“Do Not Be Afraid!”

Christmas Eve at Mount St. Francis

Homily by Deacon Nicholas Wolfla OFM Conv.

Dear God:

I’ve done pretty good today, I haven’t cursed, I haven’t stolen, I haven’t made fun of anyone, heck I haven’t even killed anybody. Overall so far it’s been a good day. Thing is God, I’m gonna have to get up in a few minutes, that might start some problems.

Anyone who knows me, knows full well that I am no angel, no wings, just a touch of attitude, a tad irreverent at times, sarcastic and (frankly a lot of fun). I get up every morning and try to adjust my life to the life of the Gospel. Some days, if it wasn’t for the Grace of God, I probably would stay in bed.

But here I am, this year I get to play the role of an angel. I get to dress pretty, and I get to announce to the entire world who can hear me:

"Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.
For today in the city of David
a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you:
you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes
and lying in a manger."

For a child is born to us, a son is given us;
upon his shoulder dominion rests.
They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero,
Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast
and forever peaceful,
from David's throne, and over his kingdom,
which he confirms and sustains
by judgment and justice,
both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!

 

And the Church rejoices:

Because you will find this child in the stable of your heart, wrapped in simplicity, his very existence is a wonder, his word, the Gospel is counsel, his actions in our lives if we let him grow in our lives are Heroic like Samson, Noah, Moses, and John the Baptist, the dominion of our heart and lives belong to Him, and he brings peace if we let him shoulder our imperfections and troubles. He rules us from the throne in our hearts, he is just, he frees us from ourselves, he is justice, He is God.

The zeal of the LORD of Hosts will do this. All we have to do is say yes! Liturgically this is the beginning of the Passion of Jesus Christ, it is the beginning of the road to resurrection on Easter, this is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ and all we have to do is say; yes come into my heart O blessed one.

This is a time to celebrate what happened two thousand years ago and to celebrate what will continue to happen in our lives, because we embrace this small child. This weak, dependent, perfect child, conceived by the Spirit of God, essentially of himself as his unity with the Father and the Spirit. This God who loves us so much that he allowed himself to become his own creation. How Awesome Is That?

We know he is not like any other king, he is the king we need not the one we want. Instead of appearing in the clouds surrounded by the heavenly hosts, he entered the human family, by literally being family. He decided to become intimate with us, to know us in such a way that we know of his love. It’s both a great mystery and also a great gift.

Is it any wonder at his birth, the Messiah was announced by the heavenly hosts, not to the rich, not to the royal, but to the shepherds, the poor, those who were the smallest on the social ladder. He was announced and made known and we were told not to be afraid.

This coming of Jesus as well as his coming in our lives now, today, this instant, frees us, we have no reason to fear, because Emmanuel , GOD IS WITH US, walks with us and grows with us, just as Jesus grew into an adult, so his influence in our lives causes us to become the person he desires and calls us to be.

Keep the day with love. Keep the day without fear. Keep the day knowing that Jesus Christ is alive and with us and we will see him face to face someday. Keep the day with family and friends, but more importantly, most importantly, keep the day in the spirit of the Love Jesus has shown to us.

Merry, Blessed, and loving Christmas to each and every one of you.


Matthew 15:29-37

Teachings from Matthew relevant today

Friar Tom Smith OFM Conv. continues the ministry of Franciscan hospitality at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico - showing compassion for the sick and hungry and tired, giving them strength and encouragement. Father Tom was a guest columnist in the Las Cruces Sun News on December 16, 2018. Below is his article -

 


Advent and Reconciliation

 

Traditionally, we begin our “Advent count-down” to celebrate Christmas with the lighting of the purple candles on the advent wreath. We wait with expectation and excited hope to complete our candle-lit wreath, so as to celebrate the arrival of the Savior into our fractured world.

Might we not consider this Advent season as an opportunity to place ourselves in the arms of our heavenly father and experience His lavish love, in the sacrament of reconciliation?

 

 

May this time of Advent-waiting be a ‘watershed’ of grace and reconciliation for you this December. And the best news is His outstretched arms always await us in the sacrament of reconciliation.

May you enjoy and celebrate often this grace and love in the days ahead. Eagerly, He waits to embrace us once again!

 


Our Lady of Guadalupe, Please Pray for Us

 

¿Acaso no soy yo tu madre? ¿No estoy aquí? (Am I not your mother? Am I not here?),

The words of the Blessed Mother are as true today as they were when she spoke them to St. Juan Diego centuries ago on a little hill in Mexico. She is our mother, and she accompanies us on our journey, always pointing us toward her Son.

