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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saint Bonaventure

Studying #SaintBonaventure on his feastday! Always with the help of Our Lady (it is Saturday) @ Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. The STL program for priests here is really amazing!





Thursday, July 6, 2017

The One Who Waited For God

Mary - The One Who Waited For God

Podcast from Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR. Our Lady's life was one of waiting for God. Because she was always waiting and listening for God's voice Mary was able to see beyond the uncertainties and challenges that life presented to her. Even though waiting on God might appear to be something passive, Mary reveals to us that waiting on God is actually an active disposition, since it means living our real lives trusting in the love and mercy of God.











Thursday, June 22, 2017

General Chapter



Newly elected leadership!

Back row L-R

Fr. John Anthony - General Vicar
Fr. John Paul - General Servant
Br. Shawn - General Council

Front row L-R

Fr. Emmanuel - General Council
Fr. Solanus - General Council
Fr. Agustino - General Council

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New podcasts

The Present Moment by Fr. Jeremiah, CFR

https://soundcloud.com/franciscan-friars/the-present-moment

Often times we live in two places; the past and the future. The only "real" place there is is the present moment. If we wish to encounter God and experience His grace anew it is in the present moment were we must be.






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Fearless Fatherhood by Fr. Joseph Mary Deane, CFR

https://soundcloud.com/franciscan-friars/fearless-fatherhood


Homily by Fr. Joseph Mary Deane, CFR, at the Mass of thanksgiving for our newly ordained Fr. Giles Barrie, CFR. What is the connection between the priesthood, fathers, and Corpus Christi? Listen to learn more!!














iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/from-the-friars/id1100357971

Google Play
https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/I7u2fjhkolw2aa235eto5siywza

Stitcher
http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/from-the-friars

Player FM
https://player.fm/series/from-the-friars-catholic-christian-spirituality

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Emptying

Emptying
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” Jn 3:30
I.
Too often when we speak about ourselves, we define our “I” by the passing things of this world. We call this false notion of ourselves our ego. For example, it is our accomplishments, failures, hopes, roles, and dreams that we are really speaking of and not our identity or our deepest “I.” We often think or say, “I am successful” for example if our salary fits into the category that society has deemed successful. We might say, “I am beautiful” if our physical makeup is in keeping with current fashion and trends. We could even say, “I am holy,” if we maintain an appearance of holiness by saying our prayers and serving others. We receive our identity then, our deepest “I” from either the empirical proof that this world provides or its lack thereof. If I have the proof that I am successful or beautiful, then I am. If that “proof” is lacking, then so am I. 



