Your Fuse is Longer Than You Know


DSC_0020There are some people out there who strongly criticize what they call “The Church of Nice.”  Unfortunately, their meaning has been incorrectly applied.  They are referring to a community of believers that gives everyone and every fault a pass to avoid conflict or hurting someone’s feelings.  Let’s get this straight.

Deliberately hurting another person, emotionally, spiritually or physically is never an option.  One may understand self-defense.  Even self-defense must be proportionate to the offense.  On the other hand, while we do not have the right to deliberately hurt others, we have a moral obligation to atone on those occasions when we do so.

It is very easy to go to confession and say, “Father, I accuse myself of being uncharitable.”  It is much more honest to say, “Father, I accuse myself of hurting someone because I wanted to do so.  I got satisfaction from seeing the other person hurt.”

Then comes repentance.  Going to confession without repentance is of little value.  The priest can pronounce the words of absolution, but if you walk out of the confessional with no intention of correcting how you treat others and being more conscious of their feelings, it begs the question; what is your plan for your conversion?  Do you plan to atone?  Do you plan to avoid this sin by being more attentive to howPopeFrancisConfession you say and do things?  If you cannot answer these questions positively, then one must ask you, why did you go to confession?  The confessional is not a washing machine where you throw in a pair of dirty socks and the machine cleans them whether the socks want to be cleaned or not.  We are far superior to a pair of sox.  We should know the conditions for forgiveness and we should have at least the resolve to sin no more.  This is not a guarantee that we will never sin again.  It’s a covenant between the individual, God and the Church to avoid hurting others deliberately.

Let’s address the subject of hurting others, now that we have discussed what should happen before and after you go to confession for this violation of charity and justice.

There are many people who claim to have “a short fuse”.  Their parents, their teachers, their friends, their spouses and their children have reinforced this idea.  When a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes a reality for those who lie.  It is much easier to reinforce negative behavior than it is to reinforce positive rantingbehavior.  You may have grown up in a home where the adults shouted at each other, bullied each other (verbally and physically).  As you were growing up you experimented by saying hurtful things to your parents, instead of a severe consequence, your parents simply shouted back and the battle went on until someone ran out of ammunition.

Then there is a kid who comes home bullied in the schoolyard and tells his parents.  The advice he gets from Mom and Dad is to defend himself from abuse by returning abuse for abuse.  This is the pre-Christian rule, “an eye for an eye.”  What have we taught our children?

We have not taught them that words hurt or that actions can scar others.  What we have taught them is how to get even.  Detent is not the same as resolution.  Frightening another person into “niceness” is not the same as being models of justice and charity.

Here we face another problem.  There are many people of faith who have argued with me, “But Brother, that’s not the real world.  In the real-world people are tough and if you don’t push back, they’ll keep you down and even destroy your life.”

The second half of this statement is true.  Evil does exist in the world.  People do evil to others as a means of exploiting them, controlling them, punishing them or threatening them.  The fact remains that it’s still evil.

The Christian may never choose evil in response to a situation.  He may use proportionate self-defense to protect himself and his family.  But he may not choose evil to get his way.

This means that no one has the right to offend another person, because it serves his wants or his needs.

Making mean comments, using profanity, raising your voice, being dismissive of another, accusing another of something that is not true, are sins against justice.  Before we consider charity, we must consider justice.  Every man, woman and child has a right to expect you to speak to him with reverence.  Your target listener has been made in the image and likeness of God.  When you forget this and you grow lax in the reverent treatment of another human being, you cheapen the life that God has given us.  You little_babyoffend God’s creative power.  Your offense sends a message to God and others.  The message says, “I don’t care if this person is the image and likeness of God.  God’s image and likeness are beneath me.  I am free to offend and walk away calmly.”

The next time that you want to violate “niceness”, remember that you are essentially telling God that the person he created is worthless.  Therefore, you’re concluding that God can and does create worthless lives.  But the Gospels tell us differently.  “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that all my have life and have it in abundance.”

Have you tried to show a grain of love for others or is being polite, kind, meek and “nice” beneath you or not in your vocabulary at all?

Try patience, kindness, niceness or whatever you want to call it.  Don’t fall for the lie that you have a short fuse.  God has given you a fuse much longer than you know.

 

 

For Catholics and Non-Catholics — Gospel Cliff Notes — The Rosary


ROSARY

For Catholics, the month of October is the Month of the Holy Rosary.  Let’s clarify.  It’s not the only time of year when Catholics pray the Rosary.  October has become designated as the Month of the Holy Rosary, because on the 13th of October, Our Lady of the Rosary appeared for the last time at Fatima.  It was on this day that thousands of people gathered in Fatima, Portugal, saw what has been called The Miracle of Sun.  I’d like to leave the subject of the “Dancing Sun” to astronomers, philosophers and systematic theologians.  I am none of the above.  My formation is Spiritual Theology, once called Ascetic and Mystical Theology.

I’m writing this for the benefit of our non-Catholic friends, relatives, co-workers and neighbors, many of whom believe that praying the Rosary is evil, because “one should not pray to saints, because only God is to be worshiped.”

Let’s clarify the first point.  When Catholics pray the Rosary we are not worshiping the Blessed Mother.  Those who are familiar with the Gospel of Luke should be able to recognize these words.

ANNUNCIATIONChapter one of Luke’s Gospel in the King James Version (KJV) of the bible tells us the following.

“And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”   (Lk 1:28) KJV

During the Rosary, we pray the Hail Mary 53 times.  Pay close attention to the opening lines of the prayer.

Hail Mary, full of Grace.  The Lord is with thee.. Blessed are thou amongst women

We’re speaking to Mary with the words of the Angel Gabriel.  Who would dare say that Gabriel’s words are blasphemy or idolatry?  Was Gabriel worshipping Mary?

