Sunday, December 28, 2014

El Greco’s Evangelist

Paint. Paint the soft lines
of damp cheeks across a canvas.
Paint the little hand, the deep
eyes and the orb.
Splash some color along the curve
of her neck and suggest
the wafting scent of his musty flesh,
the earth soiling her mantle’s hem,
the wet hay and animal sweat.
Fill out her rounded face
and his chubby legs. Paint well
her ponderous humanity and his
unquestioned divinity
and her smile, Luke. Paint her smile
and we shall see
how well your lazy eye can see.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Born in Bronx-lehem

We rejoice! The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ is upon us once again. Merry Christmas everybody - or as a local carwash sign has it, “Happy Everything!” We remember that Christ was born in Bethlehem and we rejoice!

But why do we rejoice? Saint Pope John Paul II put it this way when he preached at Bethlehem (March 2000): “The joy announced by the angel is not a thing of the past. It is a joy of today… Because it is always Christmas in Bethlehem, every day is Christmas in the hearts of Christians. And every day we are called to proclaim the message of Bethlehem to the world.”

But how do we rejoice? While in the past Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he is born in Bronx-lehem this day. He is born anew in every place where faith-filled hearts welcome him with joy. I was reminded of this life-shaking truth as I participated in our Saint Francis Youth Center Nativity Play. Our young people prepared and practiced to re-enact that sacred story in the Bronx milieu. The characters all spoke with authentic NYC accents while Fr. Stan Fortuna provided the appropriate soundtrack (something to see and hear)! The message was clear: Yoforeal! Jesus is born for us, for us y’all and so we rejoice!

I remember the semester I spent abroad in Austria. The local churches had the Christmas crèche characters dressed in traditional Austrian outfits. The message was clear: Jesus is born for us and we rejoice. So, welcome him into your heart, your home and your town. I don’t know if Santa Claus is coming to your town, but Jesus certainly is. Simply add a “-lehem” to your location and dress those Nativity figures as farmers if you live in the Midwest! Jesus Christ is born for us and this makes everything happy!

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Simple and Straightforward

So often our mind and imagination is full of all sorts of different ideas and images of what the Nativity of Jesus must have looked like. There are movies and plays, music and poetry, and many other mediums that try to impress upon us the significance of the event of the Word becoming flesh. It was on my heart however that for our Nativity Play this year at the Saint Francis Youth Center we should attempt to use the Gospels as our inspiration, nothing more and nothing less. The Gospels reveal to us a story full of wonder, glory, haste, hospitality, family, trial, fear, peace, and several other actions, emotions, and relationships. The Nativity Story is, just like many of our lives are, very full. And it is into the midst of this fullness that Jesus comes to us, to turn what we think might be a fulfilling life into one that is overflowing and brimming with divine life.

“Every idea of [God] we form, He must in mercy shatter.” I recently came across this quote from C.S. Lewis, and it struck a chord with my experience of looking anew at the Nativity of Jesus Christ. I have over the years become stuck in imagining His birth taking place in a certain way. For instance, where I saw something all too simple (the shepherds) the glory of God appears with a multitude of angels. There were many other moments like this that grabbed my attention, which surprised me, and that left me thinking, ‘how could I have forgotten that.

I think my point is this: we frequently allow our minds to wander and our hearts to become fugitives from the reality that we are designed from the beginning for a fullness beyond anything we could imagine. By becoming the human being Jesus, God wants to share with each human person his own eternal life, in such a way that our fragile, contradictory human nature would not be overwhelmed or crushed, but filled utterly.

Br. Lazarus Sharpe, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Open Your Heart to Christ (4 of 4)

4) "Commitment to the Poor Christ: a priceless opportunity to give yourself to God in others by humble charity" (4 of 4)
It is just not enough to go to Mass on Sunday, pray the Rosary daily, avoid mortal sin, and love your close circle of friends - especially in our spiritually depraved and very desperate society today.
Jesus Christ calls each of us to make a firm and zealous commitment of our time, energy, and gifts to help reveal and build up His Kingdom here on earth. An essential part of this is the practice of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which are practical forms of loving our neighbors who take the place of Christ among us.
Christ's Vicar, Pope Francis, has been calling us to go the "outskirts" of existence, to the "fringes" of society, to seek out the lost sheep and bring them home to the Father's House. It's high time to quit living in a "maintenance mode" or a "me only" culture when souls are dying of thirst for Christ's Love all around us.
God has chosen to save people precisely through those to whom He has already revealed Himself - through *our* very human mediation and participation (sound crazy?). God created YOU for a specific purpose and with a unique mission. (After you die, you will find out which souls you helped to save for all eternity, and you will be surprised!)
Every day I need to take time to examine my conscience, life and relationships; to listen to God in His Word in Scripture and in prayer; and to discern what He is asking of me. Every moment He invites me to freely, lovingly, cheerfully say "yes," "amen", to Him and to His Holy Will for me. (If you're unsure what He's asking of you, keep praying, studying your faith, talking with holy people, going to spiritual direction, and serving the needy; take a step forward in faith and God will illumine the next one!)
What is the Lord asking of you? How is He asking you to serve Him in the poor, needy, sick, suffering, lonely, elderly, unborn, rejected, abandoned (etc.)? How are you going to respond to Christ's invitation? What are you going to do for love of Him?
Today? Now?
Then whenever we die and go before Our Lord and He asks us: "How did you love me? What did you do for Me in My beloved least ones?", we will have something real to show Him by the way we loved our neighbors, especially the poor (re-read Matthew, chapter 25). Let us begin!
+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

