The Beginning

The Beginning

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

O come, O come Emmanuel
and ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
In this second week of Advent we reflect upon the "voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths." We call upon the Lord, our God...Emmanuel, God with us. This simple word both humble and divine holds within it the very notion of our salvation. Within this word lies the slavific plan of an all loving Father. The word Emmanuel reflects upon the mystery, which is our Catholic Christian faith, that God in all love and humility would become of us. It is easy to lose sight of this fact. In fact it would seem that now days we as a society are listening to another voice crying out. The voice of materialism. We tend to skip advent all together and go straight into the Christmas season, which is focused on making sure we get the newest and best material items. And while I can say that the spirit of giving is still alive it seems we have almost forgotten why we are giving. We give because we are made in the image and likeness of a God who gives totally of Himself. Advent is a time of preperation. It is a time of reflection. We prepare ourselves and reflect upon the coming mystery of our faith which is the incarnation of God. For Franciscans the idea of the Incarnation is held in a different light than much of the rest of the Church which tends to focus more on Christ's coming to save us from sin, which is part of it but for Franciscans not the main point. I have come to have a greater and deeper love and understanding of this view of the Incarnation. Franciscans believe that God did not become incarnate first and foremost to save us from sin, but instead because He loved us. Even if we hadn't sinned God would have still sent His Son Jesus into the world to be with us, to be present to us. God is constantly giving Himself away and so the 2nd Person of the Trinity bows down to us and gives love away. But as we all know with the taking of the risk to love comes the possibility of rejection. And because God created us free, which is the source of true love, Jesus Himself was rejected by those He loved. "He came to His own but His own did not receive Him. Those who did were given the gift to become sons and daughters of God." This is the gift given to us through the Incarnation. We are shown how to become true sons and daughters of God. We are shown what love is and how we are to love one another. If we focus to much on our sins we lose sight of God. Because our sins are our own, not God's. When we focus only on our sin we become focused on ourselves which is not the point. Our point of focus is God's love and mercy. If we focused more on ways to show God's unending love instead of focusing on sin our lives would become much more whole. God's greatest gift to mankind is the Incarnation. Love made manifest. And so the greatest gift we can give is the gift of love for one another. So how do we prepare for the greatest gift of God's love for us? Do we accept the gift? Do we listen to the "voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths," or do we lose sight of the meaning of Advent and get caught up with the other endless voices around us filling us with distractions from what is most important? I pray that we all may make the rest of this Advent season one of deep personal reflection on what love is and what it means to truly love and who are we maybe being called to love more? Is there someone in our lives we find difficult to love? May you all have a blessed Advent season.
Peace and all good,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Prayer for Vocations

I received this prayer card with this prayer for vocations on the back of it and I thought I would share it with everyone. The Church is always in need men willing to answer the call that Christ has planted in their hearts. It is often said that we are in the midst of a priest shortage, which is a correct statement. But people often go further in saying their is a vocation shortage. However there is no shortage of vocations, but there is a shortage of those vocations willing to say yes to the call God has for them. Be not afraid is a constant theme in scripture and it was picked up by our beloved Holy Father Pope John Paul II. It was the center of his message to young people in the Church. Be not afraid. Open wide your hearts to Christ. I think it is often out of fear that young people choose to ignore the priestly call. But I also think they are also distracted. Distracted by this world. Wanting to make money, to have things that will supposedly make them happy. To have a career that they will enjoy. To have a wife and kids. The last two are not bad. I want to make myself very clear on that. They are obviously very good and gifts given by God. But I think young people don't understand what it means to be a priest or religious. When I ask young guys if they have ever thought of being a priest I usually get a common response. "Yes". Well then what's the problem? "I like girls to much." And thats usually followed by the both of us laughing. But its so true and its so common. There are two main reasons why I joined the Capuchins. One was because I was affirmed in the fact that the order works with the individual so that the individual can do what he loves and enjoys. The order wants us to use the gifts God has given us for the greater good of the community and of the world wide Church. For instance there are friars that are artists, teachers (in every subject), preachers, chaplains, architects, mechanics, scholars, missionaries, parish priests, so on and so forth. My opinion is that for the most part whatever you want to do can in some way be done within religious life. That is my opinion. You can take it or leave it. But the important thing is that the order wants you to be happy and a lot of freedom is given. I was filling out job applications for youth ministry when I decided to apply to the Capuchins. When I started getting involved in youth ministry my freshman year of college I started putting off the thought of religious life. That grew the longer I was in youth ministry. Then I realized that I can do youth ministry as a religious. And now here I am. lol. Second is family. Would I love to have a family? Yes! But one thing that attracted me to the Capuchins was that even though I was a person from the outside looking in, a new guy, I felt like family. I was welcomed into the community and shown great love and hospitality even before I officially began my application. I felt at home. And even though I will never have a family in the literal sense of a wife and kids, as a friar and God willing one day as a priest, my wife will be the Church and my children will be the people of God. Countless in number. What greater thing can a guy ask for? Is it easy? No. I wont lie. But nothing that is worthwhile is easy. Is it scary? Heck yes! New people, new experiences, new everything. Is it hard being away from family and friends? Yes. But do I trust in God that whatever happens is meant to happen? Yes I think I can say I do for really the first time in my life I can honestly say that I trust it will all work out in the end. So "Be Not Afraid". These are my thoughts on vocations and I ask you all to pray with me that more will answer God's holy call to such a blessed way of life.
Peace and all good,
Prayer for Vocations
Most High and Glorious God,
You called Francis of Assisi
to follow Jesus, your Son,
in the spirit of gospel poverty,
humility, and charity. Through
the waters of Baptism and the
power of the Holy Spirit,
you continue to draw others
to discipleship and service.
Through the intercession of the
Blessed Virgin Mary and
Saints Francis and Clare, grant
that there may be an increase
in vocations in the church.
We especially ask that more
young men will generously respond
to the invitation to follow your Son,
Jesus, as Capuchin Friars.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Our Week at St. Lawrence

The last week has been a busy one. On Friday Oct 29th the postulants from the New York province arrived here in Milwaukee. There were four plus their postulancy director. On Saturday we took them to the lakefront and bought them coffee at one of the local coffee shops. From the very beginning we got along great. On Sunday we headed up to St. Lawrence High School Seminary about a little over an hour north of Milwaukee. We were going up to have class by one of the friars from my province over the history of the Mass/Eucharist/Liturgy. Some of it for me was review but other things were knew. The classes were Monday through Wednesday for about 5 1/2 hours a day broken up into different sessions. We began with the Christian community during the first century and how they celebrated the Lord's Supper and we traveled all the way up to our present day. It is amazing to see how much the Mass has changed over the centuries. What began as a meal in the homes of what were then still Jewish families has now transformed in to the Eucharist celebrated in large churches and cathedrals. It wasn't until the period between 313-750 that because of the time period and people focusing more on their own sinfulness than the mercy of God, that kneeling first came into practice. It wasn't until the 600's-700's that the sacrificial aspect of the mass came into practice. And up until this point there weren't even prescribed Eucharistic prayers as we have today. I think it's just interesting for me personally to see how the celebration of the Mass has been evolving throughout the centuries and even up to today when the bishops of the United States are again introducing changes into this ancient and holy celebration. The purpose though remains the same. "Do this im memory of me," Christ told us. We come together as community to express our beliefs in Christ Jesus our Lord and God. Fully divine, yet fully human. And that as the bread and wine are transformed into His body, blood, soul and divinity, so too must we transform our own lives following after the one who gave gave everything not because He had to, but because He loved us. The humility of God was something that astounded St. Francis and should astound each and every one of us. That God emptied Himself, stooping down and accepting the limitations of the human condition and remaining with us under the species of Bread and Wine. What greater love is there than this?

While we were busy with classes we were also able to spend time in community with each other. We were truly blessed to have the New York postulants with us and we came together as brothers very quickly. We were also lucky to have such fine hosts as the friars living up at St. Lawrence Seminary. They are always very welcoming. Capuchin hospitality. There is none better to be found. I would have to say that this week was probably the best week I've had in postulancy so far. I cannot wait to go to New York in April when we are scheduled to visit the New York postulants on their own terf.

Peace and all good,

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Mustard Seed

It has been awhile since I've written a new post on here. Things have been pretty busy and I have had little time to write anything. But I guess, since this is a blog about what the Capuchin way of life is all about, me having little time says a lot about the way of life. lol. Between 15 hours of ministry a week, 10 hours of class a week, plus all the reading for those classes, and on top of that prayer, cooking, cleaning and trying to find time to just relax life gets to be pretty busy. Last week we had a visiting friar from the New York province come and give a week long class on Scripture. Being able to look at the world behind the text, the world of the text, and the world infront of the text which we all bring to scripture everytime we read it. What does it mean to us today? It was rather interesting. Yet at the same time challenging. For instance do you know the meaning behind Jesus telling the parable of the mustard seed? I thought I did until last week. It was surprising to find out that the real meaning of it isn't what's often preached about on Sundays. What is preached about on Sundays is the world infront of the text. What we can get out of it today. In Jewish history there was a set of laws which eventually became what we know as the Kosher Dietary laws which actually prohibited the planting of mustard seeds. Why? Because they were seen as invasive plants or weeds. And as Jesus says it grows large branches so that birds can come and nest in it. This is what he compared the Kingdom of God to. He compared it to a seed that was illegal to plant and was invasive and brought birds to nest in it. What farmer wants birds around? They destroy everything! Hence why we make scarecrows. So what is he trying to say? The message literally is that the Kingdom of heaven is not kosher. Which for the Jews was a huge challenge. The Kingdom of God is not meant to be something easy. It is a challenge to live it and bring it about. It takes us outside our comfort zones. It removes us from legalistic thinking. It's different. No one likes different. We to easily become comfortable with how things are always done. Myself included. So I learned a lot from this class. And it gave me things to think about. It is very easy to water down scripture and make it look all pretty. But really the Gospels pretty radical messages. Jesus himself was seen as a radical. So much so that they killed Him for it. What does this say for us today? I don't know. It is something we each have to think about. Something I will continue to discern for quite some time.

This last Saturday all of us postulants and our director, Fr. Bill, were invited by the OFM's in Chicago for prayer and dinner. It was a gathering of the 3 first orders of Franciscans. Us Capuchins, the OFM's and the Conventuals. There were probably about 45 all together. About 26 of us alone. So we were definately the majority. It was a great time. After prayer and dinner we ventured downstairs to find out that they had a karaoke machine. So there were about 20 some friars singing karaoke. Yea isn't that an interesting image? lol. It was so much fun. We got to meet and talk to different guys from the different orders and come together as a Franciscan family. Me and Michael, the guy from the Canadian Capuchin Province, stayed in Chicago overnight. We stayed at the post-novitiate house in Chicago. I always enjoy staying over and visiting there. It's a very young house which is a nice change of scenery for me being the youngest guy here in the house in Milwaukee. We left Sunday around noon and came back to having to prepare for presentations we have to give this week. This week is the Life of Francis with Fr. Bill. We each are giving presentations on a person or theme from the life of Francis. Mine is on Bishop Guido who was the bishop of the time of Francis. Let's just say things haven't changed much from college. I am still a huge procrastinator. I was up till 2am working on mine and then I didn't even have to give it today. O well. At least its done.

This weekend the postulants from the New York province will be here and we travel up to St. Lawrence, the high school seminary, up about an hour and a half north of here in Mt. Calvary Wisconsin. So I'm sure I will have lots to write about after that.

Peace and all good,

Friday, October 8, 2010

What is Poverty?

About once a month, instead of having class in the morning, the five of us postulants get together with Fr. Bill and Fr. Marty, our directors, to have a morning of reflection. Usually beforehand a topic is chosen and then they give us something to read about the topic along with some questions to think about and to prepare us to have a discussion about the topic. Today's topic was on poverty. Now for me personally the issue of poverty has weighed heavily on my heart. I don't think that I can say that I know what poverty is or what the best way to live it is. There are so many definitions, and ideas about what it means to live a life of poverty. Infact it has been this one issue of poverty that has been at the center of the many divisions within the Franciscan family. As a kid and as I entered into high school and thinking about religious life at the time, what always attracted me to religious life was the radical sense of material poverty. I was attracted to it for many reasons which I wont get into. And I think that maybe a small part of me may still be attracted to it. Coming into the Capuchin order the idea of poverty is different. And let me make myself clear that when I say different I do not mean it in a bad way. Like I said before there are many definitions of poverty. One is not better or worse than the other. Within the Capuchin community I will always be provided for. What I have is not my own. But we do have many good things. There is always food on the table, and with Capuchins it is always plenty of food. lol. I have a bed to sleep in, though small, is still more than what many have. I have a closet and dresser full of clothes, a bookshelf full of books, not all of which are mine. I have a sink in my room and a desk and my computer. I could go on and on with the things I have. the issue I brought up in our reflection is the question of how can I relate with and be empathetic with those who have absolutely nothing when I myself have never and probably never will experience the situation of having absolutely nothing. I can go and help at a soup kitchen, I can go and be the youth minister for inner city kids that have lived more difficult lives than I could ever imagine, I can go into a prison and visit the people there. I can do all these things, but I will never "KNOW" what it's like to have nothing. And I guess this bothers me a little bit. How can I relate? How can I minister? I have always been a man who has believed heavily in experience. It is our experiences that drive us to become who we are today. It is our experiences that help us to help others. So the issue of poverty is a troublesome one for me in all honesty. But at the same time by having what we need, being well fed, well rested, we are able to be better ministers. What we do have we take care of and cherish. We have been blessed as a community to have many great and holy benefactors that provide for our needs. So maybe I'm looking at it in the wrong way. Maybe instead to live a life of poverty is to be humble enough to be thankful for what we do have. Maybe poverty is realizing our dependence on God and relying on Him to provide for us, which He does through our benefactors. So maybe this is what poverty is. I don't know. It is something I struggle with and pray a lot about. And hopefully one day I will find the answer. Until that time keep me in your prayers.

Peace and all good,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Youth Group

As you may or may not know, my ministry for postulancy is working with the high school youth group at St. Francis parish in Milwaukee. Tonight was our third meeting. Each week we get at least one or two more kids coming. God has been good. We started our first meeting with 4 and now we are up about 8. So we have already doubled just within 3 weeks! Our first two meetings were just socials to hang out and get to know each other. Luckily the weather has been great each night we have it so we have a bonfire and cookout out in the courtyard of what used to be the old monastery. One of the high school guys introduced us to a great new version of making S'mores. You basically instead of putting the marshmellow and chocolate on graham crackers, use 2 keebler m&m cookies. It is sooooo good! So tonight since our last two nights were mostly socials, I decided to start mixing it up a little. I knew from asking them, that the kids really dont know what adoration is or understand the mass and the Eucharist. So tonight I started from the beginning talking about relationships in general which leads into relationship with God which will eventually lead into the Eucharist and adoration. Well tonight I wanted to get the point across that just like when you start a friendship with someone, to get to know them you have to spend time with them the same is with God. You have to spend time with Him. So I asked the question, How do you know Jesus is God? I wanted to drive home the point is that you know He is God because you spend time with Him and you get to know Him and He becomes very real to you as you spend time with Him. Well when I asked the question I got a response I was not expecting. The kids didn't even know Jesus is God. So in the best and most simplistic way I could I tried to explain the Trinity to them. I ended up using St. Patrick's 3 leaf clover model. lol. But what was amazing was that even though they didnt realize Jesus is God, God to them is very much real. As we talked about relationships they really opened up about how some of them have never had a relationship with one parent or the other. Or how friends have stabbed them in the back and feel like they can't trust anyone. So I asked, does that reflect your relationship with God in a negative sense? The answer was an overwhelming NO! "God is what keeps us going." "He's the one person we can talk to." It was a very eye opening experience and I am truly blessed to be here with these kids and learn from them as I hope they also learn from me. Please keep the group in your prayers as we continue to grow.

Peace and all good,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Transitus and Solemnity of our holy father Francis

It has been a very busy yet blessed weekend for us as Capuchins and for the entire Franciscan community world wide. Last night, Sunday Oct 3rd, we celebrated the night that our holy father Francis, passed from this world to the heavenly Father. All of us postulants and our director, Fr. Bill, went to Chicago to take part in the Transitus celebrations with our post novitiate houses there. One of the other postulants and I actually traveled down to Chicago on Saturday ahead of everyone else. The relic of St. John Bosco was in Chicago Saturday night and since he is the patron saint of youth and I work a lot with youth ministry I wanted to be able to go and venerate the relic. Which I did but thats a whole seperate story. Sunday night we began the Transitus at 7pm in the living room of the friary. There were probably about 30 friars, friends and affiliates of the community present. It was a packed house to say the least. It consists of 8 different "stations" recalling the story of Francis' death. After each reading we sang Christ be our light, which with over 30 people singing it, it was just beautiful. After the 7th station we processed to the chapel with the paschal candle and insense to do the last station which is Francis' death. Before he died he asked that bread be brought so that it would be broken and shared and so likewise we broke bread together as a rememberance of this final action of Francis. It was truly a very beautiful service. And as with any Capuchin event we had a big social afterwards with lots of good food. It was time spent as community, as brothers and sisters.

And so now today, Monday Oct 4th we celebrate the Solemnity of St. Francis. It is a solemnity for the Franciscan family world wide, but in the world wide Church it is only celebrated as a memorial. Very unfortunate I think. lol. Since it was our major feast day we got to sleep in and have morning prayer and mass start at 8 instead of 7. A whole hour! During the homily part of the mass Fr. Bill asked each of us, both professed and postulants, what it was that first drew us to St. Francis. It was interesting to hear the different stories from the rest of the community. My reason was this. Growing up as a kid who was living in a divorce situation and not always getting along with my parents, Francis always appealed to me as a kid. Because Francis did not have the best relationship with his family. They didnt understand why he was doing the things that he did. And as I grew up and when I started getting very involved in my faith and started going to morning mass before school started I always felt like I was not understood for doing what I was doing. And this is what started things, but it grew into much more than that. I was so attracted, as a kid and teenager who had very little peace or hope in his life at the time, to this man from Assisi who seemed to bring peace and hope with him wherever he went. He brought the peace and love and hope of God into the lives of many people who would not have received it otherwise. And hearing of this man who was able to do this I found myself wanting to do the same thing. And it's why I am so passionate about youth ministry because so many teens and young people in general are going through the same thing I went through. They have lost hope. They feel unloved, they feel alone, and they feel no one cares. Because I have been there I know the pain that comes from it and like Francis I hope that God can use me to bring His hope and love back into the lives of others. I just had a very powerful experience last week, and I wont give to many details, but he is a very good friend of mine who lives in the area and he experienced this loss of hope and feeling loved. And as I went to be with him and help him through it I came to see that this is in fact why I am where I am now, with the Capuchins. This is why I want to be a priest. It was a very profound experience. I thought to myself it was only 6 years ago when I was in his position and two of my friends were in the position I was that night. And it was because God sent people into my life who brought back that hope and that love that I am still here today. And now here I am giving back what I had received only 6 years ago. There is nothing more powerful to me than that. And I just had the peace in my heart that said this is where God wants me and this is the work God wants me to do. I only hope that He gives me the strength to do it. Becuase it is not an easy thing to see people you care about in so much pain. I thank God for my past, painful as it was, because without it I would not be the man I am today and I would not be here with the Capuchins giving back what I have been so blessed to receive. Happy Solemnity of St. Francis to you all. May the peace, love and spirit of Francis be with each one of you this day. God Bless.

Peace and all good,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dominican Province of St. Joseph | Ryan Briscoe (22 years old) Blog |

Dominican Province of St. Joseph Ryan Briscoe (22 years old) Blog

Ryan has been a friend of mine since grade school. Now he is Br. Patrick Mary. I'm just jealous he got a habit before me. lol. I'm very proud of him and I know he will be a great Dominican!

Who Do You Say I Am?

"Who do the crowds say that I am?" These words are spoken by Christ in the Gospel passage from today found in the Gospel of Luke. He poses this question to His disciples while they were in solitude, away from the hectic crowds and other distractions. They responded with answers such as well "some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others say one of the ancient prophets who has arisen from the dead." He responds, "But who do you say that I am?" Wow! What a question! Who do you say that I am? Who is Christ to us in the midst of such a busy and materialistic world that tells us in a very subverted way that the center and focus of our lives, which should be Christ, needs to be how popular we are, how wealthy we are, how successful we are? Who is Christ for us? I have to be honest in saying that I don't fully know who Christ is for me. I mean I can say with certainty that He is God's son sent to this earth out of love for us so that we may be given the opportunity for salvation. But on a personal level do I know Christ? Fr. Larry Richards, a very popular speaker these days, always says something that I think is very profound. He says, "You can know everything there is to know about Jesus, the Church, the doctrines, and still not KNOW who Jesus is." The word know here does not pertain to an intellectual knowledge of something, but an understanding of the very essence of something, in this case someone, Jesus Christ. To know someone on a personal level. To have a relationship with that person. In reality to feel at one with that person. Everyone has friends. So how do you get to become friends? You spend time with that person Fr. Richards says. There are some people who become more like brothers or sisters than friends. A close bond is created where you just enjoy being with each other. Really to fully know someone can't even be described in terms. But it is found deep within ones self. Like the relationships we develop with each other we also develop our relationship with Jesus in the same way. We spend time with Him. We open ourselves up fully to Him. And tell Him whats on our mind. But a friendship, and any relationship is a two way street. We must also listen to what Christ has to say to us. And this I think is the most challenging part for me and probably for a lot of people. One of the great things about being in religious life is there is set times to pray. There is structure. But we are also asked to have at least an hour outside of that time in our own private silent meditation. That is when you get to know Christ. When you just let yourself 'be'. I find this very difficult though. There is so much that rushes through my mind that I get distracted very easily and it's hard to focus. But that is something I must work on. If I want to be able to answer the question Jesus asks in the Gospel I must first learn to be still and know that He is God. I must open myself up to Him. I must spend time with Him. Such a challenge. But also such a blessing, because from this challenge will come strength and a deeper relationship with my Lord and my God.

Peace and all Good,


Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Suffering to Wholeness

Today the Church celebrated one of the greatest and most well know Capuchin saints. Saint Padre Pio. Throughout the day though, even before we had the mass which this was discussed at during the homily, something kept running through my mind. A thought that I kept reflecting on, which I find myself doing a lot since entering postulancy. The thought was this. One of the greatest realizations that we can have as human beings and as Christians, is the fact that we are imperfect...we are sinful...we are broken. We have all messed up in life. We have all fallen into a life of sin whatever that may be, and because of that sin we have been broken. We all struggle with something in life. Whether it's divorce, or other family issues, loneliness, depression, drugs, alcohol, you name it someone has been through it. And all of this builds on us as people. Yet despite our imperfections, despite our sinfulness, and despite our brokenness we must realize that no matter what we are and always will be the beloved sons and daughters of a God who created us in His very image and Whose likeness we strive to perfect each and every day of our lives. From our greatest imperfection comes our greatest strength and because of our brokenness we become wholy holy. It is only in being broken and knowing the pain that comes from that, that we can better understand the suffering of others and have not only a greater sense of compassion and mercy for them but also because of our own pain and emptiness we are better able to help others and to reach out to them.

It was interesting that I was thinking about this throughout the day because at mass celebrating the memorial of Padre Pio this very issue was brought up in the homily. Because of the stigmata (the five wounds of Christ) that Padre Pio received and lived with throughout his life he had to deal with a great deal of pain. Physically. But he was also often persecuted and was even silenced by the Church for things that just were not true about him. This also brought him much emotional pain. All the pain that this holy man suffered, he turned into a deep love for people and becuase of this love he helped countless numbers of people. During his life numerous miracles were attributed to his intercession and even more so after his death. His great suffering, and his great brokenness before the crucified Christ brought forth great love and compassion for God's people. He is truly a model for us all. Padre Pio...Pray for us! Below is a link to a clip from a movie about Padre Pio. The end is very powerful.

