Today on your feast day and throughout our lives, St. Joseph, faithful servant, man of deepest faith and utmost courage, protector of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother, pray for us that we may imitate your virtues and bring Christ into our lives and our homes.
Fr. Christian Moore discusses several important topics: why these are NOT the worst of times; end of life experiences; secularization; and more. He also shares practical advice we can use right now, including how to pray, that will improve our outlook on life and deepen our relationship with God.
Since 1959 the Franciscan International Award has honored people of faith who symbolize the spirit and the apostolic zeal of St. Francis of Assisi. This Franciscan International Award is presented yearly by the Conventual Franciscans on behalf of Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center, Prior Lake, Minnesota.
In 1972 Dr. Billy Graham received the award for True Ecumenism. We were honored with his presence and inspired by his words, work, and life.
Excerpts from Friar Nick Wolfla's homily on February 18, 2018.
We know the rest of the story - the forty days and nights, the bird, the olive branch. And we see the end of the story - the renewal of the covenant of God. …what did we learn?
1. Don’t miss the boat: We have a loving God, a God who loved this universe into creation. God doesn’t ask for anything more than our opening up to him, loving him and allowing him to change us. Jesus Christ is our Ark. ….
2. Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when he built the Ark a. Living for the moment is nice, but sometimes we do need to prepare. Who knows when disaster will strike you or someone you know, or when you finally find the love of your life, or when you’ll be a parent or grandparent. Who knows when or where opportunity to love another will occur? Will our minds be in our phones, and our hearts in our “rights” that we fail to recognize the needs of others and what we need to survive? ….
3. Remember we’re all in the same boat: There is no man or woman that is better than the other. …No one person’s rights are greater than another’s. …. WE ALL ARE CHILDREN OF GOD, we all are loved equally, we are all equal in his eyes, and we are expected no matter what to treat each other as such, to do otherwise is SIN, to do otherwise is EVIL and is a willful turning against God himself and throwing his gifts of life back into his face.
4. Stay Fit. When you’re really old someone may ask you to do something really big: Think about it, age is a number, and age is also a lot of aches and pains. But AGE is never an excuse not to do good, not to serve each other, not to do what is within our abilities to do for one another. …
5. Don’t listen to the critics. Get the job done. In this life people, media, corporations are going to try to tell you that you are the most important person there is. That you and your rights and wants are more important than others. They will try everything they know to turn you away from what is right, what is of God. They will sometimes criticize you for believing, for praying, for doing. Let God strengthen you, keep your prayer life strong, let God give you the armor needed to Get the Job done.
6. Build your future on high ground: WE have so many talents, some do math, some do plumbing, some can create art, some are carpenters, farmers, doctors, lawyers, …. We have the technology, we can do so much. And yet many of us get so caught up in the benefits, reaping of the rewards and the individual satisfaction we forget about each other. We need to always ground ourselves in God, not ourselves. …. We are ALL children of God with dignity and love; we need to be generous to everyone because they are God’s gifts as well, no matter whether or not we believe they deserve it. WE AREN’T THE JUDGE.
7. ALWAYS Travel in pairs: We have a tendency to believe that our individualism is our strength, that we can go it alone. … We don’t do it alone. We go through this life with family, friends, community. More importantly, we walk through life with Jesus Christ at our side, whether we like it or not. ….
8. Speed isn’t everything, the cheetahs were on the Ark like the snails. Sometimes we just have to slow down. Deadlines and schedules are necessary for some things, but are they always? Do we need to schedule every moment of our lives, do we have to be on every team there is, do we have to always keep our families so busy that we can’t eat together? Do we take the time to unplug and talk to each other, or rest our minds? ….
9. When you’re stressed float awhile There comes time when the only cure for the pressure we put on ourselves is to be quiet, to surround ourselves with God’s love and relax. Saves the mind, heart, and soul.
10. The Ark was built by amateurs, the titanic by professionals. See which one sank. Where do we put our faith, in “Man” or in God? Remember God gave scientists and others who develop cures, technology, etc the skills to do so. In return we’re asked to use these skills accordingly. It is always God’s gifts utilized by us that moves us forward, … it is BOTH, Faith and Science live hand in hand.
