Feast Day of All Saints of the Seraphic Order

Working at home can distract one from other things happening in the world. Today I was busy, so I missed looking at my Franciscan calendar; and towards the end of the day, I suddenly found out that today was the feast day of all saints of the “Seraphic” Order; the Franciscan Order. It was a day to remember in prayer, those who had lived the Gospel, according to the example of St. Francis of Assisi, and lived it well.

I think is was originally established to recognize the the known and unknown saints of the Order of Friars Minor; all three branches, Regular, Conventual, and Capuchin. But on this day, I would remember those persons who were either Poor Clare’s, Third Order Franciscan Brothers and Sisters, or members of the Secular Franciscan Order. I am sure that there are many out, whose lives of prayer and charity has been an example for others.

Almighty, eternal God, you were pleased to make your church illustrious through the varied splendor of the saints of the Seraphic Order. As we venerate their memory in one festival, may we also follow such shining examples of virtue on earth and thus obtain merited crowns in heaven.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen”

Feast of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order

Born in the year, 1207, she was the daughter of the King of Hungary. At age three, she was betrothed to the Prince of Thuringia (part of Germany). Growing up, she began developing a strong prayer life and desire to help the poor. Married to Prince Louis, they would have four children.

She was known to be a loving mother, a person of deep faith, of prayer, and great charity. She endowed a hospital and regularly provided food for the poor in her city. And she believed that giving charity should be a hands on experience. She could be seen both serving food to the poor, and caring for the sick.

She encountered Franciscan friars; and was impressed with them and their way of life. She joined the lay Franciscans; now known as the Secular Franciscan Order. Her desire to live humbly, helping the poor, did not win her friends among the nobles of her husband’s court. When he died on his way back from the Crusades, they took advantage of the moment. They stripped her of her rightful assets, and cast her and her children from the palace.

She lived in poor accommodations, continued her charitable work. Finally, her supporters were able obtain better living quarters, supplies and clothing. She continued her work among the poor.

She passed away in 1231. Four years later, she was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church. She would be named as patroness of the Secular Franciscans; and of Catholic Charities.

Father, you helped Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and honor Christ in the poor of the world.

Let her prayers help us to serve our brothers and sisters in trouble and need.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reign with you and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen!

From the Proper Offices of Franciscan Saints and Blessed in the Liturgy of Hours.

Random Thoughts

“The Rule and life of the Secular Franciscan is this: to observe the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ by following the example of Saint Francis of Assisi, who made Christ the inspiration and the center of his life with God and people.” SFO Rule: Article 4

I have ten minutes to create a post for this blog, so here goes!

The Franciscan way of life, both religious and lay, has taken many different forms over the centuries. Different lifestyles, different ways of prayer, different emphasis of mission. But it must all remain rooted in this, the Gospel and the way Francis strove to faithfully live the Gospel!

For a lay Franciscan, this can prove to be a challenge. But in accepting this challenge, he or she enters a blessed way of living. The will be high moments, and low. There will be times of satisfaction, and frustration. But we are not alone in this journey; we will have brothers and sisters here on this earth; and others in heaven, who will encourage us on! The challenge is to get off our duffs and do it.

Saints Francis and Clare, and all Franciscan Saints, pray for us!

Blessed Jacoba of Settesoli, Secular Franciscan

Jacoba of Settesoli was born in the year 1190 into a noble Italian family. She married into a wealthy Roman family, and she and her husband would have children, including two sons. Sadly, her husband passed away.

While managing her household and caring for her children, she began to hear of an itinerant preacher, by the name of Francis. What she heard stirred her heart; and she desired to meet him.

An opportunity came when Francis and his band of brothers came to the city of Rome. Francis was seeking the Pope’s approval of his Rule of Life for his growing community. Lady Jacoba was able to speak to him about how she could live a more spiritual life, following Jesus. Francis advised her to continue caring for her family; that it was possible to live the Gospel life as both a mother and a householder. She followed his advice, although she did turn over management of the family lands to her two sons. She began living a life of prayer and charity. Francis and his brothers would visit her when they were in Rome. She gave a gift of land to the friars so that they could establish a shelter and hospital for local lepers.

During his final illness, he sent word to Jacoba, asking her to come to Assisi, with cloth to make a burial shroud. And he also asked her to bring some of those almond cookies she used to bake for him when he visited her home. She left Rome immediately.

When she reached Assisi; there was an argument among the brothers if it was appropriate for a woman to enter the friary! Francis settled the issue when he commanded them to let “Brother Jacoba” come in. She was present when he died; and mourned with the brothers.

Lady Jacoba remained to Assisi for the rest of her life. She died on February 8, 1273, and is buried in crypt of the Basilica of St Francis; near his tomb.

Happy Feast Day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Patroness of the Secular Franciscan Order

“Father, you helped Elizabeth of Hungary to recognize and honor Christ in the poor of this world. Let her prayers help us help us to serve our brothers and sisters in time of trouble and need.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.”

