Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brother Ramon Razon - Tapestry of St. Clare Sunday August 31

Polyester, the Poor Clares and Clare of Assisi

Hidden Patch photo by Christian Seno
Creating a tapestry of Sta. Chiarra d’ Assisi made from the habits of Poor Clare nuns has been incredible. The pieces of fabric I received from my Poor Clare sisters in Chesterfield, N.J., Cincinnati, OH, and Langhorne, PA were worn out and patched from the inside. The Poor Clares draw the integrity of their vow of poverty not from public admiration of their life but from a deep-seated conviction from within to make concrete choices on their poverty that honor the dignity of the poor and care for all creation.
Yours truly while cutting fabric
photo by Christian Seno
Cutting their habits therefore was a delicate process because they fray a lot. Not only are they old but they also use cheap material – polyester. Sorry sisters, your secret is now out. Thankfully, they use light cotton fabric for their summer habit because voluntary poverty also means being practical and sensible. I consider their habits relics. Yet, their life of hidden prayer and generous service is what truly edifies me to treat their habits with care, respect and admiration.
Ms. Hepbrun in “A Nun Story”
photo by Chrsitian Seno
Searching for a face on which to model St. Clare, I thought of Audrey Hepburn in “A Nun’s Story”. Chiara, who was also part Belgian, disrupted the status quo among female nobility when she chose to follow Francis in a life of chastity, poverty and life of service. As the first woman founder to assert her own rule anchored on poverty, Chiarra had the grace, strength and diplomatic tools to obtain Pope Innocent IV’s approval. I thought Audrey Hepburn’s iconic nun photo, in a negative-positive relief would capture all these aspects albeit in an abstract composition.
Sta. Chiarra d’ Assisi photo by Christian Seno
St. Clare’s commitment to poverty was driven by her desire to be transformed into God’s image (3LAg). Minister General Br. Michael Perry, OFM pointed out that this image is of a God who reaches down to humanity in Jesus Christ, who became truly alive and present among His people. Sts. Francis and Clare tied themselves down to this movement so that nothing could interrupt them save for the love of God, which drew them ever nearer to God Himself towards all people.
Brother postulant Christian Seno helped me yet again to finish this intricate project. He remarked how chic St. Clare looks in this tapestry. I never knew that polyester could add class to voluntary poverty. Perhaps, it’s just safe to say that Franciscan and Clarian poverty will always be in style.
Happy feast to all our Poor Clare sisters, all the friars, religious Franciscan sisters, secular franciscans and all our Franciscan lay partners!

Polyester, the Poor Clares and Clare of Assisi

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sunday August 31 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

(A biblical reflection on the 22nd ORDINARY SUNDAY, 31 August 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:21-27
First Reading: Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalms: Psalm 63:32-6,8-9; Second Reading: Romans 12:1-2
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a hindrance to Me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men.”
Then Jesus told His disciples, “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me, For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done. (Matthew 16:21-27 RSV)

As He spoke to His disciples, Jesus was clear that it is only through the cross that will be able to receive His life within us. Why? Because there is a big difference between human understanding of good conduct and the divine standard of holiness. In this passage, for example, Peter grasped part of the mind of God when he told Jesus, “You are the Christ,” but was unable to accept a further aspect of God’s will when he rebuked Jesus for prophesying His death on the cross.
TIGA SALIB DI GOLGOTASaint Paul spoke often about Jesus’ exhortation to take up the cross. In his letter to the Romans, he exhorted us to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices ...... to be transformed by the renewing of” our minds (Romans 12:1-2). Like Peter, Paul learned through practical experiences that his mind and his actions had to be brought into alignment with the humility, obedience, and trust that Jesus manifested on Calvary.
Every day, the Holy Spirit seeks to transform us a little more, raising our natural, human thoughts up to a divine way of thinking and acting. Not only in our prayer times, but especially through the trials of life, the Holy Spirit presses us onward. Trial and conflict reveal where we are incapable of loving, serving, or forgiving as Jesus did. We simply cannot reflect the life and personality of Jesus without help from the Holy Spirit.
When you come up against your weaknesses, don’t be afraid or discouraged. These are opportunities to run to God for help. Ask Him to put to death in you all that does not resemble Jesus – every opposition to His call to unconditional love. Then, when you see even a small change in your heart, rejoice. By uniting yourself to the death of Jesus, you are coming to resemble Him in his resurrected, eternal life.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I bring to you today the situations in which I find it hard to reflect Your will. Put to death any resistance in me to Your ways. I want Your resurrected life in me. Amen.
A Christian Pilgrim

