Saturday, June 30, 2012

"Abstraction" - Franciscan Poetry & Prose


Love is not a theory.
Love must be felt.
Proved in extremities of promise,
begotten, beyond understanding.

Love is not occasional.
Love must be eternal.
Fleshed in an innocent cry,
suddenly strong to conquer.

Love is not weak.
Love must be bold.
Gone forth in revealing stride,
filling faith with truth.

Love is not scared.
Love must be trust.
Stretched from side to side,
unbroken under obedience.

Love is not dead.
Love must arise.
Submerged in tearful wonders,
recreated by love.

– Fr. David Kaczmarek, T.O.R.

(© copyright All Rights Reserved Kaczmarek, David.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist - Scripture Reflection

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist
(Is 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Lk 1:57-66, 80)

Earlier this month, the bishops of the United States met for their annual June assembly in Atlanta. One of the topics they spent a lot of time discussing was religious liberty and the many ways that Catholics and other people of faith are being challenged these days on any number of fronts. John Gavin, the president of my alma mater, the Catholic University of America, was one of the featured speakers. In addressing the bishops on the topic of religious liberty, Gavin called to mind St. Thomas More, whose memorial we celebrated on Friday. More, as you may remember, was a friend and confidante of Henry VIII and a high ranking official in his court. When Henry, in a desperate attempt to have his first marriage annulled, mandated that all loyal subjects had to sign an oath of loyalty and adopt a new faith, Thomas More could not reconcile his conscience with the demand of the king and found himself on the chopping block. As he said before he was beheaded, “I die as the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Gavin used the example to remind the bishops in a vivid way that that the question of religious liberty is not a dead one—a remnant of a past age—but something that people of faith continue to struggle with today. He observed that our society won’t care about religious freedom if it does not care about God, and suggested that it where reform is needed first. “The best way to protect religious freedom,” he advised, “might be to remind people that they should love God.” In some ways it is an indictment of us and our society—that the struggle for religious freedom is really a symptom of a deeper and more pervasive problem—a lack of love for God and what we say we believe. This is the very thing that John the Baptist confronted when he emerged from the desert to prepare the way of the Lord.

When John appeared preaching and baptizing at the Jordan, he finds a people who, on the one hand, are yearning to be redeemed but, on the other hand, are content with their lives and do not want to change. They say they want a better future—to know in their lives and in their hearts the Reign of God—but they are unwilling to do what is necessary to bring about that reign in their lives or in the life of the world. John knows he has an enormous task before him in terms of motivating these people and helping them dig themselves out of the rut they are in.

John goes about his task by placing himself in their shoes. By his example, as much as by his preaching, he calls them to repent—to believe—to reform their lives. He tells them there is indeed a better future for them and that God wants them to bring about the conditions that will help create that future. There is no time or room for complacency or indifference; they must reprioritize their lives and be about the works of mercy and justice and peace. It was to call people to this that John was born and the hand of the Lord was, indeed, upon him.

The greatest enemy to Christian faith and that values we hold is not doubt, or even persecution. The greatest enemy to faith is a loss of commitment; to be lukewarm about our faith and give it mere lip service. And, if we’re honest, we—individually and as a community—have to admit our guilt. Do we really act on what we say we believe...does our faith in Jesus Christ and his gospel make a difference in how we spend our lives...our money...our resources? For every one of us who is here this afternoon/morning, how many others should be here, but are not? For every one who takes the risk of speaking out on behalf of the poor, the unborn, and all those groups who are marginalized, there are many more of us who are content to continue to live in an isolated world, shielded from the unpleasantness that is reality for so many. Yet, in spite of all our indifference and hesitance, God continues to call us. More than ever, we need the spirit of people like John the Baptist and Thomas More...we need to accept the message of change and repentance...we need to be committed to the works of justice and see ourselves not as Republicans or Democrats or conservatives or liberals, but as citizens of heaven and children of God...God’s servants first. And once we experience that kind of renewal in our own lives...our own hearts...our own communities then...maybe...we will see it in our nation. And surely, the hand of God will have been with us.

– Fr. Anthony M. Criscitelli, T.O.R.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"(W)hole" - Franciscan Poetry & Prose


(for S.G. and J.R. – dead from Crohn's disease)

I knew Stan and Jack but
But their lives were not
Filled in. They were half dug.
It's not right.
We are made to dig
And then fill in the hole
Complete to finish the chore.
That's how we come to know
Who we are. It's about emptying
And filling. Kenosi. Pleroma.
Via Negativa. And Via Positiva

And I'm not sure but they both
Got screwed when it came to emptying
Holes deeper than any body ever needed.
Bodies filled with scars, holes and tattoos
Of grief. Hard hues and dues. Pain's paint chips.

I miss them. And you know what scares me?
I'm still digging too and feeling closer to them both.
There's this hole deeper than I'll need.
And I'm tired of dirt in my shoes and neath my nails.

You know, it's hard to see God
From the ignorant end of a slit trench
Or a grave.

Yea, perhaps no saints in foxholes
But, then again, don't look for atheists
In sickbeds either

Father, forgive us, for our words are black and blue.
Father, forgive me, for a life in search of you.

– Bro. Didacus R. Wilson, T.O.R.

