Friday, December 25, 2009

Holy Family Reflection

Feast of Holy Family

A Reflection by Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

In his homily for the feast of The Holy Family Father Thomas Rosica, CSB of Toronto begins this way; “In the afterglow of Christmas, the Church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. This weekend we are invited to reflect on the gift and mystery of life and the blessing of family life in particular. In Luke's Gospel we read the story of how Christ astounded the priests of the Temple when he was but a young boy. He had stayed behind after Joseph and Mary left to return home. When they discovered Jesus missing from the caravan, they returned to the templeto find him with the chief priests who were astounded by His knowledge. (Luke 2:41-52).

The reading from Colossians 3:12-17 instructs us with these words; “You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful. Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I agree with Father Rosica that the readings do raise several questions for us and I believe them to be these; how are we, as followers of Christ’s teachings living those teachings? How do we treat those children of God that we encounter daily on our life journey? Do we discriminate against some of God’s children because we feel they do not conform to our way of life, are a different color, race, nationality or sexual orientation than we are?

That word made flesh, the light of the world, was Jesus Christ and he made it quite clear as to how we should live our lives in order to please the Father/Creator who sent him. We needed to; “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, body and soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself” “Love one another as I have loved you” was what Christ taught us and he also made it quite clear exactly who our neighbor was in His parable of THE GOOD SAMARATON. Our neighbor is everyone on the planet regardless of race, nationality, sexual orientation, married or single.

If we are to be true followers of Christ we need to treat all people alike and treat them with dignity and respect. We need to stop aggression and greed. We need to put an end to poverty and care for the sick, aged, and poor.

We need to educate all the children of the world and proclaim and acknowledge God by what ever name. Every person in this world is a part of the Family of God.

The Holy Family is the example of how families should be. Mary was the Theotokos, (God bearer) Joseph the descendant of David and earthly father of the Christ child was a faithful follower of the Jewish faith and a firm believer in the creator/God and accepted God’s will even though he knew he might be scorned for having “sired” a child without being married to Mary. Joseph heeded the messengers of God who came to him twice without question but with faith.

As the words in that wonderful Sister Sledge song WE ARE FAMILY say; “We are family I got all my sisters and brothers with me. We are family …. Have faith in you and the things you do. You won't go wrong.

On this feast of the Holy Family let us realize that we, every man, woman and child on the face of the earth is a part of the family of God. Let us strive to live together in harmony and peace. Let us seek ways to end injustice, poverty, homelessness, addiction, war and begin to care for one another as Christ cared for all He encountered.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas 2009 Reflection

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD,

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Based on the Scriptural Readings for vigil Masses Midnight and and Christmas Day 2009

These words of the well know Christmas Carol written by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

“Joy to the World, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing” could not express the feeling we all should be having this blessed day nor the mission we have been called to live by the birth of this infant child called Jesus of Nazareth.

On Christmas day there are three sets of readings, one for the Midnight Mass, another for the mass at dawn and the third for the later mass of the day. There is also a special reading for vigil masses held earlier in the evening of December 24th.

When you combine them all they provide us with the very powerful truth and reason for living according to God‘s will.

John 1 begins with these words “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

These words remind us that Christ came from God, and is God and that He took on the human form in the same manner as every other human being ever born or to be born, as an infant. He came into this world in the same way as well, being born of a woman.

Let us try to understand the darkness that seems to encompass so many today.

I believe that God chose this way in order to let us know that we are all created in His image and we all have a job do to in this world for God.

God has given us free choice therefore we can not accept the job He wishes us to do if that is our choice.

There is so much symbolism in the miracle of Christmas. God chose simple people, not the rich and famous. Christ was born in a poor stable filled with the animals of the farmers and travelers.

The announcement of Christ’s birth was not to the great and mighty or the High priests but to simple shepherds. God did this to let us know that he calls everyone not just the rich and famous.

Didn’t Christ say “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:23-25

The readings also provide us with the purpose of Christ’s coming to earth; “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus”. We are called to live sensibly, to be generous, kind, and not to discriminate. Somehow that message seems to be lost on many people today.

Everywhere we hear of news of people who steal, rape, murder and let us not forget wage wars all in search of money, power and domination at the expense of others.

We are supposed to be the caretakers of God’s creation but many do not take that God given responsibility seriously.

We have been charged by God to care for this planet earth and all God’s creatures yet we are destroying the ecosystem that God created because it is cheaper and more profitable than using alternative energies that are possible.

“Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. These things speak and encourage and reprimand all authorities. Let no one take no notice of you.” Titus 2:11-15

Jesus told us the way we should live and that message was “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, soul and body and love your neighbor as you love yourself”

God so loved the world that He gave His only son to us. There is no greater gift anyone could ever receive so what gift are we giving God on this His birthday?

The perfect gift would be to be kind, considerate, loving, caring, forgiving, charitable, and respectful of the differences that God has created in all things. We might worship God more and talk with him which is called praying.

The reading from Hebrews lets us know that even the angels are to worship Christ and that His kingdom will last forever.

"Let all God's angels worship him. In speaking of the angels he says, He makes his angels winds,

his servants flames of fire. But about the Son he says, Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever,

and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.” Hebrews 1:6-9

On this Christmas day of 2009 let us follow the directions of the angels who announced the Good News to the shepherds watching their flocks. “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

Let us try to be persons God will be pleased, so that we can fully enjoy the peace and joy the birth of God’s son celebrated this day.

Let us return God’s gift to us by being more tolerant of the differences in others, charitable in giving to organizations and people in need. Let us be concerned about the homeless, sick, poor, aged and disabled of the world.

Let us speak out against injustice, war, and greed. In short, let us make a difference in the world and make it a better place tomorrow than it is today.

By doing this we will affirm that indeed there is “Joy in the world because the Lord has come and instilled in us His way so that we have become His instrument here on earth to bring about the promised peace of Christ.”

May the promise of Christmas fill you with comfort and peace and may that peace be extended from you to all you encounter.

Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus

All Materials are copywriten (c) Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Thursday, December 17, 2009

