Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Let ME go FIRST....

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Saint Francis and the Crucified Christ

When you look at Saint Francis, you see the Crucified Christ whose presence within Francis was so real and so intense that the very wounds of Christ Crucified broke forth in his body, revealing to the whole world that here, indeed, was the ultimate disciple of Christ, who not only bore in his body the wounds of Christ, but whose heart was filled with the love that moved Christ to suffer for love of us. As St. Francis himself articulates so beautifully in one of the prayers attributed to him, "May the fiery and honey-sweet power of your love, O Lord, wean me from all things under heaven, so that I may die for love of your love, who deigned to die for love of my love."

—from Murray Bodo, OFM, author of the book Francis and Jesus


✞"You change your life by changing your heart."
— St. Benedict of Nursia

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
— C. S. Lewis, p. 205
Mere Christianity

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned.'"
Mark 16:15-16


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Saint Francis of Assisi

Saint of the Day for October 4

(September 26, 1182 – October 3, 1226)

Francis of Assisi was a poor little man who astounded and inspired the Church by taking the gospel literally—not in a narrow fundamentalist sense, but by actually following all that Jesus said and did, joyfully, without limit, and without a sense of self-importance.

Serious illness brought the young Francis to see the emptiness of his frolicking life as leader of Assisi's youth. Prayer—lengthy and difficult—led him to a self-emptying like that of Christ, climaxed by embracing a leper he met on the road. It symbolized his complete obedience to what he had heard in prayer: "Francis! Everything you have loved and desired in the flesh it is your duty to despise and hate, if you wish to know my will. And when you have begun this, all that now seems sweet and lovely to you will become intolerable and bitter, but all that you used to avoid will turn itself to great sweetness and exceeding joy."

From the cross in the neglected field-chapel of San Damiano, Christ told him, "Francis, go out and build up my house, for it is nearly falling down." Francis became the totally poor and humble workman.

He must have suspected a deeper meaning to "build up my house." But he would have been content to be for the rest of his life the poor "nothing" man actually putting brick on brick in abandoned chapels. He gave up all his possessions, piling even his clothes before his earthly father–who was demanding restitution for Francis' "gifts" to the poor–so that he would be totally free to say, "Our Father in heaven." He was, for a time, considered to be a religious fanatic, begging from door to door when he could not get money for his work, evoking sadness or disgust to the hearts of his former friends, ridicule from the unthinking.

But genuineness will tell. A few people began to realize that this man was actually trying to be Christian. He really believed what Jesus said: "Announce the kingdom! Possess no gold or silver or copper in your purses, no traveling bag, no sandals, no staff" (Luke 9:1-3).

Francis' first rule for his followers was a collection of texts from the Gospels. He had no intention of founding an order, but once it began he protected it and accepted all the legal structures needed to support it. His devotion and loyalty to the Church were absolute and highly exemplary at a time when various movements of reform tended to break the Church's unity.

Francis was torn between a life devoted entirely to prayer and a life of active preaching of the Good News. He decided in favor of the latter, but always returned to solitude when he could. He wanted to be a missionary in Syria or in Africa, but was prevented by shipwreck and illness in both cases. He did try to convert the sultan of Egypt during the Fifth Crusade.

During the last years of his relatively short life, he died at 44, Francis was half blind and seriously ill. Two years before his death he received the stigmata, the real and painful wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side.

On his deathbed, Francis said over and over again the last addition to his Canticle of the Sun, "Be praised, O Lord, for our Sister Death." He sang Psalm 141, and at the end asked his superior's permission to have his clothes removed when the last hour came in order that he could expire lying naked on the earth, in imitation of his Lord.


Francis of Assisi was poor only that he might be Christ-like. He recognized creation as another manifestation of the beauty of God. In 1979, he was named patron of ecology. He did great penance–apologizing to "Brother Body" later in life–that he might be totally disciplined for the will of God. Francis' poverty had a sister, Humility, by which he meant total dependence on the good God. But all this was, as it were, preliminary to the heart of his spirituality: living the gospel life, summed up in the charity of Jesus and perfectly expressed in the Eucharist.

Saint Francis of Assisi is the Patron Saint of:

Metal Workers


Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi

Reading 1 Neh 2:1-8

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when the wine was in my charge,
I took some and offered it to the king.
As I had never before been sad in his presence,
the king asked me, "Why do you look sad?
If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart."
Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king:
"May the king live forever!
How could I not look sad
when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins,
and its gates have been eaten out by fire?"
The king asked me, "What is it, then, that you wish?"
I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king:
"If it please the king,
and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors' graves,
to rebuild it."
Then the king, and the queen seated beside him,
asked me how long my journey would take
and when I would return.
I set a date that was acceptable to him,
and the king agreed that I might go.