Absolutely not.  He is greeting her and in the greeting he acknowledges that Mary has a special place in God’s mind.  Catholics refer to such as “grace”.  Instead of saying “favored of the Lord” we simply say, “full of grace”.  After all, can one be favored by the Lord God and be devoid of his life (grace)?

Let’s return to Luke.  The Angel informs Mary that her relative, Elizabeth is in the sixth month of her pregnancy.  Mary sets out to the town where Elizabeth lived.  One can safely assume that it was to lend a hand, since Elizabeth was an older woman.  Luke tells us

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  And she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:41-42) KJV.

The Hail Mary continues with the words of Elizabeth  VISITATION

Blessed are thou amongst women, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

At this point, we insert the Holy Name of Jesus, as a reminder that it is the Son of God who is the fruit of Mary’s womb.  We speak to the Virgin Mary using the words of Sacred Scripture.  Every Christian knows that the words of the bible are without error.  It is impossible for Luke to write something that Elizabeth did not say, much less something that is contrary to God’s revelation.

Elizabeth continues

 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Lk 1:43) KJV

Gabriel had said that Mary’s son

 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus.

He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  (Lk 1:32-33) KJV

Gabriel and Elizabeth refer to Jesus as God.  Elizabeth uses “the mother of my Lord”.   The Jewish people recognized only one Lord.  That was God.  Elizabeth address Mary as the Mother of God.  The Angel informs Mary that her son will reign forever and that he is the Son of the Highest.  Neither Gabriel nor Elizabeth are stating the Mary is the mother of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost).  She is the mother of the Son.  The question is simple.  Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?  Do you acknowledge that Mary of Nazareth is Jesus’ mother?  Does this make her the mother of 1/3 of God? NO.  She is the mother of one of the three persons in God.  All three persons are the one God.  That’s why we can refer to her as “the Mother of God.”

And so, Catholics pray

Holy Mary, Mother of God Observe the closing statement in the Hail Mary.

Pray for us, sinners.  Now and at the hour of our death.

Is there anything wrong with asking another person to pray for us today and at the hour of our death?  Some may say that Mary cannot pray for us, because she is dead.  But didn’t Jesus promise eternal life to those who are faithful?   Observe this

And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. … (Mt.17:3) KJV.

transfigurationMoses and Elias had been dead several hundred years.  Yet, they appear and speak with Jesus.  The disciples who are watching observe that they are real, not ghosts.  It’s not too difficult to believe that if Moses and Elias could be seen by the disciples, even though they had been dead for several centuries and that Jesus could converse with them, why should we not believe that Jesus’ mother is not granted the same or a higher privilege than Moses and Elias?  Jesus is the perfect son.  He would place his mother in stasis while allowing the prophets and patriarchs to live after death?  Jesus is not cruel.  We can safely conclude that Mary can pray for us, because she’s alive.

There is nothing wrong with asking someone to pray for us.  If I have an opportunity to ask the mother of praying togetherthe King to put in a good word with her son, on my behalf, I would be a fool not to take advantage the same.

To conclude, I’ll simply explain that we pray the Hail Mary’s in sets of 10.  Each recitation of the Rosary has five sets of ten.  The Psalms were originally divided into sets of ten.  Each set of psalms followed a theme.  So, it is with the rosary.  Five decades and each decade offers us a reflection on one of the mysteries in the life of Christ and his relationship to God the Father, the Holy Spirit and to his mother.  Christ would not leave her out of his circle of significant others.

The Father and the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost are the same God as Jesus.  It’s obvious that any event in Jesus’ life is going to involve the Father and the Holy Ghost, front stage or back stage.  But they are present.  Because Jesus is human, as well as divine, he has another significant person in his life, just like us.  That person is his mother.  She is not part of the Trinity.  She is not God.  But she is the Mother of one of the three persons in God.  We believe that Jesus is God.

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. PANTOCRATOR(Jn 6:68-69) KJV.

Peter makes a public profession of faith.  He identifies Jesus as the Christ or the Anointed One who is both God and Son of God.

This Christ has a mother, who is not God.  She is very much a human being.  As she is the mother of the perfect son, it stands to reason that the Father would not select a icon_to_Jesus_through_Marysinful woman to carry His son in her womb to be contaminated by sin.  Remember, Jesus has a human nature.  God the Father creates the sinless woman to be the God Bearer.

The Rosary has five decades.  We recite the Hail Mary using the words found in the Bible.  Catholics did not make this up.  We are not worshiping Mary.  In the first half of the Hail Mary, we are praising her, just as Gabriel and Elizabeth praised her.  Who would accuse Gabriel or Elizabeth of worshiping Mary?

The second part of the rosary is a petition.  We ask Mary to pray for us.  Given a choice between my mother praying for me and Jesus’ mother praying for me, I’m sure that Jesus’ mother carries more weight.  Even though my mother was a wonderful woman.  The very fact that she was MY mother, tells it all.  She was far from sinless.  Just look at me.

The Rosary is composed of words taken directly from the Bible.  The Bible does not lie.  The problem is not the Rosary.  The problem that some people have is that they want to apply their logic to God’s mind.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.(Is 55:8) KJV

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 2:43 AM  Leave a Comment  

A SUMMONS TO MEN AND WOMEN WHO WANT TO LEARN MORE


This year, the annual Respect Life Conference, sponsored by the Florida Catholic Conference, will be hosted by Respect Life Ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami.

I’m posting a link where you can register for the conference.

If you want to learn more how to promote the right to be born and the right to live until God decides to call you home, this is the conference for you.

FRANCISCANS OF LIFE support and endorse this program.

Look for some of our brothers at this important event. We would be happy to answer your questions about our participation in this indispensable apostolate. Just look for the guys dressed in grey with a red cord and a Franciscan Cross over their heart. We will be milling around during the breaks and in the evening after the final talks, for those who are night owls.