She is the one who brings us together, those from the “old world” and “new world.” Cultural, language, and political boundaries do not separate us. We are all members of the Body of Christ.

May we all gather together under the protective mantle of our Blessed Mother,
Our Lady of Guadalupe, and seek her intercession as we pray for the unity and peace
that is God’s gift to us, if we are willing to receive it.

 


I Was a Stranger and You Welcomed Me

 

In the latest episode of Franciscan Voice, Friar Phil Ley OFM Conv. discusses his work at Posada Guadalupe, providing a Franciscan ministry of hospitality to young men who have nowhere else to go...

 


Happy Thanksgiving

 

Dear friends,

This year the Sunday readings from the Gospel of St. Mark have taken us on a journey with Jesus from the baptism in the Jordan, all the way to Jerusalem.

This year our province fraternity has also been on a journey. We have had our quadrennial Chapter, leading to changes in assignments and leadership. And since last Thanksgiving, we have bid farewell to four of our brothers.

But one constant in all this movement is the Franciscan mission we all share – friars, friends, collaborators, and all who support us so generously. As followers of St. Francis we live a Gospel Life, following Christ and preaching the Good News of God’s
overwhelming love for each and all of us.

It is your gifts, the prayers and the sacrificial offerings, that make our lives and ministries possible. As a way of thanking each of you for your efforts to make this mission a reality in the lives of those we serve, we share with you this video, Praising God and Giving Thanks. We hope you enjoy it.

May God bless you. Peace and all good things!

Friar Wayne Hellmann OFM Conv.

 


Hero of Hope

 

Congratulations to Fr. Conrad Sutter OFM Conv.!

On the evening of November 13th, Friar Conrad Sutter was honored at the 8th Annual Heroes of Hope Celebration "Celebrating Our Community Leaders." Father Conrad was recognized for his contributions to the African-American community as a civic and religious leader.

Fr. Conrad was deeply touched by the accolade from a community that he loves and esteems.

 


On the Border

 

On Saturday, November 3, the Bishops of El Paso and Las Cruces joined with clergy, women and men religious, and lay people worshiping together on both sides of the US-Mexico border at the annual Border Mass. Friars Tom Smith and Charles McCarthy concelebrated the Mass and spent time in fellowship with the attendees.

 

 

 

The Mass is a reminder that the people of God are one, regardless of barriers -- political, cultural, or language. We pray for unity and healing, and for the suffering of those who seek a better life for their families.

 


The Saints Go Marching In

by Fr. David Lenz

On November 1st the Church has traditionally celebrated the Feast of All Saints. This is an opportunity for us to connect with our beloved deceased holy friends and celebrate their glorious relationship with God.

Many of us have a favorite saint whom we have connected with over a lifetime. My Franciscan brothers have long taught me and modeled their love for the Saints. I recall Fr. Juniper Cummings’ love for St. Anthony and how he wrote his dissertation on St. Anthony when he was studying in the seminary. Certainly I cannot fail to mention Fr. Wayne Hellman’s love and devoted study of St. Bonaventure. Both of these men were examples to all friars of the importance of building and nurturing a relationship with a saint.

Painting by Francisco de Zurbaran c.1640-1650

My own ‘saint-friend’ is the Friar Padre Pio. I exhort our new novices each year to become acquainted with a saint and nourish a friendship by prayer and reading as much as possible with their ‘saint-friend.’

As we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, it is good for us to call to mind our favorite saint and read a bit about him or her.

One Friar who had a great devotion to St. Anthony of Padua described his devotion this way. He said he had the small wedding band of his deceased mother, which he wore to remind him of her presence. From there he went on to describe his devotion to the relics of St. Anthony, which remind him of the Saint and nourish his friendship with him.

May God grant you peace, comfort, and freedom from anxiety as you recall and reaffirm your relationship with your special Saint.


Following St. Maximilian Kolbe to Japan

 

Listen to our latest episode of Franciscan Voice. Brother Don Bassana shares his journey following in the footsteps of St. Maximilian Kolbe to Japan. Learn more about St. Kolbe's life - how he found the desire to travel to the far east; how he arrived in Japan; and the miracle of the friary established there.

 

 

Brother Don felt blessed to spend retreat time with his Franciscan brothers who are so steeped in our Kolbe spirituality.