Sunday, December 18, 2011

Skepticism: Enemy of Your Vocation

A blessed Advent and Merry Christmas to all of you. This is such a beautiful time of the year, filled with memories and moving images of an amazingly humble God. Various TV channels usually run such classics as Dicken's A Christmas Carol (did you see the Disney - Jim Carrey version?), 1983 A Christmas Story, 1964 Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, 1969 Frosty the Snowman and the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas. Some people like the 2008 movie The Nativity Story. Many churches put on live nativity plays (see ours here). Saint Francis started it all! (read more here).
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus (Luke 1:31)

Christmas and Easter are also times when it is popular for various TV channels to show documentaries on Jesus, etc. Many of these programs this year will focus on anything except the religious aspect of Christmas - or they will be presenting the story from a skeptical point of view using testimonies from various "scholars". Beware!! It is worth noting that we are often bombarded from so many different sources which plant seeds of doubt about our faith. This is the tactic taken by the serpent in the garden. We are all influenced by the secular culture. Beware!! Skepticism is the enemy of your vocation. Littleness of faith is a huge problem when it comes to discerning and answering your call from God. Let's say bah humbug to the sowers of secular skepticism.
Just say no to those skeptical Grinches!

P.S. Remember the Nativity story? It is all true.

May the newborn baby Jesus bless you,
The Friars 
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

Interested in learning more? Give us a call!
(212)281-4355              eLetter Archive

Check it out ...

Pope Lights World’s Largest Xmas Tree & Shares His 3 Xmas Wishes
Ultra Sound Baby Jesus Poster found here
Archbishop Carlson sees signs of encouragement for US vocations
Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation - from a hand-written notebook
GrassrootsFilms Superbowl Doritos Commercial - a must see from our friends
The Star of Bethlehem Documentary - really really interesting
[Advent Conspiracy] Enter the Story 2011 - a must see - 2:39 video - this Christmas
+ Videos: A Friar Tells His Story + Mother Teresa on Vocation + CFR Sisters 1 + CFR Sisters 2

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Upfront, I must be really clear that I am not “in the know” when it comes to what is going on in the world. I hear of news every now and again, but I am certainly not an expert in current events. However, I am aware of those who are currently protesting on Wall Street and around the world. Without objective news it is hard to wrap my mind around the reasons or context by which hundreds of people are gathered, but they certainly have their reasons and they are within in their rights to do so.
Don't hit a wall in your discernment
With that said, this months message on discernment is not going to be about protesting specifically nor am I going to put myself in the middle of what is going on. But upon reflection the notion of protesting has led me to think about discernment. I wonder if there is a tendency for some to make ones vocation all about what is being taken from them or to get stuck on what one has to give up in following a particular way of life. Which ends up being some what like a protest. For example, thinking of celibacy or a vow of chastity as limiting or an injustice, or seeing the gift of obedience as contrary to a person’s freedom or even embracing the vow of poverty or simplicity as inhuman or unnecessary. A lot of times when we find our selves in discernment we are consumed by what we are asked to say no to instead of what we have a grace filled opportunity to say yes to. If a call to the priesthood or religious life is only seen through the rules or limits where is the inspiration in that? Where does the romance of God seeking us and calling us from the very depths of our hearts granting us an invitation to follow him radically come into play when we see our vocations as something that we can just bear or put up with?
Think of the rich young man who sadly walked away from Jesus' invitation

My brothers! While it is good to be aware of what we are saying no to, the grace of a vocational call to religious life or the priesthood is found in what we are asked to say yes to. In embracing poverty we proclaim with our lives that God is the only necessary treasure in our lives. In fully living the vow of chastity we give God our undivided hearts and let the love of Christ live in us. And in living faithfully the vow of obedience, with our Lord, we strive to only do the Father’s will (Pope John Paul II, Vita Consecrata). What grace and freedom the vows bring into our lives! We say yes to these counsels believing that they will lead us to live as Jesus did and that we in a small way will be His presence here on earth again.
If you want to go where I am going, come follow me!