4th Sunday of Advent Reflection

4th Sunday of Advent Reflection

By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
"Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled" these words from the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2009 indicate how powerful the child in the womb of Mary was. We must remember that Mary accepted the will of the Lord in spite of the possibility that in doing so she could be stoned to death.
How accepting are we of God’s will? That is the lesson and the question we need to examine this last Sunday before we celebrate the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The preacher of the Pontifical Household has urged the faithful to follow the example of Mary and give birth to Christ this Christmas. Not physically, of course, but spiritually.
We are reminded of the words of St. Francis concerning the birth of Christ; “We give birth to him through holy works, which should shine forth as an example for others. How holy and dear, pleasant, humble, peaceful, lovable and desirable above all things it is to have such a brother and such a son, our Lord Jesus Christ!”
As we go through life often times we are faced with problems or trials that we would rather not have to deal with. I find that some of life’s most difficult times are lessons sent by God to lead us toward the place he desires us to be or tests like those Job had to endure as proof of His complete trust and love of God.
Saint. Francis is telling us that when we love God with a sincere heart we give birth to Christ spiritually especially when we accomplish deeds that manifest Christ’s teachings to the world.
What would have happened, I wonder, if Mary had told Gabriel “You have got to be kidding! You want mew to bring forth a child without being married?” “No Way!” “I could get stoned to death as a harlot”
Jesus Christ came to this earth to enlighten us and to be the light that would lead us to the path that would achieve everlasting life. Christ came to teach us the truth of God’s teachings and will and to rebuke all the man made rules and regulations that had been imposed over the years..
Christ came to give us the keys to open the doors to heaven for all who desire to follow the path He taught us. The path of Christ is a simple one; “Love God with all our being and love each other as Christ loved us” Christ loved us enough to die for us. There is no greater love than that.
Mary’s acceptance of God’s will was the first step in our redemption. If she had refused Christ would not have been born and the prophets fulfillment would not have happened which means we would not be celebrating Christmas this coming Friday.
Let us attempt to follow Mary’s complete trust in God and accept His will for us.
Let us learn to be happy with How God created us and to accept others as God created them.
Let us give each other the gifts of brotherly/sisterly love and diligently try to bring about a time of justice, equality, truthfulness and fairness to every individual on the face of the earth since we all are children of God no matter what nationality or religious denomination.
This Christmas let us renew our efforts to bring about a time of peace and justice to all. Let us dig down and support those who are in need.
Let’s support those charities that are trying to help others. Let us make time for God a major focal point in our daily schedule. Let us place our complete faith and trust in God as May did and tell God “Not our will but your will be done unto us according to your word” AMEN

May God's infinite love and blessings fill you with comfort and peace, this coming Holiday Season. May you have an abundance of joy, love, peace and good will for you your family and friends.
Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus
Franciscans of Divine Mercy
All Materials are copywriten (c) Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mary, A Lesson on Trusting in God

Mary, A Lesson on Trusting In God

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD,

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy


The Feast of The Immaculate Conception celebrates Our Lady‘s complete trust in Almighty God. We celebrate God’s greatest gift to humankind, His beloved son Jesus Christ, and the fact that God decided that Mary would be free of original sin that the rest of humankind is prone to so that she would be a pure vessel for Christ to be conceived in by the Holy Spirit and nurtured to human life for nine months.

When the Angel Gabriel, informed her that God had chosen her to bear the promised of the ages with these words "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:29-35. Mary asked; “How can this be, for I know not man?. "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

This fulfilled the promise from God when He drove Satan from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:14-16 “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” and in Isaiah 11: 1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse: from his roots a branch will bear fruit.”.

What faith in God Mary must have had to accept this message. After all, the punishment for having a sexual relation without being married was to be stoned to death as an adulteress.

Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message was “Let it be done to me according to God’s will” Luke 1:38

In our daily live we are often faced with challenges or situations where we have great apprehension do we respond to them with “Let it be done to me according to God’s will” as Mary did or do we gross and complain because things are difficult.?

What went through Our Blessed Mothers mind when Simeon told her "A sword will pierce your own soul too." Luke 2: 34-35 I think if I had been told this, I would run away rather than face a future filled with suffering.

Mary was an example on how we should respond to the challenges God sends us because, as we have seen from how this story turned out, God will also give us the tools to deal with the problems he sends.

Mary placed her trust in the message of Gabriel as we should also in our life. We need to seek God in prayer and putting our trust in God will for us.

When we we do this we come through our difficulties alright.

Even Jesus, when faced with what was about to happen after His entry into Jerusalem cried out to God "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done." Matthew 26:41-43

On Dec. 8th, 1957 I could not fall asleep because of thoughts flashing through my mind, I finally got up and wrote down what I was thinking and went to fall into a peaceful and deep sleep. Upon awakening the following day I noticed a paper with writing on it. After reading it I thought, “My mother will like this” and mailed it off to her. 30 years later, after mom passed on, I found the original paper I had written that night. I end this reflection with the words I wrote that Dec. 8th 1957 which I have called A Sinners Prayer.


Written in 1957 By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

O, Mary Immaculate, virgin so fair, mother of Our Savior, please hear my prayer.

Intercede, dearest mother, to your heavenly son.

Tell Him I am truly sorry for all the wrongs and sins I have done.

Ask Him to guide me, by the graces and gifts of the Holy Spirit, in all of my ways

So that I might give Him honor, glory and praise with all the Heavenly elect when I come to the end of my earthly days. AMEN

Friday, December 4, 2009

Second Sunday of Advent Reflection

A Time of Preparing, A Reflection for Second Sunday of Advent 2009

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD, Pastor Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

The day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday and I personally believe that it is a very appropriate name but not for the reasons that it was coined. I feel it is appropriate because it begins a time when people are more concerned with the commercial aspects of Christmas rather than the true meaning of the word. Christmas is really a conjunction of Christ and Mass

The word Christmas comes from "Cristes Maesse", an early English phrase that means "Mass of Christ and the word "Mass" in religious usage means a "death sacrifice." The first recorded celebration of the birth of Christ was about 200 AD and the choice of the date was more to placate pagans and have a celebration that coincided with the Winter Solstice.

Christmas is really the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ who would become the ultimate and final sacrifice.

What is missing these days is the reason for Christmas. The birth of Jesus Christ who became the ultimate sacrifice or “Mass” for the forgiveness of our sins and to open the doors of heaven to all people.

Today we find most people are centered on shopping for the perfect Christmas gift, decorating their home with lights and trimming, and planning parties. The season of Advent is supposed to be a time when Christians focus on the promises Christ made to us and examine themselves as to how they are living in accord with the guidelines Christ gave us.

The word Advent comes from the Latin “Adventus” which means coming or arrival.

The Aramaic word is “Marantha” which means “The Lord Cometh”. So, in essence, it means to look forward to the Coming of our Savior. The word also has roots from the Latin “Ad” meaning to or toward and “Veni” meaning to come.

The season is one of expectation and anticipation of something that is to happen in the future.

The Gospel reading for this second Sunday of Advent has the foretelling words of the Prophet Isaiah “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”

The redeemer promised by Isaiah would be one that made all things right by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of humans. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have the ability to have our sins (mistakes) forgiven and we have the right to the ultimate gift from God, eternal life.

My question is; “Are we living our lives “Semper Paratus” (Always Ready)- the Coast Guard's motto?

When Christ was asked when the He will come to claim His kingdom. His answer was “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the son, but only the Father” (MATTHEW 24:35-37)

If we never know when we will have to face the Lord isn’t it wise to always be prepared?

All around us today we see the forces of evil using the same tools that Satan used from the beginning of time to challenge God‘s dominion. Satan tempted Adam and Eve with it "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (GENESIS 3:4-6).

The Devil even tempted Christ “the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me." (MATTHEW 4:8-9)

Satan’s tool of temptation is “GREED“, The desire for power, fame, wealth and superiority.

Just this last week we saw two people sneak into a State Dinner so that they could mingle with the rich and famous and get publicity.

Every ad for Black Friday has featured luxury things that one can have but no where did I see ads for feeding the poor, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick or being a companion to the lonely and aged.

People want to accumulate more wealth, far in excess of what they need for everyday needs, because it is perceived as success. Even some Religious Institutions have compromised the basic teachings of Jesus Christ in order to attain power and wealth.

Children are starving and dying all over the world because of poverty and wars while millions of food is wasted and thrown in the garbage and trillions of dollars are spent to wage war.