Peace and all Good,

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Feast of St. Matthew

Who are the poor? For some reason this question has been on my mind a lot lately. And I don't even really know why. But the Gospel for the Feast of St. Matthew today I think touched a bit on this question. And you may find yourselves asking why? There is no mention of the poor in the Gospel today. It instead tells the story of Jesus calling Matthew the tax collector to follow after Him. It then tells how many tax collectors and sinners came to sit and eat with Jesus. Now first of all we know that generally speaking tax collectors were pretty wealthy people. They usually took from the people more than what was required so that they could line their own pockets (sounds pretty similar to things going on today.) You see this also in the story of Zacchaeus, another tax collector, who climbed a tree so that he may see Jesus. So again why when talking about the rich do I ask the question, who are the poor? It is simple. Who is more poor? The man who has nothing, knows he has nothing, and goes and asks for help, or the man who has everything he could ever imagine, thinks he is happy, yet has a constant desire for more things and does not realize his own emptiness? I would dare to argue that it is the rich person who doesn't even realize his own emptiness, that is the one who is most poor. Coming from a postulant with the Capuchin Franciscans whose main mission is to care for the poor this must sound pretty crazy. But is it really? Over and over again we constantly see Christ reaching out to those in authority, those with power, and those with many possessions, such as the rich young man who was challenged by Christ to go sell all he had and give the money to the poor and follow after Him. Yet he walked away sad because he had many possessions. Christ rarely called the poor or the sick to conversion because they already had great faith. Hence why they were healed. But he did continuously reach out to the rich and the powerful so that they would have a conversion experience. St. Matthew is one of the few wealthy people in the Gospels that hears His word and responds positively to it. Yes we must always care for the poor. That is the Gospel message. But We must also reach out to those in power, and with wealth and authority as Christ did and pray for a conversion experience. It is so easy in our society, especially for young people, to get too caught up in the things of this world and forget what it is we are really called to do. I think now days so much emphasis is put on school, work, sports, so on and so forth that we lose sight of the one and only thing that really matters. And that is our relationship with God. I do not mean to say that these other things are not important, because they are, but there needs to be a priority and that priority starts with the conversion of our own heart, mind, and soul every day so that we are led deeper into a relationship with Christ. May we be more like St. Matthew who made this a priority in his life, and less like the rich young man, who having everything walked away from Christ sad and unfulfilled because he was afraid to give up what he had for that relationship with Christ.

Peace and all good things,

Monday, September 20, 2010

St. Francis Youth Ministry

It is often said that in community, everything is shared. Well this week I unfortunately found out that this also pertains to illness. I am currently about the 7th guy in the house to come down with a really nasty cold. It has been picking us off one by one since we all moved in about a month ago now. When I was still going to college I could just sleep in and skip classes if I was sick. Not anymore. I still have to get up at 6:20 am for morning prayer followed by mass which is then followed by class at 9 and then off to ministry around 12. I unfortunately noticed a huge difference in how I acted today and it wasn't for the better which was unfortunate because I had a meeting with two high school upper classmen who want to start a Jr. High youth group at the parish. I was looking forward to this meeting since last week and finally it got here and I felt like crap. lol. It was still a great meeting though. We came up with when we wanted to start it and how often it will be. As of now it will be every other Tuesday. I think the best part about this is that it was these two teens who came to Fr. Mike, the pastor, and asked if they could start this up. They were the ones who initiated it. How awesome is that? As Pope John Paul II often said, "the youth are not the future of the Church. They are the Church." It was amazing to me that two high school students would show this kind of initiative. Especially with everything else going on in their lives right now. They are both active leaders in their schools. One of which I believe is class president. I was blown away by the energy and dedication they have going toward starting this new program. These are the kind of kids that give us hope as a Church. I am truly blessed to be a part of it. Also this Wednesday will be the first high school youth group meeting. It's going to just be a nice night of cooking out on the grill, playing some games and getting to know eachother. Please pray that it goes well.