The great tragedy in all of this is that too often we actually believe that we are those things; that our deepest identity can be found in the passing things of this world. But what happens when sickness, tragedy, or old age strikes? Who am I then? Does my identity change? Am I no longer successful, beautiful, or holy if I don’t have the empirical proof to back it up?
The Christian life can be summed up in those words of St. John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Who or what is this “I” that must decrease? It is not our “real self,” the self that is made “in the image and likeness of God,” but our “false self” that is desperately hoping to find its “I” by clinging to a whole array of attachments and illusions buried deep within our ego. Hence, this is what must decrease, this “I” whose foundation lies inside one’s own ego.
II.
John the Baptist utters these profound words, “He must increase, but I must decrease,” after some of his disciples alert him to Jesus’s presence: “He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness, here he is, baptizing, and all are going to him.” On a purely worldly level we could interpret John’s disciples as saying, “Hey, this Jesus guy is stealing all your disciples.” Yet John the Baptist, completely detached from his own ego and its illusions, responds, “You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him…whose sandal I am unworthy to untie.”
In other words, John the Baptist recognizes that his mission, to announce the coming of the Messiah, is now approaching its completion. He is not threatened or angry at the presence of Jesus since Jesus is the very one whom he was preparing the people for when he cried out “Make straight the way of the Lord.” Once John the Baptist recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah he realizes that now he must decrease and empty himself of his former “roles,” and all the possible illusions about himself that those roles could foster, so as to respond to the grace of God today.
If John the Baptist placed his identity merely in his role in God’s plan he would have been devastated. Who would he be, now that the Messiah has come and his mission of preparing the way for the Messiah is complete? Yet because of his great humility and the fact that he has spent his whole life obedient to the Lord, emptying himself of all those things his ego would like him to believe, John the Baptist is able, gracefully, to step aside and allow “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” to take center stage.
III.
What in our lives do we need to empty ourselves of or in the words of John the Baptist, what needs to decrease? The automatic Christian answer to this question is sin. Though I would not disagree with that answer I would say that answer is simply not enough. Without detracting from the ugliness and seriousness of sin, Christianity is more than simply “sin management.” It is, to put it bluntly, total transformation, i.e. divinization, becoming “partakers of the divine nature.”
In essence, divinization means becoming “God like.” How does one become “God like?” Primarily, by taking our eyes off of ourselves, including even our sins, and placing them upon Christ, allowing his love full access to every inch of our humanity. As this process deepens, Christ becomes not only our refuge and our strength but our entire life. We can then say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” In other words, the soul has discovered its true identity in Christ.
St. Paul tells the Galatians, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Is St. Paul trying to disregard our uniqueness and the distinctions that exist among us? Of course not. What he is doing is reminding us that our identity is already complete, and that it cannot be found in our ethnicity, social status, or our sex. We received this identity not from anything we did, not because of the race or social class we were born into, not because society has deemed us “successful” or “beautiful,” but simply because “God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us,” through Baptism has made us all sons and daughters of God.
Here then is our identity: we are sons and daughters of God. Now, and only now, can we live our lives as teachers, mothers, fathers, athletes, lawyers, cooks, or whatever role God has asked us to play in this world, all the while removing the illusions that these roles would reveal to us our deepest “I.”
IV.
The word “emptying” can cause fear inside of those who may hear it because it is often times assumed that by “emptying” we are speaking about a void, or an annihilation of the person. To be clear, by using the word “emptying” I am not speaking at all of annihilation or entering some kind of void of nothingness. By using the word “emptying” I could also use the phrase “letting go.” We empty ourselves, or let go of all that is within us that is not “true…honorable…just…pure
…lovely…and gracious” in order to be filled with the fullness of God’s love and life.
Our ego, especially the attempt to discover our deepest “I” there, makes it difficult to perceive the grace of God at work within our lives. Hence, this “emptying” process is necessary to discover our deepest “I.” Without it we can live our entire lives merely swimming on the surface and be prohibited from discovering the tremendous depths that are inside of us. God, in his great mercy, invites us, through the words of John the Baptist to throw away all the junk we have been foolishly hoping in and to realize that right now our identity is firmly established and that it is something much greater than we could have ever imagined.
+ Father Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, C.F.R.
Monticello, NY

Monday, May 29, 2017

First Mass Homliy

Homily from Fr. Luke Fletcher, CFR, on the occasion of the first Mass of the six newly ordained friars. Given at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Manhattan, New York City, on Sunday, May 28th.




















Friday, May 19, 2017

WHO AM I?

Podcast from Br. Gabriel and Fr. Luke. Just back from a great retreat, we discuss the question of identity. Who am I? Listen to learn more!

https://soundcloud.com/franciscan-friars/who-am-i






iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/from-the-friars/id1100357971

Google Play
https://play.google.com/music/listen#/ps/I7u2fjhkolw2aa235eto5siywza

Stitcher
http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/from-the-friars

Monday, May 8, 2017

Why Lourdes is Famous

Lourdes is famous for many reasons, most of which is that everyone who comes receives graces of healing and graces of gratitude.  I was privileged the other day to visit the baths with my group.  As a priest I was moving about praying with all those preparing to enter the baths.  I met an elderly man who had a number of ailments. He could barely walk, had dementia, but loved to talk.  For some reason he had no one to help him get into the room to wait his turn for the baths so I went in with him. As i was waiting with him he mentioned to me that when he got to heaven he was going to give the Blessed Virgin a big hug and a kiss.  And I asked him "What is she going to do?" he said that she would give him a big hug and a kiss in return.  The faith of this failing man was tremendous.  



