Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Word From God's Word

A word from God's word

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

SEEK and Find

San Antonio in January shouldn’t be below freezing with biting winds, but as I stepped out of my hotel and started my four-block trek back to the convention center for a conference called SEEK, my one thought was to just get back into a building with heat. I gripped my guitar, pulled my hood down over my head and marched as quickly as I could toward my destination amidst groups of other young Catholics and locals who all had faces like flint pressing ahead. Emerging from a side street I noticed an older African American man slowly moving with his cane in one hand, a peppered grey beard, a genuine smile and eyes that welcomed me in his city. 

“Good morning. How are you today?” I said, but moving only slow enough to not seem in a rush and hear him respond, “Good morning to you too! I see you’re a musician.” 

Now at this point I was a half-step ahead of him already and conscious that I was running late to Mass. It was only a split second, but something inside told me to slow down and talk to this man. This time I listened to that voice and slowed to the moseying pace of this older man and we began to talk about music and he shared about his own life and all the different instruments he’s played over the years – keys, trombone, guitar, drums and singing. 

“It’s all the same notes, just different instruments. You know the notes, you know music,” he told me as we discussed the variety of his musical skills. As he said this I was amazed at the beauty of this man and the joy that filled my heart as we walked and talked, eventually arriving at the bus top where he was headed. The conversation and his presence had grabbed my attention such that I stayed there talking to him. He told me his name was Ishmael and he’d lived most all his life in San Antonio. Before leaving I asked if we could pray together.  

As a religious I’m accustomed to people waiting for me to start the prayer when I do this, but Ishmael just busted right into a prayer to the Father and began thanking Him for me saying, “Father I thank you for this man who you sent to me to talk to this morning. I thank you that in all these people walking all around – look around and see em all- that he said hello and spoke to me today. He didn’t have to, but he stopped to talk to me. Bless him Father on his way Lord.” 

I just looked at Ishmael, overcome, and began praying the same prayer to God in thanksgiving for him! For the next two blocks I kept thanking God for Ishmael and brought him into Mass in my prayers and continued to “give thanks” for him. 

Though it wasn’t some extraordinary act of charity on my part to stop and talk to this old-timer on the streets of San Antonio, I realized that God had done something extraordinary with that ordinary encounter that began with a simple hello and smile. His life, his world, were completely different from mine, but God used Ishmael to show me that even though the “instruments” of our lives looked different, we both knew the notes of God’s love and so we were gifted by God with something of an improv moment when we both experienced the beauty of the Lord’s presence in someone who before had been a stranger. Now we both know the truth, that we were in fact brothers playing the same song on different instruments. 

+ Br. Malachy Napier, CFR
Yonkers, NY

We need your help! Donate here

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

God’s love: Our primary motivation

In silent prayer we encounter the unconditional love of God.  Regardless of who we are, where we have been, or what we have done, silence reveals to us a loving presence that accepts us where we are right now.  The reason, I believe, that so many people do not experience this love, is because they have not traveled deeply into their own heart.  Most of us live on the surface of life, accepting its shadows, illusions and noise as the sum total of all that life has to offer.  Silence takes us deeper, beyond the masks and all that is temporary, and reveals to each one of us the love of God.  To discover the love of God is the very purpose of our life.  What could be more important than this?  After all, everything else passes away, but His love “endures forever.” (Ps 136)  Fortunately, one does not have to travel far to encounter this love, it is inside our own hearts if only we can learn to be still.  Regardless of our situation and circumstances, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts.”(Rms 5:5)  What each one of us has to do, and what is really the work of silent prayer, is to open ourselves to that love, surrender to it and allow it to be the foundation of our lives.

It should be no surprise that the fruits of silent prayer are the fruits of the Holy Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness and self-control.(Gal 5:22-23)  When we open ourselves to God, the love of God revealed in these fruits, becomes a part of our life.  Instead of reacting to life from a place of fear and anxiety, a quiet awareness begins to emerge from within, and we no longer need to live as victims of our own emotions or those of others.  This transformation, of course, does not happen immediately.  Gradually, as we pray in silence each day, the love of God will reveal itself in ever-greater depths.

Perhaps there will be a time when someone will ask you, “Why do you sit in silence?”  The answer will come, not from a book, but from the depths of your heart. “I sit in silence because God is in love with me, and by spending time with Him in silence, I am falling more in love with God.”

+ Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

EWTN Archive Fr. Benedict and Steven McDonald


May he rest in peace and pray for us!!!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Forgiveness and boxes

Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

BOXES.  I’m really good at checking boxes.  Daily rosary? Check.  Daily Mass? Check. Holy Hour? Check.  Works of charity: feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, giving shelter to the homeless?  Check. Check. Check.  Obviously, as a friar, it’s assumed that we’ll be checking all of these boxes daily.  In a sense, it’s our day job.  It’s our duty.  For a lay person, on the other hand, it may be difficult to make it to Mass during the week, or downright impossible to make time for an entire Holy Hour, but with a little bit of effort, we are able to check the little boxes that make up our spiritual to-do lists.  Morning offering? Check.  Grace before meals? Check.  Prayers with my children before bed? Check.

Now, the boxes are important, but they are not everything.  It reminds me of a story... Boxes and boxes of food were lined up waiting to be unpacked.  The boxes were filled with different food items which we needed to move from boxes to bags.  The bags would be given out to over one hundred Hondurans families, most of them single-mother homes with four or more children, at our monthly food handout.  I was still a baby-friar, but the responsibility of organizing this particular “packing day” had fallen on my shoulders.  A couple dozen volunteers had joined me and one other senior-friar to check the proverbial food packing box. 

The problem was that the baby-friar became frustrated with the senior-friar.  I knew what needed to be done.  I knew the best way to get it done.  And I knew that the senior-friar should know what I know.  You know? As things did not go the way that I planned, I started to get irritated and apparently it was obvious.  Now, the senior-friar did not do anything wrong, he just didn’t do what I wanted.
Well, apparently the baby-friar’s frustration was evident to the senior-friar.  So, did the senior-friar sit me down and give me a talk and some good ole’ fraternal correction?  No, he didn’t.  He came very humbly to me and apologized (and he didn’t even do anything wrong!).  And you know the best part about it?  All it did was make me relive the frustration.  With my words, I waved off his apology, “It’s no problem.  Don’t worry about it.”  My face must have said something different.

The senior-friar could have checked the box.  He did his part.  Any remaining frustration or lack of peace was totally my fault—but, apparently, religious life works.  He was not willing to reduce his relationship with me to a box that needed to be checked.  When we crossed paths in the friary, he stopped me and apologized again!    And this time it worked! 

When he looked upon me, he did not see a task to be completed or a nuisance to be endured, he saw a brother to be loved. 

Lord, grant me the eyes to see as you see.

Grant us the grace
To see as you see
And to love as you love.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out With Surreal In With Real Encounters

Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year is surreal = "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream"

May 2017 bring encounter = "to come upon face-to-face; to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly"

Encounter God and others! My one resolution!! Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

AUTHENTICITY.  As a young man I hungered for it.  I imagine that most men and women hunger for it.  As a young man, I also hungered for hamburgers with authentic, all-beef patties, tomatoes, pickles, onions and a side of fresh cut french fries.  As providence would have it, it was while trying to satiate the latter hungerthat the Lord began feeding my deeper desire for authenticity.  
I was eating with a couple of friends. We had just finished having a young adult meeting at the church and wanted to go grab a bite.  One of the guys, knowing that I was discerning, mentioned this group of Franciscans who were “hardcore.”  They had long beards, wore patched up habits, and slept on the floor.  Immediately I was hooked.  I went home that night and did a web search for the friars.  I found our website, read the constitutions, and looked at the pictures.  I thought to myself, “these guys are the real deal.”  If they look like that, they must be authentic.
I was young and idealistic.  In many ways I still am.  I have, however, in my seven years as a friar, learned a little bit about life in general, and religious life in particular.  I learned that growing a beard, wearing a habit, and sleeping on a mattress on the floor are actually pretty easy.  These external signs are what the Lord used to bring me in the door, but I’d like to share an experience which the Lord used to prepare me to make my final vows—to say, I want to be a part of this group forever.  
I was living in Honduras at the time and six of us friars had just spent some time on a fraternal trip.  I was driving home in one of our dusty old pick-up trucks with two other friars.  The bed of the truck was filled with our bags, supplies for Mass, and a couple of coolers that we used to transport food for our weekend away.  In true Franciscan fashion, we began having car troubles.  An unexplainable ping could be heard under the hood.  We pulled over and began to wait for the cavalry to arrive.  We did not have a cell phone to call the other brothers to let them know what happened, but luckily there was only one road home and our truck had left first.  As five minutes became ten minutes and ten minutes became twenty minutes, the Lord planted a little thought in my head, “Now would be a great time to go to confession.”  So, I asked one of the friar-priests if he would be able to hear my confession.
We dropped down the back hatch of the truck and sat down.  He put on his purple stole, made the sign of the cross, and I went to confession.  After a couple of minutes, he gave me absolution.  As Father began to take his stole off, the other friar-priest came over and said he wanted to go to confession too.  I made my way to the cab of the truck to thank the Lord for the mercy I had received and to beg him to help me amend my life.  Through the rear view mirror, I could see the two priests talking, one as the confessor, one as the penitent.  Finally, I saw the confessor make the sign of the cross.  Then, to my surprise, I saw the friar-confessor pass his stole to the friar-penitent, and the roles were reversed.  The priest who had just heard two confessions, now began going to confession!
At the time, I was a few months away from making my final vows.  It’s a time when a lot of thoughts pass through a friar’s mind.  As I sat in the cab of the truck and watched my brothers confess their sins to one another, I knew I could joyfully call these my brothers for the rest of my life.  At the end of the day, I wasn’t looking to join a bunch of tough guy-super heroes.  I was looking for a fraternity built upon the solid rock of mercy.  May God’s mercy, a mercy which we receive from him and then share graciously with others, be the mark of our authenticity.   

