Jul 30, 2013


Every company I have ever worked for always had a scheduled inventory during the physical year. Some had it annually, some quarterly or monthly and most recently due to advanced data systems and methods even daily. Businesses can easily get out of control and do the wrong things and not fill their customer demands resulting in setbacks and possible failure.
This idea of inventory is one that can also be applied to a spiritual life. As Secular Franciscans it is a good idea to periodically examine ourselves on how we are living the gospel life.  An annual inventory is too long and not a good idea for anyone, but especially for those as professed Franciscans.  Neither is quarterly nor even monthly a good idea. We need to do this more often, even daily. This world environment we live in has a way of influencing us at times in spite of ourselves. If we don’t take an inventory of ourselves often we could find ourselves drifting away from God through rationalization of what we are doing, or not doing.  This inventory is also helpful in preparing for frequent confession of venial sins and personal faults in order to strengthen our souls and avoid mortal sins.
Doing an inventory such as this requires some simple method of measuring ourselves against the Gospel Life that we profess. There are many ways to do this as there are Secular Franciscans, but for me I categorize it into “Know, Love and Serve God”.

Know: Is my prayer life growing better or growing stale? Am I reading or studying things that will increase a spiritual life or too often are they worldly things? Do I continue to meditate on the scriptures, or have I become somewhat lax?

Love: Am I working on being “poor in spirit”, or am I beginning to seek after material things? In my actions do I love God with my whole heart, soul and mind or am I becoming more self- absorbed? Do I see Jesus in those I meet each day and treat them with kindness as I would Him, or am I forgetting that He told us that whatever we do to others we do unto Him? Do I offer disappointments and setbacks to God and suffer large and even small things for His sake, or do I become bitter or angry?

Serve: Do I live in such a way that others know that I know, love and serve Him, or am I hiding my faith in public? Am I faithful in performance of those apostolate ministries I agreed to take on, or have I become lax or ignored them? Do I take measures as they arise to evangelize, or do I become shy and avoid these opportunities?
These are some of the inventory questions that are possible. There are many ways to do inventory, what works for you? POC Bob, OFS

Jul 5, 2013

Mercy’s Effect on Pride

 “Give us True Knowledge of your Mercy [Lord] so that we may renounce our pride…” (From first Psalm Prayer morning prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours for Wednesday Week One)
At first it seems strange to suggest that simply having knowledge of the Mercy of Our Lord is a remedy for the sin of pride. We already know from many sources that the opposite of pride is humility. We often pray for the virtue of humility when we find ourselves becoming prideful in daily living. So, how does knowledge of His Mercy bring us to the virtue of humility? In the book Diary of St Faustina, Sister Faustina tells of numerous appearances by Jesus asking her to establish a worldwide devotion to His inexhaustible Mercy toward sinners. Our Lord went to great lengths to educate her on His Mercy and the desire for all of us to understand it. A simple Polish nun in a war torn country carried His request and we now have numerous devotions to God’s Mercy, a miracle!
In recent weeks Pope Francis has repeatedly brought up God’s Mercy at his daily Mass homilies. In the book Francis: Pope of a New World written by a Catholic journalist who knows the Holy Father in his past roles as priest, bishop, archbishop and cardinal tells how the new Pope preached about God’s Mercy towards sinners. One example is Bishop Bergoglio’s advice to his priests concerning confession. He advised them to go into the confessional and be neither rigorists nor laxest.  “The rigorist is someone who applies the norm and nothing else: the law is the law, period. The laxest will set it aside; it is not important.” The problem, explained the future pope, “is that neither one cares about the person in front of him” So what does he advise? “Be merciful.”
From a Polish nun to Pope John Paul II (Divine Mercy Sunday) and now Pope Francis, God has gone to extraordinary effort to teach us about His Mercy. So, how does knowledge of His Mercy bring us to the virtue of humility? Well if we earnestly meditate and grow as disciples through the great mercy of God then how could we not be humbled and motivated to work to remove all pride from our hearts.

