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