We guarantee that it will be far from anti-abortion rally. It’s a learning opportunity for those who want to know the answers to the key questions concerning the right to be born and the right to die when God decides to call us home, not before.

FOR THE LEAST OF THEM

2017 Conference Trifold BROCHURE WEB pdf

 

Published in: on September 28, 2017 at 3:12 PM  Leave a Comment  

Those who come in may see the Light — The eye is the lamp of your body


Dear friends and family:

For more than a year, I’ve been struggling with very low vision.  As many of you know, I’m a diabetic.  Diabetes has a very bad habit of targeting the eyes, heart and kidneys.

Aftfingerpointinger looking through a fog, I finally took and deep breadth and decided to take the risk with eye surgery.

The surgery was a success.  The cataract in my right eye is gone and an artificial lens has been implanted.  My vision improved from 20/60 with glasses and 20/400 without glasses to 20/25 without glasses.  I can drive again.

The problem for our community came when we were informed that our insurance covered only

Divine Physician

a portion.  We had to come up with $1,300 for surgery, $350 tests, and another $300 for new glasses.

We didn’t have that kind of money. So, we paid using Care Credit, which allows you to pay off the debt in 12 months without interest or so they say.  It’s the first time we use them.

In any case, like faithful sons of St. Francis, we’re working hard to earn some money to pay this bill; but we can use all the help we can get from friends and benefactors.  If you would like to donate $5 toward this medical expense, just use PayPal or check our website www.franciscansoflife.org for our mailing address.  Make check payable to Franciscans of Life Inc.

For those who don’t know, I have only one eye.  My left eye and ear never matured fully, as I was a 33-week premature runt.  Everyone in my family is over six feet tall.  I’m only 5’7”.   They can all see and hear fine.  One should accept what God gives and give what he requests of us.

We, the brothers, thank you in advance for your help.  If you can’t donate money, please donate prayers.  God will find us donors, if we ask him for some donors.

I have always been and will be,Your friend and brother,

Brother Jay

Los Desastres son Oportunidades para Experimentar la Incarnación de Cristo


For English, click here

Cuando el huracán Irma se acercaba al Sur de la Florida, como superior de los Franciscanos por la Vida otorgué a los hermanos permiso para salir de la Florida, buscar refugio en un sitio más seguro, o quedarse en la casa de la comunidad.

Personalmente, escogí quedarme en la casa de la comunidad, también conocida como nuestra “casa madre”. Esto no es asunto de ser bravo o héroe. Sencillamente es nuestra forma de entrar en unión con los pobres. Nuestra casa se halla en una comunidad de bajos recursos. La gente aquí no tiene el dinero para ir lejos. Sus opciones eran ir a unas de las escuelas públicas buscando refugio o fortificar sus casas lo mejor posible y quedarse ahí.

Con frecuencia, el Papa Francisco habla sobre salir a las periferias. También ha utilizado expresiones como “tener olor a oveja”. Contrariamente a lo que muchos piensan, estas ideas no son nuevas.

En el Antiguo Testamento encontramos a Moisés, quien creció como príncipe siendo hijo adoptivo de la princesa. Él sale al encuentro de los esclavos hebreos, respondiendo al mandato del Señor de librar a Su pueblo de la esclavitud. Dios le dijo a Moisés que guiara a Su pueblo fuera de la esclavitud, pero no le quitó su libertad individual. Moisés podía volver a su vida de comodidad y haber dejado que Dios buscase alguien más para que saliera a las periferias y lidiara con los esclavos hebreos que eran pobres, incultos, y a veces infieles a su religión. En otras palabras: los hebreos en esclavitud vivían “en las periferias” por muchas razones. Eran esclavos, extranjeros, monoteístas, no tan sofisticados como los egipcios, y frecuentemente infieles a su religión. Sin embargo, Moisés sale a su encuentro. Los guía fuera de Egipto y muere en medio de ellos.

En el Nuevo Testamento, Nuestro Señor Jesucristo se acerca a los recaudadores de impuestos, a los Samaritanos que fallaban en religiosidad, y a los que la sociedad rechazaba por tener discapacidades o lepra. El Señor se hace uno con ellos. Igual a ellos es víctima, pero Él es la víctima sin mancha de pecado que será elevada en la cruz como ofrenda por los muchos.

En fin, quisiera mencionar a San Francisco de Asís. Francisco vivió y sirvió entre los leprosos. Mendigó  por su  manjar como un peón, a pesar de ser hijo de un rico comerciante. Él y sus hermanos vivieron en refugios muy pequeños y primitivos. Con frecuencia se refugiaban debajo de pórticos para que la lluvia no les mojara demasiado, y allí pasaban la noche.

Cuando un hombre hace votos como Franciscano por la Vida, sabe con seguridad que su vida jamás será igual.

Dejará detrás de sí todo aquel que consideraba “normal” y “correcto”. Abrazará una vida que puede parecer en contra de la naturaleza. La nuestra es una vida en fraternidad con los que no tienen voz. Hacemos voto de hacernos uno con ellos. Nuestra pobreza no es una imposición del pecado del hombre, sino un don de Diós. La abrazamos como la Segunda Persona de la Santísima Trinidad abrazó nuestra humanidad.

Hombre desamparado busca refugio en una parada de autobús durante el huracán Irma

Es importante que las personas de fe oren por las víctimas de los huracanes Harvey, Irma, y José. También es importante que aquellos entre nosotros que tienen la posibilidad de hacerlo se acerquen a las víctimas de estos desastres naturales.

Con demasiada frecuencia, algunos individuos se sientan en la cátedra del juez como “teólogos del apocalipsis” y proclaman confianzudamente que “Dios está bravo” o que “esta es la gran tribulación descrita por Juan en el Libro de la Revelación”, o que “Nuestra Señora de Fátima nos alertó sobre lo que está ocurriendo”.