May 31, 2013

Praying Scripture: Luke 1: 5-80

As I read the morning Liturgy of the Hours on May 31st (Feast of the Visitation) I once again came to the reading of the Canticle of Zechariah. When I came to verse 76 I was struck for the first time after numerous readings in the past. I asked did the Holy Spirit come to Zechariah all at once or did this revelation come over time as Zechariah recalled his vision of the angel and now not being able to speak? When I came home I read Luke 1 several times. I began to “pray this scripture”.  If you aren’t familiar with this let me give you a brief explanation.  It is a method of prayer or meditation on scripture. It is a daydream where you can enter into the “scene” as an observer, a referenced character or an un-named third person that may or may not interact with those in the scripture. This is not a revelation but just a meditation. In my imagination I heard conversations and saw inside the house. This is a summary of my meditation:

We learn that Zechariah and Elizabeth were “righteous before God” and he was a priest in the Temple. On this day he was going through his turn offering incense. His attention is diverted to the side where someone is standing. No one was supposed to be here but him, all others are outside of the sanctuary waiting for him to make the offering. This “someone” was awesome! He could hear his own heart pounding with fear. The message he hears from Gabriel doesn’t make sense. Knowing his and Elizabeth’s situation he blurts out a fact, doubting the message. Now he is afflicted with a sentence that will get his attention; he cannot speak. He is in shock. Zechariah is still in the local community as a priest and spends month’s working day after day in the Temple as a mute. Everyone in town talked about it wondering what happened that day in the Temple. Using his tablet (like in Verse 63) he tells Elizabeth about the vision. Being a “righteous” wife she would care for him and they drew closer. Now after being with child for 5 months they certainly realize that the vision was real and that the angel was from God.

I imagine Zechariah being in the house when Elizabeth’s cousin Mary walked in surprising them. He heard his wife’s greeting and her saying that the baby jumped in her womb at the sight of Mary. Now Elizabeth knew that the message was truly from God!  Mary’s response was mystifying to Zechariah. What was happening now, he asks himself? During that three month period of Mary’s Visitation of Elizabeth and Zechariah, Elizabeth and Mary begin to see the connection between what was happening to them. Comparing what the angel said to each of them was revealing. Days must have been spent with tears of happiness, wonder, and even fear as they supported each other, each one realizing that an unexpected change of life was given to them by God. Zechariah, being a Priest and knowing the scriptures, studied, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, came to realize the significance of all this. How humbling and awesome for these three holy people to see the work of God in their lives completing the Promise of a Savior from the earliest writings of the prophets! No wonder that when his silence was broken at the naming of John, Zechariah could burst out with such joy that God is now going to fulfill His promise and proclaim to the infant John: “And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways” (Luke 1:76). POC. Bob, OFS

May 11, 2013

OFS Prayer Life

Is an active prayer life important to proper formation as a Secular Franciscan? No, it is not important … it is critical! Without a purposeful and active prayer life the material used for formation becomes only a collection of trivia about St Francis of Assisi.  Being formed as a Secular Franciscan only happens when we put our heart and soul into progressing in Franciscan Spirituality, and this only can happen by willfully developing a serious prayer life. In short Formation isn't something that you receive from someone else. Formation as a Secular Franciscan is a self driven process that may be aided by a second person or organization, but to become “formed” takes personal effort
St Francis is our model for working toward holiness. He spent a good deal of his time in prayer.  We know that he would rise early in the morning to pray. Like Jesus he would find quiet time alone to talk to God.  Francis took the Gospel message to pray always to near perfection. He meditated on the beauty of God’s creation of both living and non-living and saw God in it and marveled over His glory. His life was turning prayer into action. He did not just love the poor; he made prayer an action by giving away his cloak or by cleaning the wounds of a leper. His life was one long prayer of knowing, loving and serving God.

His life did not start out that way. We have his example of developing his life around prayer over time; one conversion at a time trusting in Jesus and following Him as he was led from one step to the next. His progress was clear. As a child he probably prayed as a child does. As an adult he prayed and allowed himself to grow to deeper prayer. He prayed the scriptures and let it change his life. He found he grew closer to God through meditation on the wonders of creation. Over time his prayer became contemplative. Before he died he would enter into spiritual ecstasy and even desired to suffer the wounds of Jesus giving himself completely to Him.

So, as Secular Franciscans we need to ask ourselves about our own prayer life. St Paul said that as a child he thought as a child. Do we find ourselves praying as we did as a child? If our prayer life is getting too routine or dry we should look into imitating Francis and deepen our prayer life to include adult levels like praying the scriptures, meditation, contemplation and even “action prayer”.  This is the best way to achieve ongoing Formation in the manner of our spiritual father Francis.

