Sunday, December 18, 2011

Skepticism: Enemy of Your Vocation

A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all of you. This is such a beautiful time of the year, filled with memories and moving images of an amazingly humble God. Various TV channels usually run such classics as Dicken's A Christmas Carol (did you see the Disney - Jim Carrey version?), 1983 A Christmas Story, 1964 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1969 Frosty the Snowman and the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas. Some people like the 2008 movie The Nativity Story. Many churches put on live nativity plays (see ours here). Saint Francis started it all! (read more here).
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus (Luke 1:31)

Christmas and Easter are also times when it is popular for various TV channels to show documentaries on Jesus, etc. Many of these programs this year will focus on anything except the religious aspect of Christmas - or they will be presenting the story from a skeptical point of view using testimonies from various "scholars". Beware!! It is worth noting that we are often bombarded from so many different sources which plant seeds of doubt about our faith. This is the tactic taken by the serpent in the garden. We are all influenced by the secular culture. Beware!! Skepticism is the enemy of your vocation. Littleness of faith is a huge problem when it comes to discerning and answering your call from God. Let's say bah humbug to the sowers of secular skepticism.
Just say no to those skeptical Grinches!

P.S. Remember the Nativity story? It is all true.

May the newborn baby Jesus bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary, Harlem, NY

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Litany for Salvation

Jesus save me from my pride that refuses help, even when I know I need it.
Jesus save me from the fear I have about the future.
Jesus save me from the desire to be my own savior or to find a savior in somebody or something else but you.
Jesus save me from lust and treating and seeing others only as objects of pleasure. Jesus save me from anxiety about decisions and circumstances in my life.
Jesus save me from my interior poverty and brokenness.
Jesus save me from my loneliness.
Jesus save me from my insecurities about myself, my body and my state in life right now.
Jesus save me from being overly concerned with what people say or think about me.
Jesus save me from the thought that my life has no meaning.
Jesus save me from despair and the temptation to think that You don’t love me and that I am beyond your help.
Jesus save me from disordered desires that cause imbalances in my heart, body and soul.
Jesus save me from being envious and jealous of others.
Jesus save me from blindness that prevents me from seeing the truth.
Jesus save me from mediocrity and only living life with half of my heart.
Jesus save me from the fear of being the person you call me to be.
Jesus save me from an attitude of “possession” that wants to take instead of receive life as a gift.
Jesus save me from laziness and an inordinate desire for worldly pleasures.
Jesus save me from the fear of death.
Jesus save me from not seeing the good you have placed within me.
Jesus save me from the million other things I cannot see or hear right now.
Most of all Jesus, save me from the thought that your love is not enough for me…

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, NY

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fr. Mariusz is recovering well

(On Nov. 17, Fr. Mariusz suffered a heart attack and is now recovering well)

Dear CFR Associates and Friends,

With deep gratitude I write to thank you for your prayers for my recovery. Certainly this experience has reminded me again of the precious gift of life, and especially of the precious gift of our Faith.

On November 2, 2011, Pope Benedict spoke these words:

"If we reduce man exclusively to his horizontal dimension, to that which can be perceived empirically, life itself loses its profound meaning. Man needs eternity for every other hope is too brief, too limited for him. Man can be explained only if there is a Love which overcomes every isolation, even that of death, in a totality which also transcends time and space. Man can be explained, he finds his deepest meaning, only if there is God. And we know that God left his distance for us and made himself close. He entered into our life and tells us: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25-26).

Be assured of my prayers for you and best wishes for a joy filled Advent Season. Please continue to pray for my recovery, that I will use this time as a time of prayer and renewal. Your intentions are in my heart at the celebration of Holy Mass. May God bless you abundantly!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Mariusz Casimir Koch, CFR
Community Servant

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Collection of prayers: VII.

I cannot fathom my heart Lord.  It is an ocean I am unable to conquer.

I rebel underneath its waves.  I fight like a warrior against its currents.  I curse its temperature and fall exhausted on the shore gasping for breathe.  I plot revenge with a smile.  Am I proud or just a fool?  How long will I try and vanquish this mystery alone?

I was not made for this solitude.  My heart suffocates in isolation.

My wisdom has been imprudent and my hope in vain.

I lift my eyes to You Father, my only hope for communion.  You are the answer to the thousand questions that rage inside of me.

If only I am brave enough to surrender.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A collection of prayers: VI.

