THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK February 26-March 4, 2017

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

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This Sunday is already preparing us for the season of Lent, which commences this Wednesday with the liturgy of ashes.  In Matthew 6:24 Jesus tells us that “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Lent is time for us to examine our lives as to whom we serve – God, money, power, position, opinions, possessions, the body, etc.  When we have pinpointed the “mammon” in our lives, Lent asks us to determine our plan of action and how we will accomplish it.  This can also be done as a family.  In fact, it is a good practice for a family to sit down occasionally to assess how they are living as Christians. This practice is much harder, than giving up candy or TV.  Of course, perhaps the hardest is minimizing the use of the cell phone, which perhaps has become “mammon” itself.

 

In the Ash Wednesday reading of Matthew 6: 1-6; 16-18 the intention or motives behind religious deeds of prayer, fasting and charity is of utmost importance. In fact, Scripture even says they should be done in secret. (Ask yourself why?) The saying of the Our Father… is an excellent prayer to intensive in Lent. It has all the elements that we need: praise of God, submission to God’s will, calling for the kingdom to come, fulfillment of our needs, right relationships, forgiveness and mercy. What more can we ask? 

 

As a young woman St. Katherine Drexel was touched by the plight of the American Indian and African Americans in the late nineteen century.  She was born in Philadelphia, PA to a very wealthy family. When she inherited the vast fortune of her family, she dedicated it to missionary work.  In 1899 she gathered a group of women who had the same ideals as she did.  Thus, she founded the Blessed Sacrament Sisters who service the two races.  She established many schools, care centers and other services for these people. She is credited with the advancement and care of many African and Indian Americans.

May the grace of God follow you on your Lenten journey,

Sister Rosemarie Goins, CSSF

Director

“No one can serve two masters.”

 

“No one can serve two masters.”

Our readings this Sunday call us to take stock and examine the quality of our lives as disciples of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, though, we often confuse quality of life with quantity in life.

We have become  caught up in a misguided consumerism that leads us to acquire more and more material goods, to ensure our security, and to bolster our self-esteem. Yet, in the midst of material abundance, many people express feelings that are deeply affected by emptiness, unfulfillment, and loneliness. Ours is a culture of distraction, restlessness, and self-preoccupation. Consider how we are bombarded and distracted by noise and the constant presence of media in restaurants, airports, doctor’s offices, in our homes, and in our own hand-held devices demanding our immediate attention to Twitter and instant messaging.

The prophet Isaiah reassures us that God will never forsake or forget us. Unfortunately, our restless, preoccupied, and distracted living often leads us to forsake and forget the God who is in our midst. St. Augustine saw this in the people of his time and wisely taught, “God is within us, but we are outside of ourselves.”

Paul reminded the people of Corinth of the quality of the Christian life, “Brothers and sisters; thus should one regard us: servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy.”

Attentive to Paul’s teaching, especially in the midst of our current social climate, let us recognize that we are brothers and sisters, servants of Christ. We must know and live the Christ who dwells within us. This is the Christ who emptied himself to become a servant, washing the feet of his disciples as an example of God’s humble service, love and care for all people. How are we living as brothers, sisters, and servants of Christ? Do others find in us trustworthy servants, images of the servant Christ?

Jesus said, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” Often the word ‘mammon’ is simply understood as money, however mammon can be seen as any wealth, prestige, or status that leads to idolatry. Imagine and ponder how Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi heard today’s gospel proclaimed. How they must have rejoiced hearing, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink…look at the birds of the sky…are not you more important than they? Learn the way the wild flowers grow…Your heavenly Father knows what you need.”

The commitment to God and the undivided hearts of Clare and Francis was clearly evident in their lives. For Francis and Clare, poverty was not simply a virtue to be attained or a vow to be professed, poverty or rather Lady Poverty, was their true center and personified the humble, poor, and crucified Christ whom they embraced and embodied in their own lives.

With undivided hearts, let us humbly seek and live from our true center, Jesus Christ. Let us proclaim God’s Kingdom of peace, justice, and mercy in and for our world today.

Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN Board President

Suggested Action:
This week, spend some time outside, in creation, pondering the birds of the sky and the wild flowers. Meditate on their lack of anxiety and worry.

Suggested Petitions:
Through true examination of heart and living as the Christ, may we attain a soul at rest, we pray…
Based upon our service to our brothers and sisters in Christ, may we be found trustworthy to the Lord, we pray…

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK February 19-25, 2017

 

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February 19-25, 2017

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  This is a famous saying which we have all heard many times.  It comes from Leviticus 19: 18  Unfortunately, sometimes there are people who do not love themselves, so have no model on which to base love.  So, they often have to put others down, so they can feel better about themselves. There are also those who “love” themselves too much. Jesus gave us the best model by changing the old saying in John 15: 12, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”  The entire reading on “A Disciple’s Love,” John 15: 9-17 is worth a read.