Apr 8, 2013

Spreading Joy

"Where there is sadness, joy"
The news each day is very depressing save the wonderful news of Easter and the holy activities of our beloved new Pope Francis. It is painful to hear about the numerous attacks and murders of our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria and in the Middle East. Additionally, the rampant spread of secularism, the failing economies of the Euro nations, and the ranting threats of some world leaders, shows the condition of our world today as not very joyful. Yet, God has placed us here as Secular Franciscans for a reason. This is our time on earth.

Looking back over world history do we see many perfect times? Has peace and goodness ever had more than just a few good years dispersed throughout the centuries? Struggles on earth began in Genesis right through to the persecution of the Church by a long list of oppressors and will continue until the end of time. We aren’t in heaven yet!

Through it all the Catholic Church survives “the gates of hell” and will until the end of time. We are called to imitate Jesus like Francis of Assisi who saw perfect Joy in even personal   suffering… if we offer it to Our Lord. Our purpose today as Secular Franciscans has not changed for 800 years. Our main role is to support our Church’s mission in the New Evangelization that has been voiced now by three Popes! After the synod last year in Rome on the New Evangelization we are sure to be hearing more soon. We need to support our bishops and priests in this effort.

We Secular Franciscans have a charism of spreading Joy that we need to tap into and spread to our fellow Christians. We first need to be joyful ourselves than spread it through contact with others. This can be done in many ways, but I would like to suggest a very simple way. Marcus Grodi, host of the EWTN Journey Home program, explained it best:

Spell out the word J-O-Y: J- is for Jesus, O- is for Others and Y is for Yourself. Therefore, if we put Jesus first, others second, and yourself last, you will have JOY. Change the order of these letters and you will not have JOY. The same is true as we live our lives. Putting Jesus first, others next and ourselves last is a formula for having joy. We can’t spread what we don’t have. POC. Bob, OFS

Mar 5, 2013

Baltimore Catechism #1 (first grade addition), question 3 & 4.

My wife and I still have our first grade Catechism. It now has yellow pages that are brittle, but the print is still easy to read. Many people of our generation consider the Baltimore Catechism as something from the past that does not meet the needs of the current times. It is however the product of the United States Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in Washington DC and has the imprimatur of Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York. It is based on The Catechism of the Council of Trent held shortly after the Protestant reformation.

There was not another official catechism issued by the Church until it was commissioned by Pope Blessed John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council. The truths taught in both catechisms are identical, but written for current times for so many supposedly better educated.

So, if we are so better educated today than we were 500 years ago why can’t today’s children and adults answer questions 3 & 4 of the Baltimore Catechism #1 as well as first graders could in the 1950’s and 500 years ago? It certainly is not the fault of the newer Catechism of the Catholic Church. It must be because it has not been taught to them or read by them.

If it had been taught or read by people at a recent Lenten program in our parish they would not have struggled as they did to answer the program’s question “What is the meaning of Life?” Happily the fact that we had such a parish program indicates that the Church has embraced the direction of our last two great Popes to implement the “New Evangelization”! We must pray for our soon to be elected Pontiff as he takes on this challenge throughout the world.

To be fair, the Baltimore Catechism’s question was not verbatim “What is the meaning of Life?”. Question 3 is “Why did God make us?” (A. …To show forth His goodness and to share with us His everlasting happiness in heaven). Question 4 is “What must we do to gain the happiness of heaven?” (A. …To gain the happiness of heaven we must KNOW, LOVE, AND SERVE God in this world.”)

In recalling the life of St. Francis we can see how our saint lived this and for Secular Franciscans this could easily be our motto in today’s New Evangelization.  POC.  Bob, OFS

Feb 4, 2013

"Four Things That Bring Much Peace"

Years ago I got a copy of Thomas a' Kempis's "The Imitation of Christ". It may have even been my first exposure to spiritual reading. Every once in awhile I go back to it and read some of it's wisdom. Last week I opened at random to a page. It was Book III, Chapter 23 titled "Four Things That Bring Much Peace". Jesus tells us that He would teach us the way of peace and true liberty. Here are the four things:

"Endeavor, My son, rather to do the will of another than thy own."
"Ever choose rather to have less than more."
"Always seek the lowest place and to be inferior to every one."
"Always wish and pray that the will of God may be entirely fulfilled in thee."

