Friday, December 4, 2009

December 2009 CFR Vocations eLetter

May the Lord give you His peace! This month we have a reflection from one of our friars stationed in the South Bronx, Br. Simon. A blessed Advent and Christmas to all of you. Let us pray for one another.

Who knew? God knew!

Recently when flying out of La Guardia Airport in New York City, I was surprised by seeing a friar and a friend unexpectedly. Sitting near the gate reading a book, I took my time as the passengers boarded the plane. I was surprised when suddenly one of our own friars came up and gave me a big hello. It was joy to see him. Then all of the sudden a friend from Michigan, a college roommate - now a father of six children and successful business man - came out from the next gate. In those moments we received an unexpected blessing of the gift of friendship. Who would have known?

In our vocation to holiness we need to desire to truly accomplish God’s will for His greater glory, allowing Him to work out the details. When the apostles experienced and encountered Our Lord in the Gospels his response to them simply would be “come and see.” This would have caused the disciples to act with faith. Faith is required in the discerning of a vocation which may seem to be a longer and more difficult decision than responding to the invitation of our Lord. We ask ourselves why it cannot be more simple. On this journey of faith there will be unexpected blessings. We should pray for the grace to be content with the expected trial-of-the-day set before us, trusting that Our Lord is guiding us and those around us in our vocations.

We should be grateful for the gift of friends who pray and intercede for us in our discernment and trust that light and grace is given as a gift from God. Before I was a friar, while visiting one of the missions in California founded by Bl. Junipero, an older man who attended Mass with us approached me to ask if he could pray for my vocation. As he said a prayer he shared with me an image he received in his prayer. It was an image of me taking a detour in my journey which would actually become a catapult of grace. How true that word from the Lord became as the friars in New York asked me to wait and work. I worked in a dynamic program giving retreats for two years. It deepened my faith and friendships with other Catholics and solidified my resolve to enter religious life as a Franciscan. I am grateful for the unexpected detour, but desire that contentment Our Lord gives in being close to Him in prayer, in the sacraments lived out in a community, while experiencing the expected trials-of-the-day. This year I am a friar for nine years and I trust that “He knows the plans he has for me…” Jeremiah.

May the Lord bless you,
Br. Simon Marie Dankoski, CFR
Saint Crispin Friary
420 East 156 St.
Bronx, NY 10455

Check it out ...

+ Advent Meditation in Papal Chapel Contemplates Origins of Priesthood
+ Pope Benedict Invites the Faithful to Confession (Dec. 2, 2009)
+ NFP vs Contraception Videos (similar to the Mac vs PC commercials)
+ Video of Houston Priest Dying of Cancer
+ Made For More (excellent book by Curtis Martin, founder of FOCUS)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 2009 C.F.R. Vocations eLetter

May the Lord give you His peace!
This month we write about, The Great Equalizer.

I love to reflect on that passage of scripture where Our Lord speaks about our judgment on the Last Day. He tells us that whatever we do to one of His least brothers, we do to Him. Just think if we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, cloth the naked, welcome the stranger, visit the sick or imprisoned…we do it to Him. Jesus puts an equals sign between Himself and the poor. What radical love! He hides himself in what Bl. Mother Teresa called the “distressing disguise of the poor” and gives us yet another place to meet Him.

This title of “the distressing disguise” is, I think, very accurate. The poor whom we encounter in our everyday lives bring us in close contact with terrible suffering often times. The challenges present in the lives of those we are called to serve such as homelessness, hunger, addiction, and terminal illness to name a few bring us face to face with Jesus Crucified. I often think of the work done by St. Francis or someone like the recently canonized St. Damien of Molokai who poured themselves out in service to lepers. The terrible suffering of physical deformity and the other things that go along with the disease of leprosy, which made lepers outcasts, make us deeply aware of the great love, courage and penetrating vision of St. Damien to see Christ in them and ultimately give his life for them. Ultimately, it is in this concrete love of neighbor that we find the measure of our love for God (See 1 John 3-4).

In our life as friars we are most blessed to have the privilege to live among and serve Jesus in His “least brethren.” It can be difficult at times, however, to find Jesus in His disguise. Our neighbor can be inconvenient, annoying, gruff or even out rightly unkind even when we are trying to help. We must constantly remind ourselves that Jesus Himself drew the equal sign between Himself and the “least brethren” and seek Him with the eyes of faith. Let us all beg the Lord in this month to give us a heart of love for Jesus in our neighbor, particularly the poor.

Check it out ...
+ US Vocations Choosing Traditional Orders (Aug. 20, 2009)
+ Modern society has become 'allergic' to sacrifice, warns Vatican official (July 6, 2009)
+ Planned Parenthood Director has a change of heart
+ Epic by John Eldredge (very good small book)
+ The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity by Taylor Marshall (great)

May the Lord bless you,
Br. Pius Marie Gagne, CFR
Assistant Vocation Director
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd Street
New York, NY 10031

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October 2009 C.F.R. Vocations eLetter

Grace and peace to you! I pray this letter finds you well.