(© copyright All Rights Reserved Wilson, Richard S.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Religious Freedom - A Message from the U.S. Bishops

This Sunday, the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, many U.S. Dioceses are presenting a message from their local Bishops concerning religious freedom and the Fortnight for Freedom. Below is the video from the Diocese of Orlando.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Friars Celebrate the 4th Annual Blessing of the Community Gardens

(Bro. John Kerr, T.O.R. and Fr. Eugene Kubina, T.O.R.; from left to right.)

Fr. Eugene Kubina, T.O.R. blessed the Monastery Gardens on June 2nd. The friars and gardeners prayed together before the annual blessing and Br. John then shared some "holy dirt" he had brought back from the shrine in Chimayo, New Mexico. The gardeners added some to their plots, many of which were growing much ahead of last year's crops when rain slowed the planting. A potluck luncheon followed in the Care for Creation Center.

This year's gardeners include inmates from the local prison, who are growing three plots of vegetables for distribution to the local food pantry, soup kitchen and Dorothy Day Center and three plots for their own use at the Blair County Prison.

Plans are being made for a large yard sale and then the garden's annual Bounty Festival on July 28th.

The Care for Creation Project was started by the Franciscan Friars, T.O.R., Province of the Immaculate Conception in 2009 as a concrete response to the signs of the times concerning the environmental crisis. The project aims to spread the vision of St. Francis of Assisi who regarded all creatures as sister and brother by sharing our land and spiritual heritage with the larger community. To this end, the Friars have opened the beautiful property of St. Bernardine's Monastery to community gardening and “care for creation” programming that focuses on sustainability and cultivating a spirituality inclusive of creation. The Friars are looking forward to the many opportunities for building community, “going green”, and having fun!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Presence" - Franciscan Poetry & Prose


You cannot see a breeze;
You can feel it slice your sun-reddened face,
And rise and fall, the siren of your ears,
And whirl the leaves,
And part the grass like Moses.
You cannot name a breeze;
It will not be owned or ever blocked,
Or kept from some dark corner,
Or tempted or repulsed,
Like a quantity of something made.

When I knew spirit, it was a breeze;
It did not cool or silence the din in my head;
It found me fearsome in my room
Where I was helpless and alone with my friends,
Casting shame into a parting flame.
I know the breeze now from the wind;
We rise and fall together, nameless and unseen,
But ever felt when absence haunts the world
And eyes start at the memory of love.
Our fire does not consume.

– Fr. David Kaczmarek, T.O.R.

(© copyright All Rights Reserved Kaczmarek, David.)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Reflection

Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ
(Ex 24:3-8; Heb 9:11-15; Mk 14:12-16, 22-26)

Today the church celebrates “Corpus Christi” the Body of Christ, the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

When Our Lord was to leave the world He gave not only His blessing, His gifts but a way of remaining with us. He did this through the Eucharist. This is a great sacrament and we might consider it under various aspects: as Sacramental, Communion, or the term used by the Church: the Real Presence. It is the Heart of the Mystery of the Eucharist. We do not have in the Eucharist a “symbolic presence,” or a mere memorial but the Presence of Christ. The sanctuary lamp burns continuously to remind us that this is God’s House and that Jesus Christ - the Lord - is here, present among us therefore with the same concern, compassion, love and Power described in the today’s gospel about the feeding of the multitude.

Christ is present to us here - and if we want to become like Him then we must be present to Him. The Saints have understood this and so the Eucharist was the center of their spiritual life:

St. Elizabeth Seton: Two things bought her into the Catholic Church - the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Mother.

St. Thomas Aquinas: When he had a great problem to solve, he would leave his books behind and go to the chapel. He said he learned more on his knees before the Blessed Sacrament in five minutes than hours in the library.

St. Vincent de Paul: He opened letters in the chapel before the Blessed Sacrament asking the Eucharist Lord for solution to people’s problems.

Bl. Mother Theresa: Morning Mass gives us the courage to go among the poorest. Her great delight was to have a Holy Hour with Benediction at the end of a day working with the dying, with lepers, Refreshed and reminded her and the sisters that they belonged to God and God belonged to them.

One could go on and on with examples but as Mons. Ronald Knox wrote: “For the most part Our Lord’s closest friends have not been learned people who know how to argue religion but simple people who know how to live it!

Their lives teach us the need for respect and devotion to Christ present in the Eucharist --- and the transforming power of the Eucharist consciously and worthily received!

– Fr. Seraphin Conley, T.O.R.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"Time On Its Side" - Franciscan Poetry & Prose

(Sculpture by Kenneth Treister at the Miami Holocaust Memorial.)

Time On Its Side

Hunger crawls in a crooked line,
Hunger stalks from here, to there, to nowhere.
Hunger speaks in small mouths of rice.
Hunger counts backwards like a patient anesthetized.

Hunger growls regardless of its leash.
Hunger is a straw-empty cage of lies.
The lens of its stare ready to ignite,
Hunger sprawls patiently in the sun.

Hunger knows its whims, is terminal.
Hunger never asks, "Am I my brother's keeper?"
Hunger is sloppy, skin-taut and navel protruded
like a series of ellipses.

Hunger breaks no bones.
Hunger, nothing less than a corpse's masque,
is visible, lonely,
Consecrated with flies that hover like dirt angels

Praying over their victims.
And here no lilies smolder at the edges,
Putting on airs---
Hunger waits with time on its side.

– by Bro. Didacus R. Wilson, T.O.R.

(© copyright All Rights Reserved Wilson, Richard S.)