I spent some time meditating on each of these four in light of them being offered as the way of peace, liberty and rest. These four things describe St. Francis perfectly! In my mind's eye I could picture scenes from Francis's life that fit one or more of the above. Give it a try. Think of your favorite story about our beloved saint and see how many of them reflect the four lessons.

Now comes the hard part. Think about some of the personal events in your own life. How many of these four reflect your actions? I found that these can be very convicting. As you move into Lent 2013 use these lessons as a measure of your spiritual progress. It can also serve as a form of examination of conscience for confession. POC. Bob, OFS

Aug 22, 2012

Franciscan Four-Fold Prayer.

St. Clare of Assisi's second letter to Blessed Agnes of Prague in 1235 lays the framework for a Franciscan prayer life. Specifically, the four-fold pattern of prayer, which is a valuable source for ongoing formation: "Look upon Him who became contemptible for you, and follow Him, making yourself contemptible in the world for Him. Your spouse, though more beautiful than the children of men (Ps 44:3) became, for your salvation, the lowest of men, despised, struck, scourged untold times throughout His whole body, and then died amid the sufferings of the Cross. O most noble Queen(Agnes), gaze upon {Him}, consider {Him}, contemplate {Him}, as you desire to imitate {Him}."

Clare's Four-Fold Prayer Pattern:
Gaze or visualize scripture and consider or imagine your physical presence in the text, contemplate or empty yourself in silent prayer of everything but the Spirit of Christ. That means forget about your desires. At this point, experience God's desires, not what He wills, but what He wants. To accomplish this, examine the Incarnation, which is not solely about Jesus' birth but His whole human historical experience. He wants to share everything, even His existence. Remember, prayer for Clare and all Franciscans is a family affair. God, you, and all of creation both listen and speak. You are in relationship with all of creation, therefore respect for all creatures is part of imitation.  Realize that God's self emptying through the poor and humble Jesus leads you to emptying your own desires and radically imitating Him. You will want the same life as God. The Creator of the universe becomes little, impoverished, respectful, and humble just to make what separates you from Him, heal. Then, to complete His sharing with you, He becomes present in the humblest of means, bread and wine. Clare's love of the Eucharist is legendary. Now you know how she got to that love. Set aside a little time each day to gaze, consider, contemplate, and imitate what God desires and I guarantee your desires will fall into place. Here's to all of you and a deeper Franciscan prayer life. JMJ. Mick, OFS

Aug 2, 2012

Real Food For Thought.

The writer of the New Testament Book of Hebrews specifically (Heb 5:11-14, 6:1) was concerned about those Jews who converted to Jesus Christ who then found a comfortable theology somewhere between Judaism and Christianity. They had already become Christians, but never went beyond the basic tenets of the teaching of the apostles about Jesus. Soon they began to back slide because although they had knowledge of His teaching, they were not living it; they were not maturing.  The writer of Hebrews compared them to babies still drinking milk and not yet on solid food. Milk represents the fundamentals of Christian knowledge and solid food being the sign of growth and maturity. In general, the Book of Hebrews was written to remind them that Jesus is the One promised; that He is the new high priest and that there is no longer a need for another. Now that the Father has sent Him, everything is now different than before. He said that they should by now be teachers, not merely hearers of the Word.

This should be relative to Secular Franciscans, maybe even more so in our own age. As Franciscans we are to live the Gospel and by doing so we will grow and mature in our Faith. One of the teaching references we are to use for Initial and On-going Formation is the book by Benet Fonck (OFM) called “Fully Mature with the Fullness of Christ”. I wonder if our brother Benet had the Book of Hebrews in mind when he titled his book? Certainly his purpose was to provide a means to go from drinking only milk to taking solid food by using the spirituality and example of our Brother Francis. We cannot stay on milk for our whole lives; we need to grow by taking solid food. There is so much available in books, Catholic radio and TV, DVD's and more. It is like a supermarket of solid food. What excuse do we have not to advance? No matter where we are in our journey, there is more to learn. Once we stop learning we stop the journey.

In the United States every four years it has become customary for political candidates to ask us “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” Maybe as Franciscans we should be asking ourselves instead “Are we better off spiritually today than we were even one year ago?” If the answer is no or not sure, it is time to find some additional solid food. POC. Bob, OFS

Jul 14, 2012

Recovering Pious Practices.

