Tuesday, April 27, 2010

From tears to silence

Tonight we have our monthly SFO meeting and this month I'm in charge of the Ongoing Formation part of it. All of us members are taking turns giving the presentation and I volunteered for this month to get it out of the way. I like it when other people do the presentation but I'm not fond of doing it myself, even though as Grand Knight I do a lot more talking before groups than I use to. Still not my cup of tea, though. It should last all of 5 minutes, with another 5 for question and answer. This should be the easy part of the meeting.
We have about 30 members professed, fairly large for such a small parish, and my fraternal Brothers and Sisters are really wonderful people, very spiritual. One or two of the women, though, and I shouldn't even mention this but it is true, well, we don't see eye to eye on some issues. There, I'll just leave it at that. I've seen and heard things that make me uneasy, but I'm always trying not to judge. Anytime I'm uttering a disparaging word about a brother or sister (meaning anyone!) I'm inflecting harm to Jesus. Think about that, for a minute. So here's hoping everything will go smooth. Our parish is getting a new pastor in a couple of months, Father R. moving down to Baltimore and a Friar is coming up here to take over, so I don't think any really new business will occur until he gets here. Anyone who has read my blog lately knows how I feel about the way things are going in our Church (all the reverence rants) and I'm hoping that when the new pastor arrives and settles in it won't be business as usual. But I'm afraid it will be.
Keep me in your prayers tonight, anything can happen when I have to public speak. From tears to silence, here I come!

'Nuff said.

St. Louis Mary de Montfort (1673-1716) Pray for us.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Lately H and I have been attending The Latin Mass at a nearby church. The priest, Father D, does a great job, as do the deacons and the alter servers. I enjoy the L.M., as does H, but I also still enjoy the 'regular Mass'. This weekend though, the parish that has the LM the hosted a Traditional Catholic Conference. Vendors were there, plus speakers, confession and ending with a Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Sad to say, H and I had a wedding to go to in Latham, NY which prevented us from only seeing 45 min. of the first speaker, a late ordained priest (38 years old) from Brazil now living and preaching in Wisconsin. Only a priest for two years, he made more sense to me in 45 minutes than a lot of people (religious and non-religious alike) have made to me in 45 years. I have been very privileged that God has put me in contact with so many spiritual people just in the last 5 years of my life; and many of them have made deep and lasting impressions on me. But lately I've been exposed to many lay and religious who are either going back to the more traditional ways or have never left them. The Latin Mass is only the tip of the iceberg. I was 5 or 6 when the L.M. vanished from our church back in the early 1960's, I remember it but then again I don't. It's all so new, but it's been around forever. The reverence that the old ways bring feels very natural to me. And the more I read and hear about the changes brought about by Vatican II the more I'm filled with, I don't know, uneasiness?
I'm a professed Secular Franciscan, and that will never change. What may change or should I say is changing is the way I look at our Holy Church. I will still follow our Holy Father, but I will ask questions. Asking questions is not doubting, which is what I hope will never happen. I'm not going to make this into a spiritual crises, but I do know that something is at work here, and I don't think it's you know who. My wife Helen feels much more stronger about this than I do, but in her prayers she has heard that somehow we (those of us who believe in the old ways) are going to have some type of influence on members of the church where we are members, where I'm the Grand Knight this year, where our Fraternity of Secular Franciscans are. I love our parish, but the lack of reverence that I see is pushing me away. When at the ending of the last organ note at the end of any Mass the congregation bursts into thunderous talking and laughing, with no consideration of those parishioners who are trying to have a bit of quiet time after mass, and worse yet, no consideration of Our Lord in the Tabernacle, where all three priests let this happen, how can I justify any of that in my mind? I don't know where this new (or is it old?) road will lead me, but I do know that the Holy Spirit is at work again. What is in the Heart of Our Lord Jesus, who is our King and High Priest? How does He feel about the path His church has gone in the last 50 years? I don't know and will never know, as long as I'm here on earth. For my own part I can only submit my prayers in all humbleness and humility and hope that I find my way to the Truth.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

...total plan of God...

As the Blessed Virgin Mother speaks, from 'Medjugorje Day by Day' -

Heed the call to fasting because by fasting you will
ensure that the total plan of God here in Medjugorje
will be fulfilled. This will give me great joy.

