Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our Foundation Day

April 28, 1987. It was a Tuesday. It was the feastday of Saint Louis de Montfort in the Marian Year. It was the day our little community of rag-tag Franciscans was born. We give thanks to Almighty God for all the ups and downs, all the graces of these last 29 years! Please pray for us and stay tuned for a very important announcement regarding our status in the Church.

- the friars

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


My 10th grade biology teacher, Ms. Gould, also happened to be my high school swim coach. One day in class Ms. Gould explained how each animal has a “nitch”, or environment, in which it thrives. As to elicit an obvious answer she called on me and asked, “Little Br. Séamus, what’s your nitch?” I answered, “The pool!” I’ve always felt at home in the water.

I swam competitively through college and have tallied over 10,000 miles training throughout my years. I had a fair amount of success, competing in the Olympic Trials and ranking top 25 in the country in the two backstroke events. I identified myself as a “swimmer.” To an extent, my success was a way for me to earn my worth as a person. I now know that no amount of success or prestige can ever fill the God-sized hole in my heart - only He can!

I still love to swim and I sometimes struggle with letting go of that identity. Every time I see a beautiful body of water I immediately think of how I might be able to go for a dip. I have a powerful desire to “enter in” to get a greater experience of the beauty. If there are rivers, lakes or oceans, I’m going in! One time this impulse resulted in me having to rescue two friars that followed me into rough surf at the beach on Long Island (but that’s a story for another time).

I real highlight for me happened just after this past Christmas. I was blessed to be able to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with a group that included my parents and another friar. It was a life changing experience to be where it all happened! Our first stop was at the Sea of Galilee. If you’ve never been there, it’s magnificent, much more so than I expected. We stayed in a hotel right on the shore in Tiberius. After the overwhelming experience reading some Scripture passages of Jesus in Galilee, I at once thought to myself, “Wow, Jesus walked on this water…I bet he had a mean butterfly too…I’d love to go for a swim.” Being the middle of winter I thought that the water must be freezing. After dipping my feet in the water at Peter’s Primacy (see Jn 21), hope swelled in my heart…it’s not that cold! Our itinerary was packed so I would only have a small window of time to get wet. My last chance would be that afternoon before it got too dark. Dusk was setting in, the temperature had dropped into the 50’s and “the sea rose because a strong wind was blowing” (Jn 6:18)…not inviting for the casual swimmer, I was on my own for this one. After wading through the rocky coast and rough waves I dove in and swam out about 50 yards. My parents were on the shore watching and snapped a few pictures as I floated around enjoying the moment; they’re used to this kind of behavior. After visiting all the sites, now I felt that my visit to Galilee was complete! It was awesome!

I’ve come to understand that being in the water truly is my nitch and my desire to plunge in every body of water I see actually has Biblical foundations. I don’t have to let go of my identity as a swimmer. Chapter 47 of Ezekiel gives the account of the vision he received of the water flowing from the Temple. He describes how the angel led him through the water that was ankle-deep then knee-deep then it was up to his loins. Finally, it “had become a river that could not be crossed except by swimming” (Ezek 47:5, NAB). One commentator notes that a better translation might be “waters in which you have to swim.” Swimming in the water does not seem to be an option but, more of a command. The same commentator also points out that in Hebrew, “to swim” is the same word as “to prostrate one self,” which is a symbolic act of surrendering completely with your whole being. Ezekiel’s vision taught me that swimming is actually an act of belief, trust; I must swim. Being in the water there is a certain loss of control that one experiences, there is a real surrender that happens. This image that Ezekiel received is a foreshadowing of the waters of Baptism. Christ identified himself, his body, as the new Temple (see Jn 2:19-22). On Calvary water flowed from the pierced side of Jesus on the Cross (Jn 19:31-37.) As I grow in trust of God I plunge deeper into the living waters of baptism and swim away from the shore immersing myself in the new life offered by Christ, surrendering myself to Him. In these waters it is no longer I that live (or I that am in control), but Christ that is living in me (He’s in control.) In these waters I am truly myself; in fact, I am a “swimmer.” Grab you goggles and join me, I’m going in!

+ Br. Séamus Laracy, CFR
Yonkers, NY

We need your help!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Identity Purpose Destiny

The four Gospels present an attractive and multi-faceted image of Jesus. Clearly he knew who he was - true God & true man. Clearly he knew why he was here - his messianic mission of salvation. Clearly he knew where he was going - back to the house of the Father. Jesus knew his identity, his purpose and his destiny.

If we have faith in Jesus, a vibrant personal relationship with him, we will know our identity, purpose and destiny. The gift of our faith helps us to know who we are - beloved children of God the Father. The working of grace helps us to know why we are here - to witness to the truth in love. Our hope is a compass that reminds us of our destiny - to heaven our true home!