While we waited, Charles spotted a man waiting his turn to enter the baths.  Charles saw on his leg a number of terrible looking sores, and prayed at the top of his lungs: "Lord Jesus, heal his sores!'  This simple prayer made me realize that suffering makes one empathetic, compassionate towards others.  No matter how bad you may be suffering, there are always others who have a worse situation.  What one realizes here in Lourdes is that suffering is allowed by God, but the good He brings is to bring us together so that we suffer together, share one another's sufferings as we walk towards heaven.  

A member of my group was healed here as a child of terminal leukemia and has been returning every year since then to serve the sick.  A mother with a very ill child said she smelled roses as her baby was placed in the water of the baths. Those and other peoples' stories are quite dramatic .  But there are hidden miracles here, miracles of the heart, where many find God, find peace, find acceptance of His Will in their lives.  And even amidst their sufferings, so many leave Lourdes eternally grateful for their lives and faith.  I am so very grateful for God putting Charles in my path the other day.  God be praised.  Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us.

+ Fr. Anthony Baetzold, CFR

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Down Wind

A deer’s sense of smell is at least 500 times greater than humans, and they can smell you up to a half mile away. Hence the sale of deer urine to squirt on boots, sent-blocking sprays, and laundry detergents, etc. I was reminded of all this because this past weekend I was on hermitage at an old farm house in the country where we make retreats…and there were tons of deer! 

As I sat on the front porch in the evening silently watching the suns shadow travel across the creek and green fields towards the wooded hillside in the distance, I heard the familiar sound of deer coming down the hill behind the house. On my right side two beautiful doe trotted out into plain view only twenty yards from where I sat on the porch, I just watched them as they ate cloves in the fields and wished that I had at least the single-shot crack-barrel 20 gauge shotgun my Dad made us start hunting with to learn to make the first shot count. The deer never noticed me and kept on their way. Then on my left a herd of at least a dozen deer descended the hill and entered the open roughly forty yards away. No sooner, however, did they walk past the house than all their heads popped up with noses raised – then they sprinted in the opposite direction. They never saw me, but they were down wind and smelt me, which led me back to the Gospel I was praying with before the glorious distraction of fourteen deer. 
I was reading through the various Resurrection accounts we have been hearing at Mass these days of Easter, and I was baffled by the recurring theme of intimate friends and disciples meeting Jesus face to face after the Resurrection and not knowing who he was! The Resurrected Christ somehow was not recognizable as he was in the overpowering manner of the Transfiguration or the miraculous manifestations of His power found in the Gospels. St. Paul tells us that the ability to see the unveiled face of Jesus is a work of the Holy Spirit. (2 Cor 3:18). The Church Fathers also spoke about how the Revelation of Christ was a work of the Holy Spirit, that is to say, without the Holy Spirit at work in us we cannot recognize Christ in His divinity. Throughout the Resurrection accounts we hear of a moment of revelation that comes to the disciples, whether upon hearing one’s name, the showing of Christ’s wounds, a miracle of fish, or in the Breaking of the Bread. The resurrected Christ is present before they realize it, and it is the Spirit of Christ that manifests this hidden presence to us. 

St. Francis was on to this very fact when he wrote to his brothers that “because God is a spirit, therefore it is only by the spirit He can be seen.” He went on to connect the disciples faith in the divinity of Christ while on earth with the gift of faith we have through the Spirit to recognize Jesus Real Presence in the Eucharist, or as the Gospel say, the “Breaking of the Bread.” This Easter season the Church proclaims boldly that the Lord is indeed risen. He is in our midst - in our everyday lives, our families, our work, nature, beauty, suffering, and most especially the Eucharist. He is here! The question is whether we are standing in the wind of the Holy Spirit who reveals to us His Presence, or are we up-wind eating grass unaware that “It is the Lord” who is before us. Come Holy Spirit and give us eyes to see the Risen One who dwells among us, especially in the “Breaking of the Bread”!

+ Br. Malachy Napier, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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