Maybe it will be a good opportunity this week to reexamine our motives and spirit of discernment. If our discernment is more like a protest, it would be good to let the Lord into our hearts to start to see what the invitation is really all bout. Following Him in freedom and joy! Then we start to be for something rather then just against it and that is what the Lord truly wants.

Check it out ...

+ BBC Video, CFR Sisters in England

Br. Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

Interested in learning more? Give us a call!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

October 2011 CFR Vocations eLetter

Making Room
Do you have any room for us?
I am still considered to be somewhat of a new friar. I remember just a few years ago having a cell phone, a Facebook account, a laptop, and being consumed by news and information. There was something attractive about being “plugged in” and “in the know,” which all the technology allowed me to do. But things started to change when I started discerning. Like Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, I noticed there wasn’t much room in my life or my heart for the Lord to speak. I had to make room, and it wasn’t easy.
I can't hear you O Lord!
Whether we know it or not things such as our cell phone use, Facebook time, or time watching movies or listening to our Ipods can often hurt more then help our discernment. One of the goals of discernment, especially at the beginning, is to form a discerning heart, one that is capable of hearing the Lord’s voice and responding to His movements in our lives. When our time and energy are spent worrying about texting, updating our Facebook status, while having our Ipod in our ears wherever we go, it is difficult to hear the Lord. I am of course not talking about a complete fast. The Friars even sometime use the internet and enjoy watching movies. But for all of us a good balance is to be desired and sought.
There's just something wrong about this picture
The end goal is to hear the Lord, to make a place for him in our lives, to speak and to move. A good reality check for all of us and a good question to consider is whether there is room for the Lord to do just that. In the end, we all can make more room. We all can spend less time on the phone, the computer, or engulfing ourselves in noise to make more room for silence, which is where we know the Lord speaks.
What are you plugged into?
Take a moment. Examine how “plugged in” you are. And today make a little more room for Him who in the end is much more exciting and fulfilling then the new updated Facebook Status or the breaking news online. With more room to work in our lives, the Lord will guide us and lead us to what are hearts desire and our ultimate vocation and call.

Br. Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, CFR
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St. 
New York, NY 10031

Interested in learning more? Give us a call!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sept. 2011 CFR Vocations eLetter

New Beginnings
September is a time of new beginnings. The fall brings much anticipation with the start of the new school year, sports seasons, new jobs, and is even a time when some begin their journey in religious life. This week the Friars of the Renewal have welcomed five new postulants to New York to begin their formation and process of discerning with our community. With all the new beginnings there is a real sense of excitement, joy, and of course maybe even a little nervousness! We all face new beginnings. Whether it is a significant life change or just something small, we have to start somewhere and maybe for those who are discerning it would be helpful to learn a little about what it means to “begin discerning.” The following are three areas which one can begin to consider when discerning a religious vocation.
Do not be afraid!

Our vocations are a gift given by a God who loves us and has called us. Our vocation is not to be found using Google to look up the nearest community that fits all of my personality requirements or desires. Our vocations are a part of us, found deep within our hearts, and understood in an intimate relationship with the One who created us. Time in prayer with the Lord listening in the quiet of our hearts, coming to know more about the One who has called and learning more about ourselves whom He is calling. Beginning the process of discernment is not necessarily about seeking a particular community or way of life but about seeking the One is who is calling, Jesus, and it is Him who will give us all we need to respond faithfully.
Come on, answer my call!

The fulfillment of our vocation doesn’t happen overnight. Those who are living the religious life can tell you that it is a test of daily fidelity to God working and moving in our lives is what is important. So much conversion needs to happen before we can be in a place to say yes to what the Lord is preparing. How easy it would be if our Lord just proposed and we were off to begin! Instead it is important to recognize that there is much purifying that needs to happen with the Lord, in our relationships with others, and within our own selves before we are ready and prepared to take the next step. We must trust in the beautiful process that is preparing us for the next step and embrace the sometimes painful but truly necessary work the Lord is waiting to do in our lives.
Let me mold and shape you.

