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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Christmas


Christmas

In the dark of night
creation sighs,
the cedars grown
and babies cry.
Behold the storms
Behold the sick
Behold the poor tonight.

There, beneath the stars,
blow heavy winds
while shepherds pray
and lovers sin.
Behold the rain
Behold the pain
Behold yourself tonight.

In the colder hours
tea leaves seep
in forgotten cups
while the milk goes sour.
Behold the hurt
Behold the chill
My lungs they burn tonight.

Then dawn delays
where camels spit;
the masses breathe
and war is stayed.
Behold the crib
Behold the Lord
Behold he comes tonight.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Paterson, NJ
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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS

The Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal
would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Advent & The Very Pregnant Virgin Mary

During this month of December, Magnificat has a beautiful picture on the cover of a very pregnant Virgin Mary. Ready to give birth any day now, she is the image we ponder as the Church is at the end of Advent. We have been praying, pondering and singing, "Come, come, O Come Emmanuel!" Like a mother at the end of her pregnancy, the Church assures us, "He will be here very very soon!"

Madonna del Parto Unknown Master, Italian (late 15th century in Valsesia)

Around two thousand years ago Jesus did come in history. At an unknown date in the future Jesus will come again in Majesty. By grace, prayer and sacraments Jesus comes anew every day in mystery. Why do we want Him to come? Because when He is present, He gives presents, gifts - Love, peace, joy, mercy, healing, forgiveness, meaning, purpose, salvation, blessing, new life ...

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent & a Lame-Footed Friar Revisited

If you saw the first blog I wrote it tells of my injury where I broke my foot. Many things in my life changed as a consequence and honestly most of it just made me frustrated and angry. I am weak, broken (literally), and desperately in need of others (especially if I want a cup of coffee – which I don’t have a free hand to carry – in the morning), and most of all in need of God. But I don’t like any of that. I prefer to be doing for others, to be independent and in control. One of the practical consequences of my injury is that at Mass each day the priest brings the Eucharist to me where I am seated in the chapel. This has been going on for over a month now and it wasn’t until a few days ago that the Lord revealed to me a deep truth in this experience. The priest was coming toward me, and in my heart I was crying out for the Lord to help me in my weakness. Suddenly I realized that I was even too weak to go to Jesus where he was, he had to come to me! And He spoke to my heart saying simply: “I come to you. I love you, you don’t have to strong, Malachy, just open up your heart to receive me.” 


My heart experienced a deep peace and immediately I thought of the mystery of Christmas we are preparing to celebrate. Each of us, in fact the whole world was and is too weak and broken to “go to Jesus,” and so in His tremendous love and mercy for us he comes. He comes into our poverty and weakness. He comes into our sin. He comes into our sickness. He comes into the darkness of our lives, our world. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us!” Jesus comes and is coming again this Christmas, all we need to do is open our hearts and receive Him!

+ Br. Malachy Joseph Napier, CFR
Harlem, NY
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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Advent & a Lame-Footed Friar

Reflections of a lamed-footed friar: Believing is seeing…

About five weeks ago I had an accident while climbing on some rocks that resulted in my heel being broken. In my normal stubbornness I refused to go to the ER immediately, but eventually the pain won out I discovered that I couldn’t simply “push through” and continue life as usual if didn’t want to permanently damage my foot or risk needing surgery. So contrary to all of my natural inclinations I decided to listen to the doctor and “stay off it” for a while. The transition from MACH 3 living to literally having to ask others to do even simple things like carry a cup of coffee to a table, fix me food, etc was perhaps more painful than the broken foot.

One step at a time going up and down in the friary, having to sit and rest after going from one place to the next. I hardly went outside for a month and was pining for freedom from my unexpected encounter with the cross. And then it happened. I looked out the window of my room and I saw a tree! I know it sounds woefully mundane and ordinary, but I had looked out my window countless times and never noticed it right there in front of me. It was beautiful, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It was screaming with existence and there were tiny drops of water clinging to all its naked branches twisting about like the hair of someone who just finished sticking their finger in a socket to see if there was power or not. And as I thanked God for this simple tree and its beauty I began reflecting on the mystery of God’s presence all around us. How many times had I passed Him by? How many moments of my life was the Lord of All present and I was simply unaware or too busy to notice or care.


