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St. Francis on Bad Priests

St. Francis on Bad Priests

On one occasion, a parishioner brought to the attention of St. Francis a priest involved in a scandalous affair. He asked St. Francis to go and correct the priest. The first thing St. Francis did was to kneel and kiss the hands of the priest. (From the Thirteenth-Century Testimonies #6.) St. Francis was not condoning any possible wrong behavior of ...
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Marytown

Marytown

Recently, I visited our Conventual Franciscan Friar ministry at Marytown in Libertyville, IL. Marytown promotes our Franciscan Marian Spirituality, and is the National Shrine of Saint Maximillian Kolbe OFM Conv., who was a martyred in Auschwitz during World War II. St. Francis had a special devotion to Mary, Mother of God, and made Her the Patroness of our Franciscan Order ...
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Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s

…and to God what is God’s.  These are Jesus’ words in answer to the challenge of the Pharisees trying to trap him, that we hear in the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time Mass readings in the Gospel of Matthew (22:15-21). Does this mean that what we do in our social structures, such as in government or work, are separate and ...
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Liturgy of the Hours

Liturgy of the Hours

Each day Franciscan Friars gather in a community to pray the “Liturgy of the Hours” in addition to the daily celebration of the Eucharist, and our personal private prayer time. The Liturgy of the Hours is an official prayer of the Church. It consists of songs, recitation of psalms (with alternating sides of the chapel taking turns speaking and listening ...
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Why Do Franciscans Bless Animals?

Why Do Franciscans Bless Animals?

The Feast of St. Francis is October 4th! In anticipation of the Feast, the Friars at Our Lady of Grace Parish in Castro Valley CA blessed the pets of our parishioners. Why do Franciscans Bless Animals? The answer might come from the book of Daniel in the Office of Readings today, the Feast of the Guardian Angeles, October 2nd.  In ...
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Friars host 5,000-7,000 Pilgrims

Friars host 5,000-7,000 Pilgrims

I recently had the Joy and Privilege to preach a 9-day novena to Our Lady of Consolation, which finished with an outdoor Mass with 5,000 – 7,000 worshipers on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary. Every year the Friars of Our Lady of Consolation Province, host the novena and outdoor Mass at our Basilica and National Shrine of Our ...
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Francis "Go and Repair My House..."

Francis “Go and Repair My House…”

St. Bonaventure tells us that when Francis first heard the San Damiano Crucifix say to him three times: “Francis go and repair my house which, as you see, is all falling down,” Francis at first responded by “Repairing the material church,” in which the San Damiano Cross was, but in fact the “Principal intention of the words referred to that ...
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Have you considered a one year Volunteer Adventure?

Have you considered a one year Volunteer Adventure?

I recall a former work colleague who was from Israel, and shared that it was mandatory that everyone serve two years in the military. He would often share of the many good memories of working with others, and how that has a way of uniting the whole country.  (He was fortunate enough to have not experienced war.) I am not ...
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Prayer: To Ask God for What He Needs! (St. Teresa of Avila on Prayer)

Prayer: To Ask God for What He Needs! (St. Teresa of Avila on Prayer)

Most of us think of prayer, as asking God for what we need. In this post, I’d like to explore prayer as asking God for what He needs! To ask God for what we need, and want, is indeed authentic prayer, and Jesus even tells us to do this in Mt 7:11, and elsewhere. However, this is not the type ...
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Will God Give Me a Sign?

Will God Give Me a Sign?

I’ve asked God for a sign, to tell me if He wants me to be a priest, or a brother, or to get married. I am still waiting…. I do hear this from many discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life. In this post, I’d like to explore the question; “Will God give us a Sign, telling us what ...
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Why Give Up the Joy of Begetting a Child?

Why Give Up the Joy of Begetting a Child?

“I am discerning between getting married or being a religious” is a phrase I often hear from men I talk to. In the end, these are not as different as they seem! Theologically, we speak of marriage as both unitive and creative. Let’s look at each of these: Unitive In marriage, the two give of self to the other in ...
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Are You an Arrow in the Quiver of the Lord?

Are You an Arrow in the Quiver of the Lord?

By our Baptism, we are anointed as Prophets! Are you a prophet like Isaiah where in Is 49:11-2, we read; “The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb He gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of His arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver ...
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What is the Right Use of Freedom?