You’ll be happy to know that our new postulants are settling in nicely and are already on the move, especially preparing for our annual dramatization of the life of St. Francis in anticipation of his feast on October 4th. The guys are a great group - very kind, generous, joyful, and eager to learn and grow. As they begin to learn more about themselves through trials and errors, they make light of their own shortcomings and quirks, which provide little humiliations for the postulant himself but lots of laughs for the rest of us!

When we are seeking the Lord and his will for our lives, we too want to be on the move and are quick to act. But we need to be careful because we may want to say, “I will follow you wherever you go” only to receive a response too challenging for us to accept. Or we can say, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” and proclaim our own victory and say, “Even though [the other disciples] all fall away, I will not” but we have only to keep reading to see that the famous author or those one-liners did not do so well…on his own. Furthermore, how do we consider our desire to follow the Lord when we hear something like, “My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation.” In the words of one our friars, “Mercy, bro!”

Brothers, be at peace and hear the Father say to you “not by your might, nor by your power, but by my Spirit” will you discover his will. We can be so anxious about the future that we are completely missing the graces present to us in the sacrament of the moment. C.S. Lewis wrote that time (you and me) touches eternity (God) in the present. We are in the greatest communion with the Father in the here and now! God is waiting to pour out upon us his abundant goodness, but if we’re so preoccupied with the who, what, where, why, and how of the future, we are completely missing what he’s trying to do for us right now! God is trying to tell us, “Be still and know that I am God.” He is trying to love us right where we are, but we are running in every other direction then where he’s trying to meet us. We need to “be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him” and “trust in him that he will act” because “God is faithful” and “he will fight for us, we have only to be still.”

So where do we need to be to encounter the Father and learn about what he’s trying to do for us in the “now?” That “where” is with Jesus his Son. Thankfully, we can be with Jesus in his physical presence, body, heart, soul and divinity, in his Body and Blood, the Eucharist. When we receive him at Mass, when we receive him in the Word, when we rest with him in our Eucharistic adoration, and when his Mother takes us by the hand and draws us to him. Friends become friends through a shared encounter, and they come to know one another by spending more time with one another. Are we spending quality time with the Lord? If we want to know better his will, we should probably come to know more about his very self. Otherwise, we might find it rather difficult to know the heart of the one whose love we're seeking. Like John and Andrew, we must ask Jesus, “Lord, where are you staying?” We need to “be” with Jesus and then we can “follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” As you know, God is not going to come down in the burning bush; if he did, we’d probably freak out. Instead, he draw us to himself using ordinary means – bread and wine, and through that bread and wine, we’re encountering him all day each day we make the time to receive them. We need to “taste and see that the Lord his good” and “find refuge in him.” Brothers, do not be discouraged, but place your trust in God’s care for you…a care with which he surrounds you at every moment, a care in which he is leading you and guiding you to make you more faithfully his own.

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (Ps 31:24).

(Lk 9:57; Lk 22:33; Mk 14:29; Sir 2:1; Zech 4:6; Ps 46:10; Ps 37:5-7; 1 Cor 10:13; Ex 14:4; Jn 1:38; Rev 14:4; Ps 34:8)

Br. Aloysius Marie Mazzone, CFR

St. Joseph Friary
Harlem, NY

Must check it out:
+ Video: Dominican Sisters of Mary
+ Video: C.F.R. Postulants get heckled for praying the rosary outside an abortion mill
+ US Vocations Choosing Traditional Orders (Aug. 20, 2009)
+ Modern society has become 'allergic' to sacrifice, warns Vatican official (July 6, 2009)

Friday, August 7, 2009

August 2009 C.F.R. Vocations eLetter

May the Lord give you His peace!

Well, we are now offering our monthly Vocations eLetter in blog format. This may make it easier to access and adds an element of interaction with the ability to post comments. We plan on continuing the old webpage format as well.

As you may know, we have two basic elements to our apostolates: at home and abroad. It has been quite a summer for the friars. In terms of travels and missions the friars are like monks on the move. We have sent mission teams to Sudan and Kenya, Bosnia, Australia, South Africa, Lebanon, France, England and Ireland - not to mention our regular missionary work from our friaries! Our foundations in Honduras and Nicaragua are doing well despite political instability. We certainly have a deeper appreciation that He has the whole world in His hands...

There have been many blessings in the Bronx this summer as well. Our Bronx youth Summer Life program went well as usual. The Padre Pio and Saint Anthony homeless shelters are both moving forward in some new directions. Four of our brothers professed perpetual vows on August 2nd. To cap it all off, it looks like around 10 men will be joining us as Postulants on September 8th!

We look forward to reaping the fruits of the Year For Priests, more on this as the year unfolds. As the summer comes to a close and the new school year begins, let us pray for each other. Pray also for the men and women who will be joining various communities and seminaries - it takes a lot of courage!

God bless,
Fr. Gabriel & Br. Pius