The time is now for us to begin to place Christ at the center of our lives, to put the real meaning of Christmas back into the holiday for without CHRIST there is no Christmas.

Let us truly prepare ourselves by asking God for forgiveness of our failure to live according to His teachings. Let us be more mindful of the needs of others by contributing to charitable organizations and return a portion of God’s gifts to us by supporting ministries that proclaim Christ’s message of infinite and everlasting mercy, forgiveness and love for all His children. I leave you with the following prayer.

An Advent Prayer

Come, long expected Jesus. Excite in me a wonder at the wisdom and power of Your Father and ours. Receive my prayer as a part of my service of the Lord who enlists me in God’s work for justice.

Come, long expected Jesus. Excite in me a joyful response to the Father’s joy. I seek His will so I can serve Him with gladness and love.

Come, long expected Jesus. Excite in me the love and peace that is a rightful gift to bring to the manger of Our Savior. Raise in me an honest reverence for God and a honest gratitude for His gift of His son to the world.

Come, Long expected Jesus. Fill me with your peace and guide me in my service to you as I attempt to live according to your teaching.

Come, Long expected Jesus. Strengthen me so that I may be your instrument of bringing peace and harmony to all I encounter on my daily journey through life.

I ask these things in your name Jesus as you live and reign with the Father, Almighty God, and the Holy Spirit as one God, now and forever unto the ages of ages. AMEN


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A Prayer Of Thanksgiving

by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Reformed Catholic Church International new England

Almighty and Merciful God, I thank you for all the many blessings you have bestowed upon me each and every day of my life.

I thank you for my family, both personal and religious, my friends, The faith community you have brought together, my 75 years of life, all the students you gave me whom I pray I inspired to love and serve you and those they met on life’s journey.

O Lord, grant me the graces necessary to serve you and all my brothers and sisters, wherever they may live or be, as I continue my journey through life.

Please watch over and protect my loved ones, friends and those brave men and women who have chosen to defend this country and the freedoms we enjoy.

Watch over world leaders and inspire them to find ways to solve the difficulties this world faces with equality and justice.

Send your healing graces upon all those who are suffering illness especially Cancer, HIV_AIDS, Parkinson’s, ALS and other degenerative illnesses and grant them a multitude of Your blessings and healing if it be your will.

Guide the leaders of the world and religious faiths in healing the injustices that have been inflicted upon others so more will reach out with charity to those in need, not only on Thanksgiving but every day of the year. You, O Lord, are the source of all things and I give you thanks in the name of your beloved son, Jesus Christ. AMEN

Please help us spread the message of God's infinite love for ALL His children by making a donation to our ministry. You can do so by using the PAYPAL links on our web site; or by sending donations to MISSION STS. SERGIUS 7 BACCHUS




All Materials are copywriten (c) Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 15th Mission Reflection

Are You “Semper Paratus” Always Ready?

A Reflection for the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

The readings for this Sunday remind us that we never know when we will be called home to the Lord and that we should always be prepared and ready. Many people believe that the reading from Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was referring to the final days of the world but I feel that it is referring to the time when God will call us home to answer for our lives here on earth and how we used the gifts he provided us with.

“The Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. It is when people are saying, ‘How quiet and peaceful it is’ that the worst suddenly happens…. it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief. No, you are all sons of light and sons of the day: we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.”

1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

As I go about tending to those who are ill and as I myself advance in age I often wonder if this persons illness is the illness that will be the last one on this earth or will the person recover to live and use their God given gifts in a manner that will reward them when they are called home with these words from God “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” Matthew 25:14-30 I examine my own actions each and every day to determine if I did all I could do to help those in need of comfort, spiritual uplifting or just some companionship and conversation. Have I shared myself and the gifts God gave me with others?

During these troubling times with the downturn in the economy, war, famine, genocide and job and home losses we hear daily of the excesses that the financial institutions and corporate executives have lavished upon themselves as rewards in spite of the fact that their greed and avarice how contributed to our problems. Some even continue their excesses in spite of the fact that the taxpayer and the average citizen is paying for their bailout are suffering because of their greed. They certainly have misused the gifts that God has given them and I am certain that they will be called to answer for their misuse when they have their judgment day.

The same holds true for those government and church leaders who attempt to impose their dictates upon others, usually for financial or power gains, at the cost of many lives and suffering to so many innocent children and adults. Restrictions and laws that segregate and exclude some from equal justice are imposed that deprive people of equal rights.

This week’s readings should be a wake up call to us. We need to acquire the motto “Semper Paratus” as the way of living so that we will be ready when we are called before God to answer for how we used the gifts he gave us.

Have we shared our resources with those in need? Have we shown compassion for the aged and sick? Have we practiced discrimination or have we shown brotherly love to all God’s children?

We have been given the instructions on how we should live this earthly life by Christ in the Beatitudes He preached in the Sermon on the Mount and with His parables like the Good Samaritan.

Next week we will be celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving to commemorate the first Thanksgiving that the Pilgrims had to thank God for bringing them to this New Land or as they called it New England and the harvest they had. They had a feast and invited the natives of the area rather than exclude them because it was the natives that taught them how to survive in this new country. We, as children of God, need to embrace the custom of welcoming newcomers who come here seeking a “better life” than in their birth countries just as the Pilgrims were welcomed and helped by the Wampanoag Indians of “New England”.

We, who are all brothers and sisters in Christ and Children of God no matter what religious denomination we belong to, need to work together striving to bring about a time when ALL God’s children live in a place where they have adequate food, housing, medical care and experience justice, peace, and equality.

We need to be able to tell God we used the treasures He gave us well and they increased in worth because we did not hide them and hoard them for ourselves but used them to good advantage and shared them with others. By sharing our gifts we will be assured that when our time here is over and we are called before God we will hear Him tell us “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” AMEN

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sunday November 8th Reflection

Reflection for the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

Based on Readings from Kings 17:10-16, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9: 24-28, Mark 12:38-44
By Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy

The themes of the readings for this Sunday are of generosity, trust keeping Faith Justice but most of all that God will provide if we but put our faith and trust in Him.
For me, this message is one that I need to hear and take considerable time to reflect upon in light of the information and events of this past week.
The first reading tells the story of the widow in the town of Zarephath to whom Elijah asked for some water and a bit of bread. The widow explained that she and her son only had a handful of flour and a tiny bit of oil with which to bake bread and when that was gone they would starve. Elijah promised that if she made a cake of bread and brought it to him she and her son would have enough flour and oil forever. True to the promise of Elijah, the flour never went empty nor the oil. The was the result of the widow trusting Elijah.
The same is true for us today if we place our complete trust in God and let him guide and lead us.
For me this teaching is one that, though difficult often to do, I need to do especially after this last week.
Not only did I receive news that the mission’s car needed some major work to be able to continue to serve the ministry I also received disturbing information regarding someone I thought was concerned for the best interest of God and His children only to find that they were only being self serving, egotistical and interested in power and self glory, which brings us to the theme of the suggested Alleluia verse, Gospel reading, Psalm and the letter to the Hebrews. “Giving of our selves for the love of God and not for our own self interests, glory, fame or wealth but for being a true servant of God to all those who are oppressed, rejected and unwanted.”
The Alleluia verse suggested for this week is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” and the Gospel begins with these words; “Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted obsequiously in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets; these are the men who swallow the property of widows, while making a show of lengthy prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.” The Gospel goes on to tell of the poor widow who gave all she had, a few cents, as a donation to God while the rich and famous of the time mad a big issue of their large donations. Christ told his apostles; “I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had left over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on”
When I read of clergy who only are seeking power, wealth fame or glory or defraud people out of their money or who molest children I recoil and want to run as far away from them as I can get.
Sadly, I was made aware of just that kind of clerical individual this week and it troubles me deeply but I am taking the lesson of this weeks readings to heart and placing my trust in Almighty God and praying that God will lead me and inspire as to how I should proceed from this point on in my attempt to be a humble servant of God.
I also am placing my trust in God that he will inspire those people who would deny others of their rights which according to the Declaration of Independence “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. This means that two people who love each other should be allowed to marry and have the same legal protections and benefits of heterosexual married couples.
I also trust that God will provide the means for the repairs to the mission vehicle if it is His will this ministry is to continue and I have the ability to travel to all the places we have been going to in our attempt to serve God’s children. It may well be that God is telling me to cut back or even retire but I certainly hope and pray that is not the case as I have no idea what I would do to fill each day.
This ministry has been a blessing to me as it has kept me busy and filled my days with wondrous moments and such beautiful testaments to God’s infinite love for His children.
We cannot allow a few bad apples to spoil the entire barrel. There are more good and honest clergy and people in this world, I am certain, than the few bad ones that always seem to get the publicity.
Let us be faithful followers of Jesus Christ try to become “Poor in Spirit” so we can achieve eternal life with God.
Let us be willing to give our last penny or ounce of flour in the service of God for the well being of our neighbor and those who are less well off than we. That is the message and the hope I have for myself and it is my prayer for all who read my simple reflections or hear them. May God, through the Holy Spirit, guide us and lead us so that we truly reflect God’s love, compassion and forgiveness. AMEN

Friday, October 30, 2009

All Saints Day Reflection

All Saints Day 2009

A Reflection by Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England
Based on the readings from: Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

“These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.” These words taken from the book of Revelation or Apocalypse describe the heavenly elect or Saints. The book begins with a count of how many are among the heavenly elect. “Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel. After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands.
St. John, who is purported to be the author of the apocalyptic book of revelation, used a number that in the time this book was written would have been considered as beyond imagination. I consider this to mean that every person who has died in Christ is a Saint which is why I often call upon the deceased members of my family who I believe lived according to God’s will to intercede to God on my behalf. It is not just those whom the church declares as saints because they gave their life rather than deny Christ like the patron saints of this ministry, Sergius & Bacchus, or declared Saints by the church because their lives were examples of living according to the teachings of Christ like St. Francis, Mother Therese of Calcutta, St. Damien of Molokai. Others have been declared saints because of there spirituality and dedication to fulfilling their call as servants of God.
The second reading for All Saints Day comes from the third book of John chapter 3 in which we read the following; “My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is. Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.”, which tell me that if we try to live our lives in accord with the teachings of Christ, especially what Jesus called the greatest commandments; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments all the Law and the Prophet depend." (Matthew 22:36-46)
The Gospel reading sums everything up by teaching us how to achieve becoming one of the heavenly elect. Often referred to as The Sermon on the Mount it says; “‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied. Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them. Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God. Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
On this feast celebrating the lives of those women and men who followed Christ’s teachings, many to the death of their earthly bodies, let us examine ourselves as to what we have done or are doing to preach PEACE.
Back in the times of another unpopular war in our nation a group known as “Hippies” went around shouting “Make Peace and love, not war” they were treated with scorn by many and labeled “Flower Children”.
What we need to call to mind is that Jesus was also treated in the same way because He preached a way of life that was not the norm. It is one thing to give one’s life for love of God or to defend your country but so many today are giving their lives in a war that has been raging for more than 35 years and is tribal in nature. As followers of Christ we need to exert ourselves to bring about peace between all of God’s children. Not only between nations, but religious denomination, neighbors, local governing officials and ALL of God’s children.
Another issue that we, as a people of God, need to give serious consideration to is equality and justice and the well being of ALL God’s children and one issue is the current debate on a National Health Policy.
My question is why should our tax dollars be used to provide a select few the finest of health coverage when so many who pay into the tax base are deprived the same kind of health coverage. Where is the justice, compassion, fairness, and equality that we as Christians and followers of Christ’s teachings are supposed to practice?
Many of those who oppose a National health policy do so because they may loose some of the profits and dividends they receive from owning stock in Insurance companies. Others oppose simply because their political party is not in control and they do not want the party in power to be able to achieve the promises that got them elected by a majority of citizens.
Again it is all about power, profit and glory and not about what is right, just, compassionate and fair for ALL people. As Christians, the glory we should be seeking is the Glory of God by living the Sermon on the Mount by caring for the poor, aged and sick.
The Saints who achieved a higher level of spirituality and favor in the eyes of God did so by giving of themselves often by dying because of their love of God or, like St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Therese of Calcutta or St. Damien of Molokai, spent their lives serving those whom society rejected.
On this feast celebrating All The Saints let us call to mind the words of Christ, “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” ( Matthew 9:13) and “‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” ( Matthew 12:7) and from the book of Zechariah 7:9 “"Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another”
On this feast commemorating those who achieved the highest level of spirituality let us commit ourselves to work harder putting into action the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy as we live out our earthly existence in the hope of attaining eternal life with God and the Heavenly Elect. AMEN

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 25th Reflection on Trusting in God

God Provides When You Believe & Trust in Him

A Reflection of the Readings for October 25 2009

By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD

Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Today’s readings have one common theme and it is, if you trust and believe in God with your whole being He will provide all your needs. at the proper time. We are also reminded to be on guard always against the power and temptations of the evil one.

The Gospel story tells how having faith in God and believing Jesus is the son of God who came to earth to proclaim God’s infinite love, mercy and forgiveness of God and to teach us the path to salvation.

The Gospel of Mark 10: 46-52, tells the story of the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who, upon hearing Christ was close cried out for Christ to heal him. Jesus feeling the man’s faith said to Bartimaeus "Go your way; your faith has made you well." Immediately the blind beggar received his sight and followed Jesus faithfully from that day forward.

The message is a simple one and yet so many today seem to look elsewhere for help in all things.

Our human nature is so fickle that, unless we witness a miracle, we begin to question the truth of Christ’s teachings.

This brings me to the warning issued by St Paul in his epistle. “Put on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

One of the tools the devil uses is to have us question the truth of Christ teachings and the reality of Almighty God.

We need to be diligent in our quest to attain eternal salvation through Christ every moment of every day.

Some of those who followed Christ suffered persecutions and death, like the patron Saints of our ministry Sergius & Bacchus, in the name of Christ but many others achieved Everlasting glory by living live of compassion and charity for the poor, aged and sick. The one common factor of all who achieved sainthood was a deep and abiding faith which included worship and prayer.

Next Sunday we celebrate the feast of All Saints. All the Saints not only believed in God and the teachings of Christ but they lived them out daily in their lives. God desires us to have that same level of trust and faith in God. Our road to toward Christ is a lot easier than the martyrs but more difficult because of our societies focus on self gratification and achieving wealth and status.