From the Franciscan Supplement for Liturgy of Hours.

In times like the ones we are going through right now, we need St. Elizabeth’s example to inspire us; and her intercessions to strengthen us!

“Good Pope John”

Pope John XXIIIToday, the Catholic Church celebrates the life of St. John XXIII, was Pope, Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, from 1958 to 1963.

Born Angelo Roncalli, in the Italian province of Lombardy, to a family of sharecroppers, in 1881. He would be ordained a priest in 1904, serve as an stretcher bearer and chaplain in the Italian army, during World War I. After the war, he would be a bishop’s secretary, papal diplomat to Bulgaria, Turkey, and France. During World War II, he would use his diplomatic and ecclesial status to help hundreds of Jews escape the Holocaust.

He was appointed Patriarch of Venice, Italy, and made a Cardinal, in 1953. In 1958, after the death of Pope Pius XII, he joined other Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, to elect the new Pope. After eleven ballots, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli was elected Pope. As is custom he took a new name, and became Pope John XXIII.

He was expected to be a “caretaker” Pope, his papacy was to be short and uneventful. He shocked everyone when in 1959, he summoned the world’s bishops to what became the Second Vatican Council. He would not live to see it’s conclusion, dying of stomach cancer in 1963.

I have no memories of his pontificate. As an altar server, I witnessed the steady changes that came in the liturgy. When I was in high school, I came across a book listing his memorable sayings, including his more humorous ones. I became attracted to this Pope from the Italian countryside. In seminary, I read his spiritual journal, “Journal of a Soul,” and encountered the deeply spiritual Pope John. And I have read, or at least tried to read his social justice papal encyclicals “letters,” especially his famous “Pacem in Terris.”  I am finding that this letter still has something to say for our times.

Recently, I learned that there is something St. John XXIII and I share; we are both Secular Franciscans.  He joined the OFS during his seminary days, I joined in 1988.  So to my fellow Franciscan, I ask his intercession for our troubled Church, that the Holy Spirit will guide us into living the Gospel life more fully.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary – Patroness of Secular Franciscans

St. Elizabeth of HungaryToday, November 17th, Franciscans around the world, but especially Secular Franciscans, will celebrate the memory of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary.  With St. Louis IX of France, she is Co-Patron Saint of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Born in Hungary, in 1207, she went to the German territory of Thuringia, to become the wife of its ruler, Louis.  Together they would have four children.  She would become well known for her acts of charity to the poor, establishing a hospital for the ill; and food for her poor subjects. Her husband would die from illness, while he was traveling to join an Imperial Crusade to the Holy Land. Court intrigue forced Elizabeth, with some of her children, to abandon the capital city, and flee. In a smaller, poorer city, she took residence and continued her service to the poor. Influenced by the recent arrival of Franciscan friars, she took one of them as her spiritual advisor. She would eventually become a Franciscan penitent. She would also eventually die relatively young.

St. Elizabeth can be, in fact, is a counter cultural example for our modern times. With our fascination with the rich and famous. With a minority of people controlling the majority of wealth in our country; to hear of a young, energetic woman willingly give up her riches for the poor, should shake our complacency. How best can we answer Christ’s command to feed the hungry; shelter the homeless; welcome the stranger. And what opportunities have we missed to do so?

Through the intercession of St. Elizabeth, may our eyes and hearts be open to those in need.

Weekend Coffee Share – 10/22/2017

deacon coffee mugWelcome! Here is a cup of coffee, hot off the Keurig. Today, I want to share experiences from last weekend. Last Saturday, the second Saturday of the month, my Secular Franciscan fraternity holds its monthly meeting. It is held at Saint Anthony’s Shrine, located in downtown Boston, MA. I have been trying to attend this meeting more regularly; so, I was up early in the morning, grabbing a commuter train. I transferred to the subway, and got off at Downtown Crossing, Boston.
I came early into the city; so I would be able to walk around the area before the meeting. It had Downtown Crossing 2017been a while since I had made such a walk about. The biggest change in the neighborhood, is the Millennium Tower. Built in the space where the famous Filene’s Department Store once stood, it is a very, very tall high-rise building. It houses department stores, offices, and condominium apartments. I have not been around Millenium Towerthe entire building, so I was amazed at the changes I saw! One thing that really stood out for me; was the number of coffee shops that are in neighborhood now! I am not talking about an increase in the number of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks; but places like Caffe Nero. One can imagine the amount of caffeine flowing through the veins of the residents and office workers!
Bromfield Pen ShopOne stop that I had to make was the Bromfield Pen Shop, which is located, where else? On Bromfield Street! It has the largest collection writing instruments, including fountain pens, I have ever seen. And the most expensive collection of pens I have ever seen! I like looking over their pens, and the notebooks and journals they sell also. Sadly, I have only been able to purchase a Pelikano Junior, a very sturdy plastic fountain pen. I purchased a new box of ink cartridges for it, and with a wistful look behind me, left the shop.