As you know, Helen and I fast every Wednesday and Friday, on bread and water. Not bread and water in the strictest sense, but for me modified. The water is also coffee, and the bread (toast) will have Smart Balance and sometimes peanut butter. At night the bread can become pizza dough with a little cheese on it. Helen is much stronger, more focused than I am. I am a worm! I do it, but I struggle. It is a hard, physical thing that affects your body. You know about it. You can feel it, and for me, by the end of the day, I'm uncomfortable. All that said, on another level, apart from the physical is the mental, and that is where the real battle is waged, on so so many levels. Satan attacks us constantly, although some of us don't even know it. For those who have heeded the call from Mary, Our Mother, to fast, pray and say the Rosary the presence of the evil one is very real. For most, just a subtle touch from him is enough to turn a good person from a worthy life to one of faded light, which the rejection of God's word is. Pornography, lust, abortion, drugs, lying, the world around us is rampant with these and more vices, and satan rules them all. Jesus defeated satan at His Resurrection, but the evil one still prowls here. And for those who walk the Narrow Road his lies and deceptions ring loud in our ears every day. We hear and feel him, for he wants us not to listen to Her, the one who gave birth to the Son of God. She who was sent back to us by God to awaken the ones who still sleep, who have not responded to God's Word, which is Jesus Christ. That's why we must ignore satan, ignore the world if we have to, walk with head lowered if we must, and believe in the total plan of God, that is taking place not just in Medjugorje but around the world. If Our Lady calls us to fast then we must, even if we don't understand why. Fasting is not easy, but if one soul can be saved by my joining in heart, mind and soul, with Our Mother and Her Son, then I'm in it for the long haul. Months and months ago, at Adoration, I heard the words "Go Deeper", and I thought I understood those words. But God's ways are mysterious, and what I thought then is not what I know now. When I consecrated to Jesus, I put myself in His hands, and He does with me as He wills. Most times I forget He's even there, my worldly thinking shutting Him out. But He is patient, He waits for me to come around.

O Blessed Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
Be with me today as I search through the darkness
for the Light that is you, waiting there for me.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

...so many flowers...

Oh, how God works, letting me know that I am not in charge. I finally found the time (busy night!) to write on different thoughts that have come my way over the last week or so. As I dug through my book bag I was lead to pull out a book I haven't used in a while. I opened it at random, as one should, and these were Her words to me:

"Hello My child! Bright and clean is the way I
would have your soul. This is how you should
look before my Son, but still you have so many corners-
yet you do not allow Me to enter! I ask you to give
Me every little patch of your soul. I wish to cultivate
it and make it beautiful for God, hidden to the world.
Be on guard not to parade your brightness
before men, lest you become smug and complacent
and thus remain in a state of illusion! I am greatly
pleased when you want Me to help you and you no
longer rely on your own merits but mine to give your
soul a lustre, so that before God you will look beautiful.
My child, so many flowers have yet to be planted.
Set the ground by your prayer and fidelity to Me.
I bless you."

These words are from 'All Through Mary, Devotion to Our Lady's Message of Mercy to The World', otherwise known as Mary's Blue Book. Truly God has blessed me, though I don't know why, I don't understand any of it. I do believe one thing, though; if we turn our hearts and minds to Him, He will guide us. If we give every moment over to God, he will be with us. For me, all of Lent and Easter, as it happened, this year, did not sink in. I think I tried too hard to find answers to questions that have no real answers. At times I stumbled, and was left wondering. Holy Thursday and Good Friday almost became too much, as I think my soul was searching and finding but my mind became dim from looking through eyes not seeing. Why, I asked, and still do, why did it slip away? It was similar as with Christmas. No matter what, it comes on in a rush and I'm left panting.
The Octave Week gave me a chance to look again, so to speak, to try to find Jesus where He is, with me on my own road to Emmaus. And at times, I did.
Tonight the reading from The Blue Book opened me up yet again, as the B.V.M. speaks to me, to us, once more. "...so many flowers have yet to be planted..." that thought I keep turning over and over in my mind.

