Tuesday, January 16, 2018

John the Baptist

John appears. That is how Mark puts it. On the berm of the promised land and at the verge of a new covenant, one clothed in camel’s hair, a leather belt around his waist, appears by the waters of the Jordan. St. Mark, using the words of Isaiah, describes him as a voice. The voice of one crying out, the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, a voice in harmony with all the prophetic voices preceding him. John the Baptist reaches Israel like that final reverberation of one long prophetic cry heralding the coming Savior.

And like the prophets before him, he prophesizes not only in word but also in deed. Thus, he appears in the wilderness not only as a voice preaching repentance and forgiveness of sins but also as a man baptizing. For, in that wilderness, that stony, barren country, there flowed a river sourced at the foot of Mt. Hermon. The inhabitants of Jerusalem and Judea would, therefore, leave their homes to travel the desolate declivity, confess their sins, and be washed by John in the Jordan’s rushing waters. Dunked, dipped or plunged, they were cleansed, symbolically purified by the prophetic gesture. And he says as much: I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.

The reference is to Christ: the one stronger than John who is to come after John. For what John is able to do with water, Jesus will do with the Holy Spirit. What in John is symbolized, Christ will actualize. Later at the end of the great feast in Jerusalem as the Jews are praying for autumn rains, Jesus will stand among them and this time it will be he who is crying out saying: If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. And out of his heart, his gut, his innermost self will flow rivers of living water. And lest we fail to read the symbol, the Evangelist informs us that he is, in fact, speaking of the Spirit. It is for the baptism of Jesus, then, that John prepares those who go out to meet him, a baptism by which we are united to God through his Spirit.

The Baptist thus appears—the verb itself evokes temperance—as an expiring voice anticipating God’s eternal Word, a prophet of symbolic action sent to prepare Israel for the Savior’s definitive action. For, while the meandering waters of the Jordan ultimately run into the Dead Sea, the Christ who cleanses with water and Spirit, washes both body and soul with living waters that flow unto eternity.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Live in a Castle - The Two Brothers

We Live in a Castle – The Two Brothers PDF (click here)


WE LIVE IN A CASTLE: Stories, allegories, and commentaries about the most wonderful religion in the world. Essays about the Church by Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR. “Blue collar ecclesiology” or “kitchen table catechesis” is how the author describes his methodology in presenting some fresh ideas about what is considered to many, a very stale subject. The title of Father Glenn’s first book, We Live in a Castle, is taken from one of twelve stories which, like spotlights, illumine one subject at different angles. The subject of the book? The Church. The author describes his work as “friendly yet provocative” as he challenges the reader to dig into history and discover a valuable treasure; which he calls “the most wonderful religion in the world.” Father Glenn utilizes creative stories - both allegorical and personal – each with an introduction and commentary. Questions are also provided for personal reflection and group discussion. No doubt, this book is most especially suited for teachers and students participating in some form of catechesis, especially those who are considering or preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

For sincere questions contact:
Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR Saint Joseph Friary 523 W 142 St New York, NY 10701 (no emails or calls please)



Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ordination Homily

The Homily of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at the Ordination Mass of Fr. Andrew Apostoli
Given at St. Francis de Sales Church in Geneva, New York on March 16, 1967

 Father Andrew, brother priests, religious, parents, relatives, friends of the newly ordained, and all beloved in Christ! One of the great joys of being a bishop is the power of generation! It is given to a bishop to have "sons in Christ" through the power of Ordination...to prolong into another generation sons upon whom he has given the august power of the priesthood!

Father Andrew, this is an eternal priesthood you have received. It is eternal because you are in Christ; that's the reason for its eternity. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes a contrast between the priesthood of Aaron, or the priesthood of Levi, and the priesthood of Christ. It says that the priesthood of Levi was carnal and therefore ended. Ours is spiritual. We become one in Christ! And because Christ is eternal, we have an eternal priesthood!

The powers that are so simply given in a few words are staggering! One of the powers, for example, is to go to the hill of Calvary and take up the cross and—(Bishop Sheen knocks on the pulpit)—plant it down in Geneva, in the Capuchin monastery, in Asia, Africa, or in any city or village. This is the power of offering Mass! It is the prolongation in space and in time of the redemptive work of our Lord. What our Lord did on Calvary, in a certain sense, it was localized. What we do by the Mass, through it, is to apply it all over the world. Our Lord wrote the first note in this melody of Redemption. And by the Mass, we add our notes to it, and this is the harmony of the People of God!

Then...the power to forgive sins! You will never forget your first absolution! You will never forget your first Mass! It may manifest some power to send a man to the moon, but, what is that in comparison to sending sins into nothingness?! A raised hand and a voice: "Your sins are forgiven." And quite even apart from our consciousness of that power, the people themselves feel it and know it when they have received absolution.

Now, may you always, my dear Fr. Andrew, be a good priest! God knows we need it today! Our image is getting a bit blurred. Boys do not want to be priests. Are we sufficiently different from the world that they should want to do what we do? If there is any key to the salvation of the world today, and to the renovation of the Church, it is in the renewal of the priesthood. "The sheep are like the shepherds are" as the Old Testament prophet said: "As the priest, so the people!"

There is a gradual decline of morals and spirituality in the world...a decline even of reverence for that to which your priesthood, on which it centers, namely, the Eucharist! And whenever there begins to be a decline of spirituality in the Church, it is first felt in devotion to the Eucharist. That is where Judas failed, long before he became avaricious in the Gospel. He failed to center his life in the Eucharist. Our Lord lost the masses that day, our Lord lost some of His disciples, and our Lord lost Judas that day. Avarice and other sins follow; they are not always the beginning.

