Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out With Surreal In With Real Encounters

Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year is surreal = "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream"

May 2017 bring encounter = "to come upon face-to-face; to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly"

Encounter God and others! My one resolution!! Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

AUTHENTICITY.  As a young man I hungered for it.  I imagine that most men and women hunger for it.  As a young man, I also hungered for hamburgers with authentic, all-beef patties, tomatoes, pickles, onions and a side of fresh cut french fries.  As providence would have it, it was while trying to satiate the latter hungerthat the Lord began feeding my deeper desire for authenticity.  
I was eating with a couple of friends. We had just finished having a young adult meeting at the church and wanted to go grab a bite.  One of the guys, knowing that I was discerning, mentioned this group of Franciscans who were “hardcore.”  They had long beards, wore patched up habits, and slept on the floor.  Immediately I was hooked.  I went home that night and did a web search for the friars.  I found our website, read the constitutions, and looked at the pictures.  I thought to myself, “these guys are the real deal.”  If they look like that, they must be authentic.
I was young and idealistic.  In many ways I still am.  I have, however, in my seven years as a friar, learned a little bit about life in general, and religious life in particular.  I learned that growing a beard, wearing a habit, and sleeping on a mattress on the floor are actually pretty easy.  These external signs are what the Lord used to bring me in the door, but I’d like to share an experience which the Lord used to prepare me to make my final vows—to say, I want to be a part of this group forever.  
I was living in Honduras at the time and six of us friars had just spent some time on a fraternal trip.  I was driving home in one of our dusty old pick-up trucks with two other friars.  The bed of the truck was filled with our bags, supplies for Mass, and a couple of coolers that we used to transport food for our weekend away.  In true Franciscan fashion, we began having car troubles.  An unexplainable ping could be heard under the hood.  We pulled over and began to wait for the cavalry to arrive.  We did not have a cell phone to call the other brothers to let them know what happened, but luckily there was only one road home and our truck had left first.  As five minutes became ten minutes and ten minutes became twenty minutes, the Lord planted a little thought in my head, “Now would be a great time to go to confession.”  So, I asked one of the friar-priests if he would be able to hear my confession.
We dropped down the back hatch of the truck and sat down.  He put on his purple stole, made the sign of the cross, and I went to confession.  After a couple of minutes, he gave me absolution.  As Father began to take his stole off, the other friar-priest came over and said he wanted to go to confession too.  I made my way to the cab of the truck to thank the Lord for the mercy I had received and to beg him to help me amend my life.  Through the rear view mirror, I could see the two priests talking, one as the confessor, one as the penitent.  Finally, I saw the confessor make the sign of the cross.  Then, to my surprise, I saw the friar-confessor pass his stole to the friar-penitent, and the roles were reversed.  The priest who had just heard two confessions, now began going to confession!
At the time, I was a few months away from making my final vows.  It’s a time when a lot of thoughts pass through a friar’s mind.  As I sat in the cab of the truck and watched my brothers confess their sins to one another, I knew I could joyfully call these my brothers for the rest of my life.  At the end of the day, I wasn’t looking to join a bunch of tough guy-super heroes.  I was looking for a fraternity built upon the solid rock of mercy.  May God’s mercy, a mercy which we receive from him and then share graciously with others, be the mark of our authenticity.   

you sent your Son as the savior of the world,
may we receive the grace this day
to humbly ask for and receive your forgiveness
that we may be given the strength to forgive those who have offended us
and so build the universal Christian family
upon the firm foundation of your love and mercy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Great Christmas Homilies


Christmas Midnight Mass homily by Fr. Agustino Torres, CFR
"It was a brutal day on that first Christmas. The drops of sweat from Saint Joseph's brow fed the weary earth that groaned for its redeemer..."


Christmas morning Mass homily by Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR


Google Play


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forgiveness is the garment of our courage

Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

DAD.  That was the name of my first hero.  I guess that’s what I always thought dads were for.  As I grew, so did my “hero-shelf” making room for policemen and firemen and Power Rangers and, of course, Walker Texas Ranger.  As I entered my sports phase, Walker was joined by a different type of Cowboy, Troy Aikman, as well as other great athletes:  Jerry Rice, Steve Young, “Penny” Hardaway, and Chipper Jones.  My sports phase matured into my saints phase.  The autographed memorabilia came down and up went pictures of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.   Greatness has always spoken to me.  It still does.  What I recognize as greatness, however, has changed.

I’d like to share about a more recent addition to my list of heroes.  Her name is Gabriela*.  Her Central American home is constructed of concrete blocks, a cement floor and tin roof.  She is in her early-twenties and is paralyzed from the waist down.  When Gabriela was still a teenager, her ability to walk was taken from her by a bullet.  The bullet was shot out of the gun of a teenage boy trying to rob her.  He ended up not only robbing her of the money in her purse, but the treasures of her heart: the priceless hopes and dreams which are proper to young life.  

Following this tragedy, the friars began visiting Gabriela on a regular basis.  While living in Central America I had this privilege on a number of occasions.  I would bring her the Eucharist and then spend some time chatting with her.  During one of these visits, she began to share with me some of the details of her story.  Speaking of the incident which had happened years ago still had the power to bring tears to her eyes.  The physical and emotional pain was still very real.  She went on to explain that she knew the young man who did this to her and that a wound hurts all the more when it is inflicted by someone you know.  In Gabriela’s life pain, evil, and resentment would not have the last word.  In the midst of all this suffering, she said, with absolute sincerity, that she had forgiven the one who did this to her.   

This is greatness.

Now, no one is going to make Gabriela action figures, or ask for her autograph.  Her name will probably never be listed among the canonized saints.  Yet, she is my hero.  In her courage, she reveals to me the greatness for which I long, the greatness which I cannot achieve on my own, but Christ can work in me.  If Jesus at work in Gabriela can give her the courage and strength to forgive her attacker, certainly he can give me the courage and strength needed to forgive and pray for those who hurt me.     

you who sent your Son to reconcile the world to yourself, strengthen me with your Spirit that as I attempt to pray for those who have hurt me and forgive those who have trespassed against me, my efforts may not be limited to my own strength, but may always be aided by the power of your Spirit at work in me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016



Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Community Office
420 East 156th Street
Bronx, New York  10455

718-402-8255  Fax: 718-402-5556


For Immediate Release
December 8, 2016

Contact: Br. Angelus Montgomery, CFR: 914-965-8143


With gratitude to the Most High God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Francis, and with heartfelt appreciation to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Franciscans of the Renewal rejoice on this day, December 8, 2016, for having received notice from Rome in being granted recognition as a religious institute of pontifical right. The decree was signed by his Eminence, João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and his Archbishop Secretary, José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, on 13 June 2016, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. 

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were founded in 1987, in the Archdiocese of New York, when eight American Capuchins desired a form of Franciscan life dedicated specifically to service of the poor and evangelization. The group was established as an institute of diocesan right by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1999. Currently, there are about 100 perpetually professed members of the institute serving in 10 dioceses and archdioceses, in six countries, committed to the mission of serving the poor and most vulnerable, and passionately preaching the Gospel in the New Evangelization.

The Holy See describes the Institute’s charism: “After the manner of St. Francis of Assisi, the friars seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, as a prophetic witness that life is a pilgrimage to the Father, of faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor, made possible by the Holy Spirit. They participate in Christ’s renewal of all things through their prayer, fraternal life, service of the poor, and evangelization, as a complement to the work of those whose mission is to serve parochially.”

Fr. John Paul Ouellette, the General Servant (superior), expressed his thoughts: “After having been nurtured so faithfully by the Archdiocese of New York throughout these years, most recently in the person of His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and now receiving this confirmation of our charism of renewal from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we now commit ourselves ever more urgently and zealously to the living out of our consecrated life, in faithful prayer, devoted fraternity, and service to the most poor and needy among us. Please pray with us in praise and gratitude to God, on this special occasion, for his continued blessings on our Community and His Church.”


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lost Because You Were Hiding

Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. Will the real Santa Claus please stand up? An Advent reflection on what we do when God comes. Like Adam and Eve will we hide? Sin is what makes us lost, mercy is what makes us found. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes in sheep's clothing as the Lamb of God. He invites us formerly lost sheep to join in the search for the lost ones.


Google Play