1 Corinthians 3: 16 has an excellent passage that can be used in dialogue with those who favor abortion. “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person, for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.”

Anything within that temple is holy, the unborn child, as well as, the temple.  The desecration of that temple is not to be taken lightly.  Pro-livers need to be gentle, but firm their position. Harshness and name calling has no place in bringing the presence of Jesus into other’s lives.  Jesus was gentle, non-judging and forgiving toward the ignorant, the sinner and the unenlightened. We can do no less, because we are sinners ourselves and want forgiveness for our many sins.    

A passage in Matthew 5: 38-48 gives us another example of how Jesus changes teachings of the past.

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”  This is a pretty tough teaching.  The practice of this Christian way goes as far back as the martyrs in the Coli

 

The 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 13, 2017 – The 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“But I say to you Love your Enemies”

vvv.pngPhoto Credit: Mike Simons

This week’s Gospel is a story that we, who profess that Jesus is Lord, can understand and relate to but do we live it?

The Lord indeed is kind and merciful to us, but sometimes we, as followers of Jesus and Sons and Daughters of St. Francis and St. Clare, are not as gracious as the Lord is to us.

There seems to be a human condition that we are all called to overcome within ourselves and perhaps even more so in our society today seeing each other as equals, as brothers and sisters, whom can have common goals and ambitions. But do we spend the time in listening, in encountering others that are outside the safe spaces in our lives? Do our fears overcome God’s call to be Holy, to bear no grudge, to welcome the stranger as our brother or sister?

All this reminds me of a birthday gathering years ago of one of our oldest friars. He had been in our infirmary for many years because of poor health. His family had all passed away as well as most brothers who were near him in age. He had had over 70 years in the community at the time of his 91st birthday. As was our custom at that time, our older birthday brother was brought downstairs for a pre-dinner gathering. It was festive and being a newer member of the community I enjoyed the stories and sharings of his life, family and ministry over his many years. But in the midst of the stories he was asked if he ever had a difficult time in religious life or in his ministry. He thought for a moment or two and then said that he at times found it difficult and challenging to live with some brothers and working with some brothers and some people in ministry.

He mentioned the difficult times and seemed to have a very tough time talking about the brothers who were in charge of his formation in the early days of his religious life. He then said that he felt as if they were against him and became almost enemies to him. He was asked, “So, how did you overcome that feeling, or do you feel better about them now?” His answer caused a uneasy laughter among us. He said,”Hey, I outlived them all and proved them wrong!”

In our own lives, there are times when others have caused us pain or misunderstandings. So, the Gospel’s call to pray for those who persecute you is a personal call for us all. I have found that when I do pray for those that I have a difficult or challenging time with, I tend to feel different about them. So prayer does work better than a curse. But it not easy to do.

Recently, I was touched by a song that really speaks to me on seeing my enemy as my brother. There is a video posted at Aleteia.org originally by The Brilliance which is well worth watching. “When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brother.” Sung by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the group Brilliance.

So, pray to understand those that you can not understand.
Accept that with God, change takes time. For ourselves and for others.
Believe that God is with you through this all.
Forgive, yourself and one another!

Brother Paul Crawford, OFM Cap.
FAN Board Treasurer

Suggested Action:
Watch Br. Paul’s suggested video from the Franciscan Friars of Renewal and meditate on the lyrics with regards to your life right now.

Suggested Petitions:
For an increase in respect for all people within our lives, communities and nation, we pray…

May we have humility to ask for and offer forgiveness, so to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters,  we pray…

Collect Prayer

 

Grant, we pray, almighty God,

That, always pondering spiritual things,

We may carry out in both word and deed

That which is pleasing to you.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

One God, for ever and ever.

 

Amen

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK February 12-18, 2017

FROM ST. AUGUSTINE SPIRITUALITY CENTER

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Directorbuilding peace

This Sunday’s readings have strong references to “freedom of choice.”  We are made in image of the Creator; one of the gifts is “free will.”  What an awesome gift; we are free to choose against the Creator, but we must remember the consequences.  As we look at our world, we see the extensive misuse of this gift and all the violence, hate, anger and misdeeds that follow. In Sirach: 15: 15-20 the passage begins, “If you choose…”  Of course, if we choose in favor of God’s law, Jesus’ teachings as Christians, we will be saved.  It seems like such an easy directive.  However, we only need to examine our own lives to see our basket of choices is not always commendable.

St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 2: 9 paraphrases Isaiah 64:3 “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” What a promise with which to proceed on our journey to our Creator.

It gives us more reason with which to use our “free will” properly. This means to “trust in the wisdom of God” by constantly striving to educate ourselves in righteousness and praying unceasingly.