Oh, Lord, as you gave us strength and graces
on Divine Mercy Sunday, showing me that the
Risen You walks with us every day, and Your
precious touch is there, waiting for us to ask.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Risen Christ

During this Octave of Easter the theme (not a good word, but I'm using it anyway) is, of course, the Risen Christ. Now, I don't know where I've been for the last 55 years but for whatever reason the importance of not only believing that He rose but that we must seek Him always, and to know that He is here with us always, was perhaps lost on me. Seeking Him sounds so easy in our minds, so easy to grasp in the darkness of the night or in the quiet of an early dawn. In the harshness of the workplace or when dealing with a family issue or any and all of the situations we come across that make us uncomfortable, that is when the Face of Jesus is harder to see. He fades, and we are left feeling alone.

It must be remembered that as we walk with Him, as we strive to be aware of Him who is at our side always, satan is there also, for he is the one who makes us forgetful, makes us angry and confused at our neighbor. He would like nothing better than for us to forget about Jesus, let Easter fade like we let most holidays do. I was reminded just today to pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength so I don't lose sight of Our Lord. These are specific actions that I must do every day because I'm weak, and during a normal day, unless I truly focus He does fade away, it's so very easy for it to happen. I guess a good way to look at it is to love God with all my heart, mind and soul, and my soul that longs will find its' way.

Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your holy gifts.
Let my weakness be penetrated with your strength
this very day,
that I may fulfill all my duties conscientiously,
and that I may do what is right and just.
Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit,
and pour your light into my heart, my soul, and my mind.
Help me to live a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace.
(excerpt from) "Daily Prayer to the Holy Spirit"
-Medjugorje Day By Day

Monday, April 05, 2010

An Easter thought...

Forty plus days have passed since Ash Wednesday, and my journey of ups and downs (but mostly riding in the middle) has not really ended, but quietly flowed into a journey within The Journey, which we call the Easter Season. I wish I had the skills to properly convey even a small fraction of the joys and the frustrations that I've met along the road called Lent, but I don't and I won't try. But there were some moments that will stay with me for a while; the tenderness of our older Friar, Father J,as he washed the feet of the woman sitting next to me. That act of humility, right in the middle of the Gospel, brought my imagination back 2,000+years to when Our Lord gave this gift to his 12. My wife, for the first time had her feet washed and said it was simply beautiful, something she'll never forget. "You have to sign up for it next year," she said. And I will.
On Friday H and I were with the choir, so we had to go downstairs to Kiss the Wood. This year I felt such tremendous sorrow as I walked the length of the center aisle to reach it and when I went to kiss the wood I just wanted to hold it, to hug it. Our small cross seemed so large, so real! It was another what-just- happened-to-me moment, one of a few that occurred in these last few days. During the Holiest of Days one just has to be aware and open to the graces that God bestows on us at all times. The reality of our faith shone forth even in the dark hours of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and our faith holds us together during the Long Day, Holy Saturday. We had one young man finish the RCIA course culminating in his baptism at the Vigil Mass and when it was time for our Priest to pray over him he called the other three Friars, all Priests, to come down and pray with him. What a beautiful sight, our four Franciscans, a single arm from each held with hand in prayer position, giving blessings to a new-born soul! Tears welled and ran freely from my eyes, and my heart was lost.
One more moment to share: Easter Morning as Lector I had the honer of reading that tremendous First Reading, but I didn't do it justice. I wanted so much for my voice to really carry the story to the hearts of all our parishioners, but in the end, I think I failed. I don't know. Too much pressure, I guess, put on by myself. Anyway, right after Mass I went over to pray in front of the Tabernacle for a few minutes and was joined by Helen, who had Cantered. As usual, within moments of the last notes ringing from the organ the church erupted in loud voices, laughter and general chaos. It happens after every Mass, like the ending of a sporting event. We try to block it out, but it's nearly impossible. Maybe because it was Easter and Our Lord was back in the Tabernacle, but as I gazed upon the golden resting place something happened that has never happened to me before. As I gazed I could feel, with 100% certainty, Our Savior radiating His love out to me, to us, Helen and I as we said our prayers of thanksgiving for the Eucharist. I could of knelt there forever, taking in His Love...

Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

"The cross will not crush you; if its weight makes you stagger, its power will sustain you." - ST. Pio of Pietrelcina