Friday, February 26, 2016

Calling For a Lenten Ban on Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

When I was a little boy, I had a traumatic experience. Upon returning home from school, I would often find my favorite chocolate chip cookies cooling on the counter. One regretful day, I saw what looked like my cookies. I (thought I) saw a chocolate chip cookie, but when I tasted it my brain short-circuited! Confused, I spit it out saying, "What is this?" It was a cookie imposter! To this day I am wounded by that experience, please pray for my healing!

A great piece of advice for a fruitful Lent comes from Jesus himself. In his preaching he encouraged us to strive for a unity between our external and our internal. Today we would say walk-the-walk, don't just talk-the-talk. All of our Lenten devotions should aim at an integration, how we look on the outside should be a reflection of how we look on the inside. I am sure that Jesus took his cue from 1 Samuel 16:7, "For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."

There is a connection between what we believe and how we behave, what we think and what we do.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Year of Mercy

Year of Mercy,
... leniency, clemency, compassion, grace, pity, charity, forgiveness, forbearance, soft-heartedness, tenderheartedness, kindness, sympathy, liberality, indulgence, tolerance, generosity, magnanimity, beneficence ...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Why Do We Fast? (3 of 3)

“All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! It is written ‘The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve’”

Ultimately, we fast to cast out the idols from our hearts. We all have idols which, at least at times, take the place of God in our hearts. These idols are things which we desire more than God, at least in certain moments, and which lead us to sin. They are many and various, but the three big categories are: power, honor, and pleasure. These are exactly what Satan offers Jesus in this temptation, showing us that to worship them is to worship the devil.

When we fast, we give up things which are good in themselves (and thus not sinful), but which are merely finite, earthly goods. We give them up not because they’re bad nor even because they could become bad or lead us to sin, but because they are not the Supreme Good for which we long. We leave them behind so as to run full speed ahead toward the true desire of our hearts: God, by whom and for whom we were made. We fast because we don’t want to be weighed down by lesser things as we climb the heights of God’s love. We give up the world so as to more easily gain heaven.

Thus, in the end, fasting is an act of worship. When we fast we declare that there is one Lord and that we worship him alone. He is the Source and Summit of our life and it is only in his Will, in his Love, that we are free.

+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
Comayagua, Honduras
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Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Do We Fast? (2 of 3)

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written: 'he will send is angels to guard you' and 'they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.' But Jesus said, 'it is also written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God.'”

This exchange exposes a false reason for fasting: to manipulate God. We do not fast in order to force God to do our will or to manifest himself. This is a pagan attitude: “If I do x, y, and z, then God will give me what I want.” This is not worship, prayer, or sacrifice. It is the exact opposite. Instead of acknowledging God’s sovereignty and our need for him, we try to strong arm him. Rather than adoring, praising, surrendering and trusting, we try to force him to conform to our desires.
Such an attitude towards fasting exposes a misconception of God. God is not a cruel tyrant who needs to be pleased nor a vengeful judge whose thirst for justice must be sated. He doesn’t sit in heaven with his arms crossed, saying “you haven’t paid your
dues, so I’m not answering your prayers.” On the contrary, God is a loving Father who desires to give good things to his children. We don’t have to beg him. We just have to open our hearts to him, which is a lot harder than it sounds. Fasting helps us to do just that by emptying our hearts of things which distract us from God.
But isn’t there such a thing as intercessory fasting? Yes, absolutely. But when we fast for an intention, it’s not to manipulate God or trick him into giving us what we want. Rather, we unite our hunger to the offering of Jesus on the cross, which has obtained all things for us. Like Christ, we humbly offer ourselves to the Father, trusting in his will for us. We pray with Jesus, “not as I will, but as you will.” The closer we conform to Christ on the cross, the more our prayer becomes his and thus the more we obtain what we desire, because we desire what the Father desires, which is always the best for us.
+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
Comayagua, Honduras
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Friday, February 12, 2016

Why Do We Fast ? (1 of 3)

Every year Lent comes around and we give something up. But why? To lose weight? To test our will power? What’s the real reason that we fast? There are several good ways to answer this question. I’d like to examine Jesus’ responses to the devil during his own fast. Each of his three answers to Satan’s three temptations reveals to us something of the purpose of fasting.

Juan de Flandes, Temptation of Christ (Franciscan Devil??)

“If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word which comes forth from the mouth of God.”

We fast to remind us of our need for God. When we are hungry, we experience our weakness. Deprived of a little food, we start to feel faint and tired, or perhaps grumpy. We start to discover that we’re not all we thought we were. We remember that we are frail creatures dependent on God for everything, even our next breath.

The point of fasting is to bring us from our hunger for food and to a hunger for God’s Word. We experience our need for food, but the Lord reminds us that, as much as we need food, we need the Word of the Father even more. We live not by bread alone, but by every word which comes forth from the mouth of God. Of course, there is only one Word which comes from the mouth of the Father, and that is Jesus, the Word Made Flesh, whom we receive in the Eucharist. May we long for this Bread of Angels more than we long for earthly food!

+ Br. Ignatius Pio Mariae, CFR
Comayagua, Honduras
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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Death as Healing – Lent as Life in Miniature

“Remember that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return!” With these words, accompanied by the sign of ashes marked upon the forehead in the shape of the cross, we begin the holy season of Lent. Inspired by God’s punishment of Adam’s sin, these words are a reminder of death, a prophecy of our certain future. Allow me to play the prophet, in the future you will die! Lent is a time to get ready.

As a newly ordained priest, my first time administering the anointing of the sick reminded me of Ash Wednesday. “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.” With these words, accompanied by the sacramental sign of oil marked upon the forehead in the shape of the cross, we pray for healing. Ash and oil, death and life - the parallels here are profound. 

We can be sick physically and spiritually, in body and in soul. When we heal from bodily infirmity we are only postponing the inevitable, gaining a little more time. I don’t mean this in a cynical sense. Every person Jesus healed did get sick again. Eventually they all would have died. Eventually, even the resuscitated Lazarus would have died again (second time’s a charm). Yet when we heal from spiritual infirmity the effects remain. 

Lent is a period of time when we prepare for Easter. The Resurrection of Jesus has changed everything, including bodily death! For those who die while in God’s good graces, death will be the ultimate healing. Only in the fullness of life in heaven will there be no more death, sickness, sorrow, pain or tears (Isaiah 25). 

Let Lent be life in miniature. If Lent is a period of time when we prepare for Easter, see life as a period of time when we prepare for death, that moment when we will encounter Him who has conquered death and transformed it into the fullness of healing.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR

Yonkers, NY
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Monday, February 8, 2016

From Father Jeremiah

In Letters of Hope and Consolation, Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR simply responds to questions regarding the deepest desire of the human heart which is eternal union with God. His powerful insights serve to motivate people to live a life by seeking the love and promises of the Lord. Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock entered into the Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in 2002 and was ordained a priest in 2011. He has served in various roles of formation and is currently a Spiritual Director residing at the House of Prayer in Monticello, New York.

Find it here:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kick the Sacred Cow!

by Cuyler Black at InheritTheMirth

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Tables

The two tables of religious life: the altar & supper table.
We had a blessed World Day of Consecrated Life! The Year of Consecrated Life ended today.

Prayer as Listening