below.

If the donation is for the Adopt a Brother program, please indicate this on the memo line.  We keep those donations in a separate column in our ledger.

Thank you for helping us find ongoing support.

You can also pray that we find benefactors.  Prayers count too.

May the Immaculate drape you in her mantle, protect you from all evil and lead you to her Son, Jesus Christ.

Franciscans of Life

9461 Palm Circle South

Pembroke Pines, FL 33025

 

Guess what?


Hello friends! Pax et bonum!

We would like to share some highlights from the past few months.

Of course, there has been more going on. 🙂 Lent and the Easter season were spiritually fruitful times full of joy and great moments of fraternity. We also posted two new videos on our Youtube channel (http://youtube.com/franciscansoflife) and several updates and interesting news on our Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/groups/franciscansoflife). We even published our Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franciscans_of_Life). Check them out when you get a chance!

These highlights are from our community life and apostolate – more of an “insider’s peek”. As you go over them, please keep us in your prayers. Also pray for the men who are discerning with us, and for all those whom the Most High will invite to join us when the time is right. Pray that the seed of their vocation may flourish for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life to the voiceless. In the territory in which we serve  there is much work to be done 🙂 Please prayerfully consider whether God may be inviting you to walk with us.

 

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 🙂 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 🙂 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 😛

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 🙂

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 😉

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. 🙂

motherhouse

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.

 

Under what authority . . . ?


right and wrongI will never forget what a 10th grade student taught me a long time ago.  I was teaching social studies in a high school.  Mind you, I’m not a sociologist or social scientist.  Our social studies teacher was on maternity leave and I was elected to cover for her.  That being said, the lesson was on the United Nations’ declaration on human rights.  As we were going through the highlights of the document, Chris asked me a very serious question.

“Why doesn’t this say that everyone has the right to be born?  If you don’t have the right to be born, the other rights are useless.” 

I have never forgotten that question or that lesson.

Today, thousands of people prepare to march for life in many cities in the country, the largest march being in Washington, DC, despite the horrible weather.  Why are these people willing to suffer freezing temperatures, numb fingers and toes and 12 inches of snow and ice?  The answer is simple.  They believe in the right to be born.

It is true that many attend the march for life in protest of abortion.  However, there is more to this issue.  We must put abortion in context.  The medical community refers to abortion as the “termination of pregnancy.”  It’s actually a very accurate statement.  Many people prefer to call it murder, holocaust, eugenics, and many other terms.  None of these are wrong.

Nonetheless, the principle behind abortion is flawed, not only because the procedure takes the life of a vulnerable human being.  It is flawed because the right to terminate a pregnancy presumes that society can deny any human being the right to be born.  Birth is not possible, if you terminate a pregnancy.

This puts us on a very slippery slope.  If human beings can lose the right to be born, what is there to say that we can’t lose the right to remain alive?  Why are we crying over the extermination of Syrians, other groups in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa?

Why doesn’t it follow that a society with the authority to withdraw someone’s right to be born can deny the right to stay alive after the fact?

The answer has to do with vision.  We can see the carnage in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Eastern Europe.  We don’t see the carnage behind the doors of an abortion mill.

When I was a graduate student, I learned about a concept called “object permanence.”  A young child believes that an object exists only when he can see it.  When mom says that the toy flew away and hides it behind her back, the toy ceases to exist.  In simple English, the permanence of an object depends on the subject’s ability to see it.  If one can’t see it, it does not exist.  It’s a more primitive version of “out of sight, out of mind”.  Except that this primitive version is normal in human development.  As the person matures, the brain’s functions become more robust and object permanence is no longer dependent on perception, but on knowledge.  “The thing exists, because I know it exists even when I don’t perceive it with my senses.”

For many people, a crime against human life exists only when the human being is perceptible.  When you don’t see the human being, the crime ceases to be.   Therefore we do two things in contemporary society.

First, we look at the fetus and we fail to see a human being who is a real person.  We only see tissue and cells, because that’s what we want to see.