you sent your Son as the savior of the world,
may we receive the grace this day
to humbly ask for and receive your forgiveness
that we may be given the strength to forgive those who have offended us
and so build the universal Christian family
upon the firm foundation of your love and mercy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Great Christmas Homilies


Christmas Midnight Mass homily by Fr. Agustino Torres, CFR
"It was a brutal day on that first Christmas. The drops of sweat from Saint Joseph's brow fed the weary earth that groaned for its redeemer..."


Christmas morning Mass homily by Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR


Google Play


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forgiveness is the garment of our courage

Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

DAD.  That was the name of my first hero.  I guess that’s what I always thought dads were for.  As I grew, so did my “hero-shelf” making room for policemen and firemen and Power Rangers and, of course, Walker Texas Ranger.  As I entered my sports phase, Walker was joined by a different type of Cowboy, Troy Aikman, as well as other great athletes:  Jerry Rice, Steve Young, “Penny” Hardaway, and Chipper Jones.  My sports phase matured into my saints phase.  The autographed memorabilia came down and up went pictures of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.   Greatness has always spoken to me.  It still does.  What I recognize as greatness, however, has changed.

I’d like to share about a more recent addition to my list of heroes.  Her name is Gabriela*.  Her Central American home is constructed of concrete blocks, a cement floor and tin roof.  She is in her early-twenties and is paralyzed from the waist down.  When Gabriela was still a teenager, her ability to walk was taken from her by a bullet.  The bullet was shot out of the gun of a teenage boy trying to rob her.  He ended up not only robbing her of the money in her purse, but the treasures of her heart: the priceless hopes and dreams which are proper to young life.  

Following this tragedy, the friars began visiting Gabriela on a regular basis.  While living in Central America I had this privilege on a number of occasions.  I would bring her the Eucharist and then spend some time chatting with her.  During one of these visits, she began to share with me some of the details of her story.  Speaking of the incident which had happened years ago still had the power to bring tears to her eyes.  The physical and emotional pain was still very real.  She went on to explain that she knew the young man who did this to her and that a wound hurts all the more when it is inflicted by someone you know.  In Gabriela’s life pain, evil, and resentment would not have the last word.  In the midst of all this suffering, she said, with absolute sincerity, that she had forgiven the one who did this to her.   

This is greatness.

Now, no one is going to make Gabriela action figures, or ask for her autograph.  Her name will probably never be listed among the canonized saints.  Yet, she is my hero.  In her courage, she reveals to me the greatness for which I long, the greatness which I cannot achieve on my own, but Christ can work in me.  If Jesus at work in Gabriela can give her the courage and strength to forgive her attacker, certainly he can give me the courage and strength needed to forgive and pray for those who hurt me.     

you who sent your Son to reconcile the world to yourself, strengthen me with your Spirit that as I attempt to pray for those who have hurt me and forgive those who have trespassed against me, my efforts may not be limited to my own strength, but may always be aided by the power of your Spirit at work in me.