Discernment takes time. It also takes patience and trust over the course of many months and even years as the Lord is preparing and sowing the seed of a call in our hearts. Don’t be in a rush! Look at discerning as a journey of becoming your true self rather then a stress filled process of “doing” something for the Lord as soon as possible. We all want to reach the fulfillment of our call and vocation but that plan we have for the future might not go as we hope it would. To persevere and trust that the Lord knows what He is doing is a key to discerning, especially during times that might seems dark, or the future might seem unclear. There is not doubt the Lord knows you and wants you to know who He is calling you to be. Persevere to the end and you will be fulfilled!
I'm suppose to be in the convent already!

If the journey of discerning your vocation is new for you, commitment to prayer, openness to conversion and trusting perseverance are all tools that might help in this new beginning. In this time of new beginnings, let us rejoice in the Lord and be grateful for all the things He wants to do in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

God bless you,
Br. Angelus Immaculata Montgomery, CFR

Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

Check it out ...
Pope's homily to seminarians in Madrid (Aug. 20, 2011)
Pope's address, "no vocation is a private issue" (Sept. 12, 2011)
Fr. Timothy Gallagher online video, solid teachings

Interested in learning more? Give us a call!

Friday, September 9, 2011

We Remember

The call came to our friars from the firemen next to our friary on156th Street in the Bronx. “Please get down to Ground Zero – we need you there.” It was the day after 9/11. The plan was to meet at theBronx firehouse and take a bus with the firemen who would be transported to help at Ground Zero.

So a group of us friars, priests and brothers, waited at the firehouse with the firemen the morning of 9/12 to head across the bridge by bus to Manhattan. The firemen sat in silence while watching the news on the television. Also, a fireman was writing a list of names on a chalkboard, the names of their confreres who had died.

Pain was written on their faces. There were no words that seemed appropriate. We just sat praying silently next to them and waited. The bus was delayed so we were encouraged by the firemen to take the subway to Manhattan as far as could and then to walk the rest of the way. That we did – we passed two barricades at which we simply said, “The firemen asked us to go to Ground Zero.” We were given the OK.

Before we knew it we were at a place that seemed surreal. Somehow we were there, yet it didn’t seem real: skeletons of buildings, broken glass, water pouring down escalators, grey soot up to our ankles, most of all the pained faces of heroes trying their best to do something, anything.

My responsibility was to bless the bodies which were being removed from the rubble. The unmistakable orange body-bags were carried with great dignity. I stood next to a Rabbi and a Protestant Minister. As the bodies were being carried to the first temporary morgue the bearers paused, we prayed, gave a blessing and cried.

Other friars prayed with small groups of firemen, policemen and other responders. Only prayer and simply being present seemed to be appropriate. Some brothers gave out rosaries and offered their shoulders to cry on. Noting Saint Francis’ love for animals we were asked to bless the specially trained dogs which were helping with the search for remains.

On the way back to the Bronx we rode the bus with the firemen. We rode through Manhattan as crowds of people waved and showed signs of support. We sat in silence. Only prayer and simply being present seemed appropriate.

Fr. Mariusz Koch, CFR
Community Servant
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary, Newark, NJ

Letter from Pope Bendict to US Bishops
Sept. 11, 2011

Prayer of Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero
April 20, 2008

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Special prayer request

In the early days of the order, Saint Francis and the friars would gather for a special meeting (chapter) around the feast of Pentecost. This was a time to pray together as brothers, invoking the help of the Holy Spirit as they discussed various questions concerning the direction of the order. This became a tradition which continues to our day.

In our little community we have our General Chapter every three years. All of the friars in final vows gather to pray and discuss various items. We also elect the leadership for the next three years. This year our General Chapter will be held for one week beginning on June 12, the feast of Pentecost. Please pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit as we gather together.
Giotto fresco of the Pentecost chapter meeting of 1232 in Arles.
Saint Anthony of Padua (l) had an apparition of the recently deceased Saint Francis (r).
God bless you,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, New York

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Priests!

First things first, for those interested in joining this September, the two week visit will be from
June 30th to July 13th. Please contact the vocation office at 212-281-4355 if you are interested. We are praying for all of you out there. Have courage!