The rain obscures my vision.  The wind makes my body a fool.

If I run, I am prey to all that is wild.  If I walk, death comes like a slow winter.

Hear me, crying. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Collection of prayers: V.

(Adam’s Song)

If only I could return to that place where I once felt your hands, calm and serene, fashioning me in Your image.  That place where Your voice, tranquil and easy,
breathed over me.  That second where Your eyes, fervent and beautiful, revealed Yourself to me; that moment in time when I first saw her.

How different would I respond now; because this time, I am not afraid?

Even though I must toil and suffer here on this earth I will not leave her again.  She, my sister and my bride, reveals to me who I am and who I am supposed to be, because through our love we are led to You, the Author of love.

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Collection of prayers IV.

Whether I realize it or not I am constantly longing for You. My mind hungers for Your peace and my heart refuses anything but Your presence. I am numb without You, frozen in time, waiting for You to touch me and bring me back to life.

Where could I go if You were not here?  I could not find You on my own nor could I discover something more beautiful than You.  I have searched and found words, turned words into sentences, and sentences into poetry, only to become bored by its rhyme and meter.  But in Your Passion You have burned those pages and now You are the poet leading me into eternity.

Without You Lord my life is a tragedy, for in Your sonnets You have revealed to me the love that I yearn for.

God bless you,

Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Collection of prayers: III.

The leaves, once so strong and independent, have changed colors as they prepare for their end.

And here am I, watching the restlessness of my youth fade away.  Only You my God know when my end will be.  Like these autumn leaves all I can do is surrender to Your providence.  It is a simple act of faith in Your love.

God bless you,

Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Collection of Prayers: II.

You have enabled me to write about “our experience,” an experience often disguised as ordinary, yet varying in colors and seasons.  We have touched persons scattered throughout this world proclaiming Your Kingdom and a destiny of spontaneous joy.

I feel like we have only begun.  Dawn appears on the horizon and the hours of light are before us.  It is time to run, to sing, to love.  But where do I begin?  You are quiet these days which makes me wonder if this whole thing is a dream.  My God, please save me from another illusion!

For so long I have only lived and thought about myself.  Is the same true with my writing?  I am tired of all these false gods, and of all the incense that is burned before them.

I will write only for You, because without You, even the stars fall asleep and nighttime is devoid of romance.

Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Collection of prayers: I

I believe You are near to me, and that to find You, I can remain here, alone.  Yet still, I am not content with this stillness.  My soul cries out for more and longs for that which I cannot understand.

What can I do?  Where can I go?  I am helpless.  I can only wait on You and be patient.  My God, I am in need of You.  Jesus come, come more deeply, overwhelm me.  Drown me in Your love.

God bless you,

Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Rosary

There is an one-legged old man in our neighborhood. He walks slowly with the help of a walker. When we see each other we laugh and say, "One step at a time!" He is a tremendous example of patience and joy.

It can be hard to pray in our busy modern world. I think that the rosary is a remedy for our dilemma. Each Hail Mary is like a step towards heaven, calling to mind the Divine Mysteries of Jesus' life. Slow down, pray and take one step at time.

God bless you,

Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary, Harlem, NY

Monday, September 26, 2011

Lectio Divina

We recently had an excellent Lectio Divina retreat with our new Postulants. We spent the weekend at the hermitage in upstate New York amidst the silence of the woods. A little silence and space for the Lord to speak is greatly needed - and doable! We simply prayed and slowly read a few passages from the Gospel of St. Luke (a personal favorite). It was beautiful to hear what the text was saying to each one.

I highly recommend the Catholic Prayer Bible, Lectio Divina Edition. Paulist Press has done a great job with this aid to praying with God's Word.

found here

God bless you,

Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary, Harlem, NY

Friday, September 9, 2011

We Remember

The call came to our friars from the firemen next to our friary on 156th Street in the Bronx. “Please get down to Ground Zero – we need you there.” It was the day after 9/11. The plan was to meet at the Bronx firehouse and take a bus with the firemen who would be transported to help at Ground Zero.

So a group of us friars, priests and brothers, waited at the firehouse with the firemen the morning of 9/12 to head across the bridge by bus to Manhattan. The firemen sat in silence while watching the news on the television. Also, a fireman was writing a list of names on a chalkboard, the names of their confreres who had died.

Pain was written on their faces. There were no words that seemed appropriate. We just sat praying silently next to them and waited. The bus was delayed so we were encouraged by the firemen to take the subway to Manhattan as far as could and then to walk the rest of the way. That we did – we passed two barricades at which we simply said, “The firemen asked us to go to Ground Zero.” We were given the OK.

Before we knew it we were at a place that seemed surreal. Somehow we were there, yet it didn’t seem real: skeletons of buildings, broken glass, water pouring down escalators, grey soot up to our ankles, most of all the pained faces of heroes trying their best to do something, anything.

My responsibility was to bless the bodies which were being removed from the rubble. The unmistakable orange body-bags were carried with great dignity. I stood next to a Rabbi and a Protestant Minister. As the bodies were being carried to the first temporary morgue the bearers paused, we prayed, gave a blessing and cried.

Other friars prayed with small groups of firemen, policemen and other responders. Only prayer and simply being present seemed to be appropriate. Some brothers gave out rosaries and offered their shoulders to cry on. Noting Saint Francis’ love for animals we were asked to bless the specially trained dogs which were helping with the search for remains.

On the way back to the Bronx we rode the bus with the firemen. We rode through Manhattan as crowds of people waved and showed signs of support. We sat in silence. Only prayer and simply being present seemed appropriate.

Fr. Mariusz Koch, CFR
Community Servant
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary, Newark, NJ

Letter from Pope Bendict to US Bishops
Sept. 11, 2011

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero
April 20, 2008

Friday, September 2, 2011

An Eternal Perspective

Often times we are guilty of being nearsighted, therefore we can only see what is in front of us and everything further away is foggy and unclear.  Since we cannot see too far in the distance we tend to concentrate on what is only directly in front of us.  The danger here is that we are not embracing all of reality, but only a very small portion of it.

In this life it is easy to be overwhelmed by sufferings, trials, disappointments, fears and a million other things that stand directly in front of us.  Our faith reminds us there is a greater part of reality we are not seeing.  There is a greater part of reality that we often ignore.  It is the reality of heaven!

This world, with all of its struggles and disappointments, does not contain the complete picture of our lives.  The Catechism says that “heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1024).

Without this eternal perspective we will be overwhelmed by this life and all its drama.  Happiness, peace, joy and fulfillment are not simply part of a fairy tale.  We can experience them in pieces in this life, yet in heaven they will be ours in abundance.  Let us keep heaven before us always and remember that by doing so we are not neglecting anything, but in fact are embracing the fullness of reality.

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Final Vows 2011

On Sunday, July 31, 2010, four of our friars professed final vows.
(left to right) Br. Francesco Mary Gavazzi (Sydney, Australia), Br. Pius Marie Gagne (Meriden, CT), Br. Giles Maria Barrie (Kankakee, IL) and Br. John-Mary Johannssen (Poughkeepsie, NY) radiate joy on the big day.

United we stand, divided we fall. Saint Francis thanked the Lord for sending him brothers. Following Jesus together as brothers brings great support and strength.
After professing final vows, the friars sign the official documents upon the altar. The life of religious consecration is an intimate sharing in the one sacrifice of Jesus which is renewed daily at Mass upon the altar.
Imitating Jesus who prayed from the cross, "Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit", the friars symbolically place their hands into the hands of our Community Servant as they profess their vows.
In a gesture of surrender and humility, the brothers lie prostrate before the altar as the congregation invokes the intercession of the saints.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Being chosen is never a random act.  It is an act filled with purpose.  The one chosen is singled out, identified and desired by the other.  Though we might wish to believe that our faith is the result of our own intelligence, righteousness or talents, and that it was an act that we ourselves made, the Lord reminds us, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (John 15:16).

Since we belong to Him we are saved from the terrible fear of loneliness, of living this life in isolation from everyone and everything.  It means that we do not have to create meaning to our lives or search endlessly for some kind of hope or direction.  Truth, love, beauty and everything else we truly desire has “chosen” us.

Before we were created God wished to share himself with others.  He wanted to share his love, power, creativity, tenderness, His fatherly concern and all the other qualities that God possesses.  In choosing who or what he would share himself with He made a conscious decision not to reveal himself to other creatures.  Rather, he chose to reveal himself to us.

God does not make mistakes.  We are chosen by God, chosen to experience in him all the beauty, love, happiness and peace that we truly desire.  By choosing us God has saved us from the misery of those who view themselves merely as strangers and their life as a waste of time.

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Eucharist- The Supreme “moment of transcendence.”

Every person experiences in their life what I call “moments of transcendence.” A moment of transcendence is an experience where our hearts, minds and souls are lifted up away from ourselves, and for a moment, often only a very short moment, we experience the presence of God in a deep and profound way. They can occur while we are walking on the beach as the sun begins to set, while a parent holds their newborn child in their arms for the first time, or even when we are simply enjoying a meal with a friend who we love dearly. These moments do not follow a strict pattern or method, they can occur anywhere and at any time.

What do these moments tell us about ourselves? Are they merely just psychological projections resulting from frustration with our daily lives or are they tiny glimpses into the destiny that we are all a part of?

These moments, though they are often rare, remind us of our destiny. They whisper to us of a future life, a life we are slowly moving towards each day. A life where suffering and pain are extinguished, a life where confusion and anxiety is replaced by clarity and peace, and a life where God, no longer “hidden” beyond the distractions we have placed before him in this world, stands before us with arms ready to embrace us. In short, these moments are little glimpses of heaven, that “place” of ultimate fulfillment, peace and joy.

Yet these moments, as wonderful as they are, do not have to be rare occasions for us. They occur everyday in the Eucharist, because it is there where we not only encounter God and adore him from a distance, but it is there where he allows himself to be consumed by us and enters into the very depths of our being. He who is the creator of the universe “hides” himself under the appearance of bread so that we would not be afraid to approach him.

The Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven because it is Jesus Christ we receive in the Eucharist, not a symbol but a person, and it is that same Jesus Christ who is heaven itself. At each Mass we have the opportunity to experience the ultimate “moment of transcendence,” that moment where we are lifted up from ourselves and this world and kneel before the destiny that awaits us all, the destiny which we are all created for.

There is nothing greater in this life than the Eucharist. Though there are many “moments of transcendence” that we experience in this life, the Eucharist is that supreme moment of transcendence because it reveals God himself. The good news is that we do not have to search far and wide for this experience, it is available to us each day in the Mass.

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Holy Spirit Inspiration

In the early days of the order, Saint Francis and the friars would gather for a special meeting (chapter) around the feast of Pentecost. This was a time to pray together as brothers, invoking the help of the Holy Spirit as they discussed various questions concerning the direction of the order. This became a tradition which continues to our day.

In our little community we have our General Chapter every three years. All of the friars in final vows gather to pray and discuss various items. We also elect the leadership for the next three years. This year our General Chapter will be held for one week beginning on June 12, the feast of Pentecost. Please pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we gather together.
Giotto fresco of the Pentecost chapter meeting of 1232 in Arles.
Saint Anthony of Padua (l) had an apparition of the recently deceased Saint Francis (r).
God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, New York

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jesus - The Good Shepherd

One of the images Jesus uses to reveal himself is that of the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11). This shepherd not only takes care of the physical needs of his sheep but in fact “lays down his life for the sheep” (Jn 10:11). Jesus is the shepherd who exceeds all the demands that one could naturally place upon a shepherd. His mission is much deeper than mere commitment to a task and much greater than simply fulfilling one’s obligations. He is motivated by pure love for his sheep and his desire to spend eternity with them. Dying for them is his way of expressing the profound love of the Father. There is never a moment’s hesitation, only the willingness to fulfill all that the Father desires, “not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42).

How does this love of the Good Shepherd make us feel? Does self-hate and false humility prevent us from receiving the tremendous love the Good Shepherd offers us? Why is it that so many times we can speak of God’s great love to other people but then when it comes to us we have such a difficult time believing it? All the reasons we create and the excuses we make for why God should not love us are exactly that, excuses. They are not the truth. God looks at our list of excuses, simply smiles at them, and then throws them away. They are not good enough for him.

He is the Good Shepherd, who even if one of his sheep goes astray, will leave the ninety nine other sheep to rescue the one that is lost (Mt 18:10-14). Let us stop running, let us stop making excuses as to why we are not good enough. Let us humbly receive His love and allow Him to place us on His shoulders and carry us away to the secret recesses of His heart where His love can replace all of our insecurities.

God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Archive by Author - Archive by Date

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Prayer-Giving and receiving

Prayer consists of two things; giving and receiving. In prayer God asks us to give our entire selves to him; our hopes, joys, sorrows, frustrations, disappointments, needs, etc. It as if we were reaching into our chest and removing our hearts and placing it in God’s hands. Even though we might be afraid to become so vulnerable and open to another we place our hearts in his hands without desiring to take it back.

However, in prayer we are also asked to receive the gift of God. We must receive all he says he is, who he wants to be for us and all that he asks us to do and how he wants us to live. In one sense, God reaches into his chest and places his heart in our hands and waits to see if we will receive it the way he so generously and patiently receives ours.

Does our prayer life look anything like this? Are we giving ourselves entirely to him and not holding anything back?And equally, are we receiving him completely, and all that he wants to be and do in our lives? If so, then maybe we can begin to grasp the fundamental importance that prayer must be for each one of us.

God bless,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, New York

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


The Resurrection of Jesus Christ puts everything in its proper perspective, a perspective which can rightly be called a “divine perspective.” It reminds us that the law of corruption and death which this world naturally is inclined towards has been transformed. Death and corruption are no longer the laws of the land. Reality is transformed. We are no longer inclined towards death, but now because of Christ’s victory, we move with ever increasing speed towards life. Nothing now can hold us back. With St. Paul we can boast, “O death where is your victory, O death where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

God bless,
Dc. Br. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Triduum

How beautiful are these holy days?! I wanted to let you all know that we friars are praying for you. Also, the following book is very helpful in understanding the beauty of our faith and the mystery of the Mass.

This is a great book by a great author. Brant Pitre does a wonderful job explaining the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, in particular as it helps us to understand the gift of the Eucharist. Enjoy!

The Last Supper, the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection on Easter are intimately connected. We cannot understand one without the others.

learn more here

Have a blessed Holy Triduum,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, New York

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A True Understanding of Judas

Wednesday of Holy Week is called Spy Wednesday because it commemorates the day Judas went to the Sanhedrin to confirm the plot to betray Jesus. It seems that Lady Gaga has taken the opportunity to release a twisted song about her love of Judas.

The mystery of Judas is very deep. Over the years many people have tried to expound on what happened with this iconic betrayer. The 1971 Rock Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, is another modern example which gets Judas wrong. Some people mistakenly think that poor Judas was doomed by fate and had no choice - a mere pawn.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers an important clarification of the issue: "Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: 'This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.'

This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God. To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of 'predestination', he includes in it each person's free response to his grace:

'In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.' For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness" (## 599, 600).

Seen in this light, there might be a deeper meaning to Judas. Could it be that our merciful Jesus was doing everything possible to win Judas back even before the betrayal? At the Last Supper Jesus mentioned the betrayal out loud. He also performed an affectionate gesture of offering a hand dipped morsel to Judas. This might have been Jesus reaching out to Judas, inviting him to rethink the satanic plans of his heart.

Judas and Peter both betray Jesus. Both Judas and Peter were remorseful for their betrayal. Peter's humble repentance leads to mercy and forgiveness. Judas' prideful remorse seems to lead to despair. Like Judas and Peter, we all betray Jesus every time we sin. Let us pray for the grace of true contrition for our sins, a contrition which leads to mercy and forgiveness!

Have a blessed Holy Triduum,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, New York

Friday, April 15, 2011

The raising of Lazarus

When we are confronted with death there can be many temptations that often assail us: fear, sorrow, doubt and a pessimistic attitude concerning life. In the account in John’s Gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) all of these temptations are present among the disciples, Martha and Mary, and the Jews who were present there.

The disciples begin by expressing their fear to Jesus, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” (John 11:8). Next we encounter Mary’s sorrow because Jesus was not there to help her brother before he died, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). The Jews present there see Jesus and doubt his ability to raise Lazarus from the dead, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” (John 11:37).

Finally, there is a pessimistic attitude that Martha adopts, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days” (John 11:39). Why do we place all of these obstacles before Him? Is it because our faith in Him is not deep enough? Are we still looking for other possible solutions to the drama of life?

Jesus reminds us “I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes in me, though he die, shall live” (John 11:25). Faith in Jesus is not simply a passive affair. It involves an abandonment of our entire selves to Him. Yet on a much deeper and consoling level it implies that the answer to our fears, sorrows, doubts and even our pessimism is not a theory, a philosophy or even a disciplined way of life but a person, Jesus Christ.

John 11:1-47 John 11:1 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."

28 ¶ When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; 34 and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38 ¶ Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me." 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 45 ¶ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him; 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.

