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Friday, September 15, 2017

STATEMENT ON THE "RED ROSE RESCUES"












For Immediate Release 
September 15, 2017
Contact: Br. Angelus Montgomery, CFR: 914-965-8143
STATEMENT OF THE COMMUNITY OF FRANCISCAN FRIARS OF THE RENEWAL 
The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, a Catholic Religious Institute of Pontifical Right existing in various dioceses throughout the world, offers the following statement on the occasion of the “Red Rose Rescues” which have occurred on September 15, 2017. Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR, a professed member of the community, in partnership with other pro-lifers, participated in a rescue at Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, 101 S Whiting St. #215, Alexandria, Virginia.
An essential part of our work of evangelization and care of the poor is our public and prayerful witness to the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. We recognize that the human right to life is the foundation of a just and peaceful society. Furthermore, we recognize that those whose right to life is denied them, for whatever reason, are truly poor and most in need of Christian service and the saving power of the Gospel. 
Through our prayers, public witness, and solidarity with the unborn, the elderly, and all those whose lives are threatened by death as the proposed solution to problems, we seek to uphold the right to life and the dignity of every human being. We try to accomplish this within a variety of apostolic works and commitments including supporting crisis pregnancy centers and homes for expectant mothers, prayer and counseling at places where abortions occur, spiritual retreats for those who have been affected by abortion, and providing programs for inner-city youth. 
The Constitutions and Directory of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal provides that “with appropriate permissions, the friars do not hesitate to participate in acts of conscientious objection to actions that attack the inviolability of human life and seek to break the common bond of human solidarity.”
In this regard we recall the clear teaching of Pope John Paul II in The Gospel of Life who reminds us that abortion is a crime which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. From the very beginnings of the Church, the apostolic preaching reminded Christians of their duty to obey legitimately constituted public authorities (cf. Rom 13:1-7; 1 Pet 2:13-14), but at the same time it firmly warned that "we must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). In the Old Testament, precisely in regard to threats against life, we find a significant example of resistance to the unjust command of those in authority. After Pharaoh ordered the killing of all newborn males, the Hebrew midwives refused. "They did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live" (Ex 1:17). But the ultimate reason for their action should be noted: "the midwives feared God" (ibid.). It is precisely from obedience to God-to whom alone is due that fear which is acknowledgment of his absolute sovereignty-that the strength and the courage to resist unjust human laws are born. It is the strength and the courage of those prepared even to be imprisoned or put to the sword, in the certainty that this is what makes for "the endurance and faith of the saints" (Rev 13:10). (Cf. The Gospel of Life, n. 73).
Therefore, remembering the pro-life witness of many who tried to rescue unborn children and their mothers from abortion, especially the inspiring activity of Bishop Austin Vaughn, Bishop George Lynch, and our own Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR we fully support our confrere, Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR as he joins with others in the “Red Rose Rescue.” He, along with other individuals in a number of U.S. cities, has sought to persuade mothers seeking abortion instead to choose life for themselves and their babies. They have reached out with love and compassion and offered life-affirming alternatives, abiding in solidarity with the innocent unborn babies scheduled to be aborted.
Finally, as disciples of Jesus Christ and followers of St. Francis of Assisi, we call upon all people to acknowledge, respect, and zealously defend the right to life of our unborn brothers and sisters, to reach out to mothers and fathers in crisis pregnancies, and work together to build an authentic culture of life.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Endless Summer

As a kid I dreaded the month of September. The last days of August caused my mind and my body to revolt. I felt depressed, angry and frustrated. Life, as I knew it, was ending, and there was nothing I could do about it. I was unwilling to surrender; yet I was surrounded on every side. My friends, who promised never to leave me, all of a sudden disappeared. I was alone. 

Every June the last bell would ring, singling the end of another school year. Summer had begun. My eyes flung wide open as my heart began to jump inside my chest. I bolted out of class as quickly as I could without looking back. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was going to do, but I knew one thing: I was free. 



For the next two months, nothing but a constant stream of bliss lay before me. There were no teachers telling me what to do, what to think or how to act. There was no alarm clock shouting at me. There was no school bus to catch, no homework to complete and no curfew to obey. Days were bright, and nights were open. I had no responsibilities and no plans, just time to explore, relax and experience life in its naked simplicity. 

This newfound freedom and the ecstatic joy it brought was short lived. The days and weeks passed quickly. The thrill and the excitement I possessed at the beginning of summer was turning quickly into despair. Something had to happen, I thought, and quick. Time was slipping away from me. I still felt incomplete. Summer was my only hope, the one chance I had to live a life without interruption. 