La verdad es que nadie tiene acceso íntimo a la mente de Dios para conocer el sentir de Dios hacia cualquier cosa que Él no ha dicho a través de la Revelación o de la Iglesia. Ni hay nadie que tenga acceso al plan de Dios para la purificación de la humanidad.

Afirmar que Harvey, Irma, Corea del Norte, el terremoto en México, etc. son castigos de Diós es arrogancia. El hombre afirma conocer la mente de Dios en situaciones muy específicas. Pero las Escrituras nos recuerdan que nadie conoce la mente de Dios. “Con respecto a ese día y esa hora, nadie los conoce, ni los ángeles en el cielo ni el mismo Hijo, sino solamente el Padre” (Mt 24:36).

¡No presumamos conocer la mente de Dios o entender porqué Dios permite que estas cosas ocurran! Recordemos que los desastres naturales han sido parte de la historia de este mundo desde el comienzo de su existencia. Afirmar que los desastres naturales de hoy en día son el gran castigo de Dios y la señal de los últimos días es presunción.

Sin embargo, no es presunción caminar con aquellos que sufren en estas situaciones. Hay muchas formas de hacerlo. Podemos ayudar a un vecino que se prepara para un acontecimiento natural o se siente desolado y confundido después de la tragedia. Podemos invitar a otros para que oren a Dios que dé a cada víctima lo que él o ella necesita, no lo que nosotros pensamos que necesitan. Debemos evitar la tentación de dictarle a Dios lo que Él debe dar y no dar a los demás como si fuésemos Sus supervisores.

Somos Sus servidores. Nos acercamos al Señor. Le pedimos que nos escuche. Le ofrecemos nuestras oraciones de petición para que Dios provea para los necesitados lo mejor para ellos. Junto a esto, también le pedimos a Dios que nos otorgue la gracia, la valentía, y la generosidad de salir al encuentro de aquellos que han sufrido a causa de estos acontecimientos. Dios quiere que nos acerquemos a ellos. Lo vemos en el Evangelio según Mateo: “Lo que han hecho por el menor de mis hermanos, lo han hecho por mí”.

En fin, citando Evangelium Vitae (El Evangelio de la Vida):

“Algunas amenazas [a la vida] provienen de la misma naturaleza, pero son empeoradas por la culpable indiferencia y negligencia de aquellos que en ciertas ocasiones pudieran remediarlas” (EV 10).

Jamás olvidemos que “fuimos rescatados de las vías fútiles de [nuestros] padres no con cosas perecederas como oro y plata, sino con la preciosa sangre de Cristo, cordero sin mancha” (1 Pt 1:18-19).

No podemos quedarnos sentados intentando leer la mente de Dios. Estos acontecimientos ocurren para el bien de todos. La sangre de Jesucristo, al revelar la grandeza del amor del Padre, nos muestra cuán precioso es el hombre a los ojos de Dios y cuán valiosa e inestimable es su vida. Si vemos la vida como Dios la ve, entonces no nos sentamos a profetizar el Armagedón. Sencillamente hacemos lo que Dios mismo hizo: nos encarnamos en medio de aquellos que sufren, como Cristo mismo se encarnó y sufrió con y por ellos.

Published in: on September 12, 2017 at 5:23 PM  Leave a Comment  

Disasters are Opportunities to Relive the Incarnation of Christ


Para Español Señale Aqui

When Hurricane Irma began to approach South Florida, as superior of the Franciscans of Life, I gave the brothers permission to leave Florida, seek shelter in a safer location, or remain at our community house.

For my part, I remained at our community house, also known as our “motherhouse”.  This is not a matter of being brave or a hero.  It’s our way to become one with the poor.  Our house is in a low-income community.  The people here don’t have enough money to go too far.  Their choices were to go to one of the local public school to seek shelter or to fortify their homes as best as possible and hunker down.

Pope Francis frequently speaks about going to the peripheries.  He’s also been known to use some “colorful” expressions such as “smelling like the sheep.”  Contrary to what many people may think, these ideas are not new.

In the Old Testament, we see Moses, who was brought up like a prince as an adopted son of the princess.  He goes out to the Jewish slaves, responding to God’s command to lead His people out of slavery.  God told Moses to lead His people out of slavery, but He did not take away his freedom.  Moses could have walked back into his comfort zone and let God find someone else to go out to the peripheries and deal with the uncouth, probably poor and sometimes unfaithful Jewish slaves.  In other words, the Jews in captivity were on the peripheries for many reasons.  They were slaves, foreigners, monotheistic, not as sophisticated as the Egyptians, and often very unfaithful to the faith.  But Moses went to them.  He took them out of Egypt and he died among them.

In the New Testament, Jesus goes out to the tax collectors, prostitutes, less than religious Samaritans, and to those rejected by society due to handicap or leprosy.  He becomes one with them.  In becoming one with them, He becomes the unblemished victim of human sinfulness, which was raised on a cross and offered for the many.

Finally, I want to mention St. Francis of Assisi.  Francis lived and served among the lepers.  He begged for his food like a common peasant, despite that he was the son of a wealthy merchant.  He and his brothers lived in very small and primitive shelters.  Often, they had no shelter.  They cuddled up under the awning of an entrance to avoid getting too wet by the rain.  There they spent the night.

When a man makes vows as a Franciscan of Life, the one thing that he knows coming in is that his life will never be the same.

He will leave behind everything that he thought was “normal” and “right”.  He embraces a life that can appear to be against nature.  Ours is a life lived in fraternity with the voiceless.  We vow to become one with them.  Our poverty is not imposed on us by man’s sins.  Our poverty is a gift from God.  We embrace it as the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity embraced our humanity.