One of the Capuchin Saints used to begin every one of his sermons with the proclamation, “How beautiful it is to love God!” I am filled with great joy as I see this exclamation manifested in my life as a friar. On Saturday May 14th five of our friars, two of whom I live with, were ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. For the friars getting ordained this is the beginning of a new journey, as many of them will get missioned to one of our friaries around the world. Fr. Columba and Fr. Sebastian, the brothers that I live with, will be sent to our friaries in Ireland and London.

It has been a great joy over the past few years to serve with these brothers as we have been involved in an apostolate for young adults in the city under the patronage of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (check out the website Fr. Sebastian had been leading a weekly Bible study and
Fr. Columba had been leading worship at many of the prayer meeting and retreats attend by the young adults. In the last few weeks as they both have been saying their good byes and transitioning into the next chapter of their ministry, the men and women of Frassati Fellowship arranged a going away celebration for our brothers and one by one they shared the impact and presence of Fr. Columba and Fr. Sebastian have had in their life. Many of them have had significant conversions and came to know in a new way or for the first time the person of Jesus Christ and the gift of His Church.

Witnessing the testimonies of these young adults made me realize that the Lord works well beyond my understanding and awareness in the lives of so many who are right in our midst. Their testimonies also encouraged me in my vocation and taught me that discernment is multifaceted. God works in us and prepares us without our knowing. As we set aside time in our life of prayer and look back in time we see our journey and our encounters in this journey are but preparation to fulfill His holy will. In realizing this I have come to certainty that this life is so worth living and sacrificing for. Please pray for Fr. Columba, Fr. Sebastian and myself as we strive to be faithful and generous in what the Lord is asking of us. Take a moment today and look around to be inspired by those who truly love God, and with great gratitude thank the Lord for His many blessings.

Monday, February 7, 2011

We need saints!

May the Lord give you His peace!

In Hebrews 13:7-8 we read, "Remember your leaders,
who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome
of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is
the same yesterday and today and forever." Take a moment
to prayerfully reflect on all the people God has used to
model and speak His word to you. Those who help us
along our journey of faith are real spiritual heroes.
NYPRIEST.COM sponsors vocations advertisements
which proclaim the message, "The World Needs Heroes."

Venerable Pope John Paul II is a great hero who
continues to inspire many to say yes to Jesus!
He will be Beatified on May 1, 2011 (info found here).
We need examples who inspire us to follow Jesus.
That is why Christians have always held up the saints.
Saint John Vianney would read lives of the saints
every day. Not only are they inspiring, they also pray
for us from heaven. There are many holy people who
may never be officially canonized, who never-the-less,
help us along our way. Who has helped you in your
faith walk, your discernment? Parents, pastors and friends
have an important influence on us. May we be inspired
to answer God's call in our life.
   Check it out ... - great resource!!

Top Ten Vocations Websites
Truth and Life Audio Bible - really well done
Pope's Homily, Feb. 2, 2011, World Day of Consecrated Life - interesting Catholic site - great pro life group
May the Lord bless you,
The Friars 
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031 

For Vocation Inquiries
(212)281-4355                 eLetter Archive

Friday, January 21, 2011

January 2011 Pro-Life CFR Vocations eLetter

May the Lord give you His peace!

Recently while spending sometime with a youth group in the area, at a break in the conversation that we were having about facebook, cell phones, and the like, I asked an open ended question which provided a moving answer. “In a word, how would you describe young people today?” Busy, distracted, and bored, were among the highlights and when I thought they were done giving me their thoughts, a quiet young man mumbled, “in a word - ALONE.” Perhaps an answer worth reflecting on.

