I invite you to ask God to break into your world and show you that he is present. Ask Christ to reveal himself and make himself known. The Lord desires that you encounter him. "Knock and the door will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).
Barney Casey became one of Detroit's best-known priests even though he was not allowed to preach formally or to hear confessions! Barney came from a large family in Oak Grove, Wisconsin. At the age of 21, and after he had worked as a logger, a hospital orderly, a streetcar operator and a prison guard, he entered St. Francis Seminary in Milwaukee—where he found the studies difficult. He left there and, in 1896, joined the Capuchins in Detroit, taking the name Solanus. His studies for the priesthood were again arduous. On July 24, 1904, he was ordained, but because his knowledge of theology was judged to be weak, Father Solanus was not given permission to hear confessions or to preach. A Franciscan Capuchin who knew him well said this annoying restriction "brought forth in him a greatness and a holiness that might never have been realized in any other way." During his 14 years as porter and sacristan in Yonkers, New York, the people there recognized him as a fine speaker. "For, though he was forbidden to deliver doctrinal sermons," writes his biographer, James Derum, "he could give inspirational talks, or feverinos, as the Capuchins termed them" (18:96). His spiritual fire deeply impressed his listeners. Father Solanus served at parishes in Manhattan and Harlem before returning to Detroit, where he was porter and sacristan for 20 years at St. Bonaventure Monastery. Every Wednesday afternoon he conducted well-attended services for the sick. A co-worker estimates that on the average day 150 to 200 people came to see Father Solanus in the front office. Most of them came to receive his blessing; 40 to 50 came for consultation. Many people considered him instrumental in cures and other blessings they received. Father Solanus' sense of God's providence inspired many of his visitors. "Blessed be God in all his designs" was one of his favorite expressions. The many friends of Father Solanus helped the Capuchins begin a soup kitchen during the Depression. Capuchins are still feeding the hungry there today. In 1946 in failing health, he was transferred to the Capuchin novitiate in Huntington, Indiana, where he lived until 1956 when he was hospitalized in Detroit. He died on July 31, 1957. An estimated 20,000 people passed by his coffin before his burial in St. Bonaventure Church in Detroit. At the funeral Mass, the provincial Father Gerald said: "His was a life of service and love for people like me and you. When he was not himself sick, he nevertheless suffered with and for you that were sick. When he was not physically hungry, he hungered with people like you. He had a divine love for people. He loved people for what he could do for them—and for God, through them." In 1960 a Father Solanus Guild was formed in Detroit to aid Capuchin seminarians. By 1967 the guild had 5,000 members—many of them grateful recipients of his practical advice and his comforting assurance that God would not abandon them in their trials. He was declared Venerable in 1995.
James Patrick Derum, his biographer, writes that eventually Father Solanus was weary from bearing the burdens of the people who visited him. "Long since, he had come to know the Christ-taught truth that pure love of God and one's fellowmen as children of God are in the final event all that matter. Living this truth ardently and continuously had made him, spiritually, a free man—free from slavery to passions, from self-seeking, from self-indulgence, from self-pity—free to serve wholly both God and man" (The Porter of St. Bonaventure's, page 199).
Father Maurice Casey, a brother of Father Solanus, was once in a sanitarium near Baltimore and was annoyed at the priest-chaplain there. Father Solanus wrote his brother: "God could have established his Church under supervision of angels that have no faults or weaknesses. But who can doubt that as it stands today, consisting of and under the supervision of poor sinners—successors to the 'poor fishermen of Galilee' #151; the Church is a more outstanding miracle than any other way?"
My beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work. Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.
R. (1a) The Lord is my light and my salvation. The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom should I be afraid? R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation. I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD. R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, "If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion? Otherwise, after laying the foundation and finding himself unable to finish the work the onlookers should laugh at him and say, 'This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.' Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops? But if not, while he is still far away, he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms. In the same way, everyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple."
Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)
31st Week in Ordinary Time
Talk about mixed messages! Isn't this the same Paul who, in the very same letter, confidently told the Philippians, "the one who began a good work in you will complete it" (Philippians 1:6)? Doesn't today's reading contradict that message, as if we might be in danger at any moment of losing our place in heaven? Should we be worried, or not?
It's important to understand that there is an essential difference between the kind of fear that we feel as fragile, fallible human beings and the awe and anticipation that we feel as we contemplate the salvation that Jesus has won for us. The Bible refers to both as "fear," but one cripples us with doubt, while the other energizes us to live in confidence and joyful hope.
Imagine your life in Christ as a strong, sturdy foundation—as though you were standing on a wide rock in the middle of the ocean. Jesus has already redeemed you, so you don't have to earn your place on that rock! In fact, you couldn't earn it, even if you wanted to. The cross is the only thing powerful enough to bring about your redemption, and Jesus has already offered himself on it. So if you feel anxious that you are undeserving of his love or that you haven't done enough, don't worry. God isn't interested in what you haven't done. He only wants to know what you will do now that he has redeemed you!
The "fear and trembling" that Paul speaks of is not the quivering of a mouse hiding from a cat! It's the readiness of an athlete waiting for the starting gun. God wants his great gift of redemption to impel you every day, to move you into the world with the great good news of his love.