You may ask, “How can I pray unceasingly? I have much to do.”  Aw, but if you live a righteous life you are praying.  There are also many moments throughout the day, when we can formally pray – putting dressing, brushing hair, driving, changing classes, preparing a meal, exercising, etc.  One I like to say during these moments is, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son, Savior have mercy on me a sinner.” This is an ancient Christian prayer, often called, “The Jesus Prayer.”  It is also very powerful, when you are afraid or threatened.

In Matthew’s Gospel 11: 25 Jesus further expands on some of the Ten Commandments. “You have heard it was said to your ancestors, “You shall not kill…I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”  We may be proud that we have not killed anyone and, therefore, kept the commandment, but the deeper meaning includes anger. Have we, then, broken this commandment?  A re-examination of the Ten Commandments may reveal deeper meanings and directives to a righteous life.

February 14, Valentine’s Day, gives us an opportunity to repair our relationships.  Perhaps, it is a way for a husband or wife to say, “I’m sorry!” – friends who have been apart because of a misunderstanding or a child to thank a parent or just because we love one another and want to show it.

Actually, Valentine’s Day is a way in which the Church Christianized a pagan situation. Licentiousness

was strongly rampant around this time of year in pagan rites.  Also, the emperor forbade marriage among young people because a married soldier was not good for the military. (Can you guess why?)  St. Valentine, a priest of the Third Century, encouraged Christian marriage and gave instructions on this vocation.  He was arrested and martyred for disobeying the law. He is the patron of marriage and love. Christian Broadcasting Network, CBN

Saints Cyril and Methodius, brothers from Greece, became priests and were asked to go to the Slavic nations and preach because they knew the language.  They created a Slavic alphabet, translated the Bible and said Mass in that language.  There were many protests about saying the Mass in the language of the people, but Pope Adrian II approved the practice in the ninth century. They are patrons of Europe. holyspiritinteractive.net

The Order of Servites was founded in the thirteenth century for the sanctification of its members, preaching of the Gospel and spreading of devotion to Mary. The founders, seven young men of wealthy families in Florence, Italy, formed a confraternity, called the “Praisers of Mary.”  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to them and asked them to form a religious community, using the Rule of St. Augustine. Catholic Encyclopedia

Sister Rosemarie Goins, Director

Time to Make Clear Choices

Time to Make Clear Choicesggg

We are living in an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. Many of us now feel like strangers in the land that we have known and loved, with its faults, its limitations, and its treasured values of freedom and welcome to all. Day after day, Executive Orders are issued that challenge both our faith values and our American values. These include orders to build a wall, further militarize the southern border, stop refugee resettlement, ban all travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, and more. Fortunately, pushback has been strong. Thousands of people have shown up at airports to welcome refugees; thousands in cities across the country have gathered to protest. Leaders of the US Bishops Conference have issued statements opposing Executive Orders which threaten vulnerable people seeking refuge from violence in both the Middle East and the Northern Triangle countries of Central America.

This is a time that calls for action by all of us. We can all do something even if we cannot march or participate in public protests. We can all make phone calls to legislators. We can organize refugee support groups in our parishes that reach out to refugees and to Muslims. We can educate ourselves and others about the Executive Orders and their impacts on vulnerable people. We can visit the website of the USCCB to see a statement of solidarity with the Muslim community, and visit the FAN website to find the FAN statement in support of refugees and suggested actions. As Christians, as Franciscans, we pray, we organize, we advocate, we reach out to sisters and brothers impacted by harmful Executive Orders that play falsely on people’s fears.

This week’s scriptures challenge us to make clear choices. Sirach tells the people, to choose; God has set before them fire and water, life and death, good and evil. It is theirs to choose if they are to live. In the Gospel, Jesus calls us to do more than the minimum of obeying the law. The “shalt -nots” of the law are not abolished but are a minimal response to his “good news.” “But I say to you. . .” goes beyond the commandments to the law of love, to what is in the heart. He concludes, “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Now is a time for clear choices in defense of our faith values and American values. To what do I say ”Yes?” To what do I say “No?” What actions do I take to verify my “Yes” and my “No?”

For reflection: February 12 is also the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. This quote is as applicable in 2017 as it was 150 years ago: “I dream of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the best last hope of earth.” What will I do today to restore that dream?

Sr. Marie Lucey
FAN Director of Advocacy

Suggested Action:
Spend some time in reflection this week to discern what actions you can take in defense of our faith values and our American values.

Suggested Petitions:
Spirit of Wisdom, Spirit of Compassion, Spirit of Courage, fill us with your Spirit, we pray. .

For all immigrants and refugees, for our Muslim brothers and sisters, who live in anxiety and fear, we pray…