Second, we look at a fetus who is over 30 weeks old and we see what “looks like” a baby.  It only looks like a baby.  It’s not a baby, because we fail to see the baby.

To understand abortion in context, we must keep in mind that human beings often fail to see what they don’t want to see.  It’s called selective blindness.  They convince others that the thing they cannot see does not really exist.  The baby that we cannot see is not really there.  It’s just a “fetus” or tissue.  When I was growing up, they called this “turning a blind eye.”  Today, some people call it “reality”.

ISIS is murderous, because it kills people whom we can see.  We cannot deny their existence, as much as we would like to ignore them.  We have to call such barbaric acts what they are, the murder of innocent people.  In our distorted way of thinking, abortion is not murderous, because no one visible to us is being killed.  At the end of the day, what are we saying about choice and abortion?

It looks like we’re telling ourselves and our neighbors that man decides who has the right to live.  Such a decision depends on the individual’s perception.  If he does not see a human being, terminating a pregnancy is not murder.

The problem with this concept, besides the attack on innocent life, is that every individual can see whatever he or she wants to see and be blind to whatever he or she does not want to see.  The right to be born becomes subjective, no longer an absolute.  The right to be born is determined by the subject who has the power to terminate a vulnerable life. . . the power to see only what he wants to see.

This begs the question.  “Under what authority can man grant or deny another human being the right to be born?”

We must ask ourselves this question as we remember Roe vs Wade in 2016.

Brother Jay Rivera, FFV

Published in: on January 21, 2016 at 7:33 PM  Leave a Comment  

First time in Miami: Respect Life Hispanic Conference


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On Saturday, November 7, the Franciscans of Life attended the Second Statewide Respect Life Hispanic Conference. This is the first Hispanic pro-life conference to take place in the Archdiocese of Miami. The location – Immaculate Conception Catholic Church – was no coincidence: Hialeah is the city with the highest number of abortions in the State of Florida, and the Catholic pro-life efforts in its territory are still limited.

Featuring an impressive panel of speakers, the Conference covered topics such as: “Christian Matrimony: God’s master plan”, “The truth on abortion”, “Recovery after abortion”, “The ethical care of human life from conception to natural death”, “Moral medical methods for the treatment of infertility”, “Spiritual and practical support for couples suffering infertility”, and “Plan of action for the family”.

Hispanic_Conference_talkOne of the talks was titled: “Project Joseph – for fathers”. This was the first time that we presented in Spanish the work carried out in Project Joseph – a joint effort between the Franciscans of Life and Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami to serve fathers in unexpected pregnancies.

The talk was delivered by our Father Superior, Br. Jay, who founded the program 6 years ago and currently directs it. He was accompanied by Br. Bernardo, Project Joseph mentor at the North Dade Pregnancy Help Center.

The talk – which we will feature in an upcoming article – began by describing how Project Joseph is relevant to the Ibero-American culture, in which too often women, and particularly mothers, are treated as if they were servants or nannies, rather than with the respect they deserve. This leads to the development of dysfunctional environments. As a consequence, there are many situations in which few rights are recognized to the women but many burdens are imposed on her if she becomes a mother, while the father on the other hand retains many rights and few responsibilities. On this note, the origin of Project Joseph were described.

(c) Ana Rodriguez-Soto | FC

(c) Ana Rodriguez-Soto | FC

“Don’t let me catch you talking badly about my Project Joseph dads!”, admonished Br. Jay. “These men are good people. Project Joseph offers them the opportunity to mature and grow as men and as fathers.”  Over 200 fathers have participated and become mature men, responsible and prepared to face the challenges of life.

Br. Jay mentioned that the success of the Project is due to the intercession of St. Joseph, patron of all fathers. His role in the Holy Family, described in a few examples, shows why it is so important to help these men walk in the footsteps of St. Joseph.  The Franciscan charism is also behind the success of Project Joseph, a charism that originates in the Seraphic Father and finds worthy example in the martyr St. Maximilian Kolbe, patron of the pro-life movement.