So imitate Paul. Move beyond your imperfections, and press forward with the goal of building the kingdom. "Work out" your salvation every day by letting the joy of your salvation work its way out of your heart and into the world.
"Lord, I am in awe that you have rescued me from sin and welcomed me into your kingdom. Fill me with zeal for your ways. Show me how I can honor you as I give my life to you!"
my2cents: Oh how God speaks! His Word is awesome isn't it? Yesterday I asked you for a reply at the end of my 2 cents. I got none. I got one from someone that had not been receiving reflections for about a month, but none for my request to you to consider who the message was for! What's the deal? LOL. Yet, I am still amazed. Last night we had a pastoral and finance council meeting in our parish, and I was the only one that showed up (for the pastoral side) until way later another finally showed up. What's going on? I'll tell you what's going on, the cross is being left behind, that which is "too much". Only one had a valid excuse, he couldn't walk and is facing hip surgery this week or so. The others? No call-No show. But the call was made, because I made a robotic call to dial up everyone's phone and 16 of 19 answered the message LIVE and alive. I see the statistics. And so we couldn't formally meet. Yet I'm still amazed with God. As the informal meeting went on, I am seemingly the ONLY ONE fighting for a youth building/gym/family activity center. I have no backup, where are the ones called to help? No Show. Where are God's angels? And I've been at this fight for nearly 10 years, no surprise...often alone. This is my (our) cross...my (our) sufferings for the Church. Temptations arise to drop the cross occur more often than it should. Today's 5 minutos reads: (allow me to translate): "They say a man one day said to Jesus:- "Lord: I am tired of carrying the same cross on my shoulder, it is too heavy and too big for my stature". Jesus said amicably-"If you believe it is too much for you, go into that room and choose the cross that best adapts (fits) to you", the man entered and saw a small cross, but it was too heavy and dug into his shoulder and it hurt, so he looked for another but it was too big and too light and it bothered him, he took another but it was made of a material that scratched him, he sought another, and another...until he found one he felt was adapted to him. He came out really happy and said to Him -"Lord, I've found the one that bests fits me, thank you very much for the change you allowed". Jesus smiling looks at him and said "You have nothing to be thankful for, you have taken the exact same cross you had, your name is written on it. My Father does not allow more than you can handle because He loves you and has a perfect plan for your life". Many times we complain about difficulties that we have in life and we even question God's will, but He allows what happens because it is for our good and something is taught through it. God doesn't give us more than we can handle and we remember that after the storm the calm comes and one splendid day that we see the Glory of God. Following Jesus is something serious. It entails renunciations and carrying the cross and postponing other values that are very liked." So shut your yapping and trust GOD! (no grumbling/no questioning-see today's 1st Scripture) We tend to complain though, but for Heaven's Sake, don't let go of that cross. I was asked to give the Piety talk at the cursillo last month. I began by saying things that were not scripted, it was the Holy Spirit taking over, which is good because even I was like "where did that come from?". I asked for a show of hands of how many men come home from work and gather the family to pray the rosary? Not a single hand went up. I said to imagine that is our cross, and none of us lift a finger to do so. The cross of Jesus is the burden of the world and the will of the Father. God is asking us to do the impossible with Him who says everything is possible...Jesus. In the case of the church gym/clasrrooms that I say we need in our parish, the preliminary figures are about 2.2 million dollars, and we've been in debt until a year or two ago, so we don't have the 1.1 million dollars the diocese is exacting from us to help with the other half. You look at me like all those men and one woman all older than me except one, as they asked me what I thought because I was biting my tongue when I saw they had whipped up a smaller building figure without a gym. I said "Let's continue to work, and pray about it, we don't fit in this building and that little figure is a cheap figure, we need to fit everyone, but let's keeep seeing what we can do". And I was talking to people that were saying we have no money, we have no help, we have no real will to take on a purchase we can't seemingly handle. This would appear as a devastating blow to any regular joe shmoe, but for your little bro, NAHHH. I love turning tables on nay sayers. I will MAKE YOU A BELIEVER by my beliefs and God working through. As I drove home I spoke to God, "Lord, if you want this for us, you will make it happen, it's not what we all say, it's what YOU say!" Because in the end, He has the resources as stated by His own words in today's Holy Gospel. Our task is to be children of light, children of God, those children that depend on God for everything. Don't go by your own feeble minds and means. Don't go by what you have, go by what God has. We are a parish of hundreds of families facing a 2.2 million dollar challenge. The Carmelite Monk was requesting 3 million for his monastery church this year. They are not even 12 people in that monastery, yet somehow, God has provided for their funds, already some Methodists are pledging to help make that church a reality. It's not what we have, it's what God has. The Monk/abbot/founder Fr. Fabian said "it's not their money, it's God's money" as he said softly from a chair recovering from surgery on his head earlier that week. That's the attitude JESUS wants us to have. FAITH. My sensation, intuition of the spirit is telling me that right now, what God wants in our parish(es) is to focus more on Him than the building. The rest just happens. FAITH. Depend On God. Make that huge building of the Spirit, and the materialistic building will come in due time as He sees fit. Our loving of the cross is the message, the loving of God's will, our obedience, our humility, charity, our being of Christ the light in a world hungry for truth and Jesus Is ALL