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monday August 25 Visit by Friar and author Murray Bodo OFM

 Murray Bodo, a friar from the St. John the Baptist Province, Cincinnati, Ohio, stopped for a visit on his way to Assisi, Italy, where he will lead a pilgrimage to the places of St. Francis and Saint Clare.  Murray is an author of many books on Francis and Clare and one on Mystics of which included Robert Lax . Lax was the inspiration behind the writing of that book.  
The other leaders of the pilgrimage are Sister Frances Teresa Downing OSC and Friar Andre Cirino OFM both distinguished authors in their own right.  
Friar Murray celebrated Eucharist with us and gave a beautiful homily on the Contemplative Life.  He said that the definition of a contemplative is a person who  is always ready for the movement of the dance -  To dance as the leader leads you and not to try to lead, to bend when necessary and to believe and trust in the movement of the dance.

Friar  Murray's latest book is Francis and Jesus.
 He has a new book coming out in January, Enter Assisi.
Pax et Bonum 

August 25 Feast of Saint Louis IX Patron of the Third Order of Franciscans

 St Louis IX, King of France and Patron of the Secular Franciscan
Today is the feast of St. Louis, a king who cared for the poor.  Once a week Louis would invite 13 poor people to dine with him at his table. Louis (1214-1270) was king of France from 1226 until 
his death. In his day, he was viewed as the quintessential 

Christian ruler. He fostered a uniform system of justice and 

attempted to quell private wars in his realm and was

attentive to the rights of the poor 

 ...Very devout in his personal life, he was never heard to 

speak ill of anyone. He was a great patron of the Franciscan

 and Dominican friars and their evangelizing efforts. His life 

reminds us that Franciscan spirituality always involves a 

commitment to establishing God's justice in society and the 

promotion of peace. Although his life certainly expressed  

the values of true Christian penance - seeking to turn from 

evil and live out Gospel values - there is actually no 

historical record of his formally entering the Order of 

Penance (the "Third Order" of Franciscans). In the United 

States not only the city of St. Louis, but the California 

mission of San Luis Rey 

  (the new site of the Franciscan School of Theology) 

are named after him. The painting was done by El Greco 

several centuries after Louis's death).

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sunday August 24th You are the Christ

(A biblical reflection on the 21st ORDINARY SUNDAY (Year A), 24 August 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-20
First Reading: Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalms: Psalm 138:1-3,6,8; Second Reading: Romans 11:33-36
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that He was the Christ. (Mt 16:13-20 RSV)
The Gospel of Matthew deals with the question of faith, especially in chapters 13:53-17:27. In today’s Gospel we come to a point of climax as Peter proclaims that Jesus is“the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The Hebrew word “Messiah”means “the anointed one”; its Greek translation is Christos, Christ in English.
PETRUS - 1 PEGANG DUA KUNCIIn Matthew’s account, Peter called Jesus “the Son of the living God,” a title not found in Mark’s account of this incident (see Mark 8:29). Some scripture scholars, comparing these two versions, conjecture that Mark may have preserved Peter’s original words while Matthew drew on a slightly later, more mature understanding of the nature of Jesus in the early Church. Thus, moved by the Holy Spirit, he provided a fuller description of who Jesus really is. This is an important point for us to note: Faith is not static; it is meant to grow and develop and should never become stagnant.
There is always more that God wants to reveal to us. He wants our faith to continue to grow to the point that we can make a proclamation like Peter’s. It is one thing to recognize Jesus as a “Messiah,” a prophet anointed by God to save His people. But there is a far greater depth involved in understanding Jesus as God, possessing all the attributes of the god-head, equal in every way to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
We could never – not even in a hundred lifetimes – reach the limits of understanding of God. There is always more to learn, more areas in which to grow; and only God can grant us that growth. Who indeed can fully know the mind of God? What could we ever give Him that would lead us to expect anything in return (see Romans 11:34-35)? Only God can give us knowledge of who Jesus is. Only He can move us to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah. Only He can reveal Jesus, the Son of the living God. This knowledge should be continually growing and leading us to seek Him, arousing in us the desire to understand Him better, and making us long for the fullness of revelation that will be ours when we are with Him for all eternity.
Short Prayer: Heavenly Father, You alone are true God, perfect good, all good, every good, the true and supreme good, You alone are good, loving and gentle. Grant me a fresh revelation of Your Son, Jesus, so I can know Him more, and can share His love to others. Amen.
Jakarta, 22 August 2014

A Christian Pilgrim