Thursday, December 28, 2017

We Live in a Castle - The Two Brothers

We Live in a Castle – The Two Brothers PDF (click here)


WE LIVE IN A CASTLE: Stories, allegories, and commentaries about the most wonderful religion in the world. Essays about the Church by Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR. “Blue collar ecclesiology” or “kitchen table catechesis” is how the author describes his methodology in presenting some fresh ideas about what is considered to many, a very stale subject. The title of Father Glenn’s first book, We Live in a Castle, is taken from one of twelve stories which, like spotlights, illumine one subject at different angles. The subject of the book? The Church. The author describes his work as “friendly yet provocative” as he challenges the reader to dig into history and discover a valuable treasure; which he calls “the most wonderful religion in the world.” Father Glenn utilizes creative stories - both allegorical and personal – each with an introduction and commentary. Questions are also provided for personal reflection and group discussion. No doubt, this book is most especially suited for teachers and students participating in some form of catechesis, especially those who are considering or preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

For sincere questions contact:
Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR Saint Joseph Friary 523 W 142 St New York, NY 10701 (no emails or calls please)



Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ordination Homily

The Homily of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at the Ordination Mass of Fr. Andrew Apostoli
Given at St. Francis de Sales Church in Geneva, New York on March 16, 1967

 Father Andrew, brother priests, religious, parents, relatives, friends of the newly ordained, and all beloved in Christ! One of the great joys of being a bishop is the power of generation! It is given to a bishop to have "sons in Christ" through the power of Ordination...to prolong into another generation sons upon whom he has given the august power of the priesthood!

Father Andrew, this is an eternal priesthood you have received. It is eternal because you are in Christ; that's the reason for its eternity. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes a contrast between the priesthood of Aaron, or the priesthood of Levi, and the priesthood of Christ. It says that the priesthood of Levi was carnal and therefore ended. Ours is spiritual. We become one in Christ! And because Christ is eternal, we have an eternal priesthood!

The powers that are so simply given in a few words are staggering! One of the powers, for example, is to go to the hill of Calvary and take up the cross and—(Bishop Sheen knocks on the pulpit)—plant it down in Geneva, in the Capuchin monastery, in Asia, Africa, or in any city or village. This is the power of offering Mass! It is the prolongation in space and in time of the redemptive work of our Lord. What our Lord did on Calvary, in a certain sense, it was localized. What we do by the Mass, through it, is to apply it all over the world. Our Lord wrote the first note in this melody of Redemption. And by the Mass, we add our notes to it, and this is the harmony of the People of God!

Then...the power to forgive sins! You will never forget your first absolution! You will never forget your first Mass! It may manifest some power to send a man to the moon, but, what is that in comparison to sending sins into nothingness?! A raised hand and a voice: "Your sins are forgiven." And quite even apart from our consciousness of that power, the people themselves feel it and know it when they have received absolution.

Now, may you always, my dear Fr. Andrew, be a good priest! God knows we need it today! Our image is getting a bit blurred. Boys do not want to be priests. Are we sufficiently different from the world that they should want to do what we do? If there is any key to the salvation of the world today, and to the renovation of the Church, it is in the renewal of the priesthood. "The sheep are like the shepherds are" as the Old Testament prophet said: "As the priest, so the people!"

There is a gradual decline of morals and spirituality in the world...a decline even of reverence for that to which your priesthood, on which it centers, namely, the Eucharist! And whenever there begins to be a decline of spirituality in the Church, it is first felt in devotion to the Eucharist. That is where Judas failed, long before he became avaricious in the Gospel. He failed to center his life in the Eucharist. Our Lord lost the masses that day, our Lord lost some of His disciples, and our Lord lost Judas that day. Avarice and other sins follow; they are not always the beginning.

And so, Fr. Andrew, with all of the ardor of my soul, I beg you to continue this great spiritual life that has already been initiated in you by being a Capuchin. You have been trained...more disciplined than the rest of us. It is not only by the Spirit of Christ, but by the great example of Francis who lived that life...in great simplicity.

