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

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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