The blind beggar Bartimaeus believed and trusted in God and the ability of Christ to cure him of his blindness and if we truly believe and have complete trust and faith in God like Bartimaeus all things are possible.

St. Paul reminds us that we also have to be on guard against the temptations of Satan to abandon God and seek only pleasure. The best armor to protect us from Satan’s temptations on our road of life in these times of self satisfaction and self gratification, is prayer, the Eucharist, and Faith and trust in God.

God’s promised salvation for ALL His children who believe in Him and seek God’s help to live according to the teachings His beloved son Jesus Christ as given in the Sermon On The Mount and in the Great Commandment; “Love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, mind, soul and body and love your neighbor as you love yourself”

God is compassionate, merciful, forgiving and more loving than any human can ever be.

If we trust in God as the beggar in the gospel story did, God will provide us with what we ask if it is in our best interest and will help us to achieve everlasting life for all eternity.

The ultimate message to us is; with God, all things are possible, without God we are helpless and open to attacks from the devil. Christ told us; “If you trust me, you are trusting not only me, but also God who sent me.” (John 12:43-45) Let us go forth today committed to deepen our trust and faith in God and seek His guidance and strength to overcome temptations that we are faced with. Let us be more generous and compassionate toward those who are not as fortunate as we are. Let us accept each person we encounter as a brother or sister and extend to them the love. God gives to us. Let us always call to mind the words found in Matthew 7 :1-3 “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I close with this prayer;

Almighty and merciful God, grant me wisdom and understanding and the courage to live according to your ways. Endow me with the gifts of your Holy Spirit so that I will be unto all I encounter a reflection of your beloved son, Jesus Christ. Assist me to be less judgmental of others but show the same compassion and love as Jesus did to all who approached Him. Open my heart to become more accepting of all and more generous with the gifts you have provided me with. I ask this in the name of my redeemer and savior, Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit as one God now and forever. AMEN

Friday, October 16, 2009

Reflection for Sunday October 18 2009

Being True To God as His Servant
A Reflection for the 29th Sunday of Ordinary Time
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Based on readings from Isaiah 53:10-11, Hebrews 4:14-16, Mark 10: 35-45
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus
Reformed Catholic Church of New England

"You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."(
Mark 10:42-45)
These words from the Gospel of Saint Mark could not be any clearer but today so many who proclaim that they serve Almighty God do so by trying to appease and pander to the whims of humans beings and their political agendas, even so called followers of Jesus Christ.
St. Claude de la Colombriere, who was Canonized on 31 May 1992 by Pope John Paul II, wrote "Pious Reflections", "Meditations on the Passion", "Retreat and Spiritual Letters" and was the Spiritual director for Blessed Margaret Mary to whom Christ gave the instruction to promote devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
St. Claude was arrested and thrown into prison, denounced as a conspirator for preaching the way of Christ rather than those of the king. He wrote: “A strange and unhappy slavery is that of a man who seeks to please other men. I vow never to do anything nor to leave anything undone because of what people think. This will set up in me a great interior peace.”
The teachings of Jesus Christ have only show distain for sins of pride exhibited by the religious leaders of His time. He preached mercy, compassion and justice for ALL people. Christ was totally aware of the human condition and our weaknesses.
In the second reading from Hebrews we hear the following words: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who, in every respect, has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)
Christ showed us his willingness to forgive our transgressions when He wrote “Let He who is without sin, cast the first stone” when the priests and others were about to stone the woman caught in adultery.
Today’s Gospel is an instruction to all God‘s children, especially those whom God has called to serve as ministers of the Gospel and the Eucharist.
We cannot judge who is and who is not worthy of the love of Almighty God.
We cannot by and allow injustice to be perpetrated against any of God’s children.
We need to be a servant to God’s children just as Christ demonstrated he was a servant when he girded himself and washed the feet of the Apostles. Christ admonished the priests of His time with these words; “My house is a house of prayer but you have made it into a den of thieves” and He took pity on those who the disciples tried to push away when they sought Healing from Christ and cured them.
We are not called to make judgments as to who gains everlasting life, that is the domain of Almighty God.
We who God called to serve as His servants on earth are to proclaim the truth of Christ’s teachings and to be there to supply human comfort, counseling, compassion and direction to those who are attempting to walk in the footsteps of Christ.
We are called to serve Christ by practicing the virtues of Charity, Patience, Fortitude, Forgiveness, Mercy and above all to see all we encounter as a child of God and respect them for how God created them even though they may be different than we are.
God created all things for a reason, His reason, not ours.
It is our responsibility to discern what He created things for and to use them properly according to that use.
We need to take care of all That God created. That means we need to insure that we do not destroy the environment with willful waste of our resources but use them wisely.
Being a servant of God is not an easy task as Christ let us know when He said ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
Blessed Charles de Foucald wrote a beautiful prayer entitledL: PRAYER OF ABANDONMENT in which he prayed:
Father, I abandon myself into your hands; do with me what you will.
Whatever you do, I thank you: I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me, and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this.
Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands, without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father. AMEN
We, who claim we love God and desire to please Him could all do well if we abandoned ourselves to serve Him as Blessed Charles did.
In Luke 16 we hear Christ tell us: “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Man.”. Let us vow to serve God as best we can which means to love one another as Christ loved us. AMEN

Friday, October 9, 2009

YOU ARE ONE OF A KIND, A reflection for October 11 2009

You Are One Of A Kind

A Reflection for October 11, 2009

by Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/Franciscans of Divine Mercy

Reformed Catholic Church New England

When I was preaching a sermon on a recent Sunday one of the members of the Faith Community said to me, “You Are One of a kind” to which I replied “Is that a good thing or a bad thing”, they replied; “Very Good”.

Later I began to ponder on this exchange during the middle of my sermon which was on God’s infinite love for ALL His children. The more I pondered it the more I came to realize that indeed it is a wonderful thing that God has created each of us different.

We have unique genes which separates us from each other and from all the other members of our family. Our children are different from us in some unique way and not exactly a clone of us.

That is the wonder of God’s creation. No two things are exactly alike and for that reason we need to acknowledge and rejoice in that difference. This past week I attended a Spiritual Directors Workshop which centered on the universality of God. It asked us to find God in all things in the universe.

When we recognize the uniqueness of nature and the universe and the order of it all we can not but see the power of God.

In the first reading for this Sunday from Wisdom 7:7-11 we read the following; "I prayed, and understanding was given me; I entreated, and the spirit of Wisdom came to me. I esteemed her more than scepters and thrones; compared with her, I held riches as nothing. I reckoned no priceless stone to be her peer, for compared with her, all gold is a pinch of sand, and beside her silver ranks as mud. I loved her more than health or beauty, preferred her to the light, since her radiance never sleeps. In her company all good things came to me, at her hands riches not to be numbered."

The first Reading from Hebrews 4:12-13 says; "The word of God is something alive and active. "

God is alive and in every thing that exists, all things are brought into existence by and through God and all are different.

Just imagine how dull and uninteresting this world would be if every person looked and acted exactly like the other, if every flower was the exactly the same, smelled and looked and the same color. Every day was exactly like the day before. Think about the film GROUNDHOG DAY were Phil (Bill Murray) keeps repeating the same thing day after day.