The emotional thrill of the first Mass will leave, but not the love of being a priest; that grows as the years go on! You are the first priest, I think, that I have ordained since the Council. You are, definitely! I have consecrated about three times as many bishops as I have ordained priests. And so, since you are the first priest that has dropped from my hands since the Council, may you begin to be, with me, the beginning of a sanctified priesthood! You have it already. And sanctification is like health: when we have it, it is easy to keep; when we lose it, it is hard to get back...doubly hard! You are a holy man. You will be a holy priest. And the world will be better because of this day. And because I bow down in reverence to your own personal holiness and to the special kind of holiness which the Capuchins instill in you, I ask you now to come to the center of the altar and give me your, blessing!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Livestream And A Message From The Family

Please help pass the word that the services for Fr. Andrew will be live streamed here: 
– you will be able to watch even if you don't have a facebook account.
Tues. 12/19 @ 6: 30 PM (EST)

Wed. 12/20 @ 10 AM (EST)

From Father's brother Michael Apostoli:
The family of Father Andrew Apostoli wishes to express its gratitude to all who offered their prayers and encouragement during this difficult time. As challenging as recent days have been for his family our spirits were lifted by your outpouring of love and concern. Your response is truly inspiring.
We would also like to thank the Community of the Franciscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal for their beautiful demonstration of hospitality and support. The Friars and Sisters cared for and watched out for Fr. Andrew right up until the time of his passing. We should all be so fortunate to have such love and care at the hour of our passing.
Fr. Andrew was also helped along the way by the love and care of the Little Sisters of the Poor at the St. Jean Jugan Residence in the Bronx. These Sisters lovingly provided him with comfort and care for a long period before he returned to the Friary where he completed his journey home to God.
Thank you to all and so many more that we haven’t met who helped along the way.

Friday, December 15, 2017

My Time With Father Andrew

Fr. Andrew Apostoli died on December 13, 2017 after losing a painful fight with cancer. When I heard that Fr. Andrew was dying, the first thing I thought was, “I want to be there.” Somewhat surprised, I paused for a moment to reconsider. “Yes,” I said to myself, “I need to be there.”

Fr. Andrew Apostoli is known to the world as an author, retreat master, spiritual director, and teacher. To me Fr. Andrew is all of those things, but more importantly, he is a humble, prayerful, and joyful Franciscan priest. I am not one of his adoring fans who have read all of his books and watched all of his programs. Nor would I even be considered a close friend. I am simply one of his brothers, who had the privilege of living with him for four years, while I was studying for the priesthood.

After a long day of classes at the seminary, I would see Fr. Andrew arrive in chapel for Holy Hour and think, “now here is a man who lives what I am studying.” Always lowly and unassuming, he dipped his hand in the holy water font and made a reverent sign of the cross. As he entered the chapel he genuflected for a few seconds, head down and lips uttering some words of adoration, before taking his seat in the back of the chapel.

He often called Holy Hour his “Hour of Power.” Since that time before Jesus in the Eucharist was so special, he would often stand during Holy Hour because he didn’t want to fall asleep and “miss” this intimate moment. When I looked back, I would see him leaning against the wall, head down, rosary glued to his fingers, while fighting to stay awake. He was tired of course, because he had spent the whole day, and often late into the night, ministering to others, while always ignoring his own personal needs.

In mid-November the doctors told us that Fr. Andrew had stage four cancer and his life expectancy was three months. Once he received this diagnosis he moved out of the nursing home in the Bronx run by the Little Sisters of the Poor and came back to spend his last weeks at St. Leopold Friary in Yonkers, NY.

I was asked, along with many other friars, to take turns spending 24-hour shifts with Fr. Andrew. The reason for this is simple: Death is the ultimate dark night. No matter how much faith one has, how much one has prayed, or how much theology one has studied, dying, especially with something as cruel as cancer, can be a horrifying experience of utter darkness. Nobody, even the holiest among us, is exempt from such trials.

Even though each one of us dies alone, having somebody with you to attend to your physical needs and pray with you is a tremendous gift. It was the least I could do, I thought, for a man who before he preached, lived every word that he spoke. Perhaps this is why I felt like I needed to be there: it was my way of saying thank you to a man who, though different from me in many ways, lived life so beautifully.

When I was on duty with Fr. Andrew the responsibilities were twofold. Firstly, there were his personal needs. He needed help with everything from food, clothes, to sleeping. Secondly, and most importantly, were his emotional and spiritual needs. Oftentimes he would wake up in the middle of the night and be confused or anxious about where he was or what he needed to do that day. I would just sit with him in his room and remind him where he was and console him with the fact that he was not late for anything.

One afternoon after praying the rosary Fr. Andrew looked at me serenely and said, “Father, I think I’m dying, can you give me last rites.” I called a few of the brothers to join me, said the prayers, and anointed him. With a look of relief he took my hands and kissed them, reverencing not me of course, but Jesus the High Priest, whom Fr. Andrew loved his whole life.

+ Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rest in Peace

It is with a profound joy mixed with sadness that we announce the passing of our dear founder and spiritual father. Father Andrew Joseph Apostoli, CFR, peacefully breathed his last at 9:26 AM, on Wednesday, December 13, 2017. He was surrounded by the love and prayers of his brothers.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Keep Praying

Fr. Andrew Health Update (8:30 PM) December 10, 2017

Thank you for all of the prayers, keep them going! Father is still with us awaiting the arrival of the Lord who is near.

Today's Evening Prayer antiphon:

The Lord will come; he is true to his word.
If he seems to delay, keep watch for him,
he will surely come, alleluia.

The first reading at Mass (Isaiah 40) and Midday Prayer (Psalm 23) had a shepherd theme today. Photo from the archives:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Father Andrew Apostoli

Fr. Andrew Health Update (PM) December 7, 2017

Father is still with us. As the night concluded we gathered around his bed and sang this traditional hymn to Mother Mary. Please join us in praying for Father Andrew during this important time:

Ultima in mortis hora
Filium pro nobis ora
Bonam mortem impetra
Virgo, Mater Domina
In our last and needful hour,
Come and aid us with thy power,
Happy death for us obtain,
Virgin Mary, fairest Queen

from EWTN:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Fr. Andrew Health Update

Fr. Andrew Health Update - December 5, 2017

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Apostoli family continue to be grateful for the outpouring of support and prayers for Fr. Andrew over the past month as he has entered into the final stages of a battle with cancer, which has caused a very serious decline in his health. In this final stage of Fr. Andrew’s life he continues to receive great care from healthcare professionals and friars who are always at his side. During these final days the Apostoli family and the CFR community ask for continued prayers and also privacy for Fr. Andrew as it has become evident that he can no longer receive public visitors or phone calls at this time.

For accurate and timely updates on Fr. Andrew’s health, please continue to check www.franciscanfriars.com/health-update-fr-andrew-apostoli and the CFR social media pages. As we begin this time of Advent, we have grateful hearts for these final days we have been given with Fr. Andrew as he awaits the arrival of the Lord. Come Lord Jesus!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Becoming Present

At times my mind is a prison cell. No people, no light and no fresh air. Inside these walls the future becomes a fairytale, while the past suffocates the present. I replay my crime over and over again. Ironically, this prison sentence had no jury, judge or verdict. I placed myself there.

My crime could be reduced to one word: fantasy. I contemplate all the things that I, or others, could have done, should have done, did or didn’t do in my life. I imagine my life in a different culture or a different time. It is the ultimate escape.

At other times my mind is a tropical island filled with people, light and fresh air. This island has no past or future. All the delights, affirmations, and opportunities I think I have missed from my life are here in abundance, free of charge, with no end in sight.

My reason for being on this island could be reduced to one word: fantasy. Bored with the status quo, impatient with the world and convinced that I was somehow different from others, I venture out to this island as quickly as possible. After only a few moments of swimming in its clear water, eating its delicious fruit and observing its exotic animals, all my problems disappear. It is the ultimate escape.

My years as a priest, spiritual director and confessor have confirmed for me an important fact about humanity: we spend little time in reality. The reason, I believe, is because we are blind and unable to see the utter beauty, depth and mystery of the present moment. We are, for the most part, futuristic people, spending our lives pursuing, anticipating, and defending ourselves against things to come, most of which never happen.

People often ask me, “How can I grow in the spiritual life?” What they are really asking is: how they can experience more deeply the presence of God in their life. My answer is always the same: learn to live in the present moment. The reason I say this, of course, is because the present moment is where we find God.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus reveals his divinity in the most human moments. Martha and Mary are mourning their brother Lazarus when Jesus raises him from the dead (John 11:17-44). He performs his first miracle at the wedding of friends in Cana (John 2:1-10). Jesus calls Levi, a tax collector, in the middle of a workday (Luke 5:27-29). 

These Gospel narratives, and many others, show Jesus entering the present moment to be with us. We don’t have to manipulate, organize, or control reality for God to be present. He already is. The problem is, we are not.