And then I thought about those shepherds who left there work in the fields to go to a stable and look on the face of a child. What did they see? I don’t imagine it was a radiant face, but the simple face a human child that yet when looked upon with “eyes that could see”, a heart that believed, revealed a tremendous Presence – the Presence of Emmanuel, God-with-us! Lord gives us “eyes that can see” so we recognize you not simply in a distant history or beautiful story, but in the reality of our own lives, where You desire to reveal your beauty and love to us each day.

+ Br. Malachy Joseph Napier, CFR
Harlem, NY
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Monday, December 16, 2013

Darkness and Advent

Advent is one of my favorite times of the whole liturgical year! Even though there is lots of cold and dark these common things we don’t think too much about, can help us enter in more deeply to Gods plan for us.

Darkness: it makes us hungry for the light. I remember when I was hiking in college with one of my best friends. We had been looking for a while to find this cave that other students had explored. We eventually found it and, of course, we went inside. I learned a lot from this experience (besides nearly getting stuck inside)! We turned off our flashlights at one point… it was the darkest place I had ever been: I could not even see my hand when I put it up to my face! But to my surprise, when, fumbling, I lit a match in the dark: the light from it was surprisingly bright. I would have never expected so much light from one match.


The whole season makes us feel the very same hunger for the coming of the Messiah that the people of Israel felt for centuries. They felt like God might have abandoned them, and things all around seemed only to get more and more dark. All of the readings for Mass and the songs we sing (O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!) are meant to make our hearts stretch and remind us to live in expectation of Jesus! But when he came, what was it like? Not flashy, not with big fanfare and Times Square billboards. No, he came with one “yes” from a heart totally waiting and ready for him. And the light he brought into the world was nothing like what we could have imagined. Who could possibly think that God would become an infant, born in a stable? It began as one small light burning in the heart of Mary, in her womb, in her arms, and at rest in the stable of Bethlehem. Like one candle burning in a dark place, he came into the world to set it all afire with his love. He wants to do the same in our hearts in a new and unexpected way this Advent… to come into the dark places of our lives still awaiting the fire of his love to come, to make us free, to make us new. Let us give permission as Mary did, that Jesus can come to give us his light and joy.



+ Br. Pius Marie Gagne, CFR
Newark, NJ
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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Gray Friar Newsletter

May the Word Become Flesh - in us!
by Fr. Mariusz Koch, CFR


The Winter 2013 GrayFriar Newsletter 
now available online (click here)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent Guadalupe & the Sailboat Church

Inspired by the passages where Jesus gets in Peter's boat (see Luke 5), tradition has seen the Church as a new Noah's Ark - a chosen vessel of the Lord for salvation and safety as we travel the floods and seas of this life. 1 Peter 3:20 ff. compares the Ark and floods to the Christian sacrament of Baptism.


With the help of Newark's Coadjutor Archbishop Hebda, we had a spectacular celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe this year. Answering the call of Pope Francis to go out into the streets, our Br. Simon cooked up a holy scheme. We placed a huge banner of Our Lady on the back of a truck. We followed her through the streets of inner-city Newark singing and praying with joy and enthusiasm. The wind billowed the image which appeared as a great sail, empowered by the Holy Spirit, pulling a sailboat through the streets - an image of the Church. She is pregnant with the baby Jesus, an apropos Advent image.



+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Coming One

The Coming One
As anticipated at Convento San Antonio, Nicaragua

There’s a scent of rain riding low beneath the clouds.  Over me it drifts as they slowly unfold above the orange tiled roof of our friary and the mountains around us.  It smells like spring but spring has since passed on—here they call it winter.  I call it spring because that’s how it smells, that’s how it tastes—cool and moist, heavy like the showers that fill our gutters our water basins, yet gentle like the flowers hanging loosely in my hands, frustrated by my delay.  “You have till the bell,” I say staring into the sky, not minding the flowers. 

Yes, true to form the scent of rain precedes the rain itself and the clouds go from cotton to graphite grey.  Aside the chapel I watch them stealthily stretch across the city and over the valley into which it is neatly tucked.  The world below seems not to notice as they carry on their sweep unperturbed at the sounding of the vesper bells.  “Okay, five minutes,” I said, “I’ll give you five minutes.” I fix my gaze in a specifically unspecific location somewhere between the cotton and graphite shades.  I’m looking for the Son of Man, hoping today’s the day, hoping he may beat the rain. 

Standing there in the paseo, it felt like a long time; it felt like an eternity.  I never saw him in the sky that day.  In fact, the only one coming, it would seem, was the evening shower.  But I did see him soon enough—not in so dramatic a way—but he came to us that evening like he always does and I brought him the flowers I had picked in a vase for the altar, and I said to him like I always do, “in the end, whenever you do come, I want to go with you.” And that’s where we left it.  That’s where we always seem to leave it. 

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Paterson, NJ
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our Daily Advent

Our Daily Advent













The candles, already burning,
cry out like a voice in the wilderness,
"Prepare the way of the Lord."
The key is in the tabernacle lock
ready to spring open the heavens at the sound
of a resounding "yes"!
"Let it be done to me according to your Word."

The corporal is open and laid out
like a receiving blanket.
"She wrapped Him in swaddling cloths."

The monstrance,
made for one purpose only,
stands open, empty, waiting.
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord."

"The Spirit and the Bride say come!"
Our Daily Advent.

by Sr. Clare Matthiass, CFR
Harlem, NY
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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Curious Advent Abstinence

Now that we have briefly covered the historical origins of Advent, I would like to muse on a curious Advent abstinence. The practices of fasting and abstinence have deep biblical roots.


During Advent, we typically refrain from singing the "Gloria in Excelsis Deo / Glory to God in the Highest" hymn (which is usually sung towards the beginning of Mass). Why?
1) Remember that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Like the Lenten abstinence from the Alleluia this practice can help us to rediscover the purpose and power of the Gloria.
2) After four weeks of this peculiar spiritual starvation we are hungry for that hymn! We finally sing the Gloria on Christmas Eve at Midnight Mass. This can be a powerful moment.
3) The beauty of the decorated Church synthesizes with the profundity of the Gloria as sight and sound unite in giving praise to God. I like to think that all those flowers and Christmas decorations are an artistic expression of that hymn. Now I know why I have eyes, ears and a voice!
4) Finally, we remember again where the Gloria came from. In Luke 2 we read that the Angels sang it to the shepherds outside of Bethlehem on the very night Jesus was born! So when we sing it again at Midnight Mass, we are caught up in a tremendous moment of memory, wonder and worship. Like that choir of Angels so long ago, we give thanks with jubilant joy that Christ is born again - in our hearts that silent, holy night.


+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Where did the season of Advent come from?

Here is a short explanation regarding the historical origins of Advent:

1) The LORD lead the People of God to commemorate certain saving events in a sort of Jewish liturgical year. The annual celebration of Passover is a great example. Every year they remember, celebrate and commemorate with sacred ceremonies their liberation from slavery in Egypt, the Exodus.
2) In the earliest days of the Church, Christianity was but a small sect among many sects in the Jewish faith of the time. By the end of the first century, Christianity had separated from the synagogue and was considered a separate religion.
3) You can read about the first great Christian controversy in Acts 15 and Galatians. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the leaders of the early Church decided that non-Jewish converts did not have to accept certain Jewish practices.
4) As Christianity spread, grew and developed the early Church started to imitate Jewish liturgical sensibilities. Before the year 100 AD, Christians were celebrating Easter with some sort of time of preparation (which became what we now call Lent). By the year 200 AD, some Christians were celebrating the Birth of Christ and some sort of time of preparation (which became what we now call Advent).
5) Before the year 400 AD, we find references in several writings bearing witness to various practices of preparation for the celebration of Christmas.
6) By the middle ages we see a richly developed liturgical season filled with special readings, prayers, hymns and devotions.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

GIVE THANKS FOR IT ALL

Christian Hansen for The New York Times

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! This is the best time of the year in the Bronx. The people started lining up outside our friary at 3 AM. They were joyfully (mostly) waiting in the cold and rain for hours to receive a thanksgiving food bag and a blessing. How we are humbled by the Anawim, the little poor ones of God. It reminded me of 1 Cor 1: 26-29:

"For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God."
Br. Innocent and Br. Tansi prepare some treats.
Today would be a great day to pray the Thanksgiving Canticle from Daniel 3:51-90, giving thanks to the Lord for everything. Here is a funny memory: We hosted some friars from Africa for a while. I sat next to Br. Emmanuel in the chapel, he was my chapel buddy. During the lines, "cold and chill" he would not answer "bless the Lord". During the lines, "fire and heat" I would not answer "bless the Lord". Sometimes we were laughing so much that we could barely finish the prayer. It is our faith that allows us to give thanks to God for it all.