What is the Right Use of Freedom?

“In those days, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” (Ex 17:3) The third Sunday of Lent recounts the Exodus, where just after being freed from over 400 years of slavery, the ...
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Are You Wrestling with God?

Are You Wrestling with God?

On a recent discernment retreat, our Novice Master, Fr. Giles Zakowicz OFM Conv., related a story he heard from author Nikos Kazantzakis, that goes roughly as follows. While researching monastic life, Nikos as a young man visited a monastery on Mount Athos in Greece, to interview the much older Abba of the monastery. Nikos asked the Abba, “So, what do ...
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Our Lives Matter!!

Our Lives Matter!!

Is there any greater force in the world than a good example?  We fail to fully appreciate, how much our lives, and our good works, matter! We have tremendous power to make the world a better place, and a decision to use that power or not!  I am reminded of Antoine with whom I had a conversation a few years ...
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St. Francis Teaches us that Every Day is Christmas!

St. Francis Teaches us that Every Day is Christmas!

The early Church recognized that even sinners celebrate birthdays, but only for Saints could we truly celebrate their death, because this was their “birth” to eternal life. Christmas, the birth of Christ, was therefore NOT a major feast of the early Church. However, over the years, the Church did begin to celebrate the Birth of both Jesus and John the ...
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Are You Prepared for The Second Coming of Christ?

Are You Prepared for The Second Coming of Christ?

The message of the first weeks of Advent is “So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come!”  (Mt 24:44) Scripture and science tell us, the end will come.  Scripture tells us that no one knows when, but that there will be signs.  The signs may be the ...
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A Millionaire who became a Friar

A Millionaire who became a Friar

Sunday’s Gospel of Zacchaeus reminded me of the Story of Br. George.  Zacchaeus was a rich man, who gave away much of his money to change his life and follow Christ. He was not only rich but the scriptures tell us he was the “Chief Tax Collector”.  He was a successful business man, like a CEO of a large corporation.  ...
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As Thanksgiving Day Approaches, Are We Truly Grateful?

As Thanksgiving Day Approaches, Are We Truly Grateful?

Lord, thank you for what you’ve given me, help me this day to use it in your service!  That is a beautiful prayer!  In the Gospel of Luke 17:11-19, ten Lepers were healed, only one came back to thank God!  How much of our lives is lived without fully being aware of what God has done for us and without ...
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Prayer: How to Find the HIDDEN TREASURE!

Prayer: How to Find the HIDDEN TREASURE!

Is prayer important? I say it is ESSENTIAL, especially to find one’s call in life. Allow me to share a rather common outline of a vocation story. (Not particular to any one person, but a collection of very common themes in both my life and in the lives of men I talk to discerning a call). One might say to ...
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Why not Choose a FRANCISCAN University?

Why not Choose a FRANCISCAN University?

Today’s world offers so many choices, how can one possibly know what major to study in college? Life is a journey. Each step on that journey is a choice; what do I want to do? Where do I want to Go?  Also for many, we begin on that path with many influences; our parents, friends, business trends, our interests, dictate ...
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Faith: The Courage to be Uncomfortable!

Faith: The Courage to be Uncomfortable!

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone… This last weekend, we had our parish festival. One of our musical groups invited me to play the opening song with them. I have played guitar for years now, but mostly in church or by myself. A few times I have had the opportunity to play secular songs with real musicians, but it never went ...
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Pope Francis, St. Francis, Jean Vanier show us how to Heal Violence.

Pope Francis, St. Francis, Jean Vanier show us how to Heal Violence.

Each time we pray the Our Father, we say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”.  With all the recent news of violence in our world, it is easy to lose Hope, that this prayer will ever be answered!  Someone recently shared with me a link to an interview with Jean Vanier, founder ...
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Initial Formation Series: Postulancy

Initial Formation Series: Postulancy

Most discerners want to know what the first few years in the order look like. In this post and following posts, I will try to describe the first years in the order. These first years are often referred to as “Initial Formation” Principle and Purpose of Initial Formation: Since our entire life is a process of conforming oneself to Christ, ...
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Initial Formation Series: Novitiate

Initial Formation Series: Novitiate

The second year of Initial formation is the Novitiate year. It begins with the Investiture ceremony, when a young man first receives his habit, and becomes a member of the order. If we look at the experience of Francis, in particular at the years of his conversion, we notice that they were decisive moments of his life, a time during ...
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Initial Formation Series: Post Novitiate

Initial Formation Series: Post Novitiate

The post novitiate years begin with the profession of Vows, for the first time, for a period of three years. This time of temporary profession, is to continue to deepen your life as a Franciscan, but also to be trained for ministry.  A friar planning to be a brother may study theology in general, or a particular discipline like education ...
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Is Life just a Game of Monopoly?