Reflecting on that period in my life now many years later, I understand the mystery of what I was hoping for. My summer vacations were a desperate attempt to experience heaven on earth. The freedom, excitement, and joy of summer sunk deep into my own heart, where I discovered what could be called heaven’s radar: the desire for complete and infinite happiness.

It wasn’t necessarily spending all day at the beach, camping with friends, or road trips that I was looking for, but what I thought those activities contained: endless joy without interruption. Heaven has been defined as “the state of supreme and definitive happiness, the goal of the deepest longings of humanity.” If that is true, as I believe it is, then it comes as no surprise to me that the beginning of summer felt like a new birth, while the end of summer felt like a slow and painful death. 

St. Paul reminds us that, “our commonwealth is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20-21). In my eagerness for this change to occur I have often ignored an important word in this passage, will. This change St. Paul speaks of is occurring now in this world, but is never complete in this life. 

Returning to school again in September brought me face to face with this reality. Time, freedom, talent and even happiness all had their boundaries in this world. When I did possess them, even if for only a brief moment, they were exposed to constant interruption. The problem wasn’t that summer vacation was too short, but that it took place in a world that “is passing away” (1 Corinthians 7:31). 
Summer, for me, has become a foreshadowing of a future destiny. Though I no longer have those summer vacations of my childhood, they have provided me a glimpse of what heaven will be like: a happiness that is boundless and a summer day that never ends. 

+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY
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Friday, September 8, 2017

A Call To Love Mother Mary More

Podcast by Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. On this feast day of Mary's birthday we discern the presence of God. Listen to learn more!
Prayer from Saint Mother Teresa:
O God, we believe that you are here.
We adore You and love You with our whole heart and soul
because You are most worthy
of all our love.
We desire to love you
as the Blessed do in Heaven.
Flood our Souls with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess
our whole being utterly,
that our lives may only be
a radiance of Yours.
Shine through us, and be so in us,
that every soul we come in contact with
may feel Your presence in our soul.
Let them look up and see no longer us,
but only Jesus! Amen.





Friday, August 25, 2017

Original Desire

 When I was 16 years old I wanted it all: to be athletic, intelligent, strong, attractive, genuine, funny, articulate and whole lot more.  

Every one of these desires demanded my full attention.  They were the epitome of selfishness.  Depending on the day, I would start with the one directly in front of me—in other words, whichever was shouting the loudest.  To be athletic, I would throw myself into training like an Olympic athlete, organizing every moment of my day around improving the sport I was currently obsessed with.  To be attractive I would examine all my faults, both physical and mental, and devise a plan, effective immediately, on how to eradicate my imperfections.  


"verso l'alto" meaning "to the top" motto of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

By the time I was 19 I made another important discovery:  my desires never quit.  If I “conquered” one, whether it was a sport, a book, an exterior quality, etc., there would be more lurking in the shadows, begging to be noticed.  If I could master throwing a curve ball, why not master throwing a slider and a changeup as well?  If I read everything by Ernest Hemingway why not read everything by John Steinback or F. Scott Fitzgerald also?  

When any one of them began to take shape inside my heart, a voice from some mysterious place whispered, “I am what you need.  If you possess me you will be complete.”  I honestly believed each of them was like a key and if I could attain that key it would open up for me the happiness, peace and serenity I longed for.  Even though I played this game for several years, it took me a few more to realize an important component about this game: there is no end.  One either has to quit, which I believe is impossible, or go beyond them, to what I like to call our original desire.    

A few weeks ago I was speaking with a childhood friend, somebody who watched me pursue these desires day after day.  Unlike me, he didn’t feel like his life needed an explanation.  In fact, he believed there was no explanation.  Life was just life, nothing more.  These desires were random occurrences due mostly to our social conditioning and genetic makeup.  After an hour or so of philosophical and theological debate together he simply asked me, “What then is the greatest thing Jesus has done in your life?”  Without hesitation I said, “He has organized my heart.”   

Ever since the fall of Adam the human heart has been disorganized.  The answer is not just having all the necessary parts but having them in their proper place.  The strange thing is that we often hide, or at least attempt to hide, from the only One who can bring order out of our chaos.  “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8).  

This hiding on our part forces God to ask, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) Despite Adam and Eve’s cleverness, and ours, God has not lost sight of them, or of us.  We have lost sight of God.  The question is meant to provoke in us a realization: there is only One who “formed my inward parts” who “knitted me together in my mother’s womb…when I was being made in secret,” and whose “eyes beheld my unformed substance” (Psalm 139:13-16).  In other words, God is the source of the human heart, and every desire, despite all its allure and glamor, is only a pointer back to that one true original desire, which is communion with its source.    

