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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hope is Everywhere!

The March for Life and all of the various connected events were beautiful. I received a special privilege this year. The morning of the March (the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade),  I was able to offer the Holy Mass in a regular office which happens to share a wall with a notorious abortion mill. They even do late-term abortions at this death center.

Just by coincidence (wink, wink), several workers at this office are pro-life Catholics. During the Mass I perceived that the loving self-sacrifice of Jesus is the supernatural serum to the venom of abortion. God will not take away our free-will. He does place people in the paths of history to freely work for all that is good, true and beautiful. We pray for the mothers, fathers, babies and abortion workers. That killing chamber is surrounded by grace. Hope is everywhere - including on the other side of the wall.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Fr. Benedict Video on The Journey Home

Fr. Benedict Groeschel on the EWTN's
The Journey Home
(aired April 9, 2007)
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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Holy Haiku Ordinary Time

Living daily life ...
finding God in everything
Ordinary Time
#HolyHaiku #OrdinaryTime

Friday, January 9, 2015

Holy Haiku Baptism of the Lord

New Life in Jesus,
this grace given to us by
His Baptism, ours...
 #HolyHaiku | #Baptism | #Jesus | #Grace
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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Testimony of the Shepherd

Did you hear the trumpets? Did you see the angels? Over the green hills before the thin sheet of night, they stood, brighter than the many pointed stars, and they sang. You didn’t hear the angels singing? Did you see the sheep scatter? Were you even there? They splashed across the pasture like an ocean squall startled in all directions but only briefly; after the trumpets, they laid meekly in their places across the tired earth, and we listened, and the angels sang like I was telling you, a chorus clear as crystal. Their voices went forth, curriers on horses of light, their voices galloped through the tall grass though not hastily towards the horizon, no they stayed close circling us, close like our sheep nuzzling up to us, like the fleece we wore on our backs, like a warm breeze off the sea moistening the backs of our necks. I could feel their song on my face, and my heart began to lift, and I thought, my God, can it be true?

Can it be true about the baby and the swaddling clothes? And then we were there. Bethlehem. The City of David. You didn’t go? Your crazy. You really didn’t come? Then you didn’t see the Messiah. You can’t know how sad your heart must be. He was there, swaddled in the arms of a girl with the softest cheeks—her husband behind her with his weathered eyes and the little lungs of the Messiah pulsing. I knew, there on my knees among the beasts scattered in hay of that manger, that those little lungs wouldn’t stop till all men were drawn to him. And I thought, what nobler purpose could my shepherd’s staff bear? What greater joy should my feet have than to pasture more than just these Judean hills? These thoughts dripped over my heart as I took in his little face, the pale of his lips. Then my gaze moved to the depths of the girl’s joyful eyes and she nodded. She nodded with a silence that confirmed every movement of my intuition. And I promised them—each of them—from the man to the babe—I promised them my love and devotion and my service, but all I have is a voice, I said with hat in hand, though on my word I will see to it that this voice goes out to the ends of the earth. The man nodded. The girl smiled. The Messiah slept. I kissed his foot, put on my hat and I walked. Until morning wrapped itself around me and the hills became stepping stones beneath my feet and my voice covered them like wildlife, I walked.

Have peace, my friend, morning has come, I’d say to one. Arise, young man, the savior is here! Little girl, go out to see him. Gather, Israel, under his wings. The Lord is hear and he is called Jesus. Jesus, I tell you, his name is Jesus. Give him time to grow, I say to you, but be ready, I say, be ready. Everything is about to change.

So says the shepherd to whom the angels came, for whom the veil was parted. In Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of Augustus, in the time of peace when the trumpets sounded and the mountains leapt like rams and the hills like yearling sheep, I was there and I bear witness.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Blessed 2015

The friars would like to wish all of you a blessed new year!

From Pope Francis' homily, January 1, 2014:

"There is no more meaningful time than the beginning of a new year to hear these words of blessing: they will accompany our journey through the year opening up before us. They are words of strength, courage and hope. Not an illusory hope, based on frail human promises, or a naïve hope which presumes that the future will be better simply because it is the future. Rather, it is a hope that has its foundation precisely in God’s blessing, a blessing which contains the greatest message of good wishes there can be; and this is the message which the Church brings to each of us, filled with the Lord’s loving care and providential help."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

El Greco’s Evangelist

Paint. Paint the soft lines
of damp cheeks across a canvas.
Paint the little hand, the deep
eyes and the orb.
Splash some color along the curve
of her neck and suggest
the wafting scent of his musty flesh,
the earth soiling her mantle’s hem,
the wet hay and animal sweat.
Fill out her rounded face
and his chubby legs. Paint well
her ponderous humanity and his
unquestioned divinity
and her smile, Luke. Paint her smile
and we shall see
how well your lazy eye can see.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Born in Bronx-lehem

We rejoice! The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is upon us once again. Merry Christmas everybody - or as a local carwash sign has it, “Happy Everything!” We remember that Christ was born in Bethlehem and we rejoice!

But why do we rejoice? Saint Pope John Paul II put it this way when he preached at Bethlehem (March 2000): “The joy announced by the angel is not a thing of the past. It is a joy of today… Because it is always Christmas in Bethlehem, every day is Christmas in the hearts of Christians. And every day we are called to proclaim the message of Bethlehem to the world.”

But how do we rejoice? While in the past Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he is born in Bronx-lehem this day. He is born anew in every place where faith-filled hearts welcome him with joy. I was reminded of this life-shaking truth as I participated in our Saint Francis Youth Center Nativity Play. Our young people prepared and practiced to re-enact that sacred story in the Bronx milieu. The characters all spoke with authentic NYC accents while Fr. Stan Fortuna provided the appropriate soundtrack (something to see and hear)! The message was clear: Yoforeal! Jesus is born for us, for us y’all and so we rejoice!

I remember the semester I spent abroad in Austria. The local churches had the Christmas crèche characters dressed in traditional Austrian outfits. The message was clear: Jesus is born for us and we rejoice. So, welcome him into your heart, your home and your town. I don’t know if Santa Claus is coming to your town, but Jesus certainly is. Simply add a “-lehem” to your location and dress those Nativity figures as farmers if you live in the Midwest! Jesus Christ is born for us and this makes everything happy!

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Simple and Straightforward

So often our mind and imagination is full of all sorts of different ideas and images of what the Nativity of Jesus must have looked like. There are movies and plays, music and poetry, and many other mediums that try to impress upon us the significance of the event of the Word becoming flesh. It was on my heart however that for our Nativity Play this year at the Saint Francis Youth Center we should attempt to use the Gospels as our inspiration, nothing more and nothing less. The Gospels reveal to us a story full of wonder, glory, haste, hospitality, family, trial, fear, peace, and several other actions, emotions, and relationships. The Nativity Story is, just like many of our lives are, very full. And it is into the midst of this fullness that Jesus comes to us, to turn what we think might be a fulfilling life into one that is overflowing and brimming with divine life.

“Every idea of [God] we form, He must in mercy shatter.” I recently came across this quote from C.S. Lewis, and it struck a chord with my experience of looking anew at the Nativity of Jesus Christ. I have over the years become stuck in imagining His birth taking place in a certain way. For instance, where I saw something all too simple (the shepherds) the glory of God appears with a multitude of angels. There were many other moments like this that grabbed my attention, which surprised me, and that left me thinking, ‘how could I have forgotten that.

I think my point is this: we frequently allow our minds to wander and our hearts to become fugitives from the reality that we are designed from the beginning for a fullness beyond anything we could imagine. By becoming the human being Jesus, God wants to share with each human person his own eternal life, in such a way that our fragile, contradictory human nature would not be overwhelmed or crushed, but filled utterly.

Br. Lazarus Sharpe, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Open Your Heart to Christ (4 of 4)

4) "Commitment to the Poor Christ: a priceless opportunity to give yourself to God in others by humble charity" (4 of 4)
It is just not enough to go to Mass on Sunday, pray the Rosary daily, avoid mortal sin, and love your close circle of friends - especially in our spiritually depraved and very desperate society today.
Jesus Christ calls each of us to make a firm and zealous commitment of our time, energy, and gifts to help reveal and build up His Kingdom here on earth. An essential part of this is the practice of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which are practical forms of loving our neighbors who take the place of Christ among us.
Christ's Vicar, Pope Francis, has been calling us to go the "outskirts" of existence, to the "fringes" of society, to seek out the lost sheep and bring them home to the Father's House. It's high time to quit living in a "maintenance mode" or a "me only" culture when souls are dying of thirst for Christ's Love all around us.
God has chosen to save people precisely through those to whom He has already revealed Himself - through *our* very human mediation and participation (sound crazy?). God created YOU for a specific purpose and with a unique mission. (After you die, you will find out which souls you helped to save for all eternity, and you will be surprised!)
Every day I need to take time to examine my conscience, life and relationships; to listen to God in His Word in Scripture and in prayer; and to discern what He is asking of me. Every moment He invites me to freely, lovingly, cheerfully say "yes," "amen", to Him and to His Holy Will for me. (If you're unsure what He's asking of you, keep praying, studying your faith, talking with holy people, going to spiritual direction, and serving the needy; take a step forward in faith and God will illumine the next one!)
What is the Lord asking of you? How is He asking you to serve Him in the poor, needy, sick, suffering, lonely, elderly, unborn, rejected, abandoned (etc.)? How are you going to respond to Christ's invitation? What are you going to do for love of Him?
Today? Now?
Then whenever we die and go before Our Lord and He asks us: "How did you love me? What did you do for Me in My beloved least ones?", we will have something real to show Him by the way we loved our neighbors, especially the poor (re-read Matthew, chapter 25). Let us begin!
+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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