God, in His wisdom knows how bored we humans can get when our lives become dull.

He also knew that without diversity we would not have developed and grown as we have but would have remained the same as the day Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden for succumbing to the temptations of Satan.

If every person were a genius in the same field we would not have the scientific advancements we have achieved. Our world would have remained as it was 13.7 Billion years ago when God brought it into being.

God gave every person uniqueness and special gifts, as we are reminded in Romans 12:4-11 “For, as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; thus we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and each one members one with the other. But having different gifts, according to the grace which has been given to you” and again in First Corinthians 12 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things.... and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.”

God, who is perfection, created people different for reasons only He knows. God had a purpose for all things that he created and continues to create as this universe expands.

We need to respect not only every human person but all of God’s creation for we are all united together with each other and all that is a part of the universe. God is found in all things, even those we consider bad, if we look for God in all things.

We have no right to question God, who is perfection, but we need to be grateful that God did create us with diversity and difference. We need to glorify god for the differences He has created and not exclude anyone because they do not conform to our idea of what people should be.

We need to use God’s gifts to lift up those who are disheartened and always remember the words found in Matthew 7:10-12; “If you, then, though you are Imperfect, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”(Matthew 7:10-12) AMEN

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Reflection For the Feast of St. Francis

Peace Be With You
A Reflection for the feast of Saint Francis of Assisi
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church New England

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love."
These words from the peace prayer of Saint Francis could not be more poignant today than at the time they were first attributed to our seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi whose feast day is Sunday the 4th of October.
This year we not only honor the Seraphic Father of all Franciscan orders around the world but the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Rule of St. Francis by which we all live.
There are Franciscans in the Anglican, Roman, Reformed and Old Catholic traditions.
While watching the film of the life of Saint Francis I was reminded of a another film THE GROUND TRUTH which depicts the horrors that our men and women who fight in wars face on return.
Like the young men and women of today in that film who went off to fight for their country in the belief that they were doing the right thing after 9/11, St. Francis had gone off to fight for his state and became very sick and in that sickness saw a vision of Christ. He came to the realization that war was not an answer.
Francis came back to denounce all violence and the corrupt and excessive ways of the world.
He rejected all the fineries and luxuries of the world for the simple life.
Francis then went on to restore a sense of God’s infinite mercy and love and the message of Christ peace into the world and the church of his time.
He lived off the generosity of others and on what he received for his labor, in fact it is a part of his rule that all Franciscans work for their basic needs and beg for things to continue their service to Almighty God.
After watching the film on St. Francis I revisited the film THE GROUND TRUTH, which depicts the effect war has had on the innocent youth of our nation who volunteered to serve their country in the belief that they were doing their patriotic duty after the terrible events of 9/11. The film is told in their words and the words of the parents who lost their children. Most of those in the film feel abandoned by their country especially after their child gave the ultimate sacrifice.
THE GROUND TRUTH, is a film that every person in the world should see. It will open your mind just a powerfully as the vision of Christ did for Saint Francis.
The toll of war is one that society lives with for centuries to come and if it is not addressed today by all of us it will continue to take a toll on our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
I am also reminded of the song I used to sing with my students LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH written by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson in 1955 another time of an uncertain and questionable war. It has the following words; "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me, Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father, brothers all are we, Let me walk with my brother, in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now.”
I urge everyone, on this feast of St. Francis, to think seriously about how war and greed are destroying lives and ask yourselves what you might be able to do to bring about changes.
Ask yourself if the consequences of war are worth the toll that is taking on our future generations.
There has got to be a better way as Saint Francis concluded and just possibly, He and Almighty God are trying to tell us the same thing on this the day we celebrate his life and the 800th anniversary of the approval of the Rule All Franciscan orders live by.
Let us all say aloud the words of Christ found in John 14:27, "Peace be with you .my peace be unto you" (Luke 24:36) and call to mind the directions given in Psalm 34:14, “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” And from Jeremiah 28:9 “But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true."
I end with the words from Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” and the words of Christ from the sermon on the Mount “Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be known as the Children of God.”
May the spirit of Saint Francis and His desire to bring the peace of Christ into everyone’s heart and soul fill us with that desire and draw us to action in achieving true and lasting peace among all God’s children.

Friday, September 25, 2009

2 Weeks of Special Feasts

2 Weeks of Special Feasts to Reflect Upon
Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church New England

The coming two weeks has very special meaning not only to me, our ministry and the Franciscans of Divine Mercy but to the entire Universal Church.
Beginning with the feast of the Archangels on the 29th of September and continuing through October 7th the church celebrates the lives and memory of many important saints whose lives have given us inspiration.
On the various feast days you may want to pray for the intercession of those honored and reflect on their life and how they lived to serve God and others and, like the patron saints of our ministry, Saints Sergius and Bacchus, who were willing to die rather than deny God. I will be posting special reflections for some of these feasts but I thought a “heads up” on the forthcoming two weeks was in order.
September 29th is the feast of all the Archangels those we often hear about Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Urial and the others.
On October 1st we celebrate the life of SAINT THERESE OF LISIEUX known as Therese of the Child Jesus; the Little Flower; the Little Flower of Jesus. Cured from an illness at age eight when a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary smiled at her, she became a Carmelite Nun at age 15. Therese defined her path to God and holiness as "The Little Way," which consisted of love and trust in God. This message of trust is one we all need to take to heart. Since one of my favorite relatives was also a member of the Carmelite order, I have long had a special devotion to St. Therese because of my cousin Sister Ann of Jesus who was a Carmelite.
On Friday the 2nd of October we celebrate the feast in honor of Our Guardian Angels whom God has given the task of watching over us and guide us if we seek their guidance.
Sunday October 4th is traditionally the Feast of Our seraphic Father, Saint Francis of Assisi who founded and wrote the rule by which all Franciscans live. Francis preached the Gospel of love, compassion and mercy of God and spoke out against the luxurious excesses that many of the church hierarchy were living. Francis gave up a life of wealth and prestige for one of poverty and service to the poorest and rejected of his time.
Sunday the 4th is also designated as Respect For Life Sunday which seeks to remind all of us that ALL LIFE is precious and a gift from God. All life, regardless of race, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation deserves respect.
October 5th is the feast day of Saint Faustina Kowalska who received from the Lord a message of mercy that she was told to spread throughout the world. She was asked to become the apostle and secretary of God's mercy, a model of how to be merciful to others, and an instrument for reemphasizing God's plan of mercy for the world. Her life was based on deep humility, purity of intention, and loving obedience to the will of God in imitation of the virtues of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The message of the infinite and divine mercy and love of God is now being spread throughout the world. St. Faustina had a vision of Christ with his arms outstretched and rays of the colors of the rainbow were radiating from His Sacred Heart which we now know as the Image of Divine mercy. Our Franciscan Order is dedicated to the message of Divine Mercy.
Wednesday the 7th is the feast day of the patron saints of our ministry, Saints Sergius and Bacchus. Saints Sergius and Bacchus were lovers in a blessed committed relationship who suffered persecution and martyrdom rather than deny the love of Christ. I will be posting a reflection of there history and how they became the patrons of our ministry later this week. The 7th of October is also the feast honoring Our Blessed Mother Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary.
On each of these feast days, you may want to take a moment to reflect on the saint being honored and offer a prayer of petition asking them to intercede on your behalf to Almighty God for your special intentions and help in living your daily life in accord with God’s will as Christ taught us..
Each of these saints lives is stresses the message of the infinite and everlasting compassion, love, mercy and forgiveness of Almighty God for all His children and God’s desire for all His children to participate in and be active participants in His Mystical Body, The Church, through prayer, the sacraments and living a life that reflects Christ’s message of Love for all people regardless of their sexual orientation, race, marital status of practice of worship to Him.
May God Bless each and every one of us with the knowledge of His truth and the courage to live in a way that brings honor and glory to Him. AMEN