And so, Fr. Andrew, with all of the ardor of my soul, I beg you to continue this great spiritual life that has already been initiated in you by being a Capuchin. You have been trained...more disciplined than the rest of us. It is not only by the Spirit of Christ, but by the great example of Francis who lived that life...in great simplicity.

The emotional thrill of the first Mass will leave, but not the love of being a priest; that grows as the years go on! You are the first priest, I think, that I have ordained since the Council. You are, definitely! I have consecrated about three times as many bishops as I have ordained priests. And so, since you are the first priest that has dropped from my hands since the Council, may you begin to be, with me, the beginning of a sanctified priesthood! You have it already. And sanctification is like health: when we have it, it is easy to keep; when we lose it, it is hard to get back...doubly hard! You are a holy man. You will be a holy priest. And the world will be better because of this day. And because I bow down in reverence to your own personal holiness and to the special kind of holiness which the Capuchins instill in you, I ask you now to come to the center of the altar and give me your, blessing!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Livestream And A Message From The Family

Please help pass the word that the services for Fr. Andrew will be live streamed here: 
– you will be able to watch even if you don't have a facebook account.
Tues. 12/19 @ 6: 30 PM (EST)

Wed. 12/20 @ 10 AM (EST)

From Father's brother Michael Apostoli:
The family of Father Andrew Apostoli wishes to express its gratitude to all who offered their prayers and encouragement during this difficult time. As challenging as recent days have been for his family our spirits were lifted by your outpouring of love and concern. Your response is truly inspiring.
We would also like to thank the Community of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal for their beautiful demonstration of hospitality and support. The Friars and Sisters cared for and watched out for Fr. Andrew right up until the time of his passing. We should all be so fortunate to have such love and care at the hour of our passing.
Fr. Andrew was also helped along the way by the love and care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at the St. Jean Jugan Residence in the Bronx. These Sisters lovingly provided him with comfort and care for a long period before he returned to the Friary where he completed his journey home to God.
Thank you to all and so many more that we haven’t met who helped along the way.

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Time With Father Andrew

Fr. Andrew Apostoli died on December 13, 2017 after losing a painful fight with cancer. When I heard that Fr. Andrew was dying, the first thing I thought was, “I want to be there.” Somewhat surprised, I paused for a moment to reconsider. “Yes,” I said to myself, “I need to be there.”

Fr. Andrew Apostoli is known to the world as an author, retreat master, spiritual director, and teacher. To me Fr. Andrew is all of those things, but more importantly, he is a humble, prayerful, and joyful Franciscan priest. I am not one of his adoring fans who have read all of his books and watched all of his programs. Nor would I even be considered a close friend. I am simply one of his brothers, who had the privilege of living with him for four years, while I was studying for the priesthood.

After a long day of classes at the seminary, I would see Fr. Andrew arrive in chapel for Holy Hour and think, “now here is a man who lives what I am studying.” Always lowly and unassuming, he dipped his hand in the holy water font and made a reverent sign of the cross. As he entered the chapel he genuflected for a few seconds, head down and lips uttering some words of adoration, before taking his seat in the back of the chapel.

He often called Holy Hour his “Hour of Power.” Since that time before Jesus in the Eucharist was so special, he would often stand during Holy Hour because he didn’t want to fall asleep and “miss” this intimate moment. When I looked back, I would see him leaning against the wall, head down, rosary glued to his fingers, while fighting to stay awake. He was tired of course, because he had spent the whole day, and often late into the night, ministering to others, while always ignoring his own personal needs.

In mid-November the doctors told us that Fr. Andrew had stage four cancer and his life expectancy was three months. Once he received this diagnosis he moved out of the nursing home in the Bronx run by the Little Sisters of the Poor and came back to spend his last weeks at St. Leopold Friary in Yonkers, NY.

I was asked, along with many other friars, to take turns spending 24-hour shifts with Fr. Andrew. The reason for this is simple: Death is the ultimate dark night. No matter how much faith one has, how much one has prayed, or how much theology one has studied, dying, especially with something as cruel as cancer, can be a horrifying experience of utter darkness. Nobody, even the holiest among us, is exempt from such trials.

Even though each one of us dies alone, having somebody with you to attend to your physical needs and pray with you is a tremendous gift. It was the least I could do, I thought, for a man who before he preached, lived every word that he spoke. Perhaps this is why I felt like I needed to be there: it was my way of saying thank you to a man who, though different from me in many ways, lived life so beautifully.

When I was on duty with Fr. Andrew the responsibilities were twofold. Firstly, there were his personal needs. He needed help with everything from food, clothes, to sleeping. Secondly, and most importantly, were his emotional and spiritual needs. Oftentimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and be confused or anxious about where he was or what he needed to do that day. I would just sit with him in his room and remind him where he was and console him with the fact that he was not late for anything.

One afternoon after praying the rosary Fr. Andrew looked at me serenely and said, “Father, I think I’m dying, can you give me last rites.” I called a few of the brothers to join me, said the prayers, and anointed him. With a look of relief he took my hands and kissed them, reverencing not me of course, but Jesus the High Priest, whom Fr. Andrew loved his whole life.

+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rest in Peace

It is with a profound joy mixed with sadness that we announce the passing of our dear founder and spiritual father. Father Andrew Joseph Apostoli, CFR, peacefully breathed his last at 9:26 AM, on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. He was surrounded by the love and prayers of his brothers.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Keep Praying

Fr. Andrew Health Update (8:30 PM) December 10, 2017

Thank you for all of the prayers, keep them going! Father is still with us awaiting the arrival of the Lord who is near.

Today's Evening Prayer antiphon:

The Lord will come; he is true to his word.
If he seems to delay, keep watch for him,
he will surely come, alleluia.

The first reading at Mass (Isaiah 40) and Midday Prayer (Psalm 23) had a shepherd theme today. Photo from the archives: