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