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sept. 27th Reflection DOING THE WORK OF THE LORD

Doing the Work of The Lord
A Reflection on the Readings for September 27th 2009
Numbers 11:25-29, Psalm 18, James 5:1-6, Mark 9:38-48
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius and Bacchus / Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England

This Sunday’s readings have, it seems to me, a very important message for all who claim to be Christians and followers of Christ. One of the most important is found in the message of the Psalm which affirms the truth about Almighty God. That truth is that He listens to us and answers our prayers. If we put our lives in God’s hands, He will protect us and make life safe for us. There is, of course, one condition and it is, we have to live according to how Christ’s instructed us.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies. For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God.” (Psalm 18)
A second and even more powerful message is that by placing our measure of success in material things we are leading ourselves to possible destruction. The message found in James 5 is crystal clear, on several points.
One concerns how we gain our earthly wealth. If we have accumulated profit at the expense of others that profit will be like a fire that consumes you. It also places blame for many of the problems that our world is facing on those who live for material and financial gain without concern for those who are in need.
“Now an answer for the rich. Start crying; weep for the miseries that are coming to you. You stored up as your treasure for the last days a burning fire. Laborers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realize that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. On earth you have had a life of comfort and luxury; in the time of slaughter you went on eating to your heart’s content. It was you who condemned the innocent and killed them“. (James 5).
The third message found in this weeks’ readings concerns those who seem to feel that they speak for God and can decide who is worthy to participate in offering honor, praise and glory. .They firmly believe that their path is the only path to God and that they can decide who is worthy and who is not.
In the Gospel reading when the apostles told Jesus that they tried to stop people who were not of their group from prophesying and performing miracles in the name of Almighty God Jesus said: “You must not stop them: no one who works a miracle in my name is likely to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.’ anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck”. (Mark 9)
Lastly, the reading from numbers has a very interesting and thought provoking idea for us to ponder.
It concerns a supposition about what the world would be like if everyone was given the gift of prophesy by God. "If only the whole people of the Lord were prophets, and the Lord gave his Spirit to them all!" (Numbers 11)
Imagine if every follower of God had the gift of prophesy. If that were actually the case, the world might not be so quick to declare war against other nations. People would be more likely to be concerned about the needs of the poor, hungry, aged, sick, and more likely to be more compassionate and less judgmental. People would realize that a pure love between two people is a good thing not to be disparaged and condemned.
As we contemplate the messages of this week’s readings and how well we are living our daily lives in accord with them let us keep in mind what the scriptures taught us on what God expects of us.
He put us here to gain the greatest wage and wealth of all, Everlasting life in His presence.
We have been sent out into the vineyards to be the hands, feet, mouth and spirit of Almighty God and to actively wage the battle against the powers of darkness who are attempting to replace His infinite mercy, love, and compassion with hatred, discrimination, war, violence, greed and self-gratification.
The following is a prayer I offer each day as I attempt to go about my daily life humbly serving God as best I can while seeking God’s strength to improve.

O Lord, you are my rock, my fortress and my deliverer in whom I take refuge.
Almighty God, I give you my hands to do Your work; I give you my feet to go Your way;
I give you my eyes to see as You do; I give you my tongue to speak Your words; I give you my mind that You may think in me; I give you my spirit that You may pray in me;
Above all, I give you my heart that You may love in and through me all to whom I come in contact with each and every day. I dedicate myself to doing Your will in all things and to become an instrument through which You might bring about peace and harmony to all your children here on earth. AMEN (Written by Fr. Bob Johnnene OFD in 1991 for a retreat weekend)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sunday Sept. 20th 2009 reflection

The Last Shall Be First
Reflection on Readings For Sunday September 20th 2009
Wisdom 2:12-20; James 3:16-18; Psalm 54:3-8; Mark 9:30-37
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine mercy

This week’s readings have a series of powerful messages for us to consider. They talk about how people who boast about how great they are, how powerful they are could very well be in danger in God’s design of things. I have chosen a few of the passages from Sunday's readings for us to reflect upon and consider how and where we, and those in the public eye, are living them.
"Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is, first pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness". (James 3:16)
Where you have envy and selfish ambition, you find disorder and every evil practice. Envy and selfish ambition, how often have we and leaders of corporation, governments and churches followed those goals? How does the scripture tell us to overcome those evil conditions in our life? By seeking God’s wisdom and live a life that is considerate of others, full of mercy for those who are suffering because of poverty, illness or who have hurt us in some way. We are told to seek out peace not vengeance.
Remember what we are told in Romans 12:18-20; “Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that to God. For it is written, "I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it," says the Lord.” In James 3 we are told “The harvest of Righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” Since we are in the seasonal time of harvest, possibly we need to work harder than ever before to harvest peace between those with whom we have had disagreements. We need to try to find the common ground to settle the petty differences that have divided all who all claim to worship the one and same Creator God, The God of Abraham, Isaac, David, Jacob and the Almighty Father of Jesus Christ.
We have sown the seeds of discontent among the seeds of peace and goodwill. Now we need to harvest peace and goodwill and leave the discontent for the weeds to be burned and destroyed.
Mark’s gospel tells the story of how the apostles were arguing about who among them was the greater. Christ knew this, as He knows all of our thoughts, words and actions, and when they got to where they were to rest, Christ gathered them together and asked what they were discussing. When no one answered, Christ sat them down and told them; “Jesus sat down and called for the Twelve to come to him. Then he said, "If you want to be first, you must be the very last. You must be the servant of everyone. Jesus then took a little child and had the child stand among them. Then he took the child in his arms. He said to them, Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me. And anyone who welcomes me doesn't welcome only me but also the One who sent me."
Can Christ’s message to us be any clearer? If we wish to be a true leader, the first of firsts among people we need to become a servant to all. We need to have the innocence of a child that knows no anger or hatred. Hatred, violence, anger are lessons that are learned and then nurtured by people with agendas of their own.
Our only agenda in life should be to live, work and think of what Almighty God wants from us. We need to live our life attempting to emulate our Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, in all of our daily lives.
We can begin doing this by examining how we relate to the issues that our family and the world are facing today. Do we judge people on how they look, their color, the church they attend, who their partner in life may be, how much money they have? We should judge them on how they are respectful of the needs of others, how they are always ready to help someone in trouble or need, by their love of Almighty God.
We live in troubled times. We hear many versions of how life is going to change for us by doing one thing or another. Politicians will be promoting their agendas over the next months all claiming to improve our lives. Television networks are all vying for our eyes claiming to be the #1 network that gives us the best news and entertainment. Advertisers tell us our lives will improve by using their product. The truth is the only way our lives will ever change is if we change them within our selves. Our lives and the world condition will only change when we begin to make a serious examination of our behavior and how closely it and our lives are being lived in relationship to Christ’s teachings. The challenge is ours alone. We can not be seeking to be the top gun but must be willing to be the servant. We need to become a servant of God, serving our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and work to harvest peace among all God’s children. May God give us the Wisdom to live according to His way. May God grant us patience, compassion, forgiveness, and courage to live according to his way so that we may be welcomed into His Kingdom with open and loving arms. AMEN.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Exaltation of Holy Cross Feast Reflection