A few months ago I made a radical decision in my life: I was going to try to do only one thing at a time. If I was cooking, I was just going to cook. If I was praying, I was just going to pray. If I was driving, I was just going to drive. What else could you do, one might ask, while you are cooking, driving or praying? The answer: a million things. How easy it is to talk on the phone, text a friend, listen to music, organize the next month, recall some memory, etc. when we are engaged in the ordinary activities of daily life.

Since I began this experiment, God has taught me an invaluable lesson: I don’t need more time, talent or technology to live a meaningful life. I already have it. Whether it is the traffic jam I am in, the people I live with, or the crowds that I am preaching to, each one of these moments reveals God’s love for me. When I can learn to pay attention to life as it really is and reject the temptation to escape reality through various daydreams and fantasies, I will experience, in a subtle and mysterious way, the presence of God in each moment.

Multi-tasking, despite popular opinion, is not a gift. Occasionally, it is necessary, but as a way of life it reinforces our initial fear that our lives are incomplete and that we are alone. Contrary to this attitude, Jesus tells us, “Do not be anxious about your life…if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith” (Matthew 6:25:30).

The present moment, I am learning, is the only place where this abandonment can occur. It is neither a prison cell nor a tropical island. It is enough, and it is exactly what we need.

+ Fr. Jeremiah, CFR

Monday, November 13, 2017

Heroic Love

My mother spent the last 15 years of her life in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s. I would be a liar if I said that her disease had not caused my family any suffering or that we accepted it perfectly as part of God’s mysterious will. The reality is, we all suffered and we all questioned how God could allow this to happen to somebody each one of us desperately needed.

An unfortunate consequence of Alzheimer’s is that a person’s brain actually shrinks. As the years went by, my mother’s mental state became similar to that of a child. The hard-working, intelligent, and nurturing woman I knew as a boy had disappeared. Physically she looked the same, but when I looked into her eyes I saw a little girl who appeared lost and was trying to find her way home.

When I arrived at the nursing home for a visit all she talked about was going outside to smoke a cigarette. As soon as we were outside, all she talked about was going back inside and vice versa for the whole duration of the visit, which for me never exceeded three hours, but for my father, was often all afternoon. After a few months I gave up hope of hearing her say she was glad to see me, because, I realized, my mother was no longer present.

On certain days she would yell and curse and call the nurses names. In the beginning they would laugh and approach her with a friendly smile, but as the months dragged on and the insults continued they became tired, annoyed, and avoided her as best they could. After only a month or two of working at the nursing home, a new employee quickly learned that my mother was considered one of the “difficult” patients.

Despite all of this, my father continued to visit her every day. He walked into her room, gave her a kiss and brought her outside in her wheelchair to smoke. Once outside he would face the same barrage of questions he answered the day before. “How long have we been married?” “Is Fr. Jeremiah married?” “How much money did I make last year?” “When are they going to feed me?” “What is Tammy’s husband’s name again?” After listening to these questions for hours my father would wheel her back inside her room, kiss her again, and return to his home, alone.

Occasionally, my father got mad and expressed his frustration in words that would have been better left unspoken. These words, I believe, came from a place of mourning and frustration, as he was forced to watch the woman he loved deteriorate in front of him and not be able to do anything about it. Not only had my mother become helpless because of her disease but also now my father was experiencing his own poverty, as he stood before my mom helpless.

Thirty years ago my father promised to love my mother “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, and to love and cherish her until death do us part.” Could he ever have imagined what those vows would ask of him? Would he still have made them knowing what he knows now? Rather than spending his days entertaining abstract questions my father did something I consider heroic: he was obedient to reality. By choosing to live in reality and not escape through endless speculations of “what if,” “why me”, etc. he proved his love for his wife.

Watching my father through all of this revealed to me an essential component of love: it is utterly selfless. So often we reduce love to a feeling or an experience of pleasure, yet St. Paul reminds us “love does not insist on its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5). When my father would slip and allow his frustrations to control his actions he would begin again the next day where he left off, at my mother’s side.

If I or anybody else would ever tell my dad that his fidelity to his wife was heroic he would probably look at you as if you were speaking a foreign language. “It’s what love does,” he would probably say. “I had no other choice.” The reality is, he did have a choice. He could have chosen one of many escape paths: alcohol, drugs, work, Internet, food, sports, money, etc., all of which would have provided him with a well-deserved distraction for a few moments. Despite the allure they may have possessed, my father chose none of them.
At my mother’s funeral I read these words of Jesus in the Gospel: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). When I heard those words at Mass a deep sense of peace and gratitude came over me. I was peaceful because I believed in the depths of my heart that Jesus’ love, selfless and sacrificial, conquered death. I was grateful because it was my father who showed me what this looked like.