Peace and all good things,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day in Chicago

As postulants we often make trips outside of Milwaukee for different events or classes. Today we traveled to Chicago for a class with a Capuchin professor at CTU (Catholic Theological Union). The topic was the history and theology behind the Liturgy of the Hours which is the daily prayers of the Church that all priests and religious, and even some lay people, pray each day. It was a highly informative class. And we learned that we can thank St. Francis for the use of the liturgy of the hours we have today. At his time the Roman Curia was getting to busy to pray as often as they used to and so they shortened the prayers required to be said. But it was only the Roman Curia that could do so. So because St. Francis was forming a community which went out to the people and were often traveling, they picked up on this form of the liturgy of the hours. Because they went out all over Italy that form of prayer spread. And now we have the liturgy of the hours we have. This is an abbreviated version of the story of course.

After the class we went around and saw a couple parishes run by the Capuchins in Chicago. And then we made our way to St. Clare of Assisi Friary where dinner was awaiting us. St. Clares is the post novitiate house where all the guys in their temporary vows live as they go to school. Some go to CTU, other Loyola, others Xavier, and I believe one goes to Depaul. It was great being able to visit with everyone. We sat around the tables enjoying the meal and each others company. And after dinner we moved to the living room area and continued our various conversations. There are two things you can always count on when you are at a Capuchin friary. Good food and good company and with that a lot of laughs. I am truly blessed to be a part of such a community.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis

Tomorrow, Sept 17th, marks a very special day within the Franciscan community. As Franciscans we celebrate the great feast of the Stigmata of Our Holy Father Francis. "Francis imitated Christ so perfectly that towards the end of his life our Lord wished to point him out to the world as the faithful imitator of the Crucified, by imprinting His five wounds upon his body." He received a vision of a seraph with 6 wings and within the 6 wings was seen Christ crucified. This vision filled Francis with the fire of divine love, so great that with it came the very markings of Jesus Christ. Nails appeared in his hands and feet and a mark appeared on his side as if like Christ on the cross, he too had been pierced by a lance. I was very blessed to be able to go to La Verna, the mountain where Francis received the stigmata. And I was able to pray at the very spot where he received the wounds of Jesus Christ. I was in Italy last Christmas break with a group of students from different Franciscan Colleges and Universities around the country. It was, for me, a life changing experience. And it was an experience that filled me with great peace. Being able to pray in the very places where Francis once stood was very moving for me. I think in the end, having that experience also solidified my belief that I wanted to be a Franciscan. Like Francis I hope and pray that I too may be able to imitate our Lord Jesus Christ, as imperfect as I am, I can only hope to taste a small part of that divine love that filled the very essence of Francis' being. Holy Father Francis...Pray for us!
P.S. The picture is from the Stigmata Chapel at La Verna and marks the spot where Francis received the stigmata.

Why The Summons?

So you may be wondering why I chose to use "The Summons" for a part of the title for this blog. I'm sure most of you have heard this song. It's a very popular church song. And for me just within the last few days it has had a huge impact on my own reflection on the life that I have chosen to live, the life as a Capuchin Franciscan.

1. Will you come and follow meIf I but call your name?Will you go where you don’t knowAnd never be the same?Will you let my love be shown,Will you let my name be known,Will you let my life be grownIn you and you in me?
2. Will you leave yourself behindIf I but call your name?Will you care for cruel and kindAnd never be the same?Will you risk the hostile stareShould your life attract or scare?Will you let me answer prayerIn you and you in me?
3. Will you let the blinded seeIf I but call your name?Will you set the pris’ners freeAnd never be the same?Will you kiss the leper clean,And do such as this unseen,And admit to what I meanIn you and you in me?
4. Will you love the ‘you’ you hideIf I but call your name?Will you quell the fear insideAnd never be the same?Will you use the faith you’ve foundTo reshape the world around,Through my sight and touch and soundIn you and you in me?
5. Lord, your summons echoes trueWhen you but call my name.Let me turn and follow youAnd never be the same.In your company I’ll goWhere your love and footsteps show.Thus I’ll move and live and growIn you and you in me.

For the sake of keeping it short I think over the next week or two I will kind of explain why this song has made an impact on me and what my own reflections are on it. It is truly a very powerful song and also a very challenging song. Are we willing to give up everything to follow Christ? I guess this is the very question I ask myself as I discern my own calling.

Peace and All Good Things,