Is Life just a Game of Monopoly?

“Vanity of Vanities says Qoheleth”; Is life just a game of Monopoly? As Vocation Director, I talk to many about how to find your mission in life. Last Sunday’s readings, warn about the danger of the opposite; spending your life on things that do not really matter. They urge us to “Be rich in what matters to God”. The first ...
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A Message for Graduates - A Prayer for Students

A Message for Graduates – A Prayer for Students

We had our 8th Grade Graduation the other day at our Catholic School, Our Lady of Grace in Castro Valley, where we Conventual Franciscans have been newly ministering for one year now. How proud we were of our graduates, as they got up and spoke of the value of their Catholic Education! They have been not only formed in academics, ...
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The Deeper Meaning of the Eucharist

The Deeper Meaning of the Eucharist

Padre Pio tells us; “It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is to help us appreciate the deeper meaning of the Mass, and of all our life! I met a lady the other day who shared with me, that ...
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The Deeper Meaning of Our Lives - Franciscan Poverty

The Deeper Meaning of Our Lives – Franciscan Poverty

In my more recent post (read post), I spoke of how the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ reminds us of the deeper reality of the Mass. The Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ is STILL so much more!  Today’s Feast is not only about the deeper reality of the Mass, it is about the deeper reality ...
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Our Light Makes Christ Visible (Our last Come & See)

Our Light Makes Christ Visible (Our last Come & See)

Once in a while, we see a “footprint” of God, and we know we are on the right path!  This happened just last weekend, while friar Bao and I were hurriedly preparing for a Friday night prayer service at the end of our first day of our “Come and See” weekend experience (retreat). Friar Bao took an old San Damiano ...
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Life after the Resurrection: A Meditation on John Chapter 21

Life after the Resurrection: A Meditation on John Chapter 21

In the Easter Season, we are hearing about the appearances of the Risen Jesus to the disciples in the Sunday readings.  The third Sunday of Easter, we hear from the Gospel of John, Chapter 21, about the 3rd appearance of Jesus to the disciples. (It is interesting to note, that St. Paul tells us that the risen Jesus appeared to ...
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Why Do Franciscans Live Celibacy?

Why Do Franciscans Live Celibacy?

Franciscans do not take a vow of Celibacy! We take a vow of Chastity, which is really no different than any other Christian.  Chastity is the virtue of right ordering of your sexuality within the context of your whole person, and your lifestyle. Chastity is the virtue of expressing your sexuality appropriately according to your way of life as a ...
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Are You Bearing Fruit?  Write your Autobiography, Read IT and See!

Are You Bearing Fruit? Write your Autobiography, Read IT and See!

This Sunday’s Gospel, Luke 13:1-9 from the 3rd Sunday of Lent, is the parable of the vineyard owner who wishes to cut down a tree on his property that is not being fruitful.  The vine dresser however pleads, let me fertilize it and wait one more year. Perhaps then it will bear fruit. If not, then, you may cut it ...
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Are You a Fish? Or a Fisherman?

Are You a Fish? Or a Fisherman?

That is the basic question of Life! Hopefully, you are at least a fish! Hopefully also, one day you will be a fisher of people! Our lives on earth can be descried in a very simple way: first we must be saved, then we must work to save others. It really is that simple! Regretfully however, most Christians never make ...
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What is a Vocation? The Four Wise Men Show Us! (I bet you never knew there were four!)

What is a Vocation? The Four Wise Men Show Us! (I bet you never knew there were four!)

Recently in the Church we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany. The story of the Magi, on a journey, guided by a light from the heavens to give their gifts to Jesus, is an archetype of a Vocation. Simply put, our individual Vocation is to give our unique gifts that we bring on our life Journey, and give them to ...
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Peace on Earth: Can it Be?

Peace on Earth: Can it Be?