Happy Thanksgiving!
+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
   Yonkers, NY
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Marveling At Matagalpa

Have you ever had a spiritual experience which escapes description by mere words? I was recently blessed with the opportunity to visit our friars in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. I was unprepared for what I would see. The life and work of our brothers in this little corner of the world is really inspiring. It was like seeing pages of the Gospel lived out in front of my eyes. Fr. Juan Diego is doing a spectacular job ministering at a national prison. Fr. Augustine was shining as he prayed, blessed and baptized the sick at the local hospital. Fr. Albert is leading a much needed youth ministry which is meeting some special needs in the culture there. Br. Joachim doesn't need to speak Español to communicate the love of Christ with his infectious smile and jovial demeanor as he seems to be present everywhere in the town.
Matagalpa Cathedral in the center of the city.

Every morning as the sun was rising, while drinking delicious local coffee, I would pray and bless the people of Matagalpa. The Kingdom of God is coming in that little place. About two hours from the Managua, Matagalpa is a city surrounded by mountains. Our Convento San Antonio is situated on the edge of town, half way up a peak called Apante, the mountain of peace. Here is what I really want to write about: Responding to some inspirations, dreams and prophecies Fr. John Anthony is coordinating a very special project. Looking down upon the city atop Apante, we are building a 33 meter cross and chapel. During a television interview to announce the project, an earthquake hit the area - a foretaste of what is to come. They will have an outdoor way of the cross which starts at the Cathedral and ends on Apante. The fourth station will be at our friary. Stay tuned!!! (click here if you are interested in helping with the project)

Fr. Luke and Fr. Albert before the rising frame of the Cross.


+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fulfillment of Encounter: Behold the Bridegroom Comes

Here, perhaps, is a new thought for you: processing up the aisle to receive holy communion is like a bride processing toward her groom, with each step she draws nearer to him whom she loves, to him who has given himself for her.  The bridegroom comes freely and awaits her hand; watching her approach he rejoices in her beauty and goodness and love, and she goes freely to meet him; freely to his embrace she goes.

The soul wants nothing more than to be freely and passionately loved by Jesus Christ.  In this way it images the bride.  Her deepest desire is that the bridegroom would freely desire her and choose to deeply love her all his life, and she knows that she can do nothing to earn such love, being aware of her powerlessness her disposition becomes one of expectation so that upon his arrival she cannot contain her joy, for at last, she can rest in her beloved.

This is the mystery of our union with God, this is the poetry of the Song of Songs, this is the experience of the Eucharist.  And once we begin to experience the intimacy of his love, it becomes clear that as much as we may fail him, he will never fail us.  You can never lose that look of love with which he watches you draw near in Holy Communion.  You could turn and walk away from him but that only changes your gaze not His, and at your first repentance he will be awaiting you.


+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Paterson, NJ
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Monday, November 4, 2013

The Fulfillment of Encounter: Eating the Flesh of God

Given Catholic teaching, it is not surprising to learn that a common accusation against early Christians was that of cannibalism.  Non-Christians were not allowed to the whole of Christian worship, but rumors spread about phrases caught like eat my flesh and drink my blood, and in some ways it’s not an outlandish accusation but upon further scrutiny it’s just not applicable.  Eating the flesh of a human being is a very different thing than consuming the body of the living God.  One reduces men to animals, the other elevates man beyond angels.



Jesus is very clear in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, his flesh is true food and his blood is true drink, “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I will raise him up on the last day.”  Sounds pretty important, right?  In fact, he was so clear about it that he lost a large number of disciples over it.  They left.  This is a hard teaching, they said,  who can accept it?  Even the apostles found it difficult to hear, but Peter in a moment of wisdom, instead of leaving, gave the perfect response to difficult teachings, “to whom else would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”  You see, the temptation is to take all the things we like about Jesus and run with them glossing over that which challenges us.