Homeless man seeks shelter at a bus stop during Hurricane Irma.

It is important that people of all faith pray for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and soon, Hurricane Jose.  It is also important that those of us who have the means to do so, reach out to those who are the victims of these natural disasters.

All too often, some people sit on the chair of judgment as an “Apocalyptic Theologian”, making broad statements that “God is angry” or that “this is the great tribulation that John described in the Book of Revelation” or that “Our Lady of Fatima warned about this”.

The truth is that no one has intimate insight into the mind of God to know how God feels about anything that He has not disclosed through Revelation or the Church.  Nor does anyone have access to God’s plans for the purification of humanity.

To claim that Harvey, Irma, Jose, North Korea, and an earthquake in Mexico is God’s retribution, is arrogance.  Man is claiming to know the mind of God in a very specific situation.  Scripture tells us that no one knows the mind of God.  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father,” (Mt 24:36).

Let us not presume to know the mind of God and why God allows these things to happen!  Let us also remember that natural disasters have been part of the earth’s history for as long as it has existed.  To point to those of today as the great punishment from God and the sign of the end times, is presumptuous.

One the other hand, it is never presumptuous to walk with those who suffer in these situations.  There are many ways to do this.  We can lend a hand to our neighbor preparing for a natural event or lost and confused after the tragedy.  We can invite others to pray that God will give each victim what he or she needs, not what we think the victims need.  We must avoid the temptation to dictate to God what He should give and withhold from others, as if we were His managers.

We are His servants.  We approach God.  We ask Him to hear us.  We offer our prayers of petition that God may provide for those in need what is best for them.  Along with this, we ask God to give us the grace, courage and generosity to reach out to those who have been hurt by these events.  God often wants us to reach out.  We see this in Matthew.  “As long as you did it for one of these, the least of my brethren.  You did it for me.”

Finally, from Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life):

“Some threats [to life] come from nature itself, but they are made worse by the culpable indifference and negligence of those who could in some cases remedy them,” (EV 10).

Let us never forget that we “were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from [our] fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Pt 1:18-19).

We cannot just sit around trying to read God’s mind.  These events happen for the benefit of all.  The blood of Christ, while it reveals the grandeur of the Father’s love, shows how precious man is in God’s eyes and how priceless the value of his life.  If we see life as God sees it, then we don’t sit and prophesy Doomsday.  We do what God did.  We become incarnate among those who suffer, as Christ became incarnate and we suffer with and for them.

Naciste el Día del Trabajo


For English, click here

El Día del Trabajo (EE.UU.) ha llegado. En la mayoría de los países, esta fiesta es un desconocido.  Para añadir a mi manera poco ortodoxa de pensar, creo que el Día del Trabajo y el Día de la Madre deben celebrarse juntos. Hacer el primer lunes de mayo, el Día del Trabajo y el segundo domingo de mayo, Día de la Madre. No puedo imaginar una experiencia más tierna y una mayor obra de amor que dar a luz.

Dicho esto, quisiera compartir con ustedes cómo se enseña a los Franciscanos de la Vida a razonar sobre el Día del Trabajo.

Primero: El día Debe comenzar con una lectura de la Historia de la Creación del Libro del Génesis.

Debe ser leído de la manera que los escritores intentaron compartir con sus descendientes. No es un relato científico o incluso histórico de la creación. Es más grande que eso. Es la historia Revelada de la Creación.

Dios se reveló como el origen de todo lo que existe. Se revela como un Padre generoso que da a sus hijos todo lo que necesitan. Hasta la caída de Adán, nada faltaba en la vida del hombre. Él revela que todo en la Creación, incluso los insectos feos que nos molestan son buenos.

Observe que cada etapa de la Creación termina con “y Dios vio que era bueno”. Si el hombre respeta la bondad del orden natural y la bondad de todas las cosas y seres creados, el mundo sería verdaderamente un Jardín del Edén. Este mensaje está muy claro en Génesis. El Jardín del Edén es un lugar donde todas las cosas y todos los seres coexisten en armonía, cada uno respetando el dominio del otro y todo cumple con su papel en el plan de Dios para nuestra salvación.

Segundo: Cuando yo era misionero en América del Sur, la gente a menudo me preguntaba por qué los estadounidenses no trabajaban el Día del Trabajo. Ellos encontraron que esto era una contradicción. Siempre he explicado que es un día que dejamos de lado para honrar a los trabajadores y la empresa humana.

La pregunta es, ¿en América pensamos verdaderamente en todos los trabajadores, o sólo en aquellos que se sientan detrás de un escritorio?

¿Apreciamos el hecho de que, si no fuera por los que trabajan para el Departamento de Saneamiento, estaríamos viviendo en la Edad Media, donde ratas e insectos se alimentaban de la basura que la gente tiraba a la calle y que los niños jugaban a menudo con estas pequeñas criaturas y fueron mordidos por los mismos y murieron? Gracias a los trabajadores de saneamiento, los niños estadounidenses no tienen que sentirse amenazados por roedores e insectos infecciosos. Pueden jugar con relativa seguridad en su patio o en un parque.

(C) New York City Dept. of Sanitation

Llegan los días de fiesta y se van. Las mañanas vienen y también se van. ¿Quién recuerda que el trabajador del saneamiento, el maestro, el abogado, el médico, mesero y cada trabajador en este mundo tiene una vida fuera de su lugar de trabajo? A veces, se enfrentan a grandes dificultades en sus vidas fuera del trabajo. Para algunos, el trabajo es un respiro de los problemas familiares, la enfermedad de un padre anciano, un matrimonio abusivo y otros problemas. Si no oramos por estas personas durante el año, ¿podemos al menos recordarles en oración el Día del Trabajo?

Tercero: No estaba bromeando sobre las madres. Dar a luz es un acto de verdadero amor.