The day after Christmas, I woke to a duet of Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy”. While Bing sings the traditional “Come they told me….” David sings a harmony “Peace on earth, can it be?” It is a powerful song, but also it is a question we all have in our hearts, especially this time of year.  ...
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Honoring Our Two Latest Franciscan Martyrs: All Franciscans Strive to be Martyrs!

Honoring Our Two Latest Franciscan Martyrs: All Franciscans Strive to be Martyrs!

I saw a cartoon a few years back, that in a few frames described the following: Outdoors, under a tree, sat a holy man, praying. He was thin from fasting, and appeared weak. He had legs crossed, palms of his hands up, and eyes closed as he prayed. Along the road came a warrior; appearing strong and muscular, and carrying ...
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Why do Franciscans Take a Vow of Poverty?

Why do Franciscans Take a Vow of Poverty?

St. Francis, and Franciscans, are known for working with the poor. The Gospel Passage of the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Mk 12:38-44), helps us see why. Often we hear the gospel passage known as the “Widow’s Mite” (Mk: 12:41-44) preached as example of how we should give; “from our livelihood” rather than from our “surplus wealth”. But this passage ...
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Why Proclaim Christ as King? This Feast is Very Difficult.... It is meant to be!

Why Proclaim Christ as King? This Feast is Very Difficult…. It is meant to be!

Just before we celebrated Christ the King, I heard a long time parishioner of the parish I was visiting, share with another parishioner, that she was not comfortable with the title of Christ the King. It seemed too political. I felt I could understand her objection. If you want to ruin the family Thanksgiving dinner later this week, one sure ...
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What is the "Secret of Life"?  St. Francis Knew It... "Perfect Joy"!

What is the “Secret of Life”? St. Francis Knew It… “Perfect Joy”!

The 8th grade class has been presenting their projects on the Saints the last few weeks. So far, the presentations I have heard, speak of the martyrs. The martyrs make a powerful impression on us. Their deaths witness to us, that there is a purpose for living that is greater than this life alone. Scripture teaches us that death was ...
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Are You Waiting for God to Tell You what to Do? God Respects Free Will... After All, He Made It!

Are You Waiting for God to Tell You what to Do? God Respects Free Will… After All, He Made It!

When it comes to finding God’s will for how you live out your vocation, I like to say; “God Confirms, not commands!” Discerning God’s will requires looking back as much as it does looking forward! It is not listening for God telling us what He wants us to do, it is offering our service to God as a gift, and ...
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We are all Blind, until we hear the Voice of Jesus, the One Who can Make us See (Mk 10:46-52)

We are all Blind, until we hear the Voice of Jesus, the One Who can Make us See (Mk 10:46-52)

I went to a diocesan youth rally with our Confirmation students this week. The presenter blindfolded several student volunteers, and brought them to the front of the more than 700 students in a filled gymnasium. He asked them to search for a hidden object in the audience. The crowd was allowed to yell out directions to help them. After the ...
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Servant Leadership: New Business Principle, or Ancient Teaching of Jesus? (Mk 10:35-45)

Servant Leadership: New Business Principle, or Ancient Teaching of Jesus? (Mk 10:35-45)

The Gospel is filled with “Oxymorons” (a combination of words that have opposite or very different meanings; e.g. jumbo shrimp). The Gospel says you must die to live, empty yourself to be filled, give to receive. This Sunday, the 29th in Ordinary Time, we will hear that a leader is one who serves! For a leader to be a servant ...
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How to Pray with the Gospels

How to Pray with the Gospels

I cannot think of any better way to discern a Franciscan call, than to listen to Jesus through praying the Gospels. Francis of Assisi followed Christ, by knowing him through the Gospels. The Gospels were to be the “rule” of the new religious order he founded, often referred to as the Evangelical Life. For St. Francis, the Gospels came alive, ...
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Is Jesus calling you to sell all you have and follow HIM? (Mk 10:17-30)

Is Jesus calling you to sell all you have and follow HIM? (Mk 10:17-30)

This Sunday’s Gospel (28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Mk 10:17-30) was the passage through which I heard my call to enter the Conventual Franciscans. In this passage, Jesus looks on the man who ran up to him “Loved him and said to him, ‘You are lacking one thing, go and sell what you have, and give to the poor, and ...
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