“Gloria tibi Domine” – “Glory to You, Lord Jesus”

There are three pious practices that we no longer encounter and that had been not just customary, but instinctive to Catholics—up to 40 or so years ago when the notion of piety fell into disrepute, together with many of the customs long cherished—and practiced—by Catholics, not for years, but for centuries.  They were simple things really, that we seldom see because well, they are rarely done and yet of themselves, speak volumes of our loss of the sacred.

We no longer bow our heads at the name of Jesus; We no longer make the Sign of the Cross over our hearts or foreheads when we pass by a Catholic Church where Christ dwells in the Blessed Sacrament; We no longer make reparation whenever we hear the Sacred Name of Jesus uttered blasphemously.

A flood of memories came rushing in upon me last week at Mass.  I noticed an impeccably dressed elderly woman bowing each time the priest uttered the name, Jesus.  I looked around the congregation and out of perhaps 300, this behavior was instantiated in perhaps only 5 or 6.
As I left the church, I remembered other things Catholics did back when I was a child.  Whenever they walked in front of a Church, they would make a tiny Sign of the Cross over their hearts in a hidden kind of way, and quietly utter, Gloria tibi Domini, because Jesus was inside the Church.

There was one other thing, I remember. When someone used the Lord’s name in vain. Instead of just letting it pass, they would finish the sentence by adding, “Have mercy on us”.  That way, it brought something good out of sin—they made it an opportunity to ask God’s mercy both for the person and for themselves.

Sad to say, not only do the laity no longer exercise some of these pious and beautiful practices—but neither do some of our priests and religious.  They use what Catholics once called the “Sacred Name” so lightly, attaching to it a significance apparently no greater than any other name that passes from their lips.  But it was not always so.  For many, many centuries it was not so.  But piety has become so...disreputable in our time.  It is a term of disdain, a concept fraught with an intolerable otherworldliness that no longer has a place in our time and in our world. JMJ. (the July Canticle of the St. Francis Fraternity - author unknown) Mick, OFS

Jul 6, 2012

Psalm Surprises.

We have all experienced reading a biblical verse when, all of a sudden, a different meaning pops out never considered before. Going with this thought a new meditation emerges  and "clicks" in our soul. This happened to me after rereading Psalm 36.

Psalm 36:1, 7-8: "Sin speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; There is no fear of God before his eyes.", and "How precious is your mercy, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings." - "They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights".

I was struck with the thought of how fortunate we are that God gave us the Sacrament of Penance. With Francis as our example  we are aware of our sinful nature and realize how easy it is to fall. Through this Sacrament we are forgiven by His mercy and receive a measure of Sanctifying Grace to strengthen us from falling again into mortal sin. This Grace is also a means to fight off venial sin which left unchecked can lead us to serious mortal sin.

With this thought in my mind I wondered what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says on the subject of Grace we receive from this Sacrament. Looking in the index under Penance and Reconciliation I was overwhelmed with the number of references. I would like to encourage everyone to read the rich resources available.

The most profound information for all of us is found in CCC 1458. It not only goes together with confessing serious sin, but also addresses the help God mercifully provides for us in this culture with it's distractions and temptations. Those influences are often unwanted, but thrust on us without warning and can led to bad habits, new temptations, and serious sin. CCC 1458 says in part: "Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit. By receiving this sacrament frequently and the gift of the Father's mercy, we are spurred to be merciful as He is merciful". 

Previous decades of indifference have eroded much of our culture's sensitivity toward sin. It has become so common place that many have come to tolerate things we would never have tolerated before. This often has led us to ignore how venial sins weaken and can led us to serious sin. Much like the Jews in the Book of Judges (paraphrased: They did what was right in their own eyes). The confession of even venial sins is a weapon made for our times. How sad that so many have not taken advantage of this sacrament's power to assist us in our call to holiness. POC. Bob, OFS

Jun 15, 2012

Nothing Ordinary about Ordinary Time.

"Ordinary Time" or season "Afte...
"Ordinary Time" or season "After Pentecost" 
The Church Calendar depicts the year in a cycle representing the life of Jesus on earth. It starts with Advent, flows into the Christmas Season, moves quickly through a short Ordinary Time and then into Lent. Lent culminates with Easter Time which ends on Trinity Sunday. Then we pick back up with an extended Ordinary Time. The term ordinary might be taken in the context of normal, mundane, or general with nothing much going on. However, it is anything but ordinary. This time in the Church Calendar represents Jesus’ everyday life during his three year ministry of spreading the Good News, preaching, healing, telling us who the Father is. (maybe why the Mass readings are divided into three year cycle A, B, C?) This is not ordinary, it is extra-ordinary!