Durante 40 semanas, una mujer se prepara para conocer a su pequeño. Pero a medida que pasan las semanas, las molestias aumentan. Hay dolor de espalda. Hay problemas con la diabetes gestacional y la presión arterial intrauterina.

También hay todas esas cosas que la gente nos dice que puede suceder a nuestros bebés: ceguera, discapacidad intelectual, daño cerebral, y más. La verdad es que el número de niños nacidos con estas condiciones es un porcentaje muy bajo y hoy tenemos los medios y el conocimiento para proveer por esos niños.

Finalmente llega el día. Es el “Día del Trabajo”. La promesa hecha por Dios a Eva en el Libro del Génesis se cumple. Una madre experimenta gran dolor y ansiedad durante horas entre el inicio del parto y el nacimiento de su hijo. Sin embargo, cuando ve y cuenta esos 10 deditos pequeñitos y 10 deditos de esos pequeños pies, todo ese dolor y ansiedad se olvida.

Los papás han estado muy cerca, intentando ser tan solidarios con la mamá como sea posible, a menudo sintiéndose inútiles. Algunos hombres se sienten culpables cuando ven el dolor del parto y como sale el niño del vientre materno. Algunos sienten que, de alguna manera, han contribuido al sufrimiento de la mujer que aman. Esos sentimientos desaparecen cuando llegan a sostener a su hijo y echan un vistazo a esa pequeña carita con su cabecita cubierta con una gorra de punto y envuelta en una manta blanca (con rayas azules y rosadas, por si acaso).

(Ser abuelo también es trabajo duro!)

¿Rezamos por los padres el Día del Trabajo? ¿Recordamos a aquellos que se encuentran ante un embarazo inesperado y están luchando con la pregunta más difícil de sus vidas, “¿Debemos seguir adelante con este embarazo o abortar?” Cuántos padres oran por sus hijos e hijas que, cuando llegue el momento de ser padres, elegirán la vida y no la muerte.

Este Día del Trabajo, recordemos dar gracias a Dios por la Creación del Trabajo. Comprometámonos a coexistir responsablemente, usando lo que necesitamos y preservando lo que no necesitamos para que otros puedan cosechar algunos de los beneficios de la creación.

Recuerde que cada persona tiene una vida más allá del trabajo que él o ella hace. Necesitan nuestra bondad, nuestro respeto, nuestra paciencia y nuestras oraciones.

Por favor, no olvide a sus padres y la labor de amor que le trajo al mundo y el trabajo que han hecho o siguen haciendo para ayudarle a crecer y vivir felizmente.

Por último, recuerde aquellas parejas y aquellos niños pre-nacidos que pueden estar en crisis este año.

Published in: on September 2, 2017 at 8:45 PM  Leave a Comment  

You Were Born on Labor Day


Para Español Señale Aqui

Labor Day is here.  In most countries, this holiday is an unknown.   To add to my unorthodox way of thinking, I believe that Labor Day and Mother’s Day should be celebrated together.  Make the first Monday of May, Labor Day and the second Sunday of May, Mother’s Day.  I can’t imagine a more tender experience and a greater work of love than giving birth.

Having said this, I would like to share with you how the Franciscans of Life are taught to think of Labor Day.

First:  The day should begin with a reading of the Story of Creation from the Book of Genesis.

It must be read the way that the writers intended to share it with their descendants.  It’s not a scientific or even a historical account of creation.  It is bigger than that.  It is a Revealed Account of Creation.  God revealed Himself as the origin of all that exists. He reveals Himself as a generous Father who gives his children everything they need.  Until the fall of Adam, nothing was missing from man’s life.  He reveals that everything in Creation, even those pesky little insects that annoy us are good.

Observe that each stage of Creation ends with, “and God saw that it was good.”  If man respects the goodness of the natural order and the goodness of all created things and beings, the world would truly be a Garden of Eden.  This message is very clear in Genesis.  The Garden of Eden is a place where all things and beings co-exist in harmony, each respecting the domain of the other and everything fulfilling its role in God’s plan for our salvation.

Second:  When I was a missionary in South America, people often asked me why Americans didn’t work on Labor Day.  They found this to be a contradiction.  I always explained that it is a day that we set aside to honor workers and human enterprise.

The question is, do we in America truly think about all workers, not just those who sit behind desks?

Do we appreciate the fact that were it not for those who work for the Department of Sanitation, we would be living in the Middle Ages, where rats and insects fed off the garbage that people threw into the streets and that children often played with these little critters, were bitten and died?  Thanks to sanitation workers, American children don’t have to feel threatened by infected rodents and insects.  They can play in relative safety in their back yard or a park.

(C) New York City Dept. of Sanitation

Holidays come and go.  Mornings come and go.  Who remembers that the sanitation worker, the teacher, the lawyer, the doctor and every working man and woman in the world has a life beyond outside of their work place?  Sometimes, they face great difficulties in their lives outside work.  For some, work is a respite from family problems, the illness of an elderly parent, an abusive marriage and more sadness.  If we don’t pray for these people during the year, can we at least remember them in prayer on Labor Day?

Third:  I was not kidding about mothers.  Giving birth is an act of real love.

For 40 weeks, a woman gets ready to meet her little one.  But as the weeks go by, the discomforts increase.  There are back aches.  There are issues with gestational diabetes and intra-uterine blood pressure.

Then there are all those things that people keep telling us can happen to our babies: blindness, intellectual disabilities, brain damage, and more.  The truth is that the number of children born with these conditions is a very low percentage and today we have the means and the knowledge to provide for them.

The day finally arrives.  It’s “Labor Day”.  The promise made by God to Eve in the Book of Genesis is fulfilled.  A mother experiences great pain and anxiety for hours between the onset of labor and the actual birth of her child.  However, when she sees and counts those 10 little fingers and 10 little toes, all that pain and anxiety is forgotten.