Reflection for The Exaltation of the Holy Cross
Readings From Numbers 21:4-9, Philippians 2:6-11, John 3:13-17
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England

“We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world”On Monday the universal church celebrates the feast commemorating the finding of the sacred cross upon which Christ died by Saint Helen about the year 325-326
According to some records it seems that not only were the High Priests afraid that someone would steal the body of Christ and claim that he had risen as He said he would they not only convinced Pontius Pilot to post guards at the tomb of Christ, but they ordered some temple workers to go out and bury the cross Christ was crucified on so that no one would ever find it. These workers did not know which cross of the three they found was the correct one so they buried them all and then covered them with mounds of stone. Years later, the emperor Hadrian had a temple built on the hill of Golgotha to honor Aphrodite. The temple was built over the place where the crosses had been buried and covered also the place where Christ’s tomb was.
Saint Helen decided that she would undertake a search for the cross after her son Constantine had related the story of his vision of the cross which told him to fly it as a sign and he would be successful in his battle.
Upon her arrival in Jerusalem the venerable Saint Helen had no visible sign of where to look because the area had the temple built on it. She instructed that the temple be destroyed especially the statue of Aphrodite. She then was drawn to the area where the pile of stones were visible after the destruction of the temple and instructed workers to dig there. Three crosses were uncovered as well as nails and other items The excavators also found a tomb which they believed might have been the actual tomb of Christ, since records indicate that Christ was buried in a rock sepulcher close to the place of His crucifixion.
St. Helen could not be sure which cross was the true cross but Saint Marcarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem, suggested that they have a gravely sick woman brought near to the crosses and hoped that if one of them was the true cross, the woman would be healed. Upon touching the last of the three crosses, she was instantly healed. Saint Helen was so overjoyed she ordered her son to have a church built on the site and a major section of the cross was placed in a Silver casing and placed in the church while another section was brought to Constantinople. The cross remained in the church in Jerusalem until 614 when the Persians plundered Palestine and took the cross to their own country. In 628 the Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross and restored it to it’s rightful place.
Tiny Pieces of the cross have been scraped off from both original pieces and have been distributed over the years, usually imbedded in a replica of Christ crucified. The amazing thing is that the original major pieces have never shrunken in size. I, myself, have had a piece of the cross imbedded in the crucifix of my rosary beads since they were brought from Rome for me by my cousin Bishop Minnahan.
As the Gospel reading of John proclaims “God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not be lost but may have eternal life. For God sent his Son into the world
not to condemn the world, but so that through him the world might be saved.’” and the reading from Philippians reminds us that; “Jesus Christ’s state was divine, yet he did not cling to his equality with God but emptied himself to assume the condition of a slave and became as men are; and being as all men are, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.”Let Us Pray; Through the sign of Your Holy Cross, protect your brothers and sisters, Lord Jesus Christ, from all the temptations of the evil one and lead us to a greater love for each other as you loved us.
It was by your cross, O Christ, that you redeemed all mankind from their sinful ways and opened up the gates of heaven to all who proclaim you. May we be welcomed into your presence when our time here on earth is over to join with all the Heavenly elect. AMEN

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sunday September 13, 2009 Reflection

Reasons to Love The Lord, Our God
A Reflection for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2009
Based on readings from Isaiah 50:5-9, James 2:14-18, Mark 8:27-35
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England

“The Lord has opened my ear. For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.” (Isaiah 50:5-9)
These words from the book of Isaiah foretold how Jesus Christ would be treated and how Jesus would react to the ridicule and ultimate sacrifice He would endure.
These words also should remind us that we might have to endure taunts and even rejection because of our love for God and because the way of Christ is not the way of today‘s society.
Christ taught compassion, love, mercy, and forgiveness. These are qualities that are in short supply in today’s world.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:14-18)
These words of James, the brother of Christ and head of the church at Jerusalem, explain how we need to act in order to proclaim our faith. In no uncertain words they say that we live our faith by our actions.
This has been the theme of the last few weeks and a constant theme of Christ’s teachings.
Many people proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they have blinders on towards the suffering and pain that exists all around them. If they are aware of it, they seem to have no desire to put an end to it.
Our nations leaders who for the most part claim to be Christians are engaged in discussions to make our health plans more affordable and the best in the world for all people regardless of their income yet they resist because of what it might cost or because of their party affiliations.
What happened to the idea of “Government for the people”
So many people give lip service but somehow little is really done to bring and end to homelessness, poverty, affordable medical assistance for the poor and seniors on low fixed incomes and affordable quality education for every person.
The Government can find trillions to explore space, wage wars, give tax breaks and incentives to the rich and corporations that pay their executives exorbitant salaries, often a thousand time greater than the average worker receives.
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8)
These words of Christ tell us that to become followers of Christ, we must be willing to endure the crosses we are given. We must deny ourselves things that are considered luxuries so we can care for the needs of those who are poor, ill and unable to care for themselves without help.
Every day I pray to God asking him to provide me with the tools to do His work here on earth and be able to bring comfort and the sacraments to those who cannot get to church or have been told they were not wanted.
I try to spread The Good News of God’s everlasting compassion, infinite love and mercy for all His children.
God always hears our prayers, but He only answer us with what is best for us and at the appropriate time. When people who are sick, need a job or desire to sell their house or some other need ask God’s help, He hears them, but always gives them what is best for them.
Sometimes he calls the sick person home to him as the best way of ending their suffering.
It leaves us feeling sad, lonely, and sometimes angry but we need to realize that God did what was best for them. That is what it means to deny ourselves. We must accept God’s will in our lives, just as Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane pleaded “Lord remove this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done”
Maybe if we make that prayer the qualification of all our petitions to God we will not be dissatisfied with God‘s answers to our prayers. I have found that when God deems it right He provides those things I need. My favorite poem FOOTSTEPS reminds us how God sometimes carries us when we thought He had abandoned us. God never leaves us but we often leave God out of our lives. I have learned that God needs to be a major part of our life and in a perfect world God is the center of our life.
We cannot allow ourselves to give up on God, worshiping Him and asking Him to be with us just because some have told us we are unwanted, or others try to claim that God is a myth, and still others who are supposed to represent Him have committed heinous crimes. We need to put our trust in God and love Him with all our being. Jesus instructed us with these words; “LOVE THE LORD, YOUR GOD, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND, SOUL AND BODY AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF” (Mark 12:30) Christ also said “LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” God loved us so much He was willing to die so that our sins could be forgiven and we could attain everlasting life with Him forever. AMEN

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