Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Tomb as Womb

The Resurrection

In light of Easter Sunday, the tomb of Holy Saturday stands revealed as a womb. For, from between the pallid, indolent thighs of Death, the Resurrection is born. A new flesh is birthed into the world. Jesus, in rising from the dead, has given us de facto proof that death is nothing like an end at all—it is more akin to the transition of fetus to infant. Christ, unlike Lazarus even, began living a new kind of existence after his death. It is this new existence that is offered for us to taste now, and in which later, after our own passing, we are invited to lavishly indulge.

Though, please don’t misunderstand. There is continuity. Jesus was recognizable (when he wanted to be); he had his body still with its wounds—only it was all different somehow. Somehow, it wasn’t quite the same, was it?

It is beyond our current understanding, and I think that’s okay. Mysteries like the Resurrection are to be revered and courted not straight-jacketed, not beaten with a hose.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Bronx, NY
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Friday, March 25, 2016

Where Would We Be?

Where would we be without this week?
Indeed, these days of darkness, denial, deceit and death?

Where would we be without this more than tragic end to a more than beautiful life? This week when we remember innocence repaid with insolence, purity repaid by impunity, and angelic kindness repaid by demonic cruelty?

Where would we be without the sad supper, the gloomy garden, the blood soaked sweat, the slumber of fair-weather friends, the betraying kiss, the rude arrest, the burning ropes, and fading uproar and final disappearance into the dark?  
Where would we be without the mock trial, the kicking, the shouting, and the slapping; the stench of a damp dungeon, the lashes of lead tipped leather, the screaming pain of thorns piercing tender scalp, and noble chiseled features of a handsome man swollen and soaked with blood, sweat, and saliva?
Where would we be without the raw rudeness and obscene baseness – the barking of soldiers, the laughter of elders, the cries of a crowd - the prodding, poking, pulling, pushing, kicking, stripping, stretching, pounding, piercing, arching; the pain, the pain, the pain?

Where would we be if the Innocent One was rewarded with due honor and the blessings of a lone, well-lived life? What if the God-Man lived to be ninety, his hair smooth and silver, and his ice-eyes clear as crystal?  Instead of rejection he was readily esteemed by all, and instead of a rough blood soaked cross he died in a soft sweet-scented bed. Instead of cynical shouts his final hours were ushered in with heartfelt words and stifled sobs.   

How big the Bible would be! The Gospels would not be simple testimonies but tomes filled with so many the stories! After so many years , no doubt the entire world would have heard, and told, and retold his tales, recited his rhymes, recounted his riddles, and who knows, perhaps even sang his songs – each sentence soaked with wisdom and insight from another world.

How many people would have been fed and cured and converted! How many would be taught by prayers and parables more sublime than the Our Father and the lost son! How many kingdoms would have been conquered not by sword and fire but by the lips and lives of countless disciples spread throughout the world!

Yes, where would we be without this week?
Indeed, a week which ends in victory but only because it is week of defeat.

It is a week of injustice, of ingratitude, of betrayal and abandonment. It is a week where justice is turned upside-down and inside out. Where fear and suspicion and vengeance have there way and the pure and innocent are punished. A week when the powerful have their say and their way, while the poor cling to the end of a very long golden stick.

Where would we be without this week? Here’s a question answered with one word: “Alone”.  All of us would be left alone. Turning here and there, looking up and inside, inside and out, none of us would find God - the only One who could help us; not to escape our pain or problems but endure them. Only His hands can turn a hunk of black coal into a huge glistening diamond.  

If God didn’t go through this week – indeed, this life - where would we go for solace and hope? And what about those who lives are playing out the Passion of the Christ? Of whom do I speak? The abandoned orphan, the rejected spouse, the exile fleeing their war-weary village, the completely innocent accused and publicly shamed, the abused – physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, economically – who suffer injustice in silence, the elderly scammed of their savings, the imprisoned punished for the crime of following their conscience, the enslaved and sold for the pleasure of wicked and wealthy men,  those berated, belittled, and beheaded for their faith, the immigrant maligned for seeking a better life, the cancer victim driving home from the doctor’s with a numbing prognosis, the unexpected and unwanted and Down syndrome child condemned to death before birth.

Where would we – would these - be without this week? Yes. All of us would not feel – but be – alone and abandoned not only by man, but by God.