God bless you,
Dc. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Perhaps the greatest tragedy about Judas is not his decision to betray Jesus but his obstinate refusal to repent and accept the mercy and love of God. Did he not hear our Lord’s words in the parable of the Lost Sheep, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance?” (Luke 15:7).

Yet the Gospels say Judas did “repent.” “He repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself” (Matthew 27:3-4). The chief priests and the elders were incapable of offering the forgiveness Judas was needed. Still, he does not turn towards Jesus for forgiveness, and immersed in the selfishness of his sins, “he went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).

Are we anything like Judas? Too prideful to seek God’s forgiveness because we are convinced our own sins are too great? Has our selfishness blinded us to God’s unfathomable mercy? Do we even believe anymore that God can forgive us and that he wants to?

If Judas would have allowed him, Jesus would have forgiven him as he forgave so many others before him. Jesus did not love Judas because he was a perfect man, nor did he love the prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinners because they were perfect. He accepted their brokenness and their pain, and rather than run from it in disgust, Jesus stepped into the filth of their lives to reveal their own dignity to than and marvel at the greatness and love of God who came so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

Was this truth too great for Judas? Is it too great for us?

God bless you,
Dc. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fear This!

Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary meditations by Br. Jeremiah found here

We are afraid of so many things that we should not fear. Piercing the truth that flows from Jesus’ death and resurrection, Saint Paul had a fear-shattering insight. In Romans 8:35-37 he wrote, “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The death and resurrection of Jesus empowers us to not be afraid of any of these things that do - or could - happen to us in this brief life.

Yet, there is something that we should fear. We should fear that which has the power to separate us from God. What is it? In Matthew 10:28, Jesus tells us, “And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” Jesus is saying that we should fear the pride which leads to damnation. Pride was at the heart of the fall of the angels as well as humanity. We should fear the pride which says, “I will not serve! I do not need God! I do not need or want to be forgiven for my sins! I have not sinned! I will not forgive! It is all God’s fault! I want my will!” The many voices of pride go on and on…

Pride in all its many varied forms is the direction towards damnation, the seed of separation from God for all eternity. With the help of God’s grace we are able to perceive the presence of pride. So, let us pray for an ever better formed conscience, a conscience formed by the truth. Then let your well formed conscience guide you like a compass away from pride toward humility.

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Lent is a great time to meditate on the sufferings of Jesus. Meditation on the Gospel accounts, the sorrowful mysteries of the Rosary and the Stations of the Cross are traditional devotions.

Suffering can lead us to despair. Suffering can be a means of great purification in the spiritual life. Suffering can help us to grow in compassion. Suffering can help us to grow in our union with Jesus.

Two helpful writings on this topic are On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering by Bl. Pope John Paul II, and The Sorrowful Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Ven. Ann Catherine Emmerich.

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What to give up for Lent?

When I recently called my family I enjoyed talking with my nieces and nephew about Lent. It was interesting to hear what they were "giving up for Lent". This is a topic of conversation in all Catholic households this time of the year. They asked me what I was giving up for Lent. I told them that I was giving upwork! "You can do that!?", they asked. My nephew informed me that a sacrifice is giving up something you like.

How can we best discern what to do for Lent? The Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent is the account of the temptation in the desert. The Devil offers three temptations to Jesus who had been praying and fasting for forty days. Use your imagination to pretend that it is you in the desert. What would the Devil suggest to tempt you - the computer, a bottle, the pill, pride, arrogance, etc.?

Making a good confession is a great idea for Lent. Think about the faults and sins that you typically confess, then try to focus on penances which directly help and correspond to your weaknesses.

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent is here again

From the Pope's 2011 Lenten Message

"In synthesis, the Lenten journey, in which we are invited to contemplate the Mystery of the Cross, is meant to reproduce within us “the pattern of his death” (Ph 3: 10), so as to effect a deep conversion in our lives; that we may be transformed by the action of the Holy Spirit, like St. Paul on the road to Damascus; that we may firmly orient our existence according to the will of God; that we may be freed of our egoism, overcoming the instinct to dominate others and opening us to the love of Christ. The Lenten period is a favorable time to recognize our weakness and to accept, through a sincere inventory of our life, the renewing Grace of the Sacrament of Penance, and walk resolutely towards Christ.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, through the personal encounter with our Redeemer and through fasting, almsgiving and prayer, the journey of conversion towards Easter leads us to rediscover our Baptism. This Lent, let us renew our acceptance of the Grace that God bestowed upon us at that moment, so that it may illuminate and guide all of our actions. What the Sacrament signifies and realizes, we are called to experience every day by following Christ in an ever more generous and authentic manner. In this our itinerary, let us entrust ourselves to the Virgin Mary, who generated the Word of God in faith and in the flesh, so that we may immerse ourselves – just as she did – in the death and resurrection of her Son Jesus, and possess eternal life."