This is the living out of the promises coming from the covenants of the Old Testament. The Christ has come and is living among His people. He has arrived to do the work of salvation. First, however, He wants to tell us what is about to happen and set the stage for God's ultimate entrance into human history.

Each day Jesus set out by foot crisscrossing the very landscape where much of the Old Testament took place. Unknown to even the apostles, He was laying the foundation of His Church before their eyes. He taught them how to pray, He explained the meaning of the scriptures, He pointed out the hypocrisy of the leaders of the people and how the law had become more important to some than God. He was perfecting the Old Law and putting it in proper perspective. He taught Charity to others and love of enemies. Later He gave new meaning to their observance of the Passover, and brought it all together with His Resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit. He gave the disciples the example to follow, then commanded them to go and teach as He did. 

If we were to use the first three mysteries of the rosary as reflections on the life of Jesus on earth, we would only see the events of Advent/Christmas, Lent/Passion, and Resurrection/ Ascending into Heaven. No wonder John Paul II saw the necessity of instituting the Luminous Mysteries so as to remind us of Jesus' extraordinary time on earth.  A time of illuminating our knowledge of God through Jesus. Not ordinary at all.  POC. Bob, OFS

Jun 3, 2012

Good bye Mom.

My Mom left this world today. Even though her passing wasn't tragic or unexpected, I am nonetheless, having a difficult time breathing. Her life was spectacular. She was born on a farm, went to school in an old one room schoolhouse in rural Delaware, sang in nightclubs as a teenager, married my good father, and gave birth to me and my three wonderful sisters. All of this during times filled with war, illness, poverty, and abuse.  Over the last year and a half her health declined and she slowly slipped into dementia. She was an ordinary person. Ordinary people can have extraordinary effects on those they touch especially when it comes to bringing the best out of others. Suffering is an obstacle for many people's faith because they can't imagine why an all powerful God would allow such pain. This is a fair question. Maybe in my Mom's case we might see a little more clearly through the bright light of God's mysterious plan. She gave me Patience. Her needs demanded that. We have the free will to accept or refuse to practice acts of love. Without those needs there is no possibility of virtue. A utopia where God would take care of all that bad stuff would end our free will and trap us in a cruel kind of slavery. There would be no love. God respects our freedom so much that he allows everyone the chance to love or not, to act selflessly or not. The value of love is realized in it's rarity and possibility of loss. If it could not be lost would it have any meaning or value? We need to be tested. Suffering can redeem us by making us virtuous people. My Mom helped facilitate my chances for a virtuous life (along with a multiplier effect on others) and for that I am truly indebted to her. Thanks Mom. Let us all remember God's promise: "... he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." (Rev. 21:4) JMJ. Mick, OFS

May 24, 2012

Suffering Can Be Powerful

Fr. Tad
Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D in his Making Sense of Bioethics column in The Catholic Light speaks about Powerlessness, Or the Hidden Power in Our Suffering? (The Catholic Light) According to studies, patients with serious illness indicated that what they wanted most in their condition was to achieve a "sense of control" even though just the opposite, a total loss of control, may be the reality. Fr. Tad's answer: "Even when those disintegrative forces become extreme and our suffering may seem overwhelming...
taking a new 'road less traveled', a path that unexpectedly, enables us to achieve genuine control in the face of death" is possible. That plan for achieving control then is "to align ourselves in our suffering and weakness with God and His redemptive designs... radically embracing our particular path to death, actively offered on behalf of others and in union with Christ, manifesting our concern for the spiritual welfare of others, especially our friends and those closest to us. We are inwardly marked by a profound need to sacrifice and give of ourselves, a need that manifests our inner capacity to love and be loved. As no one had ever done before, Jesus charted the path of love - driven sacrifice, choosing to lay down his life for His friends. ... By spiritually embracing in God that specific path to death, our freedom is elevated to new heights; indeed, we 'achieve control' in the most important way possible, through willed surrender and radical gift in our innermost depths... as we are 'nailed' to our hospital bed, our active, inward embrace of the cross unleashes important graces for ourselves and others. This radical and truly Franciscan 'emptying of self' echoes St. Paul's famous passage: My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." JMJ. Mick, OFS