HolyHaiku Gaudete Sunday


John, The Living Dawn
Rose Sky: Sign of Coming Sun
Joy when the Son comes!
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3rd Sunday of Advent


3rd Sunday of #Advent
by Br. Justin Alarcón, CFR


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Thursday, December 11, 2014

EWTN Sunday Night Prime - The Late Fr. Benedict Groeschel

EWTN Sunday Night Prime
The Late #FrBenedict Groeschel, CFR
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Open Your Heart to Christ (3 of 4)

3) "Receiving Blessings from Chosen Vessels" (3 of 4)
Mary is the Model of Christian Discipleship, since she loved Jesus most purely from her Immaculate Conception and faithfully all the way through the Cross and Resurrection. We know that God has made her the Mediatrix of All Graces. And yet God still chooses to employ further "mediations" for grace to reach us, including: events, circumstances (especially crosses), and people - especially the poor and our "enemies".

Because the poor and afflicted are "empty vessels", they become for us like "other Marys" who mediate JESUS to us (often unknowingly, both to them and to us!). They are like a prism that of itself gives off no light, but when sunlight flows through it there shines out the most brilliant colors and radiance.
God didn't just make a "New Adam" (Jesus); He also made a "New Eve" (Mary)! She is the Perfect Archetype of the Church's filial obedience to God in love, whose heel crushes the head of the Enemy of mankind. She best represents how souls are called to be united to God.
Jesus is not *only* present inside of physical church buildings. Yes, Christ isreally present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Most Holy Eucharist in a most amazing way. But He also chooses to be present to us and among us - in and through the members of His Mystical Body the Church (i.e. in our sisters and brothers!).
The only way we can really prove our love for God is how we love our neighbor in imitation of Christ. (For how can we love the God we don't see if we don't love the people we do see?)
There is no closer place on earth to God and to Heaven after the Eucharist than in our brethren, and indeed in our own soul. And whomever we find more difficult to love (perhaps even in our own families), the more graces we receive - since our faith and love will be all the more pure and empty of tainted, selfish motives.
+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

2nd Sunday of Advent

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Open Your Heart to Christ (2 of 4)

2) "Greater Reverence and Love for Every Person" (2 of 4)
While God calls each of us to love Him and one another as Jesus has loved us, we also have an Enemy who desires just the opposite. The Enemy, using whatever means possible (especially the high-powered people and media of our age), tries to label, categorize, marginalize, and ultimately eliminate people - especially the poor and people who believe in God and love their neighbor.
Jesus died for everyone, setting us free to share in His own full, abundant, divine life eternally. By loving us first, He revealed God's Love for us and showed us what it means to love.
All of us are called to recognize in our brothers and sisters the sublime dignity of one redeemed by Christ's Most Precious Blood shed on the Cross for our salvation, and to receive them as we ourselves want to be received by God. We need to honor people for the goodness and gifts we see in them as reflections of God's own Glory and "living conduits" of His Divine Mercy, however weak or broken they may appear to be to our very imperfect spiritual vision.
We are created for compassion, to sympathize with others' sufferings, and to prodigally lavish the Love of our Heavenly Father upon all without limits. Only in completely giving ourselves will we also be filled completely and to overflowing by the Holy Spirit and His Divine Indwelling, Whom we have already received 'as a first installment' through Baptism, Confirmation, and in every Communion.
This is an essential part of the "New Pentecost" the Church is ardently longing for. It will come when enough people freely offer themselves as a living sacrifice of praise to the Father for the salvation of souls - in union Jesus, Mary, and the Church - however He wills.
+Br. Philip Maria Allen, CFR
St. Felix Friary
Yonkers, NY, USA
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