11. No Matter the storm, there’s a rainbow waiting. Think about it. We hear of the covenant with Noah, God’s bow put into the sky. We see the cross - the greatest sign of love there ever was. Who do we trust? Who will get us through? Who is the one we serve, and Who is the one who saves us? There is an agreement between God and us,
i. God: I’ll Always love you, Repent
ii. Us: I’ll try not to screw up even though like you I’ll be tempted.
iii. God: there’s always forgiveness just ask, Repent find strength
iv. Us: please, send the angels to minister to me, give me strength.
v. God: salvation is here, Believe and live the Gospel
vi. Us: let it change my life. Let me be righteous, good and loving. Let me follow the Gospel, bring me into the light, let me serve, let my life be the Gospel.
vii. God: I love you
viii. Us: I love you, too
Ash Wednesday calls us to pray, fast, and give alms to those in need. But the purpose of those important acts is to change our hearts, opening them to God and the least of His sisters and brothers.
Though this year Valentine's Day falls on the same day as Ash Wednesday, we still must observe the day with fasting and abstinence. Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, is quoted in a recent New York Times piece that he sees no harm in marking both days at once. Joy and religious obligation can, and should, go hand-in-hand.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Across the Province of Our Lady of Consolation, our parishes and retreat centers provide special Lenten programs and retreats, in addition to Masses and regular observances such as Holy Hours and Stations of the Cross. For more information, click here for the parishes and here for the retreat centers.
Please join us this Lent and let us journey together, following Christ as closely as we can, so we may celebrate together the joy of His Resurrection, 40 days from now.
The last time Valentine's Day fell on Ash Wednesday and Easter on April Fool's Day was in 1945. It seems strange when a day of fasting and penance coincides with a day more typically devoted to indulgence — beautiful red roses, dining out, and boxes of chocolates.
On Ash Wednesday 1945, World War II was and the United Nations was on the horizon. “Sentimental Journey” was the number one song for the year and “The Bells of St. Mary's,” starring Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman, was the top grossing movie. The NFL champions were the Cleveland Rams. People were reading “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger. The Slinky was the most popular Christmas Gift.
Some have suggested that we go ahead and share candy with loved ones (saving it for later, of course) and instead of fasting from food, turn off our cellphones and social media. Focus on being with one another in the present — being mindful of who and where we are with one another, and in that way draw closer to God.
Friar Vince Petersen recorded an episode for Franciscan Voice perfect for Valentine's Day this year: “Fall in Love with God Again.” Listen and choose God for your Valentine this year.
This Saturday we are hosting a Come and See for single men between the ages of 18 to 40 years old. It will be held in San Antonio, Texas. These retreats are offered at no cost to the men attending. It is an opportunity to meet Franciscan priests and brothers, talk to some of our student friars, and to experience what our life is like.
We spend time in prayer and fraternity. The attendees get an opportunity to see first hand the life of the Conventual Franciscan Friars.
There are three more Come and See retreats scheduled this year:
March 23 to 25 at Mount St. Francis, Indiana
June 15 to 17 at Franciscan Retreats and Spirituality Center in Prior Lake, Minnesota
September 28 to 30 at Our Lady of Consolation in Carey, Ohio
October 19 to 21 at Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, New Mexico.
The following is a letter from Br. Tony Droll. He updates us on the new auditorium at the school in Zambia as well as some big plans for the future. For more about Br. Tony's ministry in Zambia please click here.
You can learn more about the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Province of the Franciscan Protomartyrs in Zambia by visiting their new website: http://www.ofmconvzm.org/
In the past 17 years, of my 52 Zambian years, my life has been largely consumed with the challenging and promising ministry of promoting education, the most imperative challenge for our disadvantaged youth. The school begun in 2000 grew from the initial stage of a Community Primary School for orphans to a High School for vulnerable students. It advanced to become a Secondary Technical School, with emphasis on carpentry and metalwork but mostly on Food and Agriculture.
In her 53 years of independence, Zambia has depended heavily on the sale of copper with less attention to agriculture. Few schools have the land, the teachers, or the capacity to do something about that. Now Government and the Ministry of Education realize how important agriculture is and are arranging teachers from the whole District for a seminar with St. Francis School fields and teachers. For our 750 students, who are coming from the nearby shanty compounds, academic and technical education is the greatest privilege they can imagine. Even with their best grades, they may not get a job nor have a chance for college, but they will leave the school with the skills of how to produce food.