When I first heard the idea, I have to admit it sounded ridiculous, but I knew that if it were true, I could not be any closer to the Lord than to receive him into my very being, and I knew that if it weren’t true then Catholics were worshipping a piece of bread, and this is a very bad idea.  It turns out its true.  Jesus unites himself to us through this sacrament in a way that provides for a foretaste of Heavenly communion, the union with God that is the goal and joy of the Christian faith isn’t something we have to wait for, salvation isn’t something that comes after we die; eternal life isn’t something to be hoped for only after this valley of tears but amidst it.  We live eternal life now because Jesus is made known to us in the breaking of the bread and as he himself said, “eternal life is knowing [God] and him whom he has sent.”

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Paterson, NJ
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Friday, November 1, 2013

Red Sox beards and friars




The Red Sox, beards and the friars. Sampson like strength and Franciscan tradition.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Franciscan Beatitudes

“Blessed are the imperfect, for they reveal the power of God.”

“Blessed are the weak, for God himself is their strength.”

“Blessed are those who fail, for they alone can succeed.”

“Blessed are those who surrender, for they alone will be victorious.”

“Blessed are those who obey, for they have chosen the better part.”

“Blessed are the humble, for the truth has set them free.”

+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Fulfillment of Encounter: When the Eucharist became Real for me

Surprisingly, I don’t remember much of that day. I remember the church and I have an image of me sitting towards the back—wooden pews peppered with college student and town’s folk and I, among them, heart pounding and eyes wetting, am sitting—or am I kneeling? Either way my head is certainly buried in the palms of my hands and quietly, maybe even inaudibly, I am tearful. Jesus Christ is somehow inside of me. He was placed in my hands and I put him on my tongue, chewed him with my teeth and swallowed him. It was the first time ever that presented to me, I recognized him—his sacramental presence—and it was the first time I ever held, tasted and consumed him with understanding and that encounter would go on to change everything. Yet for now I am seated in a place of wonder wrapped in a blanket of trepidation, for he has captured me and I have allowed myself to be caught. Only he’s not who I thought he was; no, he is more intimate and more radical than I had ever dreamed. I would go on to learn three things from this experience.

1) I had been worshipping God as if in exile; 2) His flesh, as he says, is in fact, true food; 3) He sees me as would a bridegroom his bride; which means that 1)I have not only returned to the temple but have become the temple; 2) eternal life begins right now; 3) there is nothing I could ever do to cause him to look away and cease loving me.

Surprisingly vague is my memory of that day, but I can say this: I left the church after Mass stepping into a world where the sky was bluer and the leaves greener on trees that seemed almost to breathe, and I, with a ball cap snuggly fit, walked home on my hands—or was it that I could now see how everyone else in the world was living standing on their heads?

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Saint Michael Friary, Paterson, NJ
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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Missing Piece

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11:28)

The Word of God, Jesus, is the missing piece to the puzzle of our lives. Without Him we try to rearrange the other pieces of our life hoping that somehow we can complete the puzzle. Yet there is only one piece, Jesus, who can complete the puzzle. If we hear and obey His word our lives will be complete, and we can stop trying to rearrange everything to make our life perfect. All the pieces will fit, just as they were intended to.

+ fr jeremiah myriam shryock cfr
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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

“Holy Hands: Uniting Prayer & Charity in a Cool Catholic Lifestyle” (2 of 2)

“Holy Hands: Uniting Prayer & Charity in a Cool Catholic Lifestyle” (2 of 2)


Remember the “two tables” of the Liturgy as expressed by Vatican II? The Eucharist and the Word. They are both important and form a unity. Christ Himself, though one Person, has two natures: divine and human.


Why is it that there often seems to be such a radical dichotomy in the Church, similar to that of the separation between West and East, so that “conservative” (or ‘right-wing’) believers prefer adoration while “liberal” (or ‘leftist’) believers prefer service of the poor, to the exclusion of the other? The enemy of souls must really love this. (One can think of other such ‘apparent contradictions’ like traditional prayer in Latin versus charismatic prayer - both of which, by the way, are approved by the Church.)