St Paul cathedral EpiscopalI continued to walk up Bromfield St., towards Tremont St., which forms one border of the Boston Common.  My intention was to visit the Episcopal St. Paul Cathedral.  The church was established in 1819, as an Episcopalian parish.  In 1912, St. Paul’s was designated as the Cathedral Church of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.  When I worked in the Downtown, I would visit St. Paul’s on a regular basis; I found the quiet interior to be conducive to meditation.  Back then, it still had, what I would call, cubicle seating.  The pews arrangedInterior St Paul and separated by stalls.  I had heard that the cathedral church was going to be renovated, and I wanted to see the result.  When I entered the main church, I was stunned!  Gone were the pews, the memorial plaques on the walls, the altar rail.  It was wide open space, with stackable, plain chairs arranged for some service.  The interior was flooded with natural light, streaming from the skylights above.  And in the center, was a labyrinth.  Music flooded the church, as an organist was playing at the organ in the chancel of the Cathedral.  I still had a very peaceful experience during my time there.
I left the Cathedral and made my way to the Shrine, to attend the 12:00 Noon Mass, with the rest of the fraternity. I had forgotten that this Mass was going to be a special one, because we were St. Anthony Shrine 2017celebrating a Profession. A young man, Bobby Hillis, was going to profess his intention to live the Gospel life, in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi, by following the Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order. For about a year and half, he has been in formation, learning what it means to be a Franciscan; in his personal life; his life in the Church; his life in the world. After the homily, before the Franciscan priest, who was our celebrant, and our fraternity Minister, and the whole Fraternity, he declared:

I, Bobby Hillis, by the grace of God, renew my baptismal promises and consecrate myself to the service of his Kingdom. Therefore, in my secular state I promise to live all the days of my life the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Secular Franciscan Order by observing its rule of life. May the grace of the Holy Spirit, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our holy father St. Francis, and the fraternal bonds of community always be my help, so that I may reach the goal of perfect Christian love.
[Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, pp. 23 & 24.]

After the Profession Mass, we all gathered in the Shrine’s auditorium for a celebratory luncheon. For anytime a new member is professed, it “is a cause of great joy and hope for all the members of the community and for the whole Church.” (Ritual, p. 24)

SFO Profession 1 102017

SFO Profession 2 2017

 

So that was my trip into downtown Boston; now the coffee cups have to go into the dishwasher rack. Hope to see you again next week.

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 8/13/2017

Over a cup of coffee, I would share with you how upset I have been over the events in Charlottesville, VA.  I had hope that we had outgrown the white supremacist movement; and the racism and hatred it generates.  But, that appears not to be happening.  We know we must confront it, but we need to realize we cannot use the same tactics.  We, as a nation, are better than the racists in our midst.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that earlier last week, my wife and I were still on Cape Cod, MA, with members of her family.  While there, we paid a visit to Provincetown, located on the northern tip of the Cape.  Let us say, it is one of most unique communities in the Commonwealth, maybe in the country.  When you walk through the town streets, you are in the midst of a diverse crowds of people. It can be a very interesting time.

Over a cup of coffee, I would share that I have increased the number of books I have read.  Trying to spend more time with a book in my hands, rather than an IPhone.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of my Secular Franciscan fraternity.  It has been awhile, but I needed to get back in touch with my Franciscan spiritual roots.  The Secular Franciscan Order is a lay branch of the Franciscan Movement.  It was good to  see old friends again.  

Well, the cups are in the dishwasher rack.  I will see you again next week.

Reflecting Again on Why I Write.

Writing

Writing

Why do I write?  That is a very interesting question today, especially since I have been finding it to sit in front of a keyboard, or to pick up a pen.  It was not too long ago, that I would be posting on my blog every other day, if not every day.  I have a serious case of writer’s block, which is why I am trying out Writing 101.

Why do I want to write?  Because sometimes I feel have something to share with the rest of the world.  As a Christian Catholic, a Secular Franciscan, and a Deacon, I feel the need to share my experiences of my encounters with God through Scripture, the Eucharist, prayer, and life.  I want to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with a world that more skeptical, that is a little darker, more violent, and where the poor and powerless have no voice.  I want share the Good News with those who are struggling with the challenges of everyday life; by sharing my own struggles with living the faith daily.

I want to write about, and express my belief that the Catholic Church, this community of believers, is still relevant for our society today.  While not turning a blind eye to its sins and failings, to express the joys, comfort, and inspirations I have experienced for myself.  And I want to share my opinions with a voice that accepts others, whether they agree with me or not.

When I write, I hope I am becoming, like St. Francis of Assisi, a Herald of the Great King, Jesus Christ!