So here we are in a week we call holy. It is a one week which be speaks of tragedy but becomes a triumph. The One who claimed to come from above did not leave us to bear life’s pain without a final purpose. In His life He embraced this world’s countless and endless stories of betrayal, deceit and defeat. While he left us an example of how to go through suffering, he did not leave us alone, for he is with us. “I will be with You always”, the Lord tells us,  “to the end”.

For all those who not only believe in Him, but live in Him, every sad story – however long and tragic – has its last page, and every painful life takes its final breath. While the pure of heart may suffer hell here, they will enjoy haven forever. And those who attempt to make their heaven here will be deprived of it in eternity.

This is why we call this “Good Friday” because this day tells us that even in our darkest moments the Light of the world is with us. We are not alone. Because he walked our pain-filled path, we can walk it, because we do not walk alone.

Thank You, Lord, for this wonderful week. Where would we be without it?

+ Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR
Good Friday, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Day Freedom was Fulfilled

The Last Supper is the lens through which we interpret the death and resurrection of Jesus. Holy Thursday anticipates, encapsulates and interprets Good Friday & Easter Sunday. What Jesus did tonight is the key to understanding the core of his saving sacrifice.

The Last Supper shows us that Jesus freely offered himself in love. "The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just" (CCC 1733). It was on Holy Thursday that Jesus fully modeled the purpose of freedom. He chose to offer himself in the service of love. You cannot understand the death and resurrection of Jesus apart from the Last Supper.

What does this mean for us? When we go to Mass, we receive Him in Holy Communion, we are taken up into his saving sacrifice. We, our lives, become "eucharistized". We are nourished and empowered to live that same loving freedom in the day-to-day reality of our lives. This is precisely what Saint Pope John Paul II taught: "The Church draws her life from the Eucharist" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 1). The Mass communicates the grace of Jesus to every believer. Now we can imitate the freedom of Jesus. Lives lived in loving sacrifice are the fulfillment of freedom, the very purpose for which God gave us freedom. Today is the day freedom was fulfilled!

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Day Freedom Failed

Today is "Spy Wednesday", the day we remember Judas the betrayer. His story is such a significant lesson for us all. It is scary how much God respects the freedom He gave us. We are free - now what? God gave us freedom to do not what we want, rather to do what we ought. Freedom is fulfilled in love, in doing what is good. Freedom is failed when we sin, in doing what is bad.

We know that the Lord never gives up on anyone. Like a GPS, God immediately starts recalculating at our every wrong turn. Up to the moment of death the offer of Divine Mercy is extended. This is the best way to understand what Jesus did at the last supper. The warning of betrayal and offering of the morsel was an invitation to freedom and repentance. "To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of 'predestination', he includes in it each person's free response to his grace ... For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness" (CCC #600). Judas was not forced into betrayal, he was free.

Might I suggest that there is a little bit of Judas in us all? Every sin is a betrayal, some bigger than others. Invited to love and goodness, we sometime miss the mark. There is a connection between the offered morsel and the kiss of Judas. If only that kiss meant what a kiss is suppose to mean! Today is a good day to pray for all those, especially among us clergy, who have betrayed Christ, betrayed the gift of freedom.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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Monday, March 21, 2016

God's Mercy


Podcast audio talk by Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR

"God's Mercy"

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Modern Snakes

The Internet cable reminds me of a snake, Bible study on Adam & Eve? #irony
Saint Patrick drive away our modern snakes!

Brother John-Mary of the @cfr_franciscans leads the second-to-last session of his Bible study for our fellowship, on the topic of evangelization. #Acts4

Monday, March 14, 2016

What Do You Seek? Podcast


Audio talk from Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR, Reflections on the questions of Jesus: What do you seek?

Thursday, March 10, 2016


PLEASE PRAY TODAY for the seminarians in 3rd theology at St. Joseph Seminary, Dunwoodie. Today is the comprehensive exam! 6 of our Friars are in the group, Deacons to be.

Monday, March 7, 2016





Renewal in Motion



The Inspiration



Child 31



Mary's Meals



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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lent is a time for forming good habits

March is dedicated to Saint Joseph. Here is Br. Kolbe making a Franciscan habit for a brother (you can't buy the robes at Old Navy)!