Dads have been standing by trying to be as supportive of Mom as possible, often feeling helpless.   Some men feel guilty when they see the pain of labor and delivery.  They feel that somehow, they have contributed to the suffering of the woman they love.  Those feelings disappear when they get to hold their child and glance into that tiny face covered with a knitted cap and wrapped in a white receiving blanket (with blue and pink stripes, just in case).

  Grand-parenting can be exhausting!

Do we pray for parents on Labor Day?  Do we remember those who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies and are struggling with the question, “Should we go forward with this pregnancy or get an abortion?” How many parents pray for their sons and daughters that when their time comes to be parents, they will choose labor, not death.

This Labor Day, let us remember to thank God for the Work of Creation.  Let us commit to co-exist responsibly, using what we need and preserving what we don’t need so that others may reap some of the benefits of creation.

Remember that every person has a life beyond the job that he or she does.  They need our kindness, our respect, our patience, and our prayers.

Please do not forget your parents and the labor of love that brought you into the world and the work that they have done or are still doing to help you grow and live happily.

Finally, remember those couples and those pre-born children who may be in crisis this Labor Day.

UN MÉTODO DE ORACIÓN DE FRANCISCANOS POR LA VIDA


For English, click here

Esta mañana, tuve una cita médica. Estaba sentado en la sala de espera usando mi hábito de trabajo. Una mujer muy agradable se sentó a mi lado y me preguntó por mi ropa. Le dije que yo era un laico consagrado. Ella no entendía que cualquier persona que no es un diácono, un sacerdote o un obispo es un laico. Aunque se ha hecho alguna distinción entre el laicado universal y los consagrados. Éstos constituyen un cuerpo muy pequeño, pero especial dentro del cuerpo más grande de laicos.

Mientras la conversación continuaba, la amable señora me preguntó: “¿Rezan los hermanos?” Respondí con una sonrisa: “Espero que al menos la mitad de ellos lo hagan”.

Procedió a decir que no sabía cómo orar. Esa fue mi señal. Le pregunté si podía compartir un método muy sencillo que usan los Franciscanos Por la Vida. Se interesó y emocionó.

Nuestro método puede ser utilizado por cualquier persona. Empecé a usarlo hace muchos años y algunos hermanos aprendieron de mí; Pero no soy su dueño.

Primero: Empiece por encontrar el silencio interior. Si el entorno que te rodea es demasiado ruidoso, encuentra un lugar tranquilo. No siempre será una iglesia o capilla si no se puede llegar. Una vez que usted se habitúa a la oración, podrá ignorar el ruido del mundo, incluso si usted está en un partido de fútbol entre Roma y el Brasil, el juego más ruidoso a que he estado. No pude oír nada durante dos días.

Segundo: Díganse a ustedes mismos: “Recordemos que estamos en la santa presencia de Dios”. Incluso si somos sólo vosotros, todos estamos siempre en la santa presencia de Dios. Esto fue algo que San Juan Bautista de La Salle, fundador de los Hermanos Cristianos les enseñó a decir. Recordarme a mí mismo que estoy en la santa presencia de Dios es como abrir la puerta principal de una casa, mirando afuera y viendo hermosos campos verdes con flores, mariposas y una suave brisa. Me refiero a ella como mi “pequeño pedacito del cielo”.

Estas palabras van a desencadenar una respuesta diferente en cada persona. Lo más importante es la conciencia del OTRO. Lo escribí deliberadamente en mayúsculas. Si queremos orar, debemos ser conscientes que Dios es OTRO, no una cosa. Reconocer que hay alguien más grande a nuestro lado, es nuestro primer contacto con Dios en la oración. No hay nada místico aquí. Usted no ve ni oye nada. Es una conciencia de mi presencia ante la infinita ALTERIDAD de Dios.

Tercero: Comienza a hablar como usted habla con cualquier persona. Santa Teresa de Ávila nos enseñó que la oración es hablar a un amigo. Era famosa por sus charlas cortas y muy íntimas con Cristo. Hubo un momento en que tuvo un contratiempo y ella volteó los ojos hacia arriba y dijo: “Señor, no es de extrañar que no tengas muchos amigos.” En otra ocasión las cosas no iban muy bien con una nueva fundación de un monasterio. Una vez más, levantó los ojos y dijo: -¿Por qué me metiste en este lío? Soy sólo una vieja.” Estaba a final de sus cuarentas o principios de los cincuentas

Cuarto: Háblale a Dios acerca de todo lo que está pasando, Todo lo que ha sucedido, o algo que usted anticipa, incluso cosas buenas, como visitar a su familia en todo el país. Por supuesto, Dios sabe estas cosas. Pero hay un lado maternal en Dios. Las madres a menudo saben lo bueno y lo malo en la vida de sus hijos, antes de que se lo cuenten. Pero hay una experiencia de intimidad y amor cuando el niño le cuenta a mamá su historia en sus propias palabras. Dios se complace en escuchar nuestras palabras. La idea de que Dios se deleita escuchándome, me estimula a contarle todo en detalle, como si un estudiante de primer grado regresara de la escuela.

Quinto: Como cualquier otro Padre, Dios sabe lo que hemos hecho mal, antes de decir algo. Recuerdo haber entrado en una habitación y haber obtenido LA MIRADA de mi madre, seguido de: “¿Qué hiciste?”

