Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mary TV Daily Reflection 10/6/2015

(c)Mary TV 2015
October 6, 2015
Saint Bruno, Blessed Marie Rose Durocher
Dear Family of Mary!
"Dear children, I am here among you to encourage you, to fill you with my love and to call you anew to be witnesses of the love of my Son. Many of my children do not have hope, they do not have peace, they do not have love. They are seeking my Son, but do not know how and where to find Him. My Son is opening wide His arms to them, and you are to help them to come to His embrace. My children, that is why you must pray for love. You must pray very, very much to have all the more love, because love conquers death and makes life last. Apostles of my love, my children, with an honest and simple heart unite in prayer regardless of how far you are from each other. Encourage each other in spiritual growth as I am encouraging you. I am watching over you and am with you whenever you think of me. Pray also for your shepherds, for those who renounced everything for the sake of my Son and for your sake. Love them and pray for them. The Heavenly Father is listening to your prayers. Thank you." October 2, 2015
I present to you today the homily given by Fr. Leon at English Mass, October 4, 2015. He spoke eloquently about St. Francis. Since most of us did not hear a homily on Francis on Sunday, I thought you might all enjoy reading this one. (We love our Franciscans!!)
Fr. Leon, Homily of English Mass at St. James, Medjugorje, October 4. 2015:
When I first came to Medjugorje in 1991, I do believe that the beginnings of my vocation were there, when I was about 19. And the thing I wanted to be was a Franciscan. That was the thing I was most attracted to. And then the intervening years came, the years of pride when I wanted to become a Jesuit. And then the years of humility and truth when God made me a Dominican.
Now it is an old Franciscan and Dominican custom that on the feast days of each other's founders, for instance on the feast day of the Holy Founder, St. Francis, a Domincan will preach in Franciscan churches, and the other way around, on the feast day of the Apostolic Founder, St. Dominic, a Franciscan will preach in Dominican churches.
St Dominic and St Francis
St Dominic and St Francis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now our Holy Father, St. Francis is much better known than St. Dominic. Everyone is attracted to St. Francis, he is a charismatic personality. But the image of St. Francis is often like a Disney cartoon. Francis is surrounded by bunny rabbits at his feet and birds on his shoulders. Or it is the image of someone appealing but slightly mad, like Francis rolling naked in the snow. Now we don't encourage any of you to try that, because you don't want to get frost bite on certain bits of your anatomy.
You all know that hymn, Make me a Channel of your Peace. Isn't it beautiful? Do you know when Saint Francis wrote that? In 1911....for a French magazine. It has nothing to do with Saint Francis. But it is a nice hymn. The thing we know he wrote is the Canticle of the Creatures, i.e. Brother Sun, Sister Moon.
Now I am talking about this because the images we have of St. Francis have very little to do with reality. The real Francis began as a head strong man. And it is true that he was very proud to dress well. And he was very proud to go to war. He thought war was a great adventure. An opportunity for glory! But after he was captured and spent one year in a rat infested prison, his father, Pietro, ransomed him. After that, Francis was always deeply traumatized by war and his experiences of war. He fell into a deep depression.
You all know the story of the cross of San Damiano, the one that spoke to St. Francis. There is a copy of that cross hanging in the pavilion of the rotunda at the back of church. And that crucifix said to St. Francis, "Go and repair my church, for it sways."
But this experience is not what converted St. Francis. What brought him out of depression and converted him also was his encounter with lepers. In his own words, our holy father, St. Francis, says, "God allowed me to begin my repentance in this way, when I lived in sin, seeing lepers was a very bitter experience for me. God Himself, guided me into their midst, and among them I performed acts of charity. What appeared bitter to me became sweetness of the soul and body." In the lepers that St. Francis embraced and kissed, Francis saw that the more than one is despised, the more one comes to resemble Jesus in his last agony, when He was abandoned by practically everyone that He had come to save. To embrace Jesus, Francis saw that you have to embrace those who are abandoned, to join those that no one else wants.
Our holy father, St. Francis, was a man of discipline. He fasted, but he forbade his followers from fasting excessively. During his time there were lots of groups performing penance, but Francis insisted that his brothers should eat meat. He was not a vegetarian, he was not an eco-warrior before his time. Not at all. And above all he enjoined his brothers as a duty to be cheerful. In all this he himself set the example.