Full Papal Message for Lent found here

Friday, March 4, 2011

More Encouragement for Lent

A Prayer found in the breviary of St. Teresa of Avila

Nada te turbe,
Nada te espante,
Todo se pasa,
Dios no se muda,
La Patiencia
Todo lo alcanza;
Quien a Dios tiene
Nada le falta.
Sólo Dios basta.

Let nothing trouble you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All is passing,
God alone is unchanging.
Obtains everything.
Who possesses God
Wants for nothing.
God alone suffices.

Let us pray for each other,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Encouragement for Lent

“Bashing Babies on the Rock” Blessedness

Blessed those who take your babies and bash them against the rock" (Psalm 137:9). This is a gruesome yet important verse from the Bible. The original context had to do with the Jewish desire for revenge against their evil Babylonian captors during the exile. It was a prayer for justice (the Babylonians might have done this to the Jewish babies - think Pharaoh and Herod) and the complete destruction of their oppressors in such a way that there was no danger of further oppression by the future Babylonian generations.

Starting with the early Christian theologian Origin there was an important spiritual interpretation of this verse. Taking his cue from Saint Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, Saint Benedict wrote that the rock is Christ and our enemies are evil vices. Bash your vices while they are still babies on the rock of Jesus Christ. If your vices are allowed to grow into full adults they are much harder to defeat! The very humorous Saint Padre Pio would sarcastically quote this verse to his altar servers before leaving the sacristy for Mass, "Behave while serving Mass or I will bash your heads against the altar!"

Today we say the same thing - nip it in the bud, or don't make a mountain out of a molehill. When I was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Egan, he gave us the same advice. Quoting the Roman poet Ovid (17 AD), he told us about "obsta principiis", resist the beginnings. We should take immediate steps once we know we have fallen into difficulties. It is much easier to root out evil as soon as it appears than to try to do so after its effects have become pervasive (Amo, Amas, Amat and More, 207).

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Papal Message For Lent found here

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


In the seventh chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark, we read the account of Jesus healing a deaf man who had a speech impediment. Jesus touched his ears and tongue while saying the Aramaic word Ephphatha, which means “be opened.” This beautiful gesture is repeated at every Baptism. During Baptism it carries the sense of faith healing our spiritual deafness.

Physically speaking, hearing and speaking are connected. Spiritually speaking, hearing and speaking are connected as well. The more we can hear the Word of God in our hearts, the more we can speak clearly about Him, truth and love. May the Holy Spirit help us to open wide the doors of our hearts to Christ.

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, Harlem, New York

Monday, February 7, 2011

We need saints!

May the Lord give you His peace!

In Hebrews 13:7-8 we read, "Remember your leaders,
who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome
of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is
the same yesterday and today and forever." Take a moment
to prayerfully reflect on all the people God has used to
model and speak His word to you. Those who help us
along our journey of faith are real spiritual heroes.
NYPRIEST.COM sponsors vocations advertisements
which proclaim the message, "The World Needs Heroes."

Venerable Pope John Paul II is a great hero who
continues to inspire many to say yes to Jesus!
He will be Beatified on May 1, 2011 (info found here).
We need examples who inspire us to follow Jesus.
That is why Christians have always held up the saints.
Saint John Vianney would read lives of the saints
every day. Not only are they inspiring, they also pray
for us from heaven. There are many holy people who
may never be officially canonized, who never-the-less,
help us along our way. Who has helped you in your
faith walk, your discernment? Parents, pastors and friends
have an important influence on us. May we be inspired
to answer God's call in our life.
   Check it out ...
VocationBoom.com - great resource!!

Top Ten Vocations Websites
Truth and Life Audio Bible - really well done
Pope's Homily, Feb. 2, 2011, World Day of Consecrated Life
OneBillionStories.com - interesting Catholic site
LiveAction.org - great pro life group

God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary
Harlem, New York City