2018 will see the school become even more unique. In the whole country there is no Secondary School which has what we have just constructed, thanks to very generous donors. The Catholic Minister of Education, with the principal donors from Washington DC, will celebrate with us the Mass, the Blessing and officially Open our newly built 2- story Lecture Auditorium. Its 10 decks for seating and projector on huge screen with built in audio, will serve our students with opportunity to experience audio-visual classes. The Minister will introduce our pilot project, which no other Zambian High School has – Philosophy for Youth.
In this country, as in others, the youth from affluent families are sent to Boarding Schools and other Private schools where they pay big fees. They naturally earn high marks and are offered opportunity for costly college or to secure the few jobs. For the disadvantaged students from poor families the opposite is often true. If they cannot pay school fees, some schools send them back to the streets. This past year only 36% of our students paid ‘something’ of our low fees, but we don’t send them home. Their chances for jobs are very slim and nearly impossible to find funds for College. The outcome is that the rich get richer and the poor poorer and the gap grows bigger. We strive to bridge the gap and offer our graduating students the Gospel values, unique advanced academic knowledge and the technical life skills of how to produce food.
I have shared about successes in the past but not about the challenges for the future. Yes, 64% of our village students could pay nothing of the $140 per year that the school asks and needs. The big auditorium is so perfectly constructed that it will need to serve more than for the students’ education. It is an Investment with more payback potential than any Bank. It will serve not only the students education but also for the many functions for which it will be rented. The profits will be able to meet the school budget and also be of support to our many seminarians in this young Franciscan Province.
The latest challenge is our desire to construct a Boarding School for Boys - perhaps for about 200 boys. We are already pouring over plans for dormitory, kitchen, dining room. There will be an instant demand of parents to enroll their boys. They will pay a greater price for the privilege of boarding. If there are 200 privileged boys, there will still be room for about 550 of the underprivileged students. All can share the educational benefits and be in competition for excellence.
Like our founder St. Francis and our Pope Francis, both whose ministry is founded on Jesus’s Gospel to the poor and oppressed, it gives me satisfaction reaching out to the Zambian youth who have little material wealth but great potential in intelligence and challenge.
BREAKING NEWS; We have just now received news that our 2017 students have scored highest grades in the District for the second year running.
With four Retreat Centers offering a diverse array of programs perhaps it is time for you to schedule some time for yourself, your family, and/or friends. Visit the website of the Retreat Center near you for a full schedule of activities and retreats.
Here are some of the offerings coming up over the next few months:
Wed. Jan 24th Mass with Commemoration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 6:30pm. Rev. Jared Carson from Peace Lutheran Church will be the preacher.
Feb. 23-25 “Call to Conversion Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus and St. Francis.” Fr. Tom Smith invites us to examine those areas of our lives where we are called to conversion, to following Christ more fully. Individual room-$162.00. Shared room $128.00 each person. Commuter: $67.00 Call 575 524-3688 or email email@example.com for more details and to make a reservation.
March 14 Lenten Day of Prayer 9:00 am till 7:00pm Holy Cross Retreat Center,
Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. will lead a day of reflection and prayer to help us begin Lent, addressing questions like... “What kind of fasting should we consider?”“How can we prepare best for Holy Week?” There will be time for individual quiet, and confession during the day, two light meals, and Mass at 6:30pm. Suggested donation $15.00 or $20.00. Call 575 524 3688
Mar 30-31 "Holy Week—Holy Days”Holy Cross Retreat Center, Mesilla Park, NM
How do we make Holy Week feel like a holy time? Consider coming to Holy Cross Retreat House for a day and a half of prayer, fasting, and reflection on Good Friday and Holy Saturday morning. The retreat will be led by Fr. Tom Smith OFM Conv. 8:30am Friday, March 30, Closing after lunch on Saturday, March 31st donation: single room $90.00; shared room $75.00 each; Commuter $45.00 Call 575 524 3688 to register.
Mar 23-25 Loosening the knots of anger, Healing through forgiveness
A women’s retreat led by Sr. Margarita Armendariz, Holy Cross Retreat Center in Mesilla Park, Individual room -$175.00 Shared room $135.00 each person. Commuter $75.00. Call 575 524-3688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and to make a reservation. Deposit of $25.00 needed to hold a room. If finances are a concern, we will work with you.
Feb 9-11, "MYSTICISM - The Heartbeat of God"- A retreat weekend for women and men to learn, discuss, and pray together drawing from treasures of the rich history of our Catholic spirituality. The offering for the weekend is $150/person for two nights accommodations, four meals and program materials. $95 for commuters.