There was a time when I did not know Jesus. I did not know who I was, why I was here or where I was going. I was like a little ship that had no sail, no rudder. I was simply afloat on the sea of life being pulled this way and that by the winds and the waves.

Faith is like a sail which catches the wind of God's grace. A rudder is like free-will which gives direction. Together they will bring us home.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Do You Want to be Healed?


Podcast from Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR. What is the point of Jesus' healings in the Gospels and those that occur today? Is it simply to enable us to live 80, 90 or 100 years old? Although a long and healthy life is a blessing there is even more. The healings of Jesus are a window we are called to look through into another world, eternal life, which only Jesus can bring us.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Noli Me Tangere

What is so beautiful about Mary Magdalene’s post-resurrection scene in John is how badly, how terribly badly Mary wants the Lord’s body. The experiences she shared with Christ were so deeply meaningful that though he has died, she has to reverence even his body while it is still there in the tomb. But now he is seen living. So, naturally, she reaches. She grasps for, wants to hold and cling and embrace the one who told her everything she ever did. Mary wants to touch his skin and hear his heart beat. And Jesus says, No. Stop holding onto me, Mary. Do not touch me even. I have yet to ascend. I have still to leave you again. Do not cling to me. Can you imagine? What a terrible thing to it must have been to hear.

It was the same at table with the apostles, their last supper together: For so long a time I have been with you, Jesus says to them, but now I am going to him who sent me, and it is better for you that I go. But why! is the unanimous shout. You have given us everything and now you are to leave? It has been good that we are here together, Lord. Let us build tents; let us remain with you like this forever. And Jesus says, No. Unless I go, the Spirit will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him.

But what is the Spirit? Mary might say. You are the one who gave me living water. Yours is the foot that received my tears, the head on which I lavished my perfume. You took me by the hand and whispered in my ear talitha cumi, and I breathed again with fresh lungs. Yours is the flesh I love. It is in your shadow, Jesus, that I sit with delight. Your love is better to me than wine.

Mary, he responds curtly. I have to go. I have to ascend. The drama is that Mary, whose teacher has just returned from the dead, wants it all to be just as it was. Jesus is telling her that it cannot be so. It is different now. After the resurrection things are different—a better kind of different. Jesus goes to his Father so that he, his Father and his Spirit can come and make their home within Mary, within all the baptized. This is our Faith: that the Holy Trinity lives within us. It is a direct consequence of the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. Imagine if we really believed it! What if we lived standing firm upon that belief?

It is better for Mary after Pentecost. To understate it: Mary will never have to reach for Jesus again because Jesus will always be closer than arm’s length. She will never suffer his absence again, for she will always already be inside his embrace.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Bronx, NY
We need your help!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Podcast - The Purpose of Our Life: To Fall in Love With God


What is the purpose of our life? To become rich, famous or successful in the eyes of the world? Thankfully, God has a greater purpose for our life.

From Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Glory & Cross Connection

Today is 11th anniversary of the death of Pope St. John Paul II. One of my favorite teachings from him is his catechesis on the Virgin Mary being the first person to see the resurrected Jesus (find it here). Here is a powerful passage:

"Indeed, it is legitimate to think that the Mother was probably the first person to whom the risen Jesus appeared. Could not Mary’s absence from the group of women who went to the tomb at dawn (cf. Mk 16:1; Mt 28:1) indicate that she had already met Jesus? This inference would also be confirmed by the fact that the first witnesses of the Resurrection, by Jesus’ will, were the women who had remained faithful at the foot of the Cross and therefore were more steadfast in faith. Indeed, the Risen One entrusts to one of them, Mary Magdalene, the message to be passed on to the Apostles (cf. Jn 20:17-18). Perhaps this fact too allows us to think that Jesus showed himself first to his Mother, who had been the most faithful and had kept her faith intact when put to the test. Lastly, the unique and special character of the Blessed Virgin’s presence at Calvary and her perfect union with the Son in his suffering on the Cross seem to postulate a very particular sharing on her part in the mystery of the Resurrection."

From this insight we can gleam the glory & cross connection: There is a corollary - those who were faithful to Christ at the Cross were the first to witness his glory. The Virgin Mary stands as the ultimate example by her presence at the cross and her absence at the tomb. Because the Apostles did not understand or go to the cross, they were not the first to see the risen Jesus.

Brother and sisters, we can draw the same connection in our own spiritual lives. Because of Jesus, our sufferings united to him will lead us to a share in his glory! This gives us so much hope...

"... and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him" (Romans 8:17).

"But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly" (1 Peter 4:13).

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY
We need your help!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fools Day Caption Contest

April Fools Day Caption Contest!

Follow us on social media & let's hear what you have :-)
"Friar Fun”
"Being Knotty”
"Prankster Padres"