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


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday August 18

New post on Breaking In The Habit

Perception and Reality

by friarcasey
Sometimes, perception and reality are not the same
Perception and reality are two things that do not always match up. Sometimes, what we see is not exactly what is actually there but rather the projection of our own experience: when we encounter something that is unfamiliar to us, we tap our memory for information that could fill in the blanks to make sense of what we're seeing. And who can blame us? Given our limited worldview, we simply cannot know everything, and our mind makes great inferences, projections, and connections between what we see and what we know to help us navigate the unknown world.
Because of this, even though what we are perceiving is not the exact objective reality outside of our minds, it is in a very real sense reality. What we perceive, although potentially factually or perceptually incorrect, is a very real experience to us and our worldview. What we experience is what we will think of the world, what we will bring to new situations, and how we will engage new situations. In a very real sense, then, no matter what the actual, objective, outside-the-mind experience really is, our perception is our reality.
I say all of this as a background to the real questions of discernment we face every day as Franciscan Friars: as a radically countercultural and commonly misunderstood people, should we care about the way we are perceived, and, if those perceptions are negative, should we change how we act so as to not create scandal among the misinformed? In other words, if people aren't going to naturally understand what we're trying to say, should we give up and change our message, or should we struggle through ignorance to teach them?
The most obvious example of this is our attire. While wearing my habit I have been confused as a monk, a Jedi, a Moses impersonator, and an actor in a medieval play, while others have been confused as being Muslim, working for UPS, or someone early for Halloween. While there are some that immediately recognize me as a friar, many more are confused (and one can only imagine the conclusions that have not been expressed to us.) Do I avoid wearing my habit because perception is reality and I am promoting an incorrect reality for some, or do I use it as a chance to educate people that their perception is not in fact reality?
Another situation that comes up for me a lot, and admittedly is the inspiration for this post, is golfing as a friar. On more than one occasion I have been looked on with judgmental eyes and given some comment about my lack of poverty when I say that I golf. For me, there is no disconnect between being a friar and a golfer: I have discount clubs, I play on cheap public courses during off hours usually running me about 15-25 dollars to play, and I play only once or twice a month. For me, it is exercise in a beautiful environment, and when I'm not swearing at my ball, it is generally a relaxing, social, prayerful experience. Knowing this, and also knowing how others with a "vow of poverty" spend their money, I pushed one of my brothers on it one day. Turns out, his perception of golf was a country club atmosphere in which women and minorities weren't really welcomed, where caddies carried the golfers' clubs, and it cost $50 or more to play. His perception was not the actual reality in which I lived, and yet, until properly explained, his perception would have been a very difficult reality for him to reconcile with being a friar. Given his perception, I completely understand his judgment. So, because situations like this that go unexplained, do I give up golf because of the scandal it could bring to the misinformed believing perception to be reality, or do I go on defending myself on a person-to-person basis because perception is not in fact reality?
To muddy the discussion even further, I have one last case of misconception. Let's say that there is a child all alone walking down a street at night in, let's say, a neighborhood that you would expect to find friars. Upon seeing this, the "right" thing to do would be to approach the child, ask where his/her parents are, and offer to give the child a ride home for the sake of safety. Clearly a child should not be walking the streets at night and as a religious person, it is good to protect our children. No foul play is even thought of in the situation. What happens, then, when an outsider witnesses the child getting into Brother X's car, alone, late at night? "What is that child doing all alone with that priest? Where is he taking him/her?" Because perception is a form of reality, assumptions and accusations will inevitably ensue despite an actual reality contrary to the observer's perception. This is a very, very bad situation that, despite it's complete disconnect from reality, is something that needs to be avoided at all costs.
And so I ask again: as a radically countercultural and commonly misunderstood people, should we care about the way we are perceived, and, if those perceptions are negative, should we change how we act so as to not create scandal among the misinformed?
Given my examples, I think that it's clear that there is no easy way to answer this question. In one sense, we are public people in charge of caring for many; to not care about how we are being perceived would make us very ineffective at what we do. On the other hand, what we do is very countercultural and largely misunderstood by those we serve; to serve them in a way that they expect or feel comfortable with would be to do them a great disservice because it is the very things that they do not understand that we have to offer them.
At this point in my friar life, my answer is that there is always room for more transparency and evangelization, but that not every situation is it likely to yield positive changes in perceptions. People may not understand us now, and there's a good chance that there will always be a large portion of the population that remains in ignorance, but think about all the people that could be enlightened if we wear our habit almost everywhere, if we talk about our fraternities in our homilies, if we invite people over to our house for prayer and dinner, if we open ourselves up to be transparent, public people, willing to share our lives with the world. Maybe we don't go as Br. Casey to the liquor store or golf course; maybe there are times when it is much more pastoral to blend in than it is to stand apart; maybe there are times we act more like the expectation of our congregation than the way we do in our friaries because people are not ready to see 25 year old, real-human-being Casey, they want pious, well-behaved Br. Casey. Point taken: even though there is nothing wrong with any of these things, there is a time and a place for effective evangelization.That being said, without talking early and often about our lives, people willmisunderstand the habit, will misunderstand our fraternities, will misunderstand our hobbies, and will misunderstand why we do what we do.
But it's worse than that. If our concern for how we are perceived or really, our fear of being misperceived, becomes so great that it discourages us from public action, there is a great possibility that we will not be perceived at all. This, I say, is an actual reality we cannot ignore.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sunday July 17th O Woman, Great is your Faith

(A biblical reflection on the 20th Ordinary Sunday, 17 August 2014)
Gospel Reading: Matthew 15:21-28
First Reading: Isaiah 56:1,6-7; Psalms: Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Second Reading: Romans 11:13-15,29-32
And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from the region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and begged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before Him, saying, “Lord help me.” And He answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly. (Matthew 15:21-28)
The story of the Canaanite women’s faith – a testimony to God’s love for all people in all nations – has brought hope and comfort to hurting souls in every age of the Church. Many people may wonder: “Is there any hope for me, a sinner? Is there any hope for my son’s incurable disease? For my sister who has fallen away from the Church? For my co-worker who has never been baptized and did not have a religious upbringing? For everyone who has been traumatized by abuse and neglect?” The answer is found in scripture over and over again: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Isaiah 56:7). No one is excluded.
When this woman heard that Jesus had come to her town, her heart must have leapt in anticipation. She had probably heard stories about His miraculous works, perhaps had heard people say that He was a prophet from God. As she approached Him – presumably with a mixture of desperation and hope – she cried out: “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon” (Matthew 15:22). Before making her request, she paid Him homage, showing herself to be one of the foreigners who “join themselves to the LORD, ...... to love the name of the LORD, and to be His servants” (Isaiah 56:6).
When Jesus told her that He had been sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”(Matthew 15:24), she pressed on in faith: “Lord help me. ...... even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table” (Matthew 15:25,27). Moved by her humility and her conviction that He could heal her daughter, Jesus rewarded her faith (Matthew 15:28). Thus it was that an outsider – a Gentile – received the blessings of YHWH, the God of Israel.
God’s power and His desire to bless is not limited only to His chosen people; all His promises are still available to us today. We can enter into the healing presence of Jesus as we praise and worship God, imitating the Canaanite woman’s adoration. Just as she experienced the Father’s loving plan to deliver His people from the enemy, so too can we. With her, let cry out to the Lord: “Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You!” (Psalm 67:3)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for loving me. I give my life to You and I trust You to remove the things that keep me from knowing and experiencing Your love. You are my only hope! Amen.
Jakarta, 16 August 2014

A Christian Pilgrim

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Knights of Columbus -Follow Pope's Lead

ORLANDO, Fla. (CNS) -- As an international fraternal organization, the Knights of Columbus is well-positioned to follow Pope Francis' witness of "love for the sick, the suffering and the poor," said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson.

That "extraordinary witness" and the pope's admonition to all to cast aside indifference have "captured the imagination of the world," he said Aug. 5 at the opening business session of the Knights' 132nd Supreme Convention in Orlando.

"As Knights of Columbus, we are well-positioned to respond," said Anderson.

He made the remarks in a lengthy annual report detailing the organization's accomplishments and initiatives in 2013.

The Aug. 5-7 convention celebrated a year in which the organization reported an all-time record for charitable giving: more than $170 million and more than 70.5 million hours of service to charitable causes in the United States and elsewhere the Knights are active.

Response to unexpected tragedies played a large role in members' activities last year, according to Anderson, while the Knights continued their support within their communities for the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids and Food for Families initiatives; programs for those with intellectual disabilities; blood drives; and partnerships with Habitat for Humanity, Special Olympics and the American Wheelchair Mission.

Knights were part of relief efforts following two natural disasters in the Philippines; tornadoes in Moore, Oklahoma; floods in Alberta, Canada; the factory explosion in West, Texas; and the Boston Marathon bombing.

Anderson noted the year also saw the Knights continue their support for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, the October 2012 super storm, and for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, as they recovered from the late 2012 school shooting that left 20 children and seven adults dead.

"Charity has been at the heart of the Knights' mission for the past 132 years," said Anderson. "Whether with funds or service, and whether quietly helping someone overcome a personal tragedy or assisting in the aftermath of a widely known humanitarian disaster, the outpouring of charity by our members produces meaningful results, especially by helping to bring peace of mind to those who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations."

Anderson also noted:

-- Quebec led all Knights of Columbus jurisdictions with charitable donations of more than $11 million.

-- Record membership overall, including a new state benchmark of more than 100,000 members, in Texas.

-- Growth of membership and volunteer hours in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central Europe and Asia.

-- A new family program in advance of next year's World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

Anderson made special mention of the establishment of the first Knights of Columbus council in South Korea, a nation with 5.5 million Catholics and which he described as the fastest growing Catholic community in the world.

He noted Pope Francis' trip to South Korea Aug. 14-18, saying that visit and a papal trip to the Philippines Jan. 15-19 "will play a significant role in the future of the Knights of Columbus."

Knights sing during the Aug. 5 opening Mass of the 132nd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Fla. (CNS photo/Tom Tracy)

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With regard to the federal Affordable Care Act, Anderson said the Health and Human Services mandate that most Catholic employers provide contraceptive coverage "cannot be fixed and it must be repealed."

He pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision this summer, which said closely held for-profit companies could be exempted from some requirements of the federal health care law because of the owners' religious beliefs. He said the Knights hope the high court will follow that ruling with one "to protect the religious liberties of entities such as the Little Sisters of the Poor," who are challenging the process required to be exempted from the mandate.

"What are we to tell our children: that government has become the final arbiter of conscience? That the voice of government must always have the last word?" he asked.

Anderson said that while some politicians try to divide the American people on social issues, the Knights' polling "has found great unity among Americans," even on abortion, "an issue often considered the most divisive."

"A majority of Americans believe life begins at conception, and more than six in 10 think abortion is morally wrong. And, perhaps most importantly, more than eight in 10 Americans say that laws can protect both the well-being of a woman and the life of her unborn child," he said.

Nearly 90 archbishops and bishops -- including 11 cardinals -- were expected to join approximately 2,000 Knights and family members for the convention. The theme of this year's conference is "You Will All Be Brothers: Our Vocation to Fraternity."

August 13th

Christmas Newsletter 2018