Puede que te hayas alejado disfrazando la verdad o reteniendo la verdad de mamá, pero no puedes hacer eso con Dios. Este es el momento de hablar de mis faltas, debilidades, tentaciones y realmente decirle a Dios cómo me siento acerca de estas cosas. A veces, hago cosas que siento que están mal, pero no tengo ni idea de por qué me siento así. Otras veces hago algo que todo el mundo dice que está mal, y no me siento culpable. Hablo con Dios de lo que hice, Cómo me siento y le pido su ayuda para comprender la verdad del asunto. Dios no espera que tengamos todas las respuestas sobre el bien y el mal, el bien y el mal, arriba y abajo. Si ese fuera el caso, no tendríamos mucha necesidad de hablar con él en absoluto. Él sólo esperaría nuestro juicio final para interactuar con nosotros. Pero Dios nos conoce y nos ama. Quiere ayudar a despejar las telarañas en nuestras cabezas.

Sexto: Pídale a Dios las bendiciones que usted y el mundo necesitan. No trate de ser Dios y pretenda saber lo que todo el mundo necesita. “Por favor, haz que mi esposa se enfade menos”, o “Por favor, ayuda a mi padre qué está en el teatro de cirugía “. Debemos creer que Dios sabe lo que nosotros y otros necesitamos. Si alguien va a la cirugía, orar por un buen resultado. Si alguien está enojado, ore para que encuentre paz interior. Pero nunca se olvide de pedirle a Dios: “Danos las gracias que necesitamos para hacer lo correcto y expiar todo lo malo que hayamos hecho”.

Séptimo: Ahora es el momento de agradecer a Dios y decirle que nos pondremos en contacto más tarde en el día.  Observe que hay siete pasos. Piensa en los Siete Días de la Creación, las Siete Alegrías de María, las Siete Ultimas Palabras de Cristo. Momentos de gracia parecen venir en siete.

Published in: on August 23, 2017 at 5:12 PM  Leave a Comment  

FRANCISCANS OF LIFE’S METHOD OF PRAYER


Para Español Señale Aqui

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment. I was sitting in the waiting area wearing my work habit. A very nice woman sat next to me and asked me about my clothes. I told her that  I was a consecrated layman. She didn’t understand that anyone who is not a deacon, priest or bishop is a layman. Though some distinction has been made between the universal laity and consecrated men and women. These constitute a very small, but special body within the larger body of lay people.

As the conversation continued, the nice lady asked me, “Do brothers pray?” To which I responded, with a smile, “I hope at least half of them do so.”

She proceeded to say that she didn’t know how to pray. That was my sign. I asked her if I could share a very simple method that the Franciscans of Life use. She became very interested and excited.

Our method can be used by anyone. I started to use it many years ago and some brothers learned it from me; but I don’t own it.

First: Begin by finding interior silence. If the environment around you is too noisy, find a quiet place. It need not always be a church or chapel if you can’t get to one. Once you get into the habit of prayer, you will be able to shut out the noise of the world, even if you’re at a soccer game between Rome and Brazil, the noisiest game to which I have ever been. I couldn’t hear a thing for two days.

Second: Say to yourself, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” Even if it’s just you, all of us are always in the holy presence of God. This was something that St. John Baptist de La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers taught them to say. Reminding myself that I am in the holy presence of God is like opening the front door of a house, looking outside and seeing beautiful green fields with flowers, butterflies and a gentle breeze. I refer to it as my “tiny taste of heaven.”

These words are going to trigger a different response from each person. The most important thing is the awareness of the OTHER. I deliberately wrote it in upper case. If we want to pray, we must be aware of the OTHERNESS of God. Acknowledging that there is someone bigger with us, is our first contact with God in prayer. There is nothing mystical here. You don’t see or hear anything. It’s an awareness of my presence before God’s infinite OTHERNESS.

Third: Just begin to speak as you speak to anyone else. St. Teresa of Avila taught us that prayer is speaking to a friend. She was famous for her short and very intimate chats with Christ. There was a time when she had a mishap and she turned her eyes upward and said, “Lord, it’s no wonder you don’t have many friends.” On another occasion things were not  going very well with a new foundation of a monastery. Again, she raised her eyes and said, “Why did you get me into this mess? I’m only an old woman.” She may have been in her late 40s or early 50s.

Fourth: Tell God about everything that’s going on, anything that has happened, or something that you anticipate, even good things, like visiting your family across the country. Of course, God knows these things. But there is a maternal side to God. Mothers often know the good and the bad in their children’s lives, before they’re told about it. But there is an experience of intimacy and love when the child tells Mom his story in his own words. God delights in hearing our words. The idea that God delights hearing me, stimulates me to tell him everything in detail, like a first-grader coming home from school.

Fifth: Like any other parent, God knows what we’ve done wrong, before we say anything. I remember walking into a room and getting THE LOOK from my mother, followed by, “What did you do?” You may have gotten away disguising the truth or withholding the truth from Mom, but you can’t do that with God. This is the time to talk about my faults, weaknesses, temptations and really tell God how I feel about these things. Sometimes, I do things that I feel are wrong, but I have no idea why I feel that way. Other times I do something that everyone says is wrong, and I don’t feel guilty. I talk to God about what I did, how I feel and I ask for his help to understand the truth of the matter. God does not expect us to have all the answers about good and evil, right and wrong, up and down. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have much need to talk to him at all. He would just wait until our final judgment to interact with us. But God knows us and loves us. He wants to help clear out the cobwebs in our heads.

Sixth: Ask God for the blessings that you and the world need. Don’t try to be God and pretend to know what everyone needs. “Please make my wife less angry,” or “Please get my father through surgery.“ We must believe that God knows what we and others need. If someone is going for surgery, pray for a good outcome. If someone is angry, pray that he may find interior peace. But never forget to ask God, “Give us whatever graces we need to do the right thing and to atone for any wrong that we have done.”

Seventh: Now it’s time to thank God and to tell him that we’ll be in touch later in the day. Notice that there are seven steps. Think of the Seven days of Creation, the Seven Joys of Mary, the Seven Last Words of Christ. Moments of grace seem to come in sevens.