As I began to read the New Testament and open my heart to Jesus this reality for me “took flesh.”  At first I was like the tax collector in the parable who “would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying ‘God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).  Fairly soon, however, after experiencing God’s mercy so deeply, my prayer became a gaze fixed on the person of Jesus, and I too “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 11:39).  This love that I encountered in Jesus began to consume my heart, pushing everything else, including those pesky desires, away from my heart’s center.  What at once I didn’t even know was possible was slowly beginning to occur: my heart was becoming organized.

The key, I believe, is not that my desires were extinguished, if that is even possible, but that they were organized.  Earlier I was hoping, at least subconsciously, that each one of my desires would reveal myself to me.  In other words, tell me who I was, because whether I liked it or not, I could not escape from my own hearts restless pursuit of that answer.  Being strong, athletic, smart, outgoing, articulate, and funny, however, wasn’t enough.  Finally, after much hesitation, I heeded the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

What did Jesus show me?  Namely, that he is my desire.  The point of our desires, I believe, is to reveal to us something greater, something beyond this world of space and time that contains not only our origin but also our destiny.  Regardless of who we are and where we have come from, nothing else satisfies.  It is simply our original desire.


+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Not Enough

I have this insatiable thirst for God. In the morning it is a quiet presence hovering in my heart, inviting me to rest without words or ideas. By evening it becomes a wild fire that burns and brightens with each moment. Each activity, conversation and thought only increases its vigor. The longer I live the stronger it becomes. It is impossible to extinguish. 


Sometimes when I visit a new place I wonder what life would be like living here. I daydream about its mountains, its lakes, its people, or its small towns and I imagine myself living there devoid of problems and annoyances. I think that living here, in this place, I could be perfectly happy and content. Yet as time goes by, I realize that this place, in all its wonder and beauty, is not the ultimate place where my heart can rest. It is, after all, limited. 
Sometimes when I meet a new person I can get lost in the excitement of their presence. What insights will they reveal to me about myself, what experiences will I share with them that can help me feel more fulfilled, or even what material gifts might they give me to enable me to enjoy life more fully? If the benefits are great I can begin to think that the reason my life was “lacking” before was because this person was absent from my life. Yet, as time goes by, I realize that this person, despite being a blessing is, like me, limited.
Sometimes when I am engaged in apostolic work, whether it is preaching or serving the homeless, I can begin to think that if only I could do what I felt called to when I want and how I feel called to do it, that I would no longer become frustrated or disappointed with life. The reason, of course, for my frustration, is because my superiors, my family, my friends, etc. don’t understand the gifts God has given me, or so I think. Yet, as time goes by, and when I have the opportunity to do what I want, when I want and how I want to do it and even call it “God’s will,” I realize that even this, with all of its certitude and applause, is limited.
Speaking of the human heart the prophet Jeremiah says, “Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) Though I would never raise my hand and say, “I do,” there is one thing that I do know about my own heart: it is thirsting. My heart is thirsting for something beyond rest, affirmation, comfort, prestige, popularity and anything else that this world can give. Of all the foolish decisions I have made in my life perhaps the most foolish one is thinking, and even expecting, that some “thing” of this world can satisfy me. 
A helpful comparison to understand just how silly this endeavor is would be to compare it to trying to empty out the ocean with a bucket. Something that big, the ocean (our human heart), can never be captured by something as small as a bucket (this world). The problem lies in the vast differences of size. One is large, spacious and seemingly infinite while the other is small, rigid and finite. Yet even though I recognize the utter stupidity of such an attempt I, and I would say we, continue to try. 
The dilemma, as I see it, is not that rest, friendship, our own gifts and talents or anything else of this world is bad; but they can never satisfy us completely. God, in his great mercy, never allows us to experience complete fulfillment in this world. He keeps inspiring us to go beyond this transitory world in which everything is vulnerable and exposed to change and to embrace the One who “laid the foundation of the earth,” (Job 38:4) who “was in the beginning…(in whom) all things were made” (John 1:2-3) and whose “years have no end.” (Psalm 102:27).
I do this not when I abandon the world but when I receive this world as a gift and allow all of its joy and beauty to take me beyond itself to the One in whom I can find a permanent resting place. This is why I say that I have an insatiable thirst for God, because, despite the glamor and promises of this world, no matter where I travel, who I meet and what I do, in the end it is simply not enough. 
+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY

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.