I asked the king further: "If it please the king,
let letters be given to me for the governors
of West-of-Euphrates,
that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah;
also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park,
that he may give me wood for timbering the gates
of the temple-citadel and for the city wall
and the house that I shall occupy."
The king granted my requests,
for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6
R. (6ab) Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon
we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the aspens of that land
we hung up our harps.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
Though there our captors asked of us
the lyrics of our songs,
And our despoilers urged us to be joyous:
"Sing for us the songs of Zion!"
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
How could we sing a song of the LORD
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand be forgotten!
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!

Alleluia Phil 3:8-9
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I consider all things so much rubbish
that I may gain Christ and be found in him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
"I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."


Meditation: Nehemiah 2:1-8

Saint Francis of Assisi (Memorial)

Send me to Judah . . . to rebuild it. (Nehemiah 2:5)

Perhaps you know the story of the call of St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day we celebrate today. Praying in a run-down chapel, he heard the Lord saying, "Francis, go and repair my house; look, it is falling into ruins." Now, God wasn't speaking about that particular chapel; he was speaking about the challenges facing the whole Church at the time. It took Francis some time to realize this, but once he did, he and his fellow friars went out and changed the course of history.

Nehemiah feels a similar call in today's first reading: to go and rebuild Jerusalem. And like St. Francis, he does more than "look sad" and bemoan the state of his people (Nehemiah 2:3). He too springs into action.

In every age and for every generation, God has called his people to rebuild his Church. No matter what the era, there has always been a need for renovation, for a return to our roots in the Lord, and for addressing the challenges of the day. In every age, God invites his people, not just to mourn the situation, but to rebuild.

It doesn't have to be difficult. Look at St. Francis. As soon as he heard God's call, he grabbed a hammer and set to work. Of course he would! God had told him to rebuild his Church, so that's what he did. Over time, though, God helped him become more clear about what the call really entailed.

You can follow the same approach. Just do what makes sense to you. What would be helpful? Where are the needs the greatest? What kind of work are you best suited for?

No matter what you choose to do, just get started. If you take that first step, you can be sure that the Holy Spirit will guide you and help clarify your mission. He may give you the sense that you are doing exactly what you should be doing, or he may nudge you in a different direction to make you more effective.

Both St. Francis and Nehemiah got out there and made a difference for the Lord. So can you.

"Lord, teach me how I can help rebuild your house!"

Psalm 137:1-6
Luke 9:57-62


We heard first a prayer:
""If it please the king, and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors' graves, to rebuild it."
Then we pray:
" Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you! "

In the Holy Gospel our Lord prays "Follow Me" and "let the dead bury the dead".

On Sunday, before the readings in Mass, they gathered the children and prayed over them and we sang "I Have Decided To Follow Jesus". No turning back. Indeed, our Lord prays ""No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God." Why are you so worried if you are taking to the work of the Lord? You have no faith? Because we have a million excuses and none of them are good. I hear excuses constantly and none of them jive. Just be honest. You have no will. No desire, when the Lord says "Follow Me". "But let me bury my family". And the other "Let me go so bye to my family". This is putting family first...NOT GOD. Do you think your family will save you? Have you ever been locked up in jail and forgotten? Have you ever been isolated in a hospital room? Or have you ever been surrounded by family and no one can do anything to help or save you? This is why I always direct the attention to God FIRST. Jesus is not being mean here but HE means for the better good....SALVATION. Because eternal life is at stake.

St. Francis was all about family, was going to become a valiant soldier in the military, but once he got sick and was disillusioned, even his family got on to him and was on his case about becoming a fanatic, and paying back what he was giving to the poor. St. Francis never looked back. In his conversion, he gave back to the world what belonged to them and gave the world what belonged to God....His Kingdom of love and service. St. Francis' was a life of prayer, of restitution and of reconciliation. He died rather young by our modern terms, but died rather old in spiritual terms, because a saint has no age. I read a spanish reflection today that said at one point someone's quote "...after him, it has been much easier to be men" and another "...and to be Christians". It takes a soul devoted to Christ to be this kind of light. Total self abandonment. Self surrender. Fasting was the diet, alms giving was the pay. Backwards and contrary to the ways of the world. There is this disgusting issue I see in some people that seems to say "I want to help build the Church but I don't want to do it together". That is not how St. Francis built the Church where He was. He begged for help. And this is a revelation I have been revealed lately, "I can not do anything on my every little thing, God must be involved and all the credit goes to Him" not one thing I can take credit for...and this is deflate my ego, to become less of me...and more of Him.
Thank God for St. Francis and all the Franciscans that try to be devoted to Christ. If Christ is the answer, then we have found the solution.

Prayer of St. Francis, Prayer of Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is error, the truth;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.



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