The pro-life apostolate is significant in the life of our community. Our outreach takes on many forms, but the main focus is prayer and counseling at abortion mills in the cities in which we reside. Living in Newark, NJ, I pray and counsel with three other friars on Saturday mornings in a small town close to our friary. The foundation of our apostolate is prayer as we stand across the street from the women’s choices clinic and pray for women and their babies, and also those who accompany them in their decision. In addition, brothers get the opportunity to counsel women as they are approaching the clinic, hoping to provide a presence of hope and a word of encouragement or challenge before they enter. A few weeks ago, there was a young couple who pulled into the parking lot, and as the young women got out of the car, she noticed that her boyfriend was not willing to go inside with her. As she stood standing all alone, tears falling down her face, my heart was moved with compassion for her. As she was pulling herself together our eyes met and a prayer lifted from my heart and in my gaze back to her I longed to tell her that she was not alone, there were people that cared for her and her child and that God loved her so much and would provide all that she needed to say yes to the life of her child. So many women who find themselves in this similar situation feel hopeless and alone, and they feel like there is not other option than getting an abortion. It seems like the easiest, quickest, and simplest option to take care of their difficult situation... They are afraid, confused, and alone. There is unlikely any support from their spouse or friends, and no life giving encouragement from the doctors or nurses inside. The mask they wear is one that seems harsh, tough, and even portrays confidence in their purpose for being there, but deep down we see and experience someone who is hopeless and alone.

This coming weekend is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and also the annual March For Life in Washington D.C. What an incredible event for people of all ages to gather together to pray and to witness to the dignity of every human person. To proclaim to our nation and those who are challenged with this decision before them, that they are not alone, there are people who care, and a merciful God who wants to abundantly bless them and provide for them. To participate in the pro life apostolate has been a tremendous challenge but a true blessing. God is calling us and all of you to be truly present to those who think they are alone, to bear witness to the mercy, hope and love of Jesus. To those who suffer from abortion and are struggling with the decision to choose life, you are not alone! This message of hope is definitely worth marching for, and most importantly worth living for.

    Check it out ...Pro-Life Rally with the Friars!
Sunday, January 22, 2011, St. Bernadette Church, Silversprings, MD, 6:30-10:30 pm - great resource
Must read article (and video) about abortionist in Philadelphia - very good

Website of Norma McCorvey, the former Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade found here

May the Lord bless you,
Br. Angelus Immaculata, CFR 
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

For Vocation Inquiries

Thursday, January 13, 2011

January 2011 CFR Vocations eLetter

May the Lord give you His peace!

There is power in the Word of God. Pope Benedict recently released a great document on this important topic (Verbum Domini found here). Among others, the Pope wrote about Saint Francis and Saint Antony of the Desert as examples of people who were greatly blessed by the power of God's Word. These great saints were guided in their discernment by a grace-filled encounter with the Lord through the prayerful reading of Sacred Scripture.

"The most profound interpretation of Scripture comes precisely from those who let themselves be shaped by the word of God through listening, reading and assiduous meditation. It is certainly not by chance that the great currents of spirituality in the Church’s history originated with an explicit reference to Scripture. I am thinking for example of Saint Anthony the Abbot, who was moved by hearing Christ’s words: “if you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21). [...] Saint Francis of Assisi – we learn from Thomas of Celano – 'upon hearing that the disciples of Christ must possess neither gold, nor silver nor money, nor carry a bag, nor bread, nor a staff for the journey, nor sandals nor two tunics … exulting in the Holy Spirit, immediately cried out: 'This is what I want, this is what I ask for, this I long to do with all my heart!’".

Along with Pope Benedict, we enthusiastically recommend the practice of Lectio Divina (sacred reading). This could be done at home or during Eucharistic Adoration. Like so many saints in the past, allow the Lord to speak to your heart as you pray with His inspired word.

    Check it out ...American Bible Society Lectio Divina Page
Lectio Divina Manuel - very good 
Beauty of God's Word - magazine article - good resource
October 2010 Letter to Seminarians from Pope Benedict
24 minute documentary on the CFRs, "Bagage"
Garden in Limerick Ireland video

Great Papal Quote: "Those aspiring to the ministerial priesthood are called to a profound personal relationship with God’s word, particularly in lectio divina, so that this relationship will in turn nurture their vocation: it is in the light and strength of God’s word that one’s specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one’s proper mission carried out, by nourishing the heart with thoughts of God, so that faith, as our response to the word, may become a new criterion for judging and evaluating persons and things, events and issues"
(Pope Benedict, Verbum Domini, #82).

May the Lord bless you,
The Friars 
Saint Joseph Friary
523 W. 142nd St.
New York, NY 10031

For Vocation Inquiries