Friday, August 29, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blessing of the Children

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

I always tell people there is no greater gift you can give someone than an authentically catholic childhood.

Here, in the nineteenth chapter of Matthew's gospel, we have positive proof. These children
are brought to Jesus by their mothers and fathers that this holy man or wise teacher or--as we know and maybe they believed--Messiah and God might lay his hands upon them or perhaps even embrace them. And so the Church is given a manifesto. Is it not the Church, after all, known to be the body of Christ?

It is a marvelous image that Jesus should receive and embrace the children, that he should wrap his protective and loving arms around them. And that they, in all their little obedience to the prodding of their mothers, should approach him trustingly, be drawn to his body, his warmth, and even the kisses of grace that fall upon them from his head. All of this is given to us as an image of the Church's role in the life of man.

Yet amazingly (and scandalously) the apostles try to prevent such a thing from happening. The twelve here representing the very hierarchy they will establish put themselves at odds with the very mission of the Church and are decidedly rebuked by the Lord himself. The bishops and priests of his Church are to be hospitable to even the littlest of her members--and apparently some of the most important. It is to them, in the end, to whom the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.

I imagine, too, that were we all able to approach the Lord and his Church as these children,
ready, available and willing, in innocence and trust, we too would receive such love as only the Body of Jesus Christ can give to us. We have been given much, those of us who were carried to the baptismal fount, who like these little ones were brought to the Lord's body by our parents that he should lay his hands upon us and bless us and we should abide in the comfort of his body, the Church, and all she has to offer us, namely, the Kingdom of God.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

A True Life (Mt 10:34-39)

Jesus reminds us that the only true life is one that is given away. It is a life free of self-obsession and of being overly concerned with what other people think. It is a life indifferent to the current trends of political correctness and popular opinion and one that is zealous for the truth that God proclaims about himself and humanity. It is a life not measured by the tiny instruments of men but by the infinite space of God’s self-giving and unconditional love.

+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary
Harlem, NY
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Friday, August 15, 2014

HolyHaiku The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

From start to finish -
Masterpiece of creation -
Foretaste of our end -
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

High points at the Highpoint

So what does a friar actually do after making his final vows? Does he go to Disney World? A Yankees game? Does he go on pilgrimage to Rome and Assisi? Is a cross country road-trip in order? Cliff jumping in Chile? Well, in this friar's case he went and stood on top of Idaho. Bet you didn't see that one coming.

Mt. Borah, boasting the highest peak in the state at 12,655 ft. above sea level, taunted my father and I with a steep hike, barely any trace of a trail and rock scrambles and climbs making it the sixth most difficult highpoint climb in the states. Going up was hard and coming down wasn't really any easier.

Can you remember any mountain-top scenes in the scriptures? Think of Moses, Elijah, even Noah had Ararat, or of the Lord's great Sermon, Mount Zion and of course Peter, James and John on the recently celebrated Mount of the Transfiguration. All of these mountain-top experiences are places where God is encountered. Whether it's as a gentle wind, a place of rest, a tempest or fire, man comes cheek to jaw with the reality of God, and the world after descending is never quite the same for him as it was before. Any real, undeniable encounter with God puts us at a cross roads or before a threshold where we realize that this thing we call religion isn't just a cute little game we're playing, but this God of ours exists outside of the inside of our heads, and usually that's either consoling or terrifying or maybe--eventually--both!

I think of the three apostles who were privileged to see our Lord transfigured. Jesus ceased to be the man they always knew and assumed an obviously divine mode of being. "And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light" (Mt. 17:2). Enter Moses and Elijah, and by the time the three descend, I don't think they have any idea what just happened, but very shortly Jesus begins his road to Jerusalem and towards his crucifixion.

None of us live on the mountain top. Our spiritual lives are full of peaks and valleys and like all pilgrims we traverse them with alternating ambition and futility, but when God gives us a healthy dose of Himself, a real encounter with his divine Godhead, we can not afford to forget that. We have to remember. I think that St. John--during our Lord's passion--must have never forgot the transfiguration. I think his memory of Christ in all his divine glory was a source of strength as he, alone of the apostles, followed Jesus closely throughout his passion and death, through that long Saturday following sustaining him with hope until the Resurrection. The experience of the mountain has to be remembered in the valley, dwelled upon, processed and digested into fuel for the road ahead.

Of course, we don't have to actually go up a mountain to have this kind of encounter of God, but it might help sometimes. What was my mountain-top experience this go-around? Nothing dramatic, and yet I did feel amazingly small. Smaller than an ant. The farms (circular for the irrigation systems) were the size of frisbees. The stark, brown earth looked desolate and unforgiving, and God became immense! God was big and far reaching, and I was small and frail, and this is a helpful perspective.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fasting (Matt 9:14-17)

Fasting is a reminder that one’s true nourishment does not come from this world. It prophetically stands before all the world’s promises and says, “You are not enough, there is more that I desire.” Hence, the true nature of fasting is not the giving up of things, but creating space for the One that matters most.

+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Sacred Heart of Jesus Friary
Ft. Worth, TX
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Monday, August 4, 2014

One Small Bite

If you live in the Northeastern corner of the United States you are probably aware of Lyme's disease. One small bite from a deer tick the size of the tip of a pen can change your life for the worse. In our spiritual life skeptical cynicism can function in the same way. Just think of the serpent's tactic in the garden, "Did God really say that? Ahhh that's not true, you won't die....."

One of our friars had a sad encounter with a young man in our Newark neighborhood: "Hey there officer, I know that you're an officer. I know what you're about, officer." "I'm a Catholic priest!" "Whatever, officer..." Somehow skeptical cynicism was blinding that young man from encountering reality. Only God knows how he got that way.

We all have blind spots which are often rooted in hurts and wounds (not to mention the skeptical cynicism so prevalent in our modern times). Today would be a great time to pray and ask for the healing power of the Lord to open our eyes to reality. Maybe the person we would rather avoid is a loving instrument waiting to deliver a blessing from God.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Friday, August 1, 2014

HolyHaiku 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Matthew 14:13-21

God always provides
He sends needed nourishment
now through His people

Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of it, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” [Jesus] said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

#HolyHaiku #Matt14
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