It was a beautiful, well organized, well attended event. We were glad to be there and have a table set aside for us to raise awareness of the work carried out by the FFV.

Hispanic_Conference_tableOur apostolate to the preborn children and their parents has developed significantly through Project Joseph, and we are particularly interested in recruiting Hispanic or bi-lingual mentors, since many of our dads speak Spanish as their primary language. However, we also serve the chronically and terminally ill and their families and caregivers, as well as the immigrant poor – populations that are very much in need of attention as we look to “The Family in light of God”.

The Conference came to a closing with Holy Mass celebrated by H.E. Thomas Wenski, Archbishop of Miami. During his homily, he underscored the important role of St. Joseph in God’s plan for the family. Here is our translation:

“The theme of this conference has been “The family in light of God.” Here, in Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus, that is, in the holy family, we see reflected God’s plan for the family when there is no stain of sin.

May the prayers and example of the Jesus’ parents strengthen today’s parents in their efforts to raise their children according to God’s will. In thefulfillment of His plan of salvation for mankind, God did not need the participation of Joseph to create the child Jesus. Nevertheless, God decided that the help of Joseph was indeed necessary in raising the holy child. Joseph, as chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, played an indispensable role in the life of Jesus as his foster father. He was not an absent or indifferent father. In fact, to him was entrusted the safety and well-being of Mary and of Jesus. We see this in the episode of the flight to Egypt. We perceive this in the narration of the child lost and found in the temple of Jerusalem. We can deduce that Joseph played a crucial role in the life of Jesus before he began his public life by the fact that his fellow citizens knew him as “the son of the carpenter”.

God wanted the best for his Son, and thus made it possible for Mary to marry Joseph, for only matrimony ensures the commitment between the parents and for the children. The children are raised better when the effort is carried out by a father and a mother. Thus was then and thus is now: every child needs a father, every child deserves a father – a father like Joseph. For this reason, the Church proposes the family of Nazareth as a model; and if for some reason our earthly family does not count with the presence of a mother or father, the Church invites us to count on Mary and Joseph. They will not disappoint us.”

The event was featured on the Archdiocesan News. Click here to read the article, which features the Project Joseph talk.

If you wish to see some more pictures, courtesy of Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami, follow this link 🙂

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out to us! We will be glad to help you explore and discern if the Lord is inviting you to proclaim the Gospel of life with us.

FFV Highlights


Pax et bonum!

The past few months have been quite busy 🙂 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”… 😉

 

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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 🙂 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! 😀 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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FFV On The Web


Br_BC

A brother writing for the blog

This year the Franciscans of Life, ever faithful to the inspiration of St. Maximilian Kolbe, have dedicated several blog posts to articles on a variety of topics spanning from Franciscan studies to theology, to current Church issues to life issues.

We have also embarked in a full redesign of our website, franciscansoflife.org, that was launched in June.

Besides our own modest publication efforts, other sources have kindly featured our content. We are very grateful to them and we wish to recognize them. If we missed any, please let us know 🙂

In January, the Archdiocese of Miami “Let’s Talk” Blog featured our May 2014 article “What’s a brother? Do we really need them?” under the title “What is a brother?” (they even provided a Spanish translation: “¿Qué es un hermano?“).

In February, St. Bride’s Catholic Church in Bothwell (Scotland), a parish to whom an enclosed community of Poor Clares is attached, featured our  January 2015 article “Conscience in crisis” in their parish newsletter (click here).

In May, Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami featured content from our April 2015 article “Project Joseph – Better Men, Better Dads“, including the Youtube video presentation that we produced, on their new web page about Project Joseph (click here). They also mentioned that FFV provides initial and ongoing formation for Project Joseph mentors.

In June, the Institute on Religious Life featured our emerging community in their Vocation Blog (click here).

 

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Published in: on August 1, 2015 at 3:00 PM  Leave a Comment