Archive for category Franciscan

There Is Always A Prayer Offered For You

In talking with a middle-aged Catholic the other day, I was sharing with him some brochures that I collected while visiting Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.   He saw a picture of a sister kneeling before an altar that I explained was where the Eucharist was exposed.  I continued to explain that at all times there is at least one Sister is before the Eucharist interceding for us.  There is never moment that anyone of us is without prayer.

There, adjacent to Viterbo University are the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration who have a convent that includes a chapel that is open to the public.  The chapel that is situated behind the main  Church altar is  Eucharistic Procession that has been on-going, continuous, and without interruption for over 135 years.  The Sisters knew of a 24/7/365 presence well before select McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants decided to operate the 24 hour drive-up window.  These Sisters hold the nation’s record for the nations longest continuous prayer.  Such can only be done in the context of a community and every member’s dedication to the cause.  Like the Preborn Christ who intercedes from the womb of His mother, Mary; the Franciscans of Perpetual Adoration offer their adoration and intercession to the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist within their convent.

This young man was surprised at such dedication and slowly came to admit the need for such continuous prayer.  He’s not alone in being slow to understand the value of, or rather need for such a prayerful presence.  It seems so difficult for so many of us to understand that our health and prosperity are provided by God’s bounty and not of our hard work, though it is by our hard work that we can harvest God’s bounty.

The greatest threat to the future of this Perpetual Adoration is the decline in vocations and the decline in support for the religious by the lay people.  A life-long vocation of prayer is simply not encouraged by most parents because such a life is so often misunderstood.  This lack of understanding is growing about all of the religious.  The mission of these Sisters and so many monasteries and convents around the world seem to escape so many in the secular world.  These religious communities are not merely praying for themselves but are actually joining with Jesus in His ministry of intercession for all mankind before God the Father.  In prayer, they offer praise, reparation for sin, intercession for the good of all  and thanksgiving on behalf of all men, women and children for His Divine Providence.

Imagine a world lacking such religious intercession before God on our behalf.  What would such a  world be like?  Hopeless and in despair.  Looking at the world we live in, is it any surprise that there are less religious engaging in adoration than in the past and more who are choosing to cohabitate than in the past?  Cohabitation is only one of the alternative life styles that are competing with a religious life, but it is one with consequences that will certainly become inter-generational.    Not to mention the rise in violence, illicit sexual relations, and decline of general morality.  These religious are dealing in an economy that many are not even aware exists, that is the economy of salvation.  In the economy of salvation it is grace that serves as currency, if you will.  It is those who pray who are the equivalent to the capitalist producer in our market economy.  It is those who pray who help with begging for God’s grace and they also help to direct that needed grace.

As religious practice and faith in our society decline, are we prepared to take up the slack in prayer that is bound to occur with the decline of the praying religious?  What can we do to do better?  What can we do to encourage such a vocation of life-long prayer?  Please offer the religious who pray for us a prayer in return.  Consider sponsoring them financially.  Encourage young adults and children to consider such a  vocation.

The Good God We Seek

It is unfortunate that so few people can comprehend not only the benevolence of the one true God, but so few seek and find that personal relationship with God.  In the end, it is this relationship with God that is all that is going to count.  So many fail to recognize the action of God in their lives, but then so few are willing to yield to God His greatness in goodness toward His creatures.  Do we always know what, or rather Who we are seeking?  And yet He is not entirely beyond our reach.  St. Francis of Assisi has provided us with the following prayer of His that not only gives God praise for Who He is, but also helps those who share his prayer with a better understanding of the God we call upon in our prayers and search.

 

All-powerful, most holy,

most high, and supreme God:

all good, supreme good,

totally good,

You Who alone are good;

may we give You

all praise, all glory,

all thanks, all honor,

all blessing,

and all good things.

So be it.

So be it.

Amen.

Ritual of the Secular Franciscan Order, St. Anthony Messenger, 1985, page 100.

 

This is a prayer worth offering often for ourselves to help us recognize God’s footprints in our lives by now having a better idea of just Who He is.

Touching Christ

Sympathy and compassion are each two different concepts, although as words, the two seem synonymous. Each has to do with understanding and the sharing of another’s feelings. The one expressing compassion is the one who breaks from the confines of emotions and places themselves in the circumstances of the one who suffers.

As Christ’s disciples who are being formed as Christ’s body, we are called to experience compassion with Jesus Christ and His body, the Church. As His body, we are to be more intimate with the sufferings of Christ than to have sympathy for Him. We are called and destined to share in His human suffering as we are called also to share in His Divine life. To do this, we certainly need a love for Jesus Christ, or Lord and head. But we are also called and destined to love humanity as Jesus loves humanity, enough o lay His reputation and life down for us.

The Blesser Virgin Mary understand this radical and dual love for Christ and humanity or one would ask how she had the ability to freely birth Her own Son giving Him over to His own creation so intent to turn on him as tormentors and killers of the innocent. Only in Chrit’s love for humanity could Mary do such a thing. St. Francis of Assisi recognized this radical calling of our dual love for Christ and all of humanity. This was probably best expressed by St. Francis in his prayer just before receiving the divine gift of the stigmata as written below:

Loving and suffering like Jesus

The day before Francis was imprinted with the marks of Christ’s passion, he turned towards the sun and prayed:

My Lord Jesus Christ,
two graces I beg of you
before I die:
the first is that in my lifetime
I may feel, in my soul and in my body,
as far as possible,
that sorrow which you, sweet Jesus,
endured in the hour
of your most bitter passion;
the second is that I may feel in my heart,
as far as possible,
that abundance of love with which you,
Son of God,
were inflamed, so as willingly to endure
so great a passion for us sinners.

(3rd Consideration on the Sacred Stigmata)

Making this prayer our prayer will help fortify each of us and the whole Body of Christ to stand up against the fury of distraction and intimidation that Christians face the world over.

Motherhood in Light of Bearing the Preborn Christ

As St. Francis of Assisi highlighted in his Letter to All the Faithful, “We are His mothers when we bear Him in our heart and in our body through pure love and a clean conscience and we bring Him forth by holy work which ought to shine as an example to others.” (Matt 12:50) It is awesome to think that we may be mothers to Christ, bearing the one whom we obey as Master because He is the one who can save souls. But this grace is also a concern of responsibility. What is a mother and how does one fulfill the role of mother for those who do the will of Father?
For today, let us consider what John Paul II has written on motherhood from Evangelium Vitae, Section 99:

In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.

Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”.133 You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb … This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”.134 A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.