Now ten years later, the Pope authorized St. Francis and his brothers to preach penance. He sent his brothers to France, Germany, Hungary, the Middle-east, and Spain...and their preparation was not very much. Francis was a bit chaotic. He accepted practically anyone into his order. In fact the early Dominicans used to say that the early Franciscans were a bunch of odd balls and weirdos. Maybe they were right, I don't know!!
In Germany they went with practically no preparation, and all they could say in German was "Yah". So they went around Germany saying, "Yah, yah, yah..." to every question they were asked. The result was that they were eventually thrown in prison and then beaten up. So this is good advice, if you are ever going to Germany make sure you know more than "Yah!"
Francis himself went to seek an audience with the Sultan of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, Al Kamil. Francis succeeded in speaking to him but the Sultan did not convert, because he said that if he did convert (and he was sorely tempted) his followers would slay him as an apostate. Now Francis made a deep impression on the Sultan.
For Francis, the preparation for receiving the Gospel is penance. By penance, what Francis meant was love for neighbor. He held the deepest veneration for Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament. And he insisted that the chalices, patens and tabernacles should be both worthy and beautiful. In fact he insisted on this more than on love for the poor. Why? Because he said if we do not truly have love for Jesus, then we can never truly love him in the poor. Even his dying words were to reverence Him in the Blessed Sacrament. Because of this he venerated priests.
He also insisted that his brothers genuflect and kneel before the Blessed Sacrament. You see up until that time, the majority of the people just bowed before the Blessed Sacrament in the West. It was Francis who changed this practice through his own devotion.
Another things about Francis was that he was against intellectualism. Intellectualism probably is a bad thing. But it is also sometimes interpreted that he was against the intellect. It is true that he was not that keen that his brothers spend time studying. Imagine this, there are two lovers, and the boy says to the girl, "Shut up, don't tell me anything about yourself. Just let me love you. I don't want to know anything about you." I would say there is something a bit wrong there. If you love someone you should say, "I want to know everything about you. And I want to love everything." And that is the way God is with us. He desires us to know Him more and better so that we can love Him better. So the intellect is not opposed to love.
Now it is true that you can have a very pious old woman in a chapel, praying her rosary, who by herself is holier than all of the world's theologians gathered together. That is true. But that woman is holy, not because she is ignorant, but because she has great love. So let's not confuse holiness and anti-intellectualism. Not at all. How much holier would that woman be if her knowledge of God was deeper! St. Francis would have agreed with that.
The last great event of his life happened two years before he died. Francis had a vision of a Seraph above him holding a Crucifix. And from the body of Our Lord, these beams came down and penetrated Francis' body. When the vision finished, he discovered he had a gash on his right side, and on his palms and on the top of his feet...we call them the stigmata, but they are not the kind of stigmata that you are all familiar with, they were not holes in his hands and feet...what he had were fleshy black outgrowths, and on the palm they were like the head of a nail, and on the back of his hand, they were like a nail bent over. The same on his feet. These caused him great pain. Now he was marked with the same wounds as our Savior. The servant had come to resemble the Master.
Before he died, Francis added two Stanzas to the Canticle of Creatures. The final one about sister bodily death...
We praise you sister, death of flesh,
From whom no living man can flee.
Woe to those she finds in sin,
But those in grace she sets free.
The second death cannot touch them. In 1226, sister death of flesh came for him. What made St. Francis different is that he linked his life of poverty, his freedom to follow Christ, to one of obedience to the pope. Obedience to the Pope grounded the Franciscan order to the heart of the Church, and more than that it allowed the Franciscan Order to be present in every part of the Church, dispersed throughout the world. The reason St. Francis did this is simple. Without the Pope there is not church to speak of. And as Pope Francis loves to repeat, "Without the Church there is no Christ. Without Him we have nothing. But with Him we have everything we could ever imagine."
As we heard in the Gospel, "For no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son choses to reveal Him." That is to make known the Father's love to the poor, the little, the abandoned...to those holy father St. Francis loved, knowing that in doing so He was loving Christ Himself.
(English Mass October 4 2015 - available at www.marytv.tv  )
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan
©Mary TV 2015

"Medjugorje is the spiritual center of the world." 
Saint John Paul II 
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