To be Catholic means to be open to ALL that is good and serves to build up Christ’s Kingdom, while remaining radically faithful to the sacred deposit of faith and the teaching of the Magisterium. (Catholic means universal!) Why not unite both hands in prayer and service like Mother Teresa did? People are often shocked when they discover many such ‘paradoxes’ in a person or a community…


Pope Francis is clearly showing us, by a most splendid example, that to be truly Catholic we need to be BOTH devoted to God and our neighbors in authentic Christian love. I would even go so far as to say that he is showing us BOTH AND – the ‘AND’ being that we also need to grow personally in our own continual conversion in order to be pure vessels of Christ’s love to others as His priests, prophets and kings.


Let us each examine our own conscience. Where am I strong and where am I lacking? Am I praying often and well enough? Going out of my comfort zone to serve the needy? Too full of myself? Too busy about my own cares and concerns and not those of God and others?


Let us all strive, like Mother Teresa and Pope Francis, to be humble, prayerful, and loving. Then we too will have “holy hands”, becoming a blessing and not a burden to all we meet. (We could also add holy eyes, ears, tongue, feet, etc.!) Let us be totally consecrated to God. Amen – so be it!


+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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Thursday, October 10, 2013

“Holy Hands: Uniting Prayer & Charity in a Cool Catholic Lifestyle” (1 of 2)

“Holy Hands: Uniting Prayer & Charity in a Cool Catholic Lifestyle” (1 of 2)

Mother Teresa is one of my great inspirations, a true heroine of Christian virtue. I ask her intercessory help every day, especially as I serve the homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill and displaced persons who come to our little outreach called Casa Juan Diego.

Look at Mother Teresa’s hands. What famous hands they are! Why are they so famous? Because they touched Christ’s body every day.




But wait – Mother was not a priest! What do I mean? How can I rightly say this?

Although Mother was not an ordained minister of the Holy Eucharist (i.e. a ministerial priest of Jesus Christ), she indeed touched Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, in His members. She became configured to Christ not only by the beautiful Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation & frequent Holy Communion, but also by imitating Him in the way she lived each and every day.

Mother made of her whole life a “eucharist”: a loving sacrifice of thanksgiving to God. We are called to do the same.

As a holy missionary priest has often related: “The more you look at something, the more you get into it; the more you get into something, the more you become like it.” This could be television, movies, internet, some activity or hobby, nature, people, or Jesus!

Yes, we need to adore Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament in order to become like Him; but we also need to love, serve, and feed His broken body in our neighbors, especially the poor and needy. For we only know ourselves before God when we recognize Christ present in the least among us; and we only prove our love for God by loving our neighbors in a concrete, incarnational and personal love that is not limited to the pew, the pulpit, or the ‘pay pal’.

+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary

Yonkers, NY, USA
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Monday, October 7, 2013

The Fulfillment of Encounter: Returning to the Temple

When the Jewish people were exiled to Babylon, they longed to return to their native land. Being captives in a foreign land among foreign people and their foreign gods was the darkest hour since their captivity in Egypt. But still, they were able to worship God—those who hadn’t already abandoned him for pagan idols—they were able to carry on familial traditions and heritages. God still sent prophets to them and heard their cries and pleas; so, you may ask, what’s the big deal? Why be so dramatic about it?

All that is left of the ancient Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, The Wailing Wall.

They longed for Jerusalem because in Jerusalem dwelt the Temple of God, the Living God. In Jerusalem God was uniquely present in a part of the temple called the Holy of Holies, so in a tangible way they had been removed from his presence and the true worship that God himself had established in the temple where he had chosen to live among them. And as far as they could see their children would never know, would never experience the closeness with which they had lived with God. And this is painful to a heart that knows the difference. So you can imagine their joy when after seventy long years of exile they were given leave to return to their home, rebuild their temple and resume their worship, living again among the presence of the living God in Jerusalem. 

And this, I can say, was my joy in embracing the Catholic Faith. God became tangible, the worship he had given us to make was resumed in my life and I knew Him like I had never known Him before. In coming into the Catholic Church we not only return to the place where he has chosen to dwell among us, the tabernacles of our churches, but we become living tabernacles, new holy of holies, because God himself dwells now within us, and so in returning to the temple, we become temples and God dwells even more fully in the world today.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Paterson, NJ
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