+ Fr. Jeremiah, CFR

Friday, November 10, 2017

Health update - Fr. Andrew Apostoli

My dear friends in Christ,

It saddens me to announce that due to a recent decline in my health, I am not longer able to keep a public schedule at this time. Unfortunately, talks and retreats that are currently scheduled must now be canceled. Please email: franciscanfriarsnyc@gmail.com with any questions. I continue to be grateful for all the prayers and support and certainly extend my prayers and blessings to you all.

 May Christ and His Holy Mother Bless you!

 – Fr. Andrew

Thursday, November 2, 2017


I was 17 years old when I first encountered death.  My grandmother died one night peacefully in her sleep at the age of 84 with a set of rosary beads next to her bed, which she most likely prayed before slipping away into eternity.  A simple woman, she lived on a farm her entire life.  She bore three children, including my mother, and had spent her whole life working hard, going to church, and seeking to unite a family that, as time went on, appeared prone to division. 

That morning my sister and I had gone to school like we did every morning.   My mother walked across the street to my grandmother’s farm to make sure she had made it downstairs for breakfast.  Even though my grandmother was declining both physically and mentally, she had lost none of her willpower.  

When my mother walked into her house that morning, she immediately knew that something was wrong.  My grandmother was not downstairs sitting in her rocking chair eating her breakfast as usual, and there was no sound of her anywhere throughout the house.  My mother imagined the worst, that she had fallen down the stairs or in the bathroom and was lying unconscious.  But my mom did not find her by the stairs or in the bathroom.  She finally looked in her room and there was my grandmother, lying on her back, hands folded, appearing to be in a very deep sleep.  In fact, my mother thought that she was still sleeping until she moved closer and realized that she was not breathing.  My grandmother had died during the night.  

We buried her a few days later at Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Bally, Pennsylvania, where she spent her entire life as a parishioner.  I can’t remember what the priest said during the homily, and I can’t remember if anybody in my family cried during the Mass.  All I can remember is looking at the stained glass windows in the church that depicted moments in the life of Christ.  There were windows of his Passion, from his betrayal, his scourging, and his carrying the cross to his crucifixition.  The last window showed the empty tomb, filled with rays of light shining from every direction.  

Before I knew it I snapped out of my daydreaming because the Mass had finished, and the time had come to take my grandmother to the cemetery.  The ceremony was brief, probably only 10 minutes or so and soon after people began to leave because it started to rain.  Suddenly, at this moment, kneeling on the frozen December ground before my grandmother’s casket, it hit me.  My grandmother was dead.  I would never see her again.  “Never see her again,” I thought.  What did those words mean?  Why did they sound so violent to my ears?

As I knelt there on the ground, tears began to fall from my eyes.  

“Is this it?  This must be a sick joke,” I thought.  “Grandma,” I cried out, “Grandma!”  There was no response.  Everything was mocking me:  the hard ground, the casket staring me in the face, and the rain falling from the sky.  I wanted to run away from this dismal place.  But where could I go?  I wanted to see my grandmother again and tell her that I love her.  But I couldn’t.  She was gone.  

I knelt there for a long time until everything became silent.  The ground, the casket, even the rain stopped, leaving a calm and quiet presence in the air around me.  I was not accustomed to such silence, and the weight of it quickly overwhelmed me.  I did not address God or even try to speak to him.  Kneeling before my grandmother’s casket, I was speechless before this incredible mystery while questions rattled through my brain: What is the purpose of life?  Why is there suffering?  What is death?  Where do people go when they die?

All of sudden I felt as if I had woken up from a dream.  These questions opened my eyes to something beyond myself.  I was immediately filled with a sense that life has a purpose.  My tears ceased while the sadness in my heart began to dissipate.  I looked up at her casket again and knew that somehow and in some way my grandmother was alive.  A gentle smile began to cover my face.  I stood there for a few more minutes trying to understand this sudden change that had occurred in me.  It was pointless; my mind had failed me.  

I kissed her casket a final time and walked with my parents to the car.  As we drove away from the cemetery I didn’t feel the need to look back at her grave.  I knew, in some mysterious way, that she wasn’t there.  I pulled out her rosary beads from my pocket and squeezed them in my hand.  A new set of tears began to form, but